The revolution began in 2005, I remember it well. I was there when IOR Valdada took to the streets with an attention grabbing six-fold magnification increase scope. Before this mainstream shooters knew only three and four-times magnification increase variable power scopes. Sure, there had been some in the industry touting a five-times magnification increase, but in those days a six-times zoom was unheard of. It was the talk of radicals in the optics industry looking to upset the accepted standard. Like a match touched to tinder, the flames of change could not be extinguished once they were lit. In 2007 IOR Valdada fanned the flames further when they unveiled a new design with a seven-times magnification increase. With this the fires of progress could not be ignored and they quickly spread across the industry. The end result was a drastic change in thinking by both optics manufacturers and riflemen.
The fire an obscure Romanian optics house on the banks of the Dâmbovița River sparked clearly burns in the 1-10x24mm March Optics riflescope seen on these pages. While currently relatively unknown in the US, their creativity and expertise is sure to eventually grab the attention of serious American riflemen. It certainly took me by surprise. With a magnification range running from 1x all the way up to 10x, March Optic’s 1-10x24mm is an impressive feat of optical engineering. What makes this particular scope stand out though is the execution of the design. Built on a compact 30mm tube, rather than a bulky 34, 35 or 36mm pipe and measuring just 10.3 inches in length it can easily be mistaken for a run of the mill 1-4x. Weighing in at just 18.7 ounces it is also very light considering its capabilities.
So just who is this new face on the block, March Optics and are they to be trusted? Good question. The truth is March is not a “new” face. The March brand was first introduced in 2004, but is best known in Australia. They actually have a very impressive reputation in serious competition and are well-respected among serious competitive riflemen around the world. March earned its reputation in one of the most demanding shooting sports, benchrest competition. If you investigate a bit you’ll find March scopes have won numerous national and even world championships and set dozens of records. Here in the US for example, two of the four shooters on the 4-Man Team that set and hold the current 800, 900 and 1,000 yard National Record used March scopes.
What about the scopes themselves? I was wondering the same thing. Digging about I learned March scopes are built by Deon Optical Design of Japan. This is a well-respected small custom scope manufacturing company. Not only are they designed and built in Japan but they are manufactured using all Japanese components and glass. I like the fact that all the components are sourced from Japan rather than China or some other low bidder. This Japanese optical house is capable of building superb optics and well capable of challenging Europe’s finest. This includes glass quality and lens design. Each of the founding engineers of Deon Optical Design has over three decades of experience in the high precision optics industry. The scopes themselves are carefully built by hand in the traditional manner. Plus each scope is individually tested and inspected over 20 times before being shipped. I also found it noteworthy that all March scopes are built using high-end low dispersion ED lenses. This maximizes their performance potential.
March Optics has a diverse line of competition, hunting and tactical scopes. These range from a 2.5-25x42mm to monsters like their 8-80x56mm. The one which grabbed my attention though was their 1-10x24mm. While not a new model, it has been in their line for a number of years, it combines impressive performance with head turning good looks. Not only are the lines of the scope pleasing to the eye, but the workmanship and small details are befitting a high end optic. Taking it from its box I was impressed, this scope exudes quality from the execution of its markings to the feel of its turrets. At first glance its relatively small size and light weight belies its true nature. The scope arrived well packed and inside the box I found flip-up lens covers, lens cloth, batteries and a well written instruction manual.
Most manufacturers today are building their 1-8x models on fat 34 to 36mm tubes. The end result is a rotund, bulky and heavy optic which adds a lot of pork to a semi-auto rifle. That’s opposite of the approach March took. The designers realized while more magnification is good, added bulk and weight are not. With all the mission essential equipment added to a rifle today, ounces add up quickly. Back-up iron sights, a white light, rail covers, sling, IR laser/illuminator can all add a significant amount of weight to a light carbine. So keeping the weight of an optical sight and mounting system down is very important in my mind. Two pounds of optic and mount will quickly turn a nimble 8.5 pound carbine into a 10.5 pound club. So I am impressed that March’s 1-10x24mm weighs in at just 18.7 ounces. That’s almost six ounces less than Burris’s 1-8x24mm XTR II I reviewed a few issues back.
