Vector Optics contacted us several months ago asking if we would take a look at and do a review on one of their scopes. Not knowing the company or their products, we agreed to take a look. We had thought that they would send out a scope that was geared toward the long range sniping market but what showed up was a 1-4x24mm scope that is aimed more at the battle rifle market. But since we agreed to take a look and there is a role for lower powered scopes for SPRs (Special Purpose Rifle), we figured we could take a little bit of time and give it a good once over. So the scope we have here is a 1-4x power scope with a smaller 24mm objective with a FFP reticle. Now for the more detailed look…
Typically the first thing we look at when we start a scope review is where is it made? Looking on the box it is prominently displayed “Made in China”. We typically do not like to pre judge a scope, but we have had very limited success with Chinese made scopes. Even companies that source parts from China and assemble them elsewhere, like Falcon and others, have had their problems with quality. So, after this discovery of the country of origin, we had to try hard to approach the review objectively and not pre condemn the scope. The price on the scope is listed at about $300, with a street price down around $200, which is actually fairly high for a Chinese sourced scope. This price puts them in the Millett scope territory, which is one of the higher end Chines made scope brands. Whether the price is artificially high or whether they are indeed being made to higher quality standards was yet to be seen and up to us to try and determine.
The tube is made from a “high quality” aluminum alloy according to Vector Optics and it is a one piece hammer forged tube. The scope is short but with a large eye piece and there is a very limited area for the scope mounting rings to utilize. If you are using a one piece rail it should not be a problem but if you are using a two piece base, there may be some mounting issues, especially with a long action. But as this scope is geared more toward a SPR type rifle, which tends to be semi-auto and normally with mounting rails, then it should be okay. The weight of the scope is actually fairly heavy, almost a pound and a half. This weight does give the impression of durability, though I suspect a lot of that weight comes in the eye piece and its components, as it takes up a good portion of the size of the scope.
The objective lens is just large enough at 24mm to require that a bell larger than the tube diameter be utilized. For scopes like these where their intended use does not require exceptional light gathering, I prefer that the objective be small enough that a straight tube can be used at the objective end. This aides in mounting the scope and the reduced light gathering and resolution with the smaller objective is not widely missed because of the lower magnifications. The 24mm objective does allow for a generous 6mm exit pupil even at its highest 4x magnification. The larger the exit pupil, the easier it is to pick up a full scope picture which is helpful in rapid engagement scenarios and snap shooting.
The finish on the exterior of the scope is a matte black anodizing and it actually seems to be nice quality. It is applied evenly over the entire scope and all the parts seem to match. The markings are a dull white, not bright, and the marking color and text are nice. But I will mention there are a lot of unnecessary markings on the scope. The eye piece is big, and Vector decided to make full use of that size as there is a very large “Vector Optics” logo on the top. Then on the side of the eye piece there is the model, “Templar 1-4×24” which is fine, but then right below it is the strange sentence “For Law Enforcement/Tactics Use”. That line is just wasted markings that do not even make sense. Then up on the small objective bell there is marked “Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope. Dimand Coat Illuminated 30mm Monotube Wide Fov. Etched Glass Reticle Heavy Duty 50 Caliber Proof”. Yes, those entire complete sentences are on the small bell. I’m not sure I have ever seen the scopes advertising features printed on the scope itself. I suggest they get rid of it.
The scope does come with some flip up scope cap covers that have clear plastic and are see-through. They are a bit thick, but are decent quality. In fact, they fit on quite snug, so snug that we have not been able to get the front one off which is why in all of the pictures I this review, the scope caps are on the scope. They are not nearly as nice as butler creek caps, but they are better than the cheap ones that come on other scopes, such as Sightron.
As mentioned earlier, the entire ocular housing is quite large, both in diameter and in length. The eye piece itself is a fast focus style, but not as fast focus as most others. Typically a fast focus will have about 1 – 1.5 of rotation to span the entire diopter range, but this one takes 2.25 rotations. With my corrective glasses, I was able to get a good clear reticle without a problem, but without my glasses, the adjustment range was not quite large enough to allow me to get a completely clear reticle. Vector Optics does not list the Diopter range that the eye piece covers.
