New author for OpticsThoughts

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Jan 282012

I originally started OpticsThoughts as a simple repository for my articles.  Over time, as I realized that I simply do not have enough time to cover everything I find interesting, I thought of farming out some articles to other people whose opinion I value.  Yet another reason to do that is to offer a different viewpoint than mine

Although I generally try to get other people’s opinion on the products I test, I would typically be doing the write-up myself.

This time around, I actually have a new author writing for OpticsThoughts with minimal involvement from me (other than occasional commentary, mostly restricted to these blog posts).  

I met Les Fischer at 2012 SHOT Show, although we’ve excheanged a few e-mails before and I have seen his articles on in the past.  I like the way Les writes and while I do not always agree with him, I always find his arguments well articulated and well thought out, so when he suggested that he wants to publish some of his articles on OpticsThoughts I found that to be a great idea.



 Posted by at 6:40 pm
Aug 152011

I end up fielding a lot of product choice questions and there are some that pop up more often than others.  Occasionally, I will answer here in my blog.  This particular question was a PM on OpticsTalk forum.

Question:  “I want to make sure that I get something that is a solid low light performer.  Is there anything equivalent to the SS 3-9×40 with an illuminated reticle in the same price range?  The SS seems tough to beat for price/quality. “


Answer (or my take on it, to be more correct):  The SWFA SS 3-9×42 is indeed tough to beat in this price range and I am not aware of anything similar to it that has an illuminated reticle without costing a whole lot more.  If you simply need a good low light scope in this general price range and you do not need FFP reticle, and tactical knobs, consider Trijicon Accupoint 3-9×40.  Otherwise, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with how well the SS 3-9×42 works in low light.  I suggest you take a good look at the version with the new Mil-Quad reticle.

 Posted by at 8:33 pm

Shooter’s Paradise of Oxnard, UPDATE

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Aug 122011

Since I wrote my previous blog post on Shooter’s Paradise, I have gone their a few more times.  As I said earlier, they are pretty much the only game in town for the area where I live.

During those visits I have dealt with three different people running the counter and all three were polite, courteous and helpful.  They were nothing like the guy who irritated me enough to write the previous post on the subject.

Moreover, I have not seen that guy at the range since.  If I run into him again, I’ll let you know how it goes, but otherwise, it has been a pretty good experience ever since.


 Posted by at 12:00 am

Shooter’s Paradise of Oxnard

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Jul 212011


At this range, they do everything they can to make you buy their reloads.  Ostensibly, the purpose is keeping the ammo clean, so if you show up with some sort of a clean ammo (like WinClean), they let you use it.  Come with anything else, they make you buy their own ammo (if that is a caliber they carry).  I suspect it is a scam since their reloads are among the dirtiest ammo I have shot to date, but then again, I did not bother to do a chemical analysis. 

What I learned this Tuesday is that you really have to check the receipt when you deal with these guys, which reminds me of the Firing Line indoor range in Northridge where I used to shoot years back.  There, if you did not look at your receipt carefully they would routinely add ten bucks or so to your bill in some obscurely titled line items.

At Shooter’s Paradise of Oxnard, which is the only indoor range anywhere near me, I never quite bothered to do that, but perhaps I should have.  

Andrew and I rented a couple of lanes and when we got done I headed over to settle the bill.  The total cost seemed in the ballpark of what I expected to pay for rental of two lanes and a bag of 38Special reloads, so I simply paid up.  As I stepped away, I glanced at the receipt and offhand there seemed to be too many line items, so I looked at it more closely.  It turned out that they substitued one lane rental with two oddly named line items that added up to a couple of bucks more than a simple lane rental.  They also charged me for a bag of 357Mag reloads, not 38Special that I actually bought from them.  I assumed that it was a mistake, so I walked back up to the counter and asked whether 357Mag reloads cost the same as 38Special reloads.  The guy just looks me in the eye and says “yes” without so much as a blink.  I look down onto the counter where their price list is taped and the answer is “no”.  357mag reloads are more expensive than 38Special.  I point that out.  He does not say anything.  That starts to irritate me, so I show him the receipt where they are overcharging me for one lane rental.  He stares at it for a couple of minutes, presumably trying to figure out whether $8 + $6 (the two line items there) adds up to more or less than $12 (standard lane rental fee).  I am not 100% sure what kind of fuzzy math was going through his head, but you could practically hear rusty gears turning.

At the completion of this lengthy thought process, he lifts his head from the receipt, looks me right in the eye and says: “that saves you money”.  Now, I am no math major, but I am pretty sure that if you pay $14 instead of $12, that does not qualify as money saving.  I wonder if he meant “saving money for the range”.  

Before I get too far with this, I just want to mention, that the amount they overcharged me is trivial and makes no difference to me.  Had they simply raised their fees, I would gladly pay.  No problem there.  However, I do not like being lied to and I do not like being cheated.

Anyhow, I look him right in the eye, conjure up the most simpleton-ish smile in my repertoire (not a difficult thing if you look like a neanderthal on a steady diet of sleeping pills) and ask him to elaborate on that.  He gives it a shot for another minute or two, but that is clearly not enough time to make $14 be smaller than $12.  He finally gives up and says that they’ll give me a refund.  I remind him that they also owe me a refund for the price difference between 357Mag and 38Special ammo.  He ignores that statement again.  So I say it a couple more times and point to the price list on his counter.  He thinks about it for a couple more minutes and says “yes”.  

At this point, he looks like he wants to shoot me, while I am beginning to enjoy making him squirm.

Moral of the story… well, there really isn’t one, except if you live in Ventura county and shoot at that range: make sure you check the receipt!

 Posted by at 10:12 pm

Q&A: Zeiss Conquest or Meopta Meostar?

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Jan 292011


However, Meostar has somewhat shorter and more critical eyerelief, so if this scope is intended for a rifle with serious kick, Conquest might be a better option.


Additionally, you mention target turrets on the Conquest.  If you plan to shoot at extended ranges where you need to dial in elevation, Conquest becomes a better choice as well.  Conversely, the 3-12×56 Meostar is available with a #4B reticle that allows for a couple of holdover points using the reticle (since the reticle is in the Front Focal Plane, holdover points work the same at any magnification).  Some people like to use the reticle for longer range shooting, while others use the knobs.  It comes down to a personal preference.  Either way, combining low light conditions with long shots is often a risky proposition, so I would advise caution.


Lastly, keep in mind that the 3-12×56 Meostar is available both with and without illuminated reticle.  Meopta has a very well executed reticle illumination and I would strongly consider it if low light is a priority.


Bottom line, if your priority is low light, go with the Meopta Meostar 3-12×56 with illuminated #4C reticle in the Front Focal Plane. Non-illuminated version with a simple #4 reticle is a bit cheaper and also very effective.

If you lean toward longer range and like to use the knobs, Zeiss Conquest 4.5-14×50 with target knobs and #4 reticle is a good option.

If you lean toward longer range shooting and prefer reticle holdover, I like the non-illuminated Meopta Meostar with #4B reticle.


I hope this helps.

 Posted by at 8:12 pm