November 6th, 2017

Fixed-Power Optics for F-Class — Testing in Competition

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

March 48x52mm High Master Scope — Tested in Competition

by Jay Christopherson, AccurateShooter.com Systems Admin
Using a fixed power scope on your F-Class rifle is not only effective, but can save you weight and money — key benefits when it comes to the F-Class game.

I recently tested the March High Master 48x52mm scope on my F-Open rifle in three different matches, including a Long Range Regional match in Montana and the recent 2017 US F-Class National Championships in Lodi, WI. While I’ve long been considering a fixed-power optic, it wasn’t until a recent F-TR build came in over-weight (with a large zoom scope), that I finally decided to give it a fixed-power comp scope a try. The March High Master 48x52mm saved me both weight (10.6 oz. or 300 grams) and money ($800+) compared to a top-end, variable-power March.

Across three matches and multiple conditions (including heavy mirage), I never found myself wishing that I had a variable-power scope on top of my rifle. And I never experienced issues holding rings on the target. A fixed-power scope might not be for everyone. However a serious F-Class shooter who needs to cut some weight, or save a little cash (compared to high-end zoom scope), shouldn’t be worried about being “under-glassed” with a fixed power scope such as the March HM 48x52mm. It can do the job. [Editor: Jay finished second overall in F-Open Division at the 2017 F-Class Nationals.]

The Case for A Fixed Power F-Class Optic

There’s been a thought bouncing around and growing in my head for the past few years while shooting F-Class — Why don’t more guys shoot a fixed power scope in F-Class? Nine out of ten F-Class shooters I’ve polled spend most of their time between 40 power and 50 power, regardless of the conditions. It seemed to me that a fixed power in the 40X – 50X range would be a great option.

I’ll admit, that I’ve long been an advocate of needing a variable-power scope so that I could “dial down to see the rings” on those really heavy mirage relays. There’s even been times when I’ve been successful dialing down to 35X – 25X just for that reason. But still, like most guys, I find that I rarely go above 50X and rarely below 40X – 99% of my time is spent right around 42X – 45X. Having gotten used to shooting high magnification now, it’s been quite a long time since I’ve bothered to dial down below 40X, even in very heavy mirage. But, I held on to that notion that it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

I recently built an F-TR rifle. I made a slight mistake on the weight. Fully built with my zoom scope, the rig ended up at 8.3kg (8.25kg is the limit for F-TR). That’s not much overweight, but I don’t like to be too close to the limit anyhow. There are lots of ways I could have addressed the issue, but I started thinking again about the scope. I love my current variable-power scopes, but I couldn’t help thinking that a fixed power scope in the 40X – 50X range might solve my issue nicely (and give me a chance to try something new). So I obtained a March High Master 48x52mm fixed-power scope to test. The 48X magnification falls right into my comfort zone. With its 52MM objective, the March HM matched the profile of my existing variable-power scopes nicely. Aesthetics is at least part of the goal and in my opinion, 50MM+ objective scopes look “right” on F-Class rifles. It’s also worth noting that this is the only fixed power scope that I have tried so far and that I have no affiliation with the manufacturer.

There’s the notion out there that fixed power scopes have inherently brighter sight pictures or maybe “clarity” is a better word. This may be due to there being less complex lenses and fewer parts inside. I don’t have any way to quantify that, so I’ll just say that the image clarity is excellent on the 48X March. I also found that the scope weighed 300 grams less than my variable-power scope, which brought me under the F-TR weight limit nicely, as I had hoped.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

Fixed-Power Scope at 2017 F-Class Nationals and Other Matches
Because my F-TR rifle was still in load development, I decided to try out the March HM 48x52mm at a couple matches on my F-Open rifle, while I waited on a part for my F-TR rifle. I fitted the 48x52mm scope to my F-Open rifle and used it at three matches: 1) a local 600-yard mid-range match in WA State; 2) the Long Range Regional at Deep Creek in Montana; and 3) the 2017 US F-Class Nationals in Lodi, WI. I ended up using it the entire match at all three matches. With three different matches, all a few weeks apart and in different parts of the country, I got a nice cross-section of light, weather, and mirage conditions to sample. At all three matches, and even in a medium-heavy mirage situation, I never found myself wishing I could dial down the power. In fact, I never thought about variable power at all — the scope was excellent in all of the different conditions. Even with a good deal of mirage present, I never had a problem making out the rings well enough to hold on. For what it’s worth, I used the scope while shooting on two different teams that set (pending) National LR and MR F-Open team records at those matches. If I didn’t have confidence in a fixed-power scope (and the March in particular), I would never have taken a chance shooting it where a team depended on me. [Editor: In individual competition, Jay finished second in F-Open at the Nationals.]

Scope Tracked Great and Click Values Were Right On
In terms of technical details, the scope tracked perfectly on my scope checker (there are several threads on the AccurateShooter forums regarding checking a scope for drift), which meant I felt comfortable using it at the F-Class Nationals. Critically, I spent a good bit of time working on the ocular focus (reticle focus) so that it would be perfectly set-up for my eye. I’ve found that many complaints about parallax and “soft” or “blurry” images can be traced back to the owner never taking this critical step with a new scope. Normally my scopes all have external, tactical-style turrets — the March HM 48×52 has covered turrets. I wondered how this would work for me, but again, I never thought about it while shooting. Once the covers are off, the clicks are extremely tactile and easy to read and it just never became an issue. The parallax adjustment works nicely and the scope tracked well with every adjustment I made, from 600 yards to 1000 yards.

Optics Scope review March High Master fixed-power 48x52mm 48-power competition optic Jay Christopherson Accurateshooter.com

What Could Be Improved
On the con side of things, I find the scale on the elevation turret to be a bit confusing. Most scopes I have used have an incrementing scale on the elevation (and windage) turrets, so that you can count up from zero as you dial up the adjustments. The 48X HM uses a ‘0’ that is centered on the turret travel (see photo above), so that you count down or up on the scale. Here, I would prefer a scale that bottoms out at zero (or that you can adjust to bottom out at zero) and then increments. I think it’s an easier and more consistent way to measure, but your mileage may vary. Other March scopes I’ve used have a color-coded system on the turrets which I also find a little less than useful. Again, I wouldn’t mind at all if March re-thought its system there.

The other con for me is the eye-relief. It’s middle of the road as far as other high-end scopes I’ve used, but for me personally, I still find it a bit on the short side — I would prefer more eye relief.

Save Hundreds Compared to a Premium Zoom Scope
On the plus side (from a cost standpoint), fixed power scopes are generally priced quite a bit lower than equivalent-quality, variable-power optics. The March HM 48x52mm (product # MAR1076) I tested is no exception. Bullets.com sells the HM 48x52mm for $1951.00. That’s $810 less than its variable-power relative, the March HM 10-60x52mm, priced at $2763.00. I consider the 48x52mm’s $1951 price to be very reasonable for such a quality piece of hardware.

Conclusion — High-Quality, Fixed-Power Scopes Are Worth Considering
Overall, if you find that you spend 99% of your time in the 40X – 50X range with your variable-power scope, I’d encourage you to give some thought to a fixed-power scope for F-Class. I’ve only tried one fixed-power optic — the March HM 48x52mm. But having used this excellent, fixed-power scope in several high-level F-Class competitions now, I’d have no qualms about recommending a high-grade, fixed-power optic to anyone shooting F-Class.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Optics 12 Comments »
September 24th, 2016

Norway Hunting Video — A Visual Feast

Norway Fjord Hunting Skorpen

Today, September 24th, is National Hunting and Fishing Day. To help mark that event, we’re reprising a story from Europe that showcases the beauty of nature that can be experienced on a hunting trip.

Norway Fjord Hunting SkorpenIf you need a break from your hum-drum day at the office, how about taking a virtual vacation to Norway, where you can explore the scenic mountains in the Fjord region?

Forum member Kenneth Skorpen (aka “Sal”) has created a cool video of a deer-hunting trip he took in Norway. He didn’t bag a buck on this trip, but the walk in the Fjordland mountains took Kenneth through some spectacular scenery. (At the 11:25 time mark you’ll see an amazing sunset over the Fjord.) Kenneth did encounter a doe that had fallen down the mountain, and apparently broken its neck (14:35 time mark). The terrain is very steep, and Kenneth observed that: “I feel fortunate to be able to do this, but I also feel very tired in my legs. Did you know that the hares around here have shorter left legs due to the steep hills?”

More Hunting/Shooting Videos from Norway
You can watch more interesting hunting and shooting videos from Norway on Kenneth Skorpen’s Streken Vertebrae YouTube Channel. Here are some links:

And here is another Skorpen video showcasing beautiful Norwegian landscapes. This was filmed during a February rifle testing session with targets at 1100 and 1400 meters. You’ll see some stunning snow-capped scenery here, starting at the 4:30 time mark.

Permalink - Videos, Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
July 26th, 2016

Optics-Equipped Service Rifles Dominate President’s 100 Match

President's 100 match

President's 100 match March Optics 1-4.5x24mm Service Rifle

When the NRA and CMP issued new rules allowing the use of 4.5X optics for Service Rifles, some asked: “will scopes really make a difference?”. The answer is a resounding “Yes”, based on match results just in from Camp Perry. In the prestigious National President’s 100 Match fired July 25th, the first-, second-, and third-place finishers all had scopes. Keith Stephens won the match, SFC Evan Hess took second, and Hugh Reich finished third — an all-optics Podium. Both winner Keith Stephens and third-place Hugh Reich were running March 1-4.5x24mm scopes on their rifles. And there were many other optics users among the Top 20 competitors in the President’s 100 Finals. (The President’s 100 Match concludes with a single 10-round shoot-off at 600 yards, fired by the best 20 shooters from the prelims.)

2016 President's hundred 100 match winner Keith Stephens March scope

The March 1-4.5x24mm scope was designed expressly for Service Rifle competition and tactical applications (it will focus down to 10 yards). This first-focal-plane optic features 1/4″ MOA clicks and optimal eye relief for AR-type rifles. March’s optics experts tell us: “This scope was specifically designed for the Service Rifle match shooter. Oversized tactical turrets allow for easy windage and elevation adjustments. High-quality ED (low distortion) lenses provide superior image resolution”. Current retail price for this scope is $2338.00 from Bullets.com.

That is a significant investment to be sure. But if you asked President’s 100 Match Winner Keith Stephens, he’d probably tell you his March 1-4.5x24mm scope was worth every penny…

March Service Rifle Optic scope 1-4.5x

Permalink Competition, Optics 11 Comments »
February 21st, 2016

Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle Shines in First Field Test

Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm 15-60 competition scope riflescope

Our British friend Vince Bottomley has field-tested the brand new Vortex 15-60x52mm “Golden Eagle” riflescope. We first viewed this scope at SHOT Show and were impressed. Now Vince, in a Target Shooter Magazine review, has confirmed that that the scope works great in the real world. It has good glass, excellent tracking, and the image stays sharp even at full magnification. Vince says this 15-60X Vortex will give other high-magnification scopes a run for their money. In fact the Vortex Golden Eagle may be the new Performance-for-Price leader in the category. Price in the USA will be $1500.00.

READ Vortex 15-60X Scope Review by Vince Bottomley

Vince writes: “The Vortex deserves to line up alongside the competition – namely the March 10-60, the Nightforce 15-55 and the Leupold 7-42. The price is remarkable at [$1500.00 in the USA, under £1500 in the UK]. If you are contemplating the purchase of a scope in this magnification range, the Vortex must be on your shopping list.” This new Vortex features ED glass, and weighs 29 ounces, just one ounce more than the 15-55X Nightforce Comp. Two reticles are available — a Fine Cross-Hair (FCH), and the Vortex ECR-1 reticle with MOA-based windage and elevation hold lines. Turrets have 1/8 MOA clicks.

Precision of Clicks: Does one MOA (i.e. eight 1/8 MOA clicks) on the Golden Eagle’s turret translate to one MOA on the target? Vince fired one shot on target then wound on 20 MOA of elevation and fired another. Vince reports: “The shot-holes should be 20.94″ (20 x 1.047″) inches apart. They actually measured 21.5 inches — an excellent result. I don’t think I’ve ever had a scope better this.”

Elevation Travel: F-TR shooters using the .308 Win will need about 30 MOA to get from a 100-yard zero to 1000 yards. Vince maxed out the Golden Eagle with roughly 22 MOA of “up” elevation. He concluded that “a +20 MOA scope-rail is a ‘must’ if you’re intending to shoot out to 1000 yards. These days, almost everyone uses a 20 MOA scope rail anyway.”

Tracking Test: Vince did a “box test” running the Vortex to the limits of elevation and windage and then back again to verify that the scope returned to the starting zero. Vince observed that the scope tracked great, “with the first and last shots over-lapping. No problem there.”

Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60x52mm 15-60 competition scope riflescope

Glass Sharpness and Clarity: Vince put the the Golden Eagle alongside a 10-60 March, with both scopes mounted on F-TR rifles. Vince was impressed by the optics quality of the Vortex — it held its own vs. the “superb” March: “Firstly, we viewed the target on 40 power, the magnification which seems most popular with F-Class shooters. Both scopes registered bright, crisp images — no difference between the two. I know the March will stay sharp at maximum magnification but will the Golden Eagle? Yes! No loss of crispness in the image at 60X.”

READ FULL REVIEW of Vortex 15-60x52mm Golden Eagle Scope

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Optics 11 Comments »
May 31st, 2015

.300 WM Aussie Style — Most Popular 1000-Yard Benchrest Video

Here’s a true “Blast from the Past”, a video featuring our friend Stuart Elliott of Brisbane, Australia. This 2011 video has now racked up nearly 680,000 views, making it probably the most-watched long-range benchrest video ever uploaded to YouTube. The video shows Stuart shooting a 10-shot Heavy Gun string at the Brisbane range, Queensland, Australia, in July 2011. In this example, Stuart elected to “run a condition” with his big, .300 WM Heavy Gun, shooting fast with slight hold-off adjustments as the wind increased during the string. The cartridge is a .300 Winchester Magnum, loaded with moly-coated 190gr Berger VLDs. Stuart has an unusual bolt configuration. After each shot, Stuart removes the bolt completely with his right hand, and then uses the bolt to “shuck” the fired cartridge while loading the new cartridge with his left hand. That sounds awkward, but Stuart makes it all look easy. Stuart runs BRT Shooters Supply, a leading vendor of precision shooting equipment (including March scopes), in Australia and nearby regions.

