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Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
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Volume 16, Issue 5 June
  The Ranging Shot Email Todd:
  With ( Comments or questions? )
Todd Spotti
     Setting up and zeroing a new scope on a gun is an awkward business often characterized by a lot of trial and error. I’ve often seen newbie's at the public range where I shoot go through boxes and boxes of ammo trying to get on target. Sometimes I’ll take pity on a poor soul and stop what I’m doing to offer assistance. Most of the time the frustrated shooter is grateful for the help, but from time to time an individual will refuse or even get indignant that I should be so presumptuous to assume that they need the help. That’s ok by me, but it illustrates the fact that this whole business can be costly in terms of ammo consumed, spent time, and plain old frustration.
     Consequently, a bore sighter is one of the best investments that any scope shooter can make. The traditional bore sighter is an optical device that kind of looks like a short, fat rifle scope. It’s usually attached at the muzzle end of the gun with a “spud” or rod that fits down into the bore. Different sized spuds are needed to fit different diameter bores and so anywhere from four to twelve will be provided in a kit. Some spuds have a little knob on the end that are turned to expand the end of the rod to fit press against the bore. Frankly, I find hauling around all this stuff to be a pain.
     After the device is placed on the gun, the shooter looks through the scope and adjusts the windage and elevation controls so that the crosshairs are superimposed on a grid seen in the bore sighter optic. Traditional bore sighter's work well enough to get you on paper but they suffer from the fact that the spuds don’t fit very well in the bore. Even a little bit of looseness can translate into multiple inches of error when shooting even at just 50 yards. So don’t expect the traditional to get you on dead center with just the first shots.
     Another problem with the traditional bore sighter's is the fact that their designers assume your scope is going to be mounted in a set of low rings. This isn’t a problem for the regular once a year hunter with a standard 3 x 9 scope, but for a competition shooter or anyone else with a target/varmint type scope equipped with a large objective lens, there’s a problem. Those scopes often require high or even extra high rings to allow those big objective lenses to clear the top of the barrel. Consequently, the bore sighter’s grid can’t be centered in the scope and can only be seen way down at the bottom of the image. With that being the case, the bore sighter can only help you with the windage and not the elevation. 
     The new Leupold “Zero Point” magnetic illuminated bore-sighter eliminates all of the problems associated with traditional devices. For one, instead of using spuds, it attaches to the muzzle with a powerful neodymium magnet. (Keep the Leupold bore sighter away from any data storage devices or media. It’s strong enough that it could zap your digital info out of existence.) This eliminates the need for carrying around that clunky bore-sighter kit with all those spuds and the big optic. The Zero Point is very compact and measures just 4” long and is a 1/2” by 3/4” around the middle. However, being four inches long means that it can reach way up to the center line of just about any scope. It even comes with a neat little ballistic nylon carrying pouch that gives it plenty of protection and can fit on a belt besides.
     Using the Leupold is easy. If you’ve put a new scope on a gun, just turn on the Zero Point by pushing the large slide switch located on its side and stick the unit onto the muzzle. Now look through the scope and you’ll see an orange grid pattern with various reference numbers along the sides. Move the bore-sighter up or down to get the grid located in the center of your scope’s image. Next, turn the power ring of your scope back and forth (if it’s a variable) to get the best amount of magnification on the grid. We want a nice, clear, lens filling picture. Now orient the bore-sighter so its grid and your scope’s crosshairs are aligned both vertically and in parallel. In other words, we want everything to be squared up. Then by using the scope’s adjusting knobs, move the crosshairs so they’re perfectly aligned with the center of the bore-sighter grid.
     Once we have everything lined up, take the bore-sighter off and fire a shot on a sighter target at 50 yards. Chances are the shot will be off dead center but still on the paper somewhere. Now put the bore-sighter back on, and square its grid to the scope’s crosshairs once more. Look through the scope and get the crosshairs on the center of the target. The Zero Point is kind of unique in that because it’s so small, you’ll be able to see it’s grid and the 50 yard target at the same time. Now use the adjusting knobs and move the scope’s crosshairs over the bullet hole. (It’s very important that the gun not move during this process.) The scope is now perfectly zeroed. I went through the Zero Point set up process recently and it got me to within a half inch of dead center at 50 yards on my second shot. That’s pretty darn good in my book. So if you want to save time, money, ammo, and most of all, aggravation, when sighting in a scope, get a Leupold Zero Point.
Alpen Scores Again
     Some months ago I did a review of Alpen’s 80mm spotting scope - the model 788. I found the scope to have quality optics, was good looking, and had many features (like full immersion waterproofing) usually found only on much higher priced products. Best of all, the 788’s price is extremely affordable i.e. typically around $350 or so.

Alpen 80mm Model 788

     Well it turns out, that I’m not the only one that thinks the big guy is an exceptional product for the price. “Outdoor Life” Magazine has again awarded Alpen one of it’s “Best Buy” awards for 2005. This time for the 788. It’s interesting to note that “Outdoor Life” has been giving out these awards for different categories of products now for six years, and Alpen has won in one category or another for five out of those six times. Kind of tells you something about their products doesn’t it. Like - yes! It really is possible to get high quality at reasonable prices. Congratulations to Alpen - the working stiff’s optical outfitters.
Leadheads Bullets
     Was chatting on the phone the other day with my good friend Tommy Mace from Leadhead’s Bullets. As you probably know, I consider Leadhead’s to be the absolute best quality commercial cast lead bullets on the market. We eventually got around to talking about my Shot Show coverage of the new Smith & Wesson 460 and what a great concept it was. If you remember, I mentioned that any bullet suitable for the 454 Casull would also be suitable for the 460 as both had very similar working pressures. That’s when Tommy mentioned that his 335 grain gas checked 45 caliber bullet would be an ideal match to the 460. I definitely agreed. It would make a perfect heavy alternative to the 200 grain Hornady spire point that I saw at the Show. Tommy also said he had a 395 grain bullet available that he once used to shoot completely through an 24” oak tree. Now that’s what I call penetration.
     The thing I like about Tommy’s bullets, other than the fact that the quality is so good, is the fact that they’re made from an alloy that’s plenty hard, but not so hard that the bullet won’t upset to completely fill the grooves of the barrel. As a result, you won’t ever have to worry about the possibility of gas blow by and leading. I’ve used a wide variety of Leadhead’s bullets over the years and never have had a bad one. I think that’s says a lot, and as a result I won’t use any other brand of cast lead.
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.