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Hawke Sidewinder 30 and Leatherwood Uni-Dial

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/27/2009 at 19:52
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Hawke Sidewinder 30 6-24x56 vs Leatherwood A.T.R. Uni-Dial 7-30x50

This is the third in a series of reviews involving Hawke products and my first review of a Leatherwood scope.  So far, I have looked at Hawke's top-of-the-line binocular, Frontier ED, and a top-of-the-line Japanese riflescope, Frontier SF.  Here, I will talk about Hawke's flagship China-made scope, the Sidewinder SS.


As is my custom, here is the short version for those who do not feel like going through all of my ramblings:

Overall, I was not particularly impressed with either scope.  Hawke is a nice mechanical package, but optics are mediocre (and I may be a bit generous here): both resolution and contrast are pretty bad.  A holdover reticle in a SFP scope is, in my opinion, just a bad idea (once again, just my personal opinion).  Leatherwood Uni-Dial is a nice concept, but badly executed both optically and mechanically: knobs have a lot of slop in them, tunnel vision is horrible and field of view is very narrow.


Now onto the long version: 

The sample Hawke sent me is the 6-24x56 with the proprietary SR12 reticle, big wheel side focus parallax adjustment, pop-up finger adjustable knobs, and green/red reticle illumination.  There is also an included sunshade.  This is definitely a very feature rich scope.

The Leatherwood scope is not far behind as far as features go: No-Math Mil-Dot reticle (normal Mil-Dot with a couple of hashmarks added to it for bracketing a target of specific size), exposed tall finger adjustable knobs, Uni-Dial elevation knobs (same idea as Kahles Multi-zero, with ten holdover marks; I have heard numerous accounts that Leatherwood was the first with this idea), side-focus parallax knob (it is the knob that sticks out at about 45 degree angle in front of the W/E knobs).  This one also has a sunshade included.

Let's look at the numbers (I included the more expensive Sightron S2 Big Sky 6-24x42 SIL for comparison):



Hawke Sidewinder 30
6-24x56
Leatherwood A.T.R. Uni-Dial
7-30x50
Sightron S2 Big Sky 
6-24x42 SIL
Length, in16.417.215
Weight, oz27.229.717.6
Field of View, ft@100 yards        16 - 510.6 - 3.515.7 - 4.4
Eye Relief, in3.63.33.7-4.0
Side Focus or Adjustable Objective?SFSFAO
Click Value, MOA1/4, 15MOA per turn1/2E, 40MOA per turn, 1/4W1/4, 20MOA per turn
Adjustment Range, MOA626060


These two scopes are among the most expensive scopes coming out of China now.  They are also, arguably, the most feature rich (with Hawke especially, having every feature under the sun included).  Both profess to be designed for long range shooting, but espouse somewhat different approaches to it.

Another thing to note is something of a disclaimer about my personal preferences:  I generally lean toward scopes that are simple to use.  Abundance of features is unlikely to impress me if the fundamentals are not properly sorted out.  If the scope has a lot of extraneous options, I expect those to be properly sorted out as well.


Hawke Sidewinder 30 6-24x56 with SR12 reticle


This is a substantial scope.  It is well proportioned, so it looks trimmer than it is, but it is big and bulky and clearly designed to be mounted on equally substantial rifles.  As far as fit and finish go, this is the best I have seen come out of China yet.  Bar none.  The whole package is very well polished.  All knobs turn smoothly.  The edges are nicely radiused and machining tolerances appear tight and well maintained.  Illumination and side focus are integrated into the same turret on the left side of the turret box via two concentric knurled rings.  The illumination is adjustable via the outer one and parallax via the inner one.  Parallax adjustment feels very stiff, but it is designed to work with the included big wheel that slides right over the knob and can be tightened over the side focus adjustment ring without effecting the illumination adjustment in any way.  The wheel adds a lot more leverage to the side focus, so that it feels smooth and fairly light.  Once the adjustment wheel is properly tightened, there is a touch of hysteresis in the system, but nothing that bothered me in practical use.  Parallax is adjustable from 10 yards on out.  For airgunners and rimfire shoters that is a welcome feature.

The reticle system is one of the more interesting features of the scope and deserves a special mention.  Note that I am referring to it as a "reticle system" rather than a reticle.  The reason for that is the BRC (Ballistic Reticle Calculator).  BRC is a piece of software available through Hawke's website that is designed to work together with the reticle for precise holdover.  The scope is available with three reticles: SR6, SR12 and Mil-Dot (BRC does not support holdover with Mil-Dot, but does support Hawke's proprietary reticle designs).  The scope in question here  has the SR12 reticle.  Here is what it looks like:
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/29/2009 at 20:53
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 First let me say thank you very much for taking the time to do this review, I'm glad this forum has members like yourself who take the time to test these products and then take more time to present your findings for everyone's benefit. Now, I have a question for you.

 Could the same be said about the glass in the Endurance 30? I'm currently stalled in deciding wheather to purchase a Trijicon Accupoint or a Hawke Endurance 30, but if the optics are no better than that, it may very well steer me back towards the Trijicon.

Thanks
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/29/2009 at 21:32
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 Well, I just looked at the Hawke website and I noticed that they say "Japanese engineered optical system" for the Endurance 30, so I'm assuming the Endurance 30 and the Sidewinder 30 don't have the same glass. Of course, I'd still like to hear your input on the matter.

Thanks,

Casey
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/30/2009 at 20:14
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The only Endurance 30 scope I have looked at has been the 1.25-4.5x24 and I just started looking at it.  I really do not know how good the optical quality of the Endurance 30 scopes is compared to the Sidewinder 30.

I am pretty sure that the two scopes are made in the same factory in China, although these are two different designs.

Ultimately, it is often hard to extrapolate optical quality even between different models in the same line-up, and much more difficult to do between different line-ups.

The scope I looked at is a 6-24x56.  Combination of high magnification and large objective lens can really make optical flaws stand out.  A less ambitiously configured scope of the same optical quality would probably look better.  How much better (if better at all) I can't say.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/31/2009 at 17:03
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 Okay, thanks for your input.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/02/2009 at 17:58
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This review was less invigorating than the previous review that I posted on.  As an owner of multiple Hawke scopes, purchased way before the hoopla that they are receiving now and not an owner of the sidewinder (I would never own a scope with a silly wheel), I have to say the ballistics reticle and presets are for basic presets.  The basic purpose after talking to Brad is to pick a caliber and you put in your values for calculation of the ED.  If it is a .308, it is applicable to any 30 caliber.  Or just punch in your own caliber.  I find the system quite simple.  Optically, I cannot comment on the sidewinder, since I do not own one.  All of the others are quite good.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/03/2009 at 11:01
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Originally posted by safariarms man safariarms man wrote:

This review was less invigorating than the previous review that I posted on.  As an owner of multiple Hawke scopes, purchased way before the hoopla that they are receiving now and not an owner of the sidewinder (I would never own a scope with a silly wheel), I have to say the ballistics reticle and presets are for basic presets.  The basic purpose after talking to Brad is to pick a caliber and you put in your values for calculation of the ED.  If it is a .308, it is applicable to any 30 caliber.  Or just punch in your own caliber.  I find the system quite simple.  Optically, I cannot comment on the sidewinder, since I do not own one.  All of the others are quite good.

I think your take on the presets is just plain wrong.  I explained this thing to Brad over dinner a little while back.

ED varies with your bullet weight, shape and velocity.  If you are shooting a 308Win, your ED is going to be dramatically different if you are shooting a 150gr roundnose vs 190gr SMK.  In case you are wondering, I verified that with different ammo on the same rifle.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/04/2009 at 14:37
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Its probably worth explaining the use of the sidewheel. Hawke is a UK company. A huge portion of their market is airgunners and most airguns there are resticted to 12ft/lbs power. in the UK, FT (field target) is a popular sport. Higher powered airgun scopes typically feature a side wheel for the purpose of range finding in FT. FT doesnt allow the use of range finders to measure distance to randomly placed targets, so distance by parallax reading is used. A competitor will crank the scope up to full power to reduce the depth of field then using the large side wheel (with custom distances marked on) snap the focus in and out then read off the larger side wheel. You will note that parallax adjustment markings on a side wheel are very widely spaced below 50 yards. The exact distance is obviously required as the trajectory on a 7 grain pellet traveling at approx 800fps is like a rainbow anything over 30 yards. Once distance is established then the user will usually power down to a particular power and holdover based on a drop chart - hence the software designed to go with the scope. FT isnt big in the USA so most consumers simply see the side wheel and software as novelty. Target audience for this scope, like other high powered airgun scopes are those that shoot FT and or airgun hunting. HTH :)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/07/2009 at 13:18
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A bit of a follow up:

It looks like all my whining and complaining about Sidewinder optics did not fall on deaf ears (I also suspect that I am not the only one to whine about this).

The powers that be at Hawke took all the criticism to heart and are working with the factory to improve the glass. 

I will post an update as soon as I learn anything else on the subject.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/07/2009 at 17:25
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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: October/22/2009 at 13:21
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Koshkin:  Have you heard yet about any improvement of the optics for the Hawke 30 Sidewinder?  Thanks, Chuck
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/22/2009 at 13:43
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I have been told that Hawke management took my (and other people's) complaints very seriously and the optical system in the Sidewinder 30 chassis will get a redesign.

I have not seen it yet and until then I can't speculate on how much better it will become.

I do not have any idea on the timeline either, so stay tuned.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/25/2009 at 15:18
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Thanks Ilya for the time and effort that you always put into this type of work. I deeply appreciate it. I am sure several others do also. I am happy to hear that Hawke will be working to resolve your concerns. YOU ARE THE MAN!!!!!!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/28/2009 at 17:56
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Hello all, I am new to the forum and am trying to find out what the best 1 to 1.5 - 4 to 4.5 x magnification 30mm scope is the best for around $300.00 to $325.00.  I like the Hawke Endurance 1.5 to 4.5 and this thread talked about an upcoming review of that same scope.  Does anyone have experience with the Hawke 1.5 to 4.5x Endurance?  I am looking for a good optic (replacing a cheap $60.00 Barska) that can stand some general abuse...i.e. trudging through the woods, maybe the gun bumps a tree, or even a fall from a standing position while leaned on a tree.   This will be going on either a Yugoslavian AK or a Smith and Wesson M&P 15T.  Any help will be appreciated, and any advice to stay away from certain manufacturers will be considered if you have good reason to discredit them.  I have also looked at the Konus M30 1-4  /  and the Millet Doughnut in a dot 1-4.  Look forward to seeing replies.  Robert, in TX.    Ohhh,  and most of my shots would be 250 yards and under, and the heaviest recoil from a 7.62x39 or .223.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/28/2009 at 18:00
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Originally posted by TruthNtime TruthNtime wrote:

Hello all, I am new to the forum and am trying to find out what the best 1 to 1.5 - 4 to 4.5 x magnification 30mm scope is the best for around $300.00 to $325.00.  I like the Hawke Endurance 1.5 to 4.5 and this thread talked about an upcoming review of that same scope.  Does anyone have experience with the Hawke 1.5 to 4.5x Endurance?  I am looking for a good optic (replacing a cheap $60.00 Barska) that can stand some general abuse...i.e. trudging through the woods, maybe the gun bumps a tree, or even a fall from a standing position while leaned on a tree.   This will be going on either a Yugoslavian AK or a Smith and Wesson M&P 15T.  Any help will be appreciated, and any advice to stay away from certain manufacturers will be considered if you have good reason to discredit them.  I have also looked at the Konus M30 1-4  /  and the Millet Doughnut in a dot 1-4.  Look forward to seeing replies.  Robert, in TX.    Ohhh,  and most of my shots would be 250 yards and under, and the heaviest recoil from a 7.62x39 or .223.

It is probably worth your while to start a new thread with your questions in the "Rifle Scopes" part of the forum.  That way you will get more responses.

As a side note, I am currently testing the 1.25-4.5x24 Endurance 30.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/28/2009 at 19:05
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Thats a will do friend :)
I will wait to see how the testing goes on the one you are currently working with. I am reall thinking its the one for me
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/24/2009 at 00:46
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Thanks for the great review.  I almost bought one of the Leatherwoods  I like the idea of the flag markers for distance - wish it was a better scope.
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