Nov 122018

I am pretty open with the fact that I am Jewish and unlike majority of Jews in America, I have never voted for a left wing candidate and do not expect to any time soon.

I grew in the Soviet Union, so I have a very dim view of the left wingers’ paradise.  I grew up in one.

I want Jews to be armed and capable of preventing the next Holocaust.  I sure would have preferred if it did not take a massacre to get American Jews to open their eyes, but apparently they are hard to shake from their slumber.

 Posted by at 4:59 pm
Aug 252018

I have been playing with the plex version of this scope for a little bit now and have published a first look article a while back.

Now, the good people from SWFA sent me a prototype with the BDC reticle to play with.  The specific reticle in this scope is not quite the same as what will go into production models, but it is extremely close and the subtensions will not change.  The tree in the reticle is designed around the 55gr M193 5.56×45 load, so I took it to the range and spent some quality time shooting at plates out to 500 yards.

Here is what the reticle in this scope looks like (left) next to the original plex reticle:

BDC Reticle

Plex Reticle





I have not yet had a chance to try them side by side in low light, but I suspect that the BDC reticle will do really well, given that I had no problems whatsoever with the thinner plex version.  In the picture with the BDC reticle, the plates you see are at 300 and 400 yards and it was a rather warm and hazy day at the range.  Still, I could see the plates well enough to hit pretty much everything I aimed at out to 500 yards using MEN and IMI 55gr ammo.  For the record, the berm int he picture with the plex reticle is 100 yards away.

I did some off hand shooting with the BDC reticle, with the scope set on 2.5x.  The thick lines really help with quick target acquisition and the eye is naturally drawn to the primary aiming point.

There are a couple of features that this BDC reticle has that are not going to make it into production scopes.  Here is a close up, so that you can see what I am talking about:

The “M193” on the top left is not going to be there.  Also, the small numbers “5” and “10” on the bottom right of the tree are not going to be there.  It is sorta self explanatory once you read the manual that wind hashmarks are for 5 and 10 mph winds.  Also, I am kinda conflicted on whether I like the numbers 200, 300 and 400 next to the tree.  I wonder if it would be better to just use 2, 3 and 4 instead.

The hashmarks worked pretty well.  The shooting range where I was testing the scope is in a narrow valley, wit frequent wind gusts that can change direction.  The wind changed from almost nothing to around 8mph during my time there and the hashes seemed to be accurate (or at least they matched my read of the wind well enough to hit plates).

I sighted the scope in to be dead on at 200 yards and the holdover worked nicely.  The two hashmarks on the horizontal line are 2MOA away from center and the thick bars start 6MOA away from center, so there are reasonable lead references there.  All my shooting using the tree was done at 10x.

While the scope with the BDC reticle on it is on my AR, the scope with the plex has been moved to a heavily butchered Mosin Nagant to see if the eye relief gives  me any trouble or if the zero shifts.  So far, it is stayign zeroed and despite shooting from variety of unorthodox shooting positions, I have not gotten hit by the scope.

It is too early to make any profound conclusions, but so far I like this little scope.  I think it is a good match for plinking ARs, walking varminters and micro action boltguns (CZ527 et al).

I’ll leave the plex reticle scope on the Mosin for a bit to see how it does, but now I am kinda curious how it will do a 458SOCOM.  Perhaps, I will try it there afterwards.


 Posted by at 10:19 pm
Mar 192018

Another post prompted by what I saw on the Hide.  That place is just a gold mine of discussion topics.

Let’s define, somewhat arbitrarily, what an Ultra Short riflescope is.

The phrase “Ultra Short” was originally coined by S&B and they have been trying to do this the longest.  Naturally, there is a whole slew of cheap crappy optics out there that are very short.  I am going to ignore those.

In principle, how short you can make a scope is a function of how large the objective and ocular lenses are.  The larger they are, the harder it is to make scope short.  Also, keep in ind that short does not have to mean light.

With that in mind, let’s make some educated guesses on what overall scope length qualifies it to be called UltraShort for different objective lens sizes:

Greater than 50 mm Objective: Under 15″

40 to 50 mm Objective:  Under 13″

30 to 39 mm Objective:  Under 11″

Under 30mm Objective: Under 9″  (March 1-8×24 Shorty, Nightforce NX8)


I reserve the right to make changes once I do some more research on the subject…

 Posted by at 9:36 am
Mar 152018

I just saw the EuroOptic marked down the 3-15×50 TT315P scope. That does not happen very much, so if you are int he market, this a really good opportunity:

 Posted by at 12:13 pm
Mar 132018

I just saw a question on ARF about scout riflescopes.

I have a lot of mileage with the concept and kinda like the way it works although it was created in an era before modern high quality low range variable riflescopes.  Still, even in the modern world it has its uses and picking up a modern scout rifle (Steyr if I can ever afford it) is on my list of projects.

As is, I have some milsurp guns that I have used with scout scope since it allows me to mess with optics without permanent modifications.

Scout scopes are intermediate eye relief (IER) design with right around 10″ of eye relief.  Some pistol scopes can be used, but they usually have longer eye relief, so you need to be wary of that.

There are a few inexpensive models out there from Vortex and Hi-Lux, but I wasn’t too impressed with them.

However, both Burris and Leupold offer a couple of models that are quite decent.

Burris offers two: 2.75×20 fixed power and 2-7×32 variable.

Leupold offers three: FX-2 2.5×28, VX-2 1.5-4×20 and VX-R 1.5-5×33

The VX-R is the only one of the bunch that is illuminated and if you are comfortable spending the money, it is hands done the best scout scope made.

With fixed power scopes, Leupold FX-2 is a touch easier to get behind, but I prefer Burris’ bolder reticle.

The VX-2 is jsut flat diminutive, so if you want variable power in the smallest size, it is a decent option.  Personally, I would be looking at either Burris 2.75×20 or Leupold VX-R 1.5-5×33.

Here are some links to all the options I could quickly find:


 Posted by at 2:42 pm
Feb 132018

I recently saw a question on the Hide that I thought was worth addressing.  The guy was asking whether dialing the side focus turret for the sharpest image will also result in a no parallax condition.

The answer is: not necessarily and here is my attempt to explain that:


 Posted by at 4:33 pm
Feb 102018

I do not talk about scope mounts and other accessories all that much, but I figured I should say a few words here and there about Aadland mounts that I use for my tests.  These are not the only ones I use, but I use them whenever they are available (sometimes I run out when there is too much stuff that needs to be set up at the same time).

Here are some thoughts on the mount and the Gen 2 scope caps.  I think these are the best scope caps on the market, bar none.

 Posted by at 5:39 pm
Jan 092018

My name is ILya and I am addicted to takedown rifles.  If there were a “Takedown Rifle Addicts Anonymous”, I would probably be a charter member.  The only thing that is stopping me from owning them all is the inadequacy of my wallet and the entirely indecent behavior of rifle manufacturers (how dare they expect me to pay them!).

Still, I own a few here and there and my favourite one is easily Ruger’s 10/22TD.  Or at least that’s the one I shoot the most.

Naturally, since I can’t leave things well enough alone, I made a couple of changes to mine.

First of all, while it is capable of excellent accuracy, I few it as a general purpose plinker, so I have not replaced the factory barrel (yet).  However, as soon as I get out of California, I will do two things: I will by a suppressor and get Tactical Solutions SB-X barrel.  It is not cheap, but it is a very nice quality barrel that allows me to avoid registering my rifle as a SBR.

As it is, the two main things I did was replacing the stock and the trigger.  Since this is not intended to be a match rifle, both upgrades were meant to make an improvement without breaking the bank.

With triggers, I went with Ruger’s own BX trigger group.  It is not as nice as some fancy triggers out there, but it is inexpensive and surprisingly good for the money.

With stocks,  I tried both the X-22 and X-22 Backpacker from Magpul and decided that for my purposes the X-22 Backpacker is a better design.  The length of pull is sorta midpack which is fine for me, but I really like the storage compartment in the stock and the ability to latch the barrel to the stock when disassembled.  That makes it perfect for shoving into a backpack when I am so inclined.

With optics, I should probably do a separate piece on rimfire scopes, but I will offer a couple of options.  Since I plan to mostly plink with it, I am not really looking for anything with adjustable parallax.  I am also not necessarily set on a scope with 50 yard parallax setting although that is handy.

What I do find important is to have magnification below 2x on the low end.  It really helps shooting quickly and shooting off-hand.  The scope on my 10/22 is an old Burris Fullfield II 1.75-5×20 with a very bold #4 reticle.  I might replace with something more modern at some point, but it is veyr compact, so it fits the rifle well.

Generally, tweener scopes make a really good match for a plinker and the two I have tried on this rifle are Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32 and Burris Droptine 22LR 2-7×35.  Both are lightweight and very good for the money.  The Razor is not cheap, but excellent.  The Burris is more of a budget option, but you’ll be amazed with how nice it is for the money.

To be continued….

 Posted by at 5:17 pm
Jan 082018

I’ll do a little whining here, so bear with me.  I do not do that a whole lot.

For those who visit this website regularly, you like noticed that I’ve got a lot more advertising in recent posts.

Basically, it has dawned on me that I should really keep this hobby of mine revenue neutral.  Another problem that I am facing is that there are some brands out there that will have nothing to do with me (that is sort of a side effect of being honest), so to look at those products I have to buy them on the open market, rather than borrow them from the manufacturer.

Well, since it is important for me to keep this hobby separate from the family budget, I have to look at different sources of revenue.   I really do not want to switch this to a subscription model, so I am looking into putting in some generic advertising and at having affiliate accounts.  To that extent, I signed up with a third party that does affiliate referrals with a bunch of companies, including Brownells and EuroOptic.   That is why you are beginning to see links to these two companies.  I will probably add a few more as I go along.  Unfortunately, some of my favourite vendors do not do affiliate marketing, so I will have to figure something else out.

I am fortunate in that my audience is usually fairly sophisticated and aware of all the different retailers they can get best prices from.  The unfortunate part, is that I worry that all these affiliate links will not get me anywhere since you guys come to this website to do some research and probably already have a particular vendor in mind.

Technically, I also have generic Google and Amazon ads for any sort of shopping optics of otherwise, but for those to be significant, I need a lot more website traffic.

I am not sure how to really resolve this, since this was never intended to be an advertising machine or even a mass market information source.  When I got started with sporting optics, I could not find an unbiased information source that had technical expertise, so I decided to become one.  In the world we live in, anything with the words “technical expertise” is unlikely to ever become “mass market” anything.

In other words, if you want to support my work, click on the Amazon and Google links.  If you will be buying anything from Amazon, start on this website.  It costs you nothing extra.  If you are looking for a specific product that I have reviewed, consider purchasing it via one of the affiliate links I put in.

I’ll give it a go for a few months.  If a desired effect is not achieved, I’ll have to come with something else that generates revenue without compromising the integrity of my reviews.


 Posted by at 2:48 pm
Dec 112017

Written by ILya Koshkin


Revisited in December 2017: If I could Have Only One, Alternate Scenario


This is a follow up to the post I wrote earlier where I think my way through three weapons (handgun, rifle and shotgun) that are all supposed to do a bit of everything.

Now, I am going to change my boundary conditions a bit: this time around I am not looking to have everything do everything.  I like having some crossover, but I am not going to mandate maximum versatility for every weapon system.  Also, I am going to open the door to potential carry, concealed or otherwise, for the handgun.

When I was looking for maximum versatility for everything I settled on Remington 870 with ghost ring sights, AR-15 in 6.5 Grendel and long slide 10mm Glock.

I will leave my choice of a shotgun alone since I am not a shotgun guy and a pump gun with ghost ring sights covers defensive scenarios and hunting within a reasonably close range well enough for my needs.

The selections for handgun and rifle, however, change.

A handgun for me is primarily a defensive and plinking weapon.  Hunting with a handgun, while interesting, is not much of a priority, so if I have a different weapon system for hunting I can compromise on that.  Also, once you need to carry a handgun, a longslide Glock is less than ideal, and a 10mm cartridge in a smaller gun is a bit more pop than I am looking for.  I have experimented with it a little and the after shot recovery is slower than I like.

With that in mind, the choice of a handgun changes to a different Glock.  The ideal option would probably be Glock 19 with co-witnessed red dot and irons, but I do not own one of those (something I may rectify if I manage to get my hands onto a Gen 5 Glock).  So, in the spirit of trying to work with the guns that I actually own, I will settle on my Glock 17.  Mind you, it is a bit modified, which makes it very suitable for this.  The grip is made a bit smaller and shorter, so it can accept both Glock 19 and 17 length magazines.  It also prints quite a bit less when you carry (not that I can carry in public in California, but that does not prevent me from experimenting at my own house and where legal).  The slide is the Atom from Unity Tactical, which makes it fairly easy to mount a red dot, co-witnessed with iron sights.  At the moment, I have Insight MRDS on there, which is not an ideal choice.  It is a nice red dot, but it is bulkier than I like, uses a battery that noone else uses, and mine has a 3.5 MOA dot.  On a handgun, I use primarily for defensive purposes, I prefer a larger dot (7-8 MOA seems ideal).  With handgun mounted red dot sights, out of all I have seen, the two I like the most are Doctersight III and Shield RMS.  My Doctersight III also has a 3.5 MOA dot, but since it sits on a long slide 10mm that I built for hunting, I am OK with that.  Shield RMS sits on a Glock 43, which was one of my contenders for this and if concealed carry was the primary purpose, it would be my choice.  Hence, until such time as I get my hands onto another Doctersight or Shield, Insight MRDS it is.  I just took a class with it at Frontsight and it worked well enough, but eventually it will end up on a carbine of some sort.  I think it works better there.

The trigger is, again, Travis Haley’s excellent Skimmer design.  It is about as good as non-competition Glock triggers get.

A natural question, of course, is why I am going with a 9mm vs a host of other cartridges people like.  While cartridge discussions can go on forever, all data suggests that with modern bullets there is no practical difference between 9mm, 40S&W, 45ACP, etc for defensive use.  I’ll leave it at that.  I can shoot 9mm well, with rapid follow up shots and reasonable accuracy.  It does not hurt that it does not jam.  For basic defensive use, anything smaller than a 9mm seems to compromise effectiveness, while anything bigger compromises shot-to-shot speed.  With hunting out of the picture, 9mm seems to be the sweetspot.

With rifles, I am probably going to make the most radical change of all.  As much as I like my ARs, if I have a shotgun and a handgun aimed at home defense, my rifle becomes a bit more dedicated for hunting and precision shooting and that means “bolt action”.  Also, since the shotgun covers closer distances quite nicely when hunting is concerned, I want the rifle to be able to reach way out there.  If it was precision shooting only, the choice would be obvious: I have a DTA SRS bullpup precision gun that is freakishly accurate with both barrels I have (338LM and 6.5x47L).  It is, however, kinda heavy.  

My general purpose hunting rifle is an old Tikka M695 in 280Rem that sits in McMillan.  It is more accurate than any gun this inexpensive has any right to be, but the barrel is on a thin side.  While it is an absolutely superb hunting rifle (especially with the stunning Leica Magnus 1.8-12×50 scope on it), it is not the best fit for target shooting since the barrel heats up pretty quickly.  It maintains accuracy well enough, but I do not want to overheat it.

Enter The Fix.  It is a new bolt action rifle designed by a company called Q out of New Hampshire.  It appears to be a very new take on boltguns and with their design I get a 7lbs rifle with a 20” 6.5 Creedmoor Bartlein barrel, AR-style ergonomics, compatibility with AR-10 magazines, fully adjustable folding stock and an excellent two stage trigger.  With the Tangent Theta TT315M 3-15×50 scope in an Aadmount and a sling, it will weigh less than 10lbs.  That is something I can use for both hunting and target shooting, with 6.5 Creedmoor taking me out to 1200 yards on targets and further than I need to on game.


The Fix has a very short lift bolt ( 45 degrees), so it remains to be seen how quickly I can manipulate it.  Another nice feature is that the barrels are easily user replaceable, so I plan to take advantage of that and add a 300WSM barrel/bolt combination to it for hunting purposes (and a wider, softer recoil pad…).  Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, The Fix is still sitting at my FFL, so I can not make any pronouncements on how well it really works.

Until I spend some time with it, my choice is the DTA SRS.  It is a bit on a heavy side, but the bullpup configuration makes it surprisingly well balanced.  Besides, I do a hell of a lot more target shooting than hunting anyway.  I have two barrels for it: 338LM and 6.5x47L.  While the  6.5x47L is a very pleasant cartridge to shoot, the 338LM is a bit of a handful, while still manageable.  The reach, power and stability at distance with the 338LM though is something you simply do not get with smaller calibers.  With a If I can see it, I can hit it.  With a 250gr Bulldozer bullet from Badlands Precision moving out at close to 3000fps, if I can hit it, I can destroy it.  Here is a picture of the DTA with the excellent VORTEX Razor HD AMG 6-24×50 on it:


While with a smaller caliber, I would default to the Tangent Theta TT315M 3-15×50, with the 338LM, I want a bit more magnification.  On a rifle where weight did not matter, I would just step up to the Tangent Theta TT525T 5-25×56.  This is where the AMG 6-24×50 comes in.  It is barely an ounce heavier than the TT315M, while offering excellent optics and turrets.  On a gun where I want more than 20x of magnification and that might be carried into the field, the AMG is an easy choice.

 Posted by at 5:08 pm