Great expectations!

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Adrian Cataldo Beltran is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

Adrian Cataldo Beltran is the BSOTW.

This is the second time I’ve used this title for a blog. The last time was a blog I did back in July 2007, almost five years ago. In that report, I was mostly addressing the expectations of accuracy that new airgunners have and how they relate to reality. Today, I want to look at something different.

Today I want to look at our secret hopes — those unspoken agendas that push us and direct us toward gun purchases that can sometimes disappoint us. I had one of these happen to me just this week.

When I was a boy back in the 1950s, I loved the Winchester model 61 slide-action .22 repeater — what we kids called a pump gun in those days. I loved it because every time I got to shoot one, which wasn’t that often, the rifle spoke to me. It was just the right size, with a slick action that seemed to bespeak rapid-fire accuracy. Since I never shot at anything smaller than a soup can, I don’t suppose that real accuracy ever came into question, but that gun just SEEMED accurate to me.

As a young adult in the middle 1970s, I had the opportunity to buy a 98 percent model 61 that had been produced in 1953. It still had the original box and cost the exorbitant price of $250, but I knew it was worth every penny. I didn’t actually shoot it that much, but I shot it enough to know that my childhood imagination had amplified the rifle’s true capabilities. It was accurate enough for what it was, but it was no tack-driver. Anyhow, the day finally came when I was forced to sell it before I apparently fulfilled my fascination for the gun — because a couple years ago I had a chance to buy another one in very good shape (call it a 75-percent gun) for just $550. This time I could afford the gun, but I didn’t act quick enough and the opportunity passed.

Last week I passed the pawn shop where I had seen the model 61 for sale, and once more the same childish thoughts flashed through my mind. And here’s the point of what I’m telling you. I now own a Marlin model 39A that is even slicker than the Winchester, and a Remington model 37 target rifle whose accuracy can embarrass almost every other .22 on earth. So why does my heart still yearn for the old pump gun that I know can’t compete with the guns I have? I think it’s that eternal desire to return to my childhood!

I had the exact same experience with a Daisy No. 25 slide-action BB gun, only this time I actually acquired nine of the things — all in beautiful, collectible condition. Owning them for over two decades allowed me to purge the demons from my past; and a couple years ago, I started quietly selling off that collection. The void in my heart had been filled.

At one time, I had the itch for a Colt Woodsman .22 pistol, because as a youngster I shot my uncle’s gun and did very well with it at 25 yards. From the prone position with a two-hand hold, that pistol grouped like a fine .22 rifle! But I’ve owned several Woodsman pistols over the years, and the experience has filled that pothole in my character. I know now that a Ruger Mark II can be just as accurate and just as reliable for one-quarter the price.

The longest itch I ever had was for the M1 Carbine, because I still have it even though I own one! I have owned several, and all have been good shooters — if not terribly accurate. But something about the little semiautomatic action that’s still impossible for gunmakers to build (no semiautomatic rifle has ever been made that was as light and powerful as the M1 Carbine) turns me on! I cannot pass one by. It’s as though I need to own them all, even though I have whittled my own “collection” down to just one good gun.

The strangest itch I ever had was for one specific gun. Years ago, I acquired a Trapdoor Springfield rifle that was in NRA antique good condition. It wasn’t anything to look at; but the bore was great, and it was fun to shoot. But I tired of that hard-kicking rifle after many years and eventually traded it away. Then, seller’s remorse set in. A year later, when I saw it up for sale, I bought it back. And I had it for several more years until I traded it away a second time. Then, a couple months later, I learned that the new owner intended selling it because the barrel was too long for him, so I traded for it, again. I also own a really accurate scoped .45-70 rolling block that I shoot all the time, but apparently I cannot stand to not also own this tired-looking old Trapdoor. Like a prized horse that’s been put out to pasture, I guess this one will remain with me until my estate sells it!

The point of this report
What I’m driving at today is that all shooters carry some baggage. For me, it’s the Winchester 61 and the others I’ve mentioned; but for you, a Browning Auto 5 may light your fire, or perhaps you find Lugers fascinating! I know that Mac has a soft spot for any shotgun in .410 caliber. Somewhere on the path of life, we have an experience or even just a fascination, and it starts the pot inside us brewing with lust.

BB’s Kryptonite
Old B.B. Pelletier still has a couple voids left in his soul besides the Winchester. One would be a beautiful blue H&R model 999 Sportsman .22 revolver. There’s just something mystical about that break-open design that fascinates me! I have the good sense to know that I couldn’t possibly shoot it any better than any other top-quality revolver, but something about it still haunts me. I have never even fired one shot from a 999, so of course the thing is really buried deeply under my saddle! I fantasize about breaking open the action and watching those nine empty cases extract from the cylinder, as if by magic. It’s not a healthy wish, but this one’s on my bucket list.

For some asinine reason, I’m fascinated by the Johnson semiautomatic battle rifle of World War II. They’re all selling for way over $2,000 these days, and good ones go for much more; so this is an itch I don’t ever expect to scratch — but it’s still there. I would probably be underwhelmed by one if I shot it, because I’ve shot the Garand (another itch that has been satisfied many times!), but I guess you want most the things you can’t have.

Oh, and for some dumb reason, I find I cannot look away from an 8mm Hakim battle rifle. I know it’s because I’ve owned so many of the air rifle trainers, but the phrase “the poor man’s Garand” has sunk its hook firmly into my lips. I’ve come very close to pulling the trigger on several fine-looking Hakims in the past but was always put off by their poor bores that resulted from firing corrosive 8mm military ammunition.

In airguns, my secret desire is to own another Sheridan Supergrade multi-pump pneumatic. I owned one years ago and learned that it was no more powerful nor more accurate than a simple Blue Streak, but something about the robust styling of the gun still attracts me. Years ago, I was forced to sell the one I had for economic reasons, so the fascination was never completely satisfied. And I sold it just after the prices began to rise. I told myself I would buy another one when I could, and then I encountered the super-inflationary price increases of recent years.

A couple years back, I had the chance to buy a nice Supergrade at the Roanoke airgun show and I even (momentarily) had the money to buy it! But something inside stopped me from forking over the cash. And that was two weeks before I made the landmark trade for my Ballard rifle — so I guess the still small voice I listened to was the voice of reason that time! I had to use the cash to buy several things that were used in that trade, so it was either the Ballard or the Supergrade.

To quote Minnie Pearl, “I’m done playin’ now!” I want to spend the rest of this weekend reading about what turns YOUR crank!

Crosman MAR177 test report: Part 6

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Crosman’s new MAR177 upper is big news!

Today’s test is shooting the Crosman MAR177 at 25 yards, both with and without the magazine. We’ll also shoot it with the best wadcutter target pellets and the best domed pellets to see what differences there are.

Rather than shoot the rifle myself, I let Mac shoot it this time. He is the better rifle shot between us, and I just wanted to see what the rifle would be like in his hands. He shot it off a bag rest at 25 yards indoors. Ten pellets were shot from the magazine, then another 10 of the same pellet were shot using the single-shot tray. Mac tested both domed and wadcutter pellets, so we get to compare the relative accuracy of both today. And the results did not turn out as I expected.

I’d noted in an earlier report that the particular 10-shot magazine I’ve been using has two chambers with tight entrances. Mac found the same thing without being prompted by me. I had him use the same magazine as I did so I could compare his results with all other variables remaining the same.

You’ll recall that I mentioned not liking magazine guns because of how they handle the pellets. So, today was also a test between the magazine and loading each pellet as you shoot. I’m not saying that all pellets have feeding problems, but that some magazines may have a problem. But when you load each pellet singly, you have less chance of damaging the pellet.

Single-load tray
That said, the MAR177 has a gap at the front of the single-load tray that can catch the nose of certain pellets and make it very difficult to load. The H&N Field Target pellets that were the most accurate in an earlier test had this problem and had to be exchanged for a different domed pellet. The H&Ns have a semi-wadcutter rim around the head that just catches in the gap on the tray and causes the pellets to flip up and possibly get damaged on loading. I substituted 7.3-grain Air Arms Falcon pellets that fed perfectly through the tray.

