Sightron SIII Riflescopes
By Chuck Hawks
Sightron Series III (SIII) riflescopes represent the Company's top of the line offerings. They are intended (and priced) to compete with the best Japanese, European, and American scopes. Sightron SIII scopes are a quality product made in Japan (Sightron is a Japanese company), not produced by a subcontractor in some third world country.
SIII scopes feature one-piece 30mm main tubes formed from aircraft quality 6061-T6 aluminum. They are fully multi-coated with Sightron's proprietary Zact-7 Revcoat, a 7 layer multi-coating process. This is claimed to produce light transmission in excess of 99% per lens.
SIII scopes also feature Sightron's ExacTrac windage and elevation system that insures accurate, repeatable adjustments despite the fiercest recoil. Reticle focus is by a European style fast focus eyepiece. And side focus is employed in place of an adjustable objective on all but the 1.5-6x model, which simply doesn't need user adjustable parallax correction.
All SIII scopes come with 1/4 MOA fingertip adjustments, matte black finish, 3" sunshade, protective dust cover, and Sightron's excellent Lifetime Replacement Warrantee. SIII scopes are nitrogen charged and rated waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. Naturally, all of these quality features do not come cheap. Sightron SIII scopes are rated Four-Stars-Plus by Guns and Shooting Online and are in the high price class
The Sightron SIII line is not extensive. The 2006 catalog lists 5 models, but three of those are variations of the basic 6-24x50mm scope using different reticles. Here is the 2006 SIII line by item number and description:
The 1.5-6x50mm is intended as an ultra-low light scope with a big field of view. This is a very worthwhile magnification range for woods and brush hunting as well as dangerous game, but the 50mm objective is wasted on a scope with a maximum magnification of 6x. Frankly, a 42mm objective would allow a 7mm exit pupil at 6x and that is all the light grasp the average human eye can use, while allowing a smaller, lighter, lower mounted scope. (Sightron offers a 1.5-6x42mm scope in their SII line.) The SIII 1.5-6x50 is 12" long and weighs 21 ounces, which is considerably fatter and heavier than Sightron's SII 3-9x42mm scopes.
Never the less, the optical and mechanical quality of the 1.5-6x50 SIII make it worthy of consideration for very low light applications that might also require an extended field of view. It is supplied with a low light German 4A (three post and crosshair) reticle and standard height, fingertip adjustable windage and elevation knobs.
The 3.5-10x44mm is the closest thing to an "all-around" SIII riflescope. It comes with tall target type adjustment knobs and side focus. The only reticle supplied is Sightron's Mil-Dot, which is a fine choice for long range shooting even if there isn't time to calculate mils. But I think Sightron would be wise to also offer a standard Plex reticle in this model for hunters who prefer that style.
Due to its size (13.56") and weight (22 oz.) this scope is at its best on fairly heavy, long range rifles. Mine graces a Weatherby Magnum Mark V Deluxe rifle, where its excellent optics and precision reticle can be used to good advantage.
The basic 6-24x50mm SIII scope comes with tall target type knobs and side focus. It's even larger than the 3.5-10x model, measuring 14.84" and weighing 22.3 ounces. This is an ideal scope for a heavy varmint rifle. It has the magnification and optical quality to allow precise aiming at small, low contrast targets at long range. It would, for example, be an outstanding choice for the Savage Model 12 Long Range Precision Varminter rifle we recently reviewed.
This scope is available with a choice of three reticles. The Plex reticle is always a good choice for an all-around reticle, although perhaps a bit heavy for a long range varminter. The Mil-Dot is an excellent long range hunting reticle, appropriate for big or small game. And the Dot (actually a crosshair/dot) is probably the best varmint shooting reticle around.
Summary and Conclusion
The Sightron SIII line is rather limited. And all of the scopes are relatively large and heavy. That is one of the unavoidable consequences of using heavy 30mm main tubes. And, to be honest, the market for a great number of scopes in the high price class probably isn't there. Leupold, after all, offers only two models in their flagship LPS line. And Meade Optical, who owns the Simmons, Weaver, and Redfield names, offers only four models in their top of the line Redfield brand. Gaps in the Sightron SIII line are probably adequately filled by the extensive SII line.
The SIII scopes are intended for the connoisseur who knows what he or she wants and is willing to pay for it. But here is a word of warning: after you've experienced excellence in the form of a Sightron SIII riflescope, using a merely good scope is no longer as satisfying as it used to be. For more information, visit the Sightron web site www.sightron.com
Copyright 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.