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Hawke Frontier SF 4-16x42, Leupold VX-3 4.5-14x40

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/19/2009 at 21:00
koshkin View Drop Down
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Hawke Frontier SF 4-16x42, Leupold VX-3 4.5-14x40 & Co

By "& Co", I mean a bunch of other scopes that I compared with the two explicitly mentioned:


From left to right: IOR 3-18x42FFP, Super Sniper 10x42, IOR 6x42, Kahles American Hunter 3-9x42, Sightron S2 Big Sky 6-24x42, Leupold VX-3 4.5-14x40, Hawke Frontier SF 4-16x42, Vortex Viper 4-12x40.  Kahles and the 6x42 IOR are mostly there for a photo-op since I ended up not using them in the comparison a whole lot.  After thinking about it a little, I decided to restrict this to scopes with some sort of focus/parallax compensation.  I was mostly interested in looking at these two scope from the standpoint of low light performance and how the reticles look.

Sightron S2 Big Sky was sent to me for T&E by Sightron.  It is not exactly the right configuration for this comparison, so I will have a separate review concentrating on the Sightron in a little bit.  In the meantime, I have enough overall experience with S2 Big Sky scopes to be fairly certain that the 4-16x42 will behave in a similar manner to 6-24x42 at the same magnificaitons.  This one is a Silhouette model with a dot reticle and 1/4MOA clicks.
Leupold VX-3 is the "Test Drive" sample provided by SWFA.  It has a thin plex reticle.
Hawke Frontier SF was sent to me for T&E by Hawke.  This sample is outfitted with a MilDot true at 10x.

The rest of the scopes are mine and I use them for comparison purposes a fair bit.  They serve as a reference point of a sort for many tests.

Now, for some specs of similarly configured scopes that have 1" tubes:

Hawke Frontier SF
4-16x42
Leupold VX-3
4.5-14x40
(4.9-14.2 actual)
Vortex Viper
4-12x40
Sightron S2 Big Sky
4-16x42
(just for reference)
Sightron S2 Big Sky
4.5-14x44
(just for reference)
Nikon Monarch
4-16x42
(just for reference)
Bushnell Elite 4200
4-16x40
(just for reference)
Weaver Grand Slam 4.5-14x40AO
(just for reference)
Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14x44
(just for reference)
Burris Signature Select 4-16x44
(just for reference)
Length, in
12.6
12.6
14.4
12.9
12.56
13.5
14.4
14.3
13.9
15.5
Weight, oz
20.4
15.1
15.6
16.6
15.9
19
18.6
16.5
17.1
20
Field of view, ft@100yards
24.6 - 6.2
19.9 - 7.4
27.1 - 9.2
24 - 6.1
25.3 - 7.0
25.2 - 6.3
26 - 7
22.5 - 10.5 (**)
24.9 - 8.4
26 - 8
Eye relief, in
3.8-3.6
4.4 - 3.7
3.4 - 3.1
4.0 - 3.8
3.9 -3.8
4.0 - 3.7
3.5
3.5
3.5
4.0 - 3.5
Side Focus or Adjustable Objective?
SF
AO
SF
AO
SF
SF
SF
AO
SF
AO
Click Value, MOA
1/4, 18 per turn
1/4
1/4, 12 per turn
1/8, 10 per turn
1/4, 20 per turn
1/4
1/4
1/4
1/4
1/4
Adjustment Range, MOA
80
71 (*)
57
80
80
40
50
50
42.8
32
Objective outside diameter, mm
50
50.8
45.7
55.9
52.6
49.3
N/A
N/A
50
60
Eyepiece outside diameter, mm
42.4
40.6
38.1
41.4
41.4
44
N/A
N/A
41
39

(*) - The number from Leupold's website is 116MOA, but I believe that is a typo, since the Long Range version (30mm tube) is listed with the same adjustment range while the 1" 4.5-14x40 model without AO is listed with 71MOA of adjustment range, which I believe to the same as the 4.5-14x40AO model that I looked at.
(**) - FOV numbers for the Grand Slam look very strange to me: super wide at 14x and super narrow at 4.5x.  I wonder if there is a typo somewhere there.

Before I go into a discussion of the merits of the actual scopes I looked at, let's talk about the specs in the table above for a minute.  There is no mystery to numbers and everyone can look at them as well as I can.  Still, I will try to verbalize my thoughts on the subject (there is a reason to my madness, just bear with me).

I intentionally only included scopes with either 3x or 4x erector systems.  There are some newer scopes with 1" tubes that have 5x erectors, but I have not seen them yet.  I have kept the objective lens diameters in a 40-44mm range and reticles in the SFP.  I was looking for "mid-range" scopes price wise: $400 to $700 street price (except for the Conquest, but I wanted one Euro).  I am sure there are other scopes out there that I am not listing, but I think I've got a pretty decent cross-section of what is out there.

First of all, let's think about the application for scopes of this configuration.  These days, I suppose, for a lot of people this is a big-game/general purpose configuration.  Personally, I am inclined to think that this configuration is already a good candidate for long range shooting. 12x to 16x top end is enough to shoot out to a 1000 yards if need be (perhaps, I am just old fashioned, but so are the Marines, I suppose, who picked a 3-12x50 scope), while keeping the scope versatile enough for most other uses.  If we are talking about shooting out to 1000 yards, the first thing to look at is W/E adjustment range.  All of these scopes are available with holdover reticles, but to shoot beyond 500 yards, in my opinion, you need to use the knobs.  Assuming 308Win as a standard cartridge, you need ~40MOA of available adjustment to get to 1000 yards. Hawke, Leupold and both Sightrons can do that fairly comfortably with a 20MOA base.  Vortex can also get there without too much difficulty, as well, if carefully set up.  Nikon, Zeiss and Burris are plain unsuitable for this, while Bushnell and Weaver can technically get there, but only in ideal circumstances.

Field of view is largely comparable across the board.  Once you account for magnification differences, it works out that Leupold has a bit less FOV than others and Vortex, Bushnell and Zeiss have a touch more.  

Eye relief is very serviceable for all scopes here, with Vortex having a bit less eye-relief than others.  Still, I have not been hit by my Vortex Viper yet.  If you plan to put one of these on a kicker where the scope might bite you, I'd look at Leupold and Sightron first (more on Leupold's eye relief below).

The choice between AO and SF for parallax correction is largely a personal one.  I have come to slightly prefer Side Focus, but I know of quite a few others (all the lefties I know, for example) who prefer AO.  For shooting prone with the bipod, I prefer SF.  Off the bench, I do not care.  Sitting or shooting with a sling, I actually find rear parallax adjustment like that on a Super Sniper.  I suspect that is different for different people. Generally, on a lot of scopes it is easier to make fine adjustments with the Adjustable Objective than with the Side Focussince most makers tend to make SF too fast.

As far as size and weight goes, there is little to differentiate these scopes.  I do not think anyone is going to put one of these scopes on a 5lb mountain gun, and on a normal size rifle a couple of ounces here and there really do not make much difference. All of these scope have enough mounting length for most applications.  Vortex, despite having the lowest maximum magnification is the longest scope here (Vortex does have excellent depth of field, partly due to that extra length).  What does make a difference to a lot of people is mounting height.  That depends on both objective and eyepiece diameters.  There, we see side-focus scopes have an advantage: objective housings are smaller.  Overall, Vortex Viper can be mounted lower than others, while Burris is the most massive.  The rest of the scopes fit somewhere in the middle.

I am not going to go into reticle selection a whole lot.  If you are reading this wordy mess, that means you can go onto the website of the SWFA website and see which reticles are available.  Most of these can be had with either MilDot or some sort of a holdover reticle.  You just have to pick the one that rocks your boat.  Personally, I prefer Mil-based reticles.  If you are going to use this scope for long range shooting or any tactical application you will want tall knobs that cover quite a bit of adjustment in one turn and a Mil-Dot reticle or something similar.  For those purposes, Hawke Frontier SF and Sightron S2 Big Sky 4.5-14x44 are best suited out of this group.

