January 25th, 2020

SHOT Show 2020 — Focus on Optics

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed

Optics companies from around the globe had scores of new scopes and optics products on display at SHOT Show 2020. We visited Athlon, Burris, Bushnell, Leica, Leupold, Kahles, IOR/Valdada, March, Nightforce, Sightron, Swarovski, Vortex, and Zeiss displays. Here are some of the notable scope and optics products we saw this year.

Vortex Optics — Viewing Vortex Scopes with Carl Bernosky

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed

One of the highlights of our show was meeting our friend Carl Bernosky at the Vortex Booth. Carl, a 10-time National High Power Champion, showed us the Vortex Golden Eagle. This affordable 15-60x52mm Second Focal Plane (SFP) optic is very popular with F-Class competitors, as it offers a 4X magnification range all the way up to 60 power. The Golden Eagle’s $1499.99 price is 40% less than some other brands with similar specs.

March Optics — New PRS Scope, New Genesis

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed

At the March Optics booth we met Gary Costello, a talented British F-Class competitor. Gary showed us a number of new offerings, including March’s new 4.5-28x52mm PRS Scope (above). Compact and light weight (29.8 oz), this features a 25° wide angle, fast-focus eyepiece and HM lens technology with two new reticle options. This new scope boasts a whopping 36 Mils elevation and 20 Mils windage travel.

Also new for 2020 is March’s 5-42x56mm FFP Long Range Tactical scope suitable for PRS, ELR, and long range hunting. This boasts 40 Mil elevation, 14 Mil windage, and two new reticles, one of which is a tree reticle optimized for ranging and rapid hold-offs/hold-overs. This features a 26&deg, fast-focus eyepiece. Weight is 33.5 ounces.

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed

This is the new 4-40x52mm FFP “Mini Genesis” featuring High master lens technology. This boasts 86 MILS of elevation, 24° fast-focus eyepiece, and zero set elevation. The Genesis technology provides an optically-centered lens capable of engaging targets up to 3 miles.

Leica — New 5-30x56mm PRS FFP Scope

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed

At the Leica pavilion at SHOT show, we checked out the Leica’s new PRS 5–30x56i riflescope (SRP: $2,895) This is an impressive First Focal Plane (FFP) scope with 6X zoom, and a full 32 MILS (100+ MOA) of elevation range. This scope comes with a zoom ring throw lever and zero-stop turrets. Leica will offer the PRS 5-30x56i scope (MSRP $2699.00) with three reticle options: iL-4A, iBallistic, and iPRB. The iPRB is a modern “tree” reticle designed with input from Precision Rifle Blog (PRB) editor Cal Zant. CLICK HERE for PRB full report.

Zeiss — Rings with Integrated Level, Ultra-Compact Binoculars

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed Zeiss

At the Zeiss booth we checked out the beautifully-crafted Zeiss Precision Rings with level. Offered in both 30mm and 36mm, these rings feature an integral anti-cant bubble level in the top half, easily visible from any shooting position. Constructed of 7075-T6 aluminum, these rings are available in low, medium, and high heights, all with matte-black, hard-anodized finish. Also new this year are ZMOAi-T20 and ZMOA-T30 reticles for the Zeiss Conquest V4 riflescope line.

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed Zeiss Rings

Hunters and sportsmen should check the ultra-compact Victory Pocket 8×25 binoculars. These feature a unique off-set hinge, allowing them to be VERY slim when folded. These binocs blow away anything we’ve ever seen that is so compact and easy to carry.

Nightforce — New SOCOM FFP Scope and new NX8 series

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed Zeiss Rings

At the Barrett booth we viewed Nightforce’s new SOCOM 7-35x56mm F1 Scope developed for the U.S. Military. Called the P-VPS for “Precision Variable Power Scope”, this features a Termor 3 Reticle and integrated top rail for mounting a laser. Nightforce’s MIL-SPEC ATACR™ 5-25×56 F1 and the MIL-SPEC ATACR™ 7-35×56 F1 variants of the Nightforce Optics ATACR product line were selected by United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) to fill the Precision-Variable Power Scope component of the Miniature Aiming Systems – Day Optic (MAS-D) Program.

