Scope Review: Hawke Panorama EV 3-9×40 AO

The Hawke Panorama EV 3-9×40 AO is the third Hawke Optic we’ve tested over the past couple of years. A while back, we shot some cocks with the Hawke Sidewinder Tactical IR and more recently, we tinkered with the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose for crossbows and AR platforms. In both previous cases we found the Hawke offerings to be great values. Not only because of features for the dollar, but performance approaching that of much pricier optics.

The Hawke Optics Panorama EV 6-9x40 AO mounted on a Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC

The Hawke Optics Panorama EV 6-9×40 AO mounted on a Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC

Last January we got a bug up our butts to acquire a 6.8 Remington SPC AR. After waiting nearly 17 years to have it delivered from Rock River Arms, it finally arrived. And yes, it was worth the wait, although we would suggest that Rock River Arms spend a little more time communicating with customers on long wait lists. Even the occasional “we still have no idea when parts will arrive, but we wanted to let you know we are working diligently on your order” message would go a long way when wait times approach a year or more. When the situation stinks, communicate. A lot. But that’s a separate discussion.

Finger adjustable turrets are resettable and have 1/4 MOA increments.

Finger adjustable turrets are resettable and have 1/4 MOA increments.

Anyway, given the interesting performance window of the 6.8 SPC cartridge and its heavier (115 grain for these tests) projectiles, we felt that a mid-range variable scope would be a great fit. After a little consultation with the optics gurus at Hawke, we settled on the Panorama EV 3-9×40 with a mil-dot reticle. While the Panorama is available with three different reticles at last count, we’ve just got a thing for mil-dot scopes. Always moving them from rifle to rifle and endlessly tinkering with different ammo loads, you simply can’t beat the flexibility.

Click ‘n giggles

We found this to be a really versatile optic. One of the reasons for its versatility is range of adjustment. Just internal to the scope, you’ve got about 400 clicks of windage and elevation. At ¼ MOA (¼” at 100 yards) per click, that’s about 100 inches of adjustment at that range. That’s a lot. Of course you always want to line the scope up as closely as possible physically, without relying on internal adjustment to establish zero, but having the option provides some flexibility in your choice of mount and the effective range of the scope.

Turrets

A front parallax ring adjusts from 15 meters to infinity.

A front parallax ring adjusts from 15 meters to infinity.

The turrets on this optic feature screw caps to keep things where you set them. When adjustments need to be made, unscrew the caps and you’ll see finger-adjustable turrets with ¼ MOA click adjustments. The turrets are resettable, so when you establish the desired zero for your rifle, just loosen the two small phillips-head screws on each turret This will allow the turret ring to spin freely and you can align your zero and the indicated zero mark on each turret.

Shooting this sucker

We mounted the Hawke Panorama EV 3-9×40 AO on a Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC AR. For those not versed in this chambering, it’s a .270 projectile stuffed into an AR platform. Bolt, barrel and magazine are a tad different, but the lower is a standard AR configuration. In fact, the lower shown in the pictures here is a Rock River Arms LAR-15 (.223 / 5.56mm) model.

Check out this 64 click box! Especially the return to zero on the sixth shot.

Check out this 64 click box! Especially the return to zero on the sixth shot.

The first project, after getting it approximately zeroed was to shoot a six shot box. We set this up at 50 yards so we could do some fairly extreme scope adjustment and still keep all the shots on paper. Using the aim point show in the photo here, we shot a center target, then proceeded to make click adjustments to create a box 64 clicks on each side. For the sixth shot, the scope was returned to zero to make sure the impact point was the same as the initial shot. All six shots were fired using the same aim point, so we were simply moving impact points around using the scope’s internal adjustment.

Wow! The photo here speaks for itself. The corner shots impacted exactly where expected and even more impressively, the final shot ended up touching the hole from the first. Very nice.

The next thing we wanted to test was possible impact shift at different zoom levels. Using the same point of aim, a shot was fired using the lowest 3x setting. A second shot was fired using 6x zoom and a final shot fully zoomed at 9x. Again, as you can see, all shots impacted within the expected area.

We also verified that point of impact doesn't change with level of magnification.

We also verified that point of impact doesn’t change with level of magnification.

The reticle is etched and is perfectly visible in daylight without using the illumination features. However, for early morning, and of day, or other low-light conditions, you can turn on red or blue illumination.

Closing Arguments

We were really pleased with the performance of this scope. The only thing lacking with this optic is the enclosed flip-up covers, which did not stay on as solidly as I would have liked. Scope covers are a matter of preference however. Folks like the rubber band “bras” and others like flip-up caps. I don’t mind adding my choice of covers to this optic – it’s well worth the money regardless.

