Mike Morton reviews the Athlon Talos

The Athlon Talos BTR 4-14X44 FFP IR-MIL is a bit of a mouthful, so Mike Morton bites into this scope to see how it tastes 

Athlon Optics is a US company that’s not that well known here in the UK, but that could all change thanks to the Talos BTR – a sight that’s rated for airgun use, has a reticle in the first focal plane, and is promoted by Athlon as being an affordable rifle scope option.

Athlon has a wide range of optics that are either made in Japan, or, like the Talos BTR seen here, in China. The Talos has a Christmas tree-style reticle, offers illumination, side parallax and a magnification range from 4-14x. That’s an awful lot to pack into any telescopic sight, let alone one retailing for £299.

Key Specs

Scope supplied by: Rifleman Firearms (www.riflemanfirearms.com)
Manufacturer: Athlon Optics (www.athlonoptics.com)
Model: Talos BTR 4-14X44 FFP IR-MIL
Price: £299
Tube diameter: 30mm
Magnification range: 4-14
Objective lens: 44mm
Illumination: Red, with 11 levels of brightness
Eye relief: 3.23 to 3.15 inches
Click value: 0.1 milliradian
Adjustment range per rotation: five milliradians
Total elevation adjustment: 20 milliradians
Total windage adjustment: 20 milliradians
Turret style: Exposed
Parallax adjustment: Side focus – 10 yards to infinity
Purging material: Nitrogen
Length: 12.9”
Weight: 23.6oz

Talos, according to Greek mythology, was a giant bronze man who guarded the island of Crete. Like Achilles, Talos’s only weakness was his ankle. This scope bears his name, and I wondered whether this particular incarnation of Talos would have a similar weakness, especially considering its relatively low price compared with its rather ambitious list of features.

And those features begin with Athlon’s long-winded APLR2 FFP IR MIL – a reticle that has a floating crosshair, which is helpful for bracketing targets, with 0.2 milliradian increments all the way out to 9 mils on each of the stadia.

The windage and elevation turrets also use milliradians, with one click shifting point of impact by 0.1 mils, so exact adjustments can be made just by observing the fall of shot through the scope and compensating accordingly.

The turrets click positively, as does the illuminated reticle control, which offers nine levels of intensity in red. The side parallax control, magnification ring and fast-focus control all offer a decent amount of torque, while still being smooth to operate, and thankfully there’s no sticky or gritty feeling in operation.

Quality of glass is paramount in any scope, and the glass used here is extremely good value for money, allowing plenty of light transmission in a variety of lighting conditions, as well as a truly crisp sight picture.

The image is only marginally less clear at the edge of the reticle than in the centre, but if I hadn’t deliberately been looking out for this, then I wouldn’t have noticed, and there’s no whiteout at all.

The size of a first focal plane reticle will grow or shrink at the same ratio with the changing size of the image of your target when you zoom in or zoom out.

This means the reticle appears small at low magnification, and large at high power. This can be off-putting for some shooters, and does take some getting used to.

The windage and elevation turrets use milliradians, like the reticle, so it’s easy to make quick and accurate adjustments

When testing the Talos at 30 yards, my usual zero distance, I found the crosshairs were thick enough to completely cover a .177 pellet hole at the full 14x magnification, but there was nevertheless still enough fidelity to shoot precisely at high-mag.

When I’ve been shooting paper targets using this scope, I’ve usually ramped it up to 14x and not had a problem seeing the tiny bulls I’ve been aiming at.

At the same range, with the magnification turned down to 4x, I could just about see a pellet hole – and could also just about see the crosshairs well enough to aim. Indeed, I was still able to shoot five-shot single-hole groups at this setting.

But while the scope can be used at this distance at both ends of its 4-14x magnification range, the sweet spot is really anywhere between 7x and 12x for most ‘normal’ shooting applications.

That goes for parallax too: Athlon says the Talos will parallax down to 10 yards, but doesn’t say at what magnification – the image will look crisper at shorter distances with a lower mag setting.

In practice, while my targets were certainly shootable at 14x mag at 10 yards, the image was blurry. But when turned down to 7x mag, the image was not only clear, but I found I could easily focus at a shorter-than-expected eight yards.

I was happy enough with that. After all, there are very few shooting scenarios where you’d want to shoot at such short distances with such a high magnification setting as 14x.

Parallax adjustment is taken care of via a side focus control, and the Talos will focus down to 10 yards at 7x magnification

I’d been made aware of some criticism of this scope from centrefire shooters who like to dial in their shots – adjusting the windage and elevation settings rather than using holdover or holdunder and holding off for wind.

They claimed the Talos – an otherwise very well made scope – would not make a perfect return to zero. I put this to the test by ‘shooting the box’. This involved maintaining a constant point of aim throughout, taking an initial shot, adjusting up by 20 clicks and firing a shot, adjusting right by 20 clicks and taking a third shot, adjusting down by 20 and taking a fourth, then dialling left by 20 and taking a fifth and final shot.

The results weren’t perfect, but weren’t at all bad either. The five shots should have drilled holes in each corner of an imaginary perfect square, with the final shot ending up in exactly the same place as the first. It didn’t – that last shot was off by one click. I repeated the test two more times, and I was getting the same result each time.

But I wasn’t unduly concerned by this. The whole point of an FFP scope is to let you use the same holdover/holdunder points, regardless of your magnification setting, not to dial in shots.

The Talos offers a magnification range of 4-14x, has an illuminated reticle in red with 11 degrees of intensity, and a fast-focus ocular ring

Of far more importance is the fact that this scope has held perfect zero over the several months I’ve had it on test, during which I have not found myself succumbing to turret twiddling.

It may seem as if I’ve been a bit harsh on the Talos, but I really do like this scope. How much? Enough to end up buying it myself. This is a flexible scope that can be used for a variety of short- to long-range applications.

I won’t be dialling in with this scope – that’s not really what it was designed to do – but I will most certainly be taking full advantage of that lovely crisp sight picture and its FFP functionality.

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