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Published in The IHMSA News, the Official Publication of The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association
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Volume 16, Issue 1 Jan/Feb
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Todd Spotti
     Last December I attended one of the most interesting press conferences of my career. I, and approximately ten other outdoor editors and writers were briefed by Meade Corporation’s top management on their efforts to totally reinvent their Simmons brand. (Meade owns Simmons, Redfield, and Weaver.) When I say reinvent, I mean REINVENT. As of that moment, the Simmons brand that we once knew, totally ceased to exist. 
     Meade has essentially thrown out the old Simmons and started the brand over completely from scratch. To do so, they first they brought in a team of the foremost sports optical designers and engineers that they could find, and basically gave them a blank piece of paper and told them to “Think outside of the box”. This was necessary, because in reality, almost all of the scopes that are on the market currently are basically no more than refinements of the same old design - a design that’s been around for literally decades. Meade wanted something completely different for the new Simmons.
     A new optical design was just the first step. The second step was to build a new factory in China that would be completely under Meade’s management and control. As you may know, many, many scopes that are sold in the U.S. are made in China for American companies on a contract basis. The American company’s label is merely slapped on the box, and now the scope is sold to you and me. The American company has very little to no day to day authority, or in some cases, even knowledge of the quality control processes that are used in producing that product. By controlling the factory, Meade also controls quality. 
     So how is Meade going to control things to insure the new Simmons scopes will be a high quality product? The first step is to simply insure that the basic design itself lends itself to the quality process. Some scopes have very complex internals. The new Simmons will have 30% fewer parts, so there are 30% fewer things to go wrong. This also translates into a lighter weight product, and less sensitivity to recoil. Secondly, detailed assembly and inspection procedures were written by U.S. experts for use in the Chinese factory. Third, each and every Simmons scope will go through a three step inspection process including a very thorough final inspection. In most places, inspection is done only on a sampling basis. In other words, perhaps one scope in a hundred may undergo a detailed final inspection. At the new Simmons, it’s 100%. Fourth, Meade will have U.S. management personnel on site to insure that that the manufacture and quality control procedures are done correctly.
     So, how sure is Meade that their focus on technology and quality for the Simmon’s brand will pay off? Well as they see it, they’re so sure, that in the unlikely event that a new Simmons Master Series scope fails because of a manufacturing defect, they will repair it and send it back to you within 48 hours. 48 hours! Ever send a scope off for repair just before deer season? If you get it back in 3 or 4 weeks, you’re doing good. I once had to wait 6 weeks to get a scope back. 48 hours is very, very impressive.
     So what’s going to make these new scopes different than the competition? Let me address just a very few of the many changes that they’ve made. The thing that grabbed me the most was the fact that eye relief and field of view won’t change when you adjust the power on their Master Series variable scopes. Just think of it. The eye relief and field of view is the same at 18X as it is at 6X. Well, being the skeptical type, you’re probably thinking “The eye relief probably already stinks at 6X and the field of view is probably really narrow.”  Nope. The eye relief is 3.75” - 4” at all powers, and the field of view is actually around better than traditional designs.
     On some models, there will also be a side focus knob instead of the standard adjustment ring on the objective lens. These side focus knobs are really convenient to use, and I wish all my scopes had them. However, they’re usually found only on extremely expensive scopes. The thing that makes this feature really unique on the Simmons is the fact that it’s on a 1” tube. Up to now, side focus has been available only on scopes with 30mm tubes because more room is needed on the inside to accommodate the mechanism. The new Simmons design easily fits in a one inch tube.
     The new Simmons will also have real one piece scope tube construction. I know many other scope manufacturers say they have one piece tubes, but they don’t. In reality, they have a tube with an eyepiece assembly screwed onto the rear making it a two piece design. With the Simmons, the eyepiece optics are INSERTED into the scope tube. Additionally, variable power scopes from other manufacturers have a 180 degree slot cut into the tube to accommodate the power ring adjustment mechanism. This is literally cutting the tube half way through its full diameter which weakens it tremendously. The new Simmons uses a much, much smaller slot. The end result is a significantly stronger scope.
     These are only just a few of the features of the reinvented Simmons scopes. I hope to be able to do an evaluation of some the new products in the coming year and will report in more detail at that time. However, one thing should be clear i.e. the Meade Corp. management is spending a lot of money to insure that the new Simmons scopes will be durable, reliable under all conditions, and will have high quality optics.
     However, those skeptics out there are probably now saying “Boy those guys in the suits are really going to be jacking up the prices.” No again. Prices will range from around $60 to $250, so you won’t have to take out a second mortgage to afford a high quality scope.
     As an additional heads up, the new Simmons brand will also have a new high tech laser range finder using a completely different technology with super low noise electronics that will deliver readings that are accurate to within one foot at a thousand yards. Also watch out for Redfield. Redfield will be the premium brand in the Meade galaxy, and I’ve gotten indications that it will likely be incorporating exotic glasses and coatings in their products. 2005 is going to be very interesting and fun year when it comes to optics.
Squeaky Clean
     TM bore cleaner is a relatively new product that I’d heard about from a couple of bench rest buddies and so I thought I’d try it out. I’m glad I did. As you know, new bore cleaners kind of come and go, and some of the claims and prices of these products are out of sight. However, this bore cleaner is actually something out of the ordinary.

"TM is made sticky to adhere to the sides of the bore"

     The first thing that tipped me off that things were a little different was when I got a personal letter from Fred Sinclair, owner of Sinclair International ( Sinclair is one of the premier reloading supply businesses in the industry and caters primarily to the bench-rest and long range rifle competition crowd. Here’s just a little of what Fred passed on to me. “To date I have used it on numerous rifles and handguns with complete success. It is truly an all purpose solvent, regardless of the type of bullet, jacketed or lead; it just outperforms any I have ever used". Very strong praise indeed from one of the industry’s experts. Now I was really curious.
     I first tried it on one of my 22’s, and immediately noticed that I felt a higher amount of resistance as the patch moved down the bore. In fact, the patch was producing a screeching sound as it went along. I also noticed that when I got a little of the cleaner on my fingers that it felt kind of sticky. I thought this was a little unusual and later found out this was by design. It turns out that the cleaner isn’t petroleum based and is made up of 100% solvents only. The material is also purposely made tacky so it will adhere to the walls and corners of the bore and the lands for the full diameter of the barrel. Other cleaners tend to just run down the sides of the bore, and pool on the bottom. If you use really tight patches, you might want to go to a smaller size so you won’t have to use a lot of effort pushing it down the barrel.
     TM doesn’t contain any ammonia either. That means it won’t eat up your bronze bore brushes and won’t stink like a four day old dead skunk either. It also won’t etch your bore if you should accidentally leave the cleaner in your barrel overnight.
     So how did it work? Great! Just one wet patch had the 22’s bore shinning like new. My second wet patch came out absolutely clean and was totally unnecessary. (With lots of other cleaners I usually have to use 2-3 wet patches before they come out perfectly clean.) I then gave the cleaner a more demanding task - my 357 Freedom Arms revolver after 40 rounds of heavy cast bullet loads. I then added to the challenge. I fired a couple of jacketed bullets through the bore to add some copper residue on top of the previously deposited lead and carbon. Two wet patches were followed by a scrub with a wet Iosso bore brush. Another wet patch followed up, and then a dry patch. The end result was that the bore was clean as a whistle. Worked good! I then used it on my MOA single shot which is chambered in 7 BR. One wet patch followed by a wet brush followed again by a wet and dry patch had things squeaky clean. If you have a problem child bore on one of your guns like I have with one of my TC barrels, just wet it down thoroughly and then let the cleaner sit for an hour or so. You’ll find the problem solved.
     It’s always best if you follow up a thorough cleaning with a good gun oil if the gun won’t be used for a while as the TM solvents don’t leave behind any long term rust protection. Fortunately TM also makes a product that does. It’s a very light, gauge type oil that is a penetrant, will displace moisture, and will absolutely protect your bore from rust - even over an extended period without turning into varnish-like gum. If you live in a high humidity area like the Southeast or the Midwest, you need this to protect your firearms investment. You can also use this oil for fishing reels and other outdoor gear as well. Additionally, TM also makes a very good quality bolt grease. I’m surprised how many shooters ignore lubing this critical area since wear on the lugs will affect headspace.
     I’m truly grateful to Fred Sinclair for telling me about TM bore cleaner. It’s a heck of a product and you won’t be sorry you bought it. As you might guess, you can get it at Sinclair as well as other catalog retailers that cater to shooters that truly care about accuracy.
Stoney Point Cleaning Rest
     Well the range-master where I shoot came up with a new rule. He didn’t like the fact that from time to time, some shooters accidentally spilled, or dribbled bore cleaner on the tops of the carpeted shooting benches when they cleaned their guns. So he now requires that you remove your guns from the line and take them back to some tables in the rear. This is something of an inconvenience since the sand bags on the bench made a handy prop to rest your guns on while cleaning things up on at the end of a shooting session. On the other hand, the tables have nothing to rest your guns on, making the cleaning more of a hassle. Well, it looked like I had no choice and was going to have to finally invest in a commercial cleaning cradle.

"The Stoney Point breaks down into a small, light package"

     Cleaning rests come in a large range of sizes, materials, and prices. Some of the big fancy wood and leather cradles can cost well over $100 and take up a lot of space. Their shining virtue though is that they’re rock solid. However because of their size and weight, they’re really more suitable for use at home. I was really looking for something portable that I could easily take to the range i.e. relatively small and light weight that would break down into its component pieces in order to fit into my range bag. I wanted a moderate price as well. 
     After scratching around, I though I’d try the Stoney Point as it seemed to meet all my criteria. The cradle basically consists of only four parts i.e. two uprights made of dense thermoplastic, and two 3/8” black anodized aluminum connecting rods. I doubt if the whole thing weighed much more than a pound. To assemble, all one had to do is slip the rods through a couple of holes in each of the uprights. A rubber cap on the ends of each of the rods keep them from slipping out during cleaning operations. Set up and take down probably takes no more than a minute.
     The industrial gray plastic uprights have cutouts in them to accept a wide variety of rifle stock shapes. Indeed, I had no trouble nesting everything from an XP-100 to a benchrest gun with a 3” wide forend in the rest. Additionally, the cutouts have a soft rubber lining to insure the cradle won’t scratch your stock. There’s also a rubber lining on the bottom of the uprights to help prevent the cradle from slipping around on a smooth surface. One touch that I especially liked was the fact that the uprights had some molded in notches on either side to hold a couple of cleaning rods. When the uprights are spread apart to their maximum width, the cradle measures about 15 inches. This was an advantage in that it kept the overall dimensions small and compact for easy transport.
     If there was a disadvantage to the cradle it was the fact that it would rock back and forth as you pushed cleaning patches through a gun’s bore. The two aluminum rods, having no more than a slip fit in the uprights, just couldn’t provide enough lateral rigidity to prevent things from moving around. To provide more rigidity, a third, threaded rod through the center of the uprights and some wing nuts would probably do the trick.
     Never the less, I found that the Stoney Point met my requirements for a small, light weight, easy to assemble rest that I could throw in my range bag. It does the job, and I also use it to hold a gun in place when I’m mounting a scope or fiddling with a trigger. It’s also practically unbreakable. It retails for around $23 and is often discounted, so it’s not going to break the bank either. Check it out and visit Stoney Point’s web site at ( Lots of good stuff.

     Mr. Mermelstein is an ex handloading editor for one of the mainstream gun mags. More importantly, he’s also a very serious student of handloading history, and he’s put together an extremely interesting review of the development of the metallic cartridge as we know it today, including the 22 rimfire. Entitled “Mermelstein’s Guide to Metallic Cartridge Evolution” it takes us all the way back to the 17 century invention of the paper cartridge, then the linen cartridge, the percussion cap, smokeless powder, etc. and shows how bright, inventive men took those fearless initial steps to eventually bring us to the metallic cartridge that we know and reload today. There’s also discussions about the development of jacketed bullets, (Did you know that at one time, bullets were tin plated?), ball powder, the efforts to quantify “stopping power”, the development of the PPC cartridge, and lots and lots of other fascinating topics. I personally found the history of the 22 rimfire to be especially interesting. Did you know that the first patent for it was issued in 1845?
     If you’re a reloader at all, you’ll find that this soft cover book published by Sinclair International is a fascinating read. It sells for just $16.95 and is the perfect thing to pleasantly pass the time on a cold, blustery night when nestled in your favorite chair with a nice cup of hot coffee. Enjoy.
Good luck and good shooting, Todd

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Warning: All technical data mentioned, especially handloading and bullet casting, reflect the limited experience of individuals using specific tools, products, equipment and components under specific conditions and circumstances not necessarily reported in the article or on this web site and over which IHMSA, The Los Angeles Silhouette Club (LASC), this web site or the author has no control. The above has no control over the condition of your firearms or your methods, components, tools, techniques or circumstances and disclaims all and any responsibility for any person using any data mentioned. Always consult recognized reloading manuals.