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  1. #1
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    First Impressions of the Athlon Optics Ares ETR 1-10◊24

    Recently I was on a mission to replace or upgrade an optic on one of my ARís. After shopping around, based on my criteria I was clearly in the realm of expensive optics for what I wanted. I have not gotten into Ďfine glassí yet and I really didnít want to blow my budget. The optic I bought was less than 1/3 the price of the nearest comparable optic with the features I was after.

    During that search I was made aware of an optics company that I wasnít previously familiar with. I tend to shy away from being a guinea pig but in this case after reading into it I was intrigued so I made an exception. Long story short I am very glad I did. So far I am very pleased with what I got. I definitely think this optic in many ways punches way above itís class.

    The optic I got was the Athlon Ares ETR 1-10◊24 ATMR3 FFP IR MIL UHD.

    https://athlonoptics.com/product/are...fp-ir-mil-uhd/

    Here are a few things that I have noticed so far with just a couple of weeks using it. Keep in mind that this is more like first impression (from a layman) rather than a final professional review.

    1. The glass is clear. Itís a lot clearer than any other optic Iíve ever owned. For a budget optic thatís pretty good. The optic itself is a lot Ďbrighterí than what I had before. I am guessing the bigger tube diameter allows more light transmission.

    2. The apparent quality is pretty good. Itís better than any Vortex Iíve owned (note: I havenít owned any of the higher end optics of any kind, not just Vortex).

    3. For what I was looking for this optic was literally less than 1/3 the price of the next option.

    4. Compared to what I was using before the 1x side is a major improvement. I definitely do not think itís true 1x, and there is some distortion on the edges (at 1x), but itís still substantially better than what I used before. It can EASILY be run with both eyes open and with hardly any trouble finding your aiming point.

    That said I wouldnít put the reticle anywhere near Ďdaylight brightí. With something like an Aimpoint RDS it doesnít matter how bright it is outside. With this though, itís still very respectable for what it is, and especially for how much I use it that way. If I had to run it on 1x all day long it could be done with a lot less effort than my previous optic. If conditions are even slightly overcast or itís more towards sunset itís really not bad on 1x but I donít think this kind of optic is primarily intended for that use. As one of the few reviews I could find online said, this is basically a longer range optic that is more than capable at shorter engagement distances. I would agree with that for sure.

    5. The reticle itself is not overly distracting like with some other optics Iíve handled or used, even others with Christmas trees. Yes there is a Christmas tree, but itís not bad. The horse shoe and the center dot are the only things that get illuminated which has pros and cons. If you are trying to hold on a dark subject/target there is little contrast. That said the reticle in my opinion doesnít Ďget in the wayí like others of this nature can do.

    From about 6x on up to the max of 10x the reticle is able to be seen and used with all the wind holds and so forth. Below 6x down to 1x itís actually relatively clean for what it is, part of this is the pro side of not being entirely illuminated.

    6. I wanted a mil based reticle and this is just that. With the reticle just as it is without dialing anything at all I can have precise holds out to 750 yards with my pet load for this rifle (.223/5.56 using 69 grain SMK bullets). If I need or desire to dial the turrets are remarkably crisp, especially for the price range. There are some of the Vortex options that are much more Ďmushyí. This one is rather crisp by comparison. The lines on the turret all match up nicely as well. Another thing that I like is the zero stop. Inside there where you set it, itís all metal parts so there is nothing but steel on steel (actual stainless steel I think). Itís very robust. The zero stop once set is a hard stop. You can set it to over turn past zero if you want, but it is a very hard stop, which I like, especially since itís all lined up nicely.

    The elevation turret is not capped so if you desire to do so you can dial up. Once itís set you have to raise it up (it clicks up) before you can turn it. Otherwise itís locked into place. The windage turret is capped. I donít intend to do much dialing with this optic but itís nice to know itís there if I need it. I havenít tested it but the specs say there is 29 mils of total adjustment. I am guessing that with my 20 MOA scope mount I would guess it would have somewhere near 20 mils of usable elevation in the turret. (If you are wondering why I got a 20 MOA scope mount, itís because thatís what they had in stock, and in the future I could in theory use the mount in other applications).

    I have no idea if the scope has good tracking or not, but since this is not my intended use I am fairly confident that whoever etched the glass did it in a fairly straight line. It is extremely nice to have reference points for wind though. I like that a lot.

