Hawke Sidewinder review

Chris Parkin enjoys all of the benefits of of the brand new Hawke Sidewinder 30 FFP 6-24×56.

Hawke has evolved significantly over the last few years, and the brand that was so easily assumed to be for air gunners has really stepped up to present kit that meets functional and styling needs more commonly associated with expensive brands on centrefire rifles. 

The Sidewinder has always been a big seller, albeit to my mind with slightly clunky appearance. Yet the name has now evolved into an optical highlight of 2020, specifically the Sidewinder 30 range, seen here in 6-24×56 First Focal Plane format.

Second focal plane variants are also available in varied magnification options to suit your needs, but first focal plane, with a reticle that grows as the image zooms up, is just the job for me.

It was once seen as the older-fashioned factor in zoom magnification scopes, then became increasingly uncommon as finer etched reticles and mechanics improved for proven zero retention of second focal plane optics.

Now, the game flips back again with the optional benefits of FFP being seen by the company, who previously used it on their premium Frontier 30 range, and now bring it in at lower cost.

Just to state a fact, neither first or second focal plane is in any way better, but the functional differences will suit differing shooters’ needs, so the option for both styles is appealing.

This 6-24x magnification Sidewinder features a one-piece body tube finished impeccably with matte hard anodised sheen. There is loads of space for scope rings to give optimum eye relief on most rifles, and it is magnum rated with 100mm eye relief.

I used several rifles under the scope when testing its capabilities, and found it gave what I always desire: an optically relaxed environment, and a bright, sharp image I can rely on without a tiny exit pupil that is unsuited to versatile rifle use from multiple shooting positions when hunting, as well as more dedicated range days.

Hawke Sidewinder: specifications

Length: 363mm / 14.3″
Weight: 775g / 27.3oz
Eye relief: 102mm / 4″
Focus/Parallax – Side Focus: 9m – ∞ / 10yds – ∞
Field of View: 7.1-1.8m @100m / 21.3-5.4ft @100yds
Exit Pupil: 9.3-2.3mm / 0.37-0.09″
Chassis: 30mm Mono-tube
Optical System Objective: 56mm
Illumination: Red (6 Levels of brightness – off positions in-between)
Reticle: FFP Half Mil
Elevation Increment: 1⁄10 MRAD
Elevation Adjustment Range: 20 MRAD
Windage Increment: 1⁄10 MRAD
Windage Adjustment Range: 20 MRAD
Material: Aluminium
Ocular Type: Locking Fast Focus
Lens Coating: Fully multi-coated – 18 layers
Power Selector Style: Knurled posi-rigp with removable zoom lever
Focal Plane: First Focal Plane (FFP)
Turret Caps: No
Turret Type: Exposed locking turrets

A Hawke’s focus

Ocular focus employs a fast-adjustable rubber rim, also featuring a secondary locking collar if you want to use it. It’s sleek, so there’s no issue with fitting scope caps over the top, and although Hawke does offer aluminium accessories, clear elastic caps come as standard.

The magnification collar shows nice segmented machined texture for grip, with the ability to add a supplied throw lever if you want to make life easier. Just be aware of where the bolt handle might impinge on it if you do want to use it.

It spins through 180 degrees from right to left as magnification increases. All movement is smooth, with no internal mechanical noise signature, and there are firm stops at either end of the travel, which indicates to me that all has been manufactured neatly within.

A removable side lever allows faster magnification change, just watch for bolt knob position

There is no overtravel or sloppiness, a factor also shared by the left side parallax control dial operating from nine metres to infinity. A larger 4-inch wheel can be added, and the only slight downside is that the longer-range parallax adjustment from 200 to infinity is squeezed into less than a quarter turn of the dial, making it a little more fussy.

A 2-inch wheel is available as an accessory that would make a great balance for intermediate sporting/target disciplines, while the 4-inch seems a bit more FT dedicated.

Illumination control with intensity from 1 to 6 with intermediate ‘off’ positions is present on the outer end of the parallax dial. There is no automated lights out, so beware your batteries (CR2032 supplied), but the internal multi LED red reticle glow is sharp with no light shimmer or spill, and on lower intensity is more suited to weaker external light conditions.

Like all FFP, you see more detail on the reticle as you zoom upward, with half mil spaced markings appearing beyond 5 mil in all stadia directions. Etched crosses on the lower quadrants of the reticle make additional windage aim off markers and act to give an easy method of counting whatever mil spacing you are aiming with.

