Hawke Airmax 30SF
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- Last updated: 31/10/2019
There seems something of a trend for ultracompact scopes at the moment, and on test here is one of the very latest from Hawke. There are three models in their 30 SF range, my test model which is the Airmax 30 SF Compact 3-12x40 IR, then two others: the Airmax 30 SF Compact 4-16x44 IR, and Airmax 30 SF Compact 6-24x50 IR. ‘30’ denotes the larger 30mm body tube, and IR stands for an illuminated reticle.
I first noticed this new Compact model line-up up at the British Shooting Show, and Hawke had a buzz of interest around their stand as always. These scopes are eye-catching, and at 10.9-inches total length, my test model is the most impressively condensed by far. There’s a real robust feel to it too, and whilst I’m not a huge fan of Tactical style chunky turrets, build quality and finish seem to compliment the bold profile.
Hawke specify the compact range as utilising a wide angle optical system, a lightweight compact construction, built around a 30mm mono-tube chassis (for superior strength where it matters) and 16 layer, fully multi-coated optics. All sounds good so far.
The eye relief distance of 3-inches compares favourably with rival optics, and with the usual fast focus ring on the ocular lens doing its job, I soon had the reticle in sharp focus. Magnification is variable between 3-12x via the high torque zoom ring on the rear bell, and here, the level of resistance felt just right, as the collar went through its rotation.
Okay, the width across the Tactical Target turrets is a little irritating in terms of not leaving much space in a padded hard case, (yes, I worry about such things!) but that observation apart, these are possibly the most robust turrets I’ve encountered on a Hawke scope. Remove the screw cap and the turret beneath is clearly marked up with white figures. Click values are 1/10 of a Milradian, and the clicks themselves are super positive. These turrets are designed to be resettable to ‘0’ once they have been zeroed, and this is easily achieved by slackening off the tiny Allen screw at the top of the turret, setting accordingly, and re-tightening.
In addition, these turrets incorporate a very neat rotation marker guide, so the shooter can keep track of exactly where the point of adjustment lies. Having seen a friend throw away the chance to win a top Field Target event many years ago through failing to remember that the turret had been twisted a full revolution, the chance for this error has always stayed with me. Okay, this Airmax isn’t designed for FT, but the principle is the same. The turret rotation markers allow for pre-calculated trajectory points for different distances or, with different ammo, to be noted and returned to accurately and easily. It’s a thorough design then, designed to eliminate shooter brain block!
These scopes are designed to offer parallax error adjustment via the side focus knob on the left side, and here, a 3-inch side wheel is supplied, which can be attached if required. The idea of a side wheel is to offer easier adjustment, and to accentuate the gaps between the distance markers, thus in theory, making range finding that much easier. They really come into their own on mega high mag scopes for FT, but at such relatively low magnification as 12x on offer here, the use of a side wheel is rather academic. That said, it has a pleasingly smooth movement in operation, and undoubtedly adds a modern look. Minimum focus, incidentally, is marked up as 10yds, and that was my finding on test. Parallax distances are marked up on both the turret and side wheel, as 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 75, 100, 150, 200,300, and 600-yards. To fix the wheel in place, just line up the corresponding target distances, and push the wheel, fully onto the left turret. It is just a pressure fit but feels secure enough. With parallax set to around 25-yards, and magnification set to 9x, viewing targets through the ranges showed admirable clarity throughout.
Hawke fit their AMX IR reticle to this compact model, and this is a comprehensive design, providing top Mil dots, (accurate Mil value when viewed on 10x mag), and a progressive ‘Christmas Tree’ style layout on the lower quadrants. Half Mil lines are also marked, so plenty of range finding and bracketting options here. The reticle is glass etched which means no broken wire incidents, and with red illumination, six levels of brightness, and ‘off’ settings in between each level, functionality has been well thought through. I still have to register a minor negative, in that I reckon the reticle would benefit from having outer German style thick posts. These would just help to guide the eye to the central cross hair area, when viewing the target up in a dark tree, amongst the foliage for example. In this scenario, it can be possible to lose the reticle momentarily; but as mentioned, many rivals suffer in the same way. Image quality edge to edge is very impressive here though.
Overall, this is a nice piece of glassware. The crisp, finger friendly turrets bring confidence, but the overall air of quality really stands out. Compact length means this model is super versatile where a much longer body tube would perhaps preclude inclusion in a scaled down break barrel for example. All the usual guarantees are here: nitrogen purged, waterproof, shockproof and fogproof. and with Hawke’s Lifetime Guarantee also in the mix, this Airmax 30 is difficult to fault, as a hunting scope or HFT tool.
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