Category Archives: Optics

TN Wildlife Resources Foundation Elk Sponsored Raffle

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Elk Raffle Designed by TWRF
Want one of these?

The 2018 Tennessee Elk Conservation Tag was awarded to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation (TWRF), a 501(c)3 nonprofit. This coveted tag will be raffled off on August 16, 2018, and the proceeds will benefit elk habitat restoration efforts in Tennessee. One lucky winner will be selected to participate in the Fall 2018 Rifle Elk Hunt on North Cumberland WMA in the premier Elk Hunting Zone 1.

The hunt dates are October 13-19, 2018. If the hunter has not been successful in Zone 1 after 7 days, then all the zones will be available for an additional 7 days. EHZ 1 is a 6,827 acre zone that has been hunted since 2009. The zone was rested during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The zone has a very high success rate and contains multiple wildlife openings.

Bass Pro Shops will sweeten the deal even further by outfitting the winner with a brand new Tikka T3X Lite Stainless bolt-action rifle in 7mm Rem Mag topped with an Oculus Pro Team HD 3x9x40mm rifle scope.

Oculus Pro
Oculus Pro Team HD 3x9x40mm rifle scope

That’s right… for only $10 per ticket you get a chance at a once-in-a-lifetime hunting opportunity and a prize package valued at more than $1,000. There is no limit on the number of entries per customer. 90% of the proceeds from the raffle go directly to the Elk Restoration Program.

Tikka T3X Lite
Tikka T3X Lite Stainless bolt-action rifle in 7mm Rem. Mag

Take your best shot at a Tennessee trophy elk and enter today!

The raffle winner will be announced at the TFWC August 23-24 meeting.

elk hunt

Tennessee state law requires that you must be at least 18 years old to enter. You need not be present to win. The winner must be a U.S. citizen eligible to legally own a firearm according to federal law. The winner is responsible for all taxes and fees associated with the prize, and must possess the required licenses and permits to participate in the hunt.

To purchase your ticket, head over to the Foundation’s website https://www.twrf.net/store/2018-elk-tag-raffle or the TWRA website https://gooutdoorstennessee.com The cost is $10 per ticket and there is no limit on how many a customer may purchase (handling fee may apply).

NEW: Sig Sauer BDX

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Sig Electro-Optics unveils Ballistic Data Xchange (BDX) rangefinders and riflescopes. VERY COOL! Read more…

SOURCE: Sig Sauer Press Release, May 4, 2018 —

SIG SAUER® Electro-Optics Transforms Hunting with the launch of BDX™

Sierra 3 BDX 3.5-10x42mm
Sierra 3 BDX 3.5-10x42mm.

The SIG SAUER Electro-Optics division unveiled their all new Ballistic Data Xchange (BDX) rangefinders and riflescopes with integrated Applied Ballistics® and wireless Bluetooth® technology. This groundbreaking BDX technology enables interoperability and key ballistic holdover information to be exchanged wirelessly between SIG SAUER BDX Electro-Optics products. The foundation of the BDX system was designed for simplicity and ease of use. SIG SAUER BDX requires no new learning, and uses the same tools hunters and shooters have been using for years.

How does BDX work? The BDX rangefinder and riflescope system is simple, fast, and intuitive. Simply download the “SIG BDX” app available for Android or iOS smartphones, pair the KILO BDX rangefinder and SIERRA3BDX riflescope, set up a basic ballistic profile, and then you’re ready to shoot or hunt. Once you are in the field, range your target as you normally would, and the KILO BDX rangefinder will utilize onboard Applied Ballistics Ultralight™ to instantly send your dope to the scope via Bluetooth. Using your basic ballistic profile the ballistic solution is calculated for your target and will instantly illuminate on the BDX-R1 Digital Ballistic Reticle with windage and elevation holds in the SIERRA3BDX riflescope. A blue LED on the riflescope power selector indicates that the BDX system is paired, and when the reticle has received new ballistic holdover and windage data from the rangefinder. “Rangefinding riflescopes of the past have had two major shortcomings: they are either big, boxy and heavy, or extremely expensive,” said Andy York, president, SIG SAUER Electro-Optics. “The revolutionary and affordable BDX system packs advanced ballistics technology into a simple platform that looks just like the rangefinder and riflescope that every hunter is using today. It is extremely simple to use; range a target, put the digital ballistic holdover dot on target, pull the trigger, impact. Incredibly accurate and extremely simple, just connect the dot.”

