Aeon Athlon Aztec Delta Hawke Leupold March MTC Optisan Sightron SWFA UTG Vortex

Forums Optics, Scopes, Rings, & Mounts Aeon Athlon Aztec Delta Hawke Leupold March MTC Optisan Sightron SWFA UTG Vortex

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    mmahoney
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    I don't have near the experience with scopes as JoeWayneRhea does, but I own or have owned all sixteen of these scopes. I thought I'd give my 2 cents worth about each one. I realize many might not agree with my rankings and may have had different experiences with each one. Please feel free to disagree in the comments and add your experiences with each. Each scope is rated roughly as follows:

    Glass: A subjective opinion of the image's brightness, sharpness, and color accuracy at highest magnification in a variety of light conditions. I consider good glass the most important factor.
    Turrets/Tracking: Are turrets repeatable? Do they click consistently? Is each subtension really 1 MOA/MIL? Are they zero resettable? Can the zero be locked? Bonus for tactical style vs. capped and for low profile as opposed to tall towers sticking out the top and side.
    Size/Weight: How does the scope compare in length and weight overall?
    Adjustment Range: How much adjustability do the turrets allow? Scores roughly equate  to 1 for each 10 MOA of adjustment or Mil equivalent.
    Warranty: If something goes wrong, how likely am I to be taken care of? 10 only earned if warranty successfully tested.
    Parallax: Side parallax is preferable. How detailed can the parallax be dialed for measuring distances out to 50-60 yards? Side wheel available?
    Reticle: A subjective opinion on the usefulness of the reticle with no preference toward 1st or 2nd focal plane. Standard duplex rates a 3. Points are deducted for artifacts and dust on reticle.

    #1 March 3-24×42 FFP with FMA-1 Illuminated reticle

    Pro:

    • Glass: The glass is extremely bright and clear. It is difficult to distinguish between the Leupold scopes and the March in terms of brightness. The March does have and edge in contrast to the Leupold scopes, but the difference is slight and not noticeable unless under severe scrutiny.

    • Size/weight: I like the low profile of the turrets and overall size (12.3 inches long) and weight (22.6 oz.) of the scope.

    • Magnification Range: The magnification range of 3x to 24x is pretty amazing for such a small scope and allows the scope to be a great option for both hunting and target shooting.

    • Reticle: I like the reticle. It isn’t anything too fancy which is a good thing IMO because it does everything I need it to without being overly complicated. I think it would be the reticle I’d design if given a choice. I’m partial to MOA subtensions and this scope has got them. There is also a Mil version if that is your preference. The reticle is even very useful as 3x magnifications because at 3x the reticle looks like a traditional duplex with the the crosshairs starting out thick on the edge and narrow toward the center. I find that I don't need the subtentions for close range shots. A thinner FMA-2 reticle is available. However, I find the FMA-2 target dot to be a bit cramped by the cross hairs and actually prefer the FMA-1. Like all the first focal plane scopes I’ve used, the reticle can seem thick at the highest magnifications. This one seems thicker than the Athlon’s reticle. This has never affected my group size or accuracy on any of the FFP scopes. In fact, the target dot seems exactly the size of the bullseye on the 25m Benchrest targets. This makes it very easy to shoot those targets accurately.

    • Consistency: Changing the magnification has no effect on POA.

    • Simple Illumination: There are only four settings for the illumination. I find this perfect as too many settings just makes it take longer to find the right one. When needed, I find the lowest setting is sufficient. Switching between settings is a simple push of a button.

    • Tracking: Every scope I’ve used (that wasn't probably broken) has passed the supremely important box test, and this scope is no different. I checked the actual distance markings on the reticle and they are dead on. Each mark equals exactly 1 MOA.

    • Adjustment Range: The scope has incredible adjustment range for both elevation and windage (100 MOA) making it a great long range scope. Each revolution of the turret gives 25 MOA of adjustment so that I can do all my adjust the scopes clicks all on 1 revolution and not worry about getting lost.

    • Zero stop:The zero stop is super easy to use. Simply turn a screw where you want the zero stop to be and it is done.

    • Resettable turrets: The turrets are easy to adjust so that the markings are realigned to zero.

    Con:

    • Cost: This scope is not 5-10 times better than the other top scopes on this list even though it costs that much more.

    • Distortion: There seems to be a little distortion around the outside edges at 3x magnification.  It isn't obvious or too distracting, but is definitely there. It disappears at 4x and above.

    • More Cost: A middle focus wheel must be purchased and doped with ranges if you want to use the parallax knob to determine relative distance. The parallax adjustment only has 3 numbers on it (10 yards, 100 yards, and infinity) and they are only used to show you which direction to turn the knob to focus.

    • Illumination: The illumination of the reticle is not worth the close to $1,000 it adds to the price tag. The red color is not perfectly uniform and there is a bit of bleeding at the two highest illumination settings. If you absolutely have to have illumination, I’d get a different scope.

    • Not true MOA?: Each click of the turrets is supposed to equal ¼ MOA. It is the closest scope I’ve tested to being exact on its claim, but I found that over a range of 40 MOA of both elevation and windage, that the scope tracked short 4 clicks (1 MOA) in all directions. Basically the scope is measuring 1 MOA=1.021 inches at 100 yards instead of the actual 1.047 inches. This is closer than all other scopes I’ve tested and doesn’t really affect us airgunners at the distances we shoot, but I was hoping that it would be perfect for the money.

    • Warranty: The warranty is only for 5 years and is non-transferable so if you buy a used scope it has no warranty. I’ve heard this is Japanese law and March takes care of its scope owners. I hope never to find out.

    Status: Owned and mounted on my Steyr Hunting 5 Automatic. The high cost is simply not worth the performance difference compared to more budget friendly scopes. This scope is for shooters who like knowing they have the best money can buy. I'm keeping mine, so I guess that applies to me.

     

    #2 Delta Stryker HD 10-50×56

     

    Pro:

    • Glass- The bottom line is the glass is not as good as on the March 3-24×42. It is flawless up to around 16x. Any flaws are tough to find in the sweet spot between 16-25x other than a gradual softening of the image as magnification increases. The image on the Delta at 24x is not quite as sharp as on the March. The image seems just a hair out of focus in comparison to the March. I was most excited to see that the image maintained good resolution all the way up to 50x. Cheaper high magnification scopes I’ve looked through have such poor image quality at the highest magnification settings that I find them unusable. The Delta glass is of high enough quality, and the 56mm bell and 34mm tube lets in plenty of light to make very usable sight picture even at 50x.

    • High Magnification Range – The magnification range is exceedingly flexible. It zooms  all the way from 5x up to 50x making the scope useful for everything from a hunting scope, field target, and benchrest applications. The MOA markings of the reticle are accurate at 40x magnification.

    • Ranging – It has the potential to be the best ranging scope I’ve ever owned. The clear glass, high magnification range, and excellent parallax adjustment allows distances to the target to be determined with outstanding accuracy. A side wheel would make this the best Field Target scope I've looked through.

    • Parallax Adjustment – the scope focuses parallax free down to 10 m. I could probably manage with a scope that only focused down to 25 yards, but as a rule only consider buying scopes that can focus down to 10 meters or less for my air rifles.

    • Reticle – The reticle on the MOA version that I have has fewer hash marks than the Mil version of the scope. The Mil version has .2 mil markings! These precise subtensions along with the super ranging ability of the scope allow target size to be determined with surprising accuracy. The reticle is 2nd focal plane which is good for this scope. A first focal plane reticle would be far too thick at 50x to be useful for the fine target shooting applications required by air gunners. The fine target dot in the center of the reticle is perfect for shooting targets. It illuminates and is easy to spot when hunting in busy backgrounds as well. The rest of the reticle is very thin as well. This is nice as it doesn’t interfere with the sight picture, but a bummer when looking hunting as it blends in with busy backgrounds.

    • Elevation Adjustment Range – The scope has 100 MOA of adjustment range built into the scope but I have read actual users claim 110 MOA. This large adjustment range makes the scope and ideal choice for long range shooting.

    • Turrets – The MOA version of the scope has turrets that adjust in ⅛ MOA increments. This fine adjustment ratio is very useful for fine tuning at long distances and is a noticeable improvement vs. the ¼ MOA increments available on most scopes. The mil version is  .1 mil per click which is pretty standard. The outside collar of the turrets is lifted for adjustments to be made and pushed back down to be locked in place. The system works smoothly. The system tracks like a premium scope should.

    • Magnification Adjustment Knob- The magnification ring has a built in throw knob that you can unscrew if you don’t want or like to use it. I like it and keep it on my scope as it is low profile and makes changing magnifications easier.

    • Illumination- Only the center dot of the reticle is illuminated, but the dot can become bright enough to help if looking at busy backgrounds.There are 11 different settings. In between each setting there is an “off” setting. That way if you like your illumination at the 7th setting, you can turn it on and off with just one click and don’t have to cycle all the way through the settings. This is a nice touch and why I include it as a “pro”.

     

    Con:

    • Size – All the retailers I saw and even the documentation included with the scope says that the scope is 13.1 inches long. This is not true! When I measure the scope it is closer to 14.5 inches long. I purchased this scope thinking it would only be marginally larger than the 12 inch long March 3-24×42 I currently run. I knew immediately upon opening the box that the scope was too big for my needs.

    • Dust on reticle – On my scope there was a very small piece of dust located on the upper right edge of the reticle. It could only be seen when looking carefully at a blank white background and did not interfere with the scopes use at all, but still….

    Other:

    • Warranty –  The scope has a 10 year warranty, which isn’t bad. It just isn’t as good as the “No questions lifetime warranties” of Leupold, Athlon, and Vortex. Since there isn’t a dealer for the scopes in the USA, I suppose you’ll have to send the scope back to Europe if there is a problem.
    • Which reticle to choose? – The finer .2 mil hash marks of the MIL reticle are better for shooters that like to use the reticle to adjust for shooting at various distances. Shooters who like to click will probably be happier with the finer ⅛ MOA per click adjustments of the MOA reticle. I chose the MOA version because I prefer to use my turrets and Strelok Pro to click in my distances.

    Status: Being returned. The scope is larger than advertised and doesn’t meet my needs as an all-round target and hunting scope. If I needed a field target scope, this would be it.

     

    #3 SWFA SS 20×42 with MOA Quad Reticle

    Pro: 

    • Reticle: The reticle as good as (and very similar to) the outstanding Aztec Emerald’s. It can be had in Mils instead if you prefer.
    • Glass:  The glass is pretty good. It is (usually) clear and the image shows decent contrast. The colors can get washed out easily in bright sunlight, however.
    • Adjustment Range: The turrets will allow a whopping 126.5 MOA of adjustment. That means the scope will allow you to zero out past 100 yards with no sweat. They are a little taller than I'd like, but the extra height leaves plenty of room to put a custom turret tape on.
    • Turrets: Nice and crisp for each click.
    • Warranty: Lifetime no questions asked.

    Con:

    • Parallax:  Lacks side parallax adjustment. If using on a field target gun, this might be a big deal. For basic hunting (with rangefinder) or target shooting it isn’t a big deal at all.
    • Fixed Magnification: Cannot be adjusted down to lower magnifications to make tracking during hunting situations easier.
    • Finicky eyebox: makes getting a clear sight picture harder than most scopes and can be irritating. The image has a tendency to get washed out if head placement is not perfect.

    Current status: Sold, but I loved the lightweight and clarity for the price. I simply wanted higher magnification for the target shooting rifle I had it mounted to. I'd definitely buy this scope or another in the SS series again if it fit the needs of my intended shooting of the rifle.

     

    #4 Leupold VX-HOG 1-4×20  

    Pro: 

    • Image: Extremely clear and crisp image.  It is much easier to get a great image at low magnifications, so  the 4x maximum magnification gives this scope a significant head start here.
    • Sight Picture: is big and target acquisition is easy at all magnifications. Ideal for small, light rifles because it only weighs half a pound and is very compact. Reticle is useful for finding holdover/holdunder.
    • Reticle: The reticle adds a lot to this scope. The subtentions are useful for holdovers and the circle around the center is great at bracking round targets.
    • Size/Weight: Perfect size for a low powered backyard pesting rifle.
    • No parallax: Magnification is so low that the image is clear at about any distance. Just point and shoot.
    • Adjustment Range: More than enough adjustment range to zero this little scope at any range the 4x magnification is suitable for.

    Con: 

    • Small magnification range: Only 4x magnification makes target shooting extremely difficult. This was a deal breaker for me.

    Status: Sold, but I'd definitely buy this scope again if I needed a lightweight scope for close quarters shooting (such as hog hunting).

     

    #5: Leupold Freedom 3-9×33 EFR

    Pro:

    • Glass:  Crystal clear glass that is sharp and true to color. Does very well in low light.
    • Size: Small and lightweight. This scope is an awesome hunting scope for air rifles that shoot at a fast enough velocity not to need to use holdovers.  It is equally at home on your favorite powder burner hunting rig. The scope is kept small and light in large part due to only a 9x magnification range. This is plenty for shooting out to 50 yards, and the 3x makes acquiring the target a breeze.
    • Tracking: The scope tracks perfectly and aces the all-important box test.  That isn't all that important with this scope, however, because this is the type of scope that you set to zero and then leave the turrets alone. It is nice to know that the quality of the turrets is there. The scope claims that each click is 1/4 MOA. I measured both the elevation and windage adjustment of each click to be short 3 clicks after 40 MOA of adjustment. The clicks are consistent and trustworthy.
    • Turrets: are low profile and have an attractive cap once your zero is set.
    • Warranty: Comes with the world's best scope warranty.

    Con: 

    • Reticle: The reticle could use a few mildots.
    • Magnification Range: Higher magnification range would be appreciated but would sacrifice much of the size and weight that makes this scope special. 

    Status: Sold when I sold the Brocock Contour it was mounted to. This is still my favorite lightweight hunting scope.

    #6 Optisan Optics EVX 6-24×50 F1 MH24 Reticle 

    Pro: 

    • Forgiving Eyebox: Getting a clear sight picture is easier on this scope than on the SWFA SS and Aztec scopes which can be a bit finicky to get a clear picture without milkiness.
    • Sharp Image: With both scopes at 20x to make a fair comparison, the Optisan seems to show a bit more contrast than the SWFA. The glass is as close to as bright as my Leupold 6.5-20, but not quite. I'd would be tough to tell the difference unless looking through them side-by-side.
    • Great Turrets: I wish I still had my Athlon to compare side-by-side to, but it seems to have all the clarity of the Athlon but with better turrets that don’t have the mushy first click. The turrets also lock. 
    • Side Parallax: The adjustable parallax makes it more versatile than the SWFA which is nice if doing a bit of close range pesting.
    • Great lens cap covers: The lens cap covers are awesome and remind me of the real nice ones found on the viper pro. They can flip all the way back and flush with the scope instead of sticking up in the air.
    • FFP: The Optisan is first focal plane, and that is my preference. I would still like the scope if it were second focal plane, though.

    Con: 

    • Artifacts on Reticle: I noticed a few small specs of dust on the first focal plane. They are very hard to see but I can spot them easily now at 24x since I know where to look. They disappear at lower magnifications. This is a big con for me because I believe it is a sign of poor manufacturing quality. I don’t like the reticle as much as the SWFA reticle. I prefer a small target dot on the center.
    • No MOA: The reticle is mil only. MOA fans are out of luck.
    • Warranty: The warranty is not transferrable if you ever wish to sell your scope and you have to pay shipping both ways. Your receipt must also be provided, so don't lose it!

    Current Status: Returned due to dust on reticle. I wouldn't buy this scope again. I'd go with the Athlon or Vortex because of their superior warranties.

    #7 Leupold 6.5-20×40 EFR Air Rifle Target

    Pro:

    • Glass: The brightness and clarity of this scope puts most others on this list to shame. At least it is easy to see why it costs more than most of the other scopes on the list.
    • Size and Weight: This is the lightest 20x power scope on the market. The light weight is very noticeable and makes guns of any size easier to pack, shoulder, and aim. This scope has caused me to emphasize weight more in my scope preferences. I love the feel of this scope on my guns.
    • Parallax Adjustment: The ranging capabilty of the parallax adjustment is outstanding.
    • Tactical Target Turrets:The tactical turrets are very easy to click. The scope tracts perfectly and returned to the correct point of aim perfectly every time on the box test.
    • Excellent Eye Relief:  Getting a clear sight picture is automatic.
    • Warranty– It also comes with the world's best warranty. What is not to love?

    Con: 

    • Reticle: While the plain duplex reticle is functional, a mildot reticle would be very useful especially for the times that the turrets run out of adjustment range.
    • AO Parallax adjustment:  With the parallax adjustment at the front of the scope, I can’t look through the scope on a bench and easily adjust the focus because my arm is so far extended. 
    • Limited adjustment range: The adjustment range of the turrets is too limited at 40 MOA. It is a consequence of the tube only being 1 inch instead of 30mm.  If the scope is zeroed in the center of the glass that only leaves 20 MOA of affective adjustment range. As a result, I cannot adjust the scope to shoot out to 100 yards (it falls just short) without shimming the back of the scope up.
    • 1 click not equal to 1/4 MOA: When testing that the 1/4 MOA per click was accurate over a 20 MOA span, I found the Leopold over-estimated by 3-4 clicks. This means 1/4 MOA per click is actually a touch higher. It doesn't affect my use of the scope, but I found it interesting. 
    • Turret caps: must be removed for adjustment and are easy to lose. 

    Current Status: Sold when downsizing.

     

    #8: Athlon Argos 6-24×50 with Illuminated mil reticle and mil turrets

    Pro:

    • Glass: The Athlon Argos has nice clear glass (better than the SWFA and Aztec IMO). I never saw any fogginess at any of the magnification levels.
    • FFP: First focal plane scopes are the way to go for shooters who like to change the magnification on their scopes often.
    • Reticle Options: The scope comes in both MOA and Mil reticle versions to suit your preference. It also comes with flip up objective covers (my favorite).
    • Warranty: Great transferable warranty.

    Con:

    • Thick Reticle: The reticle is a touch too thick at high magnifications. It is definitely still usable for target shooting and I doubt it has ever affected my accuracy, but is a con for me since most of my shooting is target shooting with the scope at high magnifications. If you solely shoot targets and never adjust magnification, a second focal plane scope would have an edge. I prefer the fine dot in the center of the reticle like the March, SWFA and Aztec have, especially in a FFP scope.
    • Mushy Turrets: The turrets would feel mushy on the first click of adjustment and be crisp on all following clicks. I've heard this can be fixed by removing a bit of the thick grease from the turret and replacing it with a bit runnier stuff. It would be better if Athlon just used the runnier stiff in the first place.
    • Illumination Overkill: The scope also has an illuminated reticle with something like 12 brightness levels. 12 brightness levels seems a bit overkill to me. I’m not a big fan of illuminated reticles. They are a cool sounding feature I never find myself using and that just add extra weight and bulk to the scope, but for some they are nice to have.

    Current status: Sold when downsizing.  This is a very good scope and comparable to the Optisan and the Vortex first focal plane scopes. I'd buy the SWFA again over all three.

     

    #9 Vortex Diamondback 6-24×50 FFP Ebr-2c MRAD Tactical

     

    Pro:

    • Repeatable: As a bare minimum, a scopes turrets have to be repeatable. The Vortex aces the box test with grippy turrets that are easy to turn.

    • Parallax: I love side parallax scopes. The Diamondback has a very nice one that has the most important airgun distances marked (10,15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75,100,150, 300, and infinity). Unfortunately, the marked distances aren't always accurtate to where the image is actually parallax free. For example, at 27.4 yards I found the correct parallax setting on the scope to be just a hair further than the 30 mark. 

    • Adjustment Range: With 19 MRAD (65 MOA) or elevation adjustment, the scope has enough adjustment to reach out too 100+ yards without the need for adjustable rings. Adjustable rings are still needed if you want to stretch the scope out to 200 yards such as for the Long Rangers challenge.

    • Reticle: While quite busy at first glance, the small subdivisions make using the reticle for holdovers and windage adjustments very accurate. I personally use a rangefinder for ranging, but if you like to use your reticle, you’ll love the fine subtensions on this scope. The size of the reticle is perfect. The subtensions are still useful at the 6x magnification and do not grow too thick at 24x. There is an MOA version if you prefer it.

    • Turret Height:  The tactical turrets don’t stick up as far as a lot of other tactical turrets. I really like this feature as the turrets on my Leupold stick up so high that it is hard to fit the rifle in a gun scabbard.

    • Zero Stop: Since the turrets do not have markings to show which revolution you are on, the zero stop has become a feature I rely on with this scope that I usually ignore on other  scopes.

    • Company Policy: I’ve been wanting to buy a Vortex scope for a while now. Even though I am not a veteran, it is my belief that we don’t treat our veterans with the respect they deserve. I appreciate that Vortex gives veterans a 20% discount on their scopes and have been wanting to buy a Vortex scope for a while to support the company and show my appreciation.

    • Warranty: Unlimited, transferable,  lifetime warranty for any owner of the scope. No documentation needed. Can’t get better than that! Well, I guess it would be better not to ever need the warranty, but it is nice piece of mind to have.

    Con:

    • Glass: I sure wish I had an Athlon, Optisan, and Aztec to compare the glass too. But alas, I no longer own those scopes so must rely on old observations and opinions of those scopes.  All scopes lose brightness and clarity as the magnification increases. On the Vortex, the image stays bright and sharp at magnifications up to about 12x with no noticeable change in image quality. The image degradation becomes noticeable at about 16x and above. The image is not as clear at high magnifications as my March and Leupold 6.5-20 scopes. There is a bit of noticeable haze especially at the 24x magnification. The glass is decent, but does not stand apart from other scopes in this price range.

    • Finicky Eyebox: Head placement is very important. The image is washed out easily if the head is not placed perfectly. It is reminiscent of the SWFA SS in this way.

    • Mushy Turrets: There is significant play in the turrets between each click. This never really bothers me as the amount of play is consistent each time and is always followed by an audible click.  It is much different than the turrets on my March which have absolutely no play. I know most people prefer turrets with no play which is why I list it as a con, but it doesn’t really bother me. Consistency rules and these are consistent.

    • No Revolution Markings: This lacking feature bothered me at first until I found a work around. I often adjust my scopes to shoot long range and rely on markings under the turret to determine which revolution I am on. It takes several revolutions to reach out to 200 yards for example. This scope has no such markings. The zero stop can be used in replace of these markings. As I crank on the turrets to lower the point of aim, I know that I am at the correct revolution when I run up against the zero stop.

    Other:

    • Size- The scope is the typical size for a 6-24×50 scope at 14.5 inches long and 24.6 ounces.

    Status: Owned and mounted to my father's Air Arms S510 carbine. My father likes the reticle and good elevation adjustment range.

     

    #10 Sightron STAC 4-20×50 Duplex

    Pro:

    • Great Turrets: The scope passed the box test with no trouble and turrets are repeatable. This is particularly important on my scope because I got the duplex reticle (it was cheaper). SInce the reticle does not have any markings to keep track of holdover, I used Strelok and the turrets to adjust my point of aim. I've personally gotten to where I prefer to dial the turrets instead of use reticle markings. The turrets are tactical style, which I personally prefer. If you prefer to use holdover over dialing turrets, spend the extra on the MOA-2 reticle.
    • Lots of adjustment Range: The scope allows 80 MOA of elevation adjustment. This is a great range of adjustment and allows the scope to reach out to 100+ yards with ease. Each revolution of the turret is 15 MOA. This is probably my favorite feature of the scope because I have been doing a lot of shooting at 100+ yards lately.
    • Zeroed Turrets: Turrets are resettable to zero. I like this feature as it makes remembering the zero a no-brainer.

    • Outstanding focus range: The scope focuses down to an absurd level. It claims 9 yards, but if you are willing to adjust the magnification down to 4x (which is plenty of magnification at super close ranges), then the scope focuses down to BugBuster levels.

    • Lifetime warranty!

    Con:

    • Glass: The glass is lackluster. It is as clear as any scope I've looked through at the lower magnifications, but at 20x the image is noticeably darker than my Leupold 6.5-20. The image of the Sightron is also not nearly as sharp and I can see some chromatic aberration in the image. On top of that, I had trouble with the image being drowned out when shooting in bright sunlight. I'm sure a sunshade would help with this, but it didn't come with one and I didn't buy one. The image quality is a deal breaker for me since I shoot at max magnification 99% of the time and I've been spoiled with excellent glass.
    • The magnification ring has a flip-up lever that is supposed to make adjusting the magnification easier in cold weather. I can't say I've tried it in cold weather with gloves on, but it sure feels gimmicky to me. I never really used it.

    Other:

    • There are no numbers on the markings of the side parallax knob. I personally didn't find this to be too big a deal as I have been guilty in the past of trusting the parallax numbers blindly on scopes and not verifying them with the head bob test to ensure parallax is indeed gone. You could argue this as a pro, I guess.
    • There is nothing fancy about the duplex reticle which is located on the second focal plane. Since the scope has a duplex reticle and I almost always use the max magnification, the second focal plane is not an issue. Being second focal plane is a con only if you use holdovers and like to use a variety of magnifications when you shoot.
    • The turrets are capped. Not really a con since it is easy to do what I did and just take the caps off and leave them in the box. It keeps me from losing them. Those who use the turrets to zero the scope and use holdovers will probably consider the caps a pro.

    Status: Returned to Amazon. Neither my father or I liked the Sightron more than the Leupold we were considering it as a replacement for. The Leupold's superior glass clarity and ligher weight in a similarly sized package trumped a side parallax adjustment and increased elevation adjustment. 

     

    #11: Aztec Emerald 5.5-25×50

    Pro: You hear a lot about how awesome this reticle is. I think the praise is justified. Best airgun reticle I’ve ever seen. The magnification ring has 2 red marks indicating where the reticle marks equal 1 MOA and ½ MOA. A nice touch but it doesn’t make up for the scope not being first focal plane. Comes with side focus wheel, sunshade, and rubber bikini style objective covers.

    Con: The turrets are sometimes difficult to lock into place. I like to adjust my turrets when possible to line up my crosshairs on the target instead of using holdovers. This is a pain with this scope as the adjustment range is lacking at only about 40 MOA. At least the awesome reticle makes holdovers and windage adjustments easy. The glass clarity is good but like the SWFA, images have a tendency to appear milky unless looked through at the perfect position. No flip up objective covers.

    Current status: Sold. My father preferred the reticle of the Aeon to this scope and was willing to put up with the Aeon's shortcomings. I wouldn't buy again because the low adjustment range was too limiting.

     

    #12: MTC Viper Pro 3-18×50

    Pro: The smart range turrets are neat. I would definitely use them. The SBC2 christmas tree like reticle is nice and thin. The objective covers are awesome and can flip all the way down or straight up as desired.

    Con: I hope it was something wrong with the scope I bought, but the image was cloudy at all magnifications compared to the Athlon I had. The reticle is on the second focal plane. The Athlon was so much more clear that I couldn’t justify keeping the Viper Pro over the first focal plane Athlon. The scope is heavier than it looks.

    Status: Sold in favor of the better clarity and FFP reticle of the Athlon. There are better scopes for the money.

     

    #13 Hawke Vantage 4-12×40

    Pro: An excellent scope for the money. The glass is decent for a budget scope. The mil dot reticle is useful for both hunting using holdovers and for punching paper targets. The zoom range up to 12x is useful for more precision shooting. The scope only weighs around 16 oz. and can be used adequately on about any air rifle. Bikini style lens covers have clear windows so the scope can be used in a pinch without removing them.

    Con: The turrets are not tactical, so the turrets covers must be removed to adjust elevation and windage. I suppose the reason this is a problem is more personal than anything else. I have a habit of taking them off to adjust the POI and lose them when I forget to put them back on. The scope has a front focus knob, which is my least favorite, but I’ll happily use them to save some cash as long as I like the rest of the scopes features (In this case I do!). The scope has MOA adjustments but a mil reticle. This irritates me more than it should. It would drive me crazy if the scope was first focal plane. Since this one is second focal plane, it is probably a non-issue.

    Current Status: Sold and replaced by the higher dollar scopes I’ve tried, but I would definitely buy this scope again. It is the best budget scope I've owned.

     

    #14: Aeon 10-50×60 HD

    Pro: The reticle is nice and thin. The crispness of the image was on par with the Aztec Emerald at the same magnifications. The long markings on the reticle are useful for framing small round targets. The turrets have precise clicks and make adjustment a breeze. Plus it passes the box test with flying colors and always returns to zero. Comes with flip up objective covers.

