Posts Tagged ‘See All Open Sight optical system’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
In the 9 years I’ve been writing this blog, I don’t think this has ever happened before. Last Friday, I wrote about my failure to get the See All Open Sight to work on the Beeman P1 pistol. I tried for 2 straight days to get it sighted in and nothing worked.
That was Friday’s report. Well, I went out to the rifle range on Friday, and my shooting buddy Otho met me there. He had one of his SKS rifles that had a scope mounted on it (on a Weaver base), and it was his plan to test the See All sight. Okay, I thought. Couldn’t hurt.
It didn’t hurt at all! After he shot the scoped rifle at 100 yards for the record, he removed the scope and installed the See All Open Sight. It took several shots to get it on paper at 50 yards, but then he shot a 5-shot group that measures 1.636 inches between centers! You may not be familiar with the accuracy of the SKS, but while it’s an extremely reliable rifle that almost never fails to operate, it’s only fair as far as accuracy is concerned. It’s a good battle rifle — but it’s certainly not a target rifle. Some individual rifles are more accurate than others, and this one happens to be Otho’s best one; but a sub-2-inch group at 50 yards from an SKS is worth talking about. And he did it with the See All Open Sight!
When we saw this 50-yard 5-shot group, we knew the See All sight worked! For an SKS, this is a great group.
When he was finished, we had to walk down to see the target because the cold wind was blowing so hard and our eyes were tearing so much that he couldn’t see but one of the shots through his spotting scope. I was looking through binoculars and could see even less. When I saw the target close up, I asked him to shoot 10 more shots for me at 50 yards.
The reason I asked Otho to test the See All sight in the first place is because he has been battling failing eyes for several years. He can no longer use open sights like he once did, so scoped guns are about all he can shoot. The See All sight makes up for that and allows him to shoot like he used to 30 years ago. That’s what the See All Open Sight is about — a sight that lets shooters mount an open sight on a gun that doesn’t have one, or to use an open sight that can be seen with poor eyesight.
I guess I should also have told you that he did this with Wolf ammo, which isn’t the most accurate by far. Wolf is steel-cased with a mild steel-jacketed bullet. They’re reliable and aren’t corrosive, but there are several brands that will outshoot it.
Otho was able to see the See All sight reticle clearly enough to shoot just as good as when the SKS was scoped!
This SKS has a Weaver base attached to the left side of the receiver. The See All sight is clamped to it.
He then shot a 10-shot group at 50 yards with the SKS and the See All sight. This time he put 10 into 3.215 inches. While that’s a lot closer to what most SKS rifles normally do at 50 yards, I would like to point out that Otho was able to do it without using a scope. That’s significant because he couldn’t see the open sights on the rifle on this day.
This is a good 10-shot group for an SKS at 50 yards. The rifle was shooting Wolf ammo (the dark empty case), which doesn’t group as well as some other brands.
He commented that the See All sight was very fast to acquire. As breezy and cold as the day was, that was significant by itself. I was also shooting an open-sighted rifle that I’ll report on in a few days, and I was unable to see my front sight until I put on my glasses to cut the wind.
Now, Otho shifted to the 100-yard targets, where a few minutes earlier he’d shot a 10-shot group with the scoped rifle. That netted him 9 shots on paper in a group that measures approximately 5-3/8 inches between centers. The 10th shot wandered off the paper.
With the See All sight, he put 9 shots into approximately 5.50 inches. Three of these shots wandered off the paper, but we found the holes clearly on the backer board, just above the target paper. He measured the 9 shots with his pocket knife, which measures 5.50 inches when open. There was a tenth shot on the paper, but it landed about 3.50 inches below the other 9 shots. We know this 10-shot group really measures 9 inches at 100 yards; but since we don’t know where the tenth shot from the scoped rifle landed, there’s no way to make a direct comparison. Nine shots to 9 shots is the best comparison we can make.
With the scoped rifle, 9 of 10 bullets hit the paper at 100 yards. This group measures 5-3/8 inches between centers.
With the See All Open Sight at 100 yards, Otho was able to put 9 shots into 5.50 inches, c-t-c with the SKS. Six of those 9 are on this paper, and the other 3 landed on the backer just above the target. The tenth shot down below does open the group by a lot; but since the tenth shot from the scoped rifle was not found, we can’t make a comparison.
After seeing the 100-yard group, Otho said he thinks the See All Open Sight is perfect for hunting. While it’s not as good for target shooting, it’s fast to acquire a target — especially one that’s running. He’s decided to leave the See All sight on his SKS instead of the scope, and he plans to hunt with it.
I’m so glad this happened because I was beginning to lose confidence. But Otho showed us the sight is good and works as intended.
I have an M1 Carbine that’s chambered in 5.7mm Johnson Spitfire, and it currently has a Weaver base with a scope, as well. I also have a Remington 788 with a Weaver base. I think for my next test of the sight, I’ll load up some ammo and try one of those 2 rifles with a scope and with the See All at 50 yards. They should work the same as Otho’s SKS.
