An eight-factor mag scope at this price point could be a revolution – Chris Parkin sees if the Nikko Stirling Octa lives up to the hype.
As the years and technology have rolled along, we have become more accustomed to higher magnification and higher zoom ranges on optics.
Though magnification in itself is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to choosing a scope, the ability to span low magnification for wide field of view in some situations, then higher magnification for others, has made scopes more usable across seasons, scenarios and species.
It’s important to remember that just pumping up the magnification ratio comes with compromises, and although 10x erector tube optics are available at both ends of the price range, some are distinctly better than others (whose manufacturers, frankly, would have been better off staying in the world of three and four-times zoom) so don’t be fooled by hype alone.
Nikko Stirling’s well-named Octa scope is, as you might have guessed, an 8x magnification range scope spanning 2x to 16x mag – which will satisfactorily cover most hunting scenarios – with a 50mm objective lens to enable decent light entry performance without excessive bulk.
The one-piece aluminium maintube is well finished with deep black anodising, and doesn’t drag the skin dust from your hands. The objective is recessed 15mm from the outer rim of the bell to give some protection, and elasticated clear lens covers are supplied.
A spherical saddle at the centre carries windage, elevation and parallax controls with the outer left side illumination dial capping the latter of the three. Both mechanical adjusters set bullet impact position with ¼ MOA clicks, 60 per revolution giving 15 MOA per turn – it’s well marked visually with a good, solid audible click.
These reside below caps and are not turrets per se, but the adjustment has proven accurate and repeatable, with just over seven complete turns offering plentiful travel (7×15=105 MOA or approximate inches at 100 yards) for primary zero distance.
A flat blade screwdriver will remove the caps, and it’s easy to line up the adjusters and reposition them to mark your zero long-term. I wouldn’t say the scope was a true ‘dialler’ but it hasn’t let me down when repeatedly alternating between 200 and 300-metre sight marks or point-blank zero settings.
The left-hand parallax dial runs from 10 yards to infinity with approximate markings, more defined at close ranges with the 300-infinity marks hardly a hair’s breadth apart.
It gives a clear image, but with just 32mm diameter and minimal knurling, needs a firm grip to smoothly rotate it against the fresh, snug rubber seals that sit within.
The outer illumination control sets the centre dot of the No.4 reticle to chosen intensity and colour, red or green. No auto-off or positional extinguisher is present though, so don’t forget it’s on, or the Cr2032 battery will be dead next time you go to use it.
This is replaced under a cap at the extreme end of the dial – I would recommend rotating clockwise to illuminate the unit in the field. Anti-clockwise will more than likely see the cap getting accidentally unscrewed, with it and the battery easily lost.
Looks nice and gives grip, but it’s a one-way street when so easily removed – perhaps future models will make the tactile surface for regular adjustment stand proud of the ‘occasional use’ caps.
The 30mm tube shows 58mm in front and 60mm behind the saddle – plenty of space for the mounting rings. Further back, the 8x magnification range is controlled with a lightly knurled and segmented collar on the ocular body.
Just over half a turn anti-clockwise raises the magnification, and the reticle stays the same size, mounted in the second focal plane. Just the centre dot illuminates – it’s good in poor light, but not that bright if it’s needed in daytime.
Because the etched reticle is fine and crisp, daylight illumination is often handy when used in cover, preventing the black bars of the reticle from getting lost in the background foliage. Fast reticle focus is enabled with a rubberised collar at the rear of the scope surrounding the 38mm ocular lens, recessed 3.5mm.
Image quality through the scope is blemish-free in daylight with good exit pupil, broad field of view and linear response through the magnification range.
There is no hint of unnatural colouration, and in general, I found the image to be fuss-free with a distinct reticle and flat focus across the field of view. The zoom collar was initially a bit stiff, with tactile ‘tight spots’ in its range, but a few sessions using the scope have seen that smooth out nicely. The parallax dial is also freeing up sweetly as the mechanics wear in.
Low magnification assists in fast pointability of the rifle it’s on, and I generally reckon you only ever have time to wind the mag up, never down, so I left it at 2x or 4x most of the time, making it very usable in a hurry.
I like 16x as a usable longer-distance magnification, yet for hunting use with any scope, I rarely feel the need for a high mag as long as the reticle is well weighted and the image sharp – as it was here.
The Octa is not a low-light specialist but at this price, I think it’s more important that it does as described, with honest mechanics and good optical performance.
The eye relief is not overly long, the eye box was accessible with no drift through the mag range, no awkward vignettes at 2x and – most impressively – free of flare and haze in low winter sunlight when your quarry could come from any direction and you may need to aim into the sun.