PAO 6-24×56 SSS
Mike Morton takes a look through the lenses of the PAO 6-24x56 SSS, a scope that offers a wide range of features as well as magnification
PAO 6-24×56 SSS
Professional Airgun Optics has an extensive line-up of telescopic sights, and that line-up has now grown with the arrival of the new SSS series, one of which, the PAO 6-24×56 SSS, is on test here, which offers two different types of scope technology.
SSS stands for Smart Spherical Structure, which is an all-metal turret/erector tube interface mechanism. This, according to PAO, allows for far more precise windage and elevation adjustments than the metal-rubber interface found in some other scopes, the idea here being that the more precise the adjustment, the more accurate the shot.
The SSS series also employs a second type of technology called Thin Scope Shell (TSS), which is intended to improve the shooter’s field of view by reducing the perceived thickness of the scope shell around the lens.
Manufacturer: PAO (shootingparty.uk)
Model: 6-24×56 SSS
Magnification range: 6-24x
Reticle position: Second focal plane
Reticle design: Milliradians
Body diameter: 30mm
Objective lens diameter: 56mm
Weight: 850 grams
Click value: ¼ MOA
Parallax adjustment: Side focus
Illuminated reticle: Red and green, five levels of brightness
Extras: Magnification zoom lever, 10cm sidewheel, flip-up lens covers, 9/11mm dovetail mounts
PAO 6-24×56 SSS – the stats
This sight offers the shooter side parallax adjustment and is rated for all rifle types, including recoiling. It has a 30mm diameter body, an illuminated mildot reticle, but ¼ MOA clicks, push/pull semi-target elevation and windage turrets, and a fast-focus eyepiece.
It also has a magnification ring throw lever, flip-up scope covers, high dovetail mounts and a 10cm sidewheel, measures 379mm long and weighs 850g.
The reticle is a mildot type and the crosshairs are thicker than some of its rivals, the downside being the fact that they could potentially obscure some of the target, with the upside being the fact that they are easier to see in the first place.
Shooters who are used to complex Christmas tree-style reticles with multiple graduations for windage and holdover may be slightly disappointed, but I suspect that the majority of airgun shooters will be more than happy with a straightforward reticle that’s easy to use. It’s a simple reticle, but it simply works.
The reticle can be illuminated in red or green and the control is housed in a dedicated turret on the ocular bell, along with the compartment for the battery, one of which is included.
There are five levels of illumination for each colour, but there is no off position between each level, so if you have a preferred default setting you will have to click it all the way back to that setting before using it.
However, that’s a small price to pay for the option of having two different colours as one could prove more useful than the other when looking at a particular target in certain lighting conditions, or for people with certain types of colour blindness.
The windage and elevation turrets are semi-target types, requiring you to pull them up to make adjustments then click them back down to lock them in place. I raised an eyebrow when I found out that while the click values are ¼ Minute of Angle, the reticle is in milliradians. But is this really a big deal? Probably not.
The benefit to having matching graduations and adjustments is when the shooter is adjusting for fall of shot. If they see where the shot is hitting, and know by looking at the reticle by how much they need to correct, they can then dial in the corresponding number of clicks. That’s a huge help when shooting centrefire rounds, which these days are getting dangerously close to £2 a round in some calibres, but far less so with airgun pellets, which thankfully still cost pennies rather than pounds.
PAO 6-24×56 SSS – in operation
What’s far more important in terms of adjustment is how positively the turrets click and how well the scope returns to zero, and the SSS gets a thumbs up in both departments.
The turrets click very crisply, and this was really evident when I carried out one of my standard scope tests – shooting the box – to verify the way the scope tracks for windage and elevation, and to confirm that it makes a proper return to zero. This test can be carried out using as many clicks as you like, but I’ve found 20 clicks to be enough to provide accurate verification.
With the SSS mounted on my BSA R-10 SE in .22 calibre, I took a shot at the bull from my normal set zero of 30yds, then adjusted up by 20 clicks before taking a second shot, all while maintaining the same point of aim.
I was pleased to see this pellet hole appear in a perfectly straight line above the first. The next step was to adjust right by 20 clicks and shooting a third pellet, again maintaining the same point of aim. This pellet landed off to the right by the same distance, but was one pellet hole high. I then adjusted elevation down by 20 clicks and took a fourth shot, then adjusted left by 20 clicks before taking my fifth and final shot.
While I hadn’t shot a perfect square because the third pellet had gone a little high, the scope had done what it needed to do, which was to make a perfect return to zero. As always, this test requires the shooter to use a rifle that is known to be perfectly accurate, but that was no problem for the R-10.
Optical clarity was good, with the SSS performing extremely well in bright conditions, with subjects like flowers, foliage and squirrels popping into view with a near-3D effect.
The SSS still provided an acceptable transfer of light in low-light conditions and in heavy rain, holding its own against other telescopic sights of a similar price, and only really being trounced by a far more expensive optic. One thing I really liked was the SSS’s edge-to-edge clarity, which was pretty much perfect, with no blurriness at all at the periphery.
I was also suitably impressed by the scope’s ability to parallax down to very short distances. The SSS was capable of delivering a nice, sharp image at a mere five yards when the magnification was turned down to 6x, and I found it would still parallax down to just 10yds when turned up to the full 24x magnification. That was a very pleasant surprise.
This scope comes with the screw-in throw lever already attached to the magnification ring. These levers offer extra purchase and fidelity when changing magnification, which is very useful when you’re in the aim and especially so when the controls are gritty or stiff.
In this case, however, the SSS’s magnification ring, just like the parallax control, was perfectly smooth to rotate. Nevertheless, I still found myself using the lever far more than I thought I would. My only real and very slight nitpick was the fact that the lever had a tendency to work itself loose with use, necessitating me to screw it back in fully every now and then, but if this scope was mine I’d just tack it in place semi-permanently with some blue Loctite.
PAO includes a keyed sidewheel that’s incredibly easy to fit to the side parallax control. If you are shooting supported, prone off a bipod for example, then you might appreciate the extra fidelity in exchange for its bulk.
However, my testing was carried out almost exclusively without the wheel fitted, as I found the side control so smooth to turn.
PAO’s 6-24×56 SSS has some tricks up its sleeve with features like the illuminated reticle, throw lever, sidewheel and mounts. I appreciated the SSS technology, but in practice I didn’t really notice the TSS. Regardless of the tech, this is a nice, uncomplicated scope that performs well. It’s my absolute favourite PAO scope to date.