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. Amazon — Howard Leight Electronic Muffs (Best Seller)
Every shooter should own a pair of Electronic muffs — they are great when you are doing spotting duties or are working near the firing line. They allow you to hear ordinary conversations while still providing vital hearing protection. Right now Amazon.com has the Howard Leight Impact Sport Electronic Muffs on sale for just $36.30. These NRR 22 muffs are currently Amazon’s #1 seller in the category. NOTE: For regular, sustained shooting we recommend muffs and/or earplugs with a higher NRR rating.
2. Grafs.com — Magnetospeed Sporter $179.99
If you have been waiting to get a Magnetospeed… wait no longer. Priced at just $179.99 at Grafs.com, the Magnetospeed Sporter model costs less than half as much as Magnetospeed’s V3 models. This chronograph attaches directly to your barrel so you don’t have to go downrange to position tripods and set up skyscreens. For most people the Sporter Model contains all the features they need. Using Magnetspeed’s XFR adapter (sold separately), data can be transferred easily from the display module to your mobile device. READ Magnetospeed Sporter Review.
3. Cabelas.com — Rock Chucker Supreme Reloading Kit
Everything you see above can be yours for just $225.00, after manufacturer’s rebate. Right now, Cabela’s is selling the Rock Chucker Supreme Master Reloading Kit for $300.00. That’s a good deal as this Reloading Kit sells elsewhere for up to $360.00. But he’s the real incentive — if you spend $300.00 on RCBS products in 2016, RCBS will send you a $75.00 rebate. That reduces your net cost to just $225.00 for the entire Kit.
4. Brownells — Hornady 17 HMR Ammo, $12.79 per box
If you have ever shopped for 17 HMR ammunition, you know it rarely goes on sale (it’s the law of supply and demand). Right now, as part of its “Red, White and Boom” ammo promo, Brownells.com is offering first-quality Hornady brand 17 HMR ammo for $12.79 per 50-count box. We’ve seen ammo this sell in gunshops for $16.50 per box. Stock up now for the spring varmint season.
5. CDNN Sports — Savage 93R17 for $219.99
No more excuses — you can add a 17 HMR to your collection for under $220.00. We think everyone should own a 17 HMR rifle. The 17 HMR is the perfect cartridge for dispatching ground squirrels and other small varmints. The round shoots faster and flatter than a .22 LR, and delivers more energy. This week CDNN Sports is offering the Savage 93R17 for just $219.99. This little rifle can provide years of service in the varmint fields, and the 93R17 is also a good youth training rifle.
6. Natchez — CCI Blazer 9mm ammo, $9.99 for 50 Rounds
This is the best price we’ve found this week on newly-manufactured 9mm pistol ammunition. And this is quality, CCI made-in-USA ammo with reloadable, brass casings. We have used this CCI-made Blazer 9mm ammo in Sig, HK, and Glock pistols and it performed very well. This stuff won’t last long at this price (less than $0.20 per round). If you need 9mm practice ammo, order soon.
7. Walmart — 48-gun Stack-on Gun Safe
If you need a big safe to hold lots of guns, here’s a large-capacity Stack-On Safe that’s rated for 48 long-guns. Measuring 59″ high and a full 43″ wide, this safe is much bigger than the typical safes you find at CostCo and Sam’s Club. This safe is discounted $202 right now with “Rollback” pricing. One verified safe purchaser states: “The safe interior is nice for the price. Outside finish is great. All in all this is a GREAT value after looking at safes twice this price.”
Yes, you can get a name-brand Ultrasonic cleaning machine for under fifty bucks. This Hornady Lock-N-Load Sonic Cleaner, which sells elsewhere for $75-$85, is available at Brownells.com this week for just $49.99. This cleaning machine holds up to 200 .223 Remington cases, or 100 .308 Winchester cases.
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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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Newly-issued CMP and NRA competition rules now allow Service Rifle competitors to use optics with a max magnification of 4.5X. That’s right, Service Rifle shooters can now use scopes, not just iron sights. These rule changes have created a need for a new type of riflescope, one optimized for today’s “optics-allowed” Service rifle discipline.
March Optics has just introduced a brand new 1-4.5x24mm scope designed for Service Rifle competition and tactical applications. With ultra-sharp ED glass, this new March scope should set the standard for AR-friendly 4.5X optics. This compact variable-power scope offers ideal eye relief for AR-type rifles, along with plenty of windage and elevation range. The new March 1-4.5x24mm scope is a second focal plane optic with 1/4-MOA clicks. Weight, without caps, is 18.7 ounces. The scope comes standard with a speed lever for quick zooming throughout the magnification range.
The optics experts at March tell us: “This scope was specifically designed for the Service Rifle match shooter. New rules were announced in October 2015 that allow scopes with magnification up to 4.5X power. This 1-4.5x24mm scope also makes a great optic for SWAT work as well as for a sporting rifle. Oversized tactical turrets allow for easy windage and elevation adjustments. The high quality ED lenses provide superior image resolution that make March the best in its class”. The MSRP of this high-end scope is $2750.00. March is offering a 15% OFF special now for regular purchasers*. This scope will be on display at SHOT Show Booth 549.
* March offers a 20% off MSRP price on this scope for Law Enforcement/Military members (current and retired), Pros, and U.S. Team members.
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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. Optics Planet — Lyman BoreCam, $299.49
The Lyman BoreCam is an electro-optical borescope with a digital display. You can record “stills” on a SD card. This is one of the hottest products on the market right now — so hot that it sold out at Grafs, Midsouth, and MidwayUSA. But we found some in stock. Optics Planet has the BoreCam for $299.49 with free shipping. The Tactical Store, an Optics Planet outlet, also shows the product for $299.49.
The system really works. A few of our Forum members have the system and they say it functions very well and is “very easy to set up and use”. Here’s what an Optics Planet BoreCam buyer wrote: “I have used Hawkeye borescopes and know their quality. The Lyman worked as advertised and is a great tool for checking for leading, cleanliness of bore, and bore wear. The compact size, ability to take pictures, and store them are a big plus.”
2. Amazon — NRR 34dB Safety Ear Muffs
Ear muffs with a NRR34 noise rating were the most popular items we’ve yet listed in our Deals of the Week. Now we’ve found two more ANSI-approved muffs, both with a 34dB Noise Reduction Rating — the best you can get. Chose the dark green Walker EXT Range Muffs for $13.30, or the Bright Yellow TR Industrial Muffs at $17.00. Both products have padded head-bands and fold into a compact size. If you prefer “basic black”, consider the $19.99 Sumsonic G47 Muffs which also carry a 34dB NRR.
3. WeatherFlow — Remote Bluetooth Weather Meter
This handy, multi-function WeatherFlow Weather Meter provides key weather data to your iOS and Android Mobile devices wirelessly via Bluetooth. The unit measures temperature, humidity, air pressure and dew points. With its built-in impeller, the Weather Meter will also record wind speed (average and gust), and wind direction. Hand-hold it or attach it to a pole/tripod. This wireless Weather Meter is compatible with iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and all major Android devices. This unit offers a lot of capabilities for $79.95 at Amazon.com.
We have used MidwayUSA shooting mats, as have many Forum members. This Competition Mat is a good product. The 400 denier, PVC-coated material is durable, the overall size is good, and we like the front flap that can be staked down. MidwayUSA normally sells this mat for about $85.00. Currently, it is on sale for $49.99, the best price we’ve seen all year. It’s hard to find a better padded mat for anywhere near that price.
Unrolled Dimensions: 73-½” Long x 35-½” Wide (Does not count the front flap).
Rolled Dimensions: 8-½” Diameter x 35-½” Wide | Weight: 6.5 lbs.
5. Amazon — Neiko Digital Calipers, $17.79
Even if you have a good set of calipers, you may want to get one of these Neiko 01407A Digital Calipers. The #1 best-selling digital caliper on Amazon.com, this Neiko tool features a large LCD Screen and measures up to 6.0 inches. With 1,500+ customer reviews, this product has earned an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to go wrong for $17.79, even if you just use these as a spare set for measuring group sizes and case trim lengths.
6. Eabco.com — Pillar-Bedded Laminated Stock for Savage
For a Savage-based general purpose rifle, this Laminated Thumbhole Savage Stock is a good choice, and a fine value at just $175.00 including installed pillars. (Most bargain-priced laminated stocks do NOT include pillars). This stock fits Savage actions with detachable magazines. There are four color options: Camo laminate (shown in photo), Brown Laminate, Gray Laminate, and walnut color.
7. Powder Valley — Berger .308 High-BC Match Bullets
Looking for High-BC .308-caliber match bullets? Well Powder Valley Inc. (PVI) has Berger .308 match bullets from 175 to 230 grains in stock at very attractive prices. Need Juggernauts or the latest 230gr Hybrids? PVI has them. If you are shooting a .308 Win in F-TR or a .300 WSM in F-Open, you may want to stock up now before demand picks up next spring. (PVI also has good inventories of Berger Bullets in lighter weights and other calibers.)
8. Monmouth Reloading — 1000 Lake City 5.56 Cases, $59.95
1000 pieces of Lake City brass for under sixty bucks? Yep, that’s a deal and a half. Monmouth Reloading is selling genuine, once-fired Lake City 5.56x45mm brass, thick-walled and sourced direct from the U.S. Military. Monmouth reports: “Our current stock of Lake City 5.56 looks to be all newer year Lake City head stamp but may contain a small percentage of other NATO headstamps. Lake City is a popular, reliable brass, normally capable of many reloads.” Monmouth includes 1% overage to account for any damaged brass. NOTE: Brass has crimped primers, so the pockets with need to be reamed or swaged prior to reloading.
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This helpful video from our friend Kirsten Joy Weiss explains how to avoid “scope bite”. This can occur when the scope, on recoil, moves back to contact your forehead, brow, or eye socket area. That’s not fun. While common sense tells us to avoid “scope bite” — sooner or later this happens to most shooters. One viewer noted: “I have come close. I had a Win Model 70 in .375 H & H Mag and I was shooting over a large rock in a strange position. The scope hit my eye glasses hard enough to bend the wire frames and cause a little pain on the bridge of the nose from the nose piece. [That] made a believer out of me.”
Kirsten offers a good basic principle — she suggests that you mount your rifle-scope so that the ocular (eyepiece) of the scope is positioned at least three inches or more from your eyeball when you hold the rifle in your normal shooting position. From a technical standpoint, optical eye relief is a property of the scope, so you want to purchase an optic that offers sufficient optical eye relief (meaning that it allows you to see the full circle of light with your head at least three inches from the eyepiece). Then you need to position the optic optimally for your head/eye position when shooting the rifle — with at least three inches of eyeball-to-scope separation (i.e. physical eye relief).
NOTE: You should mount the scope to provide adequate eyeball-to-scope separation for the actual position(s) you will be shooting most of the time. For an F-TR rig, this will be prone. For a hunting rifle, your most common position could be sitting or standing. Your head position will vary based on the position. You can’t assume the scope placement is correct just because it seems OK when you are testing or zeroing the gun from the bench. When shooting from a prone or kneeling position you may find your eye considerably closer to the eyepiece.
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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. Amazon — 34 NRR Top-Selling Ear Muffs
If you want serious hearing protection, and can tolerate large muffs, these Clear Armor earmuffs are hard to beat for the price. They seal very well and carry an unsurpassed 34db Noise Reduction Rating (NRR). These are the #1 Best Selling Safety Muffs on Amazon. Yes they are big and bulky — but you only have one set of ears. These are a good choice for loud magnum rifles and noisy indoor ranges.
2. Palmetto Armory — Complete AR15 Lower and Savage Axis Rifle
Palmetto Armory is running some spectacular deals today. Pick up a complete AR platform lower for just $154.99. Or get a Savage Axis .223 Rem Rifle (with scope) for just $249.99 (shipping included). These Cyber Monday Deals expire at Midnight on 11/30/2015, don’t don’t hesitate.
3. Amazon — Vortex 6.5-20x50mm Viper PA Scope
This is a very good deal on a quality 6.5-20X scope. Read the Amazon reviews — guys are comparing this scope to Leupolds that cost hundreds more. Reviewer Nomad says: “Unbelievably good scope for the money. This is one of the best, if not THE best, scopes you’ll find in this price range.” This particular 6.5-20x50mm PA Model features side-focus parallax and a Bullet Drop Compensating reticle.
4. Midsouth Shooters Supply — Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler Kit
Want to get your brass clean inside and out? This wet tumbling kit contains everything you need — even a big magnet to grab the stainless pins. The $199.99 tumbling bundle includes Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler, 10 pounds of Stainlesss Steel Media, and a Media Release Magnet. This kit will be offered by Midsouth Shooters Supply for a limited time only.
5. Grafs.com — Forster Co-Ax Reloading Press
If you’ve been patiently waiting to acquire a Forster Co-Ax® reloading press, now’s the time to strike. Grafs.com has Co-Ax presses on sale this week at $299.99. That includes shipping charges (with one flat $7.95 handling charge per order).
6. Leupold — Get $100 Cash Back with Any VX-3 Scope
Purchase any Leupold VX-3 riflescope from November 15th, 2015 to December 31st, 2015 and you can get a rebate in the form of a $100.00 check.
7. Brownells.com — 10% Off All Orders of $150.00 or More
There’s still time to save big bucks at Brownells.com. Hundreds of items are on sale, plus you can take 10% off your entire order (of $150 or more) with Coupon Code L3X. Just use CODE L3X during check-out through 11:59 pm on November 30, 2015.
8. Cabelas.com — Cyber Week Hot Deals
Now through 12/5/2015, Cabelas.com is offering a wide selection of Cyber Week Deals. You’ll find deep discounts. Show above are some of the Cyber Week Specials. That’s a great price on the Garmin unit and the $9.99 gear bag is a steal.
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Have you recently purchased a new scope? Then you should verify the actual click value of the turrets before you use the optic in competition (or on a long-range hunt). While a scope may have listed click values of 1/4-MOA, 1/8-MOA or 0.1 Mils, the reality may be slightly different. Many scopes have actual click values that are slightly higher or lower than the value claimed by the manufacturer. The small variance adds up when you click through a wide range of elevation.
In this video, Bryan Litz of Applied Ballistics shows how to verify your true click values using a “Tall Target Test”. The idea is to start at the bottom end of a vertical line, and then click up 30 MOA or so. Multiply the number of clicked MOA by 1.047 to get the claimed value in inches. For example, at 100 yards, 30 MOA is exactly 31.41 inches. Then measure the difference in your actual point of impact. If, for example, your point of impact is 33 inches, then you are getting more than the stated MOA with each click (assuming the target is positioned at exactly 100 yards).
How to Perform the Tall Target Test
The objective of the tall target test is to insure that your scope is giving you the proper amount of adjustment. For example, when you dial 30 MOA, are you really getting 30 MOA, or are you getting 28.5 or 31.2 MOA? The only way to be sure is to verify, don’t take it for granted! Knowing your scopes true click values insures that you can accurately apply a ballistic solution. In fact, many perceived inaccuracies of long range ballistics solutions are actually caused by the scopes not applying the intended adjustment. In order to verify your scope’s true movement and calculate a correction factor, follow the steps in the Tall Target Worksheet. This worksheet takes you thru the ‘calibration process’ including measuring true range to target and actual POI shift for a given scope adjustment. The goal is to calculate a correction factor that you can apply to a ballistic solution which accounts for the tracking error of your scope. For example, if you find your scope moves 7% more than it should, then you have to apply 7% less than the ballistic solution calls for to hit your target.
NOTE: When doing this test, don’t go for the maximum possible elevation. You don’t want to max out the elevation knob, running it to the top stop. Bryan Litz explains: “It’s good to avoid the extremes of adjustment when doing the tall target test.I don’t know how much different the clicks would be at the edges, but they’re not the same.”
Should You Perform a WIDE Target Test Too?
What about testing your windage clicks the same way, with a WIDE target test? Bryan Litz says that’s not really necessary: “The wide target test isn’t as important for a couple reasons. First, you typically don’t dial nearly as much wind as you do elevation. Second, your dialed windage is a guess to begin with; a moving average that’s different for every shot. Whereas you stand to gain a lot by nailing vertical down to the click, the same is not true of windage. If there’s a 5% error in your scope’s windage tracking, you’d never know it.”
Verifying Scope Level With Tall Target Test
Bryan says: “While setting up your Tall Target Test, you should also verify that your scope level is mounted and aligned properly. This is critical to insuring that you’ll have a long range horizontal zero when you dial on a bunch of elevation for long range shots. This is a requirement for all kinds of long range shooting. Without a properly-mounted scope level (verified on a Tall Target), you really can’t guarantee your horizontal zero at long range.”
NOTE: For ‘known-distance’ competition, this is the only mandatory part of the tall target test, since slight variations in elevation click-values are not that important once you’re centered “on target” at a known distance.
