Kahles Helia Riflescopes

By Randy Wakeman

Kahles Helia Riflescope
Illustration courtesy of Kahles North America

Kahles may not yet be a household world in high-end scopes in the United States; in many parts of Europe they define it. Hardly new to the quality optics arena, they have been around since 1898. That is a lot longer than most of us have, to be sure. Kahles is the world's oldest hunting optics manufacturer.

Of note is the fact that Kahles introduced the first "waterproof" scopes back in 1960. Kahles was the first manufacturer to offer "fully multi-coated optics"--multi-coatings on all air to glass surfaces--in 1972. Back in the day, as they say, Kahles scopes bested the rest of the industry's finest by an astonishing 10-14% better light transmission. This is part of the reason that Kahles has been such a revered name among those in the know about hunting optics for over the last three decades.

Austrian optics have long been accoladed in many circles; spending some time with them makes the reasons easy to see. Both Kahles and Swarovski share the same parent corporate umbrella at this juncture; more a matter of paperwork than relating to Kahles' own development team. They operate beneath that umbrella as independent entities. Kahles does its own engineering, develops it own proprietary coatings, designs and manufacturing methods. In-house Kahles designs are not shared with other companies including Swarovski. In many parts of Europe, Kahles is considered the premium scope to have while Swarovski is rated as more of a working man's optic. Folks buy scopes for all kinds of reasons, including status.

Kahles is, regardless, one of the very few scopes built to uncompromising standards of quality, not price. The difference is not industry standards, which are hard to find, but Kahles standards.

A lengthy discussion with the folks at Kahles revealed why this is. You won't find a $200 or $300 Kahles scope and you never will. Kahles could not possibly build a scope to their standards at this price. One of the salient points affecting scope performance, after you have specified the best raw materials for your design, is the accuracy of the grind of the lens and the level of polish in the final lens elements themselves.

The only way to insure the highest end product is increasing the level of quality control and quality control standards, which results in increasing the reject and scrap rates, a costly but requisite path. That is the path to which Kahles has adhered.

Worthy of note is the newest offering for the American hunting aficionado, the redesigned Helia KX series. I shot a few rifles with the KX scopes installed, without paying much attention to scope brand at the time. I asked Brian Herrick of Savage Arms where in the world he got such great optics for his tack-driving Savages. A quick look at the side of the scope, "Kahles KX," answered my question.

This line designated as "Helia" may not ring as particularly trendy to the ear, but realize that it was named after Helia, the Greek goddess of the sun, and it makes all the sense in the world. More Kahles info can be found on their web site at www.kahlesoptik.com.

Back to the Scopes and Sport Optics Page

Copyright 2007 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.