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By now we are fairly familiar with the Falcon series of Menace scopes, and this one will probably
be the last one we review for a while. But we wanted to be sure we got this one out there as it is
perhaps the most tactical of the Falcon lineup of scopes. Falcon Optics has been listening to what
the tactical community wants and they have put it all together in a single scope. The model
is the 4-14x44mm Front Focal Plane (FFP) scope. We have a pre production model here as the scopes
are not scheduled to be out for another month or so.
This 4-14x44 version of the Menace scope is another good solid scope from the Menace lineup and it shares some of the same menace features as those others, but as is evident in the pictures, there are some design differences that were necessary when designing this scope to incorporate the FFP reticule. The obvious difference is the shape of the tube with its longer shoulder area that houses the adjustment knobs.
Another feature on the 4-14 model is the very matte finish on the scope itself. It is more of a matte finish than the previous menace models in an effort to make the scopes 100% non reflective, and it indeed works as the finish has no sheen to it at all. The detachable sunshade that came with this pre production model was finished in the same finish as the other menace scopes and when you attach it to the scope; you can definitely see the difference, though I do hope that the production sun shades have the same finish.
The eye piece is a different design than the previous models, it is just a tad bit shorter and there is a different fast focus adjustable eye piece (diopter adjustment) design. The adjustable eye piece has a slightly larger gripping area, but more importantly there is a huge adjustment range and when it is fully extended, it is rock solid with no play at all. There is still a nice rubber ring to help prevent injury if the shooter gets too close to the scope when firing.
The scope comes with a 3" Sunshade which is a nice Menace feature that you do not have to pay extra for. Like the other Menace scopes, the lenses are sourced from Japan and are made to a specified Falcon standard. The lenses are yet another improvement over the previous model Menace scopes as the specifications are even higher for better light transmission. The lenses are all truly multi coated front and back with a claimed 94+% light transmission. The tube and the majority of the assembly are sourced from China and final assembly and quality control happen at Falcon Optics in the United Kingdom. The overall quality on the Menace scopes have been good with the ones we have dealt with and this one appears to be the same.
The knobs are the same that are found on the other Menace scopes and are a good design. The preproduction version has direction markings on the actual tower that the adjustment knobs are mounted on and this is a good thing for a tactical scope, though when the elevation knob is adjusted all the way down, it covers all the markings up. A shooter does not typically operate with full down dialed in, but with our scope mounted on a 20 MOA canted base and shooting at 100 yards, it was covering our indication mark making it a bit difficult to know exactly where we were set at. There are horizontal hash marks to indicate how many revolutions you have traveled as you go "up" the scale.
The windage knob on the production version will also count up in both directions which is a feature I like in tactical scopes and with 15 MOA per revolution, it will count up to 7 in each direction, after that they overlap. Our preproduction scope only counted up in one direction, but the production ones will have the same knobs as the other Menace scopes. Falcon specifies 75 MOA of vertical adjustment and with this one I had 82 MOA. This should be enough to get a 308 zeroed at 100 through 1000 yards depending on the mounts you use and how much elevation you burn when zeroing. But even if it was tight a nice 15 or 20 MOA base would give you plenty of adjustments. The knobs are attached using a single Allen screw on both the windage and elevation knob. To "slip" the rings you remove the screw, lift the knob up and then reattach it on the "zero" mark. The teeth on the gears will need to line up when you reattach the knobs which means occasionally the markings on the knob might be ever so slightly off from the marking on the scope tube, but that is a trivial issue. The knobs have a good audible click but a pretty soft tactile feel to the clicks which are lost if wearing gloves. The adjustments are 1/4 MOA per click in both elevation and windage.
The side focus, or parallax adjustment, is a little different design from the other Menace scopes. While the knob shape itself is the same, there is a larger adjustment range between 100-300 yards to allow for more precise focusing in that mid range area. The markings on the knob go up to 1000 yards and then to infinity. Falcon has been working on the adjustments with their scopes to try and help with some of the initial stiffness that used to come on the knobs. It was not really a problem just a stiffness that in time would loosen up, but the newer scopes are doing much better and are pretty nice straight out of the box.
