If you’re planning a significant purchase, such as a new riflescope, or a couple new barrels, then head over to Bruno Shooters Supply in the next two days. Now through 8:00 am on May 31st, 2016, Bruno’s is running a Memorial Day Sale. You can get 7% off ALL online orders (other than firearms or actions). So you can save 7% on optics, 7% on powder and primers, 7% on barrels, 7% on reloading tools… you get the idea. Doing the math, seven percent off a $2000.00 scope is $140.00 — that’s a fair chunk of change.
NOTE: This deal applies to Online Orders Only, placed through www.BrunoShooters.com. (Phone lines will NOT be open over the holiday.) Bruno’s stocks all your favorite products, including brass from Lapua and Norma, bullets from Barts, Berger, Sierra, and Nosler, dies from Redding and Wilson, and Powder from Hodgdon, IMR, Norma, Alliant and Western. Bruno’s also has a large selection of optics including comp scopes from Leupold, Nightforce, Sightron, and Weaver.
Sale tip from EdLongrange. We welcome Reader Submissions.
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Recently the CMP adopted new rules that allow the use of magnified optics, up to 4.5X power, in Service Rifle competition. The Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm Compact Riflescope, while not designed specifically for Service Rifle competition, complies fully with the new Service Rifle optics rules and works very well. In fact, our correspondent Johnny Fisher used this scope to take third place in the recent California State Service Rifle Championship. Here’s a run down of the scope’s features and performance. Johnny says this is a “great scope” and “results are extremely promising” so far.
Gear Review: Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm as Considered for Service Rifles by Johnny Fisher
2016 has brought with it a long anticipated rule change that allows for the use of optics in Service Rifle competition. The rule allows scopes (fixed or variable) up to 4.5 power with an objective lens no greater than 34mm. Given the strict limits on max magnification and objective size for Service Rifle optics, there are somewhat limited options on the market at this time. Service Rifle competitors are now challenged with selecting an optic that fits the rules while offering high-end performance. Thus far, it seems the biggest concerns that Service Rifle shooters have when considering an optic are: quality, repeatability, parallax, reticle choices, and durability.
Click Image for Full-screen Version.
The vast majority of Service Rifle Rule-compliant scopes currently on the market have a fixed parallax. That means there is no separate focus knob to adjust parallax to target distance. Accordingly, there has been much concern about the potential for parallax error over the three different distances in Across-The-Course competition. It is possible that the repeatably-indexed head position maintained while shooting a Service Rifle, along with a little extra emphasis on sight alignment to ensure that the shooter’s eye is directly behind the scope, can greatly mitigate the potential effects of parallax error.
The Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm comes with the parallax factory-set at 75 yards. Combined with the right amount of eye-relief and low-enough rings to ensure an easy-to-maintain and clear/full sight picture, it seems like the fixed parallax is not really the problem some folks think it may be. Below are two, 10-round test strings shot at 300 yards (each with a magazine change). Note that I didn’t drop a point, even with the non-adjustable parallax.
The Fixed Parallax is not a “deal-breaker”. Witness 20 shots at 300 yards — all 10s or Xs.
For the NXS 1-4x24mm scope, Nightforce offers two reticle types: the International Hunting Reticle (IHR) and the FC-3G (with 5.56 NATO or .308 NATO BDC hold-over features). My scope has the IHR Reticle, which provides a very clear, unobstructed and simple sight picture. The IHR reticle for the NXS 1-4x24mm boasts an illuminated center cross-hair. Unfortunately, the red-color illumination is really only intended for low-light situations and is not bright enough to offer any aid to National Match shooters competing in broad daylight at stationary targets.
For Service Rifle shooters accustomed to keeping track of their sight settings as “clicks from bottom”, the optional Zero-Stop might be welcome. After loosening the turret and establishing the desired Zero-stop location, tightening the set screw blocks rotation below this point. NOTE: Once set, the Zero-Stop turret only allows for one full revolution of elevation adjustment. However, the Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm offers 20 minutes of elevation adjustment per revolution. That should be more than enough elevation adjustment for come-ups to 600 yards (even with a 100-yard zero established near bottom).
PRICE and DURABILITY
The Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm carries a price tag of just over $1500.00. The scope just feels solid –nothing plastic — especially when compared to some of the other consumer- or recreational-grade options on the market. All touchable tolerances feel extremely tight. There was quite an amount of attention given to every little detail, as you would expect from an optic at this price point. It is hoped that the scope’s mil-spec robustness will assure continued excellent performance — even after seasons of the kind of abuse that High Power shooters put on their equipment. More will be revealed as I use the scope at future competitions, but initial results are very good. This is a quality optic. I have high hopes that it will prove a good investment.
At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, 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. Cabelas.com — Nikon Scope, Rings and Wind Meter, $249.99
Here’s a great deal if you have a hunting rifle chambered in .308 Win or .223 Rem. Right now, for under $250.00, you can get a Nikon scope, a set of cantilevered rings, plus a Wind Meter that plugs into your smart-phone. The $249.99 P-308 Package features a 4-12x40mm Nikon Scope with BDC reticle calibrated for.308 Win. Likewise the $199.99 P-223 Package offers a 3-9x40mm Nikon Scope with BDC reticle calibrated for the .223 Remington. These cantilevered rings work well with AR-platform rifles.
If you are serious about your precision firearms, you need one of these. We use the Lyman Electronic Trigger Pull Gauge to test the triggers on all our match and varmint rifles. The unit is precise and repeatable. Once you try one of these you won’t want to go back to crude spring trigger gauges. Amazon.com offers this unit for $51.87 with free shipping for Prime members. Walmart also has it for $51.87 with free shipping or free in-store pickup.
3. Natchez — Dewey Cleaning Rods 36″ or 44″, $19.99
Natchez is running a great special right now on quality Dewey Cleaning Rods. These bearing-equipped rods are very well made and can last for many seasons. This editor has a couple Dewey rods that are still going strong after 12 years. For just $19.99, you can get either a 36″ or 44″ coated Dewey rod. NOTE: Select “.22-.26 cal” from the pull-down menu (the other options are for short pistol rods). It’s hard to beat a quality cleaning rod for under twenty bucks. Credit Boyd Allen for finding this bargain.
This 10-50X Sightron isn’t as good as a Nightforce 15-55X Competition scope, but it is definitely good enough to win long-range benchrest and F-Class matches. At $965.69, the Sightron is nearly $1400 cheaper than the 15-55X Nightforce. It is even $450 cheaper than the old 12-42x56mm NF Benchrest scope. On a value-for-money basis, then, the Sightron 10-50x60mm makes sense for competitors on a budget. The money you save (compared to a 15-55X NF) will pay for a BAT or Kelbly action, with money left over.
5. Cabela’s — Lyman Turbo Sonic 1200, $69.99
Looking for a reliable ultrasonic cleaning unit at a rock-bottom price? Here’s a very good deal — this new Lyman 1200 sells elsewhere for up to $110.00. This machine will hold up to 350 9mm cases, and clean them in 10-15 minutes. The see-through cover lets you view the progress in the 6.5″L x 5.4″W x 2.6″D heated tank. Select four different dwell times with handy touch controls.
6. Southern Shooters — 17 HMR Ruger American Rimfire
With ballistics far superior to a .22 LR, the 17 HMR is ideal for Prairie Dogs and small varmints out to 180 yards or so. Now you can get a reliable, name brand 17 HMR rifle for a very attractive price. That’s right, Southern Shooters is selling the 17 HMR Ruger American Rimfire, with 22″ barrel, for just $252.63. FFL required. For other vendors with this rifle, CLICK HERE.
7. Brownells — Ten Magpul 30-Round PMags for $99.99
Need high-capacity magazines for 3-Gun competition or a tactical match? Then check out this great Magpul deal from Brownells.com. Right now you can get TEN (10) high-quality Magpul PMags for $99.99. These GEN M2 MOE PMags are excellent .223/5.56 AR15 magazines that set the industry standard for functionality, reliability, and durability.
8. NRA — Free Duffle Bag with $25.00 NRA Membership
The NRA Convention runs this week in Louisville, KY — so there’s no better time to become an NRA member. Plus, if you join right now you can get a free duffle bag, in either black or camo fabric. In addition, the regular NRA Membership is discounted from $40.00 to $25.00. With your NRA Annual membership you also get your choice of four (4) print magazines: American Rifleman, American Hunter, Shooting Illustrated, or America’s 1st Freedom.
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Here’s a useful, cost-efficient product if you have a rifle with a 3/8″ dovetail on top of the action and you want to use a scope with Weaver-style rings. Kwik-Site offers three grooved receiver adapter products. The first is a two-piece set of short rails that clamp to a 3/8″-wide dovetail. Priced at just $13.50, this two-piece rail set, item KS-W22, is available in gloss black, matte black, and a stainless finish. If you prefer a one-piece rail, Kwik-Site offers the KS-W23 ($29.95) and KS-W24 ($30.95). Both are offered in matte black or silver (stainless-look) finishes. The KS-W24 will work with Romanian rifles.
These Kwik-Site products provide a low-cost solution if you want to take a scope from a rifle with a Weaver Rail and place the optic on a dove-tailed action without removing the scope from the ring set. Please note however, you’ll still need to re-zero the scope when you move it from one rifle to another. To order online, visit www.KwikSitecorp.com.
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Here are some great rifle-centric landscape images courtesy of Nightforce Optics. Perhaps these “gunscapes” will encourage you to grab your rifle and head out into the woods this weekend. These images are part of an ongoing series of rifle photos posted on the Nightforce Facebook page. Can you identify the optics, and any of the locations? To see a full-screen version of each image, just click on any photo, and a larger version will load.
CLICK Any Image for Larger View
This is NOT a Photoshop job — that’s the actual view through a Nightforce scope of a deer. Photographer (and rifle-owner) Brandon F. says: “Ya’ll might enjoy this picture of a Fort Hood white tail… 400m away.”
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Field Target (FT) and Hunter Field Target (HFT) airgun disciplines are popular outdoor shooting sports that simulate the challenges of hunting small game. One of the unique aspects of FT competition is target range-finding using parallax and optical focus. (HFT is limited to lower power scopes, so this type of range-fiding is not used in HFT.) Range-finding is very important because the pellets shot by FT airguns drop rapidly once they leave the muzzle (pellets can drop roughly 5″ at 50 yards). If you don’t have your scope set to the correct distance, you’ll probably miss the target high or low.
FT competitors employ high-magnification (35-55X) scopes to sight targets placed from 10 to 55 yards (7.3 to 50m in the UK). Because these scopes have very short depth-of-field at high-magnification, the target will be out of focus unless you have the scope focus/parallax control set very precisely. But competitors can use this to their advantage — once the target is precisely focused, you have effectively established its distance from the shooter. FT scopes often have large-diameter wheels on the side parallax control so the focus can be set very precisely. You can then read marks placed on the scope to adjust the amount of elevation need to put the pellet on target.
To simplify the adjustment of elevation on FT rifles, competitors will place tapes on the windage knobs with marks that correspond to distances in 3-5 yard (or smaller) increments. These marks allow you to quickly spin your elevation to the setting matching the target range established with your focus/parallax control.
Field Target Accessories
There are a variety of specialized products for FT competitors that help you set up your scope for precise ranging. First, Compufoil offers a computer program, ScopeKnob, that lets you easily create accurate elevation knob tapes for your scope. ScopeKnob even comes with a built-in Ballistics Module that will calculate the pellet trajectory for you and plot range settings for your tape. Chairgun.com also offers ChairGunPRO, specialized airgun ballistics software that lets you simultaneously compare four different pellets, or different scope heights.
In the past, the A-Team offered replacement elevation knobs optimized for use with yardage marking tapes. These were offered in two versions, one which replaced the existing turret altogether and a second which clamped OVER the factory turret. Shown at right is the larger-diameter version in place over the factory turret. Unfortunately we don’t know a current source for this product, but this may help you crate something similar on your own.
Last but not least, Pyramid Air offers large-diameter parallax control wheels. According to Pyramid: “The enlarged sidewheel is the most popular FT scope accessory of all. It lets you put white artist’s tape around the rim to mark the actual distances at which the scope focuses”. A 6″ sidewheel provides over 18″ of space on which to inscribe yardage, and that means you can have a meaningful separation between 18 yards and 20 — where there is a huge parallax and trajectory difference. Though the ranges are already engraved on the rim of the wheel, field target competitors will measure them again on an actual range and write the markings on a strip of white artist’s tape.
Tips on Field Target Scope Set-Up
The creator’s of the A-Team knobs suggest taking your time when setting up a scope for Field Target competition: “We normally take from three to four hours preparing a scope to be mounted on a gun. We mark the scope in 1-yard increments from 9 to 40 yards, then to 55 yards by 3 or 5-yard increments depending on the scope being calibrated.”
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We first ran this article in 2012, and it was very well received. Since then, many Forum members have requested an explanation of MILS and mildots, so we decided to run this feature again…
In this NSSF Video, Ryan Cleckner, a former Sniper Instructor for the 1st Ranger Battalion, defines the term “MilliRadian” (Milrad) and explains how you can use a mildot-type scope to range the distance to your target. It’s pretty simple, once you understand the angular subtension for the reticle stadia dots/lines. Cleckner also explains how you can use the milrad-based reticle markings in your scope for elevation hold-overs and windage hold-offs.
Even if you normally shoot at known distances, the hold-off capability of milrad-reticle scopes can help you shoot more accurately in rapidly-changing wind conditions. And, when you must engage multiple targets quickly, you can use the reticle’s mil markings to move quickly from one target distance to another without having to spin your elevation turrets up and down.
WEB RESOURCES: If you want to learn more about using Milliradians and Mildot scopes, we suggest the excellent Mil-dot.com User Guide. This covers the basics you need to know, with clear illustrations. Also informative is The Truth about Mil Dots by Michael Haugen. Mr. Haugen begins with basic definitions: 1 radian = 2 PI; 1 Milliradian (Milrad or ‘Mil’) = 1/1000th of a radian; 1 Milliradian = .0573 degrees.
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Leupold now offers easy online ordering for custom riflescope dials for your elevation turrets. A custom CDS dial lets you simply “dial the yardage” to have the correct elevation at distances near to far. For example, as shown below, if your target is at 550 yards, you simply dial 5.5 on the turret index. This is possible because the dial has been customized with the particular ballistics of your rifle and your load.
“Leupold engineers do all the hard work in the lab, making sure it’s easy and fast in the field,” said Rob Morrison, Leupold’s global marketing VP. “All the shooter has to do is provide us with ballistic information. From this simple data, a custom-calibrated dial is laser engraved for that specific load.”
Order Multiple Dials for Different Bullet Types
Leupolds’ custom CDS dials are tailored to the exact load used. With the ability to quickly change dials, it’s easy to set up several loads in a single rifle with a single riflescope. Transition from coyote loads to big game cartridges with a simple change of the dial. Or you can get different dials for different cartridges if you move your optic from one rifle to another. To order a CDS dial, call 1-800-LEUPOLD or visit Customshop.leupold.com/custom-dials and click on the appropriate dial for your riflescope.
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Readers often ask “What’s the difference between a Weaver scope rail and a Picatinny Rail?” The answer is not as simple as it seems. The dimensions of a Picatinny Rail should be consistent (from one rail-maker to another), since there IS a government spec. Conversely, there is some variance in “Weaver-style” rails. The width of the groove is the most important difference between Picatinny Rails and weaver rails. “Mil-spec” Picatinny rails will have a grove width of 0.206″ while Weaver rails typically have a narrower, 0.180″ groove width.
Brownell’s has a helpful GunTech™ Article that discusses the Picatinny Rail vs. Weaver Rail. That article explains:
“What are the differences between the ‘Picatinny’ and the ‘Weaver’ systems? The profile of the two systems is virtually identical. Depending on the quality of the machining done by the manufacturer, the two systems should be indistinguishable from the profile. The key difference lies in the placement of the recoil grooves and with width of the grooves. MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) grooves are .206″ wide and have a center-to-center width of .394”. The placement of these grooves has to be consistent in order for it to be a true ‘Picatinny’MIL-STD system. Weaver systems have a .180” width of recoil groove and are not necessarily consistent in a center-to-center measurement from one groove to the next.
In many instances, a Weaver system has a specific application that it is machined for, so interchangeability is not necessarily an issue. A MIL-STD-1913 system must adhere to the specifications listed above in order for it to be considered MIL-STD, since the military desires uniformity in the recoil grooves to allow for different systems to be mounted on the weapon with no concern for compatibility.
Now, what does this mean to you? Boiled down, it means that accessories designed for a Weaver system will, in most cases, fit on a ‘Picatinny’ system. The reverse, however, is probably not the case. Due to the larger recoil groove, ‘Picatinny’ accessories will not fit a Weaver system. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule, but for a good rule-of-thumb, [full-width] ‘Picatinny’ won’t fit Weaver, but Weaver will fit ‘Picatinny’.”
Have you ever left your plugs or muffs at home when you took a trip to the range? That’s happened to most of us. That won’t be a problem now, so long as you have your eye protection. Browning now offers ANSI-rated safety eyewear that includes corded NRR 25 earplugs stored in the frames. That’s a clever design — one less thing to worry about.
Browning’s new Sound Shield shooting glasses feature ear plugs stored on a retractable cord in the end of the frames. Now, if you have your shooting glasses with you, you will always have hearing protection as well. The end of each sidepiece opens to release the corded retractable ear plug. The ear plugs have a NRR of 25 dB and are replaceable and washable.
Sound Shield shooting glasses feature polycarbonate, wrap-around lenses with a frameless design to provide additional coverage and eliminate blind spots. The glasses are available in two different styles (Large/Medium) with either yellow or lightly-tinted indoor/outdoor lenses. All lens types exceed ANSI Z87.1 impact standards. A soft rubber standoff nosepiece reduces slipping and lens fogging. According to the Browning website, these Sound Shield glasses may be offered in a kit that includes NRR 27 ear muffs, but we don’t know if that is available yet.
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Burris Optics now offers online ballistic tools to help shooters maximize the potential of Burris riflescopes. The new Burris Ballistics Services site offers easy-to-use software and a comprehensive cartridge/bullet library. With these web-based tools you can analyze your reticle, build a dope card, program an Eliminator LaserScope, and order custom elevation and windage knobs. Burris Ballistic Services are provided online at www.BurrisOptics.com/ballistics.
Burris Reticle Analysis Calculator
The Burris Reticle Analysis Calculator allows users to select their ammunition and define exact environmental conditions, such as altitude, humidity, and wind speed. This allows you to plot the exact holdovers/holdoffs shown by any Burris reticle at any distance. Results are customizable and printable.
Dope Card Builder
The Burris Dope Card Builder is a fully-customizable solution for determining bullet performance at any distance. By using the extensive Burris bullet library users can expect very precise and reliable elevation and windage values for their custom-generated drop chart (aka Dope Card).
Data for Nearly 7000 Cartridges and Bullets
Burris has compiled an impressive database for its online software — nearly 7,000 cartridges and bullets are included from every major ammunition and bullet manufacturer. Rimfire, centerfire, muzzleloader and shotgun shells are included, as well as G1 and G7 profiles (where available) for precise accuracy.
Eliminator LaseScope Programming Tool
With the touch of a button, the Burris Eliminator LaserScope will range your target, calculate your needed vertical hold-over (based on your load’s ballistics) and then instantly display a red dot you put right on the target. We’ve used an Eliminator and can affirm that the system works well. For most accurate elevation calculations, you program the Eliminator by entering the Drop value at 750 yards and the Ballistic Coefficient of the cartridge you are shooting. The Eliminator Programming Tool helps you determine the correct Drop Number and Ballistic Coefficient, and lets you fine-tune your results by inputting local environmental conditions.
Burris customers can now order custom elevation knobs for many Burris riflescopes. With the online software you can configure a knob for your favorite load and exact shooting conditions (elevation, temp, humidity). You can then submit this knob “blueprint” to Burris and have a custom knob produced.
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Do you find that the crosshairs in your scope get blurry after a while, or that you experience eye strain during a match? This is normal, particularly as you get older. Focusing intensely on your target (through the scope or over iron sights) for an extended period of time can cause eye strain. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce eye fatigue. For one — breathe deeper to take in more oxygen. Secondly, give your eyes a break between shots, looking away from the scope or sights.
In our Forum there is an interesting thread about vision and eye fatigue. One Forum member observed: “I have noticed recently that if I linger on the target for too long the crosshairs begin to blur and the whole image gradually darkens as if a cloud passed over the sun. I do wear contacts and wonder if that’s the problem. Anyone else experienced this? — Tommy”
Forum members advised Tommy to relax and breath deep. Increase oxygen intake and also move the eyes off the target for a bit. Closing the eyes briefly between shots can also relieve eye strain. Tommy found this improved the situation.
Keith G. noted: “Make sure you are still breathing… [your condition] sounds similar to the symptoms of holding one’s breath.”
Phil H. explained: “Tom — Our eyes are tremendous oxygen hogs. What you are witnessing is caused by lack of oxygen. When this happens, get off the sights, stare at the grass (most people’s eyes find the color green relaxing), breath, then get back on the rifle. Working on your cardio can help immensely. Worked for me when I shot Palma. Those aperture sights were a bear! The better my cardio got the better and longer I could see. Same thing with scopes. Try it!”
Watercam concurred: “+1 on breathing. Take a long slow deep breath, exhale and break shot. Also make sure you take a moment to look at the horizon without looking through rifle or spotting scope once in a while to fight fatigue. Same thing happens when using iron sights.”
Arizona shooter Scott Harris offered this advice: “To some extent, [blurring vision] happens to anyone staring at something for a long time. I try to keep vision crisp by getting the shot off in a timely fashion or close the eyes briefly to refresh them. Also keep moisturized and protect against wind with wrap-around glasses”.
Breathing Better and Relaxing the Eyes Really Worked…
Tommy, the shooter with the eye problem, said his vision improved after he worked on his breathing and gave his eyes a rest between shots: “Thanks guys. These techniques shrunk my group just a bit and every little bit helps.”
To avoid eye fatigue, take your eyes away from the scope between shots, and look at something nearby (or even close your eyes briefly). Also work on your breathing and don’t hold your breath too long — that robs your system of oxygen.
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The Lyman Borecam is an electro-optical borescope with a digital display. You can record “stills” on a SD card. This is one of the hottest products on the market right now — so hot that it has been sold out for weeks. But Grafs.com just got a shipment of Borecams (item LY04055), and the price is more than competitive. Right now Grafs has the Borecam in stock for $259.99 with free shipping (after a single $7.95 handling fee). That price is $40.00 less than some other online vendors are charging.
This is a good product. Guys who purchased the Lyman Borecam are very happy. If you don’t have one yet, now may be the time to “pull the trigger”. After this article goes live, we expect Grafs.com to sell out quickly. Graf’s inventory may be gone by end-of-day today.
Our British friend Vince Bottomley did an extensive review, giving the Lyman Borecam high praise. Vince says serious shooters should definitely acquire one of these tools: “In my opinion, this product is one of the very best to come along in recent years and I predict that the demand for these [Lyman Borecams] will be very heavy. I would advise you to place an order as quickly as possible if you want one.” Vince adds: “If I were to replace my [Hawkeye optical borescope] today with another Hawkeye, it would cost me well over £700 [$1015 USD]. Stick on a video adapter and we are looking at four figures. That’s what makes the new Lyman digital borescope so attractive — at around [$260.00 USD] including a monitor — it’s an absolute steal!”
The system really works. Many of our Forum members have the system and they say it functions very well and is “very easy to set up and use”. Here’s what an Optics Planet Borecam buyer wrote: “I have used Hawkeye borescopes and know their quality. The Lyman worked as advertised and is a great tool for checking for leading, cleanliness of bore, and bore wear. The compact size, ability to take pictures, and store them are a big plus.”
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Looking for a very high-quality hunting scope that won’t break the bank? The German-crafted Zeiss Conquest DL has won many awards, yet it’s half the cost of super-premium European brands. For general performance, durability, and glass quality, many experts say the Conquest DL sets the “benchmark” for the “upper middle” end of riflescopes. Here is a very revealing review of the Conquest DL by British lady hunter Ginny Langton.
Ginny explains: “Even when the visibility has been bad, early in the morning, very cloudy and a bit foggy, the image is really clear and really bright… which has made for a much easier and clearer shot for me. I have found that using the [ASV bullet drop compensator] even when it’s bitterly cold is really straight-forward. Even when you’re fumbling around with gloves on, it’s very easy to find the buttons and the functionality of the scope is very, very good. The great thing about the DL scope is its versatility — I could use this scope all over the world.”
In a recent comparison review, gunwriter L.P. Brezny rated the 3-12x50mm Zeiss Conquest DL one of the best hunting scopes under $1000. Brezny states: “As a second option on my list of five top hunting scopes for big game that are under a grand stands the Zeiss Conquest DL Hunting Scope in 3x12x50mm. Here you have an illuminated reticle [extra cost], ultra-refined German glass, and a side focus knob with the Z-Plex reticle. In most cases what is in this optic, in terms of quality, is often found at a much higher price.” This German-made Conquest DL retails for $999.99 on Amazon.com (non-illuminated) or $1299.95 with illuminated reticle.
The entire Zeiss riflescope line is available from Europtic.com. Call (570) 368-3920 and ask for Jason Baney and request the best price. Tell Jason that AccurateShooter.com sent you.
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No doubt you’ve heard the term “reticle” before, but it probably brings to mind the cross-hair you see through a rifle-scope. This term “reticle” can also describe an optical aid used to score targets. This story discusses a new scoring reticle with precisely-defined circles etched on clear plexiglass. This scoring reticle (as attached to a magnifying crystal) is used to determine whether bullet holes fall inside or outside the scoring circles on targets. This unique new scoring reticle allows match scorers to “equalize” the shot placements of all popular calibers from .204 up to .308. This way, there’s a “level playing field” for all calibers, and any caliber rifle can compete on an equal basis with the 30s.
New ‘Equalizer’ VFS Scoring Reticle
by Ron Goodger
The ubiquitous controversy over the advantage of larger caliber bullets in VFS (Varmint for Score) matches still rages, but there is a simple solution that is being embraced by all to whom I have shown it. The concept is simple, and it accomplishes the same thing the UBR (Ultimate Benchrest) targets do with the advantage that it can be used on any target a club happens to have on hand.
I had heard shooters complain about the advantage that larger calibers have many times and wish there was a fair way to score targets that would level the playing field for all calibers. The UBR concept came along and I read up on it. When a match was held close enough that I could enter, I did so and observed first hand what it was all about. The UBR targets essentially make the distance from the bullet hole center to the scoring ring edge the same for each caliber by using different-sized rings on the caliber-specific targets. After seeing the accompanying disadvantages of using this method (the chief one being the large number of targets required by UBR rules and the resulting increased time required to hold a match), I began searching for a simpler way to accomplish the same thing. I was aware of a number of mid-West clubs wanting to make scoring fair but unwilling to use the UBR method because of the disadvantages.
