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  • January 28, 2008

    Optics Test-6


    Our test team faced one of the coldest Optics Tests ever this past week when we gathered in Choteau, MT. (that's me on the left, pictured with OL Senior Editor John Taranto). Temperatures the first morning were -31 F. That didn't slow our intrepid team of testers, however.

    Some great optics to look for this year.

    Toddjohnoptics082 In spotting scopes, the new compact from Minox (MD50W 16-30x50) is super small yet very capable. An ideal choice for backpack hunters.

    Brunton also had a very impressive offering in their ED 20-45x62. This scope was incredibly bright in our low-light test.

    On the binocular front, a very low priced model from Alpen (Alpen Pro 10x42) is a great glass to give a young hunter and it's priced low enough that you're not going to be broken hearted if you lose it. In the mid-price range, there are a number of good models to choose from including Pentax's compact DCF LV 9x28 and the Minox BD

    And in the high-end glass, it was  a shoot out between Nikon's new EDG (pronounced "Edge") in 10x42 and Leica's lightweight Ultravid HD 10x42 --both with incredible offerings that made you feel like you could see forever.

    The rifle scope field was also very full. I liked the new Nikon Monarch with ED glass in 8-32x50 as well as offerings from Sightron (Big Sky 1.25-5x20--a good scope for a high-power rifle, Zeiss Conquest in 3-9x40 with their Rapid-Z reticle and Bushnell's Elite 6500 in 2.5-16x42, which features one of the widest power ranges in the industry.

    We'll have video clips up on our Web site shortly. And you can see who our editor's choice and great by winners are in our June/July issue.


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  • January 25, 2008

    Customize Your Scope-0


    In case you haven’t noticed, the shooting sports industry is experiencing a revolution in how it does business, and the 800-pound gorilla in the room is something called the Internet. Some manufacturers have recognized this sea change and have developed in-house strategies that allow them to take full advantage of the Internet. There are still, however, too many who refuse to upgrade their operations and fully embrace the web.

    But one site that should really appeal to outdoorsmen is Leupold’s new Custom Shop website. Here, hunters and shooters can construct a preview of customized Leupold rifle, pistol and shotgun scopes—and then order it direct from the company. Visitors to the site can select from 11 series of scopes. Following scope selection, customers begin the personalization process by choosing model, finish and reticle. From there, users can add custom colors and finishes to select models.

    Laser engraving is another available option. In addition to their name or initials, users can also choose from 21 animals to have engraved into a scope. Other custom options include ring and medallion, bullet drop compensation, parallax adjustment and adjustment dials. (In fact, the purple scope on the Hot Purple 10/22 that ran in the October 2007 issue of Outdoor Life was designed and sourced from the site.)

    After each customization step, the displayed image of the scope is automatically updated. The site also features an itemized cost section where customers can see the price of each selected option as well as a total price. Once finished, customers can order their personalized scope directly from the site.

    Leupold is smart to head in this direction. Internet selling experts often proclaim, “The customer is king.” Indeed, one reason customers utilize such E-commerce sites is the ability to get exactly what they want, when they want it. The establishment of web-based manufacturer selling sites is a simple recognition of this truth.

    –Slaton White

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  • January 24, 2008

    Custom Holsters-0


    Nighthawk Custom is a small, innovative custom manufacturer of 1911 semi-auto pistols. I first saw their wares at a SHOT Show a couple of years ago. It’s good stuff. The samples I handled appealed to me in the same way that a Porsche 911 grabs the attention of the performance-minded automotive enthusiast. This car is not about ostentatious display—no wheel spinners, no garish cladding. Just sleek lines and the ability to outrun the competition.

    So, if you’re a Porsche 911 owner, would you park it in the first available slot on the street? Of course not. Then why would you jam your custom-made model 1911 in some off-the-shelf injection-molded or leather holster? That’s the thinking behind Nighthawk’s premium Ostrich Companion full-quill ostrich holsters and magazine pouches.

    Crafted with top-of-the-line materials and benefiting from the same strict attention to detail as its entire line of handcrafted model 1911s, the new holsters are designed to protect the semi-auto in high style. Available in a rich mahogany or deep black, the holsters are custom cut to fit Nighthawk Custom’s Government-, Commander- or Officer-frame sizes. Each holster is also reinforced stitched, ensuring years of reliable and comfortable use. $199.95

    The Ostrich Companion magazine pouches are offered in both single- and double-magazine configurations. The premium pouches are specially designed with a forward cant to allow for a smoother draw. $99.95.

    –Slaton White

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  • January 24, 2008

    Redhawk Flies Again-0


    The Ruger Super Redhawk revolver chambered in .480 Ruger, specifically designed with the big-game sportsman in mind, is back. Production was suspended early last year to address a fired case extraction issue. After a complete analysis by Ruger engineers, it was determined that to provide easy and sure extraction, all .480 Ruger Super Redhawk revolvers, including the easy-to carry Alaskan, will now feature five-shot cylinders. They will also feature a Hogue Monogrip for added comfort. The Target Grey All-Weather version adds a low-glare matte finish preferred by hunters.

    The .480 Ruger cartridge produces a muzzle velocity of 1350 fps, nearly one-third more muzzle energy than the standard .44 Magnum cartridge, but with substantially less recoil than the other big-bore hunting handgun cartridges. This cartridge, developed by Hornady, can be said to effectively “split the difference” between the powerful .44 Magnum and other super-powerful, heavier recoiling hunting cartridges.

    –Slaton White

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