Upcoming Articles – Bipods, Scopes and More

I’m working to update and add some more material to a couple of bipod reviews I’ve published elsewhere and I’m planning to upload a two-part review that deals, firstly, with those bipods best suited for tactical rifles and then those mostly suited for F-Class matches.

I’m also going to spend some time looking into a scope that is pretty rare in Canada but very popular with our Southern neighbors – the SWFA SS 10×42 and when that one is done I’m going to try and finish off a review I’ve been working on for a while about reloading but I have to do some edits to that one as an excellent article along similar lines has just appeared in a great, American, blog which I follow and which can be found here:


Springfield Armory’s M1A: Outside Review

Having done a review of my LRB M25 Medium Match a while back and today having posted a review of the M14.ca M14/M1A SHG I thought why not add to the M14 stuff with a reblog of this well-writen article from Moderngunneronline.com

Enjoy !

Modern Gunner

Springfield Armory’s M1A

Originally posted by: Layne Simpson, American Rifleman Magazine

Shooting the Springfield Armory M1A takes me back to a time when rifles designed for the U.S. military were made of walnut and steel. It was also a time when they were chambered for cartridges with an abundance of long-range authority, in this case the .308 Win/7.62×51 mm NATO. A powerful cartridge indeed, but the weight and gas operation of the M1A make it pleasant to shoot. No sissy bag needed at the bench—just snug the butt against your shoulder, take a good sight picture and press the trigger repeatedly until the ammunition is gone.

I am sure most who read this know that the M1A is a semi-automatic-only version of the M14, the latter designed to be fired in semi- or full-automatic modes. An improved version of the M1 Garand, the M14 was adopted in May of…

View original post 1,632 more words

The M14/M1A Scout Handguard (SHG ) from M14.ca

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The steady supply into Canada of semi-automatic, civilian legal, M14-type rifles from the People’s Republic of China – rifles that are built on a forged (not cast) receiver and which retail for about Can$5-600  – has generated a very active ‘cottage industry‘ of individuals and companies whose specialty is some aspect of M14 customizing, repair, maintenance or accessory provision.

Like any peripheral industry, the one that has grown up to service the ever-growing number of M14 owners in Canada has been populated with a cast of characters ranging from those who seemingly bore the twin curses of being both impecunious and star-crossed and whose grandiose plans always seemed to fall short to, at the other end of the spectrum, the fully professional companies whose expertise is matched by the peerless quality of products they make and sell. I’m pleased to say that a company out of British Columbia – M14.ca – is one of the latter and it’s one of their products that I’m able to comment upon today.

My first experience of M14.ca took place a while back when I was tired of struggling to mount optics on a M14 using the traditional mounting solutions. At that time I purchased the M14/M1A CASM scope mount from M14.ca and was very impressed. Other than the M25 receiver offered by LRB of Long Island, I think the CASM mount is one of the best there is. I wrote a detailed review of this particular mount and a link to it can be found here:


This time I’ve had an opportunity to look at another M14.ca product – the M14/M1A Scout Hand Guard (SHG). Made out of 6061 Aluminum Alloy this is designed to replace the standard handguard found on all varieties of the M1A and M14-type rifles and offer a stable and low-profile place to mount your optics. It is hard coat anodized and has a mil-spec 1913 ‘Picatinny’ rail on the top for the attachment of either a scout scope or red-dot optical device. While best suited to the short barreled tanker or scout rifles, this SHG will also fit on a regular length M1A/M14.

As regular readers of my reviews will know, I am always looking to how a company packs up and ships its products to customers; I see it as an issue of corporate pride in how a business views the items it makes and sells and in this case ( as with the CASM ) I am happy to say that the product was carefully packaged, with lots of protective material, and it was shipped very fast with ‘signature required’.

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I carefully examined the SHG and found the finish to be flawless. The anodizing was evenly applied and anyone handling this item will easily see it is a quality piece of gear – clearly no one involved in the production of this equipment is working out of their kitchen with a rasp and a hammer.

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Being made out of a metal and possessing a rail running just over 12″ long, one would expect this SHG to be heavier than its 6 1/2 ounces (not including clamps and screws) which, apparently, is only twice the weight of the GI fibreglass one it is designed to replace.

The folks at M14.ca say that this SHG is designed to maintain a precise alignment with the bore so that when you have properly attached and zeroed your long eye relief scope or RDS you can remove the upper from the stock and replace it or, for that matter, put it into another stock without losing your zero. This is a bold claim but one that is safer to make when dealing with rifles that don’t have bench-rest levels of accuracy. In a rifle capable of (at best) 1 MOA and often more like 2 MOA a little wiggle-room in the zero would be hard to spot.

The SHG includes provision for the mounting of additional 4″ long rails at the 10 and 2 O’Clock positions but those rails are not included in the $219.95 price tag. They can be purchased separately and, incidentally, are included when one buys the Blackfeather RS stock.

As with other M14.ca products I’ve handled, the SHG comes with a Product Data Sheet and instructions for mounting the handguard to both of the Blackfeather RS stocks and traditional stocks. Whoever wrote these instructions did a really good job – they are clear and written in an easily understandable version of the English language.

The SHG is actually designed to be but one part of a modular system that M14.ca makes for the M14-type of rifle but, while specifically designed to work with the Blackfeather RS, it will work with the Boyds, USGI, SAI or Chinese stocks though there may be some fitting required.

According to the folks at M14.ca the real trick to a proper installation of the SHG onto a Boyds or USGI stock is to maintain a sufficient clearance between the handguard and forearm.

Certainly the SHG comes with all the materials necessary to attend to the installation job. All the screws and brackets were present as was a small vial of blue Locktite thread locker and a piece of .002″ alloy tape which can be used as a bracket shim if necessary. In total there are 14 fasteners and 3 steel barrel straps that are used to attach the SHG to the barrel of your M14.

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While designed as a precision platform upon which to mount optics there may well be another positive side effect to the installation of a SHG onto your rifle: while M14.ca don’t make any claims about the SHG improving accuracy it is sometimes found that a barrel stiffener can make barrel vibrations act in a more consistent manner and therefore help shot-to-shot accuracy.

Normally I don’t do a product review of a rifle accessory without actually taking it to the field and doing some shooting but this will have to be one of the exceptions to that rule. When talking to M14.ca I didn’t know that the SHG is only designed to work with a standard USGI weight barrel and so I neglected to mention that my one remaining M14 is a LRB M25 Medium Match which is, of course, equipped with a medium weight barrel. An embarrassing oversight on my part for sure, but hopefully even though I couldn’t field test the product as I’d wished, readers will be able to get some idea of what the SHG from M14.ca is all about and see that it’s a well made product that certainly appears to fill a niche for those who wish to use a LER scope or one of the very popular Aimpoint or similar RDS out there.

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I don’t know anyone at M14.ca because I’ve done all my transactions with them via email and telephone but I can say that whenever I have made a purchase from them the service has been absolutely first-class. Based upon the outstanding customer service I’ve received when buying only a few small and low-dollar value items like the CASM mount I’d have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending anyone interested in buying one of the M14 improvement products they carry to give them a call or send them an email as you can be assured your inquiries will be answered promptly and knowledgeably by people who have real expertise with the M14 rifle platform.

M14.ca can be found online at (not surprisingly) : http://www.m14.ca and they can be contacted by email at: info@m14.ca

Thank You !

Looking at the number of visitors from all over the World that have found this little blog of mine I am amazed at the power of internet/social media ( of course I grew up in an age where such things didn’t even exist ! ).  I would just like to say a big Thank You to all my visitors but especially to from those outside Canada and the USA and I invite you to please keep coming back to visit.

Thanks and keep shooting straight !


Optics Selection for the Newer Precision Shooter

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The original version of this review, written in November 2011, received over 15,000 hits so I figured there was a real appetite for this kind of introductory information about scopes. I’ve updated the original article to reflect the passage of time and to add in a few more ( sometimes different from original ) observations.

Apologies in advance – some of the pictures in the original post were really very poor but some have been left in as illustration because some of the scopes are no longer in my possession and so therefore cannot be re-photographed. Readers will likely be able to tell the newer photos from older.

On with the article…..

I have owned a lot of scopes and the reason I’ve owned so many is because, like most people, I made the mistake of ‘false economy’ – initially buying cheap scopes. Today, I firmly believe the old adage “only a rich man can afford cheap glass” and thought it was about time that I shared some of my observations about a few of the optics choices out there. These observations are geared primarily towards the newer shooter and so technical stuff is kept to an absolute minimum. Any comments about warranties applies to Canadian customers only .

All the observations I made writing both the original and the update are totally subjective – no fancy measuring devices were used; just the ‘as issued eyeball/human/ Ver 1.0’.  All scopes have been subjected to a standard ‘box test’ and, in the case of variable scopes evaluated through their range of magnification.

I can only comment about glass I’ve owned and/or used extensively and I’m just writing about scopes not ACOG’s, Red Dots etc. I’m also only speaking of scopes that are readily available in Canada – so other than the picture below, one of my favorite fixed 10X scopes, the awesome SWFS SS 10-42 doesn’t get a mention in this article.

