Test: Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 riflescope

Sightmark updates the successful Core series of scopes with the 2.0 versions, starting with a 3-9x50 scope, passing through a bright 3-12x56 and finally the 4-16x50 dedicated to longer ranges and selection hunting. Two more Core 2.0 models are added, but they are the TX 4-16x44 MR2 and the TX 1-4x24 AR556, dedicated to sport and "tactical" shooting with exposed turrets and mil reticles. 

Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56: technical details

On the left side of the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 we find the third turret, with the parallax adjustment – with indications in yards in the model we received – and the reticle brightness adjustment knob.

All scopes in Sightmark's Core 2.0 series share the same basic features, which include a monolithic housing machined from aircraft grade aluminum (6061-T6), 30-mm scope rings, 4x zoom ratio (3x in the basic HX 3-9x model), illuminated reticle on the second focal plane, and parallax adjustment on the third turret (missing in the HX 3-9x model only). All lenses are multi-coated, and the optics are sealed with IPX7 waterproofing certification – water and dust resistant.

A moment of our tests with the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 mounted on the Remington 700/Hera H7. The turrets in use are protected by threaded caps, waterproofed with O-rings.

There are two reticles available in the HX series: the classic Duplex on the 3-9x, and the HDR2 (Hunter Dot Reticle 2) for the two 3-12x56 and 4-16x50 models, all with a red illuminated center dot. The HDR2 reticle has a series of subtension marks that help estimate distances and calculate the eventual ballistic drop for aiming; since the reticle is of the SFP type, the references can only be used by setting the magnification to the maximum, which in our case is 12x.

The bell of the 56-mm objective lens of the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56: the scope features not only a remarkable brightness at dusk and in unfavorable environmental conditions, but also an exit pupil of almost 5 mm.

The turrets of the Core 2.0 HX scopes are of the capped type, with a screwed-on cap protected with O-rings, while the third turret includes two coaxial knobs: the first controls the parallax, from infinity to 14 meters with an almost complete turn, and then the brightness adjustment knob for the illuminated dot, which can be set to six different levels. The brightness knob has a watertight cap that holds the CR2032 type button battery; battery life ranges from a minimum of 80 hours at maximum brightness, to 1000 hours at the lowest settings.

On the right side of the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 we find the usual windage turret, which together with the elevation turret, offers ¼ MOA clicks and a total adjustment range of 80 MOA. 

The elevation and windage turrets have ¼ MOA clicks, and  in the 3-12x56 model I tested the maximum adjustment range is 80 MOA for both. 

Eye relief is over 10 cm, offering ample room even with the toughest calibers (shock G-force exceeds 1000G), with an exit pupil of about 4.7mm at 12x, an excellent value guaranteed by the 56-mm objective lens diameter; this value also provides a good "eye box," i.e. the ability to "forgive" small misalignments of the hunter's eye with the optic axis, which is very important in instinctive and pointed shots, when the speed of the action and the need to aim quickly to seize the right moment do not allow position adjustments or contact with the stock's cheek rest.

Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56: the all4shooters.com test

The Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 scope is very compact, being about 340 mm long. Here it is mounted on a Remington 700 with H7 chassis from Hera Arms.
Left side of the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 scope, mounted with Tier1 rings on a Sabatti Rover Shooter hunting rifle.

I received from Sightmark the 3-12x56mm version of the Core 2.0 HX scope, which I proceeded to mount with Tier1 medium-height rings on two different rifles, a Sabatti Rover Shooter in .308 Winchester, and a Remington 700 mounted on Hera Arms' H7 chassis, also in .308. In both cases, assembly was easy and zeroing quick and safe. I did the shooting tests at a range that has 100- and 200-m firing lines; I shot from the bench, using a KJI tripod and unsupported. 

The Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 scope is an excellent "all rounder” thanks to the 3-12x magnification range and the excellent brightness of the 56-mm objective lens.

The Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56mm scope showed excellent brightness and clear details right away, with natural colors and no changes or cast caused by questionable optical coatings. Optical quality is excellent, especially in relation to the suggested price of 399 euros; drop-off edge is minimal, and there are no significant geometric aberrations. The reticle, of the glass-etched type, is particularly well defined. 

The mechanical side was where I could have doubts, but when tested, I was very surprised by both the click quality and the stability of the adjustments; in fact, I achieved very good results at the limited ranges I had available. The parallax adjustment is precise and uses almost the entire rotation of the knob to go from 14 m to infinity. 

The three-shot group at 200 m, just 18 mm, achieved with the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 scope mounted on the Sabatti Rover Shooter rifle in .308 with RWS Target Elite HPBT 190-gr RWS cartridges.

However, the groupings speak for themselves: the first group at 100 m was 7 mm, and the other at 200 m just 18 mm, both measured by subtracting the bullet diameter, using the Sabatti Rover Shooter and RWS Target Elite ammunition with 190-gr HPBT bullet. The box test allowed a perfect return to the starting point, punching a single hole – again, at 100 m.

At the opposite end of the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 is the wide-angle eyepiece with "fast focus" adjustment for diopters, from +2 to -2, and zoom adjustment, 3 to 12x.

With the Remington 700, I shot informally at 10x10cm metal plates up to 300 m on a country range, with the rifle mounted on a tripod; again the results, using GECO DTX ammunition, were excellent.

The magnification range, from 3 to 12x, makes the Core 2.0 HX an "all-rounder" that can be used from the high seat, from hides or when hunting at medium ranges, even encroaching on selection hunting in full compliance with hunting ethics. 

It is not suitable for driven hunting because of the too high minimum magnification – you would need a 1.5x at least.

Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56: conclusions

The reticle of the Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 scope is the HDR2, or Hunter Dot Reticle 2, at right in the image equipped with subtension marks for distance estimation and hold over for shooting.

It is essential to identify the segment to which the entire Core series is aimed: it is a range of budget optics that is the basis of the Sightmark catalog, with a very high price/performance ratio. Suggested prices to the public start from just 199 euros for the 3-9x50 mm model to 399 euros for the model we tested, the brightest one thanks to the 56-mm diameter of the objective lens. With all its special features, the Core 2.0 TX 4-16x44 MR2 comes in at 429 euros. The actual price at the gunshop could be even cheaper, making the Core 2.0 HX series extremely competitive in the hard-fought market of entry-level hunting optics. 

Sightmark Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56 specs and price

Sightmark, Mansfield (TX, USA) - www.sightmark.eu
Core 2.0 HX 3-12x56
Hunter Dot Reticle 2 illuminated on the second focal plane
Reticle Color: 
Reticle Brightness Settings: 
3 - 12x
Objective Lens Diameter:
56 mm
Eye Relief:
Field of View (at 100 m):
10.91 - 2.71 m
Diopter Adjustment:
Tube Diameter:
30 mm
Parallax Settings: 
15 - ∞
Windage Range of Adjustment: 
80 MOA
Elevation Range of Adjustment: 
80 MOA
MOA Adjustment (Click Value):
1/4 MOA
Battery Type:
Battery Life (hours): 
80 (High) - 1000 (Low)
IP Rating:
IPX7 - waterproof and dust proof
Lens Coating:
Fully Multi-coated
Dimensions (LxWxH):
340.4x78.8x56 mm
751 g
Price (MSRP):
399 euro
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