Last December I attended
one of the most interesting press conferences of my career. I, and
approximately ten other outdoor editors and writers were briefed by Meade
Corporation’s top management on their efforts to totally reinvent their
Simmons brand. (Meade owns Simmons, Redfield, and Weaver.) When I say
reinvent, I mean REINVENT. As of that moment, the Simmons brand that we
once knew, totally ceased to exist.
Meade has essentially
thrown out the old Simmons and started the brand over completely from
scratch. To do so, they first they brought in a team of the foremost
sports optical designers and engineers that they could find, and basically
gave them a blank piece of paper and told them to “Think outside of the
box”. This was necessary, because in reality, almost all of the scopes
that are on the market currently are basically no more than refinements of
the same old design - a design that’s been around for literally decades.
Meade wanted something completely different for the new Simmons.
A new optical design was
just the first step. The second step was to build a new factory in China
that would be completely under Meade’s management and control. As you may
know, many, many scopes that are sold in the U.S. are made in China for
American companies on a contract basis. The American company’s label is
merely slapped on the box, and now the scope is sold to you and me. The
American company has very little to no day to day authority, or in some
cases, even knowledge of the quality control processes that are used in
producing that product. By controlling the factory, Meade also controls
So how is Meade going to
control things to insure the new Simmons scopes will be a high quality
product? The first step is to simply insure that the basic design itself
lends itself to the quality process. Some scopes have very complex
internals. The new Simmons will have 30% fewer parts, so there are 30%
fewer things to go wrong. This also translates into a lighter weight
product, and less sensitivity to recoil. Secondly, detailed assembly and
inspection procedures were written by U.S. experts for use in the Chinese
factory. Third, each and every Simmons scope will go through a three step
inspection process including a very thorough final inspection. In most
places, inspection is done only on a sampling basis. In other words,
perhaps one scope in a hundred may undergo a detailed final inspection. At
the new Simmons, it’s 100%. Fourth, Meade will have U.S. management
personnel on site to insure that that the manufacture and quality control
procedures are done correctly.
So, how sure is Meade
that their focus on technology and quality for the Simmon’s brand will pay
off? Well as they see it, they’re so sure, that in the unlikely event that
a new Simmons Master Series scope fails because of a manufacturing defect,
they will repair it and send it back to you within 48 hours. 48 hours!
Ever send a scope off for repair just before deer season? If you get it
back in 3 or 4 weeks, you’re doing good. I once had to wait 6 weeks to get
a scope back. 48 hours is very, very impressive.
So what’s going to make
these new scopes different than the competition? Let me address just a
very few of the many changes that they’ve made. The thing that grabbed me
the most was the fact that eye relief and field of view won’t change when
you adjust the power on their Master Series variable scopes. Just think of
it. The eye relief and field of view is the same at 18X as it is at 6X.
Well, being the skeptical type, you’re probably thinking “The eye relief
probably already stinks at 6X and the field of view is probably really
narrow.” Nope. The eye relief is 3.75” - 4” at all powers, and the field
of view is actually around better than traditional designs.
On some models, there
will also be a side focus knob instead of the standard adjustment ring on
the objective lens. These side focus knobs are really convenient to use,
and I wish all my scopes had them. However, they’re usually found only on
extremely expensive scopes. The thing that makes this feature really
unique on the Simmons is the fact that it’s on a 1” tube. Up to now, side
focus has been available only on scopes with 30mm tubes because more room
is needed on the inside to accommodate the mechanism. The new Simmons
design easily fits in a one inch tube.
The new Simmons will
also have real one piece scope tube construction. I know many other scope
manufacturers say they have one piece tubes, but they don’t. In reality,
they have a tube with an eyepiece assembly screwed onto the rear making it
a two piece design. With the Simmons, the eyepiece optics are INSERTED
into the scope tube. Additionally, variable power scopes from other
manufacturers have a 180 degree slot cut into the tube to accommodate the
power ring adjustment mechanism. This is literally cutting the tube half
way through its full diameter which weakens it tremendously. The new
Simmons uses a much, much smaller slot. The end result is a significantly
These are only just a
few of the features of the reinvented Simmons scopes. I hope to be able to
do an evaluation of some the new products in the coming year and will
report in more detail at that time. However, one thing should be clear
i.e. the Meade Corp. management is spending a lot of money to insure that
the new Simmons scopes will be durable, reliable under all conditions, and
will have high quality optics.
