has just introduced a 33 grain hollow point Hornet bullet
for 2003 that can be safely loaded up to 2700 fps. I was recently able to obtain
newly developed, unpublished Speer reloading info for the new bullet and found
it to be extremely interesting. Take a look.
No, these velocities aren't out of a rifle but are out of a 10"
Contender, and none of these loads exceed the SAMMI pressure limits of 43,000
CUP for the Hornet. They are all max loads however, and should not be exceeded.
If youíre curious and own a 22 Hornet rifle, the above loads will crank out
roughly another 500 fps in a longer barrel. Not bad.
Another interesting point is that Speer found that it was able to get
higher, and more consistent velocities when using CCI standard small pistol
primers - not rifle or small pistol mag primers. In fact, the above loads are
recommended ONLY with regular small pistol primers and nothing else. As of this
writing (Feb 17th), the new 33 grain bullet is just now coming off the
production line and will be shipping next week. So by the time this is
published, they should be available. If I can get a box, Iíll see how well they
work on steel and will report.
March 4th. Got a box of the new bullets and loaded up a couple
of dozen to see how theyíd do on the range. I decided to go whole hog and use
the 12.8 grain load of WW296. First step was to zero my Weaver 4 X 16 on my 10"
Contender Hornet barrel at 50 yards. Primers very flat but not cratered. No case
Step 2 - Shot some groups at 100 yards while simultaneously chronographing the velocity. The first thing I noticed was that even though the
scope was zeroed for 50, the bullets were hitting dead on at 100. There was no
bullet drop at all. Better still, even though there was a heavy overcast making
viewing difficult, the Speer bullet was printing a very nice one inch group.
Velocity was a little off from what the Speer data indicated however. The
average I got with the chronograph sensors located 10í from the muzzle was 2667
fps. No biggie. Maybe the Speer data was taken at the muzzle.
Step 3 - Put up some Field Pistol rams and see if the little 33
grainer could take them down. Put the crosshairs in the center of ten rams and
ten rams went down (very, very slowly).
Conclusion - 33 grains, even when itís going very fast is
marginal on 100 yard steel rams. However, it should be dynamite on ground
squirrels, rabbits, and other small game suitable for being taken with a Hornet.
This bullet is very accurate and coupled with the very large and aggressive nose
cavity design, I'm sure itís a great hunter.
Binoculars for Spotting? - Back in the olden days when I was very new to silhouette, Iíd
occasionally see someone at a state or maybe a regional match using binoculars
instead of a regular spotting scope to call the shots. Some of those binocs were
run of the mill 7 X 35ís and some looked like they had last seen service on a
German U-boat. They were absolutely huge!
At first, I thought the people using them were just making do with
what they had on hand rather than going to the expense of buying a spotting
scope, or perhaps they were just demonstrating their individuality. I really
didnít think much about at first, but a tiny kernel of curiosity was created and
it started to grow. It finally got the best of me one day and I approached this
very nice husband and wife shooting team that was using one of these twin
barreled uberoptiks. "Why?" I asked. They immediately recognized me for a
newbie, but were polite anyway. "Stereo" they replied. "Stereo?" "What does
stereo music have to do with spotting?" "No, not stereo music. Stereo viewing."
Then it sunk in. Two eyes plus two sets of optics coupled into a single
instrument = stereo imaging, and stereo imaging = depth perception. With a
regular spotting scope, only one eye is used and so all we get a mono view of
the target. The nice lady then remarked on what a huge, and positive difference
it made to spot the targets in 3D, especially when determining where a miss
went. I immediately saw she had a very valid and very important point.
I then inquired about the cost and the origin of the very handsome
binoculars that they were using. Well, they were astronomical binoculars and so
was the price - about 3-4 times that of a good quality spotting scope of the
time. Yes, they did have a significant advantage, but the cost was way out of my
Well times change. As most people are aware, the cost of optics has
really dropped over the last 4-5 years and the quality has really gone up.
Simply put, you get more for your bucks than you used to. This is especially
true of binoculars, primarily because of the explosion in interest in birding.
Thereís over 70 million birders in the U.S. and everyone of them either owns, or
wants to own a set of binoculars. Consequently, the competition in that market
is ferocious, and thatís good for everyone.
I recently read with interest that Nikon
had just come out with a 16 X
50 version of their very nice Action series binoculars, and that it was tripod
adaptable. "Aha!" I thought, "Maybe we now have an affordable set of binocs that
can be used for silhouette?" So letís take a look at these in comparison with
the features we should consider when buying binoculars.
binoculars can be mounted on any standard
Magnification & Objective - 16 X 50 means that we have
sixteen power and 50mm lenses. Your standard set of binocs are 7X35. The first
question was whether 16 powder was sufficient to spot the targets effectively.
If youíve read my previous optics articles, you know that Iím not a big fan of
high magnification because it reduces brightness, resolution, color clarity, and
shrinks the field of view. Mirage frequently becomes a problem at high
magnifications as well. I always have the magnification on my variable power
spotting scopes cranked as far down as theyíll go - 20 or 25X. Since thereís not
a lot of difference between 20 power and 16 power, I felt confident that it
wouldnít be a problem. Indeed, when I mounted the Nikon on my tripod, using the
supplied "L" shaped attachment bracket, I could see that the 200 meter rams were
of sufficient size in the image to call the location of the shots with no
As mentioned before, the standard binoc will have 35mm lenses. Since
doubling the size of a objective lens will increase its light gathering ability
by four times, a 50mm lens will be almost twice as bright as a 35mm lens.
Indeed, the image I saw at 200 meters was very clear and bright.
Field of View - This is very important when spotting
silhouette targets. How many times has the competitor been aiming at one target
and their spotter has been looking at another because the field of view on their
scope was too narrow (often because of over-magnification)?
Contrast - High contrast is important in discerning small
objects (like bullets in flight) from the background scene. This is where
coatings become very important.
Lens Coatings - One of the most important
features of any optical instrument. Coatings maximize the amount of light
entering the binocís tubes over and beyond what any theoretical exit pupil value
may be. Consequently, exit pupil numbers have very little practical value and
shouldnít be really considered an important factor in evaluating any optical
One of the ways coatings maximize light transmission is by reducing
the amount of light reflected and scattered off the objective lens surface and
away from the binocular. Actual measurements have shown that lenses without
coatings will reflect away 4% of the light hitting them. Just a single coating
will reduce the reflection down to 1.5%. Multicoating will reduce it even more
down to about .4%. Now to fully appreciate how important this is, we have to
appreciate that this principle applies to every optical surface in the system.
Binocs will usually have a minimum of four lenses in their design. Consequently,
you can see where the cumulative benefit of the coatings on each lens gives a
compound return in maximizing light transmission throughout the system. As
mentioned before, contrast is also enhanced. The Nikon uses only multi-coated
Prisms - All binoculars use prisms. When the light
elements of an image pass through the objective lens, they are inverted (turned
up side down).
A prism is then used in the binocular design to turn things right side
up again. These prisms come in two designs. The most traditional is the Porro
prism. Itís this type of prism that gives the familiar bulge in the sides of
most binocs. Then thereís the roof prisms which are very compact. Binoculars
with roof prisms donít have the traditional "bulge" in their optical tubes and
are characterized by straight bodies. The standard mini binocs that are so
popular use roof prisms.
Prisms are made of either BK-7 (borosilicate) glass or BaK-4 (barium
crown) glass. BaK-4 glass is very, very dense, and as a result when polished
properly has almost no internal light scattering. Consequently, images are as
bright and sharp as possible. The Nikon uses BaK-4 glass.
Near Focus - This is the closest distance you can see an object while
maintaining a clear, crisp image. The Nikon will focus down to approximately 30
feet - good enough for even 22 rimfire silhouette chicken targets.
Eyepiece Design - The Nikon uses an aspherical design for
its eyepiece lens elements. A common simple lens will usually have a very
pronounced curve across its diameter. This results in some degree of distortion
where straight lines would then appear to be curved either upward or downward.
