The rifle optics game has been changing a lot as of late, one might even say turning on its head. While the old dynasties continue to bring newer and better products to the consumer, some upstart brands are challenging them for dominance. What would once be unthinkable, an unknown company jumping in and not just surviving, but taking market share? Happening all the time.
One such company is Tract Optics, who has a revolutionary idea. They are direct to the consumer, with no dealers or distributors. If you don’t know, this is very contrary to how things normally happen in the firearms business. Due to the unique regulatory nature of firearms, there must remain an end dealer with a license. Because of that, for decades, everything firearms has followed an ancient logistical path.
And while that is fine, you must realize it does cost you. The manufacturer sells typically to a distributor. That’s markup number one. The distributor takes orders and sells them to the dealer. That is markup number two. Then the dealer has to keep his lights on, so he marks up again for you. Markup number three.
This isn’t something we will likely ever get away from in firearms. Not to mention, it is pretty handy to have that dealer around so you can hold a gun at the counter. Provide warranty services. Sometimes even let you test-drive one before you buy it. But it doesn’t have to be that way with optics.
Tract Optics advertises that they went to the best Japanese manufacturers of scopes, and made a deal to bring the top-tier quality direct to you. And that is a pretty high bar. You may not know it, but many of the companies you already buy from very craftily say “assembled” or “designed” in the USA on the box. Not manufactured.
In the grand scheme of things, Japanese scopes have always been quite good. After all, anyone capable of optical wonders such as cameras, Bluetooth players, and precision instruments should be. In descending order of glass quality, we tend to say German, American, Japanese, Philippine, and then Chinese. And you will pay a pretty penny for those first two.
The Tract model we chose to review was the TORIC 30mm FFP 4-20×50 MRAD PRS scope. It is advertised as featuring the Tract Optics Ultra High Definition optical system, consisting of SCHOTT high transmission glass. Which sound like two things a marketing guy would make up, if we are being quite honest.
However, the tale of the tape changes my initial skepticism. Prepared to be unimpressed, I lined my new TORIC 30mm up next to a Leupold Mk5. The Leupold Mk5 has been a favorite on the channel for some time, and would be my first choice in what I consider a mid-range scope. (By that I mean $2000 or under.) I was absolutely shocked at the results.
Now to be fair, clarity of glass and light transmission is a very subjective thing, without lab equipment and using a caveman eyeball. But, that said, my eye at least preferred the Tract. Not only was the clarity better, but the colors also looked warmer and brighter. Kind of important when you are looking for game against a fall background. Also, despite the Tract having a 30mm tube and the Leupold having a 35mm, the Tract did better as the light was fading. That is very odd in itself. Usually, but not always, the bigger tube does a better job of light gathering. For the Tract to even hang is a miracle. To outperform, which it did, is downright stunning.
And with the glass proven out, the rest of the features of the Tract TORIC really shine. The elevation knob is a locking pull-out style, with a zero stop. The windage knob is also locking, with a knurled texture and size that makes it easy to use. Both have a positive pop feel when they are in adjustment mode and lock up tight when depressed.
The reticle is its own piece of brilliance. First, it is illuminated, and well so, which is crazy at this price point. The PRS reticle in our test model is a Christmas tree style, with .2 mil windage markings. The floating center dot is a mere .04 MRAD in size, which makes aiming small a breeze. I didn’t realize how much this mattered until I shot the TORIC’s style of center for zero. I would say it shrank groups considerably, and I’m not exactly new at this.
One of the only failings of the scope, in my opinion, is the elevation holds on the Christmas tree. Tract inexplicably went with .5 mil markings on the elevation portion, which I find odd. Now perhaps it doesn’t matter with a centerfire, but I did a lot of my testing on a precision 22LR. A precise elevation hold tends to matter in that discipline a great deal. That matters to me, but to be fair matters less to a guy running a 6.5 Creedmoor.
The TORIC tracked true in our tests, which is also a big deal. At this price, I was happily surprised that it went the distance on a tall target test without fail. The 30mm tube has a full 20 MRAD of travel, which I will grant is enough for most applications. For us though, in testing, I would have spent the extra $400 for its bigger brother with a 34mm tube. The 34mm tube has 32 MRAD of travel, a significant gain. This did hurt us rather badly on the precision 22 AR upper, where we needed 15 mils to finish out our 300m range. Considering that would get us to 1000 meters roughly with 5.56 NATO, I have no complaints.
All said and done, I for one am quite happy to have come across Tract Optics. Not only is their product fantastic, but their response time is also insanely fast. It isn’t uncommon to have one of the two owners handling the live chat help on the website, whatever hour of the day. Tract, in my opinion, is arguably the best value in optics today. If you haven’t tried one, you should, and for the money it looks like it can’t be beaten.
The rifle optics game has been changing a lot as of late.
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This a great review on a great product. I am considering these two rifle scopes: Leupold Mark5 3.6-18x MOA or Tract Toric 4-20x MOA. First up, the Leupold Mark5 3.6-18x may be the buy to save some weight 26 oz, the Tract Toric 4-20x 34 oz is not much but it is something. I have Tract Toric for three years, and everything that you say is true the clarity in the glass. The glass is so good that I bought a Vortex Razor spotter turned around two months later and got a Tract Toric spotter.
Just for clarification, scope tube diameter has no bearing on light gathering capability, only on elevation and windage travel. Having incorrect information or comments like that in your review may lead to readers discrediting your expertise. I do appreciate the comparison to a well known scope.
Nicely done review, Clay, but I’d like to argue the 30mm vs 35mm main tube “light gathering” statement you wrote. I may be a pedant about this, but the inaccuracy of it kind of matters because it gives folks the wrong idea. Neither main tubes nor objective lenses “gather light.” The best they can do is pass it or transmit it with minimal loss. Light cannot get brighter as it passes through lenses. It’s intensity cannot increase, only decrease. A wider main tube could transmit more light than a narrower one if it included higher quality anti-reflection coatings and more of them. Or vice versa. The diameter of the light beam transmitted from the objective to the interior lenses (erector lenses) is usually smaller than those interior lenses, so their diameter doesn’t increase light transmission. Brightness is, rather, a product of objective lens diameter divided by magnification to produce the exit pupil. If this EP is as wide as the shooter’s eye is dilated (a max of about 7mm) said shooter would be getting all the light his eye could admit. The intensity of that light, however, could be more or less depending on the effectiveness of the anti-reflection coatings. This suggests that what you were detecting in the Tract scope was superior coatings of interior lenses. Perhaps I am missing something, but this is what my research into scopes has revealed. Perhaps you or others could clarify.
I believe Leupold is the only company that manufactures their own lenses. I receive 6or 7 firearm mags. a month and the article said they were the only company to do that. Anyone else see that article?
A very fair review of a high value product…I have a couple of Tract scopes, and heartily agree with everything you say about the owners, and their operation. A class act, with class products.