Welcome to the list of previous newsletters from
Wilhelm Arms & Optics.
Only the specials have been deleted; the news and comments remain.

Click here to go to this particular item (and then press Ctrl/Home to return to this menu)

Accuracy gone away? Look closer    Accuracy issues with two piece stocks    Cheap is not good    Direct supply   
Extreme zoom riflescopes    Leica Global Pricing Changes    Mis-alignment of Riflescopes   
News from Hornady    Politics and Firearms    Powder caution    Quest for accuracy    Scope ring height   
Shortages of shooting related products    Swarovski EL Range    Torque Settings    Why scopes fog   
Zeiss Conquest HD5: first impressions   

Testing a riflescope

Recently I was reminded of something which, these days, appears, mercifully, to be less common than it was when I was repairing riflescopes and binoculars for the sports trade as my primary source of income. I refer to the practice of putting a riflescope into a deep freeze cabinet” to find out if it actually is waterproof”. Would you deliberately crash your car to find out if its air bags work? The analogy might be flippant, but the message is not meant to be so. A riflescope should not be given such treatment because of what I would term thermal shock. Such a rapid change in environmental temperature is very hard for a riflescope to cope with because of the materials used in making one. The expansion co-efficient differential between, steel, alloy, plastic , rubber and glass are all different. This means that things warm and cool, expand and contract, at differing speeds. This means that when a rapid temperature rise or drop is encountered, it is possible that the joints between these various materials will actually loosen or even open briefly until the slower-reacting material, (usually the glass) catches up and the seal is restored. In that sudden, short time frame, the scope, which, under normal conditions, would cope satisfactorily with a gradual temperature or humidity change, could be vulnerable to the ingress of water vapour induced by moist air condensing when it meets the cold, dry atmosphere inside the freezer. The end result can be a riflescope with moisture inside it where none previously existed. My advice is simply this. If your scope does not fog up on the inside, be thankful and continue to use it under the conditions it was made to handle. Your scope will let you know, without any artificial prompting on your part, when it can no longer keep out the weather. There seems to be little benefit in hastening the demise of your riflescope by inducing a sealing failure.

Torque Settings

One thing that I have recently come across is a list of suggested torque settings for rifles and riflescope mounts. The source makes mention that they have contacted the manufacturers of both scope mount systems and rifle makers and have come up with the following recommendations: ALL NUMBERS ARE INCH POUNDS. Base screws 30. Windage screws (for the original Redfield type bases and rings which had the twist-in front ring and two, opposing windage screws acting on the rear ring) 30-40. Ring screws, aluminium rings 10-15. Ring screws, steel rings 15-20. Rifle guard screws: Wood, fibreglass or synthetic stock without bedding pillars 40. Wood fibreglass or synthetic stock with bedding pillars up to 65. Hard-use service-type rifles in synthetic stocks with pillars up to 65. Note, any rifle with a middle third screw should only have this middle screw slightly tightened. It is not a bedding screw. Another set of figures goes by screw size: #6 screws, e.g. many base screws 18-20. #8 screws, some bases and some rings 28-30 #10 screws 40-45 Screws larger than #10, 65+

Scope ring height

Today I will offer up a simple tip for those who don’t have access to a set of callipers to measure what height scope rings they are going to need in order to clear the barrel or rear sight at the front end and the bolt handle at the other end when fitting up a scope to a rifle. Unfortunately one scope ring manufacturer’s high ring will be the height of some other maker’s medium ring and so on. Never ask for a low medium or high ring unless you really do know that is what you need. Here’s how to check. Set the rifle up in a padded vise, scope stand, cardboard carton with a couple of “V” notches cut out of it or have a very patient accomplice hold it horizontally while you work. Check it is unloaded and then fit the bolt in the open bolt position. Have a selection of all sizes of coins. You will need two sets as a minimum because you will be using a stack on the front receiver and a second stack on the rear receiver. These will be where the scope rings are going to be fitted. If the rifle has or is going to have base blocks, they should already be installed. Next, try stacking coins (equal combinations every time front and back) and then rest the scope on the top of these stacks. Check that you have clearance over the barrel or rear sight if fitted and in the way of the scope, and also clearance for the bolt. Take into consideration any scope caps or lens hood you wish to use. By adding and subtracting coins of different denominations, you will arrive at the clearance you would like. Then, tell me what number of each denomination coins comprised one of your stacks. I can then duplicate the stack and take the measurements I need to establish the most appropriate height rings you will need. I need to know also which style of rings/bases you are working with. The Weaver base system is the most common. With this, and similar types it is much easier to stack your coins on top of the bases rather than trying to juggle them on a round receiver. Contact me if you need help, or best of all, bring the rifle, scope and bolt in with you or have me fit it up if you are buying the scope and rings from me anyway.

Powder Caution

For those who already know this, please forgive me for reminding you, but for all the new reloaders who I have had the privilege of supplying their first equipment to, please take note. The other day a customer was discussing case tumblers and case cleaning with me and asked me what I thought about cleaning loaded ammunition. This reminded me of the fact that although I know not to do so, there will be a lot of customers, new to handloading, who don’t know the real dangers involved. The common reason thought of for caution on this subject is possible detonation of a live round by the tip of another cartridge striking the primer. That is not the danger involved. The reason why you must NEVER tumble clean live ammunition relates to how it is made. Many years ago it was explained to me that how a manufacturer produces powders of various speeds (burning rates), is by the careful application of deterrent coatings. If you loaded, for example, a .270 Winchester case with a safe quantity of ADI AR2209 and seated your favourite projectile to a safe depth, you could reasonably assume that it would be safe to fire it in your .270 Win calibre rifle. However, if you decided, after loading the batch that you forgot to give them a clean first in your tumbler and put all the ammo into the machine and ran it for however long it takes to clean them to your satisfaction, the powder granules on the inside of the cartridges were being equally agitated, along with the treated corn cob media on the outside. This rubbing action would break down the deterrent coatings on the powder. The result could be that your safe load of AR2209 powder, when ignited during firing, will now react the same as if you had put the equivalent load of AR2205 (fast burning) powder in by mistake. The results of such a mistake could be fatal.

