Our friend Vince Bottomley in the UK has written an excellent article for Target Shooter Magazine. Vince offers “solid-gold” advice for new F-TR and F-Open shooters. Vince reviews the cartridge options, and offers suggestions for a shooter’s first (and hopefully affordable) F-Class rifle. Vince also reviews various bipod choices for F-TR and discusses optics options (from $300 to $3000).
Lyman’s digital BoreCam is one of the hottest rifle/gunsmithing accessories on the market right now. The product sells out quickly whenever a vendor gets a few in stock. Make no mistake, this is a good product that works well, and, at around $300.00, is it affordable for most shooters. The BoreCam provides vital information about your bore and chamber, and has the ability to save images to an SD card.
Our British friend Vince Bottomley recently obtained a Lyman BoreCam and put it through its paces. Vince came away very impressed. He says it is an easy-to-use and very capable bore inspection tool at a fraction of the cost of a high-end optical borescope (such as the Hawkeye). Vince says serious shooters should definitely acquire one of these tools: “In my opinion, this product is one of the very best to come along in recent years and I predict that the demand for these [Lyman BoreCams] will be very heavy. I would advise you to place an order as quickly as possible if you want one.”
Here are highlights from Vince’s review of the Lyman BoreCam: “If I were to replace my [Hawkeye optical borescope] today with another Hawkeye, it would cost me well over £700 – stick on a video adapter and we are looking at four figures. That’s what makes the new Lyman digital borescope so attractive – at around £250 including a monitor – it’s an absolute steal!
But £250 – with a video attachment and photo-capture facility – can this really be a useable borescope? Trust me it is! But what use is a borescope. Why do you need one? Well, whatever you shoot, the condition of your rifle’s bore is critical. And I’m not just talking about a bore that’s ‘shot-out’ – maybe you just aren’t cleaning it thoroughly. Or maybe some defect within the chamber or rifling is preventing your rifle delivering the kind of performance you expect. Even at £700, a borescope can be cost-effective – if it saves you the cost of just one new barrel.”
Vince explained how the BoreCam can quickly diagnose problems in a barrel: “A customer started to have difficulty chambering rounds in his 308 Target Rifle…. The borescope quickly revealed the problem – a hard ring of copper and carbon had built-up immediately in front of the chamber. When you use a bore-guide (and you always should do) it can sometimes ‘protect’ this first bit of the bore from the cleaning-brush. Although the rest of the bore was spotless, this tiny section was not. Once we knew where the problem was, it was simple matter to carefully clean it up.”
“A borescope will tell you if your cleaning regime is effective, or inspect for throat-erosion and the general condition of the rifling. In addition, it’s very useful to the gunsmith for inspecting newly-cut chambers – making sure they are free from scoring and other machining defects.” Vince also recommends using the BoreCam to inspect barrel crowns: “Tiny burrs can often be present on newly-cut crowns and even the minutest of damage to a crown… can play havoc with accuracy. For the serious shooter, you could say that a borescope is the equivalent of a doctor’s stethoscope.”
The Ugly Truth Revealed
Here are some inside-the-barrel photos Vince took with the Lyman BoreCam. Vince notes: “This barrel came out of the scrap-bin, but someone had actually been shooting this rifle before he finally gave up and came in for a new barrel. Shooting a barrel in this condition is really throwing good money down range! Buy a borescope and stop shooting long before your barrel gets into this state!”
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At the request of our readers, we have launched a “Deals of the Week” feature. Every Monday morning we offer our Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on hardware, reloading components, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.
1. Midsouth — Vortex Diamondback Scopes under $200.00
Vortex scopes are probably the most popular optics used by Precision Rifle Series competitors. The reason is that Vortex optics offer good performance and great value for money. Here’s a killer deal on mid-power variable Vortex scopes suitable for hunting or plinking rifles. The Vortex Diamondbacks are very rugged, and are supported by a no-BS Lifetime warranty.
2. Natchez — RCBS Special-5 Reloading Kit
This kit is easily worth the $199.99 just for the press, primer tool, and powder measure (not to mention all the other stuff you get). We like the compact Reloader Special press as a secondary press for range use or special tasks such as bullet-pointing. This $199.99 RCBS Kit (which qualifies for a $10.00 RCBS Rebate) includes: Reloader Special-5 Press, Uniflow Powder Measure, RCBS Priming Tool, RCBS Loading Block, Deburring Tool, RCBS Powder Trickler, Powder Measure Stand, Funnel, and Nosler Loading Manual. Even if you already own a basic reloading press, this Kit is a great overall value.
3. MidwayUSA — Sierra BlitzKing Bullets, $105.99 for 500
Varmint slayers rejoice. Here is a super deal on Sierra’s plastic-tipped BlitzKing bullets. Right now you can get 500 BlitzKing bullets for just $105.99. Get this low price on the .204-caliber 39gr boattail, or the .224-caliber 50- or 55-grain boattails. MidwayUSA also has other Sierra BlitzKing Bullets on sale, with big saving off the regular price. For example, the 6mm, 70gr BlitzKing is now just $134.99 for 500.
4. Cabela’s — Combo Tactical Hard Case and Soft Case Duo
Get two (2) cases for the price of one. Here’s a sweet clearance deal from Cabelas.com. Right now you can get a tactical hard case PLUS a padded nylon soft case for just $79.88 (marked down from $119.99). The hard case measures 36″L x 13.25″W x 4.5″ on the inside. It features a high-density foam interior plus 4 steel external latches. The soft case features a water-resistant polyester shell and polyester lining.
5. MidwayUSA — Norma .22 LR Rimfire Ammo on Sale
This Norma .22 LR rimfire ammo is good stuff. We’ve shot hundreds of rounds of the Tac-22 and it has performed well for cross-training and tactical rimfire games. We like this Norma rimfire ammo much better than the Remington and Federal bulk packs — and the price is very competitive. Right now MidwayUSA is offering 500-round boxes of Tac 22 for $59.95 (that’s just 12 cents a round).
6. Sportsman’s Guide — Henry AR-7 Packable Survival Rifle
Here’s a unique item to add to your collection. The Henry AR-7 Survival rifle breaks down and stows in its own buttstock. Weighing just 3.5 pounds, this little semi-auto rimfire can perform pest-control duties for a farmer or rancher, or serve as a utility rifle carried in a truck or ATV. The cleverly-designed AR-7 is affordably priced at $227.99 ($216.59 for Sportsman’s Guide Club Members).
Burris Signature Zees are our “go-to” rings for use with benchrest rifles. Right now Amazon has the 1″-diameter High Sig Zee rings on sale for $34.00 (Matte Black) or $38.00 (Nickel). Burris also offers medium height 1″-diameter Sig Zees. The 30mm Signature Zee rings are somewhat more expensive (about $50.00), but still well worth the price in our view. This Editor uses 30mm Signature Zee Rings for his personal 6mmBR rifle. The polymer inserts allow you to pre-load elevation, and also eliminate the need to lap your rings.
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Here’s a “spy photo” of the new scope. Price and release date are yet to be determined.
If you’ve been planning to purchase a premium, high-magnification, variable-power competition scope this year… you may want to hold off for a few weeks. We just learned that Schmidt & Bender will be introducing an all-new, “super-zoom” optic for 2016. Schmidt & Bender’s impressive new 5-45x56mm PM II High Power, offers a remarkable 9X zoom ratio. That makes it suitable for a wide variety of shooting disciplines. A tactical competitor can dial back to 5-power for a wide field of view on close-in targets. Or, for 1000-yard shooting, crank the scope all the way up to 45-power. S&B says the scope is intended for “tactical ultra-long-range shooting”. With its ultra-bright, ultra-sharp German glass, this new scope could also become popular with F-Class competitors — if it is priced reasonably. We called Schmidt & Bender USA, but we were informed that no further product details or pricing information could be released prior to SHOT Show.
In addition to the new 5-45X comp scope, Schmidt & Bender plans to introduce six other new scope models in 2016. There will be two Polar T96 models, a 3-12X and a 4-16X. The current 2.5-10X Polar T96 boasts an industry-leading 96% light transmission. S&B claims this is the “brightest low-light hunting scope in the world”. For 2016, S&B will also introduce two PM II models with digital reticle display features, the 3-27X and 5-25X “Digital BT” scopes. Finally, two new PM II “Ultra-Bright” scopes will be added to the lineup. We believe these will be a 3-12X and a 4-16X.
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The most important 2016 CMP rule change allows 4.5X (max) optical sights for Service Rifle shooting.
The new 2016 rulebooks for CMP-governed Service Rifle, Pistol and CMP Games shooting events have just been released. There are some very important changes for 2016, including the authorization of scopes for Service Rifle competition. You can download the new Rulebooks for free with the links below. NOTE: The most important 2016 Rules changes are indicated with underlined text in the new Rulebooks.
The big rule changes in the 2016 CMP competition rules concern the modernization of CMP Service Rifle standards. Starting in 2016, Service Rifle competitors will be able to choose between service rifles with traditional metallic sights or rifles with telescopes with a maximum of 4.5X magnification. These scopes may be fixed-power or variable, with max 4.5 power zoom. This rule change was coordinated with a similar rule change adopted by the NRA.
The CMP states: “The decision to legalize optical sights on service rifles was taken after several years of discussion and a recognition that U.S. military personnel no longer use anything but optical sights on their military rifles. CMP Service Rifle rules have traditionally tried to keep abreast of military rifle and training developments so opening Service Rifle shooting to optical sights became an inevitable change. To quote one comment received by the CMP, “It is very difficult now to say that as-issued ‘AR-15 or M16′ does not include telescopes.”
Another major change in the CMP Service Rifle rules will allow the use of a much wider variety of M16/AR15-type rifles. Legal service rifles will no longer be restricted to rifles that rigidly comply with the M16 service rifle profile. Starting in 2016, Service Rifles can be any “M16 U. S. Service Rifle or a similar AR15 type commercial rifle that is derived from the M16 service rifle design” and that complies with these restrictions:
Chambered for the 5.56 x 45 mm (.223) NATO cartridge.
Designed or modified for semi-automatic fire only.
Have either a gas-impingement system or a piston-operated gas system.
Have a barrel that is no longer than 20 inches, or 21 5/8 inches if the barrel has a flash suppressor.
Must use the same upper receiver and barrel for the entire match.
Have a trigger pull of at least 4.5 pounds.
Quad rails or similar hand guards are permitted, but the front sling swivel location must be fixed at 13 ¼ inches (+/- ½ in.) ahead of the forward edge of the magazine well (8.0 inches on M4 configured rifles).
Use standard service magazines or commercial equivalents.
Have a fixed or collapsible butt-stock that may vary in length and even be adjusted between firing stages. Butt-plates or cheek-pieces may not, however, be adjustable.
Have a standard A1 or A2 pistol grip.
Extended bolt releases and mirror-image left-hand receivers will be permitted.
No Weight Limit For Service Rifles
Before issuing its new rules, the CMP solicited comments. A substantial majority of competitors’ comments supported allowing optical sights and the broadening of the Service Rifle rule. The one rule change that most shooters opposed was a proposed weight limit for Service Rifles with optical sights. After considering these comments, the CMP Rules Committee rejected the the Service Rifle weight limit proposal. Accordingly, in 2016, there will be no weight limits for Service Rifles, whether they have optical or metallic sights.
Iron Sights and Optics Will Compete in the Same Class
The CMP considered having optics-equipped Service Rifles in a separate classification. That idea was rejected. So, for 2016 there will be ONE CLASS for all Service Rifles (both iron-sighted and scoped). The CMP observed that “the arguments for having one unified competitor category competing together for EIC points and Distinguished Badges prevailed. Having separate categories and one Distinguished Badge would have created nightmare administrative challenges. Having two categories and separate Distinguished Rifleman Badges for optical and metallic sighted rifles would have become a formula for diminishing the prestige of the traditional Distinguished Rifleman Badge. The final CMP decision was to keep one strong, unified Service Rifle event instead of two smaller categories[.]”
Rule Change Concerning Malfunctions (No more Alibis)
Another major Service Rifle rule change will abolish allowing extra time or refires for malfunctions. This change will save time because malfunction refires effectively double the length of time needed for rapid-fire relays in big matches. The main reason for this change is to place more responsibility on competitors for having rifles and ammunition that function with complete reliability. Comments received by the CMP concerning this change showed that it is controversial, but a majority of shooters supported the change. One shooter wrote: “The elimination of “alibis” is long overdue. It was always most frustrating to me when it takes longer to shoot rapid fire than slow fire.”
Story Tip by Shiraz Balolia of Bullets.com. We welcome reader submissions.
SHOT Show in Las Vegas is just two weeks away. Here are some of the interesting new products that will debut at SHOT Show. You can find these items and hundreds more new-for-2016 products at the SHOW Show New Product Center.
The Newcon Optik Spotter LRF is a combined spotting scope and laser rangefinder — the first of its kind. This unique piece of equipment integrates a Newcon Optik Laser Rangefinder with a 15-45X Spotting Scope with etched mil-dot reticle. Newcon Optik claims a 5500m maximum range for the LRF. The integrated scope/LRF is housed in a rugged yet light-weight MIL-SPEC housing. We like the idea of a combined Spotter/LRF. Will other companies try to copy Newcon Optik’s innovative design?
Mason Target Systems — AR500 Steel Target With Shot Sensor
The MTS Target System “Pescadero” unit combines a rugged AR500 steel target with a durable electronics and sensor package that allows shooters to view their shots on a mobile App. With on-board power and wireless communication technology, the system will display shot location to the shooter positioned hundreds of yards away. So you can hear the “ding” of steel and then see your exact shot location on your smart phone or tablet. To aid aiming, the Pescadero target can mount self-healing polymer targets to the AR500 steel plate. Visit MasonTargetSystems.com for more information.
Schweitzer Optics — First-Ever Double FOV Scope
Here is a very innovative new hunting scope that actually displays a 3.5 X view AND and 1.0 X view simultaneously. Schweitzer claims this is the first and only double Field of View (FOV) sports optic in the world. This innovative optical technology doesn’t come cheap — Schweitzer’s Eagle Eye 3.5 dual POV scope retails for $2500.00.
Annealing Made Perfect — Induction Annealing Machine
No more flaming torches (and burned fingers). The AMP Annealing system anneals through electrical induction. This micro-processor controlled, precision-calibrated induction annealer provides exact and repeatable neck hardness. With the various AMP-made pilot inserts, the machine will handle popular cartridge types from .17 Caliber all the way up to 460 Weatherby. Anneal times are pre-programmed for optimal results.
Accu-Tac — SR-5 Tactical Bipod
The Accu-Tac SR-5 Bipod is crafted from high-quality billet aluminum. The SR-5 mounts quickly and securely to a 1913 Picatinny rail. The bipod’s wide stance provides good stability. Ratcheted leg extensions adjust to five different heights, and then retract quickly with a one-button retraction lever. Legs can be deployed in a conventional 90-degree orientation, or at a 45-degree angle either forwards or rearwards.
Lyman Products — Cyclone Rotary (Wet) Tumbler
Lyman is introducing a new Rotary Tumbler for 2016. Designed for use with stainless (pin-type media) and liquid, this Cyclone Tumbler gets brass thoroughly clean inside and out. The large capacity drum holds up to 1000 pieces of .223 Rem brass and features a rubber lining to protect brass and greatly reduce operating noise. The included two-piece sifter pans make separating cases and pins easy.
Swiss+Tech Products — Tac20 Firearms Multi-Tool
This new multi-function gun tool contains 4 driver bits, 2 Torx drivers, 2 Allen drivers, gun pin punch, sight wrench, castle nut wrench, flat screwdriver, bottle opener, knife, and LED flashlight. It even contains a fitting with a male thread connection for attaching cleaning rods. That’s clever. All totaled, the Tac20 multi-tool offers 20 features — that’s a lot of functionality in a small, compact package from Swiss+Tech Products.
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Do you know which one of your eyes is dominant? It’s easy to determine eye dominance with a simple exercise. Pick an object about 6-10 feet away (a light switch or door knob works well). Make an “OK” sign with your right hand (see photo) and hold that about 18″ from your face. Now, with both eyes open, look through the circle formed by your thumb and index finger. Center the circle on the object, so you can see the object in the middle.
Now, here’s the important part — while still holding your hand up, centered on the object, first close your right eye. If you don’t see the object anymore, then your right eye is dominant. If you still see the object, then repeat the procedure with the left eye shut and right eye open. If you don’t see the object when your left eye (only) is closed, then you are left-eye dominant.
The digital archives of Shooting Sports USA contain many interesting articles. A while back, Shooting Sports USA featured a “must-read” expert Symposium on Eye Dominance, as it affects both rifle and pistol shooting. No matter whether you have normal dominance (i.e. your dominant eye is on the same side as your dominant hand), or if you have cross-dominance, you’ll benefit by reading this excellent article. The physiology and science of eye dominance is explained by Dr. Norman Wong, a noted optometrist. In addition, expert advice is provided by champion shooters such as David Tubb, Lones Wigger, Dennis DeMille, Julie Golob, Jessie Harrison, and Phil Hemphill.
Top Rifle Champions Talk About Eye Dominance:
David Tubb — 11-Time National High Power Champion
I keep both eyes open, always. Some use an opaque blinder in rifle or shotgun shooting. If you close your non-dominant eye, you will not get as good a sight picture. If your aiming eye is not your dominant eye, you have even more of a problem to overcome.
Lones Wigger — World, National and Olympic Champion Rifleman
Shooters should try to use the dominant eye unless the vision is impaired and the non-dominant eye has better vision. You should always shoot with both eyes open since this will allow the shooting eye to function properly.
Dennis DeMille — National Service Rifle Champion
I close my non-shooting eye initially. Once I pick up my sight picture, it’s not something I focus on. For those that use a patch, I recommend that they use something white to block their view, rather than cover the eye.
Bruce Piatt — 2015 World Shooting Championship Winner
Some shooters, especially those with nearly equal or cross-dominance, will naturally find themselves squinting one eye. When anyone does this, you are also closing your dominant eye to some extent and adding stress to your face.
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Nightforce Optics has just launched a new monthly newsletter. This free, subscription-based digital publication will offer information on optics, target shooting, hunting, and other topics of interest. The debut October issue, released this week, features match reports, tactical shooting hold-over advice, plus a TECH TIP explaining Parallax.
PARALLAX – What is it and Why is it important?
What is Parallax?
Parallax is the apparent movement of the scope’s reticle (cross-hairs) in relation to the target as the shooter moves his eye across the exit pupil of the riflescope. This is caused by the target and the reticle being located in different focal planes.
Why is it Important?
The greater the distance to the target and magnification of the optic, the greater the parallax error becomes. Especially at longer distances, significant sighting error can result if parallax is not removed.
How to Remove Parallax
This Nightforce Tech Tip video quickly shows how to remove parallax on your riflescope.
While keeping the rifle still and looking through the riflescope, a slight nod of the head up and down will quickly determine if parallax is present. To remove parallax, start with the adjustment mechanism on infinity and rotate until the reticle remains stationary in relation to the target regardless of head movement. If parallax has been eliminated, the reticle will remain stationary in relation to the target regardless of eye placement behind the optic.
If you want to subscribe to the Nightforce Newsletter, CLICK HERE to open the Newsletter then click the green “Join Email List” button at the top of the page.
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If you’ve been considering the new Nightforce SHV scope for a hunting application, head over to LongRangeHunting.com. There you’ll find an in-depth field test of the 4-14x56mm SHV by Nicholas Gebhart. This is a very thorough review — Gebhardt checks every feature of the scope and comparison tests the SHV against the more costly Nightforce NXS 3.5-15x50mm. Gebhardt even put the SHV scope in his freezer for a weekend to ensure there was no fogging.
Overall, Gebhardt was very pleased with the SHV: “Optical clarity, image brightness, contrast and resolution were all extremely good.” The tester also liked the MOAR reticle in his scope. He didn’t think it was too “busy” though he thought the hold-over lines would benefit from numbers: “Nightforce’s MOAR was easy to use and provided a clear sight picture for engaging small targets. The line thickness is perfect for both precise shot placement and visibility. My personal preference however would be for the even hash marks to be numbered for the entire lower portion of the reticle.” Gebhart noted that the SHV’s side parallax knob had yardage marking numbers that proved accurate (and handy to use) — most other scopes just have lines.
Nightforce SHV vs. Nighforce NXS
How did the new SHV stack up against the NXS in a side-by-side comparison? Gebhardt was impressed with the $995.00 SHV, saying it held its own with the pricier NXS model: “I took about 30 minutes to evaluate the optics of the SHV and see how it compared to an older Nightforce NXS 3.5-15X50. Both of these scopes are made in Japan but given the price differential, I expected to see some difference in the optical quality. To my surprise, I couldn’t find any optical difference between the two except for a very slight possibility of a brighter image with the SHV.”
Nicholas Gebhardt has been an active hunter primarily pursuing mule deer, antelope, coyotes and prairie dogs since he was old enough to legally hunt. Nicholas is also a precision rifle competitor and a Captain in the Montana National Guard.
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Hunting season is right around the corner. That means its time to inspect all your hunting gear, including your scope set-up. A proper scope installation involves more than just tensioning a set of rings — you need to consider the proper eye relief and head position.
In this NSSF video, Ryan Cleckner shows how to set up a scope on a hunting or tactical rifle. Ryan, a former U.S. Army Sniper Instructor, notes that many hunters spend a small fortune on equipment, but fail to set up their rifle to use the optics optimally. Cleckner likens this to someone who owns an expensive sports car, but never adjusts the seat or the mirrors.
Ryan notes that you want your head and neck to be able to rest naturally on the stock, without straining. You head should rest comfortably on the stock. If you have to consciously lift your head off the stock to see through the scope, then your set-up isn’t correct. Likewise, You shouldn’t have to push your head forward or pull it back to see a clear image through the scope. If you need to strain forward or pull back to get correct eye relief, then the scope’s fore/aft position in the rings needs to be altered. Watch the full video for more tips.
Tips on Mounting Your Scope and Adjusting Your Comb Height:
1. Normally, you want your scope mounted as low as possible, while allowing sufficient clearance for the front objective. (NOTE: Benchrest shooters may prefer a high mount for a variety of reasons.)
2. Once the scope height is set, you need to get your head to the correct level. This may require adding an accessory cheekpad, or raising the comb height if your rifle has an adjustable cheekpiece.
3. Start with the rifle in the position you use most often (standing, kneeling, or prone). If you shoot mostly prone, you need to get down on the ground. Close your eyes, and let you head rest naturally on the stock. Then open your eyes, and see if you are too low or too high. You may need to use a cheekpad to get your head higher on the stock.
4. If your scope has a flat on the bottom of the turret housing, this will help you level your scope. Just find a flat piece of metal that slides easily between the bottom of the scope and the rail. Slide that metal piece under the scope and then tilt it up so the flat on the bottom of the scope aligns parallel with the flats on the rail. Watch the video at 8:40 to see how this is done.
Video find by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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They knocked it, tossed it, even hammered with it — but they couldn’t kill a Nightforce NXS. In this remarkable torture test video, past Nightforce Exec Kyle Brown (with help from NF employee Sean Murphy), absolutely brutalizes a Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56mm scope. Brown bangs the NXS on a concrete bench-top, throws it 50 yards downrange, knocks it on a hardwood beam multiple times, and then heaves it back again. We kid you not. To our eternal surprise, the Nightforce scope survives all that abuse and shoots fine. What did Timex once say — “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking”?
Video is Continuous — No Tricks
You’ve got to watch this video — it was shot with five cameras and runs with no “time-outs”, cutaways, or video tricks. What you see is what you get. This is one tough NXS. Thank you Kyle Brown and crew for taking the time to prove the durability of Nightforce Optics products.
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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.
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Old eyes not up to the task of inspecting your brass and bullets anymore? Need a magnified view so you can check bullet meplats and polymer tips for defects? Want to very carefully inspect a reamer before you run it into an expensive new barrel blank? Well then you can use this handy gadget — a high-resolution microscope that can be plugged into a laptop or tablet computer. It costs only $35.00 — about the same as a box of match bullets.
The Plugable Digital Microscope is Amazon’s #1 Best Seller among digital microscopes. This $35.00 unit offers 10X to 250X magnification — more close-up power than you’ll ever need in your reloading room. Surrounding the “viewing” lens is LED halo light with convenient brightness adjustment control. This built-in light is very handy when inspecting the innards of complex parts.
This Digital Microscope works with Windows, Apple (iOS), and Linux operating systems. It can plug in to the vast majority of modern computers and mobile devices via a standard USB 2.0 port. The Plugable Microscope uses an industry-standard webcam chipset and sensor, so you can probably run the unit without needing to install software. However, if you have an older operating system, drivers are available free from www.Plugable.com”. Free third-party software is also available that lets you capture still pictures and video.
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Nightforce is bringing out a new 20-60X 80mm spotting scope that is significantly less expensive than its 82mm big brother, the 20-70X TS-82. The new TS-80 Hi-Def spotter is priced at $1595.00 MSRP compared to $2653.00 for the TS-82 (MAP “street price”). Yes, you heard that right, the new TS-80 is more than $1000.00 less expensive than its 82mm big brother. That’s a lot of hard-earned cash saved in return for the loss of just 10X magnification on the upper end. Both spotting scopes feature high-definition glass and easy-to-use, full-diameter focusing controls.
At its $1595.00 price point, the Nightforce TS-80 looks like a winner. It shares features we liked in the more expensive TS-82: Extra-low-Dispersion (ED) glass, easy-to-use zoom ring, built-in sunshade, and rubber armor on the entire body. However, on the TS-80 the eyepiece is NON-removable. That means you cannot swap in a different eyepiece (such as a fixed power 25X for greater field of view).
The TS-80 offers a lot of performance for the $1595.00 price. Most other current-production spotting scopes with comparable features and ED glass cost a lot more. Weight is 68 ounces (4 lbs., 4 oz.) — that’s fairly hefty. The TS-80 will focus from 20 feet to infinity, making it suitable for all shooting chores, even close-range pistol work. The mounting foot fits many quick-release tripods and accepts standard 1/4″ tripod screws. The TS-80 includes an integral, retractable sunshade for the front objective. Optional accessories include a protective sleeve and a fitted carrying case, shown below.
Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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Hunters and tactical shooters need scopes with good low-light performance. For a scope to perform well at dawn and dusk, it needs good light transmission, plus a reasonably large exit pupil to make maximum use of your eye’s light processing ability. And generally speaking, the bigger the front objective, the better the low-light performance, other factors being equal. Given these basic principles, how can we quickly evaluate the low-light performance of different makes and models of scopes?
Here’s the answer: ScopeCalc.com offers a FREE web-based Low-Light Performance Calculator that lets you compare the light gain, perceived brightness, and overall low-light performance of various optics. Using this scope comparison tool is pretty easy — just input the magnification, objective diameter, exit pupil size, and light transmission ratio. If the scope’s manufacturer doesn’t publish an exit pupil size, then divide the objective diameter in millimeters by the magnification level. For example a 20-power scope with a 40mm objective should have a 2mm exit pupil. For most premium scopes, light transmission rates are typically 90% or better (averaged across the visible spectrum). However, not many manufacturers publish this data, so you may have to dig a little.
