• Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2

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Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2

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Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 is one of the mainstay scopes of the new Presidio line, which offers better glass and better mechanics within the same aggressively competitive price range Sightmark is known and appreciated for

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2

The Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2 scope is a perfect example of great bang for your bucks. Magazines are full of super-duper high end scopes used by the coolest, badassest door-kickers in special forces around the world, but I’ve never been one of those guys who could throw money at every new, cool accessory that hit the market: us lacking a government to front the bill for our scopes need to be very careful in choosing what to mount on our rifles, analyzing in detail which features are actually relevant to our needs, because we have to pay for them in hard earned cash.


On the other hand, skimping too much on expenses can buy you problems instead of solutions. The balance is delicate.

Sightmark is a brand known for high-quality scopes sold at a very aggressive price range, and the new Sightmark Presidio line continues in this tradition, showing the Texan company isn’t satisfied with resting on its laurels.


The Presidio 3-18x50 LR2 features high end optical quality, solid, reliable mechanics, with 26 MILS of adjustment at 1/10 MIL per click, parallax correction from 20 m to infinite, and one of the best FFP Christmas tree reticles available: crisp, extra-fine, uncluttered and (last but not least) free from the shocking royalties you pay for some branded reticles. All this is encased in a sturdy, heavy duty aircraft grade alloy, black anodized, 30 mm tube. With a -20 to +160 °F ( -29 to +71 °C) operating range and certified to withstand recoil up to .338 caliber, the Presidio 3-18x50 can weather the more severe conditions and go where you probably are unwilling to follow.


Now, some criticized Sightmark scopes for not being up on par with some other rifle scopes from top tier brands, and the obvious reply would be that comparing a scope to others that cost 5-6 times more is quite unfair… but while being a strong believer in including the price tag into the equation, I’m not at all against this kind of comparison: the mere fact that one would take the new Sightmark Presidio scopes and bring them up against some of the most revered brands in the market is per se a very strong statement about the kind of quality Sightmark has achieved. Let’s see in detail what we have on our hands.


Packaging is still the first impact one has with the product and, apart from offering protection during shipping and storage, will tell you something about the commitment to quality of the manufacturer. The Presidio 3-18X50 LR2 comes in a sturdy cardboard box offering good protection, tastefully printed in a satin finish.


The box is very good, so I suggest you keep it in case you need to put the scope away: it makes for a practical and efficient way to store it and hold its accessories.


Inside the box you find the scope, encased in foam padding, the user manual, a fast-throw lever for the power ring with a grain to plug the threaded hole should you decide not to mount the lever, a microfiber cleaning towel, a battery and tools for adjusting the scope (be careful not to lose those as such thin Allen keys are hard to source).

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2


Overall quality is evident even at first glance. While not “heavy”, the scope feels positively hefty and solid, and the thickness of the tube at the objective bell is a testament to the effort put in making it sturdy and resilient.


Everything is finished in a high quality, deep black hard anodizing. The controls feel solid, the turrets have a nice knurling that allows adjustments even when wearing gloves. The caps fit the objective and eyepiece snugly, flip open with authority and snap closed securely to seal the lenses against dust and other contaminants.


The brand and model are glossy black on matte black, tastefully sober, and help keep the optical signature of the scope low.


When looking through a scope, the first thing that comes to the eye, literally, is the quality of the glass. The Presidio 3-18X50 is quite impressive in this department: the image is clear, crisp, luminous and the reticle unobtrusive yet clearly visible. Down to the technical details, let’s perform an informed evaluation of what we are looking through

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2
Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2


As said, the optic is very clear and crisp, with no chromatic aberration perceived and no detectable barrel or pincushion, if not a smidge at the very edge of the field of view, where avoiding these issues become exceedingly difficult (and expensive) with little added benefit.


Color rendition is perfect too, without hues or casts due to sketchy lens coatings. These are qualities that have become ordinary in modern days, though, but brightness and crispness (resolution) aren’t.


This is a measure of how luminous the image in the scope is and largely depends upon

  • the exit pupil diameter
  • the quality of lens coatings


The Sightmark Presidio 3-18X50 is remarkably bright even in twilight conditions. On the one hand there’s no escaping the fact that, with a 50mm objective lens, at 18x you are looking through a 2.8 mm exit pupil and that’s the bottleneck you must deal with, no matter which scope you are looking through.


On the other, since you seldom need 18x magnification (many accomplished shooters and snipers usually dwell in the lower magnification range of the scope, using just what is strictly necessary), just by dialing down to, say, 8x you get a 6.2 mm exit pupil, which is satisfactory for all but the most exigent, youngest eyes. Within the low-to-middle magnification settings, the Presidio 3-18X50 has plenty of brightness even in twilight conditions.

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2
Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2


Resolution is the other essential feature in a scope: it is the capability of resolving close details at a distance and determines overall image crispness. The Presidio 3-18X50 was capable of enough resolution to allow me to resolve the fine lines in a 10” x 10” aeration grid on a house 350 m away at maximum magnification.


We must consider that variable optics give their best in terms of resolution in the middle of their power range (another reason to stay away from extreme magnification unless you strictly need it), so this test was a “worst case scenario”.