So, don’t despair. There’s at least one more test of this sight coming. For now, however, I have to say the See All Open Sight does what it’s advertised to do.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
This will be a different Friday blog — I promise you.
First of all — all talk of machining the See All Open Sight sight is off the table. I spoke with the See All creators and learned that the reticle is actually on film — shrunk to the size where the point of the triangle is 0.0002 inches across. That’s two ten-thousandths of an inch, or 0.00508 millimeters! This in in the realm of optics — not mechanical things. So, don’t try to modify the sight.
Second, they told me some folks may need to wear their glasses when using this sight. I haven’t been doing that, so I wore them for this test.
What I thought might happen today
After the last test in Part 4, I thought the sight might work better if it was held farther from my eyes — like it would be when mounted on a pistol. The magnifying optic enlarges the reticle even more the farther away it is, so this sounded like a possible solution to the reticle being indistinct on target. Also, it’s easier to tilt the sight when it’s mounted on a handgun. I’d hoped that would make it easier to align the peak on the end of the triangle. This is what I was thinking when I told some readers I had a better idea of how to test it.
What went wrong with this test?
When I first attempted to test the sight on Tuesday, I mounted it on a Beeman P1 pistol using an 11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter that you cannot buy. I used this base because it has some droop, and I thought I needed that droop to get the shots on paper at 10 meters. What I got, however, was pellets striking the target too low after all the upward adjustment in the sight had been made. The results were so bad that I quit testing the sight and moved to something else. I mentioned that in the introduction to Wednesday’s blog.
While I was resting from this first attempt, it occurred to me that maybe this sight works in the reverse of how I was thinking. It has seemed that way every time I attempted to test it. So, for today’s initial test, I turned the base around so it’s sloping up toward the muzzle. The sight was pointed slightly up in relation to the top of the pistol.
For safety, I began shooting at 12 feet. If the gun was off at that distance, it would still be hitting the pellet trap.
I’d already fired a group of 10 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellets at 10 meters with the P1′s open sights. They landed in 0.598 inches, so that was how well I was shooting the gun on this day. I know from experience that the Crosman Premier lite is one of the best pellets in this pistol.
Ten Premier lites went into 0.598 inches at 10 meters with the pistol’s open sights. The P1 can shoot.
It seems I can still shoot my P1. Now, how well can I shoot it with the See All Open Sight mounted? Well, I was right about the droop in the first place. Reversing the mount so it sloped up landed the pellet 12 inches below the aim point at 12 feet! I did need a drooper base after all, and one with the most aggressive slope possible. Fortunately, I had just what I needed, so that base was mounted on the gun and the sight was attached to it.
See the steep slop of the base adapter? It still wasn’t enough to raise the pellet to the point of aim.
With this new steeper-sloped base, the point of impact did rise; but even with the See All sight adjusted as high as it would go, the pellet still struck about 3 inches below the aim point when shooting from 12 feet. And, yes, I did read the adjustment directions as I was adjusting the sight.
I couldn’t get the pellet to strike the point of aim, so on to Plan B. Plan B is where I move the aim point very high and let the pellets impact below. At least that would tell me about the sight’s potential. I used a black dot as an aim point and backed up to 10 meters. When the first shot landed 5 inches below the point of aim, however, the test was over. That is so low that it risks not hitting the entire pellet trap, and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. Two more inches and the shot goes off the paper.
A 5-inch drop below the aim point was enough to make me stop the test. This is the end of the P1 test.
This test (on the P1) is over
I have tried for two agonizing days to get the See All Open Sight to work on my Beeman P1, and everything has failed to work. I now have more pellet holes in my house (Edith knows about them), and that’s as much damage as I’m willing to do.
I’m not saying the See All Open Sight doesn’t work. There are too many reports that it does work — including one from our blog reader GunFun1. But I’ve done everything in my power to get it to work for me, and you’ve seen the results. My shooting buddy Otho has done the same. He did get better results than I did, but even he wasn’t satisfied with what he got.
I’m going to set the sight aside and just think about it for awhile. If I were testing this item for Pyramyd Air, my recommendation would be “don’t buy” right now. That’s not saying I won’t find a gun it works on; but, for now, I’m pretty burnt out.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
Today, we’ll test the See All Open Sight on a firearm! Last week, my shooting buddy Otho brought his Thompson Center Contender rifle to the range. It’s chambered in .17 HM2, a chambering and conversion he did himself.
With a scope mounted, this rifle will shoot about a one-inch group at 50 yards. He mounted the See All on it and proceeded to shoot groups.
At first, he wasn’t able to adjust the sight. That was tracked down to the sight being loose. That mounting system they use is really marginal — not just for spring-piston guns but for firearms, as well.
The base clamp of the sight relies on 2 screws that run down to push the jaws of the sight up against the Weaver or Picatinny dovetails. Those screws are seen on the upper left of the base.