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I tried to cover off a range of Can$ price points and I maintained some consistent observations as follows:

Price and Availability
Optical Clarity
Long Term Durability/Reliability

The test subjects for this review were:

Chinese Knock-Off’s Commonly Found on Ebay
Cheap Chinese ‘Brand Name’ Scopes – like NcStar, Leapers, Zos etc
Brand Name and Pricier Chinese/Other Asian Scopes – Falcon, BSA
The Old Bushnell Elite Series Scopes (3200, 4200 and 6500)
The new Bushnell Legend HD series of Scopes
Vortex Optics Mid/Upper Level Scopes (The Viper PST)
Leupold Mk4 Scopes
New Bushnell Tactical Scopes
Sightron Siii Scopes
Nightforce NXS and BR Scopes
Schmidt and Bender PMii

Cheap Chinese Knock Off Scopes

Fake in Foreground – Real in Background

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The huge attraction of these scopes is that they are cheap and readily available. They promise an amazing range of magnification, illumination and features for less than $200 and sometimes even cheaper. A plentiful supply and no hassle in getting them – what could be better ? Sadly, though shipped from Asia and arriving at your door often within a week, these scopes are, by and large, not worth using. The glass can vary from ‘bottom of beer glass’ quality to reasonably OK but the one cilck ( yes, ‘click’ isn’t always spelled correctly! ) per 1/4 MOA can vary from a quarter of an inch to an inch at 100 yards to nothing at all at 100 yards. When you figure out what one or four clicks or eight clicks will move the POA don’t write it down because it will change.

It Ain’t A Real Leupold – 100% Fake

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Remember, I said that ‘by and large these scopes are junk’ well, I put that caveat in there because sometimes you will come across one that is shockingly good – I’ve now had two completely fake ‘Leupold Mk 4 Tactical’ scopes’ that were clear and consistent and stood up to the recoil generated by the known scope killer; a M14. Fake scopes though really are a lottery and a (totally unscientific) test I recently conducted produced a 50% failure rate so my advice is: don’t waste your money. ( Recent test: https://rifletalk.org/2015/04/06/fake-leupold-mk4s-reviewed-junk-or/ )

Chinese Brand Name Scopes – AIM, ZOS NcStar etc

An AIM and an X.D Optics

If you read some of the UK publications you will be surprised to see how many serious shooters appear to use Made in China scopes. I can only assume that this is only partly and issue of price because they cannot all be bad as even if the scopes were free, people who shoot a lot won’t use junk glass.

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I have used several of these Chinese Brand Name scopes. I found NcStar to be very poor with some getting up towards mediocre level – all seem ok on a .22 but they are unreliable on any centrefire; some seem to hold a zero but many do not. My experience with ZOS was the same as that of one of my shooting buddies; the glass was OK but the adjustments were off, they initially held zero but, over time, drifted and therefore proved to be a bad buy. My buddy still has his ZOS whereas I shot mine ( yes, you read that correctly – I shot it doing an attempted re-enactment of an engagement involving the famed USMC Scout Sniper ).

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The X.D Optics proved to be a good scope – it had true 1/8th clicks, the glass was OK and it held zero but it had a reticule – referred to as a ‘Russian Sniper Reticule’ – that iwas unsuited for target work but would be OK for a plinker. It sits in the bottom of a drawer until I can find a use for it or give it away (update, I gave it away to a new shooter). My advice on these scopes: save your money – while some may seem OK there are better alternatives out there for just a bit more cash.

Brand Name, Pricier Chinese/Other Asian – Falcon

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The Falcon range of scopes represents what I think of as the legitimate Chinese-made decent quality scope. Apparently they were assembled in the UK but, make no mistake, these are Chinese made scopes. I have owned a number of Falcon scopes and I’ve not been disappointed with the value for money these scope provided. Over the years I have found the Falcon 1.5-5 with red/green illumination to be a very acceptable scope for my AR’s and even used one on my LMT MRP.

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The other Falcon I found to be very decent was the (now discontinued) Falcon Menace 4.5-18×56 which I always thought was the best scope Falcon made and was one that I found to be superior in optical clarity to the higher magnification FFP that replaced it. I owned a few of these at one time and sold them as I upgraded – of the ones I sold, I know for sure that two are still in service on .308’s and the owners continue to like them.

Sniper Central did a good review of these scopes a while back and I concur with them: good glass, repeatable controls, a sticky magnification adjustment ring at start, fairly soft – almost mushy – clicks (you don’t want to use gloves ) but a good buy for the money (about $500 IIRC for the Menace). A mean, aggressive profile, these scopes look like tanks and mine held up well but my only concern or criticism is that, like all cheaper scopes that use plastic gears, I’d be concerned about long-term tracking if the scope is used for anything other than KD range work.

Bushnell Elite Series Scopes

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Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, a very good line riflescopes were a staple of the multinational company Bausch and Lomb who, today, make a myriad of eye-care products. Bushnell bought out B+L’s scope making business and rebranded them as Bushnell Elite. As of the time the original review was written in Nov 2011 the Elite series of scopes remained Bushnell’s premier offering and within that line there were three distinct groupings – the 3200, 4200 and 6500 – with, generally, the 3200 being the cheaper and 6500 being the more expensive. Bushnell has dropped the numbering system and just uses just the word Elite but the old scopes still float about on the secondary market and some of the 4200’s are available as NOS on places like Amazon.ca

I have owned more Bushnell Elites than any other brand of scope and used them on everything from hunting rifles to battle rifles to precision tactical rifles and have never been disappointed but there are, of course, limitations. I will speak about three of the old, numbered, Bushnell scopes in a bit more detail.

