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cspappy
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Posted: 4/4/2011 11:27:58 PM
Hokie, that was a great review, thanks.
Chrome308
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Posted: 4/5/2011 1:08:37 AM
My first SS 1-4's illumination module failed quickly in the time honored tradition of consumer electronics and was replaced without drama. The koolaid has worn off a bit, but... its twin replacement just survived it's first real test, two days and 10 stages of IDPA carbine matches, so far so good, but i did polish off the first battery (yes the illum module seems to shutoff the low settings and dim the highest setting in a low battery state). The extra battery storage came in handy. Hopefully #1 was a fluke..

I prefer the eyebox and1x reticule on a trijicon 1-4, esp on 4x, but the SS glass is very clear, and the mil reticule & turrets are a pleasure to use at any power, and esp well suited to accurate shooting.

Swinging it up on 1x at the start buzzer and my first thought was "oh, this is easy".

Eye relief is generous, but not so great as to overly cripple your FOV.
357sig
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Posted: 4/5/2011 12:47:28 PM
[Last Edit: 4/5/2011 3:43:27 PM by 357sig]
The optical quality and precise adjustment of the SWFA SS 1-4X24 HD are exceptional. I've been wondering what a shooter could do with standard rifles using this scope at longer range. In my original range testing and review, (which Hokie linked to above in his review), I used a LMT MWS .308 for the long range shooting. This time I used 5.56 caliber rifles and had better weather and day light. I used a Colt M4 semiautomatic with a 16" barrel, a Colt lower with a Colt M16A4 upper with a 20" barrel and ,not having an SPR, a RRA 24" Varminter. I loaded up 300 rounds of a hand load known to be accurate in the RRA at long range. The load uses LC brass, 24.1 grains of RL15, Hornady 75 grain HPBT and Remington 7 1/2 primers loaded to a length of 2.26". I set up steel IPSC targets at 500, 600 and 700 yards. I then rotated through the rifles one at a time as follows. I zeroed each rifle at 100 yards and set the scope turrets. I then worked up drop charts on the steel using as many rounds as needed to get comfortable with the drop and the trigger. I then repainted the target and fired each rifle at all thee targets for photos. The triggers on the two Colts are factory and the RRA has the RRA two stage target trigger.

At 500 yards I could see individual hits on the targets unless they were clustered. At 600 yards I could see most individual hits but could see all clusters. At 700 yards I could not see most individual hit but could see most clusters. All target have five hits for five shots with the exception of the A4 at 700 yards which only has three hits for five shots.

I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of the M4, a bit disappointed in the A4 and the RRA performed as expected. At five hundred yards the M4s first group measured under four inches. Way better than expected. I shot a second group and did not duplicate that level of accuracy.

This scope is clearly capable of delivering top performance from across the room out to the practical limits of the 5.56 round.
1st M4 group at 500 yards


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Close up of 1st M4 group


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M4 at 500 yards 2nd group


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M4 at 600 yards


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M4 at 700 yards


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A4 at 500 yards


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A4 at 600 yards


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A4 at 700 yards


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RRA at 500



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RRA at 600 yards


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RRA 700 yards

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Hokie
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Posted: 4/5/2011 12:55:34 PM
What a range you have there! Great job with the groups too. 357sig, would you venture to say the SS' glass quality is most realized at extended ranges?
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357sig
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Posted: 4/5/2011 1:42:28 PM

Originally Posted By Hokie:
What a range you have there! Great job with the groups too. 357sig, would you venture to say the SS' glass quality is most realized at extended ranges?


Thanks, Hokie. I have enough steel targets to set up between 300 and 1000 yards with a target every 100 yards. The land belongs to the Bureau of Land Management. One of the advantages in living in the large squarish western states is lots of public land.