Accuracy issues with two piece stocks

A customer had an accuracy problem develop in a Browning rifle with a two piece stock. The problem was not the scope or mounts as he had expected. The bolt holding the butt-stock to the action had come a little loose. This will badly affect accuracy of such rifles. I first encountered this with Lee Enfield .303 and was able to help him find the problem. If you own any two piece stock firearms, keep this in mind.

Swarovski Dealer Seminar

SWAROVSKI EL Range (21/10/2011)
My trip to the Swarovski launch of the new EL RANGE rangefinder binoculars in Wellington on Tuesday/Wednesday this week was very good and well worth attending. Richard Kramer, the International Sales Manager was there to make the presentation. Before I saw and handled the new EL RANGE I had read up what I could about them and was concerned that nowhere could I find a reference to them using HD glass in them. With Leica, first generation not having HD glass and their second generation with HD, I felt that Swarovski had made another blunder by not matching the opposition by using HD in their first rangefinder binocular. Their first blunder I am referring to by the way, for those of you who were wondering, was (I believe) building their first laser rangefinder monocular on an eight power platform instead of a ten power one. The optics of the LASER GUIDE are so good and the size of the instrument quite large, it would be unlikely that a hunter would carry both a 10x binocular and the 8x rangefinder. Sooner or later, he will find the 8x just not enough to evaluate a distant animal or perhaps to positively identify a dot in the distance where a quality 10x instrument would have confirmed what the subject was. Happily, I need not have been concerned as to the performance of the EL RANGE 10x42. One of the others attending the seminar had (bravely) smuggled in his pair of Leica Geovid HD so we had the chance of making a comparison. Although I did not personally get the chance to do so, the comments were such that the Swarovski was brighter and it also gave long distance [over 1300m] readings every time compared with just some times with the Leica. The Leica persisted in giving readings of a closer tree or the 1300+ tree whenever it felt like it. The EL RANGE, because it has a beam divergence about a third that of Leica, was able to consistently give the reading from the correct subject. This feature is important when there is a need to range through bush, trees, or other obstacles and the EL RANGE definitely wins. This, together with its other features, and being able to select either yards or meters, will justify its higher price to a lot of customers. During the presentation, numerous charts were shown with comparison figures for Leica and Zeiss rangefinder binoculars. One of the most surprising figures was that Swarovski have achieved 91% transmission through BOTH lens barrels and both Zeiss and Leica readings are different between each barrel and both of them are well below the transmission figures of the Swarovski despite HD glass. The binoculars have two function buttons. The ranging button is on the top of the left bridge immediately forward of the focus knob. This falls readily and naturally below the left index finger. It is light to the touch and easy to operate. The two barrels have displays in the. The left side shows the range and either the angle or the equivalent horizontal shot distance {Leupold use the term “true ballistic range” TBR] which is very useful when calculating the hold for the shot. A feature that I liked was that the individual focus rings allow a perfectly sharp image of both illuminated displays to be set and then locked in place. Measuring distances was accomplished without fuss or drama. Swarovski use the system of pressing the button to switch on the aiming mark and the range is displayed when you lift your finger off the button. The menu button is tucked away underneath the body section. Because this controls what shows up in the left barrel only, I found that it was easier to look through the left barrel with my right eye; have the binocular set at its widest apart papillary setting, and that gave easier access to the menu button than trying to squeeze a finger in to reach the button while the binocular was set for both eye viewing. The image was very bright and the sharpness was what one would expect from Swarovski. The edge definition was certainly acceptable although not as good as that in their new field-flattener technology binoculars. The shape with the wrap-around grip was very nice and it was easy to hold comfortably free-hand. The lumps on the underside of each barrel house the electronics and look just like the bulge on the underbelly of the second plane which hit the tower on 911 and on some military aircraft. They do not get in the way when using the binocular. In fact, I actually found that I could make very good use of these bulges in the following way. I found an outdoors staircase with gaps between the steps. I stood underneath the steps, lay the binoculars on the appropriate height step and then, by moving my two thumbs forwards and backwards was able to adjust the tilt of the binocular through several degrees and prop them absolutely rock-steady wherever I wanted them resting on the curves of the two lumps forward and my two thumbs at the back. This method, I envisage, will be used from window ledges and from outdoor tables. My impressions. The first was how smart they look; second, how light they were. The brochure states a weight of 900g for both the 8x42 and the 10x42, although Richard mentioned that the 8x is under 900g and the 10x is 910g. Both weights are very acceptable to me and I expect to most of my customers. The only criticism I could think of was that the carrying strap lugs are in a position which made my instinctive grip position such that I had to reach slightly backwards to make contact with the forward end of the main focus wheel. This felt a little awkward. I tried holding them far enough back that my finger fell naturally onto the focus ring but these lugs and the attached strap felt uncomfortable so I reverted to the forward hold and rearward finger position to focus. That was all I did not like. There was MUCH MORE to like so I give them a very positive thumbs up folks. An estimated RRP was mentioned by other dealers at the seminar of $4200.00 to $4500.00 with the first shipment due in Jan-Feb 2012. There are already back-orders in for these from shops and the first shipment is likely to be pre-sold as the first published New Zealand tests are yet to appear. One of the reviewers has the sample pair at present and, I am told, has managed to get readings beyond 2000 yards off a grassy face. That IS impressive! Richard Kramer hinted that the figures in the brochure are conservative if the air is not filled with fog or rain. It looks like he is right! I will be happy to take orders but unless you act immediately, I am very doubtful that we will be able to supply everyone from the first shipment. As always, first in first served applies. For more information, take a look at: http://el-range.swarovskioptik.com/ and then talk to me if you are interested in getting one. By the time you read this newsletter I will probably have the actual pricing.
Also being shown to us was the new, budget end COMPANION series binoculars. 8x30 and 10x30. I asked Richard Kramer whether they were gluing in the ocular lenses as it had appeared to me when I was first shown these. He told me that they are not just glued together, but rather they are using traditional screw-together methods. That has removed my apprehension about this new offering. I accept that this is a model not built on the traditional metal body frame and did not expect it to have been magnesium at the prices they are selling for. As a second pair for daylight use, these light, small binoculars perform very well indeed. They are bright with satisfactorily sharp definition. An alternative to the Habicht Porro prism, traditional shape, which I still sell and recommend to those who can’t or won’t spend out for the roof prism Swarovski models.
The last item shown to us was the familiar HD spotting scope but what attracted most attention was the Ricoh camera which Richard had mounted upon it. He successfully photographed a wood pigeon at a distance I forgot to measure but I would guess was well over two hundred meters away. The camera was water and shock proof; had a 5x optical zoom AND it had a GPS built in. I am enquiring about this from the my supplier as to a price and availability. It mounted to the spotting scope very easily and quickly using mounts made and supplied by Swarovski.

Mis-alignment of riflescopes

Mis-aligned riflescopes.
In the last two weeks a couple of people have phoned in with problems of riflescopes not being well aligned with the bore of their rifle. This is a problem which I used to see every week years ago when .303 Lee Enfields and sporterized Mauser 98 rifles were very common as the hunting rifle of choice (or financial necessity). The problem commonly was that the scope base holes were not drilled in line with the bore. This caused the scope to be pointing sufficiently off to one side or the other. This resulted in there not being enough adjustment in the riflescope to bring the point of aim onto target. For those of you with this problem and who are without windage adjustable scope mounts, the following advice might prove to be of great help. It might save the cost of new, windage adjustable rings. To check for progress you will need to have an optical boresighter such as the one illustrated, or, make yourself a stand for the scoped rifle from a cardboard box with two "V" cut-outs; one for under the forestock and a deeper one for the toe end of the butt-stock. You need to be able to aim the whole box and rifle setup at a recognizable target so that you can bore-sight the rifle and watch to see what progress you are making with the following instructions. Step one. Wind the riflescope windage adjuster fully outwards until it reaches its stop. Turn back the other way, counting the number of turns and part turn until the other stop is reached. Reverse direction and come back to halfway. Step two. Mount the scope and compare the boresight picture and the riflescope picture to determine how far left or right the scope is pointing. Note well exactly where the bore is looking because you will need to point the bore to this spot for every check you make. Now, take the front ring and turn it 180 degrees. That is, if you had the locking screw which holds the ring to the rifle or to the base pointing to the right before, then turn the rind bottom so that it now faces to the left. lower the scope back into both ring halves, re-check the boresight picture is where it should be and then compare where the scope picture has moved to. It might have improved the alignment or it might have made it worse. keep notes of your progress. Do the same check with the rear scope ring. You can also try the front ring on the rear and the rear ring to the front. This does not work with setups which use different height rings front and back such as Ruger 77 rifles. By trying each possible combination of ring-to-base alignment, it is quite often found to minimize if not completely cure this problem. If you don't have the means to do this work, I am happy to assess your problem and do the work for you if I think that I can effect a cure.

Shortage of shooting related products

SHORTAGES. (12/0/2013)
Well, I suppose it was to be expected: The United States re-elects an anti 2nd Amendment president and the shooting fraternity goes into a buying frenzy. The result, of course, is that everything becomes either hard or impossible to get. This time, I believe will be worse than any previous shortage I have experienced in my forty three years of running my own business. Already, a search I did (Friday 8th March), of two of America’s top wholesalers websites (through my dealer access) revealed that there are no primers available and, on one of the sites, from eight pages of projectiles they listed only THREE individual bullet types were shown as being in stock and one of those was down to ONE ONLY packet when I took a look. The same applies to factory ammunition. A picture sent to me recently showed a shop’s ammo shelves with less total ammo on them than I expect most of my customers would have at home and think they didn’t have either an excess, or, in many cases, enough for their own use! Therefore, because I can’t source primers from my suppliers, I am applying restrictions on all brands and types of primers. Small pistol primers are the most critical right now. Effective immediately, what I have left will be sold with projectiles: buy any stock pistol calibre projectiles and you can buy an equal number of primers to launch them. At present, I have virtually none of some types of primers so a 100 tray (or 150 or 250 in the case of Fiocchi ) limit will apply for all except small pistol primers. Others, I have marginally better stocks, and a higher limit will apply until my stocks run low and then, they too, will go down to the one tray limit. Expect these rationing terms to alter as stock is either depleted or replenished. As on previous occasions when rations were imposed, I will also sell primer-per-bullet and primer-per-wad and primer-per-case purchased. for sales of projectiles, shotgun wads and new brass for pistol and rifle cartridges. Meaning, if you come and buy 500 projectiles, or wads or new cases, you may also buy 500 of the appropriate size primer while stocks last. Unlike previous times where I managed to get right through the shortage time with existing stocks, I expect this shortage to last much longer and to see me run out of many, if not all primers, and probably most of my stocks of factory ammunition as well. It would be advisable to check with me before coming as to the current stock and rationing situation for your specific make and primer type. I have no plans, at present, to ration my stocks of ammunition, projectiles, brass, reloading powder or other stock item. This may well change as supply lines dry up.