On to the shooting
Let’s get right to today’s test. First, Mac tested the domed pellets at 25 yards.

Through the 10-shot magazine, 10 Falcon pellets made this 0.667-inch group at 25 yards. This is very good!

When the single-shot tray was used, 10 Falcon pellets made this 0.429-inch group at 25 yards. This is clearly better than the group made using magazine-fed pellets.

Mac tried the H&N Field Target pellets first, and they were very accurate, but a couple of them refused to feed through the magazine. But the Falcon pellets fed flawlessly, so we changed the test to use them as the domed pellet of choice. Once again, I want to say that in another magazine this pellet might have fed better, but this is a quirk you get with mags that you don’t get when loading singly.

Clearly the single-loaded pellets are more accurate than those loaded by the magazine. That may not hold from magazine to magazine; but for this one mag, you’re better off loading the pellets one at a time. Let’s see how the rifle does with wadcutters at 25 yards.

Using the magazine, 10 RWS R10 7.7-grain pellets (an obsolete weight for the R10) grouped in 0.484 inches at 25 yards. That’s great performance.

When each pellet was loaded singly, the R10s grouped 10 in 0.402 inches. This was the best group of the test!

The trend continued with the wadcutter pellets. The R10s grouped even tighter than the Falcons at 25 yards, and those that were loaded singly did much better than those that fed through the magazine.

What have we learned?
First, we’ve learned that some magazines do influence the accuracy of the gun with all ammunition — or at least with the pellet types used in this test. A different magazine might well give different results, but one thing it will never do is outshoot loading the pellets by hand, one at a time. As a 10-meter shooter, I knew this going into the test. But it was nice that we were able to demonstrate it so clearly.

Next, we see that wadcutters were more accurate than the domes in this test. Even though both pellets were very accurate, the wadcutters had the edge. That was the part that surprised me. I’d expected the domes to take over at 25 yards.

The bottom line
The Crosman MAR177 is a valuable addition to an AR and a wonderful target rifle in its own right. It was held back in this test by the use of an AR National Match trigger, which is by no means as good as a target trigger on an air rifle. Even so, we see accuracy that any 10-meter precision rifle would be proud of.

I think Crosman has made a winning rifle in the MAR177. And when they bring out more powerful versions of it in the future, it’ll be all the greater justification for owning an AR! My thanks to Crosman for the loan of this MAR177 for both this test and for the feature article I am writing for Shotgun News!

Crosman MAR177 test report: Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Crosman’s new MAR177 upper is big news!

Today, we’ll look at the Crosman MAR177 upper shooting domed pellets at 25 yards. I’ll be using the 10-shot magazine, so we’ll get to see that in action, as well. I’ll tell you right now that today was a learning day that spawned another report that’s still to come. Read on to learn what it is.

As you know, the Crosman upper receiver is attached to a lower receiver that I built on a Rock River Arms lower receiver shell. I used Rock River parts, and the trigger is an upgraded two-stage National Match trigger, also from Rock River.

National Match?
To the uninitiated, the term National Match sounds like the finest possible precision. Well, it isn’t! A National Match trigger in an AR is about like a John Deere tractor — strong and effective, but as far from real precision as it is possible to get and still have a good trigger. My trigger has a light first stage and a crisp release in stage two, but it’s not what any target shooter would call precision. The break point is right at 5 lbs. My Trapdoor Springfield, which was made in 1875, has a trigger just as nice. My 1879 Argentine rolling block’s trigger is lighter and crisper, now that I have replaced the heavy service-grade trigger return spring. So understand that National Match does not mean the same as precision. You owners of Rekord triggers don’t know how good you have it.

The National Match AR trigger is quite a bit better than the single-stage trigger that comes standard on a military or civilian AR, but it isn’t a target trigger by any stretch. I tell you that so you’ll understand what I had to deal with in this test.

