September 23, 2010
An American Tradition In Optics
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of one of America's most prominent names in telescopic sights: Weaver. William Ralph Weaver was born in 1905 and established the W.R. Weaver Co. in a small shop in Newport, Kentucky, in 1930.
The Grand Slam is Weaver's top-of-the-line model. David really liked the adjustable turrets and excellent optical performance of his 3-10X 40mm review sample.
He built his first scope by hand and soon began offering a simple 3/4-inch tube 3X model, originally called the 3-30 (3X 1930). The design was smaller, lighter, and, best of all, much less expensive than the imported German scopes of the day. This early model offered excellent value for the money, which would become a trait of Weaver scopes, and sold well.
With two workers and a truck packed with equipment, Bill Weaver moved to a larger facility in El Paso, Texas, in 1933 and began his quest to produce riflescopes made entirely in the U.S. W.R. Weaver would eventually expand until it employed some 600 workers at its height in the 1960s. Maj. George Nonte stated that in the late 1960s half the scopes built in the U.S. bore the W.R. Weaver logo.
Through the years Weaver scopes have evolved and progressed to meet the needs of hunters, competition shooters, and the military. During World War II Weaver produced some 36,000 M73B1s (the military designation for the 330C) for use by snipers on the M1903A4 sniper rifle. After the war Weaver introduced the hugely popular K2.5 and K4 models for hunters. These were followed by additional models in the K-Series and the introduction of the V-Series of variable power scopes, along with a variety of other models and mounts. A reasonable price and good performance quickly made Weaver scopes hugely popular with postwar hunters.
Bill Weaver did not ride off into the sunset of a happy ending. The 1960s were a turbulent time with labor issues and strong foreign competition. The company fell on hard times, and he was forced to sell in 1968. Seven years later, on November 8, 1975, Bill Weaver passed away.
His company was bought and sold several times, and its scopes were marketed with varying degrees of success. Recently, Meade Instruments acquired Weaver (Dept. ST, 201 Plantation Oak Dr., Thomasville, GA 31792; 229-227-9053; www.weaveroptics.com) along with Simmons and Redfield. Meade appears to be dedicated to revitalizing the brand, and this seems to be a stroke of good luck.
The Current Weaver Lineup
Weaver currently offers a wide range of scopes for the hunter. These include the fixed-power K-Series, variable-power V-Series, and top-of-the-line Grand Slam series. For serious competition shooters there's the famous Weaver T-Series with its patented Micro-Trac 4 point adjustment system. Plus, there are separate lines of handgun, shotgun, and rimfire scopes. Weaver also offers binoculars, spotting scopes, and a Digital Nightview Monocular.
To take a closer look at what Weaver currently offers in riflescopes, I decided to review two models. From its flagship Grand Slam line, I picked the 3-10X 40mm with matte black finish. The T-Series is of particular interest to me, so I also chose one of the T-24s with a satin black finish. I thought these two models would provide a good idea of the quality and performance of the riflescopes Weaver is offering today.
3-10X 40mm Grand Slam
As I said before, the Grand Slam is Weaver's top-of-the-line model, and it is the company's idea of what a top-quality hunting scope should be. I chose the 3-10X 40mm model for review because I thought it would be ideal for most big-game hunting situations.
Removing it from its box I found an attractive scope with very nicely proportioned lines that gave it a well-balanced look. Length is a relatively compact 11.8 inches, and weight is a fairly light 13 ounces. Attractively knurled caps cover nicely designed finger-adjustable turrets. These are easy to read and provide 12 MOA of adjustment per full turret revolution in audible and tactile 1/4 MOA clicks. Weaver's patented Micro-Trac adjustment system is utilized, and this model features 70 MOA of total adjustment.
One feature I liked is Weaver's SureGrip power ring. It is comfortable to the touch, even in extreme cold. In addition it's contoured so that the magnification settings are visible at 9 o'clock while looking through the scope. This allows a right eye dominant sportsman to easily view the magnification settings with his left eye without having to lift his head and peer at the top of the scope. It's a nice touch.
The Grand Slam (as well as the T-24) features fully multicoated lenses. Field of view (FOV) runs from 35 to 11.3 feet at 100 yards. An adjustable diopter is fitted, and eye relief runs from 3.5 to 3.0 inches. This model generates a 12.6mm exit pupil at 3X, which shrinks to 4mm at 10X.
