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"Fucking Savages!"
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Posted: 2/20/2011 9:10:32 AM EST
[Last Edit: 4/9/2011 10:04:57 AM EST by Hokie]
“Technology is not evolving anymore, technology IS evolution!”

I was very enthusiastic to write this review. I’ve long been a clap-happy fan of practical optics, versatile carbines, and industry savvy. When SWFA announced the creation of a new line of low power variable heavy duty optics – I was immediately intrigued. Why? For one – SWFA stocks, handles, and sells virtually every optic commercially available. By trade SWFA has a finger on the pulse of the optics industry. They know what works, what doesn’t, what sells, and what the end user wants in a comprehensive scope for the AR platform.

SWFA ventured to assess, design, manufacture, and drop such an investment into the mosh pit of competing heavy duty optics. This maneuver is a true testament to their confidence over the Super Sniper line of products. That’s definitely worth noting and inspires some legitimate curiosity as to what makes this scope worth your while. This review is intended to help satisfy that craving. It will also share my personal observations with regards to how this scope compares to others in its class. Lord knows I’ve tried many an optic over the years. So many incredible options, each with its own set of pros and cons. For each scope I’ve tried, I’ve also found a reason to get rid of it. There was always a technical compromise that prevented the low power variable from serving in the capacity of a general purpose optic. By "general purpose" I mean that which is best suited to hit typical silhouettes with no specific range limitations.

Before I get too far into this…let me come right out and state that from my perspective the SWFA SS 1-4 HD is the long overdue culmination of several proven and popular scope designs. They’ve taken the best mojo from other capable scopes placed them all into one. If you are in the market for a high quality do-it-all optic and mount combo under $1,000 for your AR15 – read on.

My range time (aka free time) has been very limited this month. Consequently to date I have only fired 200 rounds of M855 behind this scope to establish a 50/200 yard zero and feel out the basics of what the SS offers. To really dig into the details of its long range accuracy potential past 200 yards I’ll reference a great field review by Arfcommer 357sig:

SWFA 1-4 HD Field Test (long w/photos)


Official AR15.com Thread SWFA SS 1-4X24 HD



What SWFA has essentially done here is create an exceptionally rugged and high quality 1-4X variable that caters to the standard 50 / 200 yard zero yet offers unparalleled advantages when dialing out to the limits of one’s abilities. A great deal of innovation went into its design.


For my review I elected the model with the CQB circle and capped turrets. SWFA also offers this model with an open MIL crosshair and uncapped turrets. My shooting efforts with the 5.56 cartridge rarely exceed 200 yards, so for my perceived shooting venues I wanted a zero that I could set and forget. In the event I want to move to a bipod in the prone position and exercise my carbine’s accuracy potential beyond typical ranges – I could…and with great ease. The way I see it, extended shots past 200 yards are the exception and not the norm. If the opposite were true one would likely opt for a different caliber and / or higher powered scope. To be able to cap the turrets all together is a great benefit.



When stacking up the important components of a low power variable optic – a short list of must haves come to mind:

1) Durability
2) Glass
3) Reticle Design
4) Turrets
5) Eye Relief and Exit Pupil
6) Weight
7) Illumination Potential
8) Battery Power
9) Customer Service
10) Affordability

These factors all contribute to a scope’s worthiness over a firearm. Those who have spent enough time behind an occular can certainly appreciate how very important such details are. The SS 1-4 HD capitalizes on each of those factors by incorporating the best resolutions available. To elaborate:

Its components are very Spartan and robust. In my view it stands shoulder to shoulder with the level of quality standardized by Nightforce. Rated -50 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, weather proof, etc – it’d serve under any condition one would consider shooting in. Such parameters should be a given for any scope labeled “HD.” Turret caps are well secured. Occular adjustments lock up tight. The rheostat knob is well seated by threads and gaskets. It rotates with a positive feel with off settings between illumination levels, inspired by Leupold’s MR/T perhaps. The magnification dial rotates from 1X to 4X with a 180 degree rotation. I can do this with two deliberate wrist moves. Keep the cat tails…you won’t need it. The body has a hard matte black finish. In hand, to me, this scope feels very rugged. It appears to be on par with Nightforce and S&B. In short – it’s definitely heavy duty. No issues here. To speculate further would be unsubstantiated. I don’t plan on using mine to pound roofing nails in order to make a point!




Glass quality is superb. The sight picture is crystal clear from edge to edge and boasts a generous FOV regardless of magnification level. Light transmission is incredible. I have no means to gauge it but it's akin to looking through a clean glass window. The view contains three high contrasting black posts that taper into the SS’s simple and efficient CQB circle. Reminiscent of the Nightforce FC-2 the circle truly dominates your sight alignment by naturally drawing your eye to the center. Inside the circle is an innovative FFP Mil / Mil crosshair. At 1X magnification the crosshairs becomes a ghosted center point which perfectly compliments the speed and accuracy potential of the reticle when shooting with both eyes open. Crank it up to 4X for incredible clarity and a precise aiming point. The circle is large enough to center on a silhouette but small enough to stay out of the way at higher magnification. The dimensions are right where they need to be. In a way, the SS gives you two reticles to work from – one at 1X, and the other at 4X.

The treeline past the snowfield is 150 yards away:





At 4X the tapered posts and circle become the backdrop for what may be the SS’s most unique aspect compared to other scopes in its class. Whereas many low power variables cater to venues >50 yards or <200, the SS’s reticle successfully bridged the gap and gives the shooter the absolute best aiming system regardless of range. Finally! The reticle is simple and effective. You don’t lose it in the FOV nor does it get overwhelming.

