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Hello Gunnies! For quite a few years I’ve been writing on a number of websites about all things to do with firearms, reloading and accessories. Hopefully all firearms enthusiasts will like this blog where my various reviews can be found in one place. Please feel free to leave comments and make suggestions.

Keep scrolling down to find the stories and reviews that interest you the most.

Keep them in the X – Ring !

Bob

That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage
or working class flat is the symbol of democracy.
It is our job to see that it stays there.

George Orwell (1903-1950)

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Quick Comments – The Delta Stryker Riflescopes – 4.5-30 FFP and 5-50 SFP

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I normally review one scope at a time but the Delta scopes are really a family and so this review is about the FFP Stryker 4.5-30×56 and the SFP Stryker 5-50×56.

Based in Poland and seemingly quite popular in Europe and the UK, the Delta scopes are not yet a well-known ‘name brand’ in Canada though their quality and value is getting the attention of an increasing number of shooters – both the tactical and F-Class variety.

I first became aware of the Delta scopes at the end of last year when speaking with Canadian distributor and stalwart supporter of Canadian shooters Mr. Peter Dobson of Hirsch Precision in Nova Scotia.  Being the kind of guy he is Peter very kindly agreed to send me a sample of the Delta Optics Stryker in 4.5-20×56 FFP configuration for review and this is where the story begins.

When a brand that isn’t well known they usually have to do something to entice buyers – that can be price point, great warranty or simply excellent value and my sense of it is that the folks behind these Delta scopes really have focused on bringing to the marketplace a scope that is packed with features at an attractive price point and so they check the box of being a great value for the dollar spent and represent one of the best offerings to come out of LOW in Japan ( where regardless of the branding or logo these scopes, the Athlon Cronus and innumerable other scopes are actually made ) that I’ve seen.

Out of the box the Delta scopes are well packaged and they come with easy to read manuals which could, however, do with being updated with photos of the actual scopes.

Ooops – that isn’t the scope in the box ???

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Let’s look more closely at these scopes and start with the  4.5-30 FFP model and compare it to the nearest price and features competitor I own which is (another LOW product) the Athlon Cronus BTR 4.5-29×56.

Very Similar – the Delta and the Cronus

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Just like the Cronus the Delta image quality is the classic Japanese “White and Bright” versus the richer, more colourful European scopes and side by side with my Cronus I couldn’t tell the difference – to my eyes they were the same scope.  As time passed I though the Delta seemed ‘brighter’ but, truthfully it was so close that maybe it was my eyes playing tricks on me.  Regardless – the glass is very sharp and clear edge to edge.

Turrets on the Delta are crisp and feel good to the touch requiring just the right amount of effort to turn.  Likewise the mag ring and focus ring fall into that ‘just right’ category.

Delta on the left – Cronus on the Right

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In only two areas did I find that the Delta gave up anything at all to the Cronus and they were: 1. The European 10 year warranty versus the Cronus lifetime warranty and 2. For those that like a Xmas tree ret the Cronus’ is such a ret whereas the Delta is not.  On the other side of the ledger, the Delta retails for a couple of hundred dollars less than the Athlon

In testing in snowy conditions looking at trees at the snow line I couldn’t discern any real CA  at all ( unlike some scopes that cost a lot more money – not mentioning any names there Kahles !!)

No CA !

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Overall I thought the Delta 4.5-30 with its FFP and MIL/MIL configuration and excellent controls and high quality glass represents a really solid buy in the price segment and actually represents a very good buy even when compared to the pricier optics like the Vortex Razor II HD.

Moving on to the SFP version – the Delta 5-50 – I was equally impressed. I actually used this scope in F-Class competition and found I gave up nothing running this glass rather than my usual match glass (NF Competition).

Every Bit Suited for Competition – the Delta 5-50

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Available in both MIL and MOA ( I used the MOA version ) with glass and controls equal to the FFP version, the only real critique I could make of this scope is that with a 34mm tube it is a weighty piece of glass for competition but for regular LR Target work where weight isn’t an issue this wouldn’t be a problem.

Excellent Controls – Easy to Read

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Magnification to 50x

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Final thoughts are that these two scopes are a very positive addition to the available options available in the market and that is always a good thing.

 

 

Minox ZP5 5-25×56 – Reviewed

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Being lucky enough to own some nice scopes presents a real “First World Problem” because it becomes harder to be super-impressed with new scopes that come along. Occasionally, however a scope does present itself that makes me say “wow” and the Minox ZP5 is one of those scopes – so for those who like a short read, you can stop here.  For those who want to find out why I say the Minox ZP5 is a “wowzer” please read on.

Minox ( apparently pronounced MEE-Nox ) is based in Wetzlar, Germany and while it is probably best known as a camera company it now makes a variety of optical instruments including riflescopes for hunting and tactical applications.

