TexasMac's Web Site
By Wayne McLerran
Updated 3/28/20

        Introduction
        Background
        Research Data on Current Suppliers
         R.H.O. Instruments
         Parson Scope Services
         Montana Vintage Arms (MVA)
         D.Z. Arms Scope
         Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Optics
        Considering Options
        Evaluation of the Leatherwood
        Unertl Mounts & De-clicking a Unertl
        D. Z. Arms Mounts
        Unertl Optical Co.
        J. W. Fecker Scopes
        Measuring Scope Magnification (Power)
        Short Malcolm-Style Scope Mounting Adapter Rail for Browning
or          Winchester M1885 BPCR
        Recommendations
        In Closing & References


In my book, Browning M1885 Black Powder Cartridge Rifle, a section is
devoted to installing one of the long externally adjustable “tube type”
period-style scopes patterned from the classical Wm Malcolm design.  
The discussion did not include available scopes or mount options.  Prior
to selecting a scope for one of my rifles I spent a substantial amount
of time researching the subject and fully evaluated one scope during
the process.  If you’ve considering mounting a classic tube-style scope,
either a modern day replica or an original, on a BPCR you may find
some value in the details of my research and findings.  For additional
help, check out Montana Vintage Arms (MVA) web site.  You’ll find
some good information applicable to mounting and adjusting an
externally adjustable scope.  MVA’s web site is listed below under the
section titled Research Data on Suppliers.

As of this writing I own a Leatherwood brand replica scope which is
currently mounted on a caplock muzzle loader.  I also have several
original J.W. Fecker scopes, four of which are mounted on a couple of
Browning BPCRs, Sharps 1874 BPCR and a Steven’s Model 44 .22LR.


Since good quality Soule-style aperture rear tang sights and front spirit
level sights with interchangeable inserts are quite adequate and very
accurate for long range target or silhouette shooting, there’s little
need for a rifle mounted telescope unless one is required due to “aging
eyes” or special circumstances.  Unfortunately I have scar tissue in the
central portion of the lens in my dominant right eye, resulting from a
childhood accident and subsequent operation.  The scar tissue is not
visible or a problem with normal vision, but obstructs the central
portion of the target image when enhanced by using an aperture rear
sight with a small peep hole.  Knowing a scope would solve the
problem; I researched the subject and started a full scale investigation
of the available scopes and mounts.  I intended to use the scope in
NRA sanctioned silhouette matches; therefore it had to meet the NRA’
s rifle silhouette rules, which I will go into more detail on later.  The
following information chronicles the process I went through to select a
scope for my rifles.  Hopefully it will provide you some insight to help
in your decision process.

Fundamentally, there are two scopes designs, internally adjustable
and externally adjustable.  Technology advancements have resulted in
significant and numerous improvements and features since rifle
telescopes first appeared in the mid to latter part of the 19th
century.  Modern scopes mounted on most hunting rifles are internally
adjustable for windage and elevation.  They typically are short in
length with large diameter objective lenses made to gather lots of
light, offer variable power (magnification) adjustments, long eye relief
and many other high technology features.  The mounts are generally
spaced 4” to 5” apart and only serve to rigidly hold the scope from
moving and connect it to the action and/or barrel.

Original or modern day versions of classical 19th century and early
20th century scopes do not have internal adjustments for windage and
elevation.  The mounts not only must hold the scope rigid prior to
firing the rifle, they serve two other very important functions.  The
rear mount must be adjustable for both windage and elevation and
both the front and rear mounts are generally designed to allow the
scope to slide forward, minimizing the effects of recoil on the scope
and possible shooter eye damage due to the relatively short eye relief
of the design.  The front mounts are also designed to allow the scope
to pivot when the rear mount is being adjusted for windage or
elevation.  These scopes are relatively long, generally 18” to 34” in

