Return to zero failures

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I just finished up a set of classes in Alaska and the number of scopes that failed to return to zero was super high.

Among two classes, roughly 30 people we had 8 scopes at least that failed to return to zero on a consistent basis. In fact the second class we checked zeroed more often because of it.

I am gonna do a full AAR on the classes and this will be a key point of the article.

Tall Target test is becoming mandatory on so many levels and guys are not doing. The act of simply dial out to 1000 and back is a struggle.

details to follow but please discuss while I board the plane and fly home.
 

Sniper1*

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When you say "act of simply dial out to 1000 and back is a struggle" are you talking about human error input also... I know you started off by talking about mechanical failure and I assume that was your finding, but the physical act by some, especially depending on their scope/turret design, is overwhelming to them. I've seen many many students fail to return the scope to zero and few scopes. I have no doubt you saw what you saw and I for one am anxiously waiting to hear all about it. I'm curious as to the brands, models, age of the scopes, etc...
 
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D_TROS

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This is interesting.

=Obvious first question is what scopes didn't return to zero?
-how far off were they?

I have honestly never done a test on any of my scopes...ever. I have been shooting my entire life and competitively for over ten years and always just "assumed" the scopes were gtg.
I will be doing a few tests this weekend. I look forward to the results.


Regards,
DT
 

Fursniper

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Would be very interesting to hear which scopes had failures. Also, would probably be worth it to many readers to include yet another tutorial on how to set up a tall target test.
Really, a very disappointing revelation to hear of so many failures. Good grief. Many awaiting your reports and insights with great interest I'm sure...
 
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Sheldon N

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Another component of potential return to zero failures is human error in setting the scope zero in the first place.... ie. not tightening the screws properly, not following manufacturer directions, etc. I'm betting that's a big part of the failures you saw.
 
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CharlieNC

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Class = New Scope = Need to twist turrets fully several times to "wear" in the splines. My friend who runs a range reports this is not an uncommon occurance even with improved machining capabilities.
 

lowlight

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We are on the line helping and these scopes slipping are going beyond an inch or two, into the 2+ inch range.

Definitely not not operator error, as we are talking a considerable amount. We checked zeroes 3x and reset each time.

Its not rocket science to loosen 3 screws, rotate a turret and tighten it back up.

Leupold lead the pack, Vortex PST (Gen 1) second .... 1 Nightforce windage error and one S&B windage locking turret did not reset so we left it off zero.

we zeroed, reset, gathered dope at distance, returned to zero to check, and guys were off. I am not talking a 1/2 or 1/4 inch but 1.5" to 3.5" since we did not dial windage we saw very little left or right, but lots of elevation offset. This was not zero stop issues, accidentally moving a click or two, dramatic changes.

If we saw it once we helped and then checked again, same results.
 

CBDR

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Sheldon N is probably right on the mark. I fall into this camp on more that just rifle scopes. Did you follow the manufactures instructions? Example: Why do I need this one inch thick tech manual from Furuno radar with AIS and digital sat compass. Just keep pushing the buttons skipper.
 

TSpork

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Would be very interesting to hear which scopes had failures. Also, would probably be worth it to many readers to include yet another tutorial on how to set up a tall target test.
I'd be interested in hearing about this as well. I'm knew to long range, so learning how to set up a tall target test would definitely be helpful



Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

demolitionman

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Bummer to hear as this is very disconcerting on so many levels.
Ill be looking forward to the discussions. Seems to me a thread devoted strictly to Tall Target testing scopes would be really interesting. Have the hide members participate and post their own results. Might be a real eye opener to see how our scopes do as well as help motivate some of us who have yet to properly test our optics tracking.
 
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Nik H

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I read a thread a couple of years ago but can't remember who wrote it. Ever since that, I don't consider a new scope properly zeroed w/o a tall target and box test. It is amazing what you learn about you're equipment when you leave the comfort zone. I repeat this test periodically to ensure that things are still in good working order.

The scopes I have kept (S&B, NF, Khales, USO and SWFA) were GTG. The others not so much and they are no longer with me.
 

