Live and Learn


February 1999


Live and Learn - a phrase we have all heard but one that I always have to adjust a little: "Live and Learn - The Hard Way." And that could read, "Live and Learn, the Expensive Way."


I had been fighting with a .223 NEF for quite some time and could not seem to pinpoint the problem.


Assuming it to be the loads I assembled for it, I was trying everything. Switched powders, primers, cases, case length, seating depth, the works.


Nothing seemed to really help and I finally decided it had to be the gun. My patience was at an end and I decided to sell it. It was eating up a lot of time and components.


I removed the 4x12x40 Bushnell scope from the .223 and replaced it with a fixed power scope.


Still working with my new 220 Swift, I immediately put the 4x12 on it.


Guess what? My groups went south on the 220. I could not seem to focus the scope and figured it was a dirty contact lens. Ron, (see Product Review), was at the range with me so I asked him to have a go at it. He could not see through it either.


I had noticed that this particular scope did not seem as clear as my other 4x12 but assumed it was not focused perfectly and that I would get it right when I really took the time to adjust it. I was now taking the time and it was not working.


We checked the lenses for dirt, fuzz or other obstruction and could find nothing.


Once back at the loading bench, I removed the scope. Holding it in a vertical position under the florescent shop light, I peered into the objective lens. On the underside of the lens, close to the center, was an imperfection of some sort, about the size of a large rifle primer. It was a squiggly circular blemish that had probably been there since birth.


I looked at the eye sore 223 hanging in the rack and stuck with my decision to sell it knowing I may have just discovered the problem. I was beyond the point of caring and just wanted rid of it. Even if the scope was the problem, I was not getting the expected velocity from the rifle and it behaved as though I needed to reduce the charge.


The scope had been purchased at Wal-Mart and I could take care of it "right now," so I headed for Wally World. They had them in stock and I planned to exchange even up.


You can be certain I was going to check the lenses. Under those lighting conditions though it was not possible. Next best would be a side by side comparison to another brand. I had the clerk hand me a Simmons 3x9x40.


It seemed clearer and noticeably less expensive. I am a sucker for cash so I opted for the cash and the Simmons.


Guess what? My groups tightened back up.


After the 223 was history, I was visiting with Jim Garrison at H & R 1871 and mentioned that I had sold my NEF after a long battle I felt I had lost. He informed me that I should have returned the gun to H & R and they would have taken care of it.


Had I sent the rifle in, I would have removed the scope and he probably would not have found the accuracy problem with the rifle. He assured me that out of the box accuracy on that rifle should be fantastic and anything less should be returned to them.


We did not discuss the velocity issue but I am confident that he still would have been interested in my concerns. I would suggest that if you have one of these rifles and are having problems with it, send it back with a note describing the problem.


I guess in my mind, it was one of those gray areas. I purchased the rifle from a dealer who had "fired it a few times" but I basically paid new price. Later I found the dealer had messed with the rifle and I figured that the warranty was void. That too, was a bad call on my part. H & R would have worked with me had they found the problem to be a direct result of the dealers tampering.


With all the scopes I own and have owned, I guess I was bound to run across a defect sooner or later. I am certain Bushnell would have taken care of me as well, but the cash back from trading down made the inevitable loss on the 223 hurt a little less.


Living and learning, the hard, expensive way ! Then again, no one ever said education was easy or cheap.


Bill Wade



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Last Modified: January 3, 2012