May 14th, 2008

FIRST LOOK: Sightron 8-32×56 Scope

Just this week, Sightron sent us one of the new Sightron SIII 8-32×56 LR D rifle scopes for evaluation. This new optic features a 30mm main tube and weighs 24.7 ounces. Clicks are set in 1/4-MOA increments. The reticle is a fine cross hair with 1/4-MOA dot. The scope comes with a 3″ sunshade, turret covers, and rubber-connected, see-thru lens caps. Jason Baney had a chance to test the scope and give his initial impressions of its optical qualities. We will follow this “First Look” report with more extensive testing of the scope’s mechanical tracking and long-range resolution.

Overall, Jason was extremely impressed with the new scope. It was very bright, with excellent color rendition and contrast. The image remained bright and sharp out all the way out to the edges, with no shadowing or distortion. Compared to a Nightforce 12-42×56 BR scope set at 32-power, Jason thought the Sightron had better contrast and more vivid colors. Jason concluded: “At this point, the new Sightron seems like a good value, and compares well with the Nightforce BR model.”

Parallax and Focus
Importantly, the Sightron’s parallax control worked perfectly. There was no lash issue and Jason was able to attain minimal parallax with the target at maximum sharpness. With some other scopes, if you set the scope to have the target in best focus, you’ll still have too much parallax.

Elevation and Windage
This is a scope you can use to 1000 yards. Jason ran the adjustments top to bottom and recorded 75 MOA of both Elevation and Windage, based on the stated 1/4-MOA click Value. (That’s 75 total MOA available from one extreme to the other.) The target knobs have 15 MOA per turn and operate VERY smoothly and positively. Jason said the clicks “feel similar to Nightforce NXS clicks, but the Sightron clicks engage with a slightly softer feel, with less resistance.”

Resolution Tests
Jason used two resolution charts, the USAF 1951 Optical Chart, and a line-width/text size chart. To judge resolution, Jason did a comparison test of the new Sightron 8-32×56 and a Nightforce 12-42×56 BR, with both scopes set at 32x with their sunshade attached. Jason looked through both scopes at the resolution test targets at 100 yards, and then at target frames, grass, and flowers at 300 yards. Viewing was done late in the day, with some shadows on the range. Keep in mind these were less than ideal conditions for viewing.

The test charts have incrementally smaller focus lines and text. Both scopes were able to resolve down to the same line/text level on the two resolution charts. The new Sightron showed comparable, but VERY slightly less resolution than the NF. Both could identify the same size of text, but the NF saw it just a bit more crisply. Jason reports: “I could go to the same resolution level with both scopes, but the last line was just a touch more crisp with the Nightforce. Still, the Sightron is very close in resolution.”

Contrast and Color Fidelity
The Sightron was the winner in this category. In fading light, the Sightron delivered better contrast. Green, yellow, red, and white colors showed more differentiation and all the colors were more vivid. Weathered target backer boards also showed more contrast through the Sightron. Jason checked this several times nearing dusk, and the Sightron always seemed more vivid and showed more contrast looking at a patch of grass and colored vegetation. In terms of color temp, the Nightforce has a more whitish tone, whereas the Sightron seemed “warmer” with more vivid colors.

Brightness/Light Transmission
Along with its superior color and contrast, the Sightron seemed to be consistently brighter through the fading light. We note, however, that manufacturers’ published light transmission factors are nearly identical for the Sightron 8-32 and the Nightforce 12-42. The greater brightness of the Sightron is Jason’s subjective perception, but he said “the Sightron definitely seemed brighter.”

View to Edge
With many zoom scopes, at high magnification, the center of the “circle of light” is bright and sharp, but the edges are faded or shadowy. The brightness attenuates (fades out) on the edges. In addition, you sometimes see some image distortion or focus loss at the edges. The Sightron showed none of these issues. At SHOT show, this editor looked through a prototype 8-32 Sightron and it was bright and sharp all the way out to the edges. Jason observed the same thing: “The Sightron was noticeably clear edge to edge, where the Nightforce showed some fading or darkening at the edges. This point was quite surprising to me.” Jason also noted that the Sightron had about a 3-4″ wider field of view at 100 yards.

Fringe Effect with Highly Reflective Subjects
With the Sightron, when looking at extremely bright, reflective objects, such as a car’s chrome trim, Jason did observe some minor fringing–what he called a “thin halo”. This also appeared around the edge of a white target paper viewed in bright light. A through-the-lens photo appeared to show edging colors (purple fringe), so this may be Chromatic Aberration*. It wasn’t a major issue and it did not affect the sharpness or contrast of the viewed object itself. This was visible only on the periphery of very bright objects.

Conclusion–Impressive Optics for $825.00
We only were able to comparison-test one sample of each scope, Sightron vs. Nightforce. As noted, the performance was very close, and it is possible that different samples might perform slightly better or worse in each optical category. In this test the Nightforce had a very slight edge in resolution, while the Sightron was brighter. We plan to do more testing, with bullet-hole targets set at long ranges. That should give us a better sense of how the Sightron can resolve bullet holes and target lines out past 300 yards. Jason will also do a box-test to check the tracking and repeatability of the Sightron. Based on what we’ve seen so far, however, the Sightron, with a “street price” of about $825.00, is a very good value. Jason concludes: “Given the 8-32 Sightron’s price point, I’d say most people will feel it is a great scope for the money.”

*Chromatic aberration occurs in a riflescope when white light, bent by the objective lens, separates into different colors (wavelengths), each color bending at a slightly different angle. When that occurs, the colors don’t focus at the same point. This most often appears as a deep blue/purple or yellow edge on the image, particularly straight black and white edges.

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May 14th, 2008

NRA National Meeting May 16-20

From May 16-20, the National Rifle Association will hold its NRA Annual Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky. Scheduled events include the Members Meeting, NRA Foundation Banquet, Sportsmen’s Luncheon and Auction, plus a free concert. Many leading firearms manufacturers will also have products on display at the Kentucky Expo Center. In addition, major private collections will be displayed by NRA-affiliated gun collector clubs. Hunting Guides and Outfitters be featured in an exclusive outfitter section.

CLICK HERE for Schedule of Events

Throughout the 3-day event, there will be Special Seminars, including an African Hunting Seminar, Reloading Seminar, and a full, day-long Firearms Law Seminar with officials from the FBI, Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, and Kentucky Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice Will Scott. The Seminars take place at the Kentucky Exposition Center, 937 Phillips Lane, which is also the site of all Exhibits. The Foundation Dinner and NRA Celebration of American Values Banquet will be at the Kentucky International Convention Center (221 Fourth Street).

Live Radio Coverage Offered
“Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk”, will broadcast live from the NRA Annual Meeting, Sunday, May 18. The 3-hour radio program will feature appearances by spokespeople from the NRA, the NSSF, and leading firearms companies.

“Gun Talk” will air from 2:00pm until 5:00pm Eastern time, and from 8:00pm til 11:00pm Eastern on XM Satellite Channel 166. “Folks who miss the live broadcast,” said Gresham, “can always download the show from www.guntalk.com.”

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