As to your question, yes the quality of the glass makes a huge difference at extended range. I have compared the SS side by side with the Vortex PST 1-4 and I used to own a Trijicon TR24 and all work well up to about 500 yards but over 500 yards the SS HD gives me much more detail. From what little I've seen of the high end scopes such as short dots and NF I think they could do as well as the SS 1-4 HD at extended range but their reticle design and lack of brightness and boldness in the illuminated mode suffers at close range. Equally important is the mil/mil reticle turret adjustment combination. The bullet drop compensation designs are calibrated for specific loads and barrel lengths. If you switch ammo or barrel length it gets confusing. With the mil/mil combination even if your a one load, one gun shooter you can calibrate exactly to that combination. If you take the time to make a drop chart and know your range you can still use the mildot as a bullet drop compensation device. I did that with the M4 while I was out. I shot the 500 yard target then moved back to the 600 yard and last the 700 yard target without touching the turret adjustments. I shot as fast as I could maintain proper form until I made a hit then moved to the next target. I did not time it and I did not get three hits for three shots but I did get three hits for for five shots once and three hits for six shots twice. I know I could not do that with the TR24. Maybe I could with some models of the ACOG IF the ammo and velocity matched the reticle. The SWFA SS 1-4X24 HD really is like having two optics on your rifle at the same time. You get a very serviceable "red dot" for up close and a high quality mil/mil scope for distance. No flip up magnifier or other 1-4 scope on the market can match the versatility of this scope in my opinion, regardless of price. By thinking outside the box a bit SWFA really got this one right.
G17C
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Posted: 4/5/2011 7:34:32 PM
357sig has given me a bad case of range lust. ;-)

The SWFA SS 1-4 is a winner. Better may be available at significantly higher cost, but it certainly does everything I need it to do.

Blacktide
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Posted: 4/5/2011 8:14:33 PM
I'd be really interested to hear about battery life.
urbankaos04
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Posted: 4/5/2011 8:29:04 PM
This scope just seems to get better and better to me!
"We talk about fate as if it were something visited upon us; we forget that we create our fate every day we live."--Henry Miller
G17C
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Posted: 4/6/2011 7:02:23 PM
Originally Posted By Blacktide:
I'd be really interested to hear about battery life.



Mine will last a very long time because I have yet to have any need to turn on the illumination.
Chrome308
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Posted: 4/6/2011 9:55:51 PM
Hard to say on the battery life... Every time my AR is in my hands, the illumination is on. I've only gone through one battery so far and it may not have been entirely fresh.

Awesome hits on that steel, BTW. I wish I had a place to shoot steel like that.

I hope this thing doesn't turn me into a glass snob, as the damn SS 3-9 has already made me into a ffp reticule snob, and a mil/mil turret snob.

With the zero reset on the turret dials, its sooo easy to dial in a known load for a known distance, esp if you tape a cheat sheet in a flip cap Theoretically you could range find with it too (I don't have a feel for it yet). The mil/mil make zeroing for the load of the day easy (usually with 1-2 spotter shots) and the zero reset lets you mess with the dials all you want, and still quickly return to home base. With the mil markings in the reticule, you can skip the dials and use the same drop numbers to put it where you want using just the reticule. Its so easy, its almost cheating.

Next time I'm out at an IDPA, I'm going get a quick turret adjustment number for a 10m close range target. How many mildots is 2" at 10m?



Hokie
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Posted: 4/6/2011 11:19:28 PM
I'm almost done writing up a quick comparison of the SS 1-4 against a handful of optics. A friend of mine let me borrow some. I can't say enough about the SS. 357sig's comments and range time beyond 200 yards is a priceless account of the glass quality and overall benefits of the SS platform. As for the 3-9...lol.....I see myself acquiring that scope to justify a gun to put beneath it!

As for the battery life, I put a fresh battery in on Tuesday night around 11pm before I went to bed. Next morning around 5am it was still very bright - it's hard to gauge the intensity really, but I couldn't tell much of a difference. When I got home from work around 5ish the illumination was still on but noticably less...figure setting 10 or maybe a 9 with a fresh battery....somewhere in there. I good experiment would be a time lapse photo every couple hours. I'll see if I have time over the weekend to do it. Regardless...and I don't think the illumination longevity really matters as I think one is safe to assume the battery will last at full tilt for a 8 hour work day/shift. Beyond that ... it's a gamble and one should anticipate having a spare battery on hand. Ironically, the SS provides such a receptacle in the rheostat dial.

The SS line of optics is quite impressive. I'm confident its popularity will continue to grow as more shooters get trigger time behind one. It's that good.
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357sig
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Posted: 4/7/2011 10:27:30 AM
[Last Edit: 4/7/2011 10:30:44 AM by 357sig]
Careful Hokie, your headed for a SWFA SS addiction. I'm speaking from experience. I own eight different brands of scopes and three of the last four I've bought have been SWFA SS. I'm not sure who the reticle genius is at SWFA but you will be pleasantly surprised with the SS 3-9X42 design. At the higher magnification it is a very serviceable, high quality mildot scope. When you but it down to 3X the thicker outer portion of the reticle "grows" towards the center. This bolder sight picture facilitates rapid sight picture acquisition at close range. Plus, I have found it to be an asset in low light conditions. If there is enough light to identify your target, you can see these bold cross hairs for a sight picture. I proved this to myself while glassing a heard of Elk well before legal hunting time one early morning. I've got two of the SS 3-9X42 and they are the best buy out there for a 7.62 DMR rifle. Sorry, I don't want to hijack an excellent review thread on the SWFA SS 1-4X24 HD.