Available direct from Hawke for about $240, you simply cannot beat the value of this scope. While we tested it on an AR platform, it would make a great addition to a hunting rifle as well.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Ammo Review: Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig 125 Grain Bonded Hollow Point Ammunition

Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig 125 Grain Bonded Hollow Point Ammunition

Speer Gold Dot 357 Sig ammo Glock 32

A great carry combination: Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig and a Glock 32

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the .357 Sig cartridge around here. We’ve had a lot of fun and learned a few things while checking out the Glock 31 Gen 4 and Glock 32 Gen 3. So we jumped on the opportunity to do some testing with Speer’s Gold Dot .357 Sig 125 grain bonded hollow point ammunition.

We like the .357 Sig cartridge for a lot of reasons, one of which is the dramatic bullet expansion performance. In our tinkering and testing, we’ve observed that even a 100 foot per second velocity increase is a big deal when it comes to reliable bullet expansion – assuming all other factors are equal. And with the .357 Sig cartridge, it’s fairly easy to get an extra 100 feet per second, or more, over a roughly equivalent 9mm load.

Truth be told, it’s also fun to plink at 100 yard targets with barely, if any, holdover. While one may need to knock off the caffeine for a day or so to eliminate the shakes, plinking at 100 yards with the .357 Sig is surprisingly easy as you don’t have to account for “lob effect.”

If you’re a law enforcement or security professional, you might appreciate the penetration performance of the .357 Sig through things like auto glass, car bodies, etc. With a proper bullet design, expansion will still be reliable post-barrier.

Let’s take a look at what we found with this load:

The Speer Gold Dot features Uni-Cor jacket bonding technology. This means that the lead core is electro-magically melded together with the outer jacket material. Without going into serious engineering topics, it’s the same bonding process that keeps the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the nearest television microphone nearly inseparable. Got it?

From a Glock 31, with its 4.48″ long barrel, we measured average velocity of 1,405.7 feet per second. That was here in the deep south, on an 80 degree day. We measured velocity 15 feet from the muzzle using a Shooting Chrony Beta Master setup, which has only been shot a few times – and none of those were our fault! But it still works just fine thank you. As a side note, it was a really good design move on Shooting Chrony’s part to put the expensive “brains parts” of the chronograph at the end of a long extension cord – far away from where the bullets fly. Just saying.

Back to the Gold Dot testing.

Speer Gold Dot 357 Sig expansion

Expansion performance was excellent – and almost boringly consistent.

To check out expansion performance, we went all bumpkin and used four layers of light canvas, two layers of cotton material and a bodaciously big bucket of wet pack since we’re too cheap to invest in proper ballistic gel. For those who don’t know, wet pack simply refers to newsprint that has been thoroughly soaked into eternal sogginess. Sort of like Al Gore’s handshake. And yes, just in case you’re wondering, it feel really gross to dig bullets out of wet pack. In fairness, wet pack has proven to be a half decent standby, although admittedly less consistent, for ballistic gel since it was invented by Gutenberg just after he finished his work with that printing press thing.

As you can see by the included photographs, expansion was boringly consistent with this load. Every single projectile we launched through the six total layers of fabric and into last week’s water-logged New York Times expanded perfectly. We’ve seen this result from the same load shot from a 4 inch barreled Glock 32 also. It just works.

In addition to consistent bullet expansion performance, the bonded design of the Gold Dot means that the projectile stays together, regardless of barrier encountered. While you might see an expanded petal break off once in a while, these bullets almost always stay intact, which leads to more consistent penetration performance.

The Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig has proven to be a great load and it’s our standard carry choice in both the Glock 31 and Glock 32.

Highly recommended!

Available Here Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig 125 grain Personal Protection Ammunition

Grime Boss Hand Wipes – A Shooting Bag Necessity

My Gun Culture Shooting Buyers Guide

The best part of our annual SHOT Show pilgrimage is learning about new products from fascinating people.

Grime Boss Hand Wipes SHOT Show 2013

Grime Boss Hand Wipes SHOT Show 2013

One guy in particular took top honors for cleanest and freshest handshake. He was representing Grime Boss Hand Wipes at the Realtree Outdoors booth. That’s where he accosted us and asked if he could clean our hands. It wasn’t as creepy as it sounds and the price was right, so we readily agreed.

At first use, we were sold. Even wandering the indoor halls of SHOT Show one manages to pick up a fair amount of grime, people smudge, germs, coffee spill residue and who knows what else. The effectiveness of these wipes was amazing. We felt instantly clean and refreshed. Well, as clean as one can feel in Vegas.