For 2020, Nightforce will also be selling new NX8 riflescopes, with an 8X zoom, evolved from Nightforce’s NXS series. The NX8 2.5–20x50mm F1 is available in MOAR and Tremor3 reticles . Likewise the NX8 4–32x50mm F1 is offered with MOAR ($2,150 MSRP) and Tremor3 ($2,400 MSRP) reticles. Both NX8 scopes feature DigIllum reticle illumination, ZeroStop technology, and either MOA or mil-radian adjustments.

Swarovski — Z8i Series with 8X Zoom Ratio

2020 Shot Show Optics Scopes reviewed Swarovski Z8i
At the Swarovski Booth, a SHOT Show attendee checks out new reticle options.

At SHOT 2020, Swarovski showcased its impressive Z8i series riflescopes, which offer 8X zoom range. These, we think, are particularly good for long range hunters. You get a wide field of view for scanning, then plenty of magnification for a precise shot at very long range. There are five Z8i models: 1-8x24mm; 1.7-13.3x42mm; 2-16x50mm; 2.3-18x56mm; and 3.5-28x50mm.

Konus — Universal Cantilever Scope Mount

Konus Universal Adjustable Cantilever scope mount

If you need more forward placement of a long optic, Konus has an effective new accessory. Attached to a Picatinny rail base, the new Konus Universal Adjustable Cantilever scope mount ($89 MSRP) allows you to move your optic forward. It adjusts from 6.5 inches to 8.3 inches in length, with seven settings in between. The mount fits both 1-inch and 30mm riflescope tubes. We also like the fact that this simplifies movement of a scope from one rifle to another.

Noblex — Ultra-Compact High-Quality Spotting Scope

Noblex ED Spotting Scope compact

Could this be the world’s smallest spotting scope? Well the Noblex NS 8-24×50 ED is certainly the world’s smallest spotter with high-grade ED (extra-low dispersion) glass. Crafted in Germany by Noblex GmbH, this mini-spotter weighs just 1.17 lbs. (530 grams) with eyepiece. As you can see, the entire unit could easily fit in a glovebox, and yes, we were impressed with the quality of the glass despite the small size. Could this be the ideal competition spotter for watching mirage during a match? 24-power is plenty for that task.

100+ More Optics Products — Specifications and Photos

Want to see more Riflescopes, Spotting Scopes, and Rangefinders? CLICK HERE for the SHOTBusiness.com 2020 Optics Guide. This features specifications and prices for 100+ products.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Gear Review, New Product, Optics 1 Comment »
January 25th, 2020

TECH TIP: Bullet Bearing Surface Length Can Affect Pressure

USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparision Safety Reloading
Photo 1: Three Near-Equal-Weight 7mm Bullets with Different Shapes

TECH TIP: Bullets of the same weight (and caliber) can generate very different pressure levels due to variances in Bearing Surface Length (BSL).

Bullet 1 (L-R), the RN/FB, has a very slight taper and only reaches its full diameter (0.284″) very near the cannelure. This taper is often seen on similar bullets — it helps reduce pressures with good accuracy. The calculated BSL of Bullet 1 was ~0.324″. The BSL of Bullet 2, in the center, was ~0.430”, and Bullet 3’s was ~ 0.463″. Obviously, bullets can be visually deceiving as to BSL!


This article from the USAMU covers an important safety issue — why you should never assume that a “book” load for a particular bullet will be safe with an equal-weight bullet of different shape/design. The shape and bearing surface of the bullet will affect the pressure generated inside the barrel. This is part of the USAMU’s Handloading Hump Day series, published on the USAMU Facebook page.

Beginning Handloading, Part 13:
Extrapolating Beyond Your Data, or … “I Don’t Know, What I Don’t Know!”

We continue our Handloading Safety theme, focusing on not inadvertently exceeding the boundaries of known, safe data. Bullet manufacturers’ loading manuals often display three, four, or more similar-weight bullets grouped together with one set of load recipes. The manufacturer has tested these bullets and developed safe data for that group. However, seeing data in this format can tempt loaders — especially new ones — to think that ALL bullets of a given weight and caliber can interchangeably use the same load data. Actually, not so much.

The researchers ensure their data is safe with the bullet yielding the highest pressure. Thus, all others in that group should produce equal or less pressure, and they are safe using this data.

However, bullet designs include many variables such as different bearing surface lengths, hardness, and even slight variations in diameter. These can occasionally range up to 0.001″ by design. Thus, choosing untested bullets of the same weight and caliber, and using them with data not developed for them can yield excess pressures.