Firstly, let’s look at the 3200 fixed 10x – this scope which can be had for under $300 is one of my all-time favourite ‘value for money’ scopes. This 1″ scope has exposed target knobs and some other ‘Tacticool” features that may or may not be of real world use but, nevertheless, appeal to many people. The fixed 10x with a 40mm objective is a simple scope with bags of eye relief, good internal adjustment and a mil dot reticule. Light weight and uncomplicated, it is a robust scope that I have used extensively on both M14 and AR 15 platforms and I have never had a failure. I continue to own one of these scopes and I would say that if you are looking for a cheaper fixed power scope then this scope is hard to beat. Still produced as part of the Elite series, the current Bushnell catalogue reference is ET1040.

Elite Fixed 10x – Outstanding Value

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Moving up in price was the old Elite 4200 6-24×50 Tactical. This is one of my all-time favourite scopes and was my first upgrade from the Falcon Menace’s. Bright and clear glass, 100% repeatable adjustments, good eye-relief, a 30mm tube and easy to use controls with 1 click = ¼ MOA this scope was a very good ‘value buy’. One downside to this scope though was the limited internal adjustment – I think it was a mere 40MOA.

At about the $1000+ price point was the Elite 6500 Tactical 4.5-30×50. I had one of these scopes and considered it disappointing for the price – as I said in the original story “using my 1960 eyeball I said in the have to say that the glass is neither as clear nor as bright on these scopes as it is on the 4200 6-24 x 50 and the increase in magnification from 24x to 30x power is not worth the increase in price” Overall I always considered this scope to be poor value at the price point it was sold at and I thought it to be beaten out by its’ lower priced sibling the 6-24×50.

While the old Elite numbered series scopes generally have much to recommend them, they do have a weakness common to all and that is the reticule. While a useful and universally popular Mil Dot, the crosshairs are simply too thick – looking through these scopes at distant targets is like looking through a iron fence !. Furthermore, Bushnell – no doubt appealing to the ‘Tacticool’ crowd – did one stupid thing with these scopes; they ‘blacked out’ the controls, replacing the easy to read gold lettering with hard-to-see green lettering.

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Missing from the original article was any commentary about another Bushnell offering – the Bushnell Legend HD 4.5-14×44. This is marketed as a hunting scope but if you like bright clear glass, perfect tracking, side focus and a useable Mil-Dot reticule for a very decent ( sub $400 ) price this scope might well be something to consider. A very strong value buy and one that does not look out of place on a target rifle. Many of the Bushnell scopes are Made in Japan and all are covered by a very good warranty including one ( on the high end models ) that is a ‘no questions asked own for a year and return if you don’t like it’.

Vortex Optics (Viper PST $700 -$1000)

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A lot of people in my part of the world are big fans of the riflescopes made by Vortex optics but I am of the opinion that, overall, they are a bit overrated. One model that I do quite like however is the Vortex Viper PST which, to me, represents a good balance of price/features and I’ve owned both of their 4-16×50 and (still own) two of the 6-24×50’s.

Viper PST 4-16×50 With DDM4V7 AR15

Overall, these Vortex Viper PST’s are quite a nice scopes – the glass is clear and, other than having a reticule that is a bit ‘busy’, they really are not bad bits of gear ( or “kit” for my UK readers ). The controls on the Viper PST scopes are easy to operate, give the user a good feel and, most importantly, are repeatable – something that can’t be taken for granted no matter how much one pays for glass. The PST scopes are made in the Philippines but that shouldn’t put one off buying one as the Vortex warranty is the very best in the industry. The Vortex warranty says they will:

Repair or replace your Vortex product for any reason at no charge to you. It doesn’t matter how it happened, whose fault it was, or where you purchased it.
• Unlimited lifetime warranty
• Fully transferable
• No warranty card to fill out
• No receipt needed to hang on to

Like I said, it doesn’t get better than that.

Sightron Scopes – The ‘Over $1K offerings’.

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I was late getting onto these scopes but, eventually, I had a chance to look through the Sightron 10-50×60 used by a good buddy and shooting partner and I was sufficiently impressed to buy my own. Very clear glass, 1/8th clicks that are not mushy, consistent repeatability, and a very fine crosshair makes this a very good target scope. I still own one of these scopes on my back-up F-Open rig in 6.5-284 and have no hesitation in recommending this scope to anyone looking for a good quality and high magnification target scope.

The real gem amongst the Sightron line though is not the 10-50×60 but rather the 8-32×56 with the LRMOA reticule.

