Top gear pick (rifle reloading components) – our pick of 2 items

Every component in a live bullet is an important part of the whole. Our choice is about those 2 components that are stand-out in the various components making up a live round and are within a reasonable cost.  Our choice focused on accuracy over low cost. Lower cost is a big part of why many reload; but we had to chose either accuracy or lower cost in order to substantiate our choice.

Our choice reflects on locally available components.  For this reason powder is not a consideration because the cost effective choice is limited to Somchem. 

When testing loads avoid the lucky rabbit’s foot syndrome, whereby, after having had a successful 2 or 3 shot group you stop you load development.

This week’s top gear choice in the category of reloading components is Laupa brass and Balistix bullets.

Firstly the brass – a quality case is vital in order to load accurate ammunition.  Quality means it must be consistently good. Consistency in reloading is vital for accurate ammunition.

Reloading takes time and time has a cost irrespective of whether we load for a hobby or other.  I consider the opportunity cost of time when reloading vs. buying ammunition off the shelf.  “We say”, if you are spending long hours loading rounds then make that effort worthwhile and use premium components.

Laupa brass has exceptional consistency in case neck thickness.  If you load with Laupa brass then neck turning is unlikely to make any difference on accuracy out to 300 / 400 m.  With longer distances the discussion of neck turning gets more attention.

Neck turning is primarily carried out to remove high spots for a more consistent neck tension;  and some competition rifles require a thinner neck diameter in order to chamber the cartridge. Many people new to reloading neck turn excessively – a too thin wall thickness has more negatives than positives.

You will hear people say buy cheap brass and turn the necks for better concentricity.  What matters is that the whole case is concentric; you cannot make a bad case concentric by turning the neck.

Laupa brass does not require primer flash hole deburring. The flash hole of Laupa brass is drilled.  If you buy brass where the flash hole is punched then you must deburr the virgin brass (one time only).

Uniform case volume reduces velocity spread.  Sorting cases by weight is better than doing nothing, but the true test is to confirm volume consistency using water.  I don’t generally validate case volume with water, BUT we did a volume test with a number of different brands and Laupa was the most consistent.  Norma and RWS were also consistently good.

Our 2nd choice of a reloading component is a monolithic bullet. We chose Balistix. 

Reasons why we chose Balistix:

1:) a rebated boat tail gives the accuracy of a flat base at shorter distances and the BC benefits of a boat tail at longer distances,

2:) HBN coating (superior to Molly). The coating increases barrel life, reduces pressures, significantly reduces copper fouling and results in a lower velocity spread, especially between hot and cold bore shots,

3:) ogive before the bands is a benefit in measuring seating depths and helps fine tuning of bullet seating,

4:) smooth bullet seating, the bullet is rebated at the same angle as the brass mouth after chamfer,

5:) drive bands (not a grooved bullet) reducing the bearing surface and barrel friction,

6:) accuracy – in lead core bullets the outside surfaces might measure true but what matters is the concentricity of the inside lead core (not seen),

7:) proven in the field – effective killing and minimal meat damage,

8:) environmental benefits of copper over lead.

9:) carefully chosen bullet constructions limit the need for excessive bullet types. In reloading what matters is availability and staying with a winning horse. Most dealers availability of a manufacturer with excessive types and constructions will be “hit and miss” because of the investment needed to carry all.

Follow us on Facebook for our weekly choice of 2 items of Top Gear – next week we take a look at optics through a clear lens. The purpose is not that readers agree on our choice but rather focus on the logic we cover. A choice is subjective but logic should be objective (fact based).  

Top gear pick (reloading equipment) – our 2 choices explained

The purpose is not to select the 2 most important items of reloading equipment but rather to select the most standout equipment that is within reasonable cost parameters. That is in our opinion.

For example, weighing of powder is a critical process in reloading, but if we do not classify a big differentiation in reasonably priced scales then we would not necessarily select a powder scale. We limited to only 2 items of choice.

Our first choice is a case trimmer that indexes of the shoulder of a case.  No more lathes.  Above are the WFT and Trimit models. If you choose a body that caters for die inserts (flexibility between calibers) then choose Trimit because the micrometer gets you back to case length measurements easier than having no micrometer.

