LongRangeHunting.com recently published a helpful review of the new Nightforce 3-10x42mm SHV scope. If you’re looking for a hunting optic or you are interested in predator hunting, this review is worth a read. Author Tim Titus, an experienced hunting guide from Oregon, tests the little SHV is the field, bagging a coyote in the process.
Tim was impressed with the 3-10 SHV, given it’s price level: “While the SHV performed flawlessly on this hunt, NXS or ATACR owners will notice some subtle differences in form and function when comparing this scope to its more expensive big brothers. The Nightforce SHV won’t replace the 2.5-10X NXS for those who want to turn turrets on a consistent basis or who have the need for specialized or lighted reticles. But … for current Nightforce owners wanting a more affordable alternative … the SHV opens another playing field in what is still a very upscale optic. I’m confident this new scope will find its way onto many big game and predator hunting rifles.”
Tim describes using the SHV while pursuing a predator…
“I caught movement in the sage as I travelled through the outbacks of Oregon. Stopping the truck, I exited with my .243 AI wearing the new Nightforce 3-10X42mm SHV. Even as the rifle came to my shoulder searching for the fleeing coyote, I was shocked at the clarity and ‘flatness’ of the field of view (FOV) I witnessed in the scope. The coyote, as coyotes often do, disappeared in the only crease in the otherwise flat sagebrush basin in front of me. No shot opportunity this time but I was left impressed with the sight picture. Until you experience a ‘flat’ sight picture, it is hard to describe. It is a characteristic of good glass that you recognize when you see it. Was it because the morning sun behind me so lighted the Great Basin landscape? Maybe. But, it left little doubt that I had a real Nightforce scope on the rifle.”
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.
Forum member Scott S. (Sunbuilder) has built a sweet long-range varminter based on the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge necked down to 6mm and then improved to 40 degrees, with slightly less body taper. Scott tells us that “improving the case adds about 2.0 grains to the case capacity”. This allows Scott to run the 103-108gr bullets at well over 3100 fps, with no pressure issues. Scott calls his Improved case a “Long Dasher”, a name suggested by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge.
6-6.5×47 Improved Works Well with Many Powders
Scott’s 6-6.5×47 Lapua Improved varmint rifle features a Stiller Diamondback action, Lilja 30″ 8-twist barrel, Richard Franklin stock, and a NightForce 8-32×56 NXS. Scott has had excellent success — his two longest groundhog hits were at 778 and 810 yards. Scott has tested many powders with his 6-6.5×47 wildcat: “I tried several powders (H4350, N160, N560, H4831sc), and primers (CCI 450, BR4, Rem 7 1/2, Fed 205Ms). I got better velocity with H4350, but my barrel likes the N160. I did find a [high-speed] node with H4350. The increased velocity potential of this cartridge is partially due to the slightly increased case capacity. The load I am shooting now is 40.5gr N160, Berger 105gr Match BT, .010″ jam, CCI BR4, .002″ neck tension at 3115 fps. This has an ES under 15 fps, and it will group under 2″ at 500 yards if conditions hold. This ‘Long Dasher’ (6-6.5×47) seems to have a lot of potential (and that’s an understatement).”
A Better Mount for the Spotter and Rangefinder
Scott designed and fabricated a very slick set-up to hold his Zeiss spotting scope and Leica CRF RangeFinder. He’s built a combo bracket that holds both units rock steady, with a parallel line of sight (same axis and elevation). Smart. Very smart. Scott explains: “I built a mount to connect my rangefinder to my spotting scope. The mount can be adjusted, so the spotting scope and rangefinder are both centered on the same object. The only way I have found to get repeatable long-range readings is to make them from a stable base.” Scott, we think you’ve got a winner here with your innovative and clever design.