This particular model – the ZP5 – is unique amongst the Minox offerings in that it can trace its lineage back thru to the Optronika / Premier riflescopes and therefore it is a cousin of sorts to today’s Tangent Theta scope – not the same, but a shared heritage.

A solid 34mm tubed scope – the technical specs on this scope can be found here:

http://www.minox.com/index.php?id=zp_tac_technical_data1&L=02

Unlike some of the European scopes which arrive very ‘bare bones’ the Minox comes nicely packaged with a foam insert and is complete with the excellent Tenebraex scope covers from Armament Technologies as well as a comprehensive, easy to read instruction manual.  No sunshade is provided but – pro tip – the sunshade that fits a S+B 5-25×56 or Kahles 624i fits this Minox.

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Playing with the turrets find them to be crisp with a nice audible ‘click’ to them and the magnification ring while a wee bit stiff comes with a useful bump that acts as a built in throw lever.

I ordered this scope with the MR5 reticle which is really useful for the shooting I do which is (mostly) at known distances.  A PRS competitor may however prefer the MR4 which is more of a Xmas Tree design.  Turrets and ret are in MILs with 1/10th MIL adjustments of the turrets and 1/2 MIL hash marks on the MR5 ret.

Initially, mounted the scope on my custom R700/AICS and started to make my observations of the glass.

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Disclaimer: Readers of my reviews will know that to assess optical clarity and such like I use “Eyeball, Human Ver. 1.0” and so my opinions are based on what I see.  Your mileage may vary and so while I say a scope A is optically ‘better’ than scope B you may (literally) see things differently.

My observation about the Minox image is that it is noticeably brighter than most.  It is very crisp and clear and there is no fading or dulling at the max magnification.  Clarity is edge to edge and I couldn’t see any chromatic aberration at all.  It also cuts through mirage very well.  Overall, this Minox is – to my eye – a clearer, sharper and brighter image than Vortex Razor II and I am calling it brighter than my NF ATACR 5-25 and 7-35. I am putting this glass right up there with my S+B Pmii and that has been – up to now – my favorite glass.

I found this an easy scope to ‘get behind’ – it is reported to have 90mm of eye relief – and controls were easily viewable from my shooting position.  Diopter adjustment is the European style and is lockable – simple to do.

The zero stop is easily marked and is also easy to set – in my view it is not as good as say the Razor II  but it is MUCH easier to use than the NF ATACR and it allows the shooter to go 1/2 mil below zero stop if necessary.

I like the crispness of the turrets though truthfully I think I prefer the feel of the ATACR ones but I am being very picky here and it might be that I am more used to one over the other. The turrets are double turn and rather than rise up and down a ‘white dot’ appears in windows at the base of the turret when you are on the second rev ( I have learned that this is called non-translatable turret operation – huh, who knew ?) .

On a second outing I switched rifles so as to avoid rifle bias and confirmed my initial impressions.  An excellent – Tier One – optic.

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Warranty on the ZP5 is for 30 years and must be registered online.  This warranty may worry some people who are used to the ‘no fault lifetime warranty’ offered by companies in North America but it simply isn’t something I worry about.

Price in Canada is just shy of C$3800 plus tax so this is right on par with the NF ATACR 5-25, Kahles 624i and Razor II scopes and – honestly – it betters them all; some by a smidge (ATACR) and others (624i) by a lot.

I got my Minox through Go Big Tactical in Prince George BC.  Tom ( the owner ) is an excellent fellow to deal with and someone I’d have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending.  Go Big Tactical can be found online at: http://gobigtactical.ca/

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The Athlon Cronus BTR – Exceeding Expectations

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A month or so ago I was looking to buy a new scope but with some custom guns on order etc. I didn’t want another Alpha-Priced purchase so close to Christmas. Ideally, I was looking for something that fell between the price points of the Vortex PST II and the Vortex Razor II ( which, in Canada, means somewhere between C$1500 and C$3500 ) and like everyone else out there I wanted the features and glass to be nearer the latter than the former !

I had read quite a lot about Athlon on US forums and people seemed very impressed – particularly so by their top-of-the-line Cronus BTR – and I figured that this ‘Made in Japan’ 4.5-29×56 scope in Mils would work just nicely for me.

Athlon is distributed in Canada by Scott Gaalaas at Red Star Target in Alberta which gave me confidence.  While I’ve not met him in person, Scott is known in the shooting community as a real shooter who actually uses the products he sells and who offers top-notch service to customers whether they are buying a scope or a bunch of paper targets.  How much better to deal with a genuine gun guy than it is to deal with a salesman who will happily bullshit about anything just to make a sale.

Priced in Canada at around the C$2700 mark ( US MSRP is US$2159) the Cronus BTR is in a tough market segment as the price point is comparable to the lower end Nightforce, the Steiner T5Xi and the Bushnell Elite 4.5-30 each of which scopes have strong followings.

Athlon pride themselves on customer service and back their product with a Vortex-like “no questions” warranty ( more on this later! )

My Cronus BTR arrived from Red Star Target securely packed in a box with a sunshade ( an extra cost ) a cleaning cloth and an owners manual that is properly written in a version of the English language understandable by all but the chronically unschooled.  Also included were some stickers and ( a freebie from Red Star – thanks Scott !) a nice T-Shirt which, sadly, my wife has purloined for a sleeping shirt.  Oddly though – especially in a $2K plus item – there were no scope caps at all. Come on Athlon, even Bushnell include some scope caps.

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First off I will admit to being a bit old-fashioned and so I equate a nice heft to a product with quality and the Cronus BTR feels suitably weighty without being too heavy.  Actually it weighs 35.8 ounces which is positively a featherweight compared to my Vortex Razor II’s.    The finish was nice and even and upon close examination  the whole scope had that hard to describe quality feel to it.

For the tech spec junkies all the data re: this scope can be found here:  https://athlonoptics.com/product/athlon-optics-rifle-scopes-cronus-btr/

I chose the mil/mil version of the Cronus BTR with the illuminated APRS FFP reticle which is a Christmas Tree-style reticle without being so terribly “busy” like some are.  Overall, I like it – it is a good balance.

After examining the scope and doing the obligatory spinning the turrets that we all do I mounted the scope on my test mule and headed out to do some glassing and shooting.

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I have to say that I was ( I am ) very impressed with the glass on the Cronus which is  very bright and clear with no discernible CA. Optically the Cronus BTR really gives up nothing to my Razor II’s and – of the scopes I own – is only (slightly) bettered by my USO ER 5-25×60, ( a bit more) by my NF ATACR’s 5-25×56 and 7-35×56 and (quite clearly) by my S+B PM II’s but each of these are scopes that cost a LOT more money than what I paid for the Athlon.  Compared to scopes in a more comparable price range I found the Cronus glass to be a bit better that my Steiner T5Xi and quite superior to my Bushnell DMR and DMR II’s.  Of course – usual disclaimer – these are side-by-sides using my eyes not yours but I very much doubt that any Cronus BTR buyer is going to complain about this Japanese glass !

Since we are looking at a reasonably expensive scope I will be a bit picky about one thing – the sunshade doesn’t match the scope body.  Yes, this is a minor quibble ( and one that is shared by my NF ATACR as it happens ) but cosmetics are important and to some they are very important.

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Of course, glass is only one part of the package – honestly, if glass was the only important thing we would all simply buy S+B PMII’s and be done with it – but in using the Cronus BTR on my test mule I found nothing not to like.  As follows:

  • Magnification – an excellent and useable range and the mag ring moves with just the right amount of pressure ( and it has a high spot like a built-in mini throw lever )
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  • Turret markings – easy to read for my aging eyes.
  • Clicks – audible and a nice feel.  Not too close together ( unlike my S+B for example ).
  • Side focus – a little stiff to operate but easy to get into focus.
  • Illumination – honestly, a feature I don’t really use but the Cronus BTR has 11 settings with a convenient off between each one.

Overall, I would like the turrets to be a little flatter ( and fatter ) and I don’t like them quite as much as my ATACR’s or Razor II’s but this is a very, very subjective thing and, by way of contrast, I happen to like the Cronus BTR turrets than those on the PST II, Burris XTR and, quite frankly, my USO ER and S+B PM II.

One thing that some may not like is that the turrets on the Cronus BTR don’t lock into place – I used to really like that feature but I’ve gone away from it now as I find sometimes when using my Razor II that I’ve forgotten they were locked – grrr.  Likewise, the capped windage on my NF ATACR’s is ( at least to me ) a solution in search of a problem but YMMV so if these are important features to you … well, the Cronus BTR doesn’t have them.  It does however have one feature which I – and many others – think really important – zero stop.  This is where I found out how good the Athlon warranty is…

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The Cronus BTR Zero Stop (ZS) is accessed simply by removing the cap and then three small screws can be loosened to set the stop.  Mmmm, somehow during this simple process one or all of the three couldn’t be loosened and so I couldn’t operate the ZS – a call to Scott was followed by a call from Jason at Athlon who, after I described the problem, immediately sent a new scope out to Scott and onward to me.  Sweet, simply handled – and my return postage was covered !   This ‘problem’  – which may have even been my fault forgetting my clockwise from counter-clockwise – was absolutely a non-issue and I was looked after perfectly.  This gives me immense comfort that Athlon is serious about after sales servicing of customers.

