September 11th, 2017

Breath, Relax … and Improve Your Vision

Vision Eye Target Scope Relaxation Oxygen Target

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.”

Read more tips on reducing eye fatigue in our Forum Thread: That Vision Thing.

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.

eye vision Vince Bottomley

Permalink Optics, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
May 25th, 2017

Protective Eyewear for Shooters — What You Need to Know

Eyewear Safety ANSI Z97 Lucky Gunner Test Impact Pellet Glasses

If you’re one of those folks who doesn’t wear eye protection, you need to check out the LuckyGunner Labs Eye Protection Test. For those who DO wear safety glasses — don’t assume that everything is OK. Just because you purchased name-brand “safety glasses” doesn’t mean that you are getting truly effective protection. In fact, many forms of protective eyewear sold today are flimsy, or poorly made. Consequently, they won’t stop even low-energy, slow-velocity fragments.

CLICK HERE to Read Complete Eyewear Test Report by LuckyGunner Labs.

Lucky gunner eyewear testTwo years ago, LuckyGunner Labs conducted very extensive field tests of 28 types of eyewear, ranging in price from $7 to $220. Remarkably, some of the most expensive safety eyewear performed no better than $10 items. Many of the products failed shockingly — with the lenses coming right out of the frames when hit with pellets. LuckyGunner recorded these kind of failures even with ANSI Z87-“approved” eyewear. The reason is that the Z87 test is not tough enough: “The basic ANSI standard is referred to as Z87, and you’ll see this marked in a number of locations on most eye protection marketed to shooters. However, the Z87 impact standard involves a .25″ steel ball traveling at 150 fps — this is fine for protecting eyes from debris that might fall or be thrown, but is not extremely relevant to shooters, who are dealing with objects traveling at much higher velocities.”

Standard Impact speed Caliber/Size
ANSI Z87.1-2003
High Velocity
150 feet/second
45 meters/second
0.25″ diameter steel ball
(25 caliber)
Mil-PRF-31013
Vo ballistic test
640-660 feet/second
195 meters/second
0.15 inch diameter steel projectile (15 caliber)

The testers recommend you select eyewear that meets military specification (above and beyond ANSI Z87). The MIL-PRF-31013 Standard covers projectiles up to 650 feet per second. This is much more stringent. Additionally, you want to replace often-used protective eyewear every year or so. Long-term exposure to UV radiation can weaken polycarbonate and lessen its ability to withstand impacts.

SUMMARY — What to Look for in Protective Eyewear

THE GOOD — Eyewear Protects Against Direct Hit with .22 Short Bullet
APEL Revision Sawfly eyewear was shot with a .22 Short, pushing a 29 grain bullet at 710 fps. That’s not powerful by modern firearm standards, but this might be fairly representative of a ricochet bullet fragment. The Sawfly lens stopped this 29gr bullet with minimal damage to the cheek area.

Lucky gunner eyewear test
THE BAD — Remington Eyewear Lenses Separate. Right Lens Enters Eye Socket
The most gruesome example was the cheap Remington eyewear which shed both lenses back towards the eyes, one of which embedded itself into the eye socket. The real-world implications of this action are disturbing to say the least.

Lucky gunner eyewear test

THE UGLY — Prescription Glasses Failed Miserably
Many ranges don’t see any need for protective eyewear beyond prescription glasses. However, most prescription lenses offer little if any protection. If the prescription lenses are glass, this can create more problems. As shown below, these prescription glasses offered no ballistic protection, and, in fact, proved more dangerous to the eyes due to the flying glass shards.

Lucky gunner eyewear test

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Results Chart, Video Clips, and Photos copyright Luckygunner.com.

Summary and Conclusions:
For faster-moving projectiles such as ricochet fragments, you need high quality, tested eye protection. LuckyGunner recommends eyewear with a single (one-piece) lens for any activity where your face might be struck by small, fast-moving objects. Individual lenses detach from the frames once a certain level of force is reached, and they are driven back into the eye sockets, where considerable damage may be done. There are good examples of protective eyewear with two separate lenses, but a broad, one-piece lens distributes force much better.

Lucky gunner eyewear testA wide, comfortable, and preferably soft rubber nosepiece is critical. Along with good “arms”, this will serve to keep the eye protection in place and will also reduce the chances of the lens being driven down or back into the face with enough force to damage the orbital bones.

A frame that connects across the top of the lens, not individual arms which attach to the outside corners of the lens, is recommended. This will reduce the chances of the lens detaching from the frame under impact (it’s still possible, just less likely). Some types of eye protection actually use the frame to absorb impact and distribute force.

NOTE: Andrew, the author of the LuckyGunner Eyewear report, was a former Navy Corpsman. Accordingly, he is familiar with health and safety matters.

Permalink - Articles, - Videos, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
March 31st, 2017

How Scopes Work — Understanding Lenses and Light Paths

Accurateshooter.com optics rifle scope Swarovski

The Swarovski Optik website features a blog with interesting technical articles. In the “On Target” series of blog stories, Swarovski has provided a handy explanation of how optics systems work, with exploded diagrams of rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and binoculars. CLICK HERE for Swarovski Optics Blog.

Accurateshooter.com optics rifle scope Swarovski

Scope Terminology
Focusing Lens
The focusing lens is an adjustable lens inside the optical system for focusing the image at different distances…. In the case of rifle scopes, apart from focusing, the focusing lens also facilitates parallax compensation.

Diopter Adjustment
For rifle scopes, the reticle can be focused using the diopter adjustment on the eyepiece, thereby correcting any visual impairment. [Editor’s Note: Movable eyepiece diopter adjustment is not offered on all rifle scopes. It is a useful feature on Swarovski and other premium scopes. This allows shooters who need eyeglasses to get a sharply focus image even without wearing corrective lenses. Of course shooters should always wear ANSI-certified eye protection. With the diopter, folks who need correction can use inexpensive, non-Rx safety eyewear instead of expensive prescription safety glasses.]

Reversal System
The purpose of the reversal system is to reverse the image by means of prisms in binoculars and telescopes, and lenses in rifle scopes….The lens reversal system is needed in rifle scopes to control the variable magnification and move the exit pupil[.]

Parallax Explained
What is Parallax? What problems can Parallax create when you are shooting? Many novice shooters can’t answer those questions easily. Likewise, many folks don’t understand how to use their front or side-focus parallax controls most effectively. Yes the parallax control basically sharpen focus at different target distances — but there’s more involved. This video offers helpful insights.

Resource tip by EdLongRange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Optics 1 Comment »
February 6th, 2017

Optics Terminology — Lessons from Swarovski Optik

Swarovski Optik exit pupil scope accurateshooter.com

Swarovski Optik exit pupil scope accurateshooter.comWhen 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.

Exit Pupil
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.

Swarovski Optik exit pupil scope accurateshooter.com

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.

Twilight Factor
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.

CLICK HERE to Read Full Article (with more illustrations).

Photos copyright Swarovski Optik Blog, all rights reserved.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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July 26th, 2016

Handy Magnifiers Help Old Eyes with Reloading Tasks

Magnifying lens LED light relaoding

pocket fold-out magnifierWhat is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.

Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 9X/18X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
July 3rd, 2016

Eye Protection — Guard Your Precious Eyesight

Eyewear Safety Eye Protection Glasses Guide

There is one subject as to which we should all be in agreement — the need to wear quality, protective eyewear whenever one uses a firearm. Sadly, it’s not uncommon, at the range, to see shooters wearing no eye protection, or wearing cheap, “dime-store” glasses that can shatter on impact.

This video from Luckygunner Labs shows what can happen with low-quality eyewear. When hit with pellets, the left lens came out and the right lens entered the eye socket!


Read Our Guide to Protective Eyewear
We’ve created a comprehensive Guide to Protective Eyewear. Forum member ChuckW2 told us: “That was the most important article that has ever been posted on this site. I am amazed how many people do not wear glasses while shooting or hunting. Great read….” If you haven’t done so already, read the story. We guarantee you’ll learn something new.

CLICK HERE to READ Comprehensive Eyewear Guide

The Eyewear Guide explains the safety standards that apply to protective eyewear and reviews the best lens materials currently available including Polycarbonate, Trivex™, and SR-91. You may not have heard of Trivex, but it is probably the best material out there right now — it’s tough, lightweight, and has better optical properties than Polycarbonate. SR-91 is a good choice for those who need a polarized lens. Our Eyewear Guide also includes a section by Danny Reever on Prescription Shooting Glasses. Danny discusses the available options in lens materials and has many helpful recommendations.