I choose WFT 1 (their first model) because I prefer to have a fixed unit for each of the calibers that I reload for. Once set-up my trim length will be uniform for the rest of my days. I spend a bit more for the convenience and peace of mind.

With Trimit or WFT the process of trimming is that quick and easy that I trim every case after sizing – quicker than measuring case length.  There are many articles about the benefits of uniform case length. 

Our 2nd choice is the Forster Co-Ax press.  This press has been around for many years and still it comprises of unique and important features not found with other single stage presses.

Case concentricity matters. The Forster Co-Ax shell-holder free-floats to allow case and die alignment. I have bought and given away lathe trimmers, hand primers, scales, presses but my Forster press is now 15 years old and there to stay until something better comes along.

It is tough choosing only 2 items.  If we had availability in SA I would probably have selected LabRadar because it makes other velocity measurements obsolete. This unit does not yet have approval for SA.

There is equipment which, when we get through future week selections of Top Gear, will become apparent why they did not make our selection.

We not selecting the most important equipment in reloading, but that equipment that we consider to be “stand-out from the crowd” gear; and which is within reasonable cost parameters. To challenge ourselves we limited the choice to 2 items only.

 

 

Real bullets coming to South Africa in 2018

Firstly, those who question the link between guns and pumpkin seed oil – our business is about LIFESTYLE.  Fine guns and great health are intertwined in my lifestyle.   

Pumpkin seed oil is about its taste and nutrients. Early stages of prostatitis 10 years ago and today without any other medication my readings are equal to the average for the age category 20-25.  I religiously enjoy pumpkin seed oil – I am addicted to the taste, recipes using it; and now the health benefits are just a bonus.

The signature gun of The Powder Keg is a 500NE, but soon the real “lead in the chamber” may be the world’s best pumpkin seed oil. Our basket of lifestyle products will continuously be added to.

No matter your industry, the products and services you sell often take on a life of their own. What does not change is fulfilling customer hopes, wants and desires. The arrival of our pumpkin seed oil could help underlying health issues, and in particular early prostate problems. The taste is addictive – the no.1 reason that this product is sold. 

In 2016 The Powder Keg ran a Halloween promotion. Maybe destinies are predetermined and just maybe The Powder Keg lifestyle products was intended to go beyond fine guns into differentiated products.

Or is it just that I got tired of carrying bottles of Kocbek oil with my every trip to SA? At least I learnt some lessons, no-one ever wanted a cheaper oil, this was validation to partner with the worlds best!

The same as you get guns and then you get fine guns; you get pumpkin seed oil and then you get quality pumpkin seed oil.  The 2 main distinguishing characteristics of pumpkin seed oil are its TASTE AND HEALTH VALUE. Modern processes and poor quality seeds mean most producers reach too high temperatures that destroy its goodness; AND most suppliers are blending in order to reduce costs.   

Pumpkin seed oil was first produced in Slovenia.  Today Slovenia and Austria are regarded as having the highest quality. We chose the leading quality supplier in Slovenia and arguably in the world – Kocbek pumpkin seed oil; now in its 3rd generation and still employing the traditional methods of milling with original stone mills.

All the pumpkin seeds used by Kocbek come from farmers within a radius of 45 km of their mill. Interestingly, a family from Australia took pumpkin seeds from the Stajerska region to Australia, grew them and produced oil from them. They could not replicate the Kocbek taste!

With the oldest tradition, heart and experience, Kocbek unique unrefined oils of the highest quality will soon reach South Africa. Our relationship with Kocbek is no different to other Powder Keg supplier partnerships where the product and the people behind the organization are key selection criteria.

You will taste the high quality of Kocbek oil in many culinary offerings.  See the Kocbek website for some recipes www.kocbek.si  Top chefs around the world are using Kocbek oils. You will find Kocbek oil in top restaurants from Hong Kong to Dubai to Australia  (and South Africa in 2018).