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Trijicon has introduced a new line of Second Focal Plane scopes with illuminated reticles. Trijicon’s new AccuPower™ riflescope series includes four models. The smallest AccuPower, well-suited for short-range hunting and 3-Gun Games, is the 1-4×24mm. Next up is a general purpose 3-9×40mm. For hunting and sporting use there are a 2.5-10×56mm and a 4-16×50mm with bigger objectives for better low-light performance. All these four models offer either 1/4-MOA or 0.1 Mil clicks. AccuPower scopes feature aluminum scope tubes, multi-coated lenses, and application-specific illuminated reticles. The 3-9x40mm has a 1″-diameter tube while the other models have 30mm tubes.
The AccuPower series incorporates a hybrid black chrome/etch and fill illuminated reticle system available in red or green, with eleven (11) brightness settings. Notably, there is an “off” feature between each brightness setting.
Four reticle choices are offered: MOA reticle, MIL-square reticle, Duplex crosshair, and the popular competition Segmented Circle crosshair with BDC capabilities.
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More and more folks are using Burris Signature Rings these days. These unique rings feature polymer inserts. That allows you to pre-load some elevation in your scope set-up, or you can center-up the windage. Additionally, the polymer inserts hold your scope securely without leaving marks on the tube. Lastly, some folks believe that Signature rings may offer advantages for benchrest competition. Rodney Wagner shot the best 600-yard group in history using Burris Signature Zee Rings (“Zee” denotes the Weaver-rail model). James O’Hara set multiple IBS 1000-yard records last year using Burris Signature Zee Rings. He’ll tell you he thinks “all his guns seem to shoot best with these rings”.
Records Have Been Set with Signature Zee Rings
Are Signature Zees good enough for competition? Absolutely. Some folks scoff at these Burris rings, given their low price. A set of 1″-diameter Sig Zees cost just $39.99 at Grafs.com. But consider this, Rodney Wagner shot the smallest 600-yard group in history, a 0.336″ 5-shot stunner, using Signature Zee Rings on his IBS Light Gun. Here’s a photo of Rodney showing the record-setting rifle, outfitted with affordable Signature Zee 30mm rings.
Vendors Have Burris Signature Rings in Stock Now
A quick search of webstores shows that various models of Burris Signature Rings are available from many vendors. NOTE: You may have to check with more than one seller to get the exact size, height, and model you prefer. But right now Midsouth has a very complete selection of Signature Zees, including the hard-to-find 30mm High and Extra High models.
EuroOptic is running a big sale right now through April 12, 2015. You can save hundreds on riflescopes, LRFs, and binoculars from big-name companies such as Schmidt & Bender, Zeiss, Leica, and more. NOTE: If you call EuroOptic at (570) 368-3920, be sure to ask for Jason Baney and mention AccurateShooter.com. Jason will tell you about all the latest (and greatest) deals.
Jerod’s Tactical Trio
Many guys are lucky to have just one accurate tactical rifle fitted with a custom barrel and high-end optics. Well forum member Jerod (aka Stinnett1981) has three!
Jerod calls his tactical trio the “Three Amigos”. All are built with Manners Composite stocks and Bartlein barrels. But there are three different chamberings. In order below (from top to bottom) are: .308 Win (Bartlein 5R, 1:10″ twist); .223 Rem (Bartlein 5R, 1:8″ twist);,and 6.5×47 Lapua (Bartlein 5R 1:8.5″ twist). Read on for a full description of each build.
The tan rifle is Jerod’s .308 Winchester. It has a Manners T4A stock, trued Rem 700 SA, Badger M5 DBM, and Bartlein 5R 10-twist HV contour finished at 23″. The optic is a Bushnell XRS 4.5-30X50mm FFP with G2 reticle scope.
The Green rifle is a .223 Remington. This has a Manners T4 stock, trued Rem 700 SA, Badger M5 DBM, and Bartlein 5R 8-twist HV contour finished at 23″. On top is a Nightforce NXS F1 3.5-15X50mm FFP with MLR 2.0 reticle scope. Jerod says: “This scope and reticle are awesome.”
The Black rifle is chambered for the 6.5-47 Lapua. Components are: Manners T4A stock, Stiller TAC 30, Badger M5 DBM, Bartlein 5R 8.5-twist bull barrel (1″ at muzzle) finished at 26″. The scope is a Nightforce NXS 8-32X56mm with NP2DD reticle.
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Here’s a chance to save $50-$80 on a Nikon scope. These optics will work fine for a hunter or varminter. Now through April 26, 2015, shooters can save up to $80 on select Nikon PROSTAFF 7 and MONARCH 3 long-range riflescope models. PROSTAFF 7 series scopes feature a 30mm main body tube and ample elevation adjustment range. Both PROSTAFF 7 and MONARCH 3 product lines offer multi-coated lenses, a 4x zoom ratio, and spring-loaded instant zero-reset turrets. These Nikon optics are covered by Nikon’s No-Fault Policy and Limited Lifetime Warranty. CLICK for Rebate info.
To learn more about Nikon’s Long Range Precision promotion for PROSTAFF and MONARCH optics, visit www.nikonpromo.com.
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Here’s an impressive hardware package for long-range shooting. This set-up combines a folded-path spotting scope with a Laser Rangefinder (LRF) and a Kestrel Wind Meter. The LRF is mounted directly to the Hensoldt-Zeiss spotting scope ($4330.00 retail) so the two units stay aligned at all times. That makes it easy to spot and range your target quickly. LRF and weather data is piped into a PDA which automatically generates a firing solution (providing windage and elevation adjustments). That’s slick.
Ashbury Precison Ordnance sent us these photos, noting: “The ingenuity of APO customers never ceases to impress us! This rig has a co-located LRF adjustable for azimuth and elevation, a Kestrel weather station (Bluetooth?) and Trimble NOMAD RPDA. Firing solutions are updated as data is transmitted to the PDA from the LRF and weather station. That Hensoldt Spotter 60 is a nice piece of glass for shooting at extremely long distances.” The spotting scope is mounted on a Manfrotto 410 3-axis geared head.
Click Image to View Full-Screen Version
Click Image to View Full-Screen Version
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In the above video, a spokesman for Horus Vision explains how and why scopes can experience zero shift. First, just cleaning the gun can cause a small shift in point of impact. Second, when you re-tighten rings and ring bases, this can cause a change in zero. Horus recommends that you use a torque wrench to confirm that you maintain the same torque settings each time. The same goes for action screw tension — tensioning your action screws can shift the point of impact.
Other factors that can cause a change in zero:
Dramatic ranges of temperature will change your zero, because the air density affects the velocity of the bullet. With increased temperature, there may be a higher velocity (depending on your powder).
Gun Handling and Body Position
You rifle’s point of impact will be affected by the way you hold the gun. A “hard hold” with firm grip and heavy cheek weld can give you a different POI than if you lightly address the gun. Even when shooting a benchrest gun, the amount of shoulder you put into the rifle can affect where it prints on paper.
Type of Rifle Support — Bench vs. Field
Whenever you change the type of rifle support you use, the point of impact can shift slightly. Moving from a bipod to a pedestal rest can cause a change. Similar, if you switch from a mechanical rest to sandbags, the gun can perform differently. That’s why, before a hunt, you should zero the gun with a set-up similar to what you would actually use in the field — such as a rucksack or shooting sticks.
Transportation of Firearms
Even if you don’t mishandle your weapon, it is possible that a shift of zero could occur during transport. We’ve seen zero settings change when a tight plastic gun case put a side load on the turrets. And in the field, if the turret knobs are not covered, they can rub against clothing, gear, storage bags, scabbard, etc. If the knobs turn, it will definitely move your reticle slightly and cause your point of impact to be off.
