Hawke Frontier Tactical Review

Hawke’s Frontier 30 range has already impressed me by bringing modern design and manufacturing standards, along with a classier finish, to the more economical end of the scope world. As well as crisp, clear optics with simple, effective reticles, they have added turrets for fast adjustment to many of their models as a real benefit rather than just a gimmick. Similarly, they have chosen to offer this crisp image and reticle on lower-magnification riflescopes, which bucks the trend of the last 20 years.

Features

  • 6x ratio precision engineered optical system
  • 21 layer fully multi-coated optics for ultimate clarity
  • 30mm mono-tube chassis for superior strength
  • Long eye relief for high recoil and magnum calibres
  • Glass etched reticle with red illumination
  • Rheostat on saddle offers 6 levels of brightness
  • 1/10 MRAD exposed and locking turrets
  • Fast focus eyebell and high torque zoom ring

Although the reticle is named Tactical Dot, it mustn’t be seen as yet another ‘tacticool’ product limited to the competition shooting market on AR15s or rimfires. Its modest size allows a greater visual pick-up without resorting to brightness above all else. Similarly, on a scope that may be fitted to a rifle for shooting moving game in a more sporting context, it never gets lost in dense foliage, and the addition of turrets to control the internal mechanics can quickly be used to turn a gun from a perfect zero at 50 metres for use on 1x magnification to one with optimum point-blank zero dialled in for 100-150 metre shots. Wind the scope up to 4x or 6x and you have changed your .30-06 wild boar roller into a perfectly capable daylight stalking rifle, with a reticle precise enough to place your shot into the boiler room while retaining a wide field of  view and keeping both eyes open for a good sight of the shot reaction of your quarry.

Frontiers have refined looks – nothing like the Hawkes of old – with smooth anodising to the 30mm tube, which will not grind skin dust from your fingers or allow debris to stick to it. The parallel front section holds the 24mm objective lens 10mm inside the tube to minimise external reflectivity and protect it from damage, while a spherical saddle sits centrally on the one-piece body. The illumination control is fast and intuitive, with six brightness settings and an off detent in between each. There are no auto-off functions for elevation or laying your gun on its side, which I don’t mind, but it would be nice to have a timed auto-off as you will deplete your battery terminally if you forget it. The cap will screw off without tools to replace the CR2032 battery without any great difficulty, so do carry a spare if you are likely to need one.

An illuminated tactical dot reticle in the second focal plane features hash marks for vertical aim-off solutions

The brightness settings are well spread, with none pointlessly dim or needlessly bright. The reticle stays sharply in focus without any fuzziness at full intensity, though you do see a slight corona of red light in the tube’s outer regions on 6x if you look for them.

The turrets are lovely, with clicks subtending 1cm at 100 metres or 0.1 mRad. The knurled dial lifts to turn with 60 clicks per revolution, and the windage turret is pleasantly marked Left and Right of centre zero – a factor far too many manufacturers carelessly sidestep. I got eight and a half turns from the elevation dial, giving more than 500 clicks (5m at 100 metres) to set initial zero before loosening the turret caps with a screwdriver to float the dials and set both markings for your chosen primary zeroing distance. The clicks are gently audible, but with 60 per turn they allow great tactile feel for the adjustments you are dialling in without always needing to look at the laser-engraved markings.

Magnification is controlled by a toothed rubber collar at the front of the ocular bell’s radiused tip, which makes it easy to adjust with a grab of your full hand or light enough for just fingertips. There is a small wing marker that sits at nine o’clock when on 1x or at three o’clock on 6x, with approximately 2.5x set when it’s sitting vertically upward. Adjustment is smooth, with gently damped stops at either end of the travel and no feeling of mechanical motion inside the tube’s lens packages. The eyepiece incorporates a fast-focus adjustment for personal eyesight dioptre requirements with a slight ‘whirring’ feel to the rotation. It’s smooth to rotate, yet this subtle firmness makes it harder to accidentally nudge the optics out of adjustment.

The floating reticle sits in the second focal plane so remains constant in size, with three arms at three, six and nine o’clock meting the central illuminated circle, which carries a minor gap in its lower quadrant for the lower arm’s stadia. These stadia enable aiming high in hunting situations for longer holdover shots, with five hash marks that you need to set up personally to match your likely range intentions. Zooming in and out effectively changes the gaps at range, so whatever magnification you practise with needs to be used when taking shots in anger.

Both turrets lift to turn for elevation and windage control

The scope is corrected for zero parallax error at 100 yards with a 102mm eye relief distance and assured recoil stability for all calibres of rifle. The eye relief doesn’t vary when you alter magnification, and the eye box is well defined, if slightly smaller than that of a top-priced scope. Field of view at 100 metres varies from 36 to 5.9 metres, which makes target acquisition painless – I found the scope relaxing to use, especially for point-and-shoot occurrences. At 1x you get a slight fisheye effect on the image, but you have to be looking for it, and it’s certainly not present at higher magnification.

The image is sharp and bright in daylight with no eyestrain, with the reticle always in clear focus. Colours are neutral – not as warm as you’ll find in a £2,000 scope but still perfectly serviceable, and if anything, more real rather than ‘artistically filtered’. Importantly, there is plenty of space to mount rings on a scope likely to be heading towards a long action rifle, with 50mm behind and 90mm in front of the saddle within the 265mm overall length, and modest 559g weight. Of course, low light performance suffers owing to the smaller objective lens, but you have to tally that against the wide field of view your non-shooting eye will retain, with nothing getting in the way of those fast-moving boar.

When designed and evolved along the lines Hawke are pursuing, the ‘Made in China’ label is becoming far less intimidating. This is a reassuringly capable scope whose features I will be retaining for other test rifles.

Hawke Frontier Tactical 1-6×24
Price: £599.99
Contact: Hawke Sport Optics
01394 387762
www.hawkeoptics.co.uk

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Posted in Optics, Reviews

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