Category Archives: Accessories

SKILLS: Riflescopes: Adjustments & Variable Power

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There’s a lot to learn to really understand riflescopes and make the best choice. Here’s another valuable lesson. Keep reading…

riflecope

SOURCE: NRA Staff

Windage and elevation adjustments in riflescopes are made with either internal or external adjustment systems. Here’s what that means.

Internal: Most modern telescopic sights have internal adjustment systems using threaded, cylindrical knobs or screws in the turrets. The adjustment screws move the reticle assembly in the optical axis inside the main tube against spring pressure. The adjustment screws have clearly marked graduations around their circumference and many have a ball-detent system that clicks as the adjustment screws are turned. Each graduation or click represents a change in reticle position that moves the bullet strike at the target. This is expressed in minutes of angle (m.o.a.) and normally has a value of 1/2, 1/4 or 1/8 m.o.a. per click.

External: Many older scopes have an external-adjustment system built into the mounts and rings. Such scopes remain popular today for certain types of target competition. In this type of scope, the reticle remains stationary within the main tube and the point of the bullet strike is adjusted by mounts having micrometer windage and elevation mechanisms that move the entire scope laterally and/or vertically. These mounts often allow the scope to slide fore and aft to reduce recoil. An advantage of external-adjustment scopes is that the user is always sighting through the optical center of the tube.

As internal-adjustment systems became more reliable and more accurate, the popularity of external-adjustment scopes faded. Today, external-adjustment models are still offered, however the use of such scopes is now generally limited to a few specialized disciplines of rifle competition.

It is important to note that some scope-mounting systems designed for internal-adjustment scopes still incorporate the ability to accommodate some coarse external windage adjustment.

This leads us to the discussion of variable power. Variable-power riflescopes have an internal mechanism to change the amount of magnification within design limits. This consists of an additional set of lenses mounted in an internal tube that slides forward and rearward under the control of a cam attached to the magnification ring. The design of the lens system and its position in the tube controls the amount of magnification.

The popularity of variable-power riflescopes rests squarely on their flexibility. Variable magnification enables the shooter to adjsut the power to suit a wide variety of conditions ranging from lower power (with a wide field of view for fast shots at close range), to higher power (for greater precision at long range). Once considered expensive and unreliable, variable-power riflescopes have become the most popular type as their design has matured and prices have dropped. Todya, the single most popular riflescope is the 3-9X-40mm, which has become a kind of “jack of all trades.” Smaller variables such as 2-7X-32mm remain popular for smaller-caliber rifles, while 4.5-12X-50mm and bigger models are favored for long-range shooting. Despite their flexibility, no one variable fits all applications and that is why there are so many different models.

Despite their popularity, variable-power riflescopes may suffer from certain drawbacks:
ONE: The variable magnification system introduces another level of mechanical complexity and another source for optical error, potentially decreasing reliability.

TWO: The movement of the internal components of a variable-power scope can produce changes in zero as the scope power is increased or decreased.

THREE: Variable-power scopes are harder to seal than fixed-power scopes by virtue of the magnification-adjustment ring.
As the magnification increases, the field of view and image brightness decrease, often substantially.

FOUR: Variable-magnification scopes are substantially heavier than fixed-power scopes.

FIVE: Variable-power scopes are more expensive than fixed-power scopes.

Optics Terms Defined: Magnification and Objective Lens

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When it comes to optics for firearms, the specific terms that people use to describe them can be confusing. Here’s what all that argot actually means…

optics array

by NRA Staff
SOURCE: NRAFamily

Magnification
The magnification, or power, of a riflescope is expressed as a number corresponding to the size of an object viewed at a specified distance through the scope, relative to its size as seen with the naked eye. Put another way, an object 100 yards distant viewed through a 10X scope will appear to be the same size as if it were viewed with the naked eye from 10 yards away. Different scope magnifications are used for specific shooting activities.

High-magnification riflescopes from 15X to 50X with objective lens diameters of 40-50mm or more with adjustable objective-lens systems are popular for various types of centerfire rifle competitions such as benchrest and F-Class.

Varmint shooters normally prefer a scope with magnification levels of 12X to 24X and adjustable objective lens diameters of 44-50mm for their precision work.

Long-range big-game hunting demands a scope with an adjustable objective lens system of approximately 40mm diameter with power levels up to 15X that enable the hunter to judge game and wind conditions at extreme distances.

At dawn, dusk or during poor light conditions, scopes with large objective lenses of 50mm and above that gather all existing light are preferable, with powers between 6X and 12X. Illuminated reticles are a popular option on these scopes.

Low-power scopes of 1.1X to 4X with a wide field of view and fixed objective are well-suited for hunting in woods or brush at close range.

For general-purpose hunting, most sportsmen are well served by a 3-9X-40mm variable scope with fixed objective, which is a good compromise between a wide field of view for close shots (at 3X) and added magnification (at 9X) for distant shots.

As magnification levels increase, the field of view decreases, which makes target acquisition increasingly difficult. Increasing magnification also magnifies movement, making the reticle appear less steady and thus hampering the ability of many shooters to hold their point of aim. These factors conspire to make most scopes over 8X very difficult to use without a solid rest. When shooting from a rest on a bench, a narrow field of view and high magnification are less of a problem.

Objective Lens
The objective lens is the light-gathering lens at the front of the scope. The larger the diameter of the objective lens, the more light will be admitted into the scope. This results in a larger exit pupil with a brighter image.

Most riflescopes have objective lens diameters from 32mm to 44mm. These provide a good balance between light-gathering capability, cost and image quality. Such riflescopes are relatively lightweight and easy to mount on most rifles. For many hunting applications, such riflescopes are an excellent choice.

For hunting at dusk, dawn or in very low light conditions, the increased light-gathering capability of a larger objective lens may be a better choice. For such conditions, most scope manufacturers offer models with 50mm to 56mm objective lenses. However, there is a penalty to be paid for th is increased performance in the form of substantially increased weight, higher cost and difficulty in mounting a scope with such a large objective.

Varmint hunters and some target shooters prefer riflescopes with large 50mm or greater objective lenses for a different reason. They want a higher-power scope of 12X or more with a clear, crisp, flat image with excellent contrast and an adjustable objective to remove parallax. The image quality reduces eyestrain and enables them to clearly see small targets at long ranges and to judge wind and mirage precisely. They also spend considerable time looking through the scope with the rifle held on a solid rest, so unsteadiness from high magnification and a narrow field of view is less important.

7 Things to Do Before Rifle Season

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Preparation is the key to virtually any successful venture, and deer hunting is no exception! Here are some valuable tips on how to best spend your time getting ready to go… Keep reading.

hunting trip
Image by Jim Bulger/Colorado Parks and Wildlife

by Steve Johnson, NRA Publications

Hunting season officially starts in September in most states…even earlier in others. Most states open with archery season and, as things progress and the rut draws nearer, they have a shorter season for folks who hunt with firearms. As a kid, firearm deer season in Nebraska was always the holy grail of hunting. We would get our rifles out and head to the range, usually on a cool October afternoon, staple a paper plate up on the 100-yard backstop and head back to the bench. Most of the guys I hunted with would take a shot or two, and if they hit the plate say, “meh, good enough,” then case their rifle back up and let the next guy shoot. Strictly speaking, you may only require a permit, rifle, ammo, and knife to go hunting, but there is more to it. A lot more.

ONE: First off: Boots
If you’ve never had a bad pair of boots, it can make it hard to appreciate a good pair. If you’ve only had good boots, you’re lucky or smart. Before you rush out and just buy a pair of “hunting boots” think about where you’ll be hunting and spend some time researching the correct boot for your environment. We grew up hunting in Sorel pack boots, which are great, as they’re waterproof and warm. If you go with a leather boot, Danner is worth a look, just make sure to protect them with the manufacturer’s recommended product for waterproofing.

TWO: Clothes
Both underwear and outer wear require thought beyond “what’s the coolest camo pattern”: Consider breathability, insulation properties (especially when wet), how well it layers, windproofing, etc. Will you be hunting in a tree stand-stationary and exposed-or still hunting, where you can find a warmer spot to sit? Think about where you’re hunting and which performance features will mean the most to you, then purchase accordingly. Check out companies like Icebreaker for out-of-this-world wool clothing. Synthetics have come a long way in the past 10 years, and one of the very best is Sitka.

THREE: Blades
There are a lot of good knives on the market, from the timeless Buck 119 to hunting knives that are bound to be classics like the KA-BAR Gamestalker. The one thing a knife needs to do is get sharp and hold an edge. Taking a dull knife into the field is dangerous. A sharp knife makes work quicker, easier and safer. Trying to cut tough materials, tendons, cartilage and hide with a dull and slippery knife is a good way to earn a trip to the emergency room. Keep your knife sharp. Sharpening a knife is a lost art, so take the time and learn how to sharpen your blade, get a good one and build a “relationship” with that piece of equipment. It will likely be one you can pass to a son or daughter along with your love of hunting.

Check out Midsouth offerings HERE

FOUR: Gather Intel
Trail cams have become a very important tool for the hunter, regardless of the species you hunt. They provide a lot of information about the type of critters passing through and their schedules. Trailcams can be found easily online. Spend some time researching features and talk to friends to get recommendations on the best camera for your hunting application.