Starbuck

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I'd be interested in hearing about this as well. I'm knew to long range, so learning how to set up a tall target test would definitely be helpful


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Google "tall target test" and you will see lots of good info from reputable people, e.g. Brian Litz.
 
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Jibnast

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I had a scope when ran on the tall target it would be golden going up every time but when coming down it would be about an 1.5 inches high then I would run back up and be good and come back down and they would still be high. If you came down .2 mils further than your correction and went .2 mils up it would be where it was supposed to be.
 

black5.3

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That is very interesting. Especially that it was different brands all acting up at the same time. Not a huge surprise that it was luepolds and gen 1 pst's. They both have had their fair share of tracking issues. I havent really done a tall target test or box test but i do regularly run my elevation turret up to my 1,000 yard dope, and sometimes a little farther, back to zero and will shoot a group at 100 yards and its perfect poa-poi. I dont ever dial windage and im using a razor hd gen 1.
 

SRPowah

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I have been too lazy this past week to test my new scope... probably should of done that considering its going on a 2 week trip next week. lol

I had a wood working friend build my a nice little mounting jig so the only movement is in the scope.
 
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lowlight

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Ok, got some Internet on the AERO Plane so I can address some stuff as I called a few industry insiders while waiting to board.

To clarify a bit, we did have guys make mistakes but we caught them, stuff like zeroing a Gen 2 using the turret instead of the screw under the cap. We remedied that, which is why I am ruling out operator error.

However, I was reminded of an issue we talked about in the past that was evident this weekend.

Vertical Split Rings !

Of the scopes that had an issue, several were using vertical split rings, including LaRue mounts. The other no name split rings were low budget off the "Three Bear" shelf pieces of junk. This could have contributed to the problems as several manufacturers are adamant precision rifle shooters need to avoid this rings. The vertical split ring mounts can and do cause problems under the hood with scopes. It's one of those things where you see a problem, send the scope in and suddenly they disappear when the companies tests them.

In my discussion today, unsolicited, a highly respected insider asked me, "how many had vertical split rings" ? Then it hit me, damn, I know of at least 3 off the top of my head. For sure the NF had them and I found it odd it was acting up in windage wise. So we may have a cause and effect for a couple of these issues.

40 students, 8 solid issues, and at least 3 vertical split rings in use.

For our PR 2 we do a tall target test and I on the ride back from Talkeetna we spoke about creating a fixture to mount the rifles in so we can speed up the process in order to check scopes. We want a "bench rest" style mounting fixture we can strap a student's set up in and test. The boards are easy enough, but securing the rifle tight enough is always a challenge in the field. So we came up with a new plan for this.

I am gonna address it as I said and may do a new tall target video in the very near future as I have another block of classes happening in July.
 

Clearlight

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Thats a high fail rate . Not surprised the gen 1 PST showed issues . I'm
waiting for stock of the gen 2 locally so I can send yet another one back
due to tracking issues . Hope the gen 2 fares better , although most likely
it will get sold and the $ put toward another flawless March scope instead .

Just did a similar exercise with a couple of new guys locally . Dial 200 dope ,
shoot , then back to 100 , dial 300 , shoot etc etc . A few scopes showed
issues especially dialling up to the longer ranges .
 

Fursniper

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Frank, are you (or the "insider") including ARC rings in the mix of vertically split rings?
 

Covertnoob5

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Frank, are you (or the "insider") including ARC rings in the mix of vertically split rings?
I'm also wondering this because I've always had good luck with ARC rings. Maybe those are the exception to this new found rule?


Better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and say oh shit.....
 

diverdon

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I'm also wondering this because I've always had good luck with ARC rings. Maybe those are the exception to this new found rule?


Better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and say oh shit.....
I have two scopes in ARC M-10's Both bave passed tall target tests and returned to zero.
 

Conrad

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My ARC's have been flawless. The 1 screw hinged design is much different than a split vertical ring that has a full half a ring and a screws at the bottom. I remember having an issue with a Larue mount a long time ago, and I could actually move the scope the tiniest amount. I learned then that it's an issue and you're supposed to tighten the bottom screws first (and tight) and then torque top screws to spec to do more of the clamping. You can see the Larues have a center piece at the bottom separating the rings so my guess is that this changes the angle some and thus clamping force. This is my guess so don't take it as law.

In addition, many hunters are happy with their fixed talley rings and these are vertical split rings, but if you read the instructions you'll see they have you torquing the bottom screw that also attaches to the dove tail to a higher torque spec than the top ring screw. So that may add some perspective, and it is likely that ultimately it is user error on knowing how to make up their particular type of rings.
 

JWG

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Speaking of mounts...

...how do we know that the rings weren't "hand-torqued" to "whatever"? That could cause an issue regardless of anything else.
 

st1650

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Speaking of mounts...

...how do we know that the rings weren't "hand-torqued" to "whatever"? That could cause an issue regardless of anything else.
Every PST Gen I I've ever owned (4) had issues. With med- high quality rings (Badger, TPS, ADM and Talley). Every single one had issues tracking and keeping zero. I ended up using the warranty and replacing and selling them all. None of the replacements had any of the PST issues with the same rings. I used a fixit and a borka torque limiter to install them. In fact, the Sightron 3-16 that is replacing the 2.5-10 is worth 50% the price. It doesn't have a fancy illumination but it'll track all the way up and back to zero. Also this forum used to shilled these products very hard 2-3 years ago and it's very obvious they had qc issues for a long time ... seems like sponsoring PRS leagues gets you positive coverage no matter how junk your product is as long as you have infinite warranty which is worthless when your scopes are in the shop instead of on the field. Sure, 800$ might be considered an entry level scope in this day and age but there's no excuse, plenty of Burris xtr II and Bushnell Dmr are in the price range and they're very reliable. I'd never buy a Vortex product even their AMG.
 

JWG

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Every PST Gen I I've ever owned (4) had issues. With med- high quality rings (Badger, TPS, ADM and Talley). Every single one had issues tracking and keeping zero. I ended up using the warranty and replacing and selling them all. None of the replacements had any of the PST issues with the same rings. I used a fixit and a borka torque limiter to install them. In fact, the Sightron 3-16 that is replacing the 2.5-10 is worth 50% the price. It doesn't have a fancy illumination but it'll track all the way up and back to zero. Also this forum used to shilled these products very hard 2-3 years ago and it's very obvious they had qc issues for a long time ... seems like sponsoring PRS leagues gets you positive coverage no matter how junk your product is as long as you have infinite warranty which is worthless when your scopes are in the shop instead of on the field. Sure, 800$ might be considered an entry level scope in this day and age but there's no excuse, plenty of Burris xtr II and Bushnell Dmr are in the price range and they're very reliable. I'd never buy a Vortex product even their AMG.
The way I read it, S&B had a bad apple, and Leupold did horrible, per LowLight, or did I misunderstand?
 

Hairy Biker

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If I can offer a suggestion that has the potential to save time and money and allow early diagnosis of problems with the scope/rings/shooter? Try a close range box test.

The objective is to test return to zero. The process is to shoot up to 20 rounds with one shot in turn at each corner. Setting the target at 10m will reduce the natural shooter error that creeps in from 100 onwards and allows a more informed view of the optical issues.

What should occur is 4 x 5 shot groups that should be essentially one hole. By the third rotation you should be able to see errors occurring.

Hopefully I can find a picture to post in due course.

Sadly too, tracking issues have been the subject of a current thread on Accurate Shooter forum.
 

Culpeper

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Interesting, I live in Roswell NM so we have a lot of weird problems with bullets becoming unidentified flying objects but I am using a set of Warne rings on a new rifle and I'm noticing this phenomenon. Please add them to your list of possible suspects. Scope is a Bushnell Elite ERS.
 
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GhengisAhn175

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Interesting. Saw on Facebook mark larue posting "a rare moment when he sells things at a deep discount".

and they were various dual lever QD scope mounts all with vertical rings...
 

