A few years back we performed a review of the Vector Optics Templar 1-4x24mm that had been sent for evaluation. We were a bit baffled why they sent a low powered optic to a sniper focused long range web site for evaluation and commented in the review that it would be a bit more relevant to send out a scope that is more focused on long range sniping. Well, this time around it was a retailer that contacted us and asked us to review one of the Vector Optics Capricorn 4-14x44mm tactical scopes. The Capricorn is much more in line with what we do here so we were willing to take a look and see how the scope does in one of our detailed evaluations.
As many of the readers at sniper central probably know, the Vector scopes are made in China and we need to be honest from the get go that we have not had a lot of success with Chinese made scopes. As with most things in the world today, the “Made in China” label will continue to show up on more and more scopes, especially on the lower end models. There are even major scope brands that have started having their lower end lines made and sourced from China. Slowly, the quality has gone up on some, but one of the real problems with the independent scope brands, like Vector, that source their scopes from OEM Chinese factories is that there is very limited information about the material used to make the internal parts or the construction methods which in turn makes it very difficult to determine how long the scopes will last in the field. Using flimsy parts on the internal adjustments means the accuracy of the clicks might be excellent initially, but will wear out quickly. We like to try and track the long term progress of some of these scopes and we do post updates when something comes to our attention, but in reality, this review is of a brand new Vector Capricorn scope and will only evaluate the initial quality.
The price of this Vector scope is above the completely low end Chinese made scopes and as such we would expect it to perform better than those. When we pulled the scope from the box for the first time the first thing that came to mind was that the scope looked very similar to the Falcon Menance 4-14x44mm FFP, the scope tube and shape are the same, the knobs are the same, the power selector ring is the same. This tells us the scopes were likely sourced from the same factory in China. Does this mean the scopes are the same? No, not necessarily. The quality of the lenses, the specifications of the internal parts, and some other things can be different on the scopes and we will approach it as a fresh new evaluation.
The scope comes in a standard TacVector box and has a sunshade (not pictured), lens cloth, flip up scope caps and even a set of 30mm, six screw, aluminum rings. The included documentation is very basic and consists of only a single sheet of high gloss paper with only basic information and is of not much use. There is also an Allen wrench included for slipping the windage and elevation knobs to zero once zero is achieved on the rifle.
The tube is a single piece aluminum tube with an elongated shoulder area where the control knobs are located. Vector indicates the tube is “hammer forged”, though we are not sure what that means for an aluminum scope tube. The finish is a matte black anodizing that has a bit of sheen to it but yet the tube has a semi-aggressive bead blast finish to it. The markings are all done in a traditional white color and if you look at the pictures, you will notice there is a good amount of actual writing on the tube. When you read some of the markings, such as the script up on the top of the objective bell, it says stuff like “Tactical first focal plane optics diamond coat side focus 30mm monotube wide fov etched glass reticle heavy duty 50 caliber proof”. These are all good features, but why is that written in bright white script on the scope tube? There is also some script on the eyepiece that says “For law enforcement / tactical use”. We are beginning to think that the manufacturers determined the scope itself could be an advertising billboard. Vector, if you are reading this, remove the excess script and let the sales brochures and web page do the advertising of features, or even update or add some more documentation to do it. The white script everywhere is anything but tactical.
The eyepiece housing itself has the above mentioned markings as well as the TacVector logo on top. The eyepiece is a non-fast focus eye piece that uses a fine threaded adjustment to focus through the diopter range. The adjustment has some serrations around the eyepiece to help provide a good gripping surface while making adjustments. The full adjustment range is covered in about 3 and one third full rotations of the eyepiece. All of our test shooters, most of which have corrected 20/20 eyesight, were able to get a sharp reticle focus using the eyepiece. There is no lock ring or other device to allow the eyepiece to be locked in place once it has been adjusted and there is not a lot of resistance to the adjustment. The provided flip up scope caps are also not deep enough to provide any sort of resistance to movement, but a set of Butler Creek caps probably would at least help to prevent it from moving. The eye relief on the scope is listed at 3.7 – 4.9″, which is a large span, and that is about what our non-precise method of measurement revealed as well. The longer eye relief is at the lower magnification.
