Take this SWFA SS Riflescope review into consideration before purchasing optics for your rifle.
For anyone who purchases a new hunting rifle, a riflescope is usually the next thing that they decide to buy. Having a quality set of optics mounted on a rifle ensures that a shooter will be able to take full advantage of the pinpoint accuracy offered by modern rifles.
A good scope can also make the difference between a filled tag and an unsuccessful hunt.
I recently spent time reviewing a mid-range scope offering from the outdoor gear company SWFA and came away very impressed. Part of the SWFA SS line of riflescopes, the 3-9x42mm version that I reviewed boasts a large amount of features that you may not expect out of such an affordable scope.
However, this line was not always such high-quality. They were initially manufactured by Tasco and were met with solid reviews. However, the company soon fell into financial trouble and the quality of the scopes significantly dropped. That is when SWFA stepped in. The company purchased the rights to the then-named Super Sniper riflescope line from Tasco, and worked towards two goals: getting the quality back up to their previous standards as well as making improvements to the scopes themselves.
That brings us back to the present and the scope that I personally reviewed. The first thing that I noticed about this scope was the durable and solid feel that it had to it upon removal from the box. You can read stories from a lot of people who have used these scopes extensively that speak to the extreme toughness that they have. While I did not subject the scope I reviewed to any extreme tests of durability, it did take a few minor bumps. Not only was it no worse for wear afterwards, but it also maintained its point of impact.
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The 30mm diameter tube of this scope is made from one piece of aluminum and is finished in matte black. The finish is very smooth and has an almost satiny look to it. It contrasts nicely with the white, laser-etched lettering and numbering the scope has. This is certainly a very handsome scope especially for those shooters who like a little tactical feel. Indeed, the fluted eyepiece and the knurled adjustment knobs lend themselves incredibly well to being called tactical.
The eyepiece is adjustable to improve the reticle focus as you look through the scope and features a fluted pattern to improve grip which is useful considering the fine threading and firm adjustment the eyepiece features. That fluting continues forward onto the tapered magnification knob which sits directly in front of the eyepiece. While it is attractive, there is one slight drawback to the tapered shape of the magnification knob; it makes it difficult to see what your current magnification is. The numbers are etched onto the angled part of the knob and require you to raise your head significantly to see the exact number you are at.
However, that becomes somewhat of a moot point when you consider that this particular scope features a front focal plane (FFP) reticle. This means that the reticle increases and decreases in size as the scope's magnification is changed. This is a feature that is not commonly found in mid-range scopes, but is of great value to shooters. Once you have your point of impact sighted in at whatever range you choose, you can then feel confident in that shot placement despite the magnification you are working at.
The great features of this scope keep becoming apparent as we move onto the windage and elevation knobs. While some mid-range scopes will have mushy adjustments on their knobs, the SWFA SS has very tactile clicks that are easy to feel. Both knobs have very clear markings that make adjustments even easier as well.
The SWFA SS model that I reviewed had a standard mil-dot reticle. It was a refreshing change from some of the reticle options being offered by some scope manufacturers that, upon first glance, seem to require a degree in engineering to use. The mil-dot is very simple and makes for an uncluttered sight picture; it's very easy to learn and is also extremely effective, which is why it has been used for so long and continues to be.
One thing missing from this scope is a focus knob, also known as an adjustable objective. This was most likely done in order to keep the scope below a certain price point, as it would add complexity to the scope. While parallax can become a problem at certain ranges, I don't really see that as ever being an issue with this scope. Although this scope is very capable of making 600+ yard shots, it is better suited to shots at closer ranges.
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This scope would be excellent in the woodlots and farm fields of Ohio, specifically for hunters targeting small game and varmints. With average shots being within 100 yards in that environment, the 3-9x magnification would more than suffice for shots on groundhogs, coyotes, and other varmints.
I mounted the scope onto my Savage 10 FCP-K chambered in .223 and proceeded to fire hundreds of shots downrange during my extended time with the scope. One of the main complaints about mid-range scopes is that the glass is of poor quality. That does not hold true with the SWFA SS.
I was very pleasantly surprised with just how clear and bright the optics were in this scope. From edge to edge, there was no distinguishable blur or dimness, which made for a very pleasant shooting experience. The light gathering abilities of this scope were also solid even when used in lower light conditions.
I thoroughly enjoyed using this scope. I have looked through some pretty poor glass, and the SWFA was not even comparable to that at all. For the budget-minded hunter or shooter, the glass in this scope is more than adequate.
Overall, this scope is a great mid-range scope for the price. Unfortunately, the exact model that I reviewed is no longer being produced by SWFA. It is still available used, and SWFA even has some remaining dealer models listed for purchase on their site. However, the SWFA SS line of scopes is alive and well, with a lot of new models to choose from including some with HD glass. They are still just as affordable for the features they pack in as well.
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If you are in the market for a mid-range riflescope that will offer you great performance and durability for the price, then I would suggest you look into the SWFA SS line of scopes before making your final decision. You won't be sorry that you did.
For a full listing of the entire line of SWFA SS scope offerings, go here.
What is your favorite riflescope brand? Let us know in the comments below.