By Kurt Gruber, TGR Staff Writer

You can rarely win a 3-gun match on the long-range stage or stages.  In outlaw 3-gun however, where the penalties for missing long range targets are multiplied versus misses on any other target in the match, it is pretty easy to lose a match there.  It is because of this that more of the top names in 3-gun shooting have gone away from the 1-4x optics that had been the standard in these matches, leaning toward optics that extend to 6 or 8x.  Enter the Horus Vision Blackbird II optic that combines the capability of 1.5-8x magnification with the amazing Horus H59 reticle that combines a mil grid in the first focal plane for effective and fast long-range target acquisition and a red dot in the second focal plane for fast acquisition of close range targets.


At first sight, the Horus Vision Blackbird II is a good-looking scope.  The scope is predominately marked on both sides of the ocular as the Horus Vision Model 2000 Blackbird II.  The bottom of the ocular is marked with each scopes individual serial number.  The scope seems very well made.  The magnification adjustment ring out of the box is a bit tight, but it does not take long for it to break in and travel very smoothly.  This is made even smoother with the simple addition of a Switchview lever from MGM Targets.  The focus adjustment ring on the front of the ocular is stiff but easy to adjust.  The scope has a 30mm tube that is compatible with standard scope mounts from companies such as Larue Tactical and Warne Mounts.  The elevation and windage are capped mil/mil turrets with 1/10th of a mil per click adjustments.  The rheostat for the illumination has six positions with alternating on and off positions allowing and accurate manipulation of the dot.


The Horus System

When the average shooter first looks at the Horus reticle, their first thought is how busy the reticle seems.  As they gain time on scope, however, most begin to understand the Horus is not merely a reticle but instead a system.  The Blackbird II combines the best of both worlds, which allows it to excel for 3-gun competitions that often have targets at ranges varying from inside 50 yards to 500-600yards and beyond.  The fact that the reticle is on the first focal plane and the dot on the second does cause the dot to float a bit in the reticle, with it moving closer to perfect center of the reticle as the magnification is increased.  This does not affect the accuracy at any range in my experience.


The Horus system is a revolutionary reticle system that is designed specifically for long range shooting.  The system includes a mil grid below the center point of the reticle that provides not only mil dots along the elevation and windage crosshairs but also provides a mil dot windage “crosshair” on each of the elevation mil dots.  This allows for much quicker target acquisition when a holdover and windage adjustment is required to make the shot.

The Horus system, being designed for long-range shooting, also has features that make it much friendlier for shooter/ spotter teams who have not had the chance to train together as much.  In order to take all the guesswork out of the space between the mil dots the Horus system uses .2 mil sub tensions along the windage and elevation lines.  This allows the spotter to call a 5.8 mil hold and 2.4 mil wind without the shooter having to guess where the .8 and .4 mils are.

In the sport of 3-gun however, as in many real world applications, there is not a spotter and the shooter is on his own.  The Horus system assists the lone shooter also by allowing for faster follow up shots when the impact of the bullet can be seen.  If the shooter has a building or a berm behind the target, he merely needs to stay on scope and watch where in the reticle the bullet impact is and quickly move that dot on the Horus grid on the target and send a follow up shot in nearly identical atmospheric conditions.

Range Report

I have been using the Horus Vision Blackbird II on my 3-gun rifle since I first got my hands on one at the 2012 Texas Multigun.  I had come off a horrible performance on the long-range stage, tore my optic off my gun, and sold it cheap to go a new direction.  I had been looking at the Horus system for some time to put on my precision rifles and when I saw the Blackbird II, I knew that it was going to be a great option for my 3-gun game.  The combination of good ballistic data for my long-range match ammo and the Horus reticle has made a huge difference in my performance on long-range stages since then.  I have noticed a few times, either in matches, classes, or practice sessions where I would have preferred a true 1x with a wider field of view to the 1.5x, but that is easily solved by running offset iron sights like the Duecke Defense RTS.  The only real problem I have had with the scope is that the battery life for the illumination seems not to be the greatest.  That is also solved easily by carrying spare batteries.

I have also put a Blackbird II on my heavy optics gun, but have not had much chance to run it yet.  In the little bit I have shot it I was happy with the performance of the scope on my LWRCi REPR.  The 8x magnification is great for a .308 rifle for the heavy optics class because it is great at longer range.

At a suggested retail of around $1275 the Blackbird II is priced at the lower end of the spectrum for optics in this magnification range.  The Blackbird II definitely competes with much higher price optics and is a great scope for the money in my book.  I will definitely continue to use the two I have and recommend them to people looking for more power and a better system for shooting at long range.

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Kurt is a semi-pro 3 gun shooter and a member of the Adams Arms 3 Gun Team. Kurt has been involved in competitive shooting for about 13 years and has competed in a number of disciplines from USPSA pistol, to 3 Gun, and most recently Precision Rifle.