I came up with an idea late in 2015 and designed a scoring reticle that would do the job. The following diagrams graphically explain how UBR and my scoring reticle accomplish the same thing. The illustration above shows how different caliber bullets hitting the same center point of impact will each just score the 10 ring edge on the different-sized, caliber-specific UBR 10 Rings . It is clear that it is the distance from the center of the bullet to the scoring ring that is made uniform by the different 10 Ring sizes.
The illustration below shows how my VFS scoring reticle accomplishes the same thing by scoring every shot with an .308-equivalent ring that circumscribes the inner caliber-specific ring. The dotted line shows that the center of each bullet hits the same distance from the edge of the scoring ring. It is clear that, using current VFS scoring techniques, the .224, .243, and .257 bullets would score misses. However, scoring each bullet with the .308 ring around the hole illustrates that all calibers would be scored the same.
Scoring Reticle Converts Any Caliber Shot to a .308-Equivalent Hole
The above photo of an IBS 100-yard target has a 6mm hole that is clearly a nine (9), using current scoring methods. But consider that, if a .308 bullet from a 30 BR hit in the very same location, that .30-caliber shot would score in the Ten Ring. Why should the 6mm bullet, whose center was just as close to the middle of the target, be penalized because of the bullet diameter? The image on the right shows the scoring reticle with the 6mm scoring ring centered on this hole. With this scoring reticle, the .308 ring around the 6mm hole clearly scores the 10 Ring, just as a 30-caliber bullet centered in the same spot would do. That is as fair as it can get.
The above image (two shots per frame) from a Hillsdale Michigan varmint target has two 6mm holes that scored a 16. Score values are 10 points for a shot in the white, 5 points for a shot in the orange, and 1 point for hitting the center dot. This was a match that had 30BRs shooting in it. The next photo shows how scoring this frame with the VFS reticle would have resulted in a 21 because the left side of the reticle’s .308 circle just extends into the 10-point white bulls-eye region. So, in effect, there were two (2) shots in the white for 2×10 points (based on the .308 equalizer effect of the reticle). This shows how the reticle will level the VFS playing field regardless of what target is being used.
VFS Scoring Reticle Features and Specifications
The 6mm circles have been placed in the center of the reticle because it is expected to be the most commonly-used caliber, and that makes it easier to see in the crystal. Any of the ring sets can be used for a .308. The sizes of the circles are guaranteed accurate to within .001″ on the outside edge of the circle by the reticle’s manufacturer. I have found the best magnifier crystal to use is a genuine Badash crystal that measures 3.25″ in diameter. They are available from several eBay sellers and are easily attached using a piece of packing tape about 3/4-inch wide around the edge of the reticle (visible on the crystal in the lower part of the photo). That makes the Plexiglas reticles easy to replace in the event they become scratched up from frequent use.
A number of Midwest rifle clubs have already purchased these scoring reticles. The Plexiglas reticles are available for $15.00 each plus $2.04 shipping from the author (does not include the crystal). Email him at LRGoodger [at] gmail dot com for more information.
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Let’s say you’ve purchased a new scope, and the spec-sheet indicates it is calibrated for quarter-MOA clicks. One MOA is 1.047″ inches at 100 yards, so you figure that’s how far your point of impact (POI) will move with four clicks. Well, unfortunately, you may be wrong. You can’t necessarily rely on what the manufacturer says. Production tolerances being what they are, you should test your scope to determine how much movement it actually delivers with each click of the turret. It may move a quarter-MOA, or maybe a quarter-inch, or maybe something else entirely. (Likewise scopes advertised as having 1/8-MOA clicks may deliver more or less than 1 actual MOA for 8 clicks.)
Reader Lindy explains how to check your clicks: “First, make sure the rifle is not loaded. Take a 40″ or longer carpenter’s ruler, and put a very visible mark (such as the center of an orange Shoot’N’C dot), at 37.7 inches. (On mine, I placed two dots side by side every 5 inches, so I could quickly count the dots.) Mount the ruler vertically (zero at top) exactly 100 yards away, carefully measured.
Place the rifle in a good hold on sandbags or other rest. With your hundred-yard zero on the rifle, using max magnification, carefully aim your center crosshairs at the top of the ruler (zero end-point). Have an assistant crank on 36 (indicated) MOA (i.e. 144 clicks), being careful not to move the rifle. (You really do need a helper, it’s very difficult to keep the rifle motionless if you crank the knobs yourself.) With each click, the reticle will move a bit down toward the bottom of the ruler. Note where the center crosshairs rest when your helper is done clicking. If the scope is accurately calibrated, it should be right at that 37.7 inch mark. If not, record where 144 clicks puts you on the ruler, to figure out what your actual click value is. (Repeat this several times as necessary, to get a “rock-solid”, repeatable value.) You now know, for that scope, how much each click actually moves the reticle at 100 yards–and, of course, that will scale proportionally at longer distances. This optical method is better than shooting, because you don’t have the uncertainly associated with determining a group center.
Using this method, I discovered that my Leupold 6.5-20X50 M1 has click values that are calibrated in what I called ‘Shooter’s MOA’, rather than true MOA. That is to say, 4 clicks moved POI 1.000″, rather than 1.047″ (true MOA). That’s about a 5% error.
I’ve tested bunches of scopes, and lots have click values which are significantly off what the manufacturer has advertised. You can’t rely on printed specifications–each scope is different. Until you check your particular scope, you can’t be sure how much it really moves with each click.
I’ve found the true click value varies not only by manufacturer, but by model and individual unit. My Leupold 3.5-10 M3LR was dead on. So was my U.S.O. SN-3 with an H25 reticle, but other SN-3s have been off, and so is my Leupold 6.5-20X50M1. So, check ‘em all, is my policy.”
