Stopped into the Big 5 Sporting Goods store on my way home from work last night to see if they had any new goodies I needed to check out. Generally they’re not a “go-to” gun shop, but the guys behind the counter are friendly and open to conversation. That plus the fact it’s near the house and you have the perfect storm needed for me to stop in and stir up trouble occasionally.
One of my main lines when entering any gun counter or outdoor store is, “You guys have anything NEW and EXCITING?” I find that this proves to be a popular line as it gives guys who like to blow hot air an opportunity to spout about something the “critics are raving” about or something they’re pumped about in general. Tonight drew mixed results as there wasn’t anything particularly new and shiny, but I had the attendant pull some glass out of the riflescope case for me to meander over. In my investigation I found a Barska scope I was unfamiliar with. This one indeed had an adjustable turret at the top that was marked .17 HMR. It piqued my interested because I’m obsessed with rimfire rounds, rifles and accurizing them, and absolutely love my Savage 93r19v I got a couple years ago and have never really been tickled with any scope I’ve tried in particular. I’ve repeatedly looked at but skipped over the BSA Sweet 17 scopes as there don’t seem to be any consistent “good” reviews on the things. I generally need at minimum 3.5 out of 5 stars to pick something up, and I’d say on average the SWEET scopes have 2.5 out of 5 average at best. As novel as the product is, it’s never been quite enough to reel me in.
This one on the other hand comes in an interesting package with turrets for both the 17HMR as well as 3 22 cal turrets (36, 38, and 40 grain). Unfortunately I can’t find anywhere that distinguishes this as a 22LR turret set or a 22WMR, though since the scope is called the “HOT MAGNUM” I’m assuming that the 22WMR is an unmentioned understood statement. The Barska Hot Magnum comes in 3 different magnification setups: 2-7x32mm, 3-12x40mm, and 6-18x40mm (pictured).
Most of the reviews posted on Amazon, OpticsPlanet, and MidwayUSA all seem to be geared more heavily toward the 3-12x model so I’m sure the raving about brightness of the scope probably had something to do with a lower magnification model. The only super negative review I did see was on OptisPlanet.com written about the 6-18x and was NOT positive at all. It’s true that sometimes one bad egg can ruin the whole bunch, but I’m not entirely sure I feel that way about this one. The one I held was quality enough and appeared to be better than that of the BSA Sweet series scopes I mentioned earlier, but from about 14x-18x magnification there was a lot to be desired with clarity. This is a bargain scope, so I won’t be super picky about optimum clarity but it could present some serious eye fatigue after a few minutes scanning a field for prairie dogs. That said, Barska does have a reputation for durability in their bargain arena scopes.
I didn’t end up heading home with this scope, but I’d have to say if I did consider it as a future purchase I’d steer away from the higher magnification and stick with the 3-12x version. It’s not a huge risk at $80 a pop, and I’m sure the fine people at Barska would try to make things right were I to not particularly be pleased with my purchase… Right?
If you’re interested in checking things out yourself, here’s the link to the Barska Hot Magnum Riflescope page.