Hawke Airmax 30 SF 10 x 44
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- Last updated: 20/07/2022
On test here is one of the new breed of Airmax scopes, and having now put it through its paces, it’s clearly evident that the Hawke brand has no intention of relinquishing its enviable position in the marketplace any time soon.
So what’s new? Well for a start, the Airmax range has been revamped to take into account trends in the market. The illumination control is now side-mounted, all with a view to leaving room at the rear, keeping it clear, so that shooters who favour night vision can fix various units over the ocular lens. Responding to requests and heeding customer feedback is the name of the game, of course. The glass quality across the Airmax range is high grade too, with what Hawke terms ‘H2 Optics’, featuring 16 layer multi-coated lenses.
My test model is the Airmax 30 SF 10x44 WA IR, and a guide RRP of £339 gets you the scope itself, flip-up lens covers, lens cloth, 4” side-wheel, 4” sunshade, instruction manual and guidance notes. It all comes well presented in a fully padded box too, so damage in transit is fairly impossible.
Hawke’s Airmax range is, as the name suggests, aimed fairly and squarely at the airgun shooter, and that means tailored products to suit. An obvious feature is the distances involved for parallax correction, and if we look at my test model, it’s a versatile specification. There’s a fixed 10x magnification for a start, in a wide-angle format, signified by the WA suffix. SF denotes side focus and that follows the convention for the left side turret, doubling up as the rheostat control for the illuminated reticle (the IR in the name), and also the parallax correction dial. Minimum parallax comes down to 10 yards, then it reads 15, 20, 30, 50, 100, 200, 500 and infinity.
The range markings are on the left turret, but if you fancy utilizing the 4” side wheel, it’s now just a friction fit. Simply line up the corresponding range marking and allow the two notches on the dial to locate into the cut-outs on the wheel. Then, push the wheel over the turret, all the way into position. In use, it all feels perfectly secure, and thereafter, the range markings are accentuated in the usual way.
Hawke fit their popular AMX IR reticle to this model, and it is a fine design which is pleasingly precise in the aim. The downside is that the fine crosshair can become a problem in itself and be lost when viewing targets backed by dark, shaded areas. On test, I slipped a rubber scope enhancer/ end piece into position on the ocular lens, to accentuate the sight picture, and with all the backlight eliminated, it makes a huge difference. These fittings are inexpensive and I’d highly recommend their use here. Thicker and darker outer posts would help on the reticle, but Hawke has persisted with their designs and they still have much to offer, especially when illuminated. For those who favour illumination, the AMX design illuminates in red. For the record, the central stadia lights up, apart from the four outer hollow posts. The rheostat has off stages in between each brightness setting too, so the dial moves through level 1, off, 2, off, 3…etc, which helps minimize leaving the power on when not required.
One negative concerns the basic setup. I really don’t like screw-in metal lens caps. MTC often use them, so it’s not just Hawke, but they are sometimes fiddly to open, and once the fast focus ring has been altered, they can then be in the wrong place. Yes, Hawke supply the small tool to alter the carrier rings, so they can be reset, but they sometimes loosen. Fitting the sunshade requires the front lens cap to be unscrewed so that the shade can be screwed directly into the objective. The lens cap should then screw into the sunshade. On test, the sunshade thread didn’t like the cap, so I gave up. A small point, but give me pressure-fit rubber alternatives any day.
The scope turrets here are screw caps, and these have surprisingly long threads, which are another source of irritation, but obviously no big deal. However, the turret markings are excellent - very clear and visible. The movement is also logical, so the windage turns clockwise to move the point of impact left, and elevation is clockwise for ‘down’. Click values are 1/10 MRAD, and the click is audible with a nice amount of resistance. All very reassuring, but what really stands out is the turret revolution tracking system, which whilst slightly different from what we’ve seen before, (I think), is surely the best yet. It allows the user to see at a glance how many revolutions the turret has gone through. On test, zeroing was quick and easy, and those positive clicks all tracked and returned perfectly.
The image quality is very impressive too. I set parallax to 25 yards and could still view and differentiate targets at 45 yards, with no further adjustments (HFT mode). There was a tiny bit of fringing in the aim but the light gathering and sharpness on offer overall, is satisfying in use. Half Mil- Dot values are a feature of the AMX reticle, and with a wealth of reference points from which to choose, this scope is a worthy addition to the line-up.
OK, there are a few minor nit-picks, but the Airmax 30 SF 10x44 WA IR remains a classy offering from Hawke and the specification is such that it could comfortably double as either a hunting optic or a tool for Hunter Field Target. All the usual assurances are here as the Airmax range comes specified as nitrogen purged, shockproof, waterproof and fog proof. There’s also Hawke’s Lifetime Warranty to mull over - full conditions of which are on their website.