Hawke Vantage 3-9x40 AO Mil-Dot
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- Last updated: 07/11/2023
It still amazes me that in a market where you can easily pay several thousand pounds for optics at the top end of the range, such amazing bargains exist slightly lower down the scale. Like so many other areas of life though, it all comes down to priorities and specific applications. Scopes are available right across the price spectrum, and at a time when many are feeling strapped for cash and squeezed financially, it’s comforting to know that your latest acquisition doesn’t have to empty the bank account.
Hawke Optics now offers a large selection of models across several price sectors, and many of these are aimed at shooters who want value for money, as well as a host of modern features. On test here then is the Hawke Vantage 3-9x40 AO Mil-Dot, which falls squarely into the latter category, and when you consider that it currently retails for just £99, it is, on the face of it, amazing value for money.
Open the box and take it out of the packaging, and one’s first impressions are of a smart, well-finished product, that certainly looks the part, and definitely belies its low asking price! That matte black non-reflective finish to the 1” body tube keeps things practical for any hunting scenario, and the low-profile turrets with screw caps are again highly practical and make a refreshing change from overly bulky target turrets.
This Vantage offers one of the most popular scope specifications of 3-9x40, and the AO in the name denotes an ‘Adjustable Objective’. The trend for side-wheel focusing is all very well, but it doesn’t always make sense. The primary use is arguably Field Target shooting, and in this scenario, being able to (parallax) range find by dialling the side turret (all whilst in the aim) is now a pre-requisite. FT shooters use ultra-high magnification, and the shallow depth of field accentuates the difference in target distances. In addition, the side wheel makes the process more accurate by increasing the gap between marked distances on the wheel. With the lower magnification on offer here with the Vantage (9x max), parallax range finding is irrelevant, so side-wheel mounting is therefore unnecessary. Okay, we’ve cleared that one up.
Hawke tends to deliver its new scopes with the fast-focus dioptre at the rear wound right in, and the magnification wound round to minimum. I tend to do most of my shooting on 9x, so this scope’s spec suits me perfectly, but being able to quickly dial down to 3x, where you see everything, is handy of course. Winding up the magnification to maximum using the ridged, high torque zoom ring proved smooth in operation, yet still with plenty of resistance. From here, as usual, the next task is to get the reticle sharply in focus, by gently twisting the ocular dioptre. With this all set, it’s time to hit the range.
Twisting the front parallax collar is another smooth operation, again with just the right amount of resistance. In other words, it won’t easily move out of its setting. The minimum marked-up distance on the dial is 30ft, then 50ft, 25 yards, 50, 75, 100, 200, 300, and infinity. All Vantage models feature Hawke’s H2 class glass lenses, and these are 11-layer, fully multi-coated.
That’s the sales blurb over, but in the real world, all I can say is that the image quality, edge-to-edge clarity, sharpness, and vibrancy are genuinely damn good.
Setting the objective bell for parallax correction on the test, showed that personal eyesight may well play a part in this. I started at my initial test range of 25 yards, and when I had adjusted the Vantage for pin-sharp clarity, the dial read 50ft. So, some way out, but not uncommon. If you do want to use the dial as a reference, it may well pay to add some tape and a personal scale of distances. That said, real-world use will probably see the user simply adjust the dial for middle-range clarity, and then leave it well alone. This isn’t an FT scope after all, and with a maximum mag of 9x, there’s a usable level of blur when viewing targets from 8 to 45 yards, when the AO parallax dial is set to 25 yards (actual distance).
Unscrew the low-profile turret caps and underneath there are finger-friendly twistable dials, with 1 MOA click values. The clicks are super-positive and properly audible, which is all reassuring. Unusually though, there are no numbers on the dials, but that said, with this spec of scope, the turrets will be zeroed, then covered and ignored. Zeroing and then checking and re-tracking movement proved the turret mechanism was all in order.
The Mil-Dot reticle shows four Mil-Dots in each quadrant, equidistant, so there are plenty of reference points for both windage and elevation. The proportions are highly usable too, with each gap bracketing a 20mm kill zone at 25 yards, when viewed on 9x, measured between the crosshair and just under the dot above. As for the diagram overall, this is a slightly thicker, bolder design than Hawke’s AMX designs, and as such, is less prone to being lost in dark foliage, when viewing up into trees. There’s no illumination, but for those who insist on that, there’s a corresponding model, roughly £35 more, in the Vantage IR range.
Overall, this scope is a great little performer, and with all the usual assurances – fog-proof, waterproof, shockproof, ‘all calibre rated’ – and Hawke’s No-Fault Lifetime Warranty, it’s hard to fault as a starter optic or all-round budget option.