Optical performance was quite good with the Grand Slam, impressing me with a very bright image, accurate color rendition, and very good resolution. The image is flat and clean to the very edges at 3X. Even at 10X resolution is very good--almost, but not quite, to the outer edges. While many scopes have a problem to some degree with internal flare, the Grand Slam seemed to ignore piercing counter-light. Optically, the Grand Slam performed very well and bested the T-24 in this regard.
Mounted onto a rifle, the Grand Slam zeroed without incident and easily passed a box test. I also noted point of impact was unaffected by changes in magnification.
My thoughts? While no longer American made (both the Grand Slam and T-24 are made in Japan), Weaver's 3-10X 40mm Grand Slam impressed me. Optical performance was very good, and I really liked the finger-adjustable turrets and SureGrip power ring. I would expect the Grand Slam to make a fine hunting partner. Suggested retail price is $429.99.
24X 40mm T-24
Weaver first introduced the T-Series of fixed magnification target/varmint scopes in 1977. Designed for benchrest and metallic silhouette competitors and varmint hunters, the T-Series introduced Weaver's now justly famous Micro-Trac adjusting system. Not just a marketing gimmick, the Micro-Trac system has proved to be an extremely reliable adjusting system over decades of use in competition. This feature quickly earned the T-Series an enviable reputation for consistent and repeatable adjustments. In doing so it became quite popular in benchrest competition.
Weaver offers models in 6X, 10X, 24X, and 36X magnifications. I chose to review a T-24 because I thought it would best serve the needs of the widest range of users. It arrived in a very large box and came with aluminum thread-o
n lens caps, a four-inch-long sunshade, and an extra pair of oversized benchrest turrets. Its suggested retail price is $637.99.
Developed for competitive shooters and varmint hunters, Weaver's T-Series has earned an enviable reputation. The T-24 evaluated for this report came with thread-on lens caps, four-inch sunshade, and oversize benchrest turrets.
Removing the scope from its foam cushion, I found it quite pleasing to the eye. Built on a one-inch tube, this model is 15.3 inches long and weighs a fairly light 16 ounces. An adjustable objective allows parallax to be dialed out from approximately 30 feet to infinity. This allows the T-24 to be used either on an indoor range or at extended distances outdoors. The objective is marked in both meters and feet/yards, rotates smoothly, and easily locks into place by a threaded locking collar. While side parallax knobs are currently in vogue, an adjustable objective offers both more precise adjustments and increased durability.
The T-24 is available with either 1/8 or 1/4 MOA adjustments. The review model had 1/4 MOA adjustments. Tall, easy-to-read target turrets are fitted. These capped multirotation turrets provide 18 MOA of adjustment per rotation, with 60 MOA of travel available. Full rotations are easily kept track of, and it's a simple matter to reset the turrets after the rifle is zeroed. Clicks are very distinct, both audibly and tactilely. Two reticles are available: a fine crosshair with either a 1/8- or 1/2-MOA dot. I chose the 1/2-MOA dot.
Optically, this model features 3.0 inches of eye relief. As to be expected with this much magnification, the exit pupil is small-- 1.6mm--so placement of the shooter's head is critical. FOV is 4.4 feet at 100 yards. Putting it to work I noted that color rendition and resolution were very good. However, I did experience a problem with internal flare under certain lighting conditions. In this regard the T-24 took a backseat in performance to the Grand Slam. All in all, though, I was pleased with the T-24's optical performance.
The Weaver T-24 performed well when mounted onto a heavy barrel Savage .223 varmint rifle. Parallax was easily dialed out, the scope zeroed without incident, and adjustments proved to be accurate and repeatable throughout testing. I box tested the scope at various points in its adjustment range without problem.
My only negative comment concerns the previously mentioned problem with internal flare. The scope is designed to accept thread-on sunshades that are intended to eliminate, or reduce, this problem. Other than that, the T-24 performed well, and its Micro-Trac adjustment system lived up to its reputation when put to the test.
I like the T-Series. Its Micro-Trac system does give it an advantage over its competition. I look forward to testing other models in this famous line.