Chrome308, IMHO it is not "snobbish" to get hooked on the FFP, Mil/mil concept, it is just plain smart to go with a better design. I know I won't go back to Mil/Moa.



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ralph70bjj
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Posted: 4/7/2011 5:00:27 PM
[Last Edit: 4/7/2011 7:25:15 PM by ralph70bjj]
I think my scope is somehow draining it's own batteries. I put a new battery in three weeks ago after the first one became low after very little use. Now three weeks later with practically no use the battery is somehow low again and only the 11th setting works. As others have said, the optical quality of these scopes as well as the features (mil/mil, true 1x, etc) are awesome but the illumination has been giving me alot of problems. I know SWFA said they were already redesigning a new battery cap to fix some of the problems users were having, but will the new cap fix this problem of battery drainage? This illumination problem is the only thing stoping my scope from being a truly awesome all-around package.


ETA: It does look pretty damn sexy on my rifle though

"Owning a gun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper
urbankaos04
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Posted: 4/7/2011 5:54:25 PM
Hmm, would like to know what's going with your scope before I commit to getting one myself.
"We talk about fate as if it were something visited upon us; we forget that we create our fate every day we live."--Henry Miller
357sig
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Posted: 4/7/2011 6:50:15 PM

Originally Posted By ralph70bjj:
I think my scope is somehow draining it's own batterys. I put a new battery in three weeks ago after the first one became low after very little use. Now three weeks later with practically no use the battery is somehow low again and only the 11th setting works. As others have said, the optical quality of these scopes as well as the features (mil/mil, true 1x, etc) are awesome but the illumination has been giving me alot of problems. I know SWFA said they were already redesigning a new battery cap to fix some if the problems users were having, but will the new cap fix this problem of battery drainage? This illumination problem is the only thing stoping my scope from being a truly awesome all-around package.


ETA: It does look pretty damn sexy on my rifle though

http://i779.photobucket.com/albums/yy75/ralph_70_bjj_pictures/3c9c376a.jpg

Are you sure the cap is screwed on tight? I've had mine loosen up when I was playing with the spare battery compartment once and thought the battery was dead. It felt tight but was not. I just checked mine. I changed the battery in mid Janurary and have used the illumination very little since and it seem to be strong and normal.
ralph70bjj
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Posted: 4/7/2011 7:26:26 PM
[Last Edit: 4/7/2011 11:20:51 PM by ralph70bjj]
I just checked, it's on there as tight as possible.



Originally Posted By 357sig:

Originally Posted By ralph70bjj:
I think my scope is somehow draining it's own batterys. I put a new battery in three weeks ago after the first one became low after very little use. Now three weeks later with practically no use the battery is somehow low again and only the 11th setting works. As others have said, the optical quality of these scopes as well as the features (mil/mil, true 1x, etc) are awesome but the illumination has been giving me alot of problems. I know SWFA said they were already redesigning a new battery cap to fix some if the problems users were having, but will the new cap fix this problem of battery drainage? This illumination problem is the only thing stoping my scope from being a truly awesome all-around package.


ETA: It does look pretty damn sexy on my rifle though

http://i779.photobucket.com/albums/yy75/ralph_70_bjj_pictures/3c9c376a.jpg

Are you sure the cap is screwed on tight? I've had mine loosen up when I was playing with the spare battery compartment once and thought the battery was dead. It felt tight but was not. I just checked mine. I changed the battery in mid Janurary and have used the illumination very little since and it seem to be strong and normal.


"Owning a gun doesn't make you armed any more than owning a guitar makes you a musician." - Jeff Cooper
357sig
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Posted: 4/8/2011 9:17:56 AM
Some electronics have what is know as a "parasitic draw" in that they always consume a small amount of power. However, from my scope I see no evidence that this is happening. Call SWFA and see what they have to say.
Originally Posted By ralph70bjj:
I just checked, it's on there as tight as possible.



Originally Posted By 357sig:

Originally Posted By ralph70bjj:
I think my scope is somehow draining it's own batterys. I put a new battery in three weeks ago after the first one became low after very little use. Now three weeks later with practically no use the battery is somehow low again and only the 11th setting works. As others have said, the optical quality of these scopes as well as the features (mil/mil, true 1x, etc) are awesome but the illumination has been giving me alot of problems. I know SWFA said they were already redesigning a new battery cap to fix some if the problems users were having, but will the new cap fix this problem of battery drainage? This illumination problem is the only thing stoping my scope from being a truly awesome all-around package.


