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March FX 5-42×56 High Master Wide Angle: Reviewing the Ultra High End

So, you want to buy a high-end riflescope? Thankfully, this is a buyers’ market, and there are dozens of companies who have offerings in this category. However, there still is the elusive “best scope of 2020” throne so many manufacturers have chased. We’re not talking about the best “bang for your buck” or the “best scope for PRS (Precision Rifle Series) shooting”, no, we’re talking the best scope of 2020. Best clarity, best turrets, best reticle, best magnification value. The best of the best. This is no easy task, as several companies have occupied the throne of “best XXXX year scope” a number times. Schmidt & Bender’s PMII 5-25x56mm and Nighforce’s ATACR 5-25x56mm have arguably both occupied that seat. March, by Deon is taking a stab at the throne in 2020 with their new March FX High Master Wide Angle 5-42x56mm optic. Yes, you read that correctly, that’s 5-42. And its front focal plane. Those who are used to FFP optics know the higher the magnification is, the thicker the reticle gets. (Note, Front Focal Plane or FFP scopes have a reticle with subtensions that are , regardless of the magnification and appears to “grow and shrink” with the target. As you zoom in on the target, you also perceptibly zoom in on the reticle, making it wider.)

Three questions are used to evaluate the March FX 5-42x35 HM WA. With a magnification range like this, will the high and low ends of the spectrum even be usable? Does this optic have a legitimate claim for “best optic for 2020”? Can it live up to the lofty heights of other optics that have occupied that seat? These are not easy questions to answer.

 

Deon March HVBefore diving into our experiences with the March FX 5-42x56mm, let’s run through some brief specs. The March FX High Master Wide Angle 5-42x56mm (henceforth referred to as the FX-WA, because that’s one long-ass title) ships in Mils, sorry for you MOA lovers. It has 0.1 Mil adjustments and 10 Mil locking turrets, an illuminated reticle with three offerings to choose from (we chose the FML-3 variant), and a zero stop. The FX-WA features a new “Wide Angle” design which claims to give the user 30% greater field of view compared to other scopes in its category.  It also claims to have “Super ED lens elements” which sharpens optical clarity and a “Temperature Anti-Drift Lens System” which should reliably keep the scope zeroed, even through extreme temperature fluctuations.

march scope

The very first thing we noticed upon picking up this optic was its field of view. This certainly is not a marketing gimmick. If you have ever spent time behind a classic Trijicon ACOG and been startled by its wide image, then you will have some idea of how the FX-WA feels when looking through it at low magnifications. Instead it wonderfully retains that same feeling until quite high in the magnification range, around 20-25x where many riflescopes top out. When at magnification above 25x, the eye box feels very small. As if fickle, a slight deviation of your head will lose the image. However, if one can maintain a steady position, you will be rewarded with almost spotting-scope levels of magnification. To answer the first defining question: the reticle feels very usable at even maximum magnification. This is accomplished by a 0.06-0.1 Mil wide dot (dependent on reticle choice) at the center of the reticle that will make extreme long range and benchrest shooters quite happy.

The reticle, however, leaves quite a bit to be desired at 5x magnification. The center of the reticle is so fine at this magnification that it seems like an approximation of an aiming reference. Other manufactures have combatted this issue with a thicker segmented circle or other indicators around the center dot. However, this can obscure your targets at higher magnifications, so it can be a win-lose battle.  When shooting with the FX-WA we just didn’t use the 5-10 magnification, instead ending up with a 17-20 sweet-spot. At this level, nearly the entire reticle is visible and boasts superb clarity.

The glass itself is remarkably crisp with very little visible tint and nearly perfect edge to edge consistency. At no point when viewing downrange with the FX-WA did it feel like they skimped on coatings or glass quality. Put simply, these are some of the best lenses we’ve looked through.

