In this review, we’ll delve deeply into the Sightron S TAC 3-16×42 riflescope. This particular scope features capped target turrets and a reticle in the second focal plane; however, one can also request tactical turrets and a first focal plane reticle when ordering.
- Introduction to Sightron S-TAC series
- Physical properties
- Target model
- Tactical model
- Optical properties
- Mounting solution
- Sightron S-TAC 3-16×42 price and warranty
- Scope of delivery
- Final thoughts
Introduction to Sightron S-TAC series
Sightron S-TAC 3-16X42 riflescope is part of an S-TAC series which only contains two scope models:
- 3-16×42 and
Both models of the S TAC scopes are available in the either first focal plane (FFP) or the second focal plane (SFP). The physical aspects, such as weight and length remain almost identical between both. However, they differ primarily in their reticles position and turrets; you get tactical turrets for FFP versions while capped target turrets come with the SFP model.
Where is Sightron S TAC made?
Established in 1993, Sightron has long been based out of North Carolina, United States. The company’s parent organization Kenko Tokina takes their roots back to 1957 and is headquartered in Japan; both companies have a deep-rooted history with optics production since then.
Sightron owns two production facilities, one in Japan and another in the Philippines. Every aspect of their products is manufactured internally – no outsourcing involved. In Japan, only top-tier products are created while entry-level and mid-range optics is crafted at the Philippine site.
The S-TAC series of riflescopes from Sightron are midrange riflescopes. Consequently, they are manufactured in the Philippines.
Sightron S-TAC 3-16X42 scope features a magnification ranging from 3x to 16x and it has an objective lens of 42 millimetres. The entirety of the scope is crafted from metal, with only the rubberized area on the eyepiece. The scope is also completely shock resistant and can be mounted onto the most powerful recoiling calibres.
This scope is nitrogen purged, allowing you to use it in the coldest of temperatures without any fogging inside. Plus, its waterproof seal ensures your device stays completely dry at all times.
Sightron S-TAC 3-16X42 is an impressively compact riflescope, measuring just 327 millimetres in length and bearing a 30mm main tube. Its lightweight construction of 674 grams – slightly heavier for the first focal plane version – makes it ideal for shooters looking to keep their set-up as light as possible.
The outer objective diameter is 50.8 millimetres on this riflescope. This dimension is needed if you want to mount a night vision or terminal clip-on device, or if you want to calculate the correct height of the scope mount rings.
The sole rubberized constituent of this scope is the eyepiece, while all other elements are crafted from metal. Featuring a European-style design, its eyepiece rotates seamlessly but with an appropriate level of firmness to prevent any unintentional shifting during transportation. My personal opinion is that it strikes the ideal balance between flexibility and rigidity.
Sightron S-TAC 3-16×42 target model features a reticle positioned in the second focal plane and has capped-target turrets.
Elevation turret on the target model
As I mentioned before, the rifle scope used in this review is a second focal plane model with capped target turrets. Underneath these caps is a turret with a 1/4 MOA adjustment per click.
The clicks on the elevation turret are crisp, clear, and precise – you can hear each one distinctly. They’re tactile enough to make sure you feel them as well. Their quality is unmatched; even when compared to more expensive riflescopes on the market.
The elevation turret features 15 MOA of travel in one revolution, and the internal elevation is 70 MOA. With its multi-turn capability, you can make multiple rotations in either direction as needed.
Under the turret are lines which act as a turn indicator, so you can easily see which turn you are in. Placed at the centre of these lines, is a zero; meaning that you can mount your scope without any inclination. When you mount the scope to the rifle without any inclination, your zero will be approximately where the zero line is. However, if you mount the scope with an inclination, these lines will not be accurate anymore. Therefore, this line is correct only if you mount the scope without inclination; that is if you use a scope mount without an inclination.
Setting the zero
Establishing your zero is quite simple. Loosen the 3 screws on the elevation turret, rotate it so that the zero mark is facing the shooter and then tighten them again – your zero is now set.
Additionally, this elevation turret does not come with a zero-stop function or locking mechanism.
