Nightforce’s 42x44mm fixed-power Benchrest scope mounted on James Mock’s 6mm Dasher.
Nightforce 42x44mm Comp Scope for Benchrest Shooters, by James Mock
Among long range shooters the name Nightforce has long commanded respect because of NF’s great optics and durability. However, the Benchrest disciplines that require either a 10-lb or 10.5-lb rifle had to forego the use of the Nightforce scopes because of their two+ pounds of weight. Some used the Benchrest model in the Heavy Varmint category (13.5-lb max weight) but not many in the Light Varmint, Sporter, or Hunter categories. That may change thanks to a new scope from Nightforce.
The folks at Nightforce Optics listened to benchrest shooters in the lighter classes and developed a new, light weight 42x44mm Competition Scope that weighs just 20.7 ounces. This scope comes as a fixed-power 42X and is without some of the “bells and whistles” of its larger cousins.
Key features of this scope important to Benchrest shooters are: ED glass, 42X power, 44mm objective lens, 88mm eye relief (~3.5 inches), 45 MOA elevation adjustment, 35 MOA windage, 10 MOA per revolution, 2.87-foot field of view at 100 yards, quick focus, click value of .125 inch, parallax adjustment from 10 meters (~33 ft.) to infinity, and an overall length of 15.2 inches. Also, you can set a “zero” easily. After obtaining conventional zero simply loosen one set screw per turret and set the dial at zero.
I received this scope on Monday, February 15th and mounted it on my BAT-action 6mm Dasher and zeroed it for a 600-yard match on Saturday, February 20th. My first impression of this scope was the amazing image produced by the ED glass. Although it is made with a 44mm objective lens (to save weight), one cannot say that the image is not clear. The image is outstanding from edge to edge and the image color is true. Nightforce offers two reticle options: the CTR-2 and CTR-3. Both reticles feature .016″ MOA vertical and horizontal lines, but the CTR-2 includes a .095 MOA center dot.
It took a small amount of faith to shoot the scope in a 600-yard match a few days after receiving it. Although I had shot only a few rounds with the scope mounted on my BAT Dasher, I knew that the Nightforce reputation was solid and my results would depend on the “nut” at the end of the rifle.
At the match, I fired a few shots to confirm zero and really appreciated the scope’s crisp 1/8th-MOA clicks. The adjustments were spot on at the 600-yard range and there was no problem getting my zero at the 600-yard distance. Remember, I had not shot at 600 yards with this scope, but I dialed in 11.5 MOA from my 100 yard zero and the resulting impact was correct. Each eight clicks delivered a precise one-MOA movement (about 6 inches) on the 600-yard target. The picture below is at the range as I was preparing for the first relay.
Our 600-yard match (non-registered) features 20 record rounds fired on the IBS target with steel gongs for sighters. The winter mirage can be brutal in this part of the country, but the Nightforce handled it without problems. Before the match was over, the left to right wind caused me to dial in two minutes (~12 inches) of windage and the scope was precise and I posted my 3rd best score with 191/200. The very fine .095″ dot allows for great precision in aiming.
Actual target shot by James Mock at 300 yards using Nightforce 42x44mm scope. James won the match.
My next match to use the scope was a 300-yard score match on March 5th. I had one chance to zero my rifle for this match and again I had no trouble changing the zero with the crisp, repeatable adjustments of this fine scope. The day was cool with bright sunshine and switchy tail winds. The new Nightforce handled the conditions very well, even with the horrible mirage. We shot two, 10-shot targets on the IBS 300-yard target. I shot 99-3X on the first and 99-3X on the second to win the match by one point over Mitch Young. Above is my second target, and the new scope let me see every shot through the mirage. There were many others who said that they could not see their bullet holes.
