June 15th, 2017

Great Deal on Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50mm — Save Hundreds

Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50mm FFP MOA scope sale EuroOptic.com

Our “inside source” at EuroOptic.com just let us know about a very hot deal coming up. Next week a bunch of overstock Vortex 6-24×50 PST EBR-1 MOA scopes will be arriving, and you’ll be able to save hundreds on these excellent optics. EuroOptic.com will offer this scope for $789.99. It sells elsewhere for up to $989.00. You can order now* for delivery by the end of the month with Free Shipping (these scopes are expected to arrive next week). Download Scope Manual.

Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50mm FFP MOA scope sale EuroOptic.com

The Viper PST 6-24×50 EBR-1 riflescope on sale is a First Focal Plane (FFP) scope with EBR-1 reticle. This optic offers 1/4 MOA adjustments, 12 MOA per rotation, 65 MOA Total Elevation, and 65 MOA Total Windage. The etched-glass reticle features MOA-based subtensions (see illustration). Rugged and strong, this Viper PST features a single piece 30mm tube, hard anodized ArmorTek finish, tactical-style turrets, side focus parallax, and CRS zero stop. The scope carries a full lifetime warranty and is rated as fogproof/shockproof/waterproof.

Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50mm FFP MOA scope sale EuroOptic.com

Editor’s Comment: While hard-core tactical competitors may prefer a Second Focal Plane (SFP) scope, this 6-24X FFP Viper PST is a great general-purpose optic choice for varminting or club-level target shooting. It delivers a lot of performance for the price. Clicks on this scope are positive, we like the zero-stop feature, and the MOA hash-marks are handy for hold-offs and hold-overs.

*The EuroOptic.com website says “Back-ordered”. Don’t fret. You CAN place an order now and it will fill when the scopes arrive next week.

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May 15th, 2017

Bargain Finder 86: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best 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.

1. MidwayUSA — Bushnell 25% Rebates & MidwayUSA Optics Sale

Bushnell 25 25% rebate scope, rangefinder, binoculars, rebate June MidwayUSA

Save big bucks on Bushnell. Now through June 6, 2017, Bushnell is offering 25% OFF mail-in rebates. Combine that will special sale pricing now at MidwayUSA.com and you can save hundreds on popular optics. For example, the Bushnell 4.5-30x50mm Elite Tactical ERS Mildot scope retails for $979.00. That 25% rebate will save you $244.75, lowering your net cost to $734.25! In addition to riflescopes, the Bushnell Rebate knocks 25% off of Bushnell binoculars, laser rangefinders, spotting scopes, GPS units, and even trail cams. CLICK HERE for Bushnell 25% Rebate details.

2. Precision Reloading — 10% Off All Battenfeld Brands

Battenfeld Technologies Tipton Wheeler Goldenrod Caldwell Frankfor sale discount Precision Reloading

Now through May 23, 2017 Precision Reloading is running a great sale on all products from Battenfeld Technologies’ well-known brands: Caldwell, Tipton, Frankford Arsenal, Wheeler Accuracy and more. We own a number of these products, such as the Tipton Gun Vise, which has delivered years of great service. We like the Tipton Ultra nickle-plated jags, and the Caldwell “The Rock BR” front rest offers great “bang for the buck”.

Here are some recommended Battenfeld Technologies Brand Products on Sale:

Caldwell Ballistic Cam System, $332.99
Caldwell “The Rock” Benchrest Shooting Rest, $130.49
Tipton Gun Vise, $40.49
Tipton Nickle-Plated Ultra Jag Set, $15.29
Wheeler Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, $49.99
Golden Rod 18″ Dehumidifier Rod, $31.49

3. Brownells — Smith & Wesson Pistols with $75 Rebate

Brownells Smith Wesson S&W carry pistol 9mm .380 rebate bargain

If you need a carry pistol, now’s a great time to buy. Smith & Wesson is offering a $75.00 mail-in rebate on many of its most popular, compact handguns. In addition, a selection of small S&W semi-auto pistols is on sale now at Brownells.com. When you combine the sale discounts with Manufacturer Rebate, you can pick up an S&W pistol for as little as $239.99 after Rebate. That’s less than half what you’d pay for a Glock. CLICK HERE for S&W Specials at Brownells.

4. Natchez — Special 5 Reloading Press Kit, $199.99

RCBS Special 5 Reloading Kit

Looking for a great holiday gift for a family member getting started in metallic cartridge reloading? This RCBS Kit has everything a new reloader needs: single-stage press, powder measure, scale, powder trickler, priming tool, cartridge tray, “rocket” chamfer tool, case lube and more. This is an excellent entry-level reloading kit, on sale for just $199.99 at Natchez Shooters Supplies. We like the relatively compact Special 5 press for most reloading duties. Eventually you may want to add an additional, large heavy press, but this will get the job done. For the combined package, with all the tools one needs to hand-load quality ammo — this is a stunningly good deal at $199.99.

