WHISKEY5_left

2015 is continuing to be quite the year of expansion for SIG SAUER, as the company jumps with both feet into multiple new product lines. Silencers, optics, ammunition, airguns, and more have been or are being added to the catalog. In all of these cases, SIG chose not to acquire new companies and their existing product lines, but to acquire human talent and build their new offerings organically. To run the silencer division, AAC founder Kevin Brittingham came on board. Ammo is being run by Dan Powers, previously with RUAG and Bud Fini, previously from Remington. Airguns? That would be Lou Riley, former CEO of GAMO. But today we’re checking out the WHISKEY5, 5-25×52 hunting riflescope, which is part of SIG’s new Electro-Optics line, run by. . .

a bloke named Andy York, who spent a decade as VP of Technology (and Sales and Marketing) at Leupold & Stevens, not to mention some time at Polaroid and a couple years as SVP of a publicly-traded, international corporation that makes some handy equipment. Sometimes you worry when a company steps out of its core competency (in SIG’s case, firearms), but I think the way that SIG has created separate business units directed by folks working in their own areas of expertise is a solid way to go about this sort of growth.

Electro-Optics is still ramping up and www.SigOptics.com will go live this week. The WHISKEYs will first be available for purchase in early October. Actually, I don’t believe any of the Electro-Optics line is available as I write this and most of it isn’t even on the website yet. However, the line includes tactical and hunting riflescopes, battle sights (which are fixed zoom, illuminated-reticle optics), reflex sights, red dot sights, laser rangefinders, binoculars, and spotting scopes.

sig-booth

In mid-July, SIG SAUER showed up at an anniversary event for the indoor range and gunshop I frequent. I got a first look at the WHISKEY5 as well as the ridiculously impressive KILO1600 rangefinder. The scope also impressed the heck out of me so I made some inquiries and lucked out by getting my hands on a loaner unit.

“WHISKEY5” is actually an entire range of scopes, including a 1-5×20, 2-10×42, 2.4-12×56, 3-15×44, 3-15×52, and the 5-25×52 tested here. Most are 30mm tubes and most are available in one of three reticle choices, with two of those offering illuminated center dots. There’s also a WHISKEY3 series at a lower price point.

WHISKEY5_right

The reticle in this WHISKEY5 is the “Hellfire Quadplex.” WHISKEYs are second focal plane optics, so reticle subtensions vary with zoom level. With the 5-25x on full zoom there is about 3.5 MOA between opposing posts, and on low zoom about 18 MOA. The fiber optic Hellfire dot itself is 0.5 MOA on high illumination and 0.25 MOA on low.

Capturing photos of a scope’s reticle is always a challenge for me, but here are some attempts cropped to show just the center part.

Illumination off:

WHISKEY5_reticle-off

Illumination on highest setting, which is quite bright and fully visible even in full sunlight on a bright background:

WHISKEY5_reticle_high

Illumination on lowest setting, which, yes, is juuust visible in real life on a partially-overcast day, but could really be a big help in low-light situations when a black reticle is hard to see on a dark background, but a bright dot would impair your vision. It can also be used with night vision systems:

WHISKEY5_reticle-lowest

Additionally, there’s an infrared illumination setting for use with IR night vision. I really dig how the brightness adjustment is achieved, with the dial alternating between on and off positions. This means your go-to setting is always just a single click away. Filled-in square is on, empty square is off.

WHISKEY5_illum-para

Parallax/focus adjustment occupies the inside portion of the same turret, and is smoothly adjustable from 30 yards to infinity. It seems like these numbers rarely match reality, even on some very nice scopes, but in this case they were exactly spot-on for me for targets set at 30, 50, 100, ~150, and “infinity” yards.

Removing the turret covers reveals hand-adjustable, 1/4 MOA click value turrets. These are the standard flavor, but SIG will also be offering a SIG Ballistic Turret (SBT) at no charge for TANGO and WHISKEY scope purchasers. Send SIG your ballistics info — bullet, cartridge, muzzle velocity, atmospheric conditions, etc — and they’ll customize an elevation dial for you. Instead of MOA adjustment numbers, they’ll be yardage numbers. 600 yard shot? Just dial to the “6.”

WHISKEY5_turrets

Zeroing these turrets is extremely easy. Once you’re sighted in simply lift up on the turret, which allows it to spin freely, rotate to zero, and push it back down.

WHISKEY5_turret-lift

Diopter (reticle focus) is easily adjustable by rotating the collar closest to your eye. It does have a white dash on it (not shown) for indexing purposes.

WHISKEY5_zoom

Zoom is smoothly adjusted from 5x to 25x with only about a 180° turn of the zoom adjust collar. A raised bar with a fiber optic insert provides solid purchase and a clear, visual indicator from above or behind the scope of the current zoom level.

Of course, a clear picture is a necessity in the high-end optics game, and SIG’s HDX high definition, high transmittance glass is excellent. This was the first thing that jumped out at me when I picked up the WHISKEY5 in SIG’s mobile product showcase trailer. The view through the glass is bright and sharp/crisp with great color clarity across the entire zoom range.

Cell phone pic with no zoom:

WHISKEY5_0X

View through WHISKEY5 at 5x zoom:

WHISKEY5_5X

And the view of approximately the same spot across the lake — about 740 yards away — at 25x zoom:

WHISKEY5_25X

In both photos, I believe the reticle was illuminated to just under medium brightness. At this level I think it supplements the shooter’s focus without becoming its own distraction or preventing the eye from properly adjusting to the target’s lighting.

In addition to the HDX™ glass, the WHISKEY series employs SIG’s SPECTRACOAT™ ultra-wide broadband, anti-reflection coatings, LENSARMOR™ abrasion-resistant coatings, and LENSHIELD™ oleophobic coating that sheds water, oil, dust, etc. This is definitely a mouthful of ™, but the result is admittedly a really bright and clear image.

WHISKEYs are also fogproof, shockproof, and IPX-7 waterproof rated (complete immersion up to 1 meter).

On The Range

I intended to mount the WHISKEY5 to a bolt-action .308 that was supposed to show up here for testing some time ago, but is still delayed. Instead, I slapped it on my AR-15 and two manual-action .22s and used it for accuracy testing. The forthcoming accuracy update on the PWS T3 Summit Rifle was shot with this scope, and much of the forthcoming CZ 455 Varmint Tacticool Suppressor-Ready rifle review was done with it as well.

Clearly, this is far from a caliber-induced torture test — there are no caliber restrictions on a WHISKEY5 anyway — but moving the scope back and forth repeatedly between three guns, two sets of scope rings, and from subsonic .22 to full-power 5.56 did involve lots of turret spinning. No issues were found, as the windage and elevation clicks are precise and repeatable and the ability to instantly re-zero the turrets without tools was great.

WHISKEY5_top

It’s mechanically sound, as adjustments do what they’re supposed to do regardless of where you are in the 48 MOA of adjustment range, and using the turrets alone to create a box with a group at each corner and two in the middle results in…well…a square box and a nice return to zero even after all of that spinning. My apologies for the poor groups — well, except for the totally baller 3-shot group at top left — as I shot this from standing with the front of the stock resting on a camera tripod, which proved much more wobbly than I had hoped.

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Black circles = first 3 shots

Exit pupil is 2.1 mm at full zoom, which means your eye needs to be fairly centered and close to the 3.8 inch eye relief for best results. As mentioned, the picture is still clear and bright at 25x, even at the minimum focal range of 30 yards.

Conclusions

The WHISKEY5 is a premium optic. It isn’t jam packed with bells and whistles — although the fiber optic illumination and its adjustment dial are pretty slick — so much as quality where it really counts. Excellent glass, solid mechanics, and simple, reliable function. Just like SIG’s silencer line, the company is coming out swinging with top-tier quality at more like a mid-range price. Which doesn’t make it inexpensive, but I think it’s competitive with a lot of scopes carrying MSRPs a good thousand bucks higher.

sig optics warranty

If I could make changes to it, they would be the addition of a zero stop to the turrets (available on other models) and a more feature-rich reticle. Of course, the WHISKEY line is made for hunting, and the tactical line, TANGO, offers a mess of slick reticle options and other features.

Specifications: SIG SAUER WHISKEY5 5-25×52 Riflescope

  • Finish: gray anodized body, black anodized controls
  • Power x Obj. Lens: 5-25x zoom, 52mm objective
  • Reticle: Hellfire Quadplex (tested), Hellfire Metric, Standard Quadplex
  • Lens Coating: SPECTRACOAT™ ultra-wide broadband, anti-reflection coatings, LENSARMOR™ abrasion-resistant coatings, and LENSHIELD™ oleophobic coating
  • Illumination: 9 daytime / 2 NV
  • Tube Diameter: 30 mm
  • Parallax Adjustment: Side adjust, 30 yards to infinity
  • Field of View (5x):
    • 20.2 ft @ 100 yds
  • Field of View (25x):
    • 4 ft @ 100 yds
  • Weight: 28.2 oz / 850 grams
  • Length: 14.3 in /363 mm
  • Eye Relief: 3.8 in  / 97 mm
  • Exit Pupil: 8.3 mm @ 5x  / 2.1 mm @ 25x
  • Click Value: 0.25 MOA
  • Adj Range: 48 MOA
  • Focal Plane: Second
  • Caliber Restrictions: None
  • MSRP: $1,624.99

Ratings (out of five stars):

Glass Quality * * * * *
Now, there’s better glass out there. Don’t get me wrong. But I can’t recall seeing better at near this price.

Reticle * * * 1/2
I do love how sharp and adjustable the Hellfire dot is, but otherwise a standard duplex-style reticle doesn’t do much for me. Great for the shooter who measures or knows his range and wants to dial in his dope, but it’s limited for ranging and holdover use.

Turrets * * * *
Solid and repeatable with clean adjustment clicks. Extremely quick and easy to zero. I’d like a zero stop, but it isn’t an expected feature at this price. More than 48 MOA of max adjustment could also come in handy for the sort of long-range shooting that a 25x zoom, .50 BMG-okay scope could be used for. The WHISKEY5 line offers up to 120 MOA of adjustment, but not in its highest-zoom scope. The 5-30×56 TANGO6, for the record, has 80 MOA of adjustment.

Overall Rating * * * *
A strong four stars. It’s a rock-solid scope that punches out of its price class. The fine reticle is great for precision shooting, it’s just hard for me to get excited about a typical duplex, covered turrets, etc. If I were a hunter looking for a top-quality scope at a reasonable price, though, without paying for silly features I wouldn’t use while searching for caribou in Alaska, I’d bump the WHISKEY5 to the very top of my list. For my tastes, I’m going to give the TANGO line a hard look.

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37 Responses to Gear Review: SIG SAUER WHISKEY5 5-25×52 Riflescope

  1. I really wish more manufacturers would make high quality first focal plane scopes. To me, those are just far more intuitive.

    • The TANGO line is mostly FFP. The 1-6×24 has eight reticle options, four in FFP and four in SFP. For the FFP options there are BDC reticles for 5.56/7.62 and .300 BLK along with MOA and MRAD milling. In SFP you’ve got MOA and MRAD milling plus a 3 Gun reticle and a Triplex…

      I think the line is going to be pretty legit.

      • I’m still researching these, but for an MSRP of $1600 bucks, I’d want FFP and Mil / Mil. Those could be options already, but Sig’s Adobe PDF spec sheet download isn’t playing nice with my iPhone 6.

        I like my Burris XTR 312 with Mil-Dot set to run with a 168 / 175 grain .308 bullet at 2625 FPS to about 700 yards. The XTR II 4-20 looks sweet. I had to send my Bushnell ERS 3.5-21 FDE Zero Stop G2 reticle scope in for repairs after it fogged on a WI deer hunt. It was still good for a 40 yard shot at a buck, and the repair seems to be working. That scope is now on my .338.

        I’ll give Sig more of a look since I can’t afford US Optics, S&B, or a new Mark 6.

        • The TANGO6 scopes offer FFP with mil dots. There’s the aforementioned 1-6x, a 2-12x, a 3-18x, and a 5-30x. The less expensive TANGO4 line has a 1-4x, 3-12x, 4-16x, and 6-24x, all in FFP only and with lots of reticle options. The 3-12x offers the 5.56/7.62 or .300 BLK BDC reticles in addition to MOA or MRAD reticles and 100 MOA of adjustment range…

    • I think most of the equivalent competition runs $1,750 to $3,000 ish. This is also the most expensive hunting scope that Sig is going to make, at least according to the current lineup. …and we’re talking MSRPs here, not street prices…

      I’ve never spent this much on an optic, as I’m not a serious hunter or otherwise have a use for a scope that’s this rugged and reliable and bright and such. But… I’m considering splurging on a TANGO6. It’ll come in handy for testing out all of the rifles that pass through here and I expect it’ll last. I have purchased a few scopes in the couple hundred dollar range that eventually crapped out on me. I can swing a pricier one if it treats me well indefinitely…

    • I’d expect street price for this one, which is the most expensive one in the WHISKEY line, to be a couple / few hundred bucks less than the MSRP… so maybe like $1,400-ish? Why not SIG? What if somebody told you it’s made in the Nightforce factory and it’s the equivalent of the $2,400 Nightforce-branded offering? I’m NOT saying that’s the case, of course… just food for thought as that sort of thing would not be unique to the industry…

      • Just because there are other options from proven companies. Sig is also getting a reputation of having their hands in too many cookie jars and it’s hard for companies to maintain QC over such vast enterprises.

        The glass didn’t look amazing, a duplex reticule on a scope that expensive with that much mag is kinda odd, etc.

        If they’re out to critical acclaim for several years, then sure maybe. Just hard to see them surpass trijicon, vortex, etc. I have an acog comin to me in the mail that costs considerably less.

        • The glass is good. Taking photos of the view through a scope is really hard. My SLR hates everything about it, so I’m relegated to using my cell phone. One day I’m sure I’ll figure out the trick. But, really, even with a good camera and a good photo it’s very hard to imitate the depth of field, color, and dynamic range of the human eye anyway.

  2. $1,600.00 seems INSANE for a hunting scope. For that kind of money in a “hunting” scope I better be able to beat an elephant to death with it and still hold zero.

    Maybe one day I’ll see the value of such things but for now I’d rather pay off my mortgage and stay debt free otherwise. To each, their own.

  3. A Whiskey scope? I want SIG to produce some actual booze, maybe something like: SIG Sour Mash Whiskey Aged 5-25 Years. From the first shot to the last, it’s guaranteed to fog your reticle.

    • Use the German pronunciation of SIG (and therefore SAG) and you’ve got perhaps a line of SIG SAG wrapping papers, perhaps in a waterproof “for after the hunt” container…to go with SIG Sour Mash on the rocks.

      Then again, SIG is a gun company….

  4. Another “player” enters the optics arena. Good luck. The market place is littered with $1600 5×25 scopes. I would be more interested if it was a giant killer at $800 and then still probably not. Sig has no track record in the optics “field” and therefore no resale value. If you could buy the same features and quality from Leupold or Nightforce at the same price point, which would you buy?

  5. For $1600, I would expect the fiber optic that illuminates the center dot to not be slightly off center. You can even see on the thicker part of the duplex reticle where the fiber protrudes out from behind it, enough that there is a small light gap.

    • Like a “will it blend” thing? 😉 It didn’t mind a day in the chest freezer and I always throw optics down the basement staircase (in the cardboard retail box) because I’m too lazy to walk down and properly put things away, and I assume anything going on a rifle needs to easily shrug that off anyway. What would you have me do, anyway? What’s a tough test that some scopes would pass and many wouldn’t? Doing something guaranteed to break it won’t exactly be a “teachable moment.” I haven’t sent it back yet, but I also don’t want to risk a ‘you break it on purpose, you buy it’ scenario hahaha. If I’m going to buy one, it’ll be a TANGO and I won’t be intentionally breaking it.

  6. Only 48 MOA of adjustment?
    I’m really enjoying super long range plinking, so that kind of turned me off a bit.
    The price point seems decent enough, though I would have expected a 34 or 35 mm tube for that much.

    • That disappointed me as well. The TANGO line basically offers like double the adjustment range. Of course, this is specifically supposed to be a hunting optic so maybe 1,000 yard shots aren’t as likely to be in the cards. If they are, you’d probably have to supplement with a canted rail or rings. At 100 yards with subsonic .22 LR (980 fps), though, I was still one full rotation away from maxing out the vertical adjustment, and those little pills drop a decent amount even at that short-ish range.

  7. All of the adjustment knobs look like they are made of plastic… Please dear god tell me that is not the case.

    Even if all metal, $1,600 for a SFP scope with a duplex reticle boggles the mind. Nightforce SHV is <1k, and at least on paper has these scopes dead to rights. You can get Vortex FFP scopes for $800-$950 in 2.5-10, 4-16, and 6-24 with and impressive illuminated and non illuminated reticle selection. Those frequently go on sale for stupid discounts. I picked up two of their FFP HS-LR scopes recently a 2.5-10×32 for $399 and a 4-16×50 for $580

    Sig will have to earn its place at the table on this one. I just don't see it (no pun intended) with all the other options out there with already very well proven track records.

    • Agreed. They’re going to need a lot of more serious, long-term, hard-use sorts of reviews before folks start plunking down over a grand. Of course, I now realize I forgot to mention that they come with a pretty solid warranty. I’m going to update the review with that info since I think it’s probably quite relevant for anybody kicking around the idea of trying a new product from an established company, but it’s a fully-transferable, unlimited lifetime warranty with no receipt or proof of purchase necessary, etc…

      And the turrets, caps, etc are aluminum 😛

    • My thoughts exactly. Any new scope is going to have to beat the SHV at $1000 by having a lower price point, or better features or glass for the money.

  8. With the Burris XTR II line, I just don’t see the point of this Sig when I can get FFP 5-25 mil/mil SCR reticle and illumination for $1200 or less depending on discounts, etc.

    • And Burris is owned and backed by Steiner which is owned by Beretta. 🙂

      Looks like a nice scope, but going to take some time build up a track record.

  9. I know this is a slightly older article but was curious if you’ve had a chance to review a tango 6? Specifically the 5-30×56.. I was curious if the glass is the same. I am between the razor hd genII and the tango 6. Sucky thing is I know the razor hd is the better option but I do prefer the reticle of the sig over the razor. Just haven’t compared the glass and that part is important as well.

    • I’ve had a Tango6 3-18x since Christmas. About ready to write up the review finally. It’s quite nice. I like it more than this Whiskey, mainly for the FFP reticle and the turrets.

  10. I just purchased a Wiskey 3, 3-9×50 scope for $240 and it is a great scope. I have used Nightforce, Leupold, Nikon, Burris XTR and the glass on this scope is as good as all of them. I have a Leupold Mark 4 scope also, and the Wiskey glass will compete with the Mark 4 anyday, so I’m guessing the Wiskey 5 would also or maybe even be better glass. I have also owned almost every Sig pistol made and they are definitely a standup company to do business with.

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