Phill Price asks ‘is this £100 Hawke Van­tage Max all the scope we need?’

Airgun World - - Contents -

There are some very sexy scopes sit­ting on the shelves of your lo­cal gun shop, many of which have some very sexy prices to go with them, and of course, we all want them. How­ever, there’s a fair ques­tion as to whether we re­ally need them. The vast ma­jor­ity of Air­gun World’s read­ers are hun­ters us­ing sub 12 ft.lbs. ri­fles, and wisely, al­most all of them choose to keep their max­i­mum hunt­ing range in­side 35 yards. Be­cause of this, the clas­sic 3-9 x 40 spec­i­fi­ca­tion scope is ideal. There’s a very good rea­son that this is the most pop­u­lar spec’ around the world – it does ev­ery­thing that 99% of us need. It can also be found in neat, light­weight pack­ages that don’t over-bur­den us.

As I get older, I find lug­ging un­nec­es­sar­ily heavy ri­fles and kit around the woods for five hours is too much, and I know that I do bet­ter when I use mod­estly weighted equip­ment. Fa­tigue can re­ally do for your hopes of ac­cu­rate shoot­ing, and when a shot is on of­fer, I want to stack the odds in my favour of an ac­cu­rate pel­let place­ment.

3-9 X 40

Hawke Sport Op­tics’ Van­tage Max 3-9 x 40 weighs just 454 grammes, or half a pound in old money, yet de­liv­ers a bright, clear im­age, some­thing I value in­creas­ingly as my sight con­tin­ues to worsen. It also has a clev­erly de­signed lens sys­tem that cre­ates an ex­tra wide field of view, which I found par­tic­u­larly use­ful when go­ing af­ter spring squir­rels. As the leaves are be­gin­ning to show on the trees, spot­ting grey squir­rels be­comes much harder, and the need to see them and get the ri­fle onto the aim promptly be­comes ever more im­por­tant. The wide field of view is great help, es­pe­cially when they ap­pear at close range.

The en­tire lens sys­tem re­ceives

“It’s a sign of good build qual­ity if th­ese turn with­out any tight or loose spots in the move­ment, and th­ese felt su­perb”

an 11-layer coat­ing sys­tem that min­imises re­flec­tions and max­imises light trans­mis­sion. Some in­ex­pen­sive scopes only coat the sur­faces you see, whereas Hawke has coated ev­ery one. This is an ex­pen­sive thing to do well, so is a real bonus for a scope at this price.


All true air­gun scopes need par­al­lax ad­just­ment and the Van­tage Max utilises the tra­di­tional ob­jec­tive (front) mounted sys­tem. Some peo­ple see this as old­fash­ioned, but I dis­agree. This type uses fewer lenses and a far more sim­ple mech­a­nism that, in turn, saves weight, com­plex­ity and money. For me, there’s no down­side and plenty of up­sides. I typ­i­cally set my par­al­lax adjuster at 25 yards as I set off hunt­ing, and only change it for close-range work such as rat­ting or clear­ing feral pi­geons from build­ings.

The 1” body tube can also be viewed as old-fash­ioned by some, in a world where 30mm has be­come more com­mon, but again, I dis­agree. The slim­mer tube saves weight and al­lows the scope to be mounted lower to the ac­tion, which has a pos­i­tive ef­fect on the ri­fle’s han­dling. Ul­tra-long-range scopes that need lots of ver­ti­cal ad­just­ment ben­e­fit from the big­ger tubes, but for our us­age, the 1” body is just as good as it’s ever been.

The body is what’s called a ‘mono tube’ con­struc­tion, so there are no joints to work loose. This, and the gen­er­ally ro­bust build, guar­an­tees its use on spring/pis­ton guns that have snappy, two-way re­coil – fa­mous for break­ing in­fe­rior scopes. It’s also guar­an­teed to be wa­ter- and fog-proof, so you’ll have no wor­ries about win­ter hunt­ing.

The windage and el­e­va­tion ad­justers live in­side tra­di­tional screw-on cov­ers, yet fea­ture raised drums that are eas­ily turned with your fin­gers. You won’t need a screw­driver or a coin to turn them. This is the ideal set-up, in my eyes, be­cause the low pro­file of the dust caps makes them un­likely to catch on things like bram­bles or your sleeve, which is im­por­tant to hun­ters.


I was im­pressed by just how smoothly the power ring and the par­al­lax ad­just­ment col­lar ro­tated. It’s a sign of good build qual­ity if th­ese turn with­out any tight or loose spots in the move­ment, and th­ese felt su­perb. I ap­pre­ci­ated the raised rib on the power ring that al­lowed me to re­set my pre­ferred 7x mag’ with­out the need to look at the scope. By re­turn­ing to a known mag­ni­fi­ca­tion af­ter any change, I avoid mak­ing mis­takes in rangefind­ing and aim corrections.

Hawke se­lected the ev­er­pop­u­lar, mil-dot ret­i­cle that has been en­hanced with a dash be­tween each dot to of­fer yet more aim­ing points. This makes your hold-over and windage corrections even more ac­cu­rate.

With all that tech­ni­cal in­for­ma­tion dis­cussed, it’s a good time to come back to my ear­lier ques­tion, and I feel that the an­swer is ‘yes’. This mod­estly priced, yet well-built scope can do pretty much ev­ery­thing the mod­ern air­gun hunter could want. Bet­ter than that, it’s small, light, and has Hawke’s fa­mous war­ranty to back it all up. You sim­ply can’t go wrong. I

Above: The sharp­ness and clar­ity of the im­age truly im­pressed me.

Above: ‘Com­pact’ and ‘light’ are words I like to hear about scopes.

Above: Fin­ger-friendly ad­justers live un­der screw-on caps. Above: Ob­jec­tive mounted PA ad­just­ment is all right by me.

Above: The fast-fo­cus ring has a rub­ber bumper to pro­tect mis­placed eye­brows.

Above: Hawke's own Match Ring Mounts suited the scope well.

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