5. Amazon — Lyman Case Prep Xpress $103.99

Lyman Case Prep Xpress Express Brass Reloading PrpeDeals Week Accurateshooter

The Lyman Case Prep Xpress lets you chamfer inside and out, brush your necks, clean/uniform primer pockets, and ream military crimps. On sale at Amazon.com with $103.99 Prime pricing, this is a good deal. Lyman’s Case Prep Xpress sells elsewhere for $130.00 or more. Here is a review from a Verified Purchaser: “The unit is quiet, sturdy, and the attachments do what they are supposed to do. It already has made a difference in my reloading speed, and most importantly, my comfort. I highly recommend this unit.” (Strafer, 4/7/14)

6. CDNN — Browning Maple X-Bolt Medallion, $899.99

Browning X-Bolt Medallion

CDNN Sports has some of the nicest modern Browning rifles we’ve seen. These deluxe Maple-stocked X-Bolt Medallion Rifles are now on sale for $899.99, marked down from $1519.99. The machine-engraved receiver features a polished blued finish, and is glass bedded into the stock. The free-floating barrel is high-gloss blued, hand-chambered and finished with a target crown. The bolt has a 60° lift and the trigger is adjustable. The stock is a high gloss AAA maple with rosewood fore-end and pistol grip cap. These are very nice rifles that any shooter would be proud to own.

7. Amazon — 34 dB Noise Rating Ear Muffs, $17.45

34dB NRR 32 hearing protection earmuffs

These 34 dB NRR earmuffs provide excellent sound protection without being too heavy and bulky. At at $17.45, they are a great bargain. The lower section of the muff is trimmed for a narrower profile — that helps with rifle and shotgun stocks. The headband is adjustable and has comfortable padding. These Pro For Sho Muffs have earned a 4 1/2 star consumer rating, with over 1,600 Amazon customer reviews. NOTE: These fit pretty tight. If you have a very large hat size you might want a different brand.

8. Midsouth — Lee Auto Bench Priming Tool, $23.99

discount Lee Priming bench tool primer tray

This relatively new bench tool does the job very well, and it’s easy to change primer sizes and shell holders. The “feel” of this tool is very good (better than most other bench priming units). If you like to pre-prime cases before using a progressive — this $23.99 Lee Bench Priming Tool gets the job done fast. The tool includes a new folding tray with built-in primer-flipping feature that allows direct filling from common primer boxes. The tool mounting holes are spaced for the Lee Bench Plate system (#006-90251) or the device can be mounted directly to your workbench. REVIEWS by verified purchasers.

9. Amazon — Discovery Scope Level $13-$16 (1″, 30mm)

Optical Rifle Scope bubble level Discovery 30mm 1 inch 34mm Amazon

If you shoot long range, you need a scope level. This Discovery scope level is fully CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with inner diameters to fit scopes with either 1″ or 30mm main tubes. The 1″ version is just $12.99 while the 30mm model is $13.95. You could easily pay $35.00 or more for a 30mm scope level. Purchasers have praised this product: 89% of verified buyers rated this five stars.

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April 24th, 2017

Bargain Finder 83: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Monday morning we offer our Best 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.

1. Kentucky Gun Co. — Ruger Prec. Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor, $1168.01

6.5 Creedmoor Ruger Precision Rifle

Here’s a great deal if you’re looking for a GEN2 6.5 Creedmoor Ruger Precision Rifle for PRS events or other bolt-action tactical applications. The 6.5 Creedmoor is the hot ticket for this rifle, and RPRs with this chambering have been in short supply. You’ll find many sellers charging $1400.00+ for this rifle, if they have it at all.

This week you can get a GEN2 Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor for just $1168.01 from Kentucky Gun Company, with FREE Shipping to boot. The “Cash Price” price is even cheaper, $1133.99. And GunPrime.com also has the 6.5CM RPR for $1199.00 this week. Curious about the differences between the GEN2 Ruger Precision Rifle and the original Model? CLICK HERE for a complete spec comparison and a video (scroll down landing page).

2. Midsouth — Norma Tac-22 .22 LR Ammo, $3.99/box

Norma Tac22 Tac-22 .22 LR rimfire 22LR ammunition ammo

This Norma .22 LR ammo shoots WAY better than you’d expect given the low price — just $3.99 per 50ct box at Midsouth. These test targets come from Champion Shooters Supply. That vendor reports: “We have found this to run very well in Ruger rifles, handguns, and target pistols. These are 5-shot groups at 50 yards with an Anschutz 1913 rifle. This is an incredible value.” We suggest you grab some of this Tac-22 while you can at these rock-bottom prices.

Norma Tac22 Tac-22 .22 LR rimfire 22LR ammunition ammo

3. Natchez — Surplus SKB 5041 Transport Cases, $129.99

SKB Rifle Case Military Surplus 50

Natchez has obtained a supply of British MOD Surplus SKB 5041 rifle cases. These were ordered as mine detector cases, but were never issued. Natchez has removed the foam cut for the detectors and replaced it with new 2-piece convoluted foam. Interior dimension of the case is 50″x14.5″x5″ so this will hold long-barrel match rifles comfortably. These are extremely high-quality cases, very tough and rugged, waterproof with gaskets. These cases feature four SKB patented trigger latches, four reinforced padlock locations, and inline wheels. Though in excellent condition, some case may have minor exterior scuffs. You won’t find a better case at anywhere near the price. These normally retail for $299.99.

4. Sportsmans Outdoor — S&W M&P9 Shield, $239.99 after Rebate

Smith Wesson S&W M&P Shield 9mm 9x19

Here’s an awesome deal on a popular Smith & Wesson 9mm carry pistol. The M&P9 Shield (with thumb safety) is priced at just $314.99 at Sportsmans Outdoor Superstore. But it gets better — Smith & Wesson is offering a $75.00 Rebate. That lowers your net cost to just $239.99. That’s half what you might pay for a similar 9mm Glock. Good reason to buy American, and S&W’s warranty is rock solid. NOTE: This same M&P9 pistol without thumb safety is offered by Brownells for $359.99, or $284.99 after mail-in rebate.

5. Midsouth — 20-60x60mm Vortex Spotting Scope, $399.99

Vortex Spotting Scope Midsouth bargain

This is a very good spotting scope for the price. Yes it gives up some low-light performance to a spotter with an 80mm objective, but otherwise it is a good performer, and we can’t think of much that will touch this Vortex Diamondback spotting scope for anywhere near the $399.99 sale price. Choose from angled or straight version for the same $399.99 price, which includes the 20-60X zoom eyepiece.

6. Amazon — Frankford Arsenal Master Tumbler Kit, $67.99

Master tumbler reloading kit Frankford Arsenal

This Master Tumbler Kit contains everything you need to tumble rifle or pistol brass. Now on sale for $67.99 with free shipping, this Kit contains: Vibratory Tumbler, Rotary Media Separator, Plastic Bucket, 3 lbs. Cleaning Media, and 4 oz. Brass Polish.

7. Powder Valley — Reloder 16 Powder, 1-pound and 8-pound

Powder Valley H4350 RL16 Reloder 16 powder PRS 6.5 Creedmoor

Powder Valley now has Alliant Reloder 16 (RL16) in stock in both 1-lb ($23.95) and 8-lb ($178.95) containers. If you’re not familiar with this relatively new propellant, we can tell you that RL16 may be the best replacement yet for hard-to-find Hodgdon H4350. Burn rate is very similar to H4350, and RL16 is extremely temp-stable. Most importantly, our Forum members are reporting outstanding accuracy with Reloder 16. It is well suited for mid-sized cartridges such as 6XC, 6mm Creedmoor, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5×47 Lapua, and .260 Remington. If you like H4350, we recommend you try a pound of Alliant’s impressive Reloder 16.

8. Monmouth Reloading — 500 Lake City 5.56 Cases, $35.00

Monmouth deals of week ar15 5.56 brass .223 Rem once-fired Lake City LC

500 pieces of Lake City brass for just thirty-five bucks? Yep, that’s a great deal for anyone who needs .223/5.56 brass for varmint safaris and tactical comps. Monmouth Reloading is selling genuine, once-fired Lake City 5.56x45mm brass sourced direct from the U.S. Military. NOTE: CLICK HERE and then select 500-ct pack — the 1000-ct is out of stock. 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 will need to be reamed or swaged prior to reloading.

9. Amazon — Howard Leight Electronic Muffs, $31.11

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Muffs hearing protection Howard Leight earmuffs sale bargain

Every shooter should own a pair of Electronic muffs, even if you prefer shooting with earplugs and/or standard muffs. Electronic muffs 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 $31.11, with free Prime Shipping. This is good deal — these NRR 22 muffs are currently Amazon’s #1 seller in the category.

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April 22nd, 2017

When and How Scopes Fail — How to Diagnose Optics Problems

Riflescope Repairs

Riflescopes are mechanical contraptions. One of the sad realities about precision shooting is that, sooner or later, you will experience a scope failure. If you’re lucky it won’t happen in the middle of a National-level competition. And hopefully the failure will be dramatic and unmistakable so you won’t spend months trying to isolate the issue. Unfortunately, scope problems can be erratic or hard to diagnose. You may find yourself with unexplained flyers or a slight degradation of accuracy and you won’t know how to diagnose the problem. And when a 1/8th-MOA-click scope starts failing, it may be hard to recognize the fault immediately, because the POI change may be slight.

When An Expensive Scope Goes Bad
A few seasons back, this editor had a major-brand 8-25x50mm scope go bad. How did I know I had a problem? Well the first sign was a wild “drop-down” flyer at a 600-yard match. After shooting a two-target relay, I took a look at my targets. My first 5-shot group had five shots, fairly well centered, in about 2.2″. Pretty good. Everything was operating fine. Then I looked at the second target. My eye was drawn to four shots, all centered in the 10 Ring, measuring about 2.4″. But then I saw the fifth shot. It was a good 18″ low, straight down from the X. And I really mean straight down — if you drew a plumb line down from the center of the X, it would pass almost through the fifth shot.

Is My Scope Actually Malfunctioning or Is This Driver Error?
That was disconcerting, but since I had never had any trouble with this scope before, I assumed it was a load problem (too little powder?), or simple driver error (maybe I flinched or yanked the trigger?). Accordingly, I didn’t do anything about the scope, figuring the problem was me or the load.

Scope Failure mechanical Point of Impact

Even expensive scopes can fail, or start to perform erratically — and that can happen without warning, or for no apparent reason. Here are some signs that you may be having scope issues.

1. Click count has changed signficantly from established zero at known range.
2. Noticeably different click “feel” as you rotate turrets, or turrets feel wobbly.
3. Inability to set Adjustable Objective or side focus to get sharp target image.
4. Shot Point of Impact is completely different than click value after elevation/windage change. For example, when you dial 2 MOA “up” but you observe a 6 MOA rise in POI.

Problems Reappear — Huge POI Swings Affirm This Scope is Toast
But, at the next range session, things went downhill fast. In three shots, I did manage to get on steel at 600, with my normal come-up for that distance. Everything seemed fine. So then I switched to paper. We had a buddy in the pits with a walkie-talkie and he radioed that he couldn’t see any bullet holes in the paper after five shots. My spotter said he thought the bullets were impacting in the dirt, just below the paper. OK, I thought, we’ll add 3 MOA up (12 clicks), and that should raise POI 18″ and I should be on paper, near center. That didn’t work — now the bullets were impacting in the berm ABOVE the target frame. The POI had changed over 48″ (8 MOA). (And no I didn’t click too far — I clicked slowly, counting each click out loud as I adjusted the elevation.) OK, to compensate now I took off 8 clicks which should be 2 MOA or 12″. No joy. The POI dropped about 24″ (4 MOA) and the POI also moved moved 18″ right, to the edge of the target.

Riflescope RepairsFor the next 20 shots, we kept “chasing center” trying to get the gun zeroed at 600 yards. We never did. After burning a lot of ammo, we gave up. Before stowing the gun for the trip home, I dialed back to my 100-yard zero, which is my normal practice (it’s 47 clicks down from 600-yard zero). I immediately noticed that the “feel” of the elevation knob didn’t seem right. Even though I was pretty much in the center of my elevation (I have a +20 MOA scope mount), the clicks felt really tight — as they do when you’re at the very limit of travel. There was a lot of resistance in the clicks and they didn’t seem to move the right amount. And it seemed that I’d have four or five clicks that were “bunched up” with a lot of resistance, and then the next click would have almost no resistance and seem to jump. It’s hard to describe, but it was like winding a spring that erratically moved from tight to very loose.

At this point I announced to my shooting buddies: “I think the scope has taken a dump.” I let one buddy work the elevation knob a bit. “That feels weird,” he said: “the clicks aren’t consistent… first it doesn’t want to move, then the clicks jump too easily.”

Convinced that I had a real problem, the scope was packed up and shipped to the manufacturer. So, was I hallucinating? Was my problem really just driver error? I’ve heard plenty of stories about guys who sent scopes in for repair, only to receive their optics back with a terse note saying: “Scope passed inspection and function test 100%. No repairs needed”. So, was my scope really FUBAR? You bet it was. When the scope came back from the factory, the Repair Record stated that nearly all the internal mechanicals had been replaced or fixed: “Replaced Adjustment Elevation; Replaced Adjustment Windage; Reworked Erector System; Reworked Selector; Reworked Parallax Control.”

How to Diagnose Scope Problems
When you see your groups open up, there’s a very good chance this is due to poor wind-reading, or other “driver error”. But my experience showed me that sometimes scopes do go bad. When your accuracy degrades without any other reasonable explanation, the cause of the problem may well be your optics. Here are some of the “symptoms” of scope troubles:

1. Large shot-to-shot variance in Point of Impact with known accurate loads.
2. Uneven tracking (either vertical or horizontal).
3. Change of Point of Impact does not correspond to click inputs.
4. Inability to zero in reasonable number of shots.
5. Unexpected changes in needed click values (compared to previous come-ups).
6. Visible shift in reticle from center of view.
7. Changed “feel” or resistance when clicking; or uneven click-to-click “feel”.
8. Inability to set parallax to achieve sharpness.
9. Turrets or other controls feel wobbly or loose.
10. Internal scope components rattle when gun is moved.

Source of Problem Unknown, but I Have a Theory
Although my scope came with a slightly canted reticle from the factory, it had otherwise functioned without a hitch for many years. I was able to go back and forth between 100-yard zero and 600-yard zero with perfect repeatability for over five years. I had confidence in that scope. Why did it fail when it did? My theory is side-loading on the turrets. I used to carry the gun in a thick soft case. I recently switched to an aluminum-sided hard case that has pretty dense egg-crate foam inside. I noticed it took some effort to close the case, though it was more than big enough, width-wise, to hold the gun. My thinking is that the foam wasn’t compressing enough, resulting in a side-load on the windage turret when the case was clamped shut. This is just my best guess; it may not be the real source of the problem. Remember, as I explained in the beginning of this story, sometimes scopes — just like any mechanical system — simply stop working for no apparent reason.

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April 11th, 2017

The Varminters’ Great Debate — Hold-Over vs. Crank Elevation

varmint scope IOR elevation hold-over prairie dog accuracy

Leuopold Varmint Hunters' ReticleA varmint shooter’s target is not conveniently placed at a fixed, known distance as it is for a benchrester. The varminter must repeatedly make corrections for bullet drop as he moves from closer targets to more distant targets and back again. Click HERE to read an interesting AccurateShooter Varrmint Forum discussion regarding the best method to adjust for elevation. Some shooters advocate using the scope’s elevation adjustments. Other varminters prefer to hold-over, perhaps with the assistance of vertical markers on their reticles. Still others combine both methods–holding off to a given yardage, then cranking elevation after that.

Majority View — Click Your Elevation Knob
“I zero at 100 yards — I mean really zero as in check the ballistics at 200 and 300 and adjust zero accordingly — and then set the scope zero. For each of my groundhog guns I have a click chart taped into the inside of the lid of the ammo box. Then use the knobs. That’s why they’re there. With a good scope they’re a whole lot more accurate than hold-over, with or without hash marks. This all assumes you have a good range finder and use it properly. If not, and you’re holding over you’re really just spraying and praying. Try twisting them knobs and you’ll most likely find that a 500- or 600- or 700-yard groundhog is a whole lot easier than some people think.”
– Gunamonth

“I have my elevation knob calibrated in 100-yard increments out to 550. Range-find the critter, move elevation knob up…dead critter. The problem with hold-over is that it is so imprecise. It’s not repeatable because you are holding over for elevation and for wind also. Every time you change targets 50 yards, it seems as if you are starting over. As soon as I got completely away from the hold over method (I used to zero for 200), my hit ratios went way up.” — K. Candler

“When I first started p-dog shooting, I attempted to use the hold-over method with a 200-yard zero with my 6mm Rem. Any dog much past 325-350 yards was fairly safe. I started using a comeups table for all three of my p-dog rifles (.223 Rems and 6mm Rem). 450-yard hits with the .223s are fairly routine and a 650-yard dog better beware of the 6mm nowadays. An added benefit (one I didn’t think of beforehand) with the comeups table (elevation only), is that when the wind is blowing, it takes half of the variables out of the equation. I can concentrate on wind, and not have to worry about elevation. It makes things much more simple.” — Mike (Linefinder).

“I dial for elevation and hold for wind. Also use a mil-dot reticle to make the windage holds easier. For windage corrections, I watch for the bullet strike measure the distance it was “off” with the mil-dot reticle, then hold that much more the other way. Very fast once you get used to it.” — PepeLP

Varmint Hunting ScopeMinority View–Hold-Over is Better
“I try to not touch my knobs once I’m zeroed at 200 meters. Most of my varmint scopes have duplex reticles and I use the bottom post to put me on at 300 meters versus turning knobs. The reason I try to leave my knobs alone is that I have gone one complete revolution up or down [too far] many times and have missed the varmint. This has happened more than once and that is why I try not to change my knobs if at all possible.” — Chino69

“I have been using the hold over method and it works for me most of the time but the 450 yards and over shots get kinda hard. I moved to a 300 yard zero this year and it’s working well. I do want to get into the click-up method though; it seems to be more fool-proof.” — 500YardHog

Compromise View–Use Both Methods
“I use both [methods] as well — hold over out to 250, and click up past that.” — Jack (Wolf)

“I use the target knobs and crank-in elevation. I also use a rangefinder and know how far away they are before I crank in the clicks. I have a scope with drop dots from Premier Recticle and like it. No cranking [knobs] out to 600.” –Vmthtr

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March 31st, 2017

How Scopes Work — Understanding Lenses and Light Paths

Accurateshooter.com optics rifle scope Swarovski

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

Accurateshooter.com optics rifle scope Swarovski

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

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

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

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

Resource tip by EdLongRange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink - Videos, Optics 1 Comment »
March 24th, 2017

Verify Your TRUE Scope Click Values with Tall Target Test

Scope Click Verify Elevation Tall Target Bryan Litz NSSF test turret MOA MIL

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).

Scope Click Verify Elevation Tall Target Bryan Litz NSSF test turret MOA MIL

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.


CLICK HERE to DOWNLOAD Tall Target Worksheet (PDF)

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.”

Scope Tall Test level calibrationVerifying 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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March 16th, 2017

On the Level — Why You Need an Anti-Cant Device

anti-cant Device bubble level
This Holland Signature Series Level is reviewed in a SharpShootingUK Video.

Every serious shooter should have some kind of anti-cant device fitted to his or her rifle. When you tilt your rifle to one side or the other from shot to shot, even a little bit, this can alter your point of impact. Unless the direction and angle of tilt (or cant) is exactly the same for each shot, canting your rifle will open up your groups. And the effects of inconsistent cant* become more extreme the farther you shoot. READ MORE about rifle canting.

anti-cant Device bubble level
Jackson Hole Shooting Experience Instructional Video features scope-mounted Wheeler level.

In this video, Bryce Bergen of Long Range Shooters of Utah explains the key reasons you should fit a bubble level (anti-cant device, ACI) to your rifle. Bergen explains why inconsistent canting alters impact at long range. Bergen also offers tips on mounting your anti-cant device and working with bipods.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money on your bubble level. While there are fancy levels that cost more than $130.00, you can get a functional level for a tenth that cost. This Discovery scope level is CNC-machined to close tolerances for a good fit. It is available with three diameters to fit scopes with 1″, 30mm, or 34mm main tubes. The 1″ version is just $12.99 while the 30mm model is $13.95 and the large 34mm version is $15.95. This unit will do the job, and user reviews are very positive.

