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November 05, 2007

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Scope Fatigue

Over the past few months I've been reading Jeff Cooper's Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip, Volumes I and II, which was a blog before there were blogs. Several themes run through it, and one of them was the unreliability of scope sights. Chairman Jeff claimed that for every ten scopes that went through the Gunsite rifle program, two would bite the dust.

My own experience doesn't agree with this. In 47 years of using scope sights, I've had two actually break, one that was loaned me and probably busted by its owner, and three prototypes that didn't work in the first place. Considering how many scopes I've used, and how much use they've had, that is a pretty damn good record for reliability.

Probably the best testimony to a good scope's durability is the Unertl MST-100 10X, which was first issued to Marine Corps snipers in 1981. Most of these scopes made it to the 21st century or a bit further before they began to give out. On the one hand, they were mounted on .308s that weighed upward of 12 pounds and therefore kicked very little, but on the other, they saw a ton of use, and were being used by Marines, who can break anything. The Unertl is being replaced by a 3X-12X Schmidt & Bender with an illuminated reticle; it's supposed to be even more durable.

As for myself, if I'm going somewhere that sporting goods stores are not handy, I always take an extra scope. There's nothing wrong with hedging your bets.


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SD Bob

I've used many scopes over my 25 or so years of riflery and have had only one go its' own way and it wasn't an inexpensive one. My inexpensive ones(20 to 80 dollars) have held zero as well as my choices in the several hundred dollar range. The only difference I've seen is clarity and adjustability.


I'm still using the same Leupold 3X9 Vari X-I(?) I purchased and mounted on a .270 in 1977. Still sharp and clear and VERY accurate!
Hunted with a fellow in the '60/70's that had a Kolmorgen (sp?) 4X on his .270. It was the fore-runner of the Redfield. It's still sharp and clear, his son hunts with the gun today!
First scope my grandfather had was a Lyman 4X on a .30-30. It's STILL sharp, clear and accurate! I still shoot it on occasion!
I glom onto every Weaver K-4 I can get my hands on! They are still very nice scopes for .22's and small bore, low recoil rifles!
I'm shooting a K-4 of indeterminent age on my .22 Hornet. Don't think I've ever owned a Tasco or Bushnell that didn't have parallex (sp?) that could be adjusted out. Quit buying them long ago. Understand that their quality has improved tremendously. May have to try another sometime!
It's been a while since I've delved deeply into the sporting goods scene but Simmons seems to build a fairly nice scope for the money. Haven't tried Nikon, was sorry to see Redfield dry up. Can't afford Zeiss or that other German one. Shoot, I can't even afford Leupold anymore! Ergo, used K-4's.
Thought about trying the Leupold low end scopes once but was informed that they weren't much scope.


Chad Love

OK, here's a scope question. I took a perfectly fine Leupold M8 6x36 off an M70 classic featherweight 6.5 Swede because, well, I got an itch for a new scope.
I mounted a new Leupold FXIII 6x42 on it, and while it's a fantastic scope, for some reason I just don't really like the look of it on that featherweight.
So do I: A. just put the perfectly fine 6x36 M8 back on it and be happy? Or B: spring the money for one of those sweet little Zeiss Conquest 4x32s that won a "Best of the Best" award last year?
Just how good is that 4x32? I want to keep a fixed power scope on this rifle just be a contrarian...

Chad Love

Sorry, should read just "to" be a contrarian. I'm not a copy editor...

WA Mtnhunter

Anything man can make, can and will break; often at the most inopportune time. Some less often than others. I always take a reliable back-up rifle and ammo, spare binoculars, spare rangefinder, and spare socks.


Hey Chad,

Here's about the only advice I can think of to give you:


Wrestling with the worm can of "Which one?" only stresses you for no reason!


Dave in St Pete


If your socks are "breaking", you're probably not washing them often enough! :)

On scopes I have a cheap TASCO 4x32 on my 30-06 Savage that is holding up fine so far. I probably have 250 rounds out of it and as I don't have a case for it yet it just gets put in the trunk bare for trips to the range and field.

Got a couple of Busnell Banner 3-9x40 on my .22s and they are great.


I’ve had very good luck with scope and mount dependability. In 35-years I’ve only had nitrogen leak out of a Redfield that was 15-years old at the time. Sent it back to Redfield and they overhauled the scope and refilled the nitrogen all for the price of postage.

