Hawke Sport Optics has just released a new, quite advanced dedicated deer hunting scope for both slug guns and muzzleloaders designated as the “Deer Pass.” This is the type of scope that will either delight you or infuriate you, with little room in between. The premise of the Deer Pass Scope is to forego the use of a laser rangefinder, using the scope as both the ranging and aim point system in one package. To accomplish this, it requires that you become a bit more familiar with the size of a deer than you might already be.
A brand new offering from Hawke, the basic specifications of the Deer Pass SR are:
· HAWKE # HK3254
· 3-9x 40 EV IR (“Extreme View Wide Angle Illuminated Reticle")
· Ballistic, BRC Software Compatible
· Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
· Red / Green Illuminated Glass Reticle
· 1” Matte Black Body
· ¼ MOA Fingertip Turrets
· Fast Focus Eyebell
The primary example given by Hawke is a “1500 – 1600 fps slug gun,” where the scope is zeroed at 50 yards and you are presented with aim points out to 225 yards assuming the scope is at 6 power. In practice, though, it isn't quite that easy or precise. Factory ammunition ballistics are invariably wrong when applied to a specific firearm and one hunter's set of ambient conditions, so anything that assumes the infallibility of factory numbers is doomed to failure. However, Hawke has addressed that with their own software that is one of the most interesting features of the scope.
By going to www.hawkeoptics.com/us/ you can download the “Hawke BRC” reticle programming software. You'll also find their “ChairGun Pro” software for their air rifle scopes with a very broad selection of reticles, although the BRC also includes air gun presets.
The Hawke “BRC” (Ballistic Reticle Calculator) likewise works for no less than eight different reticles, including the Deer Pass reticle found on this scope. You need to enter muzzle velocity, scope height, and the zero range to make it work. This info is entered and produces what Hawke calls an “ED” value which stands for “effective deterioration” value. The “ED” is really nothing more than Hawkes own BC that you come up with for your own rifle. There are two ways to do this, by shooting through a pair of chronographs at two known distances, the way you would come up with any BC, or by using observed drop or point of impact. Using drop is a horribly inaccurate way to come up with a BC or an “ED” for that matter and really should be avoided. There are so many variables that can change point of impact in a limited test it makes no sense at all to attempt to precisely calibrate a reticle with such hopelessly flawed data such as observed point of impact. The shoot through the chronographs method is a far better, more accurate approach.
There will be some that feel that the Hawke BRC software is the best part of the Hawke line of scopes. I can't disagree with that. As to the tested Deer Pass scope, the illuminated reticle itself is the most appealing feature. You have the option of red and green, with green by far the most usable. Green is one of the least distracting colors you can put into a reticle, for the very same reason that billiard cloth is green. 2009 should likely go down as the “year of the ballistic reticle,” as I don't recall any year where there has been more hyperbole about them. Regardless of what you might read, none of them are accurate or precisely “pre-calibrated” to anything. It isn't possible to calibrate a reticle to catalog exterior ballistics, as all catalog ballistics are wrong. Test barrel lengths are not our barrel lengths, lab ambient conditions are not our ambient conditions and as the saying goes, one test is worth a thousand theories. The good thing about the Hawke BRC approach is that it compels us to do the homework we always should have done and at the end allows us to print out our own personalized scope label that is far more reflective of our own trajectories than the theoretical could be.
Yet, I will say that in my opinion, overly busy reticles, whether in scopes or on rangefinders, are more of a hindrance than a help. The main obstacle ballistic reticles have at extended ranges is the inability to compensate for wind, field windage remaining the great unknown regardless of the reticle approach.
The bracketing approach is not at all my favored approach, nor would changing a power ring to make a reticle subtend to meaningful aim points easily become a Wakeman favorite. The best I can suggest is that you go take a close look at the Hawke BRC software yourself, which also allows you to select the most appropriate reticle for your specific application whether airgun, crossbow, slug gun, or center fire, and go from there. Nothing beats confirming your rifle at the ranges you intend to shoot at, something that isn't likely to change.
Copyright 2009 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.