by Rob Kay and RN Price
The SIII 1-7x24mm is one of the newest offerings from Sightron, the Youngsville, North Carolina company that got its start in 1994. Sightron resides squarely in the middle of the price range spectrum. They have traditionally offered value for the dollar by providing high quality (Japanese made) optics in a robust platform. One of the company’s proprietary claims to fame is owning a patent on ExacTrack Windage and Elevation Adjustment System, which provides accurate and repeatable adjustments.
If you do a little homework and peruse the postings on forums, most Sightron customers seem satisfied. Sightron scopes have a reputation of being durable and dependable. The guys we know who have purchased Sightron gear in Hawaii had good things to say about the brand.
The SIII series, which includes the higher Sightron products, are manufactured in a one-piece tube configuration, from high quality aircraft aluminum. The manufacturer states that tube thickness is more than twice that of one inch models and provides tremendous rigidity. The SIII series are fogproof, shockproof and waterproof. What’s more, the company offers a lifetime warranty.
Indeed when we opened the box of our evaluation model, we were impressed with quality of the finish. This particular model is noticeably longer than a typical 1-6 scope but at 20oz, it is really pretty light. (Compare that to the Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24 mm which is over 23 oz).
What were we hoping to get in the Sightron SIII 1-7x24mm IRMOA?
Naturally we wanted it all.
First and foremost we wanted a tactical style scope for an AR rifle that had at least a 6x magnification and was configured in a 30 mm tube. We weren’t planning on 3-gun competition, although this scope could do very well in that department. (More on that later). Our needs were perhaps more prosaic. We wanted a scope that could help middle-aged eyes get a decent grouping at 100 or even 200 yards and help us whack an 11-inch gong on the slopes of Kokohead crater, at 440 yards.
We also wanted to evaluate the feasibility of using this scope to hunt pigs on the Big Island or, Molokai. We wanted something sturdy that could handle bumping around the lower slopes of Mauna Kea and of course we wanted to keep the price reasonable—under $1000.
Got all that?
Just because we weren’t going to participate in three-gun competition it didn’t mean that we weren’t interested in at least providing a cursory evaluation for our readers in this department. A number of manufacturers offer mid-priced low variable magnification tactical style scopes specifically with this in mind, but too many share the same unfortunate idiosyncrasy: At very low magnification, you’re almost guaranteed to get some optical distortion.
The effect is magnified (no pun intended) when you pan these scopes. Thus, you need to get past low magnification for the scopes to function properly. Whereas this is a more an issue or concern for competition, it’s conceivably a distraction on a
The good news is with this Sightron scope, at 1x magnification you can pan till the piggies come home and you’ll not get distortion. The optics on this scope are clear from edge to edge. Call me an elitist, but average person would be hard pressed to see that much difference between this scope and one costing double the price.
Even at very close range, you’ll get a sharp focus. At 7x, your target is going to be very clear. We could get a great sight picture of the 440 yard gong, even with the afternoon shadows on the slopes of Kokohead.
That brings us to the next subject.
Sightron has an aim point smack in the middle of the mil dot reticle which can be illuminated red or green depending on your mood or predilection. It’s particularly useful in low light situations. The brightness of the dot however dims to nothing when you enter the bright sunlight and transforms into a black dot.Another noteworthy aspect is that the intensity of the dot is self diming. Thus in bright light illuminated dot diminishes or disappears and you get a black ”punctuation mark”.
Move back to low light and the black dot becomes illuminated point of light.
Makes sense. You usually don’t need or want a brightly lit reticle in the daylight—unless perhaps you’re used to the “Trijicon” type fiber optic effect where the reticle is nominally bright in sunlight. Having the capability to aim at a gong shrouded in shadows or the shoulder of a pig on a dusky hillside makes a lot of sense.
This is a feature that makes the Sightron shine.
You can however adjust the intensity for low light situations at 11 levels with the press of a button. In fact there are four buttons that control the “lighting”—an on/off switch, a red/green button, and two (+/-) switches for the intensity. We added the battery from the get go but it quickly died. A quick trip down to Long’s drug store and we purchased a new one for under $2.
We liked the simple, uncluttered reticle a lot. That said, this isn’t a scope that you’ll use for precision target shooting because the size of the aimpoint can sometimes blanket the actual bullseye. It didn’t prevent us from getting some sub moa groups on a Barnes Precision upper at 100 yards but it took some serious concentration. (What a concept!)
The Sightron has the luxury of 3.9-4.8 inches of eye relief, which is light years more than the last scope we reviewed, the Trijicon ACOG TA31F (which has only 1.5 inches).
The field of view, compared to other scopes was on the narrow side. No one else makes a 1×7 variable that we’re aware of but we were able to compare to a couple of scopes that we have on hand—a fixed focus 6x Trijicon and a 1×4 Trijicon variable. Maybe this wasn’t completely fair (apples and oranges) but at least it gave us a perspective. In both instances when we adjusted for 6x and 4x respectively, the Sightron’s FOV was about 20% less than the others.
The turrets, the center piece of Sightron’s exact trac technology, have a positive, crisp feel and are marked in mils or .3 MOA per click. They provide an adjustment range of 50 mils per revolution, equivalent to 18 MOA. They have a cool feature–to zero the knobs, you just pull up to disengage the cover, zero and push back down, sans tools. Additionally, the system has 100 minutes of elevation adjustment, most likely more than you’ll ever require.
If you plan to hit the range, get in some hunting or even compete in 3-gun shooting, this scope will get the job done. It’s sturdy, has excellent optics and with a lifetime warranty, what’s not to like?
Price on Amazon is $800 but you may be able to buy it for less if you surf the web.
Photos courtesy of On Target staff.
Questions? Comments? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org