From the Expert: “…Very good and important article, especially from a ballistics point of view. If a ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop at 1000 yards for example, and you dial 30 MOA on your scope and hit high or low, it’s easy to begin questioning BCs, MVs, and everything else under the sun. In my experience, more than 50% of the time error in trajectory prediction at long range is actually scope adjustment error. For serious long range shooting, the test described in this article is a MUST!” — Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting.
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At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, 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
RCBS is running a very attractive Rebate Program currently. If you spend $300.00 on qualifying products you get a $75.00 rebate. Spend $50 and get a $10.00 Rebate. This program is limited to one (1) rebate redemption per calendar year, with a maximum of $75.00. CLICK HERE for more information. NOTE: To qualify, you must supply completed RCBS rebate coupon, original UPC barcodes from package, and original cash register receipt and/or dated, itemized sales invoice.
2. Monmouth Reloading — 1000 Lake City 5.56 Cases, $68.95
1000 pieces of Lake City brass for under seventy bucks? Yep, that’s a deal and a half. Monmouth Reloading is selling genuine, once-fired Lake City 5.56x45mm brass, thick-walled and sourced direct from the U.S. Military. Monmouth reports: “Our current stock of Lake City 5.56 looks to be all newer year Lake City head stamp but may contain a small percentage of other NATO headstamps. Lake City is a popular, reliable brass, normally capable of many reloads.” Monmouth includes 1% overage to account for any damaged brass. NOTE: Brass has crimped primers, so the pockets will need to be reamed or swaged prior to reloading.
3. Grab A Gun — Remington PSS with 20″ Heavy BBL, $589.00
Remington’s Heavy Barrel PSS model established a reputation for excellent accuracy. This .308 Winchester version features a 20″ heavy barrel threaded for a suppressor. The action is secured in a strong, pillar-bedded Hogue Overmolded ghillie green stock. The trigger is the X-Mark Pro externally-adjustable model set at 3.5 pounds. Weight, without rail or optic, is 7.3 pounds. NOTE: This PSS Rifle may also qualify for a $50.00 rebate from Remington. Inquire before you order.
4. Optics Planet — Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 1.5-4x20mm
Scopes for Service Rifles. Starting next year, under proposed new NRA Competition Rules, Service Rifle shooters will be able to use optical sights with a max magnification of 4.5X (fixed power or variable). At one-third the cost of a 4X ACOG, the Leupold 1.5-4X Mark AR is a good scope choice for the new optics-legal Service Rifle Class. Optics Planet currently has this on Sale for $299.99. With a Duplex reticle, this is also a fine hunting scope.
Every gun owner should have a work mat to protect valuable firearms during cleaning and maintenance operations. Right now you can get a quality 36″x16″ mat for under ten bucks. The non-slip polyvinyl chloride (PVC) surface won’t harm gun’s finish, and its absorbent features keep the fluids from going through your work surface. This week Amazon is offering the Printed Version (shown above) for $9.99 and a Plain Black Version for just $8.09. That’s an excellent value either way.
6. AmmoMen — Federal .22LR Target Ammo, $3.25/50 Rounds
This Federal Gold Medal Target ammo is MUCH better than common bulk rimfire ammo, yet with this deal, it is only 7.5 cents per round — that’s cheaper than pretty much anything else you can buy according to Ammoseek.com. Right now you can get up to ten (10) boxes of this .22 LRrimfire ammo for just $3.75 a box from AmmoMenLLC.com. If you need rimfire ammo, don’t delay — we expect this ammo to sell out very quickly at this price.
7. Walmart — Multi-Purpose Work Bench with Light, $69.95
This 4 foot-wide bench can serve many functions in your work room. We don’t recommend mounting reloading presses to it, but it can hold your tools on the backboard, along with dies and small parts in the drawers. Place bulky items (such as media separators) on the lower shelf. This bench features built-in lighting on the underside of the upper shelf.
Weight Capacity: Bench Top 220 lb, Bottom shelf 200 lb, Top Shelf 44 lb.
Dimensions: 47.4″ (L) x 23.8″ (W) x 61.6″ (H)
8. Bullets.com — Handgun Safe $49.95
This pistol safe keeps your handguns secure while still permitting instant “push-button” access. The three-button lock can be personalized with 3- to 8-digit codes, and there is a key override. This safe will hold two (2) full-sized pistols and can also store passports, cash, or other valuables. The spring-loaded door gives you near-instant response. The all-steel case also includes mounting holes for fixing the safe to floor or shelf.
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Our British friend Vince Bottomley has field-tested the brand new Vortex 15-60x52mm “Golden Eagle” riflescope. We first viewed this scope at SHOT Show and were impressed. Now Vince, in a Target Shooter Magazine review, has confirmed that that the scope works great in the real world. It has good glass, excellent tracking, and the image stays sharp even at full magnification. Vince says this 15-60X Vortex will give other high-magnification scopes a run for their money. In fact the Vortex Golden Eagle may be the new Performance-for-Price leader in the category. Price in the USA will be $1500.00.
Vince writes: “The Vortex deserves to line up alongside the competition – namely the March 10-60, the Nightforce 15-55 and the Leupold 7-42. The price is remarkable at [$1500.00 in the USA, under £1500 in the UK]. If you are contemplating the purchase of a scope in this magnification range, the Vortex must be on your shopping list.” This new Vortex features ED glass, and weighs 29 ounces, just one ounce more than the 15-55X Nightforce Comp. Two reticles are available — a Fine Cross-Hair (FCH), and the Vortex ECR-1 reticle with MOA-based windage and elevation hold lines. Turrets have 1/8 MOA clicks.