ScopeCalc.com’s calculator can be used for a single scope, a pair of scopes, or multiple scopes. Once you’ve typed in the needed data, click “Calculate” and the program will produce comparison charts showing Light Gain, Perceived Brightness, and Low-Light Performance. Though the program is easy to use, and quickly generates comparative data, assessing scope brightness, as perceived by the human eye, is not a simple matter. You’ll want to read the annotations that appear below the generated charts. For example, ScopeCalc’s creators explain: “Perceived brightness is calculated as the cube root of the light gain, which is the basis for modern computer color space brightness scaling.”
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If you are looking for a great deal on a top-quality scope, visit Kelbly.com. Our friends at Kelbly’s are now discounting their remaining inventory of March Scopes. Bullets.com has taken over distribution of March Scopes in North and South America, but Kelbly’s has a few models remaining at deeply discounted prices. In addition, Kelbly’s has some Vortex Razor HD and Vortex Viper scopes on sale.
We all know Zeiss makes good optics, and now you can save $50-$150 on Zeiss binoculars or Zeiss riflescopes. As part of the Zeiss Summer Field Days promotion, Zeiss is offering $50.00 cash back on select scopes and binoculars (and $150.00 on the Victory HD binos). Hunters may want to take advantage of this offer for the CONQUEST HD5, and Victory HT Scopes with RAPID-Z ballistic reticles. Those are nice optics. To claim the rebate, purchase eligible products between 7/1 and 8/31/2015 at any participating ZEISS Authorized Dealer, then visit the Zeiss Online Rebate Center to register your rebate. Be sure to save your product receipts.
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Forum member Jacob spotted this simple, but effective set of scope ring inserts on the Brownells’ Website. With these inserts, you can use a scope with 1″-diameter body in 30mm rings. Non-marring, matte black Delrin sleeves surround the scope tube so it can fit larger-diameter rings. Each sleeve comes in two parts for easy installation around your scope tube. Ring Reducers are sold as front/rear kits. Cost is $14.99 for the 30mm to 1″ ring adapters, item 084-000-091.
Note: These Brownells units simply function as plastic bushings. Unlike Burris Signature Ring inserts, they do not allow you to “pre-load” windage or elevation. If your rings are misaligned, the Brownells Ring Reducers won’t correct that problem.
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Starting June 1, 2015, Bullets.com will take over distribution of March Optics scopes in North America, replacing Kelbly’s. You will soon be able to order March scopes from Bullets.com, which now has exclusive March Scopes importing and distribution rights for the USA, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. For a limited time, Bullets.com will offer March scopes at 15% below regular list pricing.
Bullets.com President Shiraz Balolia is excited about the March scope deal. He himself uses March scopes on his target rifles, and he knows their quality: “We are very fortunate to have been appointed to be the exclusive distributors for the American continent of a very high end scope line like March. I have been a user of March scopes almost since they were first offered. Many major matches have been won with them.”
Tactical ace Zak Smith of Thunder Beast Arms employs a simple, handy means to store his elevation and wind dift data — a laminated data card. To make one, first generate a come-up table, using one of the free online ballistics programs such as JBM Ballistics. You can also put the information in an Excel spreadsheet or MS Word table and print it out. You want to keep it pretty small.
Above is a sample of a data card. For each distance, the card includes drop in inches, drop in MOA, drop in mils. It also shows drift for a 10-mph cross wind, expressed three ways–inches, MOA, and mils. Zak explained that “to save space… I printed data every 50 yards. For an actual data-card, I recommend printing data every 20 or 25 yards.” But Zak also advised that you’ll want to customize the card format to keep things simple: “The sample card has multiple sets of data to be more universal. But if you make your own data card, you can reduce the chance of a mistake by keeping it simple. Because I use scopes with MILS, my own card (photo below left) just has three items: range, wind, drop in MILS only.”