We were too late for Christmas 2017; we say if you cannot afford a Spendal custom gun as a Christmas gift then the next best thing is a bottle of Kocbek pumpkin seed oil.  I traveled the world for many years and always carried a bottle of Kocbek oil with me; what was over was my departing present to special friends.

This is what a pumpkin looks like after a 500 NE pill passes gently through it.  This is a bit how my prostate felt 10 years ago; today I will go head to head with any 20 year old with regard to prostate condition (and I am prepared to prove it provided you have a sense of humor).

I cannot say that pure unrefined pumpkin seed oil was my cure, but I can say that I used no other medication. Check with Dr Google and make your own conclusions; natural remedies in preventative healthcare resonate with me.  

Good health is like a white Christmas.  Live in the moment and don’t skimp on good flavors and good health.  Users of Kocbek unique unrefined oils never go back to other oils; and this is the AllesMooi mantra – customers for LIFE.

Are we trying to sell the product? Yes, after-all our business is about delivering lifestyle value. Are we trying to “flog” the product? No, that would be a case of chasing money by selling cheaper blended oils.

You need 6 kg of pumpkin seed oil for 1 liter of cold pressed oil and 3 kg of pumpkin seeds for 1 liter of hot pressed oil. Cold pressed oil is lighter in color and does not have the deep roasted flavor of hot milled oils. Kocbek hot milled process takes place between 100 – 110C ensuring the maximum preservation of nutrients.

We took a random sample of different producers cold pressed oil and NONE were cold pressed. AllesMooi products are what the label says. Rejuvenation of youth in a splash of pumpkin seed oil.

Going ballistic, or should we say Balistix

The Powder Keg team was privileged to have the team from Balistix present the benefits and features of Balistix bullets to a few of our important customers. I have been testing these bullets in Europe for a few months already with exceptional results in accuracy and on many wild boar.

Lance Stevens of Lance Stevens Precision Rifles did the presentation. Key criteria in our 2 brand strategy is choosing carefully the product that is the highest value-price-to-performance AND having a a chemistry with the organization behind the product (competence and ethics).  Lance Stevens and his team will conquer and we partner with winners.

Reasons I switched 100% to Balistix 1) rebated boat tail, accuracy of a flat base and BC of a botail 2) HBN coating, far superior than Molly, increases barrel life, reduces pressures, significantly reduces copper fouling and results in a lower velocity spread, especially between hot and cold bore shots 3) ogive before the bands 4) smooth bullet seating for concentric alignment 5) drive bands (not a grooved bullet) reducing the bearing surface and friction 6) accuracy 7) instant kills with minimal meat damage.

In addition, reasons why The Powder Keg will carry Balistix is 1) the people behind the organization (passion / competence / humility / values)  2) they have carefully chosen bullet weights with limited design variations (fewer SKU’s). Customers must know that when they develop a load there will be stock availability. Retailers can invest their capital in a smaller range, meaning more stock and permanent availability.

Those businesses that listen to their customers will succeed. Balistix is such a manufacturer. Passion is the difference between having a job or having a career; the Powder Keg aligns with businesses passionate about what they do. The evening closed with a small bite and chat under the open skies, not quite the bosveld but not bad for 500m off the N1 (Gordon off-ramp).  Balistix team, you are great;  but our customers are KING.

ALRHA shoot – long range optics on display

The Powder Keg was privileged to exhibit its long range optics at the African Long Range Hunters Association’s (ALRHA) year end shoot in Parys this past Saturday (2 December 2017). Not even the rain could dampen the enthusiasm which Paul Luff described as contagious.

Many shooters sheltering from the rain in the Gazebo used the opportunity to view Kahles and Delta long range scopes on display.  Below is a shooter viewing the K624i scope. Long range and F1 shooters who choose Kahles often opt for the Kahles K10-50 x 56 scope with higher magnification and the reticle in the 2nd focal plane.