Connect the Dots

The BDX family of rangefinders includes: KILO1400BDX, KILO1800BDX, KILO2200BDX, KILO2400BDX, and KILO3000BDX rangefinder binocular. These rangefinders include many of the legacy features that the KILO name was built on: Lightwave DSP™ digital rangefinder engine, Hyperscan™ with 4 times per second scan rate, RangeLock™, and the Lumatic™ auto-adjusting display. Available in 3.5-10x42mm, 4.5-14x44mm, 4.5-14x50mm, and 6.5-20x52mm, the SIERRA3BDX riflescopes have the look, feel, weight, and size of traditional riflescopes. They feature HD glass for superior resolution and optical clarity, 30mm main tubes, side-focus parallax adjustments, and the LevelPlex™ digital anti-cant system. The BDX-R1 Digital Ballistic Reticle is the evolution of holdover, providing a ballistic solution out to 800 yards with 1 MOA of accuracy.

Rounding out these superior features is SIG SAUER’s kinetic energy transfer indicator: KinETHIC™. KinETHIC provides assistance in assuring an ethical hunt by indicating when energy on target drops below a threshold that can be set by the hunter using the BDX App. “Ethics in hunting are a contract we make with ourselves based on the standards we as sportsmen adhere to as a group, what we feel good about personally, and respect for the game and our hunting traditions,” said Andy York president, SIG SAUER Electro-Optics. “KinETHIC is a feature that asks the hunter to make an educated and ethical decision beforehand by taking into consideration what the velocity and energy capabilities of your bullet and load are to deliver a killing shot. It then lets you know if the shot you are about to take will fulfill this contract. If not, it provides a visual affirmation to stalk-in closer. Knowing your maximum effective hunting range is more than just knowing what you can hit.”

KILO BDX Rangefinders starting at $249.99 MSRP
SIERRA3BDX Riflescopes starting at $499.99 MSRP

Available at Midsouth Shooters in mid July, but you can PRE-ORDER yours HERE!

All SIG SAUER Electro-Optics are covered by the SIG SAUER INFINITE GUARANTEE™, and electronic components under our LIMITED 5-YEAR warranty. Please see sigsauer.com for full details. 

SEE MORE HERE

REVIEW: Leupold FX-II 4x28mm Handgun Scope

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Looking for a high-performance scope to realize the accuracy potential of your handgun? Get a good one… READ MORE

leupold handgun scope

by Major Pandemic

During my review of the EXTAR AR15 pistol, I saw that it had accuracy potential far more than what people give the AR15 pistol format credit for. This pistol deserved a fitting optic that could take advantage of the accuracy without diminishing its close-range capabilities. I chose the Leupold FX-II 4x28mm scope. This scope has enough magnification to exploit the potential of the AR15 pistol format but also plenty of eye relief for arms-length aiming.

EXTAR
Adding this Leupold FX-II brought out the full accuracy potential of this fine EXTAR pistol.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES & FUNCTIONS
Leupold has a long and well-deserved reputation for high-quality optics. Leupold really only makes two pistol models: the FX-II fixed power 4X magnification and the VX-3 variable power scope.
Compared to a rifle scope, handgun optics are actually subjected to higher than normal recoil due to the lower weight of the firearm, and the sometimes very powerful cartridges being shot in handguns. In the past, some shooters used triple or quad rings to help distribute recoil more evenly to the scope tube and provide more rigidity. The reality, though, is that lower quality optics just do not hold up to the punishment some handguns dish out. Leupold pistol scopes are famous for their durability on heavy recoiling pistols. And they have a warranty that will put anyone’s mind at ease.

The Leupold 4x FX-II pistol scope offers all the usual Leupold optic features including their Multicoat 4, Xtended Twilight Lens System, Diamondcoat II and other proprietary image, reflection, light transmission, and durability enhancements. Leupold also delivers some impressive gas waterproofing which actually increases image quality as well.

The 4x FX-II features Twin Bias Spring Erector System, Super Fast-Focus Eyepiece, Lockable Fast-Focus Eyepiece, Clasic/Standard Lockable Eyepiece, Micro-Friction 1/4 MOA, and 1/4 MOA Finger Click. With a 1-inch tube diameter 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum main tube the FX-II delivers a simple mountable scope with very common and less expensive rings.

leupold fx
Leupold makes some of the finest and most durable optics on the planet.

