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How does the power of a scope affect accuracy?

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is a guest blog from duskwight, our blog reader in Moscow. It’s a report of a test to determine if changing the power of a variable scope affects the potential for accuracy

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, duskwight.

How scope power affects accuracy
by duskwight

Hello, my airgunning friends! This is a report of a small test I performed recently to see if changing the power of a rifle scope affects the accuracy potential in any way. I guess the thing I’m testing is if you need to see the target as large as possible for aiming precision, or if you can be just as accurate when it appears smaller, because the crosshairs of your scope will still be in the same place.

B.B. tested this for me last week and reported it in the most recent test of the TX200. He shot two 10-shot groups at 50 yards with the scope set on 4x and 2 more with it set on 16x. In the first set of targets, he admitted that he wasn’t holding the rifle as good as he could and the 16x group was smaller than the one shot on 4x. But in the second set of targets, when he said he tried his best, the 4x group was smaller than the 16x group.

B.B.’s test was shot outdoors with a recoiling spring rifle. I decided to shoot mine indoors with a modified Gamo CF-X spring rifle I built.  I call my rifle the Shillelagh, and I’ve taken a picture so you can see what it looks like.

My Shillelagh (Gamo CF-X) was used for this test.

The scope is a Leapers 4-16X56 variable. As you can see, I mounted it with a one-piece mount. I’m shooting JSB Exact pellets with 4.52mm heads. The average velocity is 265 m.p.s. or 869 f.p.s.

I’m shooting indoors, so wind isn’t a factor. The air is dry and the temperature is 20 degrees C, or 68 F. I am shooting off a soft rest like B.B. used with the TX200. The distance is 50 meters, and my targets are made of 2 black circles, the inner one 1/2″ in diameter and the outer one 1-1/2″ in diameter. I’m measuring the groups from the outsides of the pellet holes farthest apart, and my groups each contain 10 shots.

I decided to select the power settings 6 and 12 magnifications for this test. I shot 2 groups on each magnification. In one set of targets, I concentrated on the hold very much; and on the other set, I went faster, with less concentration. Let’s take a look at the results.

Extreme concentration
The first group that was fired on 6x with extreme concentration measured 0.906″ across the outside of the group at the widest point. If we use a nominal .177 inches for the pellet diameter, that group would then measure 0.7295″ between centers.

Shillelagh group 6x hard
This 10-shot group came with the scope set at 6xr and using extreme concentration. The outside measurement in 0.9065″; and using 0.177″ as the pellet diameter, the center-to-center measurement is 0.7295″. Nice to know my Shillelagh can shoot!

The first group shot with the scope set at 12x and using extreme concentration measured 1.4455″ across and 1.2685″ between centers. That’s quite a bit larger than the 6x group!

Shillelagh group 12x hard
This 10-shot group was made with the scope set at 12x and using extreme concentration. The outside measurement in 1.4455″ across; and, using 0.177″ as the pellet diameter, the center-to-center measurement is 1.2685″. Quite a difference from the 6x group.

More relaxed shooting
Now, it was time to shoot groups from a more relaxed rest. I tried just as hard, but things went faster this time. The first group was shot at 6x and measured 1.003″s across the outside. The C-T-C measurement is 0.826″. Also not too shabby!

Shillelagh group 6x relaxed
Here are 10 shots with the scope set at 6x with a more relaxed shooting style. The outside measurement is 1.003″ across, and the C-T-C measurement is 0.826″.

Next, I shot another 10-shot group in the more relaxed style with the scope set on 12x. This group measured 1.7325″ across, which gives us a measurement of 1.5555″ between centers. This is the largest group of the test and more than double the size of the first group shot on 6x.

Shillelagh group 12x relaxed
Ten shots with the scope set at 12x with a more relaxed shooting style measured 1.7325″ across, and the C-T-C measurement is 1.5555″. This is the largest group of the test.

It’s clear to me that lower magnification isn’t any hinderance to accuracy, as long as you can see the target clearly. In fact, I think lower magnification is the way to go.

Editor’s note
I made a huge mistake when I edited this text for duskwight. I assumed that his Shillelagh is his recoiless rifle project, when in fact, it’s a highly modified Gamo CF-X. The rifle seen in this test is that Gamo CF-X. I apologize for the confusion this has caused. — B.B.

Some of our newer readers probably don’t know the story of how duskwight built a recoiless spring rifle from scratch. Like you he was a reader of this blog and he was also an airgunner before finding this blog. He knew about the famous Whiscombe rifles, but they were hard to come by — even when John Whiscombe was still making them. Adding the extra difficulty of getting one all the way to Russia made him think about building his own rifle. When he first told us his plans, I thought it would never happen; and he shared all his struggles with unreliable machine shops and companies that could not meet his specifications. It seemed as though it wasn’t meant to be.

But he persisted, and finally, he had a working prototype. It took years of effort…and I don’t want to know how much money. But he did it. Then he sat down and whittled out a stock from a raw wood blank.

This Gamo CF-X, which he calls the Shillelagh, is just one example of his expertise building custom airguns. I think the accuracy he got with it is quite stunning!

Duskwight is Russia’s airgun answer to New Zealander Bert Munro, who took a 1920 Indian motorcycle and modified it into a 200 m.p.h. streamliner in the 1960s! People like this are in extremely short supply, and it’s our honor to know this one!

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.

91 thoughts on “How does the power of a scope affect accuracy?”

  1. WOW Dusk! What a great blog and what a great looking rifle! You need to make at least one or two other guest blog on that rifle alone!
    If smaller groups are achieved using less magnification what happens to the “aim small, miss small” theory?


  2. Duskwight,

    One thing I am really struggling with is that the groups shot at higher scope power were “significantly” larger than those shot on low scope power. I just can’t think of any reason why that should be so.

    For me at least, I have always gotten better results with higher power and certainly never significantly worse results. When I shoot at higher scope magnification I get the sense that I am much closer to the target, to the point of feeling as though I can reach out and touch the target. It makes follow up much easier to do. At higher scope power I can watch the pellet penetrate the target so I stay glued to the point of aim in order to watch the pellet go all the way through the target.

    I don’t know, your results paint a clear picture of what happened and I don’t guess I can argue with that. Except to say that this has never happened for me. Strange phenomena.


    • G&G, and all,

      We see this in the field target game a lot.. The Hunter Class has to use a 12 or lower power scope… while the open class is allowed any power scope, and some use March 80 power!!!

      When one uses a very high power scope, the field of view is so small, that finding the target is very difficult and one can run out of time… but that is not the subject here… and it is solved by dialing down the power to find the target, then dialing up the power to “range the distance” for the shot..
      Higher power scopes generally “range” better than lower power scopes.. “Ranging” is done by finding the clearest focus for a distance, and knowing from experience, that when it’s in focus, it’s a certain distance… and one adjusts for the trajectory of one’s pellet and energy. High quality scopes on higher power, will go in and out of focus with only small changes in the distance one is looking at… and so they “range” the distance to the target much better.

      The other problem with a higher power scope, and this one does pertain to the subject at hand.. is,

      With a higher power, the shooter sees and feels any movement they are having, much more than with a lower power scope, and so they “feel” more steady with the lower power scope.

      Feeling more steady helps one break the shot with more confidence. Since breaking the shot has almost everything to do with accuracy… (when one is shooting an accurate rig), confidence becomes a sub-conscience advantage that can actually help one shoot better with a lower power scope.

      Some “Hunter” class shooters have posted as high or even higher scores than “Open” class shooters, many, many times.. especially ones who use “Bracketing” to find the distance to the target, instead of “ranging” with the focus, as do the Open class shooters.

      PS.. I’m going down to the Southern CA. Xmas match on Saturday and a Bench Rest match on Sunday, with the opportunity to shoot in a tunnel with no wind. That will be the final segment in my write up on the H&N pellet test.

      Wacky Wayne
      Ashland Air Rifle Range

      • I wonder what it would take to get Leatherwood (if they are still in business, and accepting that they are a somewhat low-end Chinese manufacture) to produce a version of the old auto-range sporter scope rigged for air-gun ranges. I have one for my HK-93, but haven’t sighted it (I have 50 shots through the gun the year I bought it, and then the PRCa wanted my soul to keep it legal — so it didn’t leave my gun cabinet until I moved to MI [and just before that, discovered my $800 semi-auto was now worth $2500!, due to rarity]).

        My Leatherwood Sporter predates the popularity of mil-dots. It has reticle markings for 6, 12, 18, 24, up to 72 inches. In use, one brackets the target (one needs to know the approximate size of that target — 72″ would be a standing human or maybe a black bear, 24-36 inches a coyote head to tail, etc.) by adjusting the zoom factor so the subject matches its dimension on the scales.

        Rotating the zoom dial (forget if it is 2-6 or 2-9X) drives a spiral cam that lifts the rear of the scope, thereby adjusting for distance (the cam is adjustable for general ballistic trajectories — flatter projectiles get zeroed with the cam on the slower rising part, etc.).

        Note the key factor… No matter what the distance is, you’ve adjusted the zoom so that the target is the same size! Low power if it is close, high power if it is far away. And for this scope, that means a human size target fills, at most, a third of the height of view (the 72″ gradation scale is in the lower left quadrant; the duplex cross-hairs are, I believe, scaled for 6″ on the thick part of the duplex, and have tic marks for 6 and 12 inch.

        An airgun version would probably need to boost the power factors so that the 72″ scale is maybe 24″ if not 18″. And would need parallax adjustment (but not as a ranging tool — that’s what the reticle scales are for). And of course, the snail cam would need to calibrated for the extremes of pellets (high speed flat vs low-speed lobs).

        Comment: current Leatherwood scopes still have the cam, but have reverted to mil-dots… Mil-dots may be useful for live-game hunting ranges, but I suspect they aren’t precise enough to range targets that are maybe 8″ tall (what is a mil-dot supposed to cover at the calibration power — about 4″… try estimating the mil-dot factor of an 8″ target that may be 28 to 32 feet away… having actual inch markings on a scale would be better).

        • Wulfraed,

          I remember seeing something like those reticals in some scope ad somewhere or another long ago. I don’t think it was Leathetwood though. I always wanted one but could never afford it. Seems like it might be a bit more accurate for the average hunter and certainly less confusing than mil-dots…

          You might check the value of your HK again. Pretty sure it’s worth more than that now.


      • Hi Wayne, we have to stop meeting this way. It was great to shoot with you yesterday.

        I think this kind of test is subject to too many variables and not a large enough sample size. It is also subject to some subconscious influence. The tester can have a pre-existing idea he wants to prove and his subconscious mind sets out to prove it. Not saying this tester did that.

        Hunter class shooters get to shoot off of a by pod. Open class shooters don’t. The influence of that variable is hard to measure. I do wonder if ANY top level open class shooters would regularly dial down their scope to 12x for the shot and just use 50x for range finding? I am not top level and yes I do it but only for offhand.

        I do think that high magnification forces perfection in executing all the fundamentals. Any error in trigger pull, hold and breathing is revealed to the shooter at high mag and may not be seen in low mag. That does effect accuracy.

    • I would hypothesize that at the higher power, the inner ring of the target was just that, a ring. At lower power the ring may have appeared more like a point.

      I’d be interested in seeing how the groups fared if the target was also a cross-hair — such that one was aligning the horizontal and vertical both. This would eliminate cant changes, and being off-center would show as a thicker line, or even double lines (# vs +)

  3. Hello Fellow Airgunners
    Duskwight, thanks for putting in the time and effort to show us your conclusions concerning shooting with higher and lower scope power. Before I comment on the blog itself, I must say a few words about your Shillelagh. I concur with B.B. in saying you are a very extraordinary man for duplicating what looks like a very complicated airgun, namely the rifle constructed by John Whiscombe. I followed your efforts in construction closely, and now I celebrate the finished product. The groups you show are indicative of only the finer airguns available on the market. One question I have concerning your shillelagh; does the barrel end with the stock, or is it shorter? Also, do you need a longer stock to hide the innards, namely the two cocking arms and piston assemblies?
    The conclusions you have offered in today’s blog have given us a generous amount of food for thought. G+G summed up my thoughts quite well. I have always gone to the highest power of my scopes (4x12x50) when shooting distances over 20 meters. I feel the closer I can bring the target to me, the tighter the group. You and B.B. have put my theory into question, and I will have to perform this experiment for myself. If I am able to duplicate your findings, then I may become a convert to lower scope power target shooting. At the moment, I am still sceptical of your findings. I’m glad we have three days to come up with some sort of workable equation to explain this phenomenon. Thanks once again for this blog.

