November 6th, 2017

Fixed-Power Optics for F-Class — Testing in Competition

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

March 48x52mm High Master Scope — Tested in Competition

by Jay Christopherson, AccurateShooter.com Systems Admin
Using a fixed power scope on your F-Class rifle is not only effective, but can save you weight and money — key benefits when it comes to the F-Class game.

I recently tested the March High Master 48x52mm scope on my F-Open rifle in three different matches, including a Long Range Regional match in Montana and the recent 2017 US F-Class National Championships in Lodi, WI. While I’ve long been considering a fixed-power optic, it wasn’t until a recent F-TR build came in over-weight (with a large zoom scope), that I finally decided to give it a fixed-power comp scope a try. The March High Master 48x52mm saved me both weight (10.6 oz. or 300 grams) and money ($800+) compared to a top-end, variable-power March.

Across three matches and multiple conditions (including heavy mirage), I never found myself wishing that I had a variable-power scope on top of my rifle. And I never experienced issues holding rings on the target. A fixed-power scope might not be for everyone. However a serious F-Class shooter who needs to cut some weight, or save a little cash (compared to high-end zoom scope), shouldn’t be worried about being “under-glassed” with a fixed power scope such as the March HM 48x52mm. It can do the job. [Editor: Jay finished second overall in F-Open Division at the 2017 F-Class Nationals.]

The Case for A Fixed Power F-Class Optic

There’s been a thought bouncing around and growing in my head for the past few years while shooting F-Class — Why don’t more guys shoot a fixed power scope in F-Class? Nine out of ten F-Class shooters I’ve polled spend most of their time between 40 power and 50 power, regardless of the conditions. It seemed to me that a fixed power in the 40X – 50X range would be a great option.

I’ll admit, that I’ve long been an advocate of needing a variable-power scope so that I could “dial down to see the rings” on those really heavy mirage relays. There’s even been times when I’ve been successful dialing down to 35X – 25X just for that reason. But still, like most guys, I find that I rarely go above 50X and rarely below 40X – 99% of my time is spent right around 42X – 45X. Having gotten used to shooting high magnification now, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve bothered to dial down below 40X, even in very heavy mirage. But, I held on to that notion that it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

I recently built an F-TR rifle. I made a slight mistake on the weight. Fully built with my zoom scope, the rig ended up at 8.3kg (8.25kg is the limit for F-TR). That’s not much overweight, but I don’t like to be too close to the limit anyhow. There are lots of ways I could have addressed the issue, but I started thinking again about the scope. I love my current variable-power scopes, but I couldn’t help thinking that a fixed power scope in the 40X – 50X range might solve my issue nicely (and give me a chance to try something new). So I obtained a March High Master 48x52mm fixed-power scope to test. The 48X magnification falls right into my comfort zone. With its 52MM objective, the March HM matched the profile of my existing variable-power scopes nicely. Aesthetics is at least part of the goal and in my opinion, 50MM+ objective scopes look “right” on F-Class rifles. It’s also worth noting that this is the only fixed power scope that I have tried so far and that I have no affiliation with the manufacturer.

There’s the notion out there that fixed power scopes have inherently brighter sight pictures or maybe “clarity” is a better word. This may be due to there being less complex lenses and fewer parts inside. I don’t have any way to quantify that, so I’ll just say that the image clarity is excellent on the 48X March. I also found that the scope weighed 300 grams less than my variable-power scope, which brought me under the F-TR weight limit nicely, as I had hoped.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