My scopes: Tasco World Class, Redfields, and Weavers. Mounts have always been Leopold or Redfield. Not cheap scopes and mounts, but not super expensive.

What high cash I don't put into my scope I put into spotting scopes and binoc's. I look through them more than a rifle scope.

Later folks, got a brittney pup that wants to charge into the Uplands. Hee-Ha!!!

Chad Love

You're right, Bubba. I think that 4x Zeiss would make Chad very happy indeed. I think buying that 4x Zeiss would bring forth the bluebird of happiness and banish the chicken of depression.
Chad can see it plainly now. All that's missing in his life is the right scope. This little Zeiss will put the spring in his step and make his generally dim and misanthropic outlook on things as bright and sunny as crystal-clear German optics on a brisk opening morning.

OK, no more talking in the third-person...



I think you've been bit by the "toy" bug. It's an affliction suffered by many and the only treatment is to rush out and spend more of your hard earned money.

The only people I know who quit buying stuff are either dead or broke (and being broke doesn't stop many of them).



You go Chad

Bubba thinks you are a pretty smart fella. Bubba thinks he might like you.

P.S. - Wish I could afford a Zeiss!!!

WA Mtnhunter

I do have "broken" socks once in a while, since the little woman won't repair them! :-)

On scopes, I compare a scope to fishing line. Buy a $200 rod and reel, take an expensive fishing trip, burn a week's vacation, and use $.99 discount store fishing line. Where is the economy? The only thing connecting the fish to you is the line. Same with the scope. If cheap works for you, by all means do it.

Chad Love

Ha! Who said anything about being able to afford it? I'm an American, you know. How does that old joke go? I can't be overdrawn, I still have checks left...

If I do get the Zeiss, I'll have to sell the Leupold, can't afford both (well, can't really afford either one, but that's another story) but I know a reputable place in NY that has a smoking deal on the Zeiss right now, which is why I was asking



I have a Zeiss conquest 3x9x40. I've owned it for a few years now and it is a wonderful scope.

There's an old saying about buying what you really want once and never having to spend the money again. It's true. When I've substituted things for what I really wanted I wasn't satisfied and bought the original item @ a later date. So in the long run, it costs more money.


Ed J

You sound like the chicken trying to cross the road. I replaced a K10 weaver with a 4-12 Nikon Monarch on my 25-06. That only took 20 years to do it.

Bernie Kuntz

I currently own close to 20 scopes and have owned a half dozen others over the last 45 years. I once had a Bushnell 4X scope fog up while hunting Sitka deer on Admiralty Island in SE Alaska in four days of incessant rain. I also had the crosswires break in a $100 Swift brand scope that was mounted on a .22 rimfire. Other than that, I never have had a single scope problem. This is after nine North American sheep hunts, three Alaskan brown bear hunts, other trips for grizzlies, elk, moose, caribou, deer and antelope...trips from Arizona to Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, B.C., the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska. Burris, Leupold, Redfield, Bausch & Lomb--I own them all, some are 40 years old, and they have never let me down. A friend of mine bought a rifle one time with a Leupold scope that some moron had abused and had actually dented the scope tube. Leupold sent him a new scope, no questions asked! I wish I could say the same for the motor vehicle industry!

Bernie Kuntz

Regarding Dave's advice to take an extra scope along on a hunting trip to remote areas--I think it would be an enormous pain to remove a scope from a rifle in the field, then re-mount a second scope, then have to sight-in the rifle in the hunting area. When I have gone on expensive hunts in remote country in western Canada and Alaska, and on my single hunt to South Africa, I simply took a second rifle. Of course, Dave might be a lot more handy than I am. Anything more mechanical than opening a soup can tends to intimidate me.


Bought a S&B 4X a number of years ago after a demo at an LE event by one of their sales reps. He handed me a rifle with the scope on it, I fired a group, he took the scope off (QD mount), threw it about 30 yards, walked over and kicked it back. Put it back on the rifle and the next 4 holes were right on top of the first four. Shot the box two rounds at a time, last two were between the first two. Ordered one the next day.
Damn spendy, but they don't seem to break much. Then again, neither do my Leupolds.

If any scope mfgs are reading this, there's a market for a 4X Scout scope, especially one with about a 40MM objective lens.