Outer posts are segmented into half mil spacing, and 0.2 mil spacings are useful for more precise adjustments which work in perfect correlation to the 0.1mRad/10mm @100 metre click values of the turrets.

I liked the reticle, and found the weighting ideal for the magnification range when at low mag, the illumination really helps out for hunting needs when retaining maximum field of view is desirable to accommodate any minor quarry movement. Shot reaction visibility is key.

Witness window

Hawke’s new H5 optics boast 24-degree ultra-wide field of view. I certainly felt relaxed, with no sign of tunneling through the mag range. Hawke offers superb turrets in the price market, and the precision locking turrets with 1⁄10 mRad clicks seen here have a new ‘witness window’, which is a more obvious, easier-to-use version of the Vernier markers previously encountered under turret caps.

It’s not a zero stop, with complete assurance against getting ‘lost’ in the mechanical range, but the red marker is bright to see from the shooting position, and aligns with 0, 1, 2, 3 or 4 to illustrate the rotation location within the overall 20 mRad travel. Each complete rotation of the lift-to-turn locking turret gives 6 mRad or 60 clicks of adjustment.

Parallax is backlash free, a 4” dial is also included to aid precision rangefinding if desired for air rifle use at closer ranges

After zeroing the scope, unscrewing the top cap retainer, and turning the outer dial back to ‘zero’ takes seconds with a screwdriver or coin. Once tightened back in place, this 100 metre zero showed the red marker adjacent to ‘turn 1’ and as I dialled further elevation ‘up’, the red marker rode similarly past ‘3’ and then ‘4’, before maxing out.

This is more complex to explain than operate, and I had no issue returning to zero after shots were taken at longer range. The turrets tracked well with adjustments tallied well to previously confirmed DOPE for the rifle and cartridge.

I liked the simplicity of the scope straight from the box, with a longer-range capability far beyond what most shooters are likely to need. I can thoroughly recommend this system to those wanting an easy to use optic with minimal set-up fuss and obvious control. Clicks are well defined audibly, and tactile through gloves too.

Sidewinder summary

The Sidewinder 30 was a scope I liked, and consider great value for money in a very competitive market where few impress me with standout features. The modest 4x zoom ratio from 6-24x is appropriate to honest mid-market optical capability, so optics can excel within a comfort zone, not struggle to give good image quality when they try to offer too much ‘bling’ in terms of a 6x or 8x zoom.

I found the image (although not comparable to that of a £2,000 tactical dialling optic) to have well balanced colour rendition, resolution and definition for fine detail that was very usable with quite nice contrast.

Well-proportioned FFP reticle reveals more details as you raise the magnification, all dimensions are scaled in mRad to match the turret clicks

Performance in poor light was not of the highest order, but never disappointed me given this is a very functional longer-range scope, not specifically just a hunter anyway. Mechanical innovation and cost always stand at a compromise with money spent directly on glassware – it’s all about finding the balance.

I like scopes that can sit alongside or above their price point peers, I have no patience for ‘also rans’ in a market that claim lots through marketing, yet in the flesh, appear overpriced and weak, regardless of actual financial cost.

Hawke describes its glass as ‘High Grade, Low Dispersion Crown Glass with 18 Layer Fully Multi-Coated Lenses’, which seems modest in advertising jargon without too much ego, so I liked this approach.

Matters like nitrogen purged, shockproof, waterproof and fog proof are to be expected but most importantly, Hawke’s no-fault lifetime warranty shows a brand who know their customers, with impeccable optical and mechanical functional compromises for complete satisfaction at the appealing price point.

he ocular bell detail never disappointed as a functional long-range scope. The image has well-balanced colour rendition, resolution and definition for fine details and nice contrasts

Just to expose a little truth, I reviewed a budget rifle recently that seemed overwhelmed by a £3,000 Schmidt & Bender PMII. Delightful as it was optically, this Sidewinder suited the Ruger American really well and, in fairness, I found it more enjoyable to use, a slightly less intense and complex optical environment that was equally capable at the 300 metre maximum range I attributed to the gun.

That is not a dig at the S&B, more a deeply honourable compliment for Hawke, whose spacious eyebox was appreciably versatile!

Accessories supplied:

  • Instruction manual and reticle handbook
  • 4” Sunshade
  • Elasticated Lens Covers
  • Lens Cloth
  • CR2032 Battery
  • Removable Zoom Lever
  • 4” Side Wheel

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