Barska 1.5-4.5x20 Tactical Riflescope
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- Last updated: 13/12/2016
Ever since I first acquired a Simmons 1.5-5x20 WTC over fifteen years ago I’ve had a soft spot for small variable-power scopes: their light weight means they neither spoil the way small rifles handle, nor over-load heavy ones, and they’ll work like reflex sights at their lowest setting, yet still offer acceptable precision at full power at normal hunting ranges. What’s more, despite their small lenses - or more likely, because of them, they usually prove to offer a crisp, bright image, and in this, the scope on test here is no exception.
Most manufacturers have gone over – somewhat paradoxically - to using larger 30mm tubes on their small scopes, with the result that slimmer 1” designs are now hard to find, so I was pleased to discover the Barska model that is the subject of this review, especially because I am also strongly in favour of the first-focal-plane format where variables are concerned, and the little Barska is almost unique in offering this feature in a compact design – the only other scope that springs to mind being Schmidt & Bender’s cracking little Short Dot (at 10 times the price!)
For those unfamiliar with the FFP principle, it means that as you zoom in the reticle gets bigger at the same rate as the target, so each mil dot on the reticle represents the same distance regardless of magnification. It also means that, whilst the mil dots are well-spaced and clearly visible at full power, at low power they virtually disappear – which, on a scope like this, is just fine, since they’re unnecessary for the kind of close-range work that calls for minimum magnification and maximum field of- view.
The key with reticle design on a scope like this, however, is not only to provide clear mil dots at full power, but also positive targeting cues at minimum power, which means keeping the outer bars of the reticle bold and ideally providing a central illuminated dot. Unfortunately, the Barska’s reticle offers neither, making it less than ideal for situations where fast target acquisition is crucial, and somewhat belying its “Tactical” tag.
Features and Fittings
This qualification aside, the Barska is well built and finished, with all the features we’ve come to expect of modern riflescopes as regards monotube construction, full weather and shock-proofing, multi-coated optics, etc., as well as Barska’s “Accu-Lock” system – a countersprung erector tube arrangement, somewhat reminiscent of Burris’ Posi-Lock system, and designed to produce consistent and reliable adjustments. It also comes with a 10-year guarantee, which can’t be said for many scopes in this price bracket.
The adjusters themselves are of the low-profile type, clearly marked, but offering only half-inch clicks on this model, though the rest of the Tactical range show finer quarter-inch increments. The little 1.5- 4.5x20 does come with a fast-focus eye bell, however, as well as a set of 5/8” high, see-through, alloy rings, and European-style rubber lens covers.
Since I took delivery of the Barska, UK dealership rights have been obtained by rimfire and custom rifle specialists South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies, and MD Roger Francis tells me that they now have the full range in stock, which includes illuminated 6-20x50 and 4-16x50 models and a non-illuminated 3-12x40, all with side-focus and mil-dot reticles, all competitively priced, at £225, £180 and £140 respectively.
To sum up, though I’d like finer adjustments and a bolder sight picture at low power, the little Barska has taken over from my venerable Simmons as my favourite compact scope, and is certainly worth looking at unless fast target acquisition at low power is a crucial priority.
CONTACT: South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies
TEL: 01226 756332
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