Readers frequently ask me for advice when buying scopes, and my answer never varies: buy the best you can afford. With scopes, price is an "indicator" of quality, provided you compare like with like (if a simple 4x32 fixed magnification scope has the same price tag as a 3-9x40 variable with built-in rangefinder and bullet drop compensator plus battery operated illuminated reticle, the 4x32 is likely to be the better quality scope). You pay extra for gadgetry, and it is not always money well spent. There is a huge array of scopes on the market and quality and prices vary widely. This fiercely competitive market leaves little room for ripoffs - you get what you pay for, simple as that.
There are huge factories in Japan and Korea, which make scopes that are marketed under many different brand names. An entrepreneur may approach the XYZ Scope Co and ask them to produce a range of scopes to sell at a certain price. XYZ Scope Co tells him what quality and features they can supply at that price. Alternatively the entrepreneur can specify the features and/or quality he requires for a specified market and agree on price as a secondary consideration. There are plenty of variables on which to compromise. For example, a scope with a one-piece tube is more expensive than one made up of two or three sections of tubing, but is also more rigid (hence has improved reticle stability) is more waterproof, gas retentive, etc). A scope which has optical coatings on all its lenses is more expensive than one with only the outside lens coated, but it also has reduced flare when shooting into the light and generally provides better optics. You get what you pay for.
A new scope range to hit the SA scene is Lynx, and it looks good. Tom Rogers has not only been marketing scopes in SA for many years, but also running a repair service, so he knows the strengths and weaknesses of scopes. When he decided to market a new scope in SA he approached a major Japanese factory with specifications for a quality scope that would not give trouble. The result was the Lynx; under which name he markets two grades: the Standard and the Professional series. To appreciate the features of the Lynx Professional series it is necessary to understand how a scope's internal guidance system works.
According to Tom Rogers, this system, known as the image erector tube assembly, consists of a metal tube which incorporates the crosshair reticle and two or more lenses that erect the image, and adjust the magnification in variables. The front end of the erector tube is spring-loaded against the windage and elevation control screws. The rear end of the erector tube is attached to, or encompassed by, a gimbal joint which, in many scopes, it made of flexible material which allows the tube to be "steered" by the windage/elevation screws for zeroing purposes. In the Lynx Professional series scopes the gimbal joint is not made of flexible material but consists of a brass and steel girdle which acts like a ball and socket joint allowing the erector tube to respond to windage and elevation adjustments, but disallowing it any backwards and forwards movement. This patented feature ensures that recoil forces do not shift the reticle.
Among other favourable features of the Lynx Professional series is a system that ensures that windage and elevation adjustments are consistent, with each adjustment click moving the erector tube by a fixed amount; and the body tube is machined from a single block of extruded aluminium. The lenses, including the interior lenses, are multi-coated. The way to tell is to hold a scope under a fluorescent light and look at its reflections in the various lenses. If the reflections all appear coloured, all the lenses are coated; if only the first reflection is coloured, and the rest are white, then only the outside lens is coated, not the interior ones.
I am not particularly keen to undertake scope tests. A full "torture test" takes much more time (and ammo) that the couple of hours we can allocate. Our range sessions are usually combined with some other test, chronographing, etc, so we can seldom put more that about 30 shots under a scope - usually with a standard calibre. We test the adjustment dials; see if the group shifts as the magnification is changed (if it's a variable), and so on. It is much more than you can do when shopping for a scope in your local gunshop, but, while we do get a reasonably good idea of the scope's attributes, such tests do not allow a full assessment of the scope's true ability to withstand the recoil it may take in the field - especially if it is to be used on a hard-working, heavy calibre rifle. Which was why I was glad to do the Lynx test: I had extensive bullet tests to conduct, in which I would be firing some 200 to 300 shots in a calibre that would really test it - .375H&H Magnum.
Tom Rogers sent me an appropriate variable - a Lynx Professional 1.5-6x42. It is a handsome scope, matt finish, with logo and markings tastefully and conservatively done in gold. The variable adjustment ring has the usual raised knob but is also grooved all the way round its circumference for quick and sure purchase - I like that. The coin-slotted adjustment dials move with positive and audible clicks, which is helpful. The usual trick of shooting a group, then turning the dial 10 clicks to the right, firing a group, moving 10 clicks up, firing a group, ten clicks left, and son on, so that the groups form the four corners of a square, brought the fifth group precisely back on top of the first, indicating consistency of adjustments. I also shot a group at 1.5 magnification, then cranked it up to 6 power and fired another, and the point of impact did not change. At maximum power there was some fall-off in optical quality (a slight cloudiness) but that is true of most variables. Otherwise the optics were clear, sharp and bright. And it certainly stood up to the punishment of well over 200 .375 Magnum loads being fired under it. The reticle remained rock steady, with no re-adjustments necessary throughout the tests. I was impressed.
All Lynx scopes carry a 15-year locally-backed warranty. At R1 300, I consider
the Lynx Professional 1.5-6x42D variable to be good value. Lynx markets a wide
range of scopes to suit all needs and pockets - see their advertisements for
details. Man Magnum Magazine June 1996