In front of the large eyepiece is a large power adjustment ring with diamond shaped knurling on it. The power ring is marked clearly with magnification settings from 4.5x to 14x in increments of 2x. The ring itself is easy to grab and adjust due to its actual size and the knurling. The full range is covered in less than 180 degrees of adjustment and the ring adjusts smoothly through the range. The markings are flat which does require the shooter to raise their head up to see what power the scope is set at, but with the scope having a first focal plane reticle, the necessity of knowing the power the scope is set to is diminished as the reticle will always be accurate for mil readings.
The elevation knob is set up on the long shoulder area of the scope and it is an exposed knob design to allow for easy adjustments as is typical on a tactical scope. The knob has a diamond shaped knurling that is similar to the knurling found on the power adjustment ring. The cuts for the knurling are large and they do provide an easy to grip surface, but the shape of the knurling is so tall that there is only room enough for some small numbers and marks on the knob itself, but the numbering is clear and the marks are easily visible from the shooters position. There is 6.0 Mils of adjustment per revolution with .1 Mil clicks. That 6.0 of adjustment will allow a rifle shooting the typical 308 175gr Sierra Match King bullet to go from 100 – 700 yards in a single rotation at standard atmospheric conditions (Sea level, 59 degrees, 78% humidity) and out to 1000 yards in under 2 rotations. The knob itself does not have any sort of zero stop mechanism so the shooter needs to carefully track where they are at in their rotations of the knob and there are some horizontal hash marks on the post area that the elevation knob is placed over to help track which rotation the scope is on. The scope is listed as having 29 Mils of elevation (or about 100 MOA) and our test sample here had 29.4 Mils of total elevation adjustment.
The one major gripe, beyond long term durability and quality that we have had about every Chinese made scope we have tested has been the quality of the clicks themselves, and unfortunately, the Vector is no different. There is a distinct and clear audible click to let your ears know when a click has been made, but there is only a very light tactile feel to those clicks. The audible click sound is not enough, in our opinion, to easily determine that an adjustment has been made and the mushy feel of the clicks do not provide enough feedback to the shooter who is often times looking through the scope when making minor adjustments. That mushiness of the click is to the extent where the knob can be moved almost a full click, a half in each direction, without the audible click sounding and the adjustment being made, which then causes the question to be asked if the internal tubes are being moved during that mushy part between clicks? It is hard to say, but regardless, this remains a problem on the current crop of Chinese made tactical scopes.
The windage knob is the same size and shape as the elevation knob and has the same diamond shaped knurling on the top. The numbers count up in both directions but there are no markings indicating which direction the knob has been turned like you see on some other scopes. In fact, there are no markings that are visible from behind the scope that indicate which way is right (or left) and for that matter, there are no markings on or near the elevation knob as to which direction is up. At least on the elevation knob there are the numbers to look at indicate by the increasing count which way is up. There is no such indicator for the windage knob. There are the same marks beneath the windage knob as on the elevation knob to indicate how many rotations have been traveled, but that is not typically a problem with wind knobs. With 6 Mil of adjustment per revolution and the numbers counting up in both directions, the numbers overlap at 3.0 Mil, which with a 308 shooting 175gr HPBT ammo, will allow you to adjust for wind in a 10mph full value crosswind out to over 1000 yards in standard atmospheric conditions before the clicks overlap. Unfortunately, the same mushy clicks that are found on the elevation knob are also found on the windage knob as well.
The focus adjustment, or adjustable objective, knob is on the left side of the scope tube and located slightly forward of the elevation and windage knobs. The focus knob is marked in yardard from 10 to 500 yards and then one additional setting for infinity. Like most scopes, the yardard marks should only be used for reference points and should not be trusted as being the exact point at which the focus will be perfect at that distance. Instead, the shooter should just adjust the focus until the image is sharp and clear at the target. The knob is the same shape and size as the elevation and windage knobs with the same knurling and other features. The adjustment is stiff and if the scope has been sitting a few days, it can be really stiff the first time it is moved, here the large knurling helps. Once it is moving, the adjustment is smooth through the entire range and the scope focuses as it should.