Summary of Nightforce 42x44mm Review
This 42x44mm optic is everything that I want in a scope. The 1/8th-MOA adjustments are crisp and repeatable. The center dot is small (.095 MOA). The image is sharp and clear all the way to the edges, and the ED glass provides a sensational image. The turret markings are distinct and there are 10 MOA per revolution. And you get all this in a scope that weighs 20.7 ounces with a 44mm objective lens. The low weight makes this scope viable for all benchrest classes. I believe the short range Benchrest shooters will welcome this scope and pay the sales price of $1742.00 (MSRP is $1795.00). Good shooting — James Mock
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Recently the CMP adopted new rules that allow the use of magnified optics, up to 4.5X power, in Service Rifle competition. The Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm Compact Riflescope, while not designed specifically for Service Rifle competition, complies fully with the new Service Rifle optics rules and works very well. In fact, our correspondent Johnny Fisher used this scope to take third place in the recent California State Service Rifle Championship. Here’s a run down of the scope’s features and performance. Johnny says this is a “great scope” and “results are extremely promising” so far.
Gear Review: Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm as Considered for Service Rifles by Johnny Fisher
2016 has brought with it a long anticipated rule change that allows for the use of optics in Service Rifle competition. The rule allows scopes (fixed or variable) up to 4.5 power with an objective lens no greater than 34mm. Given the strict limits on max magnification and objective size for Service Rifle optics, there are somewhat limited options on the market at this time. Service Rifle competitors are now challenged with selecting an optic that fits the rules while offering high-end performance. Thus far, it seems the biggest concerns that Service Rifle shooters have when considering an optic are: quality, repeatability, parallax, reticle choices, and durability.
Click Image for Full-screen Version.
The vast majority of Service Rifle Rule-compliant scopes currently on the market have a fixed parallax. That means there is no separate focus knob to adjust parallax to target distance. Accordingly, there has been much concern about the potential for parallax error over the three different distances in Across-The-Course competition. It is possible that the repeatably-indexed head position maintained while shooting a Service Rifle, along with a little extra emphasis on sight alignment to ensure that the shooter’s eye is directly behind the scope, can greatly mitigate the potential effects of parallax error.
The Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm comes with the parallax factory-set at 75 yards. Combined with the right amount of eye-relief and low-enough rings to ensure an easy-to-maintain and clear/full sight picture, it seems like the fixed parallax is not really the problem some folks think it may be. Below are two, 10-round test strings shot at 300 yards (each with a magazine change). Note that I didn’t drop a point, even with the non-adjustable parallax.
The Fixed Parallax is not a “deal-breaker”. Witness 20 shots at 300 yards — all 10s or Xs.
For the NXS 1-4x24mm scope, Nightforce offers two reticle types: the International Hunting Reticle (IHR) and the FC-3G (with 5.56 NATO or .308 NATO BDC hold-over features). My scope has the IHR Reticle, which provides a very clear, unobstructed and simple sight picture. The IHR reticle for the NXS 1-4x24mm boasts an illuminated center cross-hair. Unfortunately, the red-color illumination is really only intended for low-light situations and is not bright enough to offer any aid to National Match shooters competing in broad daylight at stationary targets.
For Service Rifle shooters accustomed to keeping track of their sight settings as “clicks from bottom”, the optional Zero-Stop might be welcome. After loosening the turret and establishing the desired Zero-stop location, tightening the set screw blocks rotation below this point. NOTE: Once set, the Zero-Stop turret only allows for one full revolution of elevation adjustment. However, the Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm offers 20 minutes of elevation adjustment per revolution. That should be more than enough elevation adjustment for come-ups to 600 yards (even with a 100-yard zero established near bottom).
PRICE and DURABILITY
The Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm carries a price tag of just over $1500.00. The scope just feels solid –nothing plastic — especially when compared to some of the other consumer- or recreational-grade options on the market. All touchable tolerances feel extremely tight. There was quite an amount of attention given to every little detail, as you would expect from an optic at this price point. It is hoped that the scope’s mil-spec robustness will assure continued excellent performance — even after seasons of the kind of abuse that High Power shooters put on their equipment. More will be revealed as I use the scope at future competitions, but initial results are very good. This is a quality optic. I have high hopes that it will prove a good investment.
Field Target (FT) and Hunter Field Target (HFT) airgun disciplines are popular outdoor shooting sports that simulate the challenges of hunting small game. One of the unique aspects of FT competition is target range-finding using parallax and optical focus. (HFT is limited to lower power scopes, so this type of range-fiding is not used in HFT.) Range-finding is very important because the pellets shot by FT airguns drop rapidly once they leave the muzzle (pellets can drop roughly 5″ at 50 yards). If you don’t have your scope set to the correct distance, you’ll probably miss the target high or low.
FT competitors employ high-magnification (35-55X) scopes to sight targets placed from 10 to 55 yards (7.3 to 50m in the UK). Because these scopes have very short depth-of-field at high-magnification, the target will be out of focus unless you have the scope focus/parallax control set very precisely. But competitors can use this to their advantage — once the target is precisely focused, you have effectively established its distance from the shooter. FT scopes often have large-diameter wheels on the side parallax control so the focus can be set very precisely. You can then read marks placed on the scope to adjust the amount of elevation need to put the pellet on target.
To simplify the adjustment of elevation on FT rifles, competitors will place tapes on the windage knobs with marks that correspond to distances in 3-5 yard (or smaller) increments. These marks allow you to quickly spin your elevation to the setting matching the target range established with your focus/parallax control.
Field Target Accessories
There are a variety of specialized products for FT competitors that help you set up your scope for precise ranging. First, Compufoil offers a computer program, ScopeKnob, that lets you easily create accurate elevation knob tapes for your scope. ScopeKnob even comes with a built-in Ballistics Module that will calculate the pellet trajectory for you and plot range settings for your tape. Chairgun.com also offers ChairGunPRO, specialized airgun ballistics software that lets you simultaneously compare four different pellets, or different scope heights.
In the past, the A-Team offered replacement elevation knobs optimized for use with yardage marking tapes. These were offered in two versions, one which replaced the existing turret altogether and a second which clamped OVER the factory turret. Shown at right is the larger-diameter version in place over the factory turret. Unfortunately we don’t know a current source for this product, but this may help you crate something similar on your own.
Last but not least, Pyramid Air offers large-diameter parallax control wheels. According to Pyramid: “The enlarged sidewheel is the most popular FT scope accessory of all. It lets you put white artist’s tape around the rim to mark the actual distances at which the scope focuses”. A 6″ sidewheel provides over 18″ of space on which to inscribe yardage, and that means you can have a meaningful separation between 18 yards and 20 — where there is a huge parallax and trajectory difference. Though the ranges are already engraved on the rim of the wheel, field target competitors will measure them again on an actual range and write the markings on a strip of white artist’s tape.
Tips on Field Target Scope Set-Up
The creator’s of the A-Team knobs suggest taking your time when setting up a scope for Field Target competition: “We normally take from three to four hours preparing a scope to be mounted on a gun. We mark the scope in 1-yard increments from 9 to 40 yards, then to 55 yards by 3 or 5-yard increments depending on the scope being calibrated.”
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Leupold now offers easy online ordering for custom riflescope dials for your elevation turrets. A custom CDS dial lets you simply “dial the yardage” to have the correct elevation at distances near to far. For example, as shown below, if your target is at 550 yards, you simply dial 5.5 on the turret index. This is possible because the dial has been customized with the particular ballistics of your rifle and your load.
“Leupold engineers do all the hard work in the lab, making sure it’s easy and fast in the field,” said Rob Morrison, Leupold’s global marketing VP. “All the shooter has to do is provide us with ballistic information. From this simple data, a custom-calibrated dial is laser engraved for that specific load.”
Order Multiple Dials for Different Bullet Types
Leupolds’ custom CDS dials are tailored to the exact load used. With the ability to quickly change dials, it’s easy to set up several loads in a single rifle with a single riflescope. Transition from coyote loads to big game cartridges with a simple change of the dial. Or you can get different dials for different cartridges if you move your optic from one rifle to another. To order a CDS dial, call 1-800-LEUPOLD or visit Customshop.leupold.com/custom-dials and click on the appropriate dial for your riflescope.
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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 firearms, 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.
Come on, admit it — who wouldn’t like to have a .300 Winchester Magnum in their personal arsenal. Here’s a chance to pick up a nice Rem 700 in .300 WM for under $650.00. The Model 700 Long Range features a 26″ heavy varmint barrel mated to Remington’s Long Action. This model comes with a Bell and Carlson M40-type tactical synthetic stock with dual front swivel studs for a sling and bipod. The 700 Long Range also features an aluminum bedding block for accuracy. The trigger is the externally-adjustable X-Mark Pro, factory set at 3.5 pounds.
Right now Nikon is running a “Rock your Rimfire” promotion with instant savings of up to $50.00 per scope. With this program, you get a super-low price at time of purchase — there are no rebate forms to fill out or delays. While a variety of Nikon rimfire scopes are on sale currently, we think the most attractive deal is the Nikon 4-12x40mm Prostaff scope with BDC (bullet drop compensation) reticle. Right now, this scope is just $99.95 at Grafs.com. That’s a steal.
Bullet-maker Bart Sauter used this RAVpower portable charging unit to power his LabRadar chronograph at a short-range shooting match. He reports: “I bought a RAVPower pack from Amazon. It was the most powerful cell phone charger they had and it was reduced to $31. It was able to run the LabRadar for two full days without recharging and still had juice.” This unit has impressive specs: “4.5A Output: Highest output in the market, featuring a 4.5A total output capable of simultaneously charging two tablets, making it faster and more powerful than the rest. Exclusive iSmart Technology… ensures fastest and most efficient charge.”
Need quality .22 LR rimfire ammo at an affordable price? Consider Norma. Most folks think Norma only produces centerfire ammo and cartridge brass. As a result, people haven’t been looking for Norma rimfire ammo. Their loss is your gain. Accurate, reliable Norma .22 LR ammunition is in-stock right now at leading online vendors. This is good quality ammo, made in Europe. Bullets.com has Norma Tac-22 ammo in stock at $5.25 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL7819). In addition, Bullets.com offers Norma Match-22 ammunition at $7.50 per 50-rd box (SKU: BL11887).
Everyone needs a good .22 LR rimfire handgun, and the Browning Buck Mark is a classic. This stainless, bull barrel version is marked down this week to $379.99. That’s a very good price. Buckmarks, with their excellent triggers and great ergonomics, are fun to shoot and VERY accurate. This is a pistol you can keep for a life-time and pass on to your kids. Browning says: “Every Buck Mark starts out as a solid piece of aircraft-grade 7075 aluminum alloy, and then is CNC machined to exacting tolerances. The crisp single-action trigger, hand reamed chamber, target crowned barrel and finely adjustable target sights mean the Buck Mark comes ready for fun straight from the box.”
6. Widener’s — Norma 203B and 204 Powders on Sale
Looking for an excellent powder for your .308 Win, 6BR, or other small-to-midsized cartridge? You should consider Norma 203B. This Bofors-made powder is essentially the same as Alliant Reloder 15, which has set many records in the 6mmBR and 6mm Dasher cases. Right now Norma 203B is on sale at Wideners.com for just $19.95 per pound. That’s a great deal for an outstanding propellant. Other vendors charge up to $29.00 per pound for Norma 203B. Widener’s also has 8-lb jugs of Norma 204 powder is also on sale now for $139.00 (which works out to $17.35/lb). Norma 204 has a burn rate similar to H4350.
7. Amazon — Kowa 60mm TSN-601 Spotting Scope Body
If you are looking for a rugged, reliable, and affordable spotting scope to watch flags, mirage, and shot spotting discs, this angled-body Kowa TSN-61 will do the job. These Kowa spotters have been used successfully for years by prone and High Power competitors. Sure the glass is not as sharp as the latest top-of-the-line HD spotting scopes, but the TSN-61 is a small fraction of the price of high-end models which can run $2000 or more. The money you save can buy four premium hand-lapped barrels. NOTE: This item is the scope body only. Eyepieces are sold separately — expect to pay $260.00 – $300.00 for a Kowa 20-60X Zoom eyepiece.
8. Harbor Freight — Ammo Box and LED Light Super Savings
Here are two great deals from Harbor Freight — both coupons are good through the end of March, 2016. We like these plastic ammo boxes better than metal .30-cal milsurp ammo cans because the plastic boxes are lighter, don’t rust, and they are much kinder and gentler to human shins and vehicle interiors. This $2.99 compact LED light works great to illuminate the interior of your gun safe. At this price you can buy three and keep a spare for your Emergency kit or vehicle glove compartments.
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Do you find that the crosshairs in your scope get blurry after a while, or that you experience eye strain during a match? This is normal, particularly as you get older. Focusing intensely on your target (through the scope or over iron sights) for an extended period of time can cause eye strain. Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce eye fatigue. For one — breathe deeper to take in more oxygen. Secondly, give your eyes a break between shots, looking away from the scope or sights.