I will also add that none of these scopes are routinely available with reticles optimized for low light performance and I make it a point to complain about that every chance I get on an off chance that someone is listening.

All right, enough theoretical discussion and let's talk specifics.


Leupold VX-3 4.5-14x40AO with duplex reticle


The first question I always get about the VX-3 is how this scope compares to its predecessor, VX-III.  Aside from the fact that Leupold seems to have spent all of its naming ingenuity on catchy terms like Xtended Twilight Lens, Index Matched Lens System and other word-smithing rubbish instead of coming up with a new name for the whole scope line, the redesign is a worthy one.  My distaste for Leupold's marketing literature aside (no, I do not expect to ever be in Leupold's good graces as tragic as that is), VX-3 is actually a very nice scope and a solid upgrade to the VX-III.  The overall VX-3 package is about the same size as its predecessor.  The adjustments are accurate and have a more solid feel to them.  The glass is visibly better.  If you are looking at resolution charts in good light, you may not see much difference.  Once the light starts getting a bit lower, the improvement becomes more apparent.  Resolution has stayed at about the same level, but the contrast has improved.  I am an optics guy, so this is a change I like to see: instead of going of and loading the scope with all sorts of electronic and mechanical gadgetry, Leupold went back to the basics and improved the glass while keeping the price about the same.  I absolutely applaud that and I hope Leupolds stays with the theme of getting the fundamentals right.  Speaking of fundamentals, there is one thing that I wish Leupold has changed/fixed in a fundamental way: variable eye relief.  On this scope the eye relief varied between low and high magnificaiton by a touch more than an inch.  Pretty much all scopes change eye relief with magnification, but this one had enough variation for me to have to readjust my head position if I was to change the magnification.  I hope that Leupold will see fit to modify the design for more consistent eye relief in the future.  Aside from that, I can't say anything negative about the scope.  I thought I saw some POI change with magnification, but the next person to look at that scope did not see any, and he is a better shot than I.  Perhaps, I had a poor shooting day.

Here is the Leupold on my Tikka M695 in 280Rem (in the back is my 308 Mauser with 6-24x42 Sightron S2 Big Sky on it):


Here is the Leupold next to the Hawke Frontier SF:


And a couple of shots of the eyepieces, knobs and objectives:





Hawke Frontier SF 4-16x42 with Mil-Dot reticle


This scope is fairly compact, but pretty heavy.  Everything on it feels quite solid.  The knobs are nicely knurled (a la Nightforce), but also have the screw-on covers.  To a lot of people, this is the best of both worlds: if you are worried about the knobs getting knocked out of adjustment, put the covers on.  If you take the covers off you have nice tall target knobs.  They adjust 18MOA per turn, so you can just about get to 1000 yards with two turns.  Adjustments are accurate and repeatable (I am not going to get into the whole discussion of why anyone in his right mind would insist on putting 1/4 MOA knobs onto scopes with MilDot reticles).  The glass is equally solid, on balance, neither better nor worse than the competition.  Eye relief is consistent and reasonably flexible.  Tunnel vision is barely noticeable until you get down to the lowest magnification.  The scope has a large sweet spot and edge softness is well controlled.  Depth of field is a touch shallow, but not objectionably so (not uncommon with scopes that combine high magnification with short overall length).

Here is another snapshot of the Frontier SF, this time on my 308Win Mauser:


And one more with knob covers off:




