Review: Vortex Viper 6.5-20X44mm Mildot Scope and Vortex Low Rings

September 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Vortex Ziper 6.5-20X44mm Mildot ScopeLet me start off with this, the customer service and support offered by Vortex Optics in Madison WI is top notch. I originally purchased the Vortex Crossfire 4-16X50 Illuminated MilDot from First outing with the crossfire was not good. 15 rounds into the very first range trip with the scope and new M1A, the crosshairs started to rotate counterclockwise 45 degrees. The range trip was not a total lose, as I was able to dial in the iron sights. The original order was plagued from the get go, with me receiving wrong items and about 2.5 weeks after my mine was laid down, I finally got the original Crossfire.

So I went through the hassle with, and to make a long story short, I ended up with getting my money back. Now being skittish with the Vortex brand, I was not only upset that the scope was a bust, all my research into the Vortex seemed to have been in vane, or so I thought. The day I got my money refunded, I was on the phone Vortex Optics to vent and give them a piece of my mind. Well, I was quickly turned when I spoke with Brian Widder and Scott Parks. Brian was a manager and calmed me down. Scott is their resident “scope guy” and I soon learned also has an M1A. Scott listened to my issues and concerns and suggested I take the plunge again, only on a Viper this time. I hoo’ed and hah’ed for a second, and Scott had me sold. Yes, it was a little more money, but a better scope, and Scott reassured that the Viper was the way to go, as that is what he had on his M1A.

One week later, I received the Vortex Viper in the mail. I felt like a kid on Christmas. The box was packaged well and came with the standard bikini scope cover, lens rag and instructions. In my hands, the scope felt solid. The glass was crisp and I observed little to no fuzziness out to the max 20 magnification. Now, I have great corrected sight and this may lend to the glass being clear, but there is no reason that I would not feel confident with the scope on any rifle in just about any condition. One of the major things I loved about this scope is that the elevation and wind turrets are not secured via allen wrench. They are the style that you adjust for zeroing in, and then pull up and reset. The turret covers were solid as well, with the large threads to avoid stripping.

Some of the other great upgrades/additions is the parallax adjustment is on the opposite side from the wind turret. All other scopes I have used have the adjustment between the eyepiece housing and scope tube. In its place is the magnification adjustment. The adjustment feels great when rotating it in either direction. The rings adjustment is fluid and seems to be “just right” for the amount of pressure needed for movement. The eyepiece has a clarity adjustment that I assume would help correct fuzziness that might occur within the different magnifications. I was able to look out to about 300 yards, viewing through the ranges of magnification and was able to view everything with great detail. The MilDot is clear and will serve its purpose of range finding and sizing targets. The scope came with instructions on using the MilDot and advised to use it set to the 14 power magnification with a set formula. I will try this and also try the tried and true method of 10X with another formula.

Anchoring the scope to the Bassett Machine Mount is the Vortex Brand Low rise Tactical rings. The rings have the normal “tactical” style anchor knob that secures it to the mount. They have a flathead screwdriver slot which makes it a little easier to tighten them down. I really don’t understand why manufactures do this. A socket and ratchet is a better way to torque them down, as the flathead screwdriver required is usually larger then what most people have and leaves more damage then the socket. The thing I found really appealing with these rings is the 6 torx head bolts used to secure the 2 halves of the rings. Vortex also includes a small torx wrench for this application.
At the end of the day, I am very happy with the purchase for the Vortex Viper. The only complaint I have with the Viper, is that it is not offered with the illuminated recital. The only regret I have with the purchase is going through

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Review: Hawke SideWinder 30 Tactical Rifle Scope Part 1

June 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Hawke Optics Tactical Rifle ScopeDisclaimer: I just want to be clear, I was not paid or compensated in any way for this review and all expressions and opinions are my own. Heck, I even have to return the scope as soon as I’m done with this review. 😉

A little while back Hawke Optics contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their rifle scopes. I jumped at the opportunity in order to provide the community some fresh unique content. Since I had the option to select the scope, I chose the SideWinder 30 Tactical Series 4.5-14×42 rifle scope.

A little about Hawke Optics

Hawke Optics is a UK based company who has been silently making their brand known through the shooting community and are increasing their dealer base here in the United States. You can find a list of dealers who carry Hawke Sport Optics here. Like I said before, in order for Hawke to spread the word about their optics, they contacted me to review their Tactical 4.5-14×42 rifle scope, so here we go!

sidewinder 30 tactical rifle scope

Hawke 4.5-14x42 IR SF Tactical Scope Mounted on my M1A Scout Rifle

The SideWinder Tactical 30 Series

The Specs:

Manufacturer: Hawke Sport Optics
Model Number: Tactical 4.5-14×42 IR SF
Finish: Matte
Magnification: 4.5-14
Objective: 42mm
Tube Diameter: 30mm
Weight: 1lb 11oz/775g
Length: 14.6″/370mm
Eye Relief: 4″/102mm
Click Value: 1/4 MOA
FOV @100y: 6.9′-2.1′ m
Reticule: Mildot
List Price: $429

The SideWinder 30 Tactical Series rifle scopes are one of the higher end rifle scope line for hawke optics. I’m not going to say it’s their highest line of scopes like their Japanese made Frontier series but, according to their sales team, they are becoming one of their hottest sellers to date and I think I know why.

The rifle scope comes packaged well with it’s own rifle scope case filled with cut out egg crate style foam that fits the outline of the scope and it’s accessories. Included within the case is the rifle scope, instruction booklet, lens cloth, screw on lens covers, 2″ side focus wheel, wheel pointer, and 4″ sunshade.


Rifle scope case and contents

Rifle scope case and contents


The single tube scope is  30mm in diameter making it strong and durable. It also comes with a black matte finish making the surface of the scope less reflective. The tube comes nitrogen purged/filled making it water, shock and fog proof. The tube is pretty smooth and there are no over the top features with it’s construction leaving a simple, clean and QUALITY feeling to the scope. The turrets do remind me of the Leupold Mark 4 LR/T style turrets, giving it that mark 4 look and feel.

Rifle Scope Turrets

Rifle Scope Turrets

The turrets have some nice features to them. They are 1/4 MOA and large for easy use. They also have a nice locking feature to them. Pull the turret up or outward and they are unlocked, enabling for easy smooth adjustments. Once your settings are complete, just simply push the turret in or downward to lock it in place. They are resettable but one thing I did notice was the fact that when adjusted, I couldn’t count up or down with these turrets. The parallax knob rotates nice and smooth and ranges from 10yds-infinity. Attached to the parallax knob is the illumination know with 5 levels of brightness for both red and green reticles. I found level 3 to be the best during low light conditions.

Fast ocular focus with lock

The eye piece is also pretty nice. It contains a fast focus ocular lens adjustment with locking ring. Simply adjust until focused, then lock by moving the locking ring back toward the eye. It allows for a nice amount of adjustment before it reaches maximum capacity, allowing for a sharp, crisp view of the reticle and target. The power ring is a little stiff upon it’s first few uses but then moves back and forth smoothly. It’s not too stiff nor too loose but moves smoothly when zooming in and out.

Eye relief and reticle

The eye relief is outstanding. I have this scope mounted on my Springfield M1A Scout and eye relief is a must on my rifle. Once mounted, I took this picture about 4 inches back and the reticle is still visible and crisp.

The reticle is clean looking. It’s a free floating, glass etched, mil dot reticle with hollow bars for easy bracketing with dot and tie aim points. The mil dot and tie aim points are spaced at 1/2 mil dot spacing. The hollow bars are spaced at 0.2 mil spacing and whole spacing.

As you can see, the glass on this scope is superb. The scope comes with fully multi-coated lenses for increased light transmission and low light conditions. It took me by surprise on how clear the scope really was when viewed for the first time.

Ok, now that we have covered most of the specs, we are now going to see how this scope holds up at the range. Once I zero it with my M1A Scout, I’ll fire about 75-100 rounds of .308 ammo. That should be sufficient for testing the recoil hold up.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Hawke Optics SideWinder 30 Tactical Rifle Scope Review.