In our Forum there is an interesting thread about vision and eye fatigue. One Forum member observed: “I have noticed recently that if I linger on the target for too long the crosshairs begin to blur and the whole image gradually darkens as if a cloud passed over the sun. I do wear contacts and wonder if that’s the problem. Anyone else experienced this? — Tommy”
Forum members advised Tommy to relax and breath deep. Increase oxygen intake and also move the eyes off the target for a bit. Closing the eyes briefly between shots can also relieve eye strain. Tommy found this improved the situation.
Keith G. noted: “Make sure you are still breathing… [your condition] sounds similar to the symptoms of holding one’s breath.”
Phil H. explained: “Tom — Our eyes are tremendous oxygen hogs. What you are witnessing is caused by lack of oxygen. When this happens, get off the sights, stare at the grass (most people’s eyes find the color green relaxing), breath, then get back on the rifle. Working on your cardio can help immensely. Worked for me when I shot Palma. Those aperture sights were a bear! The better my cardio got the better and longer I could see. Same thing with scopes. Try it!”
Watercam concurred: “+1 on breathing. Take a long slow deep breath, exhale and break shot. Also make sure you take a moment to look at the horizon without looking through rifle or spotting scope once in a while to fight fatigue. Same thing happens when using iron sights.”
Arizona shooter Scott Harris offered this advice: “To some extent, [blurring vision] happens to anyone staring at something for a long time. I try to keep vision crisp by getting the shot off in a timely fashion or close the eyes briefly to refresh them. Also keep moisturized and protect against wind with wrap-around glasses”.
Breathing Better and Relaxing the Eyes Really Worked…
Tommy, the shooter with the eye problem, said his vision improved after he worked on his breathing and gave his eyes a rest between shots: “Thanks guys. These techniques shrunk my group just a bit and every little bit helps.”
To avoid eye fatigue, take your eyes away from the scope between shots, and look at something nearby (or even close your eyes briefly). Also work on your breathing and don’t hold your breath too long — that robs your system of oxygen.
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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.
Place the rifle in a good hold on sandbags or other rest. With your hundred-yard zero on the rifle, using max magnification, carefully aim your center crosshairs at the top of the ruler (zero end-point). Have an assistant crank on 36 (indicated) MOA (i.e. 144 clicks), being careful not to move the rifle. (You really do need a helper, it’s very difficult to keep the rifle motionless if you crank the knobs yourself.) With each click, the reticle will move a bit down toward the bottom of the ruler. Note where the center crosshairs rest when your helper is done clicking. If the scope is accurately calibrated, it should be right at that 37.7 inch mark. If not, record where 144 clicks puts you on the ruler, to figure out what your actual click value is. (Repeat this several times as necessary, to get a “rock-solid”, repeatable value.) You now know, for that scope, how much each click actually moves the reticle at 100 yards–and, of course, that will scale proportionally at longer distances. This optical method is better than shooting, because you don’t have the uncertainly associated with determining a group center.
Using this method, I discovered that my Leupold 6.5-20X50 M1 has click values that are calibrated in what I called ‘Shooter’s MOA’, rather than true MOA. That is to say, 4 clicks moved POI 1.000″, rather than 1.047″ (true MOA). That’s about a 5% error.
I’ve tested bunches of scopes, and lots have click values which are significantly off what the manufacturer has advertised. You can’t rely on printed specifications–each scope is different. Until you check your particular scope, you can’t be sure how much it really moves with each click.
I’ve found the true click value varies not only by manufacturer, but by model and individual unit. My Leupold 3.5-10 M3LR was dead on. So was my U.S.O. SN-3 with an H25 reticle, but other SN-3s have been off, and so is my Leupold 6.5-20X50M1. So, check ‘em all, is my policy.”
From the Expert: “…Very good and important article, especially from a ballistics point of view. If a ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop at 1000 yards for example, and you dial 30 MOA on your scope and hit high or low, it’s easy to begin questioning BCs, MVs, and everything else under the sun. In my experience, more than 50% of the time error in trajectory prediction at long range is actually scope adjustment error. For serious long range shooting, the test described in this article is a MUST!” — Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting.
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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 — 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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