Thursday, January 29, 2009

A look back in time - the Beeman SS2 short scope

by B.B. Pelletier

You readers seem appreciative of the vintage airguns I show you from time to time, so today I want to show you something else that's old and wonderful. The Beeman SS2 is a short scope made for Beeman by Japanese scope manufacturer Hakko. When it sold from the mid-1980s until well into the '90s, it was part of a trio of short scopes Beeman offered. The SS1 was a 2.5x16 scope that was the smallest of the trio and the SS3 was a 1.5-4x16 scope that was just a quarter-inch larger. The SS2 was the largest and most feature-filled of the three.


The Beeman SS2 short scope looks right on this Diana model 27. It would need some kind of scope stop to stay in place.


At just a quarter-inch under seven inches long, the SS2 was one of the shortest scopes of its day. It was available as a 3x and a 4x fixed-power scope. Both had 21mm objectives; and because the mounts were built-in, their entire optical package was the same size. Despite being smaller than a one-inch tube, the SS2 has a bright exit pupil and the image appears full-sized.

The SS2 had adjustable parallax, and I was surprised when researching this report to discover that it went down to LESS than 5 yards! My own example seems clear at 12 feet. Shades of an early Bug Buster. In fact, it was the SS2 that primed me for the Leapers compact scopes when I first saw them at the 1996 SHOT Show. They were priced in the $35-50 range back then, while the SS2 was selling for $305 to $370! Yes, the SS2 was expensive.


AO rings goes well past the 5-yard mark. This scope is clear enough to see screw threads from 12 feet away. An early Bug Buster?


Illuminated reticle
The top-of-the-line SS2, designated as SS2L, came with an illuminated reticle. In those days, illuminated reticles were not common, so this was considered an important feature. Of the three SS2 scopes I've owned over the years, one had the illuminated reticle, plus I had all the color filters that went with it. The reticle was illuminated by a skylight overhead that brought ambient light to the reticle. Colored filters let the user change the reticle color to suit personal taste. There was no electric illumination, but a frosted dome was screwed over the skylight to gather ambient light from every direction. This proved very effective until the ambient light failed altogether.

Optically, the SS2 is a bright, clear scope. The low magnification guarantees that to a great extent, just as it does the close focus, but the optics were still very good for their day. Collectors will still pay premiums to get these scopes for their small bright optics, though I have to observe that a Leapers 4x40 Tactedge scope is just as bright and clear.

Integral mount
Another good feature of the SS2 is its integral mount. The 11mm jaws are held parallel by a set of pins that can be swapped to fit any size base in the 9.5mm to 13.5mm range that 11mm scope bases may be. Different length pins held the tops of the base farther apart or closer together and allowed the base jaws to be perfectly parallel and square to the receiver. Because the scope and mount are one, the scope tube cannot be rotated to level the reticle, so being square to the receiver is important. Many of the scopes that still exist will not have their pins any longer, so look for them if you want a complete set.


Here's the thousand-word picture. The pin you see is one of two (the other one is still in place) at the top of the mount to keep the jaws parallel and the scope reticle aligned. Every scope came with a set of pins of different lengths for different width scope bases.


The one drawback of this scope is the lack of a scope stop. It's ideal for pneumatic and CO2 guns, but there's nothing to prevent it from moving in the rails of spring-piston guns. However, there are many solutions for that. You can use either a separate scope stop, which will position the eyepiece farther forward. That must be taken into account. Or you can jam something in the scope stop holes on the gun and have it make contact with the integral scope base. That isn't the best solution, but it could be made to work in a pinch.

The duplex reticle was fine for the lower magnification offered by the scope, but many would find it coarse today. It's certainly not a target reticle.

Though the years have passed and other great scopes have entered the market, airgunners still hold the SS2 in high regard. It continues to command a value of several hundred dollars in trades at airgun shows. I have no idea what one is actually worth today, but I think it's more a case of what someone is willing to pay. Usually, it's safe to say that optics keep getting better with time, but this is one scope that may be an exception.

42 Comments:

At January 29, 2009 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds very similar to the ACOG scope that deme of our soldiers are now uning in Iraq, minus the crosshairs.

 
At January 29, 2009 5:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

*some*

 
At January 29, 2009 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B.B.

Any clue as to why there is a cap for the windage but not for the elevation. Always been curious about that.

Springer John

 
At January 29, 2009 7:22 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Springer John,

No special knowledge. Just that once windage is set elevation is all that needs adjusting. So they made that one easy and the other one hard. But this scope was designed in the early 1980s, before the days when elevation adjustments were popular.

So I really don't know.

B.B.

 
At January 29, 2009 8:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SS3 scope on e-bay now. up to $217.00. 3 days left!
Brian

 
At January 29, 2009 8:47 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Everyone,

Seems these scopes are still held in high regard. Here's information on one that sold 3 days ago, in less than an hour, for $350.00.

http://www.network54.com/Forum/79574/thread/1232987862/Beeman+Blue+Ribbon+SS2L

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 9:39 AM, Anonymous volvo said...

Not that he needs it, but I can vouch for Kevin on the desirability of the SS2 scopes. I spent six months last year checking e-bay, gunbroker, and the yellow classified trying to get one for around $275 for a vintage R-7 and never did. Finally just sold the rifle in favor of a HW30S. If you ever see one LN under $280 – buy it.

 
At January 29, 2009 9:51 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Volvo,

Unreal. The reason I bookmarked that scope is because I'm also looking for a period correct, beeman small scope (preferably an SS2) for my R7.

Why did you select the HW30S over the R7?

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 11:04 AM, Blogger CJr said...

Kevin, you're not going crazy (yet). There is a problem with the blogger software. Kevin sent two comments to the Diana 27 - Part 4 post, one at 9:04 and resent it at 9:24. Neither has shown up in the blog. I tried to comment on the earlier and got an error message. I'm not sure this message will get through.
-Chuck

 
At January 29, 2009 11:13 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Chuck,

The comment was removed by me. We don't post websites that compete with Pyramyd Air in this blog.

B.B.

 
At January 29, 2009 11:27 AM, Blogger CJr said...

Oops Sorry! My apologies! I thought I was being helpful. Typical do-gooder causing more problems than the perceived good done.
-Chuck

 
At January 29, 2009 11:51 AM, Blogger SavageSam said...

B.B. I'm pretty sure R. Beeman offered an illuminator that screwed into the skylight so you could use it in low/no light conditions.

 
At January 29, 2009 12:23 PM, Blogger kevin said...

CJr,

I screwed up. B.B. fixed it.

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 12:30 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Wayne, MCA and anyone else who gives a hoot,

Here's the pictures you asked for. These were taken over Christmas. Our tradition is to spend the holiday at our place in the mountains. Just feels more like Christmas time up there to me rather than the city. No TV, No radio. Great snowmobiling, skiing, went sledding with the kids this Christmas, stoke the fire, rode the atv's about 1/3 of the way up weston pass (too much snow to go any farther, came back and got the snowmobiles), stoke the fire, great food, hot chocolate, lots of games, catch up on your reading, stoke the fire and puzzles.

http://s444.photobucket.com/albums/qq167/klentz4/

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

B.B.

A nice piece of equipment and although it diverges from the modern trend of mongo scopes, the concept is very useful to me with the Bug Buster mounted on the IZH 61. Thank goodness for Leapers.

Kevin, that is quite a fantasy place ideal for all sorts of shooting activities. Are other people like me in having trouble finding long distances to shoot at? The two shooting ranges I have access to have 100 yards at the maximum distance. The only alternative I've heard of is to find a spot in the wide open spaces out in the country. However, I've heard that some of these informal shooting ranges can get populated by people who like to combine their shooting with drinking; I believe I'll stay away. I have flirted with the idea of going to the Camp Perry competition just to have a chance to shoot at a long range. Otherwise, the long-range marksmanship will remain a fantasy except as it can be scaled down to airguns.

Matt61

 
At January 29, 2009 1:35 PM, Anonymous volvo said...

Kevin,

Wonderful scenery, thanks for sharing.

The R-7 was not as consistent as my HW30S, but they are virtually the same rifle. Just luck of the draw. I had owned the R-7 for some time, and no doubt my amateur tuning had something to do with that. When it came time to pick between them the HW30S also got the nod because it is a special order black and nickel and was simply different from the rest of my collection. It sports a PW advanced tune for smooth, not power and it is.

I actually used the R-7 as payment on a Paul Watts tune for my HW50S. It makes me pleased knowing he turned it into an amazing custom rifle.
While nothing is certain but change, I think I’ll always keep an R-7 or HW30S on hand. They are such a pleasure to shoot.

 
At January 29, 2009 1:51 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Matt61,

Funny you should mention a shortage of good gun ranges. Trouble in finding gun ranges, near my city home, is what prompted me to become addicted to airguns. All the great gun ranges that were near my city home closed and now have homes and condos built on 'em. Being able to shoot airguns in my backyard and not have to travel to a range is great.

Still shoot firearms most weekends at the place in the mountains but I can shoot airguns up to 200 yards sitting on my deck in the mountains. Have to put the firearms on an atv and drive about 20 minutes to shoot firearms. Not terrible but not as easy as walking out the door and shooting. You mentioned camp perry so I'll tell you about camp hale.

Back in the 1940's camp hale was born just outside of the famous mining town of leadville (7 miles from my home in the mountains). Camp Hale was developed by the U.S. Government to train WW2 troops for winter and mountain warfare. The 10th mountain division trained at camp hale. In the early 1960's the CIA secretly trained tibetan soldiers at camp hale. Camp Hale closed in the late 60's I think. When it was operational they did overnighters/training exercises about four miles up the pass from my back door. Among other things they cleared a range of almost 400 yards. That's where I shoot firearms. 4 wheel drive road for the last couple miles but it's not bad on an atv. Keeps other shooters out.

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 2:01 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Volvo,

Thanks for sharing the comparison.

I've shot my new/old R7 about 100 times. Never been opened up (per the seller). Love the trigger, weight and accuracy. Even for a light shooter it needs to be smoothed out. After the unbelievable job that paul watts did on my fwb 124 he's gonna get the R7 too. I really like the upgrades he's recently added to his tunes. No offense Vince.

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 3:29 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

Kevin - why would I take offense?

 
At January 29, 2009 4:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

any body know where i can get a updated M1carbine.garand,or springfield bb gun (no airsoft)

 
At January 29, 2009 5:53 PM, Anonymous Herb said...

Re: Small scope

Kind of funny timing for me. I just bought a new Crosspoint scope from PA.

http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/accessory/1655

The thing is just huge! Funny the scopes are all the same size in the web pictures!

My inclination is to return it, but I don't know what I want to exchange it for. I wanted a better scope for my Daisy 22SG, but this thing is almost as big as the rile! Maybe I should just use it as a club.

Thinking maybe a 6X bug buster. Don't really want the fancy-smancy illuminated grid through.

Any thoughts guys?

Herb

 
At January 29, 2009 6:27 PM, Anonymous Western PA said...

BB,

thanks for taking us down memory lane. I used to love those scopes (except their prices), and especially the Beeman write-up on how "they are the ONLY scopes suitable for spring-piston airguns"(I guess airgun scopes were the exclusive territory of Beeman in those days..) Of course this came from the same crew who would constantly bad-mouth the Sheridans and Benjamins of the day. I just don't know how those "budget" airgun companies ever stayed afloat... My liking of the SS scopes aside, thank god for Leapers. I own about 5 different models and counting, and I'll probably be loyal to the brand for as long as I'm shooting. They might consider a knock-off in styling in the Bug Buster series. Still waiting for that pistol scope....

 
At January 29, 2009 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

does anyone out there own a hunter extreme MADE IN ENGLAND?I found one in alabama gathering dust in a store.most are made in spain.this one has superb bluing ,very deep blue-black and glossy.It's on sale for 330$a real steal.I should just buy it and then research it...FrankB

 
At January 29, 2009 6:58 PM, Anonymous JC said...

What was the eye relief on that scope? I find with most scopes these days that have a 3" eye relief, I need the back of the scope to be even with what I believe to be described as the start of the comb (after the pistol grip forms a dip in the stock and then rises again to meet the comb). I have a left over bug buster that I am trying to use on wood stocked springers and even with an offset leapers mount in its farthest rearward positon, it still isn't far enough rearward. It seems like the only way I can get this scope to work is on a Talon or a conventionally stocked air rifle that has a stock that is too small for me???

JC

 
At January 29, 2009 6:59 PM, Blogger kevin said...

OneshotOnekill has posted a terrific review of a new gun.

Here it is:

OneshotOnekill said,

Just got my 2300S today, have put maybe 60 rounds thru it it start break-in. Even though I'm very early in the process, a few comments for those considering this gun.
First, I love the feel and balance of the gun. Grips, even though plastic, fit me well and provide sufficient stability. I may change to wood later, but to start these are good enough.
Second - and this is important - be prepared to work with a gun that is extremely TIGHT when new. By that I mean all tolerances seem very exact, so things tend to "stick" for awhile. When I first opened the breech, I almost thought I had a defective item since it took so much effort to fully open. Don't be afraid to use steady force to do this, though. It just needs repetition to develop a smoother movement.
Same held true in closing the breech. When loading the first pellet, I thought either I had a deformed pellet of the barrel at the breech was machined a millimeter too small. I was afraid I would crush the pellet given the pressure I had to use to fully seat it and lock the lever. Again, I was wrong. After a couple dozen rounds, eveything began to loosen up a tad and become easier. So don't be afraid of it.
The comments I had read about the Williams sight canting about 5 degrees to the left when installed on the rails is true. Here again I thought I had a bad item, but I re-read some posted comments and saw I was not alone (although not all people mention this problem). I'm going to keep playing with the thing to see if I can finally get it to set in a perfect 90 degree upright position. Otherwise, it's a distraction from an otherwise beautiful and highly accurate sight. I love the click adjustment feature, very precise and moves in tiny increments, then holds them true.
The front sight is also as reported, i.e. skinner than the gap in the rear sight, so you have daylight on both sides of the post when properly aligned. Perdonally, I prefer not to hav that, and I don't know why Crosman doesn't simply make the front blade wider so as to close it up. I'm going to get bust with a Dremel tool and some very small pieces of hardwood and make a rectangle of sorts the right width to fill the rear sight notch, drill a small hole in the botton, and insert over the front post. Might not be the prettiest thing in the world when done, but I'll get the sight picture I want.
Other items such as trigger pull, maintaining of pressure for 60+ shots, etc. will have to wait for more break-in before comment. But sitting here right now, knowing what I already have found out, I'm 90% sure that in a month, after 1000 rounds thru the barell, I'm oing to have a swett-shooting pistol that I can pop asprin tabs with at 25 feet nine out of 10 times. Mostly due to the gun, not my expertise.

January 29, 2009 6:02 PM

 
At January 29, 2009 7:04 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Vince,

I'd like to help by sending you some tuning business. My mention of the other guy made me cringe a little after enjoying all your unselfish contribution to this blog.

You've put a lot of effort and energy into educating some of us non tuners. I think the first time I read about your tuning abilities was quite awhile back on a diana 34? I'm an old guy with an old guy memory. There might have been an even earlier one.

I hope more airgunners realize the breadth of your knowledge and experience in tuning and send their guns to you so they can be all they can be.

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 7:42 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

Kevin, all you did was mention a tuner that you had good experience with. That's what this blog is for: spreading helpful information, and there's no way I could legitimately take offense at that. FWIW - Rich in Mich seems to have a lot of happy customers too... and I wouldn't try to dissuade someone from using his services.

If I ever do work for you and it turns out well, then you can say so if you wish. And if I do crap work - well, I would hope you would say that too. The important thing is that we make accurate and useful information available on this blog to whoever wants it.

 
At January 29, 2009 7:43 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Frank B.,

Re: Hunter Extreme made in England

It's a GAMO Hunter Extreme. Same gun as the GAMO 1250 but different stocks and shrouds.

Yes, I know, Gamo is in Spain. But many of these guns are marked England. I came across one of these in a pawn shop awhile back and thought i really found something. Go to the gamo forum on 54. All kinds of info on the gun there. Very harsh, crappy trigger, needs to be tuned immediately in order to sell it to someone else quickly, etc.

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 7:46 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Vince,

I'm looking forward to sending you a gun. I have every confidence that it would turn out well.

The problem is that although I have checks left in my checkbook, the bank won't cash them. What's up with that?

kevin

 
At January 29, 2009 8:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kevin,

Wow, your place is even better than appears with a private firearms range constructed by the U.S. Army.

I have to pay a $40 cab fare for a roundtrip to the nearest range.

Matt61

 
At January 29, 2009 8:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for the headsup..i've shot my friend's a thousand shots or more.grouped 1/2 in. at 30 yards.trigger broke in to be soso.thinking about buying it to de-tune it some[tar] and GTR trigger,etc.not afraid of the Gamo challenge...LOL!not all of my airguns are gonna be perfect,I have the ultimate condor for that.I really just wanted to know more about the ENGLAND hallmark. FrankB

 
At January 29, 2009 8:50 PM, Anonymous Vince said...

Kevin - if you want, you can email me at vfblovesnancy@yahoo.com

 
At January 29, 2009 8:57 PM, Anonymous volvo said...

Herb,

Best to always checking the weight and length in descriptions before ordering a scope, as you noted they look very similar in the photos. For a 22SG this would be fine:

http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/accessory/866

(Just keep it set at 6X or below)

The short bug busters are ok, but they don’t have enough eye relief so they need an off set mount and the cross hairs are about 3 times too thick.

 
At January 29, 2009 9:05 PM, Anonymous volvo said...

FrankB,

I could be wrong about this, but since Gamo owns BSA they basically just put their name on the model you are looking at. I liked my Lightning XL after the trigger was tuned.

 
At January 29, 2009 10:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Volvo,I have had alot of good times with my friends extreme made in spain.the cocking effort doesn't scare me off.the gun did things with eujins in 177 that amazed me.if a GTR trigger doesn't work out,I'll just polish and hone till its right.the 330$ will be worth it to me.fit and finish make this gun stand out bigtime compared to all my other GAMOS.it probably does have BSA dna...yeah,I'm gonna get it.at this point I'll regret it if I don't! FrankB

 
At January 29, 2009 10:15 PM, Anonymous volvo said...

UPS tracking says my package is on the way,

These are words of comfort from BB a couple years ago:


Question:

“I been looking at the fx cyclone and want one so bad,but I did not see any reviews by you about it.Without your opinion on it I can not risk that much money,but it is such a beautiful gun.”

Answer:

“Get it and don't think twice. I may not review that particular rifle for a long time, but any FX air rifle is going to be okay! They have Lothar Walther barrels, so the accuracy is built in, and FX is a leader in PCP technology. Everything they make is good.

Fredrik Axelsson (FX owner) is the man who invented the high-pressure hand pump. He knows his stuff and his company only makes quality airguns.

And, if you have any problems at all, you have Pyramyd Air standing beside you to make things right. Your risk is as low as it gets.

B.B.”

maybe PA will carry FX again in the future?

 
At January 29, 2009 10:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I truly hate waiting for brown santa when there is an airgun involved.I track packages like an expectant father in a maternity ward.nothing left to do but sharpen your boxknife.can't wait for your first impressionof it.personally ,I wan't a monsoon,then an airwolf and then..........FrankB

 
At January 30, 2009 8:18 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

JC,

The eye relief is under three inches. According to the Beeman catalog, the eye relief of the 4-power model is supposed to be 5 inches, but that is hopelessly wrong.

B.B.

 
At February 02, 2009 1:48 PM, Blogger AirMojo said...

I found an SS2 3x scope at a local gunshow (not an airgun show) a few years ago. It was mounted on an RWS air rifle (don't remember the model).

I think I offered $100 or $120 for it. The seller didn't blink an eye, removed it from the rifle, and handed it to me. I probably could have got it for less then I did, but I was happy with the deal and so was the seller.

It didn't have the box or extra pins, just the pins that were used on the RWS rifle. The seller said that he thought he still had the box and papers somewhere at home.

I saw the seller again several months later at a different local gunshow. I stopped to chat with him, and then remembered me as the one who bought his SS2 scope.

He handed me a bag containing the original box and papers, but there weren't any of the extra pins. I was still happy.

Best airgun-related find that I ever had at the firearm gunshows. I enjoy the treasure hunting!

AirMojo

 
At February 13, 2009 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. I've owned a Beeman SS2L for a few years. Clear & tough.

SavageSam is correct. I've got the screw in "illuminator". Takes a Dura 333/357 batt. and does a decent job.

JC is also correct; the manual specs 3-4" eye relief. I'd have to dig for the add on manual for the "Skylight" model for more info.

I've got the red filter, frost dome and batt "Illuminator". The lens cover is yellow (see thru). HTH.

 
At February 28, 2009 6:02 PM, Blogger Greg K said...

I have a Beeman SS2 New In Box. Any Offers?

gkoteski@aol.com

 
At February 28, 2009 6:06 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Greg K.,

This is not the best place to sell items. This is primarily an informational location related to airguns.

You have a fine scope and I would suggest you either post it on the yellow (by far the most popular place to sell airgun related stuff, but you must name a price) or on brads airgun stuff for sale site. Here are the links:

http://www.network54.com/Forum/79574/

http://www.airguns.net/classifieds/classifieds.php

kevin

 

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