The Mil / Mil crosshairs provide a universally accepted and consistent means of correcting and calculating elevation and windage. SWFA deserves a lot of credit for going this way as it transcends specific bullet drop calibrations and stadia based on certain cartridges, loads, etc. Many scopes like the Burris XTR do this and I find it limits the scope’s potential and muddies its simple usability. Even with bullet drop compensation it's typically load specific and is influenced by so many other variables. ACOG's pull it off. Not sure who else does....with great success. I like the template the mil system offers with regards to customizing your specific firearm and ammo. With a 0.10 Mil adjustment – it certainly delivers flexibility to the shooter. On the capped model the turrets lift up for calibration and are pressed down once corrected. From there you dial accordingly and accurately. Again, shooting that far isn’t (in my view) the norm for a 5.56 carbine so the added effort of removing a turret cap for adjustment and ranging are duly warranted. Of course the the same could apply to a 7.62 rifle. The ability to utilize the same reticle for CQB, typical shooting venues below 200 yards, and long range shooting is in my view the most powerful advantage of the SS 1-4 HD. Even without messing with the turrets, one could range their respective cartridge(s) to the horizontal stadia for holdovers. Options are good!

How about that illumination! The circle and crosshairs are daylight visible. SWFA told me they went as bright as technology would allow. I can attest…the illumination is certainly all that and more. With the reticle’s surface area illuminated….you get a circular visual very similar to looking through a Swarovski 1-6. The SS is bright enough to allow for some blooming as well, seen as “spillover” from behind the black posts. Additionally, it’s worth noting that even without the illumination – the glass quality and black reticle is crisp and contrasts incredibly well on its own. Illumination, while important and favored amongst many – isn’t entirely necessary. For myself, a large portion of the year is blanketed with snow and a black reticle is actually preferred. I’m also of a fan of the rheostat’s orientation on the scope. Similar to Nightforce, the knob is on the side of the scope but retains the same on/off layout as Leupold’s MR/T. Not 100% sure on the battery life yet – I’ll update when I learn more or do the experiment myself. More information about the illumination can be found by perusing this thread: Optics Talk Review of the SS 1-4 HD

So how does the SS stack up to other optics in the mid-range price bracket of $600-$1200? I personally think this is the most comprehensive optic ever made available for the AR15 platform. Mind you, as certain aspects of optics mean more to others – your own preferences may vary. For example, if you don’t shoot past 200 yards, a Nightforce FC-2 or NP-1 would suit you well. Same could be said for the daylight bright Meopta K-Dot or the battery free Trijicon Accupoint. If you find yourself shooting 50+ yards then the MR/T, XTR, IOR, NF, etc should be on your short list. There are so many optics to choose from. Let the venue drive your selection though. If weight really matters then no low power variable will suit your comfort level and you should look at the ever popular Aimpoint with a QD magnifier or an ACOG like the incredible Trijicon TA33. If cost matters then you may wish to check out the Vortex PST which hosts a ton of features around $500. There is a lot of great options out there and I don't mean to discredit any of them. There are pros and cons to each optic and they all provide something that the other doesn't.

To that end, if you want the best of everything and the worst of none – then you should feel very confident in selecting a SS 1-4X24 HD. In all my years shooting AR’s, “nothing comes close” to the value offered in this scope. It is extremely rugged, very clear, ultra bright, easy to use, and will serve your AR15 well regardless of range. As with the rest of the new SS HD line of products – it’s a safe assumption to classify these low power variables as workhorses. I really like mine and fully intend to keep it. In my view it’s the best 1-4 scope it its class and worth every penny at $799. These aren't the tried and true fixed magnification scopes of years past. This round of Super Snipers have evolved substantially. Hope this review helps.

Don't forget the mount! The Bobro (pictured) is very nice. If you roll with Larue - I'd suggest the extended version. It'd give you more positioning freedom, especially if you shoot NTCH.


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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 9:32:44 AM EST
Excellent review.

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 10:08:55 AM EST
Superb review, thx! Now if I can only find a way to scrape up the $800...
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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 10:13:31 AM EST
Awesome, well thought out review. I'm glad I made the choice to purchase this scope. This thread will probably be as epic as your TA33 review.
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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 10:25:38 AM EST
Nice review. I'm now considering this, even though I still think a BDC would be better for my indended purpose. I can shoot to 1000 yrds and beyond everytime the rifle comes out of the safe. 200yrds is not a very long distance in my neck of the woods. I like the idea, and quickness of having a BDC reticle readily available to quickly adjust from 600-200yrds without having to do any math, or calculations, simply shift to the point on the reticule, and pull the trigger.

That said, I'm trying to consider the mil-dot and this optic. This(my) particular rifle is not intended as precision rifle, and I find the mil dot more designed towards that direction; yes a reference card is doable, but still slower than a BDC. I suppose with a bit of practice, one would know the drops and hold over points for different distances. I'm being swayed in this direction by your review.
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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 10:36:17 AM EST
Hokie, you are one articulate individual. Great review and photos. I've read your posts for years and followed your trail of trials of the various optics and have found you to be insightful as well as articulate. Your comments regarding evolution are very appropriate. In the new issue of THE AMERICAN RIFLEMAN Maj. John Plaster has an article on the M14. In it he states that in Afghanistan ..."Army data , which reveals that more than half of the wars small arms engagements are now beyond 500 meters, with the enemy employing heavier weapons and then withdrawing before air support or artillery fire can arrive." In Iraq most of the fighting was CQB. Both ends of the distance spectrum need to be covered and I can't think of an optic that does it better than the SWFA SS 1-4 HD. Most of our troops don't have a M14 or 7.62 SASS. They are issued the M4 and M16A4 and no one I know is going to argue that this is the optimal choice over 500 meters. However, it is what they have and must do the best they can. With that in mind when the weather and my schedule allows it I'm going to do some more testing between 450 and 700 yards using a Colt AR15M4 and AR15A4 and heaver loads. Looking forward to more of your posts.