There was a lot of interest in the newly released Delta Stryker optics.  A lower cost alternative to the Kahles K series but giving nothing away in optical clarity. The model below is the 5-50 x 56 Stryker with sunshade that comes with the scope. We encourage readers to watch an independent optics review that features the Delta Strykers at 22 min into the video clip –  https://youtu.be/Q1ldMtOoOwI

Herme pictured below is one of The Powder Keg distributors; he shoots F1 with the Kahles K 10-50 x 56. Herme is hugely impressed by the Delta Strykers and will be representing these scopes in a lower cost bracket.

The new Delta Strykers are available in 2 models with well chosen reticle options.  The 5-50 x 56 has the reticle in the 2nd focal plane and the 4.5-30 x 56 has the reticle in the first focal plane (preferred by tactical shooters).  Below is a shooter viewing the Delta 4.5 – 30 x 56.

The Powder Keg selected Delta and Kahles in its 2 brand strategy. Both represent the highest value price-to-performance scopes in their class, Delta in the middle and Kahles in the premium segments. Delta have a large range of scopes; the leading brand in Europe in their price category. The 34mm tube scope below retails for R19,000.

The Powder Keg is proud to represent Kahles and Delta in South Africa; a relationship that we nurture and grow with open and forthright communication.

We are grateful to have been part of the ALRHA shoot day; this is the “playground” where we learn in order to serve our customers better – THANK YOU

The value of quality clothing

A life lesson I learnt coming to Slovenia was the value of good clothing.  10 years back Jeff and I (Jeff was the American Military Attache to Slovenia) were picked up by a Slovene General to go climb Triglav, the highest mountain peak in Slovenia. We were told in no uncertain terms that our cotton clothing was a NO NO.

Every picture here is a moment over a period of a decade with the exact same pair of pants. I could have added another 100 but for fear that readers would think that was my only pair of pants.

I have no doubt that we would not have made Triglav had we not changed our pants.  Our new pants were literally the difference between day and night. They say that if you have not climbed Triglav you are not a real Slovene.

Both Jeff and I were in love with the pants; stretchy, soft, strong, extreme lightweight, fast drying and warm. In one word perfect. Jeff contacted me from the USA after his return; I had to post 4 pairs to him. We spoke of exporting the pants to the USA but this opportunity was lost in the fog of a corporate lifestyle.

10 years on; all that has changed is my hair is grey and the exact same pants faded, but they are still my favorite. My first initiative for The Powder Keg in 2016 was to source these very same pants for the business. I met with the owner of the company that produced the pants, but they discontinued with this fabric from Sweden because of cost.  How wrong could the measurement of cost be?

I have worn these pants on every occasion from hunting in extreme conditions, to hiking, and simply for comfort around the house. A few years back I bought my dad a pair and this is all he ever wears. Proven by myself for over a decade was enough passion and grit to find the same specification of fabric and have the pants produced for The Powder Keg.

I bought a pair of shorts in the same material back then. In the past 10 years I have spent thousands on different pairs of short pants but still these are outright favorites. Earlier this year I wore them when visiting lakes with my daughter Demi. How dare the manufacturer stop production because the fabric was too expensive?

I clean wardrobes every 6 months but these pants have escaped all 20 clean-outs.  The pictures below are 9 years apart; the same pants.  As I am typing this I am wearing the same pants and thinking to keep as a souvenir for what is to come.  I finally tracked down the fabric supply in Sweden and we have produced prototypes with more hunting features.

Reading this you can be excused for thinking “an idiot to be passionate about a pair of pants”. Judge when you have tried them. It feels like you back 20 years in fitness compared to wearing heavier cotton pants.  Used extensively in Africa or climbing the Alps, it does not get better.  Coming to The Powder Keg soon.

I like reading blogs by Ron Spomer, mostly I agree but not always. He wrote that the best clothing for Africa was cotton clothing. His main argument is that you never hunt in the rain so clothing does not get wet and that its was customary for lodges to wash laundry and that cotton was the least susceptible to hot iron burns.  Sorry Ron, my pants have never been ironed in 10 years and I like to walk a lot on Safari. 

The sweat of a good walk and stalk is my primary need for a quick dry material. Schoeller (Swiss) have launched cotton fabric called 3 times dry. You get feel and look of cotton with the advantage of quick drying. Extremely high cost, price starts at Euro 17 a sqm of fabric; still we in evaluation for premium safari shirts.

Closing with a picture of the first prototype. The color is blue only because this was a sample for prototyping and the supplier had stock in a short length.  Your 2018 outdoors will take on a new meaning.

How much to invest in a scale when reloading for hunting ammunition?

How much money should we be investing in a scale that measures to 0.02 of a grain, often referred to as 1 kernel of powder? I used to think very important. Typically one invests a lot of time and money in reloading because it is a fun hobby, especially when the bug to improve your groups (accuracy) bites.  Every now and then it is worthwhile to check the logic of what matters or else you will end up with drawers like this.

In reloading we never stop learning; in my instance mostly from experiences, meaning when I run into a problem I read-up on it; or when I observe stuff I think about its impact on reloading. There are millions of more qualified shooters than me who write on the subject, but I find most omit the practical side of reloading … the common sense, the stuff that matters.

Uniform velocity contributes to improved accuracy (fact). Velocity spread is a term used that quantifies the difference between the highest and the lowest velocity, and standard deviation (SD) the average difference between all shots measured. Double digit SD will show as a vertical string when shooting beyond 400 m (give or take).

There are many parts of reloading that contribute to uniform velocities such as having brass with equal case capacity (volume), equal neck tension, equal powder charge, same batch primers and powder, uniform bullets and so the list goes on. Generally the rule is consistency.

A material change in temperature has a material impact on velocity; potentially a greater influence in hunting than the other reloading factors (within reason). And here is my learning …

 

I loaded a batch of bullets for 3 different calibers (same day /same conditions) with meticulous effort in the various steps to have minimal velocity fluctuations.  I shot when the ambient temperature was 24 C.  All of the calibers recorded excellent velocity consistency.

I went to the range with the same loaded ammunition and repeated the test when the ambient temperature was 14 C. The velocity spread was minimal but with all 3 calibers the velocities were about 5% lower than recorded at   24 C (Labradar).

I did not embark on this test to validate the impact of velocity change due to temperature changes, but having stumbled upon the quantum of change I will perform the same test with the same bullets when the temperature is around freezing point. Unfortunately I did not keep my targets to check changes to point of impact.

This raises many questions such as bullet tuning (seating depth), ensuring your bullet leaves the barrel when the “node” / whip movement is stable for the longest period. Will the sweet spot shooting at high temperatures be the same sweet spot when shooting in the cold of winter mornings?

The rifle pictured below is a light weight 222. The gun (not me) shot 1 hole groups at 100 m with Berger 52 grains. A few months later with the same loaded ammunition the rifle would not group. We decided to change the barrel because we assumed the barrel was too thin (greater whip / node impact). Now we questioning ourselves, was the barrel faulty or was this the result of a change in velocity (temperatures) and we needed to re-find the sweet spot? A situation exacerbated in a ultra thin barrel?

Hunters should consider the material impact of temperature change on velocity and then determine how important is it for hunting ammunition to buy a scale that measures to the kernel of powder.  

My basic principles for loading hunting bullets; if we can within reason (time and cost) eliminate velocity spread then that makes sense.

  1. Use quality brass which eliminates the need for neck turning (in future parts I will explain my logic of neck turning, the pitfalls vs. benefits for the occasional re-loader),
  2. Use the same make of quality brass. I sort by weight when developing loads, although it is not an absolute determination of case capacity I consider it better than doing nothing,
  3. For new brass debur flash holes (only once); some manufacturers like Laupa discourage this step because there method of making the flash hole does not create punch burs,
  4. Remove primers with a universal decapping die and clean primer pockets,
  5. Full length size, push the shoulder back 0.001-0.002″ from the fired brass head-space measurement (I never neck size, my logic in future parts). Buy and use head-space gauges if you don’t already have,                                             
  6. Trim cases to uniform lengths. This step made quick and easy with Trimit or WFT equipment. It is quicker to trim the cases than measuring the case length, so I trim every time. I invest in a unit for each caliber, that way I know that I have case length uniformity year after year; and no set-up time needed.                        
  7. Do not mix standard primers with magnum primers. Bench-rest and long range shooters even keep to the same make and batch of primers,
  8. Case annealing is valuable but until I can purchase equipment that ensures a proper measurement of heat and timing I have chosen not to anneal (concern of doing more damage than good). The Powder Keg is tracking developments on equipment using induction where parameters can be input,
  9. Use a good scale; I have gone back to using my RCBS  auto and 10:10 beam scale for hunting ammunition; a contradiction of an earlier BLOG where I punted electronic scales that measure to 0.02 of a grain.                          
  10. Use a quality powder for consistency although in SA the choice is limited due to availability and price considerations. When you have found the sweet spot of your rifle, in my experience, it does not matter what powder you use provided you achieve the same bullet velocity,
  11. Find the powder range where the velocity change in incremental load increases varies the least (accuracy nodes)At this point I know that the velocity change is the least sensitive to a small error in powder thrown (FLAT SPOT). I prefer the “flat spot” closest to the maximum load,
  12. Tune the bullet (seating depth) at the charge determined above.  
  13. Re-check the zero of your rifle when hunting at significantly different temperature conditions than when your rifle was sighted in. If for no other reason … your own confidence.

Question the logic to become a better re-loader . I spend an inordinate amount of time in selecting products that The Powder Keg should stock and sell to ensure our customers have the best chance to buy right the first time.  I have paid a lot of school fees and don’t want the same for customers.

Proving out – I placed a few rounds in direct sunlight. After firing I could see pressure signs on the brass (primer and extractor markings) validating that the heat on the brass created additional pressure.  I load at accuracy nodes near maximums. In this instance the direct sunlight put my safe loads closer to the zone of risk.

Having great groups makes sense provided you understand the change of bullet impact in different environmental conditions and you practice in live positions vs. being a bench rest expert. If you can afford an electronic scale that does not drift then by all means buy it.

Alternatively, you can buy the Swarovski DS scope that makes all the climatic impact adjustments on your behalf. I have tried it on the range and it works well, but personally I do not like the size (40 mm tube) and for my traditional ways I do not consider it hunting. I don’t want to be fiddling with all the gadgets in the moment of a hunt; the animal will be the happiest of both of us because he will use those precious seconds.

Field Target Optics – Kahles 1050FT

Field Target is a air gun discipline that takes place in the outdoors in varying weather conditions and at varying distances with targets set between 8m and 50m.

The World Championships were recently held in Wales.  Lauren Parsons, silver medalist in the woman’s section and Proteas captain Reghardt van Jaarsveld are both using the Kahles 1050FT scope.

Reghardt describes the Kahles scope as the best high end scope for FT that he has used. Reghardt has owned and used all the high end scopes and says that Kahles (in his opinion) is better than all others even though some well known optics are significantly more expensive.

The range finding accuracy of optics through the different temperature ranges is critical for shooters to perform at the highest level. Reghardt says that even under extreme weather conditions he has not experienced a shift in ranging. Kahles optics are produced from a solid aluminium bar that is pre-treated to remove strains and stresses.

Irrespective of the moment in the World Championships Reghardt never had any concern or doubt of a mistake in reticle rotation because the 17 MOA per rotation has a calibrated reticle for bracketing to double check ranging or where ranging is impossible due to heavy mirage or very dark situations.

Reghardt in the subconscious state, critical for precision shooting. Other features that Reghardt likes on the Kahles scope is the illuminated reticle, even spacing between ranges on the “side-wheel” and a 30mm tube which eliminates the need for special more expensive mounts.

Reghardt and Lauren have done ranging tests over a few leagues with the Proteas and Kahles proved the most consistent with the fewest ranging errors.  In case you wandered, Reghardt is not sponsored by Kahles, he paid full retail price for his scope. The Powder Keg and Kahles are proud to have an “independent” ambassador for the scope.

The Powder Keg congratulates Lauren for achieving a silver medal at the Worlds 2017 held in Wales last month.

Our choice of the best all-rounder hunting scope for Southern Africa

I was in Vienna when I heard “our hunting scopes are designed by hunters for hunters” that I decided it was time to evaluate what mattered most for hunting scopes used in Southern Africa.  Considerations do not include long range hunting, meaning that we talking distances of up to 400 m.

A scope reticle equates the front sight, it must point to where the gun shoots! The scope must first and foremost hold zero, hence robustness is a fundamental requirement.  The scope is the weakest link of rifle, scope and mounts?  Kahles won’t agree, this rifle found in the mountains 40 years after it was lost with their scope still functional.

30 mm tube diameters are the most widely used hunting scopes in Southern Africa;  a trend started on the incorrect assumption of greater light transmission. Other than greater turret adjustment there is no optical or robustness benefit of a 30 mm tube over a 25.4 mm tube scope. Light transmission is a function of lens coatings and the objective lens and not the tube diameter.

Choose the scope diameter which gives the best balance for your rifle; fit a 25.4 mm tube scope to a light small rifle and a 30 mm tube scope to a bigger heavier rifle.  Keep in mind that you can mount a 25.4 mm scope lower.

Ring mounted scopes are by far more popular than rail mounted scopes in Southern Africa. This is a trend based on the availability and lower cost of ring mounts vs. rail mounts.  A rail mounted scope offers many more advantages than a ring mounted scope, except that the lowest mount can normally be achieved with ring mounts.

Foreigners travelling to Africa often take a 2nd cheaper scope with them because anyway they almost all use detachable mount systems. Flight and safari costs are expensive whichever way you look at the Rand, hence a 2nd cheaper optic is a good insurance policy for them. As a minimum ensure that your open sights are accurate.

How to judge the durability of a scope?  I stay with trusted brands because they normally provide a host of other important benefits also. Some measure durability based on the scope guarantee; I am doubtful of that correlation. Test a minimum of 30 shots with every new scope, factory faults will show up early on.

Scope magnification and objective lens are important criteria based on application. A larger objective lens provides greater light transmission than a scope with a smaller objective lens. In Southern Africa light conditions are usually bright. Hunting stops shortly after sunset because the period of twilight zone is minimal.

For bright daylight hunting conditions in South Africa you will seldom, if ever, need an objective lens of greater diameter than 50. I like a scope and the rifle to be in proportion and the scope to be mounted as low as possible. My selection for Africa is a scope objective of 42 –  50; all you need and less bulky than a 56.

We are not considering long range hunting (over 500 m) where a larger objective lens does add benefit as the magnification is cranked up. Light transmission is a factor of the objective lens divided by the magnification. Below, testing the long range Swarovski DS hunting scope; fitted to a sporting gun for test purposes only.

Illuminated scopes? I doubt ever a situation in Southern Africa with the bright light conditions and a scope of good optical clarity that you will not be able to clearly see the black cross hair on an animal. Light conditions hunting in Africa are very different to hunting in Europe. If an illuminated reticle gives you more confidence then go with it.

Everyone ponders magnification.  Do not over magnify, especially in the hunt. When shooting off sticks I always advise to turn the magnification right down. You might think that you cannot see well but you will shoot better.  Less shake, more confidence and less risk to snatch the trigger. Prove it to yourself on the range!

The one gun (30-06) one hunting scope for Africaa magnification of 2-10 is ideal. With a power of 2 the field of view is wide enough for hunting the big 5 at close quarters and a 10 magnification is plentiful for hunting out to 400m, considering that 95% of your shooting will be between 100m and 350m. More mistakes are made at higher magnification than at lower magnification!

With a 10x magnification you do not need an objective lens greater than 50.  At a magnification of 10 you get an exit pupil of 5 mm which is sufficient light transmission for all hunting conditions in Southern Africa. Keep in mind we not discussing varmint hunting in moonlight conditions.

An important criteria is the lens coating! We always recommend to buy a scope with the “most” anti-reflection coatings that you can afford; the less light that is reflected back the greater the light transmission, and glare is minimized.

