One of the most important aspects of achieving excellent accuracy out of your hunting gun, is the scope that you set on top of it. While it is of course possible to hunt with open sights, as a matter of fact I grew up hunting this way; a scope will invariably provide better results. Especially as you pass through the decades, a scope becomes more and more critical. I find that besides the obvious advantage of magnification, the ability to pick up the target in shade or low light, let’s me hunt earlier in the morning and later into dusk. And when doing pest control in a dark building, a scope with good light transmission characteristics is a big part of being successful.
In the last few weeks I’ve hunted with my airguns in Minnesota, Texas, Arizona, North Dakota, and Indiana. I’ve been out at night, early morning, in bright sun, rain and rough conditions. Looking back at pictures from these trips, I noticed that many of the guns I’d used wore Hawke optics, and it got me motivated to go look in my gun room and see what was getting the most use.
I’ve got many scopes in the collection; at the lower price point Leapers and Center Point, BSA, Hawke, Simmons, Nikko Stirling, Bushnell, and Leupold. I also have the proprietary scopes from AirForce, FX, and other gun manufacturers that often come bundled in package deals. And while there are good to excellent scopes to be found in most manufacturer product lines, I do have my favorites. I think the old adage to buy the best scope you can afford, is sound advice, but I also think there is a place for budget priced scopes even for the serious airgunner.
I’ve been asked several times lately, what is my favorite scope? Let me start off by saying I have over a hundred guns in my personal collection, and a constant flow of loaner guns coming in and out. I like to keep my guns scoped and sighted, so I can pick up any one of them to go out shooting or hunting on short notice. For this reason, I use less expensive scopes on many of these guns for economic reasons. In this class I like many of the Leapers scope; the optical quality, features, controls, and ruggedness belie the budget pricing. But when it comes to my all around favorite scopes, I use Hake products more than any other. I find the optical quality to be excellent, the light transmission outstanding, the scopes are ergonomic and stand up to rough use, and I really like the reticles on many models.
I use mildots of one style or another on all my hunting guns, to have the multiple aimpoints for a reference. I carry a range finder in the field, and have never had much success using the mildots for range finding. I like the MAP6 (Multiple Aim Point) style found on the airgun specific Airmax scopes. I use this scope on my Brocock Specialist, Benjamin Marauder, and Talon-P. The genesis of this scope is derived from Hawkes 30/30 Duplex scope, and vertically has one aiming point above the crosshair and three below, and horizontally two on either side of the crosshair. The three aiming dots below the crosshair are spaced increasingly further apart and corresponds to the arced trajectory of the pellet. You can download Hawkes BRC program, I have it on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop. By entering the rifles velocity, pellet weight and zero point you can calculate how the scopes vertical aimpoints relate to the pellets flight along it trajectory. I like this scope on field guns because it is compact and lightweight.
A bigger scope that I use on my larger rifles, like the Wolverine, is the Eclipse 30 which is a side focus model based on a 30 mm tube and a 50 mm aperture, which works very well in low light conditions. This scope has a magnification of 6-24X, and uses a traditional mildot configuration. My only reservation on this model is that it’s large, which is why I only use it
on my bigger guns where it balances better. I’m using this scope on the gun I’m building up specifically for long range prairie dog shooting of a gun mounted tripod.
I’ve used many Hawke scopes of one model or another over the last five or six years, and regardless of how I abuse them and my guns, they keep working. One of my rifles got knocked out of a stand, the rifles stock broke in half and the scope was knocked of the rails and ended up five feet away. But that scope survived and sits on top of one of my RWS springers today.
Regardless of the brand of scope I mount on my hunting gun, almost all of my small game hunting for rabbit, squirrel, and predators is done with the magnification set at 6-8x. This is especially true if I’ll be shooting offhand, where the higher magnification settings transmit too much jitter. The only time I routinely use a higher magnification is if shooting ground squirrels or prairie dogs, and using a solid rest or off sticks. And if I’m not going to use the higher magnifications I don’t want to confuse my settings or add the extra weight of the variable high power scopes.
I’ve been shooting the Verminator arrow gun this week, and continue to be impressed by the accuracy. I saw my buddy Kip’s video of him taking a hog in Texas and want to do the same hunt myself. Great video if you haven’t seen it, go to youtube and have a look. I also continue to shoot the Brocock Specialist, and have now run approximately 2500 pellets through it. I’m loving this little gun, plenty of power, dead accurate, and I shoot it very well offhand. Can’t wait to get this one into the squirrel woods when fall rolls around.
Have a good time with your airgun, and I’ll catch up with ya’ll later!