Phill Price asks ‘is this £100 Hawke Vantage Max all the scope we need?’
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.
YOU NEED PA ADJUSTMENT
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.