A few years ago, a friend and editor of a major firearm publication and myself were sitting around having a campfire discussion about the value of putting good glass atop your rifle. A scope has two basic functions: it must remain on target to keep your rifle accurate and it must be clear enough to allow you to be absolutely sure of your target and what’s behind it. Higher-end scopes are rock steady shot after shot, and are crystal clear. The Steiner GS3 riflescope does all this and more.
My test scope from Steiner was a 2-10x42mm optic. It is a stout, but compact design. It’s tough as nails without being overly long. I wanted to try it out on a compact, accurate rifle so I could truly put the scope through its paces. I went with a Howa 1500 Ranchland Compact rifle in 7mm-08. I know from personal experience that this rifle was very accurate. In fact, I wasn’t crazy about taking off the scope that was already on the rifle to do this test, but hey, why not?
For mounts, I used a set of Burris Tactical Rings that are pretty overbuilt for hunting purposes, but would be a great fit to make sure that the scope wasn’t going to fail. Ammo-wise, I went with Hornady Superformance 139-grain SST. These rounds are pushing 2,950 feet per second at the muzzle and only drop off to 2,591 FPS at 200 yards. I love the 7mm-08—it is a flat-shooting round and out of an accurate gun, the best all-around deer caliber on the market.
Nuts and bolts
The Steiner scope has a 30mm main tube. It is 13.5 inches long and weighs 18 ounces. The scope uses Steiner’s Color Adjusted Transmission (CAT) multi-coating process on the lens. The key to this coating is the contrast the scope has in low-light conditions. I watched a deer cross a field at dusk through it before I mounted it on a rifle and the contrast was really, really good. It is very close to being the best scope I’ve looked through for contrast, and the only one that I’d say might be better costs way more than the Steiner. When making the shot count, this scope will help you make sure that what you’re shooting at is what you want to be shooting at. Steiner calls these “Game Sensing Coatings.” I’m not sure I’d quite call them that, but with the contrast you can see animals pretty clear.
The GS3 has Steiner’s S1 reticle. The S1 is a bullet-drop compensating reticle, which have become very popular these days. The S1 does a fine job of not being overly complicated or cluttering the sight window. One you have it dialed-in at 100 yards, the holdover lines are set to work out to 600 yards. I was able to shoot out to 300 yards during my evaluation and was pretty pleased with the results. The reticle has extra dots to help you adjust for wind drift. The dots expand as the lines on the reticle go down, showing the effects of a 10 mph crosswind. It’s a nice reticle in that it seems to be pretty spot-on for taking those longer shots, but the plex lines aren’t overbearing. I certainly don’t want an overly cluttered sight window when I’m trying to take a shot on a trophy animal. This is a good example of a reticle that gives you a lot of options, without being too much.
Mounted up, the scope has something else I require—great eye relief. I can keep my head back at least four inches from the scope when shooting. The clarity is good enough that shooting with both eyes open isn’t an issue, at least for me. Maybe I lucked out, but getting this scope mounted went very quickly. I got it in the rings and only tweaked it once before locking down the rings. A quick bore-sight and a few shots on the range at 50 and 100 yards and I was in business.
Where I hunt, I can have either a close shot within 50 yards, all the way out to 350-plus yard shots on deer. Most of the shots I have taken are within 100 to 150 yards, but it is nice to feel confident out to greater distances. I’m pretty happy with the rifle/scope combination I put together for this test and wouldn’t hesitate to take it out for the firearm deer opener, or on a once-in-a-lifetime elk hunt out in the Rocky Mountains.
The Steiner GS3 did what it needed to do when it came to facilitating good long-range groups out of the Howa. After zeroing the scope, I took four shots at an old archery target set up 300 yards distant. All four shots landed within the two-inch center ring at that distance. Impressive.
The Steiner GS3 2-10×42 scope with the S1 reticle is a great scope and definitely worth taking a serious look at. It’s well worth its retail price of $919. My old gun-writer buddy used to say that life was too short to not use the best glass you can on an accurate rifle. He’d like the Steiner scope, and you will too.