    Overall the reticle for me is very usable. I donít know if I am right or wrong in my thinking but not having to try and work around a BDC is preferable for my use. If I know my dope I just do my thing. I might be right and I might be wrong, but it works for me. That said I really like how this optic though gives me feedback, particularly in wind. Just today I was shooting in gusty wind and at 300 yards it was pushing the bullet around some. At 300 yards a 5mph cross wind is roughly 6 inches in movement so to me I can look at things downrange and get immediate feedback of what the conditions are doing.

    Another thing I am able to better do with this scope is to range things. It has a built in range finder at the bottom of the reticle. Itís based around a 36Ē tall IPSC target. You can range using that method out to 1000 yards in seconds (provided your targets are 36Ē tall). As an experiment I tried to range using the old ways of measuring using the reticle itself and I was on to about 5-10 yards at known distances.

    7. There is no parallax adjustment. I am not sure if this is good or bad. So far I am indifferent on it but time might tell a different story. On that I am undecided so far. That said it does keep things rather simple in the big picture to not deal with something like that, especially on an optic of this nature.

    Overall I am glad I made the leap. The company offers a warranty similar to that of Vortex but hopefully I never need to use it. The only negative thing I can think of is that they donít include any kind of covers for the optic in the box. I bought a cheap bikini cover that is doing that job for now. They should include that in there for sure. They donít offer throw levers either, but there is third party support for that. I bought one of those as well. There are other small things that I could probably nitpick, but overall I definitely feel like I upgraded my rifle with this addition.

  2. #2
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    For those interested here is a picture of the reticle.

    Name:  Capture.JPG
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Size:  162.2 KB

  3. #3
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    Excellent review. I am liking the looks of that reticle, the 34mm tube, FFP, and the points you raise are definitely tempting me to check this out. I think you're understating your skill just a bit, as I am far closer to the layman, unless there is an even lower station in terms of shooting at any distance over 200 yards. I don't think I'll ever need above 16x magnification, and have been looking for something stronger than my AimPoint Accupower 1-4x. I have a 3-9x that has been serving me well, and might go that route, but this scope is definitely tempting for my needs, as I have no earthly business spending 2-3k on an optic when I will shoot past 200 maybe 3-4 times a year! Thanks for the info. I'll be looking to buy next month, or April, whenever the nicer weather makes its way back to my neck of the woods. As much shit as you get for being analytical, I appreciate your process, even if I throw out some good-natured ribbing now and then myself. I will look forward to an update to this review after you get some time behind the scope.
    There's no "Team" in F**K YOU!

  4. #4
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    You talk about how much you like the glass, what other optics do you own? just for reference... mostly Vortex?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by UWone77 View Post
    You talk about how much you like the glass, what other optics do you own? just for reference... mostly Vortex?
    In magnified optics I have all Vortex and this. I have a Strike Eagle on my 6ARC and a Diamondback Tactical on my .22. Everything else has a Aimpoint red dots.

    This replaced a Vortex 1-4 PST gen 2, which I think is no longer manufactured.

    This new scope easily tops all of those in the way of quality of the scope itself and glass clarity.

    I would say it definitely can hold its own against the Razor 1-10. The Razor would ultimately win if some some professional compared the two, but for what you get vs price it's great.

    Like I said, at 1x there is some distortion on the edges. Just clarity wise if a Razor 1-10 was an 8 out of 10 this would easily be a 7. My Strike Eagle might be a 5.

    It's all subjective but I leaned on my photography a bit and did some cross over thinking.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joelski View Post
    Excellent review.
    Thank you. I don't mind getting ribbed every now and then. It's all good.

    Based on my short term use you could do a lot worse for a lot more money.

    Don't get me wrong, I would love to have fine glass on everything but at thousands of dollars each it's too much right now.

    As far as shooting distances goes I shoot a lot more out to 300 yards because I can do that at home. About 15 or 20 minutes away and I have 1,400 yards available but I don't go out there a lot because it tends to be an all day thing for my days off etc. I like shooting my .22 out to 300 yards. It scratches my shooting itch and it's super cheap to do. My farthest shots are definitely 1,400 yards. I'm quite sure I can hit a lot farther than that but I don't have the space.

    I don't do competition or anything like that and I don't have any experience in the military or whatever. Just in hearing from a lot of you guys I have learned a ton.

    In other words I pretty much just make up stuff to do.

  7. #7
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    Post up some pictures!

