Accessories - Optics

New Long Guns Coming for 2016

March 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

At the 2016 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Gun Tests staffers ran across many dozens of new products that we’re working to include in future tests. Following are some of the rifles, rifle ammunition, shotguns, and long-gun accessories we found interesting. If there’s something in particular you want us to test, please drop me a note at GunTestsEditor@icloud.com.

308 Win. Bolt Guns: Ruger’s Precision Rifle vs. Tikka T3 CTR

March 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Firearm manufacturers, seeing the shooting public’s interest in long-range shooting, are offering rifles advertised as “tactical” and “precision” to attract long-range hunters and weekend paper punchers. We all know that setting a barreled action in a black polymer stock does not make a precision rifle. But lately, some large firearm manufacturers have begun mass-producing accurate rifles that rival some custom-built rifles without the wait or the high cost. These mass-produced precision rifles can handle many long-range chores, and some of them come in compact lengths and have the ability to add muzzle devices, such as suppressors.

6.5 Creedmoor Bolt Action Rifle Comparison

January 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Reading Gun Tests means having a front-row seat to watch the evolution of firearms. But it’s rare that so much change is represented within a single roster. In this test we’ll compare three bolt-action rifles with what we call traditional, modern, and progressive designs. Even with its Kryptek camouflage coating and heavy barrel, the $1000 Howa 1500 from Legacy Sports International filled the traditional role with a standard-profile stock, bolt, trigger, and safety. The newest version of the $1252 Savage Model 12 LRP series was aptly named because it mirrors the modern long range precision rifle. The $1399 Ruger Precision Rifle progresses the idea of a precision military or competition rifle built around the ergonomics of the AR-15 rifle in mass production for a mass-production price. What ties these rifles together is the 6.5 Creedmoor chambering, which was named — if not designed for — the famed Creedmoor Cup rifle competition. The Creedmoor Cup is a three-day event consisting of 16 different matches with a total of 240 shots fired standing, seated, and prone at distances of 200 yards, 300 yards, and 600 yards. The essence of the 6.5 Creedmoor round is a 6.5mm (0.264-inch diameter) bullet launched with approximately the same velocity and relatively flat trajectory of the 300 Winchester Magnum, but with considerably less recoil. This is important because, unlike hunters, competitive shooters need to be able to withstand the recoil of hundreds of rounds during matches and practice.

Replacement AR-15 Triggers From Ruger, HiperFire, and Rise

June 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Improving the trigger in an AR-15 can make a big difference in performance of the rifle. Whereas handgun triggers are generally retained and modified, the AR-15 lends itself more easily to replacement of its trigger group, such as we did in this review. Our test triggers were two from HiperFire, the $89 HiperTouch EDT AR-15/AR-10 Enhanced Duty Trigger and the $215 HiperTouch 24E Elite, Ruger’s new Elite 452 AR Trigger 90461, $159, and the $259 Rise RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger.

Our test-bed AR-15 was the Bushmaster “preban” XM-15 carbine previously tested in the August 2003 issue of Gun Tests. The XM-15 featured a 1:9 twist 16-inch-long barrel chambered for 5.56mm ammunition. While its trigger continued to be extremely consistent, the pull weight measured at a full 8.5 pounds with little or no take up and a hard break. In terms of function, there was nothing really to complain about other than it being inordinately heavy, a characteristic we were looking to change. For optics we retained the Sightron S33-4R 1X-magnification red-dot scope that had been in place since about 2005. With four different illuminated reticles to choose from, we picked the single-dot reticle with a size of 2 minutes of angle at 50 yards.

We considered both ease of installation as well as performance in our judging standards. The Rise Armament trigger was a sealed drop-in module, but the other triggers required assembly. By working with both a neophyte builder and an experienced gunsmith, we were able to gain valuable insight on the process. Matt Suddeth of Katy, Texas — a brilliant knife maker with a reputation for exacting rifle work — advised us on aspects of the installation. Once the triggers were configured properly, we measured their pull weights 10 times immediately following installation then 10 more times after our range tests with a Brownells Recording Pull Gauge (174-025-250WB, $125).

Our first test was to make sure the safety remained fully functional. All four triggers passed this test. Then we tried an impact test with the selector in the fire position. With the gun empty, safety off, this consisted of crouching down so that our head was below the line of the muzzle and slamming the buttstock against a concrete floor three times. We wanted to see if we could get the trigger to release the hammer by means other than pulling the trigger. None of the units failed this test. In addition, none of the triggers exhibited common flaws such as creep, grittiness, or dead spots.

Live-fire tests were performed in two segments, each fired offhand (standing unsupported) from the 50-yard line at American Shooting Centers in Houston, Texas. The targets we chose were proprietary to the range, displaying a white 3.9-inch 10-point center containing a 2-inch-diameter X-ring. The 9-point ring consisted of an orange circle, producing an overall diameter of 8 inches. Segment one was a practice session consisting of 50 rounds performed with budget ammunition, American Eagle 5.56x45 55-grain FMJ XM193BLC100, sold in 100-round packaging. During this period, we experimented with different ways the shooter could work the trigger. We fired using the slowest, most controlled press, we could muster. We also moved the trigger fast. We shot strings of fire holding the trigger fully rearward after ignition and then practiced a slow release until the mechanism reset and fired again. We did this as rapidly as we could as well as with measured precision.

After a timed 3-minute rest period, segment two was fired for shots of record using premium ammunition. Limited to ten shots standing unsupported, we chose Black Hills 5.56mm 69-grain OTM (open tip match, featuring the Sierra Match King BTHP bullet). Did any of these triggers make our test gun easier to shoot accurately? Here’s what we found out:

Mil-Dot Scopes for Less Than $1500: Bushnell, Burris, Trijicon

April 2011 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

When shopping for a rifle scope it is common to find a variety divided by purpose. Hunting scopes and tactical scopes are two popular categories. But should they really be listed so far apart? Just as the AR-15 platform continues to evolve as a hunting rifle, why shouldn’t military-style optical scopes do the same? Tactical scopes are bred to provide an advantage over multiple targets at short to moderate distance, or an adversary at long range. For the hunter, this could translate to scenarios such as engaging rabbits in between their start and stop behavior or an elk standing far in the distance. Typically, the difference between tactical scopes is the reticle pattern and degree of magnification, depending on the application they were designed for. In this test we will favor the long-distance shooter and evaluate three Mil-Dot rifle scopes with variable power that tops out at 20X or above. They are the $1400 6-24X50mm Burris Xtreme Tactical Rifle scope No. 201934, the $999 6-21X50mm Bushnell Elite No. 42-6245T, and Trijicon’s $1275 TR23-2G 5-20X50mm AccuPoint scope. Each scope was built on a 30mm-diameter tube with a 50mm objective lens and a reticle wherein the vertical and horizontal crosshairs were strung with evenly spaced dots (Mil-Dots). All three scopes showed reticles in the first focal plane, and the knobs offered .25-MOA click adjustment. We chose this format because the reticle pattern can actually be used to "range" the target at any level of magnification using the following equation: Height or width of target in yards multiplied by 1000; divided by the apparent size of the target as measured against the Mil-Dot reticle, equaled distance. As you can see, you must know the approximate size of the target. When military or police snipers deal with the human torso, the measurement they typically use is 30 inches, or 0.833 yards. Game hunters merely need to insert the average height of the target area according to the animal they wish to engage, say from the bottom of the rib cage to the shoulder. The Mil-Dot reticle comes into play when you look through the scope and determine how tall the target appears when measured against the reticle. For example, if when placing the center of the crosshairs at the bottom of the target area the upper edge of the target sits midway between the second and third Mil-Dots, the lower part of the equation would be 2.5. Once distance is determined, elevation can be adjusted according to published data, such as a range card or "true statements" of elevation adjustment that the shooter has established through actual tests. In addition to its ranging ability, the Mil-Dot reticle offers another advantage over common crosshairs. Holding over for added elevation or holding off to fight wind drift becomes much easier with the additional visual aid of the Mil-Dots. This makes visualizing a hold that changes both windage and elevation much easier. Imagine the necessity to hold low and to the right. The shooter can then line up the shot first shifting the point of aim from the center of the crosshairs to the first Miil-Dot to the right of center. Then the point of aim can be dropped by lowering the rifle directly downward until the new horizontal point of reference is the first mil dot above the center of the crosshairs. If this point of aim proves not to be perfect, at least it will provide a substantial frame of reference for the next shot. Holding off center by say one Mil-Dot can also be effective when engaging a moving target. Indeed, the presence of the dots can also make it easier to visualize holding off by one-half the distance between Mil-Dots, and so on. Our comparison of the three scopes is accompanied by a chart showing basic information such as size, weight, etc. We’ve also added a line for how many clicks were available from the windage and elevation knobs. This is important to know so that before transferring the same scope from one rifle to another, the scope can be returned to its mechanical center. By mechanical center we mean that if there are 300 clicks available from each knob, 150 clicks from full right or its lowest possible adjustment should put the reticle comfortably centered within the scope. Some calibers demand a lot of upward adjustment for really long range shooting. For example, the 308 Winchester (topped with a 175-grain bullet) typically asks for a 600-yard elevation adjustment of 14.75 MOA, or 59 clicks. But a 1000-yard shot would require approximately 36.75 MOA, or 147 clicks, and it is at the edges of the lens that vision will suffer from parallax, the apparent displacement or the difference in apparent direction of an object as seen from two different points not on a straight line with the object. We used a gentle grip when turning the knobs. Sensitivity to the clicks is a must. Testing scopes can however be limited in terms of hard facts. No two people see exactly alike, so whatever ratings may apply to the amount of light or quality of light transmitted to the shooter’s eyes could in the end be subjective. One of the visual aids we used was a $15 lifesize Coyote target from Caldwell that featured detailed vitals and replaceable overlays (No. 800345). Set afield at a distance of 100 yards, we peered through each scope and compared how well we could pick out the reticle against the realistic montage of coyote fur. Immediately next to the Coyote target was a typical range target for comparison. All three scopes allowed us to shoot sub-MOA groups at the heart, lung, and base of the neck bone on the Caldwell target. We wrapped up our tests with a hike over private land that allowed us to focus on (but not shoot at) a variety of distances and back drops. Aside from the subjective viewing, we did the best we could to judge how well each scope performed as they were designed to. For example, the calibration of the Mil-Dots had to be consistent and offer predictability. After zeroing each scope, we held off 2 Mil-Dots to the right and to the left, firing five shot groups for each hold. Were all four groups the same distance from center? We referred to this as our hold-off test. We tried to minimize shooter error and effects of the environment (wind and light), by performing these tests from 50 yards. Our mechanical tests were performed with the scopes at maximum magnification. We called our next test the crank test because we cranked the windage elevation 4 MOA (16 clicks) right and left and fired 5-shot groups. We repeated this exercise with the elevation knob first down then up. We chose to move downward first because, in our experience, some scope springs have more difficulty recovering from compression than from expansion. Again, we fired five-shot groups. Was each group printed equidistant from our original point of aim? Were they level and on line with the central group? Did returning the adjustment knobs back to center realign the reticle so that hits were centered at our original point of aim? Each scope was pre-mounted using rings and bases available from Brownells. That way, the scopes could be quickly interchanged from atop the Picatinny rail as a solid unit. Our test ammunition for the 50-yard shots was the Sellier & Bellot 55-grain FMJ ammunition. For our longer-distance testing, we relied upon a handload featuring 69-grain Sierra bullets over Varget powder, proven to deliver sub-MOA groups from our test rifle. In terms of durability from shock or recoil, we realize that firing 223 Remington was not a harsh challenge. But we weren’t about to use the scopes as hammers, either. Each scope was backed by a lifetime warranty, and in our view only the longest period of testing will determine the durability of these products.

Rimfire Riflescopes Under $50: Bubbles Sink TruGlo and BSA

November 2010 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

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.

Red-Dot Sights from Aimpoint, Insight Technology, and Vortex

June 2010 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Why does an illuminated dot provide faster recognition for the shooter? First and foremost, the illuminated dot is the brightest object in the field of view. This brings your eye to the dot like a magnet. The key to shooting quickly with an illuminated dot is to focus on the target with the dot in your peripheral vision. Find your desired point of impact, cover it with the dot, and fire.

In this test we will be evaluating several aspects that we think should be considered when choosing an electronic dot scope. Ease of mounting and sighting in, durability in terms of function and repeatable adjustment, and quality of vision regarding the dot and its surrounding field of view. To test we enlisted the help of two rifles. They were the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 and the Marlin 1895SBL. The M&P 15-22 was tested in our February 2010 issue and fires 22LR ammunition. The Marlin 1895SBL is a big-bore lever-action rifle that shoots fat 45-70 cartridges, (www.marlinfirearms.com/Firearms/bigbore/1895SBL.asp). We began by sighting in each scope atop the Marlin 1895SBL and firing from the 100-yard line at Phil Oxley’s Impact Zone (www.theimpactzonerange.com). Here we used Remington 405-grain soft points (R4570G) and PMC 405-grain lead flat point ammunition. Next, we fired at a multiple target array to experience what each scope had to offer in terms of rapid acquisition. For this portion of our test we fired Winchester 300-grain JHP rounds (X4570H). We chose the hefty Marlin for two reasons. First, it supplied enough recoil to challenge the durability of the scopes. Next, working its lever action provided an extra interruption to sight alignment above and beyond the recoil impulse. Our target array consisted of five cardboard IPSC targets for backing arranged in a triangle or "Christmas tree" pattern. Point of aim was a Reckstine Sight-In Target fixed at center mass on each backing. Actual distance from the shooter for each target was, left to right, 22.5 feet, 33 feet, 47 feet, 39 feet and 23 feet. Exercise One was to engage all targets with one round each moving from left to right. Start position was shooter facing downrange muzzle pointing towards the ground about 2 feet in front of the shooter. A round was in the chamber with four rounds in the magazine. The hammer was back and the crossbolt safety was activated. Exercise One was attempted two times and we recorded total elapsed time for each run. We also took note of shot placement on each target.

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For Exercise Two we changed to fresh Reckstine Sight-In Targets on each backing. Exercise Two required that the shooter begin with the furthest target at the top of the triangle. Order of engagement continued with the furthest target to the left, the furthest target to the right and then left to right on the pair of near targets. Again, we recorded total elapsed time and made note of shot placement. Each scope was tested in this manner and the shooter was allowed to dry fire each exercise before firing beginning each exercise. In fact, we recorded the elapsed time of the very first dry fire run, from audible start signal to the final drop of the hammer. We used this to set a par time on our Competition Electronics shot recording timer. This provided an audible structure against which to measure our dry fire practice.

The Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 AR-15 style rimfire carbine was used primarily to test repeatability of zero. We began by undoing all previous adjustments. This meant centering the dot inside the scope. We did this by turning down the elevation screw until it stopped, then turning it in the upwards direction counting each click until the screw stopped again at its maximum elevation. This takes concentration, patience, and a soft touch so not to damage the mechanism. We then divided the number of clicks by two and turned the screw back to its mechanical center point. We repeated this chore with the windage adjustment. It is important to begin with the adjustments at center because this offers the greatest amount of potential adjustment and the least amount of strain on the adjustment mechanism. In addition, we believe that even without magnification, the center of a given lens is the point at which it is most visually efficient.

For our repeatability tests we visited the 25-yard line at American Shooting Centers, (www.amshootcenters.com). From the bench we zeroed each scope. Then we turned the windage adjustment 10 clicks left and shot a group. Next, we turned the adjustment 20 clicks to the right and shot another group. Finally, we adjusted the scope 10 clicks to the left and looked for a group with its center over the original point of zero. On our test days we did our best to wait out any gusts of wind that might skew our windage test and judged accordingly. We repeated this test for elevation adjustment by going 10 clicks up, 20 clicks down and then 10 clicks up. We think dot scopes will rarely be used like a mil-dot tactical scope (for example, dialing in changes and returning to zero), but we hoped this test would simulate longer term use that would likely include being readjusted for use on any number of rifles or handguns. Would one scope stand out from the others? Let’s light them up and see what happens.

