Interview: Hawke Optics Pushes Big in US Market

If this British optics company hasn’t been on your radar, it might be time you checked them out.

Interview: Hawke Optics Pushes Big in US Market

Hawke's thumbwheel allows precise adjustment

When it comes to optics companies in the U.S., we think of the usual optic brands that have a recognizable history on dealer shelves. But there are many other large optic companies around the world, such as Hawke Optics, which is a large brand in the European markets and has quietly been on the U.S. shores for years. We had an opportunity to talk with Kevin Sheehan, VP of Sales & Marketing for Hawke Optics, about U.S. growth and expansion.

TR - How new is the Hawke optics brand in the U.S.?

Sheehan - Hawke has been sold in the U.S. market since 2007. Through significant investment from our owners, we have grown significantly in the past several years. We produce a wide range of riflescopes, crossbow scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, rangefinders and accessories. While riflescopes account for the majority of our sales, we are particularly proud of our strength in the crossbow and airgun markets. We made optics for more than a decade for many of the top crossbow brands. Among many qualities, Hawke scopes are known for their durability and precision. The UK has a very mature airgun market, and we had to make our optics deliver on those platforms and meet the high demands of the extremely picky UK airgun precision shooters.

TR - Hawke has delivered some very innovative optic features.

Sheehan - We have. Our riflescopes are feature-rich and have premium glass. Some of the most notable features are our reticles, including several caliber-specific and BDC reticles. Our XB30 crossbow series feature our patented locking magnification adjustment. This provides the capability to tune and then lock in the magnification and ballistic drop reticle based on the bolt speed. Bolt speeds and drop can vary greatly based on the broadhead added by the owner; our XB30 series can be tuned for any crossbow, any bolt speed, and any ballistic drop delivered by the modern crossbow. Having that ability to deliver the perfect shot for any crossbow is what brings more hunters to Hawke Optics.

Most shooters do not realize the need for precision focus adjustment for airgun and precision rimfire at ranges under 100 yards. There is as much focus/parallax adjustment that needs to be made from 100 yards to infinity as from 100 yards down to 25 yards and almost double that again down to 10 yards. That is a lot of fine precision adjustment to expect from a small knob on the side of an optic. On some models like the Sidewinder, we include the thumb wheel as an accessory in the box, and if needed, it can be quickly attached with just three screws. The adjustment side-wheel allows very precise and much easier tuning at these shorter ranges to optimize focus precisely. Another feature that is included on many of our optics is focus from infinity down to 10 yards, which is of critical importance for precision shooters. From our highest tier to most affordable optics, they still get the features they need at any range instead of being handicapped with longer-range parallax and focus adjustment that could significantly impact accuracy. We are probably the strongest upgrade brand in the crossbow, rimfire and airgun categories.

Kevin Sheehan, Hawke Optics
Kevin Sheehan, Hawke Optics

TR - How has the support of dealers changed?

Sheehan - The Hawke brand has a lot of room to grow here in the U.S. Just a few years ago, we moved to a company rep model and almost tripled the U.S. staff in the last four years, and we have seen a huge jump in sales. Our reps are out there meeting directly with dealers to show and highlight the higher-than-average margins and benefits of the Hawke optics brand. With our global presence and distribution, we are also able to deliver better availability than other brands and can move inventory internationally if needed. In the case of this last year and the sales run on anything related to firearms, we were able to keep our dealers well stocked and moving products.

TR - Can you talk a bit about the product lines?

Sheehan - We have a very broad product line with more than a hundred riflescopes in our catalog, more than 350 items in total. We basically have two lines: a Sport line that includes all the shooting-related optics, and a Nature line, which is primarily our binoculars and spotting scopes. Within the Sport line, we have the premier System H7, mid-tier System H5 and value System H2 lines of hunting optics. We do have a lot of pricing and feature overlap between the lines, which is a bit different from other companies that have distinct price/quality tiers of products. The H7 Frontier series range from around $600-$1,050 and is our top tier of optics, which are competitively priced and featured with optical quality most dealers see in the premium $1500+ price range from competitors. The H5 Sidewinder and H5 Endurance series are just a small step down from the H7 and are our hottest-selling series. The Sidewinder offers a more tactical feature set, plus the focus tuning wheel, and the Endurance is a more traditional optic style. Both H5 lines are centered around the $400-$700 price range, packed with a lot of the features customers see in the very high-tier of optics like specialized reticles, 30mm mono-tube chassis, high volume eye-box, resettable locking turrets, and very high clarity glass. The System H2 line is really focused on delivering value to specialized shooting disciplines, including our Vantage riflescope, Airmax airgun optics, and XB crossbow scopes. The Vantage riflescope line is designed to support any caliber and offers everything from $90 entry-level scopes up to a $490 Vantage 30 with FFP, 30mm tube, 6-24 magnification, 50mm objective, and an illuminated half mil-dot reticle.

Our airgun customers love that our Airmax line is not a stripped-entry optic like many other airgun optics, but instead is full featured with quality similar to many mid-tier firearms optics. Our experience and understanding of the airgun market and the needs of the airgunner shows in the quality of the Airmax line. Of course, the XB crossbow optics offers the unique bolt drop tuning Vari-Speed technology noted previously with highly durable build quality and purpose-tuned reticle designs. Our 48 models of binoculars and new red-dot line have been big sellers this year and provide a good entry point for those who want to try Hawke optics.

TR - Talk a bit about the build and construction.

Sheehan - Our riflescopes are built for maximum clarity and durability. Oddly enough, both crossbows and airguns deliver the most destructive jarring shock and recoil due to the reverse or bi-directional recoil of both platforms. Crossbows are now delivering incredible speeds with very heavy bolts, and we have .50-caliber airguns with the power of small rifle rounds, and either can tear apart a standard rifle optic in just a few rounds with that back-and-forth recoil. We have had to work especially hard to ensure our optics, even the entry optics lines, are all shockproof, even on crossbows and airguns. If you can make optics that will survive those platforms, they are shockproof for firearms of any caliber, and we back that with a No-Fault lifetime warranty.

We are a bit different than other optic lines in that from the entry to the top-tier optics, all are waterproof, shockproof, monotube construction, full lifetime no-fault warranty, and fully coated optics. We use the same glass through the entire product line, with the primary difference only being the tolerance and coating layers ranging from 21 layers on our Frontier flagship brand, 18 on Endurance and Sidewinder and 11 layers on the Vantage line.

TR - What should dealers expect from Hawke?

Sheehan - Direct support, more marketing, higher margin and lots of new products. We support the retailer with a physical presence with direct relationships that allow us to control the distribution and prevent online price wars that destroy the margin. If you are selling Hawke optics, you have a direct relationship with us with support of a dedicated rep. We are putting money into marketing the Hawke brand with comprehensive TV, print and digital campaign for 2021. Hawke Optics is here to stay and growing fast.


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