I first saw his scope being used by a competitor in an F-Class match in September 2011 and was sufficiently impressed that a month or so later I bought the same model. This scope, which used to retail for about the same price as the Bushnell Elite 6500 (I think it has gone up some since those days ) is an outstanding riflescope. It has exceptionally clear glass, precise adjustments, more internal range than the same magnification range Nightforce and a very, very good reticule. I have bantered back and forth with a Sightron dealer about the merits of Sightron vs. NF and, owning both, I have to go on record as saying that, when comparing glass quality of this particular model to the 8-32×56 NF NXS, the result is too close to call – to my eyes the glass is the same and I prefer Sightron’s LRMOA reticule to the Nightforce MLR reticule.

Of course there is more to a good scope than just good glass and there is always a very strong case to be made for recommending a Nightforce but for the vast majority of us who only use our rifles at the range the Sightron Siii represents a good choice. I used to say that these Sightron Siii’sy were great ‘value-buy’ scopes but recent price increases have reduced the ‘value for money’ score of these scopes – they are still excellent scopes but they are not the steal they used to be.

In addition to price increases, there have been recent changes to Sightrons warranty policy in Canada. Basically, in Canada, you have to have a receipt from a Canadian dealer before you can access Sightron’s warranty. To my mind this hurts the product and makes the Vortex more of a contender for consumer dollars than it may otherwise be.

Bushnell Tactical

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If tactical shooting over unknown distances are your game then you really ought to consider looking at the new Bushnell Tactical scopes with First Focal Plane, a 34mm tube and an excellent reticule choice because they represent seriously good value. Coming within the top ten in an extensive review undertaken by the Precision Rifle Blog I also made a detailed review of one of these scopes that can be found here at:


Leupold Mk4

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No serious review of riflescope availability can be written without mention of the famed American company of Leupold and Stevens, more commonly just referred to as Leupold.

A long time ago, in a land far away, Her Majesty paid me to fly the flag in a small corner of the former Empire and at that time our marksmen used Leupold scopes. I and pretty much everyone else who looked through this glass figured that Leupold were the Cat’s Posterior but, in more recent years, I have looked through a lot of Leupolds’ and think that they let the competition catch up and ( in some cases ) pass them.

I still own two of the Leupold Mk 4’s – the famed 3.5-10×40 and the 8.5-25×50 and both are very, very good scopes. Leupold scopes are, of course, made in the USA but that comes at a price and so they are more expensive than some competitors. Solid, dependable and possessing good glass you still Leupold scopes on many Law Enforcement, military and civilian rifles and there is no doubt I would be confident using a Leupold in the very toughest of conditions.

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Nightforce Scopes – NXS and BR

Nightforce NXS 5.5-22×50

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We have now moved well past the $1500K mark and all the scopes being commented upon from here on in are easily that and some cases, much more.

The question of ‘is it worth it?’ becomes much more pronounced once one passes the grand and a half for glass and at this level I really recommend that you take a hands on look at the scope you want to buy before making the commitment. Please don’t rely upon guys like me – my eyes are not your eyes! Having said that, I have three Nightforce scopes and the one thing you can say about them is that they are well built. The NXS scopes are heavy and feel as though they could be used as war-clubs should the need arise. They have a well-deserved reputation for being tough, have excellent glass, precise controls with the very best tactile feedback ( probably developed for those who go in harm’s way ), and are 100% repeatable shot-to-shot – as all scopes in this price range ought to be but sometimes are not.

The two NF NXS I have are the 8-32×56 and the 55-22×50 and both have the MLR reticule, which I like but not as much as the LRMOA offered by Sightron .

Nightforce 8-32×56 NXS

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In terms of internal adjustment it is hard to beat the 100MOA of elevation that the 5.5-22×50 packs and that, combined with a 20 MOA canted rail and a flat shooting cartridge, should allow even the keenest LR junkie to get his or her fix.

While the NSX clearly aims at the tactical rifle shooting market the NF Benchrest is geared towards target shooters and if the number of these that are seen on the shooting lines are a good indication, they are indeed very popular.

Nightforce BR 12-42×56

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I find the glass on my NF BR scope to be even clearer than my NXS copes. Making a side-to-side comparison to my other target scope (Sightron 10-50×60 covered above) I prefer the NF for clarity, resolution and sharpness but the Sightron has a bit more internal adjustment and, frankly, better (albeit non illuminated) reticule choices. Still, in this head-to-head comparison the NF is the winner.

No matter what Nightforce scope you decide to buy, the hole in the pocket won’t be much less than $2K (and newer Competition models will chew through more like $3K). What you will get in return for this money is an excellent quality riflescope that has been proven durable under the most demanding of circumstances and will do an excellent job of holding its’ value.  I haven’t yet met anyone who regretted buying a Nightforce.

