I tested the HW98 with the Nikon Prostaff 3-9 x 40 on board. The official name, apparently, is PROSTAFF Target EFR (Extended Focus Range) 3-9×40, and I had a “Fool’s Gold” moment when testing it.
Fool’s Gold is one of my favorite movies. It opens with two divers working dredges on the bottom near a Caribbean island. They are sucking up huge quantities of sand in the hopes of finding sunken Spanish treasure. The compressor that powers their dredges is on their dive boat. The compressor is old and rickety. It catches fire, and in short order results in the sinking of the dive boat behind the divers. When the dredges stop working, the divers surface to see why. The boat, of course, is nowhere to be seen. The one diver figures it out immediately. The other is frantically looking around. “Where’s the boat?” he asks. “It will come to you,” the other diver says. That’s what I call a “Fool’s Gold Moment.”
So, having set the scene, here’s what happened to me. Brown Santa (aka the UPS guy) shows up with a long package from www.airgunsofarizona.com. In it, are the HW98, the PROSTAFF Target EFR (Extended Focus Range) 3-9×40, and a set of low one-inch Sportsmatch scope mounts.
The next day is absolutely splendid, a gorgeous day for airgun testing. I whistle up my son to help me dump all the packing peanuts into a big plastic garbage bag, so that I can get at the goodies. I pull out the HW98 and say, “Whoa, nice gun!” I pull out the Nikon EFR scope and say, “Whoa, nice scope!” Before you can whistle Dixie, I have pulled out the Sportsmatch rings and am happily twirling Allen wrenches, mounting the Nikon scope to the HW98.
As soon as that is complete, I trundle outside with the gun/scope combination and pull out the WorkMate, camp stool, boat cushions, and pellet trap to begin the testing process. When I sight in a new gun/scope combo, I use a trick that Tom Gaylord taught me: I shoot first a couple of shots at 10 feet. No, that’s not a typo – 10 feet. I set the scope on the lowest power and the focusing ring on the shortest distance, bang off a couple of shots, and look at the results. If the shots are pretty well centered from side to side and 1-2 inches below the spot I was aiming at, I know that when I back up to 10 yards, I’ll still be on target and not shooting somewhere off in the weeds.
Now here’s a surpise: the Nikon EFR scope is supposed to have a minimum focusing distance of 10 yards, but the sample I tested, set at 3X, showed the target pretty crisply in focus at 10 feet. This scope has what I would call a modified duplex reticle. When you look through it, the crosshairs are thin at the middle and then thicken at the ends. Everything is symmetrical, and there is a small dot at the juncture where the crosshairs meet.
I backed up to ten yards, put the boat cushions on the WorkMate, sat on the camp stool, and began putting pellets down range. I was impressed with how crisp, clear, and bright the image was in the Nikon EFR scope. Most scopes are crisp when properly focused and generally clear, but few have the brightness of this Nikon scope. Looking through it really was a pleasure, and all the mechanical bits – the focusing and the power adjustment – working smoothly as well.
There were a couple of other things that I like about this scope. It is relatively small, just 12.5 inches, and light, just a tiny bit under a pound. Mounted on the low Sportsmatch rings, it hugs the receiver of the HW98. Now why is that important?
I have written about this elsewhere: http://126.96.36.199/blog/2010/11/uncle-jock%e2%80%99s-screwy-theory-of-reducing-springer-hold-sensitivity.html but here’s the gist of the argument – “to reduce apparent hold sensitivity in a springer, mount the lightest scope you can, and mount it as low as you can. This should raise the center of gravity as little as possible, resulting in more consistent shooting.”
Now here’s my Fool’s Gold Moment: after I completed all the testing, I was looking at the gun/scope combo on my bench and something looked screwy to me, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. Then, in the back of my head, I heard that diver’s voice from the movie: “It will come to you.” I kept looking and finally I realized the problem. I had mounted the scope rotated 90 degrees – the elevation knob was on the left hand side of the scope tube and the windage knob was on the top where the elevation knob should be. Because the reticle is symmetrical and looks the same in all directions, I never noticed the problem while looking through scope, and I didn’t even figure it out when I was adjusting the knobs. Duh!
Nevertheless, if you are looking for a bright, crisp scope for your favorite springer (or for any of your airguns) for general purpose shooting, don’t let my Fool’s Gold moment deter you – I can highly recommend the Nikon 3-9 EFR.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott