In all the product review articles that you’ve read, I am willing to bet that you have never finished reading the article and walked away with the ability to provide the Merriam-Webster definition of a word before. To me, that is a problem and just like Sightmark, I am going to provide a solution to that problem.
My solution is this:
pin·na·cle | \ ˈpi-ni-kəl \
Definition of pinnacle
1: an upright architectural member generally ending in a small spire and used especially in Gothic construction to give weight especially to a buttress
2: a structure or formation suggesting a pinnacle specifically: a lofty peak
3: the highest point of development or achievement: ACME
Now that you have read that, go back up just one line and see the selected part that is in bold and italics.
That is the focus of this article summed up into just seven words: “the highest point of development or achievement.” And that is exactly what Sightmark brought with the release of their Pinnacle line of magnified riflescopes.
The Pinnacle line of riflescopes was launched by Sightmark in 2016 with various models being introduced since that time. The focus of this article is the Pinnacle 3-18x44TMD. This particular model was designed to fill the gap between the 1-6x (tactical/sport) and 5-30x (long–range) models, with the 3-18x being a versatile scope that can be used for close- to long-range shooting. And for those curious what the TMD stands for, it simply refers to the specially designed reticle, known as the Tactical Mil-Dot.
The key features of the 3-18x44TMD (SM13030TMD) are as follows:
- Japanese glass with fully multi-coated lenses (Enhanced image brightness, clarity and resolution)
- Zero stop elevation dial (A true “no look” return to zero without passing below your set zero)
- First focal plane reticle (Shoot holdovers at any power quickly)
- 34mm tube (Adds elevation adjustment for long-range shooting)
- Capped/exposed turret option (Shooter’s choice)
- Etched and Illuminated reticle (With five brightness settings in each color)
I have to admit, my first impressions upon unboxing the Pinnacle were pure joy but then I remembered I only had 45 days with the Pinnacle before having to box it up and send it back home to Texas, leaving me with sadness. Removing the Pinnacle from its packaging, immediately you could tell that this wasn’t just any scope off the shelf. The 34mm aluminum tube is finished in a matte black coating, and when assembled, is nitrogen-filled and built to be shockproof, fogproof, and built to an IP67 (3 feet/1 hour) waterproof rating.
The scope is 14.6 inches in length and weighs in at 33.5 ounces. Seeing the scope online Is one thing, but when you are handling the scope in person, you realize instantly that this optic was designed for serious work. Right then I decided to enjoy my time with the scope and put it to work.
The scope was mounted via Sightmark 34mm Medium height Weaver/Picatinny rings (SM34013) on my Savage 110 LA .308. Seeing the Pinnacle mounted up was impressive, as I am used to seeing a 3-9x riflescope mounted up which was dwarfed by comparison.
Mounting the scope was made easy with the rings from Sightmark and a Wheeler Engineering FAT Wrench. If you’re going to invest in a quality optic like the Pinnacle, a torque wrench is a required tool. The days of simply tightening here and there until it “feels” tight are over unless your nerves are properly calibrated in in/lbs. A precision riflescope on a precision rifle requires precise torque settings in order to evenly mount the scope and avoid crushing the tube (which has happened.)
Several days later, I was able to get out to the range. A quick boresight got me in the ballpark and from there, after several rounds, the scope was zeroed at 100. The turrets on this scope are huge and each click feels like a quality ratchet clicking with each turn. There is no doubt in counting “clicks” as you make your adjustments as they are tactile and just audible enough. The provided turret caps are shipped with the scope but really are up to the user to decide if they want to run them. You aren’t going to accidentally knock your scope out of adjustment with the turret design and construction. They aren’t going anywhere unless you want them to. The ammunition used in my rifle is the Federal Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing 168-grain BTHP which are rated to move along at 2650 FPS with a ballistic coefficient of 0.462. Predictable and repeatable are two words you need to be able to use to describe your target ammo, especially when doing testing. This ammo fits the bill.
After zeroing, I cranked back the magnification down to a little over 4x and sent a round downrange. It hit in the center of the head portion of the standard police silhouette target without much effort, which is a chip shot with magnification at 100 yards. Then, since my job was to literally play with this scope, I cranked it up to 18 power at the same distance. For me, 18 power at 100 yards was overkill, unless you’re scoring a target and want to see the faint lines on the target while lying prone without the effort of getting up. The target was crisp and clear without a doubt, but with that magnification power at 100 yards your own heartbeat becomes an issue. So, I decided to stretch the legs of a Pinnacle just a bit. As the range I use is limited to roughly 250 yards, I decided to test out the holdovers built into the reticle. They made ringing 1/3 sized IPSC.
That does bring one thing up: Many people forget that, sure, your target is magnified 18 times, but so is any movement that you are introducing to that rifle and scope. Long range shooting, which this scope gets you into the realm of, is truly an art form, a craft which doesn’t come easily without work. Even having been through a basic 40-hour law enforcement sniper/observer school, I do not consider myself a long-range shooter as that wasn’t a main focus of the school. We focused on extreme accuracy at shorter distances, under less than desirable shooting conditions and positions. The longest shot I took in that school was 250 yards. What that school did teach me was that the guys that can “lay bullet on top of bullet” at long distances are truly masters of their craft, whether they are civilian, military or law enforcement. Shooters of that caliber, and shooters who seek to attain that level of ability, seek out equipment that will help them continue to improve and the Pinnacle line does exactly that.
The clarity of the objective lenses, combined with the illumination provided by the etched and illuminated reticle, made low-light shooting less tedious. The illuminated reticle offers both red and green illumination, with the green illumination taking a tad bit more of a toll on the CR2032 battery. The battery life is rated at 50-1000 hours with the red illumination and 30-800 hours with the green illumination, dependent upon the brightness level you select. The illumination knob is housed on the left side of the scope, opposite of the turret. As with the windage and elevation turrets, brightness settings are crisp when moving between brightness levels.
There are other optics in the class of the Pinnacle, of course, but none of them provide the performance AND value of the Pinnacle. Leupold offers the Mark 6 3-18×44 for $2199 and Vortex offers the Razor HDII 3-18x also $2199 as of the time of this writing. They both offer similar capabilities but at a much higher price point.
In a market filled by optics costing over $2000, the Pinnacle from Sightmark is a lifesaver. It offers the clarity and magnification needed to make those long shots but comes in at $1299, approximately 40% less for virtually the same performance. In addition, it is backed by Sightmark’s Lifetime Warranty, which gives you the peace of mind to go out and use your riflescope without worry.
Hopefully, after reading all of this you walk away with two things:
- The meaning of the word Pinnacle, and
- 40% more cash in your pocket from purchasing the Pinnacle instead of a competitor’s product