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Although not quite a household name, Blackhound Optics produces some excellent rifle scopes. Recently, they provided their Blackhound Evolve 5-25×56 rifle scope for review. This has been my preferred focal length for some time now, and it’s been interesting to try out different glass with the same basic specs, but different price points. With an MSRP of $849.99, the Evolve is a bit more expensive than what I typically shoot with, so I had some high expectations for it. Read on to see how it fared.
Blackhound Evolve 5-25×56 FFP MOA
While the full specs can be found at the bottom of this article, the scope’s name gives away most of the details. It’s got 5x magnification (5-25x) with a nice bright 56mm objective. As expected with those numbers, it also has a 34mm main tube. It’s designed for precision long-range shooting, so that 34mm tube is necessary for the 90 MOA of elevation adjustment available. Although I have a couple of scopes in MILs, I’m too entrenched in MOA to switch. And I’m shooting mostly rimfire, where the finer adjustments are appreciated. So I requested the MOA version.
In the box
Blackhound wants to make it easy to install your new scope, so the packaging includes pretty much everything you need to mount it. Inside the box was a set of 34mm rings, a couple of bubble levels, and some wrenches. Also included was a 50mm ARD (Anti-Reflective Device) Sunshade, front and rear caps, and a lens cloth. Buying my own rings has never been an issue, but this certainly saves some time tracking down the right set. All I needed was my torque wrench and I was ready to go.
Installation and zero
Seems like I swap scopes so often, I could do it in my sleep. The bubble levels are very basic, but can help speed up the process. Blackhound provides great instructions, with clearly stated torque specifications too. They do recommend a 25-yard zero, which is pretty much my default, as the red laser I use isn’t visible beyond that most of time. Without going into too much detail, there is a spot I use that is exactly 25 yards from one of my upstairs windows. So it gets a rough zero at 25, then I correct it for 50 yards once I get to the range.
Sharp and contrasty is how I would describe the Blackhound Evolve 5-25×56. At all magnifications, I had no complaints, although the edges do give up a little at 25x. This was during my critical look through the scope in a controlled environment. Out in the field, focusing on a target or steel plate, it wasn’t an issue. And that’s one thing I try to remind people when reading reviews – technical imperfections need to be weighed with proper context. If you go looking for a flaw, you can probably find one. But in actual use, these things may not really matter. I’m only shooting rimfire at steel and paper, this isn’t a lens used to film my next cinematic masterpiece. That said, the ARD did seem to reduce the contrast a bit. For my application, this wasn’t a concern.
Turrets and tracking
I expect crisp clicks without mushiness or any slop, and the Evolve did not disappoint here either. Although I use the word “crisp”, there’s more to it than that. Not only do you need to be able to feel the clicks (even with gloves on), but they need to be weighted properly. Some turrets can have too much resistance, making it difficult to quickly dial a few clicks. On the flip side, too little resistance, and it’s also easy to dial in too much. Blackhound managed to find a nice balance, with turrets that move when you need them to, without too much or little resistance. And they still have nice tactile feedback. Of course, there’s really no reason for turrets to not be good at this price point.
Legibility of the turret markings is more than acceptable as well. I’m at a point where I probably need reading glasses, yet I’m able to read the numbers just fine. While the windage turret is great, the elevation turret’s reference mark is white on silver. A little more contrast wouldn’t hurt, as the white on black is certainly easier to see. Tracking testing was done with a basic box test. Up, right, down, left. My last three rounds landed on the same spot as my first three, which I consider a success. With each click being 1/4 MOA, I found the POI moving a corresponding amount. Again, this is expected on a scope at this price.
The reticle and parallax adjustment
The Evolve’s reticle is the Christmas tree style, and it provides plenty of information, making holdovers faster for dynamic shooting. Most of my shooting is done at a fixed distance, but I found it easy to use the reticle’s graduated hash marks when switching to targets at greater distances. I didn’t test the illumination, as my shooting is usually done under extremely bright conditions, where illumination isn’t necessary for me.
At first, I was mildly concerned about the lack of yardage engravings on the parallax knob. On the Evolve, it’s only marked at 25 yards and infinity. Of course, I’m okay with this, since it’s possible for engraved values to not line up with actual distances. More importantly, the knob has a sufficient diameter and damping to allow for fine adjustments. Would I prefer engraved numbers? Yes, if they were 100% reliable, and could be used for ranging. Realistically, it’s another non-issue for me though, as I would usually only use it to verify that my targets are set at 50, 75, and 100 yards.
Range time – the real test
I can talk all day about chromatic aberrations (or lack thereof), and how “clicky” turrets are. But what really matters is the time behind the scope. Over the two months that I have had it for this review, it’s been used nearly every weekend. After one brief outing on a Ruger American Rimfire LRT, I mounted it to my Bergara B-14R. This rifle is ideal for testing scopes – it’s extremely accurate, and my Magpul Pro 700 chassis allows for exceptional ergonomics. Even if a scope has a somewhat unforgiving eye box, I can get my position dialed right in. Settling in behind the Blackhound Evolve 5-25×56 was always a good time at the range.
Once my 50 yard zero was confirmed, I carefully removed the turret caps, rotated them, and repositioned them to reset zero. When switching ammo, a few clicks to adjust point of impact and I was back on target. One of the benefits (for me) of the MOA scope over MILs is that I really don’t even need to do any calculations. And the Evolve’s turrets provide sufficient feedback and resistance while shooting prone, so it’s effortless. Using the subtensions for longer shots worked well when I was too lazy to dial in a few clicks. For those that wear glasses, the Fast Focus Eyepiece is super smooth and well-damped. I’ve already mentioned the glass quality – in the field, it offers a bright, sharp, and contrasty image. Targets snap into focus and I can see the tiny holes I make at 50 yards.
Admittedly, I don’t have much experience with scopes that cost more than the Blackhound Evolve 5-25×56. But I have plenty of time behind scopes that cost less. The Evolve has better glass, better turrets, and of course, their “Our Promise” no-questions-asked lifetime warranty. Perhaps I didn’t really know what I was missing. Previous scopes have always been “good enough”. I’d see some flaws at the edges, and accepted that. Soft turrets that still tracked well got the job done. As my skills progressed, I’ve come to appreciate higher-quality scopes. That said, whether this is the right scope for you is a matter of preference. But it certainly holds its own on my Bergara, which is very accurate with quality ammo. If you think your current scope is holding you back, check out the full line of Blackhound scopes.
Blackhound Evolve 5-25×56 FFP MOA rifle scope full spec sheet:
|FIELD OF VIEW
|21.2 – 4.2′ (@100yds)
|TRAVEL PER ROTATION
|20 – âˆž yds
As always, I’d like to thank the folks at Blackhound Optics for providing their Evolve 5-25×56 scope for my review. You can read more about their complete line, and get 10% off by signing up for their mailing list at Blackhoundoptics.com.
Questions? Comments? Anyone else have any experience with Blackhound? Feel free to share below!