Precision of Clicks: Does one MOA (i.e. eight 1/8 MOA clicks) on the Golden Eagle’s turret translate to one MOA on the target? Vince fired one shot on target then wound on 20 MOA of elevation and fired another. Vince reports: “The shot-holes should be 20.94″ (20 x 1.047″) inches apart. They actually measured 21.5 inches — an excellent result. I don’t think I’ve ever had a scope better this.”
Elevation Travel: F-TR shooters using the .308 Win will need about 30 MOA to get from a 100-yard zero to 1000 yards. Vince maxed out the Golden Eagle with roughly 22 MOA of “up” elevation. He concluded that “a +20 MOA scope-rail is a ‘must’ if you’re intending to shoot out to 1000 yards. These days, almost everyone uses a 20 MOA scope rail anyway.”
Tracking Test: Vince did a “box test” running the Vortex to the limits of elevation and windage and then back again to verify that the scope returned to the starting zero. Vince observed that the scope tracked great, “with the first and last shots over-lapping. No problem there.”
Glass Sharpness and Clarity: Vince put the the Golden Eagle alongside a 10-60 March, with both scopes mounted on F-TR rifles. Vince was impressed by the optics quality of the Vortex — it held its own vs. the “superb” March: “Firstly, we viewed the target on 40 power, the magnification which seems most popular with F-Class shooters. Both scopes registered bright, crisp images — no difference between the two. I know the March will stay sharp at maximum magnification but will the Golden Eagle? Yes! No loss of crispness in the image at 60X.”
Over the past five years we’ve tested many target cams. Important qualities you’ll want in a target cam system are: ease of set-up, good video resolution, effective range (good signal quality/strength), and the ability to use WiFi-enabled devices for viewing. Caldwell’s new Long-Range Target Camera offers all these things, making it an impressive new product for the price — $357.02 at Midsouth Shooters Supply. If this target camera system proves rugged and reliable, then we predict it will be a big seller for Caldwell. (There are other target cam systems on the market that cost twice as much, yet lack key features of the Caldwell system). We recommend you watch the video — it shows the complete set-up process and how to use the free App.
This video shows system set-up and actual Target Cam output on a WiFi-enabled tablet:
The Ballistic Precision LR Target Camera by Caldwell is a complete kit with video camera, long-range trasmitter/antenna, base receiver, mounting stands, batteries, battery chargers, and fitted storage case. This system allows you to stream HD video to any WiFi-enabled smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Caldwell claims a range (in ideal conditions) of up to one mile. Based on our experience with similar systems, that may be a bit optimistic, but we see no reason why this could not be a solid 1000-yard system, given good line-of-sight from transmitter to receiver. This Caldwell system features both an elevated transmitter and an elevated receiver. That should provide good broadcast + reception capability over long range. An elevated transmitter works better in typical terrain than systems placed on the ground. The Caldwell LR Target Camera is so new that we have not yet tested it, so we can not verify range. But it appears that Caldwell did its engineering homework. We do wish, however, that Caldwell had shielded the camera in an armored housing.
The Caldwell LR Target Camera is very versatile, allowing you to both watch and record video and/or stills on any WiFi-enabled device. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries will run the target cam up to to 6 hours continuously. (For extended use there’s an external power jack). A free iOS/Android Mobile App allows you to record video, save still pictures, add notes, calculate group size, and save session info.
Caldwell LR Target Camera Features:
— High Definition (720p) camera delivers sharp image with good detail.
— WiFi output is compatible with Android, iPhone and most tablets.
— System can stream live HD video, record video, and save still images.
— Camera, transmitter, and receiver are contained in sturdy, waterproof housings.
— Breaks down into custom-fitted storage case for easy transport.
— Rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries for extended use.
— External power jack for more permanent installation.
— Target Camera Mobile App for iOS and Android devices.
— Includes two collapsible, tripod-base Antenna/router stands.
— Positionable, spring-loaded camera clamp.
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Our nominees for the “Hardest-working Heroes” of SHOT Show 2016 are our friends Ed and Steve, aka the 6.5 Guys. Over the course of four days, this tireless duo completed over FIFTY short videos. They visited dozens of manufacturers, finding the “latest and greatest” rifles, stocks, actions, scopes and other hardware. While in Vegas, the 6.5 Guys managed to visit most of the top-flight optics-makers. Here are videos reviewing products from Nightforce, Vortex, and March. To see 50+ more videos, visit the 6.5 Guys YouTube Channel.
2016 SHOT Show Highlights — OPTICS
Nightforce Optics — New SHV 4-14x50mm (FFP)
The new 4-14x50mm SHV scope from Nightforce is available with either 0.1 Mil or 1/4-MOA clicks, with two reticle choices: MIL-R and MOAR.
Vortex Optics — New Razor 6-24x50mm AMG (FFP)
The new 6-24x50mm Razor HD AMG is a made-in-USA scope with a full 25 MOA of elevation in one turret rotaion. Vortex says this scope rivals anything on the market in its category.
March Optics — 3-24x52mm (FFP)
March’s popular 3-24x52mm scope is offered with either 0.1 Mil or 1/4 MOA clicks. The particular model featured in the video has 0.1 Mil clicks and an illuminated reticle. March Optics USA also offers a remarkable 5-50x56mm scope that can work for everything from short-range practical matches to extreme-long-range shooting. One of our staffers has the 5-50X March and he uses it for both Tac Comps and 1000-yard F-Class matches.
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