Fixed-Power Scope at 2017 F-Class Nationals and Other Matches
Because my F-TR rifle was still in load development, I decided to try out the March HM 48x52mm at a couple matches on my F-Open rifle, while I waited on a part for my F-TR rifle. I fitted the 48x52mm scope to my F-Open rifle and used it at three matches: 1) a local 600-yard mid-range match in WA State; 2) the Long Range Regional at Deep Creek in Montana; and 3) the 2017 US F-Class Nationals in Lodi, WI. I ended up using it the entire match at all three matches. With three different matches, all a few weeks apart and in different parts of the country, I got a nice cross-section of light, weather, and mirage conditions to sample. At all three matches, and even in a medium-heavy mirage situation, I never found myself wishing I could dial down the power. In fact, I never thought about variable power at all — the scope was excellent in all of the different conditions. Even with a good deal of mirage present, I never had a problem making out the rings well enough to hold on. For what it’s worth, I used the scope while shooting on two different teams that set (pending) National LR and MR F-Open team records at those matches. If I didn’t have confidence in a fixed-power scope (and the March in particular), I would never have taken a chance shooting it where a team depended on me. [Editor: In individual competition, Jay finished second in F-Open at the Nationals.]

Scope Tracked Great and Click Values Were Right On
In terms of technical details, the scope tracked perfectly on my scope checker (there are several threads on the AccurateShooter forums regarding checking a scope for drift), which meant I felt comfortable using it at the F-Class Nationals. Critically, I spent a good bit of time working on the ocular focus (reticle focus) so that it would be perfectly set-up for my eye. I’ve found that many complaints about parallax and “soft” or “blurry” images can be traced back to the owner never taking this critical step with a new scope. Normally my scopes all have external, tactical-style turrets — the March HM 48×52 has covered turrets. I wondered how this would work for me, but again, I never thought about it while shooting. Once the covers are off, the clicks are extremely tactile and easy to read and it just never became an issue. The parallax adjustment works nicely and the scope tracked well with every adjustment I made, from 600 yards to 1000 yards.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

What Could Be Improved
On the con side of things, I find the scale on the elevation turret to be a bit confusing. Most scopes I have used have an incrementing scale on the elevation (and windage) turrets, so that you can count up from zero as you dial up the adjustments. The 48X HM uses a ‘0’ that is centered on the turret travel (see photo above), so that you count down or up on the scale. Here, I would prefer a scale that bottoms out at zero (or that you can adjust to bottom out at zero) and then increments. I think it’s an easier and more consistent way to measure, but your mileage may vary. Other March scopes I’ve used have a color-coded system on the turrets which I also find a little less than useful. Again, I wouldn’t mind at all if March re-thought its system there.

The other con for me is the eye-relief. It’s middle of the road as far as other high-end scopes I’ve used, but for me personally, I still find it a bit on the short side — I would prefer more eye relief.

Save Hundreds Compared to a Premium Zoom Scope
On the plus side (from a cost standpoint), fixed power scopes are generally priced quite a bit lower than equivalent-quality, variable-power optics. The March HM 48x52mm (product # MAR1076) I tested is no exception. Bullets.com sells the HM 48x52mm for $1951.00. That’s $810 less than its variable-power relative, the March HM 10-60x52mm, priced at $2763.00. I consider the 48x52mm’s $1951 price to be very reasonable for such a quality piece of hardware.

Conclusion — High-Quality, Fixed-Power Scopes Are Worth Considering
Overall, if you find that you spend 99% of your time in the 40X – 50X range with your variable-power scope, I’d encourage you to give some thought to a fixed-power scope for F-Class. I’ve only tried one fixed-power optic — the March HM 48x52mm. But having used this excellent, fixed-power scope in several high-level F-Class competitions now, I’d have no qualms about recommending a high-grade, fixed-power optic to anyone shooting F-Class.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Optics 12 Comments »
November 6th, 2017

Bargain Finder 111: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, optics, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. RCBS — Buy Green Get Green Rebate Program

RCBS Buy Green Rebate Program Sale Discount Deal

RCBS just kicked off its best rebate program of the year. The Holiday 2017 Buy Green Get Green promo is simple — buy ANY RCBS product over $49.99 and you qualify. There’s no restricted list of “qualifying” products. The more you spend, the more you get back — up to $175.00 total. If you are considering purchasing a single-stage press, electronic powder dispenser, progressive press, or a full reloading kit, save big with this promotion. It is good for purchases made through the end of the year, December 31, 2017. Download REBATE Form HERE.

