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Accessories Some scope fundamentals: Part 1

Some scope fundamentals: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

I’ve noticed that a lot of you are responding positively to the fundamentals that have come out in some of the recent reports, so I thought I would do a few more important ones for you, starting with scopes. This will be a series of bite-sized reports.

My experience shooting the Conquest with a 4x scope at 50 yards last week and getting great groups prompts me to want to share a number of scope evaluation tips with you. And, as always, I expect the comments from our readers are going to be even more interesting than the reports.

What magnification (power) to choose?
Starting with the Conquest accuracy test, it’s obvious that you don’t need a lot of magnification to shoot well. I normally use more than just 4x for a gun as accurate as the Conquest, but not on all rifles. As a scope increases in power, it also gets longer and heavier, so a compromise between power and size is usually best.

I have some 3-9x scopes that have unusually clear optics and thin reticles that I enjoy using. Of all of them, the one I like the best is not marked in any way. I think it’s a Leapers, but there are no identifying marks that reveal who the manufacturer is. The optics are clear and the crosshair is thin and sharp. This is often my go-to scope to use for a quick test.

My favorite power combination is probably a 4-16x. I find it packs the most power into a convenient package without the scope becoming too long and heavy. Given today’s optics, a good 4-16x isn’t much longer than a 3-9x from a decade ago.

But you don’t need even 16x to shoot accurately. That is what the new airgunner must understand. I have a .250 Savage centerfire rifle that shoots 10-shot groups smaller than one inch at 100 yards nearly every time. The scope on that rifle is a vintage all-steel Weaver V9 W, which means it is a 3-9x variable that has a wide field of view. The objective lens is only 32mm, so it isn’t as bright as some modern scopes, but it has a super-fine reticle with a tiny dot at the intersection of the crosshairs. If I ever find another scope like this at a gun show, I am prepared to buy it because the combination of power, optical clarity and crosshair size is ideal for this rifle. I use this rifle for prairie dog-sized targets out to 300 yards. That’s good enough for me.

Another rifle that shoots small groups is a custom No. 5 SMLE that I’ve converted to .219 Donaldson Wasp. The scope on this one is another one that’s vintage and all-steel — a Redfield 2-7x variable with what appears to be a 28mm or 30mm objective. The crosshairs are even finer than those of the vintage Weaver, and the dot at the intersection is also smaller. This rifle should be good for prairie dogs out to 300 yards, as well, but I feel the power of the scope limits the range to 250 yards for targets so small. Coyotes to 300 yards are possible because they’re much larger. So, I’m saying that a 7x scope works well at 250 to 300 yards, but the maximum effective distance depends on the target — at least for me.

It might be an ugly rifle, but this .219 Donaldson Wasp can shoot. It has a custom Shaw barrel of my own design with a faster twist. And the little Redfield scope is plenty good for what I want to do.

Going the other way, I absolutely love Leapers’ line of long eye relief scopes that produce 1.5-4x. These scopes may not make the target appear large, but they can’t be beat for clarity. For value, I don’t think the Leapers 1.25-4×24 long eye relief scope with the one-inch tube has any equal. It’s currently priced at only $85, which is very little for such a great sight. It would be ideal on big bore airguns of all kinds, as well as powerful springers that won’t be shot past 50 yards — rifles like the Beeman R1 in .22 caliber, for example. Yes, the parallax is set at 100 yards, but I have found that when the magnification is this low, it doesn’t matter where the parallax is set. This scope would be ideal on a New England Firearms (NEF) single-shot rifle in .45 Colt or .44 Magnum or on any small carbine in a pistol caliber.

What about more powerful scopes?
There are a FEW applications for the scopes with power up to 32x and more. Field target competition is one such game — not because of the additional aiming precision, but because that extra power helps you resolve small objects out at 55 yards, so you can determine ranges with the parallax adjustment more precisely. When you can focus on very small objects at long distances, the scope helps to determine the range to them. And long-range target shooting is another time when a higher-powered scope is needed. When you’re going for the absolute best group that can be fired from a gun, the scope must be powerful enough to reduce the aiming error to the smallest fraction of an inch.

Talk all you want about big scopes. Try carrying around one like this for a couple hours! A Daystate Harrier is dwarfed by this monster Tasco Custom Shop 8-40×56.

HOWEVER — and this is the whole point of this discussion — it doesn’t take the Hubble Space Telescope to shoot good groups at 50 yards. As you clearly saw in my report on the Conquest, I did it with only 4x. Consider that when thinking of your next scope. You can have a handy package that carries easily and handles rapidly or you can mount the biggest bragging-rights scope money can buy on your air rifle and then suffer for it.

Clarity goes hand-in-hand with accuracy when using a scope. In fact, I think clarity is the single most important attribute a scope sight can have. There are technical means of determining relative clarity in scopes. The most common one is determining how many line pairs the scope can resolve in a standard test. Clarity is actually a statement of the scope’s ability to resolve an image. When we say clarity, we mean resolution.

I am not an optical engineer, nor am I qualified to discuss how scopes are tested. And the subject is so technical that even if I could discuss it, not everyone would understand what I was saying. I’m going to reduce the resolution/clarity question to something we can all understand.

I have a simple test I use to subjectively determine the relative clarity of a scope. All I do is point the scope at the roof of my neighbor’s house about 25 yards distant and look at the shingles. If the shingles appear sharp, with the vertical joints well-defined and the abrasive particles standing out clearly, I know the scope is clear. If any of the image is muddy, even after the scope is adjusted for that range, I know the scope is not as clear as I would like it to be.

I developed this test a couple years back when I pitted a Hawke scope against a Leapers scope of the same power and specifications. Until that test I thought nothing affordable could ever beat a Leapers scope; but in that test, the Hawke scope emerged as the clearer sight. It was also more expensive, but it didn’t cost twice what the Leapers did, as I remember. The shingle test is a good one for any scope you intend using for target shooting or hunting, as nothing in the field will exceed the fineness of the image the shingles can give.

If you don’t have access to shingles, anything with a fine grain will work just as well. Old wooden fences are another way of testing the resolution of your scope. Just be sure to always test every scope at the same distance and using the same object, and your test will soon become very refined.

When you buy a scope, you usually can’t perform the test I just described. You have to take someone’s word on the clarity. But I have a couple tips about that.

1. Multi-coated optics on inexpensive scopes are usually not as clear as single-coated lenses. Leapers has used a single coating of emerald for as long as I’ve known them, which is why they’re as clear as they are at such a low price. You might give up something else with single-coated optics, such as five minutes hunting time in the morning and evening, but that depends on what kind of coating it is.

This deserves an explanation. While multi-coatings can be applied to make optics perform their best, the hype of multi-coating is too powerful to be overlooked by the marketing departments of many manufacturers. Therefore, the cheap scopes are multi-coated without regard to light transmission or any other enhancements. As a result, these multi-coated optics are much like airguns that shoot over 1,000 fps — lots of hype but you’re giving up accuracy. On the other hand, expensive multi-coated optics deliver superior performance.

2. The objective size doesn’t matter as much as you think. You don’t always need the 56mm objective to see clearly. The quality of the lens material and the optical coating(s) matter more than the objective size.

3. A 30mm scope tube will be noticeably clearer than a one-inch tube, if all else is equal.

4. You can live with a lower-power scope if it’s also clear, but a high-power scope that doesn’t focus or is unclear is the worst headache imaginable.

The bottom line
Considering just these two subjects — power and clarity — shop for a lower-power scope with a 30mm scope tube and a single lens coating. From what I saw in the Leapers booth at this year’s SHOT Show, there will soon be a flood of very clear scopes at good prices (but not cheap!) hitting the market this year.

Stop shopping for scopes by price, alone, and then condemning your rifles, pellets and the entire hobby of airgunning when things don’t work out! Most cheap scopes are cheap for a good reason. I understand trying to buy the best scope you can afford, but stop focusing on the price so much.

Cheap scopes aren’t usually that much worse than more expensive scopes. I say “usually” because I’ve seen a couple brands that can be counted on to be bad. But cheap scopes don’t pass through the quality controls that most of the more expensive scopes do. You’re far more likely to end up with a lemon if you buy the rock-bottom scope.

And this final tip is worth the price of this entire blog: Most combos (rifle and scope for one price) that are put together by manufacturers are put together by their marketing departments to get rid of the cheap scopes nobody will buy! However, when a combo is put together by a dealer, that usually isn’t the case. Pyramyd AIR has put some very decent scopes on some of their combos because they realize their customers really care which scope comes with the gun. The more the combo costs, the better the scope will probably be.

But watch out for those manufacturer combos!

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

68 thoughts on “Some scope fundamentals: Part 1”

  1. You, Sir, are a rifle crank of the first order.

    I don’t like variable scopes myself, that many more parts to go wrong. I wonder how many people just “park” them on 6X or 10X and leave ’em there?

    • Long ago I had a Winchester 52, 52B I think? C? With a big ol’ Unertl 20X on it, for “p-dogs” and it accounted for quite a few. But it was a bear to carry around, so I sold that setup and got a Remington 541-T with the heavy barrel, and ordered a 12X Leupold and put that on it, and it would make 99% of the shots the Winchester did, but much easier to carry around.

      This was back in the days when this stuff could be bought at the local drug/sporting goods store, and by sporting goods is meant … hunting goods. I think the scope and rifle may have been about $300 each, and I don’t remember the money being a hardship, or the money for gas for my friend and I to go out to the p-dog grounds in his fullsize SUV.

      You can get all kinds of fixed power scopes if you order them, but they do cost a little.

      (My definition of “all kinds” = Leupold)

  2. G’day BB,
    I noticed on the Conquest you probably have a set of BKL Cantilever 1 5/8″ base mounts. I have ordered one of these for my 1.25-4 X 24 Trijicon and will machine 75 thou off the base to fit it in front of the magazine. Will this still be secure?
    The long eye relief of this scope (5-6″) makes it very difficult to mount on the Monsoon with a LOP of 13″. I would like to practise with 2 eyes and the illuminated reticule seen by the left eye on the target. Have you tried this and what is your opinion?
    BTW what does the rest of forend look like on the SMLE MkV?
    Cheers Bob

  3. I am in the market for a new scope and would be very interested in knowing what brands to stay away from, especially since my wallet precludes me from getting the ones I would truly prefer.

    One little tidbit I will share with others about compact high power scopes. They may be fine at the center where the crosshair is, but toward the edge they tend to be blurry. That is why I am in the market for a new scope.

    • RidgeRunner,

      Two years ago I would have answered BSA scope as the brand to avoid without hesitation, but lately I have seen some very good scopes with their brand on the outside. And I have seen some Bushnells that are stinkers, despite that brand being the Leapers of the 1980s.

      Nearly all scopes are made in China, and the ones that are affordable all are made there. I still maintain that Leapers and Centerpoint that Leapers makes are the best general value in scopes. But don’t buy the lower-priced models. Buy the upscale models that cost around $100 and more and you’ll get all the plusses that the company puts into their optics.


      • B.B.,
        I bought a couple BSA scopes for my Ruger 10/22 Target model and the Savage in .270. Love those scopes! But so far, my favorite scope is a Leapers 4-16×50 with side-wheel. That scope sits on my Marauder, and was in the $150 range discounted.

        I have different types of scopes to match the rifles they sit on. A key criteria for me is the accuracy of the gun.

  4. I am primarily a hunter so what I like and dislike in a scope is driven by this (I think).

    Depends on what I am doing. I sometimes park a scope on 4x, and other times on 8x. 4x gives me the clearest picture through the widest range of distances. I like it this way a lot of the time when I have no idea what distance I will be taking a shot.
    I find that 8x is better when I need to be careful of bird species identity and watching out for those little twigs that always seem to get in the way of the pellet. Field of view is still fairly easy to live with.

    I like clean optics and a medium crosshair. Too fine of a crosshair is a problem in low light, and can be a distraction in good light…..too much aiming precision when you don’t need it.
    A heavy crosshair seems better for big game hunting in poor light. Easier too see in poor light, and not as much precision required. Of course, this is based on my part of the country. I do what seems most practical for me.

    Read those last two sentences again.


  5. O.K.

    Now the rant…
    I will never buy another China-Mart scope again. AAAAANNNNNDDDD…… the manufacturers who “package deal” the guns and scopes can stuff them where the sun don’t shine.


  6. And a related topic…

    Rings and/or mounts…or whatever you want to call them…

    Ignoring things like quality problems that twist scopes or point the scope in the wrong direction….or won’t hold a scope securely under recoil…..or won’t allow the scope to be positioned right for eye relief….

    Ring height is an issue for me. Not just for objective lense clearance, but for eye position in height.
    It is so much easier to shoot a rifle when the scope naturally lines up with your eye when you try to sight the rifle.
    An example….
    With medium rings, if I pick up one of my R9s and shoulder it with my eyes closed, then open my eyes I am looking through the top of the scope. I have to adjust my head position to use the scope. I consider this a handicap. With high rings, I am looking right through the middle of the scope. So much easier.


      • Good joke Ken. Makes me wonder how many have taken their scope back because it seemed to be backwards (I bet a few have).

        Maybe should be a bit more specific anyway…
        The rings are not machined square to each other. This causes the scope axis to be wrong to the rest of the rifle.


        • twotalon, this is the part where I say, “I knew that! I knew that!
          I am glad you knew I was joking.
          I am so new to this that I am still discovering what works for me and what doesn’t.

          I recently took the Daisy scope that came with my Powerline 1000 (aka hatsan 70), set up at 20 yards, turned the zoom to max, adjusted the objective to get a clear image and sighted the scope for 20 yards.
          How this works other than this remains to be seen.

          I am enjoying the CenterPoint Adventure Class 4-16x40mm AO although I look forward to purchasing a rifle with a Weaver rail and mount the scope with the original rings.
          I will have to work with this for a while before I can fully understand your rant, but I may get there sooner than I expect.

          But,yeah, I think I will prefer to purchase the rifle and optics separately.

          All the best,

          • Ken…
            Watch those China-Mart Centerpoints. I busted two of them. One on the 97K and one on the Titan.
            The recoil jumps the spring in the front of the scope off the narrow shoulder that it sits on, and the spring starts working it’s way down the tube. They are also temperature sensitive. The adjustments get sticky when it gets cold. And it does not have to get very cold either.


        • I also look at scopes from a eastern woods hunters perspective. I like the fixed power scopes too, and not because I think that they can’t make durable varible powered ones. I think that with most airguns the practical hunting range is really about 50 yards max here in the northeast. With common hunting type springers it is more like 35yards. You can get by with a good fixed 6X or 8X on a pest bird gun if there are leaves on the trees. A 4X is plenty for tree squirrels and rabbits. When the leaves fall and there’s snow a receiver sight will get it done and make the gun easier to carry. I have a couple 1-4.5X varibles that stay on 2.5X most of the time. The best varmit scopes I have are a AO 8X Burris , and a 16X Fecker. I’ll pay for bright optics and advanced lens coatings, but if it takes a battery ,you’ve lost me. As for big game, the last 16 deer have all been under 40 yards away, and if you need the light gathering power to get a shot at a deer at the very end of legal shooting light ,you may want to re-examine your objectives. I’ve been on a few after dark hikes after wounded deer shot by folks who pushed that envelope too far. Not fun..

          • We think pretty much alike, and work in similar environments. Suitable and practical.

            I think illuminated reticles are about a waste. They are either too bright or not bright enough except under exacty right conditions. You miss shots because you are fooling around with the on/off/intensity knob. Then you forget to turn it off. The batteries die and start leaking in the scope maybe?

            I do like mil dots, and have started growing fond of the MAP6 of the Hawkes. Was not sure of them at first because there are so few marks and are very close together, but they work pretty good with airguns as long as you are not shooting at extreme ranges.


            • twotalon,

              When I hunted in Germany in the 1970s most of it was done in the morning, just before sunrise. Many times I could see the silhouette of a roe deer against the light-colored crops, but could not make out the details of the body. But my reticle was invisible at that time, so no shot was ever taken. An illuminated reticle would have made a huge difference then.

              But that is the only use I ever had for one.


  7. Hi B.B.,

    I like my rifle optics glass-free as in aperture sights. I just got a product email from Pyramyd AIR about the Bronco Target Special. I have a Bronco and do enjoy it. If I could buy the Target Special sights that would perfect the rifle. Any idea on how to get my mitts on a set of those sights?


      • GSCotty & B.B.,

        The rear sight is this one from Mendoza:

        The front sight risers will be sold separately. They’re just now making the risers available. I’ll let you know when they’re live. You’ll need to buy 4 risers (they’re sold 1 each) to make it work with the Mendoza rear sight.


        • Hi Edith,

          Thanks for getting letting me know about the risers. I had scoped out the Mendoza diopter and was just about to break out the calipers to figure out which diameter of plastic pipe I was going to need to cut up for the spacers based on the pictures attached to the pre-order email. Now all I have to do is wait for the spacers to come into stock and pay the shipping charge for the diopter I was going to buy anyway instead of all of the careful thinking, measuring, sawing, drilling, and sanding!

          I keep my eyes peeled,

    • Thanks for pointing that out, Scott. Those of us who don’t already own Broncos have probably got some ordering to do. Now, if only B.B. hadn’t just utterly convinced me that I needed an FWB 300S with original sights…


  8. I have been preaching this over powered scope thing for years. I competed in 1000 yard BPCR gong shooting for years, I had a 1100 yard range on my property, I used a Montana Vintage arms 6 power on a engraved Sharps Borschardt. To this day, the most powerful scope I own is a 5×15 3200 tactical.

    I shoot out to 260 yards daily now with a Royale 400, the scope is a Leupold VXIII 4.5×14 30 MM with Hollands reticle, the cost is almost as much as the rifle, but the reticle is great for long range.

    I used to tell the elk hunters came to my house each year, that they need to spend as much on their scope as on their rifle.

    PCP are more money than most PB, but a quality scope is still needed.

    • You got that right, and it also can apply to iron sights too. It may seem silly , but I’ve got a Williams FP-TK receiver sight on a QB6 in .22 and that sight costs 1 1/2 times the cost of the gun. No fun if you can’t hit what your looking at. Most of us born before 1960 and shot .22’s as kids remember how the little Weaver .22 D-Series scopes and Japan made Bushnell Custom .22 scopes changed our guns from plinkers to guided missle launchers .

    • Roachcreek,

      You have a leupold with a holland (ART-Advanced Reticle Technology?) reticle?? I’m jealous.

      I stumbled across the ART reticle that Holland does when I was looking at the Leatherwood ART (Auto Ranging Technology).

      I’ve come close to ordering one several times but have always backed off. Pricey but still very tempting for me.


    • Seems the blog has come around 360 degrees.

      I think the first comment on the PyramidAir blog Report on March 31, 2005 was, “how can you try to do your scope accurate and better?” – jonathan herrera

      I’ve looked through a lot of glass for a lot of years. Definition of “good scope” is all about application IMHO. Good scope for what?

      Hunting deer with a powderburner in the thick woods back east?
      Benchrest competitive shooting out to 600 yards?
      Offhand plinking at short ranges with a .22?
      Hunting squirrels in forest shadows?
      Plinking with an inaccurate airgun?
      Shooting FT with a daystate harrier? Do you click or holdover/holdunder (i.e., need mildots)?
      Benchrest shooting out to 200 yards with a pcp?
      Hunting rabbits out to 50 yards with a magnum springer? etc., etc.

      Seems daily that scopes are discussed on airgun forums. Inevitably someone chimes in with “this is the best scope since sliced bread!” Tiring since their application is probably different than mine and usually their criteria is different.

      It’s nice that some scope manufacturers are paying a little attention to airgunners. If you’re listening, make your crosshairs thinner, add mil dots, put AO on all scopes, give us more fixed power scopes with AO, quit putting illumination in/on your scopes since it adds unnecessary weight, makes the crosshairs thick and for these reasons most airgunners that will pay a premium for your scopes don’t want it. Keep illumination on your lower end line of scopes.


  9. I’d like to add one thing.
    Scope levels.
    My quest for long range, low powered shooting led me to install a Hawke 3-9AO scope with BKL 14mm mount this past summer.
    Though I was getting ‘sorta’ .75″ groups (10 shots at 30m) there would always be 1,2 or 3 flyers that would open the group up to 1.25″ or so.
    I was pretty sure I wasn’t canting the gun, but on a number of peoples suggestion (including b.b.’s) I bought and installed a scope mount.
    I was really surprised at the number of times I would set up for shot, ‘sure’ the gun was square when a quick glance at the level would show the bubble at one end or the other of the level.
    I check it everytime now, just before I squeeze the shot off and my flyers have pretty much become a thing of the past.

    • Nice idea that was anticipated in the Stephen Hunter novel, i-sniper. But my question about this and all the other tactical accessories like flashlights and lasers is what happens when the stuff breaks? Our soldiers trained on this equipment will be completely helpless without it.


      • I look at all this technology as just adding more ‘stuff’ to carry, much of it redundant.
        GPS…yup it’s amazing and sooo easy to use.
        Yet every reputable backwoods/military instructor advises to still carry and be conversant with a map and compass.
        So why carry two things to do one job?
        A lot of electronics is like that (in my opinion). There are some things that just need to electrified (even I admit that radio communication is better than semaphore 😉 )
        But some things (and in my opinion compass and map is one of these things) has pretty much been perfected.

        • CSD,

          A friend of mine who was in both Afghanistan and Iraq told me that the hardest thing for them to keep stocked was batteries.

          Electronics are certainly an edge when they’re up and running, and some of the stuff the military has access to now would make it pretty hard for today’s average Joe to hide, but as you said, what happens when they no longer work?

          Technology is wonderful when it works, but a guy better have some real skills to back it up for when it doesn’t. Including being able to find your way home. And, if a guy is carrying less batteries, he can carry more ammo, food and water.


    • shaky,
      Seems to me that too much is being integrated into a single unit. For instance, the camera features should be separated out and integrated through some external interface. The more complicated a system is, the more susceptible to failure it usually is. And 8 hour battery life doesn’t seem practical out in the field. Seems better allocated for very mission specific usage. A more modular design might make the system more flexible in terms of the necessary technologies available for it. They say $1000.00 per unit now, but will that still be the case when ready to ship? In any case, if it helps the good guys, more power to it.

      • Everyone,
        I agree , I remember the green batteries we use to get from supply they were definitely from the low bidder, we would buy our own alkaline s at the PX for our flashlights. I too dislike to many combined functions in one unit in todays throw away society.
        Maybe they could use rechargeables and put charging stations in the Bradleys.
        Then again back in 57 fuel injection was high tech today all the cars I can think of have it, computer controlled at that . When was the last time you changed a set of points?

  10. So, is it still true that one’s scope should be at least half the price of the rifle? 🙂 I understand that the Enfield No. 5 had a “wandering zero” but it looks like this version has been reworked enough to remove any problems like that. As for scope power, David Tubb claims to be able to hold a 30X scope dead still in the offhand position! One other guy claims to use a 33X for standing although it’s certainly not still–very much the contrary. Still, he thinks that the extra magnification is all to the good by the thinking of aim small miss small. So, his sight picture is something like that of a fighter pilot zooming around….

    Generally, I agree about how scope power can be lower than people probably think. The scopes on the Mosin sniper rifles were about 4X and have been described as more of an optical sight than an actual scope. Of course some of their shots were across the street, but some of them were certainly not. Some scope related trivia. One tenth of one millimeter is the limit of the resolving power of the human eye and the threshold (by definition) of the microscopic. Simo Haya, ultimate sniper of all time, who shot 500 people (and another 200 with a machine gun) hit most of his targets at over 400 yards with open sights and in the snowscape of Finland which you would think would make it more difficult!

    Victor, I shoot offhand all the way, some pistol but mostly rifle.

    Duskwight, yes I admire the simplicity of design which, as Victor pointed out, is a hallmark of Russian engineering. I saw that justified recently in a big photo spread about the civilian version of the HK416 which is the piston-operated version of the AR-15 in use by Delta Force and Seal Team 6. It bids fair to be the ultimate AR. And upon examination, the verdict is…. This is a combination of German complexity gone wild compared with the American Defense Department’s desire to gold-plate everything and dirty up basic designs with accessories. It shoots well enough. But it has numbers of complicated devices requiring disassembly with tools. It is extremely heavy at over 8 pounds even with the 5.56 caliber, and it costs something like $4000. Meanwhile the AK soldiers on with deluxe models going for under $1000. By the way, on the subject of the AK-12 you had referenced, I understand that it is unlikely to get issued because Russia has 17 million AK-74s lying around for an army of 1 million! Give me one! Thanks for the links to the Russian sniper rifles. I see there is a great variety there. Most gratifying to see that one of them was indeed a reworked Mosin with not only the original receiver but even the original barrel! So, the rifle is well into its second century in front line service, still going strong.

