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Elegance defined: classic scope mounts from Conetrol.

I first used a riflescope more than 40-years ago and have used them almost exclusively for hunting ever since. I can't recall shooting a single head of big game using iron sights since buying that first scope.

Scopes were used by avant-garde types in the 1920s and '30s, and were in general use by the '50s. Early scopes had problems with fogging, leaking, broken reticles and unreliable adjustments. Most hunters considered back-up iron sights essential. Some writers suggested the scope be carried in a case, only mounted on the rifle when it came time to shoot.

By the time my generation started hunting in the '60s and '70s most of the reliability bugs had been worked out. Nonetheless many of us retain the attitudes of our early influences. I seldom hunt any distance from home without a spare rifle or at least a spare scope. I have had a few problems with low-priced scopes, but I don't remember a bad scope costing me a shot.

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Young shooters accustomed to today's very tough scopes probably think I'm being paranoid, but I'm too old or maybe too stubborn to change. The handiest way to pack a spare scope is pre-sighted, in rings identical to those of the scope on the rifle. For convenient removal and replacement in the field some mount/ring systems are handier than others.

Quick On, Quick Off

The old reliable Weaver-style bases and rings remove and replace with no more tools than a coin. These aren't the prettiest rings made but they are strong, simple, and inexpensive. In my experience the scope holds zero quite well when removed and replaced. If circumstances permitted I'd be happier to fire a shot or two at a target to confirm zero, though if I couldn't I'd still keep hunting.

Rings for rifles with integral bases (CZ, Ruger, Sako, Tikka) also replace quite accurately. Sometimes a screwdriver or Allen wrench is needed for removal. If so, be sure to pack the tool with the spare scope.

One of my favorite rifles is a mid-'50s era Winchester 70 Featherweight .270. Of course it doesn't have integral bases. I wanted good looking tings for this fine old classic, ones allowing me to readily replace the scope and yet didn't cost a fortune.

Conetrol

Conetrol is most famous for its superb projectionless tings--sleek, beautifully made and very strong. Their quick-detachable system, called the AQD, should be as well known. It's an excellent system.

The AQD rings are horizontally split, similar in appearance to several other quality brands. The lower half of each ring has a grooved stud which fits a hole in AQD bases.

At the front of the hole in each AQD base there is a fixed cross pin, which engages the groove in the lower ring half stud. On the left and fight side of the base are socket-head screws, which enter the hole in the base and engage the stud.

The left-side screw is flat, while the right-hand screw is coned and engages a cut in the stud. Tightening the fight-hand screw forces the stud forward and down, locking it rigidly in place. The screws can be adjusted so the scope is roughly sighted in for windage with its internal adjustments centered.

I fitted the bases on my old .270 as I would any other bases, degreasing all components and the receiver holes, and using blue Loctite thread-locking compound on the rings. I then used the base screws to secure the lower ring halves, roughly centered, set the scope in the rings and secured it with the top ring halves.

I was having a nostalgia fit at the time and used a scope from the same 1950s era as the rifle, a Weaver K2.5 I found at a gun show. At the range, first by bore sighting and then by shooting, I used the base screws to sight in for windage with the scope reticle centered.

At home I removed the left-hand, flat end socket screws from the bases, degreased, and reinstalled them using thread-locking compound. Once tightened down (and allowing time for the compound to set) the left screws should not be touched again.

Back at the range a couple of days later I made sure the side screws were tight and did the final sighting in using the scope adjustments. To remove the scope, use one of the tools supplied (a standard wrench and a screwdriver-type tool) and turn the right-hand, cone-tipped base screws out until the scope can be pushed back slightly and lifted off the rifle.

Replacing the scope and tightening the right-hand screws locked the scope rigidly in place again, with no perceptible shift in point of impact.

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Nostalgia is all very well but modern scopes really are better. I used a second set of AQD tings to fit one of the best: a Leupold 4.5-14X VX III with the very useful Boone & Crockett reticle. Remember, do not touch the left-hand screws or you will lose your adjustment on the first scope. The second scope will have to count on its internal adjustments for sighting in. Evidently all components of this particular system are square and straight, as only minor adjustments were needed to sight the Leupold scope.

The only negative is the need for a tool to back out the tight screw. Positives? The system is beautifully machined from steel, attractive and bull-strong. There are no levers to catch on brush or scabbards. Windage adjustments can be done with the mount. Return to zero is accurate, repeatable and the system is simple, tough and durable.

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Once the nostalgia fit passes I'll most likely replace the old K-2.5 with another Leupold. Rifles have changed, certainly (think stainless steel and synthetic stocks) in 50 years, but the old M-70 Featherweights are still as nice a hunting title as you could want. But scopes--oh my, have they changed. Today's scopes are the best ever, and the best value ever.

Price on the AQD bases with satin finish is $99.96 per pair. AQD tings in gloss blue finish steel are $99.96 per pair for 1" scope tubes, $119.88 for 30mm tubes. Add 50 percent if you want matte blue or silver finish. Not cheap certainly, but commensurate with the quality.

You might also check out the AQD+ system, with bases which allow the use of projectionless Conetrol tings as well as AQD tings. I haven't tried it but it sounds interesting. Conetrol's reputation for quality and design is second to none so I have no doubt the AQD+ system works.

CONETROL

10225 HIGHWAY 123 SOUTH

SEGUIN, TX 78155

(830) 379-3030, WWW.CONETROL.COM
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Title Annotation:RIFLEMAN
Author:Anderson, Dave
Publication:Guns Magazine
Date:Oct 1, 2008
Words:1115
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