Introduction to field target – Part 8 The scopes – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1 – How it all began
Part 2 – Targets
Part 3 – Targets – Part 2
Part 4 – Squads
Part 5 – The spring guns
Part 6 – The precharged guns
Part 7 – Scopes – Part 1

Let’s explore what to look for in a field target scope. Yesterday, I had a question from airdog, who asked, “How good a scope do you have to have to expect a level of consistency in elevation adjustment that is appropriate for FT? I’ve only used relatively cheap scopes out to 20 yds, and I know I need to do more field work at varying distances, but before I buy a $200 scope I’d like to know whether that still won’t be entirely consistent.”

Well, that’s really at the heart of what I want to say today. What does a good FT scope look like?

You learned yesterday that magnification is important if you want to determine range. However, in a less expensive scope, you can easily get so much magnification that the cheap optics can not use it all. My Tasco Custom Shop 8-40x goes dark after 30x, so I’m wasting that final 10x. In contrast, a Leapers 8-32×56 is MUCH brighter than the Tasco and can use all of its 32x power.

It’s not Tasco’s fault that their scope is dark. It’s actually a Hakko scope made around 1996, and it has the best lens coating of that time ($600-800 retail price range, that is). Leapers has invested far more time and money on lens coatings, with the result that their 2007 scope will be brighter than almost everything made in the mid-90s.

My Bushnell Trophy 6-18×40 dates to around 1997, while one made by the same brand today would be brighter. Lens coatings have advanced that rapidly. So, buy a scope that has enough power and a good enough lens coating that it will be bright enough to use for field target.

“Yeah,” you say, “but how do I KNOW which ones are better?”

Here’s a clue…to the cheaper scopes, anyway.

I have told you before that scopes that do not adjust down to at least 10 yards are made by companies who haven’t got a clue how their scopes will be used. It’s either 10 yards (or less) or nothing. A scope that only adjusts to 20 yards is screaming at you, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be!” Someday everyone making scopes will figure it out, and you’ll have to look for other clues. Right now, this is a big red flag.

A reliable adjustment mechanism
This was airdog’s real question, and it’s a good one. Does the scope have a reliable adjustment mechanism? Here’s a story about that. In 2000, I was talking to technical representatives from the Burris Company in their booth at the SHOT Show, and I asked if their adjustment mechanism could withstand adjustment on every shot.

“Well, no!” they replied. “We didn’t design them for that. Why would anyone want to do that?” We were talking about their big new 8-32x scope that I touted so high yesterday, and the men who designed it didn’t know that the people who used it adjusted the vertical mechanism at least after every other shot! That’s funny!

I explained to them how their scope was being used and they just stared at me. Finally, one of their salesmen tried to steer me away from that topic by pointing out some other design features the scope had. I don’t know whether I got through to them or not, but their scope seems to take the adjusting, nevertheless!

That puts me in mind of the Leupold booth that same year where I asked if their scopes could withstand the recoil of a Beeman Kodiak. We played 20 questions until they ran me off by saying they don’t make scopes for airguns. Two years later, however, they knew exactly what I was talking about and were able to tell me the models not to use on the Kodiak (the Vari X II series). A year later, I was informed that anything with an Extended Focus Range (EFR) was rated for magnum airguns.

What I’m telling you is that this has been a learning process for the scope makers, as much as it has been for airgunners. Today, most of them know their stuff, and a few, like Leapers, are now building super-tough scopes (the TS platform) that are made to take the recoil/vibration punishment. PLUS have repeatable windage and elevation adjustments that can take it. Just because a company doesn’t stick its neck out like Leapers has doesn’t mean their scopes aren’t up to par. But, if their scopes focus down to only 20 yards, they haven’t gotten the message, yet, and I would avoid using scopes made by that company for field target.