But that problem was solved, and the test proceeded. Sight-in went quickly once the sight was stable. Otho discovered, as I did, that it takes only a very little movement of the adjustment screws to move the strike of the round. Despite there being marks on the sight, they aren’t helpful when adjusting. You have to just look at the position of the Allen wrench leg and go by that.
Once the See All sight was tight on the rifle, Otho was able to adjust it pretty quickly.
He shot 2 10-shot groups at 50 yards. While I didn’t measure them, the first one may be the best. It appears to be about a 2.50-inch group, with 9 shots in 1.25 to 1.40 inches.
I never saw this horizontal adjustment graphic until I took this picture. This is enlarged and enhanced.
The vertical adjustment marks are still nearly invisible, despite enlargement and sharpening.
Otho’s first group was the best. Ten shots went into about 2.5-inches, with 9 of them going into about half that size. An American quarter is just under one inch in diameter.
Otho complained that he wasn’t able to put the point of the triangle on the bottom of the target. The black line and green material above the tip of the triangle made it necessary for him to guess where the tip was located. He would like to see the material removed down to the tip of the triangle for greater precision while aiming.
The material above the point of the triangle, plus the horizontal black line, make it difficult to position the tip of the reticle precisely.
His second group is about the same size as the first, but more scattered. Look at how tight it is from side to side. It’s clear there is an aiming problem in the vertical direction but not in the horizontal.
This second group shot by Otho is about the same size as the first, but this one’s strung out more vertically. Yes, there are 10 shots here.
By the time he was done with the second 10 shots, he was finished. Guessing where the tip of the reticle was has taxed him. So, he turned over the rifle to me.
This is the first time I’d shot this rifle, so I was unfamiliar with it. But it has a fairly crisp trigger, and I didn’t have any problems shooting it.
As you can see, I had even more difficulty than Otho with the vertical component. Seven of my shots landed in 1.427 inches at 50 yards, but the 10-shot group measures 4.433 inches between centers. I had a very hard time seeing where the tip of the triangle’s located relative to the target.
My group is very vertical, measuring 4.433 inches between centers. But as you can see, I got 7 of them into 1.427 inches, which isn’t bad.
Otho brought up the point that the See All sight might not be ideal for shooting targets, but then he figured that the black bullseye was still giving the most exact aiming point possible. If the sight has trouble with vertical placement on a bullseye target, it will be much harder to control against a gray animal.
Please note that Otho is wearing glasses when he shoots. He has to wear them even when shooting with a scope, so the See All did magnify the reticle for him, as we’d hoped. He and I both believe this sight has something very unique to offer.
He wants to try the sight again on animal silhouettes. I have some nice Shoot-N-C animal targets he can try it on. That should give us the information we want.
Otho is also thinking of shaving off the top of the green plastic, to put the tip of the triangle at the top of the reticle. He wants to remove the horizontal black line, which I agree is distracting.
He also finds the green on either side of the triangle difficult to work with. He wishes it wasn’t there. I don’t have a problem with it myself.
Neither Otho nor I know if modifying the sight is the right move or not. The black line tells the shooter where the tip of the triangle is. But it’s so difficult to get the tip on the target where you want it. I think the See All folks must have tried several iterations of this already, and I am not convinced removing the top of the green is a good idea. When you look through the sight without a target to focus, the tip of the triangle is easy to find. It’s only when you aim against a specific spot that it becomes more difficult.
I’ll be shooting the See All next on my Beeman P1 pistol.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
Today, I’m testing the See All Open Sight on the new TX200 Mark III that I’ve been testing for you. Because that rifle figures into today’s test so much, I felt it was important that you be able to examine the rifle’s accuracy in past tests — most importantly, the red dot sight test I just did in Part 13.
I also want to mention that See All is aware of the difficulty in mounting their sight on a straight-line rifle like the M4. They even mention it in the frequently asked questions on their website. So, what happened the last time I tested this sight was my fault for not checking all the information.
Mounting the sight
The first step was to mount the See All sight to the TX200. Since the rifle has 11mm dovetails and the See All has Weaver-width dovetail jaws, I used a prototype Leapers base that converts 11mm to Weaver/Picatinny. For this test, I used the same scope stop pin that I showed in the last test with the dot sight. The pin popped out of the hole on the first shot, so the base had to be remounted and the pin locked down again. After that, the base remained tight and solid throughout the test.
The base of the See All sight has no locking crosspins like those found on a Weaver or Picatinny sight. It has 2 vertical screws that bear down on the sight base and push the See All up so its jaws grab onto the dovetails of the base. Since the base I used has the crosspin slots for a Picatinny-type sight, I slid the See All until both locking screws were pushing down into the bottom of a slot, instead of on top of a locking ridge. I felt that would give a more secure attachment. But there were still some problems, as we shall see.
I sighted-in with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. They had tested well with the dot sight at 25 yards, and I felt they would be a good pellet for this test. But I had problems getting the pellet to go where I wanted. This is where I discovered that the See All sight behaves like a front sight and not like a rear sight. The sighting reticle must be moved in the direction opposite of where you want the pellet to go. The instructions included with the sight are very clear on this; of course, I wasn’t reading them — yet! There’s a marking on the right side of the sight that is supposed to tell you how to adjust the sight for windage, but I found it difficult to read.
I thought I’d solved the sighting problem and tried to shoot a first group, but the results were horrible. Pellets went everywhere! But within the first 5-inch, 10-shot group there were four holes together. Since I had seen the first hole through the spotting scope I knew the first 4 shots went to the same place, then the rest scattered everywhere. Pretty obvious what was wrong.
The sight was loose on the base! After tightening it down, I shot the first group for record. Ten Baracuda Match pellets went into 1.085 inches at 25 yards. It’s an okay group for open sights and an average spring rifle, but it’s horrible for a TX200.
Then, I checked the screws and found the sight had loosened, again, during the ten shots it took to fire the first group! Now I knew what to do. Check the screws after every shot and tighten if necessary.
Crosman Premier heavys
I switched to Crosman Premier heavy pellets for the second group, fully intending to come back to Baracuda Match pellets at the end of the test. But this shooting was proving tiring, and I didn’t want to jinx the other pellets by shooting them when I was tired. I checked the sight screws for tightness after each shot on this string.
Ten Premier heavys went into 0.978 inches at 25 yards. You can see a smaller group of 7 within the main group. It measures just 0.451 inches between centers. That tells me the See All Open Sight really works, but I was still getting used to it. The shots outside the main group are from my aiming errors, I believe.
I was learning to use the sight as things progressed. The space just above the reticle triangle is difficult to line up with a bullseye target — at least for me. But as things progressed, I discovered that I was aligning it faster and faster. I was learning to judge where the reticle was, even when I couldn’t see the tip. That’s no doubt what lead to those shots that are not inside the main group, and I think as I learn this sight more I will get better with it.
Crosman Premier lites
Next, I tried the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellet. By this time, I’d found it necessary to check the See All screws after only every 5 shots, and they were no longer loosening even then. Ten Premier lites went into a nice group that measures 0.686 inches between centers. It’s a very round group, which indicates I’m learning the sight picture as I go. But the Premier lite was also very accurate in the test using the red dot sight.
Now, it was time to return to the H&N Baracuda Match pellets and see what I could do. I was still checking the See All screws for tightness after every 5th shot, but they weren’t loosening. This time, I managed to put 10 pellets into 1.259 inches; but as you can see, 9 of them went into 0.695 inches. It’s clearly my fault the group is as large as it is. The See All Open Sight can make it much smaller, if used correctly.
Conclusions so far
The See All sight does work as advertised. But you do need to read the instructions and follow them.
Small adjustments of the sight make very large changes in the impact point. Go very, very slow with your adjustments. And read the instructions to see which way to turn them. The markings for adjustment directions on the body of the sight are not very clear.
Plan on taking some time to get used to the sight. It does work, and I think it works well for people with poor eyesight; but it’s unlike anything you’ve ever used. Although it’s analogous to a dot sight, it works nothing like one in application.
I did find that I needed some light on the sight to see the reticle. I had the room lights on where I was shooting, which is something I never do with other open sights or scopes.
I think this sight may be better-suited to PCPs and CO2 guns than springers. But that’s just my impression from this first test. I’ll know more as the tests continue — which they will. I still think this sight is a significant new device.
My friend, Otho, is also testing a See All sight on some firearms for me. His eyesight is so bad that he hasn’t been able to use open sights for several years, so we’ll get a different perspective from him.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
This is the first test of the See All Open Sight. I chose the Crosman M4 –177 as the first rifle to be tested because the See All comes only with a Weaver base, and the M4-177 has a Picatinny rail that will accommodate it. The choice was based solely on that and little else, except the M4 had been shown to be fairly accurate at 10 meters.
For the test, I decided to fire a 10-shot group using the factory sights, which are a peep in the rear and a post up front. Since the rifle was stored in the box without its sights, they had to be mounted and sighted-in. I started with Crosman Premier Super Match wadcutter pellets but switched to 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites after seeing the size of the Super Match group.
I was shooting from a sandbag rest at 10 meters. Five pump strokes were used for every shot in this test. The group of 10 Premier lites measured 0.84 inches, so that’s what I’ll use to compare the results from the See All sight.
Mounting the See All Open Sight
The sight went on the flattop receiver easily enough, and the 2 screws that hold it in position work well. But after I mounted the sight, I discovered that it was impossible to get my head low enough on the stock to see the reticle. All I could see was the See All name that’s beneath the triangle. The sight needed to be adjusted up.
I adjusted the sight up as far as it would go and got the reticle up to where I could just barely see it if I held my head artificially low on the stock. To sight the rifle on the target, I had to tilt my head far to the right to get my eye low enough to see the full reticle. I used a 6 o’clock hold on the bull for all my shooting with this sight, which is the only way to be precise with a sight that covers the bull.
With this sight picture, I missed the entire paper at 10 meters. So, I walked up to within 10 feet of the target and aimed again. This time the pellet struck the target backer board about 6 inches below the aim point. Something had to be done, and done quick!
I had positioned the See All sight as far forward on the receiver rail as space permitted, so now I moved it back as far as it would go, like the position of a peep sight. This made sighting easier, though I was still tilting my head way over to the right to see the reticle.
With the sight in this position, I put a Shoot-N-C bull at the top of a blank sheet of target paper and shot 4 shots at it from 10 meters. They landed about 7.5 inches low on the paper, as you can see in the photo.
This wasn’t working! And the reason it wasn’t is the straight line of the M4-style rifle. The flattop receiver doesn’t permit mounting the See All Open Sight high enough to be seen easily. It’s not the sight’s fault — it’s the rifle’s.
I was ready to call it a day when Edith suggested that I mount the sight to the Picatinny rail where the rifle’s front sight is supposed to go. It was simple enough to move the sight, so I tried it and found I could see the reticle much easier. A test shot showed that it was hitting the target way too low, however. Because the sight had been moved from the rear to the front, the adjustments had to be reversed to work.
You move a front sight in the opposite direction you want the strike of the round to go, so now I had to adjust the sight as low as it would go, to bring the point of impact up as high on the target as possible. The See All sight doesn’t have much adjustment up and down — only 45 minutes of angle. When it was down as far as it would go, the pellet was still hitting the target about 2 inches below the aim point, but that was a lot better than it had been before. So, kudos to Edith for this suggestion that kept the test running!
I shot 2 groups with the sight in this position. The first one isn’t very good, as I had half the aim point covered by the target paper, and the tip of the triangle was on the center of the bull rather than at 6 o’clock. But I still got a group that is good horizontally. It’s just spread out too much vertically.
This 10-shot group is tall, at 1.803 inches between centers, but not that wide. The aim point was an estimate of where the center of the top bull was located because the target paper covered half of it.
When I mounted the second target, I fixed the situation. The second group was shot with a 6 o’clock hold on the top bull. The aim point was much more precise in this case, and the group shows it. Although the overall group is the same 1.803 inches as the first group, 9 of the holes are in 1.125 inches. Like the first group, this one is also strung out vertically.
It seems that the See All sight isn’t made for a rifle with a straight stock line like the M4′s. The eye is too high relative to where the line of sight is. This can be seen when the factory sight is mounted next to the See All.
The straight lines of the M4 rifle are all wrong for use with the See All Open sight. With a flattop receiver, it’s impossible to get the sight mounted high enough to see without holding your head at an odd angle. So, this test was inconclusive. All it proves is that the wrong rifle was used. However, this should serve as a warning to those who might think of using the sight on their other M4-type rifles. Unless you put a high adapter under the sight to raise it up, it won’t work.
The vertical adjustment range of the See All sight is not large enough for an air rifle whose barrel is slanted downward, as so many of them are. It’ll be necessary to mount the sight on some kind of compensating base for the next test. I’ve selected a TX200 Mark II as the next test rifle, and we’ve already done a test of this rifle with a red dot sight. I have a drooper base that Leapers made when we developed the UTG drooper bases for RWS Diana rifles, and this one has no recoil shock shoulder; so, it’ll go right on the TX200 without a problem.
I’m encouraged by how easy it was to acquire the sight picture once the See All was mounted in the right position. It was much faster than a peep sight picture; and even though the overall group made with the sight is larger than the group made with the peep sight, I see that many of the pellets went to the same place. That gives me confidence that the See All Open Sight will work well when mounted on the right rifle.
I also see a bright future for this sight on pistols. The farther away from the eye the sight is, the easier it is to see the reticle. Holding it an arm’s length from the eye is no problem. I’ve already confirmed that the Leapers base fits my Beeman P1, so a test of that pistol is in the works, as well.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
I mentioned this sight in my last SHOT Show update last week and started a firestorm of discussion! Apparently, many of our blog readers see the same potential that I do! Let’s start a long, detailed look at the See All Open Sight.
What can it do?
I see several uses for a sight like this. First, there are a number of airguns that come without open sights, and I get asked repeatedly what can be done about it. Let me take one of the more common ones, which also happens to be one that is extremely difficult to deal with — the TX200 Mark III underlever spring-piston rifle. If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you know that I’m a huge fan of the TX200. I’ve written dozens of reports about it — the most recent batch being a 12-part series that just finished. Or I thought it was finished. Now, there’s a good reason to test that rifle once more with this new sight!
But the uses don’t stop there. If the See All really works as well as we all hope, it solves another problem because it is easier to see than other types of open sights. There’s a magnifying function built into this sight that may make it easier to use for shooters whose eyes are less than perfect. To test for that, I’ll rely on my shooting buddy, Otho, who’s been complaining about his eyes for years. He used to be a wonderful shot with open sights, but now he has to wear glasses to even use a scope! If he can use the See All successfully, then there’s hope for other shooters whose eyes are troubling them.
