With low-powered variable optics (LPVO) being all the rage for target, competition, and defensive shooting, the industry has answered.
More companies are offering economical optics for just about anyone.
Enter Swampfox Optics, a relative newcomer to the firearm optics scene. The company was founded in July of 2018 and has already made a name for themselves.
Last summer, I reviewed two of their red dot offerings with the Liberator and Kingslayer.
They sent me two of the newest LPVO models in their Arrowhead line. Their 1-10x was used on a DSA SA58 review a few months ago, and I evaluated the 1-8x.
Between these two optics, I have spent over 6 months with the Arrowhead and nearly 3,000 rounds.
For an LPVO with an MSRP at $550 for the 1-10x and street prices at well under $500 for the whole lineup, how does the Arrowhead hold up? I put it to the test with drop testing, box testing, and water submersion.
Lets get at it!
Table of Contents
Aesthetics and Function
First impressions with the Arrowhead line were positive. The aesthetics are superb, and nothing comes off as cheap with the LPVO.
It also has its own style and doesn’t come off as a rebranded import optic. Even the murdered-out company and model logo looks professional and stands apart from the competition.
The optic was designed from the ground up by Swampfox, and they did a great job. Besides the fact that it looks good with its 30mm tube, and murdered-out logos, function-wise it is smart and meets the demands of shooters.
The first thing that caught my attention is the INCLUDED throw lever for the Arrowhead. At this point in 2020, this should be the standard with LPVOs. It is also sized just right IMO.
Too often, aftermarket throw levers can be too large.
It uses a four-bolt locking system that is exceptionally strong. I installed mine with a dab of blue Loctite. Rotation of the magnification is positive and moves relatively smoothly.
Function wise, the turrets are also well-designed. Whether you decide to go with an MOA or MRAD model, either model utilizes a push-pull locking turret cap that is easy to re-zero.
There are no special tools needed to re-zero the turrets which keep the system simple. A quarter will do the job.
The illumination knob has intermittent off settings, which again needs to be an industry standard. This allows a shooter to stay in between normal operating illuminations without having to spin the dial around like you are on the Price Is Right.
Speaking of illumination, for its price point the Arrowhead is very bright. It isn’t at the same level as the retina scorching Aimpoint T2, but it is considerably brighter than my Trijicon Accupower LPVO.
It has 10 daytime settings and 2 NV settings.
Lastly, the Guerilla Dot reticles are intelligently designed and work well. I would prefer a little smaller reticle, but that is my personal preference.
The 1-10x that was sent used the BDC Long reticle that uses stadia lines and chevrons for holdovers.
It is calibrated for a couple of different calibers such as 5.56 NATO and .308 Win.
The 1-8x was the MOA Long. It uses stadia lines marked at 10, 20, and 30 MOA, and the reticle is calibrated at its highest magnification since it’s SFP. With a ballistic app, you could plot out holdovers for your specific cartridge.
What makes a great optic isn’t always the bells and whistles. If it feels like work to use it, ribbons and bows won’t save it.
Luckily, the Arrowhead performs in usability well above its price-point.
Clarity is above par with other LPVOs in similar price ranges. Bullet holes at 8x and 10x are visible at 100 yards.
The lack of distortion at 1x is noticeably better compared to other optics in its price point.
There is little to no “fish bowling” at the edges, even at distances of 15 feet.
Eye relief is generous at 1x and also at maximum magnification. Moving your head back and forth gives a lot of room while still allowing a proper sight picture through the scope.
This allows a lot of forgiveness when you need to quickly get a cheek weld for fast shots.
Listed on the Swampfox website, eye relief for the 1-8x is 3.35-3.54″. It felt much longer than that at 1x so I measured from the diopter to the front of my eye.
At full sight picture, the measurement was nearly 4.5” to my eye, and I could move to roughly 3” before getting too close.
