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Scopes are precision instruments in many ways capable of helping you to become a better shot. But they need to be handled carefully, not thrown around or allowed to fall...
Scopes are precision instruments in many ways capable of helping you to become a better shot. But they need to be handled carefully, not thrown around or allowed to fall, and most important of all, they need to be set up on the air rifle securely and accurately. The most straightforward way to do this is by spending a bit of money. Not a fortune, far from it, but just a bit more than you might have thought you could get away with. Getting away with, in this situation, means saving yourself a couple of quid by buying budget-priced scope mounts – and costing yourself an arm and a leg in frustration, inconsistent performance and plain poor shooting in the process. To be fair, it’s not all that easy to even find poor quality scope mounting rings these days. Thanks to CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) machinery, the mass production of top grade steel and aircraft-quality aluminium mounts has turned what was once a bit of a lottery into, quite literally, a sure fire thing. The earliest scopes were held in custom-made steel rings, usually crafted with all the skill of a gifted gunsmith and priced to match. And that was the way things stayed for ages, because telescopic sights were the preserve of military snipers or wealthy deer stalkers and the affordable scope for your everyday rifle shooter simply did not exist. It was the air rifle, along with the .22 rimfire, which changed the market and suddenly, around the 1960s, everyone wanted a scope. Open sights became erratic and unreliable – well, no they didn’t, but if you really wanted a scope that’s how they would have seemed – and the gun trade responded initially with some skimpy, dim and optically awful tubes. Worse still, they were held on by pressed steel clips with at best a half-hearted grasp on the short, shallow dovetail grooves machined as an afterthought to airguns’ cylinders. Luckily for airgunners the situation didn’t last long. Once the Japanese, who had already cornered the camera market, stepped in with top quality optics at affordable prices, the mounts to make the ‘combos’ complete arrived too. Initially 2-piece rings and then the more solid 1-piece mount became standard on spring-powered hunting rifles and these, combined with recoil studs, provided a solid and dependable system to keep a scope on song, despite the savage recoil some dished out. Then, along with the surge of the pre-charged pneumatic, 2-piece sets became even more versatile, mostly to suit such rifles requiring access to the loading bay beneath the scope. Heights varied from low and medium to high – and continue to evolve today as 26mm and 30mm tubes slowly make way for 34mm and more with objective bells to match. Lengths varied too, with reachforward styles introduced to accommodate mega-scopes. What was once a relatively simple means of attaching a scope to a rifle has become sophisticated kit in itself. Now rings can adjust independently of one another, base height and angle can be changed, recoil dampened by cunning absorbtion systems. The mounts themselves can cope with more than simply clamping a scope in place, they can hold add-ons, like lasers, minihunting lamps and spirit levels, and they can be taken on and off along with the scope with reliable precision, without the need to re-zero. Among all these attributes, though, one requirement remains constant – the ability to keep the scope precisely in place.
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