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Minox has introduced two new high-quality spotting scopes, the MD 60 Z and MD 80 Z. Both employ a “folded light path” design that makes these optics much more compact than conventional spotting scopes. With 20-60X magnification and a retail (MAP) price of $1398.00*, we think the MD 80 Z could become popular with long-range shooters who prefer a straight-through optic. With 12-40X power, the ultra-compact MD 60 Z ($1298.00 MAP), would be a good choice for hunting applications. We hope to get an MD 80 Z to test soon. These should be hitting dealers’ shelves by late April.
We like the folded light path design for two main reasons. First, this puts the heavy objective lens much closer to the tripod mount, reducing the amount of overhang (or cantilever). In practice, this makes the scope much more solid on the mount. With other long, heavy spotting scopes, even with a sturdy bipod, just a slight touch causes the scope to jiggle or shake. We’ve found with some of the big 80-88mm (objective) spotting scopes, it is almost impossible to focus the scope without causing it to jiggle a bit, which takes a while to settle. With a shorter spotting scope with the balance point much closer to the mount, the “jiggle factor” is much reduced.
The compact design also makes these Minox spotting scopes much easier to transport and tote around. The MD 60 Z and 80 Z will easily fit in a medium range bag or utility box. If you regularly use a spotting scope you’ll appreciate the compact size and portability of the MD Series units.
Built-in Eyepieces, with 20-60X on MD 80 Z
Minox’s MD Series spotters have permanently-attached wide-angle, zoom eyepieces. This keeps dust and moisture out of the scope bodies, but it does limit your options. You can’t swap eyepieces to change the zoom range or go to a fixed-power. But we think the 20-60X magnification range is ample on the MD 80 Z, while the 12-40X range on the MD 60 Z is plenty for hunting use. We think that, for most outdoor uses, a fixed eyepiece has benefits. And we bet that 9 out of 10 spotting scope owners just stick with the eyepiece that came with their scope (and never swap in a different ocular). So, ask yourself, “Do I really need to change eyepieces?”
The Minox MD eyepieces have ample 30mm eye relief. Notably, Minox gave these spotting scopes a huge range of diopter adjustment, from -5 to +50. This means that just about any person can use the optics with no need for glasses or corrective lenses.
Straight Eyepiece Only
No angled eyepiece option is offered on either the MD 80 Z or MD 60 Z. If you’re spotting for a fellow shooter from a seated position, a straight eyepiece makes sense. On the other hand, for prone shooting, when you’re spotting your own shots, most folks prefer a spotting scope with an angled eyepiece. When shopping for a spotting scope, determine how you will most commonly use the optic. This Editor owns both a straight spotting scope and an angled spotting scope. I use the straight spotter most of the time, except when I am shooting prone. If you really need an angled spotting scope, Minox does offer an ultra-short, 16-30X MD 50W spotter. This is one of the most compact angled spotters on the market, and it weighs just 24.3 ounces!
* The MD 80 Z’s Minimum Advertised (MAP) price is $1398.00 while MSRP is $1498.00. MAP price for the MD 60 Z is $1298.00 with a $1398.00 MSRP.
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If you are looking for a premium riflescope with 25-26X max magnification, there are two impressive new options, and both come from Europe. Swarovski just announced its new X5 5-25x56mm scope while Leica has unveiled the new ER 6.5-26x56mm LRS. Intended for long-range shooting, both these scopes offer razor-sharp glass and some advanced features. The Swaro offers 20 MOA per revolution, plus a unique “Sub-zero” capability. The Leica has some interesting reticles and an attractive price.
Swaro X5 5-25x56mm
1/4 or 1/8 MOA
Leica ER 6.5-26×56 LRS
* This is at 100m for the Euro version with 0.5cm click values (1/6 MOA). Leica has not published MOA elevation. 120 cm at 100m works out to about 41 MOA at 100 yards.
** Based on €1990.00 (Euros) stated price. The actual price, as sold in the USA, could be higher.
Swarovski X5 5-25x56mm
Swarovski recently unveiled its new X5 series of second focal plane scopes for long-range shooting. There will be two models, a 3-18x50mm and a 5-25x56mm. Both are available in standard and illuminated versions, the latter designated as X5(i). Long-range reticles with be available with either 1 MOA or 2 MOA stadia hash-marks. The 5-25X model offers either 1/4-MOA or 1/8-MOA clicks.
Swaroski says: “The X5 series has been developed specifically with the long range shooter/hunter in mind. The newly-designed turrets allow for 20 MOA per revolution, have a viewing window to show the user what revolution he or she is on. At the heart of the X5(i) is a Spring Retention and Lever System that exerts the same pressure on both turrets from the inversion system regardless of positioning. This assures maximum accuracy and repeatability.”
Check Out Features of Swarovski X5 Riflescopes
The 5-25x56mm X5 has a lot of elevation travel — 82 MOA. And this is a rugged scope — the elevation, windage, and parallax turrets, as well as the inversion system are built with stainless steel components. This enhances component longevity and durability.
X5 Offers Dual Zeros (for Long Range and Short Range
The Swarovski X5 scopes boast a new “Subzero” Function. This innovative feature allows the shooter to instantly come down 10 MOA (40 clicks) from a pre-set zero. That’s a nice option for training, letting you quickly switch from near to far. The new X5(i) Rifle Scope will be available in two different models, X5(i) 3.5-18×50 and X5(i) 5-25×56, in Fall 2015. For more information, visit Swarovskioptik.com.
Leica ER 6.5-25x56mm LRS
With 26X magnification on tap, the ER 6.5-26x56mm LRS riflescope is suitable for long-range hunting as well as many target disciplines. The new Leica ER 6.5-26×56 LRS offers ultra-sharp glass with low color fringe (chromatic aberration). This is a big advantage when viewing high-contrast subjects such as black-on-white targets. Eye relief is ample, and the scope offers a -4 to +3 Diopter compensation. Three reticle options are offered including two Ballistic reticles with elevation lines and horizontal (windage) hash marks.
With a rugged, aluminum “mono-body” main tube, the Leica is waterproof and fog-proof. Like all of Leica’s ER riflescopes, the ER 6.5-26x50mm LRS features a high-tech glass coating process technology. The scope is bright, with 91% light transmission. The HD glass elements are precision-ground with a state-of-the-art laser-guided production process.
Leica Pricing is Attractive
The new Leica ER 6.5-25x56mm is priced competitively. At the IWA show in Germany this month, Leica said the scope should retail for about 1990.00 Euros, which works out to $2089.00 U.S. Dollars at current exchange rates. Even if the “as imported” price goes up for the U.S. Market, that makes the scope much less expensive than Swarovski’s X5 5-25x56mm scope, and less than some comparable US-made optics.
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Buy a scope, get a mat for free. Sounds good to us. Leupold is now offering a free Tactical Tailor® Shooting Mat with the purchase of a Mark® 4, 6, or 8 riflescope. The shooting mat comes branded with the Leupold Logo, and has a retail value of approximately $95.00. Get INFO.
This offer runs through April 15, 2015. All documentation must be submitted by April 30, 2015. Visit the Leupold Promo Page for more information on this offer.
Below is the top half of a Walmart ad intended to sell hunting rifles and accessories. We’re pleased that Walmart still stocks guns, ammo, and gear on its shelves. But look carefully at the fellow in the tree-stand. He’s got some nice camo clothing, but a few items are missing that might help this hunter in his quest to take home a buck. Apparently Walmart’s ad-makers aren’t too experienced with shooting.
Advertisement scan provided by B. Carlson.
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Editor’s comment: The new lens technology described here is a big deal. The “flexible” polymer lens is nothing short of revolutionary — there’s never been anything like it on a riflescope (though our own human eyes have flexible lenses). In the world of optics, this is as noteworthy a development as the touch-screen was for personal computing. Flexible, “adaptive” lenses can potentially be employed for a wide variety of products, from cameras to spotting scopes. Think about the benefits of “instantaneous zoom” for security cameras.