Most people incorporate far too much magnification on both handguns and rifles. The 4X Leupold FX-II handgun scope delivers a usable magnification that is not frustrating to hold steady at arms-length. Once you up magnification beyond that, you can become frustrated with a reticle which keeps jumping around unless shots are taken from an very stable rest. 4X magnification on a handgun is just right and provides the precision needed to reach out beyond distances that eyesight and iron sights can deliver.

Having shot behind a number of handgun optics, the biggest challenge is having an optic that delivers a large enough eye-relief box/window. If the eye-relief box is too narrow, the shooter is constantly fighting the distance the gun is from the eye to see the full field of view and reticle. The Leupold delivers a huge flexible eye-relief box which enables you to concentrate on the target and not finding the right scope mount length.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Leupold FX-II Handgun scope delivers a proven and reliable design which is specifically built to take the increased punishment a handgun can deliver even the really big handgun rounds like 45-70 and even .308. Obviously the EXTAR 5.56 AR15 pistol didn’t even phase this scope, however it did deliver a super light pistol which when equipped with a scope was more than accurate enough for varminting and plinking all the way out to the 300-yard-line.

leupold fx-II specs

Check it out HERE at Midsouth
Leupold information HERE
Extar

Major Pandemic

[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. Click HERE to learn more.]

 

Leupold Debuts the VX-Freedom

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VX-Freedom-Warm_BannerAds300x250

Relentless Reliability: The Leupold VX-Freedom

Innovation is in the very core of the American spirit – we aspire to be independent, to build our own solutions, to constantly improve. It was that core trait that drove Marcus Leupold – son of Fred, the legendary co-founder of Leupold & Stevens, Inc. – to throw aside a riflescope that failed him and build something better. More than 70 years later, that spirit still thrives at Leupold, and it’s embodied tenfold in the new VX-Freedom line of riflescopes.

You want relentless reliability? The VX-Freedom delivers it. You want elite optical performance at a price you can’t ignore? Consider that box checked. You want to unleash your rimfire rifle, dominate from any tree stand, or tag out across an open draw? The VX-Freedom’s got you covered.

The entire VX-Freedom line is designed, machined, and assembled right here in the U.S.A. with one purpose in mind – to give you the freedom to put a Leupold on any long gun you own, knowing it will perform for a lifetime.

VX-Freedom_3-9x40-CD

Elite Optical Performance
Only a company with Leupold’s history and engineering expertise can deliver an American-made optic that boasts performance and affordability like the VX-Freedom. You’re looking at best-in-class optics – crisp, clear images with unmatched edge-to-edge clarity. It’s complete with military-spec lens coatings that provide abrasion resistance, protecting the riflescope in the most challenging terrain. As Tim Lesser, vice president of product development for Leupold & Stevens, Inc., explained, the new line has been built from the ground up to deliver on the promise of the Leupold brand.

“The VX-Freedom is built to deliver the versatility and performance hunters and shooters have come to expect from our brand,” Lesser said. “Whether you’re looking for your first scope or your fortieth, there will be a VX-Freedom that’s purpose-built to suit your needs.”

VX-Freedom_Hunting

Rugged Reliability
Every scope line that comes out of the Leupold factory is “punisher tested and verified” – a relentless process of pounding the optic in a way that replicates a lifetime of abuse. On top of that, it’s engineered to disperse energy during every shot, which adds to its rugged nature. Finally, the VX-Freedom’s new, ergonomically advanced power selector ring is low-profile but provides exceptional grip, making it easy to use even in the cold, wet, or while wearing gloves.

Let There Be Light
It’s no secret that the first and last 20 minutes of any big game hunt are often the most crucial – it’s when the animals are most likely to be up and moving and when you’re most likely to get a shot. Thing is, that’s also when there’s not much light to work with, and you can’t hit what you and your optic can’t see. That’s why the VX-Freedom line incorporates Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System, a proprietary lens coating system that increases the amount of usable light that reaches your eye.

VX-Freedom_Power_Selector

Translation: Your optic will still be able see Bullwinkle during those last five minutes of legal light, even if your naked eye can’t. That means you’re more likely to be calling buddies to help you pack out a kill under the stars.

Unparalleled Versatility
At launch, the VX-Freedom will be available in some of the industry’s most popular magnification ranges: 1.5-4×20, 2-7×33, 3-9×40, 3-9×50, and 4-12×40 – all featuring second focal plane reticles and 1-inch maintubes. They’re great for muzzleloaders, rimfire rifles, and centerfire rifles. But Leupold didn’t stop with just improving the riflescope design, they also decided to offer three brand-new reticles with the VX-Freedom. Alongside the standard Duplex and Pig-Plex offerings, the Freedom is available with a Tri-MOA, Rimfire MOA, or UltimateSlam reticle.

