|For serious riflemen, few things are as important as quality optics. For the past couple of years now I've been using different scopes and binoculars manufactured by I.O.R. of Bucharest, Romania. Although a relative newcomer to the U.S. market, I.O.R. (Industry Optic Romania) has been steadily making inroads among serious shooters here - solely through the quality of their product. SOF has been impressed enough that we decided to field test two of their tactical scopes and one of their binoculars. For testing we chose their 2.5-10x42 Tactical and their brand new 6-24x50 Tactical, and their 10x40 binocular.
Born in 1936 in the southeastern part of Romania, Industry Optic Romania was the creation of three prominent European corporations: Malaxa-Carp, Optique De Le Vollois, and Bernard-Turnne. These three companies begot what was to become one of the largest producers of military optics in the world.
After WWII, I.O.R. found itself trapped in the Soviet sphere of influence, but they maintained their close ties with certain German companies and in 1967 started to expand their collaboration with the giant German manufacturers of Pentacon, Fog-Gorlitz and Schneider, and they continued to produce military optics as they had previously. In 1975 an increased level of collaboration with Carl Zeiss, Hensoldt, Leitz and Leica began.
Guided To The Leading Edge
This is of particular interest to us, as these highly respected German optics manufacturers took a keen interest in I.O.R. Carl Zeiss in particular played a key role in modernizing I.O.R. with the latest equipment and techniques. A second plant was opened, and by 1978 I.O.R. had become one of the globe's largest suppliers of military optics. In 1989, I.O.R. entered the fields of opto-electronics and thermovision.
But an old name and a European address do not guarantee quality optics. What we wanted to know, was how good their optics are today and, more importantly, how they stack up against the competition - both quality of their optics, and their mechanical components.
Both tactcial scopes feature a 30mm tube diameter and a single-piece, milled body of 6061-T6 MilSpec alloy. The lenses are made in Romania from optical glass produced in Schott, Germany. Schott glass is widely regarded as the finest optical glass in the world. The lenses are coated with the Carl Zeiss T-3 system, comprising fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflex treatment to eliminate glare and maximize light transmission. Another impressive feature is that the reticle is either engraved or photo-engraved directly onto the glass, depending upon the reticle pattern - no wire reticles to break here. This type of glass-manufacturing technology is crucial as far as the accuracy of tactical reticlcs intended for range-finding is concerned, as it allows the manufacturer to follow the mil and 1/2-mil reticle marks to virtually perfect tolerances. They also incorporate a Lock Support System on the reticle mechanism that requires no adjustment. Removing the elevation and windage caps reveals well-designed turrets that adjust easily by finger, with positive tactile and audible clicks. The top, raised edge of the turrets are knurled to give a good grip even with muddy or sweaty fingers. They are well marked with white numbers to easily keep track of adjustments.
The tubes are O-ring sealed, nitrogen filled, and waterproof, with a matte black finish. Designed to operate in any conditions from -50 F to +150 F, in high humidity and rain, they come with a full lifetime warranty. Both scopes are available with either a Mil-Dot or their own MP-8 reticle. The 2.5x10 is also available with the 7A (duplex).
The 2.5-10x42 Tactical has been the flagship of I.O.R.'s riflescope line, popular among serious professionals who, for obvious reasons, have no desire to go above 40-42mm on their objective lens size. It features more than 80 MOA of adjustment via 1/2-MOA clicks, more than enough movement to shoot beyond 1,000 meters with .308, with each full rotation of the turret giving 25 MOA of adjustment. The turrets are well marked and allow an operator to keep track of full turret rotations. The ocular features a European-style diopter. Magnification runs from a wide 2.5x, which is excellent for those close shots at movers, to 10x that allows you to really reach out and touch someone. The scope comes with a lens shade, as do all I.O.R. tactical scopes, and an illuminated reticle is an option.
I have used this particular model of scope extensively over the past year and have been impressed. Image is crystal-clear to the very edge. Resolution, brightness, and contrast are excellent. Color is quite neutral, and superb clarity accompanies the fantastic resolution and contrast. Not even Schmidt and Bender, at twice the price, can match this scope's image quality. But there is much more to a rifle scope than nice glass, so we mounted it on first a Remington 700 PSS and then a Steyr SBS Tactical. For ruggedness, the I.O.R. receives high marks, as due to its Eastern European heritage it's built tough. At the range we "boxed" the scope, and the adjustments were perfect, even putting a ruler on them. Shooting at 100, 300, and 600 yards the adjustments proved consistent and reliable. This particular scope saw a lot of use - several thousand rounds of .308 and .223 Match, one rifle school, and carrying in the field - yet it performed flawlessly. During low-light testing it proved extremely bright and bested a fixed-power Kahles 10x42 Tactical I compared it to for brightness and resolution. For operators not facing an opponent with NVDs, the optional illuminated reticle is a great feature that works well. This is a superb scope.
