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Until the time conventional, bulleted cartridges as we know them are replaced with laser beams, we're going to have to live with the effects of wind and gravity as they relate to our ability to hit distant targets. Elsewhere in this issue (Minute of Angle Myth), we examine the degree to which our inability to judge distances and wind velocity limit practical maximum ranges. The bottom line is that even with our flattest-shooting magnums, bullet drop becomes pronounced enough at ranges beyond 300 to 350 yards as to make a first-shot hit under typical field conditions unlikely.

It's all well and good that with, say, a 200-yard zero, we know our rifle will print 6 inches low at 300, 18 inches low at 400, and 36 inches low at 500 yards. Fact is though, that over unfamiliar ground our ability to judge distances to objects over 250 yards is abysmal. Fortunately, with our flat-shooting rifles, an error of 50 to 75 yards at 250 (don't laugh; that's about average), isn't going to matter since our point blank range with a 250-yard zero will still put our slug in the vital area of an animal standing anywhere between the muzzle and about 325 yards away. To put it another way, it doesn't matter what the actual distance is, just so long as it's not over 325 yards.

Over the years there have been a number of attempts to perfect a practical rangefinding device, either in the form of a separate instrument, or by incorporating a stadia-wire system into a scope or binocular. The latter principle relies on two horizontal wires which span a given height at a specific distance, say 7-1/2 inches at 100 yards. Assuming a deer's chest to be 15 inches deep and the critter's body just fits within the wires, it's standing 200 yards away.

Stadia-wire ranging systems should not be confused with bullet-drop compensating (BDC) devices which are nothing more than a scope's elevation adjustment being calibrated to coincide with generalized trajectories so that once the distance is determined and dialed (whether correctly or not), the crosshair moves so as to coincide with the point of impact, thus precluding holdover.

Some systems incorporate both a stadia rangefinder with a BDC as in the case of Redfield's Accu-Trac; others use an eccentric cam to physically move the scope to coincide with trajectories as, I believe, is the case with the Leatherwood-developed system as used by the military.

In my experience a faster, more accurate, and easy to use system is the split-image optical rangefinder. In essence, it works by "looking" at the same object from two different positions, i.e., triangulation. By the precise angling of a movable mirror via a calibrated wheel, the distance at which the images converge is given.

For nearly 15 years now the only practical, affordable optical rangefinder around has been the Model 1000 manufactured by Ranging, Inc, of Rochester, NY. I've used the 1000 on many groundhog forays, as well as for caribou and antelope--the kind of open-country, no-hurry type of hunting that best lends itself to the use of a rangefinding device. The 1000 worked okay; indeed, it was solely responsible for my getting one caribou that I had badly misjudged the range on. But it was not without its drawbacks. I found the 1000 to be rather bulky, delicate and sensitive to temperature changes so that it needed to be checked often to ensure it was properly calibrated. It was okay for vehicle-based hunting but I couldn't honestly recommend it for the use on rugged, back-country trips.

Recently though, Ranging introduced a totally new rangefinder that addresses the aforementioned shortcomings rather well I think. Recently I had the chance to really test one over some measured distances and to use it on a 'chuck hunt. Called the 300/2, this new optical rangefinder is less than half the bulk of the earlier 1000, as well as being lighter, more rugged, having a brighter viewfinder, and is easier to use. Unlike the 1000, the 300/2's maximum range is 500 yards (expecting any more from an optical base separated by only 8 inches is kidding yourself). The 300/2 is said to be accurate to within 10 yards at 300 yards. I couldn't do quite that well on repeated readings--within 15 to 20 yards was more like it--but it's so far superior to human guesstimation that it's just no contest. At 450 yards I was getting readings between about 410 and 480 consistently.

On the back side of the 300/2 is a chart showing wind deflection values for 10 and 20 mph right angle crosswinds at 300, 400, and 500 yards. What I especially like about this new rangefinder is the sensible attitude reflected by Ranging's discouraging the shooting of game beyond the 300-yard mark as indicated by a green zone on the distance scale. The 300 to 350 segment is yellow, defined by Ranging as being "chancy," and the 400 to 500-yard segment in red as one that should be interpreted as "get closer." The way I see it, if any rangefinder can simply tell us with certainty that a given animal is within that critical 350-yard range, it's done its job.

Now there are lots of circumstances under which there's barely time to get off a decent shot much less fiddle around with a rangefinder, even one built into the scope. But there are also lots of applications where one can be used to good advantage, especially across open ground or to an opposing slope (the toughest circumstances of all or range estimation). This new Ranging unit is practical, rugged and compact enough to be taken seriously ... by serious hunters. And its suggested retail price is under 75 bucks, half the price of a decent scope. SLING LORE

Other than for hunting dangerous game where it can get in the way, and for varminting where very little carrying of the rifle is required, a sling is almost as integral a part of my guns as the stock or scope. Unfortunately, since I switch slings from rifle to rifle, I have forgotten to pack them on occasion in those hectic hours before leaving on a trip. When such was the case, switching that gun from hand to hand, shoulder to shoulder, was a real hassle.

Of course, providing a means of carrying a rifle is only half the story. A sling of any kind is also of great help in steadying the gun, thus increasing our chance of putting the bullet where we want it.

In an effort to promote the proper use of the carrying strap/shooting sling, the Michael's of Oregon folks-the swivel guys-have come up with a 12-page pamphlet entitled "Hunt Better, Shoot Better ... Sling It," which is being offered at no cost to all Hunter Safety instructors in quantities sufficient for their classes. Single copies are also being offered free of charge to individuals.