You don’t HAVE to adjust
Many shooters zero their scopes for one range (usually 20 and 30 yards – I hope you all remember about the two points of intersection) and hold their reticle higher for shots that are closer or farther away. This is called the holdover method, and you don’t need as much magnification to use it. I’ve seen a shooter shoot an entire match on six power. He did okay, too, but he didn’t expect to win. The holdover method is too imprecise to win a match, but I have shot 45 out of 60 with it. If you use that method, it helps to have a card of where to aim, based on range. These cards are taped to the buttstock of the rifle. I used the holdover method when I shot a TX200 with a Bushnell Trophy 6-18×40.

Forget the fads
You don’t need an illuminated reticle, and you don’t need a mil-dot reticle; however, I’ve used both in FT matches. If that’s what you have – use it! Don’t pay extra just to buy one.

So, there are some pointers on field target scopes. The best scopes will cost over $500, but you can do pretty good with a Leapers 8-32×56 for less than half that.

19 thoughts on “Introduction to field target – Part 8 The scopes – Part 2”

  1. Here’s an interesting question for all. Let’s say Pyramyd Air could begin carrying one and only one of the following import product lines: Daystate, Theoben or FX. Which would you be most interested/excited about?

  2. Hi,

    BB mentioned that air rifle will have to be 12 ft-lb or less starting 2008 in international competition. Does anybody know how I can get a copy of the International Field Target rules?


  3. Off topic – I found this on the pyramydair description for the .22 cal CFX:

    “Our airgun techs tested this rifle and found that the .22 is a bit more powerful than advertised! With Crosman Premier pellets, they consistently got 800-845 fps. After about 20 shots, it stabilized at 830 fps!”

    This sounds a bit optimistic – that’s stronger than an RWS48. Do you know anything about these numbers???

  4. Joe,

    There are no international field target rules that I know of, yet. Until recently, the rules of the host nation prevailed, but the rules are almost carbon copies from one country to another. Only the energy has been up for grabs.

    The AAFTA ruiles will suffice.


  5. BB, yes, it does sound high – the powerplant in the CFX is essentially the same as in virtually all the “1000fps” Gamo’s (Shadow, the old 220 and 440 series, etc.). 830fps in .22 is almost 22ft-lbs.

    I hope they are not measuring diesel shots, but I don’t think there’s any other way of getting that sort of velocity out of a .22 CFX.

  6. I hope the scope makers keep learing new tricks. How about a scope that does not use most of it’s focus range between 50 yds and infinity? No need to focus that far…well, maybe to 80 yds. How about making the focus wheel go a turn & a half, for finer resolution? These changes would help out for FT.

  7. focus
    to do that you would have to turn many times for each yard in the closer setting. once the scope is out past it infinity mark everything will be in focus. i think. that the way camera lenses work.

    Nate in Mass

  8. B.B.

    Off topic, but you may have some inside knowledge.

    Several online airgun dealers are advertising 25 caliber Condors which prompts several questions.

    Are the barrels sourced by Airforce (via Walther) or is it a third party modification?

    Are/will they be available from Pyramyd?

    Would the 25 cal barrel be a drop in installation for a Talon, or are other new components required?(eg valve cover, heavier hammer, ….)

    I’m don’t desire a Condor, but would be very interested in a 25 cal barrel for my Talon.


  9. So then My leapers 4-16×56 30mm scope isn’t good enough for field target? 🙁 I should have waited for that 8-32×56. The reason I ask is because I am really interested in either a talon ss or a tx200 this Christmas

    boo hoo,

    Robert 1250

  10. Airhog offers a converted Condor in .25 caliber. It has a Lothar Walther barrel.

    As far as I know, AirForce has no plans to bring out a .25 of their own. I don’t know of any plans Pyramyd Air has of selling a non-AirForce rifle or barrel conversion.

    As for the possibility of buying just the barrel, contact Airhog. though I think they are pretty busy making whole rifles.


  11. Hey BB

    Do you know if Centerpoint Scopes are made by leapers? I looked at crosman tac 22 at a Bass pro shops and noticed the adjustment knob for the illuminated reticle was identical (in the ten intensity markings) to the nob on my leapers 3-9X50.

    Thanks, Kyle.

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