Sightron SIII SS 10-50x60 FT
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- Last updated: 19/11/2018
Field Target (FT) shooting seems to be evolving at an ever faster pace these days, and news of the expenditure currently necessary to stage a World Championships sounds truly astonishing. So, as the sport finds ever higher status and recognition, so the sophistication of the technology and hardware in use, moves on apace. In terms of scopes in use by the top shots, you are looking at big magnification as a prerequisite, to maximise parallax-based range finding, and that has seen ever more optical manufacturers throwing their hats in the ring and produce an all-out FT model.
One such brand that has now become well established in this highly competitive arena, is Sightron, and with a World title to their name, and a haul of silverware won with their products, they need little introduction. Top shot, John Costello, secured the biggest prize in the sport in 2013, using an SVSS 10-50X60 model, and on test here is the latest version of the later SIIISS model, again aimed fairly and squarely at dedicated FT shooters. This new SIIISS features a 30mm tube, (the old model was 34mm), and this is significant, as it helps slash the weight from a whopping 45oz to around 30oz! As for the full specification, the 10-50 denotes variable magnification between 10x and 50x, the ‘60’ refers to the front objective bell of 60mm. ‘IR’ stands for illuminated reticle, and ‘MOA’ to’ Minute of Angle’ values and the MOA2 reticle fitted.
Everything comes nicely cosseted in the carton too, including a 5” side wheel, large padded transit bag, and even a rubber, push-fit scope enhancer, which makes sense, given the fact that most shooters will have to source one anyway.
OK; time to get set-up, and the first stop is to check that the reticle looks super clear, and to make any adjustment with the fast focus ring at the rear, to bring in the reticle and target together if necessary. Next, it’s probably time to pull on the rubber lens enhancer and get it roughly in place, as it can be gently pulled around later for a fine setting. This is quite an awkward operation, and the rubber needs to be held at the right angle, so that the eye cup sits in the right place, whilst also trying not to unsettle the fast focus. The cup then needs to be pushed into place, far enough to set the correct eye relief. Of course, once it’s all set, that’s job done, but it isn’t a job for the impatient among us!
Now, it’s time to mount the scope, and I chose high, adjustable mounts from Sportsmatch, which allow for the scope to be effectively zeroed by the mounts. As mentioned before, the previous model had a 34mm tube, for a greater adjustment range, but whilst this new version is back on a 30mm tube, many FT shooters tend to use adjustable mounts, and almost zero the scope using them and not the turrets; so, it becomes an academic point. Zeroing using the mounts allows the mechanics to be ‘optically centred’ too, (left at the mid-point of their adjustment), which can be beneficial in terms of less stress on components. If you prefer a more conventional approach, then the new SIII has plenty of adjustment range in both windage and elevation. High 30mm ring mounts are needed though, to take that huge 60mm objective.
Side wheel comes next. Check the three small Allen-headed screws are slackened off enough, as this will prevent them from fouling the inner circle, push the wheel over the parallax knob on the left, until it’s fully on, and then gently tighten all three screws alternately like car wheel nuts. Don’t worry about the position of the wheel, as it comes supplied with no range markings. This makes perfect sense, as manufacturers markings rarely tie up with our varying eyesight.
Those high, crisply defined target turrets remind me of Leupold, which is of course high praise, and with screw caps and 1/8 MOA click values, they are highly usable too. Ultra-precise markings from 0 through to 9, with plenty of in between marks, are a great start. The turrets can also be reset as such; once the scope is zeroed, the turret cap bolt can then be slackened off, so the shooter can set 0 to show where they want. Re-tighten the screw and all is set. Turrets are also marked to show revolutions, which is vital in my book.
Moving to the reticle, I really like the MOA2 design, with a floating central dot and equidistant lines surrounding. Of course, with many shooters dialling in range, the reticle is less important, but for those who favour holdover, there’s an abundance of aim/reference points to experiment with. The central dot can be illuminated too, with 11 stages of brightness, adjustable via the rheostat knob just behind the magnification ring.
Sightron boast a highly technical process for the lenses in this scope and that means that they’re fully coated using their Zact-7 TM 7-layer process. Image quality from the Japanese glass is very impressive I must say, with no aberrations to report. On a side note, I found that rubber lens enhancer supplied, just a little too flexible, as it can occasionally bend out of alignment, which then partially obscures the perfect circular image. Not a deal breaker- but an irritation.
Of course, as usual with this style of FT scope, on super high mag, the field of view becomes very small, and just locating the target, especially under a time limit, can be tricky. Experience and familiarity of course help, but there is always the option of winding down the mag for initial target acquisition, then a quick wind up to max, to parallax range-find the distance.
On test, with the scope zeroed, my initial task was a quick confirmation of the turret tracking, dialling a set amount around a grid, where all came in fine. Minimum focus was then checked, and this came in at 12 yards for the record against 10 yards stated. My range was set up with targets set from 10 right out to the FT max of 55 yds, and of course, ascertaining the difference down range, between 45, 50 and 55yds is the final acid test.
Standard procedure when setting up an FT scope is to base findings over a few sessions, so the effects of tired eyes or a nervous twitch can be minimised. Initially, just make temporary range marks on the side wheel, and then when all reads consistently, change them to permanent. I used Tippex correction fluid, which easily scratches off, but tape is fine. Be consistent in the way the parallax wheel is used too.
Start at minimum distance, and slowly twist through. Go smoothly and gently past the point of perfect clarity, then return back to it. Mark off the distance on the wheel and repeat the process. Fine tune the markings as necessary. In short, use the wheel how you want but be consistent in your approach.
In use, this Sightron proved extremely consistent, and I could read distances, normally to within one to two yards. Lighting conditions and eyesight will affect performance on occasions of course. As for the side wheel movement, it feels super smooth, with the perfect amount of resistance. When you are ready for permanent markings, Rangesports make a neat set of distance stickers if you want an official look. Otherwise, paper, tape and paint will do the job.
So, quite a scope then. Forget the neoprene protective scope bag that comes in the box, since the Sightron will not fit back in it with an enhancer in place. This item, as already mentioned is also highly irritating. But these really amount to trivial details in the big scheme of things, as this Sightron has pedigree for good reason. Top class build quality and reassuringly impressive performance on test. Further peace of mind comes in the knowledge that it’s also fog and shockproof, and let’s not forget Sightron’s Limited Lifetime Warranty. So, if you’re looking to invest in a piece of high-grade FT glassware, the SIII SS 10-50X60 FT IRMOA comes highly recommended as a top contender with hard won pedigree.
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