This scope has been one of the most requested scopes to have reviewed. We initially have been reluctant to perform a review because of the large number of online reviews already about this scope but the request demand was so high we figured it was probably about time to perform our own review and see how it does. I have used a few of these scopes in the past and they have always seemed to perform well for what they are, but based on the demand from you the readers, it was apparent that it was time to do an in-depth review.
First we will start out by saying that the SWFA SS scopes have had a checkered and somewhat controversial past. The original “Super Sniper” scope was designed and sold by Tasco and by all reports were a good scope. I never did get a chance to use one of the original early Tasco versions, but I do know that as Tasco began to come on difficult financial times the quality of the Super Sniper scope deteriorated to the point that they were much like the rest of the poor quality Tasco lineup… and then the company was sold. At that point in time, things get better because the SWFA (riflescopes.com) company, and Chris Farris in particular, organized the purchased of the exclusive rights for distribution of the SS scope. They worked with the manufacturer to get the quality back up to the original scope’s standards as well as made a few changes over the years to improve the scopes. That brings us to today.
By all accounts, the SS scopes made today are much better than the “lean years” at Tasco and are right there in quality with the original version. Another thing that SWFA appears to have changed is the dropping of the “Super Sniper” name from the lineup. Everywhere on the web page the scope is now referred to as the SS, which is probably a wise move as the Super Sniper name is not only a bit silly, but also has some of that checkered past associated with it that would be good to separate from. But in the same light, why do they still send the old documentation and manuals from Tasco with the Tasco name plastered everywhere? I would think they would want to separate themselves from the Tasco name all together and even a basic sheet or two of paper (IOR comes to mind) would be enough to get basic instructions on and would be affordable and they could put the SWFA name on it.
Speaking of affordable, that is one thing that should be mentioned here. These scopes range from $320 for the rear focus models to $420 for the side focus version which is on the “affordable” end of the tactical scope scale. SWFA claims that by removing the middlemen in the distribution process they are able to offer these scopes at a much reduced price. They claim they would run in the $800 range if handled through normal distribution channels. While I’m not sure if that figure is completely accurate, there is truth to what they say. But it does need to be remembered that these scopes are on the affordable side and as such that is the level of scopes we’ll be comparing them to in this review.
The scope itself is a single piece aluminum tube with a matte finish applied to it. It appears to be fairly rugged and I have read some impressive abuse tests that these scopes have been subjected to by others and they faired quite well. The matte finish on the scope is a robust matte finish, more matte in feel than most scopes and it reduces glare effectively. The shape and look of the scope is fairly traditional and it has a low and small shoulder area. The scopes do have a built in sunshade of about 30mm and it is threaded to accept additional sunshades available from SWFA. This sunshade is not detachable but yet on our example the matte finish on the sunshade was not quite as matte as the rest of the scope and had just a bit more shine to it which can be seen in the pictures. Seems as if a different coarseness of media was used for the bead blasting.
All of the SS scopes have an adjustable objective which is located to the rear of the scope on all versions except the 10x42M. The focus ring is in front of the eye piece where you would normally find the power ring on a variable power scope. The 10x42M model is a side focus scope. Because these are not a variable power scope they could locate the focus/parallax adjustment at the rear making it pretty unique in the scope world. The focus adjustment moves smoothly through the adjustment range and goes from 10M to infinity. The focus adjustment from 100m – infinity is quite small though, so there is not much fine tuning to be done. Though it works well enough and is quick to get where you need it to be. The location on the rear of the scope is convenient and I kind of like it, it is within easy reach of your non shooting hand and easy to find while looking through the scope. It is perhaps not quite as convenient as a side focus, but it is pretty close and certainly better than up on the front bell. One downside is that you cannot see the markings from behind the scope, but typically you adjust it until the sight picture is clear any how.
The eyepiece itself is fairly large and robust, nearly as large as the front bell in overall diameter. The rest of the scope is fairly slim and trim so the large eye piece does look a bit out of place, but not too bad. There is a dioptre adjustment on the eye piece that is fairly fast. It takes more turns than some and less than others and should not be a problem to get things nice and clear for most all shooters. The eye piece also has a rubber ring to cushion any scope kisses received while firing.
The knobs are a large tactical style exposed knob with nice clear markings. The shape of the knob is good with a knurled top cap for easy gripping. The edges of the knurling is semi-smoothed and perhaps makes the knobs not quite as easy to grip as some knobs found on other scopes, but it is still very functional. There are three set screws on each knob which allow slipping the knobs to the exactly precise marking, no aligning right in-between two marks, it’ll be right on.
There is 15 MOA per revolution and the numbers are large enough for clear and easy reading. There are no direction indicators visible from behind the scope so instead you will need to memorize the direction or up and right or just look at which way the knobs count up. There are horizontal lines beneath the elevation knob, and vertical lines beneath the windage knob to aide in keeping track of how many revolutions have been made and with these scopes there are a lot of lines! SWFA does not give a definitive amount of MOA adjustment, but this scope has 156 MOA of elevation adjustment and from others I have talked to, this is not out of the norm. That is a lot of adjustments and there would be no need for any sort of canted base unless you were looking to shoot at extreme ranges.
The clicks themselves have a fairly good tactile detent, though it could be better, and the elevation knob has an audible click as well but the windage knob does not. I do not know if this is the case on all of their scopes or not but it seems as if it is done by design. The knobs are a good design and work well and based off of our shooting exercises, extremely precise.
These scopes have a traditional mil-dot reticle with no surprises. I have mentioned it before, I am a fan of simplicity and the simple but yet very flexible mil-dot has been effective for many years for a reason, it works and does not distract.
For our shooting evaluation with the scope we mounted it onto our Reming 700P .308 test mule with a set of Leupold PRW 30mm rings on top of the Warne 20 MOA canted base. There is plenty of area for mounting the rings and the medium height Leupold rings provide enough clearance with no issues. With the rifle zeroed at 100 yards we conducted our normal box tests shooting the corners around a target and then ending up on the same corner. The target displayed below is the start/end group with 6 rounds fired through it. That is about the accuracy of the rifle and those groups ended right on top of each other just as they should. Tracking is very good and with steel internal gearing it should remain so.
The rear focus worked fine at the range and engaging mid range targets worked well and we had not issues or complaints through the entire shooting exercise.
The optics on the scope are fairly good especially in the price range of this scope. No, it is not going to be as good as a Zeiss or Nightforce, but it is good glass that performs well enough. I have used a 20x version and the optics did not seem to perform as well at that high of magnification, but on the 10x the optics seem to work well.
When compared side by side with a Falcon Menace 10×42 the brightness and contrast were about identical but I would give the edge to the SWFA SS scope in terms of clarity and sharpness when looking at the USAF 1951 optical resolution chart. The overall quality, and certainly the knobs, are superior to the Falcon scopes, though the SWFA SS scope costs a little more money for an equivalent side focus model.
I did want to mention the Navy SEAL contract that was awarded for the 10x42M side focus model. As far as I understand it, and SWFA can clarify if needed, the contract was for several of the scopes for evaluation purposes when deciding on which scope to adopt for service. The production contract was awarded to a different scope. But these scopes have been used on various other weapons systems in combat, but not in an official capacity as far as I have been able to determine. When this happens it is usually individual units that purchase and equip them when preparing for deployment.
All in all, for the money, these scopes seem to be a good buy. The scopes have all of the right features and keeping with a simple fixed power design it allows them to keep the price down and yet perform well. The tracking system seems to be a particularly bright spot on the scopes and overall they should serve quite well.
Sniper Central (Originally Posted in 2009)