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GUNS Magazine October 2010 - Page 34
oday’s shooters expect any new scope to function perfectly. The scope shouldn’t leak in a hurricane or break down on a .416 Rigby. The adjustment clicks should be precisely repeatable, and the scope should put every shot in the same hole whether magnification is set on 2.5X or 30X—and yes, we expect each scope to function both for still-hunting in thick timber and for shooting targets at 1,000 yards. Oh, and the optics should be good enough to see in the dark. In short, we expect it all—and modern advertising fuels our expectations. By nature I’m something of a skeptic, especially since my personal experience suggests not every scope is infallible. Over the years I’ve used many methods of actually testing rifle scopes to see if they’re really ready to go. Some of these methods were stolen from other people, without the slightest guilt. And why not? If every human had to start at the beginning of technology, our notion of an optical lens would be a flake of dark-gray obsidian. Back in the 1990s the first thing I did with any new scope was take off the turret caps and immerse the entire scope in a sink full of mediumhot water. The warmth of the water expanded the gas inside the scope, causing bubbles to ooze from any leak. At the time this test was actually instructive, since some scopes weren’t totally sealed against outside moisture. Believe it or not, this included both really cheap scopes and some of the T John Barsness most expensive. Back then more than one top European manufacturer didn’t seal the adjustment turrets with O-rings, something just about every American and Asian scope manufacturer had been doing for decades. These European companies were counting on removable turret caps to keep moist, exterior air from getting inside their scopes. This optimism was why some hunters went to damp places such as coastal Alaska and their expensive scopes developed interior clouds. However, that changed by the early 1990s, partly due to real optics writing regularly appearing in shooting magazines. Before then the occasional optics article was usually a rewrite of a pamphlet published by Bausch & Lomb in the 1950s, explaining such optical terms as pincushion distortion, thus providing zero practical knowledge to the reader. Today it’s very rare to find any scope leaking in any way, so unless some magazine demands the dunk Even if a scope passes all the “indoor” tests, it still needs to be shot repeatedly. 34 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • OCTOBER 2010