Sunday, 22 March 2009

Hubert's Reviews: Hawke SR6 Nite Eye Scope

I've posted a few pictures of the view through my scope of late and it occurred to me that I'd never actually written anything about this piece of kit. Eager to prevent the Blogosphere from starting to spin all wonky on its axis due to this omission, I thought I'd better correct this at once.

Trying to do a bit of hunting at dusk with the first scope I had - an otherwise perfectly decent Nikko Sterling Silver Crown 4 X 32 - I found that, as dusk started to press more heavily on the countryside and rabbits were beginning to stir, the increase of activity on the ground was unhelpfully matched by a equivalent decrease in the usefulness of the scope: rabbits come out when the light is failing and, as the light fails, so the scope fails.

Damn, I thought, this is no good.

A bit of Googling turned up this - the Hawke SR6 Nite Eye - which looked just the ticket: a Christmas-tree reticule that lights up and a huge, light-gathering, 50mm lens to suck in all the goings-on in the near-invisible world of hedgerows & fields at dusk. Sadly this handy-looking article came with a price ticket that, at least in the U.K, was a bit scary: about a hundred and fifty quid. Pouring over Ebay, I came across these folk, Bagnall & Kirkwood and their Ebay store here. They seemed to be the cheapest online dealers of Hawke scope I could find back then and so, after much pondering, I bought it and ... well, yes, it's a good scope!

It does need high mounts because of the giant lens and is, itself, quite a large thing: stuck on top of the far-from-feather-light HW80k it produces a gun that's hovering close to a total weight of 11lbs. But it really does do the job it lots of ways: I have many times been looking at a stretch of what looks to the unaided eye like pure, featureless blackness, and then popped the scope up to my eye to find that there in front of me is a perfectly clear stretch of grass with molehills and weeds all nicely discernible. On one occasion, I was lying down and looking along a hedge onto - as far as I was aware - nothing at all, when I raised the scope to my eye and was genuinely startled to find a relaxed-looking rabbit sitting down about twenty yards in front of me - so profound was the dusk I'd totally failed to notice that it had emerged from a nearby burrow.

The illuminated reticule is fine, too. I find the lowest setting of the red illumination to be perfectly adequate for all the low-light conditions I ever hunt in. The parallax adjustment ring is stiff to turn, I find it almost impossible to adjust it with one hand when I'm lying on the ground. I can certainly see how handy it would be to operate this via a wheel that's closer to the eye-piece but this seems to be a feature of scopes that are - even second-hand - way beyond the puny reach of my pocket at the moment. That being said, I generally just leave the scope set at about thirty yards - and that seems to work just fine, so there's not really much call to be constantly winding it up to five hundred yards and back.

The one feature that seems not to work so well - for me at least - is the little bit at the bottom of the reticule that supposedly allows you to judge distance by comparing the heights of certain known items against a scale. If the average rabbit's ears are three inches high, then the four little scales in this area show you what three inches will look like at 50, 25, 16.7 and 12.5 yards respectively. In theory, it's very handy, in practise it's not so great for low-light work because this part of the reticule is not illuminated and so, when there's little light about, it becomes almost invisible - which is to say, unusable. Also, the placement of this part of the reticule - right at the bottom of the field of view - means that, to use it, you tend to have to raise the whole rifle so that this part of the reticule falls over the ears of the rabbit whose distance in in question. This means that when you see a rabbit, you effectively start waving your rifle around in the air, and rabbits, I've found, tend to get spooked rather quickly when you wave a hefty German air rifle at them.


  1. Hubert, I am thoroughly enjoying your blog. Keep writing. Sorry about the joblessness, it's about to happen to me shortly, too. Nigel.

  2. That's very kind of you indeed, mate. Many thanks.