JWG

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Interesting. Saw on Facebook mark larue posting "a rare moment when he sells things at a deep discount".

and they were various dual lever QD scope mounts all with vertical rings...
Market forces is all. Everyone foresaw this once Trump won.
 

vh20

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For our PR 2 we do a tall target test and I on the ride back from Talkeetna we spoke about creating a fixture to mount the rifles in so we can speed up the process in order to check scopes. We want a "bench rest" style mounting fixture we can strap a student's set up in and test. The boards are easy enough, but securing the rifle tight enough is always a challenge in the field. So we came up with a new plan for this.

I am gonna address it as I said and may do a new tall target video in the very near future as I have another block of classes happening in July.
I, for one, am keenly interested in this. As said, the target part of the test is easy to come up with. And, it's easy enough to come up with something solid, heavy and even adjustable, with a rail on it to mount a scope like KSE's rig, but not quite as easy to do it for the entire rifle. I've always hated actually shooting a tall target test, because I can't get past the feeling that it's wasting ammo and barrel life to test something that, with a proper rig, can be tested mechanically while also eliminating shooter error.

I've got a bunch of sandbags made from old blue jean legs, creek sand, and double zip ties on each end. They're really heavy. When I test a scope mounted on a rifle, I set it up on the bench on the bipod and rear bag, then pack these heavy bags around it as tightly as possible, and then nudge and push and squeeze on them until the crosshairs line up on the target zero. Then I carefully turn turrets and check the tracking. If I'm not careful, it will slip in the bags and not track. But, if I get it just right I can get it to go up and down, left and right several times with a consistent return and feel confident the scope is tracking. Having said all that, I HATE this method and want a better one. First, loading, unloading and moving around a half dozen 20 lb. bags is totally obnoxious and un-necessary. But the main thing is that it still isn't stable enough to be completely reliable - there's some art to using it. Every time I do one, I keep swearing I'm going to come up with a rig before I have to do the next one, but then I get the current one tested and the idea goes on the back burner.

Having said all that, I am really surprised that, amongst a group of guys with so much collective talent, and seeing how accurate tracking is (at least to me) the MOST important function a long-range scope has to have, that we don't have any discussions or sharing on how to make a test rig that you can solidly strap a rifle in. Maybe it needs its own thread and we can brainstorm some ideas...

 

TacticalDillhole

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You could get one of the Hyskore bench rests and set up the rifle in tight and level and turn the turrets and check tracking. Of course that's not a portable solution for Frank to day around for the end user at their home range it's viable.
 

Sheldon N

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A good tripod with RRS head and plate mount is pretty decent at holding position when dialing the scope. I can run a tracking test on my rifle just by pointing a hold over reticle at a point on the target, dialing the scope to match the hold over and seeing whether the center cross hairs end up on the original point of aim.

Return to zero is different than tracking and the magnitude of errors Frank was talking about is massive. Errors of 1.5 - 3.5" at 100 yards is more in the category of something is drastically wrong or failed rather than "my scope doesn't track perfectly" and 12.0 mils is actually 12.1 like we see on KSE's humbler.
 
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Fursniper

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I have a Tipton gun vise that I use for cleaning rifles, minor gunsmith work, etc. It's one of the better models that actually grips the stock pretty well. I set it up on a concrete bench at our local square range. I further secure the rifle with ratchet type straps over the top of the rifle and completely around the bench, front and back. Adjustments are made with wood wedges to the bottom on the Tipton vise and then straps are cinched down. Minor adjustments are made if needed to align with the tracking board (which is actually more of a PITA to set up than the rifle). All in all, a pretty easy way to set up for this type of thing everything considered, rifle doesn't move and you can crank away to your hearts delight on the turrets. Much more secure than using bags.
 
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vh20

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Return to zero is different than tracking and the magnitude of errors Frank was talking about is massive. Errors of 1.5 - 3.5" at 100 yards is more in the category of something is drastically wrong or failed rather than "my scope doesn't track perfectly" and 12.0 mils is actually 12.1 like we see on KSE's humbler.
Wait, you lost me there now. How is an RTZ problem not a "tracking" problem? Sure, it could be a fault of the mounting, etc. instead of the scope's internals, but still - the best way to diagnose whether there is a problem there is to do a tracking test WITH THE SCOPE ON THE RIFLE.