Without a doubt this particular model is a bit of a comprise in design in order to pack as much punch as possible into a compact package. This is most obvious in the use of a relatively small 24mm objective lens. This has its pluses and minuses. On the positive side the 24mm objective is compact, lightweight and performs extremely well from 1x to 4x. As you push past 6x though performance in low light scenarios drops off as the Exit Pupil is reduced in size. By 8x the Exit Pupil is only 3mm in diameter and it’s only 2.4mm at 10x. As is the nature of the beast, correct head placement becomes very important at the high end of the magnification range. In addition the eye-box is fairly unforgiving.
This model is fitted with low profile and uncapped adjustment turrets. These feature .25 MOA adjustments with precise clicks which are both audible and tactile. The multi-rotation elevation turret provides 25 MOA of adjustment per full turret rotation and a whopping 200 MOA of total adjustment. What is interesting is you can use March’s Zero-Set feature to add in a zero stop. This is easily accomplished and ensures you never lose your starting point.
On the left side of the mechanism block is a parallax adjustment knob. This adjusts parallax from just 10 yards to Infinity. This knob also acts as a battery box for the illuminated reticle. Power and reticle intensity are controlled by a protected button on the side of the knob. Simply depress it once to turn the power to the lowest setting. There are four intensity settings for use in low light conditions. Unfortunately, intensity is not bright enough for daytime conditions. Power is provided by a common CR2032 Lithium button battery. In use I noted the battery cover to be easily removed/installed without the need of any tools.
March offers a few different glass etched reticles, both illuminated and non-illuminated on this model. All are located in the rear focal plane. The one I chose is their MTR-4 which is an MOA based design. It features a horizontal stadia as well as a vertical stadia in the lower half of the FOV. At the center of the reticle is a .5 MOA dot which is surrounded by a 4 MOA circle. Hash marks spaced every 2 MOA delineate 20 MOA for lead/holdovers to the left/right and below center when the magnification is set on 10x. When set on 5x the hash marks delineate 4 MOA. Both 5x and 10x are marked in red on the zoom ring while the other numbers are marked in silver.
While March Optics offers very high quality rings I decided to mount this scope using one of Geissele’s new Super Precision High-Power Rifle “National Match” scope mounts. I specifically chose this mount due to its very high quality and its low 1.300 inch mounting height. This is noticeably lower than the standard 1.500+ inches of most AR scope mounts. Why is this a big deal? Traditional AR mounts place the optic too high to obtain a really good cheekweld, especially shooting from position. Most shooters just accept this as the norm. Bill Geissele though is an old High Power competitor and designed this mount based on his real world shooting experience. He offers two National Match models in this height, a short and a long eye relief model. I chose the long eye relief model which places the scope further forward.
Geissele’s mount is machined from a single piece of 7075-T6 aluminum and features a mounting surface which spans seven 1913 rail sections and incorporates four shear lugs. Attachment is via Geissele’s bombproof nut and bolt method. This is caveman rugged. I mounted the optic onto a Midwest Industries AR which features a 16 inch pencil weight barrel, M-LOK handguard and Magpul furniture. The end result was a striking looking package.
When the March 1-10x24mm first arrived I was knee deep in work, but I just had to examine it. So I paused from what I was doing and unboxed it. This was a mistake, as once I had it in hand I felt the urge to mount it. I decided to take just a “short” break from working on our sister title Impact: The Journal of Tactical Ammunition and found a scope mount. Of course, once it was sitting in the Geissele mount I had to level it and set the eye relief on the rifle. As soon as I shouldered it I knew I had to shoot it. Finish my current project or shoot the March 1-10x24mm? I was quickly stuffing rounds into magazines and headed out the door.