Chad Love

Homer, I know it's not a scout scope, but the Weaver Grand Slam 4.75x40 is a helluva nice scope, especially for the money right now. Apparently they're being discontinued. I picked up two of them a couple weeks ago to put on future project guns. $139 bucks plus rebate for a scope that retailed for the same price as the Leupold FXII 4x33
Which is kinda why I'm also leaning toward the 4x Zeiss. I'm scared they'll discontinue it because no one wants a fixed four these days.


Got a scope question fellas. Way below what yall are talkin about but this is for the kids so help me if ya can. Got a rem. nylon 66 with a weaver 4x scope and until about a year ago I could put two or three bullets in the same hole. Thats at 30 yards. both are about 25 tears old Ive cleaned the gun until patches were clean comin through. Taken the scope off and remounted it. Ok it will shoot 2 or 3 dead on then they go all over the place? Whachta think? The gun shot out? scope bad? Probably shot 15000 rounds over years.



1. Check to make sure base is tight.
2. Check rings, make sure they are tight and screws aren't stripped.
3. Place scope in sand bags or somewhere it won't move. It's okay if it's still on the gun, but it MUST be stationary. Look through scope with one eye closed. Now, nod your head up and down and right to left. Watch crosshairs. If the crosshairs remain on target, barrel is history. If crosshairs dance around the target, it's parallex (sp?). Some scopes can have parallex adjusted out, cheaper ones, well, everybody needs a nut cracker!


Ed J


Probably not shot out or the scope bad. The reason? You say 2 or 3 shots deadon. Sounds like a heat problem. something is pushing the barrel crooked. As the barrel heats up its easyer to move and if you have something in the barrel chanel pressing against the barrel it pushes it off.

Years ago I had a custom Mauser. It would shoot 4 bullets into one raged hole and the next one would be in the 1 oclock position and would string upward from then on.
the problem was in those days they put 2 little bumps out at the end of the forarm to support the barrel. If these weren't right, they would push the barrel off. In my case it was up and to the right.
This was checked out by a guy who built custom gunstocks, you don't find to many of them around anymore, uh at least not in my price range.

To check it on your gun do this;
with the barrel cold fire a 10 shot string. Make sure you aim /shoot at the same spot on the target. Do this at least 3 times you should see a patern develope that will give you some idea of what to look for.


The 66 is not known to be reliable with a scope. The reason being is the cover in which the scope mounts, is not mounted to the barrel. This allows the scope and barrel to shift. This is probably the reason why it is moving. As for heat, the 22LR should not be heating the barrel up. Especially in just 3 shots.


Guys really appreciate the advice. Now I have something to work with. I really love that gun but I think its time for a Rueger 10/22, for a low priced and accurate .22 what do ya think?


Sounds to me like JB has the Nylon 66 problem ironed out pretty well. For some reason I can't get over the fact that Weaver and the K-series of scopes that served us so well years ago have disappeared completely. I loved the K-4 with a dot reticle. Scopes of low power and high quality with the dot reticle are impossible to find anymore. So I was forced to purchase a scope that is larger and heavier than I need in order to get an IR Dot reticle. The illuminated dot reticle works super for varmints and other targets in low light or in conjunction with a red lens scope light after dark. I had to go to a 4-16X50, 22 ounce Barska scope. I own two of these. They have turned out to be fairly rugged, reliable scopes, and the price is right. Probably made in China. They are the only ones that make the kind of scope I need. If they had cross wires (BDC) below the dot, they would be next to perfect for me as an all around scope except for size and weight. You'd think with all the scope manufacturers out there that someone would pick up the ball and run with it. Instead they are all making pretty much the same old plex reticles. If someone would make a reticle with thick plex wires on top and sides and a thin one on the bottom with BDC in mind and an IR dot in the middle you'd have the best of all worlds for my money. Whether it was fixed 4 or 6X40 or variable 3-9X40, at least it could be lightweight, compact, and useful. To me, anything above 6 power is useless in any kind of hot weather because the heat waves are terrible. So to me the high power settings are only useful maybe 1/3 of the time. Give me a fixed power 6X40 with the above described reticle and I'd be happy as a clam. $300.00 +or- $50. Keep the weight to 1 pound or under. Good hunting! BA.

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