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October 7th, 2014

MIL vs. MOA Reticles — Which Are Better for Tactical Tasks?

MIL or MOA — which angular measuring system is better for target ranging (and hold-offs)? In a recent article on his PrecisionRifleBlog.com website, Cal Zant tackles that question. Analyzing the pros and cons of each, Zant concludes that both systems work well, provided you have compatible click values on your scope. Zant does note that a 1/4 MOA division is “slightly more precise” than 1/10th mil, but that’s really not a big deal: “Technically, 1/4 MOA clicks provide a little finer adjustments than 1/10 MIL. This difference is very slight… it only equates to 0.1″ difference in adjustments at 100 yards or 1″ at 1,000 yards[.]” Zant adds that, in practical terms, both 1/4-MOA clicks and 1/10th-MIL clicks work well in the field: “Most shooters agree that 1/4 MOA or 1/10 MIL are both right around that sweet spot.”

Mil MOA reticle ranging PRS tactical minute angle precision rifle series

READ MIL vs. MOA Cal Zant Article.

Zant does note that a whopping 94% of shooters in the Precision Rifle Series (PRS) used a mil-based reticle. However, Zant says: “This does NOT mean MIL is better. It just means MIL-based scopes are more popular.” Zant agrees with Bryan Litz’s take on the subject: “You can’t really go wrong with either (MIL or MOA). They’re both equally effective, it comes down to how well you know the system. If you’re comfortable with MOA, I wouldn’t recommend switching to MIL. I have a few MIL scopes but primarily because they’re on rifles used for military evaluation projects, and that community is now mostly converted to MILS, so when in Rome….”

We recommend you read Zant’s complete article which is very thorough and is illustrated with helpful graphics. Here are the key points Zant makes in his MIL vs. MOA analysis:

MIL vs. MOA — Key Points
There are a handful of minor differences/trade-offs between MIL & MOA, but there are no inherent advantage to either system. Most people blow the small differences WAY out of proportion….Here are the biggest differences and things to keep in mind:

  • Whatever you decide, go with matching turret/reticle (i.e. MIL/MIL or MOA/MOA)
  • 1/4 MOA adjustments are slightly more precise than 1/10 MIL.
  • MIL values are slightly easier to communicate.
  • If you think in yards/inches the math for range estimation is easier with MOA. If you think in meters/cm the math is easier with MIL.
  • When your shooting partners are using one system, there can be some advantage to having the same system.
  • Around 90% of the PRS competitors use MIL.
  • There are more product options (with ranging reticles) in MIL.

Range Card Print-Outs
Zant makes an interesting practical point regarding range card print-outs. He suggests the MIL System may be easier to read: “You can see in the range card examples below, 1/4 MOA adjustments take up more room and are a little harder to read than 1/10 MIL adjustments.”

mil vs moa reticle scope

Permalink Optics, Tactical 11 Comments »
October 3rd, 2014

Swarovski’s New 80mm Spotting Scope Offers Illuminated Reticle

STR 80 Swarovski Spotting scope with ReticleSwarovski has a new STR 80 spotting scope with an illuminated reticle. That’s right, this new STR 80 spotter has a ranging reticle like a riflescope, with adjustable brightness levels. This 80mm spotting scope can be used for estimating range to targets, using MIL-based or MOA-based stadia lines on the cross-hairs. This allows you to range targets optically, as you could with a ranging reticle in a riflescope.

Revolutionary Reticle “ON”, Reticle “OFF” Technology
The STR 80’s illuminated ranging reticle makes the new STR 80 a fairly unique product among high-end, imported spotting scopes. Thanks to a new technology, Swarovski is the first manufacturer to successfully project a reticle directly in a spotting scope. The reticle (MOA or MRAD) can be activated or deactivated as required. Notably, because the reticle appears via electro-illumination, it can be “turned off” for un-obstructed viewing. So you can have a totally clear field of view when desired, OR a ranging reticle when that functionality is desired. Having the ability to turn OFF the reticle is great — that’s a very intelligent feature.

STR 80 Swarovski Spotting scope with Reticle

When viewing targets, the STR 80’s sharp HD (high-definition) lenses will resolve bullet holes at long range. Current Swaro 20-60X and 25-50X (wide) eyepieces can be used with the new STR 80 spotter. Optional accessories include Picatinny mounting rail, digiscoping attachment, and a winged eye cup.

How to Range with STR 80 Reticles
The new STR 80 scope offers a choice of either MOA or MRAD reticles with 15 brightness levels, 10 day levels, and 5 night levels. For convenient ranging, set the magnification level so that the MOA reticle displays ¼ MOA divisions, while the MRAD Reticle displays 0.1 MIL divisions. (NOTE: the reticle will change in size relative to the target at different magnifcation levels. Therefore ranging is normally done at one standard magnification level).

STR 80 Swarovski Spotting scope with Reticle

Dustin Woods, Sales Director for Swarovski Optik NA said: “Long range shooters asked for a premium spotting scope with integrated reticle and we have listened. With our new STR spotting scope we now have MOA and Mil-Radian reticle models. Because the reticle is illuminated, the user can have the reticle turned on when they are judging hits and misses but also turn it completely off for an unobstructed view during observation. This product is a real game changer in the precision shooting segment.”

Permalink New Product, Optics 5 Comments »
December 15th, 2013

New MOA-Based TS-32X1 Reticle from Leupold

Leupold MOA holdoff reticel ts-32x1Leupold has just introduced a new second focal plane reticle with MOA-based hashmarks, allowing precise hold-overs and hold-offs (for wind). The new TS-32X1 reticle, is a minute-of-angle (MOA) based system designed to allow for precision shots without the need for dial adjustments. The TS-32X1 reticle is designed to work with riflescopes that employ 1/4-MOA target adjustments or M1 dials.

The TS-32X1 is the first in a family of MOA-based reticles that will cover several magnification ranges. The TS-32X1 will be available for a wide variety of Leupold riflescopes. For $159.99, the Leupold Custom Shop can also retrofit this reticle into many existing Leupold scopes. Adding the TS-32X1 to a new riflescope ordered through the Custom Shop will cost $129.99.

Leupold MOA holdoff reticel ts-32x1

MOA-Based Hashmarks on Horizontal and Vertical Stadia
On the TS-32X1 reticle, a heavy post and thin stadia crosshair features 1-MOA hashmarks on both the horizontal and vertical lines. Every other hash mark on the horizontal stadia is slightly longer, providing quick and easy 2-MOA measurements. There is a number placed every fourth MOA for quick reference.

The vertical stadia is also set up with 1-MOA tics and longer 2-MOA marks. In addition, every fourth mark is numbered, all the way to the complete 32-MOA elevation range. Wind dots in the lower half of the reticle are spaced in 2=MOA increments, both vertically and horizontally.

This new TS-32X1 reticle is currently available for most second (rear) focal plane VX-3, VX-III, Vari-X III and Mark 4 4.5-14 LR/T riflescopes. Existing riflescopes can be retrofitted for $159.99 through the Leupold Custom Shop. To add the TS-32X1 to a new riflescope ordered through the Custom Shop is $129.99.

Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Optics 4 Comments »
September 17th, 2013

Pin-Adjustable Barrett ExRings Offer Two MOA Elevation Settings

Barrett pin-lock pin lock extended range rings Exrings MOA preload angle picatinnyBarrett offers an innovative scope ring set that adjusts to two different MOA elevations through the use of variable-position cross-pins in the rear ring. Barrett’s Pin-Lock® ExRings allow a dual-setting +MOA taper by placing the adjustment pin in one of two locations. To change settings, simply remove the rear pin from one hole and insert it into the other (after loosening side locking bolts*). There are multiple ExRing versions: 30mm with 15/40 MOA settings (#66850), 30mm with 20/30 MOA settings (#66858), and 34mm with 20/30 MOA settings (#66870).

Barrett says the lower 15 or 20 MOA settings are commonly used with canted rails while the higher 30 or 40 MOA settings are for flat rails. Once an elevation setting is selected and the ring’s cross bolts are torqued to specification, Barrett ExRings become a rock-solid mount with the MOA “pre-load” angle best suited to your application. NOTE: Rings come factory preset at the lower MOA setting. CLICK HERE for Barrett ExRing Mounting Instructions (PDF).

Barrett pin-lock pin lock extended range rings Exrings MOA preload angle picatinny

These rings are ideal for extreme long-range shooting, offering a huge amount of elevation “pre-load” that allows the shooter to keep his scope in the middle of its elevation range. We’re not aware of any other ring system that allows a quick, repeatable change from 15 MOA preload to 40 MOA (and vice versa), or even from 20 to 30 MOA. The system will work with a wide variety of installations. ExRings will work on both flat and tapered m1913 Picatinny-type rails, and there should be enough clearance for scopes with front objectives up to 70mm in diameter. ExRings are made from tough, T-6 aluminum, hard-anodized to 60 HRC specs. A special “Zero-Gap” clamping system provides a very secure mount.

Barrett ExRings® (Extended Range Scope Rings) Key Features:

• Maximizes the riflescope’s internal elevation adjustment.
• ZERO-GAP offers wider clamping area and maximizes “scope grip”.
• ZERO BACKLASH tongue and groove interface.
• High Strength Aircraft-grade 7075 T6 aluminum.
• 2.5 times lighter than steel.
• Heat-treated steel cross bolt and captured nut for increased strength.
• Hard Anodized with a 60 HRC (Rockwell C scale).
• Both 30mm diameter and 34mm diameter available.
• BORS compatible.

ExRings Prove Themselves in Long-Range Competition
You’ll find an extensive review of the Barrett ExRings on Australian Long Range Shooter Magazine. The creator of that website, Norm Nelson, mounted Barrett Pin-Lock 15-40 MOA adjustable rings on his 7mm F-Open rig. He then proceeded to use that rifle (with ExRings) to win the 2013 Australian Long-Range Championship. Here are Norm’s comments:

Barrett pin-lock pin lock extended range rings Exrings MOA preload angle picatinny“I used [the ExRings] to great effect to win the Australian Long Range F-Class Open competition earlier this year. They enabled me to use a higher magnification scope at the 1200-yard range. I have since bought a second pair and run them on my .375 Cheytac to shoot way out yonder.

The operation and fitting of these rings is quite easy and they provide a strong mounting solution for long range rifles that need an extra bit of elevation. Once mounted to the rail the ring top halves are removed and the side locking plates are loosened. At this time the rear adjustable adjustable pin can be removed if desired and placed into either [MOA position].

These are solid rings designed to withstand the recoil of the big Barrett rifles. In the testing I have done so far, I have not noticed any movement of these rings and would be surprised if I did given their build design and quality.”

*HOW to CHANGE ExRing MOA SETTINGS
Barrett recommends changing the MOA setting after scope is installed on rifle.

1. Remove the two side locking bolts from the rear ring and loosen the two side locking bolts from the front ring using the T27 Torx® end of the supplied L-wrench.
2. Use a 1/8″ pin punch to remove the adjustment pin from the rear ring.
3. Align the corresponding pin hole locations, insert and tap the adjustment pin flush using a pin punch.
4. Tighten all four side locking bolts to 50 inch/lbs or 5.6Nm

Permalink New Product, Optics No Comments »
August 20th, 2013

Burris Signature Rings — Calculating Actual Elevation Changes

Burris Signature Rings with polymer inserts are an excellent product. The inserts allow you to clamp your scope securely without ring marks. Moreover, using the matched offset inserts you can “pre-load” your scope to add additional elevation. This helps keep the scope centered in its elevation range while shooting at long range. Additionally, with a -20 insert set in the front and a +20 insert set in the rear, you may be able to zero at very long ranges without using an angled scope base — and that can save money. (To move your point of impact upwards, you lower the front of the scope relative to the bore axis, while raising the rear of the scope.)

Burris Signature Rings

Insert Elevation Values and Ring Spacing
People are sometimes confused when they employ the Burris inserts. The inset numbers (-10, +10, -20, +20 etc.) refer to hundredths of inch shim values, rather than to MOA. And you need the correct, matched top/bottom pair of inserts to give you the marked thousandth value. Importantly, the actual amount of elevation you get with Burris inserts will depend BOTH on the insert value AND the spacing between ring centers.

Forum member Gunamonth has explained this in our Shooters’ Forum:

Burris inserts are [marked] in thousandths of an inch, not MOA. To know how many MOA you gain you also need to know the ring spacing. For example, with a -20 thou insert set in the front and a +20 thou insert set in the rear, if the ring spacing is 6″, the elevation change will be approximately +24 MOA upwards.

Burris signature rings inserts

Here’s how we calculate that. If you have a 2 X 0.020″ “lift” over a distance of 6 inches (i.e. 0.040″ total offset at 0.5 feet) that’s equivalent to 0.080″ “lift” over 12 inches (one foot). There are 300 feet in 100 yards so we multiply 0.080″ X 300 and get 24″ for the total elevation increase at 100 yard. (Note: One inch at 100 yards isn’t exactly a MOA but it’s fairly close.)

Here’s a formula, with all units in inches:

Total Ring Offset
——————– X 3600 = Change @ 100 yards
Ring Spacing

(.020 + .020)
—————– X 3600 = 24 inches at 100 yards
6

NOTE: Using the above formula, the only time the marked insert offset will equal the actual MOA shift is when the center to center ring spacing is 3.60″. Of course, you are not required to use 3.60″ spacing, but if you have a different spacing your elevation “lift” will be more or less than the values on the inserts.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 11 Comments »
August 12th, 2013

Cold Shot Scope Base Dial-Adjusts from Zero to +150 MOA

Cold Shot m.o.a.b. moab scope optics rail elevation 150 moa adjustment Angled RailAngled Weaver-style or Picatinny-style scope rails elevation “pre-load” are commonplace these days. But most angled scope rails are non-adjustable. Cold Shot LLC offers a more sophisticated solution — an adjustable scope base that allows the shooter to “dial in” up to +150 MOA of vertical. The M.O.A.B. system works via a horizontal rotary adjuster with 1/4-MOA clicks, positioned on the rear of the unit. The M.O.A.B. 150 can be mounted on any rifle fitted with a full-length Picatinny Rail, chambered for any cartridge from .22 LR all the way up to .50 BMG. The M.O.A.B. system works well on AR rifles — when installed on any flat-top AR, the M.O.A.B. eliminates the need for extra-high rings or riser blocks.

Cold Shot m.o.a.b. moab scope optics rail elevation 150 moa adjustment Angled Rail

With the M.O.A.B. 150, a shooter has more than 150 minutes of angle (i.e. vertical adjustment) calibrated in 1/4-MOA clicks, with a handy zero-stop. This allows you to stay centered in the vertical elevation range of your scope. In addition, the amount of elevation travel is sufficient to adjust for drop at extreme long ranges — a mile or more.

Cold Shot m.o.a.b. moab scope optics rail elevation 150 moa adjustment Angled Rail

Some users will employ the dial-in adjustment just to set an elevation pre-load for a shooting session (more preload for longer range). However, because the M.O.A.B. offers precise 1/4-MOA clicks, you can actually use the M.O.A.B.’s click-wheel to fine-tune elevation settings, just as you might use the elevation turret on your scope. This saves wear and tear on your scope’s internals.

Cold Shot m.o.a.b. moab scope optics rail elevation 150 moa adjustment Angled Rail

The price for the M.O.A.B. 150 is $399.95. Note: a +300 MOA version is also available for the same price — but we don’t know why anyone would need that much elevation. Made in the USA, the M.O.A.B. 150 (and 300 MOA version) come with a lifetime warranty on materials and craftsmanship.

Editor’s Comment: We are intrigued by this system. We like the idea of external elevation adjustment with 1/4-MOA clicks. However, the precision of such a system is dependent on the fit of the front hinge cross-bolt and the tolerances of the rear rotary riser. With a design like this, if there is any “slop” in the system, you could see a POI change from shot-to-shot. We have NOT tested the M.O.A.B. 150 so we cannot evaluate if the tolerances are up to snuff — this is just something you should consider before shelling out your hard-earned cash.

Bolt-On Version for M1A and M14 Rifles
Cold Shot also offers an adjustable scope base for M1A and M14-platform rifles. This unit has front and rear attachment points for a “no-gunsmithing” installation. Like the standard M.0.A.B. 150 scope base, the M1A/M14 version offers up to +150 MOA elevation travel in 1/4-MOA clicks.

Cold Shot m.o.a.b. moab scope optics rail elevation 150 moa adjustment Angled Rail

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Optics 13 Comments »
July 3rd, 2013

From Sweden — SPUHR Unimount Scope Mount System

When a scope mounting system costs as much as a factory hunting rifle, it better be something special. At $410.00, the Spuhr Unimount Scope Mounting System is one expensive piece of kit. But if you shoot .338 Lapua Magnums or 50 BMGs, this mount may be worth the money. Made in Sweden, the aluminum Spuhr Unimount integrates “rings” into a +20.6 MOA (6 MIL) base with built-in bubble level. The matte-black-anodized Spuhr Unimount has some interesting design features. The clasping bolts are set at a 45° angle. Ring internal surfaces are grooved for enhanced “grip” (these are not threads — the surface is precision ground and smoothed so there are no sharp edges). Available in 30mm and 34mm diameter (and various heights), the Spuhr Unimount even comes with a scope indexing tool to help you align your scope correctly with the mount. Along with the standard Unimount shown in the photo, a cantilever-sytle Unimount is offered for AR-platform rifles and other guns requiring forward scope placement.

Spuhr unimount 34mm scope rings base mount tactical accurateshooter.com

SPUHR Unimount Features

  • Swedish-made machined aluminum one-piece scope mounts
  • Rings are cut at 45 degrees instead of horizontal so turrets can be easily viewed from the rear and no bolt heads interfere with scope controls
  • Rings are grooved on the interior to prevent slippage and to allow gluing
  • Built-in, easy-to-view bubble level in rear of mount
  • Available as a standard mount or cantilever
  • Included scope indexing (alignment) tool
  • Built-in 20.6 MOA (6 MIL) Elevation

Spuhr unimount 34mm scope rings base mount tactical accurateshooter.com


Permalink New Product, Optics 3 Comments »
December 1st, 2012

Verifying the True Value of Your Scope Clicks

Let’s say you’ve purchased a new scope, and the spec-sheet indicates it is calibrated for quarter-MOA clicks. One MOA is 1.047″ inches at 100 yards, so you figure that’s how far your point of impact (POI) will move with four clicks. Well, unfortunately, you may be wrong. You can’t necessarily rely on what the manufacturer says. Production tolerances being what they are, you should test your scope to determine how much movement it actually delivers with each click of the turret. It may move a quarter-MOA, or maybe a quarter-inch, or maybe something else entirely. (Likewise scopes advertised as having 1/8-MOA clicks may deliver more or less than 1 actual MOA for 8 clicks.)

Nightforce scope turretReader Lindy explains how to check your clicks: “First, make sure the rifle is not loaded. Take a 40″ or longer carpenter’s ruler, and put a very visible mark (such as the center of an orange Shoot’N’C dot), at 37.7 inches. (On mine, I placed two dots side by side every 5 inches, so I could quickly count the dots.) Mount the ruler vertically (zero at top) exactly 100 yards away, carefully measured.

Place the rifle in a good hold on sandbags or other rest. With your hundred-yard zero on the rifle, using max magnification, carefully aim your center crosshairs at the top of the ruler (zero end-point). Have an assistant crank on 36 (indicated) MOA (i.e. 144 clicks), being careful not to move the rifle. (You really do need a helper, it’s very difficult to keep the rifle motionless if you crank the knobs yourself.) With each click, the reticle will move a bit down toward the bottom of the ruler. Note where the center crosshairs rest when your helper is done clicking. If the scope is accurately calibrated, it should be right at that 37.7 inch mark. If not, record where 144 clicks puts you on the ruler, to figure out what your actual click value is. (Repeat this several times as necessary, to get a “rock-solid”, repeatable value.) You now know, for that scope, how much each click actually moves the reticle at 100 yards–and, of course, that will scale proportionally at longer distances. This optical method is better than shooting, because you don’t have the uncertainly associated with determining a group center.

Using this method, I discovered that my Leupold 6.5-20X50 M1 has click values that are calibrated in what I called ‘Shooter’s MOA’, rather than true MOA. That is to say, 4 clicks moved POI 1.000″, rather than 1.047″ (true MOA). That’s about a 5% error.

I’ve tested bunches of scopes, and lots have click values which are significantly off what the manufacturer has advertised. You can’t rely on printed specifications–each scope is different. Until you check your particular scope, you can’t be sure how much it really moves with each click.

I’ve found the true click value varies not only by manufacturer, but by model and individual unit. My Leupold 3.5-10 M3LR was dead on. So was my U.S.O. SN-3 with an H25 reticle, but other SN-3s have been off, and so is my Leupold 6.5-20X50M1. So, check ‘em all, is my policy.”

From the Expert: “…Very good and important article, especially from a ballistics point of view. If a ballistics program predicts 30 MOA of drop at 1000 yards for example, and you dial 30 MOA on your scope and hit high or low, it’s easy to begin questioning BCs, MVs, and everything else under the sun. In my experience, more than 50% of the time error in trajectory prediction at long range is actually scope adjustment error. For serious long range shooting, the test described in this article is a MUST!” — Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting.

Permalink Optics, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
July 25th, 2012

Varminters Need One-Rev Elevation Knobs Too

Hey Burris, Leupold, Sightron and Weaver — are you reading this? If you want to dominate the market for varmint scopes, give us a large elevation knob offering at least 20 MOA in a single revolution. IOR and U.S. Optics already offer this “one-rev” option on tactical scopes and it is clearly superior when moving back and forth between multiple yardages. Schmidt & Bender offers a single-turn option on some S&B PMII Tactical scopes, along with a color-coded, double-turn elevation turret option.

IOR Scope Elevation

IOR’s big 9-36×56 scope offers 25 MOA of elevation in ONE ROTATION (and about 75 MOA overall). If you use the zero stop, that one rotation (25 MOA) will get most rifles to 850 yards with ease (and very few varmint shots are made beyond that). That means you should never loose track of your elevation setting. Right in front of your nose is a large visible number that corresponds to your actual come-up: “7” for 7 moa, “12” for 12 moa, and so on. Wow–this is so easy compared to other systems that require multiple revolutions and leave you staring at unlabeled hash marks wondering how many clicks you just dialed in or out.

IOR Scope Elevation

When this Editor first tried a one-rotation elevation knob I had the same reaction I did years ago when I watched a ultra-high-grade flat screen TV for the first time. Then I thought… “wow, this flat screen is just better in every respect and, eventually, will change everything.” Scopes aren’t TV sets, but I think the large one-rotation knob IS a huge advancement — a breakthrough in scope design. When used with a come-up table showing the elevation needed for various yardages (50-1000 yards), the one-rev system makes it really hard to be “way off” in your elevation. With conventional elevation knobs it is very easy to lose track of clicks (and whole revolutions) as you move up and down to different yardages.

USO Scope ElevationThe IOR and U.S. Optics products offering 20+ MOA in one-revolution are large, heavy, expensive scopes. The big elevation knob on the IOR Ultra Long Range scope has about 125 MOA total elevation (25 MOA per turn) with 1/4-MOA clicks. The large flat EREK (Erector Repositioning Elevation Knob) on the U.S. Optics scopes offers 22.5 MOA per revolution, with a total of about 62 MOA in a 5-25 SN-3 model with 1/4-MOA clicks.

Scope-Makers Should Adapt Technology to Varmint Scopes
It’s time for the mainstream scope makers to bring this techology to the market. Adding a one-revolution elevation knob (with 25 moa of travel) to a $600.00 varmint scope would make a huge difference in practical functionality in the field. You could reliably click back and forth between yardages all day long and never lose track of your elevation setting. This is almost as easy as a yardage-calibrated elevation knob (but not limited to a single load.) So, you scope makers out there… How about giving us a one-revolution elevation knob on an affordable hunting scope?

U.S. Optics EREK photo © 2005 Precision Rifle & Vince Bottomley, used with permission.

Permalink Gear Review, Optics 8 Comments »
January 21st, 2012

SHOT Show: Nightforce Offers New Reticle, Expands Production

Nightforce Optics logoFor months now, we’ve heard rumors of an all-new, high-magnification Nightforce scope, to be introduced in 2012. Unfortunately, Nightforce had no new “super-scope” on display at SHOT 2012, but Nightforce reps did indicate that “important announcements will be forthcoming in a few months”. Possibly we will see the new model(s) at the NRA Annual meeting, but that’s not definite. The only thing we can tell you — and this is NOT official — is that more magnification may be on tap on the high-end, giving Nightforce something to compete with the latest high-magnification competition scopes from other optics-makers.

We were pleased to see that Nightforce is offering an enhanced MOA-marked reticle with 1 MOA stadia (hash marks), and a center floating “X” that is 2 MOA high and 2 MOA wide. This new “MOAR” reticle should be a good choice for long-range shooters who prefer to hold off for windage corrections, rather than dial windage turrets. By comparison, the popular NP-R1 has 1 MOA marks on the elevation bar and 2 MOA marks on the windage bar. With the MOAR you get 1 MOA stadia (dividers) on the horizontal line as well. This should help shooters make more precise wind holds. NOTE: Initially the MOAR reticle will only be available for new NXS 3.5-15, 5.5-22, and 8-32X models (MOAR will NOT be offered in current Benchrest Models). ETA for the first MOAR-equipped NXS scopes is June, 2012.

In the video above, a Nightforce spokesman covers the function of the New Nightforce Velocity Reticle Calculator. This interactive program helps Nightforce scope owners select the particular velocity reticle (from a series of eight available) which best matches the ballistics of their particular rifle and load. Once you input the bullet velocity and BC data for your load, the calculator selects one of the eight velocity reticle options. This gives the scope owner a reticle with vertical hold-over points that closely match the actual trajectory of his ammunition.

Nightforce Adds Workers and Expands Production Facilities
In other Nightforce news, Nightforce Marketing Director Kyle Brown announced that Nightforce is beefing up its workforce and expanding its production facilities. With Nightforce scopes being in such high demand, there have been extended delivery times for some of the most popular Nightforce models. With more assemblers and a larger assembly plant, Nightforce hopes to keep up with growing demand for its products. We commend Nightforce for committing added resources to scope production. This will certainly benefit scope buyers by increasing “on-the-shelf” inventory at Nightforce stocking dealers.

Permalink New Product, Optics 3 Comments »
January 17th, 2012

Media Day Report: New High-End FFP Tactical Optics

While we were somewhat disappointed that we didn’t see many all-new precision rifles at Media Day 2012, there were plenty of new riflescopes on display. Among the most impressive new optics were rugged new high-zoom-range, First Focal Plane (FFP) tactical scopes from Hensoldt (Carl Zeiss), Leupold and Trijicon. These new scopes all featured fat tubes, compact overall length, and abundant elevation travel. These lastest top-end FFP tactical scopes offer as much as 26-power in a form factor not much bigger than a “normal” 4-16X scope.

New 3.5-26x50mm Hensoldt Was Outstanding
Hensoldt showcased a very impressive, prototype 3.5-26x56mm FFP tactical scope. Though this scope offers a whopping 7.4X zoom range and 26-power on top, this new Hensold is relatively compact. The reticle in these prototype versions was a very useful (and simple) milradian-based reticle that we hope Hensoldt retains in the production versions. The Hensoldt boasted an impressive 36 Mils of total elevation travel in two (2) turns of the turret. The new Hensoldt still shares the same superior glass and compact size that puts these scopes at the top of their class. We tested a prototype mounted to an Accuracy International AX 338. Expect the production version to be the same size and cost approximately $4000.00.

As you can see in the video, the new Hensoldt coupled with the new Accuracy Int’l AX in 338 Lapua Magnum worked very effectively at 900 meters in some tricky winds. This combination made it fairly easy to break clay pigeons on the bank at 900 meters. Off camera this combination continued to show great accuracy and very effective design features.

New Leupold MK-8
Leupold showed off a brand new MK-8 3.5-25x56mm with a Horus reticle and a beefy main tube. Again, this featured a lot of elevation in one turn as well as a pinch-and-turn locking turrets. This is a big leap forward for Leupold and we feel this will be well-received in the tactical world. Along with the new MK8, we also sampled Leupold’s new MK6 3-18x50mm. This shared similar features as the 3.5-25, and was incredibly compact as well. We expect the MK8 to sell near $4000 and the MK6 to be substantially less, likely under $3000 according to company reps.

Trijicon made a departure from their standard fare and jumped into the tactical scope world with a beefy Front-Focal Plane 3-15x50mm. This featured a well-executed MOA-based reticle and turrets with 30 MOA per turn (a Milrad version offers 10 Mils per turn). The Trijicon showcased the “short and fat” appearance that seems to be the latest design trend in tactical scopes. But though the Trijicon had a fairly short OAL (for its zoom range), it was still quite heavy at 47 ounces. The glass in this prototype version was disappointing for a scope that will retail in the $4K range. Reps told us the production version glass would be much improved. (It had better be, if Trijicon hopes to play in this stratospheric price range.)

It was apparent at Media Day 2012 that scope companies have worked hard to provide more features and more performance in their high-end tactical scopes. Consequently, the latest generation of scopes offer some very interesting and useful innovations — wider zoom range, more compact size, more elevation travel per rotation, and “goof-proof” turret mechanisms. We can only hope that, with more competition in this market, prices may become more reasonable. $4000 is an awful lot of money to pay for a scope.

Permalink New Product, Optics 3 Comments »
February 13th, 2011

Precision Scope Rails for Savage Actions from Bench-Source

Bench-Source, founded by David Dorris, President of Vertex Mfg. Corp., and benchrest shooter Darrell Jones, is now producing precision scope-mounting bases for the Savage round-top Target Action. CNC-machined to exact tolerances from 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum, these bases are extremely light (under two ounces) yet strong. Both Picatinny-style bases and Davidson dovetail bases are offered with either zero taper (flat) or with +20 MOA of built-in elevation. Bench-Source rails also feature precision-cut reliefs to match the loading ports on the Savage Target Actions.

Bench-source scope rails

Bench-source scope rails

The Picatinny (Weaver) base costs $84.95 (either flat or +20 MOA) while the Davidson dovetail base is just $69.95 (either flat or +20 MOA). This is a good price considering the quality of the materials and machining. (The 7075-T6 aircraft grade aluminum is three times as expensive as the aluminum alloy used by some other rail-makers.) Either style base is available with either a “luster” or polished finish. The price includes a Torx wrench and mounting screws.

AccurateShooter.com Field TestedBench-source scope rails

Bench-source.com Savage Picatinny RailTechnical Specifications
The Picatinny M1913-A Mounting Rail features 14 symmetrically spaced cross-slots. The base is long enough to mount any popular scope. The Picatinny base is approximately .610″ tall. Parallelism deviates less than .002″ between the dovetail clamping area and top of the receiver after mounting. The screws used are #6-48 x 3/8″ long and holes are drilled and counter-bored to the correct depths. This ensures that users will not damage their barrel threads or encounter interference with the locking lugs when closing the bolt.

The Davidson 1/2″ x 60º Mounting Rail dovetail is parallel over its entire length. The rail is held to very tight tolerances to minimize windage correction (at different ring positions). The Davidson rail should self-center on your action when installed per the included instructions. Both ends of the mount are chamfered slightly on a 30° angle to let the sharp corners of the mating rings align themselves without binding. The 60º dovetails are machined +/- .001″ and measured over two optimum-diameter pins to minimize over-clamping of your rings.

For more information, visit Bench-Source.com or phone: (662) 895-0803.

Permalink New Product, Optics 5 Comments »
February 4th, 2010

Long-Range Scope Comparison: Schmidt & Bender, Leupold, Zeiss

Forum member Thomas Haugland (aka “Roe”) from Norway has created an excellent video comparing the features on four long-range scopes: Schmidt & Bender PMII 3-12x50mm, Schmidt & Bender PMII 12-50x56mm, Leupold MK IV, and Zeiss Diavari Victory 6-24x56mm. Thomas shows how the adjustments function, he records the available vertical elevation, and he takes apart the turrets to show how the weather seals work. While the Leupold MK IV has MOA clicks, the three Euro scopes tested by Thomas have mil-based or mil/cm adjustments. These mil-based clicks work well with first focal plane reticles that have mil or half-mil hash marks.

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Thomas explains:

These films emphasize the shooter’s Point of View (POV) and ‘user friendliness’. ALL these scopes get the job done, but they have some similarities and differences in the details and your own personal preferences would decide what scope can be labeled ‘best’. The perfect scope doesn’t exist, you’ll have a compromise somewhere — be that economy, magnification, reticle, turret, optical quality, sturdiness…

In these films I’ve set the Schmidt & Bender PMII 3-12×50 as the benchmark for comparison. Not because it is ‘best’ (it isn’t!) but because S&B is one of the manufacturers which first recognized the needs of professional Long Range shooters and put together products [optimized to work well] in high stress environments. The features that are important are: First focal plane, MIL reticles and MIL turrets, plenty of adjustment and suitable magnification.

Note that S&B and Zeiss scopes are also available in the USA with MOA-based turrets and/or second focal plane (SFP) reticles, for those shooters who prefer the MOA system, and SFP. A first focal plane reticle is best for ranging, but a target shooter working at known distances will probably prefer a second focal plane reticle that doesn’t change in size with magnification.

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, New Product, Optics 3 Comments »