Sightron SIII riflescopes | Optics Trade Debates

  • Maruša 

Hello and welcome back to one of our Optics Trade Debates. Today, we will be debating over the Sightron brand of optics, the SIII series, because they are very popular.

Generally, Sightron is a company from Japan, even though their headquarters is in the US, and they are known mainly for producing target scopes; for F-class and precision shooting, not as much for tactical shooting. The SIII is the workhorse of Sightron, and the big majority of all the scopes they sell is from this series. This series is almost a decade old, but still, up until today, the best buy for shooters searching for target scopes for precision shooting.

We can begin with the model range. Magnification wise, it starts at 10×42 (fixed magnification scope), which is quite rare. At the moment, there is almost no other producer that produces 10×42 fixed-powered target scopes. The next one is the 3.5-10×44, also a very rare scope, and also not the most powerful seller in the SIII line. They are very specific scopes, and the customers who decide on buying the 10×42 or 3.5-10×44 have specific reasonings; even though the quality is indisputable. The magnification range, or the lack of it (with the fixed model) is also not very common.

Other models are the 6-24×50, 8-32×56, 10-50×60, and the newest model, presented in 2018: 45×45 (a fixed power model for benchrest shooters). This is an extensive line-up of models in one series, and it gets even more complicated regarding the reticles, turrets, and all other additions. There are about 50 or 60 scopes in this series, including the click values, turret types, reticle types, reticle positions, and so on.

They are all made in Japan, all feature a 30mm tube, as well as an astonishing optical quality for the price point. The philosophy behind Sightron is that they do not invest in marketing and anything, except in their products. So, they compete with the lower price for the higher quality. With the SIII, you can see the pure form of their philosophy – many of their models, up until recently, did not include many features. They did not have a zero stop, an illuminated reticle, they only had one reticle per model, etc. however, they offered the best possible optical quality, as well as the best possible tracking you can buy for this price.

In the reign of central Europe, for sport shooters – shooters who participate in matches where there are no distances and no tactical shooting – they conquered more than 50% of the market. Half of all the shooters use the Sightron SIII, and the reason is simple: you get the best optical quality and the best tracking for a low amount of money.

What we should also mention is that Sightron listens to its customers and comes up with solutions, like, for example, adding the zero stop. In the last 5 years, they added all the features imaginable. They just upgraded their basic philosophy of providing best-quality products for a lower amount of money, with an additional option of choosing any feature that comes to mind. Not only they feature great optics, but now they are also packed with features needed for target shooting. And this is the reason why this series expanded from 5, 6 to 60 scopes; even though, looking at the magnification ranges, there are only 6 models. Most of these are second focal plane scopes, but there is one exception, the 6-24 model with tactical turrets and the first focal plane reticle. You can get it in MIL/MIL, which is very popular because it is, optically speaking, the best scope with the MIL/MIL configuration around 1000 €. However, it lacks the zero stop, the illumination of the reticle, and the locking turrets, like some scopes in this configuration. But it has astonishing optics for this price point.

What about the illumination? The illumination is always on the eye-piece. You can get it with the 10-50×60 model, 8-32, 6-24, and 3.5-10. With these models, you are able to get an illuminated reticle, usually the MOA-2. This is customizable – you can buy the riflescope that is designed for the type of usage that you prefer.

The 10-50×60 model also has a variant for field target shooting (the FT model), which has a different parallax, and it comes with a big parallax wheel; even though it is only a sub-variant of the normal 10-50×60. A couple of years ago, even the world champion was using this scope, so the field target version was designed afterward.

The scopes are all black, and they are mostly all second focal plane (except the first focal plane 6-24 model). We mentioned that the illumination is available on all models, except the 10×42, and the 45×45; all other models can be ordered with an illuminated reticle.

When it comes to the turrets, there are the sports, classic, target turrets, which are capped and very high, tactical turrets of the exposed type, and the tactical turrets with the zero stop. This is something that was first shown to the public in 2018 and now, in 2019, all of the models are available, including the zero stop. The zero stop is very simple – there is one ring bellow the turret which you are able to adjust in accordance where you wish to have a zero stop, and then, when you are turning the turret, it just presses on the ring and it stops. It is very simple, but still effective. It is nothing special, not a refined zero stop, but it works.

What about the locking function? They lack it. What they also lack is the mechanical turn indicator. All of the turrets are multi-turn, and they have a turn indicator – engraved lines under the turret. This is quite a big range of riflescopes, so the price point varies from 700 €-1700 €. At the moment, we could say that these prices are an industry-standard discount. If you look at the full prices, they vary from 1000 €-2000 €. There is a huge price difference between the cheapest model (10×42), and the most expensive, the illuminated, zero stop 10-50×60, because there are many different models with many different features.

It would be quite absurd to expect a mechanical indicator at this price point – it is limited to the higher-priced scopes. However, most people do not really need it and are not even searching for it at this price range. What is also special is that they have an ExacTrac system, and the bottom point is that all of these scopes track extremely well – you can manipulate the turrets as much as you wish, and they will always return to the same position.

The zoom factor is the same with almost all scopes, that is, 4x; except for the 10-50 model, which has a 5x zoom factor, and the 3.5-10 has a 3x zoom factor. The 10×42, and the 45×45 do not have a zoom factor because they are fixed power scopes.

The warranty used to be 30 years (a lifetime in the US), now they changed it to 10, which is still a pretty decent period. Also, they are able to fix it even after 10 years. The service center is in the US, but if you ever run into any problems just contact us and we will do everything possible to help you, as we believe in long-term relationships with our customers.

We have already touched upon the primary fields of use – target, precision, and also tactical shooting with the 6-24. They are the best for target shooting, as you know the distance, are able to do some test shots, adjust everything, and get a perfect grouping in the center of the target. So, if you are looking for scopes in the range of 1000 €-1500 €, currently, there is no competition.

We mentioned that you can get an MOA reticle with the first focal plane 6-24 model. The rest, which are the second focal plane, you can get many different types of reticles. What is great for target shooting is that you can get a fine cross reticle, which is extremely popular and thin. Next, you have the target dot, the same fine cross reticle with a small dot in the center (the dot is 1/8th of MOA, so it does not cover too much), which can help some to aim easier. There is also the MIL dot reticle, which is already a bit archaic; the MIL hash reticle; the MOA reticle; and the Christmas tree reticle. To be honest, any reticle with hashes in the second focal plane is only partly usable; even more if you have a Christmas tree reticle in the second focal plane – as it is very difficult to use it. However, some shooters still prefer to have reticles like these, even though they are in the second focal plane; perhaps to correct the wind easier while shooting. Overall, the possibilities are endless.

Let us talk about the click value. There is ¼ MOA, 1/8 MOA, 1/10 MOA (with the 45×45) – you have everything. You have 1 cm clicks on the MIL/MIL 6-24, 3.5-10×42, and you also have them on the 8-32 with a MIL dot reticle. Then, there are ½ MIL clicks (5 mm) on 100 m with the 10-50×60 model. There is a 7 mm click (a standard ¼th of MOA) on all of them with almost all reticles. 1/8th of MOA is on most of the 10-50×60 models, and 1/8th of MOA on one model (8-32×56) with a target dot reticle. 1/10th of MOA is available on 45×45 – which is special and cannot be found elsewhere (for benchrest shooters who have the highest precision rifles on the planet). All in all, you can choose all the click values with different types of turrets, and this is the reason there are so many different models.

We should move on to the strong points of the series. The only thing that unifies these scopes is the 30 mm tube, the great optics, and the fact that they are all made in Japan – everything else is customizable. The scopes also all have adjustable parallax with a side focus (except the 3.5-10 model). What is also interesting is that the 10×42 model has parallax adjustment of the same form as the magnification ring. Another strong point is the optical quality, which is unmatchable by anybody else at this price point, even though some try. Sightron is a class of their own and at the moment, there are no competitors that would be equal to them on the level of quality.

What is more, the tracking mechanism is great, as it tracks really well, the clicks are always true, and you can rely on these scopes even though they are not the most expensive. Another plus is that no matter which caliber you use, you will not encounter problems. There is a 10-year warranty, and Sightron offers good service even if the warranty runs out. The reticles are also extremely thin.

For the weaker points, the elevation range is not made for extremely long ranges (with the 10-50, if you do not have inclined mounting, you cannot reach more than 700 m). So, the elevation range is not as big as with the scopes that have a 34 mm tube, or tactical MIL/MIL scopes, which are made for extended long-range. The second weak point is that all models with an illuminated reticle have a dot illuminated in the center of the reticle, and due to the technology used, it is a little bit bigger – they do not put optical fiber into the reticles to get illumination. They also lack the mechanical turn indicator, but the absence of it is not a problem in this price class. They are also quite long and big – but they are not very heavy. Apart from that, these are the only weak points, which are not that bad.

Thank you very much for watching this video and if you have any additional questions about this topic, feel free to leave a comment in the comment section. Other than that, like this video, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out our other videos. See you next time, goodbye.


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