How many people have worked on their rifle scope?


Mr transformer
January 9, 2012, 11:38 PM
One thing I have noticed on this board from reading various stories is that when a scope no longer holds zero, or something strange happens to the cross hairs, people will just dispose of the scope and buy a new one.

The thing I have noticed particularly absent from the discussion is people talking about taking a scope apart and fixing the problem, and or telling other people what failed in a particular brand of scope.:confused:

I may be the odd man out because I have worked with some 35MM SLR cameras over the years and I have had to take the lens assemblies apart from time to time, so taking apart a lens system like a scope doesn’t scare me. And in fact, it is far simpler to take apart a modern rifle scope than to take apart the lens on my old Kowa SET 35mm SLR lens system that I have unfortunately had to take apart (more than once) to get back to working order.

There is several message boards where people talk about taking apart camera optics from time to time, but I have yet to see anyone on a shooting message board talking about disassembling a rifle scope.

For example. A BSA rifle scope on one of my guns. The aim point started to move. I took it apart looking for the thing that was moving. Found a lens retaining ring on one of the inner lenses had come loose from the recoil. Retightened it, and I am still using it to this day with no more problems. Making the tools to fit the retainer rings took an hour or so, but it was a straight forward disassembly.

If the reticle starts to rotate, it is an obvious and easy fix for most scopes. Unscrew the eyepiece and the reticle will be front and center. Realign the reticle and retighten the retaining ring. Other ones that have the reticle deeper in the scope will have to be fixed by removing the objective lens.

Yes, you may lose the nitrogen filling, but the couple scopes I have worked on, have never given me a problem. If you had access to nitrogen then you could repurge if you want to be a perfectionist.

The thought of throwing something like that away because of an easily reparable problem just seems stupid to me.:(

On a side note….

One thing that has left me stumped is the fact that there is no place you can buy aftermarket reticles that you can put in your scope. I have seen some Chinese sites selling reticles that scope manufactures can use in their scopes, but I have never found one that sells to the consumer. (ie) select the scope you own, and they will show you the different types of reticles they have for that scope.

It would be easy for a company to custom laser etch glass reticles for different scope brands. Let the customer decide the pattern they want, and it will etch a glass blank that will fit the scope in question then they will mail it to you. It would be nice if you could customize a reticle with aim points for every 100 yards in range for a particular caliber.

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January 10, 2012, 12:15 AM
I love the idea. That would be an excellent business venture assuming people would want to tinker like that. It's brilliant. If I had the know how I would replace all my reticles with mildots or semi-heavy crosshairs.

January 10, 2012, 12:23 AM
As you point out, you lose the nitrogen purge which can cause the scope to fog in hunting conditions.

In addition, most, if not all, scope manufacturers will void the warranty if you open up a scope.

I might open one if the only alternative were throwing it away, but not if there's a chance the manufacturer will take care of the problem for free--or even for a reasonable fee.

Mr transformer
January 10, 2012, 12:43 AM
Anyone who has access to nitrogen should be able to repurge it. CO2 would also be a viable purging agent.

I don’t own anything new enough to still be covered by the warranty.

And the pictures of scopes full of bullet holes leads me to believe than a warranty was the last thing on their minds..... :what:

January 10, 2012, 12:54 AM
Anyone who has access to nitrogen should be able to repurge it.Probably, but can you get the same airtight seal that the factory did?I donít own anything new enough to still be covered by the warranty.A number of scope makers offer lifetime warranties.

Mr transformer
January 10, 2012, 01:13 AM
If a person puts it together correctly and avoids damaging O rings, then yes.

If there is no O rings on the main lens like I have seen on several binoculars and scopes that were nitrogen purged, then the ďnitrogen purgedĒ label is just a label because the air got back in before it left the factory. Every time the air pressure changes, air will leak back in.

Ragnar Danneskjold
January 10, 2012, 01:14 AM
Scopes are one of those things that not many feel comfortable tinkering with. There are a lot of delicate componants that were placed and engineered with precision. Combined with the nitrogen filling and dust free tube, it can be intimidating to just grab a screwdriver and work on it yourself. I suppose if you're going to throw it away, there's no harm in trying. But a lot of people have the season's hunt or personal pride riding on their scope. It would be a shame to miss a deer due to poor work on your own scope. Taking advantage of the warranty seems wisest. I suppose people aren't aware of it, lost the paperwork, or don't want to go through the hassle of sending it in.