Covered are the various types of carrying straps and military-type slings and how to properly rig 'em. Another chapter shows the four most-used field positions and how the sling and strap can be used to best advantage. In short, there's plenty of useful information there for the price of a single postage stamp.

Hunter Safety instructors wanting quantities of pamphlets should indicate their class needs. All requests should be sent to Michael's of Oregon, Dept. GA, Box 13010, Portland, OR 97213. SILENCIO MUFFS

I've been using a couple of new ear muffs of late that I especially like. No, I'm not going to harp about ear protection again; I've done enough of that alreayd. Suffice it to say that if you're an active shooter with an IQ above that of a fern, you wear ear muffs or plugs whenever you're near the shooting range.

Anyway, the Silencio people have come up with a pair of highly compact ear muffs, the Silencer and Vandalia models, which fold into a small package that easily stows into even the smallest and most crowded shooting boxes. When folded, either model fits in the palm of your hand and weighs less than 6 ounces.

More importantly than how light and compact they are when folded, however, is how they fit and feel when worn. Every ear muff I've ever used has worked well in that they reduced muzzle blast to acceptable levels-as well they should. Where some units fall short, however, is in the bulkiness of the muff itself to the point where it projects enough to interfere with getting your head down on the stock. Also, some adjustable headbands have more than enough slides and fittings to catch your head fur. With my receding hair line I don't like the idea of having to write off ten follicles every time I remove my ear muffs.

I found these new Silencios to protrude the least of any I've tried. As for hair pulling, any adjustable of some sort to catch a stray strand or two but this design keeps it to a minimum.

The Vandalia and Silencer differ only in that the former has liquid-filled ear cushions, which I prefer, while the latter uses a foam fill. Both are nice and comfortable, work well, and, like I said, are compact both on and off.

Silencio, incidentally, makes a fine ear plug called Silent Partner. It's a soft plastic-like cone filled with a rubbery substance that has a "memory". You roll it between your fingers to reduce its diameter, then place it in the ear where within a few seconds it gently expands to provide a snug seal. What I especially like about these plugs is that there are no baffles to collect ear wax, thus they are easily cleaned.

For sighting-in sessions on hunting trips or even for chuck or prairie dog shooting where wearing muffs isn't practical. I use Silent Partners. I keep a pair in every gun case I own and in the glove compartment.

Silencio's ear-protection hardware is widely available in gun shops and sporting goods store nationwide. COLT-SAUER ID

When is a Colt-Sauer a Carl Gusta? Or for that matter, when is a Carl Gustaf an FFV ... or a Smith & Wesson ... or a Husqvarna?

Confused? That's understandable. There's been a lot to confuse us over the past 15 years regarding these respective marques. Let's start with the most recent developments and work backwards and see if we can make some sense of it.

Most American shooters are familiar with the unique German-made Sauer rifle as being the one that Colt has been importing exclusively here for over a decade. This highly distinctive rifle is known for its sculptured receiver; cam-actuated articulating lugs with rear lock-up, and its roller-bearing trigger, among other features. The basic Sauer rifle, however, is marketed world-wide (without the Colt prefix of course). Through special agreement with Colt, guns destined for our market had Colt-specified alterations such as the removal of iron sights, along with different finishes and stock design to make them better suited to the taste of the American shooter.

As of this year Colt no longer has exclusive import rights to the Sauer rifle, and another importer has stepped into the picture. Though Colt still retains exclusive rights to those Sauers made to their cosmetic specs, the European versions of the rifles will be marketed here by Judd & Associates, Box 919, Madison, CT 06443. Called the Sauer 90, this line will differ from Colt's in that there will be oil-finished stocks, iron sights, and the guns will be offered in metric chambering like 6.5x57, 6.5x68, 7x64, 8x68S and 9.3x62, in addition to the usual U.S. calibers.

Enter a third party: Aimport USA who in April announced they would begin importing the Sauer-designed rifle made under license in Sweden by FFV and called the Carl Gustaf. Here again we're talking the same basic rifle with minor detail and cosmetic variations. Aimport will be importing a limited, basic caliber, line-up--.243, .270, .308 and .30-06, plus a few others not yet nailed down at this writing.

Now what really confuses the issue is that many of you out there will remember that there was another. Carl Gustaf rifle imported here during the early and mid-70's. Now that was a nice action! It was a Mauser type, front lock-up design but the locking lugs were pie-shaped in cross section-dovetailed if you will-which made for one of the smoothest turnbolts ever made. It was also an extremely clean design that lent itself well to custom gun-building. For reasons known only to the FFV people, they raised the price of the gun by almost 40 percent in one year and thereby priced it right out of the market. I guess they wanted out and that was the best way to accomplish it.

Prior to succumbing to this compulsion to name rifles after their kings, the gun was unofficially referred to here as the FFV (for the company that owned the factory in Eskilstuna, Sweden where it was produced). The action, however, was designed and, for a while, built by Husqvarna before they sold their entire gun-making facility to FFV, who not so incidentally makes much of Sweden's military hardware up to and including rockets, naval guns, torpedoes, etc.

While Husqvarna was making the guns, they made a batch for Smith & Wesson to market here under the S&W name, in addition to those firearms sold under their own by their then exclusive importer, Tradewinds of Tacoma, Washington. So much for the Carl Gustaf/FFV/Husqvarna/Smith & Wesson!
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Title Annotation:optical range finders; ear muffs; Sauer rifles
Author:Sundra, Jon
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Sep 1, 1984
Previous Article:Washington Report.
Next Article:Carnivorous anti-hunters.

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