ETA: It does look pretty damn sexy on my rifle though

http://i779.photobucket.com/albums/yy75/ralph_70_bjj_pictures/3c9c376a.jpg

Are you sure the cap is screwed on tight? I've had mine loosen up when I was playing with the spare battery compartment once and thought the battery was dead. It felt tight but was not. I just checked mine. I changed the battery in mid Janurary and have used the illumination very little since and it seem to be strong and normal.




iowa_hawkeyes
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Posted: 4/8/2011 9:48:48 AM
I would check the illumination in a dark room. I had a hard time seeing mine and thought something was wrong. I think anything less than 11 is hard to pick up in bright light
Hokie
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Posted: 4/9/2011 10:29:13 AM
[Last Edit: 4/10/2011 9:11:23 AM by Hokie]
Alright folks, here is a blue collar comparison of seven low power variable scopes. A friend of mine let me borrow them. I'm giving my personal observations with regards to glass quality, construction, reticle design, illumination, price, etc. I didn’t put any rounds downrange with these scopes. This is just a review based on my handling and comparing them to each other. Moreover, this is a review of how they stack up to the SS 1-4 HD.

Pictured, from left to right:
BSA Cats Eye, Leatherwood CMR, Nightforce NXS 1-4 Mildot, Trijicon TR24 German #4, Vortex PST 1-4, Vortex Razor HD 1-4, and S&B 1.1-4 Short Dot. Up top is the SS 1-4 HD.


I'm of the opinion that a performance at 1X is extremely important, otherwise, why go with a 1X-4X at all? I'm also of the opinion that an AR15's usefulness is best served below a few hundred yards. Reticle design is paramount. That said, I think an accurized carbine is certainly capable beyond that range. Again, reticle design is paramount as is glass quality. To be able to do it all through a low power variable - that scope needs to cater to CQB type applications at 1X magnification yet boast some real legitimate benefits at 4X. Having the chance to weigh several scopes against each other I am absolutely in favor of the SS 1-4 HD. I'll do my best to explain why. For a general purpose low power variable scope, the SS exceeds every option I’d want to ride my carbines.

First - the comparisons. Cut and pasted specs from each company’s page. Mind you these are just my opinions, nothing more.

BSA Catseye:


*I wrote the specs on this one…
Weight (oz): fat hamster
Length (in): skid mark
Eye Relief (in): not far enough
Field of View @ 100yds (ft): thumb’s width
Exit Pupil (mm):
MOA: 1 click = 16” oak tree
Lens Coating: Lard
Warranty: Couldn’t pay me to mail it in.

This rubberized paper towel roll sucks so bad; I had a hard time taking pictures of it. The illumination broke, the reticle is canted, and the glass is speckled with toenail grit from the floor of a low budget Chinese factory. The glare off the ocular requires you to wear sunglasses. It never made it back inside the house. It's 20 something feet into the treeline. Hit an oak and careened off into a hemlock. It will probably stay there unless it offends the wildlife and gets thrown back through my kitchen window. Priced at $75 or something....it's the perfect scope for a pellet rifle or spitball straw. Compared to the SS, this scope should be crushed, melted, and recycled into Butler Creek flip up scope covers.

Leatherwood CMR:


Weight (oz):16.5
Length (in):10.2
Eye Relief (in):3
Field of View @ 100yds (ft):94.8 - 26.2
Exit Pupil (mm):11.1 - 6
MOA:1/2
Lens Coating: Diamond TuFF14
Warranty: Limited Lifetime

I don’t feel like writing too much on this one. The value is primarily with its cost. It’s made in China. Unmistakably feels less quality compared to some of the other optics in the line up. Most of my hesitation lies with the fit and finish. Pretty sure it wouldn’t take much to mar the coating on this optic. The reticle is overly complicated in my opinion. The illumination is green and isn’t consistently bright across the horseshoe. Not daytime visible. Worth it? For an affordable entry level “tactical” scope under $300? Absolutely. As for how the CMR compares to the SS, it really doesn’t on any level. It’s a fraction of the SS at a fraction of the price. Still, I think the CMR has its place although for the money I’d probably want a reputable traditional scope over a budget tactical option. That’s just me though. YMMV.