    Kevin, the commendations for all Medal of Honor winners have been collected together at the U.S. Army Center of Military History online and together they make fascinating reading. What goes on there is superhuman. I do wonder sometimes if these people were even consciously thinking and operating from patriotism. It hardly seems possible. Maybe they were overcome by some berserker state of mind that is talked about in Viking lore and other warrior literature. But whatever it is, it certainly deserves a lot of credit. Yes, the gun restrictions in California and elsewhere are a major hassle, but they also provide an arena for old fashioned American ingenuity. I was making my way through a chart showing the laws surrounding assault rifles and it was baffling and maze-like to the point of hilarity. Between mag lock kits, monsterman grips, and a whole set of paraphernalia, people are digging under, dodging around and leaping over the laws in all sorts of creative ways.

    Chuck, I was intrigued by your description of True magazine with the sunbathing woman. I might have to look that up. I wish you even more joy than that experience! And as we slip into history with marksmanship going by the wayside and the arrival of smart ammo and ranging scopes, there are indeed some compensations. I was roaming through classic rock which is a favorite genre of mine and came across this little gem.

    I’m like uh RUBber ball
    That is BOUNCing ba hack to YOU.

    (Chorus sings: bouncy bouncy, bouncy bouncy)



    • Matt61,
      First off, we want to reduce the amount of motion that we see while aiming. For this, we want to find our “natural point of aim”. That’s the condition where our aim is perfectly and naturally aligned with the bull. In other words, there’s no natural tendency for our bodies to pull our aim off away from the center of the target. In other words, we want to fix the tendency for our aim to be pulled off to the left or right.
      Secondly, want to focus on our sight alignment, and not the target. Our sight alignment is almost entirely a function of our control over what happens at the front of the gun, so we’re primarily looking at the front sight, but it has to align perfectly with the rear sight. In the case of your target rifle, you’re forming perfect concentric circles. In the case of pistol, your target is seen peripherally. Look at the sights and NOT the target.
      Thirdly, we want to execute the perfect shot execution, which is to deliberately squeeze the trigger such that our perfect sight alignment is not disturbed. It’s critical that we not react to our wobble area such that it we lose concentration and fail at perfect shot execution, including jerking and twisting to try to “catch” the target.
      Lastly, we want to follow-through. The shot is NOT over until at least a few seconds after you’re squeezed the trigger. We have a natural tendency to relax, or want to rest, before we’re completely done with shot execution. Follow-through also helps us determine if there are errors in our natural point of aim. After the shot is over, are we still aiming dead center?

      You were describing motion, and how to effectively catch the shot. That’s fine, provided you use good technique as described above. When there is a lot of motion, as with the offhand position, we do sometimes want to time our shot execution with that motion. The better you’re natural point of aim, the less motion. If you have to time your shots, then you have to be more “deliberate” about squeezing the trigger (THIS IS NOT AN EXCEPTION TO NOT SQUEEZING THE TRIGGER).

      For me, a lot of motion originates at my feet, so you have to experiment a great deal with your footing, and even the types of shoes that you’re wearing.

      Write me at vector@collector.org if you want to discuss this in more detail.


      • Guest blog? Please…
        Having echanged a few emails with you I know you can write pretty well if you are willing to share and more than 2 of us are interested.
        I still remember the one BB did on pistol shooting telling us to move our feet instead of moving your arm to “lock” you body I was amased when I tried it.


        • J-F,
          Do you remember, more or less, when B.B. wrote that blog?
          I’d love to do a blog on this, but it will have to wait until I’m able to move about freely on my own. Haven’t shot an airgun in over 9 months. I can’t even move out to my own backyard without some help. A bit frustrating, to say the least.

          • Here is a link to part 4 of the story, the feet placement thing was in part 1 or part 2.
            Really sorry to hear about your mobility problems, I wasn’t asking for guest blog next week.
            It’s an IF you want and WHEN you want and when you’ll be able to do it. Don’t rush things out, take you time, your health is more important that any blog article you could write or rifle you could shoot. Healing takes time. I know it’s not fun to just sit there and not being able to do much, you literally feel like a lion in cage going around in circles.


  11. Desertsweller,

    Sorry, but I’m not much in automotive oil types and markings. The one I use was taken from a posh Castrol can marked “full synthetic”, I borrowed one from a deluxe car shop. There are usually somewhat 20-30 cu cm left in every can.


  12. BB (and others),

    I haven’t posted in a while – been real busy so I’ve been reading and lurking more than being an active member of late. But this was perfect timing for me, as I’m getting ready to order a new scope form PA to sit atop my .22 Marauder. I’m pretty much set on on 4-16 class scope, and am floating between the 4-16 x 44 Leapers and the beautiful (and much more expensive) 4.5-14 x 42 Hawke. I don’t see much need to get into the 50 and 56mm objectives, although they do give a wider exit pupil at the max power.

    I currently have the older 3-12 x 44 Leapers full size SWAT, and while I like it well enough, I don’t really trust it to last long term as it sat on Quest 800 for a few thousand rounds. As long as I want to replace it, I figure I’ll grab a little more power/resolution for my 50 yard benchrest work, but I don’t want the bottom end to go much over 4x due to pesting needs in the yard.

    What I’m really interested in hearing your opinion on is the fineness of the crosshairs. It seems the new IR scopes all have coarser lines, and I could care less about having IR. Any thoughts or other suggestions?

    Alan in MI

    • Alan,
      I don’t use the IR on any of my scopes that have that feature, as I’ve not found any benefit to them when I did test them. Maybe I’ve not tested them under conditions for which they are suppose to be of benefit. I, personally, would rather have finer cross-hairs. So if I could pick between models with, or without IR, I’d pick without. Just my preference. Maybe they make perfect sense for someone who does hunting under low light conditions (very early, or very late) when their prey are out.

      • Thanks, Victor.
        I agree. I checked to make sure the IR worked when I got my 3-12 Leapers, and played with it a bit at dusk that nght, but then took the battery out and it has never been back in again. Not much value for 99% of us 99% of the time. It must a be a 1% thing 😉

        Any thought on a fine set of crosshairs in around a 4-16 x 42ish scope? The $420 for the Hawke is already a stretch, so I don’t want to go much above that . . . .

        Alan in MI

        • Alan,
          It sounds like B.B.’s recommendation is a good one, although a tad expensive. That’s an entirely personal thing. When I bought my 4-16 Leapers with side wheel (which I absolutely love), I happened to find an older model that didn’t have IR. It turned out to be a lot cheaper. Mine has a large objective lens, which you apparently don’t want, so I can’t recommend anything specific.

          Find a model that you think fits the bill, and allow yourself to push the limits of your budget. If it has IR, then do some homework and see if you can find an older model without IR. That might help bring the price down, and give you exactly what you need.

          One last thing. Because you want this new scope specifically for your Marauder, you don’t have to be so concerned about whether or not it can handle the shock of a high powered springer. That detail may open up your selection. However, I must say that my Leapers has worked without fail on ALL of my springer’s, no matter the power.


    • Alan,

      Leapers 4-16 is one of their finest scopes to date. It is clear, sharp and the reticle is reasonably fine. But if you do a side by side comparison, the Hawke is sharper, brighter and the reticle is finer.

      I use both scopes and think the Leapers is fine for all applications, but the Hawke is over the top.


    • Hi, Alan. Good to hear from you! The Leapers lineup is a bit of a tease at the moment. In my limited experience, their etched glass reticles are VERY nice: sharp, clear, and pretty fine, but not so fine that you have trouble finding the reticle against the background.

      Thing is, only a couple of their scopes currently have the etched glass reticles. One is the 4-16×56, but as you suggest, that’s one big honker of an objective. I use an overgrown 56mm scope on my Marauder in deference to Field Target, but I would flee to a MUCH smaller objective if it weren’t for the FT angle. The 56mm in high mounts makes for a poor cheek (read: chin) weld with the factory mrod stock. I also have the Leapers 4-16x50AO; like it very much, no complaints from this non-scope-snob about the non-etched reticle, but the 50mm is still awfully big.

      I’m engaging in hearsay here, with zero first-hand experience, but our own Kevin has spoken very kindly about the Burris Timberline 4.5X-14X-32mm scope. I intend to try one of these soon. I hear that it’s very lightweight and compact, with very good optics, though its long eye relief is perhaps not for everyone, and/or not a good fit for every rifle. Sorry. I hate it when folks chime in on things they have no direct experience with, and I usually avoid doing it. But I figure if Kevin said it, you can take it to the bank, and maybe even pass it along second-hand!


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