Reviews & articles for shooting sport enthusiasts.

Optics & target acquisition

SHOT Show 2017

Warning: This is a LONG entry, with numerous images.

The week of January 16th once again saw the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada; host the the 39th annual Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show; also known as the SHOT Show. For those who do not know what SHOT Show is or what it consists of, TPF will give you a quote direct from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) whom organizes the event.

The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show opened its doors this morning at the Sands Expo Center with industry expectations running high in response to the energized market in America for firearms, ammunition and accessories.

Over the next four days, the show will attract nearly 65,000 industry professionals from the firearms and outdoor industry, including 2,500 members of the outdoor press-the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world-and showcase new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes.

Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, the SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. The show is open to trade members only and not to the public; consumers will see the products unveiled at the SHOT Show on retailers’ shelves during the course of the year.

You read that correctly, not open to members of the public. We at TPF can already hear our readers rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “But we are the consumers!” Which is true, except that the consumers that are mentioned the service companies and persons who are directly related to the industry. Not the end user, otherwise known as the public, but those whom supply the products to the end users such as retailers, trainers, ranges, organizations, etc… That being said, there are ways that the public can attend, and do attend as is evident to many who have attended SHOT know. TPF-Online will not go into details or methods for the public to get into SHOT Show. We apologize, and suggest that you utilize your favourite search engine or firearms forum (for Canadians, we recommend Gun Owners of Canada or Canadian Gun Nutz).

So let us delve into the timeline of SHOT Show.
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Not irons, optics, red-dot, nor holosight; just what is the See All Open Sight?

If you want to shoot at a target with repeatable accuracy you need some form of sighting system. Thankfully every type of firearm has a sighting system already installed on them or comes with the ability to mount them in some fashion. Even most short barreled handguns use a have a form of sighting system on them. So then the question for some is what type of sighting device do they want to use on a specific firearm. Is it to be used for self defense, plinking, hunting legged or flying game, competition? What range or ranges will targets be engaged at? How much? How heavy? How well does it work? That’s a lot of options and unfortunately unlike the storyline of The Lord of the Rings, there is no one single sighting device that rules them all.

So first TPF will break down the basic types of sights for firearms:
Iron Sights:

Iron sights are simple sights. That means that they are mechanically a simple in design. A notched rear blade sight with a post-style front sight are the most common iron sights used on firearms with rifled barrels. Aperture, or “peep” sights use a ring instead of an open notch. In general, iron sights are very simple and cost effective while being lightweight.

Telescopic Sights:

These optical sights use lenses encased in tubular mounts, in order to place an superimposed reticle on the target. The aiming pattern appears to be at the same focal point as the target which allows for a single required focus. The construction of these sights is far more complex than iron sights, but allows for magnification effects which make the target appear closer. This obviously allows for longer target engagement ranges and greater accuracy.

Reflector Sights:

Reflector sights are a version of optical sights that are more commonly known as reflex sights. The most common versions currently in use are red-dot scopes which use a light emitting diode (LED) to project a single dot image on a mirror surface of the objective lenses that reflects the reticle image back towards the user. A closed style reflex sight is mounted in a tube akin to a telescopic sight and can use filters and shades to prevent glare and such. The open style reflex sight is simply the objective lens mounted in a simple encompassing ring and are lightweight compared to tube versions. These LED powered sights can operate for extended durations due to the minimal power requirements.

Holographic Sights:

The most advanced optical sight commonly available are holographic sights. Holographic sights use a laser to project an aiming reticle onto the surface of an objective lens which is then observed by the shooter’s eye. While they are similarly to open style reflex sights as they have a single objective lens mounted, there are more electronics contained inside. Usually have a slightly a finer aiming reticle than reflex sights.

Unfortunately we are all growing older. In the case of the author of today’s TPF installment, wearing corrective lenses has been the norm for over twenty years. The usage of fibre-optic enhanced or tritium embedded iron sights has allowed for faster target acquisition and better sight alignment, but sometimes an upgrade in sighting systems is desired. For many that means magnification optics for greater target resolution at range, or electronic sights that have a red-dot or holographic aiming reticles. So now enter the See All Open Sight, to be referred to as SAOS subsequently.