This was after I adjusted the diopter to my eye so YMMV, but you still have a good bit of wiggle room for cheek weld. Side to side play is also good for its price point, so the eye box makes the Arrowhead very user friendly.
|MODEL||MAGNIFICATION||FOV @ 100 YARDS (6x)||MSRP|
|Vortex Viper PST||1-6x||18.8’||$899|
Field of view (FOV) is also much larger than other optics within its price-point. Comparing the Arrowhead to two optics at higher price points shows that the Arrowhead is leading the way at its price point.
While there are other features that dictate price, I found it interested that the Arrowhead is able to have a larger FOV than other LPVO’s at a much higher cost.
Bring the Pain
In my opinion, there is a lot of great things going on with the Arrowhead lineup as far as handling and aesthetics, but that doesn’t mean anything if it’s a pig with lipstick.
I went about putting it through some tests to verify that the optic performed. First up was a box test.
If you are unfamiliar with a box test, it is a way to test the accuracy of the turrets.
Once the optic is zeroed, the shooter makes adjustments for another known distance target, while maintaining the same point of impact (POI). It’s easy to do with a paper target that has separate targets at each corner.
I fired 5 shot groups starting at the center target at 100 yards. Clockwise, I moved corner to corner adjusting the turrets while still aiming at the center target.
With each adjustment, I placed 5 shot groups at each target, finally returning to zero with my 6th group. Keeping in mind this is not a precision optic, I consider this a success.
I also tested POI shift across different magnification settings at 100 yards. Starting at 1x, I shot a 5 shot group, then went to 4x, and ended at 8x.
POI stayed basically the same accounting for human error, and groups tightened up as I reached maximum magnification.
To test the hydrophobic nature of the optic, I chose to go with a scientific approach.
I used my kids’ baby pool. It was a hot day and not only was it refreshing for my soul, but the optic remained perfectly fine.
I did not push the limits of the IPX7 waterproof level, for most people, this is as wet as their optic will get.
Drop testing was standard. The rifle was tipped over multiple times landing on the turrets under the weight of the rifle at different angles.
It was also tossed into a field a few times as well. Every single time, the mount and optic combo held zero at 50 yards and showed no real POI change out to 200 yards on steel plates.
As far as recoil testing, between multiple rifles of varying calibers and nearly 3,000 rounds, I had no loss of zero.
The DSA SA58 is the “grandfather” of the SCAR and I noticed no issues whatsoever so that says a lot.
As far as the mount goes, I had no issues with installing/uninstalling on multiple rifles.
Overall, there isn’t much I would change with the Arrowhead. Considering its cost, everything is ahead of its class and exceeds its price-point for function and usability.
The warranty is their standard 50,000 round limited warranty that does not cover loss, theft, or deliberate damage.
By the Numbers
Aesthetics – 5/5
This isn’t your typical import optic. With the murdered-out model and company logo, it breaks away from the pack.
Function – 4.5/5
Between the locking turrets and the awesome throw lever, the Arrowhead scored high marks. The reticle could be sized a little smaller, but that is more personal preference.
Not to mention the fact they have a 1-10x LPVO that doesn’t break your bank account! The reticle could always be brighter though.
Usability – 5/5
At its price point, I have yet to handle an LPVO that was this user friendly. With the large FOV, and forgiving eye relief and eye box, the Arrowhead sits well in front of competitors in its price range.
Durability – 5/5
After nearly 3,000 rounds and a fair share of bumps and drops, the mount and the Arrowhead proved to handle itself well and hold zero. After 6 months, the turrets seemed to maintain accuracy from being played with on multiple rifles.
Overall – 4.75/5
The Arrowhead LPVO from Swampfox exceeds its price point in usability and function which isn’t common with imported optics. Clear glass, forgiving eye box, and nice aesthetics, I would highly recommend buying an Arrowhead for your next sub $500 LPVO.
Have you checked out Swampfox Optics yet? Maybe handled their new Arrowhead, or used their economical offering with their Tomahawk? Let us know in the comments below!