There were a few issues with the testing of this scope that had nothing to do with the scope. On Monday of that week I cut my support hand badly. I had also been doing some specific training the during the week leading up to the tests. That put me in a time crunch so I couldn’t get stitches for my hand and the wound kept getting reopened during the training. This training, coincidentally enough, concentrated on hitting small targets at close range. Misses were heavily discouraged. It was worth it to take the time to get the hit. The day prior to the test I practiced field movement with my bolt gun and all my gear leading up to shots on the 4”ish targets in sub-optimal terrain under time constraints.
All the other tests had nothing much going on before them, so it seems likely that the results may have been affected. Going into the testing I expected that there could be a difference.
I also had started to shorten up the interval between scope testing at about the time I tested the SR-4c. This was not really intentional, other than that I started feeling the pressure to get the scopes back to their owners after they were gracious enough to let me try them out and I took way too long. My expectation going in was increased speed and accuracy on tests #1 and #2
Test 1: Single Shots at 7 Yards
I discovered upon taking sight of the targets after setting them up that I couldn’t see the illumination. I double checked to see that it was on, which it was. I could also tell that the reticle took on a slightly crimson hue when the illumination was on, but for all intents and purposes it was worthless. I ran the tests with it off, which make the optic the only one of the tests to have been officially tested without illumination. Upon reflection it would have been something worthwhile to include with all the scopes, but that is another time and money thing where a line had to be drawn. I did shoot this course with the SR-4c without illumination as an unofficial experiment. I’ll share those results later.
This test had the distinction of being my only completely clean run at it over the duration of all 20 shots.
In terms of speed, the SWFA 1-6×24 was in between the SR-8c and the Z6i. The hit ratio was the best out of all the optics tested. I don’t know how much, if any of that, to ascribe to having had a rifle in my hand for a large portion of the four days preceding the test. In terms of the scores that factored in time, this scope was on top at that point.
What’s odd to me is that during the test it felt as though I was fighting the reticle, but I ended up shooting more accurately. I tend to think that my level of skill was “warmer than ambient” due to the work I had done in the preceding days, but I think the only fair way to deal with that is just to take the results as they are.
Test 2: Transitions- the X-Box Drill
Like test 1, I felt like I was fighting my way through this drill to some degree. How I think it should work is that both eyes should be open and my eyes should pick up the next target and drive the point of aim to it without losing the scope’s eyebox at any time in the process. I experienced that to the greatest degree with the Z6i. I had a hard time maintaining the eyebox in this test. The other thing was that I ended up shutting my left eye because I felt like I was fighting through too much information.
As with test 1, my hit rate was better than any of the others tested so far. The hits per second score was 6 thousandths less than the Z6i. The other scores were below the SR-4c and the Z6i, but above the SR-8c, which had the honor of being tested the first time I shot this drill.
Almost every time I shot this drill, I would have at least one “short circuit” type moment where I suddenly realized I was heading to the wrong target or just forgot where to go next. This first happened with the Z6i, and I actually went to the trouble of figuring how to ‘correct’ the numbers. At the end I’m going to leave them as I shot them but point the errors out. Judging by the times, I had two minor “where am I going” moments that added about a half second each with this scope. These are not as complicating as the “oh crap I’m heading to the wrong target, which one am I supposed to be going to, am I sure?” type mistakes that can add about a second and a half per mistake.
Test 3: DD25
This drill was enough to unravel whatever accuracy edge I might have trained in over the course of the week leading up to it. Again, you can see the trend that I started pushing my times at the expense of accuracy. Eventually you’ll see a nifty graph that shows this course of fire getting progressively worse with each time I shot it. This has nothing to do with the scopes, but perhaps something to do with my attempt to keep my skills at all these tests as static as possible in order to keep the results accurate across the board. What actually happened was that increasing speed was paying off for me in the X-Box test and I tried to do the same thing subconsciously with this one. This being a different type of shooting altogether, it didn’t pay off to speed up.
Test 4: Groups at 100
This was the big chink in the armor for the SWFA scope. The target I use for this test is not really too hard to see, as it is made up of a black circle and dot on a white piece of paper. The problem is that the circle and dot are relatively fine. The boldness and density of the SWFA reticle made it difficult to discern the target. This was ironic, because the SWFA’s reticle basically bracketed the target circle perfectly, the circle being 3.5”. A mil is 3.6” at 100 yards, and factoring in the line thickness it was just about, as Ace Ventura would say, “Like a glove.”
Here’s an illustration of what I was up against:
And just a bit closer to what I see:
In contrast, I happened to have the SR-8c still on hand. The reticle is a little more sparse, since it lacks the half mil hashes, which are not only unnecessary in my opinion, but detrimental.
That’s what an extra $1500 will get you. Yes the crosshairs do obscure the target center, but I believe that the line thickness may be less, and/or the reticle might not be as dark. In any event it’s easier to see the target. At 8x it was significantly easier as can be seen (approximately) below:
Here are the SWFA’s numbers:
Test 5: “Long” Range Transitions
I’ll lay out the procedure for you again. I have four targets at the following distances: 170, 230, 270, 330. I have put them in a different order, left to right, for each optic test. I have shot the same order, left to right, in the same way every time, in a manner that best balances the permutations for each transition. I have a total of 36 rounds, 18 in two magazines, which gives me a total of 9 shots on each target. I evaluated the targets in terms of points on target, group size in inches, extreme spread, mean radius, and deviation of the group center from the point of aim (horizontal, vertical, and total).
I had hypothesized that this optic would do very well on this test. I have felt that the reticle is too dense for most applications, but that the density would pay off at longer ranges. It turned out that it basically held its own against much more expensive scopes.
I made an error with the first four shots, being the first shot on each target. Although I had known that the reticle had half mil hashes, I still reverted back to reading each has as a mil, causing my holdover to be less than it should have been. To compensate for this I left the lowest shot from each target out when I plotted them with On Target. This gives the SWFA scope a bit of an unfair advantage in the extreme spread numbers, but not a huge one.
Where the scope shined was in the precision of the groups. The spoiler alert is that the SWFA showed the best average extreme spread (by 0.055 MOA) and was a close second in mean radius. It was consistently last or second to last in terms of deviation though, which put it in third place for points.
Here are the numbers.
All in all, this was a solid scope held back by a busy, “over bold” (not what happened to Mr. T- that was over gold) reticle. Upgrading the reticle with something simpler, and daylight bright illumination would very likely put this scope’s performance up there with scopes over double the price. In my opinion, doing all that and putting the reticle in the second focal plane would put this on my list of scopes I would buy. Sounds quite similar to the features of the Vortex Razor 1-6, but I wasn’t able to test that scope to say for sure.
Coming up soon I will break down the performance of the scopes in each test for comparison and further analysis so you can see exactly how they compared and maybe get an idea of why.