Trijicon Accupoint TR24-3G:


Magnification 1x-4x
Objective Size 24
Bullet Drop CompensatorNo
Length (In)10.3
Weight (oz)14.4
Illumination SourceFiber Optics & Tritium
Reticle PatternGerman #4 Crosshair
Day Reticle ColorGreen
Night Reticle ColorGreen
Eye Relief3.2
Exit Pupil17.5 to 5.1
Field of View @ 100 yards (ft)97.5 to 24.2
Adjustment @ 100 yards (clicks/in)4
Tube Size30mm

Who doesn’t have some love for the Accupoint? It’s a great scope, great glass, with great incorporation of fiber optics to boast constant illumination regardless of ambient light. I will say that should one want a TR24, the triangle version is the only way to roll. At 1X, where reticle design matters most…the TR24’s primary advantage is its fiber optic. Otherwise, the scope has no substantial mojo over other scopes on the market. The triangle, mind you, is truly an incredible option for daytime shooting below 200/300 yards. Some use it well out to 400. Beyond point blank range, the reticle usefulness nosedives unless you know the range and want to mess with the turrets. Some do some don’t. Once the night falls, I don’t think the tritium does much for you outside of adding some contrast to the reticle. Once you touch off a weapon light – the reticle goes black. Manual illumination matters and Trijicon doesn’t employ the technology. Whereas the TR24 is certainly daytime savvy, the SS is night and daytime savvy. Where its daylight illumination level (setting #11) may not gleam like the Accupoint, the black reticle jumps right out and contrasts extremely well. At night, the SS is the obvious choice. Compared to the TR24, the SS has equal or better glass. The TR24 is a great choice, but I think the SS is a better option in a general 1X-4X. It’s simply more versatile. On an AR15, I feel the TR24 isn’t the 24/7 optic everyone wants it to be. I feel the SS is. No disrespect to the Accupoint though. I love that optic. I have a 3-9 on my deer rifle. That fiber optic reticle is such a bonus for a deer hunter.

With those three options out of the way, we can concentrate on some better optics that are worth a deeper evaluation and comparison to the SS 1-4 HD. I believe the following five scopes all machine their tubes from solid bar stock 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. So let’s assume construction is on par. All adjustments and moving components on the following optics are also comparable and do not offer a real advantage over the other. Not that I can tell anyway. There may be some stark differences internally – but everything works as advertised. The real differences between the following are in the glass quality and reticle design.


Nightforce NXS 1-4 NXS Compact Mil Dot:


Magnification: 1-4x
Objective Diameter: 24mm
Exit Pupil Diameter: 16mm @ 1x 6mm @ 4x
Field Of View: 100ft @ 1x 25ft @4x
Eye Relief: 3.5in (90mm)
Internal Adjustment Range: 100moa elev. 100moa wind.
Click Value: .250moa
Tube Diameter: 30mm (1.18in)
Ocular Diameter: 33mm
Mounting Length: 5.4in
Weight: 17oz (1-4x)
Overall Length: 8.8in
Reticles: NP-1, FC-2, Mil-Dot

Nightforce Optics has a well known reputation for heavy duty construction. No argument here. It’s a compact rugged option, for certain. I’m also convinced there’s a reason they don’t call themselves Dayforce Optics. The hollowed out reticles are damn near invisible for practical ranges that justify 1X-4X variable scopes. Frankly, the NXS 1-4 Mil Dot sucks at 1X. Up close, I really like the FC-2 option for daytime use as its design clearly inspired the SS. Even so, the FC-2 doesn’t offer much in the way of precise aiming past the 5.56 cartridge’s point blank range. I went with the Mil Dot here to compare against the SS’s FFP reticle. At 4X, the NF offers absolutely no discernable advantage over the SS. In fact, I find the NF’s reticle to bleed/bloom while illuminated. I also find the SS to have better glass, comparatively. The glass quality of the NXS is great, but not SS great. The SS is exceptionally crisp and bright. That bump in clarity makes the SS’s crosshairs really sharp. The SS has horizontal stadia as opposed to mil dots. I like that myself. By my account the SS blows the NXS Mil Dot away at 1X and outperforms it at 4X. Comparing it to the FC-2 version at 1X, the SS is comparable but blows it away at 4X. Construction wise, I couldn’t tell which optic appears stronger. They’re both very robust optics. Overall I’m of the opinion the SS is a better scope than the NF, regardless of what reticle the NF is wearing. Considering the SS lists at $800 vs. $1100+/-…the decision is an easy one.

Vortex PST 1-4X24:


Magnification1-4 x
Objective Lens Diameter24 mm
Eye Relief4 inches
Field of View98-27.5 feet/100 yards
Tube Size30 mm
Turret StyleTall Uncapped - CRS Zero Stop
Adjustment Graduation.2 mrads
Max Elevation Adjustment64 mrads
Max Windage Adjustment64 mrads
Parallax Setting100 yards
Length9.7 inches
Weight16 ounces

I’d have to say that comparing the SS to the Vortex PST and Razor was the cornerstone of my enthusiasm on this follow up review. Everyone’s looking to save a few bucks and get the best value in an optic. With a $300 price difference, the PST is rockn’ and rollin’ through the industry. With the PST in hand I can understand why. It’s a nice scope for $500. That said, there are some aspects of the PST that highlight some key disadvantages if one is to compare it to the SS.

First, the glass quality. Between the two the differences are noticeable. If one is to take the two and look through them back to back – it’s very evident that the SS is a brighter and crisper experience. Does this matter? At extended ranges it sure does.

Second, the reticle. The PST hit the market with a SFP reticle design that allows the shooter some boldness at 1X and some precision at 4X. The SFP of course stays the same size through the magnification whereas the FFP grows and shrinks. It is with the reticle comparison that I draw my primary bias for the SS. At 1X the PST’s broken circle and lack of horizontal and vertical posts focus your attention at 1X on the 4 black quadrants. Not many scopes even approach the PST/SS’ CQB intentions with their reticle…so to that end the PST is a winner. Compared to the SS however, the PST grossly falls short with regards to speed. I also don't understand why Vortex felt compelled to etch the reticle's name into the glass. Is it there to remind the shooter in the event he forgets?

Third, the illumination. Brightness is on par with each other. However, simply stated the SS’ reticle has more real estate – and to that end is brighter. The red is almost neon. Both reticles are daylight “practical” and will light up against most backgrounds. Both rheostats will last at full brightness for a healthy work day, patrol, coyote hunt, or stroll through the local zombie park. All said and done if the illumination went dead…you’d better hope you had the best bold black reticle design on the market. Pictures speak a thousand words:

(4X zoom through 1X magnification on the scopes)

PST’s reticle





SS’ reticle





The turrets and calibration of the PST are nice. It has .2 mrad adjustments as opposed to the SS’ .1 adjustment. Big deal? On a 1X-4X variable...not really, but I'd make the case that more precision potential is a good thing.. The rest of the comparisons are worth noting, but aren’t deal breakers. I like the Spartan simplicity of the SS’ construction over the PST. Less is more as far as I’m concerned. PST added some bells n’ whistles that I feel are neat, but not necessary for a rugged knock around AR scope. I also like how the SS has a deep 5/8” objective over the glass as a protective measure and sunshade. I like the infinite adjustability of the ocular. Takes a spell to get it right, but once you do – it’s amazing. The PST is faster to adjust, admittedly. The PST has no locking mechanism either, which is a detriment IMHO. All said and done, I won’t knock the PST because it’s a great option at $500. Still, comparatively…the SS is a better scope with better glass, better construction, and a much better reticle. Worth $300 more? Yes. The SS is in a different, and higher, tier than the PST.

Vortex Razor 1-4 HD:


Magnification1-4 x
Objective Lens Diameter24 mm
Eye Relief3.9 inches
Field of View94.5-24.2 feet/100 yards
Tube Size30 mm
Turret StyleTall Uncapped
Adjustment Graduation1/4 MOA
Max Elevation Adjustment200 MOA
Max Windage Adjustment200 MOA
Parallax Setting100 yards
Length10.3 inches
Weight20.2 ounces

In my opinion the Vortex Razor is the only Vortex optic that can truly be compared to the level of quality and finish I think is now owned by the SS 1-4 HD. This review will be brief. The glass quality rivals that of the SS in terms of noticeable brightness and impressive clarity. The construction of the Razor itself is also nice. Same bells and whistles as the PST, but more refined. The turrets are fatter than the SS and PST, and are real tight to the point where it’s a bitch to manipulate. Not a problem leaning over the gun but concentrating on a target at 4X will shift your FOV significantly. The Razor also has ¼ MOA adjustments, which I don’t personally care for.

As for the reticle, there is no comparison…as there’s nothing to compare! The EBR-556 confuses me. It’s invisible at 1X and too clustered for my liking at 4X. I think the Vortex had some great intentions with the EBR-556, but it’s lost on me. If one wanted a precision reticle in a 1X-4X scope, they should have kept it SFP and beefed up the horizontal and vertical stadia. Its too late though as SS beat them to the punch with their crosshair reticle option.