Walking onto my range I fired a Hail Mary at 100 yards without so much as bore sighting. I struck steel. Dropping to prone I fired at a freshly painted plate and found my impact three inches low and two and a half inches to the left. Dialing in the correction I dropped the next three rounds into the center of the plate. It was just one of those days. I then proceeded to zap all my 100 yard steel in quick order and ran my plate rack two or three times as fast as I could shooting prone off the magazine.
As soon as boredom set in I popped to my feet and climbed my shooting tower. Shooting offhand I smacked my 200 yard LaRue “Chain Banger” and 300 yard Action Target Silhouette. Shooting prone off the magazine it was easy to make the LaRue dance. After smacking the 200 and 300 yard targets for a bit I switched to my 800 yard target. At this distance the March’s ability to crank to 10x became a real asset. I could easily spot my first round, which impacted short and two silhouettes to the right and correct using the reticle. Despite a typical Kansas wind I could soon see black dots from 77 grain Tipped MatchKing impacts appearing on the silhouette. When my bolt locked back at 800 yards I regretfully returned to work.
In the days that followed I spent as much time as possible behind the March 1-10x24mm. I checked its adjustments and repeatability, examined its image quality, shot it in bright light and lowlight conditions, did countless “up drills” and moving drills both dry and live. Doing so provided a pretty good opinion on its strengths and weaknesses. I found it to be an impressive optical instrument, but not perfect.
In my opinion March’s 1-10x24mm would be a great choice to mount onto a rifle which will see much of its use at the mid-ranges, but which still needs to be able to perform up close. But you need to understand some compromises have been made to achieve the reduced size and weight, namely the small 24mm objective lens. While the 24mm objective works great in good lighting, you need to dial the magnification back towards 4x in low light. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Where March excels is in their accurate and repeatable adjustments, well designed side-focus parallax adjustment and impressive optical design. This optic is right at home shooting groups at 600 yards or steel at 800 yards. Color rendition is neither warm nor cool but absolutely spot on. Resolution, even with the small 24mm objective, is impressive from the center of the image out to the edges. Set the magnification on 1x and you get a true 1x image which is fairly flat and mostly distortion free. This allows you to dial the magnification down and rapidly engage close and/or moving targets. So this optic has some real strong points.
At the same time it has some weaknesses. At the top of the list is its illumination system. The intensity is not bright enough to see in daylight. In lowlight situations on the other hand, the four available settings border on being too bright. I’d really like to see this optic with a daylight visible illumination system. Plus the eye-box is on the unforgiving side. The rear focal plane reticle will be a deal killer for some. I also think the center circle should be thicker. If it was bolder it would stand out better and be faster to acquire when engaging at speed.
While I initially didn’t think I’d like the rear focal plane reticle, I really had no issues with it. For the most part I found myself running the optic on 1x, 5x and 10x. On 1x I was shooting up close and the placement of the reticle didn’t matter. On 5x the reticle hash marks are 4 MOA apart and on 10x they are 2 MOA apart. This is easy to remember and apply when shooting at distance. For some the rear focal plane reticle will be a deal breaker, I thought it would be for me, but I didn’t mind it.
There is much to like about this scope. Unfortunately high performance comes with a high price. Normally this model retails for $2,750. That’s a good chunk of change and well beyond the reach of most blue collar workers. If you can afford the price of admission though March’s 1-10x24mm brings a lot to the table.
For more information on this scope, and other scopes from March Optics, click here
March Optics 1-10x24mm SpecsMagnification:
Range 1x to 10x Objective lens diameter:
24mm Tube diameter:
30mmField of View, real (degrees):
20 to 2 Eye relief, inches:
3.39 to 3.78Exit Pupil, mm:
24 to 2.4 Focal Plane:
Rear Power Source:
CR3032Overall Length (inches):
10.39 Weight ounces:
.25 MOAAdjustment range: