A quality borescope is a pricey tool, but once you get to use one, it’s hard to imagine how you ever did without it. To learn how a borescope can help you diagnose barrel issues, you should read a Rifle Shooter magazine feature story, What the Eye Can See.
In this article, writer Terry Wieland explains how to inspect for defects in new barrels, how to recognize different kinds of fouling (in both barrels and brass), and how to spot throat erosion in its early stages. Terry uses a Gradient Lens HawkEye BoreScope. The current generation of HawkEyes can be attached to a still or video camera to record digital images of your bore. The most interesting part of the article is on the second page. There, author Wieland provides photos of various types of internal flaws that can appear in barrels. This will help you spot pitting, excessive land wear, rust damage, and damage from corrosive primers.
Wieland notes that BoreScopes aren’t just for barrels: “The borescope has other uses as well. It can be used to examine the interior of a cartridge case to look for the beginnings of a case separation or to examine the interior of a loading die that is giving you trouble. When you consider the number of tubular objects that play such an important role in rifle shooting, it is a wonder we were ever able to function without such a method of studying bores.”
This Gradient Lens video shows how to correctly borescope your barrel:
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Is your mirage band really “the best it can be”? Or is it actually allowing warm air to flow in front of your scope, causing mirage? Here’s an interesting graphic that suggests that the size, shape, and curvature of a mirage shield can make a difference. We can’t say this diagram is based on exhaustive scientific testing (and we think the flow patterns are exaggerated for effect), but it does illustrate how airflow can be altered by shield shape.
This graphic comes from Fierce Vinyl a company that produces high-quality aluminum mirage shields for shooters. Fierce Vinyl is run by the daughter of ace gunsmith (and Hall of Fame shooter) Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez. Fierce Vinyl sells custom 26″ aluminum mirage shields (with graphic imprint) for $21.99 + shipping. That price includes printing the graphic on the shield, if you provide the artwork. Inquire about custom art designs or large orders.
Along with Mirage Bands, Fierce Vinyl produces a variety of graphic products, labels, and stickers. If you need a placard, graphic, or bumper sticker for your business or shooting range, Fierce Vinyl can help you out. See more product designs on the Fierce Vinyl Facebook Page.
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In response to a Bulletin article about Protective Eyewear, one of our Canadian readers posted a personal story. His account demonstrates the importance of wearing eye protection whenever you shoot — no matter what type of firearm you are using — even air rifles. We hope all our readers take this to heart. All too often at rifle matches we see shooters, even some top competitors, risking their vision by failing to wear eye protection.
Eye Protection — Lesson Learned by Nicholas from Canada
As a boy on a mixed farm on the plains the first shooting stick I owned was a Red Ryder BB gun. My Dad bought it for me as I showed a keen interest in the shooting and hunting sports. I was about 9 years old at the time.
We had literally thousands of sparrows in our large farm yard and they liked to roost on the steel railings in the barn loft. I took to slowly thinning out their ranks by flashlight at night as these little winged pests settled in the farm buildings.
One evening as I slayed sparrow after sparrow in the barn loft — with about a dozen farm cats following me to consume these easy meals, I fired at another bird centered in my flashlight beam.
However, my aim was a bit low — and the copper pellet hit the steel beam square on. Instantly I felt a sharp pain as the BB bounced back and hit me squarely between the eyes on the bridge of my nose – drawing blood from the partial penetration into the skin. A half inch either way and I’d have lost an eye!
Never, never, never shoot at any target with a steel background with any firearm, even a BB gun – is the hard lesson I learned, and wear the best shooting glasses that money can buy!
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT!!
Editor’s Comment: Among competitive pistol shooters, the use of safety eyewear is universal. You’ll never see Rob Leatham, Julie Golob, or Jerry Miculek competing without eye protection — for good reason. The handgun sports’ governing bodies effectively enforce mandatory eye protection policies. We wish the same could be said for competitive rifle shooting. We often see benchrest, High Power, and F-Class competitors shooting without eye protection. We’ve heard all the excuses, yet none of them trump the safety considerations involved.
We recommend that all shooters and hunters employ eye protection whenever they use firearms or are at a location where live fire is taking place. You only have two eyes. A tiny bullet fragment or ricochet is all it takes to cause permanent blindness in one or both eyes. As rifle shooters, we place our eyes a couple inches away from a combustion chamber operating at pressures up to 70,000 psi. I know quite a few guys who will religiously put on safety glasses when running a lathe or a drill press, yet the same guys won’t use eye protection when shooting their rifles — simply because it is “inconvenient”. That’s nuts. It doesn’t matter is you are a cub scout or a multi-time National Champion — you should wear eye protection.
Be wise — protect your eyes. To learn more about eyewear safety standards, and to learn about the latest options in ANSI Z87-certified protective eyewear, read our article on Eye Protection for Shooters.
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It’s “rebate season” for rifle scopes. Leica recently announced a $200.00 trade-in rebate offer, and now Leupold is joining in on the fun with a $50.00 rebate on VX-2 scopes.
Here’s how you can save fifty bucks on a Leupold VX-2.
From August 1 to September 1, 2014, hunters and shooters can receive a $50 rebate on the purchase of select Leupold® VX®-2 riflescopes. To receive the rebate, submit a rebate form with a valid receipt and the original UPC bar code cut from the product packaging. Forms can be obtained at Point of Purchase. The VX-2 rebate forms must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2014.
Alternatively, you can fill out Leupold’s Online Rebate Form. After filling in your personal info, then upload a photo of the sales receipt, plus a photo (or scan) of the product UPC code. If you have a smart-phone, that should be easy, and you don’t even need a stamp or envelope.
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Burris Optics is currently offering significant rebates on three lines of scopes. You can get up to $100.00 in rebates on Burris Tactical and Fullfield II scopes. For the innovative Eliminator optics with built-in laser rangefinders, the savings are even bigger — you can get up to $200.00 in rebates with your purchase. We like the Eliminator scopes for Varmint hunting. The built-in rangefinder instantly calculates the needed hold-over, based on the target distance. Then the scope displays the corrected aim point as a red dot on the vertical cross-hair. Just put the red dot on your target and pull the trigger. The Eliminator does all the work for you — no turret clicking needed.
These Burris products are available now at Grafs.com. Rebates available for purchases made between July 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. Mail-in form must be signed, dated, and post-marked by January 31, 2015. View Full Offer Details.
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Nightforce now offers a 5-20x56mm SHV scope that retails for $1170.00 (non-illuminated) or $1299.00 (illuminated). This follows up on Nightforce’s successful 4-16x56mm SHV scope. The higher magnification range suits long range hunters and the large 56mm objective provides excellent low-light hunting capability. The 5-20 SHV offers plenty of travel: 80 MOA total elevation, 50 MOA windage.
The 5-20x56mm SHV boasts capped, waterproof turrets with 1/4-MOA click values, and 10 MOA per revolution on the elevation turret. The scope offers a side parallax control (25 yards to infinity), plus a European-style, fast-focus eyepiece.
Two reticles are offered for the 5-20x56mm SHV. The IHR features large dagger-style pointers, an open field at the top, and an cross in the center. The MOAR reticle has 1 MOA elevation and windage markings, with a floating center crosshair. With either reticle, illumination is optional at extra cost.
Our friend Len Backus of LongRangeHunting.com has checked out the new 5-20x56mm Nightforce and he is impressed: “With a 56mm objective the SHV’s light transmission is outstanding even at high power. Nightforce has added a ‘Zero Set’ feature which is a set-screw based stop system allowing you to dial back to your pre-set zero and stopping you from dialing past. It’s not quite as sharp a stop as their ‘Zero Stop’ but it will definitely do the trick. I bought my first Nightforce scope about 14 years ago. In summer of 2012 I had a four-hour private tour of the Nightforce headquarters. I remember being so impressed with the forward thinking going on there. It was obvious they were preparing for a major push on new technology and new products and this SHV is an absolute winner in that regard.”
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Weaver has a brand new, high-magnification, 46X target scope. Chances are you haven’t heard a thing about it — the new Weaver T-Series XR 46x48mm scope is so new you won’t even find it on the Weaver website. Compared to the older T-36, this new 46-power scope offers more magnification, more elevation, a larger front objective (48mm vs. 40mm), and a larger 30mm main tube (compared to 1″ for the old T-36). The new XR 46X Weaver also features side-focus parallax control. That’s a big change. You could instantly spot a classic Weaver T-36 by the adjustable front objective with its knurled ring and yardage markings. The T-Series XR 46X (as well as the new XR 24X and XR 36X) have the parallax control on the left side of the main tube (photo below).
We have looked through the new Weaver 46X scope and it is very sharp. Brightness is good — it seems comparable with a Leupold 45x45mm Competition (but that was on a bright, sunny day). Initial tests show the clicks to be tactile and positive, but we haven’t had a chance to do a full “box test” to confirm tracking. Weaver claims the new XR series scopes will focus down to 50 feet, but with the 46X we had some questions about its extreme close-focus capability. If you’re shooting beyond 50 yards, the focus should be fine.
The new T-Series 46X XR is offered with two reticle choices, a fine cross-hair (FCH), or FCH with 1/16th MOA dot. Both reticles are well-suited for benchrest work. The current “street price” for the new 46X Weaver is $829.95. That’s way more than the old T-36, but it undercuts Leupold fixed-power competition scopes by hundreds of dollars. We know of only two vendors who currently carry the Weaver 46X. These are Killough Shooting Sports, and Bruno Shooters Supply.
New 24X and 36X T-Series XR Scopes with Side-Focus and 1″ Tubes
The new 46-power XR scope is the star of the XR line-up. Designed to go head-to-head with Leupold’s 45X Competition scope, the 46X Weaver XR offers a modern 30mm main-tube and large (48mm) front objective. If you don’t need the bigger tube and larger objective, but still want side-focus parallax control, Weaver offers two other new XR scopes — a 36x40mm and a 24x40mm. These will both retail for under $600.
Dan Killough offers the black-finish 36-power XR for $559.95 and the black-finish 24-power XR for $549.95. Silver models are slightly more. These 1″-tube XR scopes are worth considering, but keep in mind that you can now purchase the older T-series scopes with adjustable front objectives for well under $400.00. For benchrest shooting at a fixed distance, side-focus is not necessary; adjustable front objectives work just fine. Just set and forget.
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Using a spotting scope seems simple. Just point it at the target and focus, right? Well, actually, it’s not that simple. Sometimes you want to watch mirage or trace, and that involves different focus and viewing priorities. Along with resolving bullet holes (or seeing other features on the target itself), you can use your spotting scope to monitor mirage. When watching mirage, you actually want to focus the spotting scope not on the target, but, typically, about two-thirds of the distance downrange. When spotting for another shooter, you can also use the spotting scope to watch the bullet trace, i.e. the vapor trail of the bullet. This will help you determine where the bullet is actually landing, even if it does not impact on the target backer.
In this video, SFC L.D. Lewis explains how to use a spotting scope to monitor mirage, and to watch trace. SFC Lewis is a former Army Marksmanship Unit member, U.S. Army Sniper School instructor, and current U.S. Army Reserve Service Rifle Shooting Team member. In discussing how precision shooters can employ spotting scopes, Lewis compares the use of a spotting scope for competition shooters vs. military snipers. NOTE: You may wish to turn up the audio volume, during the actual interview segment of this video.
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Are you looking for an ultra-reliable, high-magnification target scope at a budget price? Well, you’re in luck. Right now, Bruno Shooters Supply has Weaver T-36 target series scopes on sale for just $379.95. That’s a great deal in today’s marketplace. These are non-zoom, fixed-power scopes suitable for benchrest competition. Weaver T-series scopes are well-known for their durability and repeatability. They also offer 1/8 minute of angle clicks for both windage and elevation. This is desirable when you’re trying to shoot bughole groups. Understand that, with a 40mm objective, a Weaver T-36 scope is NOT as bright as a Nightforce or March Competition scope. However, the Weaver is a fraction of the cost of those elite brands. Despite its affordable price, the Weaver T-36 has won plenty of benchrest matches.