VX-Freedom_Gold_Ring

The Tri-MOA reticle is designed to fill tags – hash marks in 1-MOA increments give you precise reference points for quick, accurate shots, and the upper portion is clear, making it easy to keep an eye on the game animal in your sights. The Rimfire MOA reticle stretches your favorite plinking rifle’s legs out to 200 yards and beyond. The vertical hash marks are set for rimfire rifle ballistics at 1-MOA increments. The UltimateSlam, meanwhile, offers hold points from 50 to 300 yards for muzzleloaders and shotguns.

Built to Last
The VX-Freedom series is everything you’ve come to expect from a Leupold optic. It’s tested to the very same ruggedness standards as the company’s top-tier riflescopes. It’s also backed by the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee – you’ll be able to put it through its paces and not have to worry about it holding up.

VX-Freedom_Dials

“We’re relentless because we know our consumers are relentless,” Lesser said. “At the end of the day, you don’t quit, and you don’t back down. Our products won’t, either.”

Click Here to check out the new Leupold VX-Freedom at Midsouth Shooters Supply!

SKILLS: Misconceptions About Pistol Sights

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The sights are your connection to the target. Don’t buy into myths surrounding choices in a sighting system for your handgun. Read about it!

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated
by Tom McHale

What’s that old saying? A lie, told often enough, becomes truth?

We gun people are often guilty of a related thing. That would be passing along hearsay comments over and over, until they become assumed fact.

pistol sight big dot

Some of the things that I’ve heard a thousand times relate to gun sights. You know, observations like “Big Dot sights are too big to be useful” or “they’re not precise enough!” I got an itch to put some of these handgun sight myths to the test so I could start to separate truth from hearsay.

Let’s take a look at a few of the more common handgun sight myths.

Big Sights Aren’t Precise Enough
To test this potential myth, I figured it was a good time for the first annual Shooting Illustrated Math Fair. In this inaugural event, we’re going to use really basic geometry to see exactly how big that Big Dot sight looks down range. In other words, at realistic handgun shooting distances, how much of your target is covered by the Big Dot sight?

Since this is supposed to be fun and informative, I won’t be a buzz kill and share the math in excruciating detail, but it’s pretty simple. We know that the shooter’s eye is the starting point. We also know that this particular Big Dot Sight is .18 inches in diameter because I measured it with my reloading calipers. We also know, that in my specific case, the front sight is about 24.5 inches from my eye when I’m shooting. Seriously, I measured with a yardstick. So now we have a proportional relationship. At a distance of 24.5 inches, the sight is .18-inch wide. As a result, we can easily figure out how big that sight appears at other distances.

Don’t fool yourself. Even “big” sights don’t cover an appreciable percentage of the target at reasonable distances.

Here’s how much the Big Dot covers at various ranges. Keep in mind that the Big Dot is a circle, so “coverage” of the target down range is also circular. The sizes I relate below reflect the diameter of that circle.

BIG DOT SIGHT

Clearly, Big Dot sights aren’t intended for NRA Precision Pistol Matches. Rather, they’re made for self-defense handguns with the emphasis on speed, clarity, and “good enough” accuracy at self-defense ranges.

What’s the bottom line? When you look at the real numbers, that huge front sight doesn’t cover much of your target at all. At 25 yards, it’s just 6.6 inches, and that is a much farther distance than 99.9 percent of defensive shooting scenarios. If you can shoot into a 6.6-inch group from a distance of 25 yards while someone is shooting at you or charging with an ax, then please submit your application to be my permanent bodyguard! At more realistic self-defense distances like 3, 5 and 10 yards, we’re talking an inch or two of target coverage by that front sight. Even at a whopping 100 yards, if you can hold well enough, you can easily hit a standard 19-inch-wide self-defense target. Yes, your front sight will overlap it, but just a little. To me, this precision myth is exactly that — a myth.

Big Sights Aren’t Any Faster
The idea behind using a large front sight is that your eye can pick it up really quickly as you raise your gun to target. There’s no ambiguity or confusion about which dot is the visible area is the front or rear. In fact, XS Big Dot brand sights don’t even use rear dots. Rather, the rear sight is a shallow “V”shape, much like the rear sights on lever-action carbines from the Bonanza era. I don’t know if Ben Cartwright gets royalty checks or not, but he should.