Windage turret on the target model
The zeroing process on the windage turret is the same as that on the elevation turret. The windage turret is also of the multi-turn type, and the internal windage adjustment is 70 MOA.
One thing that I take issue with regarding this scope, primarily the windage turret, is that there are no indicators as to which direction is left and which direction is right. To determine it in its current state, you must inspect the side of the turret itself.
The windage turret’s numerical markings are unidirectional, causing a hassle when rotating in the opposite direction as you have to count manually. For instance, 14 becomes 1, 13 becomes 2 and so on. This issue could be improved with some minor modifications that would provide greater convenience for users.
Reticle on the target model
As previously stated, the reticle can be situated either in the first or second focal plane.
For the second focal plane (target model) reticle, you can choose between a Duplex traditional hunting reticle that is popular in Europe or an MOA-3 reticle with 30 MOA elevation spacing. However, these markings are only accurate at maximum magnification when it comes to this type of rifle scope.
The Sightron S-TAC 3-16X42 target model does not feature an illumination system.
Parallax adjustment on the target model
The Sightron S-TAC 3-16X42 target model features a parallax adjustment on the right side turret, with parallax adjustment ranging from 10 yards to infinity. The parallax can be adjusted with one full turn of the turret. You can easily fine-tune the parallax to the target you are aiming for, which is perfect. The parallax also feels very smooth.
I’d like to emphasize the finish of the scope. Specifically, the parallax turret is quite sharp-edged. The corners of these components here are distinct and easily felt without gloves. In my view, this could be smoothed out for a more comfortable user experience – it would certainly improve it in my eyes.
Sightron S-TAC 3-16×42 tactical model offers a reticle in the first focal plane as well as tactical turrets.
Elevation turret on the tactical model
With the tactical model, you can choose between 0.1 MIL adjustment per click or 1/4 MOA adjustment per click.
The clicks on the tactical elevation turret are not as loud and audible as on the target model, but they feel very good in my opinion.
Zero stop feature
The tactical version of the scope comes with a zero-stop feature, in the form of a ring beneath the elevation turret. I like this design because you can easily adjust the zero stop to any position you desire.
Once you locate your zero setting, turn the ring beneath the turret upward to lock it in place. With this simple step, your zero-setting is secure.
If you want to adjust your zero-stop just a few clicks below the zero, this convenient feature is the perfect solution. Its user-friendly design makes it simple – I think it is an ideal choice for anyone.
The elevation turret on the tactical model also features lines underneath it, which act as a turn indicator. I think that a mechanical turn indicator would be an even better solution.
Setting the zero
Setting the zero on the tactical model is different from that on the target model. For zeroing the elevation turret, you have only one screw on the top of the turret. You need to unscrew it, and then the turret will rotate freely. Afterwards, simply rotate the turret so that the “zero” is facing the shooter, tighten the screw, and you are set.
Windage turret on the tactical model
In my view, the windage turret on the tactical model is incomparably better than that of the target model – it not only provides lines indicating each direction in which to rotate the turret but also displays numbers denoting those directions.
Zeroing in on the windage turret is the same as on the elevation turret.
Reticle on the tactical model
This scope offers two reticles to choose from: the Mil-Hash and MOA-5, both of which are available in its first focal plane version. The Mil-Hash reticle has spacings of 0.5 MILs, and the MOA-5 has a spacing of 1 MOA. Click value is always matched with reticle subtensions.
The second focal plane version does not feature any reticle illumination; however, the first focal plane version (tactical model) has illumination with 11 intensity settings.
Illumination system on the tactical model
On the right-side turret of the riflescope, there is the illumination system with eleven intensity settings.
There is a space between each illumination setting, so every click afterwards is an off position. This is great because it allows you to quickly return to the desired illumination level that you had before. Let’s say you set your illumination setting to level 8 and you want to turn it off. Just rotate the turret to the next position and the illumination will be turned off. To turn it back on, just rotate the turret back and you will be immediately returned to the eighth level of illumination.
The battery compartment is located on the same side of the turret under the cap. For operation, you need only one CR2032 battery.
