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Hawke Sidewinder FFP Full Review

Over many years the scope market has been flooded with a ton of different brands and styles of scopes. Chances are if you have ever been looking at scopes to use with an Airgun you may have come across the brand of Hawke. This company has been around for over 40 years and has expanded greatly with it’s USA based facility in 2007. Few brands offer a no fault lifetime warranty and are designed by those who use the products themselves. Several months ago I reached out to Hawke through email and asked if they may have interest in sponsoring a review of the New 2020 model Hawke Sidewinder. My experience with contacting a representative was very responsive and they soon sent me out a model to review. My experience with Hawke brand scopes has always been good so I was excited to share my experience and try my best to document it through video.


HAWKE SIDEWINDER 4-16X50 FFP

Hawke’s new System H5 optics boast a stunning 24° ultra-wide field of view with generous 4 inch (100mm) eye relief. This projects a high volume ‘eye-box’ image that passes through the scope, bringing you closer to the action than ever before. Improved sharpness and clarity provides incredible accuracy and unrivalled down range performance. 18 layer multiple lens coatings allow for the intense light transmission required from top optical devices. High grade, low dispersion crown glass is used throughout to create crisp first and second focal plane optical systems that have minimal field curvature and distortion. The Sidewinder’s new push/pull locking elevation turret has a ‘witness window’ to ensure you always know which revolution your turret is on.

This is especially useful for shooters who like to dial out to longer distances and need to keep track of how many revolutions have been made. As the elevation turret passes through each full rotation, the internal scale travels up or down and can be seen at a glance. No more uncertainty or lengthy click counting needed to get back to your original zero. The turrets are either 1⁄10 MRAD or 1⁄4 MOA and are easily reset to 0 after sighting in. All models are supplied with a removable throw lever that allows you to instantly adjust the magnification. This is vital in the field when reaction speed is crucial or weather conditions demand you to be wearing gloves.

An all new index-matched side wheel (included) makes parallax adjustment more accurate than ever before. The oversized wheel locks into place ensuring a solid and more responsive rotation. This allows for the finest focus adjustment and perfect parallax error correction. All models are focus adjustable from 10 yards (9 metres) up to infinity.

Set it and forget it. Quickly achieve sharp reticle focus and then lock it down to avoid accidentally adjusting dioptre settings. This simple yet essential feature is something that is omitted on far too many riflescopes and can lead to focusing issues when it comes to pulling the trigger. By locking the ocular focus in place you can be sure that when the time comes you have one more thing in check and the confidence you will be on target.

The Sidewinder comes beautifully packaged with allen wrenches, sidewheel, sunshade and detailed instruction manual.

  • First Focal Plane reticle: aim-points do not change with magnification adjustment
  • Multi-coated lenses: bright, clear picture quality
  • Side parallax adjustment: eliminates parallax error and assists in range-finding
  • 10-yard minimum focus: suitable for Airgun use and ultra-close-range shooting
  • Reticle illumination: assists with tricky background and lighting scenarios
  • 30mm body tube: more substantial build quality and light transmission
  • Fully water, fog and shock proof: increases longevity of the scope
  • Objective sunshade and large parallax sidewheel also included
  • No Fault Lifetime Warranty
  • Available in FFP and SFP Models

What does First Focal Plane mean?

Have you ever wondered what the differences between a First Focal Plane scope and a Second Focal Plane scope are?

The differences between the two options are quite different in both function and build. In a first focal plane scope, the reticle is placed in front of the magnification lens and in a second focal plane scope the reticle is placed after the lens.  Both operate very differently. In a first focal plane scope the reticle is placed in front of the lens assembly causing the reticle to grow or shrink with the magnification adjustment. This means that all the sub-tensions in the reticle do not change, so all your hold-overs and hold-unders remain the same regardless of the magnification setting. This is very helpful to shooters because it allows them to make corrections more quickly and confidently at any magnification. My biggest complaint with some brands in the FFP configuration is at the highest magnification setting, the reticle can become to large and difficult to use and overtakes the target. On the opposite end at lower magnifications the reticle can become too fine and difficult to see. Hawke has solved many of these problems and created the best reticle for a wide range of shooting applications. The (FFP Half-Mil Reticle) is an excellent choice for hunters and target shooters, not to busy but offers more than enough aim-points to get the job done quickly and precisely.

 


As usual I wanted to do a real world test of the scopes durability and performance so I used it over a month in both target and hunting situations. I mounted the Sidewinder to the LCS Air-Arms SK-19 .25 PCP that I have been using heavily for serious varmint hunting over the past year.

This plan was to do several hunting trips and to document my experiences through videos published to our YouTube channel. The fit and finish of the Hawke Sidewinder is very good and the biggest improvement to the New models are the aggressive turret knobs. These knobs are very easy and smooth to adjust making the scope very user friendly.