So, is this approach to handgun sights faster? I decided to find out by performing some semi-scientific testing. Since I’m writing this article during the great Charleston Monsoon of 2015, my shooting range has been unusable, being submerged in water. So I decided to get creative and put my LaserLyte Reaction Tyme targets to work along with a Beretta Px4 Storm, a LaserLyte Cartridge Laser, and a set of XS Big Dot Sights. My plan was to set up two Reaction Tyme Targets in my (relatively) dry living room and recruit a couple of people to shoot for time using the standard Beretta Px4 factory sights. Then, I would install the Big Dot sights and repeat the process, comparing before and after times. If nothing else, I figured this would be a great way to burn off some “four days of non-stop rain” stir crazy.

pistol sight on target

I recruited two shooters, neither of which had any experience with Big Dot Sights. I set up the two Reaction Tyme targets about four feet apart at a distance of 12 feet. The idea was to hit one and have to transition to the other quickly. My thinking was that would exercise the sight acquisition part of the experiment. Each shooter fired 10 shots alternating between targets. The “hit” area on the Reaction Tyme targets is only about a two-inch circle, so shooters had to aim, even at a distance of 12 feet. Only hits counted, so each shooter had to stay on a target until it registered a hit with an audible beep.

What were the results? Each shooter completed three timed runs and I averaged the results. Shooter A completed the course using standard sights with an average time of 12.6 seconds and Big Dots sights in 8.0 seconds. That’s a 36.6-percent speed improvement. Shooter B averaged 20.4 seconds with standard three-dot sights and 17.2 seconds using the Big Dot configuration. That’s a 15.2-percent improvement.

While not completely scientific, the results were pretty clear. Each shooter reported seeing the dot much faster and commented that there was not a need to “focus and line up.”They simply covered the target with the dot and pulled the trigger. The rear “V” sight just fell into place naturally.

Iron Sights Aren’t Accurate
People often refer to the inaccuracy of iron sights. That’s not exactly a true statement. Iron sights are plenty accurate. It’s our ability to line the sights up properly and consistently that is the issue. The accuracy capability of shooting with iron sights is really more about the limitations of our eyesight and our ability to hold those sights steady shot after shot.

Very rarely is the firearm the reason we don’t shoot accurately. Sight radius plays a part, but the shooter’s role is far more important.

Here’s what I mean. Like the precision scenario we discussed earlier, the accuracy potential of shooting iron sights boils down to a proportional relationship. In this case, we’re concerned about how much or little the front sight moves relative to the rear sight. If you put your handgun in a vise or perfectly mounted Ransom rest, your sights are going to be in the exact same position for every single shot. The minute you rely on human eyesight to line up those sights for the next shot, you’re limited by your vision.

A real example will help illustrate my point. Suppose I fire a shot at a 25-yard distant target using the same Beretta Px4. Now, I settle back into my sandbag rest to fire a second shot in the group. It’s up to me, the shooter, to make sure that the front sight, rear sight, and target are all in the exact same alignment as they were for the first shot. What happens if my front sight is just .01 inch out of perfect alignment relative to the rear sight? Let’s find out.

handgun sight radius

The sight radius of my Beretta Px4 is 5.77 inches. That’s measured from the rear of the rear sight to the rear of the front sight, or the parts that my eye actually sees. If my front sight drifts just .01 inch in any direction relative to the rear sight, that translates to 1.6 inches off target at 25 yards. If we were using a gun with a 2-inch sight radius, the error down range would be even larger. Considering that many modern production pistols care capable of shooting one to two-inch groups at 25 yards when in a Ransom Rest, that’s a big deal.

What does all this mean? When you read about “accuracy” of any given handgun, know that unless machines are involved, what you’re really getting is an indication of that pistol’s ability to be shot accurately. That may depend on the quality or type of sights, the sight radius and the overall ergonomics of the pistol. Viewed another way, a pistol with a 10-inch barrel may or may not be more accurate than one with a two-inch barrel, but it sure will be a heck of a lot easier to shoot accurately. If a human shoots those two guns from sandbags at 25-yard targets, they’ll almost certainly get better groups with the 10-inch gun. That’s because it’s easier to aim precisely with its longer and more forgiving sight radius, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the gun is more accurate.

We shooters tend to pass around too much hearsay information and consider it truth. It never hurts to be a bit skeptical and think things through on your own or even test them if possible. Heck, your life may one day depend on it.

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.

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.

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]