Scopes from the Opti-Mate stable had remained under my radar until quite recently.

The simple fact is that it’s all too easy to overlook the less familiar brands – but do so at your peril because, as this offering clearly proves, you could be missing out. I certainly think I was.

Mat RS 1
The peanut hoppers may not have yielded any squirrels on this outing, but they will soon create hotspots         

Edgar Brothers sent me one of their Opti-Mate Hunter Series – the 3-18x56 – around the turn of the year. After several weeks with it I can confidently say that this telescopic sight has more than outperformed its price, which is comparatively modest price tag as you aren’t paying for a big name. Made in China, this second focal plane scope has a recommended retail price of £379.99 (for the ballistic turret model featured here).

It looks and feels very solidly constructed. Typical of most modern sights it is waterproof and fog proof, and also boasts shock proofing that is more than sufficient to stand up to use on guns producing very serious recoil. I have been using it on my Weihrauch HW66 .22 LR, but I think it could also be an excellent choice for airgun shooters who want a decent telescopic sight that can stand up to the rough and tumble of proper field use and deliver decent optical performance without breaking the bank.

Mat RS 2
A grooved dial  with a raised grip makes for quick and easy zoom adjustment                                         

This is quite a substantially sized telescopic sight, measuring 38cm in length and tipping the scales at 775g before you fit mounts. Nonetheless it didn’t feel too big for my little Weihrauch and you can’t enjoy the light transmission gains of a large 56mm objective lens and 30mm tube without adding to a scope’s general bulk. I made the mistake of using very high mounts (they were already on the gun to cradle a night-vision scope) to accommodate that chunky objective lens, but could have got away with a slightly lower set.


My proper testing kicked off with a zeroing session on the range and I was immediately impressed with the Opti- Mate Hunter’s optical performance.

Not only was the sight picture bright, but it also remained sharp right to the edges. The lenses are multicoated and the comparatively wide field of view (13m at 100m at the lowest magnification) made for straightforward target acquisition.

While sophisticated scope reticles have their place, I have to say that I am usually content with a simpler layout. The reticle on the Hunter Series falls very much into the latter category. It is a variation of the classic duplex design, with a wide post and side elements terminating in a fine crosshair with a small dot at the centre. That dot can be illuminated red in eleven levels of brightness via the outer dial on the left-hand turret. The inner dial is the parallax wheel and brings the subject into sharp relief while dialling out parallax error right down to just 10m, which is another big plus for airgun shooters.

This model’s large magnification range makes it a very versatile optic. From 3x up to around 6x you get a wide field of view, quick target acquisition and good light transmission, making it well-suited to close-range pest control. Between 12x and 18x, the sight picture does get quite cramped and is noticeably less bright, but this high level of magnification should prove very handy for precision long-range shooting off a bipod.

Most shooters will probably tend to settle for a magnification somewhere in the middle and leave it there for much of the time, but for those who do like to wind it up and down, the zoom dial has just the right amount of torque and is notched with a raised section that makes it really easy to operate, even when wearing gloves.

Mat RS 3
Parallax is adjusted via the inner ial on the left turret, while the outer one controls reticle illumination

You get two turret options with the Opti-Mate Hunter: standard low capped (£375) or ballistic. The review scope was of the latter kind, which costs just a few pounds more. It has a capped finger-adjustable windage turret and an exposed resettable elevation turret that can be adjusted on the fly. Both turrets have +/- 60 MOA adjustment and turn with very clearly defined clicks, each of which adjusts the point of impact by ¼" at 100yd (¼ MOA).

Much my shooting revolves around the control of grey squirrels, which can usually be encountered causing mayhem around the pheasant feeders on one of my shoots. One hopper in particular has been getting so much attention that we decided to keep it going long after the season’s end to maintain a hotspot where I can expect to encounter the grey menace.

I have also created a couple of other hotspots with my own peanut feeders, and one of my outings with the Weihrauch/Opti-Mate combo saw me out on my rounds checking up on the hoppers. Shots don’t tend to be taken at great distances during this sort of woodland roving, so I left the scope on 8x magnification – a nice middle ground setting that makes for bright viewing and swift target acquisition while still providing sufficient magnification for precise shot placement.

Although feeders create useful areas of attraction, you never know for sure when or where squirrels will crop up. I had only been in the woods for a few minutes when one scuttled across the ride in front of me and made the costly mistake of freezing to look back. Positioned on the ground with a slope rising up behind, it was a safe shot and, at just over 25m, a simple one. Comfortably settled in a kneeling position I steadied the crosshairs just behind the squirrel’s shoulder and rolled it over with a solid clout to the engine room.

That early opportunity was a false dawn. I had expected to encounter more targets as I made my way through the woods, but the destructive rodents failed to materialise around my two peanut feeders. I suppose that could be taken as a good sign, as it suggests that there are many fewer around than there were a few months ago.

Despite being quite a large scope, the 3-18x56 Opti-Mate didn’t feel too bulky on the Weihrauch and the setup was perfectly comfortable to carry during my woodland foray. Persistence did eventually pay off and I managed to account for another squirrel towards the end of my trek. As has so often been the case over the past few months, this one was enjoying a free meal beneath the ever-popular pheasant feeder and was too distracted to notice me creeping through the undergrowth.

After a few awkward contortions as I weaved my way through and around fallen branches, I was within striking distance and squirrel number two was framed in the Hunter’s sharp sight picture. With the trunk of a fallen tree providing welcome support, the 30m shot was a mere formality.

It turned out to be my last opportunity of the outing, and although a pair of grey squirrels is hardly a large haul, they all count. The dark gloomy conditions encountered on an overcast morning in the woods made a good test for the new scope and it fared very well. It has also given a good account of itself targeting rabbits on a friend’s pony paddocks.

I have been very impressed with this sensibly priced telescopic sight from Opti-Mate and I look forward to seeing more from the brand over the coming months and years.

Mat RS 4
Opti-Mate’s 3-18x56 Hunter delivers a lot of bang for your buck and is built to last      


£559 ⸽
A solid offering from Hawke, the Endurance has a 30mm tube, 50mm objective and 16 layers of lens coatings to deliver a bright, sharp sight picture. At 370mm long and weighing 644g, this model boasts features including an illuminated reticle, low-profile turrets and side parallax.

£450 ⸽
A comparatively large telescopic sight, this version of the Konus Pro is 397mm long and weighs 770g. It’s a first focal plane model and packs a lot of features into its substantial frame, including side parallax, an illuminated reticle and a 52mm objective lens for improved light gathering.

£345 ⸽
This scope from MTC weighs 750g and is 360mm long. It incorporates high-quality glass for exceptional viewing and its copper-coloured embellishments certainly stand out from the crowd. Features include side parallax, an illuminated reticle and the SCB2 multi-aimpoint reticle.

Mat RS 5
The ever- dependable feeder has worked its magic and another squirrel goes in the bag                             


Length:    380mm
Weight:    775g
Magnification:    3-18x
Objective lens:    56mm
Tube size:    30mm
Features:    Illuminated reticle, side parallax down to 10m, two turret options