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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 http://www.ihmsa.org
 
Alpen 6 X 24 X 60
By Todd Spotti
 
     So youíve decided that you want a 6 X 24 variable rifle scope to put on your Field Pistol gun. You like the idea of using a variable scope since youíre a relatively newbie to Field Pistol silhouette competition. You reason that the variable magnification will allow you to start off at a lower power where itís easier to hold the crosshairs on the target from the standing position. Then as your skill to control your swaying body and the wiggling crosshairs improves, you can slowly increase the magnification to the point where youíre finally able to use the whole 24 enchiladas. Additionally, during the off season, that 6 X 24 will make a great varmint scope and is perfect for rifle silhouette as well. No doubt about it, a good 6 x 24 can provide a ton of utility in a lot of different areas, making it one of the most cost effective multiple use scopes around.
 
     You also know that you want a quality scope, not a low end ďpromotionalĒ model. While some of these cheap scopes have improved over the last couple of years, you want the confidence, reliability, and top performance at all powers that comes from well made product. (Promotional scopes are notorious for having a poor image at their highest magnifications.) On the other hand, you canít go crazy either. After consulting with your accountant and financial advisor (the little lady who is the mother of your children), you decide that around $350 is doable without exploding the family budget and snatching the Pop Tarts out of the said childrenís sticky little hands.
 
     Ok, after making your decision, itís time to start researching that stack of  catalogs thatís accumulated over the winter. Well the first thing you discover is that thereís not very many 6 x 24ís around. While thereís a ton of 6 x 20ís on the market (almost all of which far exceed your budget), 6 x 24ís seem to be a little scarce. Well, you want as much power as you can get for your buck so you press on with your search. 
 
     Then you come across the Alpen Apex 6 x 24 x 50. Mmmmmm. You already know that Alpen makes that really nice 80mm waterproof spotting scope that a lot of people seem to be using these days. In fact, didnít they donate one to the Internationals last year? It also costs only around $350. Hey, I seem to remember they also make those 60 and 50mm waterproof spotting scopes that won the Outdoor Life Best Buy awards for two years running. And donít they make those really nice Apex binoculars that have all the same technical features that those super expensive brands use - like phase coatings, and BAK-4 glass prisms? You know, now that you think about it, Alpen puts out a really good product for the money. Hey, letís take a closer look.
 

"The Alpen 6X24X50 is a high quality scope at a very modest price."

     Well, you first note that the most distinguishing feature of the scope is that big, humungous 50mm objective lens. Man that thing is huge. Itís a good thing that youíve got that set of extra high rings sitting in the closet. We need to put that big baby in a reeeeeally high chair.
 
     It was only a few years ago that 50mm lenses were only found on spotting scopes. Today, theyíre becoming more and more popular on rifle scopes and for good reason. First, big lenses mean a heck of a lot more light is entering the tube, and more light = a brighter image.  Makers of inexpensive promotional scopes often will hang large aperture lens on their products to make up for a mediocre optical design, poor quality materials, and a lack of lens coatings. While a large lens can help overcome some of these deficiencies, it can only help so much. However, when you couple a large objective lens with an expertly designed optical train, high quality components, and full multi-coating, the image becomes impressively bright - even at the very top magnification powers. Indeed, this is exactly what you see in this Alpen. 
 
     Well brightness is one thing and resolution is another. As you well know, when you crank up the magnification on a scope, resolution diminishes - sometimes drastically. While at the range with the big fifty, I ran my standard resolution test which consists of several rows of the letter ďOĒ in decreasing sized fonts. The Alpen was able to easily resolve the smallest line (9 point). In fact, it was resolving even smaller type on a standard rimfire target that I also happened to have on my target board. I really donít know the size of that lettering but I would guess it was probably around a 7 point font. This was unmitigated first class performance.

     Another advantage of a large diameter objective is the improved field of view. It goes without saying that a 50mm lens will give you a wider field of view than a 40mm at the same magnification. And, as anyone who has ever shoot standing can tell you, a wider field of view is always preferable. Why?

     Because when that image is dancing around on a row of targets, you want to be sure that the target that youíre looking at is the one youíre supposed to shoot and not the one thatís next in line. If a scope has a narrow field of view, that can easily happen. At 100 yards, the Alpen 50mm provides a generous field of view between 6 and 18 feet, depending on the magnification.

     Like all variable scopes with these magnification powers, the Alpen is not a dainty wallflower. Itís a very handsome, masculine looking scope sporting a hard anodized, black matte finish. Hard anodizing means that when you tighten up the rings, theyíre less likely to mar the surface finish. Subtle gold lettering completes the picture. This is a big scope, but thatís to be expected. If you want higher magnifications with a quality image, generally speaking, you need longer focal lengths, and long focal lengths = a longer tube. I found the scope measures 16.2 inches in length, which is only about a half inch longer than my two 6 X 20 scopes. This means for only a little more in extension, I got 4X more in magnification. Thatís a good trade off.
 
     Another feature that I really liked, was the fast focus eyepiece. Instead of the usual eyepiece assembly which rotates on fine threads and then uses a lock ring to fix it in place, the Alpenís crosshairs could be brought into precise focus in just a quarter to a half turn. A ribbed rubber ring at the end of the eyepiece made gripping this adjustment even easier. Itís a personal thing I know, but I just hate the time consuming turning and twiddling of trying to focus a conventional eyepiece. This is much better.
 
     Then there are the low profile, finger adjustable target turrets. I found the clicks to be firm, and very positive. There was absolutely no wiggle room or slop when making adjustments. The amount of effort to move from one click to another was also just right. Some scopes have really hard clicks and others move from one adjustment to another so easily that itís easy to overshoot your setting. The tactile feedback when moving the knobs on the Alpen was very good. Each click = an eighth of an inch in movement at 100 yards. 
 
     Zero adjusting the knobs was also very easy. All you had to do was just insert a coin, like a nickel, into the slot on the top of the turret and back out a large screw. Lift the cap and turn it so the ď0Ē is aligned with the index mark, reinsert the screw, tighten, and youíre set. No problem. 
 
     I also found both the objective lens and the power rings to be easy to adjust. Some scopes, even some very expensive scopes, make turning these controls very difficult. Some other objective rings will also bind when turned and will take a breaking in period before they smooth out. Other rings can be too loose and will turn off their settings after the gun has been fired a couple of times. The Alpen adjustment rings worked smoothly with no binding right from the get go - just right
 
     Lastly, Iíve found that this is a very reliable scope. Iíve been putting one through its paces for probably around nine months now. Iíve hung it on everything from a TC 22 rim fire, a 222 Kimber, and a Remington 30-06 coupled with some really nasty 180 grain loads and itís never given me a bit of trouble. All Alpen products come with a no bull lifetime warrantee. However, the chances are that youíll never use it. If you do, youíll never have to worry about getting hassled as Alpen goes the extra mile to keep its customers happy. To illustrate, once when I visited their facility, they showed me a junky pair of binoculars made by someone else that an individual sent in for repair. I mean these things looked like a toy that had been run over with a pick up. It wasnít even their product and the individual wanted Alpen to fix them for free! Going that extra mile, they sent that person a brand new set of Alpen binoculars. Is that great or what?  Now donít go sending them that old pair of trash binocs that you bought at K-Mart for $12.95 in 1979, hoping to get a new set. Thatís not going to happen, but this incident illustrates that Alpen stands behind itís products 110%.
 
     In summary, I found that the Alpen Apex 6 X 24 X 50 is a very high quality, reliable product with an exceptionally reasonable price tag. You can easily spend $450 and up to buy a more expensive scope, but why would you?
 
Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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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.