Back in the Nov-Dec installment of this column I told you about a new generation of riflescopes from Swarovski that significantly pushed the envelope of optomechanical technology. Dubbed the X5 and X5i (illuminated), the line consists of only two models at the moment — a.3.5-18×50 and a 5-25×56. Since I did cover the line’s many cutting-edge features in that previous issue, I’ll not repeat them here. However, it is the X5’s extreme strength and durability that prompts me to relate an incident that occurred on a Kansas Whitetail hunt I did in early December.
I was hunting with Ted Jaycox’s Tall Tine Outfitters . Ted leases over 20,000 acres of prime Kansas farmland which produces beau coups trophy bucks. In fact, before booking a hunt I had to agree to not shoot a buck that would score less than 150 points. Ted’s is primarily a bow hunting operation, but each year he’ll book at most 10 gun hunters for the short two-week season, so I considered myself fortunate to be one of `em.
For this hunt I was using Mossberg’s new MVP Long Range rifle in 7.62 NATO; it’s one of more than 20 distinct models chambered in either 5.56 or 7.62 that comprise a series of guns ranging from varmint/predator configurations, to tactical, Scout, and long range/target versions. All are purpose-designed and built, but the one feature they all share is that they are fed by AR-compatible magazines. In this respect the MVP series is unique, and it’s one that has been very successful for Mossberg.
Anyway, at the start of the afternoon session of my fourth day on-stand, I decided to take a few pictures of my rifle posed in the frame of the open door. The stand, incidentally, was the most comfortable I’ve ever used — a completely enclosed, one-piece fiberglass shell with Lucite windows on all sides, perched about seven feet above the ground.
To make a long story short, I thought I had placed the muzzle of the gun against a ridge that formed the door frame, but in actuality had set it in the door/frame seam. Talk about stupid! So when I opened the door to take my pictures, the MVP did a 360 out the door, falling four feet, the scope’s elevation turret bouncing off the middle rung of the ladder. Now in my experience a 10-1/2-pound rifle free falling four feet and landing anywhere on its scope means a mandatory recheck of zero! I’ve found that even a two-foot drop onto rocks more often than not is going to affect a scope’s zero. And when you see the turrets of the X5 extending more than 1-1/2 inches from the scope’s body tube, it doesn’t take a civil engineer to understand how even a slight blow could bend something. Heck, just a .1000-inch change in a scope’s orientation by whatever means will cause a measurable change in zero.
Fortunately, I didn’t see a shootable buck that afternoon, but arriving back in camp well after dark made re-checking zero impossible. Ditto for the morning session because we left a good hour before daylight. So it wasn’t until mid-day of the last day of the hunt that I had a chance to re-check zero. When I did, there wasn’t the slightest change!
It’s incidents like that, which address the oft-asked question: “Why do those scopes cost so much?”
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Ruger has announced it will add two magnum chamberings — the 7mm Rem. and .300 Win. — to its highly successful American line of bolt action centerfire rifles. Some may wonder why it took four years for them to add these two most popular magnums to the line, but sometimes things aren’t as easy to do as it might seem.
The Ruger folks had the foresight…and confidence, to believe the American would be a winner for the company, so right out of the chute they came out with both a short and a standard length receiver (most test the waters with just one), and the four most popular non-magnum calibers: .243, .308 Win., .270 Win. and .30-06.
Quite predictably over the next three years many other calibers were added to the line — .204 Ruger, .223, .22-250, 6.5 Creedmoor 7mm-08 and .300 BLK — short-action calibers all. But at the onset of 2016, the only standard-length calibers offered remained the .270 and .30-06.
If at this point, like me, you’re thinking the hold-up must have had something to do with the magazine, I think we’d be right. The American was designed with a superb rotary magazine that fits flush with the belly of the stock and perfectly matches its contours. With any .308 Win. or .30-06-based cartridge, three rounds could be stored in the box and still have a flush-fitting magazine. However, there’s an unwritten rule which says you absolutely must have room for three in the box regardless of caliber to have a viable hunting rifle, and no matter how much Ruger’s design guys squeezed and squashed, they couldn’t get that rotary box to hold three belted H&H-based rounds without it sticking out almost ¾-inch from the belly of the stock. Aesthetics aside, it’s also the balance point of the rifle and where you hold it when carrying it at your side. Bummer.
I don’t know about you, but I’d gladly settle for a two-round box that would allow for the flush-fitting magazine like on all other Ruger Americans. I’m sure, however, I’m in the extreme minority on this!–Jon R. Sundra