The optic includes a polymer extended magnification lever to assist transitioning through the 5-42 range of magnification. We welcomed this as it saved us from what often ends up becoming a nearly required aftermarket purchase for serious shooters. At the same time, the magnification ring is well marked and didn’t require the throw-lever to move easily, even at sub 30° Fahrenheit weather.

Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor ELD Match

For a Scope of this scale, we sought out Hornady 140 grain ELD as the ammunition of choice. This combination of Rifle and quality Ammunition allowed for a confident review of the optic Itself.

The turrets were very intuitive. Adjustments to windage and elevation had just the right amount of resistance, and each “click” could be felt and heard easily, meaning no “guessing” when it came time to making adjustments. Once we were satisfied with a 100meter zero, the we easily reset the turrets to zero by loosening three small setscrews and centering the turret above the provided witness mark. The elevation and windage turret locking mechanism seemed odd to us at first but ended up being incredibly easy to operate. Inset into the top of each turret sits a toggle-like switch that flips from red (locked) to blue (unlocked). Pretty simple. Many turrets these days have a pull up and push down locking mechanism that can sometimes make the turret difficult to accurately zero out, but these toggles keep the structure of the turret solid with fewer moving pieces and less room for error. The turrets are well marked and don’t bombard the user with excessive information, there’s the revolution that the user is on and the Mil the user is on. That’s it.

A zero stop feature is also included. When the user finds their preferred zero, the zero stop can be applied. This makes it easy to dial elevation for a shot, then dial back to zero where the turret will stop dead, exactly 0.5 mils under zero. The zero stop is applied with a set screw on the top of the turret with a fine hex key, thankfully the same one needed to reset the turret.


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We found no errors in dialing accuracy, it returned to zero after every adjustment and after a rigorous box drill. The box drill we preformed consisted of 10 Mils up, 10 Mils left, 10 Mils down, 20 Mils right, 10 Mils down, 10 Mils left, and then 10 Mils up back to zero.

Like many optics before it, the March FX illumination control is tied to the parallax. Powered on by a push button at the center of the turret with a 1 hour shut-off timer, this added a nice touch for all of us who forget to turn our optics off. It has 6 levels of brightness. A complaint many have of front focal plane optics is that the illumination is never daylight bright, and this scope, unfortunately, is no exception. A brighter reticle would have made it more usable at the lower magnifications, but in mid-day light, even when slightly overcast, we struggled to see the illumination. While it’s helpful in dimmer shooting settings, that’s about all it’s good for: a consistent issue with illuminated riflescopes.

The parallax is marked with a graduated line, not yardage markers. Some will like this; others will not. We found it preferable as it keeps the shooter from becoming lazy when adjusting for parallax. To properly remove perceived parallax, the user should turn the knob while looking down the scope and slightly moving one’s head. The target and reticle should not move independently of one another when at the correct parallax setting.

The March FX eyepiece is adjustable for focus and can be locked out via a stop ring when the user is satisfied with their setting. Both the eyepiece and objective lenses can be protected with the included lens caps- a nice touch. Unlike many other, these caps can be folded all the way back onto the body of the tube and stay in place.

The March FX High Master Wide Angle 5-42x56mm is an impressive, featurepacked optic, and for the money, it should be. This beast can be obtained for $4200 MSRP. That’s a lot of cash and puts this high-end scope near the high-end of it's own catagory of cost. As with all heavy weight purchases, at the end of the day it’s up to the end-user to determine if it’s worth the money. Our recommendation is this: try it before you buy it. The wide field of view and huge magnification range are certainly tempting, but we believe even a dedicated long-range shooter would have a hard time paying this kind of money sight unseen. For the price it is quite far out on the scale of diminishing returns, but is it the best scope of 2020? It might be, yes.


Rifle Build:
Chambering: 6.5 Creedmoor
Action: Kelbly, Atlas Tactical
Barrel: Broughton, 5c 22″
Chassis: Kinetic Research Group, Whisky Gen 6
Trigger: Triggertech, Special
Break: MDT, Elite
Mount: LaRue, LT746 10MOA

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