Disclosure: This Website is Reader Supported. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
SWFA SS 12×42

The SWFA SS 12×42 Tactical Rifle Scope ranks at the top of the spectrum.  A look at the history, features, and reputation of this line of scopes and the responses from users who have used these scopes in the field tells the tale of a rugged and well-crafted scope that more than delivers on what it promises.

Some shooters say that a rifle is only as good as the scope.  Others believe that to get a quality scope spending more on the optics than you did on the rifle is expected.  The end result for all long-range shooters is the same.  

  • Accuracy
  • Consistency
  • Reliability

Similar Scopes 

1. SWFA 10x 42 
2. Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42SF

The Lineage

The SWFA SS scopes are all modeled after a rifle scope that was originally designed to meet the specifications of a military contract for the US Navy

The NAVY eventually purchased a large number of these scopes and put them into service.  The company that designed and manufactured these scopes had a large number of factory overruns.  

These factory overrun scopes were purchased by SWFA and sold through various channels.  The reputation of these scopes quickly spread, and eventually, SWFA made a deal with the original manufacturer to produce more of these scopes to the same standards.

This was required because the scopes had a Military N number assigned.  The original manufacturer went out of business. SWFA went to the original factory in Japan and the rest is history.

Military Quality 

SWFA SS 12 x 42 Rifle Scope ReviewThis scope shows its military beginnings with the milliradian system used in the reticle and adjustments.  It takes some time to learn and understand the mil-rad system, but once you begin to understand how the system work, it is evident why it is a military standard. 

There is plenty of data already compiled for this adjustment system for almost every conceivable caliber, which makes doping your rifle and ammo easy.

The Caliber 

Speaking of the caliber, we need to mention that the SWFA SS 12 x 42 tactical riflescope original specifications required that the scopes built for the military be rated up to .50 caliber.  That specification has remained intact, and the SWFA SS 12 x 42 scope is perfectly at home on top of a .50 caliber rifle.  

From a quality standpoint, the SWFA SS 12 x 42 scope functions like much more expensive scopes. 

Quality of Construction 

Comments about the quality of construction and the feel of the scope are almost always positive, with many giving the SWFA SS 12 x 42 scope the highest rating possible.  Some of the more prominent features mentioned over and over by users of this scope include:

  • The glass is clear and distortion-free.  
  • The whole feel of the scope gives the impression of solidity and strength. 
  • Many users mentioned the laser-etched numbers and lines on the turrets are precise and easily read.  The etching doesn’t wear off with use.
  • Using the turrets is quick and easy.  Then click settings are precise and positive with no mush or play.
  • Learning to use the mil-spec reticle takes a little time but is well worth the effort if you are a long-range shooting fan.

What We Like


The SWFA SS 13 x 42 Tactical Riflescope isn’t the cheapest scope on the market.  It’s also not the most expensive.  The current price point on this scope puts it a little past the halfway mark but still within the budget of most civilian and weekend shooters.


The three main things that most civilian hunters and weekend shooters look for in the durability category are:

    • Waterproofing
    • Fogproofing
    • Shockproofing

The SWFA SS 12 x 42 tactical riflescope gets a yes in all of these categories.  This scope will stand up well to any outdoor shooting use to which it is put regardless of the weather conditions.


The fully multi-coated lenses on the SWFA SS 12 x 42 scope produce the maximum amount of light transmittal to your eye.  The large objective lens gathers a huge amount of light, making this an excellent scope for low light, twilight conditions.  


Positive and precise adjustments on the turrets make the SWFA SS 12 x 42 tactical riflescope a prime choice.  The one-quarter inch MOW adjustments mean that at one hundred yards, each click of the turret results in a one-quarter inch change in the impact point of the bullet. 


Pair the easy and precise adjustments on the turrets with the mil-quad reticle, and you have a scope that is easy to range and easy to zero.  This system is extremely accurate, with a little practice and learning.


The growing popularity of larger and more powerful rifle cartridges is always a concern for shooters when it comes to scope reliability.  Large calibers and heavier loads can deliver a lot of energy in the form or recoil to a scope mounted on the rifle. 

The military lineage of the SWFA SS 12 x 42 tactical rifle scope proves its worth.  These scopes are rated up to .50 caliber, so there should never be a problem with your larger caliber rifles.

What We DisLike

To be honest, it was hard to find anyone with anything bad to say about the SWFA SS 12 x 42 tactical rifle scope.  Across the board, the comments from shooters who routinely use this scope were positive.  The few things that were mentioned were:

Simple Manual 

Don’t expect the manual or the instructions included with these scopes to be anything but minimal.  Mostly the documentation deals with the scope specifications and not with how to mount it, how to use the mil-quad reticle, or anything else.

Still Lacking on Glass Quality 

While the glass used in these scopes is certainly well above average, it will not compare with high-end scopes like the top of the line Leupold and Nightforce models.  However, you aren’t going to pay the price that you would for these premium scopes either.  Most shooters won’t notice the difference.

The Specs

Before we go any further, let’s get the technical data out of the way.  This is how this scope lays out of the factory.

Model SS Classic
Magnification 12x
Objective Lens (mm) 42
Exit Pupil (mm) 3.5
Field of View @ 100 m 3.2
Rear Parallax Adjustment (m) 10 – infinity
Eye Relief (in) 3.9
Diopter Compensation (dpt) -1.5 ~+ 1
Click Adjustment (MRAD) 1
Adjustment Pre Revolution (MIL) 5
Total Elevation Adjustment (MIL) 40
Total Windage Adjustment (MIL) 40
Reticle Mil-Quad
Coating Fully Multi-Coated
Waterproof Yes
Fogproof Yes
Shockproof Yes
Weight (oz) 20.8
Objective Length 49.59mm/1.949”
Bell Length 119mm/4.685”
Tube Length 148mm/5.827”
Eyepiece Length 92mm/3.62”
Eyepiece Diameter 46mm/1.811”
Tube Diameter 30mm/1.91”

(Data and Specifications courtesy of SWFA)

It is hard to get a feel or understand how a rifle scope stands up based on numbers in a chart. Understanding the pedigree of anything is useful in judging its quality and its functionality.  

SWFA – Humble Beginnings

SWFA got its start working gun shows and selling direct to customers through various print and online sources.  SWFA purchased the factory overruns of a scope that had been built specifically for a naval contract. 

As the inventory of overruns began to dwindle, SWFA worked a deal with the original manufacturer to continue to produce the scopes at the same level of quality as the original naval contract. 

Twenty years later, SWFA still sells that scope with the same set of DOD specifications at the same price.  SWFA now offers not only the original scope but an entire line of scopes under the SWFA logo.   The quality has never gone down, and the prices remain reasonable and affordable for all shooters.

Our Conclusions

SWFA SS 12x42 reviewYou won’t go wrong buying this scope to put on your long-range rifle.  In fact, if you are shooting a larger caliber rifle and want a durable scope with excellent optics that won’t disintegrate under the pounding of your big caliber gun, this is probably the best scope you can buy for the money.

The fixed magnification may be a limit to some hunters.  However, if your hunting is done at consistent distances, you will be pleased with the performance of the SWFA SS 12 x 42 tactical riflescope.  Its durability is without question and can take any weather conditions you may find in stride. If long-range competitive shooting is your thing, the SWFA SS 12 x 42 scope should make your list of potential scopes. 

The precision turrets, rear parallax adjustment, and the mil-quad reticle make this as accurate a scope for the price that you can find.  All in all, for the price, you won’t find a better quality scope with more features.