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OPTIC OF THE WEEK : VORTEX DIAMONDBACK SPOTTING SCOPE

This week we are gonna look at the Diamonback   20x-60x 80mm   spotting scope.   One thing I notice about a  lot of people who start getting serious about their precision shooting or long range shooting is they don’t realize how important a decent spotting scope can be.

Yeah, a lot of modern rifle scopes are pretty amazing. They have limits though.   That’s when you need a spotting scope.    You get more magnification, you get a clearer picture, you get the ability to see holes in targets at ranges  you can’t discern  with your rifle optic, you get the ability to have a spotter who can read conditions, spot your shot and make more detailed examinations of an area.  Last but not least, you can look at something without having to point your gun at it.

I got the Vortex optic a few years ago because it was a great deal. It had features I wanted and I had been hearing a lot about optics from the company and wanted to give something from them a try.

Specs on the optic.

 

Fully Multi-coated-antireflective  lenses

Nitrogen purged with O-ring seals

Dielectric Coating ( whatever that is )

The spotting scope is  a 15.7 inches long and weighs about 46 oz.  The eye relief is 20-16.5mm.    The exit pupil is 4.0-1.3mm.

As you can see the ring and mount lets you attach it to camera type tripods and it can be loosened to allow you to turn the optic inside the ring.  This way if  you like the eye piece at the 6 o’clock position or  3 or 9 or some where in between you can.  Most handy  when shooting from prone and wanting to just lean over and take a peak.

The spotter doesn’t come with it’s own tripod but it does come with a carrying case that allows you to unzip each end and use the optic without removing it. It is nothing special though so I ain’t even gonna bother to show it to you.  Think cheap  black nylon and gun shows with beef jerky.

The top knob allows for focus and the rear eye piece is of course adjustable for magnification and the usual stuff.

The X range is right where I like it. More magnification in  a spotting scope this size often is counter productive in my opinion.  If you want or need more, you are gonna need something bigger.   If you aren’t used to long range shooting ( 1,000 yards and beyond) then let me tell you, more isn’t always better  when its just more.  I think I have mentioned this in the past , but even with your rifle optics when shooting at extended ranges  you will see a diminished return the more you go up  in magnification unless you also get into hubble sized scopes to make the higher Xs useful.    Long story short,  just because you got your hands on a 36x rifle scope with a 40mm objective lens doesn’t mean you got yourself a practical  1000 yard optic.  But that is another topic for another  upcoming day.

Anyways.    The scope very thoughtfully comes with two protective covers for the lens.   The rear screws on and the front has the two  latches.  Over all it’s pretty nice .

So, yes it is clear.   It compares favorably  to the Leupolds  and Redfields I have used over the years. I been really impressed by the detail I can view with it.

My guns, Colt 733 upper

For a while now I have thought about posting about my personal firearms.  Wasn’t quite sure how I should approach the subject.  I’m going to start with my Colt 733 upper.

Above is an old picture, below is a picture taken today.

Sometime about 2004-2005 CMMG got in a bunch of trade in Colt 733 uppers and sold them cheap.  I thought about getting one, but waited, and missed out.

A few years back I saw a police trade in 733 upper for cheap, so I bought it.  Then, of course, I found a nicer one for sale cheaper.  So I bought that one also and sold the first one.  This upper in these pictures is that second 733 upper I had.  It is great that I can keep multiple uppers laying around and swap them out as I see fit.

The Colt 733 has a lightweight 11.5 inch barrel with a 1:7 twist.  Fixed A1 sights and a brass deflector (often called a C7 upper).  The bayonet lug is shaved.  It came with the Colt 6 hold “CAR” hand guards (as opposed to the wider/taller M4 hand guards).  This makes for a very lightweight upper.  This configuration is so light and handy it feels like a toy.  It was also called the M16A2 Commando.  They have been used in a few movies like Black Hawk Down and Heat.

The only change I’ve made to the upper is that I replaced the A1 rear sight with a vintage military low light sight.  The A1 rear sight has 2 peep apertures set for different ranges.

These old military M16 night sights were meant to be used with a Promethium 147 night front sight.  This system was obsoleted with out a replacement.  The large aperture opening is larger than an A2 rear sight, and is on the other side than an A2 sight.  So you flip it the other direction as an A2 sight.

I like to think of my firearms as “combat ready”.  But realistically many of them, such as my 10/22 are not really any where near that.  But this configuration can fire modern high performance ammo, and make the hits when I do my part.  This 733 short barreled rifle is something I would feel confidant to use in a fight, but it would be far from my first choice.  Given the choice, I’d rather have an optic.  If I could only have one AR, it would not be this.  But I’m not limited, so this is a fun gun to have.

A BOY AND HIS RIFLE PART III (THE REMINGTON MODEL 514)

Remington  introduced the  Model 514 in April 1948 as  cheaper alternative to the Model 510  other 500 series rimfires and a competitor of the excellent Winchester Model 67.

“The model 514 is a worthy companion to the model 510, but being slightly shorter and lighter-it is especially suitable for the small boy who is just starting to shoot.”

The 514 is one of what seems like a million different models and makes of .22 rimfire rifles made from the dating back to the dinosaurs.   It is one of the 5xx series models of guns put out by Remington in days when boys could walk  out in the woods and shoot at anything much he felt like shooting at and no one thought much about it.  On the contrary, they may have asked him to come over on a summer evening and shoot that ground hog that has been eating up the tomatoes in the backyard.    Try that now a days.

The rifles of this same basic formula were  clearly markets  to kids but  I have always wondered   just how many were bought for boys and how many were bought by grown men, late teens and seasoned citizens for the pleasure that comes with shooting a rimfire sporter.

There is just something about these vintage bolt action 22s.   Something that  can’t be replicated with a 10/22 or any  modern made rimfire rifle.    I don’t know what it is and it’s hard to even explain.    I have  rarely ever shot a modern rimfire rifle that would be the equivalent of the old rifles  that is any where near as accuracte or made as well.    In fact that may be a mistake.  Those old guns, though made for cheap boys rifles back then, would be sold as a higher priced special  prestige grade model if brought out today.

The 514 is a simple single shot bolt action rifle capable of being taken down for transport or storage with the single  bolt in the bottom of the stock.   Having no magazine like other models, it has a solid receiver.   The three lug safety on the rear is rotated to active and disengage the safety with one lug with a red marking to indicate safe or fire.   Models did not come from the factory drilled and tapped for scope mounting bases. Unfortunately a bubba gunsmith got ahold of this rifle long before I did.   Whoever it is didn’t realize the requirement for mounting bases on the 514  was for two holes side by side and not in line down the bore axis. The bright spark  apparently was going to put two holes on the front and rear of the receiver and got half into it before realizing there ain’t enough room on the rear portion he so poorly chose for the  rear  position. I don’t think you need me to point out where the two rear holes should have been drilled..   No problem though as I never had intention of using one of these with an optic.

No, when it comes to these old .22s, I stick to the iron sights.  Some models of the 514 came with a nice little rear peep sight for more precise target work.   This one has the more common open sights. The style seen on countless  hunting rifles. Not the easiest to use for people use to peep sights but capable of fine shooting.

Accuracy  is as good and honestly probably better than most moden rimfire rifles.   The two groups were fired at 25 yards using  ammo that is nothing special. Just bulk Federal  solid lead.

These guns are getting more expensive to buy every year.   Twenty years ago it was not hard to find any old rimfire bolt action rifle and  not pay  much over 100 yankee green backs for it.   Those days are gone sad to say.  Not surprising. Everything made longer ago that 5 years seems to be rising in price.    If you  want a plinker 22 rifle to carry in the woods or teach your kid I  would chase down one of these before I ever thought about buying a new made rimfire.

 

 

A Look At Various 77gr Factory 5.56MM Match Loads

The title isn’t exact as I shot 73gr-77gr match  loads.    I have for a long time wanted to do comparison side by side testing of the MK 262 class  loadings.  The match loads  using bullets  around the 77gr weight are popular and they should be.  The 75-80gr bullets in 556MM seated to magazine length  is  excellent  in AR15 rifles and carbines.  The 77 gr Sierra with 24.0 grains of Varget or RE-15 or Vit is a decades old and proven recipe for successful long range shooting with a service rifle.   The  military MK262 load is a tweaked version of same load and it has done some amazing things in the recent two wars.     It is just a great load.   To say I think highly of it myself would be  an understatement.  I prefer my handloaded version but I still use factory versions for more general purposes.