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 10:55:44 AM EST
Nice Review- Thanks!

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 11:41:12 AM EST
Thanks for the review.

There are not any details on battery life so if you want to leave your scope on in the medium position and check on it untill it dies I will ship you a replacement battery. IM me if you want.

I might be picking one of these up in the summer.

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 12:07:22 PM EST
Join us at The Colorado AR-15 Shooters Site: www.co-ar15.com
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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 1:50:16 PM EST
Originally Posted By Lancelot:
Another optic I'll never be able to afford.


yeah its a little to high for me and what I need it for my cut off for a 1-4 is around $500.00 so I will probably get a Vortex.

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 2:07:04 PM EST
Thanks Hokie. Great review. Your personal recommendation means a lot around here and is big factor to me.

I've put off buying an optic since I got my rifle because I didn't want to buy something only to have to buy another down the road to fill the gap. My eyesight, colorblindness, all play a part. I can see red... if it's bright and this is one of the first 1-4's that have a really bright ret. The magnification helps me reach out. Its rugged and it's got quality glass, and is within financial reach. I can't ask for more. When you have one rifle, you need it to be all things to all situations and this on my rail will do a lot to help me get there. All in all, I can't ask for more.

Thanks again to you and others who always take the time to thoughtfully and comprehensively provide us with this kind of information.


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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 3:51:48 PM EST
Thank you for the review. Do you think that the improvements made with this scope makes it worth it for someone to replace say a Nightforce 1-4x24 FC-2 with it?

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 4:11:13 PM EST
[Last Edit: 2/20/2011 4:14:16 PM EST by glock24]
Originally Posted By Pulsar:
Thank you for the review. Do you think that the improvements made with this scope makes it worth it for someone to replace say a Nightforce 1-4x24 FC-2 with it?


Hokie, if I may;

Considering you'll have cash-in-pocket when you swap a Nightforce for a Super Sniper, it is certainly a good start. After owning both, I like the SS better for a few reasons;

1. The way the Super Sniper's reticle extends the heavy cross-hair lines to the edge of FOV really helps when shooting fast, even when compared to a heavy, centrally positioned reticle like the FC-2

2. The FC-2 doesn't lend itself well to hold-overs like the mil-scale Super Sniper

3. The Super Sniper's illumination is brighter (if you're into that sort of thing!)

Of course the Nightforce does have the handy zero-stop, and seems to be bombproof. Still, I'd make the trade. In fact I already did!





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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 4:29:02 PM EST
Gotcha. Thanks. Extra $$ is always a good thing. From what I've read so far, the glass is on par with the NXS. Time will tell how well these hold up compared to the likes of NF/S&B/Trijicon. I suppose the best way for me to really find out which one I favor is to pick one up and run it side by side with my NXS.

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 5:41:01 PM EST
Good review

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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 7:53:50 PM EST
Nice write-up and review.


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Link Posted: 2/20/2011 10:49:36 PM EST
Nice work, thanks!
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Link Posted: 2/21/2011 7:45:06 AM EST
Thanks for the review. It looks like a winner for 3 gunners. At first I thought the 1st focal plane thing isn't really needed for a 1x-4x because most people crank it up to 4x at 200 yards and out and there really isn't a need for the BDC at 200 yards and closer. I see where it comes in handy to reduce the size of the circle at 1x which makes for quick target acquisition in CQB situations. I'm also glad to see they kept it simple with a mil BDC and not ammo specific. A 1x-6x version would be awsome. As much as I love my IOR 1.1x-4x, I wouldn't mind swapping it out for this scope.

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Link Posted: 2/21/2011 8:44:16 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/21/2011 8:47:26 AM EST by socommatthews]
Great review as always Hokie. I am wondering tho, its advertised as a "true 1x" right? Maybe its just me but the picture showing the FOV at 1x looks like it is slightly magnified, maybe 1.1 or 1.2x? The trees on either side dont line up with themselves out of the scope.

ETA: Could it be the parallax(sp?) of the scope????
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Link Posted: 2/21/2011 9:49:30 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/21/2011 9:54:12 AM EST by Hokie]
Hi guys, thanks for the feedback, I appreciate the time you took to read it! I really enjoy writing these reviews and try to deliver the perspective of a hard working civilian shooter in the middle income tax bracket! These reviews assist in quantifying my own opinions and allow me to compare to others I've tried over the years. This particular scope is truly the best low power variable I've had the pleasure of using.

Pulsar - glock24 said it very well. I'd also add that if you could live without the daylight illumination and are comfortable with the ranging limits of the FC-2....I'd keep the Nightforce. It's an incredible optic. I'd have to look it up but I recall reading a review or two a couple years back over the FC-2's dimensions in relation to specific ranges past 200. I just found the FC-2's center point too "fat" for my liking. I think it's dimension is 2MOA...someone please correct me if I'm mistaken.

nobodyg17 - I'll do a battery test soon if SWFA doesn't chime in. I don't mind donating a battery - it'd be great info to file away upstairs. Do you think a mid range power experiment would be better served than a max power test?

AZ3gunner - I completely agree and had the same opinions on the FFP in a 1-4 myself. That all changed when I saw the dynamic effectiveness of the SS's reticle at both 1X and 4X.

socommatthews - It's as true a 1X as one would and could obtain by other bonafied 1X variables. I just looked at the pic and do see what you mean. That's likely a result of my camera. In order to capture the reticle I had the zoom ranged out to 4x or something. I'm not a professional photographer so I do apologize for the confusion there. I'll speculate that it's my fault, not the scope's!
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Link Posted: 2/21/2011 10:28:30 AM EST
Originally Posted By Hokie:
Hi guys, thanks for the feedback, I appreciate the time you took to read it! I really enjoy writing these reviews and try to deliver the perspective of a hard working civilian shooter in the middle income tax bracket! These reviews assist in quantifying my own opinions and allow me to compare to others I've tried over the years. This particular scope is truly the best low power variable I've had the pleasure of using.

Pulsar - glock24 said it very well. I'd also add that if you could live without the daylight illumination and are comfortable with the ranging limits of the FC-2....I'd keep the Nightforce. It's an incredible optic. I'd have to look it up but I recall reading a review or two a couple years back over the FC-2's dimensions in relation to specific ranges past 200. I just found the FC-2's center point too "fat" for my liking. I think it's dimension is 2MOA...someone please correct me if I'm mistaken.

nobodyg17 - I'll do a battery test soon if SWFA doesn't chime in. I don't mind donating a battery - it'd be great info to file away upstairs. Do you think a mid range power experiment would be better served than a max power test?

AZ3gunner - I completely agree and had the same opinions on the FFP in a 1-4 myself. That all changed when I saw the dynamic effectiveness of the SS's reticle at both 1X and 4X.

socommatthews - It's as true a 1X as one would and could obtain by other bonafied 1X variables. I just looked at the pic and do see what you mean. That's likely a result of my camera. In order to capture the reticle I had the zoom ranged out to 4x or something. I'm not a professional photographer so I do apologize for the confusion there. I'll speculate that it's my fault, not the scope's!


Cool, looks like a winner.
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Link Posted: 2/21/2011 12:25:42 PM EST
Just got my SS 1-4 with exposed turrets, and would like to add a few comments based on my initial handling of it:

- I'll echo the sentiment that this seems to be a well-made product. Dials turn smoothly, glass looks excellent.
- I'll disagree about getting away without cat tails, but that may just be personal preference. To me, while the action of the zoom mechanism is fine, it is a bit slow. If I had to switch from 1x to 4x quickly, I'd want a little leverage.
- The eye relief is long enough that I'd want to mount it on something that puts the scope forward of the normal position.

Hope to take it to the range over the next couple of weeks to shake it out.

Overall, SWFA has done a fine job, particularly at this price point.

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Link Posted: 2/21/2011 1:06:08 PM EST

Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Just got my SS 1-4 with exposed turrets, and would like to add a few comments based on my initial handling of it:

- I'll echo the sentiment that this seems to be a well-made product. Dials turn smoothly, glass looks excellent.
- I'll disagree about getting away without cat tails, but that may just be personal preference. To me, while the action of the zoom mechanism is fine, it is a bit slow. If I had to switch from 1x to 4x quickly, I'd want a little leverage.
- The eye relief is long enough that I'd want to mount it on something that puts the scope forward of the normal position.

Hope to take it to the range over the next couple of weeks to shake it out.

Overall, SWFA has done a fine job, particularly at this price point.

What mount are you thinking about?

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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 3:06:32 AM EST
Originally Posted By itschris:

Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Just got my SS 1-4 with exposed turrets, and would like to add a few comments based on my initial handling of it:

- I'll echo the sentiment that this seems to be a well-made product. Dials turn smoothly, glass looks excellent.
- I'll disagree about getting away without cat tails, but that may just be personal preference. To me, while the action of the zoom mechanism is fine, it is a bit slow. If I had to switch from 1x to 4x quickly, I'd want a little leverage.
- The eye relief is long enough that I'd want to mount it on something that puts the scope forward of the normal position.

Hope to take it to the range over the next couple of weeks to shake it out.

Overall, SWFA has done a fine job, particularly at this price point.

What mount are you thinking about?


an ADM AD-RECON-X mount.

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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 4:00:19 AM EST
Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Originally Posted By itschris:

Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Just got my SS 1-4 with exposed turrets, and would like to add a few comments based on my initial handling of it:

- I'll echo the sentiment that this seems to be a well-made product. Dials turn smoothly, glass looks excellent.
- I'll disagree about getting away without cat tails, but that may just be personal preference. To me, while the action of the zoom mechanism is fine, it is a bit slow. If I had to switch from 1x to 4x quickly, I'd want a little leverage.
- The eye relief is long enough that I'd want to mount it on something that puts the scope forward of the normal position.

Hope to take it to the range over the next couple of weeks to shake it out.

Overall, SWFA has done a fine job, particularly at this price point.

What mount are you thinking about?


an ADM AD-RECON-X mount.



This is the mount Hokie and I used. It is built by BOBRO.
http://swfa.com/SWFA-Mounts-C3474.aspx

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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 4:40:07 AM EST
Originally Posted By 357sig:
Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Originally Posted By itschris:

Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Just got my SS 1-4 with exposed turrets, and would like to add a few comments based on my initial handling of it:

- I'll echo the sentiment that this seems to be a well-made product. Dials turn smoothly, glass looks excellent.
- I'll disagree about getting away without cat tails, but that may just be personal preference. To me, while the action of the zoom mechanism is fine, it is a bit slow. If I had to switch from 1x to 4x quickly, I'd want a little leverage.
- The eye relief is long enough that I'd want to mount it on something that puts the scope forward of the normal position.

Hope to take it to the range over the next couple of weeks to shake it out.

Overall, SWFA has done a fine job, particularly at this price point.

What mount are you thinking about?


an ADM AD-RECON-X mount.