I see the same kind of thing with computers. You'd be amazed how many people buy a new computer, clutter it up with crap, and then just buy a new one when they've ruined the first. 8 out of 10 of them could be fixed good as new with some good anti-malware, and about an hour un-installing useless programs and toolbars. The other 2 could be fixed with a reformatting of the HDD and a fresh OS install. But no one seems willing to do that, or it's too intimidating to try. So they pitch the computer and drop $600 on a new one.

\If I messed up my scope enough that it could hold a zero after re-zeroing, I would probably get a new one. Guilty as charged.

January 10, 2012, 01:24 AM
Guess I am the lucky one here, my son has spent the last ten years doing things like this on optics. He has just within the last three months gone to work for Leica, they tried for 4 months to get him to work there. If I have a problem with scope or for that mater any optic devise I just give it to him and he fixes it for me. We both get a laugh when he starts explaining to me what he is doing and I just wave him off. I don't have a clue nor do I have the eye sight to see the small parts that are in them.

January 10, 2012, 06:35 AM
I simply send mine back to mfg....that's why I use Leupold. They have never charged for any assistance.

Sav .250
January 10, 2012, 07:03 AM
Some things are best left for the manufacturer to fix/repair.
To many small parts,fine threads(nothing like cross threading ) , gas , maybe special tools, etc needed . One would have to order what ever parts are needed from whom ever. Parts could be out of stock as well.
Scopes don`t cost that much(some) so maybe it`s time to get a new one as well.
For me, it`s return to the factory. Let them to care of the problem.
Better scopes have a life time warranty as well. JMO.

January 10, 2012, 08:41 AM
Some older scopes no longer have parts available. We take advantage of any warrantee still in effect, but we also work on those scopes we have that are dated.
We have our own charging system and its easy to build and use. I'll post photos of it later today. It really isn't rocket science and onc you understand how simple it is you'll be able to do it yourself. The only real cost is in the vacumn motor. It has to be a "zero" pump. None of them are truly zero, but it gets down very close. I think our pump was around $800 when we bought it, but we've had it a long time and used it a lot.
Beyond that its just a PVC pipe, tubing and gate valves.

January 10, 2012, 08:53 AM
Back in the day when cameras were still using film, I had a Canon F-1 whose internal light meter went bad. I troubleshot it to a bad sensor and somehow managed to get Canon to sell the assembly to me. The cost of repair was prohibitive and I decided to take an all or nothing approach to the situation.

I figured out how to get the camera apart (the toughest part of it all) and got in there deep. I got all the components replaced and using a grey scale card and an accurate hand held meter, calibrated the camera's light meter with a combination of mechanical and electrical adjustments.

That camera was my main source of pictures up until about 10 years ago when I sold it in perfect working condition.

I would happily get into a scope if the warranty was over and the manufacturer was asking crazy prices for repair.

January 10, 2012, 09:08 AM
A number of scope makers offer lifetime warranties.

Mucking with sealed optics is not for the average kitchen-table hobbyist. (I consider myself in that category, by the way.) I simply buy optics of adequate quality and branding such that I always have factory support available.

January 10, 2012, 09:16 AM
Good point. I have a 2-7 Weaver steel tube scope that has some stuff, flaking paint?, on the inside of the rear lens. I tried to remove the lens to clean it buy no joy. I just don't know how to do that. I can unscrew it so far then it hits a stop or something. The scope is still shootable and holds zero though.....chris3

January 10, 2012, 09:29 AM
I disassembled an ACOG once after one of the internal lenses chipped and Trijicon refused to service it. Cleaned the chips, wiped down the lenses and put it back together. It worked, but the damage was still there.

I wouldn't have bothered with it if Trijicon would have offered to fix it.

January 10, 2012, 10:43 AM
I may be the odd man out because I have worked with some 35MM SLR cameras over the years and I have had to take the lens assemblies apart from time to time, so taking apart a lens system like a scope doesnít scare me.

How many people have that experience? Not many. I have a quarter century old Nikon FE2 which I have used .....long ago before digital stuff came around, so I have familiarity (to a degree) with cameras & lenses. Also, I used to make movies and also have the old Pathť camera I wound up with.
But, rifles scopes .....I wouldn't even know how to start to disassemble them. Wouldn't try.
Your experience with lenses serves you well. I think if you're dealing with a complicated device and don't know what you're doing it's best not to mess with it and leave it to the experts.
I am reminded of the old comedy movies where a bunch of self-appointed experts (such as the Three Stooges or Laurel & Hardy) would take a car apart and reassemble it, to find they had leftover parts. :uhoh::rolleyes:

