New for 2013, Meopta USA introduces four new MeoPro models to its popular and affordable 1-inch riflescope series. Recognized for its outstanding optics, precision mechanics and reliability, Meopta now offers the advanced RedZone (RZ) illuminated reticle system in its new MeoPro 3.5-10×44 RedZone model. Also new are the MeoPro 3.5-10×44, 3-9×50, and fixed power 6×42. All MeoPro riflescopes are built in America and deliver impressive performance, distinctive design and exceptional value to the modern hunter.
“We’re excited to add these impressive new riflescopes to our MeoPro series,” said Reinhard Seipp, general manager and COO of Meopta USA. “Brighter scopes are a tremendous advantage to hunters as are illuminated reticles in many circumstances. Our new 3.5-10×44 RedZone–with its precise daylight and nighttime illumination–will command serious attention as will our 3-9×50 which follows our ‘brighter is better’ rule. More light means hunters can get out earlier and stay out longer. And like all of our riflescopes, the newest MeoPro models feature our TO2 (Twilight Optimized Optics) system which delivers the highest light transmission when you need it most.” MeoPro Riflescope Key Features
Built in the USA
TO2 (Twilight Optimized Optics) system delivers the highest light transmission when you need it most – in the low light of dawn and dusk.
Proprietary ion assisted lens coatings. MeoBright coating eliminates glare and reflections and delivers incredibly bright and sharp images across the field of view. MeoShield coating protects external lens surfaces from abrasions and scratches.
RedZone illumination system (3.5-10×44 RZ). Highly-defined illumination with 7 levels of reticle intensity to match harsh daylight to dead of night conditions. A low profile third turret control is quick to use yet stays out of the way. Intermediate off positions between every setting lets hunters find their preferred illumination setting quickly.
MeoTrak II posi-click finger adjustable windage and elevation turrets deliver precise click adjustment with superior repeatability, unparalleled tracking capability and ultimate accuracy. Positive tactile and audible clicks ensure accurate zeroing and adjustability in the field.
MeoQuick fast-focus eyepiece rapidly brings targets into sharp focus and provides extra diopter travel to accommodate a wider range of visual acuity variations.
A 1-inch, one piece aircraft grade aluminum tube is hard anodized. All MeoPro riflescopes are nitrogen purged, fogproof and shockproof for life.
Covered by Meopta’s North American Lifetime Transferable Warranty.
The MeoPro 3.5-10×44 RZ and 3.5-10×44 models are the perfect balance of magnification range and objective size for all-around hunting situations.
Reticle options: 4CRZ illuminated, #4, Z-Plex and BDC in the second focal plane.
Weight: 16.7 oz.
MSRP: $779.99 – $959.99
The MeoPro 3-9×50 brings more glass to the hunt and extends shooting time in low light conditions.
Reticle options: #4, Z-Plex and BDC in the second focal plane.
Weight: 18.4 oz.
MSRP: $719.99 – $779.99
The fixed power MeoPro 6×42 exemplifies quality and simplicity. This fixed power scope is tuned to provide the best optical clarity and resolution when you need it.
Reticle Options: #1, #4 and Z-Plex
Weight: 15 oz.
North America holds a tremendous variety of big game. The game list is not nearly as extensive as Africa or Asia, but significantly exceeds that of Europe, South America and the South Pacific regions. However, with few exceptions, North America has some of the most specialized hunting on Earth. It’s a big continent with tremendously varied habitat…but there are relatively few areas that hold more than one or two varieties of big game. Even with areas that do, seasons don’t always overlap, permits aren’t always available and the “best times” for different species may not coincide.
THE NORTH AMERICAN MODEL
This is really not much different from anywhere else in the world—you always want to be at the right place and time for the game that’s most important to you—but elsewhere there is much more privatization of wildlife or, in the case of concessions on government lands, enhanced opportunities for visiting sportsmen. In North America, outsiders—whether from neighboring states or the other side of the world—must contend with the North American model of wildlife management.
That concept, generally followed in Canada and Mexico as well as the United States, places wildlife in public stewardship. In all three countries the state or provincial governments play the lead role in wildlife management and regulation of hunting. Wildlife, even on private land, is not the property of the landowner, but of the state and its people. A landowner doesn’t have to allow access for hunting, and can charge for such access, or not, or lease hunting rights to an individual or outfitter…but hunting will be in accordance with state-established seasons, bag limits, shooting hours, legal methods of take and so forth.
This model has proven highly successful. During the course of the 20th Century, many remnant wildlife populations were brought back to plenty, not only on private lands, but also on the immense public lands—Canadians call them “crown lands”—found all over the continent. Compared to our counterparts elsewhere in the world, North American hunters have amazing and exceptional opportunity to hunt on public lands for the modest price of a hunting license. That opportunity has given North America—especially the United States and Canada—the largest hunting community on Earth. Something approaching 20 million North American hunters take to the field every year…and the vast majority rarely hunt outside their home state or province.
In comparison with that huge number, the North American outfitting industry is very small and is also specialized and regionalized. Clearly, outfitting is an important industry in Alaska and western Canada, and also the Rocky Mountain states. Texas is another exception, as is northern Mexico, but in much of North America guided operations are scarce. Much North American hunting is thus an “insider’s game,” with availability depending on where you live. Eastern hunters tend to be whitetail hunters, while western hunters favor elk and mule deer.
IS THE GRASS GREENER?
A guided hunt represents a significant investment not in just money, but also time—it takes time to sort through the options, check references and perform the due diligence that such an investment deserves. Obviously, we should all pursue the game animals that interest us most, but North America is a big continent with lots of wonderful options. In whitetail camps in Texas, Canada and the Midwest, I’m often surprised at how many hunters I encounter who come from whitetail country. They’re in search of better bucks, or perhaps a different experience from their own back yard hunting.
By the same token, I’ve run into hunters from Denver in elk camps in Montana and New Mexico. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, especially if you’re a real whitetail nut or a long-gone elk freak. However, although the grass may seem greener, it’s pretty hard to beat deer or elk hunting on your own turf where you can do your own scouting, take advantage of the seasons and (hopefully) hunt when the time is exactly right. So, while there are many options available, if you’re fortunate to live in elk country, I’d look elsewhere for a first guided hunt—and that principle pretty much applies to anyone who has good hunting for anything close to home: Enjoy the hunting you can do nearby, and save your guided hunt budget for animals or experiences you can’t get close to home!
ANIMAL OR EXPERIENCE?
A byproduct of the North American model of wildlife management is that we field a lot of hunters. We tend to regulate harvests by season lengths and, in some cases, restricting permits. But here’s a simple fact of life: North American hunting is generally less successful than hunting most animals on any of the other continents. There are no guarantees and no sure things, but some North American hunts are a lot more successful than others. It depends on the animal, the area, and the care with which you choose your outfitter…but weather and your luck are also important factors.
Don’t go into any North American guided hunt assuming you’re going to go home with your trophy. If you plan carefully and choose well, the odds are with you, but on our continent there are few certainties. That being the case, I’d suggest concentrating on the experience. North America holds some of the world’s most majestic mountains, and has preserved vast areas of pristine wilderness. For me, the most classic North American experience is a horseback hunt into some of that wild country.
The traditional packstring hunts that Jack O’Connor wrote about are not especially common today. Seasons tend to be shorter, keeping horses is costly and you don’t even want to know about the cost of liability insurance. Also, you may be allergic to horses. That’s not a problem. Today, a lot of great western hunting is done from 4WD. In western Canada and Alaska, backpack hunts are an alternative to horseback if you’re in great shape. If that doesn’t sound good, then some outfitters base off boats for most northern species (probably not sheep). I’m not knocking any of the alternatives, and should hasten to say that horseback hunting isn’t for everyone…but if you’re up for it, the experience is fantastic.
While the number of horse outfits has definitely dwindled, you can find them in all the Rocky Mountain States, with Montana and Wyoming offering the most options. Farther north, British Columbia and Yukon probably stand as the last and greatest bastions of the horse outfitter. Some sheep hunts are conducted by backpack, but traditional horseback hunts are still the norm, especially for larger game and mixed bag hunts. Western Alberta still has its share of horse outfitters, and there are a few in Alaska and the MacKenzie Mountains of Northwest Territories. But as you go farther north, it becomes increasingly difficult to winter horses and trail them in and out, so horse outfits are uncommon in Alaska and the MacKenzies.
Game that can be hunted from horseback really runs the gamut. In Arizona and northern Mexico, Coues deer are typically hunted from horseback. In the Rocky Mountains, game includes elk, mule deer, pronghorn, black bear and the limited permit animals: Shiras moose, sheep, Rocky Mountain goat. Farther north, it depends on the area, but the game could include some combination of elk, moose, mule deer, sheep, goat, caribou, black bear or grizzly bear.
WHY A HORSEBACK HUNT?
As I’ve already conceded, horses aren’t for everyone. Some folks hate them, a few fear them, and not all of us are physically capable of spending long hours in the saddle. But if you can handle it, the packstring hunt into western wilderness is one of the most traditional and most satisfying experiences this continent has to offer.
In these times of busy schedules and ever-shorter hunts, it isn’t like it was in Jack O’Connor’s day when the packstring took you off into the blue and it might take days of hard riding just to reach game country. More often today you’ll ride from a trail head to an established camp…or you might take a float plane or Supercub straight to that camp and hunt on horseback from there. Sometimes you’ll spike out for a few days with a light camp on a packhorse; other times the horse is primarily hunting transportation.
Aside from the pure tradition, it’s an awesome feeling to see wild country from the back of a horse…and it’s also a very practical hunting method. Jack Atcheson, Senior once told me, “True wilderness is characterized by the absence of wildlife.” He wasn’t being negative, just honest. In true wilderness you don’t have croplands or developed water sources, and wildlife tends to be thinly distributed. Provided you’ve done your homework, the game you’re looking for is there…but you may have to cover a lot of ground to find it. Horseback hunting is a bit of a misnomer because you don’t do much actual “hunting” while mounted. More typically you ride from vantage point to vantage point and then do the majority of your hunting with good optics.
The point, however, is that you can cover a lot more ground on horseback than you can on foot! You can also pack out game much more easily. There are tradeoffs. In a typical mountain hunting scenario, you’ll tie up the horses when it starts to get really steep, and then climb on up to find good spots to glass. You don’t know where the hunt will take you from there, but you do know that, sooner or later, you must return to the horses. So if you’re in shape for such madness, a backpack sheep hunt can be a better situation. But the horses do offer flexibility. I did a wonderful backpack sheep hunt in the MacKenzies with Arctic Red River. We saw several spectacular mountain caribou…but if we’d taken one the sheep hunting would have been over for several days. We got a nice ram late in the hunt, too late to go back for caribou. So horses are definitely the better option for multi-species or mixed bag hunts. And, again, just a wonderful way to see great country.
WHAT ABOUT ELK?
If you’re among the great majority and don’t reside in elk country, then an elk hunt is often the first western hunt and the first North American guided hunt. So it was for me in Montana clear back in 1972, hunting with the late John Ward on a hunt set up by Jack Atcheson. I was pretty lucky in that I actually got an elk on that trip! But that was 40 years ago, and there are a lot more elk today than there were back then. During the 1980s and ‘90s elk populations exploded over much of the West, and we’ve enjoyed a long period of elk hunting that’s a whole lot better and more successful than when I was a kid.