Politics and Firearms

Isn’t it just so predictable? With the American Presidential system pegged to a two-term maximum, that all our suspicions about the new president , which grow during his first term of office, suddenly appear to flourish and grow when the second and final term becomes a reality and he, no longer has to hide his true colours. Many still wonder about the Bush administration and the truth behind the 9/11 attacks, despite the thorough, and seemingly widely accepted media campaign of misinformation which will continue in the same way as the Warren Commission’s report on the Kennedy assassination remains as the “official” and conclusive investigation of that political murder. I make the prediction that at the end of the second term of Obama administration, there will be much less room left to wonder about the future private ownership of rifles, shotguns, revolvers and pistols, and the motives and politics behind the push to disarm the public of the world. Already, even the very existence of the manufacturing plant of Remington in Ilion, New York State, and the Beretta establishment in Maryland are under serious threat from proposed state anti-firearm legislation. How would it feel to be manufacturing products which would be illegal to sell to the folk who live in the same state, or even to those whose job it is to, actually make the item? Intolerable, I should imagine.

Direct supply

DIRECT SUPPLY (3/10/2013)
A few of my suppliers, at last, seem willing to send orders direct to my customers for items bought from me. It has long been annoying that I have to get something in specially for a customer from Auckland, freight it to Christchurch, re-pack it and then send it say to Kaitaia. Yes, I DO have customers in Northland as well as Southland. So far, wholesalers who have provided this service include Steves Wholesale www.steveswholesalenz.com and New Zealand Ammunition www.nzammo.co.nz Feel free to browse their websites and ask me for current pricing and availability for any of their products that you want to buy. For the rest of my suppliers, I can still obtain the goods into store and reship as in the past. Another note on price requests. PLEASE don't ask me to get prices until you are actually ready to buy. Often, I put my suppliers to a lot of trouble to get these prices only to be told later by my customer that he will start saving up. If you aren't buying now, please tell me up front and I will give you an estimate if I can as to how much it is likely to be and not waste my supplier's time on a sale which could be weeks or even months away. Stocks sell out and prices change all the time.

Zeiss Conquest HD5: first impressions

ZEISS Conquest HD5 riflescopes. (27/11/2013)
The first of these passed through my store this week and I took the brief opportunity I had available to look at one of them. Unlike the first series Conquest models which were assembled in the United States, these HD models are assembled in Germany. The fact that the word "assembled" is still used (rather than the word "made") suggests to me that the parts are made elsewhere, possibly in the Zeiss plant in Hungary probably for cost reasons. It is interesting to note that Swarovski are now reluctant to use the term HD ( short for high definition) in their product descriptions as often as previously. When I attended a dealer seminar, I asked the factory representative why it was that I had noticed this trend. The answer was unexpected. Apparently, because there still is no industry-recognized standard for HD, Swarovski have elected not to push the term. Rather, they prefer to just carry on making the very best use of glass and coating technology for their customers without putting a somewhat meaningless label on it. This explains to me why I am reading and seeing examples of cheap, Chinese made optics being offered as HD. The 3-15x42 model Carl Zeiss Conquest HD5 I chose to look at alongside a Swarovski Z3 3-10x42 L with both scopes set on seven power. The Zeiss is longer, heavier and has a longer eye-relief than the Z3.The ocular bell is of a larger diameter than on the Z3 yet the field of view is markedly less than the Swarovski model. Also, I observed a small degree of distortion in the Zeiss but I did not have time to take notes and can't, now, recall if it was barrel distortion or pin-cushion effect. It was minor and would likely not be noticed by most shooters. The reticle in the Zeiss was the Z600 and has a great number of markings on it. The central cross is medium-to-thick and is designed as a hunting reticle not a varmint one. It is bold enough that it is unlikely to be lost in poor light in the way the Swarovski BRX varmint type reticle can be in poor light (according to some shooters eyes anyway). A varmint reticle needs to be finer and, since we don't have to shoot rabbits right on dark, losing sight of the reticle on such a rig is nowhere near as drastic as not being able to take a clean shot at a stag, right on dark or before dawn because you can't make out your reticle. It was overcast daylight when I did my inspection so I can not comment on the twilight performance of the two. In daylight the Zeiss seemed to have slightly richer colour whilst the Z5 was definitely brighter. They use quite different lens coatings so do NOT take from this comment that the Z5 will automatically still be brighter in poor light. My last observation is that, along with the narrower F.O.V. there was a distinctly wider "black ring" in the view on the Zeiss HD than the Z5. The black ring is where the view into the scope and the view along the outside of the scope meet. The best scopes EVER that I have seen for the least amount of black ring were the original Kahles riflescopes from Austria, circa 1970's-1980's. They had almost no black ring. BUT, that came at a price. That price was that their field lenses, half of which was made of flint type glass, was ground to almost a knife-edge. This edge would frequently shatter and, during the course of repairing these scopes, back in the days when parts were supplied for such things, I would often pour out glass chips when working on the scope. In extreme cases, a new field lens would be fitted and charged for during the course of the job. However, the remarkable thing was,even with several chips out of the inner part of the field lens doublet, it was nearly impossible to detect any loss of optical view or performance. They could be successfully used with as much as 15% (a guess) of the flint glass missing from around the edge. Little wonder, then, that the black ring is still with us today to a greater or lesser degree amongst current day scopes. None of them is likely to come close to the thin black line that Kahles once achieved. Leica Geovid HD-B 10x42 rangefinder binoculars. Despite the number of orders placed, we are still no closer to being able to lay our hands on these elusive binoculars. It appears that the factory are not sending many, or perhaps even any, out. There is a suggestion that Leica may not have been quite satisfied with some technical point and that is what is holding up the shipments. This I have not been able to verify. To my customers, I apologize for the wait. Back when they announced their first laser rangefinders, we went through this agony of waiting also. The wait proved worthwhile because Leica cleared off with the market (in my shop at least). The Leica rangefinder was SO superior to the Bushnells, Weavers, Nikko Stirling and even the Nikon models available at the time that it was a very long time before I sold my next non-Leica rangefinder. It would not surprise me if the same thing happens again when these Geovid HD-B models finally reach the marketplace. Scope mounting tip. When mounting a scope to the likes of Weaver, Picatinny, or Parker Hale bases, it is important before you tighten the side clamp screws on the rings, to slide the ring FORWARDS along the base until it reaches the forward edge of the base slot for the first two, or the forward part of the recoil stop countersink hole in the Parker Hale base. If you fail to do this, then the scope is likely to creep forward to that point under recoil and that may result in, at best, a shift of point of impact, and at worst an opening out of the group size because of a looseness which developed after fitting the rings which went undetected.

Cheap is not good

Hopefully most of my customers have never found themselves in possession of a riflescope which does not seem to allow a rifle to group to the owner’s expectations. However, I know that many shooters have been through the experience of wasting a lot of time, money, effort, and ammunition while trying to get a favourite rifle to produce repeatable and acceptably sized groups. There are, of course, many possible or even multiple causes of this problem. Most of them are within the ability of a DIY solution. A riflescope which misbehaves is not in that category unless the remedy can be found externally. One of my customers has been working on a way to give these problem scopes a chance of working, despite the internal design shortcoming which causes the problem in the first place. I believe that he is considering publishing his ideas but I don’t think that the matter is finalized. It might be helpful for those affected by this problem if I was to try to describe the design problem. When I first began repairing riflescopes in the 1960’s, many of them were of the reticle-moving design, having the reticle in the first focal plane. It was very rare indeed for such scopes to have a problem of either poor grouping or failing to retain point of aim. The gradual domination of image moving riflescopes, with the reticle in the second focal plane, was already underway at that time. An image-moving riflescope has two obvious features which immediately endeared itself to a large percentage of shooters. The first was that the reticle remained approximately in the centre of the field of view. The second was that in a vari-power version, the reticle remained the same size as the target image increased or decreased as the zoom ring was turned. This meant that at the higher magnifications, the reticle covered less of the target, showing a finer aiming point to the shooter. The downside of image-moving scopes is not obvious. By placing the reticle just in front of the eyepiece (ocular) bell, the scope adjusters work, not on the reticle, but on the erecter tube assembly. This assembly is a smaller-than-scope-body diameter tube which contains lenses, the main function of which is to revert the upside-down image produced by the front (objective) lens, and present it at the reticle in the second focal plane. The erecter tube is pushed by two adjusters (elevation and windage). These two very fine threaded screws are opposed by usually one but sometimes two springs. The one spring system is by far the more common and this is the one I am writing about here. The adjuster screws bear upon the tube near its front end. The rear end SHOULD have a proper universal joint (same principle as a UJ on a motor vehicle propeller shaft). With the two screws and the spring working as three points of an equilateral triangle, a high quality image moving riflescope has every chance of holding a tighter group than most hunting rifles would ever be reasonably expected to achieve. Not so the cheap scopes! In the age-old quest to keep costs down and profits up, the manufacturers of the low priced models swapped the universal joint for a rubber bush between two alloy tubes. When this erecter tube assembly is seen out of the scope and is held down on a flat surface by the outer tube section, it is very obvious that the inner tube erecter lens section, which is much longer, is being dominated by the self-centring action of this rubber sleeve. Again, using an automotive analogy, this sleeve acts exactly the same way as a silent-bloc bush at either end of a leaf spring where it isolates road noise from the cabin of the vehicle and cushions the vibrations at the same time. In the riflescope, it means that when the scope is new and the adjusters are still in the middle position, the silent-bloc bush effect is not likely to be a problem. It is when the adjusters have to be moved more than a few clicks away from this ideal middle position that the erratic performances begin to show up. Let us assume that the first shot at the range shows that we have to wind the elevation knob anti-clockwise and the windage knob clockwise. What is happening inside is that the erecter tube is pushed by the windage screw closer to the opposite internal curved wall of the main body tube and the retreating elevation screw demands erecter spring push the erecter tube past the increased sideways resistance from the windage screw and keep contact with the elevation screw. Often, in cheap scopes, it simply can’t manage the task. The second function of the erecter spring is simply one of a shock absorber. Under recoil, the erecter tube will bounce away from the two adjuster screws and when the recoil subsides, the spring MUST push the tube back to EXACTLY the same point of contact on each adjuster screw that it occupied for the previous shot, because, if it doesn’t, then the VIEW will have changed and you will be aiming a different point for the next shot without ever knowing it. The result, of course, is a wayward shot. What I am saying is simply this. With an image moving riflescope, it is a good policy to take all steps to ensure that the internally centred scope is aligned as close as possible to the bore of the rifle to minimize the need to use the adjusters.

Extreme zoom range riflescopes

A little while ago, I had an opportunity to examine and compare two extreme magnification riflescopes. One was a March and the other was a Steiner. Both of these scopes are for serious long range target-type shooting and would carry an equally serious price tag. My subjective conclusions are as follows with the preferred one named M= March; S=Steiner: Field of view: S; Off-axis distortion: S; Central resolution: M; Contrast: M; Brightness: M; Critical eye-point: S; Black-ring effect*: M *Black ring effect, for those who are wondering, is what you will become aware of when holding a riflescope in front of your eye, at the correct distance (eye-point). It is where the view in the scope eyepiece meets the view outside the riflescope. Ideally, there should be a minimal black ring, small enough that the shooter is unaware of its presence. In the opposite case, that black ring is very thick and can become somewhat distracting for the shooter and actually reduces the available field of view. The difference in the thickness of this ring is determined by the way the field lens in the eyepiece is ground. The sharper the edge of this lens, the thinner the black ring will be. The past master of the thin black ring was the original series Kahles such as 4/S2; 6/S2; 27/S2 39/S2 and the others in this series. The downside to the, almost, knife edge grinding achieved on their lenses is that the affected portion of the field lens, being of flint glass, is very brittle and is susceptible to chipping. It was common for me, during the course of repairing these scopes, (back when parts were obtainable) to have to shake out the chips before proceeding with the job. Amazingly, only in extreme cases did the lens have to be replaced. The view was virtually unaffected. Now back to the scope comparison: Which one would I buy myself (or recommend to customers); the March or the Steiner?: NEITHER! The conclusion I came to is that there is a practical limit to how many times zoom range you can go to in a riflescope before the improvement turns into a handicap. For years, a three times magnification range was what we had to work with and, for hunting, that was very useful indeed. 3-9x being what became the industry standard zoom range. Then we went to some scopes offering a four times range and that too worked very well. Now with the appearance of eight or more times ratio zooms, it would be easy for a fellow to think he was about to buy the ultimate one-size-fits-all riflescope suitable for bush stalking and everything up to the most extreme bragging-shot distance he might ever manage to fluke. This comparison provided a timely reality check for me, lest I become seduced by the specification list of some breathtakingly expensive riflescope, which no local dealer will likely have available for you to view before purchasing. Both of these riflescopes, I concluded, were so optically bad at BOTH ends of their zoom range that I would never want to use them at either their lowest or their highest power settings. Around the middle ranges of power, they showed the kind of performance I would have expected from this value of riflescope, but, the image quality and the degree of distortion, at the low and high power settings, were thoroughly disappointing.

Why scopes fog

This was a question that I used to be asked frequently when I first began servicing binoculars and riflescopes well over forty years ago. Thankfully, over the years, the need to ask me has steadily diminished, thanks to better manufacturing tolerances and better sealing techniques. The matter came up again just the other day so I thought that a few comments may be of interest to some of my newsgroup readers. A riflescope essentially needs to do three things: give the shooter an enhanced, and usually magnified view of his target; return to battery after each shot, so that the next shot flies to the same impact point; and lastly, keep out the weather. It is this last point I will comment about today. If a riflescope has no moisture inside and it has no pathway for it to get inside, then it will remain fog-free during its workable lifetime. External fogging up can be dealt with. Internal fogging is not something you can do much about. On one memorable occasion, I recall a riflescope which came to me for a reticle replacement and the whole body had been drilled full of holes. The customer declared that he was fed up with his scope fogging up so he decided to accept the fact that it did so and took steps to hasten its clearance each time. He swore that it worked, and, in a way, he would have been right. Thankfully, his method never caught on as there are pitfalls in store for those who attempt such modifications. With a scope which has developed a leak in the system, or, a scope which is NOT sealed when the adjuster caps are removed, there is great risk involved in exposing it to a sudden drop of temperature in the presence of water vapour. Unless you are positive that your riflescope is sealed in the caps-off state, then I suggest that you wait for a warm and DRY day to do your sighting in. A fogging up scenario, with a scope about to leak, often goes like this. The gear is packed into the vehicle, the heater is on and the journey to the hills is duly completed in warm comfort. Then, the gear is unloaded, rifle taken out of case or bag, slung over the shouldeer and transported into the cool or cold and DAMP bush, So far, so good. No fogging is discernable. The hunter climbs out to the tops and glasses around for game. Nothing shows so he finds a pleasant spot out of the wind and in the warm sunshine to while away some time in the hope of an animal venturing out for a feed. When something does show up and he raises the rifle to his eye, is precisely when he will learn that he has a fogged up scope. The sequence goes like this. The scope gets nicely warmed up in the vehicle. It then gets rapidly cooled in the presence of moist bush air. During the cooling stage, the air or gas inside the scope shrinks as it cools and creates a differential of pressure or a suction effect. This then draws in moist air from the outside yet the scope would still, probably, show no fogging. The reason for that is explained by the different rates of warming and cooling of the rflescope components. The metal body parts warm or cool faster than glass. Therefore, in the cooling stage when the moisture enters, it gets deposited on the coldest presented surfaces: the metal work. The lenses, being glass are still warmer so the moisture does not condense on them at that time. Later, however, the warming effect of the sun reverses that situation and the body warms up faster than the glass; the moisture "boils" off the rapidly warming internal body surfaces but finds a colder surface on all the glass ware. That is when the scope can be seen to be fogged up. It also explains why less severe cases of fogging seem to come and go. Realize that if it has happened once, it can and will happen again if given the same sequence of events. The fault does not go away, only the symptoms come and go. Mercifully, scope fogging is much less common these days than in the 60's and 70's when I was fully occupied with optical repair work when not actually serving customers. That is a good thing too because I am no longer seeking to repair scopes and binoculars as I am fully occupied in trying to supply reloading components and keep my sales ticking over.

Accuracy gone away?

