Aztec Optics Emerald Scope
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- Last updated: 20/07/2020
It’s undoubtedly a competitive market out there, so manufacturers that raise their game, and continue to offer the end-user well-researched products can gain the recognition and market share they deserve. Aztec Optics are a USA-based operation, and whilst still a relatively new name in the field, they certainly hit the ground running with their early models a few years back. On show here is one of their latest offerings, the Aztec Emerald 5.5-25x50 FFP, and to quote their marketing line, it’s designed in the USA, ‘by airgunners, for airgunners, using input from specialists in the field’. Airguns of Arizona are part of the design team involved, and when I tested one of their earlier models a few years back I remember being impressed from the off.
This latest model is being made available in the UK by main distributors Gilbert Distribution, and the key feature is that it comes specified First Focal Plane (FFP). This scope is particularly well-presented in a highly padded, attractive carton. Inside you’ll find elasticated lens caps and flip-up lens caps, a screw on sunshade, four-inch parallax side wheel, cleaning cloth, and battery, so everything to get started bar the mounts. When you do purchase these, they’ll need to be specified as 30mm to take the larger body tube.
Get this sizeable scope out the box, and it has an air of quality. Everything has a refined feel, and the matt black finish and knurled magnification collar add a distinctive classy look. I started by slowly twisting the fast focus ring at the rear to get the reticle crisp, and this was stiff to twist, reassuringly though, given that it is normally set at the beginning then left alone.
Minimum parallax distance is marked up as 10-yards, and whilst this scope on test easily focused down to that distance, usual difference in eyesight means that, for me, the dial had been turned below the 10- yard setting when absolute clarity was achieved at this measured distance. Is this important? Not at all. It just means that if range settings are deemed critical to read, then some home markings may need to be added, in line with many scopes on the market. As it stands, the left dial is marked up 10-yards, then 15, 20, 25, 30, then 40, 50, 75, 100, 150, 300, then infinity.
Side wheels are most popular on the Field Target scene, where they are used to slowly turn the left-hand parallax dial, bring the target into focus, then read off the range. The idea is that the wheel extends out the range markings, making it easier to differentiate between the longer targets, especially 50- and 55-yards. That said, the top magnification of 25x with this Aztec is a little low for FT, so the necessity for the wheel is not so great. Again, the parallax dial on my test model was quite stiff, so the wheel would make adjustment easier. Either way, fitting the wheel is a simple push fit, and then one grub screw to be tightened. Sensibly, there are no range markings on the wheel, so the shooter is left to add them in, to suit personal eyesight.
Turrets are ¼ MOA adjustment, push/pull lockable style, and are sensible in size. The rheostat and battery compartment on the left adds width, but not overly so. The turrets are very clearly marked, and clicks are audible and feel precise. In addition, once zero is achieved, the caps can be removed via the top slot, then set to sit at ‘o’, and re-tightened. Adjusting the turrets and zeroing on test was quick precise and easily achieved.
There’s a sunshade as mentioned, (ever popular on the HFT scene these days to maximise image) which is a simple screw fit once the trim rim is removed, so most tastes are catered for. Image quality is genuinely impressive, with excellent edge-to-edge clarity, but I would have to qualify this, with: ‘when shot on 7x magnification upwards’. Dial down to 5.5 x, and there is some shadowing. I don’t see many shooters wanted to use such a low mag in any case, so no great shakes, but something I have to point out.
The DYND-1 FFP reticle is a slick design and with the FFP system those aim points and reference markers all stay in proportion as the magnification is increased, so aim points stay the same when using holdover and the lower stadia, irrespective of magnification selected. It’s a pleasingly precise reticle too, and I particularly like the fine floating centre dot, which allows for maximum target visibility and ultraprecise shot placement.
Dialling down to between 8x-10x, the size of mag deemed most suitable for HFT competition, the reticle is very fine, and here the thick outer German-style posts come in really handy. Our reticle diagram doesn’t show the thick outer posts, but these really help to guide the eye when viewing up into dark tree foliage, for example. These posts are top, bottom and sides, yet dial up to at least 20x mag and the lower thick post then disappears. On the full 25x mag there is still a small bold pointer at the top and each side, so again target reticle acquisition is assisted when required. Lose the fine centre, use the thick outer to track in.
A pyramid of progressive windage dots is another really handy feature, and a level of detail that many rival offerings lack. Yes, they may be a little fine, but they may just save the day in the heat of competition. For fans of illuminated reticles, this scope offers five brightness levels on the rheostat control on the left, in either green or red. The entire fine reticle diagram illuminates too, bringing further versatility, and another tool against poor light.
I liked the Aztec brand when I first handled one, and this latest Emerald 5.5-25x50 FFP has lost none of the allure. A great hunting scope, and one that could double up for HFT duty too. It has a quality feel, it’s robust enough for rimfires according to the manufacturers, and with all the usual assurances, fog-proof, waterproof, and shock-proof, as well as Aztec’s Limited Lifetime Guarantee, it seems a fair investment at £549, including the accessories. £16 gets you next day delivery from the importers, and a whole lot of scope into the bargain.