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Thread: A guide to scopes, Red dots, lasers and zeroing.

  1. #1
    The Great Rat Killer. Titchgamer's Avatar
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    Oct 2009

    A guide to scopes, Red dots, lasers and zeroing.

    After the success of the What Gun guide I thought I would try to do one for sights.
    This is something with which newcomers to the sport tend to struggle with.

    So First of all a bit of information on each.

    The Rifle Scope:

    By far the most common form of rifle sight. These are telescopic scopes mounted to the top of the gun via a single or double mounts.
    The mounts have to be of the correct height to accommodate the objective size of the scope (that is the diameter of the scope lens) e.g. 30mm, 40mm, 50mm etc.
    Also please remember to accommodate for any protruding magazines or having to load pellets into the breach of a bolt action rifle.
    For a springer always try to use 1 piece mounts these will give the best stability. 2 Piece mounts can be used but make sure they are good quality double screw type to avoid scope creep (that's when it moves and looses zero due to recoil etc)

    Scopes are often labelled like the following:
    3-9x40, 4x40, 3-10x50 etc.
    The first part (e.g. the 3-9,4 or the 3-10) is the magnification of the scope. If there are 2 numbers it is a variable power scope between those 2 magnifications.
    the second part (e.g. 40, 50) is the size of the objective lens e.g. 40mm, 50mm.

    Tube size:
    The Tube size is the diameter of the main tube of the scope where the scope mounts are attached. The most common of these are 1" (25mm) and 30mm. Its a common misconception that a bigger tube size will give you a clearer and brighter image, however in most scopes other than the top end, top of the range scopes, the only thing a larger tube size offers is a wider range of crosshair adjustment and zoom ratio. (thanks to stot for that)

    Now please dont think you have to get the biggest mag and lens size that you can this is not the case. Remember if you are fitting these to a air rifle that the magnification can be more powerful than your gun!
    That rabbit that looks right in front of you on 10x mag could actually be out of range!
    Most people use a 3-9x40/50 for hunting however people who do FT and HFT will have different scope requirements all together!

    There are different types of Scope reticle as well which sometimes should be considered:

    The main ones that we will encounter as air gunners are the cross hair and mill dot type. Some of the older scopes use the German type.
    The main thing you need to know is that the mill-dot type can be used to shoot accurately at greater/lesser distances than the zero range. By aiming using a mill-dot you can (with practice) Accurately shoot at other distances.

    Also scopes can come with additional features like IR (Illuminated reticles) This basically lights up your cross hairs with a red/green LED which is handy for those with poor eye sight and low light shooting.

    Also AO (Adjustable objective) This serves 2 purposes 1 is to focus your scope at set ranges like 10, 20, 25, 30 etc yards. This also helps with range finding.
    But the main purpose is to account for parallax error.
    This is in a nut shell the difference between where you aim and where the pellet hits. At different distances this changes. You can never eliminate it all together however this does help.

    SF (Side Focus) Is also another feature you can get on scopes. Basicly the same as AO but allot quicker/easier with less movement involved

    Red Dots (reflex sights):

    These are generally used for short range work, such as rat shooting. They basically project a small light onto a glass lens. Because they have very low (or no) magnification they can be swung around fast without loosing sight of what you are looking at in a blur and quickly honed onto target.
    Hence the term reflex sight.


    Personally i only ever use a laser as a short range ratting tool. I found it helpful for point blank shots and finishing kills.
    However Darren Is somewhat of a resident expert on them and wrote this some years Ago. From what I gather he has had great success with them and wrote this write up for anyone wishing to us one:

    "I spent many years perfecting rangefinding by laser and could get it to within 2 yds to 55 yds. Cheaper, and quicker accurate rangefinding than any other means. To be a good rangefinder you need to get the laser well away from the line of the scope, preferably above it. This laser is as good as any for that purpose and is visible in daylight.
    Postage is included in the price.

    Here is an article I wrote in 2003. Lasers have gotten much cheaper since then and the Corsak is no longer available so that should be taken into account when reading it.

    Using a Laser with an Airgun

    Much has been written about lasers, a lot of it by folk who've not persevered enough with the system to fully understand it. I hope that this review will clarify some of the murky areas.

    Laser type
    You need a laser that has a good bright dot. To achieve brightness that means a tight dot at distance. The poorer lasers have a beam that diverges at distance and thus the available light is diffused over a larger area. As ALL class 111a lasers are limited by international agreements in terms of the power output you are not looking for a more powerful unit but a better-made unit. As well as of a good bright small dot you want a unit that is easy to mount (more of which later) and easy to aim in the required direction. Ignoring the cheap Asian units (these are simply awful with dot sizes of 2 inches or so at 10 yards) there are three main players in the airgun laser department:-

    Claim to be the worlds most powerful etc etc... As I said they are all the same power. The Crosman unit is one of the worst for dot size so leave them alone.

    Make a range of different models and prices. They are similar looking to the Crosman but much better in terms of dot size. As a rule, the more you pay the better they are. Like the Crosman unit they have a simply awful zeroing system so unless you enjoy hours of frustration attempting to zero the thing you'd do well to leave these too. If money is tight then the basic Beamshot will do but be prepared for the zeroing problems and bright sunlight will prevent you seeing the dot!

    By far the best of the bunch for both dot size / brightness and a zeroing system that makes the other two obsolete. There are two types of zeroing systems on offer from Corsak and both are easy to use when compared with the competition. This unit has a dovetail for mounting. These are available at £68 from Soviet Bazaar and are far and away the best bet unless you've got £500 for a green laser! (I'll ignore the mega expensive units for this review.)

    Where to mount it
    Now the bad news. There are no commercially available mounts that I consider to be worth a monkeys! Why? Well to be of most use to an airgunner the laser should ideally be mounted at least 4 inches above the scope. There are differences of opinion here as to what's the best height but the experts opinions all fall somewhere between 4 and 7 inches. See my home brewed mount as to how to construct one. A pair of high mounts and some M10 threaded bar are all you need.

    Why so high? If you get one of the pellet trajectory programs such as Ian Pellant's Airgun 7.5 or Chairgun (they are free to download so you have no excuse) you will see that by putting the laser up high and with careful choosing of the zero for the laser (not necessarily the zero of the scope) you can create an additional tangent to the pellets flight-path. In other words as your pellet falls away from your crosshairs beyond your chosen zero the laser can pick up the flight-path for another 20 yards or so (dependant upon many factors) giving you an aim-point accurate to half an inch or less if required out beyond 55 yards in .177 or approx 45 yards in .22 at 12 ft/lbs. It is useful to have a multi-aim-point reticle so you can dab the laser on the target to see where the dot intersects the reticle, then use that part of the reticle to aim at the target. A zoom scope is useful too. At some point the pellet is going to arc away from the laser beam (around 58 yards for my set-up) so I set the scope magnification so that the laser coincides with a certain point on the reticle at 55 yds - this then tells me when I am out of range as the laser will appear below this mark to indicate this.

    If you want to mount your laser elsewhere (under the barrel for instance) you need to create the maximum distance from the scope centreline to the laser centreline as with a laser below the scope you are going to use the laser as a rangefinder rather than an aim-point. This is because with a laser lower than the scope the dot is going to appear above the crosshairs at distances above the zero. You should zero the laser at the scopes zero and then spend time on the range working out what the different divergences of crosshair-to-laser mean in terms of pellet drop to work out your holdovers. As you can see this system is of less use but does have the advantage that the combo will still fit in your gun bag. A larger version may be needed for the high laser.

    Anywhere offset to the side of the vertical from the crosshairs is a compromise and should really be avoided if at all possible.

    When you have got your laser set up as you want it you'll find that it's every bit as accurate as a big mag. FT scope for telling you the distance to your target but is MUCH faster and cheaper than that system. I can range-find and aim at any target within 8-58 yards in the time it takes just to aim. This is invaluable out in the field whilst hunting rabbits. A rabbit will happily sit there and have a laser pointed at it without running whereas birds will usually fly off at the first sight of the dot so you have to range-find quickly behind them. I can honestly say that the high laser has NEVER been a problem in the field for me in terms of catching the unit.

