Simmons Whitetail Expedition 1.5-6x32 Riflescope
By Chuck Hawks
With the introduction of the Aetec line a few years ago Simmons took a major step up in the riflescope world. The Aetec scopes were the first to offer an aspherical lens element. For those who are not familiar with optical design, perhaps I should explain that the curved surfaces of lens elements are usually segments of a sphere. This is because spherical shapes are much easier to mass-produce than other shapes. Advanced technology has made it more economical to produce aspherical shapes, curves that are not segments of a sphere. These have advantages in minimizing some of the aberrations common in all lens systems. In the last decade of the 20th Century aspherical elements began appearing in reasonably priced camera lenses. Simmons was the first riflescope company to take advantage of this new technology.
Incorporating an aspherical element in an optical formula reduces aberrations, which means sharper, clearer views, particularly at the edge of the field of view. If aspherical elements can be produced economically, as Simmons has done, the view through a moderately priced scope can rival the view seen through a much more expensive scope.
The Whitetail Expedition line is the second generation of Simmons scopes to incorporate aspherical elements, and they provide exceptionally clear, distortion free views that are sharp from center to edge. All are variable power scopes built on sturdy aluminum alloy tubes. Simmons advertises a 30% greater field of view than average scopes of similar magnification and objective lens size, and Whitetail Expedition scopes incorporate "WA" (for Wide Angle) in their nomenclature, as in "3-9x42mm WA."
In addition, Whitetail Expedition scopes are fully multi-coated for excellent flare suppression. The finger adjustable (no coin required) windage and elevation adjustments "click" in 1/4 MOA increments. They come with a Truplex reticle (a copy of the excellent Leupold Duplex) and are designed to be shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof. All Whitetail Expedition scopes are furnished with a tasteful matte black finish, and are supplied with lens caps.
At this writing there are four models in the Whitetail Expedition line. The lowest power model, reviewed here, is the 1.5-6x32mm WA (Model #800438). This scope is 11" long, weighs 15 ounces, and is built on a 25mm diameter main tube, so it is not a lightweight. It is, however, compact enough to allow the use of low mounting rings on most rifles.
Its basic specifications include a 100 yard field of view of 72' at 1.5x and 19' at 6x, and an eye relief of 3". The exit pupil range is 12.5-5.3mm. Its wide field of view at low power makes it a good choice for a brush country, woods, or dangerous game rifle, while its relatively high 6x magnification makes it suitable for use on rifles chambered for flat shooting cartridges.
For testing I mounted a new Whitetail Expedition 1.5-6x32mm scope on my Browning BAR Mk. II Safari Grade rifle in .338 Winchester Magnum caliber. I used a Leupold one-piece base and rings, and no problems were encountered. This handsome scope has the legend "Simmons Whitetail Expedition 1.5-6x32 WA" in gold letters around the front of the objective lens bell housing. The left side of the adjustment turrets bears a round brass medallion with an embossed whitetail deer head. This scope was assembled in the Philippines, a former American colony that retains strong ties to the U.S.
The optics are everything Simmons claims. The view through the scope is visually sharp from center to edge, bright, and largely free of aberrations and reflections.
I especially appreciate the rubberized "European style" fast focus ring at the end of the ocular housing and the precise 1/4 MOA "click" adjustments. The latter facilitated sighting-in the rifle and were adequately accurate.
The gripping surface of the zoom ring is just over 1/2" wide and there is a low, square, raised bump to facilitate power changes when wearing gloves. The scope must be well made, as the recoil of the .338 Magnum has caused no problems.
In use the wide field of view and low mount make for fast target acquisition, and the fine optics and Truplex reticle allow precision shooting under difficult circumstances. This is my dangerous game rifle, so these are important considerations.
When my curiosity drove me to purchase this scope, I thought that the Browning .338 would be a good test rifle, but I didn't necessarily intend to leave it there. Frankly, the Simmons is a less expensive scope than I would ordinarily purchase for a rifle in this price range. My .338 Browning had previously worn a Leupold Vari-X II 1-4x scope. But I enjoyed using the Whitetail Expedition and decided that its 1.5-6x zoom range was a better match for the flat shooting .338 Magnum cartridge than the Leupold scope's 1-4x, so the less expensive Simmons scope seems to have found a permanent home.
The Simmons Whitetail Expedition 1.5-6x32 scope came with a Lifetime Limited Warranty that says Simmons will repair or replace, without charge, any scope found to be defective in parts or workmanship. This scope evidences a level of quality and performance well beyond its relatively modest price. The Whitetail Expedition 1.5-6x32 deserves serious consideration from anyone purchasing a low to medium power riflescope.
Copyright 2005 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.