Added: Plus, some RTZ problems ARE definitely tracking problems. High-magnitude or not. We've seen this on scopes that always shoot high on RTZ after being dialed up, but then will RTZ if dialed below zero and brought back up.
 
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Sheldon N

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Wait, you lost me there now. How is an RTZ problem not a "tracking" problem. Sure, it could be a fault of the mounting, etc. instead of the scope's internals, but still - the best way to diagnose whether there is a problem there is to do a tracking test.
I guess it's just semantics. When I think of tracking test, I'm picturing the rate of change per 0.1 mil click so that you know that when you dial 10 mils you're getting an exact 10 mils and not 9.8 or 10.2. Also for testing whether the alignment of your reticle is in line with the travel of the erector and determining if your erector travel is going to cause the crosshairs to drift 0.2 mils right when you dial 10 mils up due to leveling your scope to a misaligned reticle. That's the real purpose of a tall target test... checking for vertical alignment and checking for precision in total mil adjustment against measured result on the target.

Return to zero being off 0.5 to 1.0 mils is not a "tracking error" in the traditional sense of results deviating from a known precise standard due to manufacturing tolerances. It's more in the category of plain old broken scope. You don't need a fancy tracking test to discover that kind of problem. A box test or just a couple range trips should reveal the issue quickly, and those are more in the category of function checking.
 

spife7980

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The difference in semantics being a difference in the accuracy of the actual units of adjustment vs the repeatability of the optics adjustment.

A good point to differentiate IMO.

I dont care if every increment I adjust is scaled 20% higher; so long as I know its 20% I can account for it and our real world dope would take that into consideration as well.
Its the returning to 0 vs 1 vs -2 etc that can not be accounted for.
 
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TacticalDillhole

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The difference in semantics being a difference in the accuracy of the actual units of adjustment vs the repeatability of the optics adjustment.

A good point to differentiate IMO.

I dont care if every increment I adjust is scaled 20% higher; so long as I know its 20% I can account for it and our real world dope would take that into consideration as well.
Its the returning to 0 vs 1 vs -2 etc that can not be accounted for.
good point.

Not being all too familiar with every optic out there, I wonder if some of these were just simple not setting the zero stops (if equipped) properly.
 

vh20

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I guess it's just semantics. When I think of tracking test, I'm picturing the rate of change per 0.1 mil click so that you know that when you dial 10 mils you're getting an exact 10 mils and not 9.8 or 10.2. Also for testing whether the alignment of your reticle is in line with the travel of the erector and determining if your erector travel is going to cause the crosshairs to drift 0.2 mils right when you dial 10 mils up due to leveling your scope to a misaligned reticle. That's the real purpose of a tall target test... checking for vertical alignment and checking for precision in total mil adjustment against measured result on the target.

Return to zero being off 0.5 to 1.0 mils is not a "tracking error" in the traditional sense of results deviating from a known precise standard due to manufacturing tolerances. It's more in the category of plain old broken scope. You don't need a fancy tracking test to discover that kind of problem. A box test or just a couple range trips should reveal the issue quickly, and those are more in the category of function checking.
Yes, I think semantics. You're pointing out the difference between poor tolerance vs. failures. "I" am simply talking about a rig to test and demonstrate either one. A scope that isn't "tracking" may not be failing (your point). A scope that is "failing" (as in not RTZ) isn't "tracking", because the reticle is not where the turrets say it is (my point). I was coming from the same thought that Frank stated when his first reaction was that he needed a rig to test the scopes that would speed up the process. Yes, you can shoot the test, but I addressed that already in my first post. As far as "a box test or just a couple of range trips should reveal the issue quickly," not if you have a new scope on a new rifle (i.e. no baseline performance established) begin to do a very slow death roll in the middle of initial load development (ask me how I know). It was very difficult to figure out because it took so long for the magnitude of the problem to develop to the point that it was clear it was a scope issue and not a load issue. I lost a lot of time and components wasted on chasing a load problem. It was finally diagnosed (i.e. proven) with...a tracking test.
 