The power ring has knurled serrations on it as well to allow for better gripping and while it is a bit stiff it is smooth all the way through the adjustment range. It is very similar, if not identical, to the power ring on the 4.5-18 scope. The markings are in white with fairly large numbers, but Falcon is still working on the exact font and font size for the numbering. You cannot see the power markings while behind the scope, but with a FFP reticule, that is not important at all, just zoom in to what you like and take your mil reading, that is the beauty of FFP.
This scope has the traditional Falcon mil-dot reticule which has standard mil-dots and the skeletonized fat stadia. If you know the standard mil-dot reticule then it is a piece of cake and you are on your way. The wide portion of the reticule is quite thick, and the center stadia is also thicker than the ELSR reticule on the 4.5-18. This thicker center stadia does aide in picking up the reticule in low light or on dark background targets, though it is a detriment when trying to shoot tight groups on paper as the reticule is thick. It does fit well into the overall purpose of this scope as being an even more tactical focused scope than the other Menace models. Of course, one of the main selling features of this scope is the First Focal Plane (FFP) reticule, which means that the reticule shrinks or grows as you zoom in and out, insuring that the size of the mil-dots is always correct no matter what magnification you are set at. The picture below shows the reticule at 4x, which is quite small and can get lost in complex backgrounds. The picture at the top of the page shows the reticule when zoomed in at 14x showing the thick crosshairs which is easy to pickup in the background.
With the higher quality lenses on this scope, the optical performance is getting very very good. It compares very well with scopes in this price range and higher. Falcon is becoming serious about getting their optical performance as best they can and it is showing in the end product. The 44mm objective is a very good compromise size to allow you to keep the scope mounted low but also provide good light gathering ability.
When taking the scope to the range we mounted it on top of our 700P test mule rifle which has a Warne one piece 20 MOA canted rail on top. We mounted the scope with Burris Signature Zee 30mm rings of medium height. As you can tell from the pictures, especially the ones through the scope, we had recently received a "bit" of snow.
At the range the scope performed very well with easy focusing on the various targets at different ranges and in different light conditions. The additional focus range in the low-mid range of the focus knob seems to help a bit when fine tuning the focus. Though with the knob offset further forward, it made it difficult to determine which numbers where lined up with the dot that was quite a bit further back on the shoulder of the scope, BUT, it is very seldom that I use the numbers on the knob, typically most shooters adjust the focus knob while looking through the scope to get it looking right for them. The temperature was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit on this day and the air was clear but a bit overcast. The optics on the scope are very nice. The adjustments were also easy to use and read. The adjustments were precise in all the shooting exercises we performed. Shooting the box showed good repeatable adjustments as well as shooting the scope at various powers which did not shift the point of impact.
As with the other menace scopes, the cheap flip up scope caps that come with the scope are worthless, just buy some butler creeks.
Of all the Falcon Scopes I have tested, this one is probably the most tactical oriented, along with the 10x42. This scope with its very matte finish, FFP reticule and better quality optics really is focused at the tactical role and it does a very admirable job. There are enough adjustments, especially with a 20 MOA base, to accomplish most all long range shooting jobs, and the magnification range is right where I like it. I still wish the thick portion of the stadia was solid and not skeleton, but beyond that they have made a scope that seems to address most all of the concerns of a tactical scope, and at a good mid range price of about $450.
Update 2010 Unfortunately it appears that I have still yet to find a scope with Chinese sourced parts that will hold up as well as I would like. The 4-14x44 has held up better than their 4.5-18x56mm scopes primarily because the tubes are a better design, but there have been a few failures with some canted reticles and focus knobs failing, it seems to be a bit higher rate than other manufacturers, but Falcon has been good about honoring their warranty, and we commend them for that.