SeeAll-02

A new style of target acquisition systems. The See All Open Sight is designed as a rugged, fast, simple and in-expensive alternative

The SAOS is an attempt to create a lightweight, cost effective, accurate sighting device which is accurate at short and longer ranges. Built into a compact package the SAOS masses in at just a hair over 55 grams (1.8 oz) which is a fraction of most optical and electronic sight masses. Measuring 57.5mm long, 25.7mm wide and 25.4mm height (2.26″ x 1.01″ x 1.00″), the SAOS has an incorporated weaver/picatinny mounting profile. Unlike many such mounts however, the SAOS needs to be slide overtop of the rail into it’s desired position. Instead of the common bolt clamping though a groove of the rail, the SAOS uses a pair of set screws to secure its position via tension. This means that the SAOS can be mounted regardless of number and positioning of slots in the rail.

SeeAll-03

The sighting mechanisms and components which are situated inside the black anodized aluminum body are as follows:

  • An optical lens
  • An aiming reticle mounted on a light gathering polymer block
  • Elevation and windage adjustment screws
  • Set screws for mounting

The fixed optical lens is plano-convex in shape and by looking through it, magnifies the reticle image on the polymer block. The reticle itself consists of a horizontal line with a triangle, which is less than 1.0 mm (0.04″) wide. These are scaled up depending on the user’s eye proximity to the lens itself. The contrast of the triangular reticle and the green polymer block was very easy to distinguish and very easy and fast to acquire. The design in itself lends itself to the claim of being parallax-free in that you do not need perfect eye/sight alignment.

SeeAll-04

Even in the shade, the contrast allows for very easy target acquisition. Line up the tip of the triangle…

Usage of the SAOS is akin to using a holographic sight, but with the size of an open reflex sight and the contrast of fiber-optic enhanced iron sights. Various other individuals have mounted and tested the SAOS through a variety of firearms including hard recoiling Mosin-Nagants, AR platforms, shotguns, in addition to centre-fire handguns as well as the plethora of rim-fire firearms out there. TPF, used a tried and true Ruger 10-22 to be the basis of this evaluation. The SAOS was mounted on a dovetail to picatinny adapter and torqued down by hand. Initial shot impacts centered roughly 50 mm (2.0″) up and to the left at 23 m (25y). Very acceptable starting accuracy out of the box. This could be attributed to the length of the mounting rail which runs the whole length of the sight in aiding initial sighting alignment. Approximately 250 rounds later, the SAOS was still holding it’s point of impact, and underlined its ease of use and the bright, easy method of acquiring your target and also establishing your sight picture.

SeeAll-01

Mounted on an old favourite, the See All Open Sight is very simple and easy to use.

Are there smaller reflex sights out there? Yes. If the user is willing to spend several hundred dollars for an electronic sight. Which brings up another feature that may get overlooked; the SAOS doesn’t use any electronics at all. It’s rugged aluminum body has large protective sides and protects the sight from most handling abuse. The light gathering block allows for lower light conditions. The result? A very capable, short range, sighting system.  It is an excellent accessory for use by those who want a simple, high contrast, fast targeting sight, and the ease of use  makes this an especially valuable accessory for firearms used to introduce children and other people new to shooting.

The positives are pretty substantial for the SAOS:

  • Small and lightweight, yet rugged
  • Fast and easy to acquire a sight picture
  • Excellent contrast
  • No electronics/batteries and good low-light ability
  • Adjustment is 2.3m (90″) vertically and 3.8m (150″) horizontally at 91m (100 yds)

The SAOS does have a couple things which may be a detractor for some who read this.

  • Tension mounting system. In some applications, use of a thread locking method may be a mandatory addition, and over-torquing is a real possibility
  • No adjustment clicks, may make re-zeroing the sight difficult (centering)
  • No field of view through the sight itself. The large block the reticle is mounted on cannot be seen through

The See All Open Sight, as manufactured by Oversight Shooting Technologies has an MSRP of $98.99USD and Canadians can purchase this sight directly from their website SeeAllOpenSight. As is commonplace here at TPF, it is up to you, the reader, to determine if the SAOS is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical!

Author’s note: The newer generations of the See All Open Sight have since removed the “See All” logo from beneath the triangle reticle to minimize any distractions while trying to acquire target alignment.


Canadian designed rifle scopes? Scorpion Optics steps up.

The authors of Tactical, Practical, and Fantastical have to thank Mr. Andrew Craig of Canadian Reload Radio fame for this review of one of the few Canadian designed rifle scopes available on the market. Scorpion Optics was kind enough to provide TPF-Online with one of their scopes for reviewing and Mr. Craig gladly provided us with his expertise on optics. We hope the readers of TPF-Online enjoy this review:

Scorpion Optics Venom Hi-Grade 6-24 x 50mm Rifle Scope

Scorpion Optics has a complete line of hunting and sporting optics with a full range of magnification options. The model provided for review was a Scorpion Venom Hi-Grade 6-24x50mm long range rifle-scope with a one-piece 30mm tube.

Statistics indicated for this particular optic:
6-24 Power range
50mm Objective lens
Side focus adjustable from 15 yards to infinity
One-piece aluminum tube construction
30mm One-Piece Main Tube
Fully-Multi coated lenses
Trajectory Compensating Reticle
1/8 MOA windage & elevation adjustments
>50 MOA adjustment range

For this review, the rifle-scope was mounted to a Robinson Armament XCR-M, a semi-automatic, non-restricted, rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. This particular rifle has a picatinny rail running the full length of the monolithic upper which allows for a wide range of mounting positions and optic styles and designs. A set of extra high Weaver Tactical rings were required due to the space requirements of the optic’s 50mm objective lens. With these rings there was just enough room for the scope’s objective bell to clear the rail.

The Venom 6-24x50mm scope

Mounted to the test rifle, the Scorpion Optic’s scope is a very large, long range scope as well as short range capabilities.

Initial sight-in was done at 25 yards, with the point of impact being approximately 4 inches low and to the left. Windage was adjusted by simply looking through the optic and turning the adjustment dial until the cross-hair was inline with the initial shot. The adjustments dials are graduated in 1/8 MOA, which means one click moves the point of impact 1/8″ left or right at 100 yards. This allows for a very fine level of adjustment, which can be of benefit for a very accurate varmint rifle. Adjustment knobs are of the finger click type, and yield both a firm and audible click when being turned. The turrets indicate which direction they must be turned in order to adjust the point of impact, but, are not re-settable to zero once adjusted.

Fine tuning by adjustment

The 1/8″ per click finger adjustment dials are solid and easy to turn.

At 100 yards, the optic was dialed up to its maximum power of 24X. Power adjustment was very smooth and quick, made easy by an oversized tab on the adjustment ring. The Venom line of optics from Scorpion have fully multi-coated lens surfaces, which is a key feature in maximizing the amount of light gathered and transmitted to the eye. This, coupled with the 50mm objective lens results in a very bright image, with it darkening only slightly at the highest magnification setting. When fired at 100 yards, elevation only needed to be adjusted a minor amount, and it should be noted that windage remained spot-on from being set at 25 yards, and after making adjustments to the elevation at 100.

Power adjustment and Focus ring

The power ring is firm yet smooth in operation, an added bonus to those who adjust while on target.

A lot of light gathering

The larger the objective lens, the better the light gathering capabilities of the scope.

This optic includes a side focus dial for parallax correction at different distances. The Scorpion 6-24×50 is capable of being adjusted down to 15 yards. Most optics with this feature have a low-end limit of 50 yards, which usually limits their use to outdoor settings where there is more room to shoot. Having the ability to focus down to 15 yards means that this optic can be used at much shorter distances, such as an indoor range where one might wish to practice at a closer distance. The side focus adjustment is very firm, requiring a fair bit of effort to turn. This level of friction ensures that it wont turn if rubbed up against a shoulder while being carried with a sling. There was a slight bit of backlash noticeable when fine adjustments were being made to the focus, but, this did not take away from the rifle scope’s ability to be focused at any distance desired.