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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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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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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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Here’s a special savings opportunity from Midsouth Shooters Supply — save up to 60% on unclaimed special order items. From time to time, Midsouth’s customers request special order items but never claim them. To clear space for other inventory, Midsouth is running a blow-out sale on these items. If you’re looking for a super deal on dies, rings, and other gear, check out this Unclaimed Special Order Item Sale. Here are just a few examples of items at 30% off normal pricing:
AMMO: 6.5x55mm 100 Grain A-Max 20 Rounds (Closeout $28.90) SCOPE: Leupold VX-2 4-12x50mm CDS Duplex Reticle Matte Finish (Closeout $374.50) DIES: Forster 223 WSSM Full Length Die & Ultra Micrometer Seater Set (Closeout $67.92) SCOPE MOUNT: Integrated 1″ Ring Mount Weatherby/Howa Short Action (Closeout $36.96) KNIFE: Gerber Powerframe Serrated Knife (Closeout $14.91)
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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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Need a high-magnification scope for long-range competition? Among quality scopes with 40+ power, we think the Sightron SIII 10-50x60mm scope may be the best value on the market right now. For a limited time, these scopes are available through Amazon.com for under $980.00. That’s less than half the price of a Leupold 7-42x56mm VX-6, and about 42% of the cost of a Nightforce 15-55X competition model. The Sightron is a good product with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty.
Half the Cost of Leupold 7-42x56mm
Proceeds from Each Sale Help Support Shooter’s Forum
Target Dot Reticle
Fine X-Hair Reticle
NOTE: There are a variety of reticle options and both 1/4-MOA and 1/8-MOA click versions are offered. Read the product description carefully when ordering to be sure you’ve selected your preferred reticle type and click value.
MIL-system scopes are popular with tactical shooters. One advantage of MIL scopes is that the mil-dot divisions in the reticle can be used to estimate range to a target. If you know the actual size of a target, you can calculate the distance to the target relatively easily with a mil-based ranging reticle. Watch this helpful NRA video to see how this is done:
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.”
Let’s say you’ve purchased a new scope, and the spec-sheet indicates it is calibrated for quarter-MOA clicks. One MOA is 1.047″ inches at 100 yards, so you figure that’s how far your point of impact (POI) will move with four clicks. Well, unfortunately, you may be wrong. You can’t necessarily rely on what the manufacturer says. Production tolerances being what they are, you should test your scope to determine how much movement it actually delivers with each click of the turret. It may move a quarter-MOA, or maybe a quarter-inch, or maybe something else entirely. (Likewise scopes advertised as having 1/8-MOA clicks may deliver more or less than 1 actual MOA for 8 clicks.)
Reader Lindy explains how to check your clicks: “First, make sure the rifle is not loaded. Take a 40″ or longer carpenter’s ruler, and put a very visible mark (such as the center of an orange Shoot’N’C dot), at 37.7 inches. (On mine, I placed two dots side by side every 5 inches, so I could quickly count the dots.) Mount the ruler vertically (zero at top) exactly 100 yards away, carefully measured.
LongRangeHunting.com recently published a helpful review of the new Nightforce 3-10x42mm SHV scope. If you’re looking for a hunting optic or you are interested in predator hunting, this review is worth a read. Author Tim Titus, an experienced hunting guide from Oregon, tests the little SHV is the field, bagging a coyote in the process.
Tim was impressed with the 3-10 SHV, given it’s price level: “While the SHV performed flawlessly on this hunt, NXS or ATACR owners will notice some subtle differences in form and function when comparing this scope to its more expensive big brothers. The Nightforce SHV won’t replace the 2.5-10X NXS for those who want to turn turrets on a consistent basis or who have the need for specialized or lighted reticles. But … for current Nightforce owners wanting a more affordable alternative … the SHV opens another playing field in what is still a very upscale optic. I’m confident this new scope will find its way onto many big game and predator hunting rifles.”
Trijicon has introduced a new line of Second Focal Plane scopes with illuminated reticles. Trijicon’s new AccuPower™ riflescope series includes four models. The smallest AccuPower, well-suited for short-range hunting and 3-Gun Games, is the 1-4×24mm. Next up is a general purpose 3-9×40mm. For hunting and sporting use there are a 2.5-10×56mm and a 4-16×50mm with bigger objectives for better low-light performance. All these four models offer either 1/4-MOA or 0.1 Mil clicks. AccuPower scopes feature aluminum scope tubes, multi-coated lenses, and application-specific illuminated reticles. The 3-9x40mm has a 1″-diameter tube while the other models have 30mm tubes.
The AccuPower series incorporates a hybrid black chrome/etch and fill illuminated reticle system available in red or green, with eleven (11) brightness settings. Notably, there is an “off” feature between each brightness setting.
Four reticle choices are offered: MOA reticle, MIL-square reticle, Duplex crosshair, and the popular competition Segmented Circle crosshair with BDC capabilities.
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