January 10, 2012, 11:09 AM
Mr Transformer, I hear what your saying. Im a tinker'er myself and have taken a scope apart olny part way when i was younger. I didnt have the proper tools of course and didnt know how to make them or mateial i make them with. But with your starting of this thread it sure give me a little boost of confidence to tinker some more with some old scopes and play. And you dont learn if you dont play. I like your idea of also sharing info could be verry educational for everyone. Verry good point. And thankyou for sharing the info that you already have. Thats verry THR of you. :)

January 10, 2012, 11:46 AM
Nope, you're not alone. Had a loose inner lens in the Bushnell 3-9 variable on my Savage so I took it apart. Fixed the lens, but put my finger through the crosshairs. Oops. Since it was already broke, I made a post from thin brass, soldered it in place on the former crosshair ring, and threw it back together. Works just dandy, and hasn't moved since I installed it 20 years ago.

The Lone Haranguer
January 10, 2012, 12:48 PM
I may be the odd man out because I have worked with some 35MM SLR cameras over the years and I have had to take the lens assemblies apart from time to time, so taking apart a lens system like a scope doesnít scare me.
Fine, if you have the equipment and expertise. I am especially curious how you refill the nitrogen. I send mine back to the factory if I want them repaired.

Mr transformer
January 10, 2012, 01:00 PM
For making the tool to remove the lenses, itís pretty easy. Take a piece of hard sheet steel and cut it to the width that will just fit in the opening but still wide enough to fully engage the slots on the ring. An old putty knife blade works well. Just grind it down. You may have to thin the end of the blade down to fit the slots in the ring if the slots in the ring are really small.

On removing the eyepiece. If your scopeís eyepiece wonít come off, then you have to remove the lens in the eyepiece to get to the retaining ring that hold the O ring in place.(The O ring that seals the gap between the scope body and the adjustable eyepiece) Once you remove that, then the eyepiece should be able to be fully unscrewed.

The problem that I had with the kowa SET was the fact that the lubricant in the adjustment rings would migrate to the shutter and aperture irises in the lens assembly and cause the blades to stick together. You had to take the shutter blades out and clean them in alcohol to get the oil off and get them working properly.

The kowa was a unique animal. It had leaf style shutters in the lens column, instead of the shutters in the camera body. That allowed you to take high shutter speed pics without any deformation of the picture. When it worked properly, it was sweet:D, It took great pictures, when it didnít it was a beast:cuss:.

January 10, 2012, 01:16 PM
As several people have said, why try to do it yourself, when the manufacturer has a warranty?

Even BSA, which is at the very lowest end of optics*, has a lifetime warranty. What are you going to buy that doesn't? A no-name $6 air rifle scope?

* I mean price-wise, the scopes are a good value for the money

Mr transformer
January 10, 2012, 01:42 PM
Even BSA, which is at the very lowest end of optics*, has a lifetime warranty.

That would be some consolation if I actually knew who bought it in the first place. But, considering that it came with the gun, then I am pretty much SOL……….

Considering how much buying and selling goes on, a lifetime limited warranty (which is what most scope manufactures have) doesn’t last very long.

January 10, 2012, 07:40 PM
I can say for certain that scope repair isn't something you do in a camper at 30 below zero by the light of a gas lantern.

My uncle borrowed my Savage 110B with an older Redfield 3x9 wide view, the scope fogged up on him and he and my dad and another guy tried to 'fix it'. What resulted was a scope that wasn't airtight with THREE cross hairs. Someone drove back to town and called me to 'bring the front sight' I had so carelessly removed (from MY rifle mind you).

Anyway by the time I got to elk camp with the requisite parts my uncle was back to hunting with his savage bolt action .30-30.

The broken scope went in the 'junk' drawer. I gave it to someone making a 'Star Wars' costume blaster.

I've seen TWO scope fail while hunting one was a Redfield, one was a Weaver. Back in the days before the internet and ultra fast shipping we kind of 'understood' that a scope was semi-disposable. Tasco was the exception.

Before Tasco went bankrupt and changed hands my dad sent them a pair of binos back that he had LITERALLY run over with a Landcruiser FJ45. They sent him a new pair. I don't expect any company to go THAT far, but many companies will just 'send you a new one' rather than repairing what you have. It's far cheaper.

hang fire
January 11, 2012, 01:32 AM
Over the years have had a couple I worked over with a club and a hammer.

January 11, 2012, 09:14 PM
This is the Nitrogen charger we made. It works just as well as a factory system. The scope goes in the black PVC, the negative 0 vacumn draws it down to near zero and we close the valve, open the nitrogen and flow it into the tube.
That's it.

