February 20, 2009
Petzal: What's Right About Scopes? Not Much.
By David E. Petzal
What follows is a rant from a very famous maker of custom guns. He had sent me a bolt-action chambered for the .404 Jeffrey, which had about 500 rounds through it in 3 years. The rifle printed 4-inch groups, and I immediately suspected the scope, which was in fact the culprit. I e-mailed him about the wretched episode, and this is his reply, somewhat edited because enough people dislike us already.
“In regard to optics I have had a lot of scope problems for a long, long time, regardless of make. When I’m asked what my favorite make of scope is, my reply is ‘I hate them all equally.' I have crippled and destroyed dozens and dozens of them. Between loose erector systems, separated lens elements, parallax adjustments going deep-six and flash dots blinking their last, I’m amazed we haven’t all gone back to Lyman 48s.
“Bum optics come in all shapes, right out of the factory box, usually within 50 rounds or after several hundred rounds, the latter being the worse case as it always happens when the client is standing in the middle of the Moyowosi Plain—or at the bench or a shooting editor.
“The one exception to this is the lowly fixed-power scope. I have a 3X that I’ve used for 30 years to break in rifles, and it’s probably survived 5,000 rounds of .375, .416, and .458 with never a hiccup. But the optics companies are giving the public what they think they need, which is variables. I understand it’s not easy to make a scope; that a lot of crap has to fit inside. But I am the guy who has to wring the whole mess out, and I don’t believe in Santa anymore. When asked to try out the latest optical marvel I feel like sitting in the corner and puking on my shoes.”