    Con: The image was not crisp from 30x to 50x magnification and I was unable to focus it to read fine print at 25 yards. I could read the print fine at the 25x magnification. I found the image to be a bit less sharp than higher quality scopes at all magnifications. When measuring the accuracy of the clicks I found that 20 MOA of adjustment actually turned out to be 20.75 MOA. It was 3 clicks off too far. However, In comparison, my high dollar March scope was off 2 clicks at 20 MOA so maybe this is a positive. Ranging was slightly off as well. It ranged perfectly at 15 yards, but according to my rangefinder the scope read 19 yards at 20 yards, 23 yards at 25 yards, 27.5 yards at 30 yards, and 47 yards at 50. A dedicated side-wheel would erase these issues if accurate ranging is a must. The scope came with two small artifacts on the reticle lens that are not a good sign of quality. This scope is BIG and can make a rifle top-heavy. I was unable to contact anyone to file a claim rendering the warranty worthless!

    Current Status: Sold when downsizing my arsenal. I wouldn't buy it again. If needing a high magnification scope, I'd spend more money on better glass.

     

    #15: Hawke Sidewinder 30 3-12×50 with Illuminated Reticle.

    Pro: There isn’t much I liked about this scope. It came with a side focus wheel, sunshade, and screw-in lens covers.

    Con: Mil reticle with MOA parallax adjustment = dumb. The turrets were sticky feeling and didn’t seem to adjust the scope 100% of the time when turned. Only scope I've owned that didn't pass the box test. The glass was a tad cloudy to my eye. Second Focal plane reticle. Two colors or illuminated reticle (red and green) a bit gimmicky to me. I suspect I got a lemon. Since I like to adjust my turrets more than use holdovers and the turrets weren't reliable, this scope was useless to me.

    Status: Sold because it didn’t come near to the quality of the Athlon Argos I was comparing it to. 

     

    #16 UTG 3-9×32 "Bug Buster"

    Pro: 3 yd parallax adjustment is flat out fun! Perfect for indoor shooting where space is limited. The turrets are surprisingly good. The scope holds zero and passed the box test without issue. The turret caps are simple to set to zero and the turrets can be locked. The illuminated reticle is much better than I expected. The scope is small, compact, and lightweight and looks nice on a small, low-powered pesting rifle. The scope comes with flip-up lens covers, rings, sunshade, 2 batteries, and a cleaning cloth.

    Con: The glass is what you’d expect at the price point (Horrible). The image is blurry at the edges of the glass and not very bright. The eyebox shifts drastically as magnification changes, making the scope difficult to use comfortably if changing magnification. The reticle is also fairly thick. I wish the post at the bottom of the reticle was gone and there were a few more mil dots in its place. POA enters the black post when aiming at very close ranges using holdover. The focus is not very fine limiting the ability to use the focus knob to range with. The focus is located at the front of the scope and the lens cover turns with the focus which is irritating. The short body makes mounting this scope a challenge as it is hard to move out of the way of magazines. I have also noticed that the focus ring is not very smooth. There are places it is easier to turn than others. When testing if the actual clicks of the scope actually correspond to the 1/4 MOA that is claimed, I found that after adjusting the scope 20 MOA that it was 8 clicks off too far and actually traveled 22 MOA.

    Current Status: Sold and passed to a new owner with my Leshiy. The Hawke Vantage series is a better scope and value for the money. The Leshiy deserved better.

    • This topic was modified 4 months ago by mmahoney.
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    JoeWayneRhea
    Participant
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    Absolutely Killer Post !!!! And thanks for going out on a limb and ranking them !! I have never owned a MTC scope and realize they have a strong following . But the few I have looked thru didn’t really impress me . Same with the more expensive Hawke scopes . 
      I have had 4 of the Athlon scopes but 3 were in their lower line price and quality wise . I am really wanting to try another Argos , the 1 I did have was Very Impressive !!! 
       I really like the Aztec but didn’t have a similar scope to look thru back to back . But its like the SWFA the reticle makes it SO nice to use I can’t get over it . 
      I am still 100% cconvinced the SFWA fixed is the best 300$ scope on the market ….But a lot of guys can’t get past the fixed power or back focus . 

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    Hynzie
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    i like knowing orhers opinions,it helps since theres really no place i can go test them same for air guns ,, i have 4 scopes 2   SWFA 3,15,42 ffp mil mil ,,,1 viper pro 5 30,50 havent noticed any cloudiness and 1 hawk vantage 3,9,40,,,the swfa im finding out rocks i like it more each day i use it got it black friday i wont ever go back to 2nd focal plane

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    Imold
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    Nice little write up on the scopes, agree with most of it but I just needed to add the My Aztec came with nice flip up covers and a rubber bikini cover for the lens,,,Agin thanks for your write up..

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    socaloldman
    Participant
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    This is very helpful information.    A concise review and rating.   I  strongly agree with the fixed power philosophy.  Pros outweigh the Cons.    

