VIXEN V-III 1-6 X 24 SCOPE
By John Herbert
Vixen are the new boys on the block and in a market that’s already full of good choices is this just another brand we can overlook ... or is a Vixen scope worth your hard-earned money? Well, let’s start with a bit of history. Vixen have been around longer than most of the people looking to buy one of their products. Starting in 1949, Vixen focussed on telescopes and mounts and has only recently offered rifle scopes, but in the telescope market they have a solid reputation, and a cursory look at their binoculars at the Shot Show indicated they were not targeting the lower end of the market.
Vixen have a 3-tiered line-up of scopes: the V-I Series, V-II series and finally the V-III series. All their scopes are made in Japan, and when I picked up the V-III Series scope it felt reassuringly familiar. Now this may be because the traditional Japanese optics houses tend to favour certain features and designs – but I don’t see this as a negative, because the big players in the Japanese optics world really know what they’re doing.
For testing, New Zealand Vixen distributors, Steve’s Wholesale, supplied NZ Rod & Rifle with a V-III series scope and as soon as I saw the 1-6 x 24 I thought it would be good to test a lower-power optic as a change to the mid to high-powered scopes we’ve been testing recently.
Low magnification scopes
I am a bit of a fan of lower-powered scopes, especially if they have quality optics. My background as a Service Rifle and latterly 3 Gun competitor has made me appreciate just how well you can shoot at distances of up to 600 yards even with .223 and a 4 power scope, and as such I have come to appreciate lower-powered scopes. The Kiwi Hunter has traditionally used a fixed four-power or mid-power variable scope like a 3-9 and it was only a decade ago that the sales of low powered scopes were rare, especially with the rise of Long Range hunting. In the last few years however there has been a resurgence in dedicated bush guns that are light and short and this, combined with the popularity of the AR15 platform, has seen the demand for the low powered scope rise. The reality is that we are often better served with a low-powered variable, especially when the majority of our hunting is in bush or forested areas; in fact if we’re really honest we’ll realise that for most hunting situations – and by that I mean 0-300 hundred yards – anything more than 8-10 power is just not needed. At the other end of the scale, zero magnification scopes offer the ability to shoot with both eyes open; try and do that when there is any level of magnification and your brain will get confused by the two images!
Some people can work around this, and some magnified scopes with very bright illuminated reticles can overcome this, but zero magnification and an illuminated reticle makes it easy. It’s one of those “seeing is believing” things ... but for short range hunting it’s a real advantage. Zero magnification scopes are a bit rare, and combined with traditional low powered erectors of 3x and 4x they have struggled to capture the hunter’s attention as all-purpose scopes. With the advent of 5x and 6x erectors however, the versatility of the scope, if you’ll excuse the pun, is magnified.
The Vixen V-III 1-6 x 24 looks a bit odd with its straight tube objective lens and its exit pupil diameter of 4mm is not huge at 6 power, but the reality is that, compared with popular scopes like 2.5-10 x 40 and 3-12 x42 with exit pupil sizes of 4mm and 3.5 respectively, it’s certainly comparable. It’s worth noting that the objective lens is set back 2cm into the tube, adding protection and providing a default sun shade. The tube is a one piece design and with mid size elevation and windage turrets, the left side of the scope houses the control for the illuminated reticle. The power ring is separate from the ocular lens group and has a raised section to aid grip; the dioptre adjustment is the European style fast focus system. Aesthetically the scope is defined by the lack of an objective bell, but otherwise fit and finish seem very good. This particular scope has a Mil-Dot reticle but is also available with a traditional Duplex reticle and the ITR-6 reticle which is a tactical style design that has potential to work well as a mid range holdover option.
For testing I mounted the scope on a DPMS Oracle AR15 with an Aero Precision .300 AAC Blackout Barrel on it. The Mount is an Aero Precision lightweight mount that positions the scope at the right height, and forward for use on an AR15. Fitted to the end was an ASE Utra SL5 suppressor. The .300 Blackout is a handy short range bush calibre that works well in short barrels, and due to the small amount of powder it burns it works well with smaller-volume suppressors. Ammunition was Hornady 110gr V-Max which shoots easy sub-MOA groups in this rifle. The first thing I noticed was that the scope had a very forgiving eye relief, and as the magnification was turned down you could mount the rifle very quickly and immediately get a sight picture; On zero magnification the scope body was barely noticeable with both eyes open. The image was bright and sharp and contrast appeared to be neutral. As this is a low-powered scope with quality optics there was no chromatic aberration, to Vixen’s credit I could only see a very small amount of fishbowl distortion at zero magnification, while at six power the image was flat and distortion-free. Resolution was checked on a 1951 USAF optics test chart and the scope was able to resolve down to 4 on the left-hand-side big numbers. This result was a lack of magnification, rather than optical clarity.
During sight-in I fired my first group at 100 yards and it was 5.4 inches low and 3.2 inches to the right. I made the adjustments on the ¼ MOA resettable adjustment dials and the next group was in the centre of the target. I set the scope on zero magnification and turned the illuminated reticle up to max power and then shot some offhand shots at 25 and 50 yards, starting with the rifle off the shoulder. As I expected I was on target instantly; my field of view was huge and my peripheral vision was greatly enhanced. All shots hit in the centre of the target but the group at 50 yards was a little bit bigger – but had it been an animal it would still have been a clean heart/lung shot.
If you’re a bush hunter, have a nice short rifle and often shoot your animals up close this scope is winner, but with 6x magnification on the top end you can realistically take them at up to 300 yards. The features that are worthy of note are the illuminated reticle which can be used like a red dot a close ranges, and the well-designed hand-resettable turrets. The Mil-Dot reticle can be used as a holdover reticle and the turrets are suitable for dialling up on longer shots. The Vixen V-III 1-6 x24 is a quality product with real versatility, its shows quality construction, very good optics and a well-rounded set of features.
VIXEN V-III 1-6 X 24 SCOPE
OBJECTIVE DIAMETER: 24mm
TUBE DIAMETER: 30mm
EYE RELIEF: 107mm
OVERALL LENGTH: 277mm
MAX INTERNAL ADJUSTMENT: 100 MOA
PARALLAX SETTING: Fixed 100 yards