It can also result in situations when the center of an image is in focus and the
outer edges of the image are not, or vice versa. Images can also be stretched
both vertically and horizontally as well. Aspherical lenses are very flat
compared with other lens designs and were developed for cameras where itís
important to have imagery with the maximum amount of fidelity and a minimum of
distortion. This type of lens is definitely an asset in high quality binocs.
Resolution - This is determined by the quality of the
lenses, the lens coatings, and the degree of precision in the mechanical
alignment of the various optical components in the design. High resolution will
give you very crisp images where small objects and subtle differences in the
background can be clearly seen.
These particular binocs retail for $179.95. Consequently you canít
expect them to have comparable resolution with a name brand 80mm spotting scope
selling for close to a $1000 or even $500. On the other hand, even the most
expensive spotting scope wonít give you a stereo view of the target.
To check the resolution of this product I used my home made resolution
target which Iíve found to be useful in previous reviews of optical products. As
you can see, the chart is simply a line of "Oís" in different type sizes. Anyone
with a home computer and printer can easily make one. The idea is to put up the
target at 100 yards and see whatís the smallest line of type that can be clearly
read. I donít know of any other writer that uses any kind of resolution chart
when writing about optical products. By using an easily available chart like
this, any reader can evaluate the optics theyíre currently using and compare the
results with any other product.
made chart can be used by anyone to evaluate optical performance"
Mounting the Nikon on my tripod with the supplied bracket was very
easy. First, screw the bracket onto your tripod mounting plate. There are
two threaded holes on the bracket for this purpose. Now look at the front of the
center focus adjusting spindle where youíll find a knurled cap. Simply screw out
the cap and youíll see a threaded recess. All you have to do now is just fasten
the binocs to the bracket with the large screw with the plastic knob thatís
permanently attached to the bracket.
"No tools are necessary
to mount binoculars to a tripod,
"Tripod mounting bracket supplied with Nikon 16X50 Action Series
Before starting any serious viewing, you want to adjust the focus
on each eyepiece so theyíre perfect for your individual eyes. You also want to
adjust the separation distance of each tube from the other so that the center of
each eyepiece is located directly in front of the center of each of your eyes.
This is very important for the best viewing. The Nikon has a scale on the back
of the central spindle that will help you repeat this setting. (As an aside, I
wish the binocular manufacturers would provide a means for locking this
adjustment so once itís accomplished it didnít have to be repeated every time
you use them. However to the best of my knowledge, no one does this).
"The scale helps you to
repeat the distance adjustment between the tubes"
Yellow arrow / Scale
- Red arrow - Rubber eye cups
The day I checked the binocís resolution wasnít the best - heavy
overcast and occasional sprinkles. Never the less, I placed the resolution
target out at 100 yards and found that the smallest line I could clearly
distinguish was the one with 36 point type. I then had an inspiration. I also
had my 22 Hornet TC with me and itís equipped with a Weaver V-16. This is a
really nice scope that Iíve used on everything from the Hornet to a couple of
varmint rifles. I wondered how a 16 power rifle scope would compare to the Nikon
16 power binocs. Answer - tie match. 36 point type was the smallest line that
the Weaver could clearly resolve at that distance. This is a very credible
degree of performance for the Nikon.
In spite of the fact that the Nikonís objective lenses are
significantly larger than the run of the mill binoculars, they still come in a
fairly compact package. The binocs measured a reasonable 7" X 7.6" and
just a tad over 2 pounds. They also came with a nice carrying case and an extra
carrying strap. Given their credible optical performance and sensible dimensions,
Iíd have to say theyíre suitable for both field and silhouette work. However, if
you want a pair of binoculars that would make Captain Nemo proud, Nikon makes a
suburb 18 X 70 thatís almost twice as large and weighs more than an Encore
pistol, with scope. It also retails for around $1200.
Thereís no doubt that seeing the targets in 3D is a significant
advantage and if you choose to go that route, the moderately priced 16X Nikon
Action binocs deserve a good look.