Sightron's Greatest Mistake? The SIIB 3-9 x 36 AO Riflescope

Yes, the Big Sky 3-9 x 36 scope from Sightron is likely one of their most spectacular, memorable mistakes ever. Not because it is a lackluster or weak scope, as you might be guessing, but for precisely the opposite reason: is the likely the best scope of its type on the market today, but Sightron just hasn't bothered to let anyone know. This scope was originally marketed as a rimfire / airgun scope, not presented as part of their mainstream big game hunting rifle line. Sure, the original SII 3-9 x 36 was a beautiful little scope, but hardly limited to rimfires or air rifles. It was one of the most practical all-around hunting scopes available, but few people knew about it. While I'm picking on my friends at Sightron, calling their Big Sky scopes “SIIB” or “SII Big Sky” scopes was another fabulous blunder. Big Sky scopes have optics equal to, or in some case better than the most costly scopes out there, different glass than the SII line. Calling them SIIB scopes is a grave injustice, it makes the scope sound like more like a Microsoft service pack or a bug fix rather than a brand new line of scopes.

The SIIB 3-9 x 36 AO has a lot of things going for it. The eye relief is consistent at about four inches throughout the range, making it suitable for the hardest recoiling big-game rifles. The internal adjustment is better than than most at eighty inches, letting you mount this scope without worries on most rifles where the 40, 50, and 60 inch internal adjustment range type scope won't quite work.

Despite its adjustable objective, this is a great looking scope that won't overwhelm most sporting rifles at 12.8 inches long and weighing 14.5 ounces. The very nature of a 36mm objective lens suggests that this scope is better-equipped to handle extreme recoil than larger, heavier lenses would be . . . that as a matter of course inflict more force on scope tubes. Rather than having a three power zoom range in name only, with several “three power” scopes that never quite get to three power and don't make it to nine power, either, this Sightron gives you all the zoom range you thought you were getting and all the zoom range you paid for.

Like all Big Sky scopes, this model has superb image quality, Sightron's ExacTrack adjustment system, and has Sightron's no-fog external coating termed “Climate Control.” The Sightron “Climate Control” coating is another feature that Sightron doesn't bother to tell anyone about, either. This scope comes with a threaded sunshade extension and also see-through scope caps, a couple more goodies that Sightron doesn't bother to mention on their website. Recently, I reviewed what in my opinion is Leupold's best, most practical, all-around hunting scope: the Leupold VX-3 2.5 x 8 x 36mm. This Leupold is a fine scope.

The Sightron, directly compared to Leupold, has better eye-relief, a better internal adjustment range, and substantially more magnification (the Leupold is actually a 2.6 – 7.8 power range). The Sightron has Climate Control, the adjustable objective, and based on side by side comparisons at 8:30 pm, the Sightron is the brighter, clearer optic with no question. The Sightron has far closer to constant eye-relief as well, at 3.8 – 4.1 inches versus 3.6 – 4.5 in. for the VX-3. Consider this more as high praise for Sightron than condemnation for the VX-3 2.5 x 8. The Leupold remains an excellent scope, but yes-- this Sightron is that good.

What Sightron has here is the optical equivalent of a thousand dollar Swarovski Z3 3-9 x 36, with twenty-two extra inches of internal adjustment, Climate Control fog-free lens coating, and an adjustable objective for less than half the price. This scope can be considered idea for a broad range of applications from your 300 WinMag, your muzzleloader, your slug gun, and yes-- a rimfire or high-performance air rifle.

This is likely Sightron's most magnificent mistake. It is one of the very best scopes offered today in the 3-9 x 36 platform, regardless of price. Sightron has never felt the need to mention this to anyone, though, for reasons well beyond my amoeba-like comprehension level. The Big Sky 3-9 x 36AO is a spectacularly good scope.


Copyright 2010 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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