I.O.R's 6-24x50 Tactical is a brand-new addition to their line, and incorporates a lot of user feedback. Tough as a brick, this scope introduces three new features to the I.O.R. line: a side parallax adjustment knob, 1/4-MOA adjustments, and a completely new ocular design they claim offers a 25% wider FOV than any competitor. Having the parallax adjustment on the side of the mechanism block has the threefold effect of reducing weight, length, and size of the scope. It also allows an operator to easily adjust for parallax, not just focus, while observing his target through his scope. The 1/2-MOA adjustments will make most U.S. shooters happy, although for fieldwork I prefer 1/2-MOA clicks. The new ocular design of this scope is one of its best features. Extremely rugged, it does indeed offer a huge FOV. Optically, this scope is as good as the 2.5-10x42 in every way except color rendition. I noticed a slight hint of yellow, but it was minor and the image is crystal-clear to the very edge. Resolution, brightness, and contrast are excellent.
As this was a brand-new addition to their line, I did not get a chance to give it as much field time as the 2.5-10x42, but preliminary test results have been excellent. Eye-relief is generous at 3-5/8". Mounted on a Remington 700 PSS, adjustments proved consistent, precise, and repeatable. Total adjustment available is 50 MOA. This scope, like the 2.5-10x42, also easily passed being boxed. While it's a long scope at 16" and most operators require neither a 50mm objective nor this much magnification, for those who do, this is an awesome scope. For operators who need this much magnification to visually identify a specific individual before making a shot, such as in a terrorist situation where a terrorist may have exchanged clothes with a hostage, this is a fantastic piece of glass with excellent low-light capabilities and a huge FOV.
Our final verdict is extremely positive. Sincc I.O.R. arrived in the U.S. marketplace I have watched them go through rapid changes in their riflescope line to meet the needs of the U.S. shooter. Their 2.5-10x42 is an excellent scope that possesses handsome good looks, precise adjustments, and superb optics. Their new 6-24x50 is an impressive scope that clearly incorporates feedback from serious riflemen. For top-quality optics without the German sticker-shock I suggest taking a look at what I.O.R. has to offer.
Top-Quality Binos From I.O.R. Valdada
In addition to riflescopes, the Romanian optical firm of I.O.R. Valdada also has an extensive line of armor-coated military-grade Porro-prism binoculars. This line ranges from compact 8x21s all the way to full size 10x50s. For testing we picked a pair of their 10x40s. For serious field use, this is good compromise providing high-magnification without getting too bulky, and is a nice step up from my favorite size, 8x30s. This model is available with either a durable black or olive-green finish on all-metal parts, and ribbed rubber armor. We chose a green rather than "target indicator black" model for testing. its markings and adjustment scales were well-executed in an easy-to-read size, in white. It came with attached objective lens covers which house amber lens filters, an ocular lens cover, an adjustable green-nylon neck-strap, and well-designed rubber pupillary eye-guards. Focus adjustments are made independently at each eyepiece. In the hand, the Valdadas feel very good. The rubber armor is comfortable and insulates the hands well during cold-weather use. The ribs allow a secure purchase even with wet, muddy, sweaty, or oily hands. The rubber eyecups are very comfortable and hug the orbital ridge and check, minimizing lateral light filtration. The hard-plastic objective lens-covers fit securely, yet are easily cleared for instant use. The amber lens filters are a nice touch.
The optics of these 10x40s were simply outstanding. Depth perception is excellent, with a pronounced 3-D effect, a quality inherent in Porro-prism binoculars. Color rendition is neutral and acuity is excellent, with the most minute details visible. They also proved extremely bright during low-light testing, allowing me to see much more than was visible just with the naked eye - the mark of quality optics. To achieve this, each lens features Carl Zeiss' patented T-3 coating technology, consisting of fully multi-coating and an anti-reflex treatment to eliminate glare and maximize light transmission. Bright and crystal-clear, their low-light capability is truly impressive. One important aspect of binoculars that will be used for extended lengths of time is their prism alignment. Cheap, poorly made binoculars will quickly give the user a headache, due to slight internal misalignments. With these 10x40s, though, I was able to view through them for extended lengths with no discomfort. This indicates perfect alignment of the prism during assembly. Also, whereas common civilian binocular prisms are simply glued in place, I.O.R. screws theirs in place for added durability under harsh conditions.
While Porro-prism binoculars are bulkier and heavier than roof-prism designs, they are also inherently tougher. While there are lighter and handier binoculars out there, you will spend two to three times as much in order to match the image quality offered by I.O.R. Optically, these Romanian binoculars are certainly upper-crust European. Tough and hardy with a long military heritage, these binoculars offer incredible value.
Their 2.5-10x42 is an excellent scope that possesses handsome good looks, precise adjustments, and superb optics. Their new 6-24x50 is an impressive scope that clearly incorporates feedback from serious riflemen. I.O.R.'s 10x40 binocular, although a little heavy, is a fantastic optical instrument, especially when you consider the price.