Weaver scopes is a name that is very familiar with American riflemen as the original company was a US made optics company that has been around for a long time and they have a storied history among hunters and even the military, with some Weaver scopes being utilized on US Sniper rifles. But that was a long time ago and the Weaver scope company is now a part of a larger conglomerate of sporting goods companies and they are no longer made in the USA but in Japan. That certainly does not mean they do not make a good scope, in fact, Weaver has found a nice niche in the market by offering good solid scopes for a good price. We even reviewed a Weaver Grand Slam Tactical scope that Midway USA had made for them and we found it was a pretty good scope for the price. But there is a higher end model of scope that Weaver makes that is tailored specifically for tactical use and not just a modified hunting scope. The Weaver Tactical line of scopes has 3 different models including a 1-5x24mm, 3-15x50mm and a 4-20x50mm model. For this review we opted to try one of the 3-15x50mm models as that magnification range is a very nice fit for tactical use. So we ordered up the scope and prepared to test it out.
There are actually two different versions of the 3-15x50mm Tactical Scope, one with MOA knobs and one with an illuminated reticle and MIL knobs. It would be nice if they offered the illuminated and non Illuminated reticle in both MOA and MIL knobs, for a total of 4 different models, but as this is a lower production specialty model anyways, I can see the need to reduce the number of options in order to keep costs down. We opted for the non illuminated version with MOA knobs. It is nice to have the option for either MIL or MOA depending on which system you prefer.
The Tactical line is on the top end of the Weaver scope lineup but yet is not advertised much, and we are not sure why. The scopes have a list price that is over $1000 though the street price is in the $700 dollar range, putting it in that “lower mid price” range of tactical scopes. The Tactical line, like all the higher end Weaver scopes, is manufactured in Japan which does give us comfort that the quality should be good compared to some of the other options out there. The scope arrives in a standard scope box and there are some basic instructions and a warranty card for the scope. There is also a small pamphlet included which provides some information about the use of mildots. There is no included sunshade or lens covers for the scope. The packaging itself was kind of standard scope packaging flavor, not really a whole bunch to mention.
The Tactical line of Weaver scopes is based on their Super Slam line which is their latest and highest end offering of scopes. The scope has a one piece 30mm tube design and when you pick it up there is a definite heft to it giving the impression that it is heavy duty. Weaver does not indicate if the scope has a thicker tube wall than their Super Slam scopes, but it feels certainly feels capable of field duty. Of course, that extra heft does equate to extra weight and I would not classify this scope as a light weight scope, weighing in at over 1.7 pounds for just the scope.
The finish on the scope is a very dull matte black anodizing that offers no reflection and the finish itself is evenly applied over the entire scope and has a high quality appearance. But with all that effort gone into making it very subdued and tactical in nature, there is some fairly large and bright markings on the tops of the knobs. I am okay with good easy to read markings on the knobs in order to aide in seeing the settings in low light, but I prefer to see a bit more subdued markings on top where it is not required for functionality… but this is nothing a sharpie or paint could not cover up in short order.
The eye piece is a fast focus style eye piece that has become popular with many scopes lately. The full dioptre adjustment range is covered in about 1.7 rotations and it is smooth throughout the adjustment range requiring the same amount of force from start to finish. There is also a thin rubber ring on the end to somewhat protect your eye should you ever venture to put your head a little too close to the scope during firing; though that should not happen with the fairly long eye relief of 4″. Weaver does not indicate that the eye relief changes through the magnification range, but it does a bit. The specified 4″ is at the highest 15x magnification and the eye relief gets a bit larger down at the 3x range where it is closer to 4.5″ (114mm)
At the front of the eye piece is the magnification ring marked with numbers at various intervals from 3x to 15x. The numbers are placed in a location on the ring that tilts the numbers ever so slightly toward the shooter which does help a little with seeing the numbers while in the firing position, without having to move your head much. There is a reference dot on the top of the eye piece to indicate what power the scope is set on, but that dot is not easily visible while behind the scope and requires the shooter lifting his or her head a fair amount to see it. This causes it to become a practice of just looking to see what number is at the twelve o’clock position to determine what magnification the scope is set at. Of course, with the reticle being located in the First Focal Plane, the need to know what magnification the scope is set at is dramatically reduced.
The power ring itself has milled groves in it to help with getting a good grip and there is also one larger protrusion where the set screw goes down through, that also helps to allow a good finger hold. The resistance is fairly stiff when adjusting the power and initially there seemed to be a bit more resistance at the 6-8x on this particular scope. It was nothing that we are concerned about and in fact it seemed to fade away as we used the scope to where it is not really noticeable any longer, but it was initially enough for us not to give it the “smooth and even” label through the entire zoom range. The moderate amount of resistance of the power ring does help insure that the magnification will stay set to the power that the operator leaves it at.
The Elevation and Windage knobs on this scope are a large exposed style turret but with a few features that make it a bit different from the normal. The elevation turret is fairly large with grooves in the top portion to help with gripping. The size is a good shape and on the very top, instead of set screws or an Allen style screw to hold the knob in place on the internal mechanism, there is a wider hand tightened screw, which is what actually has the indicator markings on it. This allows for the operator to be able to “slip” their rings for zero without the use of tools. It is a fairly simple design change but one we like. Of course, this system only works on a knob design that sits down on gear teeth which if not properly constructed can cause the markings to not be perfectly lined up with the indicator mark, but that is not the case with this scope as the markings lined up very well.
