Hawke Endurance 30 1.25-4.5×24

 

 

Hawke Endurance 30 1.25-4.5×24

This review kept on being superseded by more pressing matters, so I ended up spending a lot of time with this scope.  The bad part is that I really should have published this earlier.  The good side is that I tried this scope on a bunch of different rifles, dropped it repeatedly (and usually unintentionally) and generally abused it a fair bit more than I typically do with the scopes I review.

Considering how long I have spent with this scope, I do not have all that much to say about it.  It is optically quite good and mechanically sound.  It has a couple of weaknesses and a couple of strengths which I will mention shortly.  It offers an excellent bang for the buck.  I have looked at quite a few Hawke scopes up to this point and this is probably my favourite.  I generally like low-range variables, and this is a nice one.  I would have preferred it if it was a bit more compact and if the illumination was a touch dimmer at the lowest settings.  Aside from that, I have little to complain about.

Endurance 30 scopes are Hawke’s highest end hunting scope designs.  If I understand this correctly, the design work is done in Japan, while the scopes are built in China.

Here are some specs for the Endurance 30 1.25-4.5×24 and some of its competitors:
Weaver V3 1-3×20 Nikon African 
1-4×20
Leupold
VX-II
1-4×20
Millett
DMS-1
1-4×24
Hawke Endurance 1.25-4.5×24 Bushnell Elite 4200 1.25-4×24
Length, in 9.1 10.35 9.2 11.8 11.8 10.4
Weight, oz 8.5 12.16 9 18 15.5 15
Main Tube Diameter 1″ 1″ 1″ 30mm 30mm 30mm
Eye Relief, in 3.1 (longer in practice) 4 4.3 – 3.8 3.5 4 3.3
FOV, ft@1000yards 87 – 30.8 92.9 – 23.1 75 – 28.5 90 – 23 75-30 81.4 – 26.2
Reticle Plex #4 Plex or Donut-Dot L4 Dot 4a 
Illumination No No No Yes (Dot and Circle) Yes (Dot) Yes (Dot)
Price $160 $280 $300 $200 $325 $500

I listed three 1″ tube scopes and three 30mm tube scopes in the table above.  I tried to cover a reasonable price gamut with Weaver V3 being the most inexpensive option and Bushnell Elite 4200 1.25-4×24 being the most expensive.  

Even after only a brief look at the specs, one (perhaps unsurprising) thing stands out: 1″ scopes are quite a bit trimmer and lighter than their 30mm brethren.  In principle, the 30mm Millett and Bushnell are fairly direct competitors to the Hawke Endurance 30 (and I compared it to both), bracketing it in terms of price.  However, I included these 1″ scopes in order to show some similarly priced alternatives that are appreciably lighter.  Generally speaking, there is no shortage of 1-4×24 (or thereabouts) 30mm tube scopes out there.  Practically all of them have very similar exterior dimensions and weigh somewhere between 15 and 18 ounces.  Some are designed for tactical AR-15 applications (these usually have somewhat more complicated holdover reticles ) and others are aimed at the hunting market.  Hawke Endurance 30 1.25-4.5×24 generally belongs to the second group although there is a fair amount of crossover between them.

Physically, the Endurance 30 is one of the larger scopes in this market segment largely because of a rather massive eyepiece.

Here is a picture of the Endurance 30 and Millett DMS-1 side by side mounted on two different rifles (technically speaking the scratched up Millett scope in the picture is an early FFP prototype made for GRSC that I happen to own; externally, it is identical to DMS-1, which I also have and compared to the Hawke scope).
Here is what it looks like next to the Elite 4200 1.25-4×24:

The eyepiece on the Hawke is not so large as to interfere with function, but large enough to be noticed.  That having been said, I do not know offhand whether it would interfere with mounting on a magnum-length action, although I doubt it.  I used it on a few of different rifles, primarily on a Saiga chambered for 7.62×39.  However, since Saiga is not exactly a precision instrument and I wanted to check the accuracy of adjustment, I mounted the Endurance 30 on my 8mm Mauser for a little bit as well.  It did not pose any mounting or operational issues.  Here is a view of Elite 4200 and Endurance 30 eyepieces side by side.