Check out Midsouth offerings HERE

FIVE: Prepare Your Hunting Grounds
Prior to season, you’ll also want to head out for an afternoon and make sure your stands are in good repair, and that nothing has broken over the off-season. If you pull your stands after the season, this is the time to get them reinstalled. Cutting shooting lanes while branches still have foliage is not a bad idea either, as the foliage makes it easier to see all the little branches that might be missed if you cut a lane after the leaves have dropped.

SIX: Pack it Up
Make sure you’ve selected the correct pack for your hunt. There are many types of packs, frame packs, soft shell packs, hybrid packs…it’s almost limitless. The basic rule: “go in light, come out heavy.” This is the right idea. Take in only the essentials, and make sure and include spare batteries for any device that you will be using. Carrying a separate GPS is still a good idea, as cell phone battery life is normally very short when compared to a handheld GPS unit. Plus, there is a very good chance your cell phone GPS won’t work in a remote area. If you are hunting a large expanse of land on foot or horseback, it’s also wise to carry an old-fashioned paper map of the area, as paper maps are lightweight, and the batteries never go dead. At least one good flashlight is a must. LED flashlights have much longer battery life and generate more light with less energy. Basic firs- aid equipment is also a requirement. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve got a back up knife, extra gloves and stocking cap so you can rotate them as they become sweaty or wet.

Check out Midsouth offerings HERE

SEVEN: Nom Nom Nom
Nothing will make you long to leave your tree stand like an empty stomach (not to mention how noisy it can get.) Some healthy, high-energy snacks are also a must. Nuts provide excellent energy and salt that you need to help replace minerals. Beef jerky is also an excellent, high protein, higher sodium snack that is very lightweight.

Exercising With Firearms

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No matter how active you might be there’s no reason not to enjoy greater security while engaged in your favorite outdoor pastime. Here’s four ideas on how!

UnderTech Undercover
Belly bands, like this model from UnderTech Undercover, are great for carrying while exercising. They are light, help keep the firearm secure, and dry quickly.

Source: NRAFamily, Brad Fitzpatrick

Like many hunters, I love the great outdoors, but my passion extends far beyond hunting season. I like to ride bikes, run, hike, and fish, and these activities sometimes take me to remote areas. But even if you’re into the most extreme sports it doesn’t mean you have to leave your firearm behind. You can still carry concealed and still feel safe no matter if you’re hiking deep in a remote wilderness area or jogging down a city street at night. Some activities like bicycling and running don’t lend themselves to concealed carry — you’re probably going to be exerting a lot of energy and don’t want a firearm flopping on your side during the process. Unfortunately, exercise makes us vulnerable to attack, and if you have a concealed carry permit there’s no reason not to keep your firearm on-hand even when you’re involved in high-energy activities. You simply need to follow some basic guidelines on how to carry while breaking a sweat. Here are four key points to remember when carrying a concealed firearm while exercising.

One: Find a Compact Firearm That is Easy to Carry
For daily carry, I prefer a 1911 Commander .45. But when I’m out running or biking, that one can be a little bulky, so I had to find a gun that was compact and easy to carry even when I’m working hard. Small semiautos like the Colt Mustang .380, Ruger LCP, and Smith & Wesson Bodyguard are all great choices. Lightweight revolvers also work well, and they are easy to conceal under lightweight athletic clothing.

Ruger LCP
Compact semiautos, like the Ruger LCP, are light, slim, and easy to carry.

Two: Make Sure Your Firearm is Corrosion-Resistant
If you’re going to work out you’re probably going to sweat, and perspiration has a corrosive effect. This can damage your guns if they aren’t resistant to these corrosive elements, so find a gun that has a tough finish that won’t be damaged if it is exposed to perspiration on a daily basis. Tenifer, Cerakote, or Melonite finishes are very tough, and stainless-steel guns are less prone to rusting than blued firearms. Wooden grips are also prone to swelling when wet, but synthetic grips are light, tough, and resistant to the effects of moisture.

Three: Find a Carry Method That Works
Belly band holsters are a great choice, and the elastic will dry out quickly after you exercise. Other good options include fanny packs or holsters designed specifically for running like the Desantis Road Runner. Small inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters work well, too, but they must be comfortable and shouldn’t chafe while working out or expending a lot of energy. Synthetic fibers tend to hold up well and dry quickly; leather will sometimes absorb moisture, and excess perspiration may damage the holster over time. It is critically important that the gun is secured close to the body and can be carried safely, yet is quickly accessible.

Desantis Road Runner
The Desantis Road Runner holster keeps your pistol close at hand and it fit in with just about any outdoor activity.

