S2Delta sent me one of their new 1-4×24 Carbine Scopes to review. I turn down several budget optic reviews yearly because of obvious quality issues or a lack of anything original. However, this one grabbed my attention because of its unique reticle that includes several elements that I like and its incredible pricepoint. I am so glad I signed on for the review because it turns out there is a lot to say about this optic and it might just be the new budget LPVO king.
The S2Delta 1-4×24 Carbine Scope is in many ways a typical Asian OEM optic. S2Delta designed the reticle, specified the features, and then turned it over to a factory in China for production. This is quite common among affordable optics and not a bad thing as we have more and better affordable optics than ever because of it.
The Carbine Scope has a 30mm, one-piece tube. The entire optic, including the very nice knurled turrets (a very nice touch versus the mostly low profile plastic turrets at this price-point), is made from 6061 aluminum. The turrets are finger adjustable (1/2 MOA) and capped. The optic is nitrogen purged for fog-resistance.
The lenses are fully multi-coated. S2Delta tells me that, “The coatings are aimed at reducing glare/reflection, fog, and scratches.” The proprietary second focal plane reticle offers ranging and BDC out to 600 yards. It is etched and illuminated. The illumination offers 11 settings and it is bright though not “daylight” bright.
The Carbine Scope also includes a built-in throw lever for adjusting the magnification ring which is a very nice touch. It comes packaged with a good quality lens cloth, decent scope caps with a cool trick (more on these later), and Sony 2032 battery.
Observations from Use
Before I get too far into this review, I should set the tone. It may sound like I am gushing but that is only because I am genuinely impressed with this optic to the point that I have ordered another one. This optic made me change my tune from, “How good can a $150 optic be?” to, “How can a $150 optic be this good?” I should also point out that it isn’t just $150… It’s $150 shipped, via Amazon Prime. This optic is extremely accessible.
I should also state that, while I have already mentioned the price several times, I do not want to fixate on it too much. I think it is a good optic at 3-4x the price. In fact, it outperforms some optics that I own, which cost more than 6 times $150, on features and optical quality. This isn’t just a good optic for its price. I think it is just a good optic.
Now onto some more relevant observations from the time I’ve spent with the S2Delta 1-4×24 Carbine Scope…
Build Quality – The build quality appears to be on par with many similar optics but with some noted improvements. Like many Asian produced LPVOs for the “tactical” market, it has a reassuring heavy-for-size feel. It feels durable.
The Carbine Scope features excellent turrets that are an improvement over most optics at this price point. You’ll find large, nicely knurled aluminum, well-marked, finger-adjustable turrets under the caps. These turrets are more like exposed target turrets than the kind of low profile, plastic turrets typically hidden under the turret caps on a budget scope. The audible and tactile clicks that these turrets produce punch way above their weight class. According to S2Delta, these turrets are something that they wanted to get right and I would say they did. They are excellent.
This optic passed an initial box test which also provided a baseline for later durability testing. I mounted the scope in an Aero Precision Lightweight Mount and I realized early on that most of the typical durability testing would be more of a test of that mount than the optic itself. Fortunately, Ivan at Kit Badger gave me the idea to remove the optic from the host, drop it in the bed of my truck, and then start driving the National Forest roads near my home. That is just what I did for just over 12 miles and then immediately retried the box test. The optic passed and other than some finish wear the corners, it seems fine. Even the included scope caps are still functional.
This is a sample size of one so maybe this isn’t typical. However, given the durability seen from other OEM produced optics, I am not really surprised by these results… pleased, but not surprised.
Optical Quality – The folks at S2Delta tell me that optical quality is another element on which they majored in the design phase. I would say the optic quality is very good – better than expected by a large margin. On the plus side, I find it to be bright and quite clear. In my backwoods resolution tests, I was able to resolve individual pine needles on trees out to 75-100 yards in strong lighting (that is some backcountry science for you). It exhibits much less “fisheye” effect at 1X than any other 1-4X optic I own including some costing more than 6 times as much cash. I would say it is easily the truest 1x I have seen on a budget optic.
If you are used to premium glass, you won’t confuse this for truly premium glass. It shows some blurring at the extreme edges of the field of view and, as you would expect, some chromatic aberration. That sounds harsh without context. In context, this glass is far better than any budget optic I have used. It is better than many mid-range optics I have used. The glass on this optic will not hold you back. It is good in a vacuum and incredible at its price.
Reticle – As I said early in the review, the reticle is part of what grabbed my attention. The current market is laden with thick horseshoe/dot reticles that float in the center of the field of view. These reticles grab the eye but also occlude a lot of the view through the optic with their heavy, eye-catching elements. There are other ways of centering the eye; older ways that many reticle designers seem to have forgotten, like crosshairs.
S2Delta’s reticle has a horseshoe/dot design with a BDC extending below it. They have eschewed the heavy ring in favor of full, thin crosshairs that serve to bring the eye into the center of the reticle. I like this because it keeps all of the elements of reticle very thin which is conducive to precision and occludes less of your view. This approach really stands out in the current market and it works, though I do think it might have been even more eye-catching if the outer crosshairs were made slighter heavier like you might see in a German #4 or duplex reticle.
The BDC and ranging elements are also well-executed. The BDC provides aiming points for 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 yards when you zero the optic at 100 yards. It also provides wind holds for 5 (end of the stadia lines) and 10 mph (dots) crosswind.
Ranging takes place on to the left of the reticle. There are 4 brackets that represent an 18″ width and 11″ height at 300, 400, 500, and 600 yards. The 18″ width can be used to range on an average man’s shoulders and the 11″ height corresponds to the average measurement from the clavicle/shoulder line to the top of the head. Ranging is quick and intuitive though you do have to move back and forth between the ranging brackets and reticle instead of having everything built into the reticle.
Other Observations – This optic exhibits generous eye relief and a relatively forgiving eye box. The eye box is more forgiving than anything else I have tried in this price range. I measure the eye relief at more than 4″ throughout the magnification range.
There are a number of really nice touches that really add to the experience with this optic. The built-in throw lever is a big bonus and great savings over other optics that require an aftermarket or accessory lever.
The included scope caps seem to be of decent quality and actually have a really neat trick. The diopter adjustment ring is fluted and the ocular end cap is molded to mate with these flutes. That means you can set your diopter adjustment and then orient the cap so that it is vertical. In that configuration, the scope cap can’t rotate independently of the diopter and so it serves as a witness mark for your diopter adjustment. I’ve never seen that before but I definitely like it.
Let me lay out the value proposition for you. The S2Delta 1-4×24 Carbine Scope delivers a lot for the money: above class optical quality that will not hold you back, a well thought out and unique reticle with BDC and ranging elements, durable construction, impressive turrets, and thoughtful touches like a built-in throw lever and clever scope caps. It is definitely not lost on me that this is a sample size of one but I can’t help but be very impressed by this optic… very, very impressed.
This is the best sub $350 LPVO that I have laid hands on and it might be the best there is. This could be the new king of budget low power variable optics.
You can check out the 1-4×24 Carbine Optic at the S2Delta website: S2Delta.com
It is also available at the lowest price via Amazon Prime in the S2Delta Amazon Store: 1-4X24 Carbine Scope on Amazon