For fine work in gallery, for match shooting at two hundred yards, either off-hand or with rest, for sharpshooting with military rifles at any range, for general miscellaneous target practice about the fields and forests, for small game shooting at long range there are no other sights to compare with a telescope. For rest shooting, and I think the same could be said of military work in the prone position, there is simply no comparison between the results to be secured with good telescopic sight and any other. In off-hand work it has nearly the same superiority that it displays at rest or in the various military positions, sitting, prone, etc.
Closer holding can be done with telescope in good light than with the finest of globe and peep, or it will prove effective in light so poor that an open rear and a jack front sight can hardly be used. On the weapon of the military sharpshooter, on the Schuetzen rifle for gallery or two hundred yard range, in the humble opinion of the writer no other sight should be used. More pleasure and more game can be secured than with any other form of sight. Yet the use of telescopes in hunting or for military purposes has strict limitations.
The man who attempted to use a telescope on large and dangerous game that might take one bullet and then charge would be foolhardy. Such sight, it should be noted, practically limits the hunter to one shot, for this instrument cannot be used in snap shooting or at running game. I know that now and then some enthusiast claims the contrary, but if shots are to be taken on running game the animal would have to be moving slowly, perfectly in the open, and the time limit for firing would have to be unlimited. As to hunting, therefore, we may safely conclude that the telescope is only useful for long shots on game that we may not be able to stalk closely, like caribou, mountain goat, sheep, and African antelope which inhabit the open plain. Under such circumstances one shot directed by a 'scope may avail more than a full magazine sent with poorer aim.
However, generally speaking, a telescope is out of place on a hunting rifle. It is at best a frail instrument which cannot withstand slamming about in a boat or being jolted by a galloping horse. It renders a repeating rifle or an automatic practically nothing but a single-shot, and any time the quarry takes a notion to move, no matter if it jumps within twenty-five yards of the gun, the telescope man has a useless tool in his hands. All of which, as can readily be conjectured, quite unfits the telescope for use in the woods.
Various schemes have come forth for using a telescope in connection with open sights. Some have tried placing the open sights on top of the scope; others beneath it, or again the glass has been fitted to one side of the rifle with the usual sights in place. None of these schemes avail much. Looking under a 'scope for a snapshot, with most of the light cut off, is trying; aiming above the 'scope throws both the eye and butt of gun out of position, while trying to aim away out to one side of an unbalanced rifle is the worst of the three.
If a telescope is to be used at all on a big game rifle, it should be one of the detachable variety, to be carried at the belt except when actually needed. The mounts for the 'scope will not be found much in the way, and the glass can be put in place in a few seconds, properly aligned for some fixed distance, say three hundred yards. If the range at which the shot is to be taken doesn't coincide with the fixed elevation of the 'scope, it is easier to hold under or over with a telescope than with any other description of sight.
Telescopes for rest shooting or for sharpshooting in war should have a power of from twelve to twenty diameters; for off-hand and hunting a power of from two to eight will be satisfactory. The greater the magnification the smaller the field of view. A narrow field matters little in target shooting, but it matters much where a shot must be taken quickly at a mark which it may require time to “find " with the sight. Other things being equal, we should therefore have to sacrifice power to field of view is a hunting 'scope. However, other things are not equal, since no man can hold a glass of twenty power, in the off-hand, with enough steadiness to do good shooting.
Multiply the ordinary muzzle movements of a rifle when held in the extended arm style by twenty, and there will be such a dancing about of sight and quarry that the marksman will be willing to swear the devil is in it. Many who can use an eight power glass mounted on a heavy rifle at the range, would find a power of from two to four better adapted to game.
Some 'scopes as a means of alignment have cross-hairs, others a single hair with a ball in the middle; again they may have double cross hairs, or a pinhead after the fashion of a globe sight. Any one of these is much a matter of fancy and individual liking; the marksman, readily becoming accustomed to whichever style he prefers, will do about as good work with one as with the other.
An essential feature of the telescope is its mountings which must be strong, rigid, and precise. Where the glass is to be used on a target or military rifle, provision must also be made for micrometer elevation and windage. While a 'scope with universal focus might do for hunting a match glass must have an adjustable focus.
The majority of American telescopes are made by the Winchester Arms Company, the Stevens Arms and Tool Company, and the Malcolm Telescope Manufacturing Company. Their instruments are made of various powers for different purposes; experts declare they are splendid glasses for match and target work, also for small game shooting, but are not so good on a big game rifle owing to restricted field.
German telescopes have the greatest prestige among big game hunters. These glasses are short, easily detached for carrying in a case, have low power and large field, splendid optical qualities, a good lateral and longitudinal eye relief, but no means of securing elevation or windage. Such glasses cannot well be used on a match rifle, but on a hunting arm of high power and flat trajectory they are the best instruments obtainable.
Comparing the American and foreign glasses, the former will do very well on a hunting rifle and nothing else equal to them is to be had for match shooting; the German is useless on the range, but superior for game. The foreign instrument costs two or three times as much as the American.
Askins, Charles. Rifles and Rifle Shooting. New York: Outing, 1912. Print.
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