FAQs

What will shipping Cost?

Shipping rates are based on real time quotes from UPS and USPS. You can add your product to cart and partially check out to see your exact shipping fees BEFORE submitting the order.

How do I check on an order?

You may Email or Call to check order status. Email us at scpx@comcast.net or call us at 610-323-6543. If you call to check on an order, please have your ORDER NUMBER ready, as this saves a lot of time. If you call and get the answering machine, don't just leave a rambling message and then forget to give your name or phone number. We can not return your call if you forgot to LEAVE YOUR NAME AND NUMBER! This happens all the time. Sometimes three times in a row. Again, if you don't tell us who you are and how to contact you, we can not return your call! Please leave your Name, Order Number and Phone Number.

Can I buy a firearm on line and have it shipped to a dealer in my State of Residence?

YES. See this link: FIREARMS ORDERING INFORMATION.

 How long does it take to ship my product?

Sniper Country PX is a small shop dedicated to customer service and affordable pricing. We keep our prices down by stocking certain items and purchasing others from local distributors as needed. Generally, we can turn an order around in a day or two. If you order on Monday, generally, your product will ship the following day. Occasionally it will ship two days after the initial order. What this means is that you might wait an extra day, but quite often we can find a product for you that your local shop may not have, as we have a very large collection of distributors to choose from, as well as our own fairly comprehensively stocked warehouse. For this reason I recommend never ordering Overnight shipping unless you have emailed or called to verify that the product is sitting here ready to ship. It may be in our warehouse and not available to ship for till the next day.

Is the staff of the PX knowledgeable in long range shooting or just another gun shop with a snazzy name?

The proprietor has years of experience as a shooter, hunter, hand loader and gun writer. He has attended and graduated from various sniper schools and tactical shooting schools. He is always trying to learn more and will readily admit to NOT knowing everything about everything in the long range world, but he does have a solid foundation and uses common sense as his guide, as opposed to the BS one often finds on BBS systems with unqualified commentary. Happily, to all our benefit, the tactical market and precision shooting world is changing faster than he can cope with, so he will NOT always know about the latest or greatest gizmo or gadget. But if it exists, he can find it for you if it is not already in stock at the shop or warehouse.

Why are some products not listed on the PX?

If you know of a product not listed on the site, always email or call. We can get it for you or may already have it in stock. I have to divide my time between customer calls and updating the web store. Customers come first, so the database of available product often gets ignored. If you don’t see it and you want it, let us know.

There will be some products we will never carry. Brands we think are garbage, brands that do not support their customers once they have a problem. We’ve dropped several brands over the years because of their somewhat odd practices.  One comes to mind…when a customer complained that a scope had a piece of internal anti-reflection material stick to the glass etched reticle, the manufacturer told us to simply smack the scope till it went away…well, needless to say, we dropped that product line. That crap may work in Romania, but not in the USA.

If you do not see a brand or product on our site, do not assume it’s a bad one. We simply have not got around to listing it or have not set up with the manufacturer because no one has yet asked us too. Call or Email.

 I want to shoot to 1000 yards, how much Internal Adjustment do I need in a riflescope to get there?

This of course depends on caliber, but to use a few examples:

A .308 Winchester launched at 2600 FPS will need about 38 to 39 minutes of UP travel to dial up from a 100 yard zero to a 1000 yard zero. This of course will change with barrel length and bullet type. But using a Federal 175 grain match bullet, from a 26 inch barrel, 38 minutes should do it – at least around here at 500 to 800 foot elevation. The same bullet out of an M14/M21 with a 22 inch barrel may need about 42 minutes due to the slower initial velocity. A .300WM from a 26 inch barrel will only need about 31 to 33 minutes. Again, it depends on conditions at the site, but on average, that’ll do.

What this means is that any shooter wanting to scope a rifle for 1000 yards will usually need between 35 and 45 minutes of UP travel available on their rifle scope. So any scope with a TOTAL adjustment range of 60 to 100 minutes is appropriate. You can get away with 55 minutes, but 60 minutes is truly the working minimum.

“Only 60 minutes you say?” YES. Consider. That means 30 minutes of UP and 30 minutes of DOWN. 30 minutes will get you to 875 to 900 yards using the above .308 Federal 175 grain match bullet/rifle combo. If you use a 20 minute scope base, that 60 minute of angle scope will now allow you to dial all the way out to 50 minutes of UP travel. How? By tilting the scope down 20 minutes of angle, this allows you to use more internal adjustment solely for UP travel. And 50 minutes of UP will get you out to about 1150 yards with that scope!

So, just make sure when buying a scope that it has between 60 minutes and 100 minutes of angle of internal adjustment and you are golden.

What is a scopes “Mechanical Zero”?

A scope is rated by its internal adjustment. A 26 minute scope for instance, has 13 minutes of UP and 13 minutes of down travel, 26 minutes total, in its adjustment range. In this case, this scopes Mechanical Zero is, drum roll, 13 minutes. This is where you would start all your initial zero adjustments the first time to take a rifle/scope to the range. This is important to understand as you get into long range shooting because the adjustment range available becomes critical. The above example is perfect to illustrate why a 26 minute scope is totally inappropriate for long range shooting. Not enough internal adjustment to shoot beyond a few 100 yards.

You mentioned a 20 Minute Base. What is that?

The scope bases is the rail or pads used to affix your Scope Rings to the rifle. The scope goes in the rings, the rings attach to the base. Simple so far, right? Bases come in FLAT styles and Tapered styles. Flat styles are self-explanatory. Its FLAT. In other-words, the scope sits perfectly parallel to the bore. If you are lucky, and this almost never happens, your scopes mechanical zero matches the zero your rifle needs. So in a scope with 50 minutes of internal adjustment, you have 25 min up and 25 min down. Most often you end up with some combination because nothing is perfect, say 27 up and 23 down. Worse, 15 UP and all the rest down. All depends on how drunk the machinist was when he drilled your rifle for the base, or machined the scope bases or milled the rings.