Even with the Razor’s level of quality which rivals the SS more so than the PST, I’d rather have a PST than a Razor. Still, I’d much rather have a SS than either!

Schmidt & Bender 1.1-4 Short Dot:


Magnification:1.1 - 4x
Field of view @ 100m: 10m - 32m
Exit pupil: 14mm - 5.5mm
Eye relief: min 85mm
Light transmission: min 85% day & night
Diopter setting: +2 to -3
Elevation increments: 1/2 MOA per click
Elevation range: 26 MOA
Windage increments: 1/2 MOA per click
Windage range: ±13 MOA

I have to admit, I was anticipating being blown away by the $2,000+ tactical superiority of the coveted S&B 1.1X-4X Short Dot. I’m not, at all. While the S&B boasts some significant advantages with its illumination and innovative turret construction, I find it grossly lacking in terms of glass quality and reticle design. I might get hung out to dry on this one by the general public, but having had the opportunity to mess around with the S&B – I don’t want one.

The turrets are cool though in that you lift them up to turn them. They’re on a spring system which automatically locks them into place. It has ½ MOA adjustments…which again, I don’t care for. Otherwise the construction is all that it should be. The S&B is certainly heavier than the other options too.

With all the smoke & mirrors out of the way, what you pay for in the Short Dot is daytime illumination akin to an Aimpoint. This particular aspect intrigued me so I spent some time with it. Stacked up to an Aimpoint H-1 at its highest setting, the S&B’s max brightness was one illumination below it. The SS’ illumination was one brightness setting below that. This is where I think the term "daylight practical" comes into play.

What’s that mean? It means the H-1 and S&B are daylight visible. The H-1 has an edge though with that extra setting which gets you a visible red dot in the event you’re aiming directly into the sun. The S&B is daylight visible under every venue. I’d like to think that bright sun beaten snow at high noon on a cloudless day is about as bright a background one could encounter. The SS blackens out under these circumstances but the bold reticle takes over and delivers a better contrasting design than the H-1 and S&B. For what it’s worth, I’d rather have a black reticle on bright backgrounds instead of experimenting with what will and what won’t wash out. The SS' reticle is a 24/7 design - which I personally deem invaluable.

I also noticed that at 1X magnification, the S&B’s reticle is essentially useless without the red dot. It’s too fine a FFP crosshair with a hollow frame to be of any practical use. You need the dot which means you need the battery. Not sure I like that dependency. Beyond the 1X issues, the glass quality is bluish and dull. I find the quality of glass compared to the SS to be … well, horrible. The crosshair thickness at 4X seems to lack the level of precision the SS has as well.

S&B and H-1 at full brightness:




So, in summary – the SS 1-4 HD has construction, glass, and reticle advantages that set it far ahead of every low power variable optic I’ve had the pleasure of evaluating. At $800, the scope is not only a superior scope, but it’s a great bargain. The SS doesn’t have to compete with any scope on the market. Other scopes have to compete with the SS.

For me…I have a 14.5” carbine with an Aimpoint, and a 16” with a SS 1-4 HD. It’s all I want and all I need. If I had to keep one of the two optics, I'd probably roll with the SS. With its unique FFP reticle design, high quality glass, and rugged features, it does everything the shooter could want. After perusing AR15.com for over 10 years, I’ve read and contributed to threads and endless discussion on what would constitute the perfect 1X-4X scope for the AR. Heck at one time a true 1X magnification level was a pipe dream! But here are in 2011…and SWFA hit the nail on the head with the introduction of the SS line of HD optics. It’s evolution in motion. I truly feel this scope is the best representation of over 10 years of industry feedback.

Hope this helps. If I missed anything or didn’t touch on a particular aspect, I apologize! Thanks for taking the time to read.
Too close for missles, I'm switching to guns.
357sig
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Posted: 4/9/2011 12:33:39 PM
[Last Edit: 4/9/2011 12:35:08 PM by 357sig]
Thanks for taking the time to write up and photograph that collection of scopes. It can be a lot of work to do something like that. It is the reason I give more creedence to what some knowledgeable contributors have to say on the gun websites than I do the Gun Magazines. It is your passion not your job. You are trying to get the word out rather than sell advertising. You give credit where credit is due and call a wart a wart when it's the truth. Good job man, I enjoyed it.