Externally adjustable rifle telescopes were introduced in the USA in
the early part of the 19th century.  A few companies are still
manufacturing updated versions for the BPCR shooter.  Most are either
patterned after the classic William Malcolm design or at least heavily
influenced by the old Malcolm scopes.  William Malcolm, who
previously worked for a telescope manufacturer, began production of
an achromatic lens and rifle telescope in 1855.  Two years later The
Malcolm Rifle Telescope Manufacturing Company was established in
Syracuse, NY.  Malcolm scopes were used in the Civil War by
sharpshooters. Although there were earlier rifle telescope
manufacturers, Malcolm’s scope design is the one most referenced by
current manufactures.  A ladder-type rear mount he introduced much
later is also used as the design basis for a current supplier.

Moving forward, the most well known early 20th century supplier is
Unertl, followed by Lyman, Winchester, and possibly Stevens.  Less
known are J. W. Fecker and R. A. Litschert.  Several configurations
included large diameter tube bodies, large objective lenses and high
power options.  Although no longer produced, many of these scopes
are still being used and can provide very good service for long range
silhouette and target competition.  In fact many silhouette shooters
prefer the older scopes to those available from current manufacturers,
which can be more costly and may not offer adequate mounts in some
cases.  Of course the older models and mounts must meet the NRA
rifle silhouette rules.

With the recent addition of a very nice scope manufactured by D.Z.
Arms, the list of current USA companies manufacturing externally
adjustable scopes now stands at two.  Montana Vintage Arms (MVA)
and D.Z. Arms are the only USA manufacturers I'm aware of.  R.H.O.
Instruments, Romano Rifle Co. and Parsons Scope Service no longer
make scopes.  There are also a couple of brands imported into the USA
by Leatherwood / Hi-Lux Optics and Dixie Gun Works.

All the scopes in the following discussions are in full compliance with
the features and dimensional requirements stated in the NRA’s rifle
silhouette rules.  The same cannot be said for some of the mounts.  
There are no power limitations on BPCR silhouette scopes, but there
are physical design limitations.  As of this writing the NRA says that
scopes must meet the same requirements as BPC rifles, i.e., made in
the United States prior to 1896 and being typical of the era.  Replicas
thereof, regardless of origin of manufacture, are permitted.  The
current NRA rules also include the following stipulations:
1)        Maximum rifle weight with scope is 15 pounds.
2)        No length or power limitation.  Scope tube body to be ¾” or
less in diameter and any ocular or objective lenses, adjusting or
assembly rings to be less than 1” in diameter.
3)        No internal adjustments for windage or elevation.
4)        Mounts are to be of a traditional style of the period, and
contain the windage and elevation adjustments for the scope in either,
or both, the front or rear mounts.  No click adjustments in the mount.  
Either dove tail mounting or scope block mounting is allowed.
The current NRA Rifle Silhouette Rules handbook further states that,
Original scope mounts of either the Cataract or Malcolm style or
variations thereof, or replicas or derivatives of either style, are
allowed provided the replica or derivative conforms to the criteria of
rule 4) above.
5)        Cheek pieces may be used and may be of any height.

Research Data on Current Suppliers
(Product Offerings, Features & Comments)
Please note that some of the following data may be “dated”.  
Therefore, prior to making a final decision I recommend you check out
the current product offerings of the suppliers.