    I think this covers most aspects of laser use for those likely to be interested enough to have got this far. There are other ways such as high scope / low laser for a bullpup or laser on top of barrel for ratting but what's written will cover the majority of users. So to summarise, get a Corsak, download a trajectory program and spend a few minutes playing around with different heights of laser and different zero ranges then make yourself a mount and hit what you aim at more often.

    Many silencers are fortunately 30mm diameter so making a mount to put the laser under there is often relatively easy. The laser I've linked has a 1 inch tube so again it makes making a mount easier. Bolt and glue a 30mm and 1 inch scope mount together and Bob's your uncle and it's well away from the scope centreline."


    This is something that is a commonly asked question, how do i zero my scope?
    The best way is to rest the gun on a bean bag or cushion, Or clamp it in a vice with plenty of padding.
    Take a shot at a target the distance you want to shoot at while looking through the scope and without moving the gun move the crosshairs, dot, etc to where the pellet hit.
    Reload and see if it is zerod correctly if not repeat until it is accurate.
    This will then need some fine adjustment if you are shooting a springer to compensate for recoil etc.
    PCP/CO2 don't really require any minor adjustments.

    Remember when pulling the trigger to be gentle and smooth to avoid movement.
    Also remember using different pellets will affect your zero.

    Copyright © Titchgamer 2012. All Rights Reserved.
    Last edited by Titchgamer; 22-10-2010 at 16:25 PM.
    Shot Many 0000's of Rats, Shame very few ever lived long enough to tell the tale of the great rat killer....

  2. #2
    Registered 40+ posts spagel's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
    Nice write up mate. Good place to point us all to in future when we ask stupid questions...
    GUNS: Modded Crosman Ratcatcher .22
    WISHLIST: Brocock AimX Contour XL Super 6 .22, Guns from 1968 and 1926
    SOLD: BSA Meteor MK5 .177, Webley Stingray II .22

    Stingray: 7 rats | Ratty: 3 rats

  3. #3
    Registered 40+ posts tatsumi's Avatar
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    enjoyed that, very simple but informative

  4. #4
    Registered 40+ posts Divetime's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    thanks for that good post

    AIR ARMS S400 .177

  5. #5
    The Great Rat Killer. Titchgamer's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Ive still got some stuff to add to it but i was half asleep then and not quite awake yet so there prob gana be a few errors.
    Ile have a look later
    Shot Many 0000's of Rats, Shame very few ever lived long enough to tell the tale of the great rat killer....

  6. #6
    Super Moderator The Robin's Avatar
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    Apr 2009
    good stuff, good write up
    BASC member

  7. #7
    Registered 40+ posts
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    Aug 2007
    I'd disagree with most of your points on lasers. I've used them to 60 yds and more with excellent effect. They only shake if you do and have better uses than point blank shooting.

  8. #8
    The Great Rat Killer. Titchgamer's Avatar
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    Oct 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Petts View Post
    They only shake if you do and have better uses than point blank shooting.
    Exactly, And I dont know anyone who can hold a laser steady at 60 yards without a bipod
    As well as that I wouldnt see a red dot at that distance!

    Personally I found it hard to get along with a laser unless you are a VERY good at judgeing distance as they travel in a straight line and your pellet dosent.
    Granted some of the more expensive lasers are not as bad but I found the cheaper ones to be useless for more than checking zeros and point blank shooting.
    Shot Many 0000's of Rats, Shame very few ever lived long enough to tell the tale of the great rat killer....

  9. #9
    Registered 40+ posts shot gun harry's Avatar
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    Sep 2010
    Another good post Titchgamer whens the book coming out ill be first at the signing

  10. #10
    Registered 40+ posts Stot's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    Another good base.

    I'd change "night time shooting" to "low light shooting" in the IR section and add SF to the AO section.

    Guns: SLR98 - Phoenix - Ultra - HW45 - MPA Twins - P800 - Luxano
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