The Vantage scope range from Hawke Optics has a reputation for delivering impressive performance without excessive cost. Mat Manning gives his verdict on the 3-1244SF model
Not everyone can afford top-end optics, and even those who can may still struggle to justify shelling out big money for a scope that’s seldom used or that’s going to be subjected to some serious abuse in the field.
Hawke Vantage Scope won’t break the bank
The Vantage range of scopes from Hawke Optics offers a wide variety of go-anywhere glassware that won’t break the bank.
- Prices start at just £47.99 for the basic 4×32 model – the sort of price that enables you to get on with the job without having to worry about bashing your scope or caking it in mud.
- Despite their modest pricing, these scopes show no obvious signs of skimping when it comes to performance and reliability.
- They’ve very quickly established an extremely loyal following among shooters who want a decent but affordable optic for controlling pests either with an air rifle or rimfire.
The 3-12×44 SF model that I’ve been testing over the last few months is creeping towards the higher end of the Vantage range at £189.99 but it’s still far from expensive, and it can more than hold its own against scopes costing twice its price.
Hawke really seems to be learning from the mistakes of several of its rivals when it comes to quality versus gimmicks.
Whereas many manufacturers of mid-priced scopes are clearly trying to seduce shooters with far-from-essential extras and styling that would look more at home on a sniper’s sight, the scopes in the Vantage range are reassuringly low-key. In my opinion, their clean lines and lack of jumbo-turrets and super-complicated reticles is a good thing, as it suggests that your spend is going on build quality rather than bling.
Out of the box
Straight from the box, the 3-12×44 SF looked and felt like a quality piece of kit. Its monotube chassis is shockproof to withstand harsh recoil, and waterproof and nitrogen-purged to stop it from fogging up. At 337mm long and around 490g in weight, it’s certainly not a particularly cumbersome scope, and it made for a very balanced rig when coupled with my compact BSA Ultra SE air rifle.
Lenses are multi-coated with 11 layers for enhanced clarity and the 44mm objective lens does its job when it comes to gathering light. The result is a bright, clear sight picture with impressive sharpness around the edges, even in relatively low light conditions at dawn and dusk.
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The Vantage range includes several reticle options – I’m pleased to say none of them too complicated – and I really liked the half mil-dot arrangement on the test model. It offered plenty of different reference points to compensate for the effects of gravity and the wind but without being so cluttered and time consuming.
Getting the reticle pin-sharp in the sight picture is a matter of giving the fast-focus eye-bell a quick twist until it’s set up to suit your eye. And, if you want to use a night vision add-on such as the NiteSite, you’ll really appreciate the fact that the eye-bell’s housing is smooth and free from any step or knurled dial as it makes for fast, snag-free attachment of the adaptor sleeve.
Another thing I really liked about the scope was its comparatively low windage and elevation turrets. Being low-profile, they’re far less likely to hamper the attachment of a scope-mounted lamp or other accessories than some of their more ostentatious counterparts. Unscrew the caps and you’re presented with clearly-marked, finger-adjustable dials. They turn very precisely with distinct clicks and clear stops, each of which amount to ¼ MOA adjustment – a ¼ of an inch at 100 yards.
There’s a side parallax dial on the left-hand turret. Well-positioned for fast operation and easy reading, it ensures sharp focus of the subject, while dialling out parallax error right down to just 10 yards – which is very handy if you’re tackling rats or feral pigeons at close range. On higher magnification it can also be used for range estimation by reading off the distance on the dial as the subject snaps into focus.
The parallax dial turns extremely smoothly, as does the zoom ring – though both have enough torque to stop them from accidentally shifting if snagged against your jacket or gun bag. I reckon the zoom range of 3-12x is near-perfect for airgun use. Most shooters will probably keep it between 6x and 9x for most applications, while 10x and upwards provides the required level of precision for long-range bipod work. Wind it down to 5x or lower and the increased field and view and depth of field assist with rapid target acquisition while also enhancing light transmission, which can be helpful when shooting at dusk or when lamping or using a night-vision add-on.
It’s very hard to find any fault with the Hawke Vantage 3-12×44. It’s an extremely versatile optic that punches way above its weight, and its price-tag, in the performance stakes. The range offers a huge choice of configurations with objective lenses from 32mm to 56mm, tube sizes of 25mm and 30mm, fixed, front or side-focus parallax, numerous practical reticle designs and even with illuminated reticles. If you’re after a fuss-free and affordable scope that can cut it in the field, the Vantage range takes some beating.
- Waterproof, shockproof and fog-proof
- 11 layers of optical coating
- Side parallax wheel
- Low-profile, finger-adjustable turrets
- Half mil-dot reticle
- Smooth zoom adjustment from 3x to 12x
- Clear, bright sight picture
- Monotube chassis
- Lens covers and optical cloth supplied
f you’re after a fuss-free and affordable scope that can cut it in the field, the Vantage range takes some beating.