The turrets on the Hawke are finger adjustable, and are covered with screw-in caps. These are fairly standard 1/4 MOA knobs with decent feel.  I suspect that prospective users of this scope are most likely to set zero and not mess with the knobs much after that, but the adjustments were pretty accurate, so if you are inclined to do some knob twisting, you can.  The illumination knob is on the turret box and it takes standard 2032 batteries.  Here is a view of the turrets, once again side by side with the Elite 4200.  Both are finger adjustable, but the turret on Elite 4200, while more solid feeling, is much harder to grab:


In terms of overall mechanical quality, Endurance 30 held up very well in my testing.  It is a solid feeling scope with reasonably smooth and repeatable adjustments.  

Reticle illumination is red in color.  Illumination knob has 12 brightness settings.  In my opinion, the lowest setting should have been a little dimmer, although this one was not too bright until the light got really low.  At the brightest setting, the illumination was not visible in broad daylight.  I mostly care about illumination in the lowest of light and overall the illumination was serviceable, but not optimal.  On the plus side, the reticle used in all Endurance 30 scopes is very good for low light performance: it is a 4a-type reticle with very thick and visible outer posts and fine dot aiming point (it is only the dot that illuminates).  Even without illumination, I could comfortably see the reticle in anything but the worst possible conditions.

Optically, I liked the Endurance 30 quite a bit.  I wish the field of view at low magnification was a little bit wider, but it is serviceable enough as is.  At high magnification, however, the field of view is exceptionally wide, especially considering the rather generous eyerelief.

I did some looking around and it turns out that the Endurance 30 has wider field of view at 4.5x than just about anything else out there, and its 4.5x FOV is wider than that of most scopes at 4x.

That makes for an interesting design compromise.  When used at 1.25x, I typically keep both eyes open, so I am not sure how important wide field of view is.  However, I have seen some competing designs wider low-end field of view that offered faster target acquisition.  Like with most things, I suspect that it comes down to personal preference.

Overall image quality is very good at all magnifications.  It was clearly better than Mileltt DMS-1 and almost as good (at the same magnification) as Elite 4200.  Side by side with Elite 4200, with both scope at 4x, Elite 4200 resolved slightly better and had marginally better contrast.  However, with Hawke, zooming up to 4.5x negated that advantage.

In low light, Endurance 30 was slightly more susceptible to flare than Elite 4200, but not significantly so.  Neither scope was particularly prone to forming to ghost images and sweet spot size was very comparable.  Similarly, at high magnification, geometric distortion at the edges was not easily noticeable on both scopes.  Turning reticle illumination on, did not produce any offensive halos or stray reflections.

As far as pure ability to see things in low light, Endurance 30 was able to hang with Elite 4200, mostly, I suspect, due to a touch more magnification and wider field of view.

Target acquisition was very quick owing to a thick reticle and absence of any semblance of tunnel-effect.  One interesting observation I made while testing these scopes is that the, otherwise thoroughly outclassed, Millet DMS-1 in good light offered the fastest target acquisition of the bunch.  Human eye generally like circles and my eye is no exception.  While 4a is my favourite allround reticle design, for pure acquisition speed Millett’s Donut-Dot is slightly faster.

Overall, I liked Endurance 30 and it easily makes it onto my list of recommendations.  While overall, Elite 4200 offers a trimmer, lighter and optically better (albeit not by much) package, it is appreciably more expensive.  For ~$325 or less, I can’t think of a similarly configured scope that I wold prefer to the Endurance 30.  It has a couple of weaknesses: comparatively narrow field of view at low magnification and overall size and weight.  If you can overlook those, it offers a lot for the money.

5/25/2010
Here is the OpticsTalk thread:

 

 Posted by at 2:08 am