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Top Ten Field Target Scopes

Field Target (FT) shooting has transformed out of all recognition, into the flagship sport we see today. Today’s enthusiasts come bristling with technology. Pin accurate, match standard pneumatics rule in this hi-tech world; yet specialised telescopic sights have become ever more sophisticated, and necessary, if good scores are to be achieved.

Where FT differs from other disciplines is in the fact that shooters are allowed to use the scope to rangefind. This is done by adjusting the parallax until the image becomes clear. The range is then read off at the point where absolute clarity is achieved. High magnification is favoured, since it creates a shallow depth of field, and accentuates the difference between distances. For example, the image may snap in sharp at 45yds, yet become blurred just a couple of yards after. Top exponents can regularly read ranges to within a yard or so, and the ability to do so is now all part of the sport.

  • Hawke Sidewinder 30IR 8-32X56 SF

    Hawke Sidewinder 30IR 8-32X56 SF

    Price: £389 Deben Group; www.hawkeoptics.com
    Hawke Sport Optics has catered for both the firearms and airgun markets for years now. With stiff competition out there, the Sidewinder package is fairly generous too, and whilst you’ll have to source your own mounts, there are a few goodies thrown in. Though seemingly low, its 32x magnification is still usable, and plenty to optimise the parallax range finding facility. Sunshade, large sidewheel and screw-in lens covers, are all included in the price. Chunky target turrets come fitted as standard, and with the popular push-pull lockable design, there’s no need to stop the action to find a screwdriver/coin. Image wise, set on 32x, the Sidewinder compares quite favourably with rivals and includes an illuminated reticle, with a choice of red or green. But don’t forget the free dedicated software available on-line, via Hawke’s Ballistic Reticle Calculator. Several options exist where the reticle is concerned, and whether you opt for the SR Pro design or ½ Mil Dot pattern, the fact that it’s glass etched means robustness is built in. At £389, this Sidewinder is very competitively priced, and well worth considering, especially as an entry level optic!
    Pros
    Good quality glass for reasonable outlay
    Cons
    Magnification low compared to some competition
    Verdict
    A great starter/entry level scope for FT

  • Kahles 10-50X56 FT

    Kahles 10-50X56 FT

    Price: £2599 RUAG Ammotec: www.ruag.co.uk www.kahles.at
    Top British FT shooter, Matt Hirst, had a hand in the design and development of this dedicated FT scope, and it certainly comes with an interesting specification. Most notable is that top-mounted, 125mm parallax adjustment wheel, and whilst it means it may have to be taken off for storage in a gun case, there’s no doubting its slick handling in the heat of battle. This model has a 30mm body tube, and weighs 37.1oz. Parallax is from 9 to 65yds, and an MHR reticle is also incorporated. 1/8 MOA turrets are utilised, and all adjustments are smooth in operation, and nicely damped. Image quality is excellent, with an impressively shallow depth of field, whilst build quality is also spot on, as you would of course expect, given the RRPs.
    Pros
    A dedicated FT model, designed from scratch
    CON
    Sunted wheel can be awkward in a gun case
    Verdict
    An impressive piece of engineering

  • Leupold Competition 45-45

    Leupold Competition 45-45

    Price: £1695 Viking Arms, www.vikingarms.com
    Leupold’s old EFR models used to be popular in FT, but if it’s big mag you want, then it really comes down to the Competition series these days. This range is available in 35, 40 and 45x, and come with a 45mm objective. Unusually in FT, this scope has a fixed power/magnification, but whilst this may seem less versatile, the simplicity does make for a technically stable optic. Parallax adjustment allows for 10yds through to infinity, and it all works well in use. It’s light weight too. The 30mm aluminium tube gets the usual Leupold build quality, yet still weighs less than 21oz. The slim line, streamlined simplicity is what appeals with this model, and image quality is nothing short of excellent. The parallax wheel is extremely smooth in use, and targets snap in and out with reassuring accuracy. There is a choice of reticle, with standard options being a target crosshair, or the 1/8th dot crosshair.
    Pros
    Leupold quality speaks for itself
    Cons
    Fixed power mag, so less versatile
    Verdict
    Leupold has an army of fans, and for good reason

  • March X 8-80X56

    March X 8-80X56

    Price: £2553-£3037 March Scopes, www.marchscopes.co.uk
    Built by Deon in Japan, it offers an incredible magnification of 80x. The glassware that sits at the heart of this scope holds the key. Image quality, reliability, consistency of parallax and range readings, irrespective of temperature, are apparently all spot-on! The scope comes with their MTR-FT reticle, which a top FT shooter had a hand in designing. It has half and full disc (40mm) hash spacing at exactly 50yds. You can use the reticle to bracket the kill zone with x20, 40 and 80 magnification settings. The vertical post below the cross hair has marks which are useful for 8, 9 and 10yrd targets and can be used as reference aim points instead of dialling the turret. Not cheap but very impressive and one for experienced and serious competitors for sure!
    Pros
    Astounding build quality
    Cons
    We’re talking serious money
    Verdict
    A proven winner, but at a price

