A cut and dried review without some field-testing is something we try to avoid at Sniper Country for objectivity purposes. When Scott Powers requested that I conduct T&E on the IOR Valdada Hermes 1 spotting scope this past year, I gladly accepted the task! Scott tech-spec'd the scope in his article, so I will skip that and just report on my field experiences.
I received the Hermes 1 scope a scant few days before the Sniper Rendezvous. This made me a bit nervous, as my limited experience has taught me that any field equipment needs to have the snot tested out of it before use. Nevertheless, the Hermes 1 would prove worthy of my trust.
Unpacking the scope revealed the typical no-frills cardboard box with a sheet of bubble wrap protecting the scope body. The eyepiece was packaged in a smaller cardboard box with the instruction manual and a desiccant pack.
The body of the scope features a European version of olive drab, which is just a bit greener than we're used to seeing. The paint is a textured wrinkle finish that is both easy to hold and non-reflective. Both of these qualities are a benefit to the tactical shooter.
The eyepiece screws into the rear of the scope at a 45-degree angle. Focusing is done by rotating the ocular via raised diamond knurling. Adjustments were smooth with just enough tension to prevent the image from slipping when focused. The knurling makes adjustments positive, even while wearing gloves.
Taking the Hermes 1 scope outside, I began glassing farm fields, parking lots, and surrounding countryside. Everything looked crisp and clear from the center of the image to the edges. Scott detected a slight aberration in the prism; my eyesight did not note this during field-testing. Spotting hits on both dark- and light-colored cardboard and paper targets proved to be straightforward.
Use of the Hermes 1 during the observation exercise at the Sniper Rendezvous proved to be very advantageous for me. The scope fit perfectly into one of the side pouches on my LBT three day assault pack, and a small tripod neatly into the bottom of the main compartment. As a field expedient, I taped the lens covers to a piece of weedwacker line and affixed this to the body of the scope to prevent loss.
When I began to study the observation area from the slag pile I did not instantly see any of the somewhat hidden military-type objects. Realizing that glare from the sun was affecting my view, I slid out the telescoping objective lens shade and began to scan once again. I found most of the items quickly and marked them down for score (which showed a large improvement over my tally last year at the same event). The only problem encountered was the height of the tripod - it caused my shoulders and neck to cramp up. A lower profile model should take care of this, though.
I ran some foul weather tests on the Hermes 1 scope over the following three months to see if any problems would occur. I focused the scope on a car license plate in a neighborhood about four hundred yards from my abode and then left the scope to broil in the sun. Periodic checks on the focus did not reveal any changes in the image other than a bit of mirage around 13:00 to 14:30 hrs.
The first cold weather test involved leaving the scope outdoors for 48 hours after first frost to see if any condensation would develop inside the body. Nope! I repeated this test on and off during a four week period and I noted no internal fogging. Condensation on the exterior of the lenses I removed by gently dabbing it with some camera lens paper.
As further insult, I left it out in the rain for eight hours with the objective exposed and only a plastic sandwich baggie over the eyepiece. No leakage noted, no internal fogging noted.
I would like to see either a variable power eyepiece (now available in 20-45x!), or the fixed power25X offered with an optional US Mil-Dot type reticle for use during range finding and target location. A more secure form of lens covers would also be a valuable improvement considering the intents and nature of the product and the desire to protect the lenses.
The Hermes scope is a heck of a deal for those in the market for a spotting scope. The quality of glass and durability of the scope body are more than adequate for use in the field. Fitted with the optional soft carry case and (hopefully in the future) a mil-dot reticle, it should serve the owner admirably.