Gear: What’s “Better”?

The 600-yard range at which I shoot can be a trial if you’re there by yourself and have no one to pull targets for you. To get sighted in at that distance you have to fire a group, then get in your car (you can walk, but you may be attacked by turkeys) and drive down to the target butts, see what you’ve got, drive back, put on some clicks, shoot another group, get in your car, etc., etc. I was listening to a fellow shooter explain how he had done this maybe 20 times, then simply quit and gone home, still unzeroed.

This is the end product of cheap scope syndrome, where you’ve got some bargain marvel on your rifle that will not track accurately or consistently. When I sighted in the Bergara Tactical Rifle, which has a Nightforce ATACR on it, I followed the standard drill, which is to sight in dead on at 200, and then get additional zeros for 300, 500, and 600 yards, which is where the F-Class matches are shot from.

I’ve become a devout believer in Nightforce Scopes for this sort of madness because their ergonomics and adjustments are better than anything else I know of. Their dials have GREAT BIG NUMBERS on them, and I use these as my reference points. To get from a 200-yard zero with the .308 Bergara (155-grain Lapua Scenars at 2,650 fps) I go up 12 clicks from 0 to 3 (one Arabic numeral for every four clicks). To get to 500 yards, where the bullets really start to drop, I go to number 10, and for 600, to number 14. All I do is fire a five-shot test group, drive to the target, measure the number of inches between the center of my group and the center of the bull, and add clicks accordingly. It took me one trip per adjustment.

So is the Nightforce, which is an expensive scope, better than anything else? As far as I can see, yes, at least for this kind of work. It will do things other scopes can’t, or do them much more easily.

Do you regard edge-holding as the most important quality in a knife? Then you’ll think that DiamondBlade knives are the best in the world, and you will be right, because they’ll hang on to an edge better than anything else I’ve used, and I’ve used a bunch. You’ll rate them above Randalls, which are soft knives because Bo Randall valued easy sharpening above everything else and tempered them for that.

But can you say that knifemaker Steve Johnson does better than D’Alton Holder? No, you can’t. Each man does immaculate work in his own distinctive style. There is no “better” here. Is a Jerry Fisher rifle “better” than a D’Arcy Echols gun? Or vice-versa? No. They have very different approaches, and their rifles don’t look similar to someone who knows what he’s looking at, and there is no “better” here either.

Is a Nosler Partition a “better” bullet than a Swift A-Frame? Depends on what you’re hunting, and how you want a bullet to perform on game. Both, of their type, are probably the best thing going, but is one “better”? Nope.

We can go on endlessly with this, but I hope you see my point. Also, I have no intention of running for president.