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firedog55
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Posted: 2/14/2011 1:24:37 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/27/2011 4:09:03 PM EST by firedog55]
I first saw this optic at SHOT '10 and was impressed then. I've waited for a full year to get my hands on one and it's been worth the wait. I've decided the PST will take up permanent residence on top of my SCAR 17, I like it that much.


As many of you know the PST 1-4x24 was held up from release by Vortex because they were not happy with the function of the windage and elevation turrets, mostly the tactile feel while making adjustments. To their credit they did the right thing by not releasing the optic until it was ready, I wish others in the firearms industry had the same business attitude (more about this later).

Vortex Viper PST 1-4x24

But back to the PST, as soon as you remove it from the box you get a sense that's it's a quality optic.


The fit and finish are perfect, with clear, sharp white lettering, and nice clear glass. The feel of all the adjustment controls is just right, not too firm, but firm enough to offer resistance to accidental changes. The diopter adjustment ring is made of a pliable rubber that aides grip, likewise there is knurled rubber around the magnification adj. ring.



The magnification ring is marked with both magnification settings and subtension multiplier markings.


The illumination adj.turret has 10 intensity levels, with an off position between each making it easy to turn off and return to your desired power level.


Notice in the above picture the red fiber optic bar that denotes magnification level, and assists with your elevation return to "zero" setting by lining up with the fiber optic bar on top of the elevation turret (picture below).



Also notice the lens covers, the only cheap item in the package. Other items that came with the PST are a CR2032 battery, lens cloth, allen wrench, brass shims for the turrets, and instruction manuals for the optic and reticle type chosen. I chose the MOA version rather than the MRAD as I'm more familiar with the MOA reticle and its use.



MOA reticle
MRAD reticle

The Viper PST 1-4x24 is made in the Philippines even though Vortex is an American company. This is fairly common practice where the optics company will do the design and development and outsource the actual manufacture.


Another nice feature is the Customizable Rotation Stop (CRS). This allows you to set your elevation zero and easily return to it after large elevation changes. After your rifle is zeroed simply remove the elevation turret ring by loosening the (3) hex head screws and lifting it straight off.


Then place the provided brass shims around the base alternating them at 180 degrees until all the space is taken up.



Carefully reinstall the turret knob aligned with "0" and tighten the screws. Now after an elevation adj. you can rotate the turret counter clockwise to re-zero. The turret will stop about 1/4 turn past zero allowing you to come back to your "zero" easily
.

This was the only function related to the PST that I had trouble with. I had to go through the procedure several times until I could get all the shims to seat.

I chose to use Vortex's quick release mount, the two inch offset version. The mount is made by ADM in the USA. Most of you are familiar with it. Vortex simply re brands it with their name. The mount is sturdy, with two locking levers that are easily adjusted for rail tension with a coin or screw driver.



The mount has two locking lugs that interface perfectly with the picatinney rail on the SCAR. I removed the optic several times and it always returned to zero.


The mount just clears the charging handle.


I also used Vortex's "Switchview" lever. Initially I was not sure if it was really needed, but after I've used it awhile I really like it.


The lever was easily installed with (2) screws around the magnification ring.



1x


4x


I ended up adjusting the lever down to the 7 o'clock position on 1x to better clear my body and gear.

This allows you to quickly change magnification settings even with gloves on, one handed.




I also tried mounting the PST on my M1A using Vortex's excellent 30mm low rings. Even with the low rings the optic is way too high without some kind of extended cheek rest.



The Vortex scope rings are nicely machined from aircraft grade aluminum with tool steel mounting hardware (Torx screws).



Like the Vortex quick release mount they interface to the picatinney rail with sturdy lugs.



Vortex also has a PST 1-4x24 without adjustable target style turrets. This would be a good option for some shooters.
Without target turrets.

And finally, these are the similar optics I was able to compare the PST with:
-Leupold MKIV CQT
-Burris TAC30
-Leatherwood CMS


PST reticle, 1x, max. illumination


PST reticle, 1x no illumination


Leupold CQT reticle, 1x, max illumination.


Leatherwood CMS reticle, 1x, max illumination


Burris TAC30 reticle, 1x, max illumination


This picture clearly shows the PST is a true 1x.


This picture is the PST reticle, maximum illumination on 4x, clearly showing the 2nd focal plane same size reticle through out the magnification range. The PST is designed for all ranging functions to be done on 4x.


All of these pictures were taken at the same time on a bright sunny day. For some reason the PST reticle's illumination doesn't show up as well in the camera as the human eye. The Burris TAC30
is clearly the brightest. The Leupolds CQT yellow reticle is nearly invisible against the snow on a bright sunny day, but shows up as black. And the Leatherwood CMS illumination is barely visible against the tree line.

In my opinion the clarity of the glass was a tie between the PST and the CQT, with the TAC30 a close second and the CMS a distant third. As far as the functional usability of the reticle the PST is the hands down winner. The ability to range and determine holdover (on 4x) with this type of reticle is fairly simple and accurate. The TAC30 reticle is slightly better in the CQB role, but is second best in other areas. The CQT reticle is good at only one thing, CQB use. And last is the CMS, poor illumination, with hard to see vertical/horizontal stadia lines.

Eye relief is about the same for all of them, around four inches.


Overall I consider the PST the winner, best glass(clear and sharp to the edge), most usable reticle, quality build, and features for the money.

Now for the fun part, the range. It was cold the day we went to the range, 21 degrees, with no wind and slightly overcast. Pretty good conditions. The PST never fogged up and the adjustment controls maintained consistent movement. I had zeroed the PST at home with a laser bore sighter prior to leaving for the range. We shot at 100,200, and 300 yards. The scope was zeroed at 100 yds. Most shooting was from the bench off sand bags for accuracy. Ammunition used was PMC M80 ball, UMC 150 grain, and old Mil.Surplus.



The far targets are at 300 yds.

All groups were shot on 4x without reticle illumination.

View through the optic, 4x, 100 yds.


Same view, but close up.


This was a pretty average group for the SCAR/PST at 200 yds. Keep in mind that none of this was shot with match quality ammo.


The next two pictures demonstrate the repeatability and consistency of the turret adjustments. The optic was zeroed at 100 yds, the windage turret was turned 8 clicks right and a three shot group was fired. Next the elevation turret was turned 8 clicks down and another three shot group was fired. Then the windage was adjusted 8 clicks left, another three shot group fired, and finally the elevation adjusted 8 clicks up and a final group fired. As you can see the reticle boxes perfectly, returning to zero.



The only problem I had at the range was not optic related, but magazine failure. The CProducts magazines I had wouldn't function properly, with bolt over 2nd round failure to feed and dropping from the weapon without touching the mag release. Needless to say they're on their way back to CProducts.


So in conclusion, I'm pretty happy with the PST.


A lot of optic for the money. The whole package, including the ADM mount and Swicthview are very usable. The glass is as good as you'll find without spending the big bucks on S&B etc. The reticle is easy to use for ranging and holdovers, it's 2nd FP so it stays the same size through out the magnification range. The illumination could be a little brighter during bright sunlight, but the black shows up fine. And it's a true 1x optic making both eyes open shooting possible. All the adj. controls are smooth and firm, with a good feel.

Vortex customer service is second to none. After changing out the battery the reticle illumination didn't seem as bright as before. I called up and they sent me a replacement and return tag, it arrived in three days. Turns out I didn't need the replacement. It was my error, when replacing the battery the cap must be screwed on tightly with a coin for the battery to make full contact. I sent the replacement back with an apology. Proves their lifetime unconditional warranty is as good as their word. Buy with confidence.







And he struck them ruthlessly with a great slaughter. Judges 15:8
LexDiamonds
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Posted: 2/14/2011 6:11:35 PM EST
Great review. Probably the best one I have read yet on the PST... Mine will be here Wednesday and I cant wait. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together!
RFutch
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Posted: 2/14/2011 6:20:12 PM EST
Wow nice review!
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Tomac
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Posted: 2/14/2011 6:23:52 PM EST
Excellent review, thx! And thx for the info on the new version w/o target turrets, that looks very interesting.
Question: I noticed the comparision w/the Burris Tac30, but the PST costs nearly twice as much so is it an "apples & oranges" comparison or is the PST nearly twice as much better than the Tac30? Thx again!...
Tomac
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SigP220guy
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Posted: 2/14/2011 9:43:27 PM EST
Very nice review. You've given me another scope to consider.
glock24
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Posted: 2/15/2011 1:15:53 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/15/2011 1:17:02 AM EST by glock24]
Very thorough review. Thank you.

The stand-out detail for me is the picture below. It just confirms the reason I'm buying the 1-4x Super Sniper instead. That Vortex reticle simply disappears too easily, especially when the battery dies. Tree lines are one thing, but I have this same problem with hallway shadows. Unacceptable.

357sig
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Posted: 2/15/2011 4:15:41 AM EST
I have to agree with glock 24 on the illumination. The photo below is the SWFA SS 1-4 HD illuminated. Great write up, you covered it well.



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firedog55
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Posted: 2/15/2011 5:46:05 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/15/2011 5:56:56 AM EST by firedog55]
Tomac-I'm not sure it's twice the cost. PST=$500 TAC30=$300. But the PST is worth the extra in light of the reticle usable with all calibers, ( instead of dedicated to 5.56mm like the TAC30). Clearer glass, turrets, etc .
SWFA PST
Midway TAC30

glock24-The SS reticle certainly is brighter, although the PST reticle is brighter than I could capture with my poor photo skills. Isn't the SS a bit more money? IMHO the PST is hard to beat considering it's price point and features.
SFWA SS 1-4x24
It's great to have so many options available in the optics market, there's one to fit every budget and requirement.
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LexDiamonds
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Posted: 2/15/2011 8:17:49 AM EST
I debated between the SS and the Vortex as well. I think the biggest difference between the two is the FFP/SFP. For me, a 1-4x FFP scope just didnt make sense. If I'm going to utilize ranging, it will be while the scope is set to 4x anyway.

I dont print money in my basement, and at $500, the Vortex will be my most expensive glass. I think at that price point, the Vortex is hard to beat. If $300 more dollars is no big deal, and you like the FFP of the SS, I'm sure its a hell of a scope as well. Regarding illumination, I think the SS is a "a bit much" even if it is more daylight visible than the Vortex.
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Posted: 2/15/2011 8:29:53 AM EST
Good write up and pics- many thanks.
Have been considering the Vortex 1-4 since last year to replace an older DMS-1, glad to see they fixed the issues with the scope.

Love the switchview! They're awesome!

-Jeff
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357sig
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Posted: 2/15/2011 9:05:49 AM EST
You make some good points. I like Vortex and own two Vipers. If I was just concerned about a competition scope or range toy I would get the PST. However, I like the FFP feature and bright bold reticle of the SWFA SS 1-4X24 HD. The FFP allows it to "switch" from a reddot like reticule to a mildot. The boldness of the reticle is also an advantage if the battery fails. The SS 1-4 HD is designed and built to compete with the high end optics like the Vortex Razor and Night Force and is very high quality. The SS also has .1 mil adjustments with 10 mils per rotation while the Vortex is .2 mils which is about 3/4 moa. I like the finer adjustments. All in all it is worth the extra $300.00 to me. They both have lifetime warranties and excellent customer service.
firedog55
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Posted: 2/15/2011 11:08:34 AM EST
357Sig-Your points are all valid. Although I doubt that the SS will be in the same class as the Razor, S&B, Nightforce etc. at that price point. Don't get me wrong, I have a couple of SS optics and I think they're a great value. Two old sayings prove true, "you get what you pay for" and "you pays your money and makes your pick".
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357sig
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Posted: 2/15/2011 1:40:04 PM EST
Originally Posted By firedog55:
357Sig-Your points are all valid. Although I doubt that the SS will be in the same class as the Razor, S&B, Nightforce etc. at that price point. Don't get me wrong, I have a couple of SS optics and I think they're a great value. Two old sayings prove true, "you get what you pay for" and "you pays your money and makes your pick".


I understand you skepticism but I have used the scopes and they are very high quality. You have to consider that with SWFA you are buying from the manufacture with no middleman overheads and mark ups. Check out these photos comparing them to the S&B and NF.
http://www.opticstalk.com/swfa-14x-ss_topic22981_post356967.html#356967

shootist87122
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Posted: 2/15/2011 2:06:02 PM EST
Excellent review firedog55.

I've run mine pretty hard for a month or so now and I agree with everything you posted. The illumination has proven to be daylight visible in some pretty harsh conditions, but other than for low light use there is usually no reason to switch it on. The non illuminated contrast is excellent and will be the better choice in most cases.

For 3-Gun and general use, I think the PST 1-4 is a winner and a lot more scope than the price range might indicate. I just wish they had an option for one with capped windage (only) so I could mount one on my favorite FAL.
goldeneye
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Posted: 2/15/2011 4:57:24 PM EST
Great write up. Question: how do you like the reticle? It looks busy, but I like it and I think it would serve a short 308 semi or bolt tact rifle great. Let me know what you think
Sniper3142
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Posted: 2/15/2011 8:16:36 PM EST
Very nice write up and pics firedog55.

The Vortex PST does look nice. However, I think I'll spent the extra $$ and get the SS HD. The reticle is just that much better IMHO. And so far, the SS HD has shown to be a very durable and high quality optic (and yes, I'm damn surprised to be saying that about something with the "Super Sniper" name!).

And for those who know how to use and need it, the First Focal Plane aspect is an added plus since it allows ranging at all magnification levels.



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Posted: 2/16/2011 3:16:22 AM EST
Great write up. An official mod seal of approval.