So the last few weeks a I have been accumulating factory loads to test for accuracy side by side all from  the same rifle at a range that can tell us something  but not so far away I am fighting wind  so much that the groups  lose all ability to tell us anything.

The factory loads talked about today are above.  As more come out and I get my hands on more of them, I will continue with this series.   I did not use the  new Federal Gold Medal  Match ammo with the 73 grain Bergers because I ran out and I used them all up in a previous long range testing.    For the sake of completeness I will do them in the next  part.

For the gun, I used my MK12 MOD 1 with my Nigtforce  22X  optic.   I did this because the barrel is a match  barrel with a true 1/7 twist, it is  sort of the rifle that  helped define the MK262 and its existence during the GWOT in the minds of many people  and the  military MK 262 round as we know it was fine tuned to be used in the MK12. Lastly it has a 18 inch barrel,  It is between the 20 inch of a full rifle and 16 inch of the carbine.  I didn’t have enough of each type of ammo to test out of rifles and carbines so splitting the difference may be a happy compromise.

I shot the groups off very stable sandbags out at 400 yards.   I thought about going further but the heat, mirage and wind  would have  made it questionable how much may have been me or weather conditions if  one brand of ammo shot worse than the other.   For now this will continue to be the range used for testing the match loads.  If I come up with enough ammo for all brands tested after part two I may do it all over again at 600 or 800 yards if a day with good conditions comes up. All that together is a tall order though.   Shooting purely for smallest group size on the few days of truly good condition is hard work. It takes time, a lot of time and patience and I have really started to feel my glasses need to be replaced  with a newer pair after a trip to the eye doc.  I have noticed a lot more eye strain and trouble over the last  year when I do these all day long  sessions shooting for smallest group.

First up is a 20 shot string using the red box Black Hills 77 grain match load.  This is what I keep the MK12 zeroed with for crows. After a few adjustments I shot the remainder into the center. A great load and is  more or less the real legit MK262 load.

The group below is the “white box” Black Hills 77grain match load. The same load but “factory seconds”.  There is not difference in accuracy.

Below group was fired using the 77gr load from SSA. I know a lot of people like this load and it uses the Nosler 77gr bullet that I think is just as accurate as the Sierra bullet but this time it did not do very well.

The Federal Gold Medal match 77gr Sierra  HPBT load is a long time performer and  a favorite  of mine.   It didn’t let me down.

The Norma match load shot great too. For the price it better!   This was the first time I ever fired the Norma match. It is just too pricey for me.

The PMC  is probably the cheapest factory load I tested. It shot pretty decent  though considering the price.  I think if I wanted to stock pile a large amount for use in carbines or  use not really for long range precision but more for the bullets weight, this would be what I would  buy.

Next is the Hornady Match  ELD 73 gr bullet load.  This is their new ballistic tip designed to not deform when shot from heat or all the other things that can deform the tip.  Jury is still out on that one for me. I don’t know about real long range performance with the ELD bullet yet but at 400 it seems to be a bit better than their HPBT AKA “open tip match”.

 

The last is the Hornady  HPBTWC T2 round.   This 75gr bullet load is loaded for  556MM so it is  higher pressure than the 223 TAP load or match load.   It is a bit less accurate as well. Not a good “match” round if you want accuracy but it is a good round for killing stuff.

So what did we learn?  That the  7X  bullet weight match factory loads all shoot pretty good.   Some are  lower velocity than others  and you can’t  zero your gun with one and expect it to  work with all other loads obviously.   I was glad to learn that all of these are pretty good loads when it comes to accuracy at ranges most users will shoot at.    My opinion of factory ammo has went up a bit too.  I look forward to testing some of the other 7X gr  bullet loads on the market.   I also learned my handloads are still better as I already knew and that I will continue my confidence in the black hills load and Federal  match loads if I want a factory load to  use along with my hand loads.

