Long-term test: Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope – A powerful scope for long range hunting 

Helia 3.5-18x50i is the complete model designation of the new riflescope from Kahles: the technical key data ensure that the optic is adequate for hunting purposes, both in terms of magnification and in unfavorable light conditions, thanks to an objective lens diameter of 50 millimeters. Built on a main tube made of a high-quality aluminum with a diameter of 30 mm and a total length of about 15”/380 mm, the result is a quite slim optic with classic proportions and a weight of 23.28 oz/660 grams – quite a contrast to the "stovepipes" that are also popular for hunting nowadays.

Mounted on an old-school bolt-action rifle, this combination results in a harmonious picture. More precisely: for the everyday test, the optics to be tested was mounted on a Sako AV bolt-action rifle in .30-06 Springfield caliber using an EAW swivel mount, which has proven itself for years in all situations. Due to the well-known outstanding inherent accuracy of the Finnish rifle, this forms a good basis for testing the accuracy and suitability for everyday hunting.

The Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope on the shooting range

KAHLES Helia 3.5–18x50i riflescope next to the Kahles & Bondy riflescope from 1900
Left: Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i, right:4x early riflescope from the Kahles & Bondy company, around 1900: full 120 years of development are shown here.

After mounting, the 100-m line was set up for sighting in and the first test section, where the focus was on the mechanics. Pre-calibrated by means of a clip-on collimator, the actual shooting-in process could be carried out quickly and successfully with just a few shots. The clean click adjustment and easily recognizable information on the adjustment turrets made it easier to find the right setting. The reticle adjustment per click is 10 mm for windage and elevation at 100 meters, and the adjustment travel is 1.95 meters for elevation as well as 1 meter for windage, also at a distance of 100 meters. 

The parallax compensation is on the left turret, easily operated as well as continuously adjustable from 50 meters to infinity. However, only 50 and 100 meters are marked – another marking would be desirable, this in view of the given magnification and thus the usable ranges. The magnification ring in front of the eyepiece is easy to grip and easy to operate.

eyepiece of the Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope
In front of the eyepiece of the Kahles riflescope are the zoom ring, elevation and windage adjustment turret, parallax adjustment and dimmer.

First, the testers fired some known accurate loads from this rifle, creating five-shot groups. This test section proved to be a trouble-free exercise given the Helia's maximum magnification of 18x. Now it was on to the popular square or box test: starting at one corner, fire one shot at a time, then dial the reticle in succession in elevation and windage by an equal number of clicks. If the reticle adjustment mechanism works with repeatable accuracy, the hit of the fourth shot should be in the same point of impact as the first shot fired – this is exactly what happened here

The precise adjustment was shown again later on a Zeiss collimator, again with consistent repeatability. The clicks engage cleanly, and the turret scales for elevation and windage adjustment can be zeroed after adjustment. The optionally available ballistic ring can be used for elevation adjustment. This is manufactured and marked according to the ballistic values determined. In conjunction with the Kahles ballistic drop compensation, which is also available as an option, the reticle can thus be adjusted to the intended shooting distance and adapted to the bullet trajectory. This is all done without having to do a lot of calculating and counting clicks.

Overview of the zoom ring and adjustment turret of the KAHLES Helia 3.5–18x50i riflescope
In addition to precision, the feel is also right: the zoom ring and adjustment turrets of the Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i shine with flawless operability and clean clicks.

With the Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope on the hunting ground

This was followed by the actual testing that a hunting riflescope requires – daily practice on the hunting ground. Kahles fitted the test scope with the illuminated 4-Dot reticle in the 2nd image plane – from the testers' point of view, an excellent reticle for riflescopes with high magnifications. But first we started with the "small" magnification of 3.5x, which is very well suited for stalking, which is rather rare today. Crystal clear and razor sharp, the optic showed their strength. Called "day/night reticle" by Kahles, the illuminated reticle can also be used here. The illuminated dot in the reticle center is uniform and very easy to see. Its real strength lies naturally in twilight and at night. The dot does not outshine in any situation and only minimally obscures the aiming point due to its size.

