Scope impressions

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Scope impressions

Postby Zero4k on Tue May 08, 2012 4:00 pm

These are not scope reviews...

I visited a couple of gun stores the other week with the purpose of checking out a couple of popular scope brands. We've all read rave reviews in the glossy mags and it appears no matter what scope brand or model they review / test, they are all great..... How many have ordered on-line as a result of reading the mags only to be disappointed and had to send it back? Quite a few I'd imagine. The other problem is that not many gun stores can afford to carry a large selection or brands and models so trying before you buy (the ideal way) isn't always that easy. The following are personal views / impressions of my buddy and me.

We limited the choices to a couple of fairly popular brands looking at some low to mid budget units from Nikko Stirling and Hawke Optics, my buddy ordered a Leapers Swat 3-12x44 compact from one supplier for just under £100 and a Leapers latest gen Bug Buster 3-12x32 from another at £79 so I had a fair chance to look through them both in detail but obviously not actually shoot with them. I won't go through the specifications because they are stated on the manufacturers web sites.

Leapers 3-12x44 Swat compact, fairly heavy for it's size but a nice configuration. Very disappointing after all the positive reviews I've read, oil leak from the side parallax control, and a pretty bad paint finish with a piece of paint missing on the tube. The one we had here had a very pronounced fish eye effect when looking through it at any mag setting - in a word awful, the image was not clear and sharp at any mag, the parallax adjustment was fairly true up to 50 yards, turret adjustment was typical budget - adequate. We decided the mil dots would be OK for hunting but when looking at a 10mm target at 30 yards the mil dots blocked the target totally so as a small target scope it left a lot to be desired - you'd be OK popping beer cans with it. Whether it was a genuine Leapers product or not we honestly don't know as there are apparently a lot of counterfeits sold on Ebay, this one was sent back ASAP.

Leapers Bug Buster 3-12x32, this was definitely a genuine item as it had a very nice finish - lovely compact design, and very lightweight. The new model is a step up from the gen 5 I looked at a while ago, much nicer sniper style turrets with pretty positive clicks, AO adjustment was very stiff but maybe that would free up with use - the AO was accurate up to 35 yards, to get the sharpest image at 45 to 50 yards and beyond it had to be set on infinity so something wasn't quite right. Magnification was fairly smooth to use, but being a budget scope the image clarity was not up to a high standard. Again though the fairly thick mil dot size would limit this scope to hunting unless you only used larger targets for practice. My buddy decided to keep this one for his little .22BSA Ultra he uses for hunting - a nice lightweight rifle so the scope complements it perfectly.

Now for the store visits, scopes were looked at outside in daylight.

Nikko Stirling Mountmaster 3-9x40 and 4-12x50, nice looking scopes, decent finish overall, very lightweight. Turrets easy to operate but obviously budget, AO nice and smooth and didn't seem too far off but I couldn't try properly as there was only about 40 yards to try with. Mil dots are a little thinner than the Leapers but not by much so again no the best for small targets, the clarity of the image would not suite me either, but to be fair they are very cheap scopes at around £30 to £40. I didn't bother with the higher spec models but may at some time.

Hawke Sport HD 3-9x40 AO £50 and 3-9x50 AO £55 both mil dot, lightweight design, decent turrets but still the budget feel to them, mil dots are a bit finer than the Leapers but not by too much, in this price range they are not etched. Image quality is pretty clear but not crystal, front AO adjustment was smooth and appeared reasonably accurate to the 40 yards I was limited to - definitely better than the Nikko Sterlings in a similar price range, overall a surprisingly decent low budget hunting scope.

OK that's the budget scopes dealt with, now for a step up in quality and price but still well within reach of most price wise:

Hawke Varmint SF 2.5-10x44, £130, nice format, decent finish, but one look through this scope by both of us and we wondered why it cost so much more than the Sport model, the price would justify an etched reticle at least.

Hawke Panorama 4-12x40 AO half mil dot and IR - I rarely use IR so I didn't bother with that. These scopes have had loads of praise and wonderful reviews so I was intrigued to compare this scope side by side with mine which is an MTC Mamba 3-12x44, but to keep it on equal terms I compared the MTC Mamba Lite 3-12x44 half mil dot at £160 to the Hawke Panorama 4-12x40 at just under £155.

The Hawke weighs under an ounce less tham the MTC so that's pretty much the same, the MTC is 14.26 inches long - the Hawke is 12.7" so from a compact point of view an advantage for the hawke.

Both have excellent half mil dot reticles, Hawke have really done a nice job on this because the reticle is quite fine, the Mamba Lite is also fine. Looking around in the car park with both, the Mamba is the most straight forward design of the two and would be easier to use in the field - both scopes are good for target shooting. Image clarity is good on the Hawke but the Mamba steals the show, it is crystal clear and looks brighter.

Turrets, The Mamba comes with ultra low profile covers and very precise turret controls - the Hawke has fairly low turret covers too and the turrets feel a lot better than the Sport models. One tip from what I have read, you need to get thicker O rings to put under the turret covers on the Hawke because when you have zeroed and you screw the covers on, they can alter the zero setting - uncool.

Having front AO on the Hawke surprised me when I first saw them, obviously a cost cutting measure but it would have been so much better with side focus as it's a lot easier to use and look at without shifting your position. The AO turns smoothly and use will make it even better. Out to 40 yards it is pretty much spot on. I can't say what it's like beyond 40 yards here so I have to assume the Hawke will be equally accurate at further distances like the Mamba is. The MTC Mamba Lite wins here because it has side focus which is very smooth in operation and very accurate.

Overall, the MTC scopes offer a helluva lot of value compared to other brands and in my opinion are the best you can buy within in the same price range. I have been very impressed with my Mamba and wouldn't want to go to another brand because I don't believe anyone can match the overall quality and features on these scopes for the money and you'd be very hard pushed to find better support if you need it.

I also looked through an MTC Viper Connect at the store (I knew I shouldn't have done this), one word, awesome!! If you ever get the chance to have a look through one, do it - you will be blown away by the image quality and reticles - they offer two, the SCB and AMD, both of which are very finely etched - I was so impressed I've gone and ordered one, I'll post some images when I've mounted it.
FX Royale 400 .22 - FX Verminator MKII .177
Posts: 575
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:59 pm
Location: Derbyshire uk

Re: Scope impressions

Postby ChrisB on Wed May 09, 2012 1:00 pm

I don't often post on Fora, but having read the above, thought I should add my comments ref. the Leapers 3-12 x 44 scope.
I took advantage of the sub £100.00 offer, put it on my .22 FAC Gladiator, in lieu of my 3 year old FX scope, a noticeable improvement in picture, a lot easier with sidewheel range focus and the variable colour reticule was supriseingly usefull in poor light as dusk came on.
I am impressed with the new scope.
Posts: 12
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:17 pm

Re: Scope impressions

Postby Zero4k on Wed May 09, 2012 1:40 pm

Hi Chris,

Thank you for taking the time and posting your positive experience of the Leapers scope you own - I'm assuming yours wasn't the compact version. I know others who own the full size ones and they have said they were good. My buddy was really disappointed after reading some glowing reviews on USA forums because he too loved the idea of the multi-color reticle for the very same reason you have found it useful, plus he wanted a compact scope to match his small rifle. But as I stated, neither of us were convinced the one he bought was the genuine article - it could have been a one off rogue but it honestly was as bad as I described. He's getting on fine with the Bug Buster though.

ATB, Ian
FX Royale 400 .22 - FX Verminator MKII .177
Posts: 575
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:59 pm
Location: Derbyshire uk

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