Optical Rifle Scope bubble level Discovery 30mm 1 inch 34mm Amazon

Scope-Mount Vs. Rail-Mounted Levels
Some “experts” recommend a scope-mounted bubble level rather than a rail-mounted level. The reason is that you can easily orient the position of a scope-mounted level. With the scope’s vertical cross-hair aligned with a plumb line, simply rotate the bubble level mount until the bubble is centered. It’s not so easy to adjust a rail-mounted level. If your rail is slightly off, or if the rail-mounted anti-cant device doesn’t sit perfectly horizontal when clamped on the rail, the bubble may not center in the view port.

anti-cant Device bubble level

Combo Anti-Cant + Angle Degree Indicator System
Flatline Ops sells a smart, scope-mounted leveling device with an optional vertical Strong Arm™ accessory for mounting an Angle-Degree-Indicator (ADI), which allows the shooter to make quick “true range” corrections for up-angle and down-angle shots.

anti-cant Device Flatline Ops

As a combined unit, the Accu/Level™ (fitted with Strong Arm and ADI) is a great set-up for the tactical shooter or long-range hunter. The bubble level rotates inward for protection, then kicks out to the left for easy visibility. The ADI is held in plain view on the left, under the bubble level. On LongRangeHunting.com, Jim See explains how the Accu/Level works in the field and how he employed the ACI during a hunt. CLICK HERE for Accu/Level™ Field Test.

We like the combined Level + ADI system that Flatline Ops has developed. But it is very expensive: The 30mm Accu/Level™ costs $139.99 and the Strong Arm (for ADI mounting) is $58.99. So you’ve got two hundred bucks invested before adding the $110.00 ADI. That’s a significant chunk of change that could be invested in your scope instead.

* By itself, canting the rifle does not hurt accuracy as long as the angle is exactly the same for every shot. Many sling/irons shooters, including David Tubb, cant their rifles. With scoped rifles, if you do prefer a cant, you should mount the scope so that the cross-hairs are plumb with your rifle at your preferred cant angle. You want that vertical cross-hair straight up and down always. The key is to never change the cant of your rifle from shot to shot.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, Optics 5 Comments »
February 23rd, 2017

PRS Gas Gun Match — Season Opener in Florida

PRS Gas Gun Nightforce Optics CORE Florida AR15 AR
Photo Credit Michael Cage.

Sean Murphy, Nightforce Optics Marketing Manager, shoots what he sells. Sean recently competed at the inaugural PRS Gas Gun match held February 17-19, 2017 at the CORE Shooting Solutions range in Baker, Florida. Here is Sean’s report:

PRS Gas Gun Match at CORE by Sean Murphy
The series-opening PRS Gas Gun match is in the books. Ryan Castle put on a fun match to help set the tone for what this series will become. There were plenty of challenges for both the PRS and 3-Gun competitor. The best way I can explain it is to go as fast as you can because time matters, and then don’t miss because the penalties for leaving targets are harsh. I am looking forward to shooting more of these matches and would encourage any of my PRS and 3-Gun friends to give one a try.

PRS Gas Gun Nightforce Optics CORE Florida AR15 AR

PRS Gas Gun Nightforce Optics CORE Florida AR15 ARCongratulations to the USAMU’s Tyler Payne (right) for the exhibition on how to shoot this and a very commanding overall win. [Payne won overall and high military with a score that was 25% higher than the next-best finisher.] Also congrats to Rhett Walters and Terry Cross for their first-place and second-place finishes in Tac Lite (and 2nd/3rd overall). I was fortunate to place third in Tac Lite and 4th overall for the match. Thank you to FALKOR Defense for the prize table contribution.

Squad 4 was a lot of fun and I was fortunate to shoot with some of our nation’s finest warriors and competitors. It was great to see various military guys in attendance refining their craft. It was great as always to see all of my friends at the match and make new ones. While I love shooting, the people are why I keep coming back.

Gas guns to 800 yards, yep there are targets down there somewhere…
PRS Gas Gun Nightforce Optics CORE Florida AR15 AR
Jeff Cramblit Facebook photo

Gas Gun Match Loads — Short Range vs. Long Range
The .223/5.56 guns had some lag time waiting on shot impacts. I believe the long-term solution may be to find a light and fast load for closer stages for near-instant reaction time and use a heavy load for the long shots to see splash and get the target to move a little more. — Sean Murphy

GEAR Selections for PRS Gas Gun Matches

OPTICS for the PRS Gas Gun Series
I was proud to see Nightforce Optics well represented on guns, with the ATACR 4-16×42 F1 seeming to be a solid choice for many competitors. My optic of choice is an ATACR 16x F1 with a Horus H59 reticle. For this style match the magnification range, Zero-Hold adjustment and wide field of view are a perfect combination. We had some smoke roll in from area fires on Sunday, and the ED glass was an aid in finding the targets in deep haze and shadows. Because of the time component [stages are “on the clock”], being able to shoot with holdovers is key, as well as being able to make fast corrections on follow-up shots. The H59 or TReMoR 3 will be strong contenders for this.

PRS Gas Gun Nightforce Optics CORE Florida AR15 AR

BARREL Choice — Proof Carbon-Wrapped
I shot a 20″ PROOF Research carbon fiber-wrapped barrel that was expertly installed by Greg Hamilton himself. It shot lights out while keeping the gun light and handy for movement and getting in/out of multiple positions.

TRIGGER Choice
While I like the Geissele Automatics, LLC Super 3-Gun (S3G) trigger for carbines as it’s really fast, I went with their DMR trigger for a more refined break that helped on the 600-800 yard shots.

The preferred rifle color choice at the first PRS “Gasser” Match was definitely black…
PRS Gas Gun Nightforce Optics CORE Florida AR15 AR

AMMUNITION Choice (.223 Rem/5.56x45mm)
My ammunition of choice for this match was Black Hills 77gr .223 Rem. The ammo shot outstanding, especially at longer ranges. I believe the long-term solution may be to find a light and fast load for closer stages for near instant reaction time and use a heavy load for the long shots to see splash and get the target to move a little more. The .223/5.56 guns had some lag time waiting on shot impacts, so finding a way to speed that up over 20 or so shots might save a few seconds per stage.

BALLISTICS Solver and Wind Meter
I continue to love my Kestrel 5700 AB. It was very confidence inspiring to show up at the range, get my atmospherics and run accurate data to get first round hits all the way to 800 yards.

BAGS and Gear
The precision rifle game seems to require an assortment of bags and other gear for the various shooting positions to conquer. My Armageddon Gear and Wiebad bags and gear continue to deliver and hold up to much abuse.

PRS Gas Gun Series Rules

For the new PRS “Gasser” Competition, the PRS developed rules on gun types, scoring, match timing, penalties, safety and other key topics. CLICK HERE for Full PRS Gas Gun Series Rules.

Scoring and Penalties
The Gas Gun Series utilizes a time plus penalty-based scoring system for all match scoring. This means the score is the shooter’s total combined time on all stages plus any penalties accrued.

Penalties are as follows:
30 seconds for any rifle targets not engaged or neutralized.
15 seconds for any pistol targets not engaged or neutralized.
15 seconds for hitting a “No Shoot” target.
No more than 50% of the stages at a match can utilize an unlimited round count. At least 25% of the targets in Gas Gun Series match must be 2 MOA or smaller. Max distance is 800 yards.

Open Division: The Open Division rifles will not exceed a caliber of .30 or a velocity of 3,200 fps. A match DQ will result any rounds over the speed limit of 3,200 fps (+/- 32 fps for environmental factors and equipment discrepancies). Match Officials may request at any point during a match that a competitor fire their rifle through chronograph. If the bullet exceeds the 3,200 fps speed limit, the shooter will receive an automatic match DQ.

Tactical Light Division: Intended to allow competitors the opportunity tocompete using traditional military and law enforcement caliber. This promotes Active Duty military and law enforcement competitors use of their Service and Department-issued rifles. Tactical Light Division rifles are restricted to 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington calibers only. Bullet weight cannot exceed 77 grains and muzzle velocity cannot exceed 3,000 fps.

Permalink Competition, Tactical 1 Comment »
February 6th, 2017

Optics Terminology — Lessons from Swarovski Optik

Swarovski Optik exit pupil scope accurateshooter.com

Swarovski Optik exit pupil scope accurateshooter.comWhen shopping for a new riflescope or spotting scope it’s easy to get confused by all the technical terminology. Do you wish you had a better way to compare scopes — beyond just size, weight, and price? Well Swarovski Optik can help. The Swarovski Hunting Blog offers a helpful guide to technical terms used when comparing scope specifications. Here are some important definitions, expressed in layman’s language:

Objective Lens Diameter
The objective lens diameter determines the size of the optical system’s entrance pupil. The bigger the objective lens diameter, the more light the system can capture. However, the size of the objective lens does not determine the size of the field of view.

Exit Pupil
The size of the Exit Pupil is determined by the objective lens diameter and the magnification. If you look at the eyepiece from a distance of around 30 cm (11.8 in), the Exit Pupil appears as a bright disc.

For calculating the Exit Pupil the formula is:

Exit Pupil = objective lens diameter ÷ magnification (expressed in power number).

The larger the Exit Pupil, the more light will reach the eye.

Swarovski Optik exit pupil scope accurateshooter.com

Field of View
The Field of View is the size of the circular section of the area which can be observed when you look through a long-range optical device. In the case of rifle scopes, it is specified at a distance of 100 meters or 100 yards. For example, 42.5 m at 100 m or 127.5″ at 100 yards. As an alternative, the Field of View can also be stated in degrees (e.g. 6.6°).

NOTE: The technically-feasible size for the Field of View is essentially determined by the magnification. The higher the magnification the smaller the Field of View.

Twilight Factor
The Twilight Factor defines the optical system’s performance in poor light. The statement “the greater the twilight factor, the better the suitability for twilight” only applies if the exit pupil is larger than or at least as big as the eye’s pupil. The pupil in the human eye can only open to around 8 mm. As we get older, our eyes become less flexible, which limits our ability to see things in twilight or at night. Therefore [an optic’s] exit pupil cannot always be fully utilized.