R.H.O. Instruments
In 2010, Randy Oates owner of R.H.O., decided to get out of the scope
manufacturing business.  I’m including the details here since there’s a
good chance of finding a used R.H.O. scope.
•        Magnification: 6X.
•        Field of view at 100 yards: 10 feet.
•        Telescope weight: 13 oz.; mounts: 6 oz.
•        Reticle: plain fine crosshair only.
•        Achromatic objective lens, for improved image clarity.
•        Eyepiece is adjustable for focus.
•        Eye relief: approximately 4".
•        Vernier elevation scale on rear mount is graduated in 2 minute
increments. Total adjustment available: 180 minutes.
•        Windage scale on front mount is graduated in 3 minute
increments. Total adjustment: 36 minutes, 18 minutes each side of
center zero.
•        All scales are machine cut, and then nicely numbered on a
restored 1943 Gorton Pantograph Engraving Machine.
•        Mounts install in the dovetail slots in your barrel.
•        Mounts are available with standard dovetail dimensions made to
fit Shiloh or C. Sharps factory dovetail slots.
•        All mount parts are machined from solid steel stock. No
stampings or castings are used. Telescope is 3/4" diameter 4130 drawn
steel tubing. Eyepiece and dust caps are machined from solid brass.
•        All parts precisely machined, fitted, polished, and blued.
•        Were available only for rifles with 30", 32" or 34" barrels.

Additional comments:
        Since R.H.O. scopes are rigidly mounted and are not allowed to
slide under recoil, I discussed the long-term durability with Owner,
Randy Oates.  He said he has not had a scope returned due to a recoil
related problem
        Front and rear mounts use dovetails, which must be cut if not
        Mounts must be drifted out of the dovetail to use on another
        Scopes are not hermetically sealed but do use O-rings and
silicon grease to eliminate moisture problems.
        Reticle is a fine-wire design with one vertical wire and two
horizontal wires (one in the center and one approximately 18 minutes
        Brass eyepiece
        Parallax adjustment is not available.  9/6/08 – Randy Oates
replied to my question to him on parallax, “… the telescopes are not
adjustable for parallax.  However, due to the quite long focal lengths
of the lenses used in the telescopes, parallax is not much of an issue.  
The telescopes are zeroed for parallax at 200 yards, and there will be
essentially no parallax at distances further than this.  At say, 100
yards a small amount of parallax may be observed, but this will
amount to no more than approx 1/8’’ total movement of the
crosshairs.  At 50 yards observable parallax will be about ¼’’.  In
practice, actual effective parallax will be even less since the relatively
small exit pupil diameter of this type of telescope tends to keep the
eye well centered in the image (field of view).  If a person wants to
use one of the telescopes at a very short distance all the time, say 25
or 50 yards, I can adjust the parallax to zero at this distance, but
there will then be some parallax at longer distances.  Regards, Randy

Parsons Scope Service
http://www.parsonsscopeservice.com/, 513-867-0820
Note: Parsons’ no long manufacturers scopes, but does repair most
brands of vintage external adjustable scopes or modern copies
thereof.  I’m including them here since there’s a good chance of
finding a used Parsons made scope.  Parsons says that MVA essentially
copied their scope and mount system.
•        6X power, ¾” blued steel tube
•        Eye relief: 2” (which works fine due to the fact that scope
slides under recoil)
•        Scopes are not hermetically sealed but do use O-rings and
silicon grease to eliminate moisture problems.
•        Can use screw-on or dovetail blocks.  Lyman/Unertl type screw-
on blocks require drilling and tapping the barrel. Parsons does not
supply the blocks but refers buyers to Steve Earl Products (781-585-
•        Adjustable objective for parallax adjustment.
•        Front and rear mounts are very high quality and allow the scope
to slide under recoil.  Scope has a battery stop to reset back to
shooting position.  The front mount is designed to work with a Pope-
style rib, which is on the bottom of the front portion of the scope and
insures the scope does not rotate as it moves fore and aft.
•        Can be easily moved to another rifle that has correct mounting
•        Reticle is fine-wire crosshair (custom 7-dot reticle, similar to
MVA’s Mil-Dot Reticle, is available for an additional $100)
•        Six tube lengths (24”, 26”, 28”, 30”, 32”, 34”)
•        Last retail pricing was around $900.

Montana Vintage Arms (MVA)
http://www.montanavintagearms.com/, 406-388-4027
MVA offers three styles of externally adjusted scopes, their original
standard series scope in various lengths, a reproduction of the
Winchester’s “B” series scope and a newer “A” Series.