Now, for just a brief moment, let's look at that spec sheet table above one more time.  The reason I put it together is mostly to prove my initial impressions wrong.  When I first received the Frontier SF scope, it seemed like a very well made piece.  Once I spent some time with it, I confirmed that it is indeed a well made, quality scope, but it left me puzzled.  Perhaps, that is a side effect of my dual education: technically, I am an optical physicist, but I did pick up an MBA somewhere along the way.  Hence, I tried to see if I can make a good business case for this scope.  Street price on the Frontier SF looks to be in the $550-$600 range.  If it gets picked up by a few large retailers, price will probably drop a little, but still this scope is smack in the middle of one of the most competitive segments of the market populated by a host of very competent scopes with instant name recognition.  Hawke may be a big name on the other side of the pond, but it is not very well known here.  The $400 to $800 price range is full of excellent scopes that can satisfy all, but the most discerning, shooter.  For today, this is the sweet spot of price to performance ratio (to me).  Most of the more expensive scopes hit a pretty serious case of diminishing returns, while cheaper scopes are simply not as good.  As I surveyed this market segment a bit more carefully, I slowly warmed up to the Frontier SF a bit more.  On the surface, Nikon Monarch 4-16x42 is configured very similarly until you look at the adjustment range.  40MOA is not enough (to me) for shooting further out.  I am sure it is a very nice hunting scope, but unless you shoot pretty far out, why go all the way up to 16x?  The closest competitor to the Frontier SF is Sightron S2 Big Sky 4.5-14x44 with Side Focus.  They are priced about the same, have similar adjustment ranges and MOA per turn and have nice repeatable knobs.  The Frontier SF, perhaps, has a slight edge due to a 4x erector system, but the field of veiw differences are minimal.  As far as similarly configured scopes go, this is pretty much it.  I could not find any other reputable scopes with similar configuration: 1" tube, 4-16x or similar, tall knobs, ~80MOA of adjustment range and MilDot reticle.  There are a few scopes with 30mm tube that are vying for the same customer (Leupold 4.5-14x40LR and Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x42, for example, but these are appreciably more expensive), but, to my considerable surprise, I found that a lot of people prefer to stay with 1" tube if they can.  In a nutshell, I think I can make a business case for the Frontier SF, especially if the price comes down a notch.  Now, I will take my MBA hat off, put my "optics nerd" hat back on and descend into the nitty gritty details.



How does the glass compare?


Looking through the scopes in the first picture of this comparison, most perform similarly to each other.  The lone euro brand there, IOR, definitely stands out (as it should considering the price), but that is largely it.  Interestingly, the 10x42 Super Sniper can, mostly, hang with the variables if they are set to 10x.

In all fairness, I could take almost any one of these scopes and comfortably do 95% of any shooting I may ever need to do with one of them.  However, there are some subtle differences between them that were and are of interest to me. 

In order to look for ghost images and a lot of other undesirable artefacts, I drove up to a parking lot on the beach and set up a wooden fixture that can hold several scopes side by side on the roof of my car.  First I spent some time looking out into the sunset and at various targets as the sun was setting down; then, I reoriented myself to look at the distant pier with scattered bright lights on it.  Those point-like sources, when positioned at the edge or just outside the field of view, can produce interesting effects.  I could also move the scopes around to see if they were sensitive to light sources in a particular location.  By pointing toward non-illuminated part of the scenery I could look at a pure low light performance of the scopes.  As the sun was descending further beyond the horizon, I could look into the shadows and test "pure" low light performance of the scope.  

Something funny happened as I was peering through the scopes in the dark, a cop stopped by to ask me what the hell I was doing there.  I did my best to explain that I am not planning anything particularly sinister, but I am not sure he bought it.  I think there was something about a big guy with a beard and an accent surveying a public landmark that seemed suspicious to him.  He politely stuck around until I got the heck out of there.  I suppose now there is at least one police officer out there who think I am either a terrorist or totally insane (or both; my wife definitely agrees with the "insane" part).

In addition to that, I spent a fair amount of time staring at various resolution charts at the range.  Then I dragged the scopes to work and set-up an extended Macbeth chart with a uniform 3200K white light source.  Color accuracy may not be very critical for rifle scopes, but I like to see how well the scope differentiates different subtle color shades.  Call it intellectual curiosity, for lack of a better word.

Throughout this whole exercise, I made it a point to set the magnification on all the scopes to as close to the same value as I could.