The elongated shape of the shoulder on the scope tube does take away some of the mounting area of the tube, but there is still an okay amount in front of the shoulders before the objective bell begins for the scope to be mounted in the rings. The 44mm objective is a decent size and the scope shape and tube are of normal design and quality.
For our operational tests, we mounted the scope onto our normal Remington 700P rifle chambered in 308 with a steel 20 MOA canted base. We used the set of provided Vector 30mm rings since they ship with the scope and we figured the system should be tested together. With the single piece rail on the rifle there were no issues with ring spacing or mounting options and while the provided rings were too tall for our given setup, it still worked. The Vector rings are a 6 screw design and look almost identical to the Burris XTR rings but the nuts on the cross bolts are smaller than the standard 1/2″ nuts found on most all tactical rings and the allen screws on the ring caps versus the traditional torque head screws were also different and non-traditional.
The shooting tests were conducted during moderate weather conditions, about fifty degrees and mixed sun and clouds. The scope was zeroed at 100 yards and then fired through the box test which involves shooting groups while aiming at a single aiming point while using the knobs to adjust the group impact at each corner of a box. It is a good way to test the accuracy and repeatability of the clicks and this scope seemed to track well. We then performed out click size measurement test by firing a group, then adjusting 6 Mils to the left, firing another group, adjusting back to zero to fire a last group. This test does two things, it allows us to measure the size of the clicks over a 6 Mil distance and then it again tests repeatability by seeing if the last group is on top of the first as it should be. The 6 Mil measurement came in at 21.63″ at 100 yards from center of group to center of group, which is only 1% off of the exact 21.6” that it should be. We like to see anything withint 5%, which accounts for group sizes from the rifle and fudge factor that gets put in there. So the click size on the Vector is accurate and the followup group was right on top of the first so repeatability looked good as well.
The reticle is a standard mildot reticle located on the first focal plane so the reticle grows and shrinks with the zoom magnification to allow accurate range estimation at any zoom power. There is nothing fancy about the reticle and we have commented numerous times that this can be a nice feature as it does not clutter the view of the target and with practice the mildot reticle can be quiet effective. The trick with doing first focal plane reticles is that the thickness of the reticle has to be chosen so that it can still be seen and effective at lower magnification ranges yet not be too thick at the higher ranges to make accurate shooting not possible or that it covers up too much of the target at long ranges. The reticle on this Vector is good at the lower powers, but is a bit too thick at the higher magnifications. It still wasn’t too bad, but a bit thinner stadia would probably be recommended.
The optics on the scope are not bad for the price range. They are not going to rival the top of the line scopes on the market, but the picture is bright and clear and offers a good sight picture. The low light gathering is on par for other scopes in this market with similar sized objectives. One thing we did notice while shooting at long range was that when the elevation adjustments on the scope are near their limits, the internal scope tube is tilted too much and when the proper eye alignment is made, the bottom portion of the scope picture is blocked out by the bottom of the eyepiece. This tells us that the internal tube is at some extreme angles within the main tube and it does cause us some concern that things may be pushing the limits and we would advise against going to the extremes if possible. We had no failures and everything seemed to work fine, but some yellow flags came up in our minds. Some bad memories of what would happen to some of the Falcon Menace scopes when adjusted to the extreme ranges came to mind and hopefully the Vector scopes have put some safety stops in. Engineering wise, it might be better to limit the elevation to 80 MOA and keep things from getting to the extremes rather than having to have 100 MOA as a marketing feature.
Based off of the performance of the scope, this Vector is one of the better Chinese made tactical scopes available. We have not had this scope long enough to determine how well the scope and its internal parts will hold up over time, which is where we have seen many of the Chinese scopes fail due to the cheaper internal parts being used to save on cost. But initially the scope is not too bad. The mushy clicks continue to be an annoyance and the written advertisement plastered all over the scope is even more of an annoyance. But provided the scope holds up over time, it could serve as a low cost scope for some rifles. Would I trust it on a full time duty rifle? No, we have not yet been convinced as of yet and we’ll need to see it continue to perform before we would make that call and some of the engineering does raise some questions to us, but we will reserve final judgment until after the long term results are in.
Sniper Central – 2014