However, those skeptics
out there are probably now saying “Boy those guys in the suits are really
going to be jacking up the prices.” No again. Prices will range from
around $60 to $250, so you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to
afford a high quality scope.
additional heads up, the new Simmons brand will also have a new high tech
laser range finder using a completely different technology with super low
noise electronics that will deliver readings that are accurate to within
one foot at a thousand yards. Also watch out for Redfield. Redfield will
be the premium brand in the Meade galaxy, and I’ve gotten indications that
it will likely be incorporating exotic glasses and coatings in their
products. 2005 is going to be very interesting and fun year when it comes
TM bore cleaner is a
relatively new product that I’d heard about from a couple of bench rest
buddies and so I thought I’d try it out. I’m glad I did. As you know, new
bore cleaners kind of come and go, and some of the claims and prices of
these products are out of sight. However, this bore cleaner is actually
something out of the ordinary.
The first thing that tipped
me off that things were a little different was when I got a personal
letter from Fred Sinclair, owner of Sinclair International (www.sinclairintl.com).
Sinclair is one of the premier reloading supply businesses in the industry
and caters primarily to the bench-rest and long range rifle competition
crowd. Here’s just a little of what Fred passed on to me. “To date I have
used it on numerous rifles and handguns with complete success. It is truly
an all purpose solvent, regardless of the type of bullet, jacketed or
lead; it just outperforms any I have ever used". Very strong praise indeed
from one of the industry’s experts. Now I was really curious.
I first tried it on one of my 22’s, and
immediately noticed that I felt a higher amount of resistance as the patch
moved down the bore. In fact, the patch was producing a screeching sound
as it went along. I also noticed that when I got a little of the cleaner
on my fingers that it felt kind of sticky. I thought this was a little
unusual and later found out this was by design. It turns out that the
cleaner isn’t petroleum based and is made up of 100% solvents only. The
material is also purposely made tacky so it will adhere to the walls and
corners of the bore and the lands for the full diameter of the
barrel. Other cleaners tend to just run down the sides of the bore, and
pool on the bottom. If you use really tight patches, you might want to go
to a smaller size so you won’t have to use a lot of effort pushing it down
TM doesn’t contain any
ammonia either. That means it won’t eat up your bronze bore brushes and won’t
stink like a four day old dead skunk either. It also won’t etch your bore if
you should accidentally leave the cleaner in your barrel overnight.
So how did it work?
Great! Just one wet patch had the 22’s bore shinning like new. My second wet
patch came out absolutely clean and was totally unnecessary. (With lots of
other cleaners I usually have to use 2-3 wet patches before they come out
perfectly clean.) I then gave the cleaner a more demanding task - my 357
Freedom Arms revolver after 40 rounds of heavy cast bullet loads. I then added
to the challenge. I fired a couple of jacketed bullets through the bore to add
some copper residue on top of the previously deposited lead and carbon. Two
wet patches were followed by a scrub with a wet Iosso bore brush. Another wet
patch followed up, and then a dry patch. The end result was that the bore was
clean as a whistle. Worked good! I then used it on my MOA single shot which is
chambered in 7 BR. One wet patch followed by a wet brush followed again by a
wet and dry patch had things squeaky clean. If you have a problem child
bore on one of your guns like I have with one of my TC barrels, just wet it
down thoroughly and then let the cleaner sit for an hour or so. You’ll find
the problem solved.
It’s always best if you
follow up a thorough cleaning with a good gun oil if the gun won’t be used for
a while as the TM solvents don’t leave behind any long term rust protection.
Fortunately TM also makes a product that does. It’s a very light, gauge type
oil that is a penetrant, will displace moisture, and will absolutely protect
your bore from rust - even over an extended period without turning into
varnish-like gum. If you live in a high humidity area like the Southeast or
the Midwest, you need this to protect your firearms investment. You can also
use this oil for fishing reels and other outdoor gear as well. Additionally,
TM also makes a very good quality bolt grease. I’m surprised how many shooters
ignore lubing this critical area since wear on the lugs will affect headspace.
I’m truly grateful to Fred
Sinclair for telling me about TM bore cleaner. It’s a heck of a product and
you won’t be sorry you bought it. As you might guess, you can get it at
Sinclair as well as other catalog retailers that cater to shooters that truly
care about accuracy.
Stoney Point Cleaning
Well the range-master where I
shoot came up with a new rule. He didn’t like the fact that from time to time,
some shooters accidentally spilled, or dribbled bore cleaner on the tops of
the carpeted shooting benches when they cleaned their guns. So he now requires
that you remove your guns from the line and take them back to some tables in
the rear. This is something of an inconvenience since the sand bags on the
bench made a handy prop to rest your guns on while cleaning things up on at
the end of a shooting session. On the other hand, the tables have nothing to
rest your guns on, making the cleaning more of a hassle. Well, it looked like
I had no choice and was going to have to finally invest in a commercial
"TM is made sticky to adhere to the sides of the bore"
Cleaning rests come in a
large range of sizes, materials, and prices. Some of the big fancy wood and
leather cradles can cost well over $100 and take up a lot of space. Their
shining virtue though is that they’re rock solid. However because of their
size and weight, they’re really more suitable for use at home. I was really
looking for something portable that I could easily take to the range i.e.
relatively small and light weight that would break down into its component
pieces in order to fit into my range bag. I wanted a moderate price as well.
After scratching around, I
though I’d try the Stoney Point as it seemed to meet all my criteria. The
cradle basically consists of only four parts i.e. two uprights made of dense
thermoplastic, and two 3/8” black anodized aluminum connecting rods. I doubt
if the whole thing weighed much more than a pound. To assemble, all one had to
do is slip the rods through a couple of holes in each of the uprights. A
rubber cap on the ends of each of the rods keep them from slipping out during
cleaning operations. Set up and take down probably takes no more than a
The industrial gray plastic
uprights have cutouts in them to accept a wide variety of rifle stock shapes.
Indeed, I had no trouble nesting everything from an XP-100 to a benchrest gun
with a 3” wide forend in the rest. Additionally, the cutouts have a soft
rubber lining to insure the cradle won’t scratch your stock. There’s also a
rubber lining on the bottom of the uprights to help prevent the cradle from
slipping around on a smooth surface. One touch that I especially liked was the
fact that the uprights had some molded in notches on either side to hold a
couple of cleaning rods. When the uprights are spread apart to their maximum
width, the cradle measures about 15 inches. This was an advantage in that it
kept the overall dimensions small and compact for easy transport.
If there was a disadvantage
to the cradle it was the fact that it would rock back and forth as you pushed
cleaning patches through a gun’s bore. The two aluminum rods, having no more
than a slip fit in the uprights, just couldn’t provide enough lateral rigidity
to prevent things from moving around. To provide more rigidity, a third,
threaded rod through the center of the uprights and some wing nuts would
probably do the trick.
Never the less, I found that
the Stoney Point met my requirements for a small, light weight, easy to
assemble rest that I could throw in my range bag. It does the job, and I also
use it to hold a gun in place when I’m mounting a scope or fiddling with a
trigger. It’s also practically unbreakable. It retails for around $23 and is
often discounted, so it’s not going to break the bank either. Check it out and
visit Stoney Point’s web site at (stoneypoint.com). Lots
of good stuff.
Mr. Mermelstein is an ex
handloading editor for one of the mainstream gun mags. More importantly, he’s
also a very serious student of handloading history, and he’s put together an
extremely interesting review of the development of the metallic cartridge as
we know it today, including the 22 rimfire. Entitled “Mermelstein’s Guide to
Metallic Cartridge Evolution” it takes us all the way back to the 17 century
invention of the paper cartridge, then the linen cartridge, the percussion
cap, smokeless powder, etc. and shows how bright, inventive men took those
fearless initial steps to eventually bring us to the metallic cartridge that
we know and reload today. There’s also discussions about the development of
jacketed bullets, (Did you know that at one time, bullets were tin plated?),
ball powder, the efforts to quantify “stopping power”, the development of the
PPC cartridge, and lots and lots of other fascinating topics. I personally
found the history of the 22 rimfire to be especially interesting. Did you know
that the first patent for it was issued in 1845?
If you’re a
reloader at all, you’ll find that this soft cover book published by Sinclair
International is a fascinating read. It sells for just $16.95 and is the
perfect thing to pleasantly pass the time on a cold, blustery night when
nestled in your favorite chair with a nice cup of hot coffee. Enjoy.
"The Stoney Point
breaks down into a small, light package"