Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tapping The Versatility Of The M40 Tactical Hunter Scope

If you are looking for a hunting rifle scope that can offer some of the range-finding and shot-placement features of a true tactical scope, but without having to totally re-educate yourself on how to use the scope, here's the answer - the 3-9x40mm M40 Tactical Hunter.

The basis for this scope is the Hi-Lux Optics re-creation of the Vietnam era M40 USMC sniper scope. What made this scope so "hi-tech" back in the 1960's was its simple ranging system, which required the shooter to zoom in and frame a known object of 18-inches between two upper cross-wires...then read the range on a scale visible in the bottom right quadrant of the rear lens.  It was easy to learn...and reasonably accurate.  The shooter then only had to apply the needed "hold over" for those shots out at 300 to 600 yards.

The Hi-Lux Optics re-creation of this scope is better than "authentic".  Today's lenses are far superior than what was available during the 1960's, and the new lens coatings make the Hi-Lux Optics M40 USMC Sniper Scope far brighter and sharper than the originals.  Likewise, a new etched glass ranging scale is more precise and reliable than the fragile plastic scale found in the original USMC scopes.

For today's hunter, Hi-Lux Optics has now incorporated a Bullet Drop Compensating reticle in the M40 Tactical Hunter version of this scope - with short cross-bar hold-over aiming points on the lower vertical cross-hair for those shots at 200 to 500 yards.  (Where the cross-hair and the lower heavy duplex post meet also serves as a 600-yard

USMC Vietnam snipers mounted the original M40 scope on high-grade Remington bolt-action rifles, chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge.  Hi-Lux Optics chose to base the location of the longer range cross-bar aiming points on the trajectory of .308 Winchester Match ammo, such as the Hornady 155 gr. OTM Match (at 2,775 f.p.s. muzzle velocity) and 168 gr. BTHP Match (at 2,700 f.p.s. muzzle velocity) loads.  Sighted right at 2 inches high at 100 yards, both of these rounds share very similar trajectories out to 500 yards - due to the higher .450 ballistic coefficient of the slightly slower 168-grain BTHP bullet.  (The 155-grain HP Match bullet has a .405 b.c.)

At 300 yards, the 168-grain bullet drops 8.5 inches, while the 155-grain hollow-point drops 8.3 inches. Moving to 400 yards, the heavier BTHP drops 24.7 inches, while the lighter 155-grain bullet is down 24.1 inches - and at 500 yards the 168-grain BTHP drops 50 inches, while the 155-grain HP drops 49.2 inches. With a .308 Winchester caliber rifle sighted 2 inches high at 100 yards, the BDC reticle of the Hi-Lux Optics 3-9x40mm M40 Tactical Hunter will keep hits in the kill zone of any North American big game animal out to 600 yards.

Now, some of you are surely saying to yourselves, "I don't shoot and hunt with a rifle chambered for the .308 Winchester cartridge."

The rifle shown at left and at the top of this post has become just about the only "big game" center-fire rifle I pack into the field these days.  It is a stainless steel Winchester Model 70, chambered for the .300 Winchester Short Magnum cartridge. For deer-sized game, my load consists of a moderate 65-grains of Accurate Arms 4350 behind a Hornady .308" diameter 168-grain polymer-tipped A-MAX bullet.  At the muzzle, the .475 b.c. bullet exits at 3,070 f.p.s..

I like the handy ranging system of the M40 Tactical Hunter scope, and it has become my favorite for this hunting rifle.  So, how compatible are the BDC hold-over cross-bars with the higher velocity of the load and the higher b.c. of the bullet?

Very compatible, it just took some shooting to determine exactly where those cross-bar hold-overs would place bullet impact at longer ranges.

Now, this rifle, scope and load consistently prints sub M.O.A. at a hundred yards.  To fully tap the flat shooting trajectory, I've sighted the rifle to print the 168-grain A-MAX right at 2 inches above point of aim at 100-yards.  With a dead on hold, that puts bullet impact right at .6 inch high at 200 yards.  Using the 300-yard cross-bar hold-over, bullet impact at that distance is right at 2.7 inches high.  At 400-yards, the cross-bar for that range prints 4.3 inches high...and at 500 yards the BDC hold-over puts shots 7.5 inches above point of aim.

Rarely will I shoot at big game much beyond 400 yards.  Shooting this rifle with the load detailed, I've found that the 400-yard hold-over actually puts shots pretty much on at about 430 yards...the 300-yard hold over hits on at around 340 yards...and the 200-yard hold over prints on at about 250 yards.

The buck in the above left photo was taken at 396 yards (lasered after the shot).  When the deer walked out into a huge alfalfa field, I ranged the buck with the M40 Tactical Hunter ranging system (framing the chest from the top of the back to the bottom of the chest) and could see it was right at 400 yards.  Using the BDC hold-over for that range, I knew that bullet impact would be a little over 4 inches high at that range, so held about 3 inches below center of the chest cavity and squeezed off the shot.  The 168-grain A-MAX drove home about 2 inches above where I was holding and this buck went down on the spot.  (The kill zone on a whitetail buck is about as large in diameter as a 9-inch paper plate.)

For the hunter who is willing to do some shooting to determine where a particular rifle, load, bullet and velocity combo prints on with the BDC hold-over bars of this scope, the M40 Tactical Hunter just could be the most practical and useful hunting scope you could ever mount on a hunting rifle - no matter if it is chambered for .223 Remington, .300 Winchester Short Magnum, or even .45-70 cartridges.  This scope, ranging system, and BDC reticle is compatible with rifles chambered for just about every popular big game cartridge...the shooter just has to do some "homework" on the range to determine where those long range hold-over marks print bullet impact down range.  -  Toby Bridges, Hi-Lux Optics