Four: Perform Trial Runs
You need to break-in new shoes before a really long run to ensure that they fit and don’t hurt your feet, and the same is true for an exercise holster. You don’t want to be four or five miles into a 10-mile hike and suddenly realize that your holster is rubbing or chafing, so start with shorter workouts and make sure that the system you have chosen works for you. If you find out that your holster is uncomfortable you probably won’t wear it, and that defeats the purpose. You may have to wear something under your holster like triathlon shorts to prevent rubbing, and if the holster doesn’t fit and the gun flops while you’re moving, you need to either tighten it or find a different carry method.

SKILLS: Problems (Some) Riflescopes (Can) Have

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The more you know the better choices you can make. Consider all of this carefully before you purchase your next riflescope.

by NRA Staff

There are some problems that riflescopes can experience, but you should note that modern manufacturing techniques can make a real difference. There are three main issues:

Parallax
Many riflescopes suffer from a condition that stems from the inability of a scope to remain focused at all ranges. The compromise solution for most scopes is to design them to focus at infinity or one specific range. This serves most purposes and simplifies scope design. When a scope is properly focused at the chosen zero range, parallax will be minimal.

However, this is not acceptable for some applications, such as varmint shooting and hunting at long ranges. Under such conditions, parallax becomes a problem that must be addressed. Scope makers solve this problem by offering models with adjustable objective (AO) lenses. AO models incorporate adjustable objective bell housings with graduations marked on the traveling edge that allow quick and easy adjustment to remove parallax at any range. Alternately, some models locate the parallax adjustment in a third turret on the main tube for more convenience. Although AO and side-focus models cost more, shooters demanding enhanced accuracy often feel they are worth the asking price.

Sealing
Most quality scopes are sealed. This means the outer lenses and adjustment systems must be sealed against ingress of water, dust and dirt. This is very important, as dust or dirt inside the tube will degrade the image in several ways, mainly by appearing as black spots within the field of view. Dirt inside the tube can also jam the delicate adjustment system. Moisture inside the tube can cause fogging so that the shooter cannot see through it. Moisture can also cause corrosion of inner parts and surfaces.

Scopes are sealed at the factory by first attaching them to a vacuum pump that removes all air from inside the tube. The tube is then filled with dry nitrogen gas to prevent fogging and then subsequently sealed. Of course, if you remove a turret or the ocular bell housing, the nitrogen gas may escape, thus compromising your scope’s anti-fogging capability.

Many high-quality scopes have double seals to ensure gas-tight integrity. However, no scope is permanently waterproof despite advertising claims to the contrary. Wear, tear, impacts and age all conspire against the tube holding the nitrogen gas. For this reason, most scope manufacturers will reseal and refill a scope at modest cost.

Want to check your scope for leaks? Try this simple test: Fill a sink or washbasin with warm water. Immerse your scope in the water for five minutes and check for bubbles coming from the tube. Bubbles mean leakage and such scopes should be sent back to the manufacturer for resealing and refilling.

Shock & Recoil
Newtonian physics are not kind to riflescopes. In addition to maintaining their accuracy, reliability, and water-tight integrity, scopes must withstand the considerable shock of repeated recoil many times the force of gravity. The delicate adjustment mechanisms and lens mounts are particularly susceptible to high G loads and must be designed accordingly. Scope makers are well aware of this and have designed shock resistance into their products. They have been so successful that shock resistance is now taken for granted by shooters and manufacturers alike.

Air rifles are a special case. Be careful when using conventional riflescopes on a spring-piston air rifle. If you do, the lenses may come loose, sometimes within a few shots, and your scope could be damaged or ruined. The reason is that spring-piston air rifles recoil in both rearward and then forward directions while a conventional rifle recoils only rearward. Thus, a riflescope for a conventional firearm need resist G forces in only one direction — rearward. Air rifle scopes must resist G forces in both directions. This requires a special scope designed for the purpose.

REVIEW: MantisX: The Little Training Gizmo That Could

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This new training aid is worth well more than its cost in ammo. Find out what it is…

MantisX

by Frank Winn, Guns & Gear Editor
NRA America’s 1st Freedom

How enthusiastic would you be about a device that could turn you into a better pistol (or rifle) shooter in a hurry; weighed essentially nothing; worked on a huge variety of firearms; played no favorites by gender, stature, handedness (or hat-size, for that matter); worked in both dry- and live-fire modes; and could be had for a few week’s worth of pocket change?

Yeah — us too. So we present the MantisX Firearms Training System.

Physically, it’s an underwhelming sort of kit: A bland-looking Picatinny-attachable component (packed in the smallest Pelican case we’ve ever seen) comprises a compact sensor, and is accompanied by a single sheet of instructions and a USB-to-mini-USB charging cable. But unfold that sheet of paper, and you’ll start to cheer up, we promise. Eight steps that would fit legibly on both sides of a business card may be all you’ll ever read about the MantisX.