This is the mount Hokie and I used. It is built by BOBRO.
http://swfa.com/SWFA-Mounts-C3474.aspx


And I must admit, it's very nice. Never thought I'd use anything but Larue - but this Bobro mount is the real deal. Very slick.
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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 6:38:40 AM EST
Originally Posted By Hokie:
Originally Posted By 357sig:
Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Originally Posted By itschris:

Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Just got my SS 1-4 with exposed turrets, and would like to add a few comments based on my initial handling of it:

- I'll echo the sentiment that this seems to be a well-made product. Dials turn smoothly, glass looks excellent.
- I'll disagree about getting away without cat tails, but that may just be personal preference. To me, while the action of the zoom mechanism is fine, it is a bit slow. If I had to switch from 1x to 4x quickly, I'd want a little leverage.
- The eye relief is long enough that I'd want to mount it on something that puts the scope forward of the normal position.

Hope to take it to the range over the next couple of weeks to shake it out.

Overall, SWFA has done a fine job, particularly at this price point.

What mount are you thinking about?


an ADM AD-RECON-X mount.



This is the mount Hokie and I used. It is built by BOBRO.
http://swfa.com/SWFA-Mounts-C3474.aspx


And I must admit, it's very nice. Never thought I'd use anything but Larue - but this Bobro mount is the real deal. Very slick.


What's the advantage of the Bobro over the ADM? I'm particularly fond of the way the ADM clamps to the rail, but the image of the Bobro mount on SWFA unfortunately doesn't show how theirs clamps on.

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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 7:01:42 AM EST
Not the right thread to discuss the mounts, but here are some pics of the Bobro wrapped around the SS:





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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 8:57:53 AM EST
Thanks for the write-up. I have a 3x9 (Viper, Larue) that I use for hunting and BUIS/future Aimpoint for general security. One way to justify this purchase would be to use it for both. 1x4 would work for my hunting ranges, I think, but how does the SS function as a 1X red dot? From the review on the other forum, it looks like a heavier, 90% effective Aimpoint solution that will also zoom. Is that a fair assessment? For true CQB, is this just too much scope or is it a decent substitute for an Aimpoint, battery/weight issues aside?

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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 9:39:40 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/22/2011 9:42:20 AM EST by Hokie]
Originally Posted By Flats:
Thanks for the write-up. I have a 3x9 (Viper, Larue) that I use for hunting and BUIS/future Aimpoint for general security. One way to justify this purchase would be to use it for both. 1x4 would work for my hunting ranges, I think, but how does the SS function as a 1X red dot? From the review on the other forum, it looks like a heavier, 90% effective Aimpoint solution that will also zoom. Is that a fair assessment? For true CQB, is this just too much scope or is it a decent substitute for an Aimpoint, battery/weight issues aside?


I think your logic is spot on. It'll never beat a RDS with regards to weight, speed, compactness, battery power, etc. I think it'd boil down to how much you want 1X-4X magnification. Viewed at night indoors and under 170 lumens (Surefire X300) - the reticule on 11X (max brightness level) is plenty visible. The circle really pops and centers easily at room distance. Is that better than an Aimpoint? I wouldn't feel disadvantaged at all even though you don't get the max FOV and forgiving head position allowed by the Aimpoint Micro, for example.

Even at 1X with the max brightness and the SS's 3.7" of eye relief - it'll never beat an Aimpoint Micro for dartin' around corners in dark hallways, my opinion anyway. Not sure what that's worth to you. I own and enjoy both. Now....take that gun outside and acquire respectable groupings from 10-500 yards...my response would change dramatically!

If you wanted a general purpose optic - a low power variable with manually adjustable illumination is a great choice. Moreso than the TA33, which I also adore. It's limitations are realized if you're still and watching a slowly moving target below 50 yards. Moreso at night given the lack of manual illumination. If you're limited to 100 yards, I would stay with the Aimpoint. Beyond that, and if you had to have one optic, I'd want a scope like the SS.

We all have opinions here, that's just mine!
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Link Posted: 2/22/2011 5:42:45 PM EST
As usual, great review. Looks like we have a winner with this scope. I must have one when funds permit.

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Link Posted: 2/23/2011 1:25:10 AM EST
[Last Edit: 2/23/2011 1:25:42 AM EST by Xfire68]
Dam it! I read the reviews and I really really liked 2 of those scopes! Then I found out how much they cost! SOB!!!!!

I keep looking at 1-4x scopes as a great option for my AR but the ones I like always cost to much or are out of stock everywhere!

I guess it's good in a way that I have good taste in glass but, my pocket book does not agree!

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Link Posted: 2/23/2011 7:58:44 AM EST
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Link Posted: 3/1/2011 8:33:02 AM EST
I have the same model Hokie has...

My scope also experiences the brief shut-off others have reported when the BCG slams home, despite my having stretched the battery cap spring significantly. I guess I'll just have to wait for the revised cap to arrive from SWFA.

I find the zoom ring very slippery and difficult to turn. It needs a cattail more than any of my other scopes and I am very glad SWFA has one in the works. As for the illumination, with a fresh battery the highest setting is just barely "there" against a white background in full sun. The illumination is bright and usable in most situations, but it is not Aimpoint-bright. Of course, against that same white background the black reticle appears in sharp relief without the need for illumination...

I have my scope mounted in an LT-104 and the eye relief is just fine using a SOPMOD collapsible stock one notch out from fully closed. I do notice that the reticle at 4x really wants you head placed precisely for the whole thing to be in focus.
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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 6:30:16 AM EST

As for the illumination, with a fresh battery the highest setting is just barely "there" against a white background in full sun. The illumination is bright and usable in most situations, but it is not Aimpoint-bright. Of course, against that same white background the black reticle appears in sharp relief without the need for illumination...


Interesting. That's the first of any review where I've seen the level of illum. questioned in ANY way. Thanks to Brady at SWFA mine is in the UPS pipeline for delivery tomorrow. Can't wait to check it out. (Donut Exposed turrets)

BTW can someone clue me to what the new Battery cap looks like so I can determine which I've got when it arrives.

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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 9:49:25 AM EST
Originally Posted By shotgun1:

As for the illumination, with a fresh battery the highest setting is just barely "there" against a white background in full sun. The illumination is bright and usable in most situations, but it is not Aimpoint-bright. Of course, against that same white background the black reticle appears in sharp relief without the need for illumination...


Interesting. That's the first of any review where I've seen the level of illum. questioned in ANY way. Thanks to Brady at SWFA mine is in the UPS pipeline for delivery tomorrow. Can't wait to check it out. (Donut Exposed turrets)


FWIW, I'll echo his observations about the illumination brightness. I've only held it outdoors, and haven'y actually mounted it on a rifle yet, so I'll withhold any definitive judgement, but my impression was that the top setting, 11, was fairly bright, but at 10 it wouldn't stand out in bright sunlight.

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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 10:28:08 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/2/2011 11:04:15 AM EST by Hokie]
I would agree that it doesn't contrast well against snow under full sun - but I find it stands out (contrasts) with every other background I can draw down on. In those rare occasions the black reticle more than does the trick - and IMHO to a better degree than a lit reticle. But I will also agree that it's doesn't have the same intensity as an Aimpoint on full power.

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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 10:35:32 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/2/2011 10:36:18 AM EST by mousegunner]
Originally Posted By Hokie:
I would agree that it doesn't contrast well against snow under full sun - but I find it stands out (contrasts) with every other background I can draw down on. In the event it can't that black reticle more than does the trick - and IMHO to a better degree than a lit reticle. But I will also agree that it's doesn't have the same intensity as an Aimpoint on full power.


Unfortunately, I'll have to wait a while before I'll even be able to have something other than snow to contrast it against.

While a black reticle is perfectly usable, I find my eye picks up an illuminated reticle that's brighter than the background faster. As always, YMMV.

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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 10:48:41 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/2/2011 11:08:53 AM EST by Hokie]
Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Originally Posted By Hokie:
I would agree that it doesn't contrast well against snow under full sun - but I find it stands out (contrasts) with every other background I can draw down on. In the event it can't that black reticle more than does the trick - and IMHO to a better degree than a lit reticle. But I will also agree that it's doesn't have the same intensity as an Aimpoint on full power.


Unfortunately, I'll have to wait a while before I'll even be able to have something other than snow to contrast it against.

While a black reticle is perfectly usable, I find my eye picks up an illuminated reticle that's brighter than the background faster. As always, YMMV.


I think our posts crossed midstream! I made some edits to mine before reading yours. To keep the conversation flowing I cut and pasted them here instead. Great points, as always mousegunner! I elaborated a little on my thought process here to better explain myself. In the end, you're absolutely right - it is all about personal preferences!

And yeah, I hear ya on the snow. You should see the snow banks I have along my driveway. 6-8 feet of vertical ice in most places. I won't see grass till May!


"I wouldn't look at this scope as a replacement for the inherent advantages of a good RDS. Still, I find it performs close to it. Keep in mind that the required exit pupil and eye relief forces your head into a rested cheekweld. A RDS allows you a lot more freedom of head positioning. To that end the RDS is a different animal. Once seated on 1X, your eyes are looking around and through the ocular - focusing more on the reticle than brightness intensity. Not saying the illumination isn't important, because it is. Very much so. It's what initially grabs your attention. My point is that in a 1X optic such as the SS, the donut centers your FOV. The FFP mil crosshairs then ghost out and give you a POI.

For an illumination comparison without holding a SS in hand, consider the TA11 ACOG with the donut reticle. That scope (IMHO) needs a fiber optic cover (bicycle tubing, velcro, scopefly) to lessen the blooming. I find the SS's max brightness comparable to a partially covered TA11....if that helps.

For daylight use you'll definitely need the max brightness. It will provide very visible and bright illumination for most every venue - save the full sun days on beach sand, snow, and my pale Maine ass. In those events - I would make the statement that the black donut delivers a great focus point for quick target acquisition."
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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 11:36:53 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/2/2011 11:37:23 AM EST by mousegunner]
Originally Posted By Hokie:
Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Originally Posted By Hokie:
I would agree that it doesn't contrast well against snow under full sun - but I find it stands out (contrasts) with every other background I can draw down on. In the event it can't that black reticle more than does the trick - and IMHO to a better degree than a lit reticle. But I will also agree that it's doesn't have the same intensity as an Aimpoint on full power.


Unfortunately, I'll have to wait a while before I'll even be able to have something other than snow to contrast it against.

While a black reticle is perfectly usable, I find my eye picks up an illuminated reticle that's brighter than the background faster. As always, YMMV.


I think our posts crossed midstream! I made some edits to mine before reading yours. To keep the conversation flowing I cut and pasted them here instead. Great points, as always mousegunner! I elaborated a little on my thought process here to better explain myself. In the end, you're absolutely right - it is all about personal preferences!

And yeah, I hear ya on the snow. You should see the snow banks I have along my driveway. 6-8 feet of vertical ice in most places. I won't see grass till May!


"I wouldn't look at this scope as a replacement for the inherent advantages of a good RDS. Still, I find it performs close to it. Keep in mind that the required exit pupil and eye relief forces your head into a rested cheekweld. A RDS allows you a lot more freedom of head positioning. To that end the RDS is a different animal. Once seated on 1X, your eyes are looking around and through the ocular - focusing more on the reticle than brightness intensity. Not saying the illumination isn't important, because it is. Very much so. It's what initially grabs your attention. My point is that in a 1X optic such as the SS, the donut centers your FOV. The FFP mil crosshairs then ghost out and give you a POI.

For an illumination comparison without holding a SS in hand, consider the TA11 ACOG with the donut reticle. That scope (IMHO) needs a fiber optic cover (bicycle tubing, velcro, scopefly) to lessen the blooming. I find the SS's max brightness comparable to a partially covered TA11....if that helps.

For daylight use you'll definitely need the max brightness. It will provide very visible and bright illumination for most every venue - save the full sun days on beach sand, snow, and my pale Maine ass. In those events - I would make the statement that the black donut delivers a great focus point for quick target acquisition."


I just looked at the SS, a Meopta 1-4, and a 3x compact ACOG outdoors. The SS wasn't as bright as either of the others. Of course, the reticle on the Meopta (and ACOG) was smaller and finer (thinner) than the one on the SS, and that may be why it seems brighter at the max setting. I tried turning down the Meopta several levels, but it still came off as brighter than the SS. Doesn't mean that I couldn't see the illumination, just that it wasn't quite as bright on the SS. And of course, if you're looking for holdover ability, the SS is the way to go.




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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 4:27:37 PM EST
I don't understand the hesitance all of these companies seem to embrace when it comes to illumination. Why don't they just make it Aimpoint bright and shut everyone up? Does the technology not exist for this style of scope. In the last two years, pretty much every scope review I've read discusses the illumination and it's shortcomings. You would think that they would just make it too bright and let people dial it down. What's the difference?


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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 4:39:59 PM EST
Hokie, if you had to choose one, would you still pick the TA33 or has the SS taken its place?
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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 4:47:04 PM EST
Originally Posted By itschris:
You would think that they would just make it too bright and let people dial it down. What's the difference?



I'd guess it's that the tech isn't there yet. The SS donut reticle has a large surface area compared to an aimpoint, it makes sense it would take much more juice to illuminate this over a certain period of time. I'm sure there is much more to this, I'm no optics engineer.

Here are some pics I snapped over the weekend.




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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 5:06:30 PM EST
Originally Posted By itschris:
I don't understand the hesitance all of these companies seem to embrace when it comes to illumination. Why don't they just make it Aimpoint bright and shut everyone up? Does the technology not exist for this style of scope. In the last two years, pretty much every scope review I've read discusses the illumination and it's shortcomings. You would think that they would just make it too bright and let people dial it down. What's the difference?



I believe some companies view illumination as a way to make the reticle contrast against a dark background in low light, rather than as a pseudo-red dot. It works well in that role, so the normally black reticle doesn't disappear against a dark background. They're thinking hunting more than tactical or competition.

And yes, the larger the reticle (like the SS thick donut) the more light you need to pump into the scope to maintain brightness.

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Link Posted: 3/2/2011 5:44:25 PM EST

Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Originally Posted By Hokie:
Originally Posted By mousegunner:
Originally Posted By Hokie:
I would agree that it doesn't contrast well against snow under full sun - but I find it stands out (contrasts) with every other background I can draw down on. In the event it can't that black reticle more than does the trick - and IMHO to a better degree than a lit reticle. But I will also agree that it's doesn't have the same intensity as an Aimpoint on full power.


Unfortunately, I'll have to wait a while before I'll even be able to have something other than snow to contrast it against.

While a black reticle is perfectly usable, I find my eye picks up an illuminated reticle that's brighter than the background faster. As always, YMMV.


I think our posts crossed midstream! I made some edits to mine before reading yours. To keep the conversation flowing I cut and pasted them here instead. Great points, as always mousegunner! I elaborated a little on my thought process here to better explain myself. In the end, you're absolutely right - it is all about personal preferences!

And yeah, I hear ya on the snow. You should see the snow banks I have along my driveway. 6-8 feet of vertical ice in most places. I won't see grass till May!


"I wouldn't look at this scope as a replacement for the inherent advantages of a good RDS. Still, I find it performs close to it. Keep in mind that the required exit pupil and eye relief forces your head into a rested cheekweld. A RDS allows you a lot more freedom of head positioning. To that end the RDS is a different animal. Once seated on 1X, your eyes are looking around and through the ocular - focusing more on the reticle than brightness intensity. Not saying the illumination isn't important, because it is. Very much so. It's what initially grabs your attention. My point is that in a 1X optic such as the SS, the donut centers your FOV. The FFP mil crosshairs then ghost out and give you a POI.

For an illumination comparison without holding a SS in hand, consider the TA11 ACOG with the donut reticle. That scope (IMHO) needs a fiber optic cover (bicycle tubing, velcro, scopefly) to lessen the blooming. I find the SS's max brightness comparable to a partially covered TA11....if that helps.

For daylight use you'll definitely need the max brightness. It will provide very visible and bright illumination for most every venue - save the full sun days on beach sand, snow, and my pale Maine ass. In those events - I would make the statement that the black donut delivers a great focus point for quick target acquisition."


I just looked at the SS, a Meopta 1-4, and a 3x compact ACOG outdoors. The SS wasn't as bright as either of the others. Of course, the reticle on the Meopta (and ACOG) was smaller and finer (thinner) than the one on the SS, and that may be why it seems brighter at the max setting. I tried turning down the Meopta several levels, but it still came off as brighter than the SS. Doesn't mean that I couldn't see the illumination, just that it wasn't quite as bright on the SS. And of course, if you're looking for holdover ability, the SS is the way to go.




I think the term "day light practical" describes the need in an optical sight better than daylight visible. I don't think a detailed reticle would be clear if it were as bright as an Aimpoint. Brightness for the sake of brightness does not work if the reticule is too small to find fast or too bright to be distinct.

I have only had the SS HD reticule "wash out" on a bright day in the snow and it did not mean a thing in a practical sense because the reticle is bold and dark and functioned perfectly.

I recently had the scope out in a Juniper Pinyon forest where it was snow covered and bright on the ground and dark and shadowed in the trees. Panning across this terrain gave a strobe like effect. On the snow the reticle was darker with some red showing, in the shadows it was bright red.

The point is don't get too hung up on "daylight visible". Is the SS HD as bright as an Aimpoint? No, I and I don't know of an illuminated scope that is. Because of the design of the reticle and the brighter illumination is the SS HD the most practical 1-4 optic on the market in all light. Oh hell yea!

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Link Posted: 3/3/2011 6:24:43 AM EST
[Last Edit: 3/3/2011 6:48:39 AM EST by Hokie]
Originally Posted By RFutch:
Hokie, if you had to choose one, would you still pick the TA33 or has the SS taken its place?


I still place a huge value on weight. I'd venture to say that if you intended to hump your carbine around for hours at a time AND wanted a spartan general purpose AR I'd stick with the TA33. I love that ACOG and all it offers. The TA33's advantages over a low power variable are it's weight and fiber optic illumination.

The SS is going to stay with my 16" carbine though as my first and formal choice since my typical jaunts are more limited to a few hundred yards from my home or truck. The difference between the TA33 and SS is a 1/2 - 3/4 lbs...don't care about the exact weight. It's not a lot, but it's enough to notice after awhile. I really like the 1X donut and stadia of the SS. It's 4X mil set up will serve me well in the event I ever shoot past 200 yards, which for me is rare - hence my adoration for the 1X, donut, capped turrets, and manual illumination.

I think it's critical for the end user to decide what venues they anticipate using their AR beyond the range. I'm going on the presumption that most folks do evaluate their needs. Otherwise buying an ACOG or an industrial low power variable would be a huge waste of money. I also appreciate the comments on the illumination. Well articulated responses. I think we're all thinking the same thing re: the scope being daylight "practical."

For me, for what I do and where I go - the SS does everything I want it to do and everything I perceive it needing to do. I have a 7.5lbs 308 bolt action I'd lug around in the event I needed a light option for an extended hike. Also know that I own and maintain my favorite AR - a 14.5" with an Aimpoint Micro that is and will always be my 1st go to gun in any event, be it fun or related to a local jihad! The 16" gun (pictured in this thread) has a Geiselle trigger, FF handguards, good bbl, bipod, and is better suited with the SS. It's a gun with a little more accuracy potential. It's also a murderous set up for Maine coyotes - which I fully intend to try out this year. Hate those bastards. They wreak havoc on deer, especially after the last few hard winters. Anyway, the SS is a better optic for the 16" middy in that it'll give me more flexibility than my other carbine...which is more geared towards protecting my mailbox. Either gun could perform in that role, which I like. But I own both, and built them up accordingly.

I mean no disrespect to the TA33 either. In fact, I think I'm going to make another 2011/2012 project - a lightweight 308 AR with a TA33. Something I can take hunting with me on my annual adventures in Northern Maine. The 33 is in my opinion best suited on guns where weight really matters. Otherwise, a variable like the SS is in my view a better general purpose optic.

Truthfully, I think the best solution is to own both.
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Link Posted: 3/3/2011 10:58:01 AM EST
I have a LT Predatar .308 on order. I was set on ordering another ta33 for it but would now like to go with this instead. This will be my first mildot scope. I intend to zero at 100 yards and use holdover. Looking at the reticle it appears I would then have 10 mils of holdover available. If a mil is 1 meter at 1000 meters it will be .5 meters at 500. That gives me 5 meters of available holdover at 500 meters (540 yards) correct? I am trying to figure out my max range using holdover with this scope, and it seems like plenty, but I have no experience with mils so I am double checking my logic.

Thanks for the review Hokie. Every time you write one of these I end up about 1000 bucks poorer.

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Link Posted: 3/3/2011 11:04:52 AM EST
This is worth looking through: http://www.mil-dot.com/

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Link Posted: 3/3/2011 11:27:31 AM EST
Originally Posted By AustinWolv:
This is worth looking through: http://www.mil-dot.com/


Wow, that is awesome. So much for getting any work done for the rest of the day.

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Link Posted: 3/3/2011 1:26:47 PM EST
OK...Mine is in. Thanks Brady! Will spend a little time with before I venture any real impressions but I have some initial questions / observations. Mine is Donut with exposed turrets.

How does one tell if one has the new or old battery cap?

I thought I had read that entire ocular bell rotated with magnification changes, making scope cap impractical. Mine doesn't seem to function that way. I set ocular focus, set lock ring, and then when I roll magnification only inner part turns. On mine it seems a cap would work just fine without rotating????? What am I missing?

Speaking of rotating, I had to turn ocular way out to "crisp" up image to anywhere close to my Leup CQT at 0 adjustment. Does that seem normal?

Lastly I can see right away I'll have to trade my LT-104 for SPR E LT-139 ASAP


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Link Posted: 3/3/2011 2:12:15 PM EST
You are not missing anything. The bell does not turn with magnification changes, so flip caps won't rotate.
I had to screw mine out pretty far to get in focus too, before locking it down. I guess it has lots of adjustment range.

I don't think the new battery caps are ready to ship just yet. I'd like to get the cat tail when it is available.

If we pre-order the cat tail, I wonder if they could ship it and battery cap at the same time, saving us a little shipping $.

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