Crispness in the image is essential as it not only allows the shooter to clearly see details of the target but because it also prevents eye fatigue. The image in the Presidio 3-18X50 is crystal clear, giving the shooter the ability to define targets even in low light conditions and, under this aspect, can give the shooter an impression the scope is even brighter than it is, as the eye has to strain less to get details.


There is also no halo due to light reflected from inner parts of the scope (unless of course you point the scope directly against a bright light source, but that’s inevitable). Rifle scopes often have a screw on shade that, while adding to encumbrance and weight, helps a lot when shooting with the sun in your face. Unfortunately, there is no shade provided with this scope, but I consider it a venial sin.


Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2

The Presidio 3-18X50 comes with Sightmark’s own “Christmas tree” MIL reticle, the LR2. This is finely etched on the FFP (First Focal Plane) and subtends a of 10 MILs per side and the extremities of the crosshair have 1/10 MIL lines for fine measurements and ranging.


The bottom of the Christmas tree spreads to 5 MILs per side for windage adjustment. Christmas tree reticles allow easy, immediate windage and elevation corrections, which is the reason why they have become so popular among hunters, professional tactical users and PRS shooters.


The main objection against Christmas tree reticles is that they clutter the scene and can make the target less visible. Not so for the LR2, which is very thin and brings little clutter to the scene. Even at maximum magnification, the reticle is unobtrusive, but crisp and easy to use.


While the LR2 doesn’t offer some of the most esoteric functions present in other proprietary Christmas tree reticles, it still works great and has the very appealing feature of not adding staggering royalties to the scope purchase price…


It can also be illuminated with 10 brightness levels, selected through the knob concentric to the parallax adjustment knob which also houses the CR2032 battery. Battery life ranges from 80h at maximum brightness to 1000h to minimum. The adjustment knob has “OFF” positions between brightness settings, so that to switch it off and on only one click is needed.


Scope quality is not just a matter of glass quality… Most contemporary rifle scopes offer at least good performance under this aspect. Where things start to come apart at the seams is usually in the mechanical department. Repeatability in adjustments and return to zero are essential in a scope.


The first element we can touch about the mechanical quality of the Presidio 3-18x50 is the tube: the thing is thick as armor at the objective bell (the most likely to get bumped against something).


The lenses are not just tightened into the tube, they are also epoxied in place: tiny lens movements due to bumps or vibrations, which can happen no matter how tightly the lenses are locked, are the main source of loss of zeroing. Epoxying the lenses besides locking them down solidly takes care of that.

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2
Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2


The Presidio 3-18x50 immediately offers a feel of quality with solid, tactile clicks that allow the user to dial in corrections even with gloved hands.


Removing the turrets confirms the initial feeling, revealing mechanisms machined out of solid brass, alloy and steel that guarantee decades of use without issues caused by mechanical wear. Each click offers a 1/10 MIL correction, corresponding to 1 cm @ 100 m.


The turrets require a deliberate effort to turn but cannot be locked in place. While this may look disappointing to the more tactically oriented users, the presence of such a solid and easy to use zero stop minimizes the issue while, on the other hand, the free turrets make the scope easier and faster to use in sporting events.


With 26 MILS (89 MOA) of adjustment, there’s plenty of elevation to reach even the farthest targets and, should they not be enough, the LR2 reticle as said offers another 10 MILs of built in elevation, for a total of 36 usable MILS (123 MOA). Even with a 0 rail (not canted) this means 23 MILS (79 MOA) of useable elevation.


Windage is the same (though one has to wonder when a shooter will ever need 26 MILs of windage adjustment). A scale laser etched on the turrets offers indication on the number of turns dialed in. Each turn equals 10 MILS of adjustment. The knobs can be easily zeroed by loosening three grains and repositioning them.


The zero stop is positive and neat: instead of the simple zero stop ring common on many optics, that stops the elevation turret from going further down the threads, and that has a mushy feeling when reached, this one has a milled slot that works with a corresponding pin in the turret: when the pin reaches the end of the slot, the turret stops positively and accurately on the predetermined zero. The scope tracks flawlessly and returns to its zero even after dialing in a lot of correction.


The focus, magnification and parallax controls turn smoothly and cleanly, not so lightly that an accidental touch can move them, but not so heavily as to require the shooter to break stance to adjust them either, as it happens on some scopes. The quick throw lever helps in this department but is also easily snagged, so I decided not to install it and used the grain provided to fill the threaded hole instead. The raised portion of the knob offers plenty of leverage as it is.


With its compact form factor, 6x zoom, a magnification range between 3x (great for hunting) and 18x (suitable even for long range shooting) and its LR2 reticle, the new Presidio 3-18x50 LR2 is a well-rounded, multi-purpose scope ideal for the shooter that can’t afford to own a specialty scope for each application, or wants a rifle that can offer a good performance in most fields of use, from selection hunting to PRS to long range shooting.


Now, I can hear the question everyone is asking now: “What about the price?” The Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 price won’t let you down even here, with a MSRP of 549.99$.

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2
Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2