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The "Ranging Shot" Is A Regular Column In The IHMSA News
Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
Published monthly except November/December - January/February
IHMSA on the web at http://www.ihmsa.org
Volume 16, Issue 4 April
 
  The Ranging Shot Email Todd:  TSPOTTI@worldnet.att.net
  With ( Comments or questions? )
Todd Spotti
 
     As youíve probably surmised from my past columns, I like to clean my guns after every shooting session as Iíve been a big believer that ďA clean gun is a more accurate gunĒ. Iíve also taken to cleaning my guns at the range rather than at home. I do this for a couple of reasons. One - if I wait to get home, Iím liable to just plain forget to do the job. Second -  the top of my reloading bench is so loaded with stuff that thereís not very much room available to get the job done conveniently without moving everything around to clear up enough space. However, cleaning at the range means hauling everything I need back and forth. 
 
     For the small items like cleaning solution, oil, patches, bore guide, etc. thatís not a problem. ďBig BobĒ, my ever faithful Uncle Mikeís police range bag accommodates all that stuff easily. My cleaning rods however are another story. I usually take two i.e. one a 36Ē carbon fiber rod for my rifles, and a shorter brass rod for my silhouette pistols. To be honest, the rods are  a pain to carry around. Theyíre obviously long and gangly. Additionally, they donít really fit anywhere conveniently and generally just get in the way. Well, it looked like a cleaning rod caddy was going to be next on my list of ďmust buyĒ shooting gadgets. 
 
     These carriers or caddies can range in price from very little to something very substantial. A double rod carrier can easily push $40 plus shipping. Custom jobs cost even more. Caddies generally consist of a couple of rigid tubes held together by two to four brackets. The idea is that the rigid tubes will protect the rods from being bent, scratched, or dinged when packed in the trunk of the car or when in the back of the pickup. Caddy tubes are usually aluminum, but Iíve even seen steel, and itís not unusual for an occasional enterprising soul to use PVC pipe in a home made rig.
 

     Having made a substantial investment in a new gun recently, my discretionary spending was somewhat restricted. That meant I couldnít go crazy on this thing. Whenever I need a quality shooting accessory, but donít want to spend a ton of money on it, the first place I look is Stoney Point. Theyíve got so many neat, unusual, and most importantly, useful things in their catalog you absolutely know that this is a company thatís run by shooters. Just as importantly, the prices are reasonable. After checking their catalog, I found that they indeed did have a double rod caddy and so I sent off for one straight away. 
 
     When it arrived, I found that instead of being an assembled item, it was actually a kit composed of itís component parts. Basically what you get was four 24Ē black anodized 1/2Ē aluminum tubes, three plastic brackets, two rubber end caps, two steel sleeves, miscellaneous screws to hold the brackets together, and a packet of epoxy glue. Assembly probably took me 15-20 minutes. 
 
     In essence, by using the steel sleeves and the epoxy, you glue the aluminum tubes together so that you have two 48Ē rod holders. The epoxy sets up in just about 3-5 minutes, so have everything laid out and in place when you get to this step so youíre ready to proceed without interruption. You also need something to mix the epoxy in (I used a paper cupcake thingy). A little wood popsicle mixing stick comes with the kit. 
 
     You just cut the ends off the glue packet and squeeze out the epoxy and hardener and stir with the stick. When you do so, the clear glue will turn milky in color. Just scoop some on the stick and smear on the end of the rod. When youíve done so, push the end of the rod into the steel sleeve. Repeat the process and push the other rod into the other side of the sleeve. A paper towel is also handy to wipe off the excess glue thatís squeezed out when the tubes are slid in. The epoxy then needs anywhere from 4 to 24 hours to fully cure, depending on temperature. However, you donít have to wait and can immediately proceed and pop on the end caps, and assemble the plastic brackets together with the tubes in place.
 
Weaver 90mm Spotter
     Iíve really gotten a lot of positive feedback from my feature article on this outstanding spotting scope. In fact, Iíve probably gotten more emails and telephone calls about this product as Iíve ever had about any product.
 

"The Weaver 90mm has been enthusiastically accepted by long range shooters."

     Besides pistol silhouette shooters from as far apart as the Southeast to the Northwest, all kinds of non handgun silhouette shooters have picked up on the story and have contacted me as well (probably from seeing the story on the internet at (www.lasc.us). Varmint shooters and rifle silhouette shooters across the country have let me know how pleased they are with this scope. In a way I suppose that itís not THAT surprising, as the resolution of the Weaver spotter is just amazing. To illustrate, at the last match at the Los Angeles Silhouette Club, my friend John Zumwalt said he could easily see a butterfly flitting around up on the hillside beyond the 200 meter line. My old friend Eric King also seemed to be very impressed with the resolution, and was planning on buying one as well.
 
     To put icing on the cake, it looks like thereís been a recent price drop. I see a couple of places on the internet are now selling it for $279.Orion telescopes at (www.telescope.com) is always a good place to check.
 
 Itís also a good place to buy the recommended optional 40mm eyepiece to get an even brighter, wider angle view with increased eye relief. Itís nice to see a good product being appreciated.
 
Leupold Alumina Flip Up Lens Covers
     I broke the story here a couple of months ago that Leupold was going to be coming out soon with this product. Well, theyíre on the store shelves as we speak, and these are undoubtedly the finest flip up scope covers ever. 
 
     I was fortunate to get a pair of covers for the new 2.5 X 8 VX-III pistol scope that I wrote about last month, and a set for my excellent Leupold 6.5 X 20 VX-III Extended Focal Range (EFR) scope. So what makes these covers so special? 
 
     For one, theyíre made from Aluminum and not plastic. This isnít just any old aluminum either, but the same 6061-T6 hardened aluminum thatís used for high quality scope rings, scope rails, and even fighter aircraft. The covers also have a very high quality surface finish with a hard coat black matte surface with the Leupold logo in bronze located in the center of the cover. This is one very handsome scope cover, and the hard anodizing ensures that it has a very high resistance to scratches and the like. Obviously, these metal covers are going to last a life time. Plastic covers wonít. 
 
     Another predominant feature is the fact that they thread on to the scope. Other brands use a friction slip fit. The slip onís are ok, but often just routine handling and  general knocking about can cause those other covers to either come off or get rotated around out of position. When you thread on the Leupold covers, an ďOĒ ring gasket keeps it from moving and seals the base of the unit against the face of the scope. A second ďOĒ ring is used so when the flip up cover is closed, an effective weather & water proof seal is created. I donít believe Iíve ever seen this level of engineering and workmanship for this type of product before.
 
     The front cover has two contoured tabs or wings that stick out at the 5 and 7 oíclock positions. Just push forward on the tabs to get the cover to pop up. If you donít like the tabs in those positions, you can rotate the cover to place them anywhere you like. Another nice feature is the fact that when the cover flips up, it will be leaning back about 45 degrees from vertical. If you like, you can push it back even farther, so it will now be fully horizontal, or not sticking up at all. This is handy if youíre using the covers in a field environment as they are less likely to snag on something in heavy brush. When the covers are in the down and locked position, theyíre held in place by two small, but very powerful magnets that hold against two equally sized pieces of steel embedded in the aluminum. Consequently, nothing will ever cause that cover to flip up unless you want it to flip. 
 
     The rear cover functions the same as the front, with one significant difference. Instead of using a tab or wing to push against to open, it uses a small curved lever to, in effect, pry up the cover away from the magnetic ďlockĒ. This little lever is kind of neat in that being curved, it fits the profile of the cover in a very artistic way. Obviously, a talented industrial designer was at work here. Taking the artistic comparison even further, the top of the lever is also finely checkered for an improved tactile ďfeelĒ.
 
     The lever is fairly small however - about 1/2Ē. Never the less, I encountered no difficulty in operating it with my bare hands. I wondered though if a hunter in the field wearing gloves might run into some awkwardness in operating it. Consequently, I dug out a pair of heavy woolen gloves from the back of the closet and found I could manipulate the lever with no problems.
 
     The bottom line here is that these new Alumina scope covers are the finest that you can buy - period. Thereís only one small catch. Your Leupold scope has to be threaded to accept them, and as you know Leupold has only just started threading their scopes to accept accessories. If you have a Leupold scope without threads, you can send it back to the factory and have them do the job for a reasonable fee. In fact thereís a 50% sale on that job going on right now. This is a really good deal since it will allow you to install these covers to protect your expensive lenses from dirt, scratching, smoke film, etc. Itíll also allow you to use those image improving Leupold lens filters that Iíve already written about. If you really want to protect and enhance your scope investment, you really should do this.
 
BKL Bubble
     As you know Iím a fan of BKL aluminum dovetail scope rings. I donít think you can buy a better ring at any price, and I use them every time that I can. One characteristic of the BKLís is the fact that the machining is very precise and tight. Consequently, from time to time you might encounter difficulty in mounting the rings on a dovetail base because the base is slightly out of tolerance on the width. BKL gets around this situation by having a ďspreaderĒ feature on their rings.
 
     Essentially, this is another threaded hole on the opposite side of the ringís base. Just take out one of the two mounting screws and thread it into the hole on the other side. As the screw is tightened in, it spreads the ďlegsĒ of the base apart allowing you to slip the ring on the dovetail with no problem. When the ring is in the position you want, just unscrew and the legs will come together again.
 
     This is a very nice feature thatís usually found only on very expensive dovetail rings. Once your rings are in place, itís usually not necessary to move them again and so that extra threaded hole goes unused. It turns out that BKL has just the accessory to take advantage of the situation. Itís a bubble level - just like those found on carpenterís levels. Itís one inch long and simply screws into the unused hole. Being relatively small, it doesnít protrude out from the gun enough to become a problem.
 
     So what good is it? By observing the position of the bubble in the level, it helps you keep your gun from canting from side to side. There have been a couple of excellent articles previously published in the IHMSA NEWS about the deterious effects of canting, and so Iím not going to repeat them here. Iíll just say that you donít want to do it if you can avoid it. The more you cant your gun, the further youíll move your shot from where you want it to go.
 
     However some of us just canít seem to help doing it. The gun just feels more comfortable leaning over to the side - sometimes way over. I would also guess that 98% of those who do cant their guns arenít even aware that theyíre doing it. This simple bubble device can help you cure that bad habit very easily and quickly. 
 
     There are more expensive bubble devices around, but if you already own a set of BKL rings, take advantage of this capability. The BKL bubble level retails for only $15 plus shipping. By the way, if youíre shopping for BKL rings, check them out at Sinclair International. You can find them there for the lowest prices around.
 
Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading and bullet casting, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.