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The mount of a 'scope is almost as important as the 'scope itself, and the fact that there are more than 30 different kinds on the market suggests that there is still room for improvement. The mount must stay put. And it's highly desirable that it is so designed that the 'scope can be taken off and put back without changing the rifle's zero. There is ordinarily no occasion for taking the 'scope off when on a hunting trip. But it has always seemed to me safer to take the 'scope off the rifle and put it in a suitcase than to leave it on the gun when trusting it to men who load baggage on a plane or train.
The 'scope adds, with its mount, three-quarters of a pound or more to the weight of the rifle. It increases the bulk. But the only important objection to a 'scope is its cost. Some years ago Bill Weaver of El Paso, Texas went into the mass production of 'scopes and produced the lowest-priced ones on the market. It is reliably reported that he now makes more hunting 'scopes than all his rivals put together. Weaver makes a good 4X 'scope that, with a Weaver mount, sells for just under $55. Some others cost a good deal more?from $60 to $140 with mount.
MORE FOR THE MONEY
There are signs that Lyman, long makers of fine-quality 'scopes, have found a way to follow Weaver and to meet Japanese competition. I recently tested a Lyman 4X 'scope that sells for less than $50 without mount and as far as I could see it was just as good as the previous model which cost nearly twice as much.
Consider for a moment the hunting 'scope's tremendous advantage over ordinary iron sights. It is twilight. A deer on a distant ridge reveals itself briefly, then disappears in light brush. You put up your rifle and the 4-power 'scope quarters your apparent distance from the game as it reveals the deer. The animal tosses its head and the 'scope picks up the flash of antlers. Yet at 200 yards the buck is invisible to the naked eye in the failing light.
How do you know it is 200 yards away? The 'scope is also an accurate rangefinder since the cross hairs or the post cover up a known amount per 100 yards. Say the top of the post covers four inches per 100 yards and a buck is 16 inches deep just behind the forelegs. If the top of the post canted sideways covers half the deer's brisket, or eight inches, the buck is 200 yards away, since the post covered double what it would at 100 yards.
There he stands, as clear as though he were only 50 yards away. All you have to do is pick out where you want to hit him, and squeeze the trigger. That's what a good hunting 'scope will do.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]