Long range precision shooters often resort to Tapered bases, which tilt the scope to the front of the rifle, in other words, the body of scope tilts slightly toward the barrel. In effect, this tilt then allows you do use more of the rifle scopes internal adjustment range for UP travel. Think of the scope has having a mechanical zero of 30 up and 30 down. So in this 60 M.O.A. scope, you have 30 minutes of angle of UP travel and 30 minutes of angle of DOWN travel. Roughly translated, that means 30 inches of up and 30 inches down at 100 yards from that centered position. Clear so far?

A tapered 20 minute of angle base (20 moa) tilts that scope downward 20 minutes of angle. In effect, allowing more internal adjustment available solely for UP travel.  You now have about 50 minutes left of UP travel to use for dialing out to long range. It’s an elegant solution to a simple problem.

Will I be able to zero my rifle at 100 yards with a tapered scope base?

Yes, so long as the internal adjustment range is wide enough. You can use a 20 MOA tapered base with any scope, but if you want to still achieve a 100 yard zero, you best stick to 55 minutes or GREATER. If you were to use the 26 MOA scope we used in the example a few questions above, you would only be able to zero for maybe 200 yards if you were lucky, so a tapered base is only appropriate to what you intend to do. A 26 minute varmint scope, mounted on a .22-250 rifle will not be able to zero below 200 yards…but if all your dog towns are beyond 200 yards, who cares? AND it gives you a lot of UP travel in that otherwise totally limited scope, to reach really far out there.

As it applies on tactical rifles or longer range target rifles, you really want a minimum of 60 minutes of internal adjustment. This will get you out to 1150 yards give or take, with a .308 Winchester using a 20 moa base.

Do I need a tapered base if my scope has 100 M.O.A. of internal adjustment?

NO.  Unless you plan on shooting beyond 1000 yards. With a mechanical zero of 50 minutes, your scope can easily dial up to 1000 yards with a flat base using a .308 Winchester, which requires anywhere from 38 to 42 minutes of UP from a 100 yard zero. If on the other hand, you have a desire to really stretch it, using a 20 minute base will not hurt and will allow you to reach truly long ranges with calibers like the .300 WM, .338 Lapua, and .416 Barrett.

Do I need a 30 MOA tapered base?

Almost never. Generally, as a rule, the shooters ability or the rifles ballistics fail long before he can benefit from that much UP travel. Worse, these bases guarantee it to be nearly, but not always, impossible to zero the rifle for 100 yards or even 200 depending on the rig. They do have their place, but if you are only shooting to 1000 yards,  Don’t Bother.

What is the speed of an Un-laden Sparrow?

African or English?

 Is Mirage a factor when buying a rifle scope?

Absolutely. To quote wiki: A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. If you have never shot at long range, you will not have experienced how much this can effect what you see. I want every customer to understand this before he makes the mistake of buying a scope far too large for his needs. Today’s trend is to purchase what is assumed by Hollywood to be a sexy, visually graphic, massive eye catching rifle scope that no real sniper would willingly hump across a range let around a mountain. When looking all the mind numbing number of magnification offerings, remember that the more magnification you push into a scope, the worse the image is appears to be effected by mirage. On a warm day with minimum mirage at 6x, a 1000 yard bulls eye seems stable. At 10x, its slightly wobbly but not a factor. At 15x you are starting to see wavy lines interfere with the image and by 25x you are wonder why you didn’t just keep it at 15x. By 42x you are cursing the moron who convinced you that you absolutely MUST have a 42X scope to shoot a target at 1000 yards.

What scope should I buy/What is the best scope for me?

This question is loaded and we always have to ask, what is your end use/main purpose?

The answer comes down to what you see your main use being for this optic. The scope you buy should match closely how you perceive the use of your rifle. For instance, a tactical rifle used for REAL, in a combat or police environment, is not the same scope one would use for long range target shooting. Civilians often think they are one and the same, but they are not. Sniping is Hunting. Not punching paper. To help you out, I’ve prepared a primer of optics based on how you think you might use your rifle.

Hunting Use: Anything between 1-5x and 4.5-14x is plenty. You need FIELD OF VIEW more than you need extreme magnification. It’s pretty much that simple. The guy who buys a massive scope to go shoot an elk is setting himself up for failure because it is a universal constant that the scope will be dialed in to 25x when the beast walks out of the bush 80 yards away. And if it walks out at 350 yards, no worries, dial up to 5x or 14x and you are good to go. Beyond that? Let’s be honest here. How many normal hunters even practice at 300 yards, let alone 700? And even if you do, you still do not need more than 14x to make that shot. 10x will do it while leaving you plenty of field of view to see where your bullet went when you missed, you un-practicing-I-only-shoot-one-box-of-ammo-a-year hunter! At any rate, for hunting applications ONLY, there is little need for big magnification and every need for field of view. This is why real sniper scopes are smaller than the public generally thinks. Do not use Hollywood as the example.

Tactical Use: If you are a tactical shooter, frankly, you can ignore the Hollywood version of sniper scopes, which are always too big, too heavy and have WAY too much magnification. Remember, until the 1980s, most sniper scopes were VERY successful in magnification ranges from 3x to 10x. In fact, a maximum of 10x is really all that is needed for the PURELY tactical environment with a .308 rifle. Why? Sniping is HUNTING. It is NOT Benchrest Competition. You may have to hump that bullet launching boat anchor around rough terrain for 36 hours and even after 5 hours, a big scope just makes a rifle feel like a small cumbersome child. By 7 hours you start looking for a coolly to carry that beast and by 12 hours you just want to toss it in the nearest creek and pretend you are a good old 11 Bravo.

You need a wide field of view as targets MOVE. Life is Motion. Never forget this. You need excellent resolution and a crisp image, CLARITY, all the way to the edge of the glass. You need a magnification that will allow you to make the shot in the worst mirage your area of operation has to offer. That may mean dialing down to a magnification that gets that broiling, bubbling blur of an image to settle into a shoot-able target. Making shots at 800 to 1000 yards at 10x is not that hard on stationary targets in most atmospheric conditions. (See our primer on Magnification below) People tend to over-scope in the belief that Big Magnification is best. However, it is often a hindrance. We recommend either 3.5-10x40 or 4.5-14x50 scopes for purely tactical operations. Law enforcement sniping is done at close range, so being able to dial to 5x or 6x is critical as an 80 yard target may sneeze its way out of your field of view at high magnifications -- Just as you are about to squeeze off a shot. For Military operations the same applies. A center mass hit at 900 meters is, after all, a center mass hit. This can be done at any magnification from 6x to 14x, so why encumber yourself with a massive 42x telescope that will only get on your nerves and in your way?

In addition, the scope is not a SPOTTING SCOPE. Many people try to turn it into one, using scopes in the 25x range to glass FOR targets at long range. BAD FORM Bucko. So, imagine yourself in a hide, glassing that target at 25x when, without warning, that big brown bear, or communist insurgent, or a rabid environmentalist walks out of the brush 40 yards ahead of you with intent to kill. Even if you manage to see him, when you swing the rifle into play, whoops! Where’d he go?? Your field of view is now INCHES. Keep your scope dialed down to 10x or LESS until you NEED to dial up and use binoculars or spotting scopes for actual glassing.

Tactical/Sporting Use. For dual usage, such as hunting and occasional civilian or LE based sniper competitions by that I mean REAL sniper competitions – see below), you want a scope that offers a wide range of magnification that allows for close range hunting and long range target shooting. You want it in a reasonably sized package that has no resemblance to a boat anchor. The word here is Compromise. Too big and you can’t hunt with it or carry it. Too small, and you are giving up resolving small targets at longer ranges. We recommend scopes in the 4.5-14x50 range, with 6.5-20x50 being the high end of what is acceptable. Again, a 3-10x scope will do it all, but many civilians want more magnification because they like to shoot smaller targets. Think Egg Shoots, at 500 yards. I can do it at 10x easily. But 15x or 20x, if mirage allows for it, can be icing on the cake. The 4.5-14x range of scopes will allow one to see well at most normal ranges while still preserving the critical field of view needed for tactical use and real tactical competition. This range makes the perfect compromise scope for the civilian and LE precision shooter looking for a dual purpose optic he can hunt deer with in tight woods, shoot inch sized targets at 500 yards, and man sized silhouettes at 1000 yards. If you can hit a 10 inch pie plate with a .308 at 1000 yards at 10x, you can DEFINITELY hit it at 14x. So really, WHY where you looking at that 42x scope for your deer/target rifle that you use once a year for target competition?

A final thought on the dual use Tactical riflescope. When you read “sniper” competition, keep in mind there are REAL sniper competitions and FAKE sniper competitions. An egg shoot is NOT a real sniper competition, no matter how many are listed that way. Nor is a hog target shoot or a really long range bulls eye shoot. These are a bunch of people, plinking at small targets for entertainment and fun. Nothing wrong with that. But their scopes fit the NEXT CATEGORY perfectly, and have no place in the dual use selection meant for real sniper competitions. Real sniper, tactical and LE competitions require the competitors to MOVE and shoot and CRAWL and get filthy and cause pain and every damn extra ounce you carry becomes a massive dead weight. So keep your dual use scope reasonably sized and don’t get carried away. Just because that 240 pounder on some Bulletin Board told you he shoots eggs at 500 yards with his 32x scope, don’t for a second think that arm-length-boat-anchor is appropriate for a 900 yard stalk on your belly in tall grass/mudd in that 102 degree August heat. If you have any hopes of doing REAL sniper schools and competitions, get big scopes right the hell out of your mind right now. They can work, but they are NOT ideal. Big is Not SEXY, no matter what you see in the next Hollywood sniper movie showing a massive beast of a scope with blinking lights.

Target/Competition Use. Here is where the big scopes can serve a purpose. If all you are shooting is Paper, or Steel, magnification can finally be a useful tool. None of these sports involve hunting and few involve moving targets. Fewer still of these sports require you to carry your rifle more than the distance of your truck to your bench. Some do, and bully for them! But most do not and those that do only involve 800 or so yards of movement in the upright position. So weight is not as critical.

Shooting a coke can at 980 yards is a blast. And here is where the big glass excels. F-Class competitors for instance, compete at ranges from 800 to 1000 yards and win or lose by small margins in group size. You do not NEED 25x to do this. Not at all. BUT when MIRAGE ALLOWS IT, 20x to 25x will allow you to make minor adjustments on target without touching your windage or elevation turret, meaning if you want to nudge the next shot a tiny amount one way or the other to keep the next shot in the group, you can see fairly well how far you moved. It means if your buddy just bet you $50 (oh, the foolish fool) that you could not shoot that fly off the 300 yard paster, well, too bad for him!

For the Competition and Target shooting endeavors, we recommend 6.5-20x to 8.5-x25x scopes. These can still be used at closer ranges if the shooter is SMART enough to leave the scope dialed down to low magnification when moving or scanning for targets with his binos, and they can then be dialed up to literally hold center mass on Coke can sized objects at 1000 yards. They don’t really have a place in the tactical environment unless mounted on the big .50 caliber based rifles -- but civilians still insist on mounting them on rifles they will never shoot over 500 yards. These scopes are excellent for varmint shooting, long range target competitions, and some tactical shoots where most targets are over 300 yards. I love the 8.5-25x50 for this kind of shooting. I can dial it down to 10x for testing handloads at 100 yards, and crank it up to whatever I need for longer ranges. Be aware however that as you go up in magnification, the more critical your technique becomes. Example; I can shoot a HALF INCH GROUP with IRON SIGHTS on my 700SS 5R Milspec, at 200 yards, using a micrometer sight. But at 25x with the very same rifle and load, my group may TRIPLE in size because I can see every little movement and PULSE. 25x literally magnifies EVERYTHING. Not just the target, so you SEE your heart beat. You SEE your breath control or lack of it. You see your belly grumble that it’s time for lunch. And it all manifests in a bobbing cross hair. Especially at close ranges.

So if you forget good technique, you will likely start chasing your pulse as it makes the cross hair dive and rise. The average shooter is far better never dialing over 15x until he is shooting out beyond 400 yards. At least not until he develops good trigger and breath control techniques, not to mention bench techniques.

WARNING ON BIG GLASS: We maintain that anything over 25x is USELESS at long range due to mirage. These really big scopes are meant, primarily for Benchrest competition from 100 to 300 yards, where mirage is nowhere near the same issue as it is at 800 to 2000 yards. More on this in our magnification primer.

 What Good is Magnification then?

Magnification has its place. While you can, with relative ease, hit a 10 inch circle at 1000 yards with a 10 power scope, you cannot, for instance, as easily hit a coke can at that same distance. If you never plan on shooting a coke can sized object, you really don’t need a 25X scope, but they ARE fun to have. Here is what happens. My sniper rifle has a 3.5-10x40 Leupold Mk 4 M3 scope mounted on it. This scope is amazing. The glass is high quality and has excellent clarity and great resolution. It has spent many years serving me well in sniper competitions and schools. Hitting ten inch pie plates on a calm day at 1000 yards…not all that hard with this scope. Nor is seeing them. However…we like to play! We will set coke cans, empty one pound powder bottles, water bottles, et cetera, on the ground, at the foot of our 1000 yard targets. When we are done being serious and we are dialed in, we try for the cans and bottles. At 10x, the WIDTH of the crosswire in my scope is about the same apparent thickness as my target. So I have to guess where my target is under that reticle. I can see the can ok, but not identify it as a brand. In other words, I can see it, but not resolve details at that distance. Conversely, on my 5R Milspec, with the 8.5-25x Mk4 M1, scope, I can dial up, assuming mirage is not bad, to 20x or more, and actually hold center mass on the can. I cannot read the label, but I know what it is.

THAT is what I mean by resolution. And it has its place. High magnification is not a be all, end all in scope selection. Other things matter more. It is simply a tool. Make sure you select the right tool for the job you wish to do.

Fixed Power or Variable Power?

Back in the olden days, when presidents understood capitalism and how to make economies grow (ei: the early 1980s) most tactical scopes were still fixed power, usually 10x. This was the compromise magnification that allowed for a reasonable field of view and usable resolution out to the maximum range one expected to shoot. They made for fairly reliable scopes in an era where prior to that decade, variables were anything but reliable. THANKFULLY all that has changed. Since the 1980s, high quality variable scopes have come to market that can hold up to the same combat environments as the earlier generation of fixed glass. Today’s high end variables offer wide ranges of magnification and strong reliable and repeatable internal adjustments. Now days, there is little reason to buy a fixed magnification scope unless you are equipping an African game rifle in a large caliber. And even then, there are variables that work. For close in hunting, stick to the 1-5x scopes. For general purpose hunting and tactical use, 3.5-10x is still an excellent choice. Competition and Varminting are well served by 6-20x and 8-25x scopes. Of course, quality matters. Which will be the answer to another topic.

 Is High quality glass really worth it? How much should I spend?

Yes. Sadly, in the world of optical devices, you really do get EXACTLY what you pay for. Keep this in mind when eyeing that $190 scope that comes with all the bells and whistles you see on a $1000 rifle scope. In that cheap knock off, you are getting $30 to $40 worth of the worst glass money can buy. You are paying for lousy resolution, poor clarity, fuzzy image at the edges and sometimes worse, toward the middle of the field of view. You are getting internal adjustments that will be easily knocked out of alignment and will seldom return to zero with precision. The zero may not wander this season, but it most likely will next. And God forbid you should drop it.

As your skill grows, you will soon want to replace that piece of #$% for something more capable and aligned with your growing abilities. I always recommend putting off your scope purchase until you can afford at least the minimum in quality glass. That means spending at least $400 for a rifle scope. The alternative is to knowingly buy junk glass with the expectation of failure and the foreknowledge that you are throwing the money away now, to get to the range immediately, with the understanding that the money is gone and unrecoverable for when you finally want good glass. This is ok actually, so long as you know it before hand. I do not want my customers buying say, a BSA scope, and thinking they are getting something equivalent to a Leupold Mk4, just because it has the “same” features. Get what you can afford, but always, ALWAYS spend the most you possible can on the scope. A good one will last a lifetime and can be put on dozens of rifles. A bad one will die the first time you mount it on a .300WM or drop it on the ground. So buy smartly, even if it is low budget. If a scope offers a zillion features and cost $145, you can bet it’s a piece of crap. Everything is compromised to meet that price point. If you see a plain-Jane fixed 6x scope for $600, you can bet that glass is phenomenal because every dime of production cost had to go into something, and that something is usually the glass.

I am not telling you this to make money. I am telling you this because I have a drawer full of broken bargain brand scopes that I experimented with in my youth when money was tight. We offer scopes for every price range and let’s face it, if you are 20 years old and fresh from college, you might not be able to afford the best. But we can help you find the best for your price range. We have a $200 scope for instance, that will serve you fine for the next five years, in a fixed 10x, so long as you do not take it out below 20 degrees. At that point, the turrets will freeze solid and won’t move until you warm the scope. Knowing this beforehand, at least allows you to buy an otherwise decent low budget scope that will allow you to shoot to your heart’s content 10 months out of the year.

 How big is too big in rifle scopes?

Anything over 25x (Twenty Five Power) is generally useless unless the atmospheric conditions are pefect. Hollywood and various online chat sites have convinced people that big glass is sexy and cool and required. In reality, if you live in an area that has heat waves, which is most everywhere on earth, these massive scopes are nothing but a burden. The problem is that people try to do too many things with a rifle scope. Rather than buy a spotting scope or a pair of binoculars, they buy a 32x, 36x or 42x rifle scope thinking they will multi-task it as a spotting scope. We won’t even go into how unwise and dangerous it is to go pointing your rifle around willy-nilly looking for targets. But I will state that most of the time, due to heat waves (mirage) these high magnifications are impossible to use. The really large magnification rifle scopes were initially made for benchrest competition, which was usually shot at 100 to 300 yards. Mirage, while existent, is minor at these close ranges. But by 500 yards, or worse, 900, that same mirage can turn your high magnification image into a wobbly, boiling, bouncing beach ball of a blob, barely recognizable as a target at all.

People will continually argue this point., convinced that you need big magnification to shoot at long range. It’s a fallacy and easily disproven. Look to history. Snipers used 3x right through the Korean war and made some pretty impressive shots. By Viet Nam, 9x was common and again, these shots were doable to 1000 yards. By the 80s we had the 10x scopes with far better glass and really good internal adjustments. In law enforcement, you don’t need anything over 6x to be honest, but few stop there. So, just keep your decision rational. There is nothing wrong with up to 25x but anything over that limits your ability to dial down to usable magnification ranges, kills any hope of a usable field of view, and also comes with a price in terms of unneeded cost, portly ungainly weight, and unreasonable length.

 Can I see bullet holes with (customer choice) magnification?

Yes, and No. Some answer aye? I am asked this question all the time. Newer shooters especially want to treat their rifle scope like an astronomical telescope and forget the environment is a tad different. First, remember, your riflescope is NOT a spotting scope, so stop trying to treat it like one. Seriously, this is the biggest mistake newbee long range shooters make. They all hope to buy a really big scope and never have to buy a good spotting scope. Frankly put, this is Bad Form of the worst kind. Get a spotting scope. You need it. It is not an option IF you plan on doing a lot of true long ranging shooting, or even closer range target shooting. Period. Don’t be that jackass on the firing line who always wants to go down range after every five shot group to check his group size. Or worse, after every shot. Seriously, open up the purse strings and buy a cheap binocular at the minimum! Those guys, as you might surmise, drive hard core shooters insane. Don’t be one of them.

So, back to your question. Yes, you can see your bullet holes at long range under certain conditions and lighting. If there is any mirage, it will prove hard to see holes at 25x at 1000 yards no matter how good the glass. But if you have a high contrast target, and the lighting is right, you can, at times, see your bullet holes even out to 1000 yards with 20x t o25x scopes. Not always, but it happens. Don’t expect it. Just consider it icing on the cake. At 500 yards, a 10x scope can easily see bullet holes again, in the right lighting and with a contrasting target. It can resolve them much further, again, depending on conditions, but do not expect it.

The point here is to shoot a CONTRASTING target. Don’t expect to see a dark bullet hole in a Black target unless the sun is just right. It ain’t gonna happen at long range very often. Use Red dots on white paper, so even if you miss the dot, you can still, under some conditions, see the holes in the paper. Use cardboard with contrasting pasties, or better still, reactive targets like Shoot-n-See.

 What kind of spotting scope should I buy?

Anything your budget can swing, but like all optics, you get what you pay for. Low budget spotting scopes can be very frustrating to work with because they often provide very dark and fuzzy images due to poor quality glass and small objective size. Aperture (Objective size)  is all important and directly related to magnification. For instance, a small 60mm spotting scope, with a 20x eye piece can provide crisp and clear images and its quite useful, but if pushed to 45x or 60x, will fall apart into a nightmare of dark fuzzy unusable imagery. If all you can afford is a 60x scope, there is nothing at all wrong with that. Just make sure it has quality glass, and that the eye piece is reasonably sized between 20x and 35x and no larger. 35x will be the most useful size given reasonable atmospheric conditions. It will allow you to see more detail than your 8.5-25x scope, while providing a crisper image since all the money went into the glass alone, as no other moving parts were required. This is why a spotting scope at 25x is generally better than a bargain brand rifle scope at 25x. The optical quality in the spotting scope is very high because that is the only real factor in pricing on that device. On the bargain brand 25x variable scope, they also had to pay for a load of other internal lenses, moving parts, adjustable turrets et cetera, so the glass quality is much lower on the rifle scope. This only changes when you get into truly high quality riflescopes. Which is a topic covered above in another fact.

So, if you are going with a 60mm objective, stick to 20x to 35x and no larger. Don’t waste money on a variable because you won’t like the image once you creep over 35x. Further, in the bargain brand spotting scopes, their variables are atrocious. So just get a fixed eye piece. If you can swing a 70mm or 80mm spotting scope, lucky you! In this size, you actually CAN use 45x and above before running into the darkened wall of optical doom we officially call a limiting factor. Objective size versus Magnification.

You do not need to spend $1000 on a spotting scope. $300 will buy you a decent one and $600 will buy you one for a lifetime of complaint free use. Under $300, just accept that you can’t use high magnifications and you will be happy and still able to see bullet holes out to reasonable distances with a good quality fixed power eye piece.

 Do I need a MAGNUM Caliber to shoot to 1000 yards?

Hell no. I do it all the time with a plain old .308 Winchester. Magnums deliver heavier bullets, that is all. Think of it this way. If you want to smash into a house you can do it perfectly fine with a sports car. If you want to smash into it AND make it out the other side, use a MACK TRUCK. There are appropriate times for both methods. I shoot a .308 to 1000 yards all the time. But if I want to shoot an ELK at 600 yards, while I know I can hit it well enough with a 165 grain .308 hunting bullet, I would RATHER use a 220 grain bonded bullet fired from a .300 Win Short Mag or .300 Win Mag. It has nothing to do with velocity and EVERYTHING to do with TERMINAL Ballistics. What the bullet does inside the target. I want to know I am delivering a killing shot onto that elk.

People get WAY too hung up on velocity. It’s important, but only to a point. And maybe less so when using a good fully adjustable tactical scope -- where you factor our range and wind. Hunting scopes, with their crappy coin slot adjustments, benefit from fast flat cartridges because hunters traditionally only zero for one range and shoot over or under to compensate for other ranges. So flatter helps. But this is Sniper Country, not Deer Country, so we will stay in the realm of easily adjustable target turreted scopes.

People confuse flat trajectory with long range. It’s simply irrelevant. At least to a point, which is a topic for another day. Surprised? Follow me on this. Your goal today is to put a round into a 10 inch square at 1000 yards in a 5 mph wind. You have a scope with proper target turrets. You have a .308 on one bench, and a .300WM on the other. Which will hit the target? No brainer. BOTH. You dialed out the wind on both rifles via the scope. You dialed out the elevation on the rifles. Boom. Center mass hits. Velocity itself had nothing to do with it. You factored it out on the scope. The MAGNUM meant nothing more than a sore should and an emptier pocketbook. You can stop reading right here and ignore there rest of this section after reading these words: IF YOU WANT TO GET GOOD AT 1000 yards and shoot a lot, AFFORDABLY, get a .308 and go practice. The magnum will just bankrupt you faster and teach you to flinch more!

So, if you are still here….What mattered more was your ability to know it was a 5 mph cross wind. That was it. If you blew it, and it was a 9 mph wind, the .300 Magnum, with its shorter time of flight, was effected LESS by the wind, so you might have still hit the target near the edge. More than likely it too was a miss. But velocity alone did not give you the magic equation people think it does. It simply allows you to make small errors in your wind correct estimates, and maybe pull a hit out of a probably miss. Learn to read the wind and you can shoot at 1000 yards with plenty of calibers and few of them need be a magnum.

 Why shoot a magnum at all when a .308, dialed in correctly will do the job at 1000 yards?

Bullet Weight. Here again, mission is critical. If you are punching paper or people, the .308 is plenty sufficient. Both go down well with the comparatively slow .308 Win. But if your game is a BIG animal, then heavy for caliber bullets are the key and the magnums allow you to use them well. If I am hunting deer, I use a .308 with, not a 140 or 150 grain bullet, I use a 165 grain and it pins them like a sledge hammer. An elk at close range? The .308 with a 180 grainer. If I am shooting a Stag (Elk) at a distance, then I am using a 200 or 220 grain projectile out of a magnum and they drop just fine. Match the caliber to the goal and the projectile to the target. You only need magnums for specific applications. And if you are a paper shooter, why bother with one till you stretch it to 1100 yards and beyond?

 Why is 5R rifling the “big deal” right now?

As opposed to square cut type rifling, the radius on the 5R design makes the engraving of the bullet jacket as it passed through the barrel, in effect, smoother than what you get with 90 degree engraving. This means its more streamlined in flight. This translates into less drag. A good example is the differences required in elevation between two similar rifles with different barrel lengths using the same bullet. Example; A Remington 700P with a 26 inch barrel launches at Federal 175 grain match bullet around 2620 fps. To hit at 1000 yards, you need about 38 minutes at our local range. A Remington 700SS 5R Milspec, with its 5R rifling and 24 inch barrel, launches the same load at 2575. Yet the drop is only half a minute more, at 38.5 minutes. The rifling did not give you a magic flat shooting bullet, but it made enough difference to require only half a click of elevation for a 2 inch shorter barrel. In addition, the 5R Milspec rifling is slightly tighter as is the chamber. These rifles generally outshoot normal chambered rifles by a small margin of a 10th or three.

 Who makes over the counter rifles with 5R rifling?

Currently Remington and Savage. Remington was the leader in releasing a 5R long range varmint/target rifle. It used the same chamber and rifling specs as the Army’s M24, hence the name 5R Milspec. This rifle set the industry on fire in that finally an over the counter rifle was being delivered in marketable quantities and at a reasonable enough price that at any given time of year, if you looked hard enough, you could find one. So successful in fact where they, they Remington increased production to multiple runs a year and in several different configurations and calibers. Savage soon followed at the request of several distributors and now the market is filled with highly accurate, fairly affordable long range precision rifles that are nearly as accurate as customer rifles costing $2000 to $3000 more!

 Do I need a 5R profile for long range precision shooting?

Not at all. Normal rifling is fine and has been used for decades to high success.

 I want to use a suppressor on my rifle. Do you carry accurate rifles with threaded muzzles?

Yes. Both Remington and Savage now offer heavy barreled target rifles that will accept both suppressors and muzzle brakes. All come with thread protectors and most use standard threading found on common suppressors, muzzle brakes and flash hiders.

 Do you sell suppressors?

No. I do not deal in NFA products. But I highly recommend Ops Inc, AAC and well know brands.

 I want a good flash hider or muzzle brake. Recommendations?

AAC makes outstanding brakes and hiders. We keep most in stock. OPS inc does as well but we do not stock them. We can however, order them for you.

 I want a pistol for conceal carry. Thoughts?

Um…I do not think my server has enough space! However, I recommend you find something that fits first and foremost. I do not care how great it’s reviews OR if the 6 foot 5 inch giant you shoot with, who has size 12 hands, swears an H&K Mk23 is the only gun worth owning. If it does not fit, you will not carry it regularly and will seldom shoot it. For you experts, this primer is geared toward the NEW CCW holder, looking for their first handgun for self-defense carry. You experts may have different views, but you’ve 1000s of round under your belt. I am talking to anyone looking for a common sense view of what’s required and safe.

Find something ergonomic that feels “right” in your hand. A slab sided two x four, no matter how reliable, will not point well for you if you are never comfortable. I’d highly recommend you hold a CZ-75 compact to get a feel what a proper ergonomic design feels like, and then go from there. Plenty of handguns today fit the bill and many now come with adjustable or replaceable back straps so you can tailor them to fit your hands precisely. Don’t go with a 1911 just because your daddy told you to. IT was CUTTING EDGE in 1911. Now it’s just another handgun and often the completely WRONG choice for many people.  Especially untrained ones. Read that again. If you have ZERO training in handgun shooting. The 1911 is not the gun for you.