10-shot magazine
The MAR’s magazine is the same one that a .177 Benjamin Marauder uses. It’s wound under spring tension as it’s loaded and advances by spring power as the bolt is worked for each shot. Remember that on the MAR, the bolt is retracted by pulling back on the charging handle — the same as all other ARs.

The 10-shot magazine comes from the Benjamin Marauder and is completely reliable, as well as quick and easy to load. Here the last shot is in the magazine, holding it in place. The clear plastic cover is rotated to drop in the other 9 pellets.

To cock the MAR the charging handle is pulled back.

The mag loads easy once you know the right procedure. A couple of the chambers were tight, so I used a mechanical pencil to push in the pellets. Once they cleared the lips of the tight chambers, they dropped into place easily. There were no feeding problems throughout the test, which entailed about 90 pellets, give or take.

The scope
I mounted a Leapers 4×32 mini scope on the rifle. It’s not a scope that Pyramyd Air stocks, but it would be similar to this Leapers scope. You may criticize my choice for some lack of aiming precision; but when you see how good the little scope looks on the rifle, I think you’ll understand why I went with it. It allowed me to use medium scope rings and still clear the magazine that stands proud of the receiver top. If I were hunting feral hogs with a 300 AAC Blackout or a .50 Beowulf cartridge, this is the scope I would use. No, it doesn’t magnify as much as a good 3-9x scope, so we may have to take that into consideration when we look at these groups.

This mini-Leapers scope looks perfect on the MAR. The two-piece rings have to be close to each other because the scope tube is short.

I sighted-in at 12 feet, using my 10-minute sight-in procedure. If you haven’t tried this yet, you need to. It took just three rounds to get on target; and although a bit of luck was involved, this sight-in procedure always cuts time from the front-end of my scope tests.

Air Arms Falcon
I used the 7.3-grain Air Arms Falcon pellet to sight in. The scope seemed right on for elevation, but off to the right. I dialed in some left correction and shot again. Almost there, but not quite. One more adjustment put me at 6 o’clock, as far below the aim point as the center of the scope was above the bore axis (approximately). I knew I was safe to back up to 25 yards and start shooting.

The next 7 shots made a group measuring 0.422 inches between the centers of the holes farthest apart. It was an auspicious beginning for the test!

Three shots to get on target, then a great 25-yard, 7-shot group of Air Arms Falcons.

It was also the best group I shot with the Falcons. The other two opened up to over three-quarters on an inch, so although they made a good first impression, Falcons were not the best domed pellet in the rifle I’m testing.

JSB Exact 8.4-grains
I also tried JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes. They put 9 pellets into 0.495 inches, but threw the tenth shot low and right, opening the group to 1.047 inches. I detected no reason for this wild shot, so I’ll have to chalk it up to the pellets — maybe.

BSA Wolverine
Next I tried some BSA Wolverines. This is yet another JSB dome that sometimes out-performs anything else. But in the MAR, they were just satisfactory, putting 10 into 0.642 inches.

JSB Exact RS
Another tantalizing group was made by JSB Exact RS pellets. We’ve learned over many tests that the RS is one of the best pellets for low- to medium-powered springers, and the MAR177 shoots at the same velocity, so I wondered how well it would do. Nine shots went into 0.474 inches, but the tenth shot opened that to 0.874 inches. It was a second instance in which 9 shots were tight and the tenth was a flier. I cannot say where in the string the wild shots occurred, though, because the scope couldn’t see the pellet holes as they were made.

Nine were tight, then a tenth opened the group. JSB Exact RS pellets

H&N Field Target
Next, I tried H&N Field Target domes. A reader recently asked me why I don’t try these, as he had good success with them. I responded that I had, and had not experienced the same success; but when I checked my pellets, I discovered that I’d been shooting H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. The Field Target pellet tin was unopened. See what confusion a small name change can make?

Best group of the day was shot with 10 H&N Field Target pellets. It measures just 0.441 inches across.

These 8.5-grain domes gave me the best 10-shot group of the test — a stunning 0.441 inches between centers! This is a pellet I will work into future tests, you can be sure. This also serves to demonstrate that although the scope only magnifies four times, that’s good enough.

I was starting to tire from all the concentration, so this was the place to stop. I would say that the MAR177 made a good showing, but also raised some questions.

What comes next?
The performance of the rifle in this test was so intriguing that I want to reshoot the same test, only using the single-shot tray next time. Then I will know for sure whether or not the magazine has any influence over the group size. I’ve always had reservations about magazines in any rifle, and I really want to see if there’s any discernible difference. If there is, I may have to do a lengthy test of magazines vs single-shot operations in PCPs.

The next test that will also offer an opportunity to pit wadcutter target pellets against the best domes at 25 yards. I’ve always maintained that 25 yards is about the maximum distance at which wadcutter pellets are accurate, and we even shot a segment on the American Airgunner TV show in which we put that to the test. The domes were clearly superior to wadcutters at 35 yards, so this test will be at a closer distance and indoors. It should prove interesting.

What would B.B. do? Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Sometimes, I just need to blow off steam by writing about the things that interest me, and today is one of those days. There were a lot of oddball guns I could have written about, like my 1860s gallery dart gun that I showed you a while back. I took it to the airgun show at Malvern, Arkansas, this April and airgun collector/writer Larry Hannusch disassembled it as fast as I might field-strip a Garand. And almost as easily. I watched so I could do it again on my own, and I discovered that the gun is lacking its volute springs — the very things I was worrying about breaking if I shot the gun. So, I can now fix it with a coiled spring and a new cocking arm from Dennis Quackenbush. But that will be a future report.

David Lurch Primary New York City gallery gun.

Today, I want to talk about something that’s both very contemporary and yet wonderful at the same time. It’s one of those airguns that people either love or hate, though I’m about to show you some things you never saw before that might make you like it a little better.

The rifle is an AirForce Talon SS (cheers from our reader, twotalon), but it’s a look at the SS in a way that’s never been seen in print. I’m going to take you inside the walls of the AirForce company and show you what I was playing with when I was their Technical Director several years ago. This isn’t just any SS. It’s my SS.

What’s new?
After the Condor came out and most of the launch hooplah died down a bit, I realized that we now had a 24-inch barrel that would also fit the Talon SS. You get a 12-inch barrel with the gun when it’s new, and that barrel is totally enclosed inside the tubular frame of the rifle in the same way that a shroud fits other PCP airguns. Only, when the SS was designed, it was built that way on purpose, for those were the days before barrel shrouds became the rage. The Talon SS was the first production PCP to intentionally use a shrouded barrel to quiet the muzzle report.

But, I want to talk about the 24-inch optional barrel, because that was what was new to me in 2004. I knew that the Talon, with its 18-inch barrel was quite a bit more powerful than the Talon SS, by virtue of the extra six inches of barrel, so the question was: How much more powerful would it get if we added another six inches?

About that time, the phones started ringing at AirForce, asking the same question and I was tasked with finding out. We know that a .22-caliber Talon SS can pretty easily pull 25 foot-pounds with accurate pellets. I’m not claiming that to be the maximum power the gun can generate, but back in 2004 that was about the best we could do with accurate pellets. And, I plan to show you what “accurate” means in a future report.

Move to the longer-barreled Talon, and the same powerplant will generate about 32 foot-pounds under the same conditions. That gave me some hope that the 24-inch optional barrel might boost the SS up to 36 or possibly even 38 foot-pounds. But that estimate turned out to be conservative.

I did the testing and discovered that the SS with a 24-inch barrel could easily generate 39-41 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with good accuracy; and, if I used the heaviest pellets then available, it got up over 45 foot-pounds! Because it was capable of launching them so much faster with the longer barrel, the rifle became a good platform for the heaviest pellets. Whatever accuracy they were able to deliver that was decent — but not the absolute best — was a realistic thing for the modified rifle.