Overall, I find the Cronus BTR to be an excellent package that scores very highly on the “Value Per Dollar Spent” scale and it feels very much like a scope that performs at top-tier level without the top-tier price.

The Cronus BTR – A Value That Is Not Out Of Place Amongst Much More Expensive Glass

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Muzzle Brakes – Canadian Made Insite Arms ‘Heathen’ vs. Others

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Like many – probably more than care to admit – I am not a fan of recoil.  Though I learned to shoot on a Lee-Enfield .303 in the days before muzzle breaks were even invented and I accept it is a fact of physics, recoil nevertheless – at least for me – is detrimental to down range accuracy. I’ve also observed that recoil also has the potential to induce the dreaded flinch in newer shooters which is an affliction that, like the ‘yips’ in golf, once acquired is hard to break.

If I lived in the USA  I would probably fit suppressors which reduce recoil and moderate sound )  to many of my rifles but in Canada and in the name of ‘public safety’ our political masters have decreed that all sound moderation devices are a threat to national security or some such other nonsense and so, even unlike such gun-unfriendly places as the UK, suppressors are a prohibited item which means that I double up on hearing protection and fit brakes to nearly all my rifles.  In fact a check shows that outside of milsurp collection only my F-Class match rifles and a M40A1 clone remain un-braked.

Over the  years I have tried a number of brakes and I’ve found that generally I have a preference for those easily removed for cleaning rater than the gunsmith installed ones and so when Insite Arms of Alberta were building my new custom in 6xc I asked that they install one of their user-removable ‘Heathen’ brakes.

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I hadn’t used the Heathen before and I was very impressed with it from the very first shot so I thought I would drag out some comparable rifles with other brakes to conduct some tests side by side.

Now is the time to say that I don’t have any science background nor do I possess any scientific measuring tools.  If you like that kind of stuff them my friend Cal Zant at the Precision Rifle Blog is your man – Cal wrote a brilliant analysis of brakes and his article can be found here: http://precisionrifleblog.com/2015/06/24/muzzle-brakes-field-test/

For the two or three readers left following this article I figure that a brake has to do a few things well:  it has to manage felt recoil; it cannot be so loud as to be painful; it should allow for the shooter to stay on target for follow up shots and it ought not to create a cloud of dust to put a sandstorm to shame.  It was against these benchmarks that I measured the brakes I own – on that note, I own all the brakes and rifles referred to in this article and no person or company has loaned or paid me anything to do this. ( I wish they would – I like free stuff ! )

Choosing the rifles – I wanted to keep the test as much apples to apples as possible so I chose rifles chambered in the 6mm and 6.5 mm category.  This decision meant that a couple of brakes were not included since they are on rifles of harder hitting calibres so the older style PGW brake pictured below on the left and the beastie on the right were not included as they sit on a .308 and .338 Lapua Magnum respectively whereas the one in the middle made the cut ( sits on a .260 Rem ).

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Likewise some gunsmith installed brakes didn’t make the cut like the ARTS gill brake pictured at left below.

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What remained from the culling were four brakes on four comparable rifles:

  • Heathen brake from Insite Arms on a Surgeon 591 custom in 6xc;
  • Benchmark/Centershot Muscle Brake on Rem 700 custom in .260;
  • Little Bastard brake from American Precision Arms on a Surgeon 591 custom in 6.5-47L; and
  • PGW brake from PGWDTI on PGW ‘Coyote’ in .260

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I did the shooting on a dry day off the prone with bipod and rear bag and on a dusty road with some grass, sand and pebbles to be kicked up.  I shot each rifle with the brake and then again without and compared felt recoil, noise, my ability to stay focussed on target and dust signature.  I made notes after each round of shooting and those notes formed my observations below.

Observations

The PGW brakeDSC_0352 I love PGW stuff and clearly I’m a fan of their rifles and the PGW brakes have  worked well for me on the older Coyote in .308 and the Timberwolf in 338 Lapua.  Personally I prefer the aesthetics of the older PGW brakes but the newer ones which follow the style used on the Timberwolf certainly look ‘beefy’ and tough and many users will like that look.  Easy to remove and reinstall, I figured the PGW brake to cut recoil in half.  It did increase sound but not uncomfortably and the rifle remained nicely on target though there wasn’t a big difference as this ( like the others ) are heavy rifles and they don’t move much.  It seemed to produce a bit more blast / dust signature than the others but not by a lot and certainly not to the point of being a problem.

It is worth noting that unlike some competitor rifles, all PGW rifles come standard with brakes.

