Steiner Tactical Scopes

Precision Glass For Precision Rifles.

I was at a sniper match about a year ago. The rifles were on the line, the competitors standing behind them, quietly shooting the breeze and waiting to shoot their rifles on the next event. That gave me the opportunity to walk the line and see what scopes they were using. What? A Steiner Military Scope!

You’ll be immediately thrown out of a match for touching another’s rifle or equipment, but this one I had to see. I turned to the group and asked, “Who owns this rifle?” They all looked at me like I was crazy, but one of them approached and said, “I do. Why?”

“Can I look through your scope?” The fellow succinctly replied, “Sure.” Assuming a bent prone position, I did so without touching his rifle. And thus began a yearlong odyssey. When I arrived home, a message was already waiting in my e-mail from the editor. “Would you please take a look at Steiner’s new tactical scope?” I got hold of Dennis Philips, and a 5-25x56mm riflescope was soon on its way with a set of 34mm rings. While in the midst of evaluating the scope, I got another message to send it to be mounted on a rifle by Robbie Barrkman for a cover photo. Several months later, I contacted Dennis again, and he promptly sent another scope, still in the cellophane, but this time it was the 3-15x50mm. Something was lost in translation. But since I had taken time to look carefully at the 5-25X, I now had the opportunity to look at the 3-15X.

Why am I telling you all this? Because the scope is not only up to the task, it is superb. I wanted to spend some real time with it to see if my first impressions were correct.

Even though it’s distributed by Burris, the scope is clearly marked, “Made in Germany.” And, as it turns out, they manufacture a second hunting line called the Predator that runs for less than half the cost of the military line. The military scopes are expensive, but Steiner has spared nothing to bring the best state-of-the-art in optics, material and design to the shooter, and with a 30-year warranty.

Dennis Philips told me, “Steiner got back into the riflescope market in 2010 with a 4X line of tactical scopes made in our Greeley plant using glass supplied by Germany. In 2011 we started the Predator scope line, made with German glass in our plant in Greeley. Prior to 2010, Steiner made some riflescopes under military contract.


The 5-25x56m Steiner Tactical scope mounted on a Nighthawk .308 tactical rifle.
The knob shown is actually two, with one being the parallax adjustment, and
the other illumination controls.

“But both of the tactical scopes are made entirely in Germany. Burris Company on paper owns Steiner and is the North American distributor for Steiner. However, we sell/market the product as Steiner. Even though we are both owned by Beretta, we operate as separate entities even though our address is the same.”

Steiner does offer a standard mil-hashmark reticle, but they sent their MSR, which is a mil-hashmark version with rangefinder marks in the image as well, all located in the first focal plane. The illumination is somewhat unique because 0 indicates off. The dial is numbered 1 through 11. They use 8 through 11 for daytime and 1 through 7 for nighttime use. The illumination dial has stops between each number that turns the illumination off in a save mode. This nice feature allows you to stay near the number that works best in the light you are working in, so you don’t have to move the dial all the way from 0 to your number, and 1 through 4 can be used with night vision devices.

The illumination dial is integrated with the parallax adjustment ring on the left side of the scope as you look through it. Top and right side are the elevation and windage dials. Since the scope is mil-mil, the dial is in 0.1 MRADs. This may be somewhat confusing. One MRAD is marked on the side of the dial by large marks, but is incremented by 10 smaller marks between each MRAD and is measured in centimeters. Thus 1 mil = 10 cm = 3.9 inches at 100 meters.

The MSR (Multi-purpose Sniper Reticle) is a licensed reticle design. Basically the measure in the lower left quadrant breaks down mils to very fine increments, making it easier to determine distance based on known sizes of targets. It is most useful for LE/police snipers who have adequate time to measure a target in mils to determine range. The formula is mils x 27.77 ÷ size in inches of the target.


The ocular has the European quick diopter focus and a large knurled power ring (above). Looking from the shooter’s view, both the elevation and windage turrets (below) are incremented in Mils (large tic marks) and centimeters (small tic marks). The parallax adjustment is the larger turret on the left. The smaller turret controls illumination.

The scale on the lower right is more of a quick military solution where each line represents 18 inches of width (the average distance across a man’s chest) at the indicated ranges of 400 to 1,300 meters (1,421.7 yards). Bracket his shoulders, read the indicated range and hold for that distance. Good enough to get a bullet in someone getting ready to fire a mortar or plant an IED.

The elevation knob is unique. I use a well-known scope for competition and hunting, and I have to admit that I sometimes get lost as to where I am on my rotation. Am I on 2 or 12 MOA? Am I set for 600 yards or 200 yards? I never invested in a zero stop device. If I rotate to zero, am I truly at 100 yards or one revolution from that? I have to look at the vernier scale and try to remember what was showing when I was zeroed at 100 yards. Not so with the Steiner. When the first revolution is made, a new scale jumps out at you between 14 and 15 mils. Thus, you immediately know what revolution you are on as well as what mil setting. Also, in the dark, if you want to get back to a known position, simply rotate clockwise until you stop and then move counterclockwise two clicks to 0.

What could be more important? I hate to be a sensationalist, but wow! It reminds me of S&B, which has become very popular with sniper competitors, and the March scope popular among the F-Class and Benchrest competitors. On my charts, I can’t find fault with it. Resolution and contrast are excellent. There are no apparent distortions, and both the brightness and clarity are superb. Remember that brightness and clarity are not a measure of resolution or contrast. Most companies of high-end optics are going to the Japanese and now even China to reduce cost to the consumer. I understand that, and in some cases, the body and the glass are excellent. But none are in the European’s class in my opinion. Swarovski, S&B, Kahles and IOR, for example, are in a class by themselves, and now Steiner has not let that standard down with their new tactical scopes.

The old saying goes, “You get what you pay for,” and in the case of the Steiner scope, you will pay dearly. The bigger problem will be how to get one on every rifle you own. It is well worth the money to anyone who is serious about their shooting.
I have the good fortune to be going on an elk hunt in November of this year. I will be taking the Steiner 5-25x56mm with me. Life is good!
By Jacob Gottfredson

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