Ballistic Reticles: Bushnell and Leupold Offer More Than Nikon

May 2010 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Beastsusually like to keep as much woodlot, coulee, or cornfield between us and them as possible, and that may mean shooting our rifle farther than the sighted-in distance. Essentially we use old-fashioned Kentucky elevation and take our best guess at crosshair hold over. Combine a good sense of distance with shooting experience, and you could fill out your tag. If not, you’ll kick up dirt below two sets of hooves, whiz a round high, or, sadly, wound an animal. Riflescopes with ballistic reticles purportedly take the guesswork out of long-distance shooting by combining a typical crosshair with additional aiming points at set distances. The reticles are calibrated to popular hunting cartridges with muzzle velocities in the range of 2800 to 3000 fps or more. The usual suspects fall into that range—243, 6mm, 25-06, 270, 308, 30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag., 300 Win. Mag., including a slew of others. Since the aiming points are not calibrated to a specific load they, offer general approximations, which means you will need to shoot your rifle to understand how the reticle will work with your specific rifle and cartridge combination. The reticles are chockfull of aiming points and seem cluttered compared to a typical hunting scope, but they are quite easy to master. You may want to make a cheat sheet on an index card or a piece of masking tape and fix it to your stock so you can remember what aiming points are for what distances. Finally, you will still need to know the distance to the target, and some scopes have this covered with built-in range estimators, as you will see. Our team recently tested three scopes with ballistic reticles: Bushnell’s Elite 3200 with DOA 600 reticle, Leupold’s VX-3 with Boone & Crockett reticle, and Nikon’s Monarch with BDC reticle. We were interested to see if the additional aiming points would be easy to use and hit true to the distance claimed. Since the purpose of these scopes is hunting, a kill zone the size of paper plate, or about 9 inches in diameter, was used to determine whether the aiming points worked. We also looked at light-gathering ability and weather resistance. To test the scopes, our shooters fixed them to a Kimber model 8400 Classic in 30-06, which is a perfect example of a hunting rifle/caliber combination likely to be found from Montana to Maine. Since the 30-06 is common caliber and is available in a number of bullet styles and weights, we assumed it would fit the scope manufacturers’ criteria as a "popular caliber" as stated in their manuals. We also wondered if proprietary and not-so-popular calibers that fall into the muzzle velocity range, like those from Weatherby and newer ones like the 30TC, would work with these scopes. Debuting just a few years ago, the 30TC, which is only loaded by Hornady, has less recoil than a 308 or 30-06 yet achieves a higher velocity using the same weight bullet. We tested the 30TC in a Thompson/Center Icon using Hornady 165-grain SST InterLock bullets. We found that what mattered were the velocities and bullet weights. All scopes performed within the calculated range. Test ammunition consisted of Federal Premium 165-grain Sierra Gameking boattail softpoints and Remington’s Premier Core-Lokt Ultra bonded pointed softpoints in 168 grains. Since the scopes are calibrated to muzzle velocity, we chronographed the factory ammo with a ProChrono chronograph to be sure the Kimber’s 24-inch barrel provided the necessary length for the bullet to pick up speed. After initial sight-in, our test procedure consisted of three-shot groups fired from a bench rest. Starting at 100 yards and progressing to 200 yards, we soon ran out of range, so we fired at 100 yards using the additional aiming points. We used an online ballistic calculator (www.biggameinfo.com) to determine the bullet trajectories. The idea was that the shots should group at a height consistent to the caliber’s trajectory, so the 300-yard aiming point group with the Federal 165-grain bullets should print 4.6 in. high at 100 yards and so on. Light-gathering ability was tested during dusk conditions, and the scopes were frozen for 15 minutes and then placed in warm water for another 15 minutes to test water and fogging resistance. Shooting took place over numerous sessions at the Fin Fur Feather Club, a members-only facility in Chaplin, Connecticut. Let’s see where the bullets hit the paper.

Self-Defense Handgun Sights: Novak and Wilson Combat Win

September 2009 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Where is no end to debate concerning handgun sights and their use. Personal preference plays a role, but a poor choice in a defensive handgun may have serious consequences. Good enough and bargain basement don’t cut it. Even the use of sights is debated. Some argue for point shooting or instinctive fire at close range. Unsighted fire sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. The keys to accurate fire include smooth trigger compression, proper sight alignment and proper sight picture. Area aiming or aiming for the whole target is not going to get the job done.

For most gun-buyers, sights are a make-or-break part of the purchase, as important as the cartridge. Sights can—and should—influence which guns you buy. Also, on guns you already own, you can upgrade the sights, especially 1911s and Glocks—if you know what works, and what doesn’t. A person who purchased the best pistol he could afford at the time may wish to upgrade to better sights at a later date, but how does he know what to choose?

We wanted to compare the execution of several sights found on existing factory guns and as aftermarket products to see which one offered the best combination of sight quality, ease of presentation, and durability. This is a tricky job description for a sight, because those requirements can be contradictory. In the past the shortcomings of pistol sights were understood. A universal fault was the round front sight. Where was the top of the sight? Sight pictures were not repeatable. About 1923 a Western peace officer named Tom Threepersons had a square and tall front sight added to his 4.75-inch-barrel Colt Single Action Army. Better sights followed.

Among the first practical high-visibility handgun sights were King’s Hardballer sights. They raised the sight picture and offered an improvement over small GI sights. The problem with fitting combat sights on a self-defense gun is the height of target-type sights. Too-tall front and rear sights became so obtrusive the handgun became difficult to holster. If you use a rear sight that sets tall above the frame, then the front sight must have a correspondingly high profile. The revolution came with Wayne Novak’s Lo Mount sights. Designed like a pyramid, these sights require a special mounting cut in the slide to ride low. The front sight may be as low as .200 inch, although a .249 sight is also used.

Reducing the vertical profile of a sight is important because adjustable sights are exposed to all manner of insult and are relatively fragile. If you visit a police department, you notice that the area around the door jamb of the squad room is often beaten up. This is because that is hip level, and cops’ guns, especially the sights, take a beating on doorways. And, of course, sights are rubbed on by holsters, and they may impede drawing the weapon when you need it most.

To consider these issues, we looked at nine different common sight styles on a host of guns. GI sights, Mil Spec sights, Trijicon sights, XS big dot sights, Novak sights, Heinie sights, McCormick sights, Para Ordnance sights, and Wilson Combat sights.

Nikon 20X Spotting Scope A Best Buy For The Shooting Bench

July 1998 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

The evolution of spotting scopes seems to have maintained pace with other advancements in the firearms and shooting accessory industry. This fact was strongly realized when we compared the equipment in this test to the spotting scope one of testers has mounted in his pistol box. It’s an O. F. Mossberg & Sons Model A “Spotshot” 20x. In 1963, its list price was $29.95. It has a 38mm objective lens. Its 10mm ocular lens is mounted at the end of a sliding tube, which is pulled in and out to rough-focus, then rotated to fine-focus. Considering inflation, we certainly get a lot for our money today, in quality, warranty, and advances in manufacturing and the science of optics.

However, the Mossb...

Burris Signature 6-24x Tops Other Varmint Rifle Scopes

November 1998 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

For most kinds of deer hunting, a 3-9x rifle scope is a good choice. It provides a fairly wide field of view, which makes acquiring the target relatively easy, and a good range of magnification. However, when hunting varmints at long distances, a much more powerful scope is needed. A 6-24x scope with at least a 40mm objective lens is generally considered to be a good varmint scope.

However, this rather limited definition of a varmint scope promptly expanded when we started buying scopes for this test. We found two 20x scopes that outperformed most of the 24x scopes, and a 44mm scope that was smaller than most 40mm scopes. Our final choice of optics for this evaluation included the eight...

Variable Power At Your Fingertips: Tasco Gets Our Best Buy Nod

March 1999 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Shooters of many different stripes enjoy the flexibility 6-20X and 6-24X variable riflescopes give them. These products’ extended power ranges allow them to be used at their low settings for indoor air rifle or rimfire and centerfire hunting use. Dialed up, they allow shooters to shoot spots on silhouette targets or pick their spots on long-range game animals with .300 Win. Mag-class beanfield rifles. With the right glass and mounts, a shooter can easily make one of these variable scopes work in several scenarios, assuming its owner has the skills and steadiness to use the high-mag settings.

Ideally, such products should provide crisp looks at targets and accurate adjustments to compensat...

Reflex Sights for Carry Guns: Leupold Bests Trijicon, Burris

June 2014 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Adding a red-dot reflex sight to a carry pistol has pros and cons. First, the cons. The total cost of the weapon system nearly doubles as the sights are almost as expensive as the pistol, the sights have a larger footprint than the typical rear sight, battery life must be monitored, and foul weather can diminish the capability of the sight. The pros are the sights offer faster target acquisition and ease of aiming. The ability to shoot faster and more accurately in situations under 25 yards are strong reasons to make the switch from iron sights to a reflex sight, so we wanted to investigate mounting a reflex sight on a pistol to see how a reflex sight would work on a carry gun. We chose a Glock 20 Gen 4 as our test platform for two reasons. Glocks are popular pistols among LE and civilians and because the G20 is chambered in 10mm, which has comparable power to a 41 Magnum. We wanted to rattle the innards of these tiny sights to see if anything would fall out, get loose, or go out of zero. Even though the G20 is a full-size pistol, we have found that with the proper holster, like those from Bravo Concealment, and a concealing garment, the G20 can be invisible to the untrained eye.

A reflex sight allows an operator to keep both eyes open and view a target through a small curved glass lens, which has a reticle projected onto it. A light-emitting diode projects a red dot, amber chevron, or other aiming point, giving the operator an unlimited field of view since there is no magnification and the aiming point projects out to infinity. This means that parallax will not affect sighting; place the aiming point on a target, and if zeroed properly, the target will be hit.

Think of them as mini heads-up displays for your pistol.