Field Notes & Tips from New England Custom Gun
This page will be dedicated to help people with a variety of topics and tips about things learned over the years. I labeled it "Field Notes & Tips" as most of what you will find here is coming from first hand experiences, either in the field or in our shop. The topics will be random and as it unfolds I will make an attempt to organize it as best possible.....
Trip Insurance: Seems like an odd topic to start with but after my recent trip to Africa I can truly say that Trip Insurance is money well spent. Between my father having to cancel his trip for health reasons two days before we were scheduled to depart and then me stepping in a hole while hunting and rupturing my Achilles, the cost of my trip and traveling expences changed dramatically. When the dust settled, I filed my claims and got back virtually all of the extra money the trip cost me. Again, money very well invested. So if you use a travel agent, ask about travel insurance when you purchase your airline tickets.
Hunting Optics: When talking about quality optics I hear it all the time, "That costs more than my rifle!!" To that I say "That’s OK". The old saying "You can't shoot it.... if you can't see it" comes to mind. However when I hear a customer say "I just bought a new model blah, blah rifle ....." I'm already thinking they will not want to buy premium glass. Why, because they probably buy and sell guns regularly and spending the extra cash for high end optics is not really in the plan. For some, just like wives' and underwear, they change them frequently. Music to my ears is having the conversation start with "I booked a hunt to...." or "I'm looking to invest in good glass because I can't see with my old scope" or "I'm building my dream gun"... these requirements can be met with high quality glass and the investment in such glass can have priceless benefits. Don't skimp on the optics. In the old days people would scope a gun, then trade or sell off the gun and the scope went with the gun and held very little value. These days when people buy high end glass, it's not uncommon to keep the scope and change the gun under it.
The other thing to keep in mind is with high grade glass comes high resolution and image quality. What this means is you will not need that over bearing, over sized, over powered scope you have been using that has been weighing you down. Again you will see more detail with better glass than you will with cheap glass at twice the magnification. By keeping the optic smaller the overall weight of the gun lessens and let's face the fact that we hunters carry our firearms far more than we fire them. I don't know about you but the older and wiser I get the lighter the carry weight the better... So in short don't be tempted to overpower the scope. I carry Leica binoculars for my glassing and game inspection and the scope is merely my delivery system. My go to scope is a fixed 4x36 by a brand I will no longer discuss... Small, wicked bright and camera quality clear. Keep it simple.
Mounts: I am often ask "What mount should I use to mount my new expensive scope?"... That's a loaded question with many answers. However the most important thing that needs to be done, no matter what scope mount is being used, is that it is installed correctly. Many quality mounts are up to the task however there are many "assembly type" gunsmiths out there. They are accustom to taking a "Brand X rifle, screwing on a "Brand Y" mount and installing a "Brand "Z".....oops wrong letter "Brand Q"...that's better....scope. In the U.S. a second focal plane scope rules the bulk of the hunting market and with that design comes a ton of internal adjustment. You can literally mount some second focal plane scopes crooked and still have enough internal adjustment to actually get it the collimated or on the paper and sighted in. No one is the wiser. HOWEVER...a typical first focal plane European scope does not play well with these "assembly" smiths. The alignment of the scope and the bore makes all the difference. First focal plane scopes lack internal adjust. In fact in many cases it’s a small percentage of that found in a second focal plane scope, but there are several advantages to the first focal plane and that can be discussed later. In Europe it is said that less than 1% of the hunters mount their own scopes. They use professional gunsmiths for this task. Those gunsmiths are trained in mounting a scope and aligning the mount to assure that it is centered over the gun. When done the reticle is as close to optical and mechanical center as it can be before the scopes adjustments are even touched. To do this they either use mounts that have both Windage and Elevation adjustment built into them or they will also re-fit or in some case re-machine a scope base to align the scope to the bores axis. Many European optics are built to take a beating but they do not like stress. Mount European glass in a mount that is not properly aligned and tighten everything up. The stress exerted on that scope tube will wreak havoc on the mechanics and your accuracy will more than likely go to hell. Now take the stress out of the picture and watch the groups shrink right up. We use a lot of EAW and Recknagel scope mounts because they achieve "stress free" mounting. You will find these mounts in the website.