The March 5-40 x 56 FFP Scope - By Chris Parkin
March are quickly gaining a reputation as THE choice for top end F Class and target rifles needing superb high-magnification optics but, how will they fare with a scope aimed more at the serious varminter or tactical user.
What is FFP
First Focal Plane is the name designated to an optic where the reticle inhabits this specific zone in the system. The reticle will remain precisely relative in size to the image at any magnification that is chosen and, any estimating done using markings on the reticle - such as a Mil-Dot - will therefore read correctly at all levels of magnification.
This format is popular for those gauging range by measuring an object of known size and originated from a time when there was no such thing as a laser range-finder. The benefits of FFP are those listed above; the downsides are that careful reticle design is required to avoid obscuring the target at high-magnification or losing sight of the reticle – which becomes tiny when the zoom is wound down to provide a greater field of view
The build of this March scope follows their previously displayed lines of a 34mm one piece aluminium main tube diminishing from a 56mm Objective lens down to a 36mm ocular via a slim central saddle holding three turrets.
Elevation and windage units are 0.05 miliradian with 5 `mils` per rotation as part of 24 in total for elevation and 12 mils of windage. 0.05 mils is equivalent to 5mm at 100 metres. The vernier style turrets do not have a rotation indicator but elevation does feature a zero stop that can be screwed down to set your starting position.
The windage turret is marked left and right and shares 0.05 and 0.1 mil markings, easily dialled using the gently knurled finger-tip profiles with clicks that provide and excellent compromise between firm without over-rotation. Once zeroed, small Allen screws allow the markings on the turret to be set to zero for reference.
The left-hand parallax turret is marked from 10 yards (strange on a scope 100% metric elsewhere) to infinity although it won’t actually focus quite that closely. Crisp focus snaps in and out with a solid appearance and backlash in the system is pleasantly non-existent. This scope uses a soft rubber centre button on the parallax turret to control illumination of the centre section of the reticle and, like other March scopes, four brightness settings are available along with OFF, from 5 presses of the button which is quick and silent.
I really liked this system before and it impresses me now but I would personally like a brighter setting to give a clearer view of the reticle (small in size) at low mag in daylight. The zoom-ring is silent and smooth with crisply executed knurling, all settings are clearly marked although being FFP aren’t critical and the minimal lock-ring on the non-fast focus eyepiece does not get in the way during operation.
The 92-100mm eye relief range is just right without any uncomfortable variation through zoom travel requiring head movement. I was delighted to find that unlike a 5-50 March scope I tested last year, the exit pupil here seemed generously forgiving contrary to the 8x erector-tube required for the 5-40x zoom ratios. The FIML-1 reticle is a hovering inverted Christmas tree style showing three full mils and half-mil increments in all directions at 40x zoom. This increases to 9 mils on the lower section at approximately 18x mag and as you descend to the minimum, the external stadia become fully visible in the field of view. These are gently tapered to lead the eye to the centre which at 5x is understandably small!
The scope on test came supplied with a Third Eye Tactical ‘Unimount’ allowing simple fitting onto my Picatinny rail equipped rifle. Zeroing at 100m was easily accomplished and, I’m really starting to grow fond of FFP reticles with both metric reticles and turrets, as zeroing alone gives an immediate impression of the scope’s matching parameters whilst taking only a few shots to reach dead centre.
Eight rounds completed the zeroing, a check on short range dialling via a ‘box’ test and the fact that 10/20 clicks equalled the half and whole miliradian markings in the reticle along with perfect return to zero and tracking.
I eagerly awaited a gap in the foul weather over the Christmas holidays to get to some competition or multi-distance tactical shoots but had to limit myself to long-range varmint shooting which, although not formal in procedure, certainly gives the chance for a lot of dialling and perhaps most critically, stretches the optics towards darkness.
Primary testing had given a crystal-clear picture of electrical power-line insulators over two miles away and in use, with parallax snapping directly in and out of focus, I was struck with the clarity of this optic on small targets requiring defined resolution at both high levels of magnification and long ranges. Tested alongside top end European glass of similar magnification, I was somewhat astounded the detail the March would resolve where the Euro glass felt stretched but, we are talking the far end of rifle optics and perhaps more of importance, the European glass was still performing just a little closer into darkness.
Do not underestimate me though, this Japanese glass from Deon optics has now got 99% of the way there, it is very, very good. Needless to say ‘edge to edge’ clarity was without question and colour rendition in these dim winter months was as defined as could be hoped for from any glass but is one factor always open to discussion from the eyes of other shooter’s ‘rods and cones’. The reticle remained pin sharp in any conditions and illumination never caused any light to flare back into my eyes. Like the rest of the March range, weight was class leading at 905 grams.
Delightful turrets with beautifully tactile clicks
No rotation indicator on elevation turret
I’d like to see better lens caps supplied
£3000 plus for a scope is new territory
In good light for serious long-range targets, I take my hat off to this scope. Other than very last light, my perception of non-European glass is being changed by March but, at this price, it needs to be very good.
Model March 5-40 x 56 FFP FIML reticle
Exit pupil 1.4mm @ 40x
Eye Relief 92-100mm
Tube size 34mm
Click value 0.05 miliradian (5mm@100m)
Overall travel 24 mil elevation, 12 mil windage
Eye Relief approx 90mm
Parallax Side wheel
Warranty 5 years
Supplied with 75mm sunshade, batteries, instructions and lens caps
Contact: March Scopes UK www.marchscopes.co.uk Tel: 01293 606 901
Contact, Slovenia; Promuc, Jurij Cigler s.p., www.hot-range.com, firstname.lastname@example.org