These knobs also feature a locking mechanism to keep them from accidentally being adjusted without operator intent. There are other scopes out there that do the same thing using twisting locks on top of the knobs or twisting lock style rings at the bottom of the knobs, etc. But Weaver elected to take a more simple approach; the knobs themselves pop up and down. When the knob is popped up, you can adjust the clicks, then simply push it back down and they are locked and will not turn. Simple, very easy to do from behind the rifle, and very fast. The only downside we have noticed here is that there is a bit of noise when raising or lowering the knob, not exactly tactical, and perhaps some grease or some type of lube would hush them up a bit. The indicator marks are concealed when the knobs are down and locked but become visible when raised for adjustments. There are horizontal lines to indicate the number of rotations that have been utilized. The clicks themselves are a nice positive click with little or no slop between clicks. The clicks are muted as well but offer a nice tactile click.
There is 15 MOA per revolution and the listed range of total MOA adjustment for the scope is 70 MOA; this particular sample had 72 MOA. With a 20 MOA canted base this allows for a good amount of elevation for long range engagements. The illuminated version of this scope has MIL knobs with an even greater adjustment range, but the 70 MOA available on this scope is a good amount for most situations. The direction markings are only printed on that top screw which is not visible from behind the scope.
The Windage knob is the same size, shape, and design as the elevation knob and has all the same features as well. The knob only counts up in one direction (right) which is an operator preference; some prefer the windage counting up in one direction, others like them to count up in both directions. The focus knob is located on the left hand side of the scope and is a different shape and size than the adjustment turrets. The serrations are located on both sides of the range marking which is a bit different, though probably does not provide any actual added functionality. The range markings go from 25 through 500 yards and then an infinity mark after 500. It does not lock like the windage and elevation, but does have a smooth motion throughout the adjustment range and worked well throughout our tests.
For our operational tests, we mounted the scope onto a Tactical Rifles custom built 260 rifle built to our specifications. The rifle utilizes the Tactical Rifles Chimera action with a 20 MOA rail on top. We also used Tactical Rifle Chimera 30mm medium height titanium alloy rings to mount the scope. The mounting was straight forward with no issues. We shot the scope through a 6 MOA box and found that the adjustments were extremely repeatable. The rifle was shooting excellent sub .25 MOA groups, so exact measuring was easy and the 5th group of the box was literally through the same hole as the first group.
A while ago we added a new test to our optics reviews where we dial in 20 MOA of adjustment and measure the distance between our precise aiming point and the center of the group we fire. This determines how precise the adjustments are, which is important especially for long range shooting where a MOA needs to equal a MOA so that the operator can dial in the correct amount to match their dope sheets. At 100 yards where we perform the test, 20 MOA equals 20.94″ which ideally would be the exact distance between the aiming point and the center of our fired group. When we performed the test with this scope the distance measured 20.87″, only .07″ off, or only 0.33% of error, which is excellent. Mechanically the scope is an excellent performer.
Optically the performance is right on par with other scopes in the same price range. We compared it side by side with both a Leupold Mark 4 4.5-14x40mm LR/T Target and a Bushnell Elite Tactical 6-24x50mm, both of these scopes are in the same price range and ones probably cross shopped by buyers. The optics of the Weaver Tactical compared very well with good brightness and contrast and with the 50mm lens gathering a good amount of light in low light scenarios. For the price of this scope I would rate the glass good, though perhaps giving a slight edge to the Leupold Mk4 when comparing these three scopes, though admittedly it is difficult to make a definitive call.
With this scope being an FFP scope, meaning the reticle grows and shrinks with the magnification, it becomes a balance for the engineers to create a reticle that is both visible at the lower magnification ranges but yet not too thick to obscure too much of the target at higher powers. This Weaver Tactical has nearly a 5x range, going from 3 – 15x which makes it even more of a challenge and down at the 3x power the finer part of the reticle is visible on a white background, but it does get lost on dark background targets. This was not totally unexpected and for snap shooting with the scope on 3x, the thicker part of the stadia, which is visible, should be enough to get hits on closer range targets. At the top end of the power range, the reticle is very nice with a good thickness visible in most all shooting situations. It seems that the engineers did a good job with the balance of thickness and we imagine the illuminated reticle version would eliminate the short comings at lower magnifications.
As a conclusion, for this price range we rate the Weaver Tactical scope a “very good” buy. Of course it is not perfect and higher priced competitors are better, but with a combination of solid fundamental design features as well as some innovative ones, it makes a nice scope. The glass is good and the internal mechanicals seem to be excellent. The reticle is a traditional mildot (USMC .25 diameter dots) which is clean and very functional and with FFP it is usable at all power magnifications. With the scope capable of an easy field zero and with the locking turret feature, the scope is setup nicely for field use and not just a target scope. The scope also seems to be durable, but only time will tell. All and all, even with its flaws, the scope rates high in its price range and we give it a good recommendation if you are considering a tactical scope in the $600-$800 price range.