I see they took ADM mounts and put their name on them.

Oh, and nice rifle.
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357sig
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Posted: 2/16/2011 4:11:17 AM EST
Originally Posted By 357sig:
Originally Posted By firedog55:
357Sig-Your points are all valid. Although I doubt that the SS will be in the same class as the Razor, S&B, Nightforce etc. at that price point. Don't get me wrong, I have a couple of SS optics and I think they're a great value. Two old sayings prove true, "you get what you pay for" and "you pays your money and makes your pick".


I understand you skepticism but I have used the scopes and they are very high quality. You have to consider that with SWFA you are buying from the manufacture with no middleman overheads and mark ups. Check out these photos comparing them to the S&B and NF.
http://www.opticstalk.com/swfa-14x-ss_topic22981_post356967.html#356967




Firedog

I just went through your review again and I have to hand it to you, excellent job. I've paid 8 bucks for a magazine just to read an article on a new item and learned less about it than I did on your post. I own two Vortex Viper scopes, (not pst), that I use on Prairie Dog guns and after using them awhile I can tell you that I won't be buying any more Leupolds. Vortex offers great value. I'm my openion the Vortex PST 1-4 offers the best value in the midrange 1-4X and the SWFA SS 1-4x24 HD offers the best value in the high range 1-4 optics. I've owned a Trijicon TR24 and I would take the PST or SS HD over it because of better features. Again good job on the write up. I got a notification that my SS 1-4x24 HD will be delievered in a few hours and the weather forcast calls for snow and wind for the next six days. DAMN
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Posted: 2/16/2011 9:52:39 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/16/2011 9:56:12 AM EST by jtb33]
Originally Posted By 357sig:
I have to agree with glock 24 on the illumination. The photo below is the SWFA SS 1-4 HD illuminated. Great write up, you covered it well.



Is it me, or does that reticle obscure a LOT of the view through the optic compared to others?
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357sig
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Posted: 2/16/2011 10:38:30 AM EST
Originally Posted By jtb33:
Originally Posted By 357sig:
I have to agree with glock 24 on the illumination. The photo below is the SWFA SS 1-4 HD illuminated. Great write up, you covered it well.

http://img201.imageshack.us/img201/7416/pict0040ef.jpg


Is it me, or does that reticle obscure a LOT of the view through the optic compared to others?


No it is no just you. The SWFA SS 1-4X24 has a much bolder reticule than other scopes of this type. It is a good thing, not the obstruction, but the fact that your eye automatically centers your target within the circle and you fine tune with the cross hairs. It is hard to describe how this work,(at least for my eyes),but your eye centers the target inside the circle much like your eye automatically centers the front sight inside the rear aperture on an AR15 sight. Then you have the crosshair if you need the precision. It is a matter of focusing on the target until you have it "captured" inside the circle then using the cross hairs. I was scoring "A" zone hits on IPSC targets out to 125 yards very quickly. It sounds more complicated and slower than it is in practice. At greater distance the circle is large enough that it does not get in the way. I've used it out to 700 and 800 yards. In a weapon sight it is an asset in binoculars it would bother me. Mine just came today and I am very happy with it.

glock24
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Posted: 2/16/2011 3:39:00 PM EST
Originally Posted By jtb33:


Is it me, or does that reticle obscure a LOT of the view through the optic compared to others?


The image above is not how it would look at 1x. That is the 4x view.

357sig - if you'd be so kind as to post the 1x view, it would help some folks better understand.

357sig
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Posted: 2/16/2011 4:13:45 PM EST
Originally Posted By glock24:
Originally Posted By jtb33:


Is it me, or does that reticle obscure a LOT of the view through the optic compared to others?


The image above is not how it would look at 1x. That is the 4x view.

357sig - if you'd be so kind as to post the 1x view, it would help some folks better understand.





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Posted: 2/21/2011 6:39:21 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/21/2011 6:42:29 PM EST by azeyecap]
Great write up, thanks for taking the time.

Does anyone know of a similar review written up on the interwebs of the SS 1-4x, I googled but came up empty.

Edit:nevermind, Found a SS 1-4x review

link
NightHawkIX
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Posted: 2/26/2011 4:28:46 PM EST
As a Vortex PST1-4x owner, I have to admit my main gripe right now is how weak the illumination is on the reticle.

Even on an overcast day, a bit of snow on the ground reduces the 10-power illumination to... nothing but a battery drain... Wonder if that can get fixed in the future?
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Posted: 2/26/2011 4:37:50 PM EST
Great write up!
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Posted: 2/26/2011 5:01:10 PM EST
Thanks Hokie, although it pales in comparison to the review you did on the SS 1-4x24.
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