This goes for ANY Single Action Only gun with a frame safety. I am not trying to be sacrilegious about America’s favorite pee shooter, but the reality is, for many unskilled shooters, a single action only pistol is a dangerous thing to carry, no matter how many safeties you put on it. They take a modicum of respect and training to master. And the fact is, few shooters put in the time.

For the newbee CCW holder I recommend first and foremost, a Double Action/Single action with a DECOCKER, or Double Action Only or a Stryker type. See? I told this could take up band width! Notice I said nothing, nada, ZILCHO, about a frame safety. My reasons are listed below.

So why DA/SA or DAO instead of Single action? One, with a DA/SA and a decocker, you can load and decock the weapon, making it completely safe to carry in your holster and ready for instant action. I have no record of how many people were killed trying to defend themselves while forgetting the disengage a frame safety, but I can tell you from watching people under stress in IDPA competition, plenty of folks forget the safety and lose a second or two while they reengage their brain after squeezing the trigger and getting nothing for their effort. Nope. That to me is a BIG NO-GO if I am trying to shoot in self-defense! STRESS. Stress is your enemy and anything to get you past that stress is a benefit. I want to clear my holster and put rounds into the bad guy. Period. So the DA/SA Decocker or DAO make a lot of sense when viewed in this light.

So, should need arise, you simple draw, point, and shoot. There is nothing else to think about other than TO shoot or NOT TO shoot. No safety. No super sensitive Single Action trigger with no margin for error. Just one long smooth pull of the trigger, giving you that 100th second you might need to say, oh, maybe I do not need to shoot, and also giving you a nice short single action follow up shot should your friendly neighborhood armed home invader need a 6 round drill. Best of all worlds the DA/SA.

You can classify the new age pistols into the same realm as the DA/SA Decockers. These are called Striker guns and they are about as simple as can be. Load. Point. Shoot. I personally prefer a decocker, because I like to practice my drills and prefer controls on my weapons, and I am used to it and that counts for a LOT, but the striker guns, with no controls to speak of, are nearly as idiot proof as a revolver. Most folks now days go with striker models. Glocks. M&Ps, XDs, that lot. All great guns. Try em on for size though. Some, like the M&P, are very ergonomic. Glock’s can feel too blocky in some female hands and even some male hands. And H&Ks. Well. They are huge. So again, if they fit, WOOHOO! But if they do not, don’t get it just “because” it’s an H&K. That’s just stupid. You gotta live with this thing daily.

Finally, one more observation about size. Winter and Summer do not make for an easy choice. The gun that works perfectly seven months out of the year might totally blow the last five. I love, and by that I mean if it were a woman, I would marry it, my CZ-75D PCR Compact. The perfect handgun, for “me”. But in summer, when I want to go out in shorts and a T, like any small compact, it’s larger than I like. Most are. Hence the massive number of tiny .380s hitting the market for summer use.

 Ok, what caliber should I consider for CCW?

Fairly straight forward. In a pistol used for concealed carry, the .380 ACP, 9mm & .40 S&W are kings. The .45 ACP generally forces you to go to too large a handgun to conceal, or a tiny design made to accept it, and in that case, recoil is enough to make the novice CCW holder, upon squeezing off the first round, to think what had I done??? While a great cartridge, it’s a poor choice for the average person wanting a comfortable, SMALL, easily controlled, quick shooting defensive pistol for carry.

 But every magazine I read touts Big Calibers and their effectiveness! Why use smaller rounds?

Ok, First off, gun magazines are made to sell gun MAGAZINES. So when you read about this or that new awesome caliber, remember, they are paid to promote it. Yes, there are plenty of usable calibers for CCW. We recommend 9mm the most, because it is fairly effective and easily controllable. We also recommend .40S&W for those who can handle it. But the BIG SECRET in the gun world about caliber is this:

What happens when you shoot someone with a Handgun in self-defense is ENTIRELY up to the MINDSET of the person getting shot.

Short of the big magnums, most handgun rounds are just not powerful enough to blow some ones chest apart internally like a rifle projectile at high velocity. They will however, lower said perp’s blood pressure in a rapid and satisfying manner. The downside is that there is no such thing as a perfect carry cartridge and none can pin a bad guy to the ground as effectively as a rifle. But you can balance terminal ballistics against recoil against pistol size against capacity. So a 9mm, shot with precision and speed, does as fine a job as a .40 SW shot similarly. Both do a better job than a .45 ACP shot poorly. So if you can shoot a 9mm, doing a fast as snot 6 round drilling into a target at defensive distances, without giving it a second thought, yet struggle to keep a 1911 in .45 ACP on target at all, then the answer is simple. Buy the gun you can PERSONALLY handle and who gives a rats hind end what some gun writer told you?

Here are some specs from the 1980s when the theory of One Stop Shots was all the rage in gun mags. The “measly” 9mm parabellum, with a 115 grain Hollow point, was reported as being 86 percent effect in one stop shots. The 230 Grain .45 ACP was said to be 93 perfect effective. Some gun writers would use this to lambast the “puny” 9mm while touting the giant killing .45 ACP. Range Rats would argue endlessly about Capacity versus Stopping Power. 9mm fans said, well, 15 rounds beats 7 every day of the week, and it was a valid argument, especially if bad guy brings friends. So it went round and round, back and forth, a circular argument played out monthly in the gun rag of your choice.

To me, it was all stupidity. 86 percent versus 93 percent…DO THE MATH. WHO GIVES A RATS ASS? Do a 6 round drill or simply shoot until said bad guy stops what he is doing to threaten you and guess what? He could not tell the difference. One round, two, six. You do whatever it takes to stop the threat. Many bad guys stop their threat when you simply present a defense. Some force you to shoot. Some take more than one round. ALL of the defensive loads today are pretty effective in design, ALL of them, when combined with any of the decent and accepted calibers used for self-defense. The only factor you cannot control is, again:

What happens when you shoot someone with a handgun in self-defense is ENTIRELY up to the MINDSET of the person getting shot.