The lockable turrets are a big bonus to the scope and the rear elevation window makes the scope work very well for long range hunting. Most of my hunting would be for the California Ground squirrels, a reckless varmint that has caused a ton of destruction to a few of the ranches I frequent. The 4-16X50 is an excellent choice for hunting as it works well from closer ranges all the way out to 100’s of yards. The Sidewinder works very well for bracket ranging where we can use the scopes parallax adjustment to judge range, this is a technique many use in field target but can be applied for hunting as well. The Sidewinder is equipped with a side focus adjustment knob that you can see from above photo has numbers. These numbers go from 10 yards out to infinity and can be used to help judge ranges out to 100 yards. This technique works very well but is something that needs to be practiced and verified ahead of time using a laser rangefinder. I will discuss this in simple form as it can become very complicated and frustrating to understand. I first zero my gun and in that case it’s 75 yards, much further than most airgunners would zero. Once the gun is zeroed we can begin learning where our shots will hit at various ranges using a range card or phone app. As an example my scope is zeroed at 75 yards so at closer ranges such as 30 yards I will have to hold under and for ranges out past 100 yards I will have to hold-over the target. To find exactly where we have to make a holdover or holdunder simply has to be practiced and all data needs to be verified using a known source such as a laser rangefinder. Once we become familiar we can turn the magnification up, in this case 16x and use the side focus knob to focus to a clear picture. Once we have a clear picture we can look at the numbers on the parallax wheel.

I have found that this technique works very well out to 100 yards but beyond that it’s much to difficult to accurately judge range, therefore a rangefinder needs to be used to verify. Some of the shots I took were well beyond 100 yards where the Half Mil reticle really comes in handy with many points of aim to make corrections with.

This is just a basic example of how this reticle can be used and is in no way a substitute for getting out and practicing. The fact I was using slugs helps with making more precision long range shots as the projectile is less prone to wind drift. Most users may not be getting out at distances such as these but the same issues can be found as closer ranges depending on power levels and caliber choice. In many cases to accurately range the target, we also need to know the approximate size of the target. Then, based on the size of a given target, a mathematical formula is employed such that the height/width is multiplied by 27.78 and then divided by the number of number of “mils” the target subtends. This can get very complicated when given seconds to make a shot so it’s important to practice at various ranges and get familiar with how the projectile reacts in certain wind. Over the day I was able to take many of these Ground Squirrels down at various distances documented through the Tactacam 5.0 with FTS mount.

I was very pleased with how well the Sidewinder paired with the Tactacam as it’s not always easy to produce such a clear picture using a scope-camera. I found that even at lower power magnification the reticle was still easy to read, this is sometimes not the case with other brands. Hawke has done a fantastic job in the design of this reticle that is very easy to see throughout high and low magnification.

The 30mm tube allows plenty of light in making this a great scope for hunting in low light conditions such as early morning and late evening. After several successful hunting trips into the remote backcountry I had concluded this to be a very durable scope that had survived some nasty jarring rides in the Jeep. I continually left the rifle out of it’s case where it was subjected to hours of heavy vibrations from the miles of washboard roads we traveled. The Sidewinder holds zero perfectly and is in fact “Shockproof”!! Now that the scope had been tested in many hunting scenarios I wanted to let Terry “Offhand-Airgunner” get his hands on it for some target range use.


Terry is an accomplished Field Target shooter and someone I thought would be perfect for giving some feedback on the Sidewinder in some target shooting scenarios. We mounted the scope onto his American Air Arms EVOL .177 Field Target that puts out just under 20fpe. He spent some time with the scope and was impressed with the clarity of the glass and ease of use with the lockable turrets.

Terry tested the scope from the bench at various ranges out to 55 yards, standard ranges found in field target matches. He spent several hours practicing and setting the scope up for bracket ranging, I learned some new things as well as being able to watch through the remote Tactacam we mounted.

Terry spent the next week practicing with the scope and even used it over three days for the California State match. He enjoyed using the Hawke Sidewinder but found the 4-16X50 a bit lacking in magnification with a 6-24X56 being most likely a better choice for target shooting. I have enjoyed my time in the field using the Sidewinder and really appreciate Hawke sponsoring us to get out and bring you guys this review. I will enclose my honest thoughts of this scope along with the video documentation I hope some may find helpful.


      PROS

  • Excellent build quality
  • Holds Zero
  • Smooth Tracking
  • Excellent Glass (good for low light with 30mm tube)
  • Aggressive Knurling on Turrets, easy to turn
  • Side Focus accurate to 100 Yards
  • Easy to read reticle at high and low power magnification
  • Sidewheel Included (can be customized)
  • Elevation Window (useful for long range)
  • FFP works fantastic for quick holdover/hold-under technique’s
  • No Fault Lifetime Warranty
  • Available in FFP and SFP Models

      CONS 

  • No true Zero lock (Available on Frontier Model)



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