The Los Angeles Handgun - Rifle - Air Pistol Silhouette Club

IHMSA News Feature Article
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
Published monthly except November/December - January/February
IHMSA on the web at
Alpen Apex 4X16
By Todd Spotti
     If youíre looking for a scope that you can hang on a Thompson Contender for Field Pistol competition during the shooting season, and then switch over to a big bore rifle for hunting in the fall, the Alpen Apex 4x16 would be a extremely viable choice. In my humble opinion, a good 4 X 16 is probably one of the most versatile powered scopes on the market. In fact, Iím so enthusiastic about 4 X 16 scopes, I currently have three.


      While itís true that the very top competitors in Field Pistol will use much higher powered optics, many, many people who arenít part of that elite club just arenít ready yet for the super magnifications, so the 4 X 16 is a good intermediate step. A 4 X 16 also offers the advantage of a significantly wider field of view. This is important as itís very easy to get on the wrong target with one of the super powered scopes because their fields of view are so limited.
     A 4 X 16 also has the advantage that at the lower portion of its range, it makes a very good close quarters deer scope. If youíre hunting elk at longer ranges, no problem. Thereís still plenty of power there to accommodate the need. Even better, when cranked all the way up to 16X, they can be used very effectively for antelope at extended distances, or even for small targets like ground hogs out to 250 yards or so.
     While thereís a number of 4 X 16ís out there, one of my very favorites is the new Alpen Apex. I was lucky enough to actually check out and play with a prototype of this scope several months ago. I was very impressed with it at that time and gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up to the Alpen management. Well, Iím happy to report that the production model is actually even a bit nicer than that first prototype.
     Like all of the other members of the Apex line, the most distinguishing feature of the 4x16 is their big bubba 50mm objective lens. This is a very large lens so youíll have to mount it in high rings if you should want to put it on a rifle. Itís also a high quality, fully multi-coated lens that sucks in photons like a massive gravity well in the Gamma quadrant. The result is a impressively bright image that would make even many spotting scopes envious.
     Besides having significant dimensions up front, itís also a long scope - measuring just under 15 inches. The advantage of that length is that it provides a generous three inches of mounting space both in front and behind the elevation/windage knobs - which is plenty to accommodate just about any situation. Additionally, the weight comes in at 23 ounces which means itís no pantywaist.
     Let me just make a quick observation about weight in scopes. Obviously, if a scope is going on a gun thatís going to be carried around all day long, weight is an important consideration. If a gun is not going to be carried around all day, itís less of a consideration. As long a scope isnít going to push the weight of your gun over a competition limit, scope weight can actually be an advantage in dampening body/crosshair movement while scoping a target. Itís also going to help absorb recoil as well. Those are real world advantages. One more point - as a general rule, heavier scopes have more glass in them than lighter scopes. That means they have more internal lenses for better image quality, and all those lenses are made of glass, not plastic.
     So what does the Apex look like? The exterior of the scope sports a high quality, glossy black matte, hard coat anodized finish. The objective lens markings and the Alpen logo appear in subdued gold lettering. Additionally, the markings on the power ring are in a brighter colored gold which is easier to read. Horizontal ridges on the objective and power rings provide a useable gripping surface. I found both rings were somewhat stiff to turn but not overly so.
     The target knobs are the low profile type. I have to admit that Iíve come around to preferring the lower knobs over the traditional super high knobs. Itís a personal preference thing, but I just think that the lower knobs give a scope a more streamlined, and modern appearance. Setting the zero on the knobs is very easy. Just use a quarter or a nickel to remove the slotted screw on the top of the turret, then lift the turret ring off the mounting and re-orient the ď0Ē with the index mark.
     Replace the screw, and youíre done. I also found the clicks on the windage and the elevation controls to be very firm and very positive. Besides being able to distinctly hear the clicks, I was actually able to feel the clicks snapping into place through the turret. Perfect. BTW, the clicks will move the point of impact a quarter of an inch. Thereís also a rubber gasket at the base of each knob which forms an effective weather seal when the knob cover is screwed down. Itís interesting that some very expensive scopes donít have this small, but significant feature.
     Lastly, like the rest of the Apex line, the 4 X 16 Alpen features a fast focus eyepiece. As you know from my other reviews, I prefer fast focusing eyepieces because theyíre - fast. A quick half turn one way or another will get the crosshairs razor sharp in usually five seconds or less. On the other hand, the traditional lock ring/fine threaded focus arrangement found on other scopes seems to take forever to get things dialed in. A ribbed rubber ring around the eyepiece provides a good gripping surface when making adjustments.
     So, how do things look in the Apex. Nice, very nice. The field of view at 100 yards is a super wide 23 feet at 4X and a little over 6 feet at 16X. So even at top magnification, youíll still have a nice wide view of things and should have no problem picking up your target in a rapid fashion. Eye relief is a good three inches.
     Image quality is bright and clean at 16X, and at the lower powers, itís even better. As mentioned before, the big 50 up front is funneling a lot of light down the tube, so itís not too surprising that the picture is as bright as it is. Additionally, there was absolutely no image distortion of any kind - not even way out at the extreme edges. Colors are also true and correct with no tinting or off shading. On many modestly priced scopes, colors can often be a shade or two off from the real thing. Iíve even noticed off shading on some very expensive Japanese scopes. However, the colors in the Alpenís image were dead on. Resolution was also excellent. Edges were well defined and there was no bleeding or softening even out at the extreme edge of the lens. Using my standard home made resolution target which consists of several lines of ďOísĒ in decreasing size, the Alpen was able to resolve 14 point type at 50 yards. Excellent.
     Lastly, let me say something about Alpenís quality control. Itís no secret that the great majority of the sport optics products sold in the U.S.A. are made in Asia, and this fact certainly applies to Alpen products as well. The standard procedure for almost all companies importing these products is to randomly pull a couple of scopes out of a shipment and run a quality check on them.
     Alpen does it a little differently. I happened visit the Alpen facility a couple of days ago, and when I walked in, I found the owner/president out in the warehouse. He was personally checking out the quality of a new shipment of binoculars by looking through them at a set of resolution targets (including my ďOĒ target) that were taped to a wall on the other side of the parking lot. He wasnít just looking at a small number of random samples either. Each and every set of binoculars in the shipment were personally examined. Binocs that didnít pass his inspection were marked with a blue tag and set aside. Theyíd be later returned to the manufacturer. I found out that he does that for all of his products. Is that great or what? How many other companies have their president or anyone else for that matter out in the warehouse doing that? To be honest, I donít know of any. The point here is that when you open the box on an Alpen product, you know itís going to be right.
     In summary, I have to say that the Alpen Apex 4 X 16 is a very, very well built product that provides a ton of optical performance that will satisfy anyoneís needs in this magnification range. Throw in the fact that when I did a quick internet search, I found that it could be purchased for as little as just under $300. Where else could you get a 50mm 4 X 16 of this quality for that price? Not anywhere that I know of. In reality, Alpen should be selling this scope for at least $500. Bottom line. If you want high quality and performance in a 4 X 16 at a very reasonable price, take a look at this Alpen. Iím pretty sure you Ďll like it as much as I do.
Good luck and good shooting, Todd

Top of Page

Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.