I’ll do a velocity test for you in the next part, but for now let’s just leave things there. I now had a 40-45 foot-pound air rifle that also got 35-40 good shots on a fill because I was still using the conservative SS valve. This was no Condor that blasts out all its air in 20 powerful shots. This was an air-sipper that also got great power (with the longer barrel) as well as a high number of shots per fill. It was difficult for me to justify putting the 12-inch barrel back on the rifle. Except for the noise.

My rifle is a lot longer than the standard Talon SS. It has a 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and an aftermarket silencer tube that extends the frame of the gun past the muzzle. I’ll tell you about the scope in part 3 of this report.

Because the 24-inch barrel sticks out past the frame, the SS is no longer quiet when the longer barrel is installed. But fast-forward a couple more years and that problem was solved. A device that at the time I bought it was called a “frame extender” became available. It was now possible to again enclose the barrel. When installed it, I discovered that this rifle is even quieter than the stock Talon SS, while producing about 10 foot-pounds greater muzzle energy.

I had my cake and was able to eat it, too! Except for one thing. The modified rifle is now very long. Many people said it was too long in this configuration. Well, excuse me, but I am the guy who also shoots a Trapdoor Springfield and a Remington Rolling Block rifle. Don’t tell me how a long a rifle should be!

My favorite firearm rifles are long single-shots, like this Trapdoor Springfield .45/70 (top) and Remington Rolling Block in .43 Spanish. Next to them my Talon SS is not a long gun.

The rest of my Talon SS is absolutely stock — most of it the way it came from the factory back in 2001. You would think that working at AirForce, where I had access to all the very best parts, I would have built up a special rifle for myself, but that wasn’t necessary. The parts they produce are all so uniform that I never had to do anything to my rifle in thousands of shots. I did replace the striker and its two bushing/bearings with a newer version, but that was only so I could test it extensively before AirForce started shipping it in guns. After the test was finished, I was too lazy to change back, so my rifle has a striker from 2004. The valve is untouched, just the way I got it back in 2001, and I used to build the valves when I worked at AirForce. If there was something better, I would have had one.

The trigger in my rifle has never been apart, let alone worked on. I learned very early that AirForce triggers are best left just as they come from the factory. One of my jobs was to spray the various trigger and safety parts with a dry-film moly that lubricates them for life. If you put oil or grease on an AirForce trigger, it will attract dirt — and that’s the quickest way I know to foul it. Trigger parts inside the frame channel have to be able to move as the gun is cocked and thus they need to be left absolutely dry.

So, my rifle is stock except for the addition of a long silencer on the end. Does the silencer work? Yes, it does! When my SS is generating over 25 foot-pounds, it makes the same noise discharging as a relatively weak breakbarrel like a Bronco.

What makes me like this air rifle so much? Well, I hope to demonstrate that to you in the coming reports. You’ve heard of a busman’s holiday? Well my Talon SS is the rifle I built for myself when I could have had anything I wanted, and I want to show you how well it works. The cool thing is that you can have one just like it, because my gun is entirely off-the-shelf!

How does a scope work?

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, a little announcement. Many of you are already aware of this, but Pyramyd Air has purchased the assets of Compasseco, a Kentucky-based airgun dealership with strong ties to Chinese airguns. In fact, Compasseco could be said to be the company that helped guide Chinese airgun makers into the modern American airgun market.

Pyramyd Air plans on keeping the Compasseco warehouse for the foreseeable future, and they plan on continuing the sales and support of Compasseco-branded guns, especially those under the Tech Force brand name. Now, on to today’s report.

I wanted to subtitle this report “A look at the inside” because today I’m going to show you the inside of most scopes. It just happens to be on the outside of the scope I just mounted on my .43 Spanish Remington Rolling Block rifle, which affords me an excellent opportunity to show you how scope adjustments work.

My .43 Spanish Remington Rolling Block rifle looks right with this vintage Unertl scope mounted on it. From what I’ve read, 25 percent of the buffalo rifles were scoped, so scopes on these old guys is not such a foreign thing. When the rifle recoils, the scope slides forward in its mounts. Actually, when set up correctly, the scope never moves–the rifle simply moves out from under it in recoil!

