The Tracker - Webley & Scott
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- Last updated: 21/12/2018
The name Shilba may not be well known to UK shooters; it wasn’t to me, to be honest. However, when I did get to know about them I was mightily impressed. They are an optics company which hails from, of all places, South America, Argentina to be precise. The company began in 1975, to answer the need at the time for a scope that hunters could use to control the massive issue of hares that the country had. They were breeding at an alarming rate and threatening the crop yields to such an extent that they had to be controlled by shooting them. .22 rimfires were the weapon of choice and the hunters soon realised that the small, agile prey needed better optics than those readily available in the country. Shilba scopes were founded and they went to the then home of quality optics, Japan; they found a factory near Osaka with the same shooting vision as themselves and high-quality optics. They began to import and Shilba were an instant hit.
The first two basic 4x32 and 4x40 scopes for hare culling were an immediate success and the first batch of 2000 units was sold out in less than 60-days, purely through word of mouth, such was the optical quality at a very reasonable price. Roll forward to 1981 and the founders of Shilba scopes retired, they sold the thriving company to the current owners who expanded the range and still push forward now with new developments.
I was introduced to Shilba by my old friend Dave Mills, he had the foresight to begin importing Shilbas into the U.K. Dave knows his optics, he is a well renowned trainer in airgun use, airgun safety and runs courses for Pest Controllers, as well as being an FT shooter back in the day. He sent me two Shilba scopes to have a look at; the 1.5-6x42 and the 3-12x56. A good contrast of scope specifications to review. From the outset of opening the boxes, I could feel the Japanese build level and its design quality. Both scopes are 30mm tube bodied, this mere 5mm increase in tube size influences the low light performance of any scope, there is more light available to fall on the reticle, simple really. For the ultimate strength, they are one-piece tubes of high-grade aircraft aluminium. Both have a matt black finish, which makes them ideal hunting scopes, cutting down on reflections that spook your quarry. The reticles in the two Shilba scopes are interesting too, both have a central illuminated red/green dot, this runs and a 3v 2032 battery held in the cap for the brightness adjustment. This is again geared at hunting, in low light levels such as dawn or dusk or shooting in dense woodland the red dot will be worth its weight in gold, funny that they call the hunting range their Gold Medal series.
Shilba call the reticle design the IGR4 reticle, it is very sharp and clear, I found out later that’s due to them being etched on glass reticles, so they will never break. The IGR4 is based upon the very popular in Europe number 4 reticle; in fact, Spain are one of the biggest importers of the Shilba range of scopes with the IRG4 reticle. It is a pure hunting reticle really and the Gold Medal series, which the two test scopes come from, are Shilba’s hunting range of scopes.
Parallax is set at 100m for both of these scopes. They are robust and fully waterproof, being nitrogen filled, the lenses too have multiple coatings, to ensure clarity and high performance. Shilba do make pure target style scopes, right out to an 8-32x56 Field Target scope with side-wheel parallax adjustment. Both the scopes on test have low profile turrets, with ¼ inch adjustment at 100-yards per click on the 3-12x56 and ½-inch per 100-yards click on the 1.5-6x42. The adjustment is easy, as the turrets are finger friendly, with a ribbed rim to get hold of, dust covers hide the turrets from view or damage.
The rheostat for the illuminated reticle is on the lefthand side, with a slotted cover over the battery compartment. They have five brightness settings and either a red or green dot. Green dots being the best in my humble opinion for hunting scopes. The lens covers provided by Shilba are classy also; see-through clear at the front and a yellow filter at the back, they even give you a micro fibre lens cloth.
Shilba scopes have fantastic optical quality and at a very affordable price. They can be used on any type of rifle, from airguns, through rimfires to full-bore 1000-yard rifles. I fancied the 1.5-6x42 for an air rifle of mine. Have a good look at the whole Shilba range, I’m sure you’ll find a scope to suit your needs and very possibly improve your shooting experience.
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