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Education / Training › Some scope fundamentals: Part 2

Some scope fundamentals: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This is one of the most popular reports I’ve done in a long time. That may be because scopes can be very cantankerous to deal with — hard to mount, difficult to zero, always seem to shift their zero, etc. Today, I’ll address some of the problems you can have and some ways to minimize them.

Scopes should work — no?
To the non-shooter, the telescopic sight seems like a guarantee of accuracy. We’ve all seen the movies. Put the crosshairs on the target, squeeze the trigger and you can’t miss.

Then, you try it for the first time, and you notice that you can’t keep the scope’s reticle (crosshairs) steady. As long as you hold the rifle, no matter what you do, the crosshairs move. Each beat of your heart makes them jump a little. Each breath you take in can move the scope or at least tilt it. You can minimize these movements through training, but nobody can eliminate them entirely. That’s why I shoot from a rest so often. But sometimes that doesn’t work — especially with spring-piston airguns. You have to learn the artillery hold; and since that technique goes well beyond what many people think, I’ll explain it more fully here.

Relax for a neutral hold
The artillery hold is really just a way to get you to follow through, but there’s more to it. An important part of the hold is how you are at the instant the gun fires. You have to be completely relaxed, so the gun doesn’t recoil back and encounter an off-center obstruction that shifts the muzzle in a certain direction.

Here’s how to achieve this relaxed state. After putting the crosshairs on your target, take a breath and expel most of it. Try to relax as you do this. The crosshairs will usually move off the target in a certain direction. If you had fired before relaxing, the pellet would have gone off target in the same direction the crosshairs just did. Maybe it wouldn’t have gone quite as far as the crosshairs seemed to, but it would have moved in the same direction. The result is a larger group.

Let’s try again. This time, after you relax, move the crosshairs back on target by shifting the gun or your hands slightly. It doesn’t take much.

Once you’re back on target, take a deep breath, close your eyes, let out most of the air and relax again. Now, open your eyes and see where the crosshairs are. They probably moved again, only this time they didn’t move so far. Shift things to get back on target again and repeat this procedure.

You may have to repeat this procedure several times before the crosshairs are still on target when you open your eyes. When they are, you can take the shot — making sure that you allow the gun to recoil and move as much as it wants to. This time, the shot should feel very different than it normally does. It should feel neutral — as though you’re no longer connected to the gun. That’s the feeling of a perfectly neutral shot and one that will group as tightly as the gun is capable of — if you can repeat the process several times.

What does this have to do with scopes? Everything! This is the only way to shoot a recoiling airgun with any accuracy; and until you can do that, you’ll never have much success with a scope.

With most firearms, except .22 rimfires, the hold isn’t nearly as important for accuracy because the bullet is out of the gun before all the movement takes place. But with airguns, and especially spring-piston airguns, the pellet hasn’t started to move before the gun does. Only a .22 rimfire is similar, and even they’re much more forgiving than most airguns.

However, you do need to know that all firearms are affected by hold, as well. Even centerfires that shoot in excess of 3,000 f.p.s. will benefit from the hold I’ve described here, but the amount of accuracy increase is so small that it’s only of interest to target shooters and long-range varmint hunters. The average shooter won’t normally notice the difference between a 1-inch group and a 1.25-inch group at 100 yards. Or if they do, they won’t care. I’ve heard that from so many shooters at my rifle range over the years that I know it’s true.

Now you’re ready
If you can learn how to neutralize your rested hold using the process I just described, you’ll see an immediate increase in accuracy from your scoped guns. Then, you’re ready to discuss scope fundamentals!

Temperature is critical
We don’t appreciate how sensitive a modern telescopic sight can be. I don’t mean fragile, either — I mean sensitive. Every change in temperature changes the point of impact of your scope a little. No scope is immune to this phenomenon, yet most shooters act as if once the scope is zeroed it stays zeroed.

Field target shooters know different. I’ve seen a field target scope with three different sets of click values on the elevation knob, each color-coded to a 20-degree temperature range. The shooter who owned that scope took the time to not only figure out all the elevation click values for every yard between 10 and 55 — he did it three separate times when the temperature was in three different ranges! That’s something Hollywood will never show you.

The optical elements inside a scope are refracting light to the millionths of an inch. When they move in relation to one another — because the metal tubes that hold them expand and contract from changes in temperature, the light beams do move. The movement is very slight, but it can and sometimes does change where the images appear. The point of aim changes.

There are many other reasons for a shift in the point of aim, but temperature is a constant one that must always be taken into account. If you’re looking for the way to prevent such changes, I’m sorry to disappoint you. There’s no solution to cancel the effect of temperature changes on a telescopic sight. But if you know it will happen you can at least anticipate it and adjust your scope when the time comes.

There are so many different kinds of scope reticles that it would take a book to cover them all. And most of the highly specialized ones are for specific purposes, such as the ballistics of a single military round, so they have no place in a general discussion. I’ll address hree general types of reticles found on most scopes. If I miss something, you can bring it up in the comments.

The oldest type of reticle is the plain “crosshair,” which is two straight lines — one vertical and the other horizontal. In some scopes, these lines actually appear to move as the scope is adjusted, but that’s getting pretty rare today. More often, the crosshairs remain in place in the center of the image and the adjustments move the whole image, so you don’t notice anything.

The plain crosshair is the oldest type of reticle. This image shows thick reticle lines, but they can be much thinner for greater aiming precision.

Often a very thin reticle can be difficult to see against a background, so there will be a small dot at the center of the crosshairs that makes them stand out. This dot will be small, perhaps one or two minutes of angle (a minute of angle covers about one inch at 100 yards), but it doesn’t take much to be noticeable against anything but a dark woods background.

This dot looks large on the heavy reticle lines. But in many scopes, both the dot and reticle lines are very small and fine. This is just for illustration.

Plain crosshairs are best in open country and are therefore favored by long-range shooters. They’re fine for plinking, as long as the reticle lines aren’t too thin. They’re less useful in deep forests, where the reticle lines don’t stand out. For that terrain, probably nothing beats the duplex reticle.

The duplex reticle is a plain crosshair that has thicker lines near the edges of the field of view and thinner lines in the center. When I shot field target, I used a scope with a duplex reticle for two reasons. First, it was much easier to see in the deep woods where many matches are shot; and second, the duplex offers four additional aimpoints.

The duplex reticle uses crosshairs of two different sizes. The ends of the thick posts provide four additional aim points that can be used for things…like greater or lesser distance and wind.

Duplex reticles are the favorite of hunters, because they work well in deep foliage yet they permit precise aiming at the same time. Like plain crosshairs, duplex reticles come in different thicknesses.

In the mil-dot scope, the dots are an exact size (measured in mils) and are spaced apart an exact distance. On variable scopes, they must be used at one power setting to work as designed. Read the information that comes with the scope to discover how this works.

Mil-dot reticles are a more recent invention. They feature dots of a controlled size spaced along one or both reticles at regular spaces. Mil is short for milliradian, a measure of angle that, unfortunately, has never been standardized. Or perhaps it’s more correct to say that it has been standardized dozens of times — each with a different measurement. When I was a mortar platoon leader, our fire direction center and mortar sights used the old French measurement of 6,400 mils to a circle, but there are many other measurements that differ — some slightly and others in a more significant way.

One common use for the mil is rangefinding. Though it isn’t exact, we say that one mil subtends (covers) one meter at 1,000 meters. At 100 meters one mil subtends one-tenth of a meter or 3.9 inches. That’s so close to 4 inches that we round it up.

A whitetail deer is about 12 inches from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the chest. A two-mil dot will just about cover the deer’s chest at 150 meters.

Is that too much for you? It is for many hunters who still use the mil-dot scope for aimoff when there’s wind. Or they use the vertical dots for aim points at distances other than the range for which the scope is sighted.

Focusing the reticle
The first thing a shooter must do with a scope is focus the reticle. The eyepiece should adjust to allow you to do this, and it does on all but the cheapest scopes. Focus by looking through the scope at the sky or a light-colored wall and turn the eyepiece until the reticle appears in sharp focus. I’ve read that this is supposed to be done incrementally; because if you stare at the reticle very long, your eyes will naturally focus on it. So do it in stages.

After you focus the reticle, some scopes have a locking ring to hold that focus. Others don’t have the locking feature, but the focus rings should be stiff enough to hold your focus without it.

Focusing the reticle is very important for scopes with adjustable objectives, because the scope’s designers assume the scope is in sharp focus when the objective ring or sidewheel is turned. Only when the reticle is in focus will the scope come close to the distances marked off on the parallax ring or knob, which is the adjustable objective we are discussing. And, of course, that will also depend on the temperature when the scope is used.

On the other hand, on lower-powered scopes that have a fixed parallax setting you can use the focus to bring close targets into better focus. This isn’t what the adjustment is for and it will blur the reticle somewhat, but sometimes it’s the best way to use a low-priced, fixed-focus scope at closer distances than it’s intended.

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.

108 thoughts on “Some scope fundamentals: Part 2”

  1. B.B.

    I am one of the guys who uses mil dots for reference points instead of ranging. I hunt things much smaller than deer, and find that ranging with mil dots is about hopeless. Some of the vermin are considerably variable in size too. Birds have standard sizes, but things like chucks and tree rats vary considerably….and they all look the same no matter how big they are.
    It works much better for me to range with a laser, and to know which dot to use for a distance.

    I am beginning to really like the Hawke Map6 with an airgun. The marks are much closer together, and more suitable for reference points.


      • TwoTalon, I don’t know about the Hawke BCR software working on Windows 7. It may, because Win 7 does have a decent compatibility mode. However, it doesn’t work with everything.
        There is something worth trying in these circumstances. Microsoft has something called XP Mode. I suppose they consider this less difficult that telling users that this is a virtual machine. If you are familiar with VMWare, Virtual Box or any other virtual machine software then you already know what XP Mode is.
        Just collect the pieces and follow the instructions from Microsoft. Setting up XP Mode is rather easy.
        Once XP Mode is set up it is easy to execute it from the Start Menu. XP Mode will execute in full screen mode. Once it opens you can open your program just as you did in XP.
        Actually, it is XP. The XP virtual machine will have its own IP address and behave as a separate computer.

        I only bring this up because I have used it to run a few programs that do not work in Win 7.
        I am sure it is not the end all and be all, but it does have its uses.

        You can read about it and get it at http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx

        I am always open to feedback about this kind of thing.


          • Yes, Bummer!! I will curse Bill Gates and Microsoft forever. Even if you can download it somehow, it won’t work because the virtual machine software offered by Microsoft won’t install. I forgot that. The last time it came up was when I suggested the same thing to a student (and of course they didn’t have Windows Professional or Enterprise; why would they or you if you don’t need it)?

            Do you have a copy of Windows XP you can install. If so you can install VMWare Player or Virtual Box, create a virtual machine and install into that. Both are quite stable (Virtual Box is open source unless Oracle has adulterized it and VMWare Player is closed source but quite free and has a number of ready made virtual machines available; not Windows VM’s though). I have used both and I don’t hesitate to think they will work. I am partial to VMWare Player but I can’t get it to work with my latest install of Opensuse Linux (so I am using Virtual Box which does work; I’m easy).

            I expect you will find all you need but I will certainly offer info if you need any.


          • Oops, Chuck. Or a copy of Windows 2000 or Vista (God forbid!!) you can install. You can install a Windows version prior to Win 2000 but I don’t recommend any DOS based version (unless you’re sure that’s what you want or don’t mind playing with it first).

    • Beazer,

      I gave the artillery hold its name and even I am still trying to master it. All I can tell you is that when you do find the right hold you will know it, and forevermore you will be looking for the same feeling when you shoot.

      But it’s way too easy to rush things and not get it right.


      • I will have a bit of time to read and learn, although I’ll have to practice my artillery hold using Maxwell Maltz’s Psychocybernetics (or Zen visualization).
        Surgery is next Monday morning. As you suggested, I will have more time to read the blog (and I will).


      • KenHo,
        If ya don’t make it, can I have some of your guns? Thanx for the flashback. Mom was British & spent many years in the land down under. Rolf Harris, Tie Me Kangaroo Down, is special.

        Mr. B.B., Ms. Edith, Victor & the rest of the gang, Thanx for sharin’ your knowledge. I’m gettin’ all misty. Gives me an idea for a song, title it, “I Love this Blarg”. Maybe get Toby Keith ta sing it?

        KenHo, thoughts & prayers, buddy.

    • Beazer,
      The process that B.B. described for establishing the “artillery hold” is VERY similar to the process for finding your “natural point of aim”. It’s an iterative process.
      However, there are three main components to perfecting the artillery hold:
      1. Establishing the hold. That is, finding exactly how the rifle should rest on your hand, and your hand on the rests (e.g., shooting bag). Also, you want the butt of the rifle to rest against your shoulder with just enough force so that it doesn’t fall. Not too hard, and not too soft. Finally, you want your trigger hand to hold the rifle with just enough force to not introduce jerking (i.e., muscle twitches) during shot execution.
      2. Consciously relaxing, so that your non-trigger hand doesn’t disturb your aim during shot execution.
      3. Establish your hand-level natural point of aim, as described in this article. Again, this is just like finding your whole-body natural point of aim.

      Finding your hand-level, or whole-body-level natural point of aim, is a setup phase, and not something that you do during shot execution. But without it, you’ll be left wondering why your groups are off. As B.B., explained, it’s about “neutralizing” your bodies bias, or tendency to pull in any particular direction. An interesting thing about this is that the direction can be left, right, up, or down, and usually in some combination of vertical and horizontal bias.

      So if the setup is done right, then you should be able to close your eyes, open them, and still have a perfect sight picture (i.e., the rifle should still be pointing dead center).

      I have found that if I have a target set up with lots of bulls, but too low, that my groups grow the further I go down. The reason is that as I move to the lower bulls, there is more force being applied to the rifle, magnifying the bias. So it matters how high you set your targets. THAT IS A VERY IMPORTANT DETAIL. Of course, we’re talking about shooting off a rest, using the artillery hold, which includes your hand.

      • Victor,
        I think you just solved a mystery that I have been puzzled by. That is, the point of impact changing when I get to the lower bulls. And I am not the only one on this blog baffled by this mystery. I will be raising my targets.

  2. Anyone ever take apart a BSA Sweet 17? I got one with my Discovery and it has a broken duplex reticle. Still works fine, but the breaks are a distraction and I don’t really want to send it off. If I open it up and find it to be too much of a pain, I will send it in. I have built a few telescopes, so I do have a little knowledge, but never got into a rifle scope yet.


    • /Dave,

      I had a malfunctioning Centerpoint scope from Crosman (assume that the scope and rifle were new when you bought it?) and sent it back. Crosman simply replaced the scope. Keep in mind that the scope is “probably” filled with nitrogen so you will have to deal with that if you take the scope apart. Best to send it back to the manufacturer or Crosman.

      Fred DPRoNJ

      • I don’t think this one is nitrogen filled, Fred. Anyway, it doesn’t say so on the scope. In any case, I do have access to dry nitrogen to purge it with on reassembly and I’m in a semi-arid climate. (Except lately with all the snow…). If I can fix it, I may still use it, but if not, I’ll probably just stick it on the side of my 10″ Dobsonian to replace the much smaller finderscope that I have. I’ve never been much for shipping something in unless it’s already worth a bunch and this scope is probably only around $90 new msrp.


  3. BB,
    On the issue of the effect temperature has on a scope there is a similar effect on a stringed musical instrument.
    It gets knocked out of tune.
    Best thing to do is let the instrument acclimatize to the surrounding temperature before even thinking of tuning it.
    That saves a lot of time tail chasing,creating more problems or coming to wrong conclusions as to the instruments poor performance.
    With a scope,not that I know for sure I can see issues,as for example.
    Cold car,warm firing range.
    Warm car,cold firing range.
    Rifle kept in insulated gun case up till moment of being fired.
    If it is one and the same thing,best get to get a scoped rifle out and leave it 20 mins before sighting it in.

    • DaveUK,

      The sudden shift from warm to cold is something we used to battle when shooting field target. We got to the range about two hours before the match was due to start and we shot warmup shots on a sight-in range before the match.

      I remember one day when a thunderstorm was coming and the temp dropped by 30 degrees in five minutes. Everyone’s scope went haywire!


      • Till you mentioned it in this article BB I never paid temp and its effect on scopes much mind.
        I don’t think many folk do.
        Using a musical instrument as an example,which I am more familiar in having to cater for in many enviroments it all makes complete sense.
        When playing a venue inside or out me and my dad are constantly aware of any temps or temp changes and try to cater for those.
        That might be keeping away from a heat source like a radiator or fireplace.
        Seeking shade from sunshine or wind.
        Anything to keep temperature of the instrument at a constant and therefor able to tune and stay tuned.
        I’ve learned something today about scopes I never knew yesterday.Nice one 🙂

        • Aha Dave that’s I guess how it is. I’ve given up on any instrument that can’t be marched with and carried into the battlefield, and while I have fine rhythm, so I could play drums, I’m back with the cornet. (A shorter, much cooler version of the trumpet.)

          And I’m very much inclined towards peep sights, not much to go that much wrong on those! Otherwise, for scopes, it will have to be high-quality US-made stuff like Leupolds and Weavers, hopefully found used for a fraction of their worth.

          I live in fairly rustic conditions’ by my book it’s got to be in the single digits C. for me to burn a little heat in the morning. Violins get destroyed just being here.

          • Flobert,
            An Instrument which features in our inventory and is used by DadUK on some songs is the brass ‘Kazzoo’.
            Compact,lightweight and flame resistant should you get the urge to burn it.
            Which being a Kazzoo you will..often 🙂

            • There’s actually a sort of super-kazoo with a trumpet bell on it made in England, unless someone smuggles them to the US or someone independently invents one here, it’ll never reach our shores. And it’s a shame, since it’s actually pretty darned cool sounding. More of a real instrument than a novelty.

              B.B. – most cheapo kazoos use waxed paper, but the more serious ones use a piece of Mylar. That lasts a lot longer and is louder too I think.

              I know a fair bit about this stuff because I’ve considered building all sort of “folk” instruments and selling them, in fact I was seriously talking with some of the antique store ladies in town here about making simple “victorian” toys out of wood etc., and then all this work came piling in: I was able to acquire a large lot of test equipment, I got a job working Wednesdays for $25/hour for a guy (although adding the expenses and actual time including commuting it’s more like a bit over $10 an hour – and it’s over with now) and a circuit board building contract coming in. So, building simple instruments has taken the ‘way back burner.

              But the future is in “cottage industry”, since regular jobs are becoming more rare *and* a lot of “regular” jobs are a “regular” 4 or so hours a week. You should be able to live on 5% of what you used to make, or 1/2 the “poverty line”. Living at that level, I can compete with Chinese-made goods sold at Wal-Mart. Say you determine that shoemaking is a good career. Can you make, in your garage, say 3 pairs of shoes that you’ll sell for $30 a pair because the Chinese-made versions are $35 and tax at Wal-Mart? Yes, you probably can. So you can gross $90 a day, net more like $60, and you have a garden out back, providing veggies and eggs and corn, so you’re producing some of your own necessities far cheaper than you’d have to pay for them at Safeway. This is the new future and it beats the hell out of the fool’s route of going to college to get an MSEE degree to live under a bridge.

              Getting back to that $25 an hour job. I was actually surprised myself, adding it up. 4 hours a week, on Wednesdays, so it’s a cool $100. But gas costs $20 easily, and the total commute time is 3 hours, so it’s more like 7 hours, bringing in $80. A bit over $10 an hour. Plus the worry that something my happen to my friend’s car which I was borrowing to get there. Plus one is tempted to get a snack on the way home …. call it $10 an hour. I think I can match that, or do better, playing my cornet in front of the Mexican markets and the 99c store.

              • flobert,

                “The Road to Wellville” movie is a favorite of ours, and most of the sound track is supplied by a kazoo-playing orchestra. Hearing a kazoo accompaniment to a movie just tickles me no end. It makes me smile just writing about it 🙂


                • I think I’ve seen bits of that anyway. A really wacky movie!

                  One that amazes me for odd soundtracks is an excellent movie called “Gallipoli” about a couple of Australian guys who go to fight in WWI, the soundtrack is by Jean-Michele Jarre’, the synthesizer guy. Actually no wait, part of it is, and other parts are various other things, like a very sad classical piece at the end.

            • Dave so are you saying, your Dad is in a band?

              You might be tickled to hear that my cornet is the “shepherd’s crook” type, I believe favored in “traditional British brass bands” whatever it is they play. It’s a Conn 34A, and I like how it’s built – sturdy. It’s the same 34A you can get now, they’re $800-odd new and mine was $300 slightly used from a guy on Craig’s List. I’m taking lessons in the “Claude Gordon Method” which seems to be aimed at making a person a trumpet athlete – you learn to pump air! If you took up trumpet because you don’t like “sports” this technique is probably not for you lol. I think it’s great. I’m playing higher notes with ease than I ever was, and I’ve learned it’s nothing to do with the lips.

              • Flobert,
                Normaly the band consists of me and dad plus another guy playing accoustic guitar sometimes.
                Dad on Banjo,accoustic guitar or mandolin and me on a little 8 bass accordion.
                The Kazoo does add fun to the mix though no doubt about it and like Edith and BB have expressed.
                Increase the smiles by miles 🙂
                Well done on taking up the Cornet by the way.
                Although not a brass player I really appreciate the quality of the instruments and sound it makes,plus not forgetting…portability.
                Like yourself I think of how I would manage in a Greek style economic bust.
                Any skill a guy can bring to the table could make a difference.So the more skills you have,the better.
                I would certainly include having to play accordion on street corners as an option should it come to it.

                • Accordion on the street “plays” well here in the US. Frankly most of our buskers are awful. Having an “ace in the hole” skill is a very good thing. Generally in extremis, a person can live on $10/day in the US, although that means being homeless, the $10 provides for food, and necessities. $50 a day is the “golden ideal”, you can live well on that. That’s what you take home on minimum wage if you’re working fulltime. Many Ph.D.’s wish they were making that right now. $30 a day is a good medium between the two extremes. On that, you can either rent a room or you can own a vehicle but you have to live in it. But you can live pretty much OK on that. There are a million ways to make this money, but one sure thing is that you won’t be able to do it with any college skills, you’re going to fall back on “teenage kid/illegal immigrant” skills. Compared with picking fruit, washing windows or dishes, or scavenging for cans, playing music comes out very well!

  4. I have 1″ tube 4X power scope made by Marbles with an upside down post reticle that I used to use on an older Ithaca model 37 16 ga pump shotgun for hunting deer with slugs. If it was cold out and you tried to zero the scope in ,the adjustments wouldn’t work. If it was warm you had no problem and it would hold that zero if you used it in the cold . Just couldn’t change anything if it was cold. Both that gun and the scope were very frustrating to use so I don’t use the scope anymore and got rid of that 37. I’ve since found out that the Marbles is a classic ,and the reticle style mine has was made only for one year(1963) and is supposedly now worth what a new condition 37 is worth today. No doubt about it, a scope issue can really destroy confidence.

  5. Focusing the reticle with the eyepiece (ocular) is primarily about minimizing parallax. I’ve tried many methods and prefer this one:

    1. Turn the back (eyepiece) until the crosshairs look “sharp”. This is just a preliminary setting so don’t sweat it.

    2. Adjust the front (main objective) until the head bob test shows the cross hairs and target don’t shift as your head moves. Don’t worry about “focus”, just get the two to lock together. If there is a range of settings where they lock together, pick the one that leaves the AO in the long (shortest distance, furthest out) position.

    3. Adjust the back until the whole thing is in sharp focus. You’ll find you have sharp focus over a range of back settings. Go for the one that has the back element (eyepiece) at the out-most setting rather than the in-most setting. This will be the infinity focus and will allow your eye to relax and view the image as if it it were at infinity.

    YOU’RE DONE! Don’t touch the back eyepiece again. Leave it alone. If later you find things don’t look right, repeat steps 2 & 3.

    Now, when you’re in the field, adjust the front (objective) to bring the target into focus. You’ll find there is a range of adjustments that look sharp. Go with the one that is the out-most position of the objective.