Optic Of The Week Unertl 20x Target RifleScope

The Unertl rifle scopes are  something most shooters know about today thanks to the web and videogames.  Few of them  know much about them otherwise. They know  Hathcock used one  on his sniper rifle during his first tour in Vietnam.  They know it’s “old”  and they know it looks ancient and complex.   And if you ever looked into buying one you know they are expensive and no longer  made.    So this week we will take a closer look.

John Unertl Sr. worked in the optical field while in the service with the German army in WW1. In 1928 he and his family  immigrated to the US.  He was hired by the J.W Fecker telescope manufacturing company  in Pitssburgh, PA where he later became the superintendent.      In 1936, Unertl left Fecker to start his own company. During WW2 Unertl provided the USMC with the 8x  rifle scopes most casual observers are familiar with then post war  continued on with new models.    In 1960 John Sr. passed away and his son John Jr. took over further expanding the line and company.   Commercial production for rifle optics ended in 1985. I doubt many shooters would realize the external adjustment Unertl scopes were made as  late as 1985.   Maybe even later as various people bought the left over parts from the shop and turned out a few more, Then various people bought the rights to the company name and things get really muddy and fuzzy there and I won’t go into it.

Now lets finally get to taking a look.  The Unertls  set on target blocks common in the past.   Basically target blocks are various sized and drilled metal blocks with a dovetail that the mounts on the scope slide over and secure to.   The mounts have  a bolt that tightens onto the block  and the dove tail keeps it from coming out of place.   Picture below shows a target block. The target blocks worked on iron sights and optics mounts.

Above is the rear mount with elevation and wind and below is front mount.  Both are aluminum and came in  a variety of styles I won’t go into here but will in comments if asked.

Also in the above picture you will note the spring.

The  body of the scope  set suspended between the two mounts.  This allows the scope to travel freely during recoil as its adjustments are external. That is, they move the rear of the scope  up.down/ left/right.  The spring is set depending on recoil force of round used. and the tension of the spring will return the scope to its full forward  position. If not you have to do it by hand.   Not all Unertls came with this feature  as it was an optional add on.   You will have noticed the USMC 8x sniper scopes do not have these as the Marines feared sand would get between the spring and body and score the tube. At the front of the mount is a clamp that holds it all in place of course.   This can be adjusted if you want the eye piece of the scope to come back further or to move it away from you.   Unlike modern optics you can also notice the rib that runs on the  top and through the mount. This makes sure the scope and crosshairs stay straight up and not canted.

Below is the rear mount. Here you can see the external adjustments and how they move the rear of the tube. The micrometer turrets  are very precise and repeatable.   And very tough.

On this model the objective lens can be focused by a  pretty nifty system.  Not as fast to use as modern systems but very precise.

The other setting are made on the eye piece.   At one time a piece was sold to replace the rear of the scopes that would allow you to boost the magnification by a few Xs.

The glass on these optics are outstanding.   Even  with all the modern advances in modern optics, a full 2 inch ultra varmint model Unertl is  super clear and sharp.   The crosshairs on this model are the pretty standard fine crosshairs. I  really regret that I did not have the right camera set up to  show you just how clear and sharp a Unertl in good condition can be.  Unfortunately  trying to take apicture through a 20x target riflescope is not easy.

Lastly the scope come with a front and rear metal screw on protective caps.

Needless to say, these scopes are fine quality and  old craftsmanship. Everything about oozes quality and I am not kidding.   They were made to last.

The down sides now.   The price for any of these is going up by the second.   The internet has made more people aware of these and of course the price  goes up.   Also, unless you are close to a gunsmith, you are not going to be able to pop one on most factory guns made after  the mid 1980s. And that is if you are lucky.   Old Remingtons, Winchesters,  and target guns will most likely  have the correct hole spacing  in the places needed to mount one. The down side is, most of those companies making factory guns in the 70s and early 80s also were prone to have barrels not straight and receivers not drilled in line and all manner of problems. If you over come that,  you need to find the correct target blocks. They came in a variety of heights and thickness to account for barrel contour and hole spacing and  models. Charts are out there people have scanned and put online  and some small companies make blocks new.  I don’t mean to discourage  you, just do your research carefully.

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