Weaver T-Series scopes feature an adjustable objective for parallax-free shooting without moving the point of impact. Weaver T-36 features include 1/8 MOA windage and elevation adjustments using Weaver’s Micro-Trac dual-spring, two bearing contact design that allows for more independent movement in windage and elevation, and fully multi-coated lenses. T-36 scopes are waterproof, fogproof, shockproof, and covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
Other Vendors Are Charging Much More for Weaver T-Series 36X Scopes
Yes, the $379.95 price at Bruno Shooters Supply is a very good deal. Here is a screen shot of comparative prices charged by other vendors, as of today, July 7, 2014. See for yourself:
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Riflescopes are mechanical contraptions. One of the sad realities about precision shooting is that, sooner or later, you will experience a scope failure. If you’re lucky it won’t happen in the middle of a National-level competition. And hopefully the failure will be dramatic and unmistakable so you won’t spend months trying to isolate the issue. Unfortunately, scope problems can be erratic or hard to diagnose. You may find yourself with unexplained flyers or a slight degradation of accuracy and you won’t know how to diagnose the problem. And when a 1/8th-MOA-click scope starts failing, it may be hard to recognize the fault immediately, because the POI change may be slight.
When An Expensive Scope Goes Bad
Recently, this editor had a major-brand 8-25x50mm scope go bad. How did I know I had a problem? Well the first sign was a wild “drop-down” flyer at a 600-yard match. After shooting a two-target relay, I took a look at my targets. My first 5-shot group had five shots, fairly well centered, in about 2.2″. Pretty good. Everything was operating fine. Then I looked at the second target. My eye was drawn to four shots, all centered in the 10 Ring, measuring about 2.4″. But then I saw the fifth shot. It was a good 18″ low, straight down from the X. And I really mean straight down — if you drew a plumb line down from the center of the X, it would pass almost through the fifth shot.
That was disconcerting, but since I had never had any trouble with this scope before, I assumed it was a load problem (too little powder?), or simple driver error (maybe I flinched or yanked the trigger?). Accordingly, I didn’t do anything about the scope, figuring the problem was me or the load.
But, at the next range session, things went downhill fast. In three shots, I did manage to get on steel at 600, with my normal come-up for that distance. Everything seemed fine. So then I switched to paper. We had a buddy in the pits with a walkie-talkie and he radioed that he couldn’t see any bullet holes in the paper after five shots. My spotter said he thought the bullets were impacting in the dirt, just below the paper. OK, I thought, we’ll add 3 MOA up (12 clicks), and that should raise POI 18″ and I should be on paper, near center. That didn’t work — now the bullets were impacting in the berm ABOVE the target frame. The POI had changed over 48″ (8 MOA). (And no I didn’t click too far — I clicked slowly, counting each click out loud as I adjusted the elevation.) OK, to compensate now I took off 8 clicks which should be 2 MOA or 12″. No joy. The POI dropped about 24″ (4 MOA) and the POI also moved moved 18″ right, to the edge of the target.
For the next 20 shots, we kept “chasing center” trying to get the gun zeroed at 600 yards. We never did. After burning a lot of ammo, we gave up. Before stowing the gun for the trip home, I dialed back to my 100-yard zero, which is my normal practice (it’s 47 clicks down from 600-yard zero). I immediately noticed that the “feel” of the elevation knob didn’t seem right. Even though I was pretty much in the center of my elevation (I have a +20 MOA scope mount), the clicks felt really tight — as they do when you’re at the very limit of travel. There was a lot of resistance in the clicks and they didn’t seem to move the right amount. And it seemed that I’d have four or five clicks that were “bunched up” with a lot of resistance, and then the next click would have almost no resistance and seem to jump. It’s hard to describe, but it was like winding a spring that erratically moved from tight to very loose.
At this point I announced to my shooting buddies: “I think the scope has taken a dump.” I let one buddy work the elevation knob a bit. “That feels weird,” he said: “the clicks aren’t consistent… first it doesn’t want to move, then the clicks jump too easily.”
Convinced that I had a real problem, the scope was packed up and shipped to the manufacturer. So, was I hallucinating? Was my problem really just driver error? I’ve heard plenty of stories about guys who sent scopes in for repair, only to receive their optics back with a terse note saying: “Scope passed inspection and function test 100%. No repairs needed”. So, was my scope really FUBAR? You bet it was. When the scope came back from the factory, the Repair Record stated that nearly all the internal mechanicals had been replaced or fixed: “Replaced Adjustment Elevation; Replaced Adjustment Windage; Reworked Erector System; Reworked Selector; Reworked Parallax Control.”