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    Imold
    Participant
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    Should add that I hope Aztec in the future comes out with a FFP scope, that would be nice.

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    2D1C
    Participant
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    Nice write up!
    I’m looking for an optic and am having quite an argument with my self on FFP, SFP, fixed or variable. I don’t like the “dot” Mill or MOA. I want to use the turret to 100 yards, so sighted in at 50 I want 15 clicks before using hold over and I’m not paying over 4 bills! LOL I have some work to do.
     
    Thanx again mmahoney

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    MoeHofer
    Participant
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    Wow! Absolutely Amazing review! A hundred questions answered!  Come on guys give this guy a + rating! You know he deserves it! 

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    Kev
    Participant
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    Thank you for the information provided, especially, concerning the different  scope reticles. The first focal plane Athlon Argos with its clear glass really helped in reducing my group size at 100 yards, but as you stated the torrents can be “mushy”.
     
    For the money in an airgun dedicated scope the Hawke Airmax 30 SF series with the SR Pro Reticle is also a good scope due to its clear glass, and airgun dedicated reticle that aligns with Hawkes ChairGun Pro software. 

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    mmahoney
    Participant
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    Imold, I expected to receive the flip up lens covers as well and was a bit disappointed when it didn’t have them. All the reviewers online I saw had the flip up covers. I found an article online that claims that the specs for the scope changed and now Aztec is only shipping with the rubber bikini ones. http://www.gunmart.net/scopes-and-optics/scopes/airgun-scopes/aztec-emerald-5.5-25×50  

    I ordered a pair of Butler Creek caps for $16 that my father happily took with the scope. I would have preferred to save my money and have the stock ones from Aztec.

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    allan_wind
    Participant
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    Thanks for sharing.  These comparisons are really interesting.

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    Imold
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    “mmahoney”Imold, I expected to receive the flip up lens covers as well and was a bit disappointed when it didn’t have them. All the reviewers online I saw had the flip up covers. I found an article online that claims that the specs for the scope changed and now Aztec is only shipping with the rubber bikini ones. http://www.gunmart.net/scopes-and-optics/scopes/airgun-scopes/aztec-emerald-5.5-25×50  
    I ordered a pair of Butler Creek caps for $16 that my father happily took with the scope. I would have preferred to save my money and have the stock ones from Aztec.

    
I got mine about 2 weeks ago and it had the caps and bikini lens cover and I have another one on the way which will be here this Friday, will see then if that one has the flip up caps, I hope it does…Knock on Wood..If it doesn’t I guess a call to the mfg might be in order and let them know I got one with and one without, maybe whine a bit like a little kid or throw a tantrum hahaha and maybe they will send me a set if they are not in this ones box.

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    Dairyboy
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    Thanks for the comparisons! The only high end scopes I’ve owned are SWFA 10×42 and 12×42 and the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 and I too preferred the SWFAs and sold the Athlon. Not cause it was a bad scope at all but they are a pretty large scope IMO compared to the SWFAs. Love my SWFAs!

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    dreuf
    Participant
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    Many thanks for the feedback.
    I need a new scope for long range shooting and sightron s3 ffp 6 24 ×50 caught my attention.

    where would it be in comparaison to the argos which is far away cheaper but seems to have very nice optics? 
    If anyone can provide some feedback I would appreciate very much.

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    Tominco
    Participant
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    Nice post! Thanks for all the work you put into it! I really like that you shared pics of the reticles. 
    Tom

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    Grin_Reaver
    Participant
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    I can see you all appreciate this post but come on give the guy some more + He deserves them.

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    Buckeye
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    Great post Mahoney. This should help a lot of people in making a wise decision on scope choice.

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    Imold
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    I do have to admit I really like how mmahoney took the time to put up the pics of the reticles, it really helps on seeing the difference between them. A++ is in order.

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    BeachGunner
    Participant
    Member

    Very nice information. Thanks for posting. I have the Argos that you have, and the glass is great. My only beef is the clicks of the turrets are not very positive, a bit mushy instead of a hard click, especially on my windage turret. It’s a heavy scope too. Not bad for bench and target shooting, but I have it on my Daystate Regal XL, and for going afield, it is a bit much. Throws the balance off on that lightweight sporter. That’s a choice though, not an issue with the product. 

    I’ll probably be buying another. If you hunt or do pest control, once you go FFP, there’s no going back :) 

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    mmahoney
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    Agreed, Dairyboy. None of the scopes I’ve sold were bad scopes. There just happened to be another one I liked better personally. I hope I don’t come to regret selling my Athlon. I was sincerely surprised when my father choose to keep the Aeon I gave him earlier for his birthday over the Athlon. Goes to show how each person’s personal priorities affect an informal ranking like this. The only scope I wouldn’t spend money on again was the Hawke Sidewinder. It wasn’t a bad scope, just not my cup of tea. If I were to hear enough rave reviews of the MTC Viper Pro, I’d consider giving it another shot.

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