Posts Tagged ‘Mounts’

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 AO rifle scope: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 right
The 3-9x Bug Buster packs a lot of performance into a small package.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 left
Bug Buster left side.

Today, I’ll tell you how the latest 3-9X32 UTG Bug Buster scope works in action. As you know, this scope was mounted on the Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle that I tested for you yesterday. While shooting it, I had the opportunity to examine the performance of this latest Bug Buster scope in great detail, so now I can report on that, as well.

A world of improvement
The last Bug Buster scope I used before this one was a fixed 6x scope that’s now many years old. This new Bug Buster is very advanced from that one, though there are some things that haven’t changed.

Variable power
The first and most obvious improvement is variable power. Of course, Bug Busters have had variable power for many years, but I think this was my first chance to really use one. In the old days, we were just thrilled to have a fixed 4x. It was the ability to focus down to just 9 feet that was the big sales feature of the Bug Buster, and we didn’t expect much more than that. But variable power is usually better, since it gives you the opportunity to choose where to set the magnification. That being said, I cranked this scope to 9x and left it there. I doubt there are many reasons for me to ever use the lower power settings.

Field of view
The Bug Buster has a field of view slightly larger than a scope of normal length with the same specifications. But in my experience, the exit pupil is more critical on the Bug Buster. In other words, your eye has to be in exactly the right spot or you can’t see the image. That was how the scope acted in the test of the 3D bullpup, but I don’t know if it was the odd hold I had to use with that rifle or not.

The whole reason I’m testing this scope is because of the new, finer crosshairs. I guess the small groups I got in the test attest to the fact that these lines are thinner and thus better able to parse the bull closer. I don’t know of a more dramatic way of demonstrating it to you unless you look through the scope yourself.

And, of course, the thin inner crosshair lines have mil-dots running in both directions. So, you can estimate range if you read and apply the data in the handbook that comes with the scope.

I was concerned that because I’m colorblind, the illuminated crosshairs would be of limited use to me, but that isn’t the case. While many of the colors do look alike at the lower power levels, I can see differences in all the colors at the maximum intensity. The 2-button system takes some learning, but turning on and off are both simple commands, so there’s no danger of running down the battery. And there’s a timed shutoff, on top of everything. I don’t think I would use the illumination most of the time, but it’s there if you need it, and the battery will keep a long time if not in use.

On the highest power illumination, the inside of the scope tube gets illuminated some, as well as the reticle lines. Of course, the proper way to use this feature in the field is to run the lowest illumination that you can see, so this really isn’t a problem.

Eyepiece adjustment
My shooting buddy, Otho, has eyes that cannot see through most scopes clearly even with corrective lenses. But all the Leapers models have a very extended eyepiece adjustment that suits him fine. When I sight through his scopes, I have to make gross adjustments to keep from seeing double reticle lines. Only the Leapers scopes have enough adjustment so that both of us can use the same scope.

Lockable reticle adjustments and adjustable zero
Back in the bad old days, we would adjust our reticles until they were perfect and then never let anyone near our guns. I’ve had people grab one of my airguns off my tables at a show and start twisting both adjustment knobs with abandon. When I asked them what they were trying to do, they said they didn’t know — they just wanted to see how the knobs felt!

Well, the Bug Buster’s knobs are locked in place with collars that screw down tight after adjustments have been completed. That gives me time to snatch my rifle back from someone before they can screw up my scope setting.

The scales on both adjustment knobs can be loosened and repositioned so your sight-in is shown as the zero point on each scale. Then, if you have to adjust the knob in the future, you always know where to return.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 retical locking collars
Below the scale of each adjustment knob is a thin collar that can be turned down to lock that knob from turning. This protects your scope adjustment. You can also loosen the small Allen screw on top of each cap and slip the scales to keep the settings as your zero point.

Flip-up scope caps not useful
The Bug Buster comes with flip-up scope caps that I find less than useful — especially on the objective lens. Since the AO requires the objective lens to twist, the flip-up cap is never in the right position and will just get in the way. I take both scope caps off when using this scope because I can’t be bothered with them. If the AO were a sidewheel, then flip-ups would make a lot more sense to me.

The Bug Buster is a compact scope. As such, the scope tube sections where the scope rings attach are very short. So the rings have to move to where the scope needs them to be, because there isn’t a lot of extra scope tube on either side of each ring. A one-piece mount is all but impossible to use, as the location of the rings would only line up with the scope tube by coincidence.

Many airguns do not permit a scope to be mounted far enough to the rear for the eye-relief to work with a short scope like this. You have to consider that when mounting a Bug Buster or any compact scope. If the gun has a scope stop plate or vertical stop hole located far forward, it probably will not work with a Bug Buster. But if the top of the gun is wide open, like on the Rainstorm 3D bullpup, then it’s what you want.

Overall evaluation
The new 3-9X32 AO Bug Buster is the best one of the entire line. It offers more flexibility, yet comes in the same compact package as all the other Bug Busters. It meets a specific need in the scope world, yet still provides enough flexibility to work on many airguns.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 AO rifle scope: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 right
The 3-9x Bug Buster packs a lot of performance into a small package.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 left
Bug Buster left side.

Today, we’ll start looking at Leapers’ new 3-9X32 UTG Bug Buster rifle scope. As you know from yesterday’s blog, I’ve mounted this scope on the Evanix Rainstorm 3D Bullpup for testing. I feel the small scope compliments the compact size of the bullpup.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 on Rainstorm
The Bug Buster looks good on the Rainstorm 3D bullpup.

Boy, has Leapers come a long way with the Bug Buster since it first came out! First of all, let’s get the introductions out of the way. Leapers is the manufacturer. UTG, short for Under The Gun, is one of their product lines. Bug Buster is a name that airgunners gave to this scope when it first came out. Because it held (and still holds) the world record for close parallax adjustment, which in practical terms is the same as focusing, the compact scope was touted for shooting insects as soon as it hit the market. Someone coined the name Bug Buster, and Leapers adopted it as their own.

That first Bug Buster was a fixed 4x scope. Today, I’m testing a 3-9x variable. What a difference that makes. Not only can you focus as close as 9 feet, you can also magnify your target 9 times at that distance! If you’re sighted-in, you can pick which part of the bug to eliminate.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 3 yards
This is something no other scope in the world offers — parallax correction down to 3 yards!

But there’s a whole lot more than just close focusing. This Bug Buster comes with lockable turrets, which are the adjustment knobs for windage and elevation. To lock or unlock them, a ring at the bottom is loosened or tightened. Do it once and it will seem intuitive.

The zero can also be reset; so once the scope is zeroed for a certain range, the scale can be repositioned so it reads zero. This allows you to adjust the scope from this zero and see how far you’ve gone — as long as you don’t go farther than one full rotation of the adjustment knob. It’s very handy for hunters who wish to change their scope zero in the field.

The reticle
The big reason I’m testing this scope is the reticle. Early Bug Busters had one shortcoming — a thick reticle. Precision aiming was difficult , if not impossible, because the crosshairs covered so many inches at 100 yards. That’s what’s changed in the new Bug Buster. The reticle is a mil-dot.┬áThe reticle lines are now about medium-sized. They won’t cover too much of your target, and yet you can still find them while hunting in a dark forest that has lots of shadows.

There are dots on the inner lines in both directions. The centers of the dots are one mil apart, which provides a refernce for measuring angles through the scope. And angles can be turned into distances if you know the approximate size of what you’re measuring.

In the Army, we had to learn the approximate size of common battlefield equipment such as tanks and personnel carriers so we could calculate the distance to them with binoculars that had a mil-scale reticle. Hunters need to learn the same sorts of things, but for the animals they’re likely to spot. That information, coupled with the tutorial in the scope’s owner’s manual, will help you calculate distances to your target.

The reticle is illuminated with Leapers’ patented EZ-TAP lighting system. Two buttons atop the scope control the intensity and selection of the colors. Now, I’m colorblind, as are up to 14 percent of all males. My malady is a red-green defiency, which is the most common type. That doesn’t mean I can’t see those colors — I just don’t see them the way a person with normal sight sees them. So, the question is: How valuable is it to me that there are 6 different colors for the reticle and 6 levels of intensity for each color? Well, as a matter of fact, I can differentiate each of the 6 colors when they’re at their most intense. But when the intensity level drops, most of the colors become gray to my eyes. I can see them, but they don’t seem to have much color. The red and the green colors stand apart as the most vivid of all.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 EZ Tap
Those two buttons control the colors and intensity of the illuminated reticle. There are 36 choices available.

I will say that you need to read the manual to fully understand how to operate this scope. Not only does it address the EZ-TAP operation, it also goes into great detail on how to estimate range with the mil-dots.

But wait — there’s more!
As if all those features weren’t enough, this scope comes bundled with UTG Max-Strength, quick-detach, medium-height rings. These sell separately for $25, and my friend Mac reviewed them for us in 2011. Mac reviewed 30mm rings and these are one inch, but in all other aspects they’re identical.

UTG Max Strength Quick Lock Rings
A set of UTG Max-Strength, medium-height, quick-detach rings comes with the Bug Buster.

If you’re a store owner, the UTG scope line now comes in glass-clear packaging that allows the customer to see the scope inside. I call it the Snow White box. This packaging is sealed at the factory, so a customer will know if it’s been opened before he receives the scope…because there’s clear film tape that must be removed to get inside the box. That should end the claims of selling used merchandise, which is pretty common in the scope world.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 package
The new UTG packaging is transparent, so everyone can see what’s inside. Clear protective film/tape keeps them out until the scope is sold. Obviously, this doesn’t show the scope from today’s blog, but it demonstrates my point just the same.

The Bug Buster is a compact scope. It’s just 8.5 inches long and weighs only 13.9 ounces. The tube is one inch in diameter. It’ll look petite on most normal air rifles and just right on the small ones. The only consideration the size brings is the scope tube sections are very short on either side of the turret, so the rings don’t have much room to move. If your rifle has a built-in scope stop, this scope may not come back far enough for the proper eye relief. On guns like the 3D bullpup and big bores with short receivers though, the Bug Buster might be the best scope out there.

The only way to test this scope is by firing the gun and adjusting the reticle. So that testing will have to wait. I can tell you now that the optics are clear and sharp, and the eyepiece has buckets of corrective adjustment in it. The rest will await the testing of the Rainstorm 3D bullpup.

Leapers saves the day: UTG 3/8″ dovetail-to-Weaver adapter

by B.B. Pelletier

Recently, a reader asked me when I was going to write the part 4 I promised for the Crosman 2100B multi-pump rifle. I did Part 3 in March, and to be honest, I’d forgotten that a part 4 was promised.

Part 4 is going to be a 25-yard accuracy test with a scoped rifle, because I felt the 2100B deserves it from the performance it delivered in the 10-meter test. Fortunately, the rifle is still available to me, so I planned on doing my report today. All I had to do was install a scope on the scope rails and….


[Let's pretend] the only scope available to me is already installed in Weaver scope rings. Whatever will I do?

Well, before 2012, I would suck wind. I’d sit on the curb and cry my eyes out, because I had the wrong scope mounts for this rifle. Fortunately, we now live in a world where the UTG 3/8″ dovetail-to-Weaver/Picatinny rail adapter is available. And I have one! Oh, happy day! The test will proceed as planned!

Readers with better memories than mine will recall that I showed you this adapter back in the SHOT Show report, Part 2 this year. You may have wondered why I made such a fuss in that report over two confusing pieces of metal I held in my hand. Today, you’ll find out why.

This is a UTG product. UTG stands for Under The Gun, one of Leapers’ trademarks. So, you’ve already learned something, haven’t you? This adapter attaches to the base of a Weaver (or Picatinny) scope mount and converts it the mount to a 3/8-inch dovetail. Now, 3/8-inch — the rimfire dovetail width — is so close to 11mm — the airgun dovetail width — that it also works for most airguns. I say “most” because there may be a few very wide 11mm dovetail scope bases that are too wide to accept this adapter. I don’t know that — I’m just saying that there might be.

The bottom line is that this adapter should work for all rimfires that have grooved receivers as well as for most airguns that have an 11mm dovetail scope base. And please know two additional things – - first, that 11mm is a nominal width and in reality the dovetails are from about 9.5mm to as much as 14mm wide; and second, that Weaver and Picatinny bases ARE ALSO DOVETAILS! It is completely incorrect to refer to an 11mm dovetail as just a “dovetail,” because there are other different kinds of scope bases that are also dovetails. There — you’ve learned something else!

The UTG 3/8-inch dovetail-to-Weaver/Picatinny adapter comes as two identical pieces. Both piece have a vertical scope stop screw that can be removed for guns that don’t need it. This photo shows both sides of the adapter.

The adapters are spring-loaded. When the Weaver scope base screws are tightened, these jaws will also tighten on the 11mm dovetails.

Looking down on the Crosman 2100, we see the 11mm dovetail on top of the action. That’s where the scope rings are clamped.

This Weaver scope mount is too wide to clamp to an 11mm dovetail rail, plus it has a transverse key that locks it in place, but the 11mm rail has no slot to receive it.

Those four pictures show you how these scope rings and bases work. You can see that the Weaver clamp will not fit an 11mm dovetail or a 3/8-inch dovetail that would be found on an air rifle or a rimfire. So, a Weaver mount will not attach to those guns — until now. The UTG adapter converts the Weaver scope ring base to an 11mm base.

The UTG adapter has been inserted into a Weaver ring base. The base will now fit an 11mm dovetail. Because the 2100B is a pneumatic rifle that does not recoil, I removed both scope stop screws before installing the adapter.

Here you see the adapter in the Weaver base from a side view. Notice that the adapter is only a few hundredths of an inch taller than the original base when installed. It makes no practical difference to the scope’s height over the bore. The amount the adapter overhangs the ring base at either end is meaningless, as the adapter is locked in position by the Weaver cross key. As long as the adapters fit the gun you mount them on, you’re good to go.

This view shows exactly how the adapter works.

Is this adapter useful?
If you need to mount Weaver rings to a gun that has either 3/8-inch or 11mm dovetails, this adapter is the only way to go. I don’t know of another way to do it. Some of you are probably saying to yourselves, “Why wouldn’t I just buy 11mm rings and be done with it?” Well, that’s certainly what you had to do before this adapter came along.

But some of you have a favorite firearm scope that you like a lot, and maybe you have it installed perfectly in a nice sturdy set of Weaver rings. You guys understand the benefit of an adapter like this, because it allows you to use something you’re comfortable with. It installs or removes in seconds, allowing you to use that scope wherever you choose. And, because the adapter comes with its own built-in scope-stop pins, it fits almost every airgun you can name.

I will mount this scope on the Crosman 2100B next and conduct the 25-yard accuracy test I promised many months ago.

Can a fixed-barrel airgun have barrel droop?

by B.B. Pelletier

This report is in response to a comment Pyramyd Air got from a customer who doubts that fixed-barrel airguns can ever droop. His position is that they can only have droop if the barrel is heated in some way (as on a firearm that fires very fast) or if the gun is assembled in a shoddy fashion.

He said he believed barrel droop is only commonly found on breakbarrel airguns, which is why he said he would never own one. He thought that droop was mostly caused by the metallurgy of the barrel.

Today, I’d like to address the subject of barrel droop in detail. It can be caused by many things, but poor metallurgy isn’t one of them. Barrels do not bend from cocking, despite what some people may think. It is true that a barrel can be bent by human force, but the force required to do so is much greater than the heaviest cocking effort on the most powerful magnum airgun. So, poor metallurgy is not a contributor to barrel droop.

What is barrel droop?
I will explain what barrel droop is in detail later in this report. For now, I’ll just say that barrel droop is a condition in which an air rifle shoots so low that the scope cannot be adjusted to hit the target.

You must understand that most scopes cannot be adjusted all the way to their highest elevation settings and still operate correctly. This will differ from scope to scope, but generally most scopes do not work well when adjusted above three-fourths of their maximum elevation. It’s imperative that they get on target before reaching that height, and a drooping barrel can prevent that.

Throughout the first five decades of spring-piston air rifles, no one ever heard of barrel droop. It was a non-issue. That was because nobody bothered scoping their air rifles.

The sights on most breakbarrel guns are attached to the barrel, both at the front and rear, so they’re in line with the bore — as long as the bore is drilled straight through the barrel, which it seldom is. The amount of misalignment is usually measured in the thousandths of an inch — an amount the sights can easily account for.

With both the front and rear sight attached to the barrel, there’s less chance for misalignment.

In the 1960s, retailers began attaching scopes to airguns to sell more of them. Firearms had been using scopes for some time, and the general belief among shooters was that scopes extracted the maximum accuracy from any gun.

But scopes had a problem, as well. They were attached to the spring tube of the gun, which isn’t integral with the barrel on a breakbarrel airgun. For the first time, the alignment of the spring tube and barrel came into question.

It soon became known that most breakbarrel guns have a barrel that slants downward from the axis of the spring tube. In the 1960s and ’70s, breakbarrels were hand-selected for scope use when they exhibited less slant than other guns of the same model. You can read about this selection program in both the Air Rifle Headquarters and Beeman catalogs of the period.

What those catalogs didn’t address was the fact that fixed-barrel airguns can and do sometimes have the same barrel slanting problems. They didn’t address it because, at the time, scoping airguns was brand new and not that much was known about it. The people scoping the guns often installed simple fixes, such as shimming the rear ring, and didn’t even think about why they were doing it.

Why the barrel droops
The comment that prompted this blog went on to say that barrel droop was caused by poor metallurgy. Evidently, the writer thought that “droop” referred to a barrel that was curved (or bent) downward — which is not the case. The term “droop” doesn’t refer to a barrel that is somehow curved. It means a barrel that points in a direction away from the sight line, so the axis of the bore and the sight line are diverging. To correct for this droop, the scope has to be repositioned to align with the axis of the bore.

We all understand that a pellet starts falling the moment it leaves the muzzle. The farther from the muzzle it goes, the faster it falls; so the line of flight is actually an arc, rather than a straight line. To align the sight line of the scope with the axis of the bore, we have to align the scope to look downward through the line of flight. To be effective — that is to get any distance over which the pellet is on target — the sight line is made to pass through the arc of the pellet twice — once when the pellet is close to the gun and again when it’s farther away.

The scope is angled down through the pellet’s trajectory. This illustration is greatly enhanced for clarity. This alignment is done the same for firearms and airguns, alike.

But the question is, “Why does the barrel point downward?” With a breakbarrel, it’s usually because of how the breech locks up at a slight angle that causes the downward slant. Some guns, most notably target breakbarrels, overcome this with barrel locks that cam the breech tightly against the spring tube in a straight line. Most guns rely on the spring-loaded detent to both align and hold the barrel during firing. If there’s a weakness, it’s at this point. When a breakbarrel with an unlocked breech fires, the barrel tends to flex in the direction the barrel is hinged. If the barrel broke upward to cock, the problem would be reversed and we would have a barrel “climb” problem.

A breech lock like the one on this HW 55 ensures that the barrel always aligns with the sights — provided the rifle is designed that way.

Do you now understand that the barrels are perfectly straight, and it’s just the angle of the bore’s axis relative to the line of sight that creates the drooping problem? Good, because that’ll make the following easier to understand.

What about underlevers and sidelevers with fixed barrels?
How can a fixed-barrel rifle have droop? Easy — the barrel isn’t attached to the gun with the bore parallel to the line of sight. Presto! Automatic sighting problem. Or the scope base that’s attached to the spring tube may not be aligned with the axis of the bore. Or the bore may be drilled off-center; and although the outside of the barrel is parallel to the sight line, the bore’s axis isn’t. Any of these three things can happen.

Bore not drilled straight
This is very common. It’s extremely difficult to drill a deep (long) hole straight through a steel bar. The drill bit can wander off-axis as it bites its way through the steel, or it can be off-axis all the way through the bore if it isn’t correctly set into the holding fixture before the drilling begins. I’ve had barrels with bores as much as a quarter-inch off-axis with the outside. Granted that’s extreme and uncommon, but it demonstrates the possibility.

The only way a barrel-maker can ensure concentricity of the bore to the outside of the barrel is to machine the outside of the barrel after the gun is rifled.

Barrel isn’t aligned with the spring tube
This problem is also common. When the barrel is pressed into the spring tube (usually into a block that’s held in the front of the spring tube), the bore isn’t aligned with the spring tube. You might think that modern manufacturing processes make perfect things time after time, but the truth is that there’s always some variation.

Scope base on top of the spring tube is not aligned with the bore
Of all the problems with scope alignment, this one is the most common. Off-axis bores are usually held to just a few fractions of an inch for which the scope adjustments can easily compensate. The same is true for barrels that are bushed off-axis. But scope bases are both short as well as attached in such a way (by spot-welds and rivets) that precision is difficult to maintain. Because scope bases are short, any small deviation in their positioning is exaggerated when extended out to infinity by a scope’s sight line. This is the one place where firearms and certain brands of airguns have an advantage over other brands, because they machine their scope bases into the receiver (of a firearm) or scope tube, rather than riveting or spot-welding the base to the scope tube. If the tooling is set correctly, the machining process ensures alignment of the scope base.

Talking about the spot-welded and riveted scope bases brings us to a discussion of one well-known company that makes highly regarded spring-piston air rifles. This company stands head and shoulders above the others when it comes to having barrel droop — both with their breakbarrels and their fixed-barrel air rifles. That company is Diana. Historically, enough Diana air rifles have had barrel droop so severe that special corrective scope mounts have been made and successfully marketed for their models. Even RWS, who exports Diana airguns, has marketed such a corrective scope mount.

But even Diana can change. Their most recent breakbarrel is their 350 magnum model in all of its various forms, and this rifle is very noticeably immune to the drooping problem. Something has changed at Diana. I would think that, over time, we’ll see this change spread to all of their models.

Firearms also have droop
Drooping isn’t just an airgun problem. Firearms have droop, too. But because of how firearms were scoped in the early days, nobody noticed the problem.

When firearms were scoped back in the 1940s and ’50s, many of them did not have optional scope mounts available. It was very common back then for a gunsmith to drill-and-tap holes into the firearm to accept scope base screws. Naturally, when a gunsmith did the job, he would align the holes in the scope mounts so the axis of the barrel was in line with the sight line seen through the scope. If there was any barrel droop, it was corrected as the mounts were installed.

Do barrels only droop (slant down)?
Before someone asks the obvious question, I’ll address it. Yes, there are airguns with barrels that slant up, plus point to the left and to the right too much for the scope to compensate. They’re not encountered as often as droopers, but they’re not unheard of. The reasons for most of these problems are the same as for droopers except for one standout reason.

If a breakbarrel rifle has been fired with the barrel open, so the barrel was allowed to snap closed from the force of the mainspring, that rifle will have a bent barrel. The barrel will be bent upward at the point it emerges from the baseblock, which is the piece that holds the barrel in the action. It’s where the pivot bolt attaches. It’s the blocky-looking piece the barrel is coming out of in both photos of guns in this report.

For this type of problem, the solution is to bend the barrel straight again. Any qualified airgunsmith should be able to straighten a barrel that has this problem, and a number of owners have learned to straighten their own bent barrels..

Most airgun barrels don’t droop
To put this report into the proper perspective, I should mention that a drooping barrel isn’t that common. I have several air rifles whose barrels are okay for shooting with scopes as they came from the factory. And, of the hundreds of rifles I test, only a small percent have a drooping problem. So, it isn’t a given that your rifle will droop.

But you may get a drooper, and you can rest assured that there are plenty of solutions to rectify the situation should you encounter it. The things to remember are:

Not all breakbarrels droop. Only a small percentage do these days.

Rifles with fixed barrels can also have droop, for the reasons mentioned in this report. It is not as common to find a fixed barrel with droop, but any air rifle that has a separate scope base that’s either spot-welded or riveted in place is a likely candidate for droop.

Firearms have droop, just like airguns. But the amount of droop is small enough that it’s corrected by the scope or by the mounts that are supplied by the firearms manufacturers.

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