During my time in the Marine Corps, our optics of choice were Trijicon ACOGs. These were 4X fixed power prismatic optics. At that point, I thought this was the best option for infantrymen. With that said, I still greatly appreciate prismatic optics and own several models. My latest is the Swampfox Saber, one of the more powerful prismatic optics out there.
The Swampfox Saber is a 5X optic that first premiered at SHOT SHOW 2022. Swampfox provided this optic for review. The Saber is a big optic…still smaller than any LPVO in length, but bigger than other prisms. It’s a hefty scope that weighs 24.7 ounces. It’s 5.74 inches long with a massive 36mm objective lens. Much like the Swampfox Trihawk, you get a huge field of view. Specifically, 30.9 feet at 100 yards.
That large field of view is industry-leading for five power prism optics, from what I can gather. A 5x fixed power optic is tough to use at close range. Using an occluded shooting method is one way, but the Saber provides mounts for mini red dots with the Shield RMSc footprint. There’s one on the right and one on the left.
Eye relief is always tight on these optics, but this want isn’t too bad. It’s 2.56 inches, so you’re not pressing your eye against the lens. The reticle comes in two formats, either a 5.56 BDC or an MOA ladder. I’m a fan of the MOA ladder rather than the BDC.
The Saber Reticle
Speaking of the Saber reticle, let’s talk about it. The reticle is a combination of a ladder and a massive circle with a cross in the middle. You have a massive 42 MOA of vertical holdover. That’s nuts for most rifle calibers, but for something like 7.62×39, it makes a little more sense. Depending on user preference, the circle and cross are illuminated either red or green.
The reticle illumination is easy to adjust via an up or down button for ten different levels of intensity. Swampfox went with a shake n’ wake design so you can leave it on and it’ll shut off automatically, but fire back to life when it senses movement. Toss in a CR123a battery, and you have 3,000 hours of battery life.
Looking Down Range With the Saber
That big field of view means nothing if the view isn’t clear, right? Well, we’re blessed with the clarity of good glass with the Saber. It’s clear from side to side, and the massive field of view is very valuable on an optic with a fixed power design. You can’t downshift the magnification until you locate your target as you can with a variable power optic.
Bringing the Saber up and on target is easy, and if you’re a little off target, you’ll likely still have it in view. At 100 yards, I could rush the gun to my should for a fast snap shot, and that IPSC silhouette would be there somewhere. I might need to shift left or right a bit, but I never had a frantic search for my target. You can also watch a large area with the optic with minimal movement to track a target, something handy when hunting cautious animals.
The reticle is nice and crisp, easy to see, and the reticle itself can get daylight bright. It’s visible in the brightest daylight situations. I live in the sunshine state, so it’s been well tested under the sun. Seeing the target beyond the cross and the MOA ladder isn’t tough. My four-inch gong is slightly covered up at 100 yards, but not so much that I can’t hit it.
At a little over a quarter mile, I can see all sorts of stuff clearly. The optic is off the rifle for this, so I glassed a dog, a car, a sign, and a gate. On the gate sat an orange and black No Trespassing sign. I can’t exactly read it, but I can see the colors without issue. Not bad for a fairly affordable optic.
Finally, stuff looks great through the optic, but does it hold zero? What’s it like to shoot with? I have mostly good news. The adjustments are tactile and audible. They are easy to make and accurate at .5 MOA.
Getting zeroed took no time, and I began trying the optic at various ranges against various targets. At 100 yards, I took a prone position and cleaned up on my gong target. I have gongs from four to ten inches and could (almost always) hit each of them with one round in less than five seconds.
Oddly I’m faster going from big to small than going from small to large. At 100 yards, I did a kneeling failure drill on an IPSC target without any difficulty. It’s rather fun to try drills designed for close-range shooting at longer ranges. Sadly I’m maxed at 100 yards and could take it further. I don’t doubt the optic would perform well at longer ranges since I can see out to a quarter mile with decent clarity.
Up close, things get trickier. Attaching a micro red dot is undoubtedly a must for this gun. The reticle is bright enough for an occluded shooting style, but they’re nowhere near as precise as dedicated solutions.
The eye box of the Saber is a bit tight, which should be expected with the 5X magnification. Still, it[‘s rapid on target and easy to use from 50 yards and out. From 50 to 25 yards, I’d have to judge the situation before going with a mounted red dot or the magnified view. From 25 yards and in, I’d stick to the dot.
Specifications: Swampfox Saber 5X Prism Optic
Length – 5.74 inches
Width – 2.67 inches
Height – 2.94 inches
Weight – 24.7 ounces
Magnification – 5X
Adjustment Value – .5 MOA
MSRP – $389.00
Ratings (out of five stars):
Clarity * * * *
We get edge-to-edge clarity that delivers a nice crisp sight picture out to 440 yards. Not bad for an inexpensive optic. You won’t mistake it for a Nightforce, but you won’t deal with a blurred picture at carbine rangers.
Ease of Use * * * * *
Swampfox included everything you need to mount the optic on your rifle of choice, at least as long as it has a Picatinny rail. Drop the battery in, turn it on, and go! Zeroing is easy, shooting is easy, and it’s a very simple setup.
Ergonomics * * *
While adjusting the reticle’s brightness isn’t difficult, neither is making adjustments. The size and weight of the optic make it a bulky beast. It’s shorter than most LPVOs but larger in most ways. When you add a red dot, it gets even wider and more likely to catch on to something.
Overall * * * *
The Swampfox Saber gives you a high-powered prismatic optic ready for a modern rifle. It’s easy to use, comes ready out of the box, and gives you a clear, massive field of view. It’s not for everyone, but it’s capable and affordable for those looking for a prism that’s a little more powerful.