Hawke Frontier SF 4-16x42 was not the best in any one parameter that I looked at, but not the worst either.  Ultimately, it is a very well rounded choice.  I did not see any whiteout or milkyness even at higher magnification.  Flare was well controlled and ghost image formation was minimal.  Tunnel vision was minimal and restricted to lower magnifications.  Eye relief was as advertised: justa bit under four inches and fairly consistent as you zoom through the magnification range.  Color representation was accurate.  There was a touch of chromatic aberration as you got close to 16x, but nothing particularly offensive.  Still, it had a little more chromatic aberration than the other scopes here.

Leupold VX-3 4.5-14x40 had a really nice contrasty view.  In many ways the image quality of the Leupold was similar to Vortex Viper: another scope with good contrast.  One more similarity to the Viper is the tunnel vision.  It is the biggest weakness of the Viper and while it is less pronounced on the VX-3, it is there, especially at lower magnifications.  Aside from that there is little to fault the Leupold optically on.  The field of view is a bit narrow, but perhaps that is the price of long eye relief.  In low light, that enhanced contrast of the VX-3 really set it apart from its predecessor, VX-III.  Looking at the color chart, primary colors are really popping on the VX-3, but some finer shades are harder to see.

Sightron S2 Big Sky 6-24x42 has glass that feels closer to the Hawke than to the Viper and VX-3.  Now, mind you, this is not a directly compatible configuration, but that is the scope I had on hand: the Silhoutte model with Dot reticle and 1/4" clicks.  I have seen enough S2 Big Sky scopes to comfortably say that the 4-16x42 performs in a very similar manner, but this is still not a perfect comparison.  In terms of pure resolution, it outresolved all the other Pacific Rim scopes here (but still did not touch the 3-18x42 IOR).  The view was a bit less contrasty than Viper and VX-3, but Sightron looks exceptionally clear.  I suspect that one of the reasons it looks so clear is that the tunnel effect is totally engineered out.  In that regard this was the best scope here: there was no trace of tunnel vision to be seen.  In low light, the scope also performed well, but it was curiously susceptible to bright light sources just outside of the field of view at about two o'clock position.  I am not sure whether that holds for all of these scopes or if that is something specific to the scope I have.  Color is exceptionally neutral and you can see every shade of it.  None of the colors really stand out to my eye like the primaries do on the VX-3, but they are all there.  The image through the Leupold and Vortex looks more saturated, to borrow a camera term, but the image through the Sightron and Hawke looks more natural.  Does that make any practical difference? no, but since I am splitting hairs here anyway, I thought I'd mention it.

Vortex Viper 4-12x40 I have talked about in the past a fair bit, so I will not go into too much detail.  I liked this scope enough to buy it, but if Vortex manages to update the optical system to get rid of the tunnel vision it will remove my primary complaint with it and make an unequivocal choice for anyone on a budget.

One more note on clarity: most of these scopes are like looking through a freshly washed window.  The view is bright and clear, but you know you are looking through a window.  Looking through the IOR 3-18x42 afterwards is like looking through the same window, except after someone stole the glass pane.  Does it make a difference for making a shot? probably not, but if you wonder what you are paying those extra dollars for, that is a part of it.


As far as mechanical quality goes, once again, there is really not much to differentiate between the four scopes above.  None of them gave me any sign of trouble: they held zero and adjusted accurately.  Low light performance, in the end, comes down to the reticle choice, although the more contrasty Leupold and Vortex will have a slight edge for people whose eyes are more sensitive to contrast.  All of these scopes will let you see your target well after the legal light and as long as you can see the reticle you can make the shot.  Interestingly, none of these comes equipped with what I would call a good low light reticle.  If hunting in low light is a primary concern, perhaps Leupold with a custom shop installed thicker reticle is the way to go.

4x erector assemblies of Hawke and of the AO Sightrons offer a bit more versatility than 3x erectors of Leupold, SF Sightron and Vortex.  Personally, that is not something I care about a whole lot, but with scopes matched this closely, you pretty much have to pick based on features and on price.  For an overview of the features, the table above should be helpful. 



Recommendations

With this group, making a recommendation is not straightforward, since there isn't a bad scope in the group.

Price-wise, Vortex is clearly the bargain of the group, but it has its limitations.  Still, for a hunter on a budget, I would recommend the Vortex.  It is substantially cheaper than the other scopes here and comparable both optically and mechnically.  As a long range scope, it is not optimal due to reticle selection and small knobs.  If Vortex ever comes up with a version of this scope that has taller knobs and MilDot reticle, I predict (oracle hat on) commercial success (oracle hat off).

If the scope is for a tactical set up of some sort, either Sightron S2 Big Sky 4.5-14x44 or Hawke Frontier SF 4-16x42 are your best options.  Both have plenty of adjustment range, MilDot reticles and nice knobs.

If you want something very specific, be it a reticle choice or BDC knobs, Leupold comes in a dizzying variety of options and reticles thanks to the Custom Shop, but at a price.  I can honestly say that the Leupold has now caught up with the competition, but I am still having a hard time getting over the variable eye relief.

Lastly, I have to mention the warranty.  That is not a subject I typically spend much time on, but here it is worth noting.  Leupold, Sightron and Vortex have excellent customer service and warranty coverage.  Hawke is new to our shores, so the quality of customer service will be known in due time.  However, the warranty is not quite up to the standards of the other scopes here.  It is indeed a lifetime warranty, but it is not transferable.  If you ever want to re-sell a Hawke scope it leaves your hands without a warranty.

A little addendum on scope rings

In order to pit a bunch of scopes one against the other I have to have a lot of different rings on hand.  Some of them are the rings I never end up using on my own rifles (for example, I have a set of 34mm rings for those rare occasions when I need to look at a scope with a tube in that size).  Generally, I am not very adventurous with the rings and bases I use.  Historically, 90% of the rings I use have been using were either made by Warne or TPS.  Now, that I look over my workbench, I see a much greater variety of rings and bases than before so that is worth a few words.  Generally, I have standardized on Weaver/Picatinny-type rings and except for some cases, where the rings attach directly to the receiver, do not use anything else.  Also, please note that I do not use uber-expensive rings like Badger.  I have played with them and they are exceptionally strong and well machined.  However, I can't afford to have enough of those for all of my needs.  Besides, for two hundred bucks they better be bloody perfect.   Had I been in a situation where my life and work involved shooting a gun, I would use nothing but the best.  As is, I am more interested in affordable gear that works well.

Warne:  I have never had a bad product from Warne.  I have a couple of sets of "grooved receiver" rings for my Tikka as well as half a dozen or so of Maxima rings that fit both Weaver and Picatinny bases.  Most of my Maxima rings are of QD variety, since I like to move scopes around.  More specifically, I do not particularly like Warne's "Permanent" Maxima rings since you need to take them off the scope in order to remove the scope from the rifle.  I have Warne rings for 1", 30mm and 34mm tubes.  I like the look of vertically split rings and I have learned to deal with a slightly more involved mounting process.

TPS: I have both 30mm and 35mm TPS rings and have never had any problems with them either.  I have, however, seen a lot of other people have problems with them.  Every one of those cases that I have personally looked into revolved around the fact that people believe all rings to be the same and do not read the instructions.

IOR: I have used quite a few IOR rings with good success.  The older ones had somewhat crude external finish, but they worked well.  I also have a 1-piece IOR base with rings (the one that uses 30mm STANAG rings in it) and I am equally happy with it.

Weaver:  I have accumulated quite a few cheap Top Mount weaver rings over the years and, surprisingly, they work pretty well.  These are not very heavy duty rings and aligning the reticle can be annoying with them, but they work.  Weaver Grand Slam rings have been nothing but trouble, especially the new QD ones. I bought a 1" and a 30mm model model.  The 1" rings were all crooked and had to be lapped more than any other rings I have used.  The 30mm ones are so out of spec that I can't use them at all: one of the rings is ~31mm in diamter and slides freely along the tube no matter how much you tighten it.  Perhaps, I will contact Weaver and see if their customer service is any good.