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The APA Little Bastard scored really well on Cal Zant’s tests – it was after reading his article that I chose this brake for installation on my Chou Brothers Custom 6.5-47L build -and mine also works well but, though it fits using a locking nut, mine actually came loose over the winter and needed to be Loctite refitted.  I’ve heard others have had similar problems with these brakes so I’d recommend Loctite from the beginning.  Probably the best in reduction of felt recoil this recoil reduction comes at a price – it is LOUD !  Yep, really LOUD.  If you shoot at a public range be prepared for some looks and, spoiler alert, they won’t be looks of admiration.  Good ability to stay on target and seemed a bit better than the PGW when it came to dust disturbance.

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I like the looks of this brake a lot and have another one on a 7mm ( they come in 6.5 or 30 caliber so, remember, a 7mm will require a boring out if the 6.5 is purchased ).  The easiest to install and remove as only one bolt is required to be loosened and snugged up.  Cuts recoil down by roughly half and only seems to increase noise a bit.  Good tracking and dust disturbance results.

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Seemingly similar in design to the APA Little Bastard, I was worried it would be equally loud but – pleasingly – it is not so.  It cuts recoil in half just like the APA but without the crushing noise increase – if I knew the first thing about engineering I could offer an explanation but alas my schooling in Tort, Contract and such things is of no help to me in explaining the mysteries of why one brake is too loud and another is more moderate.  I am also pleased to say that unlike my APA this one hasn’t shown any sign of coming loose even though I tried it and its aluminum brother ( more on that below ) without Loctite.

Installing and uninstalling like the APA with a locking nut there the Heathen has the Insite Arms logo on top and the caliber number on a flat spot on the bottom.  These markings  usefully help alignment as well as provide information (caliber) and some aesthetically pleasing brand identifier.

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Of course the 6xc test rifle is heavy and the 6xc is a soft cartridge but the Heathen does help with follow up shots and staying on target and the dust signature also was good.  Overall, I am impressed with the Heathen – Canadian made, it comes with nice packaging and proper, easy to read instructions (to compare, the Benchmark comes in a plastic bag).

On the advice of Insite ( who did promise me an exchange if I did not like it ) I ordered the new aluminum version of the Heathen to replace the APA.  I’m pleased to say that it works just like the steel one on my 6xc and looks the same except maybe it is shinier.  It is certainly lighter for those for whom rifle weight is an issue.  I have to say I like it and it has replaced the APA so maybe my ears ( and my neighbours ) like it too.

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In conclusion I say that if you – like me – prefer a rifle to wear a brake to cut down on recoil and also you are looking for something that you can use at the range without everyone wishing you would go home then I recommend the Heathen be on your short-list of choices.  Available from Insite Arms at : https://www.insitearms.com/product/the-heathen-muzzle-brake/

Reviewed – Insite Arms 6XC Custom Build

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Last year I commissioned the build of a Surgeon in 6.5-47 from well known Canadian builders Chou Bros Precision and wrote a detailed review which can be found here:  https://rifletalk.org/2017/02/11/custom-6-5x47l-precision-rifle-build/  and while I love this rifle its coloring really is best suited to the Winter and since I actually do have a Summer – albeit a short one – a rifle colored for Summer conditions seemed entirely in order.  For this build I chose to engage the services of another well-known Canadian outfit: Insite Arms out of Lloydminster Alberta who self-describe as follows “We are a small rifle shop. We build each rifle 1 at a time. We guarantee that the rifle we build for you will be one of the most precise, consistent and therefore accurate rifles you own. A quality precision rifle is a large investment and we understand uncompromising expectations” and who can be found online at: https://www.insitearms.com/

One interesting factoid about the folks at Insite Arms is that they have been helped and trained by the very well-respected US Gunsmith Mr. Robert Gradous whose rifles are amongst the most sought after South of the border.

The Very Winter Colored 6.5-47L

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The 6XC – Much More Suited For Summer  

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Unlike many gunsmiths in Canada who and for any number of likely good reasons require the buyer to accumulate all the components him or her self, Insite are happy to be your “one stop shop” and they keep an excellent selection of parts and materials on hand from which a potential buyer may choose to have a rifle built from. I was totally happy to take full advantage of Insite having a supply of parts in stock and simply asked them to use the parts I wanted and build me a rifle – so very smooth and something that US readers, likely unused to the difficulties Canadians face in regard to sourcing components for a rifle build, may not readily appreciate !

I chose this rifle to be made in 6XC partly because I have pretty much most calibers from .223 to .338L but more importantly because of its reputation as an inherently accurate round for the paper punching that this rifle will be used for.  The 6XC is as many will know a David Tubbs design and has the ballistics of a .243 but does so with less powder and therefore has a much longer barrel life.  So, soft shooting with good ballistics and a ready supply of excellent projectiles – what more can a person ask for.

For this particular rifle I wished to stick with three of my favorite ingredients for a custom gun   – I wanted to use the Surgeon 591 action, the McMillan A5 stock and the simple-but-reliable Timney 510 trigger but – on the recommendation of Insite who had seen great results out of a number of their other builds – I allowed myself to be persuaded to try a new barrel maker; Hawk Hills and, as we will see later, I couldn’t be happier.

I really do like the Surgeon action – in many ways Surgeon have “built a better mousetrap” and have improved upon my favorite factory action the time-tested Remington 700.  In particular, the Surgeon has a machined-in recoil lug and an integral 20 MOA rail.  Additionally, it is clear from cycling the action that Surgeon have tighter machining tolerances – overall, like I said, a better mousetrap.

Heart of a Rifle – A Good Action

DSC_0319While most of my custom rifles use the Badger DBM with one using a PTG and one using a Seekins this time around I chose this time to use Surgeon bottom metal – partly for looks, partly for consistency with the action and partly because it is an ambidextrous release and a funneled magwell.  Originally designed by Terry Cross it is clearly a quality piece of equipment and so far I like it – a lot.

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As far as a stock was concerned, I will readily admit to being a real fan of the McMillan stocks – for me they are amongst the very best of the traditional type stocks and while many people like the Manners stocks (and I’m sure they are very good) since I’ve never been disappointed with a McMillan I see no reason to change.  I wanted a pattern that would complement the Urban Spectre pattern on my 6.5-47L “Winter Rifle” and so I chose for this rifle the Woodland Spectre and, yes, Insite Arms had it in stock !  A real nice looking camo that looks the way I envisioned it to look.

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As mentioned, it was upon the recommendation of Insite that I chose Hawk Hills as a barrel supplier and my only ask was that the profile be M40 as that is my favorite look for a barrel on a rifle where weight isn’t a consideration.  At this juncture I should say that Insite were really excellent in checking in with me as a customer on issues like weight and expressed concern that if this were for a PRS rig I may have gone too heavy.  Of course this rifle is for lying down on my belly and I couldn’t care if the thing weighs 50 lbs but the service and checking -in were really most appreciated.  (Note, finished the rifle weighs 21 lbs with the Vortex Razor II ).  I decided to add a brake even though such a thing on a soft cartridge isn’t at all necessary and I chose to use the Insite manufactured ‘Heathen’ brake.  This brake – which will be the subject of a separate article – is excellent and works as well as the APA Little Bastard without the crushing noise level !

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At the end of the day the fit and finish of the rifle I had built by Insite was simply impeccable – and I’m very picky about such things – with no flaw at all to be found but as nice as a rifle looks the real test is accuracy and in this regard the folks at Insite have built a real tack driver: test fired before it arrived it produced a one ragged hole at 100 meters for fifteen (yes, fifteen) shots and when I took it out it has consistently shot into the .3’s at my load development distance of 200 meters.  Seriously, this is an excellent shooting rifle.

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Load Development

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To say I’m pleased with the work Insite Arms did in putting together this rifle would be an understatement – they were excellent to work with an have produced for me exactly what I wanted in a very acceptable timeframe (Feb- Jun) and within the budget they quoted.  I would strongly recommend anyone interested in having a real tack driver built consult with Insite Arms – you will not be disappointed.

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Reviewed: The new Bushnell DMR II – outstanding value.

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Back in April of 2015 I reviewed the earlier generation of this scope and that review can be found here:

https://rifletalk.org/2015/04/02/review-of-the-bushnell-tactical-3-5-21×50-dmr-riflescope/

At the time I wrote the previous review I was a ‘solidly SFP MOA’ scope man and yet I was very impressed with Bushnell’s tactical FFP offering – well, fast forward two and a bit years and now (June 2017)  all my scopes are FFP Mil/Mil and besides owning such high-end offerings as S+B Pmii, NF ATACR and Razor 2 in that configuration I also own a few of the Bushnell Tactical 3.5-21×50 scopes with both of the G2 and Trmr2 reticles so I was more than keen to get my hands on the new generation of Bushnell Tactical – the DMR II with G3 reticle.

My good friend Omer at Precision Optics ( formerly PlainSight Solutions) out of Quesnel BC is not only an authorized Bushnell dealer but always has a good supply of optics in stock and so I’d had a chance to look through and handle the DMT II a few months back.  When Omer called me to let me know the new DMR II was subject to a recent Bushnell 25% mail in rebate program I went equipped with credit card in hand to relive him of one ( ending up with more ! ) of these – already excellent value – optics.

The DMR II comes well packaged and includes a 2″ sunshade and bikini-style scope caps as well as a useful instruction booklet and the warranty cards etc.

Nicely Packaged.