This is only one of the countless reasons not to begin at or very near the highest pressure loads during load development. Always begin at the starting load and look for pressure signs as one increases powder charges.

Bullet bearing surface length (BSL) is often overlooked when considering maximum safe powder charges and pressures. In photo 1 (at top), note the differences in the bullets’ appearance. All three are 7mm, and their maximum weight difference is just five grains. Yet, the traditional round nose, flat base design on the left appears to have much more BSL than the sleeker match bullets. All things being equal, based on appearance, the RN/FB bullet seems likely to reach maximum pressure with significantly less powder than the other two designs.

Bearing Surface Measurement Considerations
Some might be tempted to use a bullet ogive comparator (or two) to measure bullets’ true BSL for comparison’s sake. Unfortunately, comparators don’t typically measure maximum bullet diameter and this approach can be deceiving.

Photo 2: The Perils of Measuring Bearing Surface Length with Comparators
USAMU Bullet Ogive Comparision Safety Reloading

In Photo 2, two 7mm comparators have been installed on a dial caliper in an attempt to measure BSL. Using this approach, the BSLs differed sharply from the original [measurements]. The comparator-measured Bullet 1 BSL was 0.694” vs. 0.324” (original), Bullet 2 was 0.601” (comparator) vs. 0.430” (original), and Bullet 3 (shown in Photo 2) was 0.602” (comparator) vs. 0.463” (original). [Editor’s comment — Note the very large difference for Bullet 1, masking the fact that the true full diameter on this bullet starts very far back.]

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
January 25th, 2020

Get FREE Official AccurateShooter.com Precision Targets

FREE Accuracy Precision Rifle Shooting Target
Right-Click target image to download printable PDF.

We created the above target a decade ago. Since then it has been used by tens of thousands of shooters. It has proven very popular as a load development target, since all your load data fits neatly in the boxes under each target. In fact this target is being employed by both rifle-makers and barrel-makers (including Criterion) to test their products. The target was designed for aiming efficiency. The diamonds have 1/2″ sides and you can align your cross-hairs on the horizontal and vertical lines. It is a clean design that is easy to see even at 200 yards with a 20X scope. When we test, we usually crank in a little elevation, setting the point-of-impact higher, so that our shots fall in the gray circles. That way you leave the squares intact for precise aiming.

We also use these two targets for load development and precision practice. The circle dot target can also be used for informal rimfire competition at 50 yards.
Right-Click Each Target to Download Printable PDFs.

FREE Accuracy Precision Rifle Shooting Target FREE Accuracy Precision Rifle Shooting Target


GET 50 More FREE Targets on AccurateShooter Target Page »

Printing Targets card stock heavy paper benchrestHow to Print Your Targets
Most of us have access to a printer at home or at work. That means you can print your own targets. You’ll find hundreds of free target designs online, including dozens of downloadable targets on our AccurateShooter.com Target Page. If you’re feeling creative, you can design your own target with a computer drawing program such as MS Paint.

Paper Stock Is Important
If you want your self-printed targets to show shots cleanly (and not rip when it gets windy), you should use quality paper stock. We recommend card stock — the kind of thick paper used for business cards. Card stock is available in both 65-lb and 110-lb weights in a variety of colors. We generally print black on white. But you might experiment with bright orange or yellow sheets. Forum Member ShootDots report: “They sell cardstock at Fed-Ex Kinko! I use either Orange or Yellow. That makes it easy to see the bullet holes clearly.” On some printers, with the heavier 110-lb card stock, you will need to have the paper exit through the rear for a straighter run.

Printing Targets card stock heavy paper benchrest

Here are some Target-Printing Tips from our Forum members:

“Staples sells a 67-lb heavy stock that I have settled on. I use the light grey or light blue, either of these are easy on the eyes on bright days. I have used the 110-lb card stock as well and it works fine. It’s just a little easier to print the lighter stuff.” (JBarnwell)

“Cardstock, as mentioned, works great for showing bullet holes as it doesn’t tear or rip like the thin, lightweight 20-lb paper. I’ve never had a problem with cardstock feeding in the printer, just don’t stick too many sheets in there. If I need three targets, I load only three card stock sheets”. (MEMilanuk)

“20-lb bond works pretty well for me if I use a spray adhesive and stick the entire back of the paper’s surface to the backer board.” (Lapua40X)

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Shooting Skills 1 Comment »