Millett:  I have never liked Millett's Angle Lok rings.  They often marr the scope tube and I had a hard time setting them up right.  Generally, I do not quite get the need for ribbed inner surface on Millett rings (other than shewing through the scope tube finish, I suppose).  This time around, I dug out a pair of Grabber rings that Millett suggested I look at a while back.  The construction is a bit funky, but they worked well on the Hawke scope and returned pretty close to zero.  As far as Millet bases go, I have their Picatinny one piece base on my Savage and it seems to be machined to spec.  I do not have any experience with other Millett bases.

Burris:  I am a big fan of Burris Signature Zee rings (the ones with plastic inserts).  They hold zero and helped me solve some challenging mounting problems with different thickness inserts.  I wish Burris made them in a QD configuration.  I also wonder why Burris would not use this technology for wider twin screw rings.  From a mechanical standpoint, this seems like a very durable structure and it can make ring-lapping (which I enjoy about as much as pullng teeth) obsolete.  Burris Xtreme Tactical rings, aside from the name that makes me cringe, are surprisingly good for the money. I have, I think, four sets and I am quite happy with them.  I have used them both on scopes and on red dots (in a single ring configuration): no problems whatsoever and I like the fact that they work with both Picatinny and Weaver bases.  Lastly, Burris Zee Ultra Low rings, while fragile looking worked well for me on a few rifles where I was struggling with cheek weld.  They did require some lapping, but held the scope securely.  Ditto for the new QD Zee rings.

Leupold:  I used a couple of QRW rings and they seemed very well made.

B-Square:  I have a couple of sets of Interlock rings with different riser heights.  Their construction looks entirely too complicated to be durable, but I have not had any problems with them.  Still, I would not use them in a situation wher eyou need maximum durability.

ARMS: I had a couple of sets of #22 rings go out of adjustment on me with use.  I do not use ARMS rings any more.

LaRue:  I have a couple of LaRue risers and have used the one piece bases.  I had a hard time breaking them even when I tried.  Pricy though.

EGW:  I recently acquired a one piece Picatinny base for my Tikka and I am very impressed with it.  I will be buying more EGW products.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/20/2009 at 01:02
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Thanks Koshkin,

Very Interesting article! Changed my closed mind on Leupold. I enjoy your (Honesty)writing.

JF    
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/20/2009 at 02:19
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Optics GrassHopper
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Excellent article! Thanks.

Hawke scopes are substantially cheaper in Europe if you compare other scopes non-European brands. This makes Hawke pretty good bang for a buck even though the warranty isn´t as good as it is with other manufacturers.
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Excellent review as always,  glad to see leupold properly dressed for the party.
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WOW, very thorough. I was glad to see that (in your opinion) the VX3 has improved. Thank you sir.
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Excellent
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Hmmm.  Many choices in my budget ... well, looks like time to start putting my own eyes to those lenses.Excellent

Thanks for the great review.
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Thunbs Up Nice review, Ilya!
 
Thanks!
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Bang up job, old man... jolly-o.

Thank you, ILya.  Great info.
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Excellent as always.  Thank you for taking the time to do these. 
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You are welcome.

The other day, someone brought up an interesting point, that most of my reviews are pretty favorable to the products I review.  Well, actually, that person implied that I am not exactly un-biased with my reviews.

After thinking about it, I think that the products I have been reviewing are, by and large, a self-selecting sample for a couple of reasons
1) I do not get paid to do the reviews, but I do get to choose what I review
2) I have been mostly reviewing the products that are of interest to me, so I have been, for all practical services, pre-screening stuff.

As I start looking at products that the manufacturers send me, as opposed to the stuff I buy, I wonder if that trend is going to last, since I am looking at some stuff now that I probably would not buy for a purpose of a review.

We'll see.

ILya
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Nice review ILya. Glad to see Leupold is making some upgrades in the glass dept. If they could just fix that eye relief issue..............

Roy
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ILya,

It may not be that your reviews are unnecessarily positive, but optics companies, due to competition, are putting out gear of increasing quality.  Good for them ... good for us.

I, for one, find your reviews quite informative.


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 Thank you so much for a terrific review,detailed,honest & very time consuming on your part.Also my hat goes off to you for keeping it simple so non tech people like myself  don't get board with the article " The Pearls of Wisdom are Heard not Spoken"
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Originally posted by Roy Finn Roy Finn wrote:

Nice review ILya. Glad to see Leupold is making some upgrades in the glass dept. If they could just fix that eye relief issue..............

Roy
 
 
I agree with Roy.  It's way overdue IMO. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/22/2009 at 16:39
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the more i read about the new vx3 the more im tempted to give leupold another chance. thanks for the great info as usual ilya!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/22/2009 at 17:26
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Originally posted by JGRaider JGRaider wrote:

Originally posted by Roy Finn Roy Finn wrote:

Nice review ILya. Glad to see Leupold is making some upgrades in the glass dept. If they could just fix that eye relief issue.............. Roy

 

 

I agree with Roy.  It's way overdue IMO. 


When you consider all the positive attributes of Leupold scopes (great customer service, tons of options, lifetime warranties regardless of the owner status and a good reputation for reliability) and durability, the variability of eye relief would seal the deal for me and many others I'm sure. While the glass upgrade was probably a fairly simple upgrade, the changing eye relief is probably a somewhat more difficult task to undertake. I am only guessing, but this would probably involve a more costly redesign of the optical design/system. Like I said earlier, the glass improvement, beefed up erector assembly and more accurate adjustments are very big steps in the right direction for this consumer. The fact that all the improvements thus far were brought to us at a modest price increase is wonderful news. I am now considering purchasing a Leupold FX3 6x42 for my 280 Ackley just because most of my shooting for whitetails up north don't really require very close snap shooting. It will probably save me a few ounces as well over my present B&L 2.5-10 Elite 4200.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/27/2009 at 13:17
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Thanks for a great review and information Ilya, we appreciate all your time and trouble to test and write up the reports.
 
Duce Smile
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Thanks ILya,
Glad to hear Leupold is making progress, maybe it's nostalgia on my part but but I'm happy they are getting back on track.
Sam 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2009 at 09:55
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Wow.... thanks for taking the "time" to do these tests!   Great writing, as this was easy to read and understand!!
 
Would be interested in hearing more about your "perceived" bias!  Maybe you need to include a POS scope so you can at least give one unfavorable review.  Big Smile
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2009 at 13:00
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Did you pull the specs from the makers' websites or independently verify  any?  Eye relief is frequently mis-represented (I have found, through experience.)

Did the stated eye relief seem "off" on any of the scopes tested?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2009 at 17:40
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Excellent review.  However, as a scientist, we both know that unless you perform a double blinded study, then subjectivity is always going to be a strong consideration in a review of any product.  I know that it would be very hard to do that with rifle scopes, but it is still possible.  With your knowledge of optics and science, along with SWFA, I would really like to see a double blinded study, possibly beginning with a group of fixed power scopes to make it simple in the beginning.  Again, your review was thorough, engaging and quite good, but just some thoughts.

Edited by safariarms man - August/02/2009 at 17:43
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Originally posted by Rancid Coolaid Rancid Coolaid wrote:

Did you pull the specs from the makers' websites or independently verify  any?  Eye relief is frequently mis-represented (I have found, through experience.)

Did the stated eye relief seem "off" on any of the scopes tested?

The specs in the table are from the websites.  However, nothing seemed particualrly off including eyerelief.  It appeared to be right around the advertised values.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/07/2009 at 17:26
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BTT.

I am applying for a "media" badge for the next SHOT Show which requires proof, i.e. industry relevant stuff that I have written and posted here.
I will bring several of my threads back to the top to make them easier to find.
Thanks
ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/09/2010 at 06:55
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Nice comparison. Seems we consumers are the winners with this group of scopes. Had forgotten that I was a member here, so have only read this purchasing the the VX-3 2.5-8x36 on my Model 70 Classic in 30-06 hunting rifle and the VX-3 4.5-14x40 AO mounted on my 40-X rimfire silhouette rifle. Now, if I can find the correctly priced 36X with target dot for the BSA Martini MkII rimfire benchrest rifle I'll be good.
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