Brief take on Sightron’s S2 Big Sky 1.25-5×20
Another OpticsTalk forum member (Wally) was kind enough to send me his scope for T&E. Since the scope was not mine, I did not torture it mechanically, but I spent some time looking at the glass quality in varying lighting conditions from bright daylight to middle of the night with no moon.
I mounted it on two different rifles for a couple of trips to the range: a 223 semiauto and a 8mm Mauser.
First, a brief summary: It is a nice little scope. I sufficiently like it to seriously consider buying one for myself. The only thing I disliked about it was the reticle. I would have preferred a thicker reticle, like #4. With the plex reticle it has, I was able to properly aim at a target with it in about as low of a light as I could with my Burris Fullfield II with #4 reticle. Although the Sightron has far superior glass, I has a hard time seeing the reticle in low light against a reasonably dark background.
Optically, the Big Sky seems to be a little better than the original S2 and about on par with Elite 4200. It is hard to say exactly since I did not have a truly equivalent Elite 4200 to compare it with (I do have a 1.1-4×24 Elite 4200 on the way and I will compare it to the same scopes this SIghtron was compared to to get some idea). It is certainly better than my 1.75-5×20 Burris Fullfield II and better than Leupold VX-3 1.5-5×20 that I had a chance to play with alongside the Sightron. Based on some earlier comparisons I did, I would say that the Big Sky is better than the previous generation Nikon Monarch, which had a 1.5-4.5×20 model and better than Weaver Grand Slam 1.75-5×32. I do not currently have Burris SIgnature Safari 1.75-5×32, but personally I would probably take the Big Sky over it, but it is hard to say offhand.
I did not see much of a parallax issue. There was some parallax error I could detect at 25 yards when using 5x magnification, but very little of it. Looking at various objects at various distances, it looked like the parallax was corrected at ~150 yards for the conditions I was in: 110F and dry as hell. Not sure what the altitude was, but definitely lower than 1000ft elevation.
I was able to resolve 22 cal bullet holes at 100 yards, but with some difficulty and not in all backgrounds. I do not recall ever being able to do that with a compact scope made in Japan and of similar cost before. With IOR scopes I can typically see 22 cal bullet holes with 4x to 5x, but those scopes are more expensive. I had a couple of IORs with me at the range (along with a few other scopes), so I think I got a reasonably decent idea of this scope’s capabilities.
I did not see any flare issues when playing with it during sunset. Off axis light sources did not produce any particularly objectionable image artifacts.
Eye relief was pretty long and nearly constant at right around four inches. Adjustments were spot on. The scope passed the box test with flying colors and POI did not seem to shift perceptibly at different magnifications.
I did not get a chance to properly test the hydrophobic coatings, but breathing on the lenses during a reasonably chilly morning did not prevent me from being able to see through the scope reasonably well.
All in all, I really liked the scope, but the reticle should have been thicker. I do not quite understand why scope makers put thin reticles into low range variables, but then again, there are a lot of things I do not understand.