2015 is continuing to be quite the year of expansion for SIG SAUER, as the company jumps with both feet into multiple new product lines. Silencers, optics, ammunition, airguns, and more have been or are being added to the catalog. In all of these cases, SIG chose not to acquire new companies and their existing product lines, but to acquire human talent and build their new offerings organically. To run the silencer division, AAC founder Kevin Brittingham came on board. Ammo is being run by Dan Powers, previously with RUAG and Bud Fini, previously from Remington. Airguns? That would be Lou Riley, former CEO of GAMO. But today we’re checking out the WHISKEY5, 5-25×52 hunting riflescope, which is part of SIG’s new Electro-Optics line, run by. . .
a bloke named Andy York, who spent a decade as VP of Technology (and Sales and Marketing) at Leupold & Stevens, not to mention some time at Polaroid and a couple years as SVP of a publicly-traded, international corporation that makes some handy equipment. Sometimes you worry when a company steps out of its core competency (in SIG’s case, firearms), but I think the way that SIG has created separate business units directed by folks working in their own areas of expertise is a solid way to go about this sort of growth.
Electro-Optics is still ramping up and www.SigOptics.com will go live this week. The WHISKEYs will first be available for purchase in early October. Actually, I don’t believe any of the Electro-Optics line is available as I write this and most of it isn’t even on the website yet. However, the line includes tactical and hunting riflescopes, battle sights (which are fixed zoom, illuminated-reticle optics), reflex sights, red dot sights, laser rangefinders, binoculars, and spotting scopes.
In mid-July, SIG SAUER showed up at an anniversary event for the indoor range and gunshop I frequent. I got a first look at the WHISKEY5 as well as the ridiculously impressive KILO1600 rangefinder. The scope also impressed the heck out of me so I made some inquiries and lucked out by getting my hands on a loaner unit.
“WHISKEY5” is actually an entire range of scopes, including a 1-5×20, 2-10×42, 2.4-12×56, 3-15×44, 3-15×52, and the 5-25×52 tested here. Most are 30mm tubes and most are available in one of three reticle choices, with two of those offering illuminated center dots. There’s also a WHISKEY3 series at a lower price point.
The reticle in this WHISKEY5 is the “Hellfire Quadplex.” WHISKEYs are second focal plane optics, so reticle subtensions vary with zoom level. With the 5-25x on full zoom there is about 3.5 MOA between opposing posts, and on low zoom about 18 MOA. The fiber optic Hellfire dot itself is 0.5 MOA on high illumination and 0.25 MOA on low.
Capturing photos of a scope’s reticle is always a challenge for me, but here are some attempts cropped to show just the center part.
Illumination on highest setting, which is quite bright and fully visible even in full sunlight on a bright background:
Illumination on lowest setting, which, yes, is juuust visible in real life on a partially-overcast day, but could really be a big help in low-light situations when a black reticle is hard to see on a dark background, but a bright dot would impair your vision. It can also be used with night vision systems:
Additionally, there’s an infrared illumination setting for use with IR night vision. I really dig how the brightness adjustment is achieved, with the dial alternating between on and off positions. This means your go-to setting is always just a single click away. Filled-in square is on, empty square is off.
Parallax/focus adjustment occupies the inside portion of the same turret, and is smoothly adjustable from 30 yards to infinity. It seems like these numbers rarely match reality, even on some very nice scopes, but in this case they were exactly spot-on for me for targets set at 30, 50, 100, ~150, and “infinity” yards.
Removing the turret covers reveals hand-adjustable, 1/4 MOA click value turrets. These are the standard flavor, but SIG will also be offering a SIG Ballistic Turret (SBT) at no charge for TANGO and WHISKEY scope purchasers. Send SIG your ballistics info — bullet, cartridge, muzzle velocity, atmospheric conditions, etc — and they’ll customize an elevation dial for you. Instead of MOA adjustment numbers, they’ll be yardage numbers. 600 yard shot? Just dial to the “6.”
Zeroing these turrets is extremely easy. Once you’re sighted in simply lift up on the turret, which allows it to spin freely, rotate to zero, and push it back down.
Diopter (reticle focus) is easily adjustable by rotating the collar closest to your eye. It does have a white dash on it (not shown) for indexing purposes.
Zoom is smoothly adjusted from 5x to 25x with only about a 180° turn of the zoom adjust collar. A raised bar with a fiber optic insert provides solid purchase and a clear, visual indicator from above or behind the scope of the current zoom level.
Of course, a clear picture is a necessity in the high-end optics game, and SIG’s HDX high definition, high transmittance glass is excellent. This was the first thing that jumped out at me when I picked up the WHISKEY5 in SIG’s mobile product showcase trailer. The view through the glass is bright and sharp/crisp with great color clarity across the entire zoom range.
Cell phone pic with no zoom:
View through WHISKEY5 at 5x zoom:
And the view of approximately the same spot across the lake — about 740 yards away — at 25x zoom:
In both photos, I believe the reticle was illuminated to just under medium brightness. At this level I think it supplements the shooter’s focus without becoming its own distraction or preventing the eye from properly adjusting to the target’s lighting.
In addition to the HDX™ glass, the WHISKEY series employs SIG’s SPECTRACOAT™ ultra-wide broadband, anti-reflection coatings, LENSARMOR™ abrasion-resistant coatings, and LENSHIELD™ oleophobic coating that sheds water, oil, dust, etc. This is definitely a mouthful of ™, but the result is admittedly a really bright and clear image.
WHISKEYs are also fogproof, shockproof, and IPX-7 waterproof rated (complete immersion up to 1 meter).
On The Range
I intended to mount the WHISKEY5 to a bolt-action .308 that was supposed to show up here for testing some time ago, but is still delayed. Instead, I slapped it on my AR-15 and two manual-action .22s and used it for accuracy testing. The forthcoming accuracy update on the PWS T3 Summit Rifle was shot with this scope, and much of the forthcoming CZ 455 Varmint Tacticool Suppressor-Ready rifle review was done with it as well.
Clearly, this is far from a caliber-induced torture test — there are no caliber restrictions on a WHISKEY5 anyway — but moving the scope back and forth repeatedly between three guns, two sets of scope rings, and from subsonic .22 to full-power 5.56 did involve lots of turret spinning. No issues were found, as the windage and elevation clicks are precise and repeatable and the ability to instantly re-zero the turrets without tools was great.
It’s mechanically sound, as adjustments do what they’re supposed to do regardless of where you are in the 48 MOA of adjustment range, and using the turrets alone to create a box with a group at each corner and two in the middle results in…well…a square box and a nice return to zero even after all of that spinning. My apologies for the poor groups — well, except for the totally baller 3-shot group at top left — as I shot this from standing with the front of the stock resting on a camera tripod, which proved much more wobbly than I had hoped.
Exit pupil is 2.1 mm at full zoom, which means your eye needs to be fairly centered and close to the 3.8 inch eye relief for best results. As mentioned, the picture is still clear and bright at 25x, even at the minimum focal range of 30 yards.
The WHISKEY5 is a premium optic. It isn’t jam packed with bells and whistles — although the fiber optic illumination and its adjustment dial are pretty slick — so much as quality where it really counts. Excellent glass, solid mechanics, and simple, reliable function. Just like SIG’s silencer line, the company is coming out swinging with top-tier quality at more like a mid-range price. Which doesn’t make it inexpensive, but I think it’s competitive with a lot of scopes carrying MSRPs a good thousand bucks higher.
If I could make changes to it, they would be the addition of a zero stop to the turrets (available on other models) and a more feature-rich reticle. Of course, the WHISKEY line is made for hunting, and the tactical line, TANGO, offers a mess of slick reticle options and other features.
Specifications: SIG SAUER WHISKEY5 5-25×52 Riflescope
- Finish: gray anodized body, black anodized controls
- Power x Obj. Lens: 5-25x zoom, 52mm objective
- Reticle: Hellfire Quadplex (tested), Hellfire Metric, Standard Quadplex
- Lens Coating: SPECTRACOAT™ ultra-wide broadband, anti-reflection coatings, LENSARMOR™ abrasion-resistant coatings, and LENSHIELD™ oleophobic coating
- Illumination: 9 daytime / 2 NV
- Tube Diameter: 30 mm
- Parallax Adjustment: Side adjust, 30 yards to infinity
- Field of View (5x):
- Field of View (25x):
- Weight: 28.2 oz / 850 grams
- Length: 14.3 in /363 mm
- Eye Relief: 3.8 in / 97 mm
- Exit Pupil: 8.3 mm @ 5x / 2.1 mm @ 25x
- Click Value: 0.25 MOA
- Adj Range: 48 MOA
- Focal Plane: Second
- Caliber Restrictions: None
- MSRP: $1,624.99
Ratings (out of five stars):
Glass Quality * * * * *
Now, there’s better glass out there. Don’t get me wrong. But I can’t recall seeing better at near this price.
Reticle * * * 1/2
I do love how sharp and adjustable the Hellfire dot is, but otherwise a standard duplex-style reticle doesn’t do much for me. Great for the shooter who measures or knows his range and wants to dial in his dope, but it’s limited for ranging and holdover use.
Turrets * * * *
Solid and repeatable with clean adjustment clicks. Extremely quick and easy to zero. I’d like a zero stop, but it isn’t an expected feature at this price. More than 48 MOA of max adjustment could also come in handy for the sort of long-range shooting that a 25x zoom, .50 BMG-okay scope could be used for. The WHISKEY5 line offers up to 120 MOA of adjustment, but not in its highest-zoom scope. The 5-30×56 TANGO6, for the record, has 80 MOA of adjustment.
Overall Rating * * * *
A strong four stars. It’s a rock-solid scope that punches out of its price class. The fine reticle is great for precision shooting, it’s just hard for me to get excited about a typical duplex, covered turrets, etc. If I were a hunter looking for a top-quality scope at a reasonable price, though, without paying for silly features I wouldn’t use while searching for caribou in Alaska, I’d bump the WHISKEY5 to the very top of my list. For my tastes, I’m going to give the TANGO line a hard look.