For calculating the Twilight Factor the formula is:

Twilight Factor = root of ( magnification x objective lens diameter ).

NOTE: Spotting scopes have extremely high twilight factors because of their high magnification and large objective lens diameter. But [when used at high magnification] their small exit pupil can make them [somewhat difficult] to use in twilight.

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

Photos copyright Swarovski Optik Blog, all rights reserved.

Story Tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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January 13th, 2017

How to Use Mil-Dot Scope Reticles to Estimate Range

NRA Video Milrad MIL mil-dot range reticle

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:

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Permalink - Videos, Optics 5 Comments »
November 19th, 2016

How to Avoid ‘Scope Bite’ (Scope Placement Tips)

Kirsten Weiss Video YouTube Scope Eye Relief

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.

Permalink - Videos, Optics, Shooting Skills 5 Comments »
November 8th, 2016

How to Check Your Scopes’ True Click Values

Scope Riflescope turret click MOA MIL value

Nightforce scope turretLet’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.

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July 14th, 2016

Dope for Your Scope — Handy Laminated Ballistics Card

JBM laminated ballistics card zak smith

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.”

Once you have the card you can fold it in half and then have it laminated at a local office store or Kinko’s. You can keep this in your pocket, tape it to your stock, or tie the laminated card to your rifle. If you regularly shoot at both low and high elevations, you may want to create multiple cards (since your ballistics change with altitude). To learn more about ballistic tables and data cards, check out the excellent Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting–Part 1 article on Zak’s website. This article offers many other insights as well–including valuable tips on caliber and rifle selection.

ballistics data scope coverScope-Cover Mounted Ballistics Table
Another option is to place your ballistics card on the back of the front flip-up scope cover. This set-up is used by Forum member Greg C. (aka “Rem40X”). With your ‘come-up’ table on the flip-up cover you can check your windage and elevation drops easily without having to move out of shooting position.

Greg tells us: “Placing my trajectory table on the front scope cover has worked well for me for a couple of years and thought I’d share. It’s in plain view and not under my armpit. And the table is far enough away that my aging eyes can read it easily. To apply, just use clear tape on the front objective cover.”

Permalink Gear Review, Tactical No Comments »
July 10th, 2016

Sightron SIII 10-50x60mm Under $980.00 — Sales Help Forum

Sighton 10-50x60 scope optic competition target dot mildot MOA riflescope sale

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

MOA-2 Reticle

Target Dot Reticle

Fine X-Hair Reticle

Mil-Dot 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.

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Permalink Hot Deals, Optics 4 Comments »
May 31st, 2016

Nightforce 42x44mm Competition Scope Review by James Mock

Nightforce 42x44mm 42X benchrest competition scope James Mock review test
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.

Nightforce 42x44mm 42X benchrest competition scope James Mock review test

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.

Nightforce 42x44mm 42X benchrest competition scope James Mock review test

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.

Nightforce 42x44mm 42X benchrest competition scope James Mock review test
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

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 3 Comments »
May 20th, 2016

Service Rifle Optic Option — Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm

NXS 1-4x24mm scope IHR Service Rifle Compact

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.
NXS 1-4x24mm scope IHR Service Rifle Compact

PARALLAX Considerations
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.

NXS 1-4x24mm scope IHR Service Rifle Compact

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.
NXS 1-4x24mm scope IHR Service Rifle Compact

RETICLE Options
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.

NXS 1-4x24mm scope IHR Service Rifle Compact

ZERO-STOP (Optional)
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.

For more info and product specs, visit the Nightforce NXS 1-4x24mm Compact Riflescope webpage.

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April 25th, 2016

Field Target Tip: How to Range Targets Using the Scope

Target Ranging, Range, Scope, Optic field target UK

This article appears courtesy Target Shooter magazine from the UK.

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.

Field Target Scope knobIn 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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April 21st, 2016

Leupold Now Offers Online Ordering for Custom Scope Dials

Leupold custom dial system

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 custom dial system

“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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March 21st, 2016

Bargain Finder 27: Accurateshooter’s Deals of the Week

Accurateshooter Bargain Finder Deals of Week

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.

1. Defender Outdoors — Rem 700 .300 Win Mag M40, $639.99

Remington Rem 700 .300 Winchester Win Magnum Mag Bell & Carlson M40

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.

2. Grafs.com — Nikon ProStaff 4-12x40mm Rimfire Scope, $99.95

graf grafs.com nikon rimfire prostaff rock rimfire sale coupon dicount

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.

3. Amazon — RAVPower 16750mAh Portable Charging Pack

Amazon Ravpower battery charger USB high-output battery pack LadRadar Bart Sauter

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.”

4. Bullets.com — Norma .22LR Ammo (Match 22 & Tac 22)

Norma Match 22 Tac .22 LR Ammo rimfire ammunition bullets.com

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).

5. CDNN Sports — Browning Stainless .22 LR Buck Mark, $379.99

Browning Buckmark Stainless Camper UFX Pistol Handgun .22 LR 22 rimfire

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

Wideners Norma alliant powder discount sale 203B Reloder 16 Norma 204

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

Deals Week Kowa Spotting Scope TSN-61

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

Harbor Freight plastic ammo can Harbor Freight LED light Safe lamp flashlight

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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