If you have been reading this blog for a while, you probably have noticed that I don’t generally do negative reviews. Oh, sure, I may mention that I didn’t like this or that about a particular airgun or that something could be improved, but if I find that an airgun has what I call “a fatal flaw” (for example, the trigger weight might be unacceptably high), I tell the manufacture that the review will have to wait until they fix the problem.
My underlying philosophy is that you, the reader, would prefer to read about products that work reasonably well and that perhaps you might like to buy. My presumption is that you, like me, read reviews of products on-line as a kind of “decision support tool” that you use to figure out whether you are interested in a product.
Lately, though, I have noticed a trend that has gotten me hot enough that I need to blow off some steam. That trend has been the inclusion of really crappy scopes in a package with an inexpensive yet decent air rifle.
What do I mean by “a really crappy scope?” Quite simply, a scope that does not have an adjustable objective. An adjustable objective – usually a rotating bell on the end of the scope that faces the target but sometimes a sidewheel on the scope – allows the shooter to critically focus the scope on the target. Sometimes because the scope cannot be focused, it is just plain difficult to see the target clearly.
But there is another problem: a non-adjustable objective can result in something called parallax error. For a detailed explanation of parallax, go here: http://188.8.131.52/blog/2009/07/parallax.html The upshot of parallax error is that if you don’t place your eye in exactly the same spot behind scope for each shot (and it is surprisingly easy to get it wrong), you may think that you are aiming at the same spot on the target, but you may not be.
Now, at this point you would be right to ask: “So what?” Well, it is a very big “so what.” If you can’t be sure that you are aiming at the same spot on the target, your attempts to shoot groups for accuracy and to test different pellets to see which is the most accurate will be in vain . . . that’s what.
The reason that I am writing about this is that in the past month or so, I have been sent three different air rifle/scope combos that included crappy scopes. In one case, I contacted the manufacturer and said, “The previous generation of this rifle had a better scope; this is a step backwards.” I was told: “The decision was made to include this scope with this rifle. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”
In another case, I contacted the parent company, and they said, “Maybe you got a defective scope.” I sent the scope back and in a few days I heard from them: “You should test this rifle with whatever scope you prefer.” In other words, the scope was not defective, just crappy. (And in private conversations, the guy I spoke with, a marketing guy, admitted that this was likely to create a customer satisfaction and product return problem for them.)
Next time, we’ll look at why airgun companies do this.
Til then, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott