by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Aeon 8-32X50 scope
Aeon 8-32X50 AO scope with trajectory reticle.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • A long story
    One little problem
    At the range
    Good testbed
    The test
    The results
    Comments on the scope
    Next time

This report on the Aeon 8-32 AO scope with trajectory reticle was a long time coming. So long many of you won’t remember why I’m even writing it. The answer begins with a long story.

A long story

In the first part of this report I mentioned a shift in the point of impact that might have been caused by me changing the magnification while I shot the string, or it may have been caused by a Bullseye ZR 1-piece scope mount that I was testing. We never got that sorted out in that report and I said I would come back to it.

My plan was always to use my Talon SS at 50 yards for both tests —

1. Does changing the power of a variable-powered scope change its point of impact?

2. Does the movement of the Bullseye ZR scope mount (it moves in recoil to cancel vibration) change the point of impact?

There has been discussion by blog readers on both of these questions since the last report. And they are both worth pursuing, in my opinion. These are the sort of things airgunners need to know to further their success in this hobby. Even firearm users can benefit from the knowledge. Anyone who uses a scope sight needs to know this.

I selected the Talon SS for testing because it is the most consistently accurate .22-caliber PCP I own. No special technique is required to get great groups, and I needed something stable that I could depend on.

One little problem

I was all set to start the test when the phone rang. An airgunner in Ohio had acquired an AirForce rifle at the recent Findlay airgun show and had taken the trigger apart to see how it operates. He couldn’t get it back together, so he called me for help. How many times do I have to tell people not to take something apart if they can’t put it back together? AirForce sporting rifles have triggers that are very complex — not in the number of parts but in the unique way they operate. They are not triggers you can work on, and most people cannot even understand how they function.

While the guy is on the phone I took my Talon SS trigger apart far enough to describe how the springs fit. It was a long conversation, because he had difficulty understanding how they can work the way I was describing them, but everything worked out in the end. He got his rifle back together and also learned not to take it apart.

There was just one little problem. Now I couldn’t get my rifle together and functioning again! The pieces all fit but the trigger did not hold the striker. I worked at AirForce Airguns for 3 years and have taken these triggers apart hundreds of times, but I always had a jig and a pin press to do the job. I have neither tool now and over the 10 years that have passed I have forgotten the subtleties of the trigger. I set the gun and parts aside until I could find the time to figure it out. Time passed — a lot of time.

Then chance brought me in contact with the AirForce general manager and I told her the story. She took my gun back to the plant and someone there who does have access to the right tools and who does remember how this older trigger works put it together for me. Voila — I’m back in business.

At the range

I told you it was a long story. But last Friday I was at the rifle range with the SS and the Aeon scope mounted in conventional 2-piece BKL high rings. I just want to test one thing at a time, so I’ll switch to the Bullseye ZR scope mount after I know how changing the scope’s magnification affects the point of impact.

Aeon 8-32X50 scope Tom at bench
The Talon SS with Aeon scope is on the bench. I’m shooting at 50 yards.

Good testbed

I’ve shot the Talon SS enough to know it’s a reliable testbed for what I’m doing. I will run it on power setting 8 and shoot JSB Exact Jumbo 15.89-grain domes that I know are the most consistently accurate pellets. If you want to see how accurate it can be, look at this test.

When I first set the rifle on the sandbag I discovered that the scope hadn’t been fully mounted. Fortunately I carry the right tools in my range bag, so all it took was a quick alignment of the reticle and then tighten the scope mount cap screws and we’re good to go. The first shot at 50 yards landed about 6 inches low and 3 inches to the right. An adjustment of the scope knobs put me on target in just 2 shots.

I filled the rifle to 3,000 psi and then shot 20 shots before refilling. When I refilled I noted that the tank still had about 2700 psi in it. This fill is good for a minimum of 30 good shots at 50 yards, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

The test

Today I am testing how changing the scope’s power affects the point of impact. I used 32 power and 14 power for today’s test. The first target was shot at 32 power. The wind was blowing in my face and varied from 1-5 m.p.h. I waited until the wind was at its lowest before shooting.  Ten pellets landed in a group that measures 0.852 inches between centers. That’s very representative of how well this rifle and pellet shoot.

Aeon 8-32X50 scope tgt 1
Ten JSB Exact pellets went into 0.852 inches at 50 yards with the scope set at 32 power. The group is not centered on the bull, but I will leave the adjustments alone for now.

Next I adjusted the scope to 14 power and shot another 10 rounds. This time the pellets landed farther to the left and higher on the target. The center of this group moved approximately 0.8-inches to the left and above the center of the first group. It is well-centered on the bull, left and right. Don’t draw any conclusions from this target, though, because I feel I did not give it my full concentration. I will discuss that further in a moment.

Aeon 8-32X50 scope tgt 2
When the scope was set at 14 power ten JSB Exact pellets went into 1.521 inches at 50 yards. The group is centered but high.

This group measures 1.521-inches between the centers of the two pellets that are farthest apart. If you check the ten 10-shot groups I shot with the rifle in the test against the Ruger 10/22 you’ll see that this group is larger than the largest one shot in that test. I really believe that I didn’t concentrate enough while shooting this group, because the rifle is clearly capable of much better accuracy. You’ll see confirmation of that in a moment.

For the next target I switched back to 32 power. We’ll see 2 things from this. First, we’ll see if I can shoot another good group at this magnification. Second, we’ll see if the point of impact has moved back to where it was on the first target that was also shot at 32 power.

This time 10 pellets landed in a group that measures 1.06 inches between centers. While that is larger than the first group shot at 32X, it isn’t that much larger. It’s within the acceptable parameters for the rifle if you check the results of the 10/22 test.

Aeon 8-32X50 scope tgt 3
With the scope back at 32 power, 10 JSB Exact pellets went into 1.06 inches at 50 yards.

The center of this group is about 0.4 inches to the left and slightly lower than it was for the first group. Even though both groups were shot at the same power setting, the center of the groups has moved by an amount that is significant.

The next group was shot on 14 power again. It is the second group shot on that magnification, and this time I concentrated much more on what I was doing. Since the day was sunny, I was able to see the Aeon scope’s thin reticle against the black bull, which helped my concentration.

Ten pellets landed in a group that measures 1.251-inches between centers. That puts it on the high side of what I expect this rifle to do with this pellet at 50 yards. It is within the rifle’s expected accuracy spread though, based on the data obtained in the 10/22 test.

Aeon 8-32X50 scope tgt 4
On 14 power again, 10 JSB Exact pellets went into 1.251 inches at 50 yards.

This time the center of the group is almost exactly where it was in the group just before that was shot at 32X. If there is any difference, this group might be 1/8-inch higher than the last one.

This is the group I said earlier that I was going to discuss. I told you that I really tried hard to center the crosshairs on every shot this time. And you can see the results in a group that’s much smaller than the first one shot on 14 power. That is why I say the first group should probably be discounted, because I don’t think I concentrated enough on each shot. Of course that’s a little difficult to prove when there are only 2 groups (at 14 power) to examine. I have a plan for that.

The results

The results of this test are both confusing and inconclusive. But they may also be spot on! If this scope changes its POI every time the magnification changes and if it doesn’t go back to the same place each time, then we have learned something very important about variable power scopes. But 4 targets don’t tell us much.

I hope you readers understand that what is true for this scope is probably true for all variables. The Aeon is probably no better nor worse than other scopes in this respect — if this is in fact a real problem.

Comments on the scope

I find this Aeon scope very bright and clear when used outdoors on a sunny day. I was able to run it at 32X this time without any problems, so the last time I shot indoors there was a lighting problem.

The reticle did give me a problem, though. It was very confusing finding the center of the crosshairs. I said in Part 1 that I found the reticle busy and this time confirmed that observation. One time I actually selected the wrong intersection (there are several because of the trajectory compensation feature of the scope) and shot several inches lower than intended. That shot was not included in this report.

I don’t think this is a good hunting scope for this reason. The reticle is too busy for good work in the field — with the possible exception of varmint hunting on an open clear field. On a sunny day you can see the thin reticle lines against a dark bull, so the Aeon is a good target scope.

Next time

I had planned on switching to the Bullseye ZR scope mount next, but there is more to do here, I think. I want to come back and shoot another 4 targets with exactly the same setup as seen here. I didn’t touch the scope setting after the first group was shot, so the next test will be an extension of this one. We will have twice the data to consider.

After I see the results of that test I’ll know better what to do next. You readers could help me with this if you have an accurate pellet rifle with a variable scope. Try shooting 10-shot groups at some far distance using two different power settings on your scope. One setting should be close to half the power of the other. See what happens to the center of the groups and let us know.

The Bullseye ZR scope mount is still on the schedule to be tested. Now that my Talon SS is back in operation I should get to it soon.