2. Brownells — Remington RP9, $199.99 with $100 Rem Rebate

Remington Pistol Rebate RP9 9mm $199.00 $189.00 super deal

This may be the best pistol deal of the year. Right now Brownells.com is selling the Remington RM9 for just $299.99. NOTE: This item shows out of stock, but you can back-order the Rem RM9 and still get this price. But there’s more! You can get another $100.00 off with Remington’s Pre-Black Friday Rebate Program for pistol purchases made now through November 18, 2017. So you can get this brand new 9x19mm full-size, polymer-framed pistol for just $199.99. Plus if you use Brownell’s Coupon Code “H7L” at check-out, you’ll save another $20.00 and get free shipping. That lowers your actual cost for the RP9 pistol to $179.99, or $189.99 including Brownells $10 FFL processing fee. A new pistol for $189.99 is a heck of a deal. GET Remington Rebate Form.

3. Amazon — Sightron 10-50x60mm SIII LR MOA Scope, $973.06

Sightron 10-50x60mm optics
Match photo courtesy Varide Cicognati, Sightron dealer in Italy.

At the recent IBS 600-yard Nationals, 4 of the Top 10 shooters (including the 2nd-place finisher) used Sightron 10-50X scopes. Though reasonably priced, this 10-50x60mm optic is definitely good enough to win long-range benchrest and F-Class matches. If you’re looking for a high-magnification, variable-power target scope (with 1/8 MOA clicks), the Sightron 10-50x60mm is a smart choice. There is nothing else at the $1000.00 price point that can touch it. The new Nightforce 15-55x52mm Competition Scope is a great product, but it costs $2352.00, more than TWICE the price of the Sightron 10-50x60mm. The money you save (vs. 15-55X NF) could pay for four barrels or a custom action. On a value-for-money basis, then, the Sightron 10-50x60mm makes sense for competitors on a budget. NOTE: Other Sightron 10-50x60mm scopes with FCH, Mil-Dot, or Target Dot reticles run $1000-$1030 on Amazon.

4. Amazon — MTM AC4C Ammo Crate with 4 Ammo Boxes

MTM Ammo Carrier Crate Box

Here’s a very cool product from MTM at a great price. The versatile MTM AC4C Ammo Carrier features four, lockable polymer ammo cans in a fitted, four-slot 23.5” x 11.3” x 7.5” carry crate. This makes it easy to haul four full ammo cans. Actual purchasers have raved: “Moments after I received this storage box set I ordered another. Very well built and great design. Awesome and a steal at the price.” Right now this is on sale at Amazon for just $29.99 with free prime shipping. The system includes four lockable, O-Ring 11.3″ x 7.2″ x 5″ ammo cans (AC30T) for multi-caliber ammo storage. The crate even includes tie-down points for transport in a cart or ATV. NOTE: Earlier this summer this MTM AC4C system sold for $39.99. The current $29.99 price represents a 25% savings! See price chart below.


MTM Ammo Carrier Crate Box

5. Natchez — Lowest Prices Ever on Swarovski Z3 Scopes

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week Swarovski Scope Optics Z3 discount

Swarovski makes superb optics. The riflescope glass is exceptionally clear and sharp, and the controls have a refined feel. No question, Swarovski makes a premium product. And right now you can get Swaro scopes at exceptionally low prices. These are some of the best deals we’ve ever seen on Swarovski Z3 riflescopes. Jason Gebhart, Swarovski Regional Sales Director said, “The Z3 is a proven product… this Z3 Seasonal Savings Event gives people an excellent opportunity to purchase the finest optics in the world and become part of our family at an incredible price.”

6. Bud’s Gun Shop — Ruger LCP .380 ACP, Just $169.00

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week Ruger LCP .380 ACP Carry Pistol Handgun

The Ruger LCP is the #1-selling pistol in the USA according to Gun Broker. And now you can get this compact carry piece for just $169.00 at Bud’s Gun Shop. Great deal. The Ruger LCP is light (9.6 ounces) and compact (5.16″ OAL), so you’re more likely to carry it regularly. The .380 ACP cartridge is not as powerful as a 9x19mm or 40 S&W to be sure, but when your life is on the line, a small gun is certainly better than no gun. For those looking for a light-weight, easy-to-conceal handgun, this little Ruger is a solid choice. Owner reviews have been positive and the $169.00 price (with free shipping) is hard to beat. That’s for payment via money orders, checks, or echecks; credit card price is $174.07.

