Athlon Talos 4-16×40 SFP Mildot Review

New to the scene, and getting attention is another scope company by the name of Athlon.  I’m always looking for optics that fit both my target shooting, and squirrel hunting requirements at the same time, while maintaining a good price point.  Athlon seems to keep that in mind, throughout their complete lineup.  I wanted to see how their lower end would stack up to my squirrel optic needs.

Athlon was started by two former Bushnell employees that decided they could add value to the market with the ideas they had for scopes.  The scopes are designed in the United States, and manufactured in China.   I’m always happy to see another scope maker on the market, because more options are better for the consumer. 

I first ordered the 6-24×50 illuminated reticle model ( ATMR1 IR MIL).  You will quickly find that all their optics are heavy.  Athlon is geared toward the centerfire, long range shooter.  Therefore, they build each scope like a tank!  That wasn’t my biggest concern with this scope though.  The positives for me were:

  • I loved the half mil reticle
  • Adjustments are made in mils
  • It has side focus instead of adjustable objective
  • Fast focus eye piece

The negatives were:

  • It’s heavy (23 oz.)
  • Eye relief is critical and hazy at 20 power and up
  • Turret clicks aren’t positive and tactile 
  • The illuminated reticle is hokie!  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.
  • Adjustments were too tight (side focus, magnification)

At this point, the negatives outweighed the positives and I gave Athlon a call.  They hadn’t heard the complaints from any others that I expressed, but were willing to honor their warranty process.  They offered to check other scopes they had on hand for more smooth adjustments and send me one of those.  Before we ended the phone call, I requested to go to the 4-16×40 model, as I didn’t need the illuminated reticle or added weight, and that size better fit my needs.  They obliged, and that’s how we get to this review. 

Scope Appearance:  The 4-16 has a grainy, matte black color to it.  That’s great for the squirrel woods as it reduces glare.  A 40mm objective makes it fit on just about any rifle you’d choose.  I’ve had it on the CZ Scout up to a Ruger 10/22.  Magnification and side focus markings are easy to read, and neither look out of place with the design of this scope.  Having a 4-16 power range in a 3-9 sized scope is of great benefit to me, as the added power is a plus on both the range and in the woods.

Glass/Clarity:  The saying goes, “you get what you pay for” and that’s somewhat the way I feel about this scope.  It’s not up to par with my much beloved Bushnell Ultra HD 4.5-14×44, or even the Nikon EFR.  Don’t let that discourage you though, for the price range, it’s a usable optic.  The glass is fairly clear through the power range, but can become eye relief critical at 16 power.  That’s what I’ve come to expect with lower end, high magnification scopes.  In it’s price range ($159), I don’t know that you’ll find a 4-16 that can compete with it.  Shooting higher quality optics has given me a little of a “glass snob” mentality, and once you’ve wandered down that path it’s hard to not judge lower quality stuff against the better glass.

Adjustments:  This is an area where I think you have to get it right.  Tactile, audible clicks are a must.  What I experienced with the Athlon Talos turrets was odd.  Counter-clockwise adjustments were both audible and tactile, while the clockwise were soft and mushy on the elevation turret.  It’s the most odd turret adjustment that I’ve encountered.  The same was true for the windage turret.  What Athlon does do perfectly is the tracking.  I had zero issue dialing up or down 1 mil and impacting exactly where I dialed to.  Being that the reticle and adjustments are in mil/mil configuration, it makes dialing elevation and windage a breeze.  You do have to make sure you reset to zero though so you don’t count clicks.  They just aren’t precise enough to “feel” or hear your way through the process.  I hope in future models they look at making this area better.

The side focus wheel was tight upon arrival, but will loosen with use.  I don’t like my adjustments to be overly tight, or overly loose.  I consider these to be a little on the tight side.  Side focus yardages, I found to be accurately marked.  Magnification adjustments were fairly smooth, the ring is large, and easy to grip for manipulation.  Another area I think that Athlon dropped the ball is the marking to let you know what yardage you are at, and what magnification you are on.  The “dots” are about the size of a pin head, and are hard to find with the naked eye.  They are marked in white, but aren’t large enough to be noticed without having to struggle to find them.  Seems like this would be an easy area to correct in manufacturing.  Sounds like I’m nit-picking at this point, but again look at both the Bushnell Ultra HD and Nikon EFR markings and see how right they get it!

The Bushnell Ultra HD for comparison on markings:

Ring Height:  I used a couple different styles for my CZ’s to mount this scope.  My tried and true ring is the BKL-257 Medium that always gets the job done.  On my CZ Scout I used Burris Signature Rimfire High rings.  Using the supplied rail with the Ruger 10/22 I was able to use Leupold Rifleman Low rings.

Reticle:  One of the top reasons for testing this scope was the mildot reticle offered.  I love being able to range from the reticle without having to make an adjustment through the turret.  The mildot used is sized perfectly for both squirrels, and small target work.  The fast focus eye piece, makes bringing this reticle into crisp focus easy.  

Manufacturer Specs:  Weight is always a factor when putting any squirrel rifle together.  Taking that into consideration with this power range, here are the rest of the manufacturer specifications:  

Magnification 4-16
Objective Lens Diameter 40 mm
Reticle Mildot
Surface Finish Matte
Lens Coating Wide Band Fully Multicoated
Tube Material Aircraft grade aluminum
Tube Diameter 1 inch
Exit Pupil 9.5-2.5 mm
Eye Relief 3.8-3.35 inches
Field of View @100 yards 24.1-6.28 feet
Click Value 0.1 MIL
Adjustment range per rotation 5 MIL
Total Elevation Adjustment 20 MIL
Total Windage Adjustment 20 MIL
Turret Style Capped
Parallax Adjustment Side Focus – 15 yards to infinity
Purging Material Nitrogen
Length 12.9″
Weight 19.1 oz
Reticle Subtension Validity 10x

If you are looking for a lower cost option, and can get past the few misses this scope has it may serve you well.  Athlon’s lifetime warranty will give you the option to change it out if you don’t happen to like what you get.  I believe with time their lower end options will get better.  I think Athlon has it’s focus on the long range shooting market, while trying to appease other markets at the same time.  Hopefully there future is bright, and that they can bring a rimfire specific line to the market soon.

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