SWFA SS 12x42 Tactical Riflescope


Jul 27, 2011
I mentioned this in another thread recently. Tactical seems all the rage these days, but I bought one more for the practical - instead of tactical. As a civilian, I took a week long sniper course in 2002 with a few other local gun guys that was taught by a retired Army Major who had been a sniper instructor. Fast paced and fact filled, and lots of shooting. One thing I learned is how useful a mil-dot scope is.
Once I got my head around the milliradian system, it made a lot of sense. The mil-spec data we used was created for the 7.62 NATO (308 Win), and it allowed me/us to range and hit targets at an unknown distance first time every time out to a max of about 800 yards. It was also useful for leading and easily hitting walking-speed targets at ranges up to 300 yards. I grew to respect the lowly 308...

Several firsts occurred with my getting this scope:
1- First 30mm scope
2- First fixed power scope
3- First Mil-Dot (MRAD) scope reticle
4- First scope with turrets
5- First scope I've bought that I didn't have a rifle for it to go on.

It's said that the SWFA line of tactical scopes were designed for a military contract, and are safe for use with any rifle up to 50-cal. SWFA offers several fixed and variable power scopes - even a 3-9, which might be useful on a dedicated hunting rifle. These scopes are made in Japan, and have a quality feel to them. Turrets are nicely made, and turn/click with precision, and the laser etched numbers/lines won't wear off.

There are several Youtube video reviews of these scopes - all positive. One review says the 10x fixed compares to the Leupold MK4 in terms of optical clarity. I'll let others make that determination. I haven't used mine at the range yet, so we'll see... Looks good out the back door though...

The U.S. military, according to charts I've seen, primarily uses fixed power scopes on their sniper rifles, with 10x being the upper mag level. Fixed power scopes, generally, offer:
1-Fewer the number of moving parts provides better zero retention
2-Improved optical clarity (fewer lenses)
3-Better light transmission (fewer lenses)
4-Ranging reticle and turret tracking accuracy.
The turrets are calibrated in 1/10th mil increments. 1 MIL equals 3.438 MOA, 1/10th MIL equals .3438". I've read that there's the equivalent of 120 inches (60+/-) of vertical available. A zero MOA base should work for most. I plan to use this on my 7RM this summer. It'll need about 6.8 mils (~23.4 MOA) vertical correction to reach 1000 yards.
This scope is offered with side focus for an additional $100. As little as I use the adjustable objective on my Leupold 4-12x, I thought I'd save the $100. You do get adjustable focus though, it's just on the eyepiece as shown, from 10m to infinity.
The reticle is pretty cool. A little busy at first glance, but its usefulness at ranging targets should be much better than the mil-dot scopes we used in 2002.

I am becoming a big fan of the Warne rings. They allow swapping scopes easily, and I don't see where they mar the scope tubes. The rings are powder coated, which provides a thin layer of plastic to grip the scope - no metal on metal. Shown here are the Warne 30mm Maxima Quick Detach versions. If the scope is moved reward about 1/8" or so, you could use their "low" mount. I bought their "medium" mount because I wanted the scope as far forward as possible. The eyepiece on this scope is about 1/3" longer than say a Leupold variable.

For $300, it should be a good deal. I'll report back when I get more trigger time on the 223. If there's a negative, I'd say that the packaging is pretty minimal and there is no instruction manual. I guess the military doesn't need that stuff... Also, the SWFA web site doesn't tell you whether a particular scope is in stock - at least not till you place an order. I originally ordered a 10X. It was out of stock, so I got the 12X. No big. Same price.

I'm not a competitor or a serious long range shooter. Just looking to have fun... BT

http://swfa.com/SWFA-SS-12x42-Tactical- ... 53714.aspx
You've done your research. Looks as it you got a good deal, BeeTee.
Great write up BT. It looks like a great scope for the wide open spaces. It also looks like a great scope for doing load work on rifles. Looking forward to hearing how you like it.
Thanks guys.

You're right, it is a scope for the wide open. On my 223 (with its original Leupold 4-12x variable), which has spent a lot of time at the range, on the Pdog towns and mountain ground squirrel slopes, I've never used any magnification but 12x on the 100+ yard range or in the field. Great combo.

It's on the 223 temporarily, just to test and get used to it. From there, it'll likely be used on my 7RW for some LR fun. Eventually, the SWFA scope could reside on a yet to be acquired Rem 700 308. The Warne rings allow quickly switching it from rifle to rifle without a lot of drama. If I had tactical rails on all of the rifles, it would be even easier, and if good records were kept on sight-in settings, one could switch the scope from rifle to rifle without losing zeros.

I actually bought a rail for my long action 7RM, but didn't install it. I'm not a fan of tactical rails because of their appearance. They sure are practical though, and would make running one scope on multiple rifles real easy - if you have a scope with accurate ele/windage tracking. BT
BeeTee":3hgk52d7 said:
I actually bought a rail for my long action 7RM, but didn't install it. I'm not a fan of tactical rails because of their appearance. They sure are practical though, and would make running one scope on multiple rifles real easy - if you have a scope with accurate ele/windage tracking. BT

I agree 1000%, they don't look awesome, but they are sure strong and make scope changes easy and again, they are strong. The only rifle without a rail on it right now is my Pre64, as I couldn't do it to that rifle, but the rest have rails and work really well..
A note of caution when using Warne rings.

I've discovered that I need to be a little careful when tightening the two upper scope ring screws when installing scopes with magnification power rings or focus rings like that used by SWFA. Apparently, tightening ring screws on just one side of the scope tube can slightly distort the tube, and make turning the power or focus ring a little more difficult.

The Warne instructions call for assembling the ring halves onto the scope tube, then tighten the two lower screws. The top screws are left loose till you've set eye relief and crosshair level. Then you tighten the upper screws. Get a feel for how the power ring rotates, then tighten the screws a little at a time to determine whether there is any effect. I've noticed this on a Leupold and the SWFA. Loosening the screws a little reversed the effect.
I had the 223 and SWFA at the range the other day. I finally got the Rem laminated varmint stock glass bedded & installed a month or so ago, and I wanted to experiment some with Benchmark powder. So, lots of new variables at play for the first time.
Winds were a little erratic and the intermittently overcast day produced some variability in target illumination, but I was able to shoot a couple groups in the 0.4 range.

I shot 3 different Benchmark loads (25.5gr=3202 fps-avg, 26gr=3285-fps avg, 26.5gr=3357 fps avg), all with Nosler 50BT bullets, Nosler brass and Rem 7-1/2 primers. I was looking for a speed of about 3350 fps. Looks like I'll be using the 26.5gr load, which was in the 0.4" range. Better conditions, less hurried, and possibly let my daughter do the shooting should shrink group size. ;)

The scope is bright, clear and I really like the reticle. It makes it so very easy to sight in. After bore sighting, simply shoot once and measure the bullet hole distance away from target center in mils (using the reticle), then twist the knobs. It's a 2-shot sight-in/confirm. Doesn't matter whether the target is 30 or 300 yards away, the MIL reticle scale still applies when applying correction.
Very nice set up. Looks like a very fun rifle and the scope looks perfect on that rifle.