As I stated before, the scope has quite a rough fit and finish. This is especially noticeable in its illumination component which features smaller and coarser ridges, creating an even more aggressive appearance. The illumination rotates quite heavily, which I believe is beneficial. Nevertheless, due to this intense design, it does cause some discomfort in the fingers. In my opinion, this could be improved further.
Parallax adjustment on the tactical model
Parallax adjustment on the tactical model is the same as it is on the target model.
The scope features magnification from 3x to 16x, and the objective diameter is 42 mm. The zoom factor is 5.3x. The field of view at the lowest magnification is 10.7m at 100m, and at the highest magnification is 2.03m at 100m.
The scope has a slight tunnelling effect, which is present throughout the entire magnification range. It’s not like on some riflescopes where the tunnelling effect is very strong only on the lower magnification, but rather this scope has a slight tunnelling effect throughout the entire magnification range.
With a generous eye relief range of 96.5 to 104.3 millimetres, you will always have an unobstructed view regardless of how close or far away from the scope your eyes are positioned – making it incredibly forgiving across its entire magnification range.
The eye box at three times magnification is incredibly generous. When you increase the magnification to sixteen times, its performance is quite common.
I have to say, for approximately 560 euros, the image quality is very good. It has a great resolution from edge to edge and amazing clarity. Additionally, the colour accuracy is spot on.
The magnification ring is also very aggressively designed, and I don’t like that the corners are very sharp. You do feel every corner when you try to change the magnification, and it isn’t as comfortable as I would wish it to be.
The magnification ring rotates very smoothly and also features an integrated throw lever, which can be opened and used to provide more leverage for the magnification setting. I have to say that the throw lever has quite sharp edges, and with bare hands, you can easily feel all the edges; I think this is not ideal, as they are very sharp.
With its 30mm tube diameter, the Sightron S-TAC 3-16×42 requires 30-millimetre scope mount rings to securely attach it to your rifle.
Sightron S-TAC 3-16×42 price and warranty
An SFP-style scope typically costs approximately €740, whereas an FFP version tends to retail for around €970. If you choose the SFP model, the price for the MOA-3 reticle is €30 higher.
This scope is backed by a decade-long warranty, giving you peace of mind that it will be reliable for years to come.
Scope of delivery
What do you get in the box?
- Flip-up covers
- instruction manuals
- cleaning cloth
- hex wrench
What are the positives and negatives of the Sightron S-TAC 3-16×42? Let’s start with the positives. The construction of this scope is top–notch—all its components are made from robust materials.
It has outstanding optical quality, particularly when you consider its cost. Moreover, I believe that the turrets have some of the best clicks in their price range: they’re audible and tactile for a seamless experience. Plus, resetting them to zero is hassle-free.
I’m delighted that this scope comes with either a first- or second-focal plane reticle and the capability to select between tactical and target turrets depending on the focal plane. Furthermore, its lightness is unparalleled, not to mention you can also choose from MRAD or MOA adjustment per click.
- great build quality
- good price-performance ratio
- option to choose between SFP and FFP
Where do I see room for improvement? Firstly, the second focal plane scope does not have any illumination, which is unfortunate because hunting is mainly done in low-light conditions in Europe. Moreover, with illumination, it is easier to see where the reticle is.
In my opinion, the surface finish of the scope is too aggressive, particularly on the parallax and illumination parts.
Then, the markings on the windage turret of the target model are only in one direction. Lastly, the scope has a small tunnelling effect throughout its entire magnification range.
- SFP scope doesn’t feature illumination
- fit and finish are very aggressive
- markings on the windage turret (on the target model)
- tunnelling effect
Overall, the Sightron S-TAC 3-16×42 riflescope is a great value for money and offers excellent features. It has an incredibly generous eye box at three times magnification, and its resolution from edge to the edge provides amazing clarity with spot-on colour accuracy.
Although there are some areas of improvement such as no illumination in the second focal plane scope and aggressive surface finish, these do not detract from the overall performance of this product.
It is well-suited for both target shooting and hunting. Additionally, because it’s quite compact and lightweight, it fits nicely on a semi-automatic rifle.