Sheldon N

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My normal procedure when setting up a scope is to set the bubble level and check tracking of turrets against the reticle using tripod mount. Absent having a tripod or rig where you can run the turrets and check tracking, I would think the thing a normal user would want to do is zero the rifle and run a box test as the first order of business.

I know what you mean about trying to diagnose multiple issues at once. I recently had the misfortune of trying to figure out loose scope rings, while trying to rezero a rifle, while trying to diagnose a poor performing load. Took me several range trips to figure out why. All issues were my own fault of course, just not know the "why" behind can leave you chasing your tail.
 

vh20

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Yes, and in my case, the problem wasn't technically RTZ, it was that it wasn't HOLDING zero (I wasn't dialing at all after zeroing @ 100). My group sizes started out good, I made load adjustments and got progress, made more and started going backwards, figured I was out of the node went back, and couldn't get quite as good as before, adjusted some more the other way and got worse, went back to what had been working and it was worse still. So now you think "scope." But you sure hate to rip it off and send it to the manufacturer and wait and wait for them to test it and get back to you about whether it is the scope or not, especially if you have a rig you can pop it in and test it yourself. In this case, dialing the scope up and down, left and right, had the same effect that recoil was having on the reticle, meaning that it shifted it around and when returned to zero it was slightly off one way or another - enough to make a solid .5 MOA group into a 1+ MOA group. When I sent the scope in, I KNEW there was a problem with it and there was no doubt about it.
 

Alex V

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I'm interested how the split in the rings being moved 90 degrees effects the internal function of the scope? Shouldn't the ring provide equal pressure all around? If not, is the scope tube designed to withstand a crush force only in one axis? Seems kinds odd. I would love to know how the location of the split in the rings causes this effect.
 

TheOE800

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Interesting, I live in Roswell NM so we have a lot of weird problems with bullets becoming unidentified flying objects but I am using a set of Warne rings on a new rifle and I'm noticing this phenomenon. Please add them to your list of possible suspects. Scope is a Bushnell Elite ERS.
Blech, I really didn't like the Warne one-piece I had on my AR.
 

lowlight

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www.snipershide.com
According to the guys I am talking too, the use of split rings is the bane of their customer service existence ... in a word, they are flustered when dealing with people who use split rings.

They explained it, and in the retelling, I am probably not doing it justice. However, when the question is asked and the answer is yes, they immediately go, Ah Ha !

It's a bit detailed when talking about the pressure it puts on the erector assembly but I am gonna say, it's their job and they know what they talking about.
 

Hairy Biker

Sergeant
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Feb 14, 2017
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If you are too close to the erector tube with any style ring you will put pressure on the assembly. Checking ring position is often not done, ignored, unknown but many gifted amateurs like to get rings close to the erector tube because they "feel" the rings are tighter.

Perhaps a couple of cut away pictures of scope tubes would help in the classes. That way you can identify the better locations for ring positions.

Looking at the comments following my box test at 10m post, the missing element is shot to shot consistency. You still have too many variables in the set ups proposed. Bear in mind that inconsistent trigger pressure will throw your group out on a diagonal. That has got nothing to do with the scope and everything to do with the shooter.
 

Killswitch Engage

Gunny Sergeant
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Dec 23, 2008
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ohio
Hence how the humbler was born...

you can't trust until you verify. You can't verify without uninterrupted, meaning zero input from the user, mechanical manipulation of the scope.

scope flex, ring shift, ring clamp to rail interface shift , turret slip, erector shift from pressure on the turret itself....are all very real and if people seen it the way I have on a jig they'd shit their pants.
 
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dinc3

Private
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Feb 18, 2017
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Does the use of 20 and 30 MOA rails add anything to this? It has come up in the past that with a 20 moa mount the erector springs are compressed more to get to a 100 yd. zero. The springs reside longer in this compressed state, leading to possible weakening. It was suggested that storing rifles with elevations set for distance would enhance the life of the springs. Anything?

Awaiting Frank's wisdom.