At the front of the ocular housing is the magnification power adjustment ring. The power ring is marked from 1 – 4x in .5 increments. There are serrations along the ring as well as a protrusion to help with grabbing the ring to adjust it. The markings are on the flat surface so when behind the rifle, the shooter must lift his or her head to see what setting the scope is on. With a FFP reticle, the power setting is not a critical matter. The ring adjusts smoothly through the entire range with just a very slight grittiness from 1 to 1.5 when the scope first came out of the box, but that is no longer there. The amount of force required to move the ring is just about right, not too much, but enough to allow it to stay put once changed.
The elevation knob is a large external style knob that is fairly tall with a wider flat area on top. This top area also has some serrations to help the operator get a good grip, but the serration groves are perhaps a bit too thin with not enough of them, so it can still be too smooth with gloves on. The adjustments are .5 MOA per click, which for a scope of this design is perfectly acceptable as you do not need as much precision as a higher magnification scope that is designed for longer ranges and typically has .25 MOA adjustments. The knob is nicely numbered with the same off-white color every 2 MOA and they are easy to read. Unfortunately the physical clicks can use some help and this is where we usually run into some problems with lower quality Chinese made scopes. There is a decent amount of slop between clicks, meaning the knob itself moves nearly a full indication mark before you feel the resistance and then get the actual click. Also, the clicks are not positive enough, giving you the “mushy” feeling, though there is a very audible click. The tactile click is better than cheaper scopes, but still needs work. Then there is the one issue that provides further alarm, the knob itself literally tilts, or teeters, back and forth several degrees on top. The more up that is dialed into the scope raises that knob further which makes the teetering effect even worse. When the knobs is down lower it is not as bad, but the whole arrangement causes some concern.
As mentioned before, each click is .5 MOA with 30 MOA of adjustment per revolution, and there are plenty of revolutions to use. Vector Optics indicates 300 MOA of adjustment, plus or minus. Our sample scope here had over 360 MOA of adjustment. For a scope with this low magnification this is far more adjustment range than will ever be needed, but it does eliminate any sort of need for canted bases and should cover just about every imaginable mounting configuration. We do wonder if a good engineering decision might be to halve the amount of MOA adjustment and try and get rid of the wobbly knobs.
The windage knob is the same as the elevation knob and does count up in both directions. For a quick reaction SPR style scope like this one, the windage knob is not used a lot once the scope is zeroed, so its current setup should work just fine. Unfortunately the windage knob has the same clicks and suffers from the same teetering effect as the elevation knob.
On the left hand side of the scope you find the reticle brightness control knob. As has been popular lately, this scope has both a red and green lit reticle. There has been a number of studies out there that show that red may not be the ideal color to use to retain your night vision and that blue-green is the better choice. Red does allow the eye to distinguish more detail when illuminating a target. The studies also show that the single best thing for retaining night vision is to NOT over illuminate, meaning the brightness is more important to preserving night vision than the actual color. In this case, the Vector scope has both red and green with five levels of brightness for each. There is an “off” position between the red and green brightness levels. The knob has very positive tactile clicks with muted sound and feels much better than the elevation and windage knob clicks. The various brightness levels are good with the lowest setting being just barely visible, which is exactly what you want when possible. On the brightest settings, there is no leaked light in the scope tube which is a problem for other lower priced scopes such as the Millett we tested. The entire reticle is lit on this scope and not just the interior portion and when the scope is set to the lower magnification levels and the FFP reticle shrinks, you can notice that the lighting of the reticle is not even and there are some spots that are more dimly lit than the rest of the reticle.
The one thing we do not like about the illumination controls is that as you rotate through the brightness controls and then get to the off position, if you go one more click to engage the new color, the brightness of that new color is the opposite brightness setting of the color you just left. Meaning, if you have the scope set to the lowest brightness on green and then click once more to off and then click once more to red, you are on the HIGHEST brightness setting for red, which then hurts your night vision because it is so bright. There is no way to get from the lowest brightness setting of one color to the lowest brightness setting of the other color without going through the brightest setting. This is one of those small details that does seem like much, but can mean a lot when used in the field.
For our operational tests, we mounted the scope onto our test mule rifle, a Remington 700P in 308 Winchester. We used Burris XTR 30mm aluminum rings of low height to mount the scope on the Warne 20 MOA rail. The wide XTR rings left very limited room for scope positioning because of the minimal amount of ring mounting area on the scope. Without a one piece rail you will be out of luck in most cases. This Remington rifle shoots .5 – .75 MOA groups with HSM 168gr match ammo which is what we used for our tests. The shooting tests were conducted in overcast conditions, about 10 degrees above zero with snow covered ground.
The reticle is a hash style reticle setup in milliradians (mils) and is etched on the glass for durability. Because this is a FFP scope where the reticle grows and shrinks with the magnification of the scope, a compromise must be reached as to the thickness of the stadia lines. It needs to be thick enough to be seen at its lowest magnification level yet not too thick to make it cumbersome when at the scopes highest magnification level. With this scope, down at the 1x, the hashes really are not usable, but the crosshairs can still be used for shot placement. The thicker stadia is a skeleton, or hollow, style which helps it not block out as much of the scope picture when at higher magnification, but makes it not quite as visible at lower magnification. When the scope is zoomed the its highest magnification level, the hashes are a bit too thick, but again, for an SPR rifle where engagements are at shorter ranges and more rapid, it works fine. I will give my opinion that a mil reticle is probably not a good choice for this style of scope. The magnification is too low to get good readings for range estimation and with only 4x on the upper end of the scope, it would not be on a long range rifle where the range estimation is critical. I would prefer a rapid slider style range estimation reticle with some hold off points, maybe something like the Valdada IOR Nato Reticle. This would allow very quick range estimation and a quick aiming point and would be more suitable to this style of scope.
Optically the glass is actually not too bad. It is not going to rival high end scopes, but the glass appears to be on the upper end of the lower priced scopes. Because of the lower power there is no need for a parallax adjust and the scope was clear for all the ranges that we tested it at (25-300 yards).
We have already mentioned our issues with the sloppy clicks and teetering knobs so we did not know what to expect with our repeatability tests and MOA precision tests. The other problem is that with only 4x on the high end and with a thick reticle to use, it is very difficult to shoot precision groups as the reticle literally was larger than the 1″ orange dot we used for our aiming point at 100 yards. In order to help shoot better groups you can use a few different methods. Some people will set the orange dot in the corner of the cross hairs so that you can still see the dot, but you are not aiming at what you want to hit. For me, I prefer to set that orange dot in the corner and go through the normal shooting motions and then when the pressure is beginning to be applied to the trigger, shift the crosshairs up and cover the entire dot and take the shot. Over the years this has worked okay for me and I have discovered that letting the shot go quickly is more accurate than taking a lot of time trying to be sure the reticle is completely covering the dot. It takes getting used to, but works for me and a few others. Using this method we were able to get consistent 1 MOA groups, which really was better than we hoped.
Using the above method we then went through our normal shooting drills to test the scope. We shot a 6 MOA box and by golly the clicks were actually accurate and repeatable with the 5th group right where the first one started and each group at the 6 MOA corners. We then did our 20 MOA test by going 20 MOA to the left and fired a group and came back 20 MOA to the right and fired another group. Again the adjustments repeated accurately and were right on top of the first. The groups measured 20.8″ apart. At 100 yards 20 MOA is 20.94″ inches meaning the adjustments were only 0.7% off and probably within the group measuring error. So, while the knobs have slop, teeter on top of their posts, and the clicks themselves are not as defined as we would like, the actual measurements are right on.
Because of the low magnification, we did not shoot the scope beyond 300 yards, and even that is pushing the capabilities of this scope, especially for any sort of precision shooting.
Well, we are trying to figure out just how to conclude our feelings about the scope. There are certainly flaws in it, not the least of which is unproven quality and durability with Chinese made scopes. But there are also the teetering knobs, sloppy clicks, odd markings, limited mounting area and a needless FFP Mil hash reticle. Because of those negatives we cannot really give the scope our recommendation. But on the other hand, the optics are at least decent and the click adjustments are accurate and it can get the job done, especially on a SPR. It would have been better if Vector sent a higher power long range style scope that fit more with our normal reviews here, but this scope at least does not completely turn us off from at least checking out one of their other models down the road.