Recoil vs Scopes

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Recoil vs Scopes

Postby ENCORE50A » Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:56 pm

There seems to be a lot of questions concerning modern in-line muzzleloader recoil and how it does or does not affects scopes. It appears that many shooters are "blowing out" scopes on muzzleloaders, leading to using the Lifetime Warrantees.

There appears to be a multitude of different opinions on the subject, with no factual answers, if one can be found. There are a handful that state its entirely related to a quality issue. Another handful state they wear out like an auto. And yet another handful that state its entirely related to the shooting rest that shooters are using... ie; lead sleds.

Myself............. I don't have a clue and don't claim to have one.

I thought...... I had a pretty decent scope with the Nikon Monarch. I purchased two, 2.5-10x50's and could have purchased Leupolds. I took my time and compared them both and just settled on the Nikon. Money wasn't an issue at the time. Now I have to admit, that I've fired a couple thousand rounds with that scope on the rifle but, about a week ago my groups started opening up. At first I laid fault on all my eye surgeries this year, then it became apparent something else was wrong. Although it started shooting a vertical group, it was about 1/2" right, so I removed the cap and move it two (2) clicks left. When I fired the next two rounds, they shot over 4" left and darn near one hole. ???? WITHOUT touching that scope, I fired the third round and it moved back right 6" and down 3". The 4th reacted the same. So I removed that scope, installed the other scope, zeroed it and its perfect. This IMO tells me the scope went bad.

So I call Nikon to return it and after all the necessities were completed, I asked about shooting from any kind of lead sled and as to rather it could damage scopes. The response returned amounted to, We have no knowledge that ANY shooting rest of ANY kind will cause damage to the scope. Also stated, was that scopes are tested to over 300g, more than 10x recoil. Well that leaves me with the question of, have it just shot it to the point it needs repair or, is it a quality issue?

I know of a number of shooters who have "blown scopes" or know someone who has with muzzleloaders. Most DO NOT shoot from a lead sled but, have scopes on muzzleloaders that suddenly loose zero for unknown reasons and are off being repaired. Heck, I'm one of them. Its not just Nikon, however it never appears to be a Leupold.

Looking for others take on this issue...............
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby air_rn » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:25 pm

Interesting theories. Never thought about the lead sled causing issues. I do all of my sight in and bench shooting from a sled. I have been fortunate and never had any issues with scopes. , knock on wood! I guess when you think about it, it is like placing the butt of the gun against a wall and pulling the trigger. Still would be hard to believe that manufactures don't test at this level. My guess would be quality control!!!
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby ENCORE50A » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:36 pm

air_rn wrote:Interesting theories. Never thought about the lead sled causing issues. I do all of my sight in and bench shooting from a sled. I have been fortunate and never had any issues with scopes. , knock on wood! I guess when you think about it, it is like placing the butt of the gun against a wall and pulling the trigger. Still would be hard to believe that manufactures don't test at this level. My guess would be quality control!!!


Considering the placing of the butt to a wall and pulling the trigger....... if the rifle DOES NOT MOVE, what is the scope doing? IMO it isn't moving either. But I've certainly been wrong before....... :D
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby Run » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:40 pm

ENCORE50A wrote:
air_rn wrote:Interesting theories. Never thought about the lead sled causing issues. I do all of my sight in and bench shooting from a sled. I have been fortunate and never had any issues with scopes. , knock on wood! I guess when you think about it, it is like placing the butt of the gun against a wall and pulling the trigger. Still would be hard to believe that manufactures don't test at this level. My guess would be quality control!!!


Considering the placing of the butt to a wall and pulling the trigger....... if the rifle DOES NOT MOVE, what is the scope doing? IMO it isn't moving either. But I've certainly been wrong before....... :D



There's a reason why it's called a sled. It moves. A lead sled isn't bolted firmly on the shooting table and solid like your example of a wall. So I don't think your theory of the rifle not moving is off-base.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby fliowa » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:55 pm

Have leupolds on two muzzleloaders and a 308 Tikka rifle for several years now with no issues with holding zero. I put a Bushnell elite 3200 on a designated conical shooter and a disc extreme a couple years ago and so far they have held up. The only scope i ever had trouble with was a Simmons scope that I bought from Bass Pro abut 12 years ago. It would not hold zero after two trips to the range and when I took it off it rattled. Got a refund.

i don't really shoot one gun a lot because I own several so I may have at most 200 rounds fired thru one.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby chaded » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:24 pm

One thing that doesn't get mentioned a lot is mounts. I do believe having the scope properly mounted matters. I don't buy though that a scope just "wears out" unless it is a piece of junk. A good quality scope should not just wear out based on that factor alone and even a piece of junk may not just "wear out". Might just break though. Some people have had cheap scopes that seem to last forever and some have had Leupold's and other well known brands break. I don't have any conclusive evidence for any reason really but I just go with the fact that it is man made and man made products can and do break. :D
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby Muley Hunter » Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:43 pm

Run wrote:
ENCORE50A wrote:

There's a reason why it's called a sled. It moves. A lead sled isn't bolted firmly on the shooting table and solid like your example of a wall. So I don't think your theory of the rifle not moving is off-base.


It's also called a lead sled. As in....it's weighted down to not move. Certainly a lot less than a shoulder.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby tpcollins » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:53 pm

ENCORE50A wrote:Considering the placing of the butt to a wall and pulling the trigger....... if the rifle DOES NOT MOVE, what is the scope doing? IMO it isn't moving either. But I've certainly been wrong before....... :D



Maybe that's the problem. I remember the saying "for every action there's a reaction". Since the scope is merely an appendage on top of the firearm, it could well take a beating causing failure. I remember seeing a video of this old guy shooting keyholes with a large magnum gun. The first thing he did was put some oil on the front rest and then slide the underside of the stock back and forth to lube it up. When he shot the gun recoiled back but all the holes in the target was touching. The opposite of that would be shooting from a lead lead - seems to me that something has to give at some point . . .
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby ENCORE50A » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:23 pm

I sent off a pretty lengthly email to Leupold this afternoon. We'll see what the pro's might know.