Turrets are a personal choice, either way they must be simple to use and you must practice with them.  I use turrets for longer range shooting (normally you have more time for set-up) and ignore the turrets for hunting up to 150 m. Simple and easy turrets avoid wasting time fiddling. You don’t need an accessorized scope! If you have spare cash buy turrets or else you better off buying higher quality lenses and using the “point-blank-sighting” range.

Hunting in Southern Africa is likely to be in dusty environments and dust quickly builds up on the lenses. Often overlooked is carrying a simple lens brush. Wiping lenses with a cloth can easily damage quality lenses.

Our “one” universal scope for hunting in Southern Africa is pictured below.  You don’t need more out to 400 m (10x), you don’t need a wider field of view (2x) and you don’t need a brighter image (50 objective). With Kahles you can buy turrets and fit anytime if you choose; AND you will never miss the moment!

 

See a new world with binoculars

Binoculars are fun and even more fun if you choose the right binoculars.  A lazy way of hunting is to rely on your professional hunter to select the game, but in doing so you miss out on the visual experience of being in the outdoors.

Likely you will use your binoculars more than you will use your rifle and scope, hence we recommend that you buy the best binoculars that you can afford. Your specific use is the most important selection criteria in choosing right.

My criteria for Africa is a pair of light and good optical clarity binoculars which I can always have with me, or close by me. Portability and good optical clarity wins in Africa over a heavy and bulky pair of binoculars of higher light transmission that you get with larger objective lenses. The Africa light is bright enough.

Hunting in Europe is typically from a hide and in low light conditions of early morning or late evenings. Here a bulky pair of binoculars is less of a handicap and you benefit from the light transmission of a larger objective lens.

The choice of magnification. Light transmission (size of exit pupil) is determined by the objective lens size divided by the magnification factor. You get greater light transmission (greater exit pupil) with smaller magnification assuming the same objective lens size. We recommend lower magnification with smaller objective lens binoculars. For walking or using binoculars in bright conditions my choice of binocular is an 8×32 (light, portable, used standing without shake and a wide field of view). An 8x has a wider field of view than a 10x and you can see all you need up to 400 m .

From stationary positions or low light conditions my choice is a 10×50 because you can normally set-up with a support, and the larger objective gets you last light. I never choose a binoculars of greater than 10x unless I am using it off a tripod or a dead rest because the “shake” distracts from the visual experience.  If needing more than a 10x magnification it probably becomes worthwhile considering a spotting scope.

The older style porro prism binoculars cost approximately 50% of the equivalent optical clarity in a roof prism binoculars.  I always advise to upgrade binoculars, even before upgrading your rifle, but where cost is a key factor and you accept a more bulky and older looking style binocular then porro prism is an excellent choice. Roof prism binoculars are lighter and less bulky but they cost more to manufacture.

If forced to choose one binocular only then I would select a roof prism in 8×42 – a fair compromise between weight, portability, brightness and field of view. This would be the 30-06, one rifle choice, but because I own more than one pair of binoculars and more than one rifle I do not own either a 8×42 binoculars or a 30-06 rifle.

Good binoculars have a diopter adjustment.  This setting equates the correction of a pair of spectacles.  I take care to set the diopter on the eye-piece accurately and then leave for a few years because your sight correction is stable (provided no-one else uses your binoculars). The diopter does not need to be changed for different distances!

Most binoculars are to some extent shockproof, waterproof, dust proof and fog proof.  The level of robustness is often a correlation of the price. I once bought a pair of binoculars and placed them in a basin of water overnight – a test I carried out while the product was under guarantee. Below, a scope being tested for waterproof at the factory.

For a light, compact and portable pair of binoculars it is especially important to chose a high quality optic because of image compromise with smaller lenses.  Lens coatings are critical, the more anti-reflective coatings the greater the amount of light that passes through. See the white circles on the eyepieces below, this is the exit pupil. A size of 4 mm is adequate for bright conditions in Africa, off-course larger means a brighter image.

Kim Jong-un having issues with his binoculars – all the “trouble shooting” in the world cannot improve his vision. Ego is like dust in his eyes.  He should clear his ego, invest in quality binoculars and see a new world!