Over the last few weeks, I have had three customers in who have been having trouble getting the accuracy they expect from their rifles. In each instance they have brought the scoped rifle in for me to take a look at. With all three, I detected the stock screws were not firmly enough engaged, so I reset them with my torque wrench. After inspecting the rest of the rifle, mounts, and scope for other possible issues, I sent the owners away to test the rifle. Unfortunately, I have not yet heard back from any of them as to the success or otherwise of setting these screws to the appropriate torque setting, but it seems timely to remind customers to eliminate the elementary issues before conjecturing upon the unknown mysteries of the internal workings of your riflescope, which almost everyone is ready to blame first for any accuracy issues with their rifles. In my early days, scope problems were common. Today, with manufacturing methods and tolerances much improved, the accuracy issue is likely to be associated with another part of the rig. Look at the obvious things like the bedding screws, barrel cleanliness, damage to the muzzle crown or pits in the barrel AT the crown, scope ring and base block screw tightness. It can often save you a trip to the gunsmith or gunstore by doing these checks yourself.

Leica Global Policy Change

Leica has taken steps to curb (or eliminate) parallel importing around the world. Despite the fact that the practice is legal in New Zealand with legislation in place to uphold the tight to do so. Although I have never parallell imported Leica or Swarovski product, choosing instead, to buy from the designated New Zealand distributors, I have been comfortable with the service that I have provided to my customers. By purchasing in this way, any warranty issues can be handled by the New Zealand distributors. Parallel imported product would need to be sent back the factory in Germany and Austria, respectively. Until now, I have managed to honour the motto on my website, with Leica. I fear, that from now on, I will not be competitive with their product lines. The reason is that now, there will be a discount for dealers from the RRP of 10%. A further, scaled, discount is available if a dealer chooses to keep product in stock (as I used to do at the old shop; pre-earthquakes), and further 1% discount for various other requirements, to a total of less 10% less 10%. Whilst I would question the legallity of imposing such a regime in this country, when our legislation takes a dim view of restrictive trade practices, price fixing and so on, I do not see why any store, willing to commit to stocking and displaying goods for sale, should not be rewarded for doing so, by way of a better buying price, compared with the store who simply buys in stock to order, as I have been forced to do since losing my shop. This news item is not, in any way a vitriolic condemnation on my part. Rather it is passed on to my customers for their information. You will find, from now on, a remarkable similarity in Leica prices from shop to shop, and my prediction is that there will be a corresponding unwillingness, on the part of the shop, to negotiate any discount on Leica optical products.

