Journalists regularly receive items to test and review. I like to spend several months using them on hunts at home and abroad, whenever I have time, leisure, and opportunity.

In practice, strengths and weaknesses quickly become clear: a Leica Calonox served me very well at night in raised hides in Africa, while a bushcraft knife broke the first time I used it. I also enjoy sharing these items with hunter friends – “old hands” as well as “rookies” – and asking them to assess pros and cons from their point of view. The result: Diverse perspectives as well as ideas and solutions I would never have come up with myself.
Mid 2023, I received a new Leica Fortis scope from Wetzlar for testing. A few months later, I handed it on to my friend Samuel, who is practically a full-time sport shooter. He mounted the scope on his high-end rifle and used it regularly for training, ammunition testing, as well as for hunting.

Here is his report:

“It’s 6:45 pm in the Spessart, getting dark. I’m lying uphill near a small bush because I’ve noticed movement at the edge of the forest at about 160 meters. I measure the distance with my second-hand Leica CRF 2800 and I can just make out a roebuck at 166 meters at the forest’s edge. My rifle rests perfectly on my rucksack, the shoulder rest on my shooting bag. I adjust the parallax of the Fortis 6 until the illuminated reticle and the buck are crystal clear, even at 8x magnification. It’s already dusk, but the optics compensate for this somewhat. With my two American scopes – the ones I normally use – the image is noticeably darker and not as sharp.

Bullet catch is assured, so I go five clicks up and bring my illuminated dot down low, behind the buck’s shoulder blade, since I’m shooting uphill. My right index finger slowly pulls the trigger up to the pressure point. I exhale three-quarters, then hold my breath, slowly increasing pressure on the trigger. A bang resounds through the valley and the buck goes down. The hit was placed perfectly. A chest shot, deep into the animal’s body, with a central exit. Precise work, training, and the repeatable riflescope made this possible. Prior to hunting, I had used the Fortis four times at the stand and discovered that it doesn’t need a test shot or set shot when I remove it for transport.

Earlier this year, my friend Frank had asked me if I had time to test a Leica riflescope. Previously, I had only tried Leica’s binoculars and laser rangefinders, so I said yes, of course. I have owned a Leica Rangemaster for about a year now. It has already supported me faithfully on many hunts and at long-range events, especially in combination with my Kestrel 5700 Elite. So I was very excited to try out the riflescope.

In late summer, it arrived: Leica Fortis 6 (1.8 – 12 x 42 i).

Right away, I noticed that the scope is pleasantly light and that its turrets are nice and low. Unfortunately, it only came with a bikini cover, no flip caps. If I were to buy one, I would retrofit this immediately. I recommend the rugged Leica flip caps made of aluminum – not plastic – to protect this valuable device. One look through the riflescope confirmed that Leica coats its lenses like no other manufacturer. Despite the small objective diameter of 42 mm, the image is superb – even in poor light conditions. At the lowest magnification of 1.8x, a thin black rim appears, but only if your eyesight is keen. Older hunters do not notice this rim, even after I’ve pointed it out. With increasing age, human eyesight naturally becomes weaker as the lens in the eye loses its flexibility.

A rail is fitted to the scope itself, so I could use my ERA-Tac mount. Thanks to the rail, the scope was mounted on my rifle within three minutes. No counter-checking with a spirit level was necessary, as with a normal ring mount. A test nevertheless showed that the reticle is perfectly aligned within the scope. This is not always the case with other high-class manufacturers, which can lead to enormous problems, especially for long shots. I used the Fortis on outdoor shooting ranges at over 1,000 m without any trouble.

The diopter adjustment resembles that of most other manufacturers and covers a range from +3 to -4. I don’t yet need this myself, but the time will come…Magnification adjusts smoothly, neither too tight nor too loose. Easily done with your non-dominant hand (the dominant hand always remains on the rifle butt) without the loosely positioned rifle moving off-target. The elevation turret caught my eye as soon as I unpacked the scope. It has a rapid reticle adjustment, secured by a rotating ring. This is particularly important when stalking or transporting rifles in a hunting backpack – in poor light conditions, or in total darkness, it’s often impossible to check whether the turret has become misaligned. This rotating mechanism is convenient and engages firmly without making a sound. Excellent!

The click adjustment is 0.1 MRAD: 1 cm at 100 m per click. Very convenient. Not every scope offers this.

Once the rifle is calibrated and zeroed, you have an adjustment range of 9.5 MIL (95 clicks), which is perfectly adequate for hunting. With my combination of ammunition and rifle in .308 Win caliber, the 9.5 MIL range extended to steel targets at 790 m. Beyond that, shooters must know their stuff and choose a higher holdover. The lateral turret is covered by a twist-off cap. This is great; I use this turret only when calibrating my rifle. Wind and target movement are compensated with the reticle, not by clicking. Especially at “normal” hunting distances of up to 300 m, this is method is quick and reliable, provided you have some training.

The battery compartment (CR 2032) for the reticle illumination is on the left side of the riflescope. This can be set to nine distinct brightness levels. Levels six to nine are so bright that this scope is ideal for driven hunts – even during the day at low magnification. Small point of criticism here: If you’re wearing gloves, the cap of the battery compartment may come loose when you decrease the reticle brightness.

The parallax adjustment, also located on the left turret, extends from 50 m to infinity. Whenever the hunter takes aim through the eyepiece at a slight angle, a parallax error occurs. The visual and optical axes no longer match, and the “straight line” from reticle center to target is no longer given. Parallax is negligible for hunting distances up to about 150 m. But at greater distances, this error leads to incorrect aim and, inevitably, to misses. Most riflescopes are parallax-free at 100 m, which is often plenty. But if you want to shoot further, e.g. when hunting in the mountains or for sporting purposes, you will reach your limit. Thanks to parallax compensation in this Fortis riflescope, parallax error is corrected at the desired shooting distance, via lens shifting, and image sharpness is simultaneously readjusted to keep the target in razor-sharp focus.

The Leica Fortis reticle in this case the L4A lies in the second focal plane. I like this reticle and would choose it myself, even if I generally prefer the first focal plane (I feel I get a better range estimate that way – a matter of personal preference). In conclusion, I’m pleased to report that this riflescope has served me faithfully for three months. The low magnification of 1.8x lets me use a thermal imaging attachment such as the Calonox, and view the entire image on the attachment.

A great scope. The Fortis has an enormous magnification range and can be used in a wide variety of situations: from driven hunts to long-range shooting.”

Text and photos: Dr. Frank B. Metzner

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