Last week, we started off our review series by taking a look at the Athlon Ares BTR. This week, we’re going to apply those same principles and do an Athlon Ares ETR review.
We got great feedback on the Ares BTR Review, and by great I mean both things people liked to see and also things people said we could improve on.
I didn’t have a chance to incorporate all these changes, as some are going to take some time to do. For example, we’re currently investing in a calibration machine that is going to make it possible to do a much more controlled tracking test.
What we’re currently doing to test tracking is putting the scope through a tall target test without the shooting part. Meaning we’re putting a tall target (like the one below) at 100 yards and moving the reticle up various Mil and MOA values then measuring how off it lands compared to where it should be.
This works better than just shooting a gun because
1) we’re not relying on how good my groups are that day and
2) factors like wind and gravity won’t have an effect on the result.
For now, I think what we’re doing is working pretty well. But we did make a couple changes to the features scoring and the features quality scoring.
See the full video below then feel free to read through as well to get a full idea about what the scope is like. As always, I appreciate any and all feedback, both positive and negative.
Let’s check out the background on the Athlon Ares ETR.
About The Athlon Ares ETR
Athlon came out with the Ares ETR in July of 2018. It was a follow on to the incredibly popular Ares BTR, but with some upgrades based on feedback they got from customers who used the Ares BTR.
From what I can tell, they were wanting to improve on the Ares BTR without jacking the price up to what the Cronus BTR runs which is $1799.99 (the Ares BTR is $849.99). Remember, Athlon’s specialty is making these high quality scopes affordable for the average shooter.
By far the biggest improvement is the turrets. Holy smokes folks, this scope tracks incredibly well, and if you watched the video you can hear how clear and pronounced the clicks are.
Then there’s the 34mm tube, giving you 32 Mil (110 MOA) of total adjustment, versus the Ares BTR which was 24 Mil (80 MOA). And the 56mm Objective Lens which ups the clarity on the scope by taking in more light.
It’s almost like they were trying to put as many of the features from the Cronus BTR they could on the Ares without jacking the price up to $1800. Of course, whenever companies try an approach like this quality is the first thing that should be scrutinized.
Which is what we will be scrutinizing heavily in this review. The ETR comes in at $1199.99, so it’s not like this is just pocket change.
Still, these kinds of features usually come with a price tag of almost double what the ETR is coming in at. This has made the ETR incredibly popular. In fact, we regularly sell out of the Black Mils (MPN 212100) and the wait list can sometimes be as long as a month because Athlon just can’t make them fast enough.
But is this just hype? Or are we actually dealing with a revolutionary optic?
To answer these questions, we’re going into 5 different testing categories which have a total amount of points possible each. We’ll give the scope a total amount of point earned in each category, and at the end we’ll total it up to give a final number of points out of points possible. This will also give us a solid letter grade to work with.
So no fluff here folks! This is the hard data. None of this is my pure opinion of the scope (although I do have one), it’s all backed up by results.
Let’s start with the first test:
Some of the feedback we got from the last review was that it was too long, and I agree.
One of the areas I decided we could shorten it with was the Features Score. What I did here was move the Features Quality and Durability Scores into the Features Score.
And we also made this more objective by stacking the scope in question up with a market leader – The Vortex Razor HD Gen II, a scope that runs around $1999.99.
I gave the Vortex a “perfect” score on all the features, and determined a perfect score was 2. Some features had multiple features within it, and for that I gave it a 4 for a max score.
I then scored the Ares ETR based on whether 1) it had the feature and 2) whether this feaure lived up to the advertisement. If it missed either of these, it missed a point.
Here are the results:
The only thing it missed was the Edge To Edge Clarity. The ETR does get a little fuzzy at 30x.
But it ended up beating the Vortex when it came to elevation and windage adjustment. The ETR has 32 Mil total for both of these adjustments.
For that, I gave it an extra point, so 3/2. This gave it an overall features score of 44/44.
We did the same tracking test as last time (only this time with Mil instead of MOA) and measured how far off the reticle was when we adjusted for 2, 4, 6 and 8 Mil, then back to zero.
We also added (by request) a tracking test of shooting groups at paper.
For this I used my Ruger American Standard with 308 Win 150 grain (Winchester Brand) ammunition. This reliably will shoot under 0.8 Mil at 50 yards for me when I give myself 5 seconds per round.
This is not using a lead sled or anything, so mind you that I much prefer the machine testing. But you all wanted to see what this looks like when we shoot groups, so we shot some groups, I’m not complaining!
I have a set of targets that have 0.8 Mil boxes all 1 Mil from each other and basically moved turret accordingly while still mainting the center dot on the center box. I did 5 rounds,, gave myself 10 seconds to adjust the turret and aim, and I missed a point every time the round landed outside the box.
The results for this and the machine test are below:
We get a total of 89%, or 116.08/130.
I will say this: I think that this scope is probably the benchmark in terms of tracking and the curve setter. This test is like my physics 221 exam from college: everyone and their dog got a D, then there was that one dude who showed up having barely studied the night before and got an 89% and that was the highest grade in the class. The Ares ETR is that dude.
I want to find a better way to grade tracking, as with the current system it would be nearly impossible to get an A. That being said, this is the unobstructed data so you can see for yourself.
Optical Quality Test
We didn’t change anything from this test and the ETR performed miraculously, as was expected.
It was hard to beat the BTR in the first place, which came in with a score of 313/335 total points. But the ETR stepped up it’s game and came in with 318/335, giving it a total score of 95%, a solid A.
Again for this we used both the USAF 1951 Exam, and the Snelle Eye Chart to measure both resolution and practicality.
Bottom line – this is a bomb a** scope, no doubt about it. If you can stomach the $1199.99 price tag, you’re going to be very happy with the results you get.
Overall score (when weighted accordingly) was a 580.12/615, giving it a solid A.
(Note: We multiplied the features score by 2 and the tracking score by 1.5 to make it more weighted in the final score)
Still, if you can swing the ETR, I highly recommend getting it for your next gun build.
Questions? Comments? Feedback? I’ll take them all! Leave them below, let me know what you’re thinking and I’ll get back to you as well.