Along with our reviews of lens materials, tint properties, and frame design, we highlight a study done by the NRA’s American Hunter magazine. 10 popular brands of eyewear were tested, with some very interesting results. The testers observed that price does not necessarily assure quality. Relatively inexpensive Bollé VX and Pyramex eyewear both worked better than some expensive brands.

On the other hand, don’t select eyewear simply because it’s cheap or easy to find. American Hunter editor Jeff Johnston observed: “It’s a mistake to assume that any plastic-lens sunglasses off the rack at the local 7-11 are made of polycarbonate and therefore are effective as shooting glasses—cheap plastics are not polycarbonates; in fact, wearing them could be worse than wearing nothing, as they can introduce sharp shards of plastic to your eyes in addition to the projectile(s) that caused them to break.”

Permalink - Articles, Optics No Comments »
September 3rd, 2015

Inside Look — Cutaway Weaver Scope Reveals Complex Internals

Based on its external appearance, a modern riflescope may seem simple. It’s just a tube with two or three knobs on the outside right? Well, looks can be deceiving. Modern variable focal-length optics are complex systems with lots of internal parts. Modern scopes, even ‘budget’ optics, use multiple lens elements to allow variable magnification levels and parallax adjustment. We had a chance to look inside a riflescope thanks to a product display from ATK, parent of Alliant Powder, CCI, Federal, RCBS, Speer, Weaver Optics. ATK sliced open a Weaver Super Slam scope so you can see the internal lens elements plus the elevation and windage controls. We thought readers would like to see the “inner workings” of a typical modern rifle scope, so we snapped some pictures. The sectioned Super Slam scope was mounted inside a Plexiglas case, making it a bit hard to get super-sharp images, but you can still see the multiple lenses and the complex windage and elevation controls.

Permalink Optics 1 Comment »
February 11th, 2015

Revolutionary Flexible-Lens Optics Technology Zooms Instantly

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 RAZAR Rifle flexible polymer lens adaptive zoom riflescope Scope

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

Game-Changing Technology
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.

Sandia RAZAR Rifle flexible polymer lens adaptive zoom riflescope Scope

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.

Sandia RAZAR Rifle flexible polymer lens adaptive zoom riflescope Scope

Sandia RAZAR Rifle flexible polymer lens adaptive zoom riflescope Scope

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 RAZAR Rifle flexible polymer lens adaptive zoom riflescope Scope

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.

Sandia RAZAR Rifle flexible polymer lens adaptive zoom riflescope Scope

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.

Sandia RAZAR Rifle flexible polymer lens adaptive zoom riflescope Scope

*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.

Permalink - Videos, New Product, Optics 4 Comments »
December 14th, 2014

Protect Pricey Optics with Scope-Coats

ScopeCoat Scope ProtectorWith the price of some premium scopes approaching $3000.00 (and beyond), it’s more important than ever to provide extra protection for your expensive optics. ScopeCoat produces covers that shield scopes with a layer of neoprene rubber (wetsuit material) sandwiched between nylon. In addition to its basic covers, sold in a variety of sizes and colors, ScopeCoat has a line of heavy-duty 6mm products that provide added security.

scopecoat scope optics protector cover neoprene padded

Triple-Thickness XP-6 Model for Added Protection
The XP-6 Flak Jacket™ is specifically designed for extra protection and special applications. The 6mm-thick layer of neoprene is three times thicker than the standard ScopeCoat. XP-6 Flak Jackets are designed for tall turrets, with sizes that accommodate either two or three adjustment knobs (for both side-focus and front-focus parallax models). To shield an expensive NightForce, March, or Schmidt & Bender scope, this a good choice. XP-6 covers come in black color only, and are available for both rifle-scopes and spotting scopes.

ScopeCoat Scope ProtectorThe heavily padded XP-6 Flak Jacket is also offered in a Zippered version, shown at right. This is designed for removable optics that need protection when in storage. The full-length, zippered closure goes on quick-and-easy and provides more complete protection against dust, shock, and moisture. MSRP is $30.00.

Special Covers for Binos and Red-Dots
ScopeCoat offers many specialized products, including oversize covers for spotting scopes, protective “Bino-Bibs” for binoculars, rangefinder covers, even sleeves for small pistol scopes and red-dot optics. There are also custom-designed covers for the popular Eotech and Trijicon tactical optics. Watch the Shooting USA video below to see some of ScopeCoat’s latest specialty covers.

Permalink Optics 2 Comments »
September 23rd, 2013

Handy Small Magnifiers Aid Many Reloading Tasks

pocket fold-out magnifierWhat is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.

Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 17X/50X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.

pocket fold-out magnifier

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
July 3rd, 2012

Diopter Devices Aid Older Eyes

Those of us over-40 types can use some help when shooting iron sights. As one gets older, your eyes lose the ability to rapidly adjust to different points of focus. In practice, when shooting a rifle, this means the target image may be sharp but the sights are blurry, or vice-versa. Or you may be able to see the target and front sight reasonably well, but the rear sight is a complete blurr. (That is this Editor’s problem when shooting a rifle, such as a Swedish Mauser, with a notched blade rear sight.) Even if you are using a rear peep sight, you may see a blurry rear circle (or two circles if you have astigmatism). Placing a diopter on your shooting glasses can help many people see open sights better, when shooting both handguns and rifles.

Merit Corp. in Schenectady, NY, offers an adjustable metal diopter that attaches to shooting glasses with a rubber cup. Though primarily intended for pistol shooters, the Merit diopter can also be helpful when shooting rifles with open sights, such as military bolt actions. Priced at $65.00, the Merit device features a shutter-style adjustable aperture iris.

Merit explains: “The human eye, whether or not prescription glasses are required, cannot focus on both sights and the target at the same time. The eye will constantly shift focus from the sights to the target trying to ensure proper alignment. Unfortunately, as we age, the eye loses the flexibility which allows it to do this; thus, sights and target begin to grow fuzzy. There is a simple way to combat this by increasing your eyes’ depth of field (range of focus). If you look through an aperture or pinhole of the correct size, you will be able to see both sights clearly, and the target will be clearly defined as well.”

In addition to diopters for eyeglasses, Merit produces a variety of adjustable iris sight products for rifles, including the Variable Iris Aperature for AR15s. Visit MeritCorporation.com or call (518) 346-1420.

Cheaper Diopter from Lyman
If you can’t afford a Merit adjustable diopter, Lyman offers a similar all-plastic device for under $20.00. The Lyman Hawkeye Shooting Aid mounts directly to your eyeglass lens with a rubber suction cup. The diopter section is made of plastic, and aperture diameter is non-adjustable.

Though it is simple and inexpensive, the Lyman Hawkeye works for many shooters, if positioned properly. (Don’t think this is anything close to the Merit Diopter in quality though!) Currently, Cabelas.com has the Lyman Hawkeye on sale for just $12.88, item # IK-229094. MidwayUSA sells the Lyman Hawkeye for $18.99, item # 936878. One MidwayUSA customer reports:

“This thing really works! I have it on my shooting glasses, and it has made a significant improvement in my ability to keep the front sight and target in focus at the same time. If you are older and find that you are having a hard time keeping the target in focus over ‘iron sights’, then this may be the answer to your problem. Mine works equally well for both pistol and rifle, although I do have to change the device’s position on my shooting glasses when changing weapon types.”

Permalink Optics, Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
November 30th, 2011

New Nikon EDG Spotting Scopes with Vibration Reduction

Nikon has raised the bar in Spotting Scope technology. It has introduced the first-ever spotters with built-in Vibration Reduction. This may be a significant breakthrough. Image stabilization has revolutionized hand-held photography, and it could definitely improve the practical functioning of spotting scopes. If you have ever used a big, heavy spotting scope, you know that it is easy to induce vibration and shaking — merely with a heavy hand on the focus knob. And when the wind blows, a big scope acts like a sail, so it can wobble and vibrate in gusts. Just a small amount of shake or vibration can make it difficult to see your target, slowing down your target acquisition time considerably.

Nikon Vibration Reduction EDGE spotting scope

Nikon’s new 85mm EDG Fieldscopes are the first spotting scopes on the planet with lens-adjusting image stabilization. The EDGs employ a lens-shift type VR (Vibration Reduction) system that counters vibration and shaking. According to Nikon, the EDG VR system greatly reduces external vibrations caused by wind and the operational vibrations occurring during focusing, panning and tilting. Nikon claims its VR system reduces vibration to 1/8th the level of a conventional spotting scope.

HOW IT WORKS — This system uses two independent Angular Velocity sensors to detect pitching (vertical movement) and yawing (horizontal movement). Both sensors then detect diagonal movements. Upon the detection of movement, the sensors provide instructions to the two Voice Coil Motors (VCM) that command and control the Vibration Reduction-optical system to eliminate the shake or blurring. These sensors can detect movement every 1/1000 second. The system can effectively reduce vibrations by roughly 88% (compared to a conventional spotting scope), providing the equivalent of a shutter speed approximately two stops faster.

Nikon Vibration Reduction EDGE spotting scope

So how much does this new VR technology cost? Hold on to your hat — MSRP for the 85mm EDG VRs (either body style) is a shocking $5,499.95! At least that includes eyepiece and protective case. We can only hope that, as this technology matures, it will be implemented at much lower cost. Consider that $200.00 point-and-shoot cameras now offer image stabilization. Given time, we can expect the vibration reduction systems to go down in price, and to become commonplace in premium spotting scopes.

Available in a straight or angled body, the all-new EDG VR Fieldscopes come standard with a 20-60x Zoom Eyepiece, ED (Low-Dispersion) glass, and multi-coated lenses. The 85mm EDGs feature a five-meter close focus distance and waterproof, fogproof construction. Weighing in at just over 84 ounces (w/o batteries), the straight-body EDG is 14.9″ long, while the angled version is 15.7″ long. Nikon’s VR system takes four AA batteries which provide roughly 17 hours of battery life with alkaline batteries and up to 32 hours with lithium. While the VR function can be manually activated, an auto power-off function helps conserve battery life. Seven optional EDG eyepieces are available. Three tripod mount screw holes permit flexible mounting.

Nikon Vibration Reduction EDGE spotting scope

Permalink New Product, News, Optics No Comments »
June 6th, 2010

Zeiss 85mm Victory DiaScope T* FL Wins Major Design Awards

The new Zeiss Victory DiaScope 85 T* FL Spotting Scope has earned two prestigious awards. First the new 85mm DiaScope won the coveted Red Dot Design Award. “All products honored with the red dot design award had to impress an international jury. These products [must] demonstrate their quality in one of the toughest design competitions in the world,” says Professor Dr. Peter Zec, speaking on behalf of Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen which issues the Red Dot Design Awards.

Ziess 85 diascopeOutdoor Life Magazine. Outdoor Life’s editors praised its “optically superior [flourite] glass in a surprisingly lightweight chassis”. The ZEISS DiaScope won the low-light test, had a top resolution score and “the two-speed focus and wide-angle eyepiece sparkled”, according to the test team.

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We checked out the new 85mm DiaScope at SHOT Show and reviewed its new features with Zeiss project engineer Stephan Albrecht. Make no mistake about it. This is an outstanding spotting scope. We loved the dual-rate focus system. You can do the gross focus really fast, but still achieve the ultra-precise focus needed to resolve bullet holes at long ranges. We were very impressed with the new higher-magnification 20-75X zoom eyepiece. This is one of the best variable-power eyepieces ever made, and long-range shooters can definitely use the extra magnification (75x vs. 60x). Overall the Zeiss system is surprisingly compact, yet it offers excellent low-light performance, plus higher magnification than most other spotting scopes in the 80mm category.

The new 85mm Diascope is available in straight or angled bodies both boasting a rubber-armored exterior for protection. Eyepieces are available as variable 20-60x, 20-75x, or fixed 40x. A 65mm version of the new Diascope is also available, but we feel that, if you’re going to spend this kind of money ($3000.00 for 85mm with 20-60X eyepiece), you should go with the 85mm. The 20-75X eyepiece only delivers 15-56X when used with the smaller 65mm Diascope.

