Upgrading the Optics

Discussion in 'General Sako Discussions' started by icebear, Sep 21, 2019.

  1. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    Found some good deals on German/Austrian optics and decided to upgrade a few of my rifles. First, I found a West German Zeiss 3-9x Diavari-C on eBay for $425. No lens covers and some ring marks, but the optics are clear and the zoom and focusing rings are smooth, which is what's important. That's a very highly regarded scope; a couple of our members have that same item on multiple Sakos. It's my first; I have had the 6x Diatal-C for a long time and like it, but I was very impressed with the 3-9x Diavari when I looked through it. That went onto my L461 carbine in .222, replacing a Burris 3-9x compact.

    Then I picked up a 10x Diatal-C for an amazing 300 bucks, also on eBay. That was a piece of luck. It was being sold by a pawn shop in Florida, which dropped the Buy it Now price from 400 to 300. I jumped on it and it turned out to be in excellent condition with very minor ring marks and one tiny scratch in the coating. That is now on my L461 Mannlicher-style full-length rifle, replacing a Burris 12x. The Zeiss is much smaller physically than the Burris, making for a lighter and better-looking package. The improvement in the view isn't as dramatic as with the Zeiss on the carbine, but it's a definite step up.

    And finally, I spotted a Swarovski 3-9x on Armslist, like new in the box, for $500 (that scope is $700 new). Followed up on it and discovered that the seller was a guy I know and trust, so I grabbed that and put it on my Tikka 695 in 6.5x55, replacing a 1.5-6x Burris Signature. That is the current version of the 3-9x Swarovski, which is labeled "Assembled in USA."


    You'll notice that all three of the scopes I replaced were Burris. That doesn't imply anything negative about Burris scopes. I've been using them for years and always thought they offered excellent quality and value for money. They are (mostly) US made and have the same unconditional guarantee as Leupold. The Signature line, which was only made for a few years, offered 4:1 zoom ratios and excellent sharpness and clarity. They were priced at the top of the line but still offered outstanding value. The only drawback with Burris is mounting - some of their scopes have the turrets way forward, making them harder to fit to certain rifles. I still have a 2-8x Signature on a .300 H&H L61R, and I may well find other uses for the three scopes that I replaced.

    Something I discovered mounting these scopes is that the two Sakos required (old style) high rings, even though the objective bells would clear the barrel with medium rings. The European eyepieces are much bigger than on a typical Burris or Leupold 1" scope and the bolt handle would hit the ocular housing when the scopes were mounted in medium rings. Too bad; I've got lots of medium rings but those were my last high ones.

    Got out to the range today and did a sight-in check at 25 yards. My laser had done a good job; a couple of rounds each got them centered. I didn't fire them at 100 because of the layout at the county range where I shoot. There is a 50-yard range, with target mounts at 50, 25, 10, and 5, and a 200-yard range with target mounts only at 200 and 100. So, I'd have had to move to the other side of the range, and I also had some pistols to shoot, so I will shoot the three rifles for a final zero check and some accuracy testing next week.

    Here's a picture of the three rifles with their new scopes, followed by a "Before" pic of the .222 with the long 12x Burris and a comparison shot of the Burris and Zeiss scopes.
    3 with new scopes.JPG L461 222-1.JPG Zeiss 10x - Burris 12x.JPG
     

  2. XTrooper

    XTrooper Well-Known Member

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    Very, very nice rifles and glass. That carbine is especially handsome to my eye. Enjoy them, amigo!
     
  3. robinpeck

    robinpeck Well-Known Member

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    I also use Austrian/German made optics on all my rifles...mostly Swarovski, some Zeiss and Schmidt & Bender, a few others... all bought at bargain prices as used scopes (except for those that came to me already attached to rifles). A reason for them being bargains is that many people are afraid to buy "used" optics and they get hung up on superficial exterior wear like slight ring marks. After only a little education you can confidently buy these very high quality scopes for far less than their original cost. (Incredible deals can be found especially for 26mm scopes...and there are plenty of 26mm Sako rings available.) Nothing ever seems to go wrong with these scopes, although most have great transferable warranties, and they have superb glass.
    [​IMG]
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    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
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  4. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    robinpeck:
    The 26mm scopes can, indeed, be a bargain. This is especially true of lesser-known brands like Pecar-Berlin and B.Nickel-Marburg that built excellent optics but were never imported in any numbers. I have a 4-10x Pecar on an L469 sporter in .222 Magnum. It's as sharp and clear as any scope I own (except maybe the Schmidt & Bender) and a good power range for the caliber and type of rifle. I got it, already mounted in Sako rings, attached to an L461 that I later resold. There's one just like it on GunBroker for $215, which I'd say is a bargain for a scope of that quality. I've also got a B.Nickel 12x on a Finnish military target rifle. The original rings are 26mm, so I was glad I had that scope sitting in a drawer when I got the rifle. Again, the optical quality is superb and so is the finish. One of the lesser-known German manufacturers, I forget which one, even offered user-interchangeable reticles on some models. There are also some European distributor house brands that are virtually unknown in the US, but are actually made by big-name optical companies. One of these is Hubertus; I have a Hubertus 6x on a German custom rifle. The actual manufacturer is Schmidt & Bender.