While we have suspicions about the need behind the complexity of the nuts and bolts, the concept behind the device is simple. Step One of those instructions is to get the brains to your phone — a free App Store or Google Play download — and Step Two puts the device on your rail. Next come prompted and self-terminating connection and calibration steps, and now you’re ready to train. Just push “start,” and you’re rolling. (Unless you’re at the range, remember to make sure a dry-fire session is truly dry: NO LIVE AMMO IN THE SAME ROOM AS YOU ARE.)

The sensor and your smart device are now monitoring the movements of your pistol in near real time. The data stream that the sensor sends is stripped of the crucial milliseconds around the hammer or striker fall, and the segment compared to the “still” calibration position. Large-amplitude movements like cycling and actual shots are filtered out. The result is shot-by-shot analysis of your movements in generating the trigger press. Individual shots are scored, and the string as a whole is averaged on a 0-to-100 scale (100 demonstrates you’ve introduced no extraneous movement).

A lot of what you’ll see on your smart device in “Train” mode will remind you of a “Common Errors and Corrections” target that’s been around for years and years — one of those teaching aids that we love and hate at the same time. Pretty much everybody has seen these. They’re a spider-web-looking sort of target with a very pronounced center aim point, and labels that really give them away. They’re intended to help you identify and correct many gripping-architecture/mechanics problems that, if repeated, cause shots to stray in predictable ways. So far, so good. Their shortcomings are more difficult to apprehend, and the biggest are inseparably tandem: They have handedness (different for righties and lefties) built in, and this means they’re truly helpful only when you shoot on them with the named, single hand. As this is a huge departure from modern technique — both hands pressed together around the pistol grip just for starters — it’s no wonder their utility begins to fade. Certainly, their cues to remedy misdirected shots become less useful.

MantisX screeen

You can use your MantisX system in this way. In fact, knock yourself out: You will develop a fine trigger press with either hand. But don’t think for a second that the MantisX software shares the limitations of paper predecessors. Take a look at the “Learn” screens, and you’ll see that two-handed technique has been accounted for in the software. Whether the training suggestions are utterly perfect or not will soon be an afterthought. The real power is in revealing those tiny corrupting movements you had no idea you were making.

Two additional “Train” mode displays are where this becomes clear. The first is a line graph that looks a little bland on first inspection: Your string gets plotted left to right on the zero-to-100 scale as shots are made. Overlaid on this is a running average, recomputed and displayed as a line across the inevitable zig-zag of the successive, individual shots.

With an efficiency matched by nothing else we know, the MantisX gets you closer to repeatability in that all-important press.

This isn’t as ho-hum as it may sound, though it’s a little hard to describe why. We think the graphical presentation of the relative stillness of each shot is simply more obvious in the line plot: Shots that feel very similar will measure quite differently and — sometimes glaringly — illustrate the disastrous compounding of flaws that routinely spoils what feels like a technically sound shot. Nothing makes this clearer than an ugly, obvious 20- or even 40-point bounce from one press to the next. But stick with it, and this is where the near-magic happens. Between the MantisX sensor, software and your brain, a feedback loop is built, and we think you’ll be as astonished and impressed as we were how rapidly those infuriating swings begin to moderate. With an efficiency matched by nothing else we know, the MantisX gets you closer to repeatability in that all-important press.

MantisX

The third Train-mode screen gives even better detail on variations in one crucial sense. While it goes back to the “bucket” display mode where shots are grouped by error type, it shows the degree of error, rather than a simple count. Reading this is therefore a bit more subtle: If you have small, concentric slivers all around the center, your technique is likely very sound. The mistakes you’re making are causing very small angular deviations, and are approaching irreducible levels that reflect biologic immutables (pulse, respiration, etc.), not technique blunders.

If your pattern is more spoke-like — with larger/deeper arcs more scattered — then your score will be lower, too. You may have fewer errors, but their magnitude is such that they’ll have big(ger) impacts on downrange results.

While it’s easy to get excited about the actual shooting benefits of the MantisX system, it’d be an injustice to overlook some other fine attributes. A favorite is the charging method: The supplied cable lets you charge your sensor in any handy USB. We have no idea why there isn’t more of this in small devices of every type.

Next is that charging port itself. If you plan to do mostly dryfire work and have a pistol to which you’ll leave the sensor mounted (don’t forget — it works with CO2 and Airsoft too), such a mount can be made with the port accessible; that is, pointing forward to make plug-in dead easy. If you are using the sensor in live fire, you’ll be well-advised to turn the charging connection rearward so that carbon and other detritus don’t find their way into the connector. Just remember, this is parameter for the sensor, and creates push/pull assessment errors if not set on the “Settings” screen.

We can hear some of you thinking, by the way. “Gee, what would it be like on my rifle?” That is easily answered in two ways. First, we tried it, and it works just fine, though obviously the technique tips are mostly meaningless because grip is so different. But in terms of telling you how “quiet” you are physically at the moment you break the shot, it’s grand. Second, and not coincidentally, MantisX tells us that a rifle version of the software is already well along and due this summer.

A “History” mode is built into the MantisX software, too, and it’s about as self-explanatory as it could be. It stores each string as a bar graph in 0-to-100 scale, and contains the individual “Train” mode results (all three plots). It divvies them up by “live,” “dry” and “all,” as well as presenting some summary statistics. All are shareable as well.

We expect it’s clear that the more we fiddle with the MantisX, the more we like it. It’s clever, reliable and affordable, and will allow disproportionately rapid improvement for modest investments along several axes. But make no mistake: Its genius is not merely in forging some new paradigm, but also in refocusing and capitalizing on a time-tested one. It will put the fun back in dry fire. And if we’re honest, the more seasoned you get, the more boring this becomes. Heck, the MantisX even allows this to become a mildly competitive pursuit, if you like.

As to a new paradigm, we’d suggest it does this too. Nothing in (LOUD) shouting distance allows a reconnection between dry and live practice like the MantisX system. Making one pay dividends for the other has never been frankly transparent, and we think that’s about to change.

If you’ll take our advice, don’t be on the tail end of finding out.

MantisX unit

Visit MantisX site HERE
MSRP of the MantisX Firearms Training Systems is $149.99

SKILLS: Riflescopes: Lens Coatings

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Lens coatings provide superior optical clarlty and utility. Here’s how and why…

coated lenses

Source: NRAFamily.org

In any optical system, some light is lost through reflection each time the light passes through a glass-to-air surface. The light loss can be significant in multi-element riflescopes; as much as 50 percent of the light may be lost to reflection as it passes through an uncoated lens system.

In the 1940s, it was discovered that magnesium flouride coatings on lenses would increase light transmission, color fidelity and image brightness considerably. Today, nearly all modern scopes have coated lenses that transmit from 95 to 99 percent of the light that enters the objective lens.

Coatings such as zinc sulfide and zirconium oxide are used, often in combination with magnesium flouride. A coated lens will appear tinted when viewed from the side. The exact color may vary from blue, green, purple, red or gold. Abrasion-resistant coatings have been developed for the exterior lens surfaces of modern riflescopes. Water-shedding coatings have also been developed.

Various levels of coating can be applied to lenses ranging from a single layer of magnesium flouride on the exterior objective and ocular surfaces, to as many as 15 layers or more on every surface of every lens. Typically, coating layers are only a few ten-thousandths of an inch thick.

The term “fully coated” when applied to a riflescope usually means that all lens-to-air surfaces have at least one coating layer. This includes the interior lens systems as well as the exterior.
The term “multi-coated” or “multiple-layer coated” signifies that multiple coating layers have been applied to some, but not all, lens surfaces. Normally, this means that only the outer lens surfaces have been multi-coated. “Fully multi-coated” signifies multiple coatings on all lens-to-air surfaces.

Lower-priced scopes may have from one to five lens-coating layers while more expensive scopes may have as many as 15 or even more. In lower-priced scopes, only the outside surface of the objective (front) and ocular (rear) lenses are coated. Higher-quality scopes have all internal and external lens surfaces multi-coated.

How many layers are enough? That depends on the quality of the lens system and the intended purpose of the scope. Adding more layers of coating rapidly reaches the point of diminishing returns, but on a high-quality scope where maximum light transmission and image fidelity are necessary, 15 layers of coating can be easily justified.

REVIEW: Vortex Recon R/T, Solo Tactical R/T Ranging Monoculars

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Combining the best of a dedicated range finger with a powerful and handy spotting scope, these new monoculars from Vortex are a big hit.

By Major Pandemic

Warning: One of these Vortex ranging monoculars will end up on your “stuff I need” list. Let me sum this up quick and then I will work through the features. The Vortex Recon R/T and Solo Tactical R/T deliver the shooter a compact, quick, and robust observation, scouting, and ranging solution that starts at only $169. It is an idea that combines an offset MRAD/MilDot ranging reticle with a simple-to-use high-quality monocular. Vortex is offering these monocular models in 8x, 10x, and 15x magnifications. All the R/T (Ranging and Tactical) models feature the mil-dot reticle and pre-ranged 300-, 400-, 500- and 600-meter standard man-sized silhouettes. Look, range, adjust turrets, and shoot. The Mil-based reticle also allows ranging via a standard mil-dot grid system.

Vortex Solo
Vortex Solo and reticle view.

Line up the silhouette with a human-sized silhouette for immediate ranging or use the Mil-Dots for measurement and you can quickly calculate the range all without batteries. This method also prevents rangefinder errors because grass was waving in front of you while you were snuggled into a prone position. Ahh, good old fashioned manual ranging technology paired with enough magnification power to actually see details that an electronic 4x rangefinder would fail to deliver. In my opinion, this was one of the top optic products of the 2016 SHOT Show, and after testing I believe it should be in everyone’s kit.

A great pair of binoculars are handy, however there are a lot of times that they seem too cumbersome or heavy and this is where a quality monocular makes perfect sense. Monoculars can be tucked into a jacket pocket or, in the case of the Vortex Recon and Tactical R/T, clipped to the belt. Technically, you are getting better optics in a monocular for the money than you would with binoculars simply because you are paying for just one eye-full of optics and not two. The clarity of these Vortex Monoculars is really outstanding considering the price. The only shortcoming in the lineup is a focus-free model, but all the current models do feature easy-to-use focusing and ocular adjustment.

Vortex monocular
The Solo is a lower-power and smaller, more compact choice that slips into any jacket pocket.

If you are using a Mil-Dot ranging system, regular scouting optics would require you to find what you are looking for and then get behind your rifle to relocate the target and use the rifle optics’ reticle to measure objects in order to calculate the distance for the shooting solution. With both the Vortex RECON R/T and Vortex SOLO R/T you or a shooting partner can find and range a target and the rifle only needs to be used to deliver the shooting solution. Some people would say, “Why do I care?” The main reason is that the Vortex Monoculars get the measurement tool off a potentially loaded gun so that you can range all sorts of stuff at football games, golfing, and keeping an eye on that car down the street all without waving a gun muzzle around. The other valid reason is that it gives you a ranging and scouting tool which will never require batteries. Once you start burning into your brain the mil-dot sizes of typical animals, human, and environmental objects, ranging can be really fast without any math involved.

Recon strap-handle
The Recon features a strap to help secure the hold and stabilize the image.

Vortex has thought out each of these monoculars very well. Both have belt clips to make it easy and simple to clip to a belt or pack. Other accessories include lens covers, lanyards, and compact and protective neoprene covers. The larger RECON R/T includes a hand strap, picatinny rail, tripod adapter, and mini tripod.

Recon kit
The Recon includes a case, cover, and quick tripod.

Vortex’s Recon R/T is basically a compact spotting scope with 40 mils of positive and negative ranging ability from center. The 10X magnification does require some type of stabilization or the image starts to jump around. Vortex does include a small flexi-leg tripod which mounts quickly via the included multi-mount. The included tripod is just barely strong enough to hold up the Recon’s weight, but it does work if you get the legs bent the right way. The Recon R/T also can be mounted to any screw-on type tripod on either side which would be a preferable mounting if used on a bench. At $689 the assumption is correct that the Vortex Recon R/T is a significantly better optic than its little brother. Notably the Recon is a significantly higher tier of optic with greatly improved clarity and brightness all around. It feels more rugged and is a more featured packed kit compared to the slimmed down Solo. Where I see the primary use of the Recon R/T 10x and 15x models is taking the place of compact spotting scopes in the field while also reducing the weight burden of also carrying binoculars and ranging devices.

The Vortex Solo R/T is the little brother of the Recon but with 60 Mils of positive and negative of ranging front center due to the broader field of view 8x magnification. The Solo does not have the extra lens covers, the tripod, or the hand strap, however it is the perfect compromise of small compact usefulness that would make you carry it everywhere. It does not look “tactical” which I think is important as a multi-tool optics for residential, urban, and even public sporting environments. The Solo R/T still packs in the ranging reticle, silhouette ranging, and pocket clip all protected by a simple slip-in neoprene case. The 8x magnification is more forgiving and easily used unsupported single-handed while still delivering a stable image. I can say that I use the Solo so much I will likely buy at least one more. It gets used a lot at the range to check targets.

Vortex reticle
Here’s the dynamics of the ranging system. Simple and effective!

FINAL THOUGHTS
It is easy to whip out your laser range finder, but there are many situations where I have found these tools to deliver false or unreliable readings. Mil-based ranging may not give you the perfect accuracy of a laser range finder, but the Recon and Solo provide a tool which can validate a range and double as a scouting tool. A brilliant idea by Vortex of offering this concept in an affordable package to the consumer markets.

Vortex specifications

Click HERE to learn more about these  amazing optics.

Click HERE to see Midsouth’s Vortex selection.

[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. www.MajorPandemic.com]

 

SKILLS: Optics ABCs: What All Those Terms Mean

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When it comes to optics for firearms, the specific terms that people use to describe them can be confusing. Here’s what all that argot actually means…in alphabetical order, no less.