  • MTC Viper Pro 5-30X50

    MTC Viper Pro 5-30X50

    Price: £398 guide MTC Optics; www.mtcoptics.com
    MTC Optics has a reputation for good all round kit, and the Viper Pro is an interesting option, with an array of features. Magnification is variable from 5 to 30x, and with lens covers all included, this scope comes well appointed. Those covers are unusual too, since they are magnetic, rotational, and the rear one features a magnifying window, through which the turret markings can easily be read. Parallax adjustment is via the large, factory marked side-wheel, but perhaps the most novel feature is the elevation turret! This incorporates a system, whereby the user can prepare their own range markings on a strip of paper, and insert inside the turret, to appear in the small window. Instructions on how to set this up are all freely available, and I can see it being especially appealing to newcomers to the sport.
    Pros
    A robust scope with some novel features
    Cons
    30x magnification is still low compared to top end rivals
    Verdict
    Another great starter/entry level scope for FT

  • Nikko Stirling Diamond Sportsman 10-50X60 SD

    Nikko Stirling Diamond Sportsman 10-50X60 SD

    Price: £979-£1073, www.highlandoutdoors.co.uk
    With factory improvements coming in since winning the World Field Target title a few years back, Nikko Stirling is not resting on its laurels. Re-jigged internals, including an additional lens, have improved resolution and image clarity. In addition, elevation adjustment has also been increased by 25%. Multi-coated Japanese lenses coupled with the larger, and increasingly popular 30mm body tube, increase light transmission. These scopes can be supplied with Mil Dot or NATO- style reticles, along with a detachable, over-sized side wheel for precise parallax focus/correction; thus everything is in place for the most demanding of competitors. Top shots such as Andy Calpin and Kevin Sayers have proven that these Nikkos are well up to task in the right hands.
    Pros
    The ‘Big Nikkos’ have earned themselves an enviable reputation on the FT circuit
    Cons
    Considerable weight is added to any combination
    Verdict
    A proven winner, and relatively good value for money

  • Sightron SIII 10-50X60

    Sightron SIII 10-50X60

    Price: £1375 Optics Warehouse, www.opticswarehouse.co.uk
    Sightron is a premium brand that has built up an enviable reputation in outdoor airgun competition in the UK and beyond, and part of the reason lies in their excellent build quality. All Sightron SIII series scopes feature what the manufacturer calls ZACT-7, which is a seven layer multi coating, applied to the precision ground lenses. A 30mm body tube constructed from aircraft grade aluminium also features, along with their Exac Track windage and elevation adjustment system. If a lifetime warranty doesn’t impress, or the usual list of fog, shock, and waterproof, then how about the fact that last year’s World Field Target Champion, John Costello, used one of these models in Germany, to lift the title? John’s a great shot of course, but as always, the kit has to be up to scratch.
    Pros
    Superb quality, yet mid-priced compared to some rivals
    Cons
    Still no budget option at this price
    Verdict
    An excellent scope with a proven track record

  • Schmidt & Bender 12.5-50X56 FTII

    Schmidt & Bender 12.5-50X56 FTII

    Price: £2945 Sportsman Gun Centre; www.sportsmanguncentre.com
    Specifically designed for FT competition means that this 34mm bodied model comes with parallax adjustment from 10 to 60m. S&B claims that this model offers some of the highest light transmission values of any riflescope and one look through the glass seems to confirm as much. Magnification runs from 12.5 to 50x, and with FT shooters these days exploiting the shallow depth of field allows more accurate range finding, this specification is proving highly popular. Turret adjustments are in 1/8 MOA, or ¼” @ 100yds and interestingly, can be ordered in the 1st or 2nd focal plane. An illuminated Mil Dot reticle (11 brightness levels) is also available, along with a selection of alternative designs; all adding to the service offered at this level. The light grey, hard anodised ‘titanium’ finish is designed to resist heating from sunlight, which let’s face it, can only help on a baking hot day. A 130mm side wheel offers accurate range finding, whilst superb resolution and clarity are everything we have come to expect from this world renowned company.
    Pros
    Superior build quality from S&B
    Cons
    At 2.8lbs in weight, it can affect overall balance
    Verdict
    Quality comes at a price, but try first

  • Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60X52 HD

    Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60X52 HD

    Price: £1666 www.vortexoptics.com for nearest retailer
    This model is fairly new from the Vortex stable, but carries a good specification, well suited to Field Target shooting. As standard, it does come with a minimum parallax range of 15yds, but if this seems irritating, then there is always the option of a Leopold 50 foot adaptor, which we used to use on pre- EFR models in the early days of FT. This should get it down to 10yds! To confirm the spec, you’re getting variable magnification from 15 – 60x, and an unusual 52mm objective lens. Body tube is 30mm, it weighs 30.1oz, and the turrets are 1/8 MOA. There’s a choice of two reticles at the moment; the SCR, which features a plain fine cross, and the ECR, which has further graduations in the design. Overall then, the Golden Eagle represents an exciting entrance into the FT market for Vortex, and with plenty of features and character, this boldly designed model looks more than likely to gain a foothold in the sport. Don’t forget their lifetime guarantee either, for peace of mind and reassurance.
    Pros
    Good quality glass and good build
    Cons
    Minimum parallax is a little long at 15yds
    Verdict
    A well made option, with that cast iron guarantee

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