KAHLES Helia 3.5–18x50i riflescope on Sako rifle, angled front right view
Thanks to an objective lens diameter of 50 millimeters, the Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope from Kahles ensures am impressive image even in poor light conditions.

The automatic switch-off (Automaticlight) contributes to save the battery of the usual CR2032 type. This detects whether or not the riflescope is in a shooting position, but switches on the red dot without delay when the rifle is being aimed. After two hours of the rifle being motionless, the reticle illumination switches to the factory-designated "power down" mode. To use the red dot, the user must consciously turn it on again. The control for this is conveniently located on the left turret, combined with the very fine dimming control of the illuminated dot.

However, the Kahles scope shows its strength when hunting at long ranges, as can be found for example in large woodless field areas or mountain hunting. The magnification of 18x facilitates aiming and target acquisition when the rifle is held firmly and stably, and the eye can see even small details without difficulty thanks to the optic's  brightness, sharpness and color rendition. In conjunction with a rangefinder as well as the aforementioned ballistic ring, safe shots can be successfully made even at distances beyond 150 meters – provided the appropriate practice and rifle/caliber combination.

The very brilliant and bright image of the Helia 3.5-18x50i is also a great advantage on (full) moon nights. This is probably also due to the high-quality coating of the optical lenses. The scope was used for several months on the hunting ground without showing any weakness: whether sub-zero temperatures or days with over 30 degrees, even sleet and heavy thundershowers could not impress it. Helpful was the included cover, made from the synthetic rubber neoprene material known to every diver. This can be easily put on, just as quickly taken off, and protects well against shocks and dirt during transport or when approaching the area.

KAHLES Helia 3.5–18x50i riflescope on Sako rifle
Slim and lightweight, the Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope from Kahles weighs 660 grams with an objective lens diameter of 50 millimeters, a main tube diameter of 30 millimeters and a length of 380 millimeters.

The Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope in the endurance test 

After the practical part, there was another technical home-made test. On the one hand, the scope had to survive immersed in the bathtub at a water depth of about 30 cm for about 2 hours, and after a short drying period, it was put into the freezer for 24 hours at the usual minus 18 degrees Celsius. 

The scope survived the immersion bath without being affected; there was no sign of water penetration or deterioration. The cold shock did not impress the optic either, all adjustments remained smooth and easy to operate even at this temperature. The objective and eyepiece lenses could be cleaned without residue with the included cloth thanks to their coating. In short: the endurance test was passed.

Long-term test: Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope – A powerful scope for long range hunting 
The available reticles designed by Kahles for the Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope, left: G4B, right: 4-Dot.

Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope technical specs and price

Kahles Helia 3,5-18x50i
Objective Lens Diameter:50 mm
Overall Length: 15”/383 mm
Main Tube: 30 mm
Reticle: 4Dot / G4B
Impact Correction / Click: 10 mm / 100 m
Max. Elevation Adjustment: 1.95 m / 100 m
Max. Windage Adjustment:  1 m / 100 m
Parallax Adjustment: 50 m – infinity 
Weight:24.28 oz/660 g
Price (MSRP): 1950 euro / Quick adjustment: 260 euro (prices may vary in your country)

Our conclusion about the Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope

With the Helia 3.5-18x50i Kahles has an excellent universal scope in its catalog, technically mature and without question in the upper premium range, but in every respect worth its price of 1950 euro. However, one downer remained for the testers – the scope dismounting and returning...

Another tip for savers and online shoppers: with a bit of searching on Google, you can find the model for as little as 1660 euros on the web. Then we would speak of a real bargain based on the performance offered.

Text: Michael Hammer and Matthias S. Recktenwald

More information about the Kahles Helia 3.5-18x50i riflescope can be found on the manufacturer's website.

This article is also available in this language: