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Vortex 3-18x44 Strike Eagle

By Don MacDonald

If I had the chance to purchase any mid-range riflescope brand on the market today Vortex would be one of my top choices. They have come a long way since the PSP 4-16x50 I reviewed back in February 2012.

 

This was a fantastic scope for its time and has been a great option for the serious mid to long-range hunter on a budget. With this in mind I jumped at the chance to review the Strike Eagle model in 3-18x44 fitted with the EBR-4 SFP reticle.

 

My first impression of this 343mm long scope was its extremely robust construction – plus it has everything to suit most applications for hunting and shooting in New Zealand today. Although a tough, solid looking optic, it is not a heavyweight and weighs a modest 678 grams.

 

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: It looks like a figure eight in this photo, but the mark on the parallax ring is actually the infinity sign; the reticle battery is housed inside the left hand turret; the Strike Eagle’s magnification ring turns smoothly and positively from 3x to 18x, a good choice for both close and longer distance hunting.

 

The one-piece 30mm aluminium tube not only provides strength and rigidity but also allows more precious light into the optic than the standard 25mm (1-inch) tube size. A benefit of this is that a manufacturer can utilize a smaller, more balanced housing without losses in light transmission. In this case the Strike Eagle is fitted with a very nice 44mm objective lens.

 

Travelling back to the saddle (centre) of the scope, the Strike Eagle features a set of well-marked minute of angle (MOA) turrets with some user-friendly characteristics. These include turret stem hash marks that allow the user to quickly return to the “zeroed-in” position. This is really handy in a riflescope of this nature as it is easy to lose your way without it. All up there is a maximum adjustment of 120 MOA and this is via 12 MOA per turret rotation.

 

“The one-piece 30mm aluminium tube not only provides strength and rigidity but also allows more precious light into the optic than the standard 25mm (1-inch) tube size.”

 

On the left side of the scope is a combined parallax adjustment and reticle illumination dial. Vortex has omitted putting numerical markings on the parallax adjuster, and although the adjustment is still useable, markings on it would have been better in my opinion.

 

The illuminated reticle works well but you have to use it correctly to avoid illumination flare within the scope. As a general rule with illuminated reticles you need to use the lower settings in darker situations and brighter settings during times of most light.

 

There are 11 graduated levels to choose from, powered via a CR2032 battery that lasted very well even with continued use. The battery itself is housed neatly under the outer cap.

 

Optically the scope is a second focal plane unit with an eye relief of 90mm approx, which I found to be on the conservative side during the testing process (some specs say it’s as much as 4.1” or 104mm approx).

 

The scope provides a 34.5ft to 5.7ft field of view at 100 yards (depending on the magnification setting), which is good enough for easy target acquisition even at max magnification over shorter distances.

 

Clarity is generally very good with this scope and I would have to say it compares to, if not exceeds, the 50mm PSP model previously reviewed.

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THE RETICLE DESCRIBED

The Strike Eagle is fitted with an MOA EBR-4 reticle that is designed for shooting at longer distances and features a series of fine hash marks with a numerical MOA system. When used effectively it can allow you to calculate holdovers, windage correction and moving target leads.

 

Because of the known subtentions, the reticle can also be used as a range-finding tool as long as you know the size of your target and have the scope set to the correct magnification.

 

The EBR 4 reticle is graduated in MOA (minute of angle). There are 11 levels of illumination.

 

As many readers will know, the MOA measure is derived from degrees and minutes. There are 360 degrees in a circle and 60 minutes in a degree. A minute of angle is very close to the other popular scope subtend, ie; ¼ inch clicks at 100 yards. The difference between MOA (1.05) and ¼ inch (1.00) is 0.5, a somewhat insignificant number at shorter distances (300 yards or less).

 

But as distances increase the 5% error will become more noticeable and may possibly result in missed shots, so you need to know which system your scope is fitted with, and familiarise yourself with it. Both systems work fine once you’ve adapted to them.

 

TEST TIME

With the scope fitted to my Weatherby .308 I ran the Strike Eagle through a series of elevation and windage checks. Running the reticle adjustment around a static grid several times I found that the crosshairs fell where they should each time and the last back-to-zero mark was spot on.

 

I did have a little trouble with the elevation and windage dials which did not provide as much positive “click” feedback as I would have liked – I missed the click count a couple of times. All the scope’s other moving parts were smooth and positive however, and easy to operate with the brilliant knurl machining.

 

FIELD TEST

Many weeks of rain made life hell for getting out outdoors and taking photos, not to mention getting a shot at an animal. Eventually the weather lightened up however and I jumped at the chance.

 

With son Ben in tow, we headed for some wallaby country and managed to get onto a few. I found the Vortex superb for hunting these animals at close quarters, and in addition, Ben pulled off some impressive shots out to 400 yards using the scope’s dial-up function.

 

Don and Ben used the Strike Eagle on a wallaby hunt in South Canterbury. In the grey, misty conditions several close shots presented themselves and the illuminated reticle proved its worth.

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As the day was grey and overcast the illuminated reticle came in handy and fast target acquisition was effortless using this feature. I also managed a quick solo tahr hunt with the Vortex while I had it for review and dropped a young bull for meat. The bull came to rest on an overhanging bit of scrub and the drop below was character-building to say the least.

 

“It would be a perfect scope for varminting calibres such as .223 or .22-250, offering an inexpensive choice for hunting these smaller game animals. Long-range hunting and shooting are where the Strike Eagle and its EBR 4 reticle will shine the most.”

 

I did manage to carefully lean down and get the back steaks and one back leg off before he overbalanced and plummeted to the valley floor. Not a time to have a bootlace get caught, or have your rifle with its borrowed scope sitting on the animal for a picture, that’s for sure!

 

Don found the 3x magnification ideal for off-hand shooting at close range.

 

SUMMARY

The Strike Eagle is another good, robust and accurate scope from Vortex. It ticks all the boxes for a midrange optic including price and overall clarity. The scope can easily be used in a “set and forget” format by a novice hunter, but also has all the features required by the serious marksman.

 

The Strike Eagle’s reticle is more suited to longer-range hunters and shooters as it does have an element of complexity. It would be a perfect scope for varminting calibres such as .223 or .22-250, offering an inexpensive choice for hunting these smaller game animals.

 

Long-range hunting and shooting are where the Strike Eagle and its EBR-4 reticle will shine the most. The fine terminal crosshair and hash marks, along with the degree of adjustment, make this scope a very attractive product for today’s modern hunter.

 

Don

 

Vortex 3-18x44 Strike Eagle: 
Magnification  3-18x
Objective Lens Dia.  44mm
Eye Relief  3.5 to 4.1 inches
Field of View  34.5-5.7 ft/100 yds
Tube Size  30 mm
Turret Style  Tactical
Adjustment Grad. 1/4 MOA
Travel Per Rotation  12 MOA
Max Elevation Adj. 120 MOA
Max Windage Adj. 120 MOA
Parallax Setting  20 yards to infinity
Length  13.5 inches
Weight  23.9 oz
RRP  $895
Included in the box:  Sunshade, Removable Lens Covers, Lens cloth, CR2032 battery, 2mm Hex Wrench

 


Vortex Optics products are distributed in New Zealand by Extravision P/L. 

Customer Service:

Email: sales@vortexoptics.co.nz

Sales contact: + 61 7 3393 9384

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