Posts Tagged ‘scopes’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• What is a scout scope?
• The test
It’s been a long time since we looked at this UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope, and I want you to know that it isn’t because the scope isn’t interesting. It’s very interesting. But other questions and products always seemed to get in the way of this third report. Today that ends, as we’ll take another look at this great scout scope.
What is a scout scope?
Scout scopes are scopes that have very long eye relief. Where a normal long eye relief scope might allow you to position the eyepiece 4-5 inches from your eye, a scout scope lets you get back 9-11 inches. This scope we’re looking at today has an eye relief of 9.5 to 11 inches, so it spans almost the entire length that all scout scopes provide.
You use scout scopes when there’s a reason. Either the rifle’s action has parts that get in the way of a scope being mounted in the normal place — such as the Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifle family whose straight bolt handles rise 90 degrees when the bolt is opened, or there needs to be some clearance for cartridge ejection — such as with the M1 Garand and Winchester model 94 rifles. While there are other ways of mounting scopes on these guns, with the left side mounts being the most popular, a scout scope allows you to look straight ahead, so there will never be a problem adjusting the side angle of the scope’s optical axis to coincide with the bore.
If the scope can’t be mounted above the receiver, such as on this Winchester model 94 lever-action rifle that ejects straight up, a side-mounted scope has been the traditional solution. The scout scope puts the scope above and in line with the bore, making alignment issues less critical.
Scout scopes typically don’t have much magnification. That’s their weak spot. I guess it’s technically difficult to provide such a long eye relief and also magnify the target image, or perhaps they don’t do it because of how much the field of view diminishes as the scope goes out farther from the eye. What I do know is that Leapers gives us 2-7 magnifications with this UTG scope, which puts it at the top end of today’s scout scopes.
A second big plus with this scope is its brightness. I was able to see the target clearly and make fine aiming adjustments at 7-power. That comes in very handy when you’re putting the thin mil-dot reticle on the target. This Leapers scope has reticle lines fine enough to shave with.
On top of that, this reticle is illuminated; so if the black lines are hidden by the target, they can be lit. All things considered, this is one fine hunting scope. I’ll say more about that in a bit, but let’s now test it at 25 yards.
The scope is mounted on a Crosman MK-177 Tactical multi-pump pneumatic rifle. While that rifle doesn’t need a scout scope, it’s one of the few airguns that has a Picatinny rail long enough to mount such a scope at the correct distance from the eye.
I learned in the last test at 10 meters that this rifle does well with Air Arms Falcon pellets, so I used them exclusively in this test. Since I was shooting from 25 yards, I decided to begin with 6 pumps per shot. That should give a muzzle velocity of about 600 f.p.s. With multi-pumps, I’ve found that 5 or 6 pumps are sufficient for good accuracy at 25 yards indoors.
The first group was shot with the scope as it was left adjusted after the 10-meter test in April. The pellets landed high and to the right, with the group’s center being 2 inches high and .75 inches to the right. The first 10 pellets went into a group that measures 0.837 inches between centers. While that isn’t a wonderful group for most air rifles, it’s pretty good for an inexpensive multi-pump like the MK-177.
The first group of 10 Falcons went into 0.837 inches at 25 yards.
Following this group, I adjusted the scope 6 clicks to the left 6 and 14 clicks down for the second group. This was also shot with 6 pump strokes per shot. Ten pellets went into 1.063 inches. Again, not the best group but still pretty good for one of these rifles. Note that the pellets did hit lower on the target following the adjustment.
Following a scope adjustment, group 2 put 10 Falcon pellets into 1.063 inches at 25 yards.
I adjusted the scope down 6 more clicks and shot the next and final group. This time, I decided to pump the rifle 8 times for each shot — just to see what difference it might make, if any. Ten more shots went into 0.958 inches. The group was lower but also moved to the left. I must not have the scope leveled on the rifle. And that also makes me wonder if a scope level would help decrease the size of the groups. Several times, I found myself wondering if the gun was canted. The MK-177 doesn’t have the clues that a conventional rifle stock would have. It’s like holding a plank in your arms.
For the third group, I adjusted the scope again and also pumped the rifle 8 times for each shot. It put 10 into 0.958 inches at 25 yards.
Okay, that’s today’s test. Remember, I was really testing the scope and not the rifle. I found it to be clear, sharp and very easy to use. The adjustments moved the reticle positively every time. Maybe a scope level could help accuracy, but that remains to be seen. I don’t think I’ve done this wonderful scope justice, yet.
I will now look into mounting this same scope on one of my firearms, so we can continue to look at it. This scope can take some of the budget-priced firearms like the Mosins and SKS/AKs and turn them into useful hunting arms for a fraction of the cost of a new rifle. If you’re in the market for a good scout scope, I think you better look at this one!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Why does a scope need to be leveled?
• Scopes cannot be leveled.
• A leveling solution.
• Bubble levels.
• What works
• What about a collimator?
• My moment of enlightenment.
I promised this report to blog reader Genghis Jan over half a year ago. Several times, I’ve started to write it and turned away, but today I’m seeing it through.
Why level a scope?
There are 2 reasons for leveling your scope. The first is psychological. If the reticle inside the scope appears to be slanted to one side when you mount it on your gun — and I am primarily talking about rifles today, although these principals apply to scoped pistols just as well — it’s disconcerting. The second reason for leveling a scope is to ensure the vertical adjustments move the strike of the rounds vertically, and the horizontal adjustment do the same. If the scope does not appear level, the adjustments will move the rounds off to one side or the other as they move up and down.
If a scope’s reticle appears tilted, do you then tilt the rifle sideways to level the reticle? Or do you just hold the rifle so it always “feels” level and tolerate the reticle that seems tilted? I’ve tried both, and neither one is as comfortable as having the scope aligned perfectly — so it appears level when the rifle is held comfortably. But, just so you know — both solutions will work because there’s no such thing as a level scope.
Rifle scopes cannot be level
Sorry to disappoint, but there’s no scientific way to ever level a scope to a rifle — at least not to any rifle that has ever been made. I used to be a tank commander; and on occasion, there are reasons to level the tank cannon. But there’s nothing on a tank cannon that is level. So the makers did something about it. They machined several pads on the breech of the cannon where a precision level can be stood. This level — called a gunner’s quadrant — has “feet” that are steel pads machined into it. Their purpose is to stand the quadrant on the machined pads of the cannon’s breech and establish a level.
Without these machined pads, there can be no point on the cannon that is level. What I’m saying is that there’s no spot on the mechanism that’s true enough that a bubble level placed upon it would have any meaning. It might be possible to get the bubble centered on the gunner’s quadrant, but you could never be sure of doing it again with the same results. But with the machined pads, you have what you need — a reference point — to declare the gun to be level.
Level is a relative term
You see, the term “level” relates to the earth. An item can lay on apparently flat ground and not be level according to its bubble or the center of its plumb bob. Reference points are needed. And no rifle I have ever seen has them. Therefore, no rifle can ever be level! Please think about this before you comment.
I’ve used several leveling solutions in the years I’ve been mounting scopes. One was to hang a plumb bob from a target backer at 50 yards and align the scope’s vertical reticle with it once the scope was mounted on a rifle. I thought this would guarantee that the scope was level. Maybe it did, but it often put the scope at odds with the rifle because the rifle’s scope base was not machined so the scope appeared level when aligned this way. I actually shot several rifles with what appeared to be a slight cant in the scope reticle because I had aligned the scope in this fashion. The things that crazy people will put up with to maintain the universe they create!
A plumb line has been suspended from a target backer at 50 yards (left). Now, the scope (right) will be superimposed upon it and the vertical reticle will be aligned with the plumb line.
The scope has been shifted over the plumb line and rotated in the rings until the vertical scope reticle is aligned with the plumb line.
Neat trick! Is the scope aligned? Yes, it is. Is this the best way to do it? No, it isn’t. Let me show you why.
Now, this is what you may see when you hold the rifle to your shoulder. It may not be as obvious as this, but unless the scope mount was machined exactly with regards to the plumb line, you’ll notice the tilt and it will bother you. Are you then supposed to hold the rifle “level,” or do you “level” the reticle before shooting?
I’m showing you what happens when you attempt to level the scope by outside means. Sometimes, those processes guarantee the scope will not appear level when you hold the rifle in your arms.
Another method that doesn’t work
Some folks will purchase a bubble level for their guns, mount it and declare the job done. Of course, there’s no reference point on the gun that they can refer to, which is why I told you about leveling tank cannons at the start. Doing it this way is like driving a car in dense fog by keeping the fenders between the turn signals!
The bubble level is a wonderful tool but not for leveling scopes! It’s for leveling shooters in the field. Once the bubble is level, you know the scope is aligned the same as when it was sighted in on the bench (as long as the bubble was level at that time).
Here are two different kinds of bubble levels being tested on my Whiscombe rifle. They help to level the rifle in the field — not to level the scope during mounting.
Genghis Jan — this is the only way to level a scope. Mount the scope on the rifle and turn the tube until the vertical reticle appears to bisect the rear of the rifle.
You extend the vertical reticle line downward and see how it looks against the back of the rifle. When the vertical scope reticle appears to bisect the centerline of the rifle, the scope is level.
You can argue that this is an imprecise method of doing this, and I cannot defend it. Because — as I have already shown — there is no such thing as a level scope. Level with what?
But here is what I do know. The scope will never look right until you level it this way. If you pick up the rifle and the scope appears to be canted to one side, how does that make you feel? It’s that feeling that either inspires confidence or instills doubt, and these two emotions will drive you to success or failure while shooting.
As you gain experience with your rifle, your hold may change, and you may need to adjust the scope, again. After that, you probably have to sight-in once more. I’ve had this happen to me several times with different rifles.
What about a collimator?
You’ve heard of an optical device called a collimator that magically aligns scopes for rifles? Gun stores use them, don’t they? Yes, they do, but not to align the scope reticle — not to level the scope. They use a collimator to align the axis of the barrel with the scope’s line of sight — so your bullets land on paper at 50 or 100 yards when you go to the range.
But an airgun can be sighted-in at ranges much closer than 50 or 100 yards. I usually start at 10 feet. I wrote an article about sighting-in this way that you really should read. Adjusting a scope so it looks level has nothing to do with sighting-in unless the scope does not appear to be level to you, and then you won’t be able to adjust it properly.
My moment of enlightenment
You may well ask why it took me so long to write this report, when it seems so simple (and really is!). It is because I know that the simplicity of this will offend many people who believe that leveling a scope must be a complicated procedure. Some will refuse to believe me and will insist they level their scopes by the methods I’ve written about or by some other process.
I believe that this step is why many buyers shy away from buying scopes for their guns unless they are mounted by the factory. Well, guys, I used to BE the factory! That’s right. For three years, I mounted every scope that was mounted on an AirForce air rifle and then I zeroed it. I learned how to mount scopes the best way, which is also the quickest way, and additionally it’s the only way that will ever satisfy the user of the rifle.
I’ve had to adjust scopes (rotate their tubes in the rings slightly) that others have mounted to get their crosshairs in line with the vertical axis of the gun. If you’ve owned many guns with scopes, I’m betting you’ve done this, too. When you do, you’re simply doing what I said to do several paragraphs previously.
I know this sounds too simple and too unsophisticated to work; but believe me, this is the only way it does work. As you gain experience with scoped airguns, the truth of this report will become increasingly evident.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m on the road today to Ohio to Pyramyd Air and the Flag City Toys That Shoot airgun show this coming Saturday. If you plan to be there, please stop by my table and introduce yourself.
And while I’m gone on this huge road trip (there’s more driving ahead before I return home), I would ask the veteran readers to help answer the questions posed by the newer readers. I will only have about 3 hours each evening to exercise, answer emails and write the next blog — and I usually get 150-200 emails a day.
Today, I’m testing the UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope for accuracy. It’s mounted on the Crosman MK-177 multi-pump pneumatic that I tested for you awhile back. So, I have the data on that rifle using open sights.
I selected the 3 best pellets from that first test for today’s test. The distance was 10 meters because the groups I got before were not that small. Had they been small enough, I might have tested the rifle at 25 yards.
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. In the previous test at 10 meters with open sights, 10 Hobbys gave me a group that measured 0.858 inches. With the scope mounted, I got a group that measured 0.928 inches at the same 10 meters. So, no improvement.
Ten Hobbys fared no better with a scope than with open sights at 10 meters. In fact, at 0.928 inches between centers, this group is larger than the one shot with open sights. But, the scope was much easier to use.
I found the scope’s thin reticle quite easy to pick up and hold on target. The optics seem clear and bright, although my test conditions were perfect. I would like to test this scope in the field under variable lighting.
H&N Finale Match Pistol
Next, I tested 10 H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. In the last test, they gave me a 1.299-inch 10-shot group, but 9 of those went into just 0.399 inches. I suspected at the time that the one pellet was somehow off, so I decided to try this pellet again.
This time, using the scope, 10 pellets went into 0.548 inches. That’s better than the last group and not much larger than the 9 pellets that grouped so well on the other test. Up to this point in the test, the scope hasn’t improved my results — but it has been much easier to use! My shooting went much faster because I wasn’t guessing where the top of the front sight was.
After this group, I adjusted the scope to center the group in the bullseye. It’s easy enough to do, and the locking ring means there’s no fear of anyone messing up the settings.
Air Arms Falcons
The final pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon dome — a lightweight dome that has proven very accurate in a number of different airguns. This time, the results were better. Ten Falcons went into 0.839 inches in the first test with open sights and just 0.425 inches in this test. Nine of the 10 pellets went into just 0.154 inches — rivaling a 10-meter rifle!
Impressions of the scope thus far
I’m thoroughly impressed with this scout scope. It’s clear, sharp and easy to use. I want to test it on something else — maybe a firearm. This is a scope I can recommend if you’re looking for a good scope.
The benefit isn’t better groups, but a clearer picture of the target. On a rifle with real precision, that can mean something!
I do plan on another test with this rifle ay 25 yards. The Falcon pellets have earned their way into that test, and perhaps some similar premium pellets, as well.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
And now for something I really want to talk about – Leapers UTG Accushot 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope. I’ve been watching this scope for a year, wondering how I could work it into the blog. Most air rifles have no need for a scout scope, so it was a challenge to find one that did. Finally, I quit wondering and decided this is such a fine scope that I’ll talk about it whether there’s a huge need for it or not.
What is a scout scope?
To understand the scout scope, you must first understand the scout rifle concept. A scout rifle is meant to be carried on long treks, away from normal transportation. In other words, a rifle you have to carry most of the time. Therefore, scout rifles are light weight — especially for their calibers, which are often large to take long-range shots or drop dangerous game.
Many scout rifles do not lend themselves to having scopes mounted at the conventional location, which is just above the action. They require the scope to be mounted further forward, either to clear the path of the ejected cartridge, such as on an M14, or to provide room for a straight bolt handle, like those found on Mausers and Mosin-Nagants.
What defines the scout scope is its longer eye relief (the distance from the sighting eye to the first lens in the scope). It’s usually in the range of 9-11 inches, where the eye relief of a conventional scope might be around 3 inches. Even a scope with long eye relief might only go out as far as 5 inches. So, the scout scope is definitely different.
As difficult as it is to imagine, when your head is in the correct position on the rifle (9 to 11 inches behind the scope), you actually see the fully magnified image, just as if your eye were close to a conventional scope. It appears as a bright, magnified picture of your target with the reticle superimposed over it. Until you experience it, this is a difficult thing to envision.
Because of the extended eye relief, scout scopes do not magnify as much as conventional scopes. This one goes from 2x to 7x magnification, which is actually very high for a scout scope.
This scope is one of the largest, if not the largest scopes in the scout scope market. Other companies make their scout scopes with smaller objective lenses of 28mm to 32mm, and this one dominates them all at 44mm. Of course, that and the 30mm scope tube do add weight to the instrument, so consider that when you shop. Also, think about the clearance of the objective lens over the barrel of whatever rifle you’re scoping.
Leapers packs a pair of medium-height Weaver rings with this scope, and I used those rings to mount the test scope on a Crosman MK-177 multi-pump pneumatic, which has a long, flat Picatinny rail. Mounted this way, the objective lens has clearance underneath and even clears the flip-up scope caps. Clearance over the gun should not be an issue unless there’s something sticking up in the way, like a sight or a handguard.
I hope this explanation plus the above photo have convinced you that there’s a need for a scout scope. Some airguns and firearms cannot use anything else! It isn’t the mainstream scope; but if you need one, nothing else will do.
Let’s take a look at this specific sight. Obviously, the power varies from 2x to 7x magnification. The scope tube is 30mm, which means the lenses in the package can be a little larger than if this was a one-inch scope. That — plus the emerald lens coatings Leapers scopes are famous for — are an aid to the transmission of light. I will say that with the scope farther from your eye, more light that’s not part of the sight picture can enter your eye, making the sight picture appear darker by comparison. But under most conditions, this scope is as bright as needed.
This scope has a range of eye relief from 9.5 to 11 inches. That’s almost the entire range in which scout scopes operate!
I found the thin reticle lines of this scope hard to pick up against a darker background, which is where the built-in illumination comes in handy. Just press one of the buttons atop the rear of the scope, and the reticle lights up. This scope gives you the possibility of 36 different colors and hues, so there’s always something that will work for your current situation. This scope has an etched-glass reticle, so the central reticle appears unconnected to the thicker lines on the edges of the duplex. And the central lines have mil-dots on both axes.
The windage and elevation adjustments are both quarter-minute clicks, which means they move the strike of the round by approximately 1/4-inch at 100 yards. Both knobs have locking rings at their base that allow you to sight-in the scope and then lock it down so no one can mess with your zero.
The combination of thin reticle lines and illumination give you the best of both worlds — a scope that can be very precise on a paper bullseye in bright light, plus a reticle you can pick up fast in a darker woods setting.
The proof is in the testing, so that’s what will happen next. I’ll back up to 25 yards and shoot the MK-177 with this scope as my sighting tool.
But I’ve already made up my mind about this scope. I like it so much that I’m going to look for a firearm on which to mount it, just so I can have it in my collection. Unless something odd happens during the accuracy test, this scope is a winner!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report is for blog reader Roger, who has this problem, and also for RifledDNA, who says he has it, too. Fred DPRoNJ (Democratik Peoples Republik of New Jersey), also expressed interest in the topic. I suspect that hundreds of our readers, if not thousands, are curious. Why would a scope that shoots to the left of the aim point at 10 meters be dead-on at 20 meters and off to the right at 35 meters?
Here’s part of what Roger told us:
“This time I’ve scoped a S-410 and something strange is happening. For example: I zeroed the scope for 11m, thus the far zero would be around 44m. When shooting that distance although the elevation is fine the POI shift to right around 7cm. If I re-zero the scope in 44m and shot back to 11m, although the elevation is fine the POI shift to left around 4cm.”
Roger doesn’t state the problem in quite the same way that I do, but it’s the same problem. Gun’s POI changes as the distance changes.
The answer is in the alignment of the scope with the gun’s bore. But before I get to that, I want to address an answer that someone else on the blog gave to Roger. Someone guessed that his problem was caused by spiraling pellets. Pellets sometimes fly on a spiral path as they travel downrange. I wrote about it in this report: Do pellets spiral?
That answer was correct, as far as it went, but there’s one way to diagnose the difference between spiraling pellets and an alignment problem. Spiraling pellets move back and forth from one side of the aim point to the other and back again as they go downrange. Pellets shot from a gun with an alignment problem do not. They’ll start out on one side of the point of aim and move to the other side as they go farther from the gun, but they’ll never come back. It’s a one-way trip for pellets shot from a gun that has an alignment problem.
Don’t blame scope shift
Too many airgunners are willing to blame problems like this on their scopes. They call it scope shift. Real scope shift is rare, though not unknown. If you want to learn more about it, read my article about scope shift.
Scope and barrel must be aligned
The scope and barrel must be pointed in the same direction for the scope to work perfectly. Because the scope has some latitude of internal adjustment, it’s possible for the scope to be out of alignment with the barrel and still have them coinciding at one distance. That distance is called the sight-in distance.
But if they’re not aligned, the shots will be off to one side when they’re closer than the sight-in distance and to the other side when they’re farther away. The drawing below illustrates what this looks like, although I’ve exaggerated the offset so you can see it. In reality, both the scope and barrel may appear to be perfectly aligned.
The axis of the scope (at the bottom on the right) and barrel are offset in this drawing, but the scope can be adjusted so they coincide at one distance. Any closer or farther away than the sight-in distance, though, and the pellet will move to one side of the other. This drawing is grossly exaggerated to highlight the problem in a short space.
How to correct it
To correct this problem, the scope must be positioned on the rifle so its axis is parallel to the axis of the bore. This may be easier than it sounds. If you have 2-piece scope mounts, for example, you can turn each of them around backward (one at a time, of course) to see if that corrects the situation. It often does. You can also swap the front ring for the rear ring for further improvement. There are 4 different possible combinations of scope ring positions with 2-piece mounts (scope rings). If you have 1-piece mounts, all you can do is turn them around backward. That’s why I prefer 2-piece mounts over 1-piece mounts in most situations.
If changing rings isn’t enough to correct the problem, you can shim them. Shimming the rings for sideways correction is the same as shimming for elevation correction — you’re just moving the scope in a different direction. A word of caution — when you shim the rings for sideways adjustment, be careful not to extend the shim too low on the ring; because if it gets under the scope, you’ll cause an elevation problem that didn’t exist before.
What about optically centering the scope?
Optical centering will not solve an alignment problem unless the scope really is in alignment with the bore in the first place, and it’s the internal adjustments that are throwing it off. It’s worth a look, but the odds are it will not be the solution. The best approach is to start out by optically centering the scope to eliminate this from being a cause of the problem.
Now the bad news
Sorry, but almost no scope is ever completely aligned correctly. It’s nearly impossible to do so. The target scopes use bases (and rings) that are separated by much greater length than the scopes we commonly use to minimize the effects of misalignment.
If a scope was perfectly aligned, it would be centered at 10 feet and again at 200 yards. I’ve never seen one that was. They always shift a bit as the distance changes. But they can be very close to the centerline and nobody will be the wiser. You just have to re-zero when you change from a 100-yard zero to a 200-yard zero. Or, if you shoot an airgun, when you change from a 20-yard zero to a 45-yard zero.
But the problem that started this report was a 7 centimeter (3 inches) shift to the right at 44 meters when the rifle is zeroed at 11 meters. That’s too much of a shift and can be corrected by the methods described in this report.
The good news
The good news is that a majority of airgunners will notice this phenomenon and may eventually learn how to deal with it. But the majority of firearms owners don’t even know it exists. They’re still in the world of “bad” scopes that they sell to buy name brand scopes that have to be trusted because they cost so much! In the end, you’re better off knowing the truth.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This is an ongoing series about scope questions and issues. Blog reader David Enoch asked for it originally, but many other readers have jumped in since it began. Today, I’m going to give you some scope tips I’ve learned over the years.
Tom’s scope tips
1. Get good glass!
You can’t hit what you can’t see! The quality of the glass in the lenses; the coatings on the glass; and the perfection with which the optics were ground, finished and handled during production are all more important than superfluous features like illuminated reticles and mil dots.
I look for clarity in a scope long before I consider anything else. I’ve been known to select a 4x scope over a 4-16x just for this reason.
If you have a chance to test a scope before buying, test it by trying to focus at close range and read fine print. Look out at the edges of the image. Are they as sharp? Point the scope into a dark area and see if it highlights what’s there or just muddies the image.
2. Don’t shop for a scope by the brand name.
Brand names mean nothing these days. Even Leupold, which does make some superior optics such as the Vari-X III models, also makes mediocre scopes…like the Vari-X II line. The same holds true for Leapers, Hawke and most others. I’ve seen Nikon, Burris and even Nightforce scopes that weren’t very clear. The fact that a scope company can make superior scopes has no bearing on what they put into your scope.
Shop for scopes by the model and look only at reports for that exact model. You may get a sense that some makers put a lot of quality in certain scopes, and if you do, use that information. For example, I’ve told you several times that the Hawke 4.5-14X42 Tactical Sidewinder is a super scope. It stands head and shoulders above many other models and brands in the same price range. I know it’s not cheap, but it’s worth the price.
I have also touted several Leapers scopes in my reports. Leapers has been working to improve their scopes for the past 15 years, and it really shows. The top line of Leapers scopes is the Accushot Premium series, branded as UTG Accushot scopes. The UTG 8-32X56 Accushot rifle scope is an example of a scope that delivers about twice as much value as the price indicates. Yes, it’s also not cheap, but it has all the desirable features.
What should you look for? Look for glass lenses. Look for etched-glass reticles that will automatically have the fine (but visible) crosshairs you need. Look for single coatings of magnesium fluorite or emerald on the lenses. Both will enhance light transmission, where multi-coated optics are always a compromise. Look for 30mm scope tubes whose lenses are larger and also transmit more light. And look for lockable reticle adjustments that don’t need tools to adjust.
3. Don’t adjust any scope above 3/4 elevation or more than 3/4 to the right.
This has become my mantra because I see it crop up every time there’s a problem with “scope shift.” Scope shift seems to be almost non-existent, except when shooters adjust the scope too far up or too far to the right that the erector tube return-spring is relaxed. No scope in the world can hold its zero at that point.
The problem is universal, and the diagnosis is simple. Simply adjust the scope knobs down and to the left a lot, then shoot a group at least 25 yards away (farther is better). Sure, it won’t be in the right place; but if it’s tight and you can shoot repeatedly without any wandering, you know the problem is not with the scope. It’s with the mount. You need to align the scope’s axis with the barrel axis, and the problem will be solved. Either shim the scope or use an adjustable mount…you can stop criticizing the scope and get on with the fix.
4. Pick the power carefully.
Just like you don’t buy scopes by their brands, don’t buy them by their power, either. An excellent 4x scope can often outshoot a mediocre 16x scope. And it’s certainly easier on your eyes.
This is one reason I have so many vintage scopes. They don’t have the power of the modern scopes, but their optics are so clear that it doesn’t matter. This goes back to my first tip: Get good glass!
5. Consider a sidewheel objective adjustment.
It takes only a few minutes shooting field target to make this lesson clear. Instead of reaching out an arm’s length to turn an objective bell that’s probably very stiff to turn, a sidewheel objective adjustment puts the controls at your fingertips. I’d say that it’s the difference between power brakes and manual brakes on a car, but very few who are under 40 know what manual brakes are anymore. You young guys will just have to trust me on this.
6. Think about where the scope will be going.
If you don’t consider where the scope has to be mounted, it may not even fit on the gun you have or are about to buy. The same holds for scope mounts. Will they fit on the gun? Where’s the scope stop located, if you need one?
The biggest mistake shooters make on this account is that they try to mount a short scope on a rifle whose scope stop puts the eyepiece too far from the eye when the rifle is held naturally. This happens a lot with UTG Bug Buster scopes on springers like Gamos and Hatsans. You’re better off mounting a scope with a long eye relief, such as the CenterPoint Power Class 1TL 3-9×42 AO scope, on rifles like this, unless the scope tube is long enough to reach back.
7. Consider target turrets.
This may put some shooters off, but a scope with target turrets is so much easier to work with than one that cannot show you how much elevation and right adjustment has been applied. Target turrets usually cost more because they’re found on better scopes, but they pay you back when you’re setting up a gun or swapping the scope to a different gun.
Which adjustment gives the most information about the scope’s current state? The coin-operated knob on the right or the target turret on the left?
8. Get adjustable parallax!
Parallax does matter to airgunners because we always shoot so close to the target. Parallax changes dramatically between 25 and 50 yards, but almost not at all between 100 and 150 yards. Firearm scope users seldom need parallax correction (what some call focusing) like airgunners do.
Yes, you can change the distance for which a scope is adjusted when it has fixed parallax; but after you do, it’s still fixed. It’s only good (focused) at that distance.
9. Shop for a good dealer
The dealer is the bottom line. One dealer will stand behind everything he sells and another will not. I will pay a premium to do business with good dealers. Yes, I’m talking about Pyramyd Air, but it doesn’t stop with them. There are many good dealers out there, and I make it my business to find out who they are before doing business with them.
Optics can have problems from the factory. More than other items, they’re products that do need to be returned sometimes. Having a dealer support you when that happens means a lot.
If you were to talk to me in person about scopes, these are some of the things I would tell you. And I would jump up and down about the third tip. That’s the one that hits me every time I’m called in to solve a scope problem. If the scope has target turrets, I can spot this problem from 10 feet away. I can also do it just by listening to the shooter converse with his buddy on the range…”I need more elevation, but I’ve got the scope dialed up as far as it will go!” That’s a problem just waiting to be discovered.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Parallax is an optical term describing how the point of view affects what the viewer sees. The driver of a car may see his speedometer needle at 60 m.p.h, while a passenger to his right may see it hovering just above 57 m.p.h. In the UK, the passenger is on the driver’s left and the speedo needle will appear to be over the 63 mp.h. mark. The needle hasn’t moved in either case, but the observer’s viewpoint has moved.
And so it is with a scope. You look through it and see the crosshairs exactly in the center of the bullseye; but if you move your head on the stock, the crosshairs will also appear to move slightly. So, where you hold your head relative to the scope determines where the scope appears to be “looking.”
Many scopes today have a parallax adjustment. Some scope manufacturers call this an adjustable objective, or simply AO; but that just stems from the fact that it is the objective bell that’s turned to correct for parallax. On other scopes, this adjustment is a knob on the left side of the adjustment turret.
The adjustable objective is an objective bell that turns to remove as much parallax as possible. The scale on the bell indicates the yards to the target that have been focused.
On scopes with a sidewheel parallax adjustment, a knob on the left side of the turret adjusts for parallax. This is much easier to reach than the objective bell when holding a rifle.
The parallax adjustment adjusts the scope lenses so the least amount of parallax exists at that distance (the distance to the target). To the shooter, it looks like the scope is focusing on the target. But here’s the important point: No amount of parallax correction is ever enough. There will always be some parallax in the scope, no matter how well it’s been adjusted. Where you hold your head on the stock is very important, whether or not your scope has a parallax adjustment.
Range of scope adjustability
Every modern scope comes with vertical and horizontal adjustments, so the crosshairs may be adjusted to the point of pellet impact. Open sights often have these same adjustments. But there’s one big difference between an open sight’s adjustments and those of a scope. As an open sight is adjusted, the sight is moved mechanically. Usually just the rear sight moves, but sometimes the front sight moves, as well.
When a modern scope is adjusted, you cannot detect any movement. It’s inside the scope but can’t be seen from the outside.
What gets moved isn’t the scope tube, but a smaller tube inside the outer tube. This inner tube is called the erector tube, and it contains the reticle and other things. The wires or lines of most reticles do not move when adjustments are made. Instead, the entire erector tube moves, carrying the reticle lines with it. Since the lines are fixed, they always appear to be centered when you look through the scope.
There are some scopes that do have moving reticle lines. These are older technology scopes and are often from Germany or Russia. But these are so infrequently encountered on the modern market that they aren’t worth discussing.
I’ve mentioned the term modern in relation to the scope of today. Fifty years ago, there were scopes that did not contain erector tubes. Instead, these scopes were adjusted from the outside, so their entire tubes moved whenever adjustment were made. The adjustments were in the scope rings.
This vintage Unertl scope is held in spring-loaded rings that adjust the whole scope like the erector tube in a modern scope. The spring is inside the button at the 4 o’clock position and works for both the vertical and horizontal adjustments.
The section of the modern scope that contains the adjustment knobs is called the turret.
By looking at vintage adjustable scope rings, we can see how the erector tubes inside modern scopes move when they’re adjusted. And this is what is important. The adjustments work against a coiled steel return spring that pushes the scope back when the adjustment screws are backed off.
When the scope is adjusted higher or to the right, the erector tube springs expand and lose their tension. At some point, which differs from scope to scope, these springs relax. That’s when the scope no longer holds a zero and won’t adjust in that direction anymore.
This scope’s elevation knob is adjusted as high as it will go. The erector tube spring is fully relaxed, and the scope will be free to shift. It would be better not to adjust this scope above the horizontal No. 3 line.
Quality scopes have more adjustment range than cheaper scopes, but all scopes have difficulty adjusting out to their upper and right limits. As a general rule, I tell shooters they should never adjust beyond the three-quarter point in the high or right directions.
People sometimes ask if there’s a problem when adjusting the other way (down or to the left), and I tell them there isn’t. All you do when you adjust all the way down or to the left is compress a coil spring until it’s coil-bound. That doesn’t damage the scope, nor does it affect accuracy in any way.
Scope sights are wonderful tools that can enhance your shooting experience. They’re not magic, however. They operate by rules, just like anything else. Learn how they work, and they’ll do their part to make your shooting more successful.