Like You, Me And Uncle
Ivan, Some Gear Never Quits.
I’ve long been a fan and admirer of plain, old-fashioned, wedge-shaped cheap rubber doorstops. Know why? Because when they’re brand-spanky new, smooth and as “presentable” as a klunky chunka rubber can be, they stop doors. Then when they’re older, ugly, worn, dull, dinged up and chewed… they stop doors, and do a fine job of it.
They may not be visually appealing, and they can get underfoot when they’re not doing your bidding. But they do the job they were designed for, do it well, and suck up every kind of abuse—including assisting in the teething of two generations of Border Collies—and keep on working. I respect that. I used to keep one on my desk, and sometimes just stared at it (kind of a reminder of who and what I am). My wife once tried to explain it to me using words like “allegorical” an’ “metaphysical,” but when I gave her that caveman Huh? look, she said “It reminds you of you, dear.” OK, gotcha. Now, for something allegorical:
In gun magazines we do a pretty fair job of telling you all about new stuff; guns and gear of all kinds. Sometimes we’ll re-visit old cartridges and original plus more modern loads for ’em, but for the most part, the only time you’ll see ink spilled on old stuff is in reviews of milsurp classics of historical interest, or fine, high-grade vintage firearms. But what about the more prosaic an’ pedestrian products that have taken a lickin’ and kept on tickin’? This beat-up ol’ doorstop has some examples for you.
John’s old Burris Scout Scope’s motto is, “Suck it up, buttercup!”
Pass The Rubber Bands
I bought a ProChrono Digital chronograph from Competition Electronics when the model first rolled out in 2000. It was definitely a “budget chrono,” priced about $125 as I recall, when most other chronographs were running three or four times more. I couldn’t even begin to guess how many rounds have passed through it over 15 years—mine, and those of many, many friends and “range buddies,” lots of whom borrowed it for days at a time, putting every load imaginable through it. Being an electronic device, a high round count isn’t challenging, but the damage it has suffered and always recovered from is pretty astounding.
Aside from rough handling and all forms of environmental exposure, it has busted completely open, scattering innards thither and yon, three times. The first time, it was smacked by a pal suddenly turning with a rifle case in hand, whackin’ it to the concrete. The carcass yawned. I was horrified. The next two times microbursts of wind came outta nowhere, snatched it up along with the lightweight tripod it was on, and positively hurled it at the deck—with the same results.
In addition to those smack-downs, in 2013 a certain family member was “helping” me chrono a Desert Eagle .50 AE. He hit one of the diffuser hood guide wires (a 16-inch, 0.1875-inch thick stainless steel rod), twisting it like a pretzel and sending the diffuser, which resembles a helo’s rotor blade, spinnin’ off like a whirligig. The .50 AE has as much energy at 100 yards as a .44 Magnum 10 feet from the muzzle, so… You can imagine how violently the 2 inches of rod stickin’ down into the works swizzled its guts. It would have busted apart then too, but a profusion of rubber bands and target tape held it shut. That repair required open-case surgery, reapplication of Krazy Glue, more plumbing putty, and a new rod. She runs just fine, thank you.
The case is a 2-piece plastic clamshell affair which is supposed to snap closed at the factory and stay closed for life. However, if you apply enough force and stupid, like F + Sx9, it will disassemble, never to snap quite closed again. Fortunately, even if the inner parts have parted company, it ain’t all that tough to figure out what belongs where. You may need broken toothpicks, Gorilla Glue, Krazy Glue and some stiffening but not full-hardening plumber’s putty to secure bits in place. But when you turn it on and read “rdy” on the screen—that’s her cute way of saying “Ready, boss, let’s do this!”—you can feel all chuffed up about your manly expertise. You can get it wrong. Once after rebuilding her, she only read “err… err… err” for Error. I jiggered and toyed, not knowing exactly what anything did, and finally, she chuckled rdy again. Note: Do not glue the case shut. You may have to go back in, doctor.
My ProChrono reads and stores up to nine strings of up to 99 shots each, recording individual shot velocities, highest and lowest in a string, standard deviation and extreme spread. The updated Pro has Bluetooth widgets, USB gizmoids, and an array of remote-control and fancified electro-techno-accessories available. It sells for $119.95. A simpler, less Star-Warsy setup called the ProChrono Pal, lists for only $99.95. Nice, but I’m gonna try to get a million miles outta mine, without even changing her oil.
Rubber-banded, taped, and look close: She says “Ready, boss!”
If the original long-eye relief 2.75x20mm Burris Scout scopes were serialized, mine’s would probably read like “0000003” or somethin’. I was standing in line for one when the industry’s first Scout scope debuted in 1988. The child of collaboration between Burris engineers and Col. Jeff Cooper, it would ideally have eventually sat upon a Steyr Mannlicher Scout Rifle, but when that came out, my budget just laughed, rolled over and went back to sleep.
Designed to sit forward of the receiver opening and provide both-eyes-open unobstructed target acquisition as well as squinty-eyed precision at practical ranges, it features a simple, sharp crosshairs reticle, 1/2-MOA elevation and windage adjustments, and consummate survivability. It first went on a cut-down streamlined 6.5x55mm Model 96 Swedish Mauser, then a full-stocked ’96, a 1916 Cavalry carbine, a 1938 Swede, a Ruger bolt critter-gitter, then a Savage light .308, and then things get blurry. At one time, loaned out, it served on a custom-built long-barreled revolver firing a wildcat rifle cartridge. Oh, it has seen stunts, hunts, drops-to-the-rocks, use and abuse—and always, always performed.
I have acquired, sold or traded perhaps 40 other scopes since buying the Burris Scout, but it has earned its permanent place. In 2014 I had my gunsmith mount the Scout on my VZ24 Czech Mauser, which had long ago been rechambered in .308 Win. The combination is a natural winner. The VZ24 needed a little work. The Burris Scout needed new flip-up lens caps, period.
Here’s a test of quality and consistency for the old 1/2-MOA scope, securely rested and controlled: Fire a shot on a graphed target at 50 yards. Dial in 24 clicks right, and shoot again. Crank 24 down, repeat. Go 24 left and fire. Finally, give it 24 up and shoot. If you don’t have a perfect square, well, bad juju lurks in your optic. The Burris Scout’s squares still look like they’re drawn with a carpenter’s square and a ruler.
My 2002-vintage Aimpoint CompM2 red dot reflex (military AKA, the M68 CCO, Close Combat Optic) has been superseded, and some say rendered obsolete, by several following generations of updates and new models. They’re good, I’ll give ’em that, but my CompM2 has seen violent action and cruel abuse on a dazzling array of carbines and she’s still bright, watertight and ready for action. It has also been an intro-to-CQB-optics training aid, a student loaner, et al. I advise you watch for deals when the gearheads go for new models and dump their old, but battle-proven and extremely capable M2’s, cheap.
Ah, there’s more, but I’m outta word-space—and outta here.
By John Connor