Jul 062018

I am fibbing a little. This is not my first look at this scope, since I spent a couple of days with a prototype. However, this the first time I see the production reticle.

I mounted the scope on my light-ish AR chambered for 5.56×45. This gun has very light stock and handguard, but the barrel is not a pencil weight and the receivers and BCG are of standard weight. With the new 2.5-10×32 SS Ultralight in a light Aerotech mount, the whole rifle, with the sling, weighs in at around 7.6lbs.  The fact that the scope itself weighs in at less than 10 ounces is kinda cool.

With dedicated light weighted receivers, lighter weight barrel and lighter BCG, I can probably make a nice hunting AR chambered for the Blackout or something similar, weighing in right around 6lbs with the scope.  That is an appealing thought right there…

I will spend more time working out the turrets, but my initial impressions are that the tracking is accurate and the feel is surprisingly good for something with covered turrets.

One of the things I check first is if the turrets match the reticle and that is what I did with this scope briefly after sight in.  The reticle is a basic plex design with 12MOA opening between the thick lines.  I did a quick test of 6MOA adjustment and 12 MOA adjustment with the elevation turret and so far so good.

The reticle is roughly the same thickness as other standard plex reticles out there.  Thick line is 0.8MOA and thin line is 0.2MOA at 10x.  That is very close to similar reticles from Leupold, Sightron, etc.











I’ll take better reticle pictures when I have the scope on a tripod.  These are sorta handheld with a cellphone, so the quality is not great.  However, this give you an idea of line thicknesses.

While we are on the subject of reticles, after some harassment, SWFA fessed up that they will add a second reticle to this line-up in a few months, designed to work with 223Rem at 10x.  Here is what the reticle will look like:

Upcoming BDC reticle

I’ll run some basic ballistics and see how the BDC works with common AR cartridges.  I checked how it does with 223 and it should be spot on with typical 55-60 grain bullets.  I will tabulate what I come up with for other AR cartridges.  One thing I really like about this design is that the holdover lines are thinner than the primary aiming point.  That is a very good compromise between holdover tree and low light visibility.  The primary aiming dot is 0.4MOA, the lines to its side and above are 0.3MOA thick and the lines in the holdover tree are 0.2MOA thick. Thick bars are 1.6MOA thick which should make for excellent low light visibility.  It looks like a clever enough design and I will spend some time working up how it fits different calibers.

The turrets are capped and resettable with 0.25MOA clickls.  Sighting in was very uneventful, which is always a good sign.

One outstanding feature of this scope is the slim eyepiece.  Eye relief is a bit on a short side which works well for ARs and micro action bolt guns, but I would not put it on a boomer.   Despite comparatively short eye relief (which you need to maintain good FOV with a slim eyepiece), eye relief flexibility is quite good and the scope is rather easy to get behind.  I spent some time shooting offhand and sitting and had no problems getting the right sight picture.  Generally, the market is not awash in 2.5-10x ultralight scope, so finding comparables was not easy:

SWFA SS Ultralight 2.5-10×32 Sightron S-Tac 2-10×32 Leupold VX-3i 2.5-8×36 (2.6-7.8x actual) Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32 Sig Whiskey3 2-7×32
Length, in 10.9 11.8 11.4 11 11.2
Weight, oz 9.5 16 11.4 13.4 14.8
Main Tube Diameter 1” 30mm 1” 1” 1”
Eye Relief, in 3.35 – 2.56 4.2 – 3.6 4.5 -3.6 3.8 3.5
FOV, ft@1000yards 41.2 – 10.5

21 @ 5x

38.4 – 9.1

18.4 @ 5x

37.5 – 13.7

21.4 @ 5x

72.2 – 13.2

21.1 @ 5x

45.4 – 13.1

18.34 @ 5x

Reticle Illumination No No No No Yes
Click Value 0.25 MOA 0.25 MOA 0.25 MOA 0.25 MOA 0.5 MOA
Adjustment per turn 15 MOA 15 MOA 15 MOA
Adjustment range 70 MOA 100 MOA 67 MOA 110 MOA 110 MOA
Parallax 100 yards 100 yards 100 yards No No
Reticle Location SFP SFP SFP SFP SFP
Price $300 $300 $400 $750 $290

Of the scopes in this table, I have the ultralight SS and Razor HD LH on hand, although the most direct competition is Sightron S-Tac and Leupold VX-3i.  The new SS is definitely the lightest of the bunch.

Side by side with the Razor HD LH, the Vortex is a better scope optically (as it should be given the price difference), but SSUL is no slouch and resolves well.  There is less color pop with it though.  The only other 32mm scope I currently have on hand is an older Bushnell Elite 6500 1.25-8×32.  The SSUL seems similar to that scope in terms of optics.  I’ll do some more testing and see how it all works out.

From a usability standpoint, there is no tunneling of any sort and the scope is easy to get behind, so offhand shooting at 2.5x works quite nicely for me.

Here are the Razor HD LH and SWFA SS UL side-by-side:

SWFA SS UL 2.5-10×32 and Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32

Note the difference in eyepiece diameters.  Another thing to note is that with the SS, I can use two separate rings instead of a single piece mount.  With Razor HD LH on an AR, I have to use a single piece mount since it has to be positioned fairly far forward.  While in principle it shouldn’t matter much whether you use a since piece mount or two rings, there are a couple of advantages (and disadvantages) to using separate rings.  The disadvantage is that the picatinny rail better be machined well.  The advantage is that with two separate rings, I can use the scope as a carry handle which is quite convenient.  It also frees up a lot of rail space if I want to add a red dot sight at 45 degrees (which I might) or any other accessories.

