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GUNS Magazine February 2010 - Page 60
edfield scopes are back. It’s a pleasure to see another quality American-made scope available, and to see Leupold honor a fine brand name by returning it to production. John Hill Redfield was born in 1859, the son of Oregon ranching pioneers. Over an adventurous life he was a rancher, professional hunter, gunsmith, deputy US marshal, and mining engineer. In 1906 Redfield moved to Denver, Colorado, where there was a mining boom. He found rifle sights in great demand and in 1909 began manufacturing sights full time. Even though riflescopes were still novelties at the time, in 1916 Redfield developed the rotary dovetail base/ring system, which would be a standard for decades. many immigrants of the era (such as my paternal grandfather) they anglicized the spelling of their names (to “Frederick” and “Volpel”). John C. Stevens, another brilliant inventor, joined the firm and quickly proved so indispensable he became a partner. After Volpel’s death the business was renamed Leupold & Stevens. On the east coast another Germanborn optical expert was establishing his own business. Dr. Friedrich Otto Kollmorgen was a successful optical engineer who had worked in Germany, Austria and Britain before moving to the US. He established Kollmorgen Optical, Brooklyn, NY, in 1916, manufacturing the periscopes for the first US submarines. In the decades leading up to WWII all three companies—Redfield, Leupold, and Kollmorgen—were prospering at their various enterprises, making quality products and employing skilled workers, in the manner intelligent, hard-working R Dave Anderson Optics Markus Friedrich (Fred) Leupold was born in Ravensburg, Germany in 1875. He emigrated on his own to the US when he was 16, moved to Oregon in 1907 and together with a brotherin-law, Adam Voelpel, he established a successful business making quality optical surveying instruments. Like people can prosper in a free economy. The Second World War and its aftermath brought huge changes. Companies which had contributed to the war effort, as these three had, saw military contracts end as the armed forces demobilized. Millions of recently discharged servicemen were working, starting families, buying all sorts of products and fueling the greatest economic boom in history. The demand for sporting firearms and accessories was unprecedented. It was clear riflescopes would become far more popular than iron sights. Marcus Leupold (son of the original Markus) on a famous deer hunt lost an opportunity when a scope fogged, and prophetically said, “I could make a better scope myself.” Which is what he did. Shortly before the war a Texas gunsmith, M.L. Stith, designed a scope mount to fit several popular rifles without the need for drilling and tapping. (They are still in demand to this day, with shooters who don’t want to alter fine collectible rifles). A scope to go with the mount seemed a logical idea. Meanwhile Kollmorgen Optical (which had moved operations to 60 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • FEBRUARY 2010