Of the failures that I know of, most aren't lead sleads because of the "perception" from shooters that they damage them.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby ENCORE50A » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:48 am

I was able to have a conversation with a representative at Leupold yesterday. We spent quite a little time discussing scopes and failures but, was surprised to some extent, that Leupold has never tested scopes with muzzleloaders. All testing is done with centerfires or a machine called the "Punisher".

We discussed shooting off from lead sleds and what I was told is, that Leupold has done extensive testing of their scopes while shooting off lead sleds and told me that Leupold engineering found absolutely "no issues or concerns that shooting from a lead sled damages a scope."


We talked about the quality of a scope and without mentioning any other scope brand, he basically stated that ANY scope could have a problem. During production, its possible that even a Leupold may have something go wrong and end up in a customers hand. However it has a Lifetime Warrantee and should be sent back. He did mention that other brands of scopes, not mentioning any name, are known in the industry to have very poor to fair quality control, with most value scopes being on the very low end. However he also stated that shooters with some value scopes have used them for years without problems. But again, this is only related to centerfire rifles and not muzzleloaders.

He told me that every rifle scope from Leupold, from the Rifleman up, goes through extensive recoil testing on the "Punisher". Their testing is set to mimic 5,000 rounds fired from a .375 H&H. I asked about foot pounds (fp) and he told me that the engineer responsible for testing is off at the present time but, would ask him to return my call over energy expenditure relating to fp and recoil testing. He told me that the twin Biac (I may not have written that down correct) springs will not wear but, they can fatigue in their scopes. Again repaired or replaced free by Leupold.

I was told that where Leupold found the most problems with shooters and scopes, is solely related to poor bases and rings. If a shooter is using a poor base and/or rings, the possibility of movement with them is higher, thus the possibility of damaging a rifle scope. He said that although most know but, bases must be torqued properly along with the rings. Its the attachment point of the scope to the rifle and is critical.

He has all my information and I'm hoping to receive a call from the engineer. He said I should hear something, even if its from him in a few days. So at least as far as Leupold is concerned, you can shoot off any lead sled, with or without weight all you want.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby tpcollins » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:08 am

That's good to know that Leupold will hopefully resolve your issue. However, I still think that if the firearm is "locked" into a lead sled, the energy is going to be dissipated somewhere, the scope - held in place by rings and bases - would be a likely candidate to suffer from the recoil. If you're in a head on collision with only the seat belt restraining you, seems like your head and neck would snap forward on impact. Seems like the most delicate part of your ml is the scope. Good luck.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby 03mossy » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:09 am

Wow good research! Thanks for digging into this as this has been a point of discussion at deer camp for years. I was on the side that a lead sled does damage scopes. I guess I will have to change my view.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby ENCORE50A » Wed Dec 11, 2013 10:25 am

tpcollins wrote:That's good to know that Leupold will hopefully resolve your issue. However, I still think that if the firearm is "locked" into a lead sled, the energy is going to be dissipated somewhere, the scope - held in place by rings and bases - would be a likely candidate to suffer from the recoil. If you're in a head on collision with only the seat belt restraining you, seems like your head and neck would snap forward on impact. Seems like the most delicate part of your ml is the scope. Good luck.


I believe the difference between the collision and the lead sled, is the difference between dynamic and static forces. In a lead sled, the rifle is held statically against the sled, where the rifle, including the scope can not move. In the case of using a collision, the rifle and scope would be moving, quickly and fast, then come to a sudden stop.

All I can say, is the professionals at Leupold have actually tested scopes on lead sleds and say it doesn't matter at all. The sled is of no issue to Leupold. That's why I'm asking the pro's.... I have no clue.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby hockeyref » Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:29 am

How could a muzzleloader recoil be different than a center fire... it's the same impulse type, the magnitude will vary the same as with different CF cartridges and loads... It's not like the double recoil that an air rifle puts out... Besides, At least Leupold has indicated that they've tested "extensively" with a lead sled.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby Run » Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:50 pm

Everytime I read about rifle and/or scope "damages by lead sled" theory postings, I have to ask how many contributors to the thread have actually used the product according to manufacturer's directions. If you place the amount of weight listed by Caldwell (I normally place 2x25 lbs weights), the rifle isn't "locked" into the sled. The sled moves, the rifle moves after every shot. Just like your body moves back in response to a rifle recoil. If something breaks, it isn't because of the sled.

The sled's purpose isn't to "lock" tight a rifle with no movement so stop assuming this. Good that Leupold confirm this or this myth will continue to perpetuate.
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Re: Recoil vs Scopes

Postby ENCORE50A » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:19 pm

Run wrote:Everytime I read about rifle and/or scope "damages by lead sled" theory postings, I have to ask how many contributors to the thread have actually used the product according to manufacturer's directions. If you place the amount of weight listed by Caldwell (I normally place 2x25 lbs weights), the rifle isn't "locked" into the sled. The sled moves, the rifle moves after every shot. Just like your body moves back in response to a rifle recoil. If something breaks, it isn't because of the sled.

The sled's purpose isn't to "lock" tight a rifle with no movement so stop assuming this. Good that Leupold confirm this or this myth will continue to perpetuate.


I shoot off the FCX rest but don't use any weight with mine.
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