December 2010

Rimfire Riflescopes Under $50: Bubbles Sink TruGlo and BSA

The compact TruGlo and BSA scopes were favorites of our testers at the onset of testing, but when they failed an immersion test, Tasco and Simmons showed better quality and durability.

At one time optics for a rimfire rifle meant a scope with a 0.75-inch tube—including objective—and no adjustable magnification. You could also get it with any reticle type you wanted as long as it was a traditional crosshair. You can still purchase these types of scopes, but today’s rimfire scopes share a lot in common with centerfire scopes. They come in 1-inch tubes and have adjustable magnification, parallax adjustment, and an assortment of reticle types.

We were interested to see if low cost—around $50—had any relationship to quality and usability. Our test products were the TruGlo 4x32mm Model TG8504BR, $50; the BSA 22 Special Model S4X32WR, $40; Tasco’s 22 Riflescope 3-9x32mm Model MAG39X32D, $50; and the Simmons 22 Mag Riflescope 3-9x32mm 511072, $52.

Before we did any range work with the scopes, we performed a shock test by whacking the scope on a wooden bench to determine if a jolt would have an effect. Next, we removed turret covers and froze the scopes in a -4 degree freezer and soaked them in a sink of hot water to see if seals leaked, making the scope susceptible to moisture build up. We then mounted the scopes for a side-by-side test on a platform and looked for resolution, brightness, contrast, parallax, tracking and repeatability. If scopes passed these phases of test, we finally we mounted them on a rifle for range testing. At the range, we looked for tracking by "shooting the box" and point-of-impact change with the variable-powered models by shooting at minimum and maximum power magnifications. We shot from a bench rest at 50 yards at the Fin Fur Feather Club in Chaplin, Connecticut.

As a test platform we used a Henry Repeating Arms Company H001 lever action in 22 LR. The Henry is like many rimfire rifles with a groove built into the receiver to accept Weaver-type rings. The Henry is an inexpensive plinker and small-game stopper. We loaded it with Remington’s Thunderbolt cartridges with a 40-grain bullet and a velocity of 1255 fps. Let’s see how these inexpensive scopes could perform on marauding soda cans or help keep the varmint population in check.

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