    • Titus,

      Thanks and please note there was a mistake – the rifle here is not “Opposition”, but my old trusted “Shillelagh” – a heavily modded CFX Royal.
      The barrel ends right where the stock ends and thing that protrudes to the front is a very short barrel sleeve (just like flashider) made to keep the lever in place and protect barrel crown.


  4. Thank you for the data points here–you’ve documented them well. Not knowing entirely what to make of them, I’ll file them under “remember this for the future”. (Please understand that I am always thankful to take in information like that. Things I don’t know what to do with today, have the darnedest habit of coming back later, and so I do try to pay attention!)

    Quite a few years ago now, I remember reading Jeff Cooper on the subject of the rifle sling as a shooting aid. He stated firmly that he would rather have a good shooting sling on his rifle than any telescopic sight, because glass only helps him to see the target, while the sling helps him to hold on the target. This statement really got under my skin, and I still remember it vividly. (And he was right on slings, too. I think his estimate of 1/3 steadier may have been conservative.)

    Anyway, I think that’s why my initial reaction to this topic was immediate; that for most cases the quantity of magnification should be perfectly irrelevant to group size–because it only helps your seeing, not your steadiness. However, I recall reading a comment from B.B. not too long ago, articulating a point I had not thought of before at all: optical focus. I dunno, maybe that could affect raw group size, if the focal quality is noticeably different at different points on the variable range.

    And, while this should theoretically be minimized if not eliminated by using bagged rests or other superhuman means to steady the piece for the purpose of comparison, I do wonder if large magnification brings the “wobble zone” problem into play, in a way which matters. At low magnifications, it’s easier to trust your “wobble zone” (we all have one) because it’s harder to notice it in the glass, and so maybe your “open-end surprise break” really is just that…but go high enough in magnification, where mere heartbeats could arguably induce seasickness with all the jumping around, and there is the temptation to try and “nudge” the shot when you can see it moving over a particular fiber in the target paper… I suppose it wouldn’t be that shocking if one simply couldn’t help but compromise his own stability, or repeatability, etc., simply because I can see it–it’s exactly right, right now!.

    It may be that I’m too caught up in field accuracy, rather than bench accuracy, but I do wonder if that might have something to do with it.

  5. Duskwight,
    You must indeed regal us with another guest blog of the various heartaches and triumphs of the birth of this masterpiece!

    Did I not hear you say you were ready to take orders from BBs loyal blog readers?

  6. duskwight
    Just love the gun. And the piston transfer port idea is way cool. Then on top of it all you knew what you wanted and you made it happen. And very well at that. I bet it is a dream to shoot.

    But about the test. I didn’t understand this at first when I was younger and learning about scopes. But almost always if I shot a gun with the scope turned up on power I had a harder time making the gun group.

    I think its about the way the brain processes the higher magnification. I know it definitely seems to me anyway that I have a harder time holding the gun still when on higher power. When your scope is on a lower power you don’t see your variation on the hold of the cross hair as much. Kind of like if you use a dot sight. You try to pick the smallest spot on your target and place the dot on center.

    Like if you have the scope turned up aiming at the eye of a rabbit. The eye is a big object when the power is up and it looks like your trying to get the cross hair right in the center of the big eye because that’s all you see is the head and the eye of the rabbit.

    Then back the power down and put the cross hair on the same eye of the rabbit and you probably cant even see the eye because its getting covered by the cross hair and now you see half of the rabbit in the scope when you look through it. So now the eye is a smaller object your trying to aim at but the point of impact will still be the same. It just looks smaller.

    I believe its a much more precise aim point when the power is turned down. And I think if there was a picture of the cross hairs on a rabbits eye at low power and high power it would be easier to see what I’m saying. You don’t have as precise of a spot to aim at with the higher power. And I think that’s why you have more variation because you don’t have that small precise spot to pick. And I guess its harder for the eye and body to coordinate to each other.

    • Ah I think I got it.

      If you take a circle and I really don’t care what size it is. But I will use this as the high power scope setting. We got a 10 inch circle and the center of it would be 5 inches. look at how much I can move the cross hair around from the center point of the circle.

      Now lets do the low power setting. Now lets say the circle is only 2 inches in diameter. Now if the cross hair was in the center of the circle you would only have 1 inch of movement to the outer part of the circle.

      Now which circle do you think would be easier to hold the cross hair on the center of the circle.

      • Usually I use an X. It does two things. No matter what the power setting, the center of the X is the focal point. Aim small, shoot small, miss small.

        Also, if you should shoot out the center of the X, the lines of the X always point to the center. Put the lines in the corners of your crosshairs and there you are.

  7. Comrade duskwight

    As impressive as your efforts are, politburo records indicate you are not authorized to build air rifle. The Party is very disappointed. You are surely aware that sheep shearers who build air rifle are in violation of orgburo regulation ы́йдла́-01198476. As such, your status has been downgraded from Comrade to Citizen. You are ordered to report to corrective labor camp #147 for behavior modification procedures and to endure hardships.

    PS: +1 for a blog on just the rifle, unless you don’t want to share secret Russian technology with filthy western dogs.

  8. Excellent report there Duskwright, and thank you. Amongst other types of air gunning i do a fair bit of small game hunting and have always prefered x6 mag because of the wider field of view, and also that it made very little difference if any at all to my accuracy compared to x12 mag. Your report showing that less magnification is actually better for accuracy is a revelation that follows on from B.B.’s which was done on your suggestion.

    Shooting off hand in the field with too much magnification has always been a little off putting, as the crosshairs are moving all over the place no matter how good your technique is. This is another reason i go for a lower mag, and now i have this tit bit of information i will never wonder if the shot would have been better on higher mag.


    Best wishes, Sir Nigel Tetlington-Smythe

  9. Actually, and again I will speak to my experience only, for me the farther away the target is(looks) the more greatly exaggerated the tiny movements of the cross hairs are. At low power the slightest jiggle will cause the cross hairs to move as much as 1″ or more over the face of the entire target at 40 yds. When the little black diamond of the bulls eye is blown up by scope magnification with the same little jiggle you can still keep the cross hairs within the perimeter of the diamond which is, again, the bulls eye.

    At 40 yards, with magnification as high as 24x-32x the black diamond will occupy as much as 1/8 or more of the entire sight picture in a 56mm lens. It starts to become much easier to hold the cross hairs on a bulls eye that large. Maybe a magnification of 12x is not enough to fully illustrate the principle. Certainly it is something of an optical illusion but it works.

    Please excuse me if I am not being clear with what I am trying to say. I will try to clarify if necessary.


    • G&G

      Clear enough for me to understand and say – yes, I’m thinking something like that. High magnification gives you too much _trying_ to keep the rifle steady.


      • However, working at the higher power I have been working very hard at maintaining a very steady hold and seem to be getting quite good at it. At say 24x I find at 40 yards that I can hold the crosshairs on the aim point for a fairly long time.

        I should add that I have taken to drawing a small dot inside the ten ring and using that as my aim point instead of the ring. I don’t fire until I have the cross hairs steady on that dot. It has really improved my groups and has reduced the number of times I have to start the shot over.


  10. I’m in awe of your rifle. The looks and performance are both outstanding. I have always liked low power scopes. In my case, I believe that having difficulty with parallax is my main problem.

  11. Always used lower power scopes for the most part, and never felt handicapped , but then again I’m primarily only interested in practical field applications. Duskwight, that is one awesome rifle , and ten shot groups shot at 50 meters are outstanding as well !

  12. Horosho Sdelano (well done) Very proud of you, Duskwright. I think I’ll try to duplicate your experiment this weekend to validate the data.

    Now, can we see your rifle out of the stock and how it works?

    Fred DPRoNJ

    • Comrade Fred!

      Dirty capitalist swine-dogs invaded our trusted comrade B.B.’s thoughts and forced him to make a mistake, but he realized hostile machinations and corrected information defying the decadent enemy and thwarting their evil schemes.
      Shillelagh is a heavily-modified CFX Royal, so nothing too fancy on the inside 😉


  13. I’m new to air rifles and considering getting one. I buy one gun a year, and I’m limited on what I can spend.so I’ve narrowed my search down to a couple rifles. The hatsan 95 in .22 and the Benjamin titan gp in .22 . So what do you think is the better gun for a newbie? Any help is much appreciated,

    • Ben,

      Welcome to the blog.

      I think you may be making a mistake by getting a spring piston rifle in the magnum class as your first air rifle. Spring piston air rifles take so much handling skill that they tend to disappoint new shooters who aren’t accustomed to using the artillery hold.

      Clearly you want power, which most new airgunners seem to want. Why not get an RWS Diana 34P that is milder, easier to cock, more accurate and all around a more forgiving spring rifle to start with? That’s just a suggestion. Get what you want, but if you are surprised by how hard it is to shoot accurately, know there are guns that are easier.


    • Ben, FWIW, I was fortunate enough to stumble on B.B.’s work before buying my first airgun, and I cannot begin tell you how useful the information has been.

      I too had been considering a heavy springer as my first piece–doubtless because of their ubiquity and popularity–but I ended up going the other way and getting an AV Bronco instead. It is hard to imagine a better choice for what matters to me. Sure, it would have been nice to have a gun I could also be happy about hunting with, but on the other hand I was deliberately looking to start on a long-term path with airguns, and pushing off the hunting part until I’d had a chance to learn more, ultimately, seemed like a better choice for me than risking getting off on the wrong foot and needlessly shortening my journey before it began.

      If you’re an old firearm guy like me, I could also describe it with this analogy: for my first rifle, I passed on the bewildering variety of .300 Whang-Mags, and got myself a nice, affordable, accurate-as-I-am .22 rimfire with good ergonomics, sights, and trigger. And then proceeded to shoot the snot out of it for a year. A year in which I took the time to study a bit, learning that what really made sense for further rifle investment was a .308 for nearly everything, and a .45/70 for those Large Brown Lumbering Things we get up here.

      Whatever you choose, I hope your introduction goes as well as mine did, and you get what you’re looking for. You’re certainly in the right place to get good information!

    • Yes, save up for an RWS 34 in .22. A big step up in quality from your initial suggestions. The 34 has a choked barrel for better accuracy. The to6 trigger is very nice. Don’t get sucked into the marketing hype about high velocities with flyweight pellets.

      • Ben,

        there is nothing needed to do to the rifle until you shoot it. Take it out of the box and get familiar with it. If you’re not familiar with the “artillery hold” we talk about here, you can find it here:


        it’s the 16th article or so down. I purposely left the URL as it is because there are quite a few article here for a new to air rifles fan.

        I would also suggest you order pellets at the same time. The discount box stores only carry the cheapest pellets and these guns are seriously sensitive to the pellet used. You’ll have to experiment to see which one or ones your new rifle likes best. Get a tin of JSB, H & N, Crosman and of course, you get a 4th one free. Look at RWS pellets. Domed pellets are the most accurate so stay with those.

        You’re treating yourself to a great present. Welcome to the club but beware, these things are seriously addicting.

        Fred DPRoNJ

      • Ben,

        Just as Fred said, you don’t have to do anything but shoot the rifle. It just gets better, the more you shoot it. In .22 caliber I think Crosman Premier pellets and JSB Exact 15.89-grain domes might work the best.

        Let us know how it turns out.


  14. Everyone,

    I made a huge mistake and called the rifle in today’s report duskwight’s recoilless rifle project. In fact, it is a Gamo CF-X that’s been highly modified. I have corrected the text to reflect that, so you may need to purge your buffers to read the corrected report.

    I apologize to everyone who was mislead. I’m leaving the initial comments as they were.


    • I was going to comment on why there seemed to be a Gamo style replacement (gold) trigger on the rifle . Still, his shootng with the CFX is outstanding, considering he stuck with ten shot groups at 50 meters. I for one , would like to know just what modifications were done to his CFX?

      • Robert,

        That’s quite simple. Base is ex-CFX Royal with older style trigger made in 2007.

        Barrel work – 50 mm shorter than stock LW 16 mm barrel (cylinder, no choke) with correspondingly shorter lever.
        Cylinder work – zero dead volume piston seal, reworked piston, gas spring.
        Trigger work – re-shaped sears (never attempt that unless you know exactly what you’re doing!), Charlie DaTuna GRT-III trigger (I must thank BB for mentioning it back in 2008).
        Stock work – custom-made “space stutzen” or just “shillelagh” stock to match my anatomy with bedding work and reworked heavier fixture (greater diameter tempered steel screws on heavy-duty steel cups).
        Mounts are custom-made from 7075 alloy heavy 30 mm one-piece.

        Don’t ask how many CFX Royals it cost me to build it 🙂


        • The CF-X I used to own loved the 4.52mm H&N FTT. I had a GRT3 trigger on it also. I had PA install a gas spring, but it ended up blowing out all the seals after only a few shots. They were nice enough to replace the seals and put the spring back in for me. The gas spring made the syn stock slap you side the head rather painfully. I imagine that big chunk of wood really helps.

          • RR,

            It’s not actually wood that helps 🙂
            Things you described are the result of typical CFX disease. Stock CFX have one common fault – the start of a barrel is too loose and rifling there is weak. That makes your rifle to loose a bit of it’s poser and turns that power into kick. The only way to cure it is to have a very-straight-handed guy with a good lathe. Unscrew the barrel (screw is M13x1 as far as I remember) cut some 25-30 mm off fifing the barrel in centers, make a new short 30 degs per side “entrance crown”. Redo the screw. Then turn 180 degs, cut another 20 mms off the muzzle end (deadly in centers, your zero axis in this case is the barrel channel) and make a new crown and shave off some to fit the muzzle piece. Shorten the lever, put some washers to stop its wobbling reassemble, test. Amazing 😉


            • I am at this point only starting to repair and modify air rifles. Up to this point I have had to rely on others to do what I wanted. I definitely need to get a spring compressor, hopefully in the near future. Surprisingly, my wife has suggested that I set up a small machine shop in the garage so I can start making some of my ideas.

  15. What a great article! The beautiful gun, the research and subject matter, and the photo and composition of the blog itself is spot-on!

    There is much here to think about the next time I am at the range. I’m going to try high and low scope settings with the same gun, target, and distance and see for myself.

    Thanks, Duskwright!


  16. duskwight,

    Отлично, товарищ!! You’ve mentioned it enough that I’ve always wondered what your Shillelagh looked like (enough of that, Beaz…). Beautiful job on the custom stock! Did you modify the insides too?

    I think that more magnification has the opposite effect on groups than we would expect because it interrupts our timing. Under less magnification, we see a familiar wobble and either consciously or unconsciously touch off the shot while the crosshairs are moving in on the bull from the same quadrant each time. Greater magnification can confuse the wobble zone interpretation by introducing too much extra movement which confuses your brain if you’re not used to it. I think the guys who regularly shoot field target under high magnification will be capable of much smaller groups than me simply because that is what their brains are used to seeing and it doesn’t affect their timing (whereas most of the time, я не могу найти себе мозги, so it really doesn’t matter…).

    BTW… +1 again on the dusk-combe blog!


  17. OT….Santa came early to our house yesterday.
    Delivered a Baikal 12guage over/under, our first foray into shotguns.
    Just gotta figure out the logistics of clay shooting in 3 feet of snow 😉

      • Your likely right duskwight. In Canada mine is called an MP-27EM.
        I did a lot of reading. All the reviews say that it is great value for the money…a good shooter with good steel. Wood not so great (I ain’t no Browing Citori).
        One reviewer said it was the T-34 of shotguns (the Baikal is Russian for those who don’t know).
        Funds were somewhat limited as it is just an ‘experiment’ to see if we like clay shooting. Just didn’t want a Mossberg or Remington pump (same price range). An O/U just looks so classic.

  18. Here is a target that works good for me.

    Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C White/Black bullseye X targets. PA has them.
    I don’t use them because of the shoot-n-c. I like that the main back ground is white and the circles are red.
    And like RidgeRunner was saying which works out real nice is that the bullseye is a (x) not a (+) or a black dot that your trying to aim at. Much easier to line up the scope cross hairs.

    That’s what I brought up the other day about using a different target to tighten up a group.

    And Mr. Wayne Burns could you explain what you mean by (Bracketing) please.

  19. Thank you for the article, and the time taken to research and write it. I can appreciate the work,, without agreeing with it, can’t I?

    I am certainly a novice in this realm, having only begun airgunning slightly more than three years ago. That said,, I have also been fortunate enough to have been allowed to shoot under the tutelage of someone with a great deal more experience than I have. As well as shooting with and against some of the finest airgun and rimfire shooters in the state ( some under 18 yrs old).

    The majority of the shooting I speak of is at 10 meters and 50 ft( for rimfire). In precision shooting,, these are the distances most often shot. In the competition last night, there were equal numbers shooting with scopes and aperture sights. One can get no lower power than 1 power, I should think, unless you are shooting with MY eyes. My point is that one could not determine by the scores, which targets were shot with which optics.

    When one gets to longer ranges,, as do a small number within our club, the size of the groups is determined more by the size of the target than the power of the scope. I would suggest that anyone deciding to retest this theory, do so with Xs or +s instead of Os. Having no center to shoot at took away the advantage that higher magnification provides,, and in this case,,, seemed to prove something that this tester already believed.

    If in doubt about whether to go high or low with magnification when shooting,, one should ask those who take part in formal competitions at long ranges. I have,, and I know what they told me,, and what they use to win.

      • If I have offended, I sincerely apologize, for that was not my intent. I do not consider myself an expert shot,, tho I have the good fortune of being tutored by those who have taught true champions. I , therefore, am quite aware of the techniques needed, whether or not I am able to master them. It is my belief, that in order for a test, such as yours, to be valid,, it would need to be performed by a number of advanced shooters, not just one,, no matter his proficiency. I do not presume to be of a caliber to undertake the effort,, but I will bring the matter to the attention of some of my club’s members,, and see what their thoughts are. If I can get a number of them to make the effort,, I will certainly make the results known. Unfortunately,, as was mentioned above,, there are no indoor ranges available with anything approaching the 50m mark. At best,, it will be at the 50 ft I mentioned in my prior post.

        I am in awe of your five shots into .17 in at that range. I have difficulty doing that at 10m.

        • edlee

          No offence at all, that’s really a good idea.
          I’ll try even smaller targets, as smaller makes one psychologically more demanding and boosts concentration.

          By the way I must also mention that my vision is not top-notch. So maybe all that lower scope magnification does is lowering the effect of +1 lens in the optical system thus making me shoot “straight”.


  20. Nicely done, Duskwight. I did a double take when I saw 68 degrees F until I realized that you are indoors. But where do you find a 50 yard indoor shooting range? You can hardly find that in the land of guns over here.

    I would have thought that the stock you put on that rifle would have more of an effect than scope power. 🙂 Speaking of shillelaghs, I finally got one for my Dad to acknowledge his Irish heritage of which he is extremely proud. He’s fond of a song with the lines:

    When Clancy gets his Irish up
    Then he lowers the boom, boom, boom, boom…

    Well what do you know but when the stick arrived, I got a very irate phone call. Not pleased at all as he expressed in very colorful Irish terms. He said it was way too thin to do any kind of damage. Doing a bit more research, I found that there is a difference between an Irish blackthorn walking stick and a shillelagh, also made of blackthorn, which is sometimes used as synonym for walking stick but sometimes refers to something more shorter and thicker. But you wouldn’t go carrying this other nasty looking club around casually. Oh well.

    The data on the test is certainly clear. But my questions have to do with a certain amount of subjectivity in scope power. Why have two tests, one with higher concentration and one with less? One would suppose that you want to remove the human variable by being at your best. But as another complication, what is your best? When I’m at my best it is with magnificent sneering indifference and the Jaws of the Subconscious. If I’m consciously trying harder, I will shoot worse. My own suspicion which is not inconsistent with your test is that the ideal is not a question of high or low. It is more like a sweet spot of moderate power that is superior to either higher or lower. But exactly what this sweet spot is would have to be worked out individually.

    Well, sportsfans, I have been kept away by a combination of extreme work and a hideous flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis. And let’s throw in an idiot doctor to complete the picture. I haven’t been able to shoot for a week, and I can give no better evidence that things have been pretty damned bad. If your arms don’t work, then you can’t shoot. That does raise questions of how even concealed carry could help me in self-defense in such a condition, but I was pretty much bedridden anyway.

    Slinging Lead, I had been meaning to reply to your post about the obnoxious bikers. All I can say is that your reward in Heaven will be great. Might I also suggest to paraphrase Mother Theresa that “It’s not about them anyway?”…. 🙂


    • Matt,

      This land of guns must get some Russian climate and trust me, indoor 50 and even 125 m ranges will appear like mushrooms after rain 😀 I’ll send here a pic or two to estimate the range and weather conditions outside.

      In this case “doing my best” means a thorough work on de-thinking, de-emotioning, calming down, and slowing heart rate. It means _working_ on every shot. Going as close as possible to that eternal Zero if you like.

      My best appears for this rifle is 5 shots in 17 mm – but I can repeat it only twice in a row (one occasionally gets tired cocking rifle).


      • Of course, so the Russian climate is exerting itself after all. One of my fantasies is to fire my Mosin in the snow, but I guess after a few outings, one would get tired of that.


    • Matt66
      I am in complete agreement with your scope theory. Too many times we forget about the human factor in our shooting. This also led me to recall my years of competitive archery. In my division, pro-unlimited, pretty much anything was aloud for a shooting aid. The majority of my competitors would use a scope form 2x-10x, at the regulation indoor distance of 18 meters. I started out in the amateur re-curve division, which prohibits the use of telescopic aids. Shooting with a simple post sight carried through to my professional years. My scores were equal to, and at times, better then my telescoped buddies score. The only reason I didn’t use a scope was they weren’t adjustable for parallax. At 18 meters, the higher powered scopes would give a blurry image of the 10 ring. I reasoned a clear sight picture to be preferential to a blurry one. I tried using a small 2x scope, but I inevitably gave up, and returned to the the basic post. I also used the post sight at outdoor distances up to 90 meters with good success. This would give credence to Duskwight’s theory of smaller magnification giving smaller groups. So I will definitely put his theory to some testing of my own.
      I can understand to a lesser degree what you must have gone through with your flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis. I have had to stop playing my beloved classical guitar because of it. I used to teach guitar as a profession, and had to take a forced retirement. It effects my thumb and index finger of my left hand only, so I cannot presume to understand the depths of suffering on your part, except to say I know the pain is excruciating . I hope these flare-ups are not too regular for you. I have to stop altogether after only 5 minutes of picking my guitar up. The pain does not recede by trying to play through it. My wife is a physiotherapist, and has been instrumental in providing me with relevant exercises for my stricken digits. I hope you have a good therapist to aid you in exercise as well. Hang in there.

    • Matt,

      I hope your hands get better soon. My mom had RA in her hands and it caused her a lot of pain and grief. I have carpal tunnel in both wrists so I know the feeling of having 2 useless, pain filled appendages hanging off of my shoulders.

      We have some nice indoor ranges here in Colorado, but only 1 with 100 yard lanes near me. Sounds like a worthwhile businesses opportunity for CA if you could get the necessary licenses and insurance. Huge start-up costs though…


    • Thanks for the kind thoughts on my condition. The original pain was actually in the elbows, and I can report that it has completely cleared up–only to be replaced by both legs. That must be the reason last night’s shooting performance was a little shaky. Thank God for modern medicine. I try to encourage myself by thinking of how much better off I am as a result compared to others not so long ago. For example, Peter the Great, Czar of Russia ca. 1700 had almost unlimited power, but near his death from a urinary difficulty, doctors drained four pounds of urine from him!? That makes my situation completely trivial by comparison.

      Titus, you are a man of many accomplishments to play the guitar at such a high level along with your archery. I would sort of like to develop some proficiency in the piano, and I have wondered about professional musicians who make a living from their hands. I once asked my piano teacher what he would do about arthritis–I guess that wasn’t very tactful. He just said that he didn’t want to think about it.

      On another note, an internet sighting has been made of IMR 4064. The extinct species has returned. With a little luck, I’ll be running that Garand just like old times. That brings to mind an esoteric question. One cause of the shortcomings of the M14 in Vietnam–it is said– is that the wooden stocks would swell in the Vietnamese jungles and throw off the zero. This can be corrected now with synthetic stocks. But why was this never a complaint for the M1 Garand which had even more wood and operated in even worse conditions?

      Also for our gadget-masters, has anyone encountered voice-operated triggers which I have heard described in passing? That would be a game-changer.


    • BB: being new to blogging I don’t know what the protocol is on breaking into a thread. I’m the one who had Mrod accuracy issues possibly related to a bent barrel. I shot at the range yesteday and got some excellent groups, usually sub 1 MOA. This was a 50 yard outdoor range with light but very changeable winds. My groups moved and strung sometimes, mostly shifting up at a slight angle, but I came home and read about the problems with head and tail winds and decided that was almost certainly the cause.

      I did three things that took me from 2 MOA to slightly sub 1MOA. I freed the shroud from the barrel band so it floated and was not pushed hard sideways (and shimmed the scope a lot in the mounts to maintain optical centering). I took the inserts out of the shroud (but left the shroud on), and I synced the scope’s focus with its parallax-free point. Having not been scientific about these procedures, I don’t know what did the trick, but I will say that the syncing processs was a genuine revelation, and I promply applied the proceedure to all 3 of my guns with AO scopes. In each case I moved the considerably. In part that’s because I had never spent a lot of time with the ocular adjustment on my scopes. It’s a very frustrating project doing it against the northern sky or whatever because you eye corrects so quickly, and it’s hard to know if you are headed in the right direction or have gone too far. The head bob feels much more objective. And by the way on Part 1, where you are focusing the scope, looking for objectivity, and trying to imitate the experience at the eye doctor, I chose to look at print and use how legible it was as my determining factor. And on my one gun with a fixed parallax scope, I benched it at 50 yards (the distance it was parallaxed at the factory) then adjusted the eye piece doing the head bob. It was very satisfying to eliminate parallax at it’s bench rest range (sighting-in range) and to get the crosshairs so crisp at all ranges. As to the procedure for doing this, I have one comment to add for people, like me, with progressive eyeglass lenses. The ergonomics of shooting with a scope have us naturally looking thru the scope thru the top half of our lenses, which is the distance portion of the lense. This is how you want it. But if you take the scope off the gun and mount it on a tripod, as reccomended, you could inadverntently do the head bob looking thru the scope thru a different portion of the lens where the focal length is different–not good. thanks to everyone for their advice!

      • Protocol? Protocol?!? We don’t need no stinkin’ protocol! 😉

        (well, actually, if you ask a question, it will generally be answered in the same blog you posted it on. Other than that, we’re ot a lot here so it doesn’t matter…..)

        Nice hint on the progressives, si. I wear them and have a love/hate relationship with them. Mostly because the work I do has me contorting my body just to get my head in the right position to see through the focused spot. Crawling around on machinery and under vehicles gets me into some worse than usual positions just to see. For normal, everyday life they’re great, but I wish I could get the whole computer screen in focus without having to wag my head side to side to read a line… For shooting they’re great too. I can focus well through a scope and a target peep sharpens up the front sight enough to be accurate.


        • yesterday I was shooting an old 22 I had just resurrected that has open sights (a vee notch rear sight). I had to tilt my head WAY back to get the front sight in focus in my progressives, and my accuracy was dismal. I hope to be called upon soon to dispatch trapped feral hogs in a corral type trap. I’ve been reading up on this and it is typically done with a 22LR to the brain. My only good 22 has a non AO scope on it so it wont focus very close and there would be quite a bit of scope-above-bore to compensate for at say 10′. Been thinking I should mount either a peep or an inexpensive, low mount red dot on the old gun. your thoughts?

          • I think I’d just use the iron sights for that. At ten feet you should be able to shoot instinctively if you’re familiar with the gun. Spend a day with the irons someplace safe just pointing and shooting at your expected range. Don’t aim, just shoulder the gun and shoot. I think you’ll surprise yourself. The subconscious takes care of the aiming with your peripheral vision, so you won’t need to focus on the front sight. Its blurry shadow will do.

            A red dot might be good although it might be high on the bore like a scope. I haven’t used one much, so don’t read too much into that.

            A peep is great if you’re used to them. You’ll be moving to track the pigs, because they’ll be nervous and moving and might not present the best shot.

            • good advice to play with the iron-sight 22 at 10 or 15′ to see what I can do before spending money and starting another project. I would have done that on my own if my accuracy at 50 yards hadn’t been so awful! Plus this kind of work is generally done with others watching and you really don’t want to blow it. one of my earliest memories is watching my Dad dispatch a broken legged horse for a friend. He wanted to save the brain for the the table so he shot where the neck connects to the skull, and the horse, stone dead, flopped around a lot. an old ranch hand chewed Dad out for the shot placement, saying that a brain shot would have “killed him before died” Dad was outraged by the illogic of the locution, but under that he was mortified what had happened.

  21. Duskwight,
    Good start. I usually use 3X on my 3-9x scopes after noting that 9x groups did not in any way improve over 3x groups, all things being equal (and with a suitable target). On my 6-24x which is almost completely devoted to rimfire benchrest, I use about 16x — not for accuracy, but so that I can see holes on the target without packing a spotting scope (am I lazy or do I just know how to relax? Many people have an opinion on that :)).

    One thing that may be a factor is magnification’s effect on parallax. Technically, my understanding is that magnification does not change parallax error. The visual effect of parallax, however, is increased with magnification, i.e., one can see it, which affects sight placement. That is why FT shooters use high magnification with large objectives to “rangefind” (as I think Wacky Wayne pointed out above). Benchrest shooters do not need to find the range of their target!

    Additionally, parallax error is dependent on the size of the objective: Smaller objectives (with higher or “slower” f/ratios and deeper depth of focus) have less potential parallax error than large objectives. I started researching this when I went from a 32mm objective to a 42mm objective and noticed that the parallax adjustment took much longer to get just right. In fact, I would say that for pure group shooting, one should consider the smallest objective that will provide an adequate exit pupil at the required magnification.

    My opinion is that the race to ultra large objectives and high magnification is driven largely by ignorance (except for the FT people, where it has an advantage), and I think more people would be better served by less extreme combinations, if they took the time to work through the details and disregarded trite and blatantly misguided observations such as “aim small miss small”. Actually, one important trick is to size the target to the sight and range at which it is used, so as to make sight placement as consistent as possible, and it has little to do with how small the aim point is in many applications. For example, some top chunk shooters (and these are not “twenty-somethings” with super eyesight) use a “huge” (6-8″ in many cases) dot/circle with a front bead sight and shoot 3″ strings (roughly equivalent to 0.6″ groups) at 60 yards. Likewise, I find that with scopes, a “+” shaped overlay (to align the crosshairs) improves groups more than whatever tiny dot one uses.

    Anyway, thanks for tackling a hard topic, and I hope you convinced people to at least try something! If more people understood their sighting systems better (which requires that they get out and use them), they could focus on shooting and having fun with better results…

    PS. I like that Gamo! Good shooting, too.

  22. One thing I see out of all of this is there are many ways to use a scope. And everybody has their own little knack of how to use their scope. And I enjoy hearing what different people have to say.

    I mentioned before that I like shooting with both eyes open. But I found out something this weekend that I didn’t realize I do. I sometimes switch between one eye open or both eyes open depending on my shooting situation. And I didn’t even realize that I do that. I thought to myself if that was bad or good. But it works for me because I guess after doing it for so long it is natural.

    So that made me think. G&G talked about using higher power with good results. And I believe I know what he sees now. I think it kind of goes back to how a dot sight works.

    If I was to put my scope at 24 power lets say and it was at a distance to where I could still focus my scope good and see the object clearly it would be more true to the parallax range. And now if I took that same rabbit eye I talked about above and concentrated on putting the cross hairs on the very center of the eye. I could then make a good shot. Again POI is the same. Its that my eyes and brain had a different picture to look at but with the same results in mind.

    I think if I went out to shoot tomorrow and tryed the way G&G does it that I would eventually be successful. But he would be better than me because he is use to it.

    Same thing useing clicks verses mil-dots. It depends on how the shooter has trained. But its always nice to here of different ways to do something because then you can maybe incorporate some other Ideas into the way you already shoot.

    Sorry G&G to use your shooting technique as a example but I see what you mean.

    • Gf1,

      My technique for aligning my eye the same every time is a bit unorthodox. When I mount a scope I leave the front sight on if I can. Then, when I look through the scope I see it as a blurry shadow on the bottom of the image. I move my head to center that shadow on the bottom of the image in the same place every time and along with the concentric darkness of the scope bell against the image, I know that my eye is in the same spot each time. This allows me to compensate for any residual parallax that hasn’t already been adjusted out. If I have no front sight, I just use the concentric shadow and image.


      • there’s gunwerks video on youtube in which an olympic shooter suggests mounting your scope forward enough so that you get slight shadowing around the edge of the eyepiece when your head is in the correct position. that way “alarm bells” will go off in your head if you are out of alignment because you wont have that comforting, concentric ring of darkness. when I’m adjusting my combs, i mount my scope way forward, often being able only to use the forward mount. then I’m looking thru a pinhole at the very center of the scope, so I know my eye is in the right place. when I’m hunting and shooting prone which is very awkward for me, being old and stiff, if I have time, I slide my face back along the comb away from the scope so I get that concentric ring of black, and know my eye is centered.

        • si
          So that worked out on your Marauder when you loosened the shroud a bit. And for your hog hunting I think if you did a red-dot sight you would be happy. If I remember right there are some that go up to 3x.

          And as far as eye sight goes I wear bi-focals. And yes /Dave it gives me trouble at work and working on cars also.

          But that is what I look for in the scope also. What you and si said.

  23. have you guys read about the upside-down bifocals called “electricians glasses” that old, iron sight pistol marksmen depend on? the concept is that electricians spend a lot of time on stepladders working on stuff on the ceiling for which they need near focus on the top of their lenses. I assume they also carry a regular pair for normal use. for clay shooting i just invested in a single focus pair of transition glasses because the advice is that progressive lenses throw you off in a sport where you need really wide focus to pick up the clay as soon as it emerges from the trap. but now I regret not having got a small near-focus lens ground into the very bottom of them–mostly to see my iPhone. I was looking at a map of typical progressives recently and realized what is obvious if you look thru them thoughtfully–that the lower half of the lens on either side of a narrow, centered, near-focus zone is good for nothing–neither near nor far.

    • Same thing I have found with progressives. They give me something almost like tunnel vision. Great in the center, but bad on the edges. But….. At least I don’t have to carry 5 pairs of glasses. Everything is a compromise at this age.

        • Takes a lot of head movement when looking at different things because of the small in focus areas. It also makes the flat screen of my phone and the nice lines of words look warped, making me think I’m getting macular degeneration when I’m really not… Other than that, I don’t even notice it anymore after wearing them for a couple years.

          • So once you got use to the glasses I guess that it just comes natural to you when you line everything up for the shot.

            Ain’t it amazing how much optics in all forms play a big role in shooting.

            That reminds me of something. One of the guys at work got into a car wreck quite a few years back now. He always shot right handed and with both eyes open and also one eye closed.

            When he got in the wreck it messed up his right eyes vision and had to learn to shoot left handed. And if I remember right he was in his late 40’s at that time so he was well use to shooting right handed.
            He shoots just as good left handed now as he did right handed then. And had some problems along the way adapting.

            I think I would have a hard time retraining my eye’s and mind if I had to switch to left handed.

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