MVA’s standard scope series
•        Magnification: 6X
•        Range adjustment: 10 yards to infinity
•        Parallax adjustable using adjustable objective
•        Reticle adjustment for Level
•        Field of view @ 100 yards: 10 feet
•        Exterior finish: blued steel
•        Pope style rib allows the scope to slide under recoil
•        A stop is provided to return the scope to the battery position
•        Malcolm style mounts (blued steel) , with front and rear
windage adjustment
•        Screw-on covers for both ends
•        Clear objective cover lens to protect lenses

Additional Comments:
        Eye relief: 2” (which works fine due to the fact that scope
slides under recoil)
        Scopes are not hermetically sealed but do use O-rings and
silicon grease to eliminate moisture problems.  MVA admitted that if
the scopes get extremely wet for an extended amount of time, as in a
heavy rain, it’s possible for some moisture to work its way inside.
        Choice of screw-on or dovetail blocks.  Lyman/Unertl type
screw-on blocks require drilling and tapping the barrel.
        Front and rear mounts are very high quality and allow the scope
to slide under recoil.  Scope has a battery stop to reset back to
shooting position.  The front mount is designed to work with a Pope-
style rib, which is on the bottom of the front portion of the scope and
insures the scope does not rotate as it moves fore and aft.
        Can be easily moved to another rifle that has correct mounting
        Several reticle styles, which are acid-etched on a glass plate,
are available at no additional charge.
        Four scope lengths and choice of silhouette or schuetzen mounts.
        Great phone customer service concerning sales and answering
technical questions.
        Scopes are only available direct from MVA.  No retailer or
Federal Firearm License (FFL) discounts are available.

MVA’s “B” Series scopes
The scopes are advertised to be an exact reproductions of Winchester’
s “B” Series scopes.
•        The blued steel scopes are available in three power versions: 3x
(B3), 4x (B4) & 5x (B5), and are 13.5” to 15.5” long depending on the
•        They come with your choice of reticles, mounts and scope
•        The scopes do not have a Pope-style rail, but do feature a
longitudinal indentation to provide the sliding function while
preventing rotation.  The front mount uses a spring loaded plunger
that rides or tracks in the indentation to keep the scope from
rotating.  With each shot the scope slides forward due to recoil and
must be returned to “battery” prior to the next shot.
•        Additional features include a reticle level adjustment, parallax
adjustment and focus from 10 yards to infinity.
•        The windage and elevation adjustments on the #1 or #2 rear
mounts are non-click-style.  The #1 mount has scales on top of the
turret heads that give a rough 1.5 MOA of adjustment resolution.
•        The #2 mount is larger for more windage and elevation
adjustment and has finer micrometer-style scales on the side of the
turret and barrel for approximately 0.5 MOA of adjustment resolution.

Based on the above noted features, the #1 mounts should be an
excellent solution for general shooting and hunting.  The #2 mounts
would be necessary for silhouette competition with targets set at
various extended ranges, requiring precise and repeatable windage
and elevation adjustments.

By the way, a MVA “B”Series scope with #1 mounts is similar to the
Leatherwood Malcolm scope with standard Leatherwood mounts.  The
differences are that the Leatherwood is 6-power, does not slide under
recoil unless an adapter is used, does not have a parallax adjustment,
and the Leatherwood mounts are not manufactured to the high quality
standards of the MVA mounts.

MVA’s “A” Series scopes
•        Available is either 8 power or 10 power, the scopes are a
variation of the MVA standard 2000 series scope.
•        Has an 8” pope-style rib which allows for mount spacing’s of
10.34″ or 7.2″.
•        Three different mount configurations are available including a
unique adjustable front mount which allows the shooter to use the
front mount for coarse adjustment, while keeping the rear mount in
the center of adjustment.  The shooter can then keep a constant
cheek hold from short range all the way to long range.

D.Z. Arms Scopes
http://www.dzhepburn.com/, 405-691-1215
Made in the USA, the original scope was introduced in late March
2014.  It can be purchased separately or with a “scope-ready”
package.  For additional information on the mounts see the later
discussion titled D.Z Arms Mounts.
•        Magnification: 8X
•        Length: 20”
•        Construction: ¾” blued steel tube
•        Screw on scope cover for both ends
•        Cross-hairs are acid etched on a glass plate
•        Parallax adjustable using adjustable objective
•        Add-on adjustable rib and scope stop is available to allow the
scope to slide under recoil
•        Additional “scope-ready” package includes the following: D.Z.
Arms mounts, add-on rib, 2 mounting bases (blocks)

Leatherwood / Hi-Lux Optics
http://www.leatherwoodoptics.com/, 310-257-8142
Leatherwood scopes are imported into the USA and distributed to
firearm dealers and retailers by Hi-Lux Optics.  The scopes are
available from several companies including Buffalo Arms 208-263-6953,
Dixie Gun Works 713-885-0700, Cimarron Firearms 830-997-9090,
Numrich Gun Parts 845-679-2417.  Davide Pedersoli & C. is the
European retailer.  With a FFL license, wholesale or reduced pricing is
possible directly from Hi-Lux Inc. or possibly from some of the retailers.
Note – I fully evaluated the Leatherwood 18” long 6 power scope.  
Additional details and comments are provided later.

Leatherwood 30.5” (long) scope
Image is reported to be very clear and sharp, better than MVA or
Parsons and most likely the preferred scope for hunting, especially in
wet conditions.  These comments also apply to the 18” 6X version.
•        6X power, ¾” blued steel tube
•        Eye relief: approx. 4.0” (long scope)
•        Waterproof – hermetically sealed and nitrogen filled.  No chance
of moisture getting inside.
•        Plain fine-wire crosshair reticle (No option for different reticles)
•        Will fit 26” to 34” barrels on single-shot rifles, depending on
extension tube used (3”, 5”, 7” & 9”).  The 5” extension tube is used
on 30” barrels.
•        Front and rear mounts are not sufficient quality for competition.
•        Shinny Brass eyepiece and crosshair ring.  (Using an appropriate
bluing solution the brass can be darkened)
•        Parallax adjustment is not available.
•        With the normal mounts the scope is rigidly mounted and is not
allowed to slide under recoil.
•        A Sliding Mount Accessory (SLDMT) is available, which allows the
scope to slide under recoil.  One end of the SLDMT attaches to the
rear mount (replaces the rear mount scope clamp).  The other end
clamps on the scope and slides on the rail.
•        A Sliding Lock Ring (SLR) is also available to allow the scope to
slide an inch or so under recoil but not rotate.  The SLR replaces the
standard front locking ring.
•        Standard front and rear mounts requires a dovetail, but with
the heavy duty base adapter the rear mount is secured with screws
requiring drilling and tapping the barrel.  

Leatherwood 17” & 18” (short) Scopes
•        17” – 3X power, 18” – 6X power, both are ¾” blued steel tube
•        Eye relief: approx. 4.5”
•        Waterproof – hermetically sealed and nitrogen filled.  No chance
of moisture getting inside.
•        Plain fine-wire crosshair reticle (No option for different reticles)
•        Normally the scope is rigidly mounted – not allowed to slide
under recoil.
•        Leatherwood offers a Scope Sliding Lock Ring (17SLR) similar to
the one for the long scope, but works with the front mount on either
the 17” or 18” scopes.  It rigidly clamps to the scope body and
provides an under-tube bar that slides in a notch in the front ring,
allowing the scope to slide under recoil.
•        Rear micrometer mount looks like a copy of an original Lyman
small-game scope mount (no click adjustment & a locking ring to lock
the adjustment knobs).  Due to the coarse markings located only on
the top of the knob they are not adequate for the precision
adjustments required for long range competitive shooting.
•        Parallax adjustment is not available.