As you are aware I'm a big fan of the SWFA SS line, I own four of their scopes. I bought my first one about nine years ago and have bought other optics and accessories over the years because of their service and prices. When the SWFA SS 3-9X42 came out I was looking for a scope for a new M1A NM. I read the specs and saw the price and figured why not, the old 10X SS has been great. I was blown away when I got it. It was much better than I expected. That experience lead to another SS 3-9X42 when I got my LMT MWS. When the SWFA SS 1-4x24 HD came out I was not even in the market for a scope. I have a Colt M4 that has an Aimpoint that I have been happy with for years and a Colt A4 with a compact ACOG that served me well. After my first range trip I knew that the ACOG was going to get replaced and now with over 1000 rounds fired using the SS 1-4X24 HD I'm thinking the Aimpoint may be looking for a new home. Your post show that the combination of design, features and quality make the SWFA SS 1-4X24 HD the best choice regardless of price for a 5.56 rifle. It covers the need from CQB to the limits of the practical range of the cartridge in all lighting conditions. You can spend more, much more and get some very high quality scopes but the design lets you down at 1X, 4X or both. You can spend less but the optical quality is not there and again the are design problems. The design of the SWFA SS 1-4X24 shows some real "outside the box" thinking and is very innovative in what it offers. If people don't take the time to think about the total package they don't "get it". I still see posts that say " why do you need mildot and target turrets on a four power scope" or "the reticle is too thick" or "its foolish to have FFP on a 1-4 scope" but people are starting to "get it". At 700 yards the glass is good enough to work on this scope and the precision of a mildot with accurate .1 mil adjustments is warranted over the sloppiness of a Bullet Drop reticle. The boldness of the reticle gives brightness at 1X in the illuminated mode and attracts the eye in the non-illuminated mode yet gets out of the way in the 4X setting because of the FFP feature. People need to see that the FFP is not used to keep the accuracy of the mildot reading at all settings. Rather, it is used to "switch" between two, functionally very different reticles. Like the SWFA ad says "red dot" to Mildot in the same package. I have not used the scope at all set at 2X or 3X.

Thanks again Hokie.
Hokie
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Posted: 4/9/2011 12:53:52 PM
And thank you 357sig, I appreciate your words. I couldn't agree more and am grateful for the R&D you've contributed to help structually breakdown the advantages and inherent benefits of the SS line. This review has been both entertaining and educational for me. Hope it is for others. That's my goal anyway. I've extracted a wealth of knowledge from this site...and intend for these evaluations to pay it forward.

Now I need to start saving for a SS 3-9x42! I bet that is just as alluring.

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357sig
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Posted: 4/9/2011 1:59:51 PM

Originally Posted By Hokie:
And thank you 357sig, I appreciate your words. I couldn't agree more and am grateful for the R&D you've contributed to help structually breakdown the advantages and inherent benefits of the SS line. This review has been both entertaining and educational for me. Hope it is for others. That's my goal anyway. I've extracted a wealth of knowledge from this site...and intend for these evaluations to pay it forward.

Now I need to start saving for a SS 3-9x42! I bet that is just as alluring.


I guess education and entertainment is what a good gun-board is all about. It helps the new shooters learn and gives people a place to discuss the good, the bad and the ugly. It also helps the shooting industry and shooters by helping the shooting sorts grow.

Have you considered editing the post title to let people know you've updated it? Your last photos and commentary tell a great
deal about alot of optics.

Yes, the SS 3-9X42 is a great value. Excellent glass, rugged and precise.
urbankaos04
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Posted: 4/9/2011 4:44:11 PM
Thanks for the writer up, Hokie. I think I will be getting this optic for my REECE build which will be sporting a nitrided (salt bath) 16" mid-length Rock Creek 5R barrel with final finishing by CLE. My 2nd middy is a BCM which sports an Aimpoint PRO. These two rifles are all that I need and that SS scope, I think, will compliment that Rock Creek barrelled upper.
"We talk about fate as if it were something visited upon us; we forget that we create our fate every day we live."--Henry Miller
DonofKalifornia
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Posted: 4/9/2011 9:41:12 PM
Hokie great post, I really love the write up on the BSA it really made my day, reminds me of the old days of Dirt Bike magazine. I currently Have a Trijicon and it's biggest problem is the reticle I wish it had some ranging on it. I think it will be put on my 6.8 and I'll get the SS for my three gun rifle it's as close to perfect as I can find.
themagikbullet
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Posted: 4/10/2011 11:02:29 AM
Thanks for the review hokie. I've waited a long time to pull the trigger on a 1-4x optic and I'm thinking that this ss is the place to start.
If I had a gun for every ace I've drawn, I could arm a town the size of Abilene.
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