Tag Archives: scope

Tag, Track, Xact

New technology makes you a better rifle shot up-close and far away.

Every so often, a new technology comes along that challenges our definition of fair chase. Telescopic sights, compound bows and laser rangefinders come to mind immediately as now-common tools that not only moved our understanding of ethical hunting limits farther downrange, but ultimately made all of us better hunters closer in. At the 2013 SCI Convention, a new company called TrackingPoint unveiled a technology that will likewise redefine the outer limits of hunting for some, but at the same time, will improve the overall taking of game for everyone who chooses to embrace its benefits.

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The system consists of a custom Surgeon rifle; precision ammunition loaded by Barnes; and an optic that combines either a 6-30x or 6-35x scope with a heads up display computer having external variables correction and target “lock-on” capability.

TrackingPoint is an integral rifle/ammo/optic shooting “system” that provides external ballistic solutions. That’s a fancy way of saying it lets you put a bullet exactly where you want it, and if the shot isn’t right, you get a do-over before actually firing the shot and with no harm done. The system consists of a custom Surgeon rifle; precision ammunition loaded by Barnes; and an optic that combines either a 6-30x or 6-35x scope with a heads up display computer having external variables correction and target “lock-on” capability.

When that dot perfectly aligns on the animal’s vitals, press and release a button to mark that spot. That mark is called a “tag” and it stays visible on the animal for as long as you keep the animal visible in the optic—even if the animal moves.
When that dot perfectly aligns on the animal’s vitals, press and release a button to mark that spot. That mark is called a “tag” and it stays visible on the animal for as long as you keep the animal visible in the optic—even if the animal moves.

In simple terms, when you look through the optic, you will see a dot. When that dot perfectly aligns on the animal’s vitals, press and release a button to mark that spot. That mark is called a “tag” and it stays visible on the animal for as long as you keep the animal visible in the optic—even if the animal moves.  If you flinch or otherwise make a bad tag, simply re-tag. Next, pull and hold the rifle’s trigger in the fire position and “track” the animal until the scope reticle perfectly aligns with the tag. When they align, the gun fires, and you make a perfect shot. If you choose not to shoot, simply release the trigger. Depending on which of the three TrackingPoint systems you’re using, your shot is good to as far as 1,200 yards.

If there’s a system failure, failure mode is to a basic bolt-action rifle with fixed reticle and you’ll have to dope all the external variables as you would with any old-fashioned rifle. Likewise, if you are presented with a shot and no time to tag, the gun functions just like an old-fashioned bolt-action in that all you have to do is take off the safety, aim and fire.

Clearly, some will use this new technology to take longer shots than they would without a TrackingPoint. But there are some hunters out there already taking those very long shots, and the ones they fire might as well be good. What’s of greater importance to the rest of us hunters is how TrackingPoint makes us better at the distances we’re currently taking game. If you’ve never missed or made a bad shot on game, it’s because you haven’t been hunting long enough. Even the very best target shooters firing at known distances, reading from their dope book and shooting under controlled conditions are known to make a bad shot. I don’t take long shots at game, but once I realized that tagging an animal before firing a shot lets me “take back the bullet” if I flinch, I had nothing short of an epiphany on how beneficial this system is to all rifle hunting.

Wind deflection is the only variable you have to enter manually into the TrackingPoint, and you enter it in .5 mph increments using a simple toggle button on the top of the optic.
Wind deflection is the only variable you have to enter manually into the TrackingPoint, and you enter it in .5 mph increments using a simple toggle button on the top of the optic.

It was, in fact, a bad shot that led to the development of TrackingPoint. The idea came to the company’s founder, John McHale, while on safari in Tanzania. His last trophy for that safari was a Thompson’s gazelle, and the only shot he had was at 350 yards. The tiny antelope demands a high level of precision and McHale missed. “We can do better than this,” he thought, and that set the gears in motion for the “Precision Guided Firearm.”

While riding to Gunsite for a recent live-fire demonstration, TrackingPoint’s V.P. of Sales and Marketing took advantage of my willing audience to tell me in detail about the technology that goes into the system. Some might call the level of our discussion painful detail, but I’m the kind of person who reads things like McCoy’s Modern Exterior Ballistics for pleasure and the ride went by all too quickly.

I listened as he explained how TrackingPoint automatically corrects for range and shot angle so you don’t over or under shoot. There are other optics, turret knobs and reticles that do that, too, but when he started hitting me with serious high-level ballistic variables I had to stop him.  “Did you just say it accounts for spin drift?” I asked. Most shooters don’t even know that bullets drift right or left, depending on rifling direction. He continued with how TrackingPoint uses a gyroscope to compensate for rifle cant, counts rifle shots and corrects for barrel wear over time, automatically self-zeros every time it’s turned on, and even considers the rotation of the Earth and corrects for the Coriolis effect, depending on whether you’re hunting in the northern or southern hemisphere! The list of what the TrackingPoint continuously computes and corrects for just kept going—and then we got to wind.

Wind deflection is the only variable you have to enter manually into the TrackingPoint, and you enter it in .5 mph increments using a simple toggle button on the top of the optic. As I learned at Gunsite, as simple and reliable as TrackingPoint is, you can miss.  A bad tag or misreading the wind is no different from bad aim or calling the wind wrong when using an old-fashioned scoped rifle.

The real-time tablet view eliminates any question of which animal your PH is talking about and which one you’re aiming at—no more trophy fees for taking the “wrong” animal.
The real-time tablet view eliminates any question of which animal your PH is talking about and which one you’re aiming at—no more trophy fees for taking the “wrong” animal.

There’s another significant feature to TrackingPoint that has nothing to do with aiming but is especially important to SCI Members and their PHs because a lot of the game we hunt are herd animals and/or have wildly varying anatomies. The TrackingPoint optical component is also a wireless computer that communicates with external electronic devices so your PH can watch on a tablet screen and see exactly what you see through the TrackingPoint scope.  It sets up its own wireless network so no matter where you are in the world and regardless of cell or satellite signal, it works, and since TrackingPoint systems conveniently come with their own iPad Minis, you’re assured of compatibility.

There are several benefits to the tablet view.  For one, it eliminates any question of which animal your PH is talking about and which one you’re aiming at—no more trophy fees for taking the “wrong” animal.  Another is that with your PH able to see exactly where the bullet is going to hit, he or she can call a good hit before firing the shot, which means less time tracking wounded game.  Less safari time budgeted for or actually spent tracking wounded game means more time for hunting. Finally, the computer records audio and video of the entire tagging, tracking and firing sequence so you can preserve and share your experience with others. It’s compatible with several social media outlets, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and email.

TrackingPoint isn’t a “sure thing,” but having a “precision guided” bullet, combined with a hunting partner seeing what the shooter sees, have the potential to be significant tools for both seasoned and new hunters. For seasoned hunters, I like to think of TrackingPoint as something of an insurance policy. If you’ve just dropped a bunch of cash on the hunt of a lifetime, one that’s going to be difficult to begin with, you can feel more sure of your shot even if your only shot is just a little out of your ordinary comfort zone. For new hunters, both they and whomever takes them on their first hunt, will know the shot is going to be a good one, and that removes at least one level of uncertainty for a first-time hunter.

As with all new technologies that come into the shooting sports, there are going to be those who question if we’ve moved so far ahead of rocks and spears that it takes the “sport” out of hunting. It’s a fair subject, but one that begs the question of how we define sport and to that I think we can all agree that there’s nothing sporting about making bad shots on game. As for TrackingPoint moving the goal posts farther downrange, there’s no question that it does. What you do with that enhanced ability is up to you.– Scott Mayer

For new hunters, both they and whomever takes them on their first hunt, will know the shot is going to be a good one, and that removes at least one level of uncertainty for a first-time hunter.
For new hunters, both they and whomever takes them on their first hunt, will know the shot is going to be a good one, and that removes at least one level of uncertainty for a first-time hunter.

SCI Announces Tracking Point as Newest Corporate Sponsor

Tracking Point huntnowlogoTracking Point, makers of the Precision Guided Firearm (PGF), has become a new corporate sponsor of Safari Club International. The Precision Guided Firearm is the most accurate shooting system in the world. Called the Xact System, it solves multiple problems that long-range shooters face by ensuring repeatable performance and accuracy even at extended ranges. The PGF also offers applications for smart devices. These apps interact with embedded Wi-Fi servers to share real-time or recorded images.

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“We are delighted to welcome Tracking Point as a new corporate sponsor,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “Their support helps strengthen SCI’s efforts in protecting the rights of all hunters.”

“Our founder, John McHale, is a safari hunter and his intent was to create the ultimate next-generation safari rifle,” said Tracking Point President Jason Schauble, a retired combat-decorated Marine and former leader of Remington Defense. “If you look at the top three value propositions of smart rifles: confident and ethical kills at long range, collaborative hunting that allows more than one person to see what’s going on in the scope, and the ability to record video of every shot so every hunter has a new tool to tell his trophy story — these are features that any serious hunter would find extremely compelling. We are proud to sponsor Safari Club International given its track record on behalf of hunters everywhere with its core missions of advocacy, connection, education and representation. Our partnership means we can directly assist in critical efforts to preserve the freedom to hunt around the world and it means we can learn how to best serve the very community that drove the creation of our products in the first place.”

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Meopta Optics

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The Meopta factory in Prerov, Czech Republic, employs 2,200 people and occupies 1.4 million square feet. No Geppetto’s workshop to be sure!

There’s a European optics manufacturer that up to now has had a low profile here in the States, but that is likely to change. I say that for two reasons: 1) they make superb products, and 2) they are priced considerably less that the prestige Euro optics. I’m talking about Meopta, a company based in Prerov, Czech Republic, which is about 175 miles east of Prague, one of my all-time favorite cities of Europe. Though you may not have heard of them, it’s not because they’re a small, Gettpetto’s workshop kind of operation; in fact, they employ 2200 skilled craftsmen within a 1.45 million square foot complex where they produce world-class optical, opto-mechanical and opto-electrical products for consumer, industrial and military markets around the world.

Meopta’s current riflescope offerings consists of the 8 models in the MeoStar R1 line, all based on 30mm body tubes, while the 7-model MeoPro line is based on 1” tubes. All feature one-piece body tubes with integral adjustment turrets. There’s also the ZD Tactical line which consists of two red dot and two reflex sights, along with two conventional scopes. Among the 17 scopes, 13 reticles are offered, five of which are illuminated. Of course Meopta also manufacturers binoculars and spotting scopes.

Jon mounted Meopta’s fixed 6x42 scope on a Mark Bansner 7mm WSM. Note how low the scope is mounted and how the ring spacing spans the entire length of the scope’s body. It’s the ideal setup.
Jon mounted Meopta’s fixed 6×42 scope on a Mark Bansner 7mm WSM. Note how low the scope is mounted and how the ring spacing spans the entire length of the scope’s body. It’s the ideal setup.

Anyway, the scope sent us for evaluation was a 6×42 MeoPro, the only scope among the 17 offered that is of fixed power. Why a fixed power in this age of variables? Because Meopta’s press relations person, Shannon Jackson, knew that I’m a proponent of fixed 6x scopes for general hunting, and that most of my personal rifles are so equipped. I have it mounted on a Montana Rifle Co. Timberline model in 7mm WSM. I haven’t had a lot of range time with the gun, but so far I’m impressed with the optics and the precision of the adjustments.

The one model I’m more anxious to see is a scope that was just introduced this past January at SHOT; it’s a 3-12×56 RGD with a dual zone red/green illuminated reticle. This scope has 7 levels of reticle intensity to match harsh daylight to dead-of-night conditions. The red dot illumination is most visible in twilight to night conditions, while the green is most visible in daylight. Considering its features, its MSRP of $1439 puts it about a grand less than its Euro competitors.—Jon Sundra

▪ Meopta’s newest scope is this 3-12x56 with dual zone red/green illuminated reticle. Each has 7 levels of brightness, red for low light, green for daylight.
 Meopta’s newest scope is this 3-12×56 with dual zone red/green illuminated reticle. Each has 7 levels of brightness, red for low light, green for daylight.

Free Ballistic Turret

Zeiss recently announced the Zeiss/Kenton Industries Custom Turret Promotion. Purchase a new CONQUEST HD5 riflescope as part of the promotion, and receive your choice of either a LR Hunter or Speed Dial Custom Kenton Turret, calibrated for your specific load.   Eligible models for the promotion are the CONQUEST HD5 3-15×42 #20 reticle with Lockable Target Turret, and the CONQUEST HD5 5-25×50 #20 reticle with Lockable Target Turret. The retail value for the free custom elevation turret is $125.

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“As shooting equipment technology becomes more advanced, Zeiss is offering superior solutions to increase accuracy at longer ranges,” stated Mike Jensen, President of Carl Zeiss Sports Optics USA. “With our custom turret system, you just need to set the dial to the number 4 for 400 yards and you are done. No complicated math, no color codes to compensate for the bullet drop. The numbered markings on the custom turret by Kenton Industries are easy to read and intuitive. This system is simply the best solution for all mid- to long-range shooters.  Our new CONQUEST HD5 Riflescopes with 5x SuperZoom provide maximum brightness, image quality and field of view at an incredible value compared to other premium riflescopes.  Now add the convenience of a standard “no-hold-over“ PLEX reticle with the Kenton custom target turret and you have an extremely accurate and very robust long-range shooting setup.”

To receive a free Zeiss/Kenton Custom Ballistic Turret, the qualifying CONQUEST HD5 Riflescope must be purchased from an authorized ZEISS dealer between 07/01/2013 and 09/30/2013. Complete offer details and order forms can be found at www.kentonindustries.com or at www.zeiss.com/sports. Customers need to mail-in the completed order form together with a copy of the sales receipt.  Once approved, the custom turret should ship within 2 to 3 weeks and is very easy to install. The order form requires typical ballistic information such as: cartridge, ammunition type (factory or handload), bullet weight, zero in range etc.  This offer is valid for U.S. customers only.

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