Sig Sauer Whiskey5, 3-15x44 Riflescope Review
Sig Sauer recently released its updated Whiskey 5 hunting riflescope line. Since viewing the original configuration about a year ago I was pretty keen to see what updates Sig had come up with and if they would incorporate some of their popular features from their tactical line of scopes across into the hunting line of scopes. The Whiskey 5’s arrived in New Zealand about a week before the September, 2017 Sika Show and as I was heading up there it was a good opportunity to get my hands on one and compare them to the nearest competition in the form of the Leupold VX5HD. I was impressed and promptly placed an order for a 3-15x44 with the MOA Hunter reticle.
The Whiskey 5 line of scopes is Sig Sauer Electro Optics premier hunting scope. They are lightweight and boast an array of features including LevelPlex, electronic fibre optic Illumination, T120 Zero Stop turrets and HDX glass for improved low light clarity and performance. For the test-fire I fitted mine to a range of rifles to gather data for an upcoming Custom Rifle series that I am writing. These rifles were my two semi-customs (Howa .264 Win Mag and trued factory Remington 700 in .270 Winchester) and my full custom Desert Guns 7mm Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum (SAUM). Over the last three months I have been out hunting, competed in the Gentle Annie Steel Challenge and did some long-range shooting with all three rifles and the Whiskey 5 to really get a feel for the scope.
The Whiskey 5 is a very short and compact scope at 256mm long and weighing in at only 607grams. Manufactured in Japan from a single piece of aluminium the 30mm main tube is anodized in flat black. It seems Sig Sauer has moved away from its characteristic ‘Graphite’ colour in the hunting line of scopes with the update. The turret layout is very similar to the Tango6 with the exposed locking T120 elevation turret central on the shoulder, capped windage on the right side and a combined parallax, illumination and LevelPlex turret on the left side identical to the Tango6 line of scopes.
The ocular bell is 44mm in diameter and features an aluminium adjustable dioptre for fast focus. Clearly marked with + and – symbol the dioptre has a small illuminating tritium dot to reference your adjustments. The dioptre is quite firm to adjust which makes it easy set and forget without concern for it being knocked. The ocular bell is clearly marked in white laser engraving ‘Sig Sauer’ along with the scope model. The power adjustment ring features subtle knurling to maintain grip with wet of bloody hands and has a single raised green fibre optic rod inset to clearly indicate which power setting you have the scope set to.
The turrets are absolutely fantastic and I fell in love with them as soon as I started to use the scope. The windage is very slim and protrudes only 13mm and is still water proof if you remove the cap. It is laser engraved with an arrow to indicate counter-clockwise for right and a small white dot for the reference point. The clicks were very crisp with a firm click, very similar to my Schmidt and Bender PMII. The elevation turret features an easy to set zero stop and a push button at the ‘0’ mark which unlocks the turret to start adjusting up for elevation. Once unlocked the turret is free to turn and does not lock in the adjustment you make. When coming back down to zero the turret stops at 1MOA and you must depress the locking button to move back down to zero where it will stop and lock. Each click or adjustment is ¼ MOA and is clearly marked on the face of the turret when looking at the turrets. With a 20 MOA base I had 80 MOA of adjustment which is more than adequate to get to 1500m with the .270 Win (not that I wanted to shoot that far with it).
The zero-stop is really easy to set as well which is a bonus. Sig provide you a special plastic moulded tool to adjust the zero-stop dial which is accessed by removing the T120 dial. You simply undo the three grub screws with the provided 2mm Allen key and remove he turret. This exposes the zero stop mechanism which looks like a cog off your bike gears and a small locking pin. The zero-stop is clearly marked which way to turn it to set the stop and the handy tool depresses the lock pin as you turn it. Once set you place the turret back on and tighten up your screws, done!
The left side turret houses your waterproof battery compartment, illumination, Levelplex and parallax controls in the same layout as the Tango6. This turret does protrude a lot further than the windage (30mm) giving the scope a slightly lopsided aesthetic. This initial impression is forgotten as soon as you use the illumination and Levelplex for the first time. The Levelplex anti-cant system is worth the price of admission alone in my opinion. With adjustable sensitivity from 0.5 to 1.0 degrees and three different brightness settings it makes fast shooting at long range a piece of cake.
The Whiskey 5 features the same HDX Glass as the Tango6 and boasts the same ‘LensArmour’ lens coatings to resist oil, blood, dirt and smudging on the lenses. It also features the same fibre optic illumination system with nine daytime and two night vision settings. Powered by one CR2032 battery the Whiskey 5 will switch off the illumination and Levelplex if it stays static for two minutes or longer and will automatically come back on at the last setting utilising the inbuilt motion sensor to enhance battery life.
Three reticles are available in the 3-15x44, they are quadplex (think duplex), triplex (European with an open top half of the scope) and MOA hunter. All Whiskey 5s are second focal plane scopes meaning the reticle stays the same size no matter the magnification and the reticle subtensions are only accurate at the highest power setting (15x in this case). I selected the MOA Hunter reticle for accurate corrections at distance and this reticle is nice and easy to use. It has an open centre with a .25 MOA dot for precise aiming and hashes every 2 MOA with numbers every 10 MOA. In total the reticle has 20 MOA either side of centre, 30 MOA below centre and 10 MOA above. The entire reticle illuminates without any bleeding and was essential when hunting those early mornings and evenings.
