Test: Kahles Helia 1-5x24i riflescope for driven hunts – Now also available with (retrofittable) throw-lever

Kahles Helia 1-5x24i - Improvement suggestion implemented!

During our first test of the Kahles Helia 1-5x24i, colleague Franco Palamaro wrote

"We found only one feature we’d like to see improved in this excellent scope. The magnification ring would be perfect in regards to operation, smooth but firm enough with just the right amount of friction to prevent unwanted movement but easy to dial – except the very lightly machined metal ring has no grip at all and while decently comfortable to operate in ideal conditions, becomes very slippery under the rain, with mud, snow or heavy gloves; a raised lug, fine checkering or rubber insets would undoubtedly spoil some of the very clean and streamlined esthetics of the scope, but would deliver a world of difference in actual hunting  experience."

Kahles has now come up with a throw lever for the Helia 1-5x24i, which can be easily retrofitted. Simply slide the ring of the throw levers over the zoom ring and lock it in place – and the zoom can be adjusted with a lever and operated even more comfortably than before.

A practical and quick solution from Kahles, which is also very affordable at a price of 65 euro.

Our test of the Kahles Helia 1-5x24i:

Quality and finish of the build is obvious as soon as we pull the riflescope out of its plain cardboard box. The first impression of the optical instrument itself is excellent, although the included accessories consist only of a bikini transparent lens cap kit, a microfiber cleaning cloth and the instructions/warranty papers.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
The box contains the scope, a microfiber cleaning cloth, Bikini protctive caps, and the manual

The heavy duty, hard anodized finish Ergal aluminum alloy monolithic body has a 30mm diameter tube. The objective end is straight, and the 24mm front lens is adequately protected, being recessed  by  about 10 mm within the scope tube.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
Weight and size features of the Kahles Helia5 1-5x24i make it to be one of the lightest and most compact scopes of its class

The body expands towards the eyepiece in a 46,6 mm diameter bell. The eyepiece features a fast focus, rubber armored ring, with which the riflescope can be quickly focused. The eye relief for the full target image is 95 mm. You do not have to be extremely close to the scope with your eye to see well.

The Helia 1-5x24i is compatible with any 30mm rings and mounts. The elegant and typically European matte black finish is extremely sturdy and scratch resistant.

Kahles Helia 1-5x24i adjustment turrets

Turrets are protected by machined metal caps, waterproofed with a quality O-ring. The extended windage turret cap is slightly enlarged and contains a spare battery in the form of a button cell. A second O-ring mounted between the body and turret drums further improves water resistance, so adjusting either elevation or windage in adverse conditions, i.e. under strong rain, is no problem. Kahles guarantees the scope to be waterproof down to a depth of 4 meters, even with the turret caps removed.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
Turrets are protected by machined metal caps, and a double O-ring guarantees perfect watertight and gastight sealing down to a depth of 4 meters

The knobs are non-slip and can be operated with gloves or wet hands. The individual clicks are silent, but quite crisp and easily felt, although turning the turret does require a bit of an effort, more than we’d like. The turrets can be unlocked with a coin, so the index can be reset once the scope has been zeroed on the rifle. Each click corresponds to 1.5 cm at 100m, or 0.516 MOA. The adjustment range covers three full turns for a total of 185 clicks from end to end, yielding about 90 clicks of usable elevation after zeroing, which translates to almost 48 MOA available adjustment – not bad.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
The scope saddle with the turret caps in place

The driven hunt reticle of the Kahles Helia 1-5x24i

The reticle is placed on the 2nd focal plane,  therefore its size remains unchanged over the 1-5x magnification range. It is available in two patterns, both illuminated: the 4-dot and the P-dot. Our test sample was equipped with the 4-dot reticle. This is a classic No. 4 crosshair style reticle with a very fine illuminable dot in the center.

