Hawke Sidewinder 30 8-32X 56mm review & problems?

top predator

Well-Known Member
Nov 17, 2008
I received my Hawke Sidewinder 30 8-32 56mm ½ mildot 20x reticle of which I've had my eye on for quite some time. My first impressions were just that – impressed. The packaging and overall size / finish of the scope were indeed impressive.



The 30mm tubed 56mm objective scope comes with a sunshade, screw in objective and ocular lens covers, large sidewheel and magnification indicator for precise focusing on the side focus feature that adjusts from 10 yards to infinity, ¼ MOA reset to zero turret adjustments equalling 53 MOA of adjustment. The scope measures 17" long without the sunshade, weighs 27.9 oz. FOV on 8X @ 100 yards is 13.1 ft, 3.3 ft on 32X. Also according to the manufactures data, the eye relief is 3.7", the half dot illuminated reticle is a true mildot ranging at 20X (which is confirmed) and the bars on the impressive reticle are spaced at .2 mil for additional ranging feature.

The crosshairs are not too thick and are actually thin enough not to cover up a target at longer distances – actually bordering on a fine crosshair. The reticle itself is of a "floating" nature. The half mildot "bowties" are not distracting, and are pretty useful in ranging and elevation or windage holdover / holdoffs, and IMO one of or even the nicest reticle out there.

Also in the box where 1 allen wrench for the sidewheel, and a torx wrench for resetting the turrets to zero, a lens cloth, and a spare battery for the illuminated green or red reticle.

Hawke also provides a ballistic program on their website that can be downloaded to help with ranging and holdovers with the reticle.


Besides the side focus, there is an ocular lens adjustment that has a locking ring.


The turrets are of a push pull design, resettable to zero, have very audible and felt clicks. There is a little "mush" to them, but still not all that bad. There are no stadia lines to remind you that you have passed "0", but stadia lines are hard if not impossible to do in a push pull turret design. The turrets are well marked, they have "U" and "R" with arrows to give you positive direction of turning. The windage turret goes to #7 both turning right and turning left. From the dead bottom to dead top in elevation adjustment, there were 220 "clicks" (3 full revolutions + 40 clicks), windage provided 214 "clicks" (3 full revolutions + 34 clicks).

The illumination controls for the reticle is incorporated into the side focus wheel, which leaves a clean effiecient look.


A view of the objective lens with and without the screw in cap, removal of the turret cap show the mechanicals underneath, and you can see the overall size of the scope compared to a $20.00 bill for comparison.


The side wheel is a bit large, and probably more of an encumberance than a help to some, luckily it is removable.

The finish of the scope is a matte black, and the magnification ring, turrets, and side focus / illumination knobs are marked well and easily manipulated.

The scope seems very eye relief sensitive. If you are not aligned properly, you will definitely get a dark or partial view.

When first received, I looked through the scope and found a small blemish in the glass. When the illumination was engaged, a distinct dot appeared and the blemish became more apparent. After going to the range, I noticed that at around 23X the scope started to lose it's brightness became a bit milky, but still usable up to 32X. At 22X and below, the scope was very bright and clear. However for a $400.00+ priced scope, I was expecting better in the higher magnification range.

At 100 and 200 yards, there seems to be a bit of blur to things, having an almost double vision to it. Targets were black dots on white paper, which at 23X seemed to turn the black dots to a grayish hue, and fuzzy around the edges. Other multi colored targets seemed blend together. I tried and retried to focus using the sidewheel and ocular adjustment in combination, but with no success. When adjusting the ocular, I witnessed the crosshairs move around in a circle.

Thinking it was just me, I pulled out a cheapie walmart $70.00 scope on its full power of 16X and then setting the Sidewinder to 16X, the $70.00 scope seemed to be better in the sharp focusing department. The Sidewinder was brighter, but did not have as sharp of an image.

So I decided to return it, thinking it was one bad scope out the many (it happens) and ordered another. The second one didn't have any glass blemishes that I can see, however this one too was turning milky @ 23X. It had the same focusing issues. The crosshairs did not do a circular motion when focusing the ocular, but compared it again to the Walmart $70.00 scope, again the "lesser" scope had a sharper image.

So trying 2 Sidewinders, both had the same focusing / sharp image problem. For a $400.00+ listed scope, I had expected better, and immediately returned the second one. Both sources of supply were happy to return the scope for a full refund, and questions were answered quickly from Hawke, so they do have good customer support.

I did a lot of homework before the purchase, it's hard pressed to find a reported issued with the Sidewinders, but after 2 scopes with the same issues, I think it's more than a coincidense. I don't know if this is typical of the Sidewinder line or Hawke in general, or restricted to the 8-32X model and I'm not knocking or calling the scope junk, but it just doesn't seem worth the usual going price.

I did not get the oppurtinty to check the scopes for repeatablity or accurate adjustments as they just didn't make it that far.

Months of saving nickels and dimes into the optic fund finally allowed me to purchase a the desired Sidewinder. After very good reviews just about everywhere, I thought the optic to be a home run, but unfortunately, for me, turned into a strike out.
I'm sorry to hear that this scope did not work out for you. The Sidewinder 3-12x50 and 4-16x50 scopes have been very good (I've tested them).

Loss of contrast is due to glare. It happens to some degree in all scopes at high magnification. The 8x32 model scope seems to have bad glare.
Its probably the higher magnification thats hampering clarity. I have the 4-16 and I am pleased with it...for the price. I am sure I am not alone when I say thanks for such a thorough review. Im working on a 7mm-08 right now and scope shopping and had considered this one, but now back to more searching
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