  6. Given the sensitivity to temperature that scopes endure (as do big camera lenses), I’ve always wondered why scopes are almost uniformly black — the color that absorbs the *most* energy.

    Decades ago, Canon started making their their big lenses white (you see them at sporting events) so they’d heat up a lot less.

    At the shooting range, I typically drape a shemagh over my scope to keep it cooler, but since I don’t exactly have concerns over being spotted by a paper target, I wonder why I can’t get the scope in white, which wouldn’t solve the problem, but would help.


    • Trout Underground,

      Wow! A voice from the past!

      I’ve missed your handle, man.

      As for white scopes, it’s a great idea, but most shooters are more interested in style than performance. I don’t know if it would sell.

      Photographers have to perform to live, so they have to use things that work. And as everyone knows, Cannon makes the fastest long-range camera lenses in the business.


      • BB — Rest assured I’ve been lurking; I read the blog every day from my RSS reader.

        Outside of the unbelievably excellent Challenger PCP, my other airgun purchases have been a little disappointing on the accuracy front (.177 & .22 Marauders), and I’ve been spending my range time with a couple of remarkably accurate .22 rimfires instead.

        Add that to a very active 3 year-old, and time is not abundant… 😎

        • Trout Underground,
          I shoot my .22 Marauder at 10m with the boxed Crosman Premiers and at that distance they’re very accurate for me. I tried the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy and was disappointed. I haven’t tried anything else, yet.

          • At 30 yards, I’m getting 1.5″ groups with my .22 marauder, and I’m getting sub-1″ groups from my .22 rimfire at 100 yards.

            The .177 keeps producing “two-group” groups (a typical 10-shot group would have six in one group, four in another group about an inch away).

            Something’s going on, I just haven’t had the time to muck with it.

            The Challenger PCP is astonishingly good.

            • TC,

              You should be getting quarter-inch groups at 30 yards with a Marauder. Something is definitely wrong. I suspect the air transfer hole has a burr. Either that or the muzzle is poorly crowned. Or are you shooting RWS or Gamo pellets?

              Crosman Premiers should give you 1/2 to 3/4-inch 10-shot groups at 50 yards in calm air.


              • I’ve tried all the better pellets; the H&N heavy pellets seem to work marginally better than the Crosmans, though all seem to suffer from the same issues.

                Crown on the .177 is good, and I already shipped it back to the factory once, but received it back with no note about what was checked or fixed, and accuracy was pretty much the same.

                The Marauder .22 is relatively new and I haven’t mucked around with it much beyond firing a couple dozen shotgun groups, and realizing I’d do better hunting with my 392.

                My wife and I adopted a three year-old girl and I don’t have much time; I was hoping for better out of the box accuracy, and I’m considering dumping the Marauders for a loss and buying something similar but better (shrouded, magazine) like an FX.

                The Challenger PCP has been astonishing; I wish they made a more powerful version.

                Thanks for the ideas, when I get a chance I’ll see if I can perk up either gun.

                Stay healthy, TC

            • TC,
              What is the range, ammo and group sizes you’re shooting the Challenger? I’m restricted to 10m. Also, what .22 rimfire are you shooting and what ammo? Have you tried CCI Green Tag?

              • Chuck:

                Been shooting the Challenger at 10M. Best results with RWS R10 Match pellets (either weight). I shot 4-pellet test groups from bags, and with the RWS and H&N match got holes that looked like a ever-so-slightly enlarged single pellet hole.

                The .22 is a bolt action Savage TR (heavy barrel, “tactical” target stock) using SK Standard+ ammo (same as Wolf Match). It’s been great — my 100 yard groups have been especially gratifying.

    • TC,

      those white lenses are typically the Professional line of lenses that Canon or Nikon make. They are extremely “fast” lenses and have the best resolution commercially available. As a result, they cost BIG bucks. The lenses are usually owned by the paper or magazine the photographer works for as the high cost is out of range for most of these photographers. I’d love to have a 100 to 300mm lens that’s “white” with a F 1.8 opening. For instance, a white lens by Canon – 70-200 F2.8 can be had for the princely sum of $2400. A black lens, 50-200mm f4.5-5.6 is $150.

      Fred DPRoNJ

      • Fred — in the bad old days I worked as a photojournalist, and was lucky enough to get some of then-new white lenses on loan from Canon Pro Services. Back then, a 300 2.8 was the gold standard for sports, and after lugging a couple of black lenses up and down a 110-degree football field all day left me with burned fingers, I immediately saw the benefits of white…


        • Yep, I used to do part time shooting for a motorcycle magazine and go to differeing AMA and GP races. I recall at Laguna Seca, I was the last photographer shooting film. Everyone else had gone digital. Then when I finally went digital, the magazine I shot for went belly up! All those lenses ended up underwater in the flood here in Jersey in September. Nothing worse than a Sigma 300mm lens for a Minolta X700 filled with water and silt. Thank goodness my DSLR Canon and lenses were on the top floor of my house.

          Fred DPRoNJ

        • Sometimes I wonder about our ‘poor’ economy’…or I just wonder about people priorities.
          10 or 15 years ago we’d sell 4 or 5 300mm F2.8 lenses a year in both Nikon and Canon mounts.
          For those not into photography these are $5000+ lenses.
          They were special order, and as Trout and Fred mention they were purchased primarily by pros.
          Last year we sold 14 Canon and 22 Nikon’s.
          Still $5000+.
          The vast majority were sold to hobbyists.

    • Interesting. Having dealt with “high tech collectibles” for a while off and on, I’ve seen and handled quite a few of the geiger counters that were made for prospectors to use in the “uranium craze” of the 1940s/50s in the US. They tended to be chrome-plated. This was not for looks, but because if they didn’t reflect a good part of the heat impinging on them from the sun, the insides would cook and they’d be too hot to pick up!

  7. B.B., Edith, Pete, Vince, Victor, Flobert, TwoTalon, Beazer and all of you guys and gals who make this blog a great read:
    I’ll will appreciate even more that you are here next week after I go under the knife.


    • Kenholmz,
      My thoughts and prayers will go out to you. Keep a positive attitude, and have faith that your doctors, and especially your body, will be working hard towards your recovery. The body is a remarkable thing. Treat it well, and follow the recommended treatment for recovery. Question, but keep an open mind that you’re being given good advice. If it makes you feel better, always get a second opinion.

      What I’m talking about is the recovery process. Decades ago (and so some older doctors), you’d be told to relax and do nothing. These days you’re encouraged to get active as soon as possible. “Active” is often as simple as getting out of bed and walking. Obviously, I can’t speak for you and your specific situation, but you get the idea.
      Good luck, and God bless,

      • Very true. When I ran my first marathon in high school, the thinking was that the body needed pure rest afterwards, so I limped around for a month. But then the thinking was to get active as soon as possible (in a low-key way) and the results were much different. This is more consistent with my vision of primitive man running many miles every day on the Savannah. They could not afford to lie around for extended periods.


      • Victor, thank you. Yes, I do know what you mean. I know that after heart surgery the recovery plan does include doing some activity. I like the plan you outline and I will work to “make it work”.

        • Ken,

          as a very long time motorcylist, the protocol after first making sure the crasher was going to recover and out of danger, was to give them H E double hockey sticks (how’s that for keeping this G rated?). So speaking for the riders on this blog (Chuck and Beazer and I guess Flobert but he’s a bit suspect after his latest adventures), we all look forward to giving you nothing but grief when you get out of the hospital!

          Fred DPRoNJ

    • Ken,

      Good luck! And be sure not to rush getting back to the firing line; it could set you up for years of unneeded pain, and avoiding an extra couple of weeks lay-off just ain’t worth it. If they offer you narcotic pain killers, and they will, take them. You won’t get hooked from a few weeks of taking them, and it makes recovery much easier.

      I will be making my own appointment with a knife tomorrow afternoon. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I think.


      • Good luck to you fellows going under the knife. I know what you are feeling today.

        White scopes sound like a great idea. I think they would look just fine on a blued rifle.


      • Well, Pete, I wish us both the best. I will definitely take what you say as worth heeding. I will work to to something and yet not do too much. I suppose working that out will be interesting. I definitely take heed from those who have already been down this path.

        I look forward to hearing you have done well, also.


      • Pete,
        My thoughts are with you, too. There seems to be an awful lot of scalpels flying around this blog lately. On a silly note: Ken and Pete, when you get back to us, I need to know if I’m supposed to go toward the light or away from it. There seems to be some confusion about this in Hollywood and I don’t want to make the wrong decision when it’s my turn.

  8. B.B.,
    Thanks for this series of reports! Honestly, I still haven’t learned how to use mildots “properly”. However, I have found them useful as a reference when moving from say, 50 yards, out to 100 yards with my Gamo Hunter Extreme. Of course, not for precision shooting at the longer range, but rather for just hitting an object, like a frying pan. Not much of a cook, so I’ve found a better use for frying pans. 🙂

  9. Very interesting. I’m getting very curious now how to handle the reticle of my the PU scope on my Mosin sniper rifle. It has three reticle lines (the top one is missing) which don’t quite touch. And the bottom line comes to a point instead of a flat post. My question is whether to leave a tiny bit of space over the bottom reticle as I do for a post sight or to stab the point into the target. I’m leaning towards the latter. Small spaces do not seem to work well for a pointed reticle. B.B., any opinion on long eye-relief scopes? Chuck Hawks came out strongly against them with a diatribe that I can’t fully remember. I would think that a consistent eye-relief would be much more difficult, and there was another objection there to how the field of view was disturbed. I will do a bit more research on how the guy managed to attach a camcorder to his night vision scope for the shooting of rats. It was quite fascinating. As for mils and their definition, I thought that mil stood for “milliradian” and if so, doesn’t that have a fixed value just like minute of angle?

    PeteZ, glad your Dad made it. I’ve always thought traveling was a hassle, but his challenge went way beyond. That business of checking papers is a creepy reminiscence of Shindler’s List. The whole German experience in the Second World War I believe will remain fairly unique in world history as a very weird fusion of a rational, precise, technical mentality with complete insanity. At the end of The Forgotten Soldier, the author describes the Wehrmacht in its final stages still trying to organize space and time in its precise way while the world was falling apart around it.

    Flobert, I thought of you in relation to Watership Down. There certainly is an end of the world scenario in there along with God in the rabbit world, totalitarianism, and much more. It really is amazingly creative. I didn’t care much for the first animated version. It was violent and gross and somewhat different from the book. With cgi technology, I think there is room for a much better remake.

    Happy Valentine’s Day. On this day of gifts and goodwill, let us take a sidelong glance at the recent YouTube video wherein a father shoots his daughter’s laptop with his 1911 as a form of punishment. What stood out to me is that he had a fairly nice grouping of 9 shots (although the distance was close). But, he did not put his thumb on the thumb safety as you’re supposed to. And, he didn’t seem to know how many rounds he had! Also, I would say that his daughter is probably lost to the ranks of recreational shooters after that experience. On the larger issue of his disciplinary method, his daughter’s behavior was pretty provoking no doubt about that. But I would say that whatever he hoped to gain was undercut by his own display of temper and his own irrationality in destroying over $1000 of computer equipment and software. Why didn’t he just take it away from her?…

    On a brighter note, I think Victor’s recent point about the importance of spending time on yourself and enjoying life has opened up a whole new class of problems and issues as important research will do. In particular, this point has unexpected relevance to the different and mysterious question of why women are attracted to jerks. (Tell us more, Edith, what convinced you to accompany the guy to the garbage dump and ride around on his motorcycle!) I did have a very interesting conversation with a woman who I posed this question to. She said approximately: That’s easy. Even if a jerk is understood to be one, that is STILL preferable to a guy whose emotional well-being is tied up with the woman. That can come across as dependence that turns into a burden for a woman. One thing we can say about jerks is that they are not concerned about other people and this offers a certain kind of freedom that women enjoy and makes them like the guy more?!!!???

    So, how about that. Baffling, but it has its good side. That means that you can not only indulge yourself, but be rewarded with attention and affection as a result! I say that we should all put that into practice by putting in a minimum $200 order to PA. Tell us how it goes at home….


    • Matt61,

      That was my father-in-law, not my own dad. I think the Nazi experience will be weighed far more negatively than you indicate. There are plenty of cases of armies falling apart, but very few of mega-mass murder. But if you want one heck of a good book on the last stages of WW2 in Europe, you can do no better than Ian Kershaw’s masterful book “The End”. It’s the last of a 3-volume series on the Third Reich.

      The historian Victor Klemperer’s diaries of his trek from Dresden (where the bombing saved his life because it let him escape from a deportation depot) to the West and back again in the last few months of the war were recently published in English. It’s 2 very long volumes, but the second is better than the first. In the first you just keep repeating to yourself: “These are 2 very smart people who saw what was coming. Why-in-hell didn’t they just get out in 1935 when it was easy?”

      I know; my father-in-law stayed until almost Kristallnacht. But he had laid plans for getting out in a hurry.

      • Pete,

        Your father-in-law stayed almost until Kristallnacht…and my parents came back from Turkey (because my father hated the anti-German sentiment, among other things) just in time for it. They had German friends who stayed in Turkey, and they toughed it out and ended up emigrating to the U.S. much sooner than my parents, who left Germany again in 1938 to live in China…where they promptly got cornered by another war that held them hostage for 10 years. What a mess.


  10. BB,

    “Milliradian” is a well-defined and perfectly standardized measure of angle. Physiists and mathematicians have to use it all the time. I won’t go into the “why”, but there are, by definition, 2*pi radians to one complete revolution (through 360 degrees). One radian is equal to 360/2*pi degrees = 360/6.283185… = 57.2958 degrees.

    So one milliradian = 0.0572958 degrees. (up to rounding errors)

    One degree = 0.017453 radian. One minute of arc = 0.017453/60 = 0.00029088 radian, or about 0.3 milliradian.

    Now scope builders and reticle etchers may not always mark their products correctly, and may even use a bit of fantasy in the process. But it’s wrong to say that the milliradian hasn’t been “standardized.”

    • Petem,

      If you recall, I corrected that statement. The milleradian has been standardized many times — each with a different interpretation. For example, the Russian measure divides a circle 6,000 times. The French divides it 6,400. And so on.

      Yes, it is standardized, but the standard you quote is not the only standards that has been used.


      • BB,

        In physics and math there is one global standard. While the Russians may have calibrated their weapons with 6,000 divisions to a circle, akin to when the Indiana legislature decided that pi should be exactly 3.0, and the French may have used 6,400 divisions, because 64 is an even power of 2, neither should be called a milliradian. A “mil,” maybe, but even then only loosely.

        You’re confusing “milliradian” with “angular mil,” a loosely defined, primarily military, term. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angular_mil


  11. I think WWII Germany will be remembered as a combination of the admirable and the appalling. The really frightening part is that a people that shared a common culture with us, who were “regular people”, not maniacs or sociopaths, could do such awful things when reassured by peer pressure and government encouragement. That, to me, reveals an insidious weakness in our culture. By standing up for our rights as individuals we can prevent the apathy and acquiescence that allowed that situation to develop in Germany.

    The Soviet Union, which actually presented a greater threat to the west in the long run, was much less subtle. Stalin’s approach was one of being opposed to everything the West stood for, except for trying to defeat Germany. By openly advocating the destruction of all Western institutions, from the Church to private ownership of property, there was little room for middle ground.

    My own father, who was personally involved in the invasion of Germany, felt the Nazis betrayed the German people. He saw a good people manipulated by their government. Maybe if the Germans had a tradition of democracy, this would not have happened. Instead, by the 1930’s, the German’s choices had been pretty much reduced to choosing between Nazis and Communists. The solution is never to allow those to be the only options.


    • DD, I don’t think it’s a weakness particular to any culture… it’s a weakness specific to humanity. That’s why we must always be careful about using public opinion or sentiment as the court of final appeal, especially when it comes to core principles of good and evil.

      • Well, I think it is a weakness of the Western culture we shared with Germany. The Nazis were very clever manipulators. They appealed to the same core values we did: patriotism; duty to country; willingness to submit to legitimate authority; desire to do God’s will. They also created an in-house boogeyman to isolate from the rest of the population and blame all ills on. All of these feelings were prevalent here, too, but by having a totalitarian state, the Nazis were able to take their views (and solutions) to the extreme.

        I really believe the one thing Hitler did to seal his power was to require all military members (and maybe all government officials) to take an oath to support him PERSONALLY. Not to support the laws, the constitution, or even the government, but him PERSONALLY.

        He knew the Germans had a high sense of personal honor. He was banking that they would not violate a sacred oath, no matter what else. So he was able to take his people’s innate goodness and turn it to his own ends.

        I am glad that our military takes an oath to defend our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The day that our national leader starts requiring a free people take an oath to support and defend him personally, will be the day this country unravels.


    • I see nothing whatsoever admirable about Nazi Germany, or WW2 Germany if you prefer. Given the vast numbers of the Germans who “didn’t know” what was going on and who “never” voted for the Nazis and who “never” got a whiff of their local concentration and extermination camps, I find it even difficult to say of WW2 Germany that the population were “good” people.

      That said, post-war Germany is something different indeed. And >96% of postwar Germans are good people, unrelated to the Nazis in thought or deed. But there is that 3 or 4% who voted for the “National Democrats,” the current moniker for the Neo-Nazi party, who must be watched. I have spent some of my happiest days working and studying in Germany and have loads of German friends. I am comfortable in Germany today, tho’ I admit to having had some unease and unpleasantness in 1961 during my first stint there.

      Hitler did not demand the personal oath of fealty from the armed forces until after the 20 July 1944 attempt to assassinate him. So was not a factor in getting the army to go along with the start of the war and the construction of camps in the East. As much current and recent research has shown, the Army was not clean.

      The Nazi Party, unlike the Communist Party, was a mass movement, not something fairly exclusive. Almost all Germans could and did join the Party or one of its subsidiary organizations from the Hitler Youth to the National Socialist Automobile Drivers and the League of German Maidens (I’m translating the German; if you want the originals, write me).

      I agree completely that it is marvelous that our armed forces swear to defend an idea, a piece of paper, against all enemies, “foreign and domestic” and not to the flag or the president or any other person. And I’m going to drop this thread as being exhausted.

      • PZ, my Dad (who participated in the liberation of some smaller camps) posited a question to a German family he befriended immediately after the war. “Ma – (that’s what he and his army buddies called this matronly German woman) – didn’t you know?”. The answer was something like: “We had some idea, but anyone who said anything at all would just disappear”.

      • PZ,

        You need to read more books on Soviet Communism 🙂 Communist party was the MASS (capitals intended 🙂 ) movement. I believe only China CP can rival it. At age of 7 every kid was obliged to become an Oktyabrynok – kid Party member. Then – a Pioneer, then – a member of Young Communist organization, and then, if you were planning on career – a candidate and then a member of CPSU. At its full bloom the system included more than Germany’s whole population.


        • No threat to the West? See “Blockade, Berlin,” “Korea, invasion of,” “Czechoslovakia, takeover of,” and a fairly long list of similar events. Berlin, 1952, etc. I’ve limited this to events on Koba’s watch.

          That’s why the West worried so much about what the USSR might have done.

          Agreed, the CPSU membership was roughly the size of the Postwar West German population, but that was only about 10% of the Soviet population. Every Aryan German citizen was encouraged to join the NSDAP.

          To be sure every people has committed atrocities in war.

          Let’s drop this thread; it has no relationship to airguns.


    • Desertdweller,

      I ask everyone here to excuse me for turning to politics, but I must contradict you. Trust me, I’m not a big fan of Stalin nor Communists – however I’m afraid that things you wrote above are a bit of a misconception.

      First of all, one must not paint Stalin and Stalin’s USSR in black and white. If someone tells you something in black and white – it seems that the speaker is trying to mislead you for his own benefit.

      Stalin was much less Communist than his surroundings. It was him, who put a halt on “world revolution” plans and got rid of most fervent Bolsheviks. He used the ideology, but for him that was just a tool. He was as much an imperialist as Churchill or Hirohito were – buffer zones, puppet regimes, and so on. Same dish, just different sauce. Read on “Operation Unthinkable” to imagine the world he lived and worked in.

      Church? It was Stalin, who put a stop to persecution of believers and in 1943 allowed to elect a new Orthodox Patriarch, after almost 250-year pause. His position was – “Do as you wish, practice your own faith but stay away from politics and no advertising in our secular state”. Communist policy under Stalin was not “anti-Christian”, it was science-based atheism, equally refusing all kinds of religion – from Shamanism to Protestant faith. From that point of view Stephen Hawking is a true Commie 🙂

      Threat to the West? Oh, c’mon… I believe Western thinkers invented more on that than most blood-minded Communists did.
      Image of red hordes invading West – impressive but what for? Land? Oil? Gas? Ore? Bread? Gold? Vodka? Women? 🙂 I’m afraid Russia has plenty of the list. Stalin, being Georgian himself, was typical Russian in his foreign policy – do whatever it takes to obtain firm security around Union’s borders and let the rest of the world go its own way, as nobody cares about it. “Leave us alone” – that’s true Russian policy and Russia is paranoid to maintain it. Same dish – different sauce.

      However empires play their big games, clash and they need to motivate their future soldiers. So myths are born and you can calculate the rest.


  12. DD, the Japanese were no better in terms of atrocities committed against the helpless and they could hardly be accused of having a Western culture at that period of time. The genocide of the Hutu’s against the Tutsi’s were hardly products of a Western culture. The human sacrifices of the Aztecs, the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Stalin’s purges and starvation of the Ukraine, the Khmer Rouge… they all bear testimony to the same thing.

    • Vince,

      To say the truth – war leaves no one unmarred. Search Wiki for Americans mutilating dead Japanese for souvenirs (e.g. skulls). I believe that’s not a function of culture, it’s a Man forgetting God’s commandments and leaving God’s image in his heart behind.
      And any regime that proclaims any superiority of one man over another man in any other terms other than their respected personal qualities and their behaviour must be called criminal and contradicting God and common sense.


      • Yup. That’s my point. G. K. Chesterton once wrote that the only Christian doctrine that could be proven beyond doubt is the doctrine of original sin. Humanity has been proving that for many millenia before him and will continue to prove it until the end…

    • I think you may be missing my point. What I find disturbing about the Nazis was that this kind of thing would arise from a civilized Western culture.

      Maybe I’m being ethno-centric here, but the Japanese, Soviets, Hutus, Tootsies, etc. all represent cultures foreign to Western Civilization. Germany is firmly rooted in the same culture as we are. The problem is not that they were so different. The problem is that they were so much like us, yet were still corrupted.


      • Exactly. It’s dismaying to the extreme. They were war-less for quite a while, then went through a horrible time in WWI, then had heavy reparations levied against them and a *lot* of displaced middle-class and even upper-class people. Lots of skilled, but idle, hands.

        They had a lot of pressure from the East, basically, Nazis and Nazi-like groups, “populist” groups, were having pitched battles with Communist groups from parts East, in the streets.

        Imagine a bunch of Tea Party types who think Geo. Washington never swore in his life, but are people you know, and armed and capable, fighting against some group also armed, funded and culturally from afar, fighting it out on your street. We’re talking bullets flying, stuff burning. You’re going to go with the more “local” group, your people, even if you disagree with them on some things. That was the situation for Joe Blow German.

  13. Re Temperature Sensitivity:

    Larry Durham once suggested that this problem can be alleviated if one basically mounts the scope with only one tight mount. The other mount is just loose enough (on the dovetail for me) so that the second mount can barely slide. I first tried this at the Nationals or Worlds in Tennessee one year when there was a very large temperature drop in the morning — every PCP was shooting low while every piston gun was shooting high! (PCPs are usually made of aluminum, piston guns from steel). I tried Larry’s suggestion and my problems went away!

    For Weaver rails, you might have to play around a bit for a solution. I use BKL dovetail mounts which are solid and easy to adjust for a “loose” fit. For a Weaver, you might have to use some Loctite or loosen the scope band to get a solution.

    I have suggested this innumerable times, but most people dismiss this approach for fears of having the scope shift, etc. In my years of experience using this approach, I have never had a POI shift that I could attribute to the “loose” mount (front one for me).

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