Scope Testing…

…(not mine this time)

Got tired of writing about myself for this month of filler ‘fluff’ pieces. Before I get back to meat and potatoes type stuff, I thought I’d talk about someone else for a change. I’ll probably get one more post in this month, in reference to the SWFA SS 3-15×42. Starting in October, I’ll be back to covering actual shooting on the rifle, more in line with the roots of the blog.

I usually don’t talk about other blogs, but I wanted to comment on the Precision Rifle Blog high end tactical scope test. I associate scope testing primarily with ILya, as he represents the gold standard in rifle glass evaluations.  This was a different approach which I think deserves mention.

Having done my own test, which was much smaller in scale in different in scope, I know how much work goes into not only the testing, but transforming numbers from a spreadsheet that hurts the head to look at to something that a casual reader can look at and easily understand. My test was a huge undertaking for me, and I only tested five scopes. I can only imagine the time, organization, and work that went into evaluating 18 scopes.

There were a few things about Cal’s test that really stood out to me. Most shooters use a box test to check the accuracy of their turrets, which means that the rifle and ammo dispersion creates a lower confidence level in the precision of the measurement. Cal used a calibrated target with the scope locked into a solid mount. He mentioned that he didn’t come up with that method, but it shows that he really took some time in figuring out the best way he could to measure what he was trying to get at.

The other things that stood out to me were that he didn’t depend on the manufacturer’s claims with respect to magnification, but found a way to test them each, and therefore could check what the actual zoom ratio was. It turned out that in some cases there were significant discrepancies even in scopes that cost several thousand dollars.

It can be difficult to speak frankly about a scope that a manufacturer was kind enough to send a sample for testing. In the early stages of my own test I found myself wanting to soften any potential negatives as much as I could. I had to make a concerted effort to show no mercy on the things that bothered me even a little bit. I really appreciate that Cal was able speak so frankly in his evaluations as well.

I noticed some discussions of his Cal’s evaluations online that were pretty dismissive. It’s true that sample sizes of one (he had one sample of most of the scopes tested) are unlikely to be as reliable in indicating the stated result as would a larger sample size. It’s pretty easy to be critical from the comfort of a chair. It’s easy to ignore that fact that this is not his job, and that regardless of how reliable the results are, they really are pretty useful and informative, even if only from learning about his methodology of measuring and quantifying the scopes’ characteristics.

Cal said that he put in over 400 hours in the entire process, and that’s easily believable. When I compare what Cal did versus what I might make the mistake of paying for in a magazine like “Recoil”, it’s pretty amazing that there are people out there who put stuff out there for free just because they were curious about something, decided to make a thorough examination of the matter, and had the ability and willingness to share.

I don’t know Cal.  We have no “mutual blog plugging” agreement.  I have no man crush on him.  I just like to recognize good work.

That’s all.  Thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “Scope Testing…

      • Thanks! It’s good to be writing.

        Life and work has a way of getting in the way sometimes. I try not to let it. But the sad truth is I feel like I don’t have much to say if I’m not actually shooting.

        Time is now freeing up, so I expect to be shooting more.

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