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So what is different from the DMR to the DMR II ?  Well, let’s start by addressing what is the same – same quality one-piece aluminum 34mm tube, same 3.5-21 magnification range, same stubby overall look and the weight feels the same ( though on the Bushnell website while the grams are the same at 920 the company does say that the DMRII is an ounce and change heavier ??) but, regardless, if there is a small difference in weight it won’t be felt when the scope is mounted on a rifle.

Where the difference is really apparent between these scopes is in turret height – the new DMRII is possessed of shorter turrets and while the older model didn’t have turrets that were overly tall I think shorter to be better.  The other difference is that the new Gen scope comes with a neat little lever that allows for easier manipulation of the magnification ring – Bushnell calls this lever the “ThrowHammer” and I assume someone was paid to come up with that name – myself I will stick to the word ‘lever’.

Under the hood, the big improvement is that the new DMRII has  zero stop which is very useful and Bushnell have, mercifully , done away with the T-Loc elevation turret but (small annoyance to me ) has retained the T-Loc on the windage turret .  The other big improvement is that the new models have 10 mils of adjustment per turret turn versus the 5 on the older models.  Interestingly ( according to the Bushnell website ) total elevation has moved up to 30 mils from the previous 29 mils.

The new DMRII comes with a choice of reticles – the new G3 or Horus H-59 – and mine have the new G3 which is a smidge wider than the G2 ( to allow for the illumination option available on the DMR II i ) but really and no matter what you read online the new G3 is not ‘thick’ and even at max magnification it really will not obscure targets.  With really useful hash marks to allow for quick target acquisition and adjustment without being ‘busy’ the G3 is likely to be a favorite for many precision shooters.  ON the subject of ‘busy’ reticles, I was a tad disappointed to see the Trmr2 discontinued but I’m likely in a minority here.

Mounted up on a test mule I found the DMR II very easy to get behind with good eye relief.  Easy to zero and with an uncomplicated Zero-Stop mechanism I was ready to do some shooting.

Zero Stop System.

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For the testing of this scope I took along a rifle wearing the previous generation DMR ad well as one wearing the new NF ATACR 7-35 which is of course a much (much) more expensive scope.

With the much more expensive NF ATACR 7-35.

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Shooting in a variety of conditions and in differing lights I found the new DMRII to have a cleaner picture than the previous model – new glass coating perhaps ? and while it wasn’t as good as the NF ATACR it was really, very good. No chromatic aberration and a nice sharp image even as light faded.

Though the DMR II has twice the number of clicks per revolution as the previous model they are not too close together so as to over-dial and they have a precise tactile feel to them.  I liked the old turrets just fine but the new ones are, I think, even better – they feel like they belong on a real quality scope and in this area the Bushnell gives up nothing at all to the vastly more expensive Nightforce.

Really good turrets.

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The addition of the little lever ( OK, ThrowHammer) is actually a nice touch and makes magnification changes nice and easy as the Bushnell mag rings are actually quite tight – especially the shooters hands are at all wet.

A handy lever for mag changes.

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Overall, I found this new DMR II to be a real quality piece of glass and I say that not as someone who has just moved from the $299 Walmart special but as someone who regularly shoots with some nice optics.  Honestly, in every regard these DMRII’s are good scopes.

Would not be out of place even amongst much more expensive offerings.

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When the recent 25% rebate was on these DMRII scopes were by far the best value in optics around but at something like the regular price of  CAN $1900 the DMRII is still an absolutely excellent value.

You can’t just buy one of them !

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Reviewed – Kahles 624i. How does it stack up against the PRS top scope duo ?

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Last year I set out on a mission to sell off my SFP MOA scopes and re-equip all my tactical style bolt guns with scopes that were FFP and MIl/Mil.  This was a slow (and expensive) process but one which was a lot of fun and because I bought (and tried even more) some good and some great scopes, I sure learned a lot.

Other than S&B, of which I have been a fan for a long time ( I use 12-50 SFP Pmii’s on my F-Open and T/TR F-Class rifles) I didn’t really set out to buy any particular brand of scopes but, as it happens, I now have FFP S&B PMii’s, Vortex Razor II HD’s and the newest NF ATACR scopes but what I didn’t have was a Kahles and it seemed somehow that it would be ideal if I could have at least one each of the three most popular scopes in the US PRS game.

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Like most shooters who appreciate good equipment, I knew that the Kahles had a reputation as being a premium optic.   I hadn’t had an opportunity to handle or look through one but, fortunately for me, my good friend Omer at Precision Optics in Quesnel BC is an authorized Kahles dealer and was able to let me play with the scope before purchase and, having satisfied myself that indeed this was a piece of equipment that I wanted on one of my rifles,  gave me a very good deal when it came time to part with the cash.

