Debuting on the heels of Steiner’s tactical T6Xi riflescope introduction, the new H6Xi series taps the former’s professional credentials to deliver an optic platform that is lighter, shorter, and ideally suited for hunting or extended-range field work.

by Rob Reaser

It is a common phrase that “steel sharpens steel.” The idea, of course, is that opposing forces of equal effectiveness tend to make both stronger, sharper, smarter, more capable… The list is lengthy. A free-market economy does the same, all things being equal, of course.

Take the firearm optics category. To say the competition is intense is an understatement. I’m not sure how many manufacturers can be counted in the U.S. market, but the sheer number of those represented at this year’s SHOT Show offered a glimpse into the magnitude. The challenge for consumers is figuring out how to separate the wheat from the chaff.

As it has been from the beginning and as it is with all consumer goods today, price is often a reliable separator of quality. But as we have seen in recent years, the fierce competition within price categories — we’ll call them budget-conscious, mid-grade, and premium — has led to better quality, performance, and standard features across the board. Sure, there are still plenty of optics out there that you wouldn’t want to buy even for the price of a Happy Meal; however, for most general-purpose use, you can expect to find some pretty good glass that won’t blow your budget.

As we move into the premium optic segment, it is my belief that the top tier manufacturers aren’t really looking over their shoulders to see what the other royals are doing. Yes, they all stay apace of market trends, yet I think the driver for most is simply competition within themselves. The best-of-the-best optic companies are, in my observation, focused on continually improving their products with advancements in materials and manufacturing technology. From those high points, the companies then filter the latest technologies, materials, and design innovations to populate their product lines.

A case in point is the new H6Xi series of riflescopes from Steiner.

Steiner has been a leader in the sporting optics segment following Karl Steiner setting up shop in the aftermath of post-war Germany. Since then, many have considered Steiner binoculars and riflescopes to be the vanguard optics for military and sporting applications worldwide. Lessons learned from developing military-grade optics were applied to civilian products, which is why Steiner scopes and binos have earned a much-deserved reputation among hunters, competitors, and adventurous shooters for rugged dependability and reliable performance in the harshest climates across the globe. The H6Xi series riflescopes, which derive from Steiner’s heralded German engineering but are machined and assembled in the U.S. at the company’s Greeley, Colorado, HQ, illustrate this.

Steiner launched the T6Xi series riflescopes a year and a half ago, as of this writing, as the tactical optic replacement for its T5Xi scopes. Boasting 6X magnification power and sporting robust 34mm tubes, the “T” series scopes cover the full range of tactical applications, ranging from the 1-6×24 CQB optic to the far-reaching 5-30×56 sniper-grade model.

That’s all good and well for the tactical-minded in our midst, but hunters and those who engage in high-mobility shooting endeavors also like the notion of duty-tough optics on their firearms. After all, the line between “tactical-grade” and “hunting-grade” has become much blurred over the last decade — not only in optics but also in the equipment deployed. We see chassis rifles and ARs in hunting fields today that were once the exclusive domain of wood stocks and glossy, blued barreled actions.

For this reason, Steiner followed the T6Xi series release with the H6Xi models. Intended to continue the Steiner riflescope hunting line, the H6Xi series is well-suited for this or any application where shooters demand the finest glass and smoothest operation with durability that will last a lifetime.

One of the standout features of the H6Xi series is the robust knurling on all control surfaces. From the power ring to the turret caps and dials, the user has no difficulties finding purchase for positive, struggle-free rotation. Even the diopter locking ring has aggressive knurling, making it easy to tighten the diopter in place once you’ve achieved the optimal focus for your eye.

The 50mm objective bell leans toward Steiner’s high (1.35-inch) H-Series rings for functional rail clearance. This combination puts the cheek weld in a comfortable spot for good eye alignment with a standard adjustable stock.

A couple in-the-box options are presented for the elevation turret. Seen here is the tall target turret dial, which makes an easy grab-n-turn for those shooters adept at dialing in their shot dope. With this configuration, the cap and dial are one. Rotate the knob to your drop and pull the trigger. The elevation adjustment range on the 3-18x50mm model I tested is limited to 108 clicks (@ 1/4 MOA per click) of drop compensation.