7. American Eagle Pistol Ammo, 25% OFF Manufacturer Rebate

Federal Premium American Eagle handgun pistol ammo ammunition sale rebate 25% off

Rebate Extended to December 31, 2017!

Here’s a great Rebate offer from Federal Premium Ammunition. Now through December 31st, 2017, you can get 25% OFF the cost of Federal American Eagle brass-cased pistol ammo. We’ve used this ammo in .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP and we can say it’s good stuff — very reliable and cleaner that some other less-expensive brands. Midsouth Shooters Supply has qualifying American Eagle Ammo in a variety of calibers: .25 ACP, .380 ACP, 9mm Luger, .38 SPL, .357 SIG, .357 Magnum, 40 S&W, .44 Rem Magnum, .45 ACP. Midsouth’s American Eagle Ammo starts at $11.99 for 50 rounds of 9mm Luger. The 25% OFF Super Savings Rebate reduces the price to just $8.99 per 50-ct box. CLICK HERE for Rebate Form.

8. CDNN — 51-Piece Driver Set (Flat-Head, Phillips, Hex, Torx)

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week Outers Screwdriver 51-piece set torx phillips allen driver

This Outers-brand, 51-piece set contains all the drivers you could ever need: Flat-head, Phillips, Hex (Allen), and Torx. Priced under ten bucks, this driver set offers great value for the money. Even if you already own high-quality Allen and Torx wrenches, you can buy this as a spare set for your gun room. And this also makes a great holiday “stocking stuffer” for gun guys. These drivers work great for installing scope rings or bases, or everyday use around the home.

• Molded Driver with Magnetic Tip
• 15 Flat Head Bits
• 10 Hex Bits (inch)
• 9 Hex Bits (metric)
• 4 Phillips Bits
• 9 Torx Bits
• 2 Extra Long Phillips Bits
• 1 Hex to Square Adapter

9. Amazon — 630 1″-Diameter Target Spots, $9.65 Delivered

Amazon target dots discount free shipping sight-in target

We use 1″-diameter Target Spots for sight-in and practice at 100-300 yards. These bright red/orange self-adhesive dots are easy to see. At 100 yards the high-contrast black diamond centers provide precise aiming points. We found this 10-pack of target spots on Amazon at a rock-bottom price. You get 630 total stick-on dots for just $9.65 with FREE Shipping. You can also get 360 Birchwood Casey 1″ dots from Midsouth for just $3.15, but shipping is extra. If you’re already ordering something from Midsouth, you may want to add the dots to your order.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Handguns, Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
November 6th, 2017

Specialty Targets Help You “Aim Small, Miss Small”

Right Click and “Save as” to download printable PDF versions of target.

In the hit Hollywood movie “The Patriot”, the hero Benjamin Martin (played by Mel Gibson), tells his sons: “Aim small, miss small”. That advice was given to help his sons survive encounters with the British redcoats, but the “aim small, miss small” mantra can benefit target shooters as well.

We have found that novice and intermediate shooters can often improve their accuracy simply by using targets with smaller, more precise aiming points. Inexperienced shooters can benefit by starting with a large-size aiming circle, and then progressing to smaller and smaller target dots. This lets the shooter increase the challenge as his gun-handling becomes more steady and his aim improves.

Here are two rimfire training targets with “big to small” target circles. Start with the largest circles, then move to the smaller ones in sequence. This systematic drill provides increasing challenge shot-by-shot. Novices often are quite surprised to see their accuracy improve as they move from bigger to smaller aiming points. That provides positive feedback — always a good thing.

Right Click and “Save as” to download printable PDF versions of target.

Permalink Shooting Skills No Comments »