On the hill
Mounting the scope on the 264 Win Mag I zeroed one inch high at 100m with my 140 grain SST hand load. Travelling at 3030 feet per second it is a hard hitting and flat shooting combination that drops only 10 inches or roughly 9 MOA at 300m. I headed to the Wairarapa to hunt with a friend on his farm, we were chasing Red deer for a mate’s engagement party the following weekend and were hoping for some luck to make sure the guests would be well fed. The November morning dawned clear and cool and after a short drive we arrived at the woolshed for a quick planning session. With no animals spotted we would make our way via quadbike to a handy vantage and do some glassing.
Barley 200m down the track an excited “there’s one!” broke the drone of the bikes engine, a young spiker perfect for the BBQ was about a kilometre away feeding up a small gully. Ditching the bike we quickly but quietly made our way over to the animal and up a small hill that overlooked where we had last spotted the deer. I popped my head from cover to be greeted by an empty gully with plenty of native bush and thick bracken to hide in.
After a brief wait four young spikers wandered over the brow of the hill to our immediate left at 100m and started their way up the rise steadily increasing the distance between us. I dropped down on the daypack and left the Whiskey 5 on 5x while I lined up the first animal. Confirming I would take him when he stopped I waited patiently, he paused and looked back in our direction as if sensing our presence. I settled the dot right in the point of his onside shoulder and squeezed the trigger, Whack! The sound of a solid hit and the yearling took a final faltering step before collapsing into the grass.
I worked the bolt as fast as possible as the other deer broke for the skyline at a canter and Woompha! The 7x57 on my right roared and a wounded animal stumbled downhill collapsing into the thick stuff. How many do we need I asked myself, our host replied as if he was reading my mind “get one for me too if you can”. With the remaining two deer heading uphill at a surprising slow pace a quiet fawn call pulled them up, again the lead animal was quartering towards me looking in our direction. I placed the dot a little higher on the shoulder and gently squeezed the trigger on the Howa, the spiker folded up and rolled down hill ending up on the track. Standing up the adrenaline was still flowing and we congratulated each other on our success.
Replaying the action in my head I had forgotten to adjust the power on the Whiskey 5 and shot both deer with it on 5x, I grabbed the Kilo2400 and lased the deer; 175 and 275 metres respectively. Wow, talk about the benefits of good glass and using the maximum point blank range of your cartridge. After a quick walk we managed to locate all three animals and get them back to the woolshed via the quadbike to get into the real work. As we dressed the animals we noted that both shot with the .264 Win Mag had exit wounds, and the 140gr SST’s had broken both shoulders and destroyed the vitals. We also managed to locate a perfectly mushroomed 7mm 139grain Hornady GMX on the offside skin of the second animal which when weighed had retained one hundred percent of its weight.
Gentle Annie Steel Challenge
To test the tracking and really manipulate the scope across the range of magnification and the adjustments I entered one of Simon Gillice’s great practical shooting events. This year the Gentle Annie Steel Challenge was held on Mangaohane Station just outside of Taihape and the targets were at distances between 100 – 1100m. As the name suggests they consisted of steel silhouettes and there were two classes, Hunter and Precision. I entered the Precision class after some persuasion by my team members (they changed it for me!) hoping that my factory custom Remington 700 in .270 Winchester would be up to the task. I had loaded one hundred rounds for the match with Hornady’s new 145 grain ELD-X bullets in new Norma brass (thanks Steve’s Wholesale and NZ Ammo!).
The Whiskey 5 performed exceptionally well handling the variety of shooting positions and rapid adjustments for elevation and windage. Returning to zero was simple without having to look at the turrets thanks to the zero-stop function and locking turrets. The scope tracked flawlessly and came back to zero every time, even after dialling the 43.5 MOA I needed to hit the 1100m target. The four inches of eye relief was a noticeable bonus when I was wrapping myself into a pretzel to try and build a stable shooting position off the ‘Tank Trap’ and barricade stands.
Throughout the day there was a pretty consistent 12mph wind from the 9 o’clock position which made dialling for wind simple and then using the reticle to hold for gusts and lulls as required. I found the open centre of the reticle with the .25 MOA dot great for the long shots as it allowed for precise aiming and allowed you to spot your splash with a miss and apply the appropriate amount of aim off to get back on target when on maximum power.
At the end of the competition I placed somewhere in the middle of the pack and had a great day out with mates. The scope had performed really well and I was impressed with the .270s ability to reach out and hit some of the longer targets.
The Whiskey 5 line of riflescopes boast some impressive glass and great features; for me they are a crossover or hybrid scope incorporating all the features from the more expensive tactical scopes and putting them in a more compact and fiscally friendly package. Sig Sauer offers a diverse range of reticles and magnification options for those who prefer traditional MOA or Milliradian systems and the MOA Hunter for those that want something to shoot a bit further.
The Whiskey 5 compares well to the competition and incorporates the high performance HDX glass from the globally renowned Japanese glass houses with the added bonuses of the Sig Ballistic Turret voucher and infinite guarantee. Overall the scope is manufactured to high tolerances and is rugged enough to withstand New Zealand’s harshest hunting environments.
Warm barrels and stay safe out there!