You see, Grime Boss Hand Wipes are not sissy wipes and they are entirely inappropriate for babies’ bottoms. They don’t smell like flowers or freshly sanitized diaper pails. They are bona-fide field wipes. You might even call them tactical.

What’s cool about them, other than not smelling like Martha Stewart’s interpretation of the Kardashian Baby Nursery, is that they are made by mashing two materials together. One side is rough, really rough. As in clean mud off your truck tires rough. The other is smooth. And the whole mess is soaked in a chemical free bath containing Vitamin E and Aloe.

We’ve found all sorts of uses for Grime Boss Hand Wipes:

  • You can keep a pack in your range bag to wipe the lead and grime off before you leave. Safety first right?
  • Keep some in the workshop for cleaning tools, smooth work surfaces and of course your hands. The rough side of Grime Boss hand Wipes are incredibly versatile for light industrial cleanup.
  • Keep some in the car – not just for hands but other joys like melted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Dairy Queen Blizzard drips. No further comment.
  • You can use them to clean dog poop out of puppy paws. Again, no further comment.
  • Live in a bachelor pad? Don’t feel like running the dishwasher? Use you imagination…
  • Still living in a bachelor pad? Company on the way and the bathroom is a little skanky? There you go.


Grime Boss Hand Wipes are packaged in a variety of ways for different applications. The single use foil packs are great for range bag and car application. For more frequent use scenarios get the multi-pack. This one is NOT packed in a plastic container on purpose. It won’t roll around, or under the workbench, it’s easier to store, and the package design keeps the last one as moist as the first.

Highly recommended!

SOG Twitch II Partially Serrated Folding Knife

We stopped by the SOG booth at the 2012 NRA Annual Meeting and had a great discussion with the nice folks at SOG about everyday folding knives.

SOG Twitch II pocket folding knife

The best feature of the SOG Twitch II folding knife is it’s easy one-handed opening

We quickly ended up checking out the SOG Twitch line of pocket folders. Available in at least three different sizes, with several finishes, and with straight or non-serrated blades, there’s a Twitch model to suit most personal preferences. We ended up choosing the SOG Twitch II folding knife with a 2.68 inch blade and 6.2 inch overall length. Ours features the half-serrated blade. A little more difficult to sharpen, yes, but we were looking for a handy rope cutter.

Here’s what’s sooper dooper handy about the SOG Twitch II Partially Serrated Folding Knife:

While many folders can be opened with one hand with relative easily, the SOG Twitch II takes convenience to a whole new level. For one-handed opening, most folders rely on your thumb pushing the blade out using either a blade-mounted knob or some other form of protrusion on the top side of the blade. The Kershaw Ken Onion Vapor II works like this and it’s been a favorite of ours for years.

There are two differences with the SOG Twitch II approach. First, there is some spring assist action at play which helps snap the blade open. More importantly, activation is done with your index finger on the back side of the knife. Simply press on the exposed tab and the blade virtually flies open. It’s one of the easiest knives we’ve seen to open single-handed. This makes the SOG Twitch II perfect for those vitally important everyday knife chores. Like opening stuff.

The even niftier thing about this design is that the tab used to flip open the blade positions itself as a finger guard when the blade is open. Smart.

If you’re uncomfortable with how easy the blade opens, no worries. The SOG Twitch II features a positive locking tab on the back of the knife. It will securely lock the blade closed if you like. A removable belt clip rounds out the package.

All in all, this is the handiest folder in our knife drawer. It comes from the factory razor-sharp and so far has not lost it’s edge.

Available Here SOG Twitch II Partially Serrated Folding Knife

Buyers Guide: Blackhawk! Leather Speed Classic Gun Holster

My Gun Culture Shooting Buyers Guide

Blackhawk! Leather Speed Classic Snubnose Revolver Holster

Blackhawk! Leather Speed Classic Snubnose Revolver Holster

We recently reviewed the Blackhawk! Leather Speed Classic Holster for a Ruger LCR revolver and found it to be an excellent concealed carry solution for several reasons.

It’s discreet. The design causes the revolver to ride high relative to the belt line. This makes for easier concealment and reduces the need for a knee-length photographers vest.

It’s fast. The gun is held in place by shape and side pressure. To draw, simply rock the revolver forward. An elastic strap connected the two leather halves of the Speed Classic. The forward rock allows the gun to release above and out the top front side of the holster.

Retention is great. The leather fit, with additional pressure applied by the elastic strap makes your snubbie revolver stay where it’s supposed to.

It’s comfortable. The outside the waistband design and high ride keep the gun out of the way in sitting and standing positions.

Fast, secure, and discreet. This one is a great solution for snubnose revolver users.

Available Here Blackhawk! Leather Speed Classic Gun Holster

Buyers Guide: Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glock LG-452

My Gun Culture Shooting Buyers Guide

We reviewed one of the first pre-production Crimson Trace Green Laserguards for Glocks (LG-452) a couple of months ago and found it, well, awesome.

Crimson Trace Green Laserguard LG-452 for Glock

Crimson Trace Green Laserguard LG-452 for Glock

What’s the big deal?

This. Green lasers are highly visible. Day, night, dusk, twilight, bright sunlight – you name it. We found that you can use the Crimson Trace Green Laserguard in sunny conditions with no problem. We tested it an outdoor shooting range in full sunlight and found the green laser dot easy to spot at 25 yards.

What’s really impressive is the visibility in “traditional” laser conditions, i.e. indoors or in low light. The speed at which your eye picks up the green laser in comparison to the red is simply amazing. The green dot really jumps out at you.

Green lasers drain suck power like Rosie O’Donnell consumes donuts, so for now, the Crimson Trace Green lasers are available in Laserguard configurations as there is more space for battery. Also, be aware that you’ll get about 2 hours of constant use. This is plenty considering the unit as a manual on/off switch to save juice when you’re just practicing.

Like other Crimson Trace Laserguards, this one uses an instinctive activation button. Just pick up the gun and it’s on.

Available Here Crimson Trace Green Laserguard for Glock LG-452

Hot Caliber Custom Jewelry – Key Ring A Bling Bling

Hot Caliber Hammer KeychainHot Caliber makes some cool stuff for shooting aficionados.

The basic idea is that, through thousands of rounds shot at steel, they’ve figured out how to get nice flattened bullet patterns. These are reproduced – exactly – into silver jewelry via some sort of top-secret lost wax technique. Whatever that is.

The Hot Caliber Hammer Key Ring is sure to start a conversation about your passion. Featuring a sterling silver limited edition flattened bullet, sterling silver frame, and nickel-plated brass key ring, this is one unique piece of bling.

Available Here Hot Caliber Hammer Key Chain

Buyers Guide: Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911 LTG-701

My Gun Culture Shooting Buyers Guide

Although not invented by the late John Moses Browning, may he rest in peace, the Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911’s was invented by the Association of Optics Genii – that’s plural for more than one genius by the way. Or so we’re claiming.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 with Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911

The Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911 LTG-701 mounted on a Springfield Armory TRP

When we did a full review of the Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911’s we found that it does a wonderful job of complementing 1911 handguns that are not equipped with a tactical rail. As 1911 dimensions vary a bit from model to model, Crimson Trace has engineered this piece of equipment to fit the following 1911 models: Kimber, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson – either full size or compact. Since we had a Springfield Armory TRP in for review, we tried the Lightguard on that one as well and found it to fit perfectly.

This accessory adds 100 lumens of bright light to your rail-less 1911 without bulk or duct tape as it leverages the trigger guard for support. The unit features an instinctive activation pressure switch so it’s on when you are. A positive on/off switch allows for daylight practice without battery drain.

This is a well designed, and very handy add on, for your 1911. Highly recommended.

Available Here Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911 LTG-701

Glam Gun Girl Shooting Lady in Formal Wear T-Shirt

My Gun Culture Shooting Buyers Guide

Gun Girl Formal Wear with Pistol Reverse Logo ShirtFun juxtaposition of lady in formal wear with a pistol. Very Bond-villain-ish…

Shirts styles are customizable.

 

Available Here Glam Gun Girl Shooting Lady in Formal Wear T-Shirt

Cold Steel “The Spike” Series Neck Knives

Here’s a little something different for today.

cold steel spike neck knifeWe bought a Cold Steel Spike Neck Knife years ago, well, just because. It has turned out to be one handy piece of gear.

The Spike Series Neck Knives are fashioned from a solid piece of steel, and depending on the specific model, feature about a 4 1/2 inch blade. The blade if thick and tough enough for hard use, but has an edge capable of fine cutting. All edges are rounded so it’s comfortable to hold and use and the handle is wrapped with cord for grip, size, and comfort.

The neatest part? The Kydex sheath features a neck chain allowing you to carry The Spike around your neck with handle oriented downwards. It’s plenty secure and completely invisible. The sheath features other loops in case you want to mount it to MOLLE gear or just about anywhere else.

 

Available Here Cold Steel “The Spike” Series Neck Knives

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