The scope I chose was the 624i with left hand windage – Kahles bills itself as a riflescope pioneer and the idea of a scope with left hand windage strikes me as pretty pioneering.  All the technical details about this scope can be found on the Kahles website here: http://www.kahles.at/us/products/

In keeping with the way that Europeans seem to package up and present their offering the Kahles comes in a fairly plain box that while a little better than S+B doesn’t begin to compare to the way Vortex of NF present their top end scopes.

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Packaging is just that I suppose and after all what we are buying is not the box but what is inside the box which brings me to …

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Huuummmm, well what you see is what you get and what you don’t see are any scope covers or a sunshade of any sort!  You do get a ‘scope coat’ but in the field that is of limited use  – a bit disappointing really when one considers that (in Canada) there is very little change out of C$4000 when all is said and done.

Moving on, the overall feel of the scope is of quality – the finish is beautiful and the way the turrets and mag ring moves just exuded quality.  Really, this feels like the riflescope equivalent of a Rolex watch.

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What of course sets this scope apart from the usual is that – as you can clearly see in the photo above – the windage dial is on the left side of the 34mm tube and the parallax adjustment is on the elevation turret.  This arrangement is clearly designed for a right handed shooter so that she or he does not have to break firing position and while I could see mistakes being made early on ( and, in fact, a number of times I did make a windage adjustment when wanting to fine tune parallax ) it is one of those things that if you practice or train enough you will get used to.

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The mag range of this scope is – as name suggests – is 6-24x and the scope is of course FFP.  While I’d have liked a bit more top end magnification, the 24x is enough for pretty much any application other than maybe F-Class and the glass is so clear that the image quality at all settings is simply excellent and very ‘S+B- ish’  which isn’t so surprising really as, after all,  one would expect a premier Austrian offering to closely resemble a premier German offering.

The turrets have a scalloped contour and the elevation turret has a little red button on the top of  which pops up to indicate second rev which is handy and works just like the one on the Vortex Razor II which pops out of the side.  The Kahles turrets really do feel good and, it is worth saying again, a real sense of quality permeates this scope.

Silly as though it sounds when describing a 34mm tubed scope that is gigantic by the standards of 10 years ago the reality is that this Kahles is really quite svelte and certainly won’t feel over large on any heavy barreled rifle.  To illustrate the point, I perched my Kahles on top of the undisputed heavyweight of scopes the Vortex HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 – they say a picture is worth a thousand words

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Rounding out the features of the Kahles 624i are features that nearly all high-end (and many tier two or three) scopes now have as standard – zero-stop and illumination. In the case of the Kahles both work perfectly and are easy to use – so long, of course, as the user remembers that the illumination dial is where one usually finds the windage control !

As good as this scope is I’ve saved its best feature for last and that is the reticle.  I had thought that the EBR2-C reticle found on the Vortex Razor HD Gen II was my favorite until I used the reticle that is available with the Kahles – the SKMR3.

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Simply put, while reticle choice has a LOT to do with personal preference this reticle has everything I want in a reticle and more.  Your mileage may vary but I suspect that part of the reason for the Kahles popularity is right here with the SKMR 3.

So, how does the Kahles stack up in the filed against the Vortex Razor II and the NF ATACR ?

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Compared to the Razor while the Kahles gives up a bit of magnification it is only 24x vs. 27 x and the glass in the Kahles is really very special ( of course the Razor is absolutely no slouch in the glass department either ).  Turrets feel nicer – to me – in the Kahles and the SKMR3 is the only reticle that beats EBR2-C.  Zero-stop in the Razor can’t be beat though and, yes I hate to go on about tis again, I can see times when the lack of a sunshade will make some shots harder to make with the Kahles.

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While in the US the Razor is significantly cheaper than the Kahles the same isn’t true in Canada where Vortex Canada charge customers (and offer no veteran or LEO pricing) pretty much the same for the Razor II as Kahles dealers charge for the Kahles 624i so – at least in Canada – there is no price advantage.  Vortex warranty sells a lot of scopes but the Kahles limited lifetime is also a pretty strong backup if anything does go wrong.

When comparing the Kahles to my NF ATACR, the Kahles is giving up a lot in the magnification range 24x vs. the 35x top end on my ATACR F1 7-35×56 and the only areas where the Kahles is clearly superior to the ATACR is in price (the 7-35 in Canada is around C$5K after tax)  and in reticle choice where the SKMR 3 is significantly superior to the reticle choices available in the NF.

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Overall, the Kahles is clearly a top of the line riflescope and it performed flawlessly in the field.  Excellent glass, very nice turrets ( when you get used to the placement of the windage ! ) and a real quality feel is combined with a superb reticle all at a not unreasonable price point.

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