*I forgot to add.......... Its assumed that you've already loosened either one end of the lenses, turret or (many have a) screw.

January 11, 2012, 10:55 PM
The main points that would keep me from trying to fix a scope would be:
1. MFG has warranty.
2. Is it really worth my time and effort for a low percentage task. Either the scope is worth fixing & send it back or not & I toss it.
3. I am already good at a lot of things I would be better off doing.

I don't think making a reticle would be all that easy.

From what I understand lenses also need to be aligned optically. I have seen where some guys reset the parallax in scope. Some say it works, others say it messes up the optical alignment. So does any body know what the deal on that is.

January 11, 2012, 11:03 PM
That must be why I trashed my Redfield 3 X 9 scope after they left Denver. Oh well, have better scopes now anyway!

January 12, 2012, 12:30 AM
One of my Iron Rules is that BEFORE I work on anything I have a COMPLETE schematic, factory manuals-if available, plus any books, plus proper tools.
I found the nitrogen purge machine interesting, though I wonder if for most of us the cost of that setup is worth it. Like buying a proper barrel vise to change the barrel on a revolver-is it really worth it?

Mr transformer
January 12, 2012, 01:13 AM
Building something like that is dependent on you already owning the stuff to make the filling rig. Buying all that stuff to fix one scope would not be economical.

Nitrogen purging is not the only way to keep the scope from fogging. The only thing that maters is that the air/gas in the scope is dry. If you fill it with normal dried air, then it will be fine.

The other way you can do it is wait until it gets real freaking cold outside then put the final lenses in place outside. That will allow the cold dry air to fill the scope and you know it will be above the dew point for all other weather.

If you donít plan on taking it out in sub zero weather, then purging is pointless.

I never really worried about the purging thing myself, and I have never had a problem.

January 12, 2012, 09:24 AM
Not exactly, Mr.Transformer. Are you thinking that "normal dried air" will not allow condenstion to form when there's an outside winter temp difference?
And you're also thinking that putting a room temp scope outside in cold temps for a while will somehow acclimate it without condensation forming?

January 12, 2012, 07:03 PM
Optics are a specialized field. A hobbyist would have a hard time collecting the equipment he needed to do a full evaluation of a damaged scope. Just having the right tools would be impossible.
Guys that specialize in scope modifications and repair usually only work with one or two brands, mostly because tooling is an issue. Sure it can be done by a hobbyist...sometimes. But the expert already knows which scopes he can work on and which he can't. They learn this the hard way, by loosing a scope during an attempted repair. Not something for the faint hearted.

Mr transformer
January 12, 2012, 07:49 PM
If the humidity content is low enough that the saturation level stays below the dew point, then no water will condense on the inside of the scope.

If you take the lenses out where air can move freely into the scope, and take it outside in cold conditions, the heat of the scope will drive off any moisture that may be on the surface of the metal. Once everything cools down, then you can put the lenses in to trap the air. If the outside temp is -20, you know that the moisture content is below the dew point at that temp, and that as long as the scope is warmer than -20, you will not get any condensation. The only way the moisture will condense in the scope if you take it outside, is if you have the lenses on it, which will trap the air and force the air to cool down while itís trapped in the scope. That will cause the moisture load to dump in the scope.

As the air in the scope warms up, then the relative humidity will drop. That is because as the air warms up, it can hold more moisture. That is what causes condensation. You take air that has a lot of moisture in it. When the air cools, it drops past the point where the air can no longer hold the moisture it has. It goes past 100% humidity. That is the dew point.

That is how industrial air driers work. They run the air through a refrigerated baffle system to cool it down to the point that it drops itís moisture load.

If you know the relative humidity, and the temp of the air in the room when you work on your scope, then you will know how cold it will have to get to have condensation on the inside of the scope. They have psychrometric charts for that.

If I was filling a scope with dried air, I would use a desiccant drier for the dry air source. You wonít have any condensation even if you go down below -40F

Or you could get some air from a filling station that uses the membrane style nitrogen concentration units. You will get dry nitrogen that if far drier than anything you will need.

January 13, 2012, 12:46 AM
I built a small vacuum chamber with an old refrigerator compressor and it worked to almost 27 inches of vacuum according to my R-12 gauge set and it is still around here in the garage somewhere I think. I will have to try this when I am playing around with optics. The chamber would need to be schedule 80 PVC I would think to stand the vacuum used. I have a Millett red dot that has a cracked lens but was thinking that getting the parts would be a problem.

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