How to Diagnose Scope Problems
When you see your groups open up, there’s a very good chance this is due to poor wind-reading, or other “driver error”. But my experience showed me that sometimes scopes do go bad. When your accuracy degrades without any other reasonable explanation, the cause of the problem may well be your optics. Here are some of the “symptoms” of scope troubles:
1. Large shot-to-shot variance in Point of Impact with known accurate loads.
2. Uneven tracking (either vertical or horizontal).
3. Change of Point of Impact does not correspond to click inputs.
4. Inability to zero in reasonable number of shots.
5. Unexpected changes in needed click values (compared to previous come-ups).
6. Visible shift in reticle from center of view.
7. Changed “feel” or resistance when clicking; or uneven click-to-click “feel”.
8. Inability to set parallax to achieve sharpness.
9. Turrets or other controls feel wobbly or loose.
10. Internal scope components rattle when gun is moved.
Source of Problem Unknown, but I Have a Theory
Although my scope came with a slightly canted reticle from the factory, it had otherwise functioned without a hitch for many years. I was able to go back and forth between 100-yard zero and 600-yard zero with perfect repeatability for over five years. I had confidence in that scope. Why did it fail when it did? My theory is side-loading on the turrets. I used to carry the gun in a thick soft case. I recently switched to an aluminum-sided hard case that has pretty dense egg-crate foam inside. I noticed it took some effort to close the case, though it was more than big enough, width-wise, to hold the gun. My thinking is that the foam wasn’t compressing enough, resulting in a side-load on the windage turret when the case was clamped shut. This is just my best guess; it may not be the real source of the problem. Remember, as I explained in the beginning of this story, sometimes scopes — just like any mechanical system — simply stop working for no apparent reason.
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If you need a scope for your AR-platform rifle, Nikon has you covered. With Nikon’s latest AR New Rules promotion, you can save up to $100.00 on caliber-specific AR riflescopes and mounts.
The New Rules for AR promotion offers shooters up to $100 instant savings on a wide selection of AR-dedicated riflescopes. The New Rules for AR promotion includes nearly 20 models of AR-dedicated riflescopes, including the M-308, M-223, and P-300 BLK lines. This Nikon promotion is in effect right now, and will run through August 2, 2014. To learn more about the New Rules for AR promotion, visit www.nikonpromo.com.
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When shopping for a new riflescope or spotting scope it’s easy to get confused by all the technical terminology. Do you wish you had a better way to compare scopes — beyond just size, weight, and price? Well Swarovski Optik can help. The Swarovski Hunting Blog offers a helpful guide to technical terms used when comparing scope specifications. Here are some important definitions, expressed in layman’s language:
Objective Lens Diameter
The objective lens diameter determines the size of the optical system’s entrance pupil. The bigger the objective lens diameter, the more light the system can capture. However, the size of the objective lens does not determine the size of the field of view.
The size of the Exit Pupil is determined by the objective lens diameter and the magnification. If you look at the eyepiece from a distance of around 30 cm (11.8 in), the Exit Pupil appears as a bright disc.
For calculating the Exit Pupil the formula is:
Exit Pupil = objective lens diameter ÷ magnification (expressed in power number).
The larger the Exit Pupil, the more light will reach the eye.
Field of View
The Field of View is the size of the circular section of the area which can be observed when you look through a long-range optical device. In the case of rifle scopes, it is specified at a distance of 100 meters or 100 yards. For example, 42.5 m at 100 m or 127.5″ at 100 yards. As an alternative, the Field of View can also be stated in degrees (e.g. 6.6°).
NOTE: The technically-feasible size for the Field of View is essentially determined by the magnification. The higher the magnification the smaller the Field of View.
The Twilight Factor defines the optical system’s performance in poor light. The statement “the greater the twilight factor, the better the suitability for twilight” only applies if the exit pupil is larger than or at least as big as the eye’s pupil. The pupil in the human eye can only open to around 8 mm. As we get older, our eyes become less flexible, which limits our ability to see things in twilight or at night. Therefore [an optic's] exit pupil cannot always be fully utilized.
For calculating the Twilight Factor the formula is:
Twilight Factor = root of ( magnification x objective lens diameter ).
NOTE: Spotting scopes have extremely high twilight factors because of their high magnification and large objective lens diameter. But [when used at high magnification] their small exit pupil can make them [somewhat difficult] to use in twilight.