Blackhawk 30mm 4-20x50mm Scope Review
Earlier this year Blackhawk introduced a new line of riflescopes available exclusively through Cabellas. Blackhawk offered 30mm and 1” versions, both with various models with different magnifications. We were lucky enough to receive their flagship, 4-20x50mm magnification scope sent to us to try out for a few months.
When the scopes were first announced by Blackhawk, I must admit, I had some serious reservations. First, a company that’s most famous for their molle gear, holsters, and apparel was now getting into the highly competitive and equally precise optics game? Second, they announced that the scopes were not American made, but imported. And finally, they 4-24x model costs $900 at Cabellas, which puts the Blackhawk riflescope’s price tag parallel with the Vortex Viper PST and Burris XTR scopes which are proven mid level scopes. Well after about 4 months using Blackhawk’s entry into the optics game some of those reservations have been resolved, but left one question still lingering—is Blackhawk’s new scope worth almost $900?
When Blackhawk stated that the scopes were imported, I was very skeptical. I was sincerely hoping that the scope they were sending me was going to be of gun-show-special quality from china with a BLACKHAWK! logo slapped on it while giving it a price tag that would falsely give a consumer the impression that its worth it. Those initial fears were subsided when I first opened up the box (and moreover when I saw the made in Japan sticker on it). The Blackhawk 30mm scope seems to have a more than decent robustness to it on par with its competitors in the same price range.
This Blackhawk 4-20x50mm scope seems to be constructed with a one piece singular tube that has a sufficient thickness which leads me to believe it could handle a modest drop which could easily happen on a hunting trip. The knobs are aluminum and give the same perception of adequate quality. The windage and elevation dials are where anyone would expect. Numbers and markings on the dial are etched and painted and don’t scratch off easily at all—I tried scratching them with tools to see if they would sustain their visibility which they did. Opposite of the windage dial the parallax adjustment and at the rear of the scope on the eyepiece housing is the zoom dial and the focus ring. Total length about 15” with the eyepiece focus ring all the way out and weighs around 28 ounces.
Blackhawk’s new 30mm scope features a return to zero capability and exposed turrets. It was easy to set up the zero on both the windage and elevation; just zero your rifle with the scope, unscrew the top of the cap and set the dial to zero, then screw the cap back on. The turrets also “pop” up and down to negate the potential to accidently engaging the dials; with the dials pushed down, they will not rotate. With the dials popped up, there are indications on which revolution the dial is set to, so it’s easy to return to zero. Both the windage and elevation dials have good positive tactile clicks to their operation. Each click is equal to .1 mil and each dial has 176 clicks from end to end which should be more than adequate adjustment for just about any setup.
All of Blackhawk’s 30mm scopes feature the tried and true mildot reticle. And today, a riflescope is almost not considered tactical if it doesn’t contain a FFP (front focal plane) reticle which the Blackhawk 4-20x50mm does. The reticle seems etched well and is crystal clear at any magnification level.
The aforementioned features are all secondary on the priority list when it comes to scopes; the most important aspect of any scope (besides quality which translates into being able to hold zero) is the clarity of the glass. For the average shooter, it may be hard to justify dishing out one or two thousand dollars for a scope, but that’s until they get a look through a high end scope. Well, unfortunately the Blackhawk’s glass isn’t of US Optics or Nightforce quality (few are); however, the glass on this Blackhawk scope is very clear and leaves little room for complaints. The 30mm tube along with the 50mm objective lens captures a good amount of light and looking through the scope it gives it a nice clear picture. It reminded me of looking through of one Nikon’s Monarch’s riflescopes, and being that the Blackhawk scopes were constructed in Japan, it wouldn’t surprise me if it is in fact the exact same glass.
After a few months with the Blackhawk 4-20x50mm we’ve fired about 1,200 rounds with it mounted on top of a Remington 700 and with the DPMS REPR we reviewed a few months back; both were .308. It held zero with both rifles and never loss zero once, which is the most critical attribute for any scope. So in those regards, the Blackhawk did its job as expected.
All the features worked as advertised from the FFP reticle staying clear and focused on any zoom level, to the parallax adjustment being easy and accurate. The dials and return to zero capability worked well also. The glass did its job for capturing a good amount of light while provided a clear sight picture.
So a lot of my questions regarding Blackhawk’s entry into the mid level optics game have been answered. First, the quality and features are on par to what I would expect for a mid-level scope. A front focal plane reticle along with exposed turrets with a return to zero capability allows Blackhawk to apply the term tactical to their scope. The scopes are made in Japan and are not from some Chinese airsoft company. The glass has a striking resemblance to Nikon Monarch’s glass, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it is in fact the exact same glass used in both scopes since both are made in Japan. But my final concern, and probably the most important is, is it worth the 900 dollar price tag?
If I were to choose to spend 900 dollars on a riflescope, it would opt to purchase the Vortex Viper PST or the Burris XTR series. Both scopes edge out Blackhawk’s entry by margin significant enough to make the quick decision. Both scopes’ glass is a bit clearer and both product lines have been proven as evident from shooters’ comments about them and their continuance to purchase them. At 900 dollars (at the time of its release and its MSRP at Cabella’s) the Blackhawk 30mm 4-20x50mm is a tad bit high for a first timer in the competive market of riflescopes, especially against already proven brands.
With that being said, at the time of this review being published the 3-16 model which regularly sells at $800 has been price dropped to $529 on Cabella’s, and if the 4-20x50mm were available on the site, it would be reasonable to believe that it would be offered at $629 which is a more reasonable and realistic price for Blackhawks scope.
Overall the scope performed as it should but did not live up to its $900 dollar price tag due to the comparative clarity of the glass between it and other scopes in its price range. There was nothing wrong with the scope, it’s an excellent scope and I wouldn’t hesitate to put it up top of any of my rifles if the price was right, and if Blackhawk continues to sell them at the 600 dollar range, then the price will be right.