Shooters with the knack for holdover compensation using the reticle demarcations can opt to swap the target turret dial for the shorter, low-profile hunting turret dial, which is the same size as the windage turret. With the low-profile elevation turret dial in place, both turrets can be capped with the included turret caps.

It’s your choice.

Speaking of reticles, the H6Xi series introduces the new Steiner Modern Hunter Reticle designed to work with the scope’s front focal plane configuration. With front focal plane scopes, the reticle image size is relative to the scope’s magnification power. This means the reticle image magnifies up or down as the scope’s magnification power level increases or decreases. Contrast this to second focal plane scopes with reticle images that remain the same size regardless of the magnification power.

The MHR reticle, at low power, functions as a duplex, with thicker crossbars trailing to finer lines toward the center point (as observed in the above-left image). As the magnification increases, so does the reticle image (above-right image), revealing the finer subtensions that practiced holdover and holdoff shooters can use for precise point-of-aim/point-of-impact performance on those longer shots.

You’ll notice the demarcations for drop and holdoff compensation are illustrated in red. That is because these lines and the center aim point are illuminated. The H6Xi offers 11 brightness levels that are adjusted via a dial located outboard of the side focus knob. What I really like about this dial is that there are “off” settings between each illumination level. With this, you can set your illumination to best match the ambient light condition, then simply rotate the dial one detent in either direction to turn it off. This allows you to have the desired illumination at the ready, so there is no spinning the dial to turn it on or off.

As for the side focus/parallax adjustment dial, it delivers a crisp, parallax-free image from 25 yards to infinity.

Currently, Steiner offers the H6Xi in three configurations: 2-12x42mm, 3-18x50mm (tested), and 5-30x50mm. The quality of glass comprising the H6Xi is exquisite in terms of clarity and light transmission, as you would expect, and incorporates Steiner’s latest in manufacturing and lens coating technology. Light transmission is an impressive 92-percent, and the edge-to-edge clarity is flawless to my eye. I could also detect no color aberrations along the edges, nor would I expect to in such a top-tier optic.

As mentioned earlier, the knurling on all the H6Xi’s dials is aggressive, yet not obnoxiously so (as some tend to be). Gloved hands have no problems rotating the magnification ring. Should you prefer faster operation, the scope comes with two different-size throw levers you can install. I found the shorter lever to be optimal for quick zooming in and out without being too obtrusive for field use.

The H6Xi series, as with the T6Xi series, are top-of-the-line in the riflescope segment. Translation: the cost is going to be uncomfortably high for most. The 3-28x50mm I tested, for instance, boasts an MSRP of $2,529. What you get for that long-term investment, though, is a riflescope that is built to the nth degree, with impeccable glass and smooth, positive function that will get the job done for many years to come. You can also rest in the knowledge that the H6Xi is covered by the Steiner Heritage Warranty, which extends through the life of the product and automatically transfers to future owners.

But if you are like me, such investments will only be transferred though a will or an estate sale!

Steiner H6Xi 3-18x50mm Specifications

  • Magnification: 3-18x
  • Objective Lens: 50 mm
  • Focal Plane: first
  • Tube Diameter: 30 mm
  • Reticle: Modern Hunter reticle
  • Field of View (ft. @ 100m): 36 – 7
  • Eye Relief: 3.85-3.5 in.
  • Exit Pupil: 9.4 – 3.3 mm
  • Length: 13.3 in.
  • Weight: 27.4 oz.
  • Diopter Adjustment Range: +2 to -3
  • Elevation Adjustment Knob: 0.25 MOA
  • Illumination Control: rotary dial
  • Wind/Elevation Click Value: 70 MOA
  • Parallax/Focus: side focus
  • Parallax/Focus Range: 25 yd to infinity
  • Nitrogen Filled: yes
  • Operating Temperature Range: -13º F to +145º F
  • Waterproof/Fogproof: yes
  • Battery: CR2032
  • Warranty: Steiner Heritage™ Warranty
  • MSRP: $2,529

Shoot On Editor-in-Chief Rob Reaser is a lifelong outdoorsman, former magazine editor, columnist, and contributing editor to numerous national publications in the automotive and outdoor segments. He has also authored and co-authored several DIY gun building books. His shooting and hunting passions cover everything from traditional archery and big-game bowhunting to the latest in handguns, rifles, and reloading. Rob has a troublesome habit of pulling guns and things apart to see how they work; occasionally, he manages to get them back together...

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