I bought a See All Open Sight as soon as I returned from the SHOT Show, and it’s been delivered. But the See All folks called me last week and offered to send me a second sight for testing. I reckoned I could get Otho testing one while I’m testing the other, so I can give this sight a thorough wringing out. Besides a lot of installments for this blog, I plan on writing about the sight for Shotgun News and also for the new Blue Book of Airguns that’s coming out late this spring.
Another use for the sight are those target guns whose costly and often hard-to-find sights are missing. Will the See All be a useful replacement for target sights? I don’t know, but we’re about to find out.
Still another use for it will be on certain air pistols that lend themselves to optical sights, but for which no good sights are made. I’m thinking of the Beeman P1 and the P17 pistols for starters, but it could expand to many others.
As things progress, I’m sure we’ll find even more uses for this sight. It all comes down to one thing: Does it really work? Just from looking at it, I’m intrigued. It looks like it ought to work very well. People whose opinions I trust who have seen the sight feel the same as I do. There’s a sense that it’s right and ought to work as advertised. We’ll see!
A brief look at non-electronic optical sights
What follows is not a thorough history. It’s just a few things I happen to know about these sights. Shooters have looked for many years for open sights that enhance the eye’s ability to sight the gun. Elmer Keith inlayed gold and silver lines in the front sight post of some of his revolvers so he could refer to them when shooting long distances. He killed an elk with a .44 Special at over 400 yards, so his sights must have worked! I suspect his eyesight was much better than what passes for perfect sight today, and that had a lot to do with how successful this idea was for him; but it’s still a part of our shooting history.
The King Sight Company developed a front sight that has a small reflector to shine extra light on a gold bead. I once owned a Smith & Wesson Triple Lock in .45 Colt that was customized with such a sight. It had probably been installed in the 1940s or ’50s; but when it was put on the gun, the barrel was also cut back to about 3 inches. I was never able to hit anything with that revolver.
This ad from the 1948 “Shooter’s Bible” shows the King revolver sights that used a reflector to brighten the bead.
But the sight that has intrigued me the most is the Nydar optical sight. It was a non-electronic dot sight that was touted as great for shotguns in the 1940s. It used a mirror to concentrate a dot in the center of a circle on what today looks like a holographic screen. This was an adaptation of anti-aircraft weapon sights from World War II. Did it work? I’m sure some shooters found that it did for them. I’ve never seen one, but I’ve had a fascination for them since reading about them as a teenager.
The Nydar sight is an example of an optical sight that doesn’t use electronics. Also taken from the 1948 “Shooter’s Bible.”
The See All Open Sight
What is the See All Open Sight? It’s a single unit that attaches to the top of a gun and presents a sight picture to the shooter. This sight picture or reticle is placed against the target to align the gun for the shot. You can use the sight with one eye closed or with both eyes open — I don’t yet know which is the better way.
This is what you see when you look through the sight. This wasn’t as easy to photograph as it looks. The first person who suggests I retake the photo with a bullseye target on top of the triangle gets excommunicated from this blog!
The sight is lightweight, weighing 1.8 oz. So, recoil shouldn’t affect it that much. There’s no need for a front sight, as the See All is complete in itself. Just like a dot sight, it stands alone. But now that you see the reticle you can see that it isn’t really a dot sight.
The sight is made from aluminum with some pieces being made of synthetics. It looks like a great deal of thought went into the design and nothing looks cheap.
It mounts to a gun with an open dovetail clamp that’s as wide as both the Weaver and Picatinny dovetail bases. But there’s no crossbar locking rib on the integral base of this sight. Instead, there are two Allen screws that are adjusted to push down onto the gun, forcing the clamping jaws of the sight base up against the dovetail flanges of the gun’s mount base. So, the See All holds to the gun by clamping pressure, alone. I’ll determine if this is a problem with recoiling spring airguns.
The sight base will clamp to a Weaver or Picatinny scope dovetail, but it has no crossbar to lock the sight in place. The 2 screws seen here are used to jam the sight base into the jaws of the dovetail.
Because the integral sight base is made for a Weaver dovetail, it’s too large for the 3/8-inch or 11mm dovetails that are common on rimfire guns and airguns. But there are adapters that can change 11mm bases to Weaver bases. I’ll find out how practical these are for our purposes. The people at See All have told me that if there’s enough of a demand, they’ll also make their sight with an integral 11mm base. Perhaps, they could provide an adapter with the sight so it would fit both Weaver and 11mm dovetails/bases, similar to what Tasco does with their ProPoint line.
The sight reticle (See All calls it a crosshair reticle) is engraved on a bright green plastic plate made from something they call edge glow material. I’m red-green colorblind, yet have no trouble seeing this reticle. You look at the reticle though a plastic lens they call the optic. It magnifies the reticle, and what you see is a triangle with a line above it. Put the target on the point of the triangle to sight correctly. The instructions say the sight is parallax free, which is wonderful if true! I certainly plan to test that because positioning the head is such a problem for me since I test so many different guns.
This is what you see through the magnifying optic.
There are adjustments for both windage and elevation. The instructions say there are a total of 45 minutes of angle of vertical adjustment and 75 minutes of horizontal adjustment. Because we know that many spring rifles have a barrel-drooping problem (the axis of the bore is angled downward, relative to the sight base on top of the gun), I will take care to mount the sight as close to the bore axis as possible.
The makers claim that the accuracy is unsurpassed by any sighting systems without the use of magnification. That’s a claim I plan on testing with a 10-meter target rifle. It should be easy to shoot some groups at 10 meters with conventional aperture sights and then duplicate the test with the See All. I hope the claim turns out to be true because this is something many shooters have been searching for!
I originally mounted the See All sight to the MK-177 multi-pump I recently tested for you because that rifle has a long Picatinny rail along its top. But then a new Leapers UTG scout scope arrived for testing, and that rifle is ideal for testing that scope, so I switched the See All to my M4-177.
A couple years ago, I tested the M4-177 and got this 10-shot group with Crosman Premier Super Match wadcutters. I shot from 25 feet with 5 pumps per shot. A 10-meter group shouldn’t be much larger. When I test the new sight, I’ll reshoot with the factory sights just to be sure.
I’ll get to this first accuracy test very soon because I know many of you are waiting to see how well this sight works. I’m pitting the See All against the peep sights that are on the M4-177 rifle from the factory. This isn’t the 10-meter test I mentioned earlier — it’s just a start at testing what could turn out to be the most exciting new open sight to come along in our lifetimes.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Before I begin today’s report, there are a couple SHOT Show updates. First, there were numerous inquiries about Crosman’s butterfly hand pump. Are they going to build it? Is it dead? Stuff like that.
They told me the pump is still an active project. The problem is that they’re trying to find a manufacturer that can build it to the quality they’ll accept. They keep getting samples from different companies, but there are always problems. They’re not going to put it on the market unless it’s fully developed. So, there’s no date when the pump will come to market.
Why don’t they build it themselves? Read today’s report to answer that question.
A couple folks wondered about the Chinese-made TX200 copy that Crosman has shown at past shows. That project is dead. Crosman told me they weren’t satisfied with the quality of the gun being made, specifically in the area of the safety. They feel it cannot be made to their standards, so they aren’t going any farther with it.
I was asked specifically by blog reader Ariel if I’d seen the Air Arms S510 Ultimate Sporter. I hadn’t, so I went back to the Air Venturi booth and looked for it. They had it sitting on a counter, so I took a photo and here it is.
The Air Arms Ultimate Sporter was featured by Air Venturi at the SHOT Show.
Simon Gibbon from Air Arms wasn’t in the both when I was there, so I don’t have an answer about Canadian importation. I will continue to work on finding out.
Next, I stumbled across a Pardini dealer right here in the United States! Pardini is an Italian maker that makes both firearms and airguns. I’ve tested their 10-meter target pistols in the past. They’re in the same quality category as Walther and Steyr, but they don’t have quite the ergonomics. They offer both electronic and mechanical triggers on their guns, and the grips are either designed by Morini or heavily influenced by them.
Nice to know there’s a Pardini dealer in the U.S.!
Incidentally, the man in the booth was not the Pardini dealer, but his friend. This man custom builds handguns and showed me a 9mm pistol that shot a 1.8 inch 10-shot group at 100 yards! He also showed me a rifle he makes. He builds the action and it’s rigid as any sniper rifle. The 100-yard groups were 0.3 inches!
The last find at this year’s show may prove to be the best one if things pan out. It’s a new type of sight. When I walked up to the booth, a woman was standing in the aisle asking if people wanted to look though the sight, which attaches to the rear of a rifle. Since it was mounted on a Gamo breakbarrel, I decided to have a look. Lo and behold, this is an optical type sight that uses passive light! Think of a dot sight without any batteries!
That’s an over-simplification and also somewhat misleading, but the See All Open Sight appears to have the precision of a dot sight and the size and light weight of a peep sight.
See All Open Sight may be just what the doctor ordered for all who want open sights on air rifles that are currently without them.
I have to give Edith credit for making the connection for me. I saw in general terms how useful this sight might be; but when she mentioned that it could be put on a TX200, the lights came on! How many times have I had to explain to people that guns like the TX simply cannot have open sights installed. Well, maybe now they can!
Why can’t “they” build it?
Today’s report seems very appropriate in light of the Crosman butterfly hand pump and underlever spring rifle projects. As consumers, we usually see new products after they’ve gone through a long development process — only some of which we understand. Today, I’d like to talk about what goes on behind the curtain.
When we think of a certain product, we think in terms of performance. If we have some experience, we may lump things like reliability and maintainability into our definition of performance. But that’s as far as it goes.
We don’t think about what it takes to make the things we desire. That’s all hidden from view, but it’s at least as big and important as performance and can spell the difference between success and disaster for a product.
We think products are in the U.S. Space Program, where billions of dollars are available to support them. So, if something is possible, we expect every new product to have it. Let’s look at a few examples to see how it works.
Let’s start with materials. Fussybritches LTD builds cool precharged rifles that look gorgeous and shoot quite well. The only problem is that they’re expensive! You’ll pay over $2,000 for one of their FoxxxHunter Premium guns. But Cool Cal Eber out in Portland sent a FoxxxxHunter Premium over to his contact in China, Mr. Har Lee, and he found a factory that can make it for $560, retail. They can even replicate the beautiful walnut stock for that price, which isn’t surprising since Fussybritches buys their stocks from them already! The only thing is that Factory 12 cannot get the correct seal material for the valve seats and o-rings. Also, the metal finish isn’t quite as nice, and there are divots in the wood stock — only some of which are filled with putty. The Chinese guns are known to leak down over time, and the stocks are often filled with blank spots that are wood putty over holes.
But Cool Cal isn’t worried. He says, “Anyone who wants to save that much on an air rifle has got to expect to do some work on their own.” The problem is that Bob Sixpack bought one thinking he was getting a heck of a deal by cutting out the middleman, only to discover what the term support really means. Now, he has a rifle that doesn’t hold air, and Bob is no mechanic.
Mammoth Air, Incorporated makes some of the best airguns for the money. But Mammoth has expanded their production capacity to the limit. They run 2 shifts a day, 6 days a week, with factory maintenance, cleaning and machine repairs accounting for the additional time. The cost to build another 50,000 square-foot factory building (which is the cheapest structure per square foot they can build and still get all the power, OSHA, floor loading, cooling, waste removal and additional requirements met) is $7,500,000. Then, there’s the additional workforce needed to staff the extra capacity, plus the machinery to fill the building.
Mammoth has 27 fabrication centers and 3 process lines in their current 350,000 square-foot plant, which all need upgrading. Their CNC machines are 14 years old and have reached the end of their expansion limits. They can continue to do what they’ve been doing for many years, but they can’t make more parts, nor can they do many of the complex operations that Mammoth would like to take advantage of.
New machinery and upgrades to the existing plant have been estimated at $43,000,000 over the next 7 years. Mammoth is doing great right now, but there isn’t enough money in the budget to build the new plant, to say nothing of tooling it and still upgrade the current production capability. And the additional workforce has to be factored in, including the cost to train and maintain them, as well as the loss of productivity over the period they’re introduced into the current workforce.
So, Mammoth has been looking outside their plant for additional production capacity. They don’t want to do it, and their customers hate it when they learn some products aren’t really made in the Mammoth plant, but what can they do? They can phase out older products that don’t bring in the revenue they used to; but when they do that, the diehard supporters of those traditional products go on the warpath — claiming Mammoth is loosing sight of their heritage.
Mammoth appears to be a giant, and it really is. But what you don’t see is that the giant is spinning 30,000 plates at the same time over a concrete floor!
Instant Airguns is just the reverse of Mammoth. They’re small and light on their feet. They can make changes fast, but what they can’t do are some of the more exotic steps to make their own parts. I will choose just one — barrel making. Making barrels is a specialty trade, much the same as optics. It takes a huge investment in both machinery as well as skilled people to make good barrels. Sure, one craftsman can hand-rifle 120 good barrels in a year and still do the other things needed to make airguns. But Instant Airguns makes over 7,000 top-quality airguns each year. They make most of their guns, but the barrels they buy for the reasons mentioned.
Let’s say you’re a well-known barrel maker who knows the market. You know that Instant Airguns is renowned for using your barrels. In fact, they tout them in their advertising! So, if you want to charge a little more for your barrels, don’t you think Instant Airguns will pay? Of course they will! If they could make their own barrels they would, but you know it would cost them a bundle just to get started. You’re in a comfortable position. And Instant Airguns customer will just have to settle for periodic price increases.
You’re a medium-sized airgun maker who makes a fine sporting rifle. It’s accurate and beautiful, but you take a lot of criticism because your triggers are creepy. The reason they are is that you’re drilling the pinholes on a drill press with an indexing bed fixture to hold the receivers. The best tolerance you can hold that way is a maximum of 0.005 inches in the plus dimension between all the pinholes. To accommodate the variation in the pinholes, you have to drill the holes larger than the pins. There’s a 6-axis CNC machine that could hold the tolerance to +/- 0.0005 inches, but it costs $450,000, and you just don’t have the money.
A number of disgruntled customers have reamed the pinholes of their triggers and installed larger diameter pins. They berate you on the chat forums for being too stupid to realize this is the simple solution. What they fail to understand is that hand-reaming adds a half-hour to the build time and approximately $130 to the retail cost. It seems easy to them to do one rifle this way, but it’s a killer to do 340 of them in each 8-hour shift. And it would kill about 80 percent of your sales to charge that much more for your gun.
The list goes on and on. When I meet with industry executives, owners and engineers, they tell me my blog reports like this one read like the history of their company. But no matter what they do, they can’t get most of their customers to understand these problems. And perhaps they shouldn’t even try. This is business, pure and simple. It’s their responsibility to wade through the jungle of problems and wind up with a great product.
But just for today, I thought you’d like a look at the other side of producing airguns.