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Scopes The Critical Link

A gun is a mechanical device made of levers, extractors, springs, pins, and shears. Like all mechanical devices, the individual parts work in conjunction with each other to achieve a desired task. The problem with mechanical devices is they are only as good as their weakest part. A firearm is no different.

If you have a bad trigger, you loose shot control. An improper stock can cause bad sight alignment. A weak spring or worn pin can result in a failure to fire. A weak shear can result in a miss fire and a poor scope can cause headaches all around.

Last November, my best friend Neil and I, attended Front Sight Firearms resort in Pahrump , Nevada . We went for a 4 day defensive handgun course expecting to increase our skills in shooting from a concealed holster. What we got was a four day baptism into all sorts of firearms, defensive tactics, shooting control, and advice of what not to do. Please note, I highly recommend that everyone should attend a course with these experts.

The results are a personal level of shooting and accuracy unsurpassed by any other form of instruction I have encountered. One of the key events for me was a discussion with Long Range Precision Rifle instructor Majik. Majik is originally from Yugoslavia and a highly trained military officer. He stands nearly 6'5" tall and tips the scales at probably 245lbs none of which is fat. From discussions, I was able to learn of his tours with NATO peace keeping missions in Asia and Europe .

He has the bullet wounds to prove it. I know very little about this guy except to say that he seen more than most and earned my respect and admiration from the start. Among his qualities, he holds the title of being an internationally certified sniper instructor. This guy is good.

One of his comments really took me by surprise; however, his perspective is not only unique but extremely accurate. He said, "Americans are backwards. They spend $1000 on new hunting rifle and then drop a $100 scope on the top of it.

In Europe , we buy a $100 WWII German Mauser put a new trigger and barrel on it and then spend $1000 for the scope." I smirked at the comment, but only because it was true. When I purchased my first Weatherby Rifle from a family friend, I was ecstatic. The Weatherby 30-378 magnum represented the top of American firearms precision engineering.

Just having the Weatherby name in my gun safe made my gun collection feel of a higher quality. The problem was that mounted on top of this tack driving beauty was a Tasco 8-20x40 squint-o-scope, the top of Chinese optical engineering. Speaking that I had just spent a pretty darn good price on the gun, my wife was more than reluctant to let me drop another $600 on the Leupold Vari-X III that I had my eyes on. Feeling a little flat-in-wallet, I decided to forgo the purchase of a new scope and use the Tasco. ERROR! ERROR! ERROR! Instead of shooting with the Tasco, I should have pulled it off of my gun, round filed it, and stored the rifle until I bought the appropriate optics.

I spent the next 2 months sighting in the Weatherby. I tried different loads including the $85 per box factory ammo. I tried different stands and different ranges. No matter what I did, I could not get the rifle to pattern like I wanted it to. I finally gave into frustration and bought the scope that I had desired all along, a Leupold Vari-X III 6.5-20x40 and all accuracy problems were cured.

I later reconfirmed my belief in my rifle and scope selection, when I dropped a nice 5-point bull elk at 400 yards in the back country of Montana . A gun is only as good as its weakest part. In numerous cases, a quality scope can make all the difference.

I highly recommend the names of Leupold, Nikon, Nightforce, Swarovski, Zeiss, Pentax, and Burris. All of these manufactures guarantee their scopes for life and build on the concepts of quality. All are tested to extremes and have clear fog resistant optics. I tend to lean towards Leupold and Nikon as an excellent combination of cost and quality.

Tasco, Bushnell, Redfield, Simmons, BSA, and other lesser brands are not designed to handle the sharp recoil of hunting rifles or the abuse they may receive in the field. This usually leads to decreased shooting consistency and increased chances of missing your prize. Now I am sure all of these scopes have stories of success by the people who use them and they all have their place in hunting.just not on my guns. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra money for a quality scope.

It can make all the difference in the world.

Kelsey Hilderbrand is a life-long hunter and outdoorsman. Born and raised in rural eastern Washington State and a graduate of Washington State University. Kelsey is both a veteran hunter and the founder of High Mountain Hunting Supplies


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