You can shoot a bad guy with a 9mm or a .45 ACP and if he is of a mindset to walk up to you, take your gun and smack you in the head with it, he can do it if you LET him. He may literally be dead on his feet, and be may walk away and bleed out five minutes later. But his attitude and mindset will determine what happens next. If he folds like a baby and cries for mama, you survive. All you can control is how many times you shoot him. It’s not like Hollywood. People don’t fly backwards 10 feet into the air when you shoot them with a Magnum or a .45 ACP or a plinker.

You won’t know what will happen until it happens. Pray you never have to find out. But none of the common rounds recommended are man stoppers in the same sense of a .223 Remington, .308 Winchester, or .50 BMG fired from a RIFLE. They are effective. But they are NOT Hollywood.

So, get good with your manageable, controllable CCW pistol. Practice double taps and 6 round drills. Understand the limitations of all pistol round and remember a “ONE stop shot” is only as good as the time it takes bad guy to remember he is not actually dead. Buy something that fits and that you can use with confidence. Buy a common defensive caliber. Don’t worry about this new or that wizbang $2.00 a piece round from hell. You won’t shoot it enough to get good with it anyway. IT cost too much to shoot.

 I don’t like the complexity of a pistol, what about a revolver for CCW?

I am not a revolver guy so I may not be the guy to ask. However, I have some experience with them. Some being a LOT. Firstly and again, comfort and ergonomics MATTER. If you can’t hold the beast, you can’t shoot it well. So forget the big massive wheel guns designed to make Dirty Harry look good and to bring down Brown Bear. You will never carry it for real outside of hunting scenarios. And all I care about is REALITY. NOT PERCEPTION. You carry what you can handle. You leave home what you show to friends with pride and bravado and can’t shoot worth a damn; You carry what you CAN. So, unless you are sized well enough to actually master a 7 inch barreled .44 Magnum, put it out of your head now. It’s a waste of your money.

I had a friend. Wanted the end all be all of revolvers and argued with me for months about the .44 Mag. He finally bought one. After putting the hammer into his skull on the first shot, he never put magnum round through it again and eventually got a .357. lol. Live and lean. All the gun magazines in the world telling you how awesome the .44 Magnum is won’t serve you one bit if you personally cannot shoot the thing well!

In revolvers stick to medium frame .357 magnums or small frame .38 specials with the ability to handle plus P loads. You can shoot the .38 all day. And once you master it, get some plus P loads and work on your skills and carry those for defense. If you go with a .357, again, stick to .38 special loads until you master the gun, then move to plus Ps and eventually use the full monty. This is the only way you will get comfortable with the recoil of the .357 in that tiny package.

 Why a revolver instead of a Pistol?

Simplicity. There is no other reason worth its weight in print. If you have zero experience with handguns, a revolver is a way to get it. You can carry it safely. You can shoot it and maintain it with little knowledge. In the right caliber, it can handle amazingly light practice loads and still allow you to use nasty painful to shoot high recoil loads when you are ready. Its small. And that is a great thing in CCW. It’s not the end all, but its handy. Try concealing a full size Colt 1911 or a big .357 magnum 6” barrel revolver. End result, you carry something smaller and compact revolvers are getting pretty small.

Revolvers definitely have their place and they fit some better than others, in terms of experience levels, or size. And best of all, they now come in a dizzying amount of colors so if you are introducing a daughter to handguns they are a lot of fun. And some grown women tell me they like to color-coordinate. Seriously; Want to match that lavender purse to a revolver? We got em!

Now, do I think a revolver is the best choice? Not be a long shot. Which is why I answer the next question a LOT.

 Why a pistol instead of a revolver?

I am a pistol guy, because I believe in speed and capacity and even more importantly in combat and defensive use, speed reloads (you tactical reload guys, with your mag retention, can kiss my ass frankly) and I am trained to reload faster than you can say it…AFTER I put 6 rounds into the target in under a second and a half or less. Usually a lot less. So, I have no time for revolvers personally. I think they’d get me killed if the gun fight went past two or three rounds. Most don’t thank God.

Revolvers ARE a valid choice for the average guy, who just wants something to keep his family safe while visiting a downtown fast food joint. I am just not comfortable knowing under stress I only have 6 rounds or less. And I am trained for stress. Most CCW holders are not.

Revolvers are great, at least if ONE of the two involved shooters is trained some for high levels of stress. And that is why I like pistols over revolvers. If you miss the first five rounds, and the bad guy does too, guess what? You still have 7 to 10 round to go. Your survival may count on it. I’ve seen amazing videos of actual gun fights where cops and shop owners and bad guys alike, miss and miss and miss, till one or the other finally settles down and AIMS. Bad Day for the guy with only five or six shots to start with! There is a reason why cops all switched to Pistols years ago. STRESS. While revolvers are point and shoot fire every time idiot proof, chances are, the first time you have to defend yourself, you are going to waste a lot of rounds making noise at your opponent.

Finally, Pistols are not really complicated. If you are new to hand gunning, the basic main components, the ones you are supposed to play with and understand and disassemble, are pretty simple. Five minutes time with your manual and you will know all you need to know to operate, clean, and feed that pee shooter. And as long as you feed it GOOD ammo, malfunctions will be next to minimal. The CZ-P01 for instance, went something like 30,000 ROUNDS without major malfunction during its NATO evaluation. Next time a dyed in the wool revolver aficionado belittles your semi, remind him of THAT little factoid.  Not all guns can do that, but modern pistols with good ammo are very, VERY Reliable.

However, if you are one of those cheap-O guys or gals who insists on using steel cased corrosive ammo made 40 years ago by a drunken communist, then too bad for you. You will have to become more familiar with proper malfunction drills. You need to anyway, no matter what you shoot or how good the ammo. It’s just Good Form.

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