Source: NRAFamily.org

rifleman with scope

Contrast
The ability of an optical system to distinguish clearly and crisply between areas of light and dark is called contrast. For shooting purposes, always select the riflescope with the highest contrast.

Exit Pupil
Exit pupil is the diameter, in millimeters, of the beam of focused light transmitted by the ocular lens. The exit pupil can be calculated by dividing the diameter of the objective lens by the power, or magnification, of the scope. An exit pupil of about 5mm or larger in diameter is preferable. A large exit pupil provides a brighter image with greater contrast and a wide field of view for easy target acquisition. Exit pupils smaller than 5mm in diameter offer darker images with lower contrast and progressively narrower fields of view.

Eye Relief
Eye relief is the distance of the eye from the ocular lens when the image fully fills the lens and is not vignetted. Normally, eye relief figures are given as a distance range, for example 3.2 to 3.8 inches, due to differences in individual visual acuity. On a variable-power scope, eye relief typically changes with scope power. Too little eye relief is undesirable, particularly on a scope mounted on a hard-kicking magnum rifle, where it may contribute to a “scope bite” on the eyebrow. For this reason, most centerfire riflescopes have a minimum eye relief of 3 to 4 inches. A riflescope with an eye relief of less than 3 inches should only be used on a small-caliber rifle with low recoil.

Most riflescopes and shotgun scopes are designed to be mounted on the receiver, close to the eye, and thus have relatively short eye relief. Scopes to be mounted on handguns and on the barrels of long guns are classed as long eye relief (LER) or extended eye relief (EER) scopes. Some models provide as much as 18 to 20 inches of eye relief, enabling scope use on a handgun extended at arm’s length. Other models may offer an eye relief of 12 inches or less for scope mounting on a scout rifle. Note that the higher the magnification, the shorter the eye relief of such scopes.

Field of View
Field of view is the width of the area that can be seen in the image at a given distance. Normally, field of view is expressed as the number of feet in the image at 1,000 yards, for example 322 feet at 1,000 yards. Field of view decreases dramatically with increasing magnification. A narrow field of view makes it difficult to find the target and then to hold it in the image. For this reason, a wide field of view may be more important than high scope magnification.

When looking through a scope with a 100-foot field of view at 1,000 yards, a 100-foot-wide object viewed at that distance will just fill the visual field.

Focal Plane
The focal plane is the plane or distance from the objective lens at which light rays from an object converge to form a focused image inside the main tube. Objects in the same focal plane appear to the eye to be at the same distance, and therefore can be seen with equal clarity without the need to refocus the eye. One of the advantages of optical sights is that the target and the reticle are in the same focal plane. This eliminates trying to focus on both iron sights and the target at the same time. This is why riflescopes are so popular with shooters who have less-than-perfect eyesight.

There are two focal planes in a typical riflescope: The first behind the objective lens, and the second behind the erector lens set.

See the huge selection of riflescopes available here at Midsouth HERE

National Legal Update: Hearing Protection Act Rolling Into Bigger Bill

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The Hearing Protection Act has been attached to the SHARE Act, a sportsman’s omnibus bill with a lot of pro-gun features. Among those features, the SHARE Act (Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act) would do the following:

  1. Moves silencers/suppressors from Title II to Title I status.
  2. Enhances the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) language to include travel by means other than vehicles.
  3. Creates remedies against states that violate the safe travel provisions, including a cause of action and attorneys fees.
  4. Eliminates the sporting-purposes language from the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the law on armor-piercing ammunition.
  5. Creates a blanket exception for shotguns to prevent arbitrary reclassification as destructive devices.

“The Hearing Protection Act has been one of the most important bills for sportsmen and women this Congress, which is why it’s common sense for it to be included in this year’s sportsman’s legislative package,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) Duncan, the bill’s sponsor, told POLITICO. “By changing the outdated regulation of suppressors to an instant background check, just like the requirements to purchase a typical firearm, I hope the sportsmen and women in the United States will have greater access to noise reduction technology as they carry the hunting and recreational shooting tradition to future generations.”

“If this bill passes,” said Texas & U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington, “it will make suppressors Title I items like firearms—that is, not National Firearms Act devices—which means they will become more common and more widely transported. However, at least 10 states will likely ban suppressors even if this becomes law. About the same number of states have some kind of restriction on ammunition-feeding devices, also known as magazines. FOPA safe travel won’t do us much good if gun owners can still be arrested for magazines and accessories.”

“Attaching the HPA to a bill that should be easier to pass suggests that Congressional Republicans may have become serious about actually passing this,” she said. “Passing this bill would be a big win.” —Texas & U.S. Law Shield Staff

 

 

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