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Review: Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x

The most popular division in 3 Gun Competition is Tac-Scope, where a single optic is allowed on rifles.  3-Gun matches can see competitors engaging targets from arms length to 500 yards with rifles (depending on the facility and match format).  A very common engagement range is 0-300, at least at the matches I attend in the southwest.  This combination of equipment restriction and challenges encountered has fueled the quest for ‘do everything’ optics.

There are now a number of 1-4x, 1-6x, and even 1-8x optics on the market.  One thing most of these optics have in common  is they all cost over $1000, with some over $2000.  The cost simply puts them out of reach to a lot of casual shooters.  Vortex Optics disrupted the market this year by unveiling the Strike Eagle 1-6x.  With an MSRP of $429, and a street price in the mid $300s the optic fits into most shooter’s budgets much more easily.

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The cost no doubt comes from the fact the Strike Eagle is made in China.  Ten years ago I wouldn’t be caught dead with a Chinese made optic on one of my rifles.  However, the quality of Chinese made optics has improved substantially.  I’ve used the SPARC II red dot by Vortex extensively, and it has held up well.  Fellow RECOIL contributor Peter Palma previously torture tested the SPARC II and it kept running as well.  Based upon these experiences and Vortex’s lifetime warranty I was willing to give the Strike Eagle a try…although setting it on fire wasn’t on my list of things to do.

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Strike Eagle in Aero Precision mount on author’s KE Arms competition rifle.

For my evaluation I mounted the Strike Eagle in an Aero Precision 30mm light weight extended mount.  The Strike Eagle does have a long eye relief of 3.5″ so you will want to use a mount that cantilevers forward when using it on an AR15 and most other modern semi auto rifles.  The optic and mount retained zero over several action matches where it was thrown into grounding barrels and otherwise handled vigorously.  It was also thrown in and out of my car daily for a month.  I left the rifle stored in my vehicle in 160+ degree heat during the summer months with no ill effects.  Zero was retained throughout all these normal use exercises.  The Strike Eagle got rained on while teaching a competition class, and again it appeared unaffected.  Since I live in Arizona, someone else will need to leave it in their vehicle in cold weather to assess performance and durability in those conditions.

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The Strike Eagle has 1/2MOA adjustments that tracked true when I tested adjusting them back and forth while holding the same point of aim.

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The Strike Eagle features an illuminated reticle powered by a CR2032 battery.  On the highest setting it was not quite daylight visible in the AZ sun, but provided some contrast when covering targets painted black.  It was perfectly usable in overcast and lowlight conditions.

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The reticle is a reasonable compromise between speed at close range and accuracy at long range.  At close range the outer circle works well for bracketing targets quickly.  With the center cross hair zeroed at 50 yards, the other crosshairs are used for hold overs out to 600 yards with most .223 loadings.  More details can be found in Vortex’s manual here.  I have only had the chance to shoot out to 300 yards thus far, but the 50 yard zero worked to make hits with the corresponding 300 yard crosshair.  The tip on top of the center cross hair worked for shots at 100 yards where point of impact is higher vs point of aim with the 50 yard zero.

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To date I’ve had zero problems with the Strike Eagle (that’s about 3 months now I’ve been using it).  Is it as good as its made-in-Japan 1-6x Razor HD big brother?  No, but I wouldn’t compare it to an optic that sells for four-five times as much.  Everything about the Strike Eagle is reasonable for what it costs and it performs perfectly fine for a recreational optic.  Durability will continue to be assessed over time; but in the event there is a problem Vortex will take care of it.

 

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