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Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30

Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30

I was very impressed by the Sidewinder 30 scopes that Hawke launched last year, but there was one downside; the large 50mm objective lens made mounting them to some rifles rather difficult. To clear the ‘bull barrel’ style shrouds fitted to some air rifles, they sometimes needed extra high mounts, which could result in a less than ideal head position. It wasn’t a problem on most rifles however, and the range has been very popular. The designers could obviously see that a smaller front lens could be beneficial, hence the new Sidewinder IR TAC 30 range. The 42mm front lens is still large enough to produce a crisp, bright image, but mounting problems are a thing of the past and they can be mounted closer to the action as a consequence.

Key Features

For those unfamiliar with the Sidewinder range, it’s worth detailing the key features. The one-piece body tube is 30mm in diameter and houses multi-coated, precision ground lenses; the outer finish is a hard-wearing matt black anodising, which looks as though it’ll stand up to the odd knock or two. The ocular lens is of the fast focus style, but also features a lock ring to keep it in position once adjusted to the user’s eye. It’s important to adjust the reticule for the person who’s using the scope and I’m amazed at how many shooters use scopes that are incorrectly set for their eyes. A clear crosshair is vital if you’re gong to hit your target, even more so when out in the field, as we all want clean, humane kills.

Both ends of the scope feature screw on dust caps, which although highly effective, could do with being replaced with flip-up covers, as the latter are more practical in the field. A four-inch sunshade is also supplied, which is a useful addition to the overall package. The zoom rings have ridges to enhance grip and there’s a raised portion to make it easy to turn even when wet. The saddle houses the large sniper style elevation and windage adjuster turrets and they are calibrated to move the point of impact ¼ minute of angle (MOA) per click. The dials can be re-set to zero once adjustments have been made by loosening the Allen bolt in the centre. The turrets can be locked in position if required, by simply pushing down on the adjuster; pulling up frees them off again. This is a handy feature, as the turrets on some other scopes can be inadvertently altered by simply getting a rifle out of a gun bag; this happened to me years ago before a Field Target competition I was competing in and I was some way round the course before I realised what had happened. The gripping grooves on the adjusters match those found on the eye bell and zoom ring, which results in a rather stylish overall package.

On the left of the saddle is the rotary parallax/focus adjuster that can be altered easily from 10 yards to infinity (and beyond?). An add-on two-inch side-wheel is supplied and this can be used for more precise range finding of targets or quarry. A ‘clamp-on’ pointer is supplied to provide a reference for reading off ranges when using the side wheel for determining the distance to the target. At the end of the parallax adjuster is the reticule illuminator dial. This can be left off for a conventional black crosshair or turned on for either a red or green option. There are 5 settings in each colour, so there’s one to suit daytime, dusk or night time shooting.

The Full Range

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There are five scopes in the range, with one of them featuring a slightly smaller front lens and different reticule. Overall weight is similar, from 720g for the fixed 10-power, up to 825g for the 8.5-25 X 42. Lengths range from 338mm up to 408mm. The Tac 30s are as follows:

4.5-14 X 38, SR6 reticule. £259
10 X 42, 10x ½ Mil Dot. £249.
4.5-14 X 42, 10x ½ Mil Dot. £279.
6.5-20 X 43, 20x ½ Mil Dot. £289
8.5-25 X 42, 20x ½ Mil Dot. £299

Hawke supply these scopes and all the accessories in a robust, foam lined carry case. It may not get much use once the scope is mounted, but it’s always nice to be able to store a scope safely should it be off the rifle for a while.

Put to the Test

That’s the specification then, so how do they perform? Well, I always start out any scope test by mounting them on air rifles; this then gives me ample opportunities to play around with the elevation and windage adjusters. It’s far easier, and safer, to be able to adjust the turrets to my heart’s desire at comparatively short ranges with a low powered rifle, not something you can always do with a .308 for instance. All the scopes coped well with being dialled up and down, and left and right, with no problems with return to zero after much twiddling. Targets snapped into focus well, with the higher mag scopes obviously being better at determining ranges. Image clarity was very good, with a clear view of the target even at the edges, which is always a sign of quality lenses.

The reticle used is a new design, which is a ½ Mil Dot that features extra ‘bow tie’ style graduations between the main dots. These make the Mil Dot reticule that bit more versatile, as there are more reference points to use when holding over on targets. The scopes with less magnification use the 10 X version and the higher mag versions have a 20 X version.

I was sent 5 scopes to test and they all performed as expected. Fit and finish are very good, and it’s quite clear that these are well designed and built optics, suitable for any shooting discipline, on any rifle from an airgun to a full-bore centre fire. These scopes never lost zero, even when mounted on a rather jumpy .308 target rifle. The 4.5-14 X 50 is a particular favourite of mine and has done sterling service on my Anschutz .22 Hornet. The 6.5-20 X 50 has been used extensively on my custom Rapid 17 for sniping squirrels amongst oak trees. Come to think of it, I rather like the fixed 10-power version too, so as I said in the intro, there’s certainly something here for everyone. These scopes definitely prove that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get quality optics these days.

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  • Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30 - image {image:count}

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  • Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30 - image {image:count}

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  • Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30 - image {image:count}

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  • Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30 - image {image:count}

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  • Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30 - image {image:count}

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  • Hawke Sidewinder IR TAC 30 - image {image:count}

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