Quest for accuracy

THE QUEST FOR ACCURACY. Keeping things in perspective. (25/9/2015)
Over the years, I have enjoyed working with shooters who are embarking upon reloading their own ammunition. Here are a few of my observations. I hope that some at least, will find them interesting. When a newbie arrives in my store and expresses an interest in reloading, Usually, I give them something akin to a parable which goes like this: there are three distinct types of reloading customer. The first type is characterised as asking for help! “My wife/partner/girlfriend has told me I have to save money or give up shooting.....I don’t want to give up shooting. The second category: “My friends tell me that if I was to load my own ammunition, I can possibly, a. Save some money compared with factory ammunition. b. Obtain better accuracy or, c. A combination of both. The third category: “I have just had a custom rifle made, it has a tight-necked chamber. What do I need to get? My question to each customer is: in which group do you see yourself NOW, and in which group do you expect to be in twelve months’ time? The response to this question is a good indication to me what grade of reloading equipment I need to assemble for this customer. It is when they come back to me with a bit of loading experience under their belt that I sometimes wonder about the questions they raise. Here are a few such questions along with my typical response. Customer: I want to buy a hand-priming tool. Richard. Why do you think you need one? C. My friends tell me (or, I have read that) a hand priming tool gives me better feel when I seat primers than I get seating them on the press. R. Yes, a hand tool WILL give you better feel and you will STILL not seat primers to the correct depth. C. usually stunned silence! R. The reason is really quite simple. It is impossible to predict the degree of resistance to seating pressure you will get when you actually seat the primer. Some cases are quite tight and therefore, harder to seat, than other cases. By the time you have worked out in your mind what kind of resistance you have with this particular case, the job is over and the primer will be seated with the anvil at the bottom and the primer cup pushed right down and onto the apex of the anvil. So far, I have only found one tool which, without needing adjustment, will seat primers to the correct depth in a correctly sized primer pocket. All other tools will over seat them by virtue of how they operate. There are a very small number of tools which are capable of being adjusted and then locked in position to be able to achieve the correct depth. Buy one of these types of tool, plus a carbide primer uniforming tool, and you can then seat primers consistently and correctly. Mercifully, primers will generally ignite even when over-seated. If you want to get a slight edge, consider buying the tools necessary to seat them correctly every time. Otherwise, continue priming as you have been and put the money into another aid to accuracy instead. Customer: My .270 Winchester calibre rifle will consistently put five shots into a six inch circle at a hundred metres at the Handloaders rifle range. With that much power, if I hit within that on a deer’s chest, that’s five dead deer to my way of thinking. I don’t need better accuracy than that. R. At the range, you have certain advantages not present in the field. Among these would be: all the time you need to make each shot; a known distance to target; little or no wind; a proper bench rest for the rifle. What you are forgetting to factor in is yourself. In the field, you may have none of these benefits. Compound this with sometimes having to shoot off-hand without any rest. What ‘human factor” will you need to add to your range group size? Two inches, four inches eight inches extra spread for the group? What would this extra margin, when added to your six inch group under controlled conditions, do to the group size for a shot on an animal and, in turn, the probability or otherwise of a clean kill? My advice is to work on getting the very best accuracy out of any rifle. If you decide that your personal error factor is five inches at 100 metres, and you have a rifle which does 6” groups, then 6 + 5 = 11” which is marginal for a clean kill and would be more probably a wounded animal. Contrast that with a one m.o.a. accurate rifle, 1 + the human factor 5 = 6”. Probability: clean kill. Customer: My rifle will put two shots close together and always throws the third shot wide/high/low (take your pick). My scope must be faulty. R. No, I doubt that it will be the scope. There seems to be a uniform response amongst shooters that if the rifle does not shoot well any more, that the problem is always the riflescope. Here is my logic. Firstly, is the straying shot always predictable in direction and roughly the same distance from the group? Is it always the third shot of a three shot string that steps out consistently? If the answer is yes, I would be considering that the barrel is temperature sensitive (as are a lot of rifle barrels). The analogy I offer is a house warming up in the morning sun will often be heard to “creak”. If you were there again late in the afternoon, it would likely creak again as it cools down. The creaking is a movement of the structure as a result of temperature change. The rifle barrel is often cursed with the same symptom. For years I had no answer. A possible solution came to light just a few years back: it is to cryogenically treat the whole barrelled action. Cryongenically treating a rifle will alter the structure of the steel and has a calming effect at a molecular level. One of the advantages of this calming is a reduction in the tendency to react to temperature changes. This, in turn, should improve accuracy and consistency. Find a cryogenic service and question the operator and judge for yourself. This, of course addresses one of very many possible reasons for inconsistent accuracy. It is just one that is not commonly considered. Customer: What’s the best electronic scale to buy? R: Why do you want an electronic scale? C: They will be more accurate won’t they? R: No, I don’t believe so. Having used a quality beam scale and having tried several electronic scales, I personally favour the beam scale for powder weighing. There is one feature about the electronic scales that makes it the scale of choice for a reloader. That is when he decides he needs more accuracy and intends to start weighing his cases and sometimes even his projectiles. Then, and only then, would I really recommend the use of an electronic scale over the beam scale type. Some of the issues with electronic scales can include: warm-up time which can be up to half an hour; even more sensitive to air movement and temperature changes; a thing called drift, which is the scale’s tendency to move away from the actual set weight whilst still recording as being on that weight. This requires a discipline of re-zeroing the scale on a regular basis in the hope that you can keep the drift within acceptable limits. This applies to all the scales using load cell technology which is the most affordable scale option. C: O.K. then, I will stay with my beam scale but will buy a cheap electronic scale for weighing cases and bullets. Is that what you advise? R: Sadly, when I began selling the cheap Chinese electronic scales, for exactly that purpose, I was very quickly made aware by my customers that these scales were incapable of acceptable consistency. I promptly stopped selling and recommending the cheap scales even for this secondary task. If you wish to buy an electronic scale, I have to advise spending a lot more money in the hope that the scale will be telling the truth when it comes up with the weight of your case or projectile. Ideally, take a few items with you to check weigh on a scale you are thinking of buying. Weigh them several times and see if you get the same numbers coming up. C: Will a primer flash hole deburring tool improve my accuracy? R: The time when one of these tools will offer an advantage is when there is a punching “lid” inside the case which failed to break off during the forming process. This is not a very common occurrence and might constitute enough reason to make such a purchase. Alternatively, you might just peer through each case towards a light and check that there is no obvious obstruction. If there is, put that case to one side and deal with it with the purchased tool, or try reaching it from the case neck end and simply break it away. If you do decide to buy a tool, my recommendation is to ONLY buy one which has a pre-set shield over the centre-drill. This shield will come into contact with the internal web area and thus, consistently limit the amount of metal you cut away from the case. Consistency is the name of the game with everything you do with reloading. The more consistent you are in all matters, the better the results should be. Finally, most of my customers have sporting centrefire rifles. They are designed to be light enough to conveniently carry in the mountains. By their very nature, they will not usually have a heavy weight barrel installed. A sporting weight barrel should not be expected to group like a heavy barrelled rifle and expectations of customers along this line are likely to lead to disappointment. Enjoy it for what it is; look after it well, clean the bore carefully and thoroughly; give it the most accurate ammunition you can build for it and get out and have fun.

News from Hornady

NEWS FROM HORNADY (23/11/2015)
Hornady will be ceasing production of their great A-Max projectiles. Before you go reaching for a stiff drink to console yourself, there is good news! For 2016 they will be building both a Match version AND a dedicated hunting version of the A-Max but with a very interesting difference. They have recently been able to establish that the polymer tips on projectiles begin to melt in flight. This results in a degree of instability. A brand new type of plastic tip has been introduced which, they claim, is NOT going to melt. The Match bullets will be called ELD Match and will be available in: 6.5mm 140gr #26331. G1 BC .610 7mm 162gr #28403. G1 BC .627 30cal 208gr #30731. G1 BC .670 338cal 285gr #33381. G1 BC .789 The Hunting bullets, DESIGNED TO MUSHROOM AT ALL PRACTICAL HUNTING VELOCITIES from 1800fps upwards, are called ELD-X Hunting. Available in: 6.5mm 143gr #2635. G1 BC .625 7mm 162gr #2840. G1 BC .613 7mm 175gr #2841. G1 BC ..660 30cal 178gr #3074. G1 BC .535 30cal 200gr #3076. G1 Bc .626 30cal 212gr #3077. G1 BC .336 30cal 220gr #3078. G1 BC .650 A range of hunting ammunition based around the ELD-X bullets will also become available in 6.5 Creedmore; 7mm Rem, Mag; .308 Win; .30-06 Spr; 300RCM: 300 Win Mag; 300 RUM and 30-378 Wby. Because of exchange rate issues, the Hornady prices are not yet set. Contact me for an indication only at this stage.