This Unertl scope is unusual because its adjustments are all on the outside of the scope tube. And it slides under recoil. When the rifle comes back, the scope remains in place, appearing to move forward in the mounts. Though the scope moves, it returns to absolute zero every time, which is why it is so repeatable.

No erector tube
Many of our more advanced shooters are familiar with what I’ll be showing today. Essentially, these scopes are ones that have no internal erector tube, because the entire scope tube is being used as the erector tube. I’ve talked about how the erector tube works in many reports, but today I have the chance to show it to you. I think seeing how it works will solidify its construction and operation in your minds.

Older scopes are viewed today as vintage designs, which many newer shooters see as somehow limited in capability. Certainly, they’re not as advanced as the most modern optics we see today. They don’t have the nitrogen-filled internal optics of today’s best scopes, so they can fog up in certain climatic situations. And, they certainly don’t have all the high-tech lens coatings that aid in light transmission. So, you’ll be seeing darker target images and some flaring from reflected light. Compared to a modern scope, they contain from one-half to as little as one-third the number of parts to do the same function as a modern scope.

In their simplicity, they have one advantage that most modern scopes cannot equal, and that’s ruggedness. They are not unbreakable, because no optical instrument is that, but they are tough beyond the boundaries of today’s scopes, and they are easy to repair when they do break. They are the scopes that were used by military snipers in wars past and they delivered a remarkable performance under the most hostile conditions.

Mounts contain the adjustments
Instead of having an internal erector tube, this scope is one big erector tube, and the mounts contain the adjustments. Let me show you.

Here you have a very clear picture of the horizontal adjustment knob and a little of the vertical knob. Both are identical and work in the same way. These knobs have very precise clicks, and the knobs can be set to be very stiff to turn, so there’s no making a mistake. This scope is not mounted, so pay no attention to where the adjustments are set.

Looking at the back side of the scope mount, you see the return spring. The way this mount is designed, one spring acts on both the vertical and the horizontal adjustment knobs. It pushes against the scope tube, just as an internal spring system would do against an internal erector tube. The tension on this spring can be adjusted by the user, something that’s impossible with an internal erector tube. The dovetail fits on a machined steel scope block, and the screw has a shoulder that fits into a hollow in the top of the scope block. It positively will not move. But the scope itself is free to move back and forth under the control of these adjustment knobs and the return spring.

The front scope mount allows a steel rail on the scope tube to move through the mount backwards and forwards. The rail’s shoulders prevent any sideways twisting. At the left of the picture is the adjustable scope stop. The spring tension in this mount is set to compensate for the recoil of the specific rifle it’s mounted on. Talk about a practical application of the artillery hold!

How the outside-adjustable scope operates
When the rifle recoils, the scope remains in place while the rifle moves rearward underneath it. After every shot, the shooter slides the scope all the way back against the preset scope stop, making it ready for the next shot. If you forget, the scope eyepiece will be too far forward for you to aim, so you’ll be reminded. Some outside-adjustable scopes have large, coiled springs around the outside of the scope tube to return the scope to the starting point. Because the scope tube is precisely made, each time the scope is brought back to the start, it is in the exact same position as before. That’s why benchrest shooters use this type of scope to set world records.

The sliding motion is what scopes with internal erector tubes don’t have. They must suck up all the recoil and remain rigidly in place regardless of what hits them in terms of force. Scope makers have gotten very good at ruggedizing modern scopes so they don’t have problems with recoil; as you may know, spring airguns gave them some of their biggest challenges. Because they recoil in both directions when shot, springers put a strain on scopes in both directions. An externally adjusted scope like the one you’re looking at here wouldn’t be bothered by this two-way movement, but scopes that have to remain rigid certainly are.

The scope caps are steel caps with extremely fine threads cut into their edge. They fit the scope tube precisely.

I’ve used this excursion into scopes to illustrate how a modern scope works. By seeing the adjustments exposed, you should be able to better visualize how they must work when hidden inside the outer scope tube.