November 22nd, 2014

The 22BR as General-Purpose Varmint Cartridge

Richard Franklin (who operated Richard’s Custom Rifles prior to his retirement), has built scores of varmint rifles, in many different calibers. One of Richard’s all-time favorite varmint rifles is a 14-twist, 22BR built on his model 11 stock in laminated Black Walnut and fiddleback maple. Richard says the rifle is versatile and deadly accurate out to 400 yards. Richard uses a Leupold 8.5-25x50mm LRT with varmint reticle.

“This is my light walking varminter. It’s built on a blueprinted SS Remington 700 short action and chambered as a no-turn 22 BR for Lapua brass. The bolt handle is a Dave Kiff replacement and I’ve fitted a Jewel BR trigger with bottom safety. Barrel is a Lilja, 1:14″ # 6 contour with a muzzle diameter of .750″. I shoot the 40gr V-Max in the rifle at 4000 FPS. Its tough on hogs if you don’t try them too far. 400 yards is about the max with it. Accuracy is outstanding and with Roy, Mike, my grandson and myself shooting this rifle I don’t believe it has missed more than 3 hogs out of over 100 shot at this summer. This rifle is carried in a ceiling rack in the truck where its handy and is used by the first person that grabs it when a hog is sighted if we are moving between setups. The Varmint reticle on the Leupold is nice for quick hold-overs as you change distances.”

Detail of Model 11 Stock (Different Rifle in Birdseye Maple)

22BR Rivals 22-250 Performance
With bullets in the 40gr to 60gr weight range, the 22BR gives up very little in velocity to a 22-250, despite burning quite a bit less powder (30-32 grains for the 22BR vs. 35-38 grains for the 22-250). With a match-quality chamber, the 22BR will probably have an edge in accuracy over a 22-250, and you should experience longer barrel life. Here are some recommended 22BR loads for 40-60gr bullets:

For more info on the 22BR for varminting, read our 22BR Cartridge Guide

Permalink Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
November 18th, 2014

In Memoriam — Forum Member John Adams

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of John Adams of Fallbrook, Calfornia. One of our very first Forum members, John has been a stalwart supporter of this site for nearly a decade. He generously donated funds, reloading components, and equipment to our site, year after year, asking nothing in return. A modest man, John was also an innovator, who developed his own wildcat cartridges, designed reloading tools, and put together some great-shooting rifles.

John Adams Pala Silhouette

On Saturday, November 15, Johnny Adams (John’s son) sent out this message to John’s friends and acquaintances in the shooting community: “I have to inform everyone of the sad news that my father, John Adams, died unexpectedly this Saturday Morning. He has been battling cancer for a number of years and has finally succumbed to the disease. He has asked me to include this photo of him and asked that his friends remember him in this way.”

John was a very active benchrest shooter in Southern California, and one of the dedicated organizers of the monthly Varmint Silhouette Match in Pala, California. Shooting that match with John as my mentor was one of the most enjoyable highlights of my shooting career.

John Adams Pala SilhouetteThose of us who knew John would tell you he was a generous, good-hearted man who had a real love for shooting. I am honored to say John was my friend, and I will forever be grateful for the things he did to help this site get off the ground, and to help many new shooters get started. When I had a chance to shoot at the Pala Varmint Silhouette match, John took the time to help practice with me, and he even provided the rifle (a wickedly accurate 22 Dasher) and the ammunition!

Many years ago, John was involved as an owner of the SAECO company that made presses and other reloading equipment. He had a vast knowledge of shooting hardware, and he never gave up his avid interest in shooting-related product design and engineering. He remained interested in new products and new techniques until his last days. Just a few weeks ago he called me to chat about new developments in spotting scopes.

John, Rest in Peace old friend. We’ll miss your presence at our matches in California. You were a generous soul and a true friend of the shooting sports. The shooting community is much diminished by your passing….