Schmidt and Bender PMii – Over $3500

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S+B have been around for a long time (1957) and all they make are riflescopes. They did for a while make spotters but not anymore. As we all know, scopes depend upon glass quality and I’m guessing that, since scope companies buy their glass from glass sellers, some of the glass found in brand A may well be also found in Brand B. With S+B though that’s not going to happen as they use their own glass – I believe they bought out the company that used to make their glass. Buying a S+B in Canada can be a long process depending upon what you want as they are not carried everywhere and few are made.

The upside is that pretty much all S+B’s are custom orders so you can get what you want 1/4 or 1/8 MOA, clockwise or counter clockwise turrets a wide choice of reticles, First Focal Plane or Second Focal Plane the choice is yours.

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I used to have two S+B – the relatively new 12-50×56 with 1/4 MOA and SFP and the same scope but with 1/8th clicks. I chose the P4F reticule for both scopes and time from order to delivery was over five months. I have now sold the 1/4 MOA model and retained the 1/8 MOA version which sits atop my F-Open Barnard Krieger 6mmBR. No “if’s and’s or but’s” about it, these scopes are expensive but if you want what, at least in my opinion, is the best scope in the World this is what you need to get.

S+B optical clarity is, to my eyes, unsurpassed. Unlike the “NF vs. Sightron vs. Vortex vs. Whathaveyou” debate, there is no grey area in this statement: the S+B glass is, quite simply, the best I have looked through. I say this not just based on my scopes but having looked through several other PMii’s . I conclude that, for my eyes and under various light conditions, I have not seen better light transmission and clarity. If there is a small criticism of the S+B, it would have to be in the tactile feedback provided by the controls – like Sightron it is easy to over adjust especially when wearing gloves or under time pressure to make adjustments.

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Hope this article helps newer shooters make some good decisions.  Please make sure you add in good rings and bases and enjoy your shooting.

Thanks for reading.

How Much Does Group Size Matter?

This is the kind of detailed analysis that Cal’s Precision Rifle Blog simply excels at. Really challenges our view of matters we considered to be truisms in our sport. An excellent read.


As long-range shooters, we tend to obsess over every little detail. We think everything is important! After all, we’re trying to hit relatively small targets that are so far you may not even be able to see them with the naked eye. While you can get away with a lot of minor mistakes and still ring steel at short and medium ranges, as you extend the range small mistakes or tiny inconsistencies are magnified. So, most things are important … but to differing degrees.

So if we have a limited amount of time and money, where would we get the biggest return on investment? In other words, there are lots of things I could focus on (more precise rifle, better scope, more consistent handloads, more practice, etc.), but where should I spend my time and money to get the biggest improvement in the probability of getting a hit at…

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Like many shooters of my vintage, I grew up shooting wooden stocked rifles and therefore I will always have an deep appreciation for the stockmakers art and a beautiful piece of fine walnut. While appreciating and respecting tradition, I recognize that wooden stocks have their limitations – heat, cold and moisture can all contribute to warp – and so it was with open arms that I embraced the quality composite rifle stocks when they first made an appearance in the mid 1980’s or so. Today – on military, law enforcement and civilian rifles – stocks from companies such as McMillian, Manners, HS Precision and Bell and Carlson and others perform fine service and prove quite impervious to the elements.

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While the majority of the tactical bolt guns are still housed in traditionally shaped, composite stocks their dominance is being challenged by a rifle support system known as the rifle chassis. These chassis systems – usually made out of aluminum and with or without some composite cladding or skins – offer a number of advantages over the traditional shape of a rifle stock. Without necessarily agreeing with them all, some of the ‘advantages of chassis systems that are usually cited include: modularity, the ability to attach any number of optical and lighting systems, an easy cross-over from the AR/M4 platform, the availability of a collapsible/folding buttstock, weight reduction and the idea that bedding isn’t required. Detractors of the chassis systems usually point to some ‘wobble’ between stock and chassis body found in some early models, the lack of a ‘tactile’ feel and that, at least on some systems, the optics need to be mounted a bit higher than they would be on a rifle housed in a more traditional stock.

While Canadians can get many of the chassis systems made by American and European companies, we are really fortunate to have a variety of high quality home-grown products available to us. While there may be others the three Canadian companies normally though of are: PGW from Manitoba, MDT from BC’s Lower Mainland and Quebec’s Cadex . Each of these companies make a well-regarded rifle chassis – either as a stand alone item or as part of a wider sniper weapons system (SWS) – and each has a justifiably strong following amongst the shooting community.

Readers of my reviews will know that I am the owner of several PGW rifles, that I’ve written a number of reviews about their products and at least one of those reviews focused on their folding stock chassis. People may also know that I was an early and enthusiastic supporter of Laslo’s MDT product and that I’ve owned and enjoyed a MDT Tac 21 for quite some time. What I wasn’t able to do until recently was examine and test any product from the third Canadian company – Cadex.

