Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Why I like the Scout Rifle Concept

When I bought my BLR takedown I originally intended to put a conventional over the receiver scope on it. Probably a 2-7X33 like on its older brother. However, three factor contributed to trying a scout set up.

First, I had carpal tunnel relief surgery on my wrists this year. The surgeon warned me that, while I will be able to return to work in a few days, it may be six months before I get full strength and use back. That pretty much meant that any hunting plans for this year were out. There was no time pressure to get the rifle ready for a hunt.

Second, I already had an XS scout mount on my Marlin 1894C which I paired with a Bushnell holosight. This turned out to be a good combination.

Thirdly, Browning offers a scout mount for the take down model. So I figured, "what the heck." I could always go back to a regular scope. Because I mount my scopes as low as the rifle allows I remove the factory rear sight on the BLR anyways so there would be no loss there.

At first, I put on one of the "spare" holosights. This worked as well as expected but the lack of magnification limited me to 150 yards which, while adequate for many purposes, is well below the capability of the 308 round. I decided to try an el cheapo pistol scope just to see if this scout thing was viable. I ordered an NcStar 2-7X32 LER scope with illuminated reticule for $55 from Opticsplanet.

The weekend after the scope arrived, I mounted it to the BLR using a set of Leupold QRW rings. The first time I shouldered the rifle to check to see if the eye relief was good I noticed something remarkable.

I am right handed with a left dominant eye -- a situation found in about one-third of all right handed persons. In 30 years of shooting, I've tried numerous peep sights, scopes, red dots, and holosights and with every one I had the same problem: When I bring the rifle to my shoulder, my brain wants to pick the left eye image and it takes 500 milliseconds or so to shift my perception and get a proper sight picture. Even with years of practice I still sometimes have to close or partially close my left eye to use any of the above sights right handed.

With the forward mounted scope my brain immediately picked out the magnified image as the correct one. I was so surprised at this that I got a rifle with a conventionally mounted scope to double check. Sure enough, with the the conventional mounting I had to concentrate to pick out the proper sight picture from the double image. With the forward mounted scope the right eye image immediately was the preferred one.

Out of curiosity, I put a Nikon 1X20 Buckmaster on the BLR. With an eye relief of 4.5 to 14 inches I could put it at about the same distance from my eye as the NcStar scope. Since the Nikon lacks any magnification, I could get an idea if it was the forward mount alone or the combination of forward mounting with magnification that was making the difference. I suspected the latter case because the holosights in the forward position on my Marlin 1894 didn't make any difference.

When I shouldered the rifle with the Nikon scope in place it was business as usual: Double image, concentrate, then see the crosshair on the target. So, for some reason, the combination of magnification and long eye relief enables my brain to shift gears fast enough that I don't know it's happening. I don't yet understand why this is so but I certainly welcome it.

Now I have to find the perfect scout scope.


  1. I'm curious, what scout scope did you end up going with?


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