Parallax Adjuster

With a range indicated parallax adjustment from 15 yards to 500 yards, the scope has all range capabilities needed for nearly all shooters.

As a standard feature, the Scorpion Venom 6-24×50 includes an etched-glass “TCR” reticle. TCR stands for Trajectory Compensating Reticle, and includes hold-overs for distances out to 500 yards. When zeroed at 100 yards, and employed at 200 yards using just the TCR reticle, I had no difficulty hitting the 8 inch metal swinger shot after shot. When using the TCR for your rifle, be sure to verify where your rifle hits at the different distances, as, this type of reticle is of a one-size-fits-all variety. This is common, and you should find that your specific load will be within an inch or two of the hold overs at each distance.

Some final things to consider with this rifle-scope include a stated mass of 860 grams (30 oz), and an overall length of 400 mm (15 in). This is no small rifle scope, and will be ideally suited towards a long range varmint rifle where a bipod, shooting stick, or other stabilizing method is to be used. The model provided for review came in a smooth matte black finish, but on Scorpion Optic’s website, there are options that indicate it is also available in a silver finish. Eye relief is a short 75-81mm, however I found there to be plenty of room behind the eyepiece when shooting, and had no issues positioning my head for a clear image.

All said and done, the Scorpion 6-24x50mm Venom rifle scope provides the user with everything as promised. Features that stood out when using the optic included a very smooth, fast power adjustment, making it possible to change power on the fly without having to look up from the rifle scope. The TCR reticle makes it very versatile for a number of different ranges, and being capable of focusing down to 15 yards means that this optic can fill a larger variety of roles for the target or varmint shooter.

Submitted by: Andrew Craig, Host of Canadian Reload Radio

Scorpion Optics is based out of Manitoba and fields a variety of firearm and bow accessories such as the Venom HG 6-24 x 50mm rifle scope. Again, thanks to Andrew Craig for his submission on the Scorpion Optics Venom HG 6-24 x 50mm rifle scope. For the readers notes, the rifle scope as reviewed has an MSRP of $599.99 CDN which is an impressive price point for a high magnification, large objective lens rifle scope. Scorpion Optics can be found in a variety of brick and mortar shops across Canada as well as online venues such as Outfitter’s Supply Online. As always it is up to our readers to determine if this piece of equipment is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical for themselves.


SHOT Show 2012

Back in January, an event occurred, which the author has been privileged in attending now for the sixth year in a row. The event consists of a single day of practical hands on experiences for media and then four days of talking to an ungodly number of individuals whom are representative of the entire world for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Of course this equates to the 2012 SHOT Show which is the largest venue of its kind anywhere in the world.

Colts 1877

This is Colt's masterful foray into reproduction firearms, the 1877 Colt Gatling Gun which was the star of Media in TPF's opinion.

The Monday, January 16th, the temperature outdoors was quite decent and the sky was cloud-free which made Media Day, once again a fine day to go and play with some of the newest firearms and related products which are currently or soon to be available for the commercial markets. Optics, ammunition, handguns, rifles, shotguns, stocks, and a host of other items were available to over 1200 media individuals to experience first hand the products available. Some items truly stood out for the author and the number one item memorable experience was cranking the handle of Colt’s reproduction 1877 Gatling Gun. 20 rounds of 45/70 Government, flew by and seemed effortless as you turned the handle of this beautiful reproduction of history. High quality prototype 308 Winchester chambered bull-pup rifles, custom machined .50 BMG projectiles, the Slide Fire stock, are just a couple of the items that were experienced by the huge crowd of media types.

For the next four days the actual trade show ensued once again at the Sands Convention center. Over 1600 companies were there with in excess of 36,000 people coming to interact with them brought the total attendees to more than 61,000 people over four days. Stunning, especially when you consider that representatives from all 50 states were there as well as representation from more than 100 countries.