Since the time that I started writing reviews many companies and suppliers ( Wolverine, PGW, Hirsch Precision, Xtreme, Plainsight Solutions and M14.ca to name, and thank, just a few ) have been kind enough to loan me equipment to test and write about. Disappointingly, Cadex corporate policy meant I was unable to secure such an accommodation from them directly and a Cadex distributor I contacted simply refused to messages or emails. While a failure to borrow equipment was a bit of a setback it wasn’t an insurmountable obstacle; I really wanted to get my hands on one of their products for review and so I simply used the Cadex online store to buy one. I figured that the worst case would be that I wouldn’t like it and take a little but not a whole loss on resale. It is the chassis that I bought online from Cadex that is the subject of this review.

So what did I choose to buy ? I chose to buy the Field OT and my reason for doing so was because, having used AICS, PGW, Dolphin and MDT Tac 21, I’d decided that I prefer to mount my optics directly onto a rail wholly attached to the receiver rather than onto a rail that is part of a chassis or a mix of receiver and chassis . This is a purely personal preference and not meant as a criticism of systems ( including others by Cadex ) that offer chassis-mounted optics. Price was also a consideration and the Field OT – priced in my hands after tax at just under $1200 – was at a price point that worked well for me; especially as I was buying a product I’d not handled or even seen before. When I ordered this chassis I specified that I was going to be using a short action Remington but it is my understanding that other actions using the Remington footprint will also fit this particular chassis.

Buying From Cadex Online – the buying process from Cadex is very simple, they have an excellent website that is easy to navigate and therefore it is easy to select and order the product you wish to buy. While websites can be great I’m sure that there are others who, like me, are comforted knowing that if necessary you can speak to a real person about their order and, as it happened, I did have an opportunity to speak with a Cadex staff member. I’d decided to change my initial order, called Cadex to do and the staff member (Marie) I spoke with was most helpful and provided excellent customer service in faultless English (I make mention of language as not all readers may know that Quebec is a French-speaking Canadian province and that language can sometimes be an issue). If any senior Cadex staff should read this, please go to this persons work station and tell her what a great ambassador for your company she is.

Cadex advised that the product I wished to order had a 2-3 week wait time and I was again very pleased to find out that, unlike lots of other companies, Cadex do not charge credit cards until the item is available and ready to ship to a customer.

Shipping and Packaging -shipping took place within the 2-3 week time frame Cadex said it would take and they mailed the product in a very sturdy double-boxed package. As I’ve said when writing about other products, I do pay attention to how a company packages up their stuff as, invariably, it speaks to me about what a company thinks of its own products – I think of it as an issue of corporate pride in what they make. The Cadex shipping and packaging could not have been better and – especially when combined with the ease of ordering and excellent customer service – left me feeling very positive about the decision to buy something from Cadex.

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Readers may wish to note that at the time of ordering and throughout the process of getting the product to me, I made no mention of the fact that I was going to be writing a review or that I was the owner of a rifle blog so there is nothing to suggest that I was, in any way, getting preferential treatment.

Product Presentation and Instructions – there is an old adage that ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression’ and quite clearly someone at Cadex cares about what a customer will think when he or she opens the box. This is how things should arrive when you spend a thousand dollars or more. The instructions provided are simple and clear and written in correct, easily understandable English. In addition to the actual chassis product, one gets a set of Allen keys, a small tube of Loctite thread locker and the various screws necessary to put it all together.

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Fit and Finish – I am notoriously very picky about such things and often find fault where others would give a pass. In the case of the Cadex Field OT I examined every piece looking for blemishes and evidence of less than perfect manufacture and could find nothing to complain about. Perfect.

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Assembly – Assembly couldn’t be easier. If you can follow very simple instructions and use an Allen key, you can perform the simple assembly steps necessary to secure your rifle into the Field OT. All I needed to do was attach my brand new Talley 20 MOA rail and …….. wait a minute….. my rail won’t fit! Try a Weaver, ….. nope also too long. Measure other rails on other rifles…….. and….would you believe it ? Yep, not one of them will fit. Now this is odd since the exact wording of the Cadex website when speaking of this Field OT model is “Allows optic to be mounted directly on the action using traditional scope bases, picatinny rail or built-in action rail ” (bold type emphasis added)

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While staring stupidly around my workshop and wondering why all my rails had grown an extra inch or so – as, surely to goodness, no company would make a chassis that couldn’t work with standard length Picatinny rails – I recalled reading something online about this problem of a rail not fitting on a rifle housed in a Cadex Field OT but I figured the fellow writing about this issue must have had an exceptionally long rail or something but no, it appears to be the case that standard length Picatinny rails will not fit on the receiver of a short action Remington 700 that you intend to put in a Cadex Field OT.

When standard equipment won’t fit on a product one buys it is annoying and it is something that could be easily be addressed. Were I to be asked, I’d suggest that Cadex put a note on their website to the effect that while other scope mounting solutions may work fine with a Field OT, standard length scope rails won’t fit and, secondly, I would suggest that Cadex make a slightly shorter Picatinny rail which they can include as an optional $50-100 extra with the kit. Voila -problem solved and, perhaps, more sales made.

Lacking anything other than standard length rails I opted for the field-expedient solution of shortening my Talley rail with the judicious application of a Dremel tool and cutting wheel. Ten minutes later and a quick spray of black paint and I had a quite serviceable rail that would fit on my receiver and allow the use of the chassis system – a simple piece of work to do but, like I say, I think there is a learning opportunity here for Cadex.

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Notable Features – Before leaving the assembly of the chassis entirely, there are two particular features about Cadex chassis stocks in general that I think warrant a mention. Firstly, Cadex uses something that they call Roller Bedding Technology which means that the rifle action sits on four rollers that are designed to provide a stable platform and reduce vibration – now it sounds and looks like a good idea and I guess that time will tell whether or not this is a really useful feature or not. Secondly, users can remove the detachable base for trigger adjustment and maintenance without removing the rifle from the chassis – this is clearly a good idea ( though not so important with the particular model I bought ) and makes a lot of sense to me.

Fully assembled the Cadex Field OT feels very, very solid and all the pieces fit together perfectly. Like all Cadex products this chassis accepts AICS magazines which are, in my view, the finest aftermarket mags available; magazine insertion is smooth and there is no rattle at all when inserted. While it is possible to buy just the chassis core and attach a buttstock of choice, I like the Magpul PRS stock which is height and LOP adjustable and so I opted to buy the whole kit which includes that particular stock.

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Attachment of a scope was the last thing I needed to do and while I opted for a smaller, 50mm, objective this was, as anticipated, still a little bit too large to allow for the use of my TPS low rings so I used the TPS mediums I’d set aside in anticipation of the lows not working. The scope I chose to place on this rifle was a Vortex PST 6-24×50 which, while not my favorite brand of scope, was an orphan looking for a ride and certainly isn’t a bad piece of glass to use on a rifle which is going to be only used for paper punching at known distance.

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Incidentally, the rifle used to place in this chassis is a known sub-MOA performer that was formerly housed in my MDT Tac 21. It is chambered in .260 and is actually a Remington in name only as the barrel was replaced with a fat 20″ Krieger and the action was trued at that time the new barrel was spun on. The XMP trigger went into the garbage and was replaced with a Timney 510 and – for purely cosmetic purposes – a nice, oversized, Badger Ordnance bolt handle was installed.

For the shooting part of this review I made up some ammo using 139g Lapua Scenars over 43g of H4350 in Lapua cases ignited with a FGMM primer.

Shooting – most shooting was done from the prone off a bipod ( Cadex thoughtfully includes a Harris bipod attachment ) and rear bag at various distances out to 400 yards with some rounds being shot from standing and kneeling positions to see how the chassis felt. I am very used to the Magpul PRS so there was no surprise there and the rubberized Ergo grip while bigger than that which I use on other rifles was very comfortable. The chassis performed excellently and felt very comfortable and secure throughout the session. Nothing came loose or in any way felt unstable and when I shot from the offhand position the composite areas felt nice to the touch. Magazine changes were smooth and easy and I also appreciated the oversized trigger guard as it allowed me to wear gloves on a cold morning.

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Conclusion and Comparisons – this was my first experience with a Cadex chassis. Ordering, shipping and customer service was excellent and what I bought was perfect in fit and finish. My observation from the field test was that this is quite clearly a very well made product that not only looked the part but performed flawlessly. My only criticism is to do with a failure to let prospective customers know that this particular chassis will not work with the standard length scope rail – and as I pointed out above, that’s easy to address and fix.

To ask how the Cadex compares to the other chassis systems I’ve used and owned is a valid question that I’ll try to answer. The AICS is so different that it really can’t be compared; the PGW chassis isn’t sold as a separate item and it isn’t fair to compare a SWS to a stand-alone and so, of the chassis systems I’ve reviewed and owned, it comes down to how does the Cadex model I bought compare to the Dolphin tactical and the MDT Tac 21. Of the two, this particular Cadex is most similar to the Dolphin – priced within a hundred dollars or so of each other they are both a open top design and both are faultless in construction and fit and finish. My preference of the two would be for the Cadex; it was easier to assemble, has a better buttstock and grip and an overall better feel. The Cadex barrel shroud reminded me of a DDM4V7 in looks and feel whereas I think the Dolphin to be more geared towards an F-Class audience. Comparing the Cadex to my MDT Tac 21 is a bit of a tougher one as they are quite different with one being an open top and the other a system that encases the action. At day’s end, while I feel the Cadex suits my needs better at this time I have to say that both are very good products and – like I said earlier in this piece – I feel fortunate to have Canadian choices when it comes to outfitting my precision rifles.

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Specifications and Contacts – Specs, including color choices dimensions etc for this particular Cadex product can be found can be found online at: http://www.cadexdefence.com/products/chassis/field-strike-ot/