Simmons Master Series Pro Hunter 3-10x44mm WA Riflescope
By Chuck Hawks and Jack Seeling
We had not previously reviewed one of the much ballyhooed Simmons Master Series scopes, so we called Simmons and requested a 3-10x44mm ProHunter, the best Simmons model available at the time of our request. The ProHunter series is one step below the top of the line Aetec series, which were out of stock.
We were told that the main difference between these two Master Series lines was the ommission of the aespheric lens element featured in the Aetec models. Also, the internal lens elements of the ProHunter are fully-coated, but only the external lens surfaces are multi-coated, while the Aetecs are fully multi-coated. Otherwise, the new Master Series ProHunters are supposed to be similar to the Master Series Aetecs in features and construction.
The ProHunter looks good, with a matte black finish and a ruby red trim ring around the elevation adjustment knob that identifies a Master Series scope. For this review we mounted the new Simmons Master Series scope on a Weatherby Vanguard SUB-MOA Stainless rifle that we were also in the process of reviewing. It nicley complemented the business like appearance of the rifle, and both worked fine throughout the review. In fact, they made a heck of a good combination!
The Master Series ProHunter is built on a one-piece tube machined from aircraft grade aluminum. This construction is claimed to be stronger, 16% lighter, and incorporate 30% fewer parts than competing scopes.
Its TrueZero adjustments work well, proving to be accurate and repeatable in our testing. Windage and elevation are fingertip adjustable, and turning either adjustment knob provides a positive tactile click. The SureGrip rubber surface of the adjustment knobs provides a non-slip grip.
As always, we particularly appreciated the fast European style focusing ring. Both it and the zoom ring also get the SureGrip rubber treatment.
The optics provide a crisp and clear view of the target with good contrast. Internal lens flare was not a problem during our testing. Edge sharpness is satisfactory, although not the equal of the Simmons scopes with aespheric lens elements. Ditto for optical aberrations. Otherwise, there isn't much practical difference in use. Scope optics just keep getting better and better across the board.
The HydroShield lens coating is Simmons response to Bushnell's RainGuard. It wasn't rainy or foggy during our days at the range with the ProHunter, so we will take Simmons word that this coating works as advertised in the real world.
The Simmons Trueplex reticle is an average copy of the Leupold Duplex. In our opinion this is the best all-around type of reticle yet devised for a big game hunting rifle. It is easy to see in dim light, allows precise aim, and is not cluttered or distracting in the field of view.
However, we must admit that the first ProHunter sent to Guns and Shooting Online had to be returned due to a large black spot somewhere on one of the internal lens elements. This should have been caught by quality control before the scope was shipped, as it was very obvious with even a cursury glance through the scope. Perhaps the scope was somehow damaged during shipment, although the packaging was still in pristine condition inside and out upon arrival.
Unfortunately, we have received reports of other problems with Simmons Master Class scopes. Meade's Master Class design appears to be satisfactory; the problems seem to be a matter of poor workmanship and quality control. On the plus side, the Simmons customer service department promptly replaced the defective scope.
These scopes are made in Red China. Communist slave labor is never very efficient, with a typical morale factor of "0" on a 1 to 10 scale, so that is likely to be the problem. It would probably be beneficial to move scope production to Taiwan, the Phillippines, Singapore, or Japan. The cost would be higher, but so would the workmanship.
Simmons Master Series riflescopes come with a 48 hour turnaround guarantee. Their warrenty reads: "If any Master Series riflescope is found to have defects in either workmanship or materials we will, at our option, repair or replace it FREE for the original owner within 48 hours of recipt at our repair facility." Judging by our experience, that is exactly what they do.
Based on their street prices, the Simmons Master Series ProHunter line is competing directly with the Bushnell Legend series riflescopes. These are probably the two best known brands in this general price range, and both have received positive reviews on Guns and Shooting Online.
For the moment Simmons seems to have the technological advantage. Certainly it is the classier looking scope. Functionally, the Simmons Master Series ProHunter 3-10x44mm scope represents a good value. It incorporates many desirable design features not usually found in a medium priced scope.
Copyright 2006, 2008 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.