Sandia’s RAZAR Scope Features Flexible Lenses That Can Change Focal Length Instantly
Sandia National Laboratories has developed a truly game-changing piece of optical technology at the direct request of the Department of Defense: the RAZAR (Rapid Adaptive Zoom for Assault Rifles). Fundamentally different than every other riflescope ever made, the RAZAR represents a revolution in lens design and function. Until now, all riflescopes used a set of rigid, hard lenses (usually glass). The new RAZAR utilizes an advanced set of flexible polymer lenses that allow the user to toggle between high and low magnification with the press of a button. The RAZAR can literally zoom in and out in the blink of an eye (250 milliseconds).
The RAZAR works in conjunction with a tactical-style optic, such the Leupold HAMR (top photo). This tandem (two-part) sighting system combines the conventional scope’s eyepiece and illuminated reticle with the RAZAR’s ultra-fast zooming capability. Unlike traditional eyepiece (ocular) magnifiers, the RAZAR sits in front of the primary optic.
See RAZAR Demonstrated in Sandia Labs Video
The RAZAR’s instant, push-button zoom capability gives soldiers the ability to change field of view and magnification without re-positioning their grip on the rifle, unlike traditional variable-power riflescopes. This capability can be invaluable to a soldier in combat.
Michael Squire, a former SFC with Special Operations Research Support Element, said the ability to zoom between near and far targets within seconds, without taking his hand off the weapon, is “game-changing.” Squire added: “The difference that can make, especially with somebody shooting back, could mean life or death…”
The secret to the RAZAR’s high performance lies within the development of the advanced technologies within the scope. A hermetically sealed, flexible polymer lens core encapsulates a proprietary polymer liquid, and this core then works in tandem with glass lenses to form the basis of the optical design.
Rapid changes in magnification are accomplished via a piezoelectric motor that changes the curvature of the lenses, achieving the correct positioning within 250 milliseconds within an accuracy level of 100 nanometers. When zooming, these electronically-controlled actuators act much like the tiny muscles that allow the human eye to change focus from near to far. Human eyes have flexible lenses controlled with muscles*. The RAZAR has flexible lenses controlled by tiny electric motors.
It’s important to highlight the reliability that Sandia was able to build into the RAZAR. The system requires very little mechanical power to operate, and can undergo up to 10,000 zoom actuations on a single set of two standard AA batteries. The ultrasonic motor draws no power unless it’s being used to bend the soft lenses, which makes the RAZAR very reliable. If the batteries do go flat, the RAZAR remains fully usable — the system simply stays at the last magnification level until the batteries are replaced.
Sandia’s RAZAR design provides a large, clear viewing aperture, without sacrificing any of the optical quality found in traditional riflescopes. The RAZAR is also shock-proof, vibration-proof and capable of operating in a very wide temperature range.
The Future of “Instant Zoom” Adaptive Lenses
Sandia Labs is developing other specialty lenses in the near-infrared, short wave-infrared and mid-wave infrared spectrum, primarily for DOD use. However, Sandia has suggested that its flexible polymer-lens technology could be adapted for other imaging applications where rapid zoom is needed, such as binoculars, spotting scopes, and even security cameras. For more information, visit the Sandia Labs website.
*Changing the curvature of the human eye lens is carried out by the ciliary muscles surrounding the lens. They narrow the diameter of the ciliary body, relax the fibers of the suspensory ligament, and allow the lens to relax into a more convex shape. A more convex lens focuses divergent light rays onto the retina allowing for closer objects to be brought into focus.
About the Author
Kip Staton is a freelance gun writer based in North Texas, and loves to blog about news within the firearms industry and his perceptions on marksmanship. Kip is a content marketer, copywriter and digital strategist for an award-winning Dallas marketing agency. To read more by Kip, visit KipStaton.com.
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