Hawke Optics is the UK’s biggest maker of airgun and hunting scopes. With the popularity of LPVO (Low Power Variable Optics) in the AR and sporting rifle market, Hawke has expanded their scope lineup with 3 new LPVOs. You have 4 different reticle options, including their new Fiberdot LPVO utilizes a fiber optic illuminator. It claims to be truly daylight bright with a super fine pinpoint for precision shooters. The Vantage Fiberdot scopes are due to be available in Q2 or Q3.
Hawke Prism Sights for 2023
UK based Hawke Optics is the worlds largest maker of airgun rifle scopes and offers a broad line of hunting scopes and field optics. They’ve applied this expertise in designing a new line of Prism sights. Utilizing a similar optical prism used in binoculars and spotting scopes, prism sights offer the simplicity, illumination, and fast target engagement of a red dot but with the fine etched reticle that can never fail due to a dead battery. For those of us with astigmatism the etched sight on a prism dot doesn’t distort or bloom like a red dot.
Prism scopes can also come fixed magnifications for longer range shooting (or old eyes). The USMC’s ACOG is a famous example of this a 4x combat prism sight. Hawke offers 3 new models in 1x, 4x, and 6x magnification respectively. The magnified prisms are ideal for action shooters or small game or fowl hunters.
Hawke Sidewinder 30
Hawke is one of the top hunting optics makers in the United Kingdom and the largest maker of precision airgun optics in the world. But chances are, unless you shoot competitive or hunting airguns in the U.S., you’ve never heard of Hawke scopes. You should.
I meet the folks at Hawke at Shot Show this year and they showed me some of their newest products. The Sidewinder caught my eye because it had an unusual temperature gauge like window in the elevation turret, to indicate how many revolutions you turned. I wanted to get my hands on one to test at the range and Hawke was kind enough to send me a Sidewinder 30 6-24×56 FFP model.
The box had a clean, white design indicative of in high end European brands. Inside was a scope, sun shade, parallax focus wheel, throw leaver, cleaning cloth, allen wrench, and instruction book. The scope came with a modern update of old-school see-through caps, kept in place with an elastic band.
On close inspection the scope was of excellent build. The 30 in the name denotes the tube dimension which offers it a wider range of reticle adjustments from their older 1″ tube designs. My first impression was that the scope felt light and its stated weight of 27.3oz is approx 6oz lighter than my Athlon Helos Gen2. The tube has a smooth matte black finish and all the nobs and turning surfaces are well checkered and treaded to aid in manipulation for wet or gloved fingers.
The parallax focus and ocular fast focus turned smoothly. The parallax ranges from 10yrds to infinity. The eyepiece ocular/reticle focus has locking ring, an uncommon feature nowadays but a welcome one for hunters.
It’s most striking feature, and which originally caught my eye, is the elevation turret. At the base of the turret there is a witness window showing a red-on-white gauge numbered 0-4, which rises or falls with the turn of the turret cap. The turret clicks are clearly audible and tactile positive. Both turrets are locking, with a pull-to release allowing the cap to turn freely.
The elevation turret had a noticeable wobble when released. This concerned me enough to contact Hawke which suggested I send it back to have a Service Tech examine it. Hawke was a no-fault lifetime warranty, so this was done easily, with them sending me a mailing label to ship it back to them.
A few weeks later, I followed up and their Tech assured me that there was nothing wrong with my scope. The wobble is an unintended side effect to the unique design of the elevation turret. They shipped it back to me that same week.
I would like to note that the “wobble” did not effect the function of the scope in my testing. The windage turret, of a traditional design, had no wobble. Both turrets are resettable by unscrewing the cap.
The scope has an illumination dial on the parallax turret. The center third of the reticle illuminates red when activated. The dial has settings from 1-6 in intensity with an off-setting between the numbers. At its highest setting at 24x magnification, the reticle is bright enough for daylight use.
The reticle itself is exceptionally fine/thin to a fault. It is a cruciform, Christmas-tree style with MIL sub-tensions. At 6x it floats in the center of the field of view without touching the edges. As a First Focal Plane (FFP) reticle, it thickens up considerably at 24x to a weight more typical of a SFP reticle.
This reticle may appeal more to target shooters rather than hunters? At 6x it is so thin as to be easily lost in heavy foliage. Then again, some hunters may want a clearer field of view when wide scanning at 6x.
Most MIL or MOA target reticles (especially Christmas-tree style) have a few reference numbers along the reticle sub-tensions to indicated MOA or MIL radiant from center. The Hawke Sidewinder lacks any numbers or letters and is as naked as a duplex reticle. This has the advantage of offering the user a much less cluttered sight picture even for a Christmas-tree reticle but with the added challenge of carefully reading their user manual and remembering the size and distance each sub-tension mark.
As a primarily Precision competition shooter, this thin and simplified reticle very much works for me. The Christmas-Tree employs mini cross-hairs instead of dots to denote its holdover positions which makes shooting at paper much easier. But for an ELR or NRL22 shooter, you’ll have to devise your own cheat sheet and get very used to remembering and counting your marks.
The scope has a generous 4″ and the eyebox was better than most even at 24x. Looking at my reference targets at 24x at 100yrds, there were noticeable chromatic aberration but the image was evenly sharp from center to edge. The image was bright, though slightly warm in tinge and lacked a bit of contrast compared with Vortex and Leupold scopes I’ve tested.
Where this scope shines is in sharpness and resolution. You can easily make out .22 caliber holes on paper at 100yrds. On the USAF-51 optical resolution chart, I could make out the Element 1 / Group 0 element bars with my naked eye (my phone camera could only make out Element 6 / Group -1). This puts it on par with a comparably priced Leupold Mark 3HD and almost as sharp as much more expensive Leupold Mark 5HD.
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OVERALL RATINGS (out 5)
Holds Zero: 5
Box Test: 5
Eye Box: 4
Shot Show 2022: Hawke Frontier34
Break barrel hunting airguns are notorious for destroying even the highest end scope because of their jarring 2-way recoil. So any scope that can hold zero on an airgun has to be exceptionally well built. Hawke Optics may not be as well known in the US as Burris, Bushnell, Vortex, and Leupold but this British optics brand is the largest maker of airgun scopes, which says a lot more about their durability than a mere warranty (and yes, they too have a “No-Fault Lifetime Warranty”).
At their Shot Show booth I got a chance to inspect their newest scope in the Frontier line with a 34mm tube. This scope’s feature set and price put it in competition with Vortex and Leupold top-tier offerings for long distance optics. I hope to get my hands on one when they release it later this year.