Redfield Widefield 2.5x Riflescope
By Chuck Hawks
Let me begin this review with a notice: Redfield Widefield scopes manufactured in Colorado are no longer warranted by anyone. The Company has been bought and sold several times since these scopes were manufactured and no guarantee applies today. If you have a Widefield with a problem, dispose of it; it is time for a new Redfield scope made by Leupold.
In the early 1960's, when I was working in a retail store selling guns and sporting goods, Redfield was our top of the line riflescope brand. At that time Redfield scopes were made in Colorado, U.S.A. Through the 70's and 80's Redfield's market position was increasing impacted by their competitors, especially Leupold, and by the enormous increase in cheap foreign competition.
By the 1990's Redfield had fallen on hard times. The company changed hands at least three times and is now owned by Meade, a U.S. telescope manufacturer. Modern Redfield scopes are, I believe, designed in the U.S. and manufactured overseas to Redfield's specification.
The Redfield Widefield line was introduced many years ago, when Redfield was still in its glory years. These scopes are distinguished by their oval ocular and objective lenses (wider than they are tall). I think that this design, touted by Redfield as offering increased horizontal field of view, met a lot of resistance from shooters. I know that the Widefield scopes looked strange to me when they were introduced, and it wasn't until I actually used one that I realized the design had merit. This is unfortunate, because the Widefield design really works.
Their field of view is approximately 30% greater than similar scopes. That big field of view allows the hunter to get on target faster and more easily track running game.
The low profile of Widefield scopes allows them to be mounted lower on the rifle. There is no doubt that a rifle with a low mounted scope handles faster and better than the same rifle wearing a scope in a high mount. A low mount also makes it easier for the shooter to quickly align his or her eye with the scope, and allows a firmer contact between cheek and stock comb for more accurate shooting.
Redfield accomplished all of this in their Widefield scopes by starting with oversize objective and ocular lens elements and simply grinding away the top and bottom. The result is an oval lens and something like a TV-format view through the finished scope. The fixed 4 power Widefield scope, for instance, has a front objective lens 30mm wide but only 22mm tall.
All new Redfield scopes come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty that warrants the scope free from defects in workmanship and materials for as long as it is owned by the original owner. There is no charge for repair or replacement of a Redfield scope under this warranty. Note however, that the present Redfield Company will not service or repair scopes manufactured under previous ownership.
Redfield Widefield scopes are built on rugged, one-piece, aluminum alloy main tubes. They feature 1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments and fully multi-coated optics. Eyepiece focus is by multiple turns of the ocular housing on fine threads and is secured with a locking ring. Widefield scopes are shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof. All models are available with either a gloss black or a matte black finish, and all models come standard with a Truplex reticle. The latter is a good version of the Leupold Duplex. This type of reticle incorporates a heavy a crosshair that becomes a fine crosshair near the center of the field.
At present the Widefield line includes three models. These are a fixed 4x scope and two variable power scopes, a 2-7x and a 3-9x. In years past Redfield also offered a 2.5x Widefield, and that is the model that is the subject of this review.
2.5 fixed power scopes used to be a popular item, but the relentless pressure from the manufacturers and the popular shooting press to sell riflescopes of increasingly higher magnification (and price) has led to the demise of many of the traditional 2.5 power models. Magnification sells.
This is a pity, as a low power scope is all that is needed for most big game hunting situations. Simplicity, durability, and a wide field of view are more important in the field than high magnification and variable power settings. Somehow this simple truth has gotten lost in all the advertising hype.
The Redfield Widefield 2.5x fixed power scope has these desirable characteristics in abundance. It is lightweight, compact, durable, can be mounted low so that it does not upset the balance of the rifle, and offers a teriffic field of view.
Even the smaller big game animals, such as small whitetail deer and pronghorn antelope, are large targets with at least an 8" heart/lung kill area. It does not take a lot of magnification to hit a target of that size, even at ranges exceeding 200 yards. And the great majority of big game animals are killed at much shorter distances than that.
My 2.5x Redfield Widefield scope is mounted on one of my favorite rifles, a Browning 1885 High Wall in .45-70 caliber. Any .45-70 is a relatively short range rifle, so I wanted the maximum available field of view. The 1885 High Wall is a traditional rifle with a very strong action that can accommodate magnum level pressure. Recoil, and thus the durability of any scope used on this rifle, is definitely a factor when I shoot high pressure .45-70 loads.
I think of this as my "buffalo rifle." I wanted a low mounted scope with a huge field of view in case a cantankerous bison takes it upon himself to run over me. That is why, just before the model was discontinued, I purchased a 2.5x fixed power Widefield for the High Wall.
The new Redfield management has not (so far) reinstated this particular model. But I can report that it has been everything I had hoped.
It is a high quality, very well finished scope. Its glossy black exterior goes well with the deep, high luster blue and glossy stock finish of my Browning rifle.
Its fully multi-coated optics provide a sharp, high contrast view and excellent flare suppression. Eye relief is generous, an important factor on a hard kicking rifle. The windage and elevation adjustments are very accurate and repeatable--I wish all scopes were this easy to sight-in. My Widefield has stood up to the considerable recoil of heavy .45-70 loads that drive a 350 grain bullet in excess of 2100 fps without a problem. In fact, in the 7 years I have owned this scope there has been no hint of any kind of problem.
I have used Redfield scopes of one sort or another for a long time. I have never found them wanting in any way, and I have never regretted purchasing a Redfield. I cannot speak for their cheaper scopes, but the Widefield line has traditionally been suitable for the best rifles.
Copyright 2003, 2005 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.