The dot brightness can be adjusted with a knob on the left side of the saddle, resembling a third turret. Turning the knob clockwise switches on the illumination, and smoothly controls brightness thanks to a digital rheostat. The battery compartment is accessed by removing a threaded cap on top of this knob.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
Value of each individual click on both turrets is 15mm at 100m

An interesting feature is that the illumination is turned off if the scope is rotated by 75 degrees, for example when placing the gun in a rack. Returning the scope to a horizontal position switches on the reticle. Kahles calls this the Automatic Light system.

The Kahles Helia 1-5x24i is a short to medium range riflescope, meant for  driven hunt situations, with the perfect balance between fast target acquisition and 1x magnification, which is actually equivalent to having a red dot reflex sight.

Its 5x magnification allows for shooting up to at least 150 meters. Between 1x and 5x magnification, the magnification ring needs a little more than a quarter turn to zoom. This makes the scope perfectly suitable for all positions during the day.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
The eyepiece features a fast focus diopter adjustment ring that is rubber armored, while the magnification ring is machined of aluminum with no grippable surfaces, which can make it difficult to change magnification in less than ideal conditions in the field

Image quality is excellent. Colors are extremely natural and faithful, and the only chromatic aberration that can be barely appreciated is a hint of fringing at the edges of the field of view when observing strongly contrasted objects (such as small tree branches against a bright sky).

We’ve observed next to none geometric aberrations, only a faint pincushion on straight lines at the edge of the field of view.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
Removing a threaded cover on top of the reticle brightness knob gives access to the battery, which is a standard CR2032 3Volt Lithium coin cell

The image is really sharp over the whole viewing field, falling off only slightly, again, at the very edge. True 1x view is obtained when observing objects at least  over 7 or 8 meters distance, below that there’s a bit of magnification, 1.2x maybe.

In the field, the1x magnification is even more impressive than on the range, allowing for true both-eyes-open aiming with absolutely no tunnel effect. This is more than useful when hunting fleeting game.

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
The two illuminated reticles available with the scope. On the right, the P-Dot; on the left, the 4-Dot reticle, a classical No. 4 with a luminous red dot at the crosshair’s center

Testing the reticle of the Helia rifle scope

The reticle is amazingly sharp, and the illuminated dot doesn’t bloom at the higher end of the brightness settings. When It’s switched off, the black dot actually improves aiming, and is sharp just as much as the crosshairs.

Interestingly, Kahles sets the fixed parallax of this scope to 100 meters. Many would argue that in a driven hunt most shots would be performed against close game, so parallax set at 50 or 75 meters may seem more suitable. However, we actually approve this choice as it allows for the highest accuracy where it really counts – at the medium and far ranges of the hunt, using the highest magnification setting. 

Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i
The Kahles Helia 5 1-5x24i scope. A statement!

Eye relief is a generous 95 mm, allowing for lots of recoil headroom even with the most punishing hunting loads and calibers. Exit pupil varies between 4.8 and 9.6 mm - that's good. 

The observed field of view at 100 meters is an incredible 42.3 meters at 1x, and 8 meters at 5x. Not as impressive, but still remarkable.

All lenses are fully coated, and both objective and eyepiece outer lens surfaces are treated with an oilophobic coating, making cleaning extremely easy.

Kahles Helia 1-5x24i also with Swarovski Rail

Kahles also offers the riflescope with an SR mounting rail. This "Swarovski Rail" has been the most innovative type of riflescope mount for several years.

Here, the rail engages with its teeth in the upper parts of the mount and guarantees absolute shooting stability. This allows the riflescope to be mounted quickly and easily on different guns. The riflescope with Swarovski Rail is available at no extra charge – the Helia 1-5x24i SR with Swarovski Rail costs 1670 euro.

Kahles Helia 1-5x24i: test wrap-up

At just under 28 cm long and weighing less than 500 grams, the Helia 1-5x24i is one of the lightest and most compact riflescopes on the market. Its lower magnification limit means that it is specially optimized for hunting in motion. When quality, performance and features are taken into account, the recommended retail price of only 1600 euros is also very reasonable.

Other rifle scopes in the Helia series are the Helia 2-10x50i for 1700 euro, Helia 2.4-12x56i for 1800 euro and the Helia 3.5-18x50i for 1950 euro.