Stuart Elliot BRT Shooters 1000 yards 1k benchrest march scope

Permalink - Videos, Competition 7 Comments »
October 2nd, 2013

Get a $300.00 Kelbly’s Credit When You Buy a March Scope

kelbly.com kelbly's march scope scale $300 credit promoThe good folks at Kelbly’s have announced a great October sales promotion. If you buy a March scope — any March scope in stock — you’ll earn a $300.00 credit that can be used to purchase any other products Kelbly’s sells. That includes rings, reloading gear, bullets, and many more items you’ll find at www.Kelbly.com.

Jim Kelbly explains how this works:

“For the month of October only, buy a March Scope in stock and get $300.00 of credit towards Kelbly’s products and the Kelbly’s store. Kelbly’s now carries a number of reloading products and bullets. The credit can be used same day as scope purchase to get scope rings or anything else we sell. This sale is for any March Scope in stock. With over 150 scopes in stock there is a great selection of scopes. If you would like to see a inventory of scopes just email us and we will send [that] to you. If you have any questions just email or call. NOTE: Scopes will only be sold to U.S. citizens and shipped to U.S. addresses.”

For more information, email jim[at]kelbly.com or call (330) 683-4674 and ask about the October Promo.

kelbly.com kelbly's march scope scale $300 credit promo

Permalink Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
July 11th, 2012

A Day at the ‘Dasher Dome’ with Birdog and Voldoc

Report by Birdog
Forum member John S. aka “Voldoc”, came over Sunday to check the elevation come-ups on his new March scope. At my home range, dubbed the ‘Dasher Dome’, we had either a gong or paper target at 100-yard intervals to 800 yards. Voldoc wanted to check his ballistic chart against real world conditions. Voldoc will use this test to verify his come-ups for a “quick-view” BDC tape that will be applied to his elevation turret. He was running his “go to”, tried and true “red mist load”, an 87gr Hornady V-Max. The rifle was a Nesika-action 6mm Dasher with 1:12″-twist HV-contour Krieger. Doc has doubles with this combination out to 700 yards and many kills past 1,000. [Editor’s Note: We featured Voldoc’s varmint rifles in our Tennessee Triple Threat story, a Gun of the Week article on this site. Notably, Voldoc made a 1,000-yard plus prarie dog kill with a 20BR shooting 55gr Bergers.]

Dasher Dome Voldoc

My ‘Dasher Dome’ is a good place for testing. Dirt berms have just been completed at 100, 300, 600, 700, an 780 yards. Voldoc started at 100 and shot at 100-yard intervals recording his elevation at each interval. His ballistic chart was within a click or two at each distance. When he reached 780 yards, he repeated the test at each distance down to 300 yards. Dead on!

Dasher Dome Voldoc

BDC Turret Tape XterminatorCustom BDC Turret Tapes
Doc already has ballistics tapes fitted to his Nightforce-equipped rigs. But Doc’s new Dasher has a March so he need to confirm the come-ups. The tapes, made by Forum member Dominic (aka “Xterminator”), show rotation clicks for various yardages. There are versions for both standard and “High-Speed” Nightforce turrets, as well as some other scope brands. For more info, send email to: media-banc [at] videotron.ca . Learn more about Dominic’s custom come-up tapes in this Forum Thread.

Doc at the ‘Dome’

Confirmed results at 780 yards
Sub-Quarter MOA group on Steel Prairie Dog

The photo at right confirms that VolDoc has his zeroes confirmed at 780 yards. Look closely. That’s about a 1.5″ center-mass group on ‘Chico’ the prairie dog (lower right). Nice Shooting Doc! Chico’s buddy, ‘Chuckie’ the steel ground-hog, took many hits. Show in photo are three hits in the throat zone.

Good Friends, Good Rifles Make for the Best of Times
Birdog reports: “Overall, this was a great way to spent a Sunday. Temps reached 103° F, but Doc got to the ‘Dasher Dome’ at 5:30 a.m. and we beat the heat. After testing was completed, we walked two miles with temps in the 90s. What can I say — good friends, good BRs — this was the best of times!

Rangefinders

Birdog Dasher Dome

Serious Rangefinders:
Very high-quality laser rangefinders permitted the shooters to confirm target distances with great precision. Birdog uses a Vectronix LRF while Voldoc uses a Leica GeoVid rangefinding binoculars.

Rangefinders

Permalink Gear Review, Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip 1 Comment »