TPF will not go into the thousands of products that were displayed and showcased as there are multitudes of other websites and writers whom dwell on the little nuances. There were however an extreme multitude of famous and mentionable people in attendance or in some cases, on display at SHOT Show 2012. As usual the legends and successful masters of shooting disciplines were present, as well as TV sensations both past and present. Lou Ferrigno, was seen repeatedly examining various products as a guest of Barrett Firearms; as well, several participants of the TV Show Top Shot Season 4 were discovering the huge industry on display at SHOT Show 2012. Further highlights of celebrity fanfare was the feature appearances by the crew of Red Jacket Firearms from the TV show, Sons of Guns, and many others.

Les Stroud

Famous Canadian survivalist, Les Stroud (Survivorman) was in attendance and yes there was a lineup to met him.

A short, incomplete listing of well known people who attended Shot Show:

  • R. Lee Ermey
  • Les Stroud
  • Bear Grylls
  • Ted Nugent
  • Troy & Jacob Landry
  • Larry Vickers
  • The SeAL team/cast from the movie “Acts of Valor”
  • An nearly every known professional shooter, Outdoor TV series hosts, etc…

TPF isn’t going to go into the huge details about what was present and what new products were available for the US market. Suffice to say that the author would be able to write a short novella of several tens of thousands of words showing the various new non-firearm products, let alone new guns. We will however keep you, the reader, abreast of any products which these manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, graciously provide to TPF-Online for review.

Chiappa Rhino

Firearm designs like the Chiappa Rhino are being featured in future reviews by TPF-Online. So Stay tuned!

Much of the excitement and great moments at the SHOT Show is when the author met so many other Canadians on happenstance, Mrs. Page from Packing Pink, Mr. Krete from The Gun Centre, Mr. Hansen from Freedom Ventures, Mr. Muir from Lever Arms, Mr. Ruston from Tactical Products Canada, and a host of others representing Canadian businesses. Many thanks are to be given to these individuals and companies for attending and creating the contracts and arrangements which continue to supply our Canada market with firearms and related products.

If you are ever able to go, TPF-Online recommends that you do so and experience the multi-billion dollar industry which is partially displayed at SHOT Show. And recall that this is just a PARTIAL display as there are many many other businesses and manufacturers who are not in attendance. A great example is FWB, or Feinwerkbau, one of the oldest and most renowned Olympic class firearms makers, wasn’t present yet again in this year’s SHOT Show.

Frank Mellor

Top Shot, Season 4 competitor, Mr. Frank Miller was experiencing the scope of the firearms industry for the first time. This moment Mr. Mellor was admiring Ten-X's .50BMG progressive press.

The Great One

One of the most respected and well known action shooters, Mr. Rob Leatham, aka The Great One, is one of the best ambassadors that the shooting community has ever had.

This years SHOT Show was executed even better than last year and once again, anyone coming should bring a couple pairs of walking shoes to explore and experience the whole event and all booths. However, be forewarned that should you attend, plan your visits to the booths they would have roughly a minute for visiting each booth, and when you consider the sheer scale of the show, much of that time can be walking from booth to booth. There are many displays and extra events which can eat up several minutes of time, such as watching professional shooters show their skills, lining up to get autographs and pictures with celebrities, as well as hands on experience with the multitudes of firearms accessories and outdoor gear.

Displays @ SHOT Show

Veteran shooter Todd Jarrett shows off his skills in a display at the Blackhawk booth. Such displays are common and very well attended by to those wanting to learn and see the skill levels of the masters.

The 2012 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is the largest event of it’s type in the world and TPF can guarantee that should you ever attend this event, every single product displayed at the show will be Practical, Tactical, or Fantasical.

Extra:
A small example of how you can spend your time talking to one of the many representatives of companies in attendance. Presenting Angus Hobdell, who has been shooting CZ products since 1986 and a member of Team CZ-USA since 2003. In 2012, he is still a great competitor and 100% behind promoting CZ-USA.

On behalf of TPF-Online and the CSSA, many thanks Mr. Hobdell for your time and efforts.

As an added bonus, over the next few days and weeks, TPF will be releasing small video clips from many of the top action shooters in regards to the shooting sports and tips for improving your abilities. So stay tuned!