Andy McLachlan turns to Hawke as he searches for a smaller, lighter scope for this season’s spring-powered competition rifle
Having decided to shoot a spring-powered rifle for the entirety of this year’s Hunter Field Target campaign, I fancied a smaller (and lighter) optic rather than the larger Bushnell target scope that currently lives on my Anschutz PCP.
I also wanted to try a lower mounting option, which would help me to drop closer-range targets: these had proved a problem during the previous year’s shooting campaign.
I hunted for years with a 30/30 crosshair reticle at 6x magnification. The scopes I used back then did not possess the additional aiming marks that help us today.
I understand that my eyesight has since deteriorated, but I started looking for a scope with a basic reticle and smaller objective than the 44mm present on my best Bushnell target scope. This would allow me a greater depth of field, allowing me to see more clearly throughout the 8-to-45-yard range of an HFT course. It also allows the user to spot wayward twigs and obstructions more easily – items whose sole purpose in life is to deflect your well-considered shot.
A visit to the Hawke catalogue turned up a couple of likely contenders. I eventually settled on the Vantage 2-7×32 adjustable objective illuminated reticle model. This particular optic sports a mil-dot reticle that can be illuminated either red or green via five different power levels according to light conditions, and any background foliage that can allow normal black rets to become difficult to spot, particularly in dimly lit wooded areas which abound on HFT courses. With the adjustable objective lens set at a mid-course range of 25 yards, the image, due to the smaller objective lens, is relatively clear at most shootable ranges. This does mean that the shooter is less able to rely upon image ‘blurring’ at the longer ranges for range estimation purposes. The lenses are fully multi-coated, with 11 layers to brighten the image. All I can say is that they provide a nice clear sight picture with great colour rendition. The scope is also small and light, which will suit fitment onto mechanically powered rifles with the double recoil shock effect of a full-powered springer.
The reticle itself is full mil-dot, with no additional reticle markings. Many shooters who have shot HFT competition in recent years, will, in all fairness, be used to competing with a scope image containing many additional aiming point references, assisting very precise shot placement by allowing for both windage and range. The lack of these additional reference points may put off some potential purchasers of this scope.
However, using the mil-dot markers that are present, it is very easy to estimate halfway as you would when using a normal half-mil ret such as the Hawke Panorama for example. As such, the shooter will soon learn to compensate for this, as I quickly did when using the scope for the first time.
The magnification of ‘only’ 7x also looks perfectly adequate to me. If you are used to shooting on 10x to 12x magnification, the viewed image will obviously appear reduced in size. There are some positives to the lower magnification, of course: less magnification means less wobble in the scope image, and it also helps when taking any positional shots.
It is also possible to lower the height of the mounts and allow for a sightline that will hopefully allow me to drop many more close-range targets than I did last year. When fitted to my Air Arms TX200 with an SMK one-piece mount, the centre of the scope to the centre of the barrel measurement equated to 1.8 inches. I would normally fit a one-piece Sportsmatch mount, but that company does not currently manufacture a model that accommodates the short scope body length. This drop in height of nearly half an inch will allow me to aim much nearer to the crosshairs’ central position of the reticle at close ranges, rather than have to estimate major holdunder, as is required when using a high-mounted optic.
One of the other major attractions for the purchase of this scope was the very reasonable price for such a well-specified optic that meets most, if not all of the specification requirements for the budding HFT shooter. The listed price within the Hawke 2017 catalogue is £99.99. I am confident that you will find them cheaper than that if you have a quick look on the internet, however.
Just the job
For any airgunner wishing to have a crack at HFT, this scope proves to be pretty much ideal. It does not cost a fortune and punches well above its weight.
I have also considered the Hawke Airmax 2-7×32 AO optic, which possesses the AMX reticle. This is not illuminated, but does give you an additional half-mil marker below the centre of the ret. The scope also possesses superior lenses to the Vantage and is high on my list of imminent future purchases. It might cost a little bit more (£139.99) but I reckon the overall specification will lend itself even better to the needs of the prospective Hunter Field Target purchaser.