John Adams Pala Silhouette

John Adams Pala Silhouette

Permalink News 4 Comments »
November 16th, 2014

Chuck’s Dazzling Dasher Duo — A Pair of Beauties

Forum Member Chuck L. (aka “Ridgeway”) has created a handsome duo of 6mm Dashers for competitive benchrest and varmint matches in Pennsylvania. Both guns are built on Kelbly Panda RBLP actions, with Bartlein 8-twist barrels, and Shehane Laminated Tracker Stocks. However, the two rifles are not exact twins, as you can see. One, which we’ll call the Big Dasher, is built on a Shehane ST1000 Tracker stock. The other gun, the Small Dasher, sports Shehane’s “Baby Tracker” stock — a design used with great success by Richard Schatz. The Big Dasher, optimized for 1000-yard competition, also has a slightly longer freebore — 0.136″ vs. 0.104″ for the Small Dasher.

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Chuck tells us: “I don’t get out shooting competition as much as I want due to time and family, but when I do compete, I shoot a Groundhog match at Southfork Rifle Club in Beaverdale, PA. Info on Southfork Club events can be found at Southforkrifleclub.com. The Southfork match is basically a 100-, 300- and 500-yard match with one sighter the entire match and 5 shots at each yardage for score. The Small Dasher, with the shorter ‘Baby Tracker’ stock, was set up for the Southfork Rifle Club’s ‘Light Unlimited’ class which has a 13.5-lb max weight.” (Editor: ‘unlimited’ is a misnomer for a weight-limited category.)

Chuck adds: “The Big Dasher with the heavy ST-1000 stock is set up for 1000-yard benchrest matches in Light Gun class. I hope to shoot a couple 1K matches with it at Reade Range in southwest Pennsylvania. I am still in load development for this rifle since it was just finished in January. One ironic thing is, it shoots the same load I’m shooting out of the lighter gun rather well. The only difference between the two chambers is the freebore is roughly thirty thousandths longer on the 1K gun (Large Dasher). I will also shoot this at Southfork in the ‘Heavy Unlimited’ class.”

6mm Dasher Shehane duo

Specifications for the Dasher Duo:

Small Dasher (13.5-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with approximately .104 freebore and a .264 NK. (No way of knowing exactly since it freebore was done in a separate operation by Kelbly.) Components are: Shehane Baby Tracker stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ LV barrel at 26 ¾”, Kelbly Rings, Weaver T36, Jewell trigger. The barrel was chambered by Kelblys and the stock was bedded, glued and balanced by a shooting buddy (Forum Member johara1). I clear-coated the stock with auto urethane. Total weight is 13 lbs., 4 ounces.

Big Dasher (1K Light Gun, 17-pounder): Chambered for 6mm Dasher with a .136 freebore and .264 neck (PTG Reamer). Components are: Shehane ST-1000 stock, Kelbly Panda RPLB action, Bartlein 1:8″ HV 5R barrel at 28″, Shehane +20-MOA rings, Nightforce NXS 12-42x56mm, Jewell trigger. The barrel work, pillar installation, and bedding was done by Dave Bruno. The stock was clear-coated by Chuck with auto urethane. Chuck also made the rear butt plate and balanced the rifle. Total weight: 16 lbs., 13 ounces.

Dasher Case-Forming: Neck-Turn then Fire-form with Bullets Hard in Lands
To fireform, I turn my cases down to fit the chamber and stop where the false shoulder makes snug contact with the chamber. Fire-forming rounds are loaded up with a 29-grain charge of H4895 or Varget and a 108gr Berger bullet seated hard into the lands about 0.020″ past initial contact with the rifling. It takes about three firings to make a nice clean Dasher case with a sharp shoulder. I anneal about every 3-4 firings. I have many cases that have about 10+ firings on them and they are still shooting well. The primer pockets are a little looser, but still hold a primer.

6mm Dasher case fire-forming fireform

Both Dashers Group in the Ones at 100 Yards
My main bullet for both rifles is the 107gr Sierra MK, loaded with Reloder 15 powder, Lapua cases and CCI 450 primers. My main load for the Small Dasher is 33.0 grains of Reloder 15. This load shoots in the ones at 100 yards. For the Big Dasher, I’m still working on a load, although the same 33.0 grain load shoots in the ones in the heavier gun as well. I’m still looking for more velocity and my ‘max’ node. So far, I’ve gone well above 33.0 grains of RL 15 without pressure signs, but that load produces vertical at 100 yards, so I’m going to tinker with the load until I see pressure or it starts to shoot.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 4 Comments »
October 15th, 2014

New Stuff! Hornady Unveils New Ammo, New Tools for 2015

Hornady has just announced its new-for-2015 products — new ammo, new reloading equipment, new brass, and new shooting accessories. This is a big roll-out, with a slew of new products, including some very interesting reloading tools. CLICK HERE to See ALL NEW 2015 Hornady Products.

VIDEO PREVIEW: Hornady 2015 New Products Overview

New Hornady Rifle Ammunition
New rifle ammo to be introduced in 2015 includes: 17 Win Super Mag Rimfire (with 20gr VMax), Full Boar series with GMX bullets, .243 Win Superformance with 75gr V-Max, and .338 Lapua Magnum with 285gr A-Max. It appears that Hornady may also be expanding its Custom Int’l line of hunting ammo.

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

New Hornady Reloading Products
For 2015, Hornady is releasing a host of new reloading tools and accessories. Among the new reloading items this year are: Multi-Purpose Lock-N-Load® Quick Change Hand Tool (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Neck Turn Tool with power adapter (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Sonic Cleaner 7L, and Lock-N-Load® AP™ Primer Pocket Swage Tool (for Hornady L-N-L progressive press):

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

New Hornady Cartridge Brass — 15 New Varieties
This should make hand-loaders happy. Hornady will release 15 new types of Hornady-brand cartridge brass. Varminters should be happy with the new 22 Hornet, 220 Swift, and 6mm Rem offerings.

Rifle Brass
22 Hornet SKU 8602
220 Swift SKU 8615
6mm Rem SKU 8622
7mm-08 Rem SKU 8646
7x65R SKU 8641
300 Rem Ultra Mag SKU 87624
30-378 Weatherby SKU 8658
8×57 JRS SKU 8644
500-416 Nitro Express SKU 86877

Pistol Brass
380 Auto SKU 8710
9X18 Makarov SKU 8725
9MM Luger SKU 8720
38 Special SKU 8730
357 Mag SKU 8740
40 S&W SKU 8742

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

Permalink - Videos, New Product No Comments »
August 31st, 2014

Teaching the Next Generation — Ernie Bishop’s Protégé

Ernie Bishop, USA dealer for SEB Coaxial, offered this story about teaching a young boy how to shoot — passing on the heritage of marksmanship to the next generation. Ernie was working with an 8-year-old novice. With Ernie showing him the ropes, the young man was able to make hits at 1440 yards!

Teaching a Young Man about Long-Range Shooting, by Ernie Bishop
I was able to do some coaching with an eight-year-old boy shooting distance with a Savage 6.5-284 rifle (factory 1:9″-twist barrel), 3-12X Huskemaw scope, and MAC brake. Chuck McIntosh was helping as well. I can’t wait to see how this young man develops as a shooter. It was a real pleasure coaching him.

Click for Full-screen Photo
Ernie Bishop 6.5-284 shooter training

We ended the day’s shooting session with the young man making multiple connections at 1440 yards with the Savage rifle (top photo). We were very proud of this young man. During our session, the young shooter also fired a suppressed 300 Remington Ultra Magnum. The boy made managed a first-shot connection at 500 yards on a 5″ square target.

Click for Full-screen Photo
Ernie Bishop 6.5-284 shooter training

The next day I brought a couple of Specialty Pistols for our young marksman to play with. The photo shows a rear grip XP-100 with McRee chassis, chambered in .284 Winchester for 168gr SMKs. The young man went out to 850 yards with this after he got bored with 10″ targets at 400 and 500 yards (he never missed at 400 and 500!).

Click for Full-screen Photo
Ernie Bishop 6.5-284 shooter training

We ended up having switchy winds, which made things more difficult, but still fun. We also shot at 750 yards with the 6.5-284 bench pistol.

Permalink Shooting Skills 2 Comments »
May 31st, 2014

Tips for Summer Varmint Hunts — Gear and Guns

Will you be heading to the varmint fields this summer? Proper planning is key to a safe, satisfying, and productive varmint holiday. Of course you’ll be busy reloading, but you should make a check-list of all the gear and supplies you need. Bring a variety of rifles if possible — you’ll need to switch off as one barrel gets hot, and the chambering that works best for your close shots may not be ideal for those longer shots out past 400 yards. Here are some tips from our Forum members that can help you shoot more effectively, and avoid problems on your varmint hunt.

Savage LR Precision Varminter

From PatchHound: “The gear you bring will make or break a trip out to Prairie Dog land. A lot has to do with where you going and how far you are from [civilization]. For starters, bring lots of water. It will be hot in Wyoming in a few more weeks but it don’t hurt to bring warm clothes in case it snows. It’s best to wear leather boots unless you’re real good at dodging cactus while walking around. Good sunsceen will save the day too. [What you need to bring] really depends on whether you’re shooting on some friendly ranch or 100 miles in the middle of [a wilderness area]. Good survival gear is a good thing to have for the latter!”

From Stoner25mkiv: “I’d suggest an adjustable bipod if you are going to do any walking. A laser rangefinder is a huge asset. Have a fanny pack or backpack for extra ammo, water, bore-snake, etc. when you go on your walkabouts. We also take a couple pivoting benches, heavy movers’ pad/blanket, sandbags (Uncle Bud’s Bulls Bag) for shooting from near the vehicle. Boonie hat for blocking the sun, sun glasses, sunscreen. High leather boots.

Uncle Bud's Bulls Bag

Anyway, on to the rifles…consider bringing a 17 HMR, .223 Ackley bolt gun, .223 Ackley AR, and a 243 WSSM. Some years the 17 HMR isn’t removed from its case. We had a couple windless days and the 17 was lots of fun. I’d walk into the dogtown and then lay down and wait. After five minutes or so I’d have dogs within easy rimfire range, and out to as far as I’d care to stretch the rimfire. 275 yards was about it.”

From CTShooter: “The .204 [Ruger] is a laser beam and good to 400 yards easy. Forget the rimfire! Do you have a portable bench that pivots? Bring bipod, binocs. Bring a LOT of water. I have a milspec sniper shooter’s mat/drag bag with shoulder straps. It is good to carry everything when you want to wander off and shoot prone with bipod. Here’s a view through my 6BR in ND.”

From RJinTexas: “In most of the locations that we’ll be shooting we’ll usually set up a minimum of 200 yards from the edge of a major dog town. We’ll start by working over the close-in dogs and shooting our way out, some of these towns may run in excess of 500/600 yards deep. I believe that a rimfire will put you at a distinct disadvantage. The only rimfire that will somewhat work is the 17 HMR and you can reload for your 204s for close to the cost of HMR ammo and you’ll be less apt to be under-gunned. Your 204 will work well out to 300/400 yards unless the wind is blowing hard. We classify a 10-mph crosswind as a very calm day and what makes it a little more challenging is that it is usually also gusting. I only took my 17 HMR once, I’ve since even quit taking my 17 Mach IV because when the wind blows hard it range is limited to around 200 yards. Gusting wind will play havoc with 25gr pills.”

From Wes (P1ZombieKiller): “[For my first PD trip] there are so many things I was not ready for. The one thing that I did bring (that no one told me about) was a canopy. I’m glad I did. Even though the weather was [near perfect], I know that sun can humble you real fast. With my pop-up canopy, I could shoot all day without getting killed by the sun. You had to tie the canopy down real well or the wind would blow it across the pasture.

We sat on shooting benches that pivot 360°, and are fast and easy to set up. Most all shots were 175-250 yards. I just felt comfortable at that range. It was more fun for me to be able to film the hits, and the camcorder I was using just did not get good video past 350 yards. The digital zoom distorted the image too much. I knew I would only get this one chance to film my first P-dog outing, and I wanted to get it on film for [posterity].” To learn more about P1′s first Prairie Dog Trip, visit his Website.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting 1 Comment »
May 10th, 2014

Hornady Increases Production of 17 Hornet Ammo

Here’s good news for varmint hunters. Hornady just announced that it is ramping up production of the 17 Hornet: “For those of you who love the 17 Hornet, we are manufacturing ammunition right now and you should see it back in stores soon!” The 17 Hornet is a fun, fast cartridge that is ideal for ground squirrels and other small varmints. It has light recoil similar to a 22 WMR, but with the ability to reach out to 300 yards and beyond. Since the 17 Hornet is a centerfire cartridge with reloadable brass, it can actually be more economical to shoot than the 17 HMR, provided you “roll your own”.

Speed Kills — 3650 FPS
Based on the 22 Hornet cartridge case, the 17 Hornet can drive a 20-grain V-MAX bullet at 3,650 fps. At this velocity, the 17 Hornet can match the trajectory of a 55-grain .223 Remington load, but with much less noise and recoil. Take a look at the chart below. You can see that the 17 Hornet’s trajectory (blue line) is almost an identical match for the larger .223 Rem (red line) all the way out to 400 yards or so. The 17 Hornet is an economical, fun .17 caliber centerfire cartridge with way more “reach” than a 17 HRM or 22 WMR.

17 Hornet — Trajectory Comparison

Hornady 17 Hornet varmint cartridge

  • 3,650 fps muzzle velocity with a 20 grain V-MAX bullet.
  • Same C.O.L. as the 22 Hornet – uses the existing action.
  • Trajectory comparable to a 55 grain 223 Rem, but the felt recoil of a 22 WMR.
  • Lower cost and comparable quality to the 17 Fireball and .223 Remington.

Video Explains 17 Hornet Features and Performance

Hornady 17 Hornet varmint cartridge

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting 4 Comments »
October 18th, 2013

Varmint Silhouette Match This Weekend at Pala in California

About 24 miles east of Oceanside, California (near the Camp Pendleton Marine base) is the Pala Reservation. On that Native American land you’ll find a Casino Resort, plus an excellent shooting range. Each month, shooters come to Pala for the Varmint Silhouette Match hosted by the North County Shootist Association. Normally the match is held on the first Sunday of the month. But this October, the match will be held Sunday, October 20th. Matches start around 9:00 am and finish around noon.

Pala Varmint Silhouette

Course of Fire: Five Yardages, 50 Critters
At five different yardages, ten steel “critter” targets are set as follows: 200 Meters – Field Mice (“pikas”); 300 meters – Crows; 385 meters – Ground Squirrels; 500 meters – Jack Rabbits; 600 yards – Prairie Dogs. The folks at Pala run a tight ship, cycling multiple relays efficiently, so everybody gets to shoot 50 targets (10 each at five different yardages), and the show is usually completed by 1:00 pm. A one-hour sight-in period starts at 8:00 am, and the match starts at 9:00 am sharp. Newcomers should definitely arrive no later than 7:45 am, because you may need the full sight-in period to get good zeros at all five yardages. CLICK HERE for full match INFO.

pala range san diego varmint

What to bring to Pala
ammo 6mm GrendelYou’ll need an accurate rifle, plus at least 80 rounds of ammo (bring 100 rounds if you have no idea about your come-ups at these distances). You can shoot either rested prone (F-Class style), from bipod, or from a portable bench with front pedestal and rear bag. Most guys shoot from benches. Any rifle 6.5 caliber or under is allowed (max bullet weight is 107 grains). With no weight restrictions, any good varmint rifle, bench gun, or F-Class rifle can be competitive. Muzzle brakes are permitted. Spotter assistants are allowed, so bring a friend along — he/she can shoot in a different relay. Bring cleaning gear if your rifle can’t run 80+ rounds without losing accuracy. Pastry snacks are often provided, but bring water, and a lunch. You’ll spend some time in the sun helping to set targets, so bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.

Fun Weekend for the Whole Family
Pala California Shooting RangeThere is a deluxe Indian Casino/Spa a half-mile from the range. So don’t hesitate to bring the wife. If she’s not a shooter, she can enjoy a fancy brunch or spa treatment while you’re having fun mowing down metal critters. Pala is a 30 minutes from the Pacific Ocean and beautiful beaches, so you can make this a weekend holiday for the whole family — kids love sand and surf.

Permalink - Videos, Competition No Comments »
April 29th, 2013

ISSC SPA 22/17 Straight-Pull Rimfire Rifles Coming in May

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifleISSC will soon be shipping its new SPA 22/17 series of rimfire rifles. These rifles all feature a fast, biathlon-style, Straight-Pull Action (SPA). This allows for rapid cycling without having to lift your head off the stock. Watch the video below and you can see how you can easily work the toggle action with thumb and two fingers. ISSC offers the SPA 22/17 in three popular rimfire chamberings: .22 LR, .22 WMR, and 17 HMR. We think the 17 HMR version of this little rifle would be a great “carry-around” varmint rig. And the “Target” model, as chambered in .22 LR, seems ideal for the popular “Rimfire Tactical” game.

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle
ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

The Austrian-made SPA 22/17 is offered in three (3) different stock versions: Wood stock (with raised comb), Polymer sporter stock (with Snabel-style fore-end), and a “Target” model (with a folding, Accuracy International-style thumbhole stock). All variants come with 10-round magazines. The rifles are currently offered in three popular rimfire chamberings: .22 LR, .22 WMR, and .17 HMR. The ISSC SPA 22/17 series of rifles is distributed in the USA through Legacy Sports International.

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

ISSC SPA 21/17 straight-pull rimfire rifle

We’re told that the first shipments of ISSC Spa 22/17 rifles should be arriving by mid-May, with larger shipments scheduled for June, 2013. We expect these rifles to be pretty popular, so you may want to get in line. Here’s a video from Legacy Sports showing how the straight-pull actions work:

ISSC is located in Ried, Austria. The company’s design and engineering work is accomplished at the company’s ESC subsidiary, located in Ulm, Germany.

Permalink Hunting/Varminting, New Product 5 Comments »
November 20th, 2012

FREE Turkey (and Varmint) Targets for Holiday Fun Shoots

Free Turkey TargetThanksgiving is coming up soon. After partaking in the traditional Turkey Day feast, we know many of our readers will find time during the holiday to head to the range. A Thanksgiving Day shoot is a fun excursion, and a great way for young and old family members to share time together. For all you T-Day marksmen, we offer a special turkey target. This was created by our friend and Forum member Pascal (aka “DesertFrog”).

We’ve packaged the turkey target along with five (5) other varmint/animal-themed targets for your shooting pleasure. These are all offered in .pdf (Adobe Acrobat) format for easy printing.

CLICK HERE to download all 6 targets in .Zip archive.

Program Promotes Family Hunting Opportunities
Speaking of turkeys and families going shooting together, we’d like to give a plug for the “Families Afield” program. A joint effort of the Nat’l Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA), and National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), the “Families Afield” program works to expand the opportunities for young hunters with adult mentors. The goal of the program is to increase the number of young people getting involved in hunting. For every 100 adult hunters today, only 69 youth hunters are coming up to take their place. “Families Afield” works to reverse that trend. Several states that were restrictive to youth hunting have signed into law “Families Afield” legislation. These new laws make it possible for young hunters and their families to enjoy hunting traditions together. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Families Afield program NSSF

Permalink News, Shooting Skills No Comments »
November 18th, 2012

Feature Story on Varmint and Hold-Over Reticles

In our articles collection, you’ll find a story of interest to varminters and game hunters. Choosing And Using Modern Reticles, by author John Barsness, reviews the many “hold-over” reticle options currently available for hunting scopes. The latest “hunting hold-over” reticles, such as Leupold’s Varmint Hunter Reticle, offer both vertical marks (for hold-over) and horizontal bars or dots (for wind compensation). The idea is to allow the shooter to move quickly from one target distance to another, without having to dial elevation changes with his scope turrets. Likewise, the horizontal wind-hold markings give the shooter reference points for winds of specific velocities. That makes the process of “holding-off” for wind much more predictable.

In the Barsness article, which originally appeared in Varmint Hunter Magazine, the author traces the history of ranging/hold-over reticles starting with the Mildot reticle. Barsness explains how to use the mildot reticle, noting how it is best used with a First Focal Plane scope design.

First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane Designs
If nothing else, you’ll want to read this article just to improve your understanding of First Focal Plane (FFP) vs. Second Focal Plane (SFP) optics operation. If you want to use the markings on a reticle to range at various magnification levels, then you want the FFP design, preferred by the military. If, on the other hand, you prefer the viewed appearance of your reticle to stay constant at all power levels, then you’ll probably prefer the SFP design.

Barsness explains how the modern “Christmas Tree” design reticles, such as the Zeiss Rapid Z, evolved, and he explains how to use these reticles to adjust your point of aim for different target distances. These hold-over reticles can be very handy, but you must remember that the yardages which correspond to the stepped vertical markings are determined by the ballistics of your cartridge. Thus, if you change your cartridge, or even change your load significantly, your hold-over yardage values will change. You will then need to field-test to find the actual value of the reticle’s hold-over points.

Even if you are not a hunter, you can benefit from reading the Barsness article. For anyone shopping for a varmint scope, the article is a “must-read”. And Barness clears up some common misconceptions about FFP vs. SFP optics. Barsness also offers good, common-sense advice. We agree with Barsness when he says that some reticle designs have become too complicated. Barsness writes:

These days there are reticles with everything from a few extra dots along the vertical cross hair to reticles that cover the bottom third of the scope’s field of view, providing an aiming point for every blade of grass in North Dakota. Here we run into the basic fact that simpler reticles are easier to use, if not quite so versatile.

Personally, I particularly like simple reticles in shorter-range varmint rifles, whether rimfires or small centerfires such as the 22 Hornet. These aren’t likely to be used at extended ranges, or in any significant amount of wind. Hence, something like the Burris Ballistic Plex reticle provides about all the information we can realistically use — the reason there are Burris Ballistic Plex scopes on most of my rimfire or small centerfire varmint rifles.

CLICK HERE to Read ‘Choosing and Using Modern Reticles’, by John Barsness.

Permalink - Articles, Optics 3 Comments »
August 20th, 2012

Minox ZA 5 6-30x50mm SF Scope — Great Glass, Good Value

We know that many readers, particularly target shooters and long-range varmint hunters, are looking for a fairly high-magnification optic that is also affordable. A common question in our Shooters Forum is: “I can’t afford a Nightforce. Is there a quality scope with more than 25X magnification that costs under $900.00.” Fitting that bill are two scopes that have been on the market for a while — the Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30x50mm, and Sightron SIII 8-32x56mm. Now there’s a new optic from MINOX to add to the list of quality, high-magnification scopes that can be purchased for well under $1000.00.

Great Glass in 6-30x56mm MINOX
There is a new 6-30 power scope from Minox that offers impressive features at an affordable under-$900.00 price point. The Minox ZA 5 6-30x56mm SF riflescope offers a wide 500% zoom range, 30mm main tube, and outstanding Schott glass from Germany. These scopes are engineered in Germany and assembled in the USA. The Minox 6-30×56 offers a handy side-focus parallax control. What’s more, the Minox has a European-style diopter eyepiece, with a -2 to +1.5 range. That’s great for shooters who would otherwise require corrective lenses. Leupold and Bushnell don’t provide a diopter eyepiece — that’s something you normally find on high-end European scopes (such as Schmidt & Bender).

The Minox 6-30x56mm riflescope is offered with three reticle choices: MinoPlex (Medium Plex), BDC (bullet drop compensating), and XR-BDC which has finer lines in the central zone, with both vertical and horizontal stadia (hash-marks). We favor the XR-BDC for target use.

Minox offers a strong “no-fault” lifetime warranty on its scopes. The MINOX Lifetime Total Coverage Warranty “provides protection against manufacturing defects, functional failures, or any accidental damages to the covered product, including breakage, water damage, or any accident”. Put simply, “MINOX will repair or replace any damaged MINOX Riflescope with no questions asked.”

Features of Minox ZA 5/30 6-30×56 SF Riflescopes:

  • Side Focus Parallax Adjustment
  • Ample 4″ plus Eye Relief
  • Premium lenses by SCHOTT AG of Germany
  • Zero resettable 1/4 MOA Windage and elevation knobs
  • Fast-focus European-style diopter eyepiece (-2 to +1.5)
  • Minox M* multi-coated lenses for improved contrast, detail, and brightness

Permalink Optics 2 Comments »