    Sounds like a great value and I'm glad you're happy with it. Even though this is considered "budget" in this category, it's still not cheap.

    Where is it manufactured? They don't publish that on their website. If it was Japan they'd shout that from the rooftops and if the Philippines I'd expect it to at least be found in the fine print because, hey, at least it's not China, but the fact that they don't list it anywhere suggests to me they'd rather we not know, which probably mans China.

    Locking turrets is nice and I'm surprised at that feature at that price point. I don't think any of the 1-10s (or lower) on the market have parallax adjustment, but, yeah, when you are getting to 10x and are putting these on DMR type of setups you kind of start wanting that capability.

    I'd expect the glass to be on par with the PST but a 34mm tube will make a big difference. I.e., if you put PST (Philippines) glass in a 34mm tube, I suspect you'd basically have the same thing.

    Why do you say quality is better than Vortex?

    Have you been behind a Razor Gen III on a range?

    #4, in my opinion, is actually one of the things that really makes a difference and is why you pay more for higher tier optics in this category. The hard part of the engineering this class of scopes is being able to go from truly 1x to max and being great at both ends. The Razor Gen II 1-6 can be run like a red dot at 1x. The glass is fantastic, the tube disappears, it's super close to 1x, and the dot is bright. I still love my old PST gen 1 1-4x24 but it's a far cry from the Razor Gen II at 1X.

    I'd say that for as much as you spend on the hobby, the next time you think you need a new gun you should instead consider treating yourself to at least one really nice scope.

    And, since you mentioned it, what is your pet load for 69gr SMK?

  8. #8
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    When I get some free time I will try to take some pictures. I want to show off my 6 ARC too and see what ya'll think.

    The scope is definitely made in China. It was sub $1k. None the less it represents a substantial value for what it brings to the table.

    As far as quality goes, I can only really base that off of what is visible and the feel of the moving parts. The turrets are solid and someone definitely went through whatever process to make sure everything lines up properly. It doesn't look like they just slapped something together to be 'good enough'. It's not just the features (IE locking turret) but rather the very positive clicks, all the dashes line up, the components (at least from the over travel stop and things I can see in there) are definitely better. There simply isn't a lot of mush like in my other optics from Vortex. Given this was a higher price point so I do have take that into consideration when comparing.

    I have looked through several higher end Vortex. The gun store let me go outside and look and all that. I have not used any higher end optics while shooting though. In a way I am scared to do it because next thing you know I will have $10,000++ dollars worth of optics on the way.

    Relative to what I had before the 1x is by far the biggest surprise. I mentioned distortion on the edges but really it's not anything huge unless you are looking for it. I took it outside and tested in just before hand so I could be as accurate as possible so at that time I specifically watched for it. Again I kind of borrowed from my understanding of camera lenses but I am no expert on either. If you are not specifically trying to find distortion on the edges you might not even notice it much.

    Again I don't know why it's better at 1x but it's a big jump up. My hypothesis is because it's a larger tube diameter. I am not sure if you are familiar with photography but there are F stops and T stops. F stops is a function of the size of the glass vs the size of the aperture opening, which is obviously adjustable, ie f 2.8, or f 5.6 etc. T stops is a much more technical measure that needs special equipment to measure. They shoot a certain amount of light into the front of the lens and then have a special machine in the back to measure how much makes it through.
    A lens with a ton of glass and/or certain designs will just let less light pass through as a natural effect of more glass=less light. It has nothing to do with sharpness. On the flip side specifically talking about scopes, the bigger tube can let more light through. So if you had the exact same optical formula on a 30mm tube vs a 34mm tube you get more light on the bigger one. At least that's my theory.

    Anyway whatever they did it's decent.

    As for my load, I use 24.3 grains of Varget, virgin Lake City brass and a 69gr SMK. I am switching brass though just to make segregating things easier so I will need to redo it. I already started but I have like 10 projects going on at the same time and I still have some ammo I loaded a long time ago that I need to shoot through.

  9. #9
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    I just realized that Athlon is on ExpertVoice and offers a discount for Mil/LEO on par with Vortex.

    Thank you for responding to the questions. I don't think Vortex ever made a PST Gen II 1-4, so you either have a Gen I or a 1-6. The Gen II does have better glass than Gen I.

    I'm probably going to order the Razor 1-10 within a few months for a .308

  10. #10
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    FWIW, I ended up coming out a few ten bucks ahead going through Euro-Optic than through ExpertVoice.

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