Okay, elk hunting is not a slam-dunk deal. Some herds in Idaho and western Wyoming and Montana have been hit hard by wolves, and elk hunting is always somewhat weather-dependent. If it’s possible to catch the bugling season, the experience is even better…but in many areas the prime rutting period is restricted to bowhunters. Even so, the elk is a fairly democratic animal with lots and lots of options. The best private land hunts with guaranteed permits are fairly expensive. Outfitted elk hunts on public land tend to be more economical, although you can pretty much figure that, as prices go down, it’s likely that overall success and average trophy size also goes down.
But there are a lot of elk in today’s elk country, not just more elk but more bulls and more big bulls. All else being equal, a horse outfit is likely to charge more than an outfitter who uses 4WD. In my opinion, the enhanced experience is worth it, but you should shop around and compare. If it’s a first guided hunt, then budget is likely to be an issue. The premium hunts in the best and most famous areas are probably out, but there’s an awful lot of really great elk hunting that is very middle-of-the-road in cost. One thing: When I was a kid it was very common to do a “combination hunt” for elk and mule deer, and in those days a mule deer was pretty likely. Not today. In part because of the elk population explosion mule deer numbers are down in elk country, with the better mule deer hunting now found in the breaks, badlands and plains where elk are few. If the seasons coincide, it’s always nice to have a deer tag—you never know what you might run into—but these days you’re better off concentrating on elk.
In 1973, Dad and I did a moose-goat-caribou hunt in the Cassiars of northern British Columbia. The price was laughable by today’s standards, and it gets worse: I came into camp with a $25 sheep tag in my pocket and, in those pre-quota days, the outfitter let me take a Stone sheep for an extra $500. Things have changed and, even if cost is no object, I couldn’t recommend any sheep hunt for a first North American guided hunt. Ditto for the big bears. The stakes are just too high, the pressure too great, and remember, no matter the cost, this is North America and success is not assured.
However, I still think of that country in northern British Columbia as some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. Since then I’ve done a number of hunts in various parts of British Columbia—Kootenays in the east, the Chilcotin in the west—and I’ve also done a few hunts in Yukon. It’s all wonderful country, wild and scenic and wonderful…and this is a region where the horse outfitter still reigns. Think about a goat hunt, still a fraction the cost of sheep, but a similar experience. Or a true mixed bag hunt, with possibilities for goat, mule deer, moose and maybe elk in southern areas or caribou farther north. It depends on the outfitter, but a lot of those hunts are very affordable, especially when compared against sheep and grizzly. On multi-species hunts, some northern outfitters charge a basic hunt fee and then trophy fees for animals taken, which is certainly a fair system. So, if a guided elk hunt doesn’t appeal to you…or you live in elk country and that’s old hat, go north. I can’t guarantee success, not on this continent—but I can promise some of the best hunting memories of your life.– Craig Boddington
When Italian shotgun maker Fausti Armi launched Fausti USA in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 2009, American hunters and shooters had their first look at the company’s core product line, which consisted of the Caledon, Class and Class SL over/unders and the Dea and Dea Duetto side-by-sides. The response was immediate. Not only are the Fausti guns beautiful, they are also solidly built. Rather than a collection of stamped and cast parts roughly assembled in an effort to reduce cost, these Italian beauties are milled from solid steel, and the fit and finish is outstanding. The three Fausti sisters, Elena, Barbara and Giovanna, are familiar faces in the pages of American hunting magazines and conventions and gun writers lavish praise on the Fausti line.
Production guns are only one element of the Fausti line, though. In Italy and around the globe the three “Gun Sisters” are perhaps best known for their Boutique line of custom guns that are built to exacting standards and are strikingly beautiful. Unlike the production guns most American shooters are familiar with, the Boutique line allows a shooter to have a gun built for them, with their choice of actions, gauge (including such rarities as the 24- and 32-gauge), engraving patterns and finish.
Fausti’s guns are just the latest in a long tradition of gun making art that centers in the Valtrompia Valley in northern Italy, where shotguns barrels have been forged from iron ore from the surrounding Alps for more than 500 years. Many of Italy’s famous gun makers heralded from this region, including Stefano Fausti. In the years following World War II the young Valtrompian began building shotguns by hand and his work quickly gained favor among shooters in Italy and elsewhere in Europe.
In 1996, Stefano handed over the reins of the company to his three daughters who lacked none of their father’s commitment and vision for building quality guns. Under their care, the company continued to grow. The sisters incorporated the latest in CNC milling technology, improved metallurgy techniques and chemical treatments and set forth a rigid set of quality control standards–looking for ways to build better shotguns rather than trying to cut costs. The Valtrompia Valley is home to perhaps the world’s best gun engravers, and the Faustis began employing them to turn blank steel into art.
The result of this marriage of technological advances and gunmaking art resulted in the modern Boutique line of guns. I had the opportunity to travel to the Valtrompia Valley, the same valley where some of Europe’s best guns have been produced over the course of the past several hundred years, and visit Fausti’s ultra-modern design and production facility. While I was there, I had the chance to see how the Boutique guns are built from initial milling of the receiver to final quality testing and shipment to customers.
My tour began on the second floor showroom, where the clean, white walls are lined with dozens of Boutique guns of every gauge and finish. There are several of the company’s British Dea SLs, each customized with superb oil-finished Turkish walnut stocks and metal covered with engraving that represents hours and hours (sometimes as many as 700) in the shop of a local engraver. There are a couple dozen of over-unders as well, including the Magnificent, Class Round Body and Brixian models–each one as unique and magnificent as the side-by-sides. All of the guns are built on properly-scaled actions, so after spending some time examining the Boutique guns (and believe me when I say that I spent plenty of time looking them over), it’s possible to determine the gauge by simply looking at the action.
Barbara and Giovanna came to collect me after I’d had some time to examine the Boutique guns in the showroom, then led me to the full-length windows inside the office that look down on the factory floor. Below, I could see three white CNC machines–the birthplace of each Boutique gun. Every metal piece that goes into Boutique shotguns is milled from a piece of solid steel within the Fausti factory, and no mechanical parts are sourced from other companies. The parts are then examined to insure quality before the processes of hand assembling begins. Milled actions are prepared to make their trip to the engraver, each accompanied by the paperwork detailing the exact pattern and image to appear in the steel. Some of the actions will receive color treatment and inlays. Other guns will spend months in the hands of the Valtrompian master engravers, requiring hundreds of hours of engraving with a burin, a fine chisel that the best engravers wield with incredible skill. The work requires such attention and focus that even the most famous engravers can’t work more than a couple hours a day on the actions. The resulting engraving, however, is breathtaking, complete with shading and minute details that can only truly be appreciated under a magnifying glass. Though the basic actions are the same across the Boutique line, Fausti allows customers to turn their solid piece of milled steel into virtually anything you can imagine. Most shotguns companies have a line or series of engravings from which clients can choose. Fausti offers a variety of scroll and inlay patterns that are certainly breathtaking, but the company also offers true custom options, so if you want your favorite hunting dogs or a member of the family engraved into the action, then simply include a photo when you send in the deposit for your Boutique gun. The resulting work is breathtaking, with each gun signed by the engraver in the bottom metal beside the trigger guard.
After the metal parts are machined and tested, hand assembly begins with mating the metal parts to the unfinished stock. While still in the white, the guns go through more than 250 quality control tests on everything from top lever function to fit of the metal and wood. No gun leaves the factory without meeting brand standards. In addition, all Fausti guns are tested in the Italian National Proof House, one of the most respected in Europe, where shotguns are subjected to nearly 20,000 PSI (roughly six times the pressure generated by standard shotgun shells), and are inspected for any structural failings before receiving approval papers.
I spent two days at Fausti examining virtually every aspect of production, from reviewing quality control procedures to looking over milled actions and watching hand assembly of completed guns. The whole process is indeed impressive, but the real test came at the range. I met Barbara and Giovanna in Lonato, Italy, at the Fausti range. Though the company is best known for its field guns, Fausti also builds a line of competition shotguns, and I had the chance to shoot the Magnificent and Magnificent SL in 12 gauge. The guns look good to be sure, but they also handle extremely well. Even with 30- and 32-inch barrels, the guns I shot never felt nose-heavy or dull at the range. I’m certainly not the first writer to applaud the balance and handling of Fausti’s guns, but the Magnificent guns I shot were clearly engineered by shooters who know how a gun should swing. Later, I got to shoot the Magnificent Combo with interchangeable 28-gauge/.410 barrels. Handling characteristics were equally good on the sub-gauge guns, and being Boutique guns, they were, of course, beautiful. Whether you shoot a 49 or a 99, it’s safe to bet that if you’re carrying a Magnificent, you’ll at least have the prettiest gun at the range.
At the conclusion of the factory tour, Barbara, Giovanna and I had the chance to shoot another Boutique gun, the Upland SL side-by-side, at an estate in northern Italy. With their petite frames and slim barrels, the trio of Upland SLs we carried weighed less than 15 pounds in total, and they were a thrill to shoot at the range and in the field. Each time the action closed I listened to the smooth, solid lockup and spent as much time looking at the delicate engraving of the side plates of my gun as I did watching the dogs work. European quail are a tough target, falling and twisting like kites in a heavy wind, but the sisters and I managed to shoot a dozen or so by day’s end.
Usually when I test a gun, there are niggling little problems that need to be addressed. On the Boutique guns, however, every gun is thoroughly inspected before it goes to the customer, so the niggling problems are nil. The action is tight and smooth, as is top lever function. The trigger pull is crisp and breaks cleanly, the fit and finish are superb and every detail from the stock to the engraving and bluing are befitting a true custom gun. If you’ve ever dreamed of designing your own bespoke shotgun built to your desires and tastes, it’s well worth stopping by and visiting the Fausti sisters at the next Convention. Who knows what your gun will look like? You are limited only by your imagination.– Brad Fitzpatrick
Meopta USA introduced the new MeoCap flip-open binocular eyepiece covers at the 2013 SHOT Show. These innovative individual eyepiece covers protect vulnerable ocular lenses while hunting in rough terrain, hiking or attending a favorite sporting event and, when flipped open for use, shield eyes from peripheral light entering between the user’s eyes and the binocular. Those who have spent a lot of time glassing know how much light interference can diminish the viewing experience and, for those who wear eyeglasses, it can be even more uncomfortable.
“This accessory exemplifies the type of innovative solutions that drive our business at Meopta,” said Reinhard Seipp, general manager and COO of Meopta USA. “High-end optics manufacturers, including ourselves, spend millions on R&D trying to squeeze every last ounce of transmission through a binocular but too often all that effort is nullified in the field by stray light entering between the eyes and the ocular. This simple solution solves this problem and allows the user to enjoy the full benefit of our amazing glass.”
Meopta’s MeoCap eyepiece covers with LightFoil technology work with most full-size binoculars on the market today and open outward to form a barrier between the user’s eyes and any peripheral light trying to enter the eyecups. The result is an amazingly bright, clear, relaxing and distraction-free view.
Key Features Include:
Durable and weatherproof ABS construction. Simple hinge system contains no metal parts or springs to lose or break. Caps close securely for total lens protection.
Flip-open covers improve the optical performance of any binocular by blocking peripheral light from entering between the user’s eyes and the eyecups.
Makes viewing more comfortable by reducing eyestrain. Improves contrast by isolating your subject from outside light interference. Perfect for eyeglass wearers.
Proprietary fit system uses unique radially aligned inserts to provide a positive grip onto the eyecup and can be changed to fit a wide variety of eyecup sizes.
Sculpted, form-fitting design adds less than half a millimeter to the eyecup surface for no reduction in eye relief.