    Rail mount scopes can be a huge bargain, but then you have the problem of finding mounts and doing the actual mounting.

    The bigger European names like Zeiss, Schmidt & Bender, Kahles, and Swarovski are sufficiently well-known in the US that you will seldom find a real steal on one. Good deals, yes, but not like the lesser-known brands. You also need to look out for 26mm scopes misidentified as 1". I've seen some pretty messed-up scopes from people squeezing a 26mm tube into 1" rings. Some European rings are designed with wrap-around upper parts that will work with either. Old Stith mounts also came with 26mm rings, as they were designed for the early Kollmorgen scopes with 26mm tubes.

    I have a nice 6x Kahles that I picked up at a good price off Gunbroker. The seller swore up and down it was a 1", but it miked 26mm when I unpacked it. I had bid on it figuring the dealer was probably wrong, so it didn't bother me much. I e-mailed the dealer and he was apologetic for the mistake and grateful for the information on how to tell the difference.

    There are some drawbacks to older German/Austrian scopes, but nothing too hard to deal with. 26mm Sako rings can be hard to find in the US, although when found, they don't usually cost any more than 1" rings. This may be a difference between the US and Canadian markets; it seems to me that Canada has gotten more European-market items where the US got gear made for the US market. 26mm rings for Redfield bases and Picatinny rails are readily available. Another issue is that older scopes lack the high-tech coatings of present-day scopes. The coatings enhance light transmission and reduce flare when the scope is pointed toward the sun. I can live with that; it's very seldom that you find yourself faced with a shot with a bright sun behind the animal. And new scopes, especially European ones, are exponentially more expensive. Another problem for many Americans is that European variable scopes typically have first-focal-plane reticles, which change apparent size with the view as you zoom. Current Zeiss and Swarovski scopes made for the US market have the typical American second-focal-plane reticle, whose apparent size remains constant as you zoom. Finally, there's the question of reticle type. The reticle most commonly found on European scopes is the German #1, with two heavy horizontal bars and an upward-facing pointer in the middle. That's a good reticle for certain hunting situations, but does not lend itself to precision shooting. I prefer the #4, which has crosshairs augmented by heavy bars at left, right, and below, with the upper part left open. There are many, many more, including some real head-scratchers, but the #1 and #4 are the most common. Duplex reticles are seen mostly on scopes intended for the American market.

    L469 with 4-10x Pecar-Berlin. Scope bell clears the barrel with Sako high rings, but barely.
    222 Mag 2.JPG Long Pecar.JPG

    2.5-6x B.Nickel-Marburg on an FN-Sako .30-06. Note the rings. The windage adjustments are held in place with clamp screws rather than spring-loaded with detents like regular Sako rings. I have been trying for years to find out where they came from. They are not the notorious Spanish rings; these are of the same quality as Sako originals and do not have the hinged ring tops like the Spanish ones. They are unmarked except for the size.

    06 Scope Left.JPG

    Schmidt & Bender 1.5-6x on a Krico .30-06. 30mm tube, Conetrol mounts and rings.
    Krico 1.JPG

    Hubertus 6x42mm in claw mounts on a German custom Mauser. Scope made by Schmidt & Bender
    JPS 3.JPG
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  5. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    This is a somewhat extreme example, but isn't atypical of the way many European scopes mount. How does anyone ever get their eye aligned with the scope when it is 5 inches (127mm) above the comb of the rifle? I simply can't feature trying to hunt with a scope mounted so high.
     
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  6. robinpeck

    robinpeck Well-Known Member

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    "Some European rings are designed with wrap-around upper parts that will work with either."

    A lot of people don't seem to know this. This is good information.

    Here are a couple of "for instance" shots of a CZ upper ring that will fit either 26mm or 1 inch:

    [​IMG]
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    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  7. robinpeck

    robinpeck Well-Known Member

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    Not a Sako, but still a favorite rifle:

    BRNO small ring Mauser 98. Caliber 8x57S
    Barrel Length: 20.5" to front of bolt. Excellent bore.
    Double set triggers.
    Hensoldt-Wetzlar Duralyt 6x scope in see-through claw mounts.
    German No. 1 reticle. With fitted leather case.
    Dated 1951 on barrel and receiver.
    Matching serial numbers on barrel, bolt and stock (in barrel channel).
    Both Czechoslovakian and German (Ulm) proofmarks.
    Right side of barrel ahead of rear sight marked in English "Made in Czechoslovakia".
    Receiver and barrel stamped "Geco" (German retailer, Gustav Genschow & Co.)
    Stock stamped WB (inspector) in a cartouche on bottom of stock behind the pistol grip.
    Tally marked stock (silver inlays of Roe Deer, Wild Boar, Red Deer, and Fox with silver pins)
    Weight approx. 6lb. 10 oz. w/o scope.
    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  8. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    A handsome rifle. Those old Brno guns had class.
     
  9. robinpeck

    robinpeck Well-Known Member

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    I wonder about the history of the DURALYT brand....Maybe Zeiss bought up Hensoldt-Wetzlar and the Duralyt brand name. Here is a more recent Zeiss Duralyt (Made in Germany with 4A reticle) on my Kimber Montana 25-06. (And getting back on the Sako theme...this rifle replaced my Sako 85 Blackbear. I just couldn't get used to the sticky soft finish on the Sako stock.) And speaking of great deals: I got the Q-D Talley 30mm rings at a local gun show last month for $25 (Canadian dollars...Current Canadian retail is nearly ten times that amount)
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
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  10. robinpeck

    robinpeck Well-Known Member

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    Answering my own question re: "DURALYT."

    Found this online (http://hensoldt.no/). Apparently Hensoldt actually is Zeiss, at least since since 1928 (see text below). So I guess Zeiss can revive the "DURALYT" brand name on a Zeiss scope anytime they want.

    "Moritz Hensoldt, born in 1821, is the founder of the Hensoldt line. In 1852, he established a small optical company in Sonneberg, Thuringia, which relocated to Wetzlar, Hesse, in 1865. Since then Hensoldt has been a vital part of the centre of optics and precision mechanics in Wetzlar.

    Hensoldt AG, known for its innovative targeting optics for rifles, was acquired by the Carl Zeiss Foundation in 1928. The company kept its focus on optical and optronic devices including riflescopes, spotting scopes and binoculars."
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2019
  11. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    Here's one more German scope on a 26mm tube, a 12x42mm B.Nickel-Marburg in a Finnish military sniper mount.

    Robinpeck: Your photo of wrap-around CZ rings was interesting. I hadn't seen wrap-around CZ rings before; all of my CZ rings are horizontally split. The latest CZ catalog shows horizontally split rings in most photos, but a few do show the wrap-arounds. Other rings that work with either 1" or 26mm tubes include the EAW pivot mount rings and their East European knockoffs, and I believe Recknagel also makes such a ring.

    BNickel 12x.JPG
     
  12. robinpeck

    robinpeck Well-Known Member

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    And in contrast, I have never seen a horizontally split CZ ring...All the ones I am aware of are what you call the wrap-around type. Tradeex in Canada has a couple dozen different types for sale: (https://www.tradeexcanada.com/produits/90)
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
  13. robinpeck

    robinpeck Well-Known Member

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    One other thing..

    re: https://www.24hourcampfire.com/index_binocular_basics_part_one_manufacturing.html

    Whenever somone like Barsness starts claiming that "optics from everywhere have been improving over the past 30+ years" and then sings the praises of new Chinese binoculars, I look through my old steel tube 26mm Swarovski 4X32 scope made in the 1950's. It is absolutely the clearest, sharpest, best color transmitting scope I have ever owned and I have owned a lot of scopes over the last 40 years or so...European, USA and Asian made...Trust your own eyes, not a professional scribbler's opinion.
     
  14. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    What Barsness should say is that "good optics have become more affordable". There is little new in optical engineering which hasn't been around for the last hundred years or so, as illustrated by the clarity of older instruments from European manufacturers like those you cite and a few American producers like the Bausch & Lomb products from Rochester, N.Y. But better, cheaper mass-production methods and automated lens grinding have made good optics much less expensive.

    A good quality scope like a Leupold 3-9 sold for $99 in the mid-1960's, which is the equivalent of about $800 today (https://www.usinflationcalculator.com/). You can buy a better-made similar Leupold today for around $250 retail, or less than 1/3 of its mid-1960's cost.

    Even fairly cheap Asian optics exhibit pretty good images (although they can be erratic when it comes to variable magnification, gas sealing, and other physical issues like internal reticle adjustments). No, today's optics from the big-box discount stores won't match the Zeiss/Hensoldt/Swaros from 60 or 70 years ago, but decent quality optics are lots cheaper than they used to be.
     
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  15. icebear

    icebear Well-Known Member

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    The big improvement in optics isn't in the design or the glass. It's coatings. Modern coatings improve light transmission and reduce flare, producing a brighter picture with better contrast. A top-quality optic from 60 years ago is as sharp as, or sharper than, a new one, but the coatings on the newer scope improve its low-light performance for a given objective size. I have several older German/Austrian scopes and the difference I notice between those and newer scopes is the greater contrast provided by modern coatings.

    And most of the Chinese optics are not built to last. I don't trust them. It's funny, I can remember when "Made in Japan" was an insult; now you look for Japanese optics in preference to Chinese.
     
  16. barrya

    barrya Member

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    I too remember when MADE IN JAPAN was laughed at. Just like the MADE IN CHINA is now. I think after Japan was able to recover from WWII they started out with some not so good products. They quickly improved upon that. Barry
     

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