Continuing on my quest to find some great gear at affordable prices has lead me to the excellent Hawke brand this month. I was searching for my next Hunting scope for the Rapid and as I have had Hawke scopes in the past I had never found one that I really liked personally for my style of shooting. In all fairness they were really good scopes that I had looked through at the shows but one never got me thinking this is the one for me. At the midland game fair this year though I found myself holding the new Hawke Varmint SF . A nice chat to the guys from Deben found one in the post along with a Range finder that I will also be testing in this feature . This Varmint scope has a 3x12x44 magnification , it is constructed using a 1 inch tube that gives it a larger appeal to most shooters over the 30 mm scopes on the market. It has a nice Matt black finish that does stop shine pretty well . The front bell is a nice 44mm that lets more than enough light in for any shooting situation. The Turrets are great on this scope , they are small BDC type but you can grip them very well, I would go to say even in the coldest conditions it would be easy with frozen hands to turn them. The side focus is what I liked about this Scope most, it was nice and smooth and to be honest if it said the target was at 30 or 50 yards it was more or less spot on once I checked it with the range finder .The claim by Hawke is its shock proof , (I am sure to test that claim out at some point ) its also Water proof and Fog proof . If we have any problems with the scope Hawke claims we also have a nice back up of a lifetime Guarantee .
My next bit of kit that I will be trying on this trip is the Hawke LRF 400 Range Finder. This is a great little unit that I really enjoyed using. The unit sits very comfortable in your hand and with the soft rubber grips positioned around its body gives you total control while holding it . The LRF 400 is so easy to use, you use the same button that you turned it on with to get your reading so within five seconds you will have the distance worked out and be ready to place the pellet on any target whether it is Meters or Yards that you prefer using. There are a couple of different modes also , if its raining you can turn Rain mode on and it wont affect the reading . Also there is one called '150' , it eliminates a false reading if twigs are in the way of you and your target . This is especially good if your shooting in a wood and one that I will be using a lot this winter. One last thing that I would like to mention is The six times magnification . It gives a nice sharp image of what your looking at , it is also great for spotting in the field instead of using you rifle scope which for safety reasons is a nice bonus .
One thing that I am sure you are asking is what Reticle does the Varmint have. Now I saved this bit for now because it is what I have been waiting to get on a scope that I liked for a long time. The Varmint has not just a mill-dot reticle but also small Half mill-dots in between the larger ones.
I have used Mill-dot reticles for a long time now , they are great if you do get a shot and it is further than your zero but only if you are confident in Your own and your rifles capabilities . It is easy to get drawn into the longer shots with them but be sensible , a light breeze can move a pellet a lot more than you will expect so plenty of practice is a must .The Hawke Varmint's Half mill-dots makes it even easier to get the pellet landing exactly where you want it and this will only lead to greater accuracy up to 40 yards if really necessary.
Now my expert technical review is over I will go on to what I like to do best, get out and try it in the field. Today was forecast to be misty and damp, not the best conditions to test a scope but it would give me a good chance to see how it performed in probably some of the worst conditions I would shoot in. I had been roped into letting the lovely Wife’s horse out and muck out the stable while I was there so by the time I had finished the morning was getting on. I knew there would be the odd pest out there to shoot but on this permission the days of big bumper bags are long gone. Jobs finished I set up a target at my preferred 30 yards and set out to zero the scope. It was sorted in no time and even though there was still a mist in the air I could see the target nice and crisp. I was surprised how good it really was to be honest as my old Vipir scope would have its visibility cut down quite a bit when it was a bit misty.
I set off around the small paddocks , sticking close to the hedge line in the hope a rabbit or a pigeon may be out feeding. It wasn’t until I had scared a few pigeons off from the trees in front that I thought where’s my head net and gloves. Now it may seen strange to think why didn’t I put it on but I was so engrossed in trying the Varmint scope on live quarry that I just set off. I quickly went back to the stables to look in my Rifle bag for them and you guessed it I had forgot to put them in . What a bloody idiot I was thinking to myself , I never forget them usually as its probably one of the most important bits of kit I use . Rather than head back home I thought I would just try and do my best and see what the next couple of hours bought . The mist was lifting now and no matter how slow I walked Pigeons were flitting out of trees everywhere I walked , they could see my face and hands from miles away and I was getting pretty beat up about it . I decided to sit in against a holly tree , Well i was sitting in it and not the most comfortable seat i can tell you and wait it out in the hope something would land in the trees in front of me . I had cover from a Elderberry Tree in front and as its leaves had fallen I could see through plenty of gaps in its branches . I had waited for a good half hour when Three Pigeons turned up . I soon had the Varmint lined up and as I was scanning the tree I found one. I had placed the Cross Hairs just behind its eye and a little low, nearly half a mill-dot and the thump of the pellet striking it sent it tumbling to the floor beneath.
Now I was happy, the image of the pigeon was brilliant in the scope , it was so clear and to get the pigeon on my first shot at live quarry with it was a result. Pleased with myself I set off after my next pest. I had walked all around the paddocks now and with the odd Magpie putting in a show and flying off as soon as I raised the Rapid things were looking pretty grim . I was at the far end of the ground now and I decided to sneak up to some trees and have a look around for anything that might be out feeding, The LRF Range finder was great for this its 6X magnification made looking around a breeze and it wasn’t long before I spotted a lone rabbit feeding some 100 yards away.
I quite often get asked why I use the Bi-pod so much when I am shooting . This situation just shows that you never know when you will need it , even when I am in woods I will rest the the flattened legs on a branch to give me good support without wrecking the stock if I did it without one.
The size of the Bi-pod is 6-9 inches when extended and the one I have from new boys The Shooting Party, it is called the AirforceOne Pro Tilt , its a nice small compact Bi-pod and is perfect for any situation unless you decide to shoot in fields with grass a foot long obviously. It can be mounted either using a QD stud or a Picatinny rail .
Well it was getting on and I had to be in work in an hour so I decided to call it a day. I was more than pleased with all the kit I was using today and will it be the scope for me ?, 'DEFINATELTY' .
The Varmint SF is here to stay and it will be a long time before I even think of getting another scope to grace the Rapid, one thing that will be added is a sunshade that I have been told is available . Well I hope that you find it in yourselves to go and look through the Hawke range of optics , I am sure there is one for everybody and don’t discount these as a hunting scope only , I am sure the Varmint SF and other Hawke scopes would be great for HFT as well.
SCOPE . The New Hawke Varmint SF riflescopes £129.95
RANGEFINDER .Laser Range Finder 400 £114.95
Both from DEBEN.
Bi-Pod . Airforceone Pro Tilt Rifle Bi-pod. The shooting Party £44.99