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June 16th, 2009

Inexpensive Stick-On Lenses Help Older Eyes

The majority of competitive shooters in many disciplines are over 40, with a high percentage over 50 years old. That’s a lot of old eyes which may have trouble reading small print. Shooters who are far-sighted, and older shooters with presbyopia, may have difficulty focusing on close objects. At the range, this may make it difficult to read range cards, printed come-up tables, or even the “fine print” found in manuals for chronographs and other shooting accessories.

Magnifier lens stick-on

Here’s a solution for shooters who need better close-up vision. For just $10.50 per pair, Amazon.com sells stick-on inserts that mount to any glass or plastic lenses, including polycarbonate shooting glasses. Water is the adhesive–the surface tension effect of H20 is enough to keep the lens inserts in place. But this also lets you easily move the magnifying lenses from one set of glasses to another. ReadingGlasses.com offers the Optx 20/20 stick-on lenses for $18.00 (or $29.00 for two pair). Magellan’s, a popular travel accessory store, sells the same Optx 20/20 Lenses, Item #BA726, for $24.85 per pair. Magellan’s notes: “Flexible Optx 20/20 lenses hold fast by their own molecular attraction (no adhesive needed) and can be peeled off and reattached many times”. The video below shows how the stick-on lenses work.

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May 7th, 2009

Birders Test 36 Spotting Scopes — Kowa 88mm Tops Field

Spotting Scope ReviewLast year, the Cornell Ornithology Lab conducted ScopeQuest 2008, a detailed comparison test of 36 spotting scopes. Optics (ranging in price from $220.00 to $4500.00) were viewed side-by-side and rated according to sharpness, color fidelity, edge-to-edge focus, brightness, distortion, and general optical quality. The testing team also considered ease of handling/focus, and eye relief (scopes with longer eye relief are better for eyeglass wearers). Two of the finest spotting scopes AccurateShooter.com has used, the Zeiss Diascope 85 T FL, and the Swarovski APS 80 HD, performed very well as expected, and ended up near the top of the list. The TeleVue-85 APO, a very large refractor, received the highest ratings for image quality (both at 20X and 60X), but lost points for easy of use and general “feel”. The overall winner among the 36 spotting scopes tested was the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar, a new-generation spotter with a huge 88mm objective, dual focusing knobs, and spectacular flourite glass. The results of Cornell’s spotting scope test are found on the LivingBird.org website. Click the link below for a charrt ranking all 36 scopes according to their overall ratings.

CLICK HERE for Spotting Scope Test Summary (.pdf file)

Kowa TSN-883 Prominar
CLICK HERE for large photo of Kowa TSN-883 on Tripod.

Ken Rosenberg, summarizing the findings of Cornell’s ScopeQuest testers, named the Kowa TSN-883 the big winner. Rosenberg writes: “Fifteen models competed in the most expensive category, including 12 conventional zoom scopes and three astronomy “cross-overs”[.] Among the conventional scopes, the surprising (to us) and virtually unanimous top-of-the-line ranking went to the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar. In side-by-side comparisons with Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, and Nikon, both Kowa scopes provided a slightly, but noticeably, brighter and crisper image at 60x than any other scope. The three-dimensional detail visible … with these scopes, even in dim light, is simply phenomenal.”

Swarovski ATS Spotting ScopeRosenberg also gave high praise to the Swarovski ATS 65 HD, noting that it was much lighter and compact than the Kowa 883, while offering nearly the image quality. Rosenberg concludes: “For birders willing to take the plunge for the very best optics at whatever cost, the top choices, in my view, are either the Kowa 883/884 or 773/774 or the Swarovski HD 80mm or 65mm scopes. Any of these top scopes will give you years of pure birding pleasure. Although the larger Kowa offers the brightest, sharpest image available from a conventional zoom scope under the toughest birding conditions, the small Swarovski still delivers the best image per ounce of any scope.”

More Products Worth Considering
The Cornell Test did NOT include some premium spotting scopes, including Pentax’s top-of-the-line PF-100ED, or the new Leica 82mm Televid APO HD. The big Leica APO is considered by many experts to be the new benchmark for spotting scope quality. However, it is enormously expensive. The 82mm Leica APO HD retails for $3200 for the body only. That’s nearly $900 more than the Kowa TSN-883 Prominar body only.

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