Testing the Hawke Sport Optics Vantage SF
- Credit: Archant
Is this the scope all airgun hunters really need? – asks Phill Price
Every time I’ve opened a box with a scope in recently, it’s seemed to contain some ultra-complex, hyper-long-range, incredibly complex item. Like most airgunners, I seldom shoot beyond 35 yards and have little need for a device that’s better suited to a military sniper aiming at targets 1000 yards away. Neither do I need the extra weight, bulk and cost associated with such devices. What I want is a clear, reliable and sensibly priced scope that I can trust, such as the Hawke Vantage SF 3-12 x 44 you see here. The Hawke Sport Optics catalogue is huge and it took a while for me to select this model from the massive number of options available.
So why this one? Well, it ticks all the boxes for my needs. I’m a hunter, pure and simple, so I want a bright, clear sight picture and an equally clear reticle that I can find and use in almost any light conditions. I avoid unnecessary weight, because I often carry my rifle for four or five hours around the farm, and half a pound extra can be felt over that time. Worse still, unnecessarily heavy scopes can spoil the handling of a fine sporting rifle, which is a sin in my eyes. At just 505 grammes, this scope sits well on rifles such as my Air Arms S410 and complements, rather than disturbs the rifle’s balance.
Old-fashioned or just right?
The conventional 1” body tube features a neat and tidy saddle at its centre that allowed me to sit the scope in medium height Sportsmatch mounts – a big deal to me. Medium height mounts keep the scope low for best handling characteristics
and keeps your cheek in good contact with the rifle. When a shot presents, good gun fit and top-class handling improve your chances of making that shot count in subtle, yet important ways that help to fill the game bag.
Of course, you need to be able to see your quarry very clearly to aim precisely, so image quality is another big deal in my world. Hawke uses high-quality glass for all the lenses, which are finely polished before receiving an 11-layer coating system that hugely reduces unwanted reflections that degrade your sight picture. The result is a clear, sharp image even in low light conditions. The objective (front) lens is 44mm, big enough to offer good light gathering without being unnecessarily bulky and heavy – ideal in my book.
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Half mil dot
If you can see your quarry, you need the right reticle to aim with and the half mil dot used here is a good option. It’s bold and clear without being cluttered and distracting, and offers all the precision aim points you could ever need. It’s not illuminated on this model, but I don’t mind. I have scopes with illumination, but I find that I very rarely use it. There are stacks of illuminated models in the Hawke catalogue if they are your thing, so everybody is covered anyway. I like low-profile windage and elevation adjusters and the ones fitted here are just right. Under the screw-on metal caps the adjuster drums are large and easy to turn, yet low enough not to catch and snag while you’re stalking.
The range of magnification is very versatile, from 3x at the bottom for close range work, such as shooting rats around buildings, up to 12x for long-range target shooting. I hunt at 7x because that’s the magnification of my binoculars, so when I spot quarry with them, the view through the scope is the same and it makes getting on to the target quicker.
Any scope wanting to be taken seriously as an airgun optic needs parallax adjustment, and the Vantage SF wears it on the left side of the saddle, hence the SF, side focus, in the name. Like all the other controls, it moves smoothly with a nice weight so making changes is a pleasure, not a struggle. This, allied to the very modern styling and smart finish, makes this look and feel like a much more expensive model.
Hawke has recently upgraded its famous warranty to a level I didn’t quite believe, so I rang them to check that I’d understood properly. It’s now called ‘No fault, lifetime warranty’. In the event your product becomes damaged or defective, they’ll repair it at no charge to you, and it doesn’t matter how it happened or whose fault it was. I think that’s quite incredible, which is why I felt the need to call them to be sure it was right. Even if you drop your rifle and bash the scope, they’re going to fix it for you, free of charge. Wow, just wow!
Their scopes are guaranteed waterproof and shockproof, and because the body is a one-piece construction, they’re pretty tough. They need to be because Hawke rates them strong enough to use on even the most powerful hunting rifles, with their savage recoil, so no airgun usage will cause them problems. So, in answer to my earlier question, does this scope really have everything the hunter needs? I’m saying yes, and I would happily fit one to any of my rifles and set out to hunt.
Manufacturer: Hawke Sport Optics
Tel: 01394 387762
Model: Vantage SF
Spec’: 3-12 x 44
Recticle: Half mil dot
Weight: 505 grammes (1.11lbs)
Body: 1” mono tube
Turrets: Low profile, screw-on caps
RRP: £189.99 including elasticated lens cover and lens cloth, no fault, lifetime warranty
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