So far, I like the little scope.  Obviously, it being a new design, durability is not yet known, so I will keep track of how these do and beat this one up a little.

 Posted by at 4:21 pm

  9 Responses to “First Look: SWFA SS 2.5-10×32 Ultralight”

  1. I wonder why they opted for a one-inch tube? Marketing perhaps, or is there an actual, applicable difference behind it?

    • Probably for the sake of weight and compactness. Also, with a moderate objective size, you can mount a 1″ tube scope a little lower which makes a difference for trim and light boltguns.

  2. Ilya, Lately I’ve been quite interested in a concept you’ve written about here. A lightweight scope with a larger objective lens and (piggybacked or offset) RDS as opposed to the standard 1-x variable with tiny objective and BUIS. I see that many people are employing this idea with offset RSD paired with traditional 1-x in multigun competition anyway.

    My intention would be to pair it with a BCM ELW-F upper with the original 13″ magnesium alloy KMR rail. This rifle comes in at about 5.8 lbs with a standard BCM FA profile bolt group and BCM lower. The barrel really seems to like 77 grain bullets.

    This scope with the .223 bdc reticle looks really interesting! I wonder if there is a good way to piggyback a small RDS in the 12:00 position on these scopes that have a 1″ tube and low profile turrets? If one could mount the scope in a relatively low mount (perhaps 1.35″ to centerline in height on an AR), and then get a mini reflex sight to sit in a perfect orientation to peer just over the elevation turret, could it mitigate some of the ‘height over bore’ problems inherent in this configuration? I’m thinking a poor man’s bastardization of the Leupold D-EVO, but with variable power and only slightly compromised cheek weld. I suppose that might require a way to direct attach the reflex sight to the top of a scope ring or ring mount, though?

    I’ve never used an offset RDS, so perhaps this is a vastly superior solution in practice, and but my caveman brain wants to reject the idea of shooting with the gun canted, and I have an irrational desire for ambidextrous use of the RDS.

    What are your thoughts about combining a lightweight 1″ scope and a RDS to supplant a single LPVO on a lightweight 5.56 AR, Ilya? What optics and mounting systems would you be looking at if you were to pursue this as a project?

    • It is a viable concept. It is not a replacement for Leupold’s D-EVO since you still have to move the eye to switch between sights, but it is similar to various prism scopes with red dots on top. I run my Elcan Spectre OS 4x like that. In order to mount a a red dot onto a scope like this, you can use TPS CORA. They make a 1″ version. SWFA website says they are discontinued, but they still have a couple, so if this what you want to do, I suggest you get one:

      I think they have two and I will probably buy the other one.


      • Thanks, I ordered the TPS CORA. Great price from SWFA!! It will be interesting to see how it works out.

        I’m definitely more interested in the BDC reticle version of this scope–primarily for the wind dots–but also holdovers. I’d been eyeing the Vortex 1.5-8 LH, however the weight difference and MOA subtensions conspire to make the Vortex less appealing to me, even though the lower end of the magnification is probably more useful to me than the very top. If the Vortex reticle had a mil scale with .5 mil increments it would absolutely be on it’s way to my house.

        I think the ultimate reticle for this type of scope would be something along the lines of the Vortex G4 BDC (that you inspired) or SWFA’s BDC reticle above, but instead of a generic BDC, put a mil scale with fine .5 mil increments running downward, then also add fine, relatively unobtrusive WIND DOTS approximating 5 and 10 mph wind hold offs extending out horizontally from the mil scale.

        It would obviously be called a ‘WIND-MIL Reticle’….because: obviously.

        If the wind dots were roughly calibrated to 55 grain xm193 at 5 and 10 mph for instance, one could simply rename them 6 and 12 mph for certain 77 grain loads, or 7 and 14 for even higher BC loads/chamberings. I think it would work relatively well out to 500 or 600 yards with many loads. You would simply have to interpolate between slightly different numbers in order to bracket the wind correctly with any given cartridge, but it would be extremely simple 3rd grade math, and I think the reticle would look sane and balanced to the human eye, without being too flamboyant and distracting at low magnification.

        One would only need to figure out if their load was a 5 mph increment load (5 and 10), a 6 mph increment (6 and 12), or 7 mph (7 and 14), and then interpolate where you would need to bracket their target with the dots based on the current wind speed and direction.

        It’s exactly the same principle as Todd Hodnett’s TReMoR reticles, but designed for cheaper SFP scopes with lower magnification, shooting at more modest ranges, with lower zoot chamberings. You could even add 15 mph dots. Or only include 10 mph dots. Just get some wind dots on there!

        That’s my theory, anyway. I want a scope with a 5.56 WIND-MIL reticle.

  3. That is pretty close to the type of reticle I have been trying to get someone to make for me. Some day, I still might. SWFA’s BDC reticle wind holds are calibrated for 55gr XM193, so you get that with it, but the elevation holds are BDC type, not mrad. The holdover points are 1, 2.1, 3.5, 5 and 8.5 MOA.


    • ILya,
      Correct me if I am wrong:

      1 MOA corresponds to the first holdover mark beneath the dot
      2.1 MOA to the 300 holdover mark
      3.5 MOA to the holdover mark between 300 and 400
      5 MOA to the 400 holdover mark
      8.5 MOA to the 500 holdover mark

      What about the holdover mark between 400 and 500?
      Thanks in advance

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