There’s no denying that the optics market has become almost absurdly crowded in recent years. In fact, Styrka says the same thing, essentially inviting visitors to their website to ask why they’d even launch a new brand of scope.
But Styrka is not exactly new. They don’t make the association public, but the century of experience with optics they reference is that of parent company Celestron, who launched the Styrka brand in 2014. It’s tough to argue with Celestron’s depth and breadth of optics knowledge, so why they’re quiet about the lineage we couldn’t really say. But the scopes, particularly for value-conscious shoppers, are pretty impressive.
We put some rounds downrange under two of them, the S3 3-9×40, which can be seen for under $300, and the S7 2.5-15×50, which reaches up a lot closer to four figures. It’s a little hard to plunk down money we’d usually expect to allot to a proven name, but then we’ve seen some upstart companies go from unknown to unbeateable in just a few short years, and Styrka is betting heavily on a proven business model: unflinching warranty support, no questions asked, on anything other than loss, theft, or intentional damage. But Styrka goes beyond just fixing problems. They’ll also do the maintenance. If you send in your optics (no word on exactly how this will work in Canada yet) they’ll clean and tune them for you, as often as once a year.
But how do the optics perform? Pretty well, it turns out. The glass is bright and crisp, the movements are positive and the zoom is very smooth. The bullet drop reticle is interesting: rather than working from a single ammunition, Styrka offers a smartphone app which includes a staggering array of ammunition selections, allowing the user to input data which the app uses to provide specific references for a particular bullet. For shooters interested in playing around with the app, it’s a really great idea. We’re not sure what percentage of buyers will want to spend that much time goofing around with their phones to figure everything out, but it’s such an interesting concept that we want to see it succeed. Apparently the early rendition of the app was buggy, but ours is working fine, so we’d ignore the low ratings for the time being.
The scopes are all clearly intended for hunting use, with capped turrets and low-profile, rubberized zoom rings, and we think they’ll handle field conditions quite well. In fact, we’d like to see some options for target turrets, because the side focus on the S7, combined with the bright glass and the 6x magnification range, made us think about keeping it for our budget .308 precision build.
The only thing we found a little strange was in fact listed by Styrka as a feature: the S7 has “blackened” glass at the edges for clarity. It’s certainly extremely clear glass, but at its lowest magnification, fast movement generates a bit of a bug-eyed feel as the image rolls off the darkened outer reaches of the field of view. It’s not overly distracting, but it took us a while to figure out what was causing the sensation.
The bottom line is that Styrka is a new wing of an optics powerhouse, building optics that are fairly well-priced and well above average in terms of optical quality. They are new to building optics for shooters, however, so while we trust the mechanics, we think it’s worth making sure the reticle options serve your needs before you commit, simply because they haven’t got decades of shooter feedback to inform their design. On the other hand, new kids always have something to prove, so service should be outstanding as they work to build their name.
For the money, you could sure do a lot worse.