Ask the experts: Choosing rifle add-ons

Q Do you accessorise your scopes at all – by adding bubble levels, throw levers, after-market caps, covers, etc? Which add-ons do you find really add something to your rifle?

A Chris says: Other than the critical optical accessory of the best scope mounts I can lay my hands on, my added optical accessories vary from rifle to rifle. For night-use rifles, I always add a Picatinny mount that will clamp around the tube and allow me to mount IR illuminators or conventional visible LED lamps. Decent quality mechanisms are now available to ensure these point where your scope is actually aiming. Loads of manufacturers now accessorise with machined aluminium throw levers for the zoom control of scopes, but I usually find that these get in the way of the bolt handle at one extreme or another.

The golden rule I follow is that if you need to zoom in, you usually will have time, so leave your scope on low magnification for fast, pointable action. Where precise parallax control is needed, extra large wheels are usually supplied with Field Target-type scopes to increase mechanical leverage and allow finer rotational control for distance estimation with a pointer aligned to your carefully hand-calibrated ranges on the dial.

The latest night vision devices, such as Yukon Photons, often benefit from a parallax/adjustable objective focal control lever to cope with their short depth of field in the dark. Fishing reel coaster clips are ideal for this and inexpensive. Bubble levels to correct the ‘cant’ that may be present in your assumed natural shooting position are a common sight for long-range and precision shooters, and you might even go as far as an angle cosine indicator. These clamp on to your scope tube to measure and help you calculate the correct firing solution when shooting up or downhill.

As you can see, the options to add on are broad. My simple advice is: Add what you need, don’t just add everything in sight thinking it will somehow improve the basics of what you do with your rifle.

The only accessory we should all use are lens caps, be they supplied on elasticated cords or flip-ups like Tenebraex/Butler Creeks. They are invaluable to keep dust, debris and damage away from your precious lenses. If your scope has multi-distance capability mechanically adjustable within the turrets, set these up with care on the practice range. If they don’t, perhaps add some custom labels!

In reality, if there is space, something as simple as white electrical tape marked with a permanent marker will do, but most importantly, make sure whatever you add is waterproof. Custom turret caps are sometimes available, laser engraved to your personal ballistics, but these have never particularly drawn me as I find it too likely that something within your ballistic/ammunition set-up might need to be changed for some reason, turning the expensive custom dial into a paperweight.

Chris Parkin, Target sports journalist and optics reviewer

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