Leatherwood’s 8X USMC Sniper Scope with precision mounts
Since, as of this writing, one can be purchased for less than $600 and
it comes with nice mounts similar to Unertl’s, Fecker’s or DZ Arms, I
was curious enough to call the company and get the actual
measurements.  The outside diameter (OD) of the objective bell
housing at the widest part (knurled rings) is 36.1mm.  The OD at the
front is 35.0mm and the actual lens diameter is 31mm but ends up
around 30mm due to the retainer ring.  

NRA BPCR silhouette rules state that any ocular or objective lenses,
adjusting or assembly rings to be less than 1” (25.4mm) in diameter.  
22 BPCRA rules state that any ocular or objective lens must not be
larger than 1” as measured from the inside of the lens opening
(adjusting or assembly rings are not included in this measurement).  
Therefore the scope does not meet the rules for either type of
sanctioned matches.  In addition, the rear mount is click adjustable
which is not allowed unless it can be de-clicked.

By the way, if the precision mounts can be de-clicked, they can be
purchased separately for around $250, less than half the price of DZ
Arms mounts (discussed later), but they do not offer the extended
elevation adjustment available with the DZ mounts.  Utilizing a 7.2”
mount spacing the DZ arms mounts have 200MOA of elevation
adjustment vs. 125MOA for the Leatherwood/Hi-Lux.  If de-clicking is
possible they would be a good solution to pair up with Leatherwoods
18” 6 power scope.

Considering Options

The costs of some of the new scopes can certainly “put a crimp in your
budget”.  Are they worth the price?  After discussing some of the pros
and cons with several scope owners I contacted an experienced BPCR
scope shooter and highly regarded gunsmith.  In his opinion MVA
mounts are good but have some potential for backlash.  Therefore he
suggested obtaining good set of used Winchester A5 or Lyman 5A
mounts and purchase the scope separately.  Winchester A5 rear mount
is referred to as the “grasshopper” mount in reference to the under
tube spring.  The current MVA “B” series scope uses this mount
design.  Both the Lyman and Winchester, if they are the clicked
version, could be easily de-clicked to make them NRA legal.  He
further commented that Unertl mounts are the best of all, but most if
not all are not NRA legal due to having click adjustments.  By the way,
I did check with MVA and found the following on their web site.  
Concerning backlash MVA says, “You may notice very slight backlash in
the threaded adjustments, but this is necessary for any threads to
ensure that they do not bind up during operation. As long as any
adjustments made are in the same direction of rotation of the screw,
there will be no correction required for the backlash.”

All of the precision high-quality rear mounts, which feature precise
and repeatable adjustments, are generally referred to as “micrometer-
style” mounts.  In contrast to MVA’s standard ladder-type or Malcolm-
style, the Unertl or Cataract-style are sometimes referred to as cage-
type mounts; cage-type being used in reference to their shape.  The
basic design is attributed to the Cataract Tool & Optical Company,
which was later improved on by the J. W. Fecker Company.  Unertl
essentially copied the J. W. Fecker Company improved design.  The
cataract-style mounts are spring loaded to eliminate the possibility of
backlash in the adjustments.

The Unertl-like very high quality J.W. Fecker mounts can be found
with and without click adjustments.  The Fecker click mounts can be
“de-clicked” – more on this later.  As far as I know all the Unertl rear
mount are click adjustable but I figured out how to “de-clicked” them
to comply with NRA rifle silhouette rules.  If you’re interested in a
Unertl mount, I’ve included much more data later on including the
different style of mount bases and the simple technique I used to
disable the clicking adjustment.

Now, this brings me back to the Leatherwood scopes.  I had heard
good things about the quality of the Leatherwood scopes but not the
original mounts.  The Leatherwood Wm Malcolm scopes are certainly
much cheaper than those from MVA or D.Z Arms.  So, being an
opportunist at heart, I figured the odds were good that I could save
several hundred dollars by matching up a Leatherwood with the Unertl
mounts.  After checking and performing a few calculations, it became
clear that the 30.5” Leatherwood scope was too long to use with the
limited adjustment range of the Unertl rear mount.  But the shorter
18” scope was ideal and offered more than sufficient range.

I will not go into all the details of the calculations here.  As mentioned
earlier, I devoted a chapter in my book to mounting an externally
adjustable scope on a BPCR, including the necessary calculations.  If
you are interested you can order a copy from this web site.  But I will
discuss the subject a bit more.  The same formula for adjusting iron
sights can be used with an externally adjustable scope. Therefore, if
one knows the minute-of-angle (MOA) value required for adjusting the
scope from say 200 meters to 500 meters (the overall target distances
for silhouette competition), one should easily be able to determine if
the rear mount has sufficient adjustment range.

So let’s use the formula, which in one form is: MOA adjustment range
= rear mount adjustment (RMA) range in inches x 3600 ÷ mount
spacing (MS) in inches or "MOA = RMA x 3600 ÷ MS".  When reviewing
my shooting notes I found that, for 200 to 500 meters, a realistic
adjustment value for a .45-70 or .40-65 caliber rifle is 55 MOA.  Also
knowing that the maximum adjustable range of the Unertl rear mount
is 0.250”, let’s use 7.2” for the scope mount spacing, which is
common for 18” to 23” long scopes.  So, after “plugging” the values
into the formula, the answer is 125 MOA, which is more than sufficient
and allows a comfortable margin.  Now I had to find a Unertl front
mount and a scope to fit.  I decided to order an 18” Leatherwood
scope and evaluate it.

But before moving on to a discussion on my evaluating of the
Leatherwood, I’d like to cover another example of mount-to-scope fit
or compatibility.  Let’s determine if the Unertl rear mount will work
with a 30” long scope.  Using the same formula and the same rear
mount adjustable range (0.250”), let’s now use a scope mount spacing
of 17”, which is typical when mounting a 30” long scope.  The answer
is a total adjustment range of only 53 MOA, which is not sufficient.  
Now keep this example in mind for a later discussion on mounts
available from D. Z. Arms.

Evaluation of the Leatherwood
(Model # M634181)

Initial evaluation prior to firing
Scope specifications: 18” long, ¾” tube diameter, 6X power, 17mm
objective, 12’ field of view at 100 yds, 4.5” eye relief, weight 18 oz
(see more on this below), 5.8mm exit pupil, no parallax adjustment.  
All air-glass optic surfaces are fully multi-coated for maximum light
transmission.  Parallax is set for 10’ to infinity.  The reticle is a fine
crosshair.  The scope is shockproof, waterproof and nitrogen filled.

Opening the shipping box I found the following:
1)        The scope, with mounts installed, metal protective end caps
and scope blocks; came double sealed in plastic bags (sealed in a clear
plastic bag inside a sealed bubble wrap bag).  Also included are an 8-
page instruction manual and a cheap, small square piece of felt cloth
to clean lenses.
2)        The scope, end caps, mounts and scope blocks were covered
with lightweight oil.
3)        Only markings on the scope (Wm MALCOLM over 6X) are
located 1&1/4” in front of the eyepiece locking ring.

To remove the front and rear mounts from the scope required 1st
removing the adjustable eyepiece and locking ring.  The scope has as
inner sealed glass lens in front of the eyepiece to maintain the
hermetic seal and allow eyepiece adjustment and removal.  I weighed
everything on a very accurate postage scale.  The results were:
1)        Scope, end caps, mounts and blocks (no block screws) – 19.6 oz
(1 lb 3.6 oz)
2)        Scope without mounts, end caps or blocks – 12.8 oz
3)        Both protective end caps – 2 oz

The exterior surface finish of the all-metal (possibly steel) scope tube,
objective lens housing, eyepiece and eyepiece locking ring are
acceptable.  The blued metal finish has a few very light machining
marks in a couple of areas.  The adjustable eyepiece and end cap
threads are rough but functional.  All were coated with a light oil,
including the inside threads for the end caps, which were very close to
the objective and ocular (eyepiece) lenses.  Knowing what oil can do
to scope lenses, this concerned me.  If the scope was not nitrogen
filled and hermetically sealed I would have been very concerned due to
the high probability of oil leaching into the inner workings of the
scope.  To eliminate the possibility of oil getting on the lenses, I gently
removed all the oils in the threads with Q-tips and solvent, being
cautious not to get solvent on the lenses.  Surface oils were removed
from the scope exterior surfaces with the cheap lens cloth.


Front mount & locking ring
Mount is functional but not well finished.  Blued metal surfaces are
rough with lots of casting and machining marks.  The mount is
designed with a locking screw to attach to a standard 60-degree
dovetail block.  The separate locking ring works with the front mount
to prevent the scope from rotating or moving fore and aft but allows
the scope to pivot for windage and elevation adjustments.
Note – I did purchase a sliding lock ring (Part # 17SLR - sold
separately), which allows the scope to slide out of battery under recoil
but keeps it from rotating.  It replaces the standard lock ring.  The
construction and metal surfaces are similar to the front mount.

Rear cage-type mount with windage and elevation adjustments
Mount is functional but not well finished.  Blued metal surfaces are
rough with lots of casting and machining marks.  The scope contact
surfaces of the turret knobs are very rough and will definitely scratch
or score the scope surface during adjustments.  One complete turn of
the knobs provides 0.020” of scope adjustment.  The mount is
designed with a locking screw to attach to a standard 60-degree
dovetail block.  To call it a micrometer-type mount would be a
misnomer since there are no micrometer-type scales on the turret
knob housings to use as a reference.  In other words, if the turret
knobs are turned and the number of rotations is not noted, it would be
almost impossible to return the knob to a previous setting.  Clearly, at
least in my mind, the mounts are made for recreational shooting or
hunting, where the scope is adjusted for a specific distance and the
knobs locked in place with the locking rings.  Even in this case I would
definitely file and polish the ends of the turret knobs to eliminate or
reduce scope surface damage.

Dovetail style mounting blocks
The two identical standard 60-degree type dovetail mounting blocks
are reasonably well machined, blued and finished.  The blocks are ½”
(actually 0.490”) wide on top with 60-degree shoulders, and are
1.285” long.  The two mounting holes in each block are spaced 14.2
mm (0.559”) apart and will accept standard 6-48 or similar size
screws.  The blocks that came with my scope are designed with a half
moon slot on one side and a Posa slot on the other side to also fit
Unertl, Fecker or similar type mounts.  I understand that blocks
shipped with more recent scopes only the standard half moon slot on
one side.


Evaluation under firing conditions
After additional considerations I decided to mount the Leatherwood on
a 50 caliber caplock muzzleloader I used for local competition many
years ago and plan on using for whitetail deer hunting.  It’s a
customized version of the Thompson Center Hawken rifle and my aged
eyes have been having a hard time focusing in on the front sight.  
Another reason for mounting it on the TC was to try it out prior to
possibly using it on one of my Browning BPCRs.  Following is a photo of
the Leatherwood mounted on the custom Thompson Center.
The TC flat top barrel was drilled and tapped for mount spacing of
7.2”.  The Leatherwood scope blocks worked fine with 6x48 screws.  
The front mount setup allowed the scope to pivot sufficiently for
windage and elevation adjustments, but held the scope from sliding
under recoil.  After 50 or so rounds and adjusting the scope, I must
say I was impressed and quite satisfied with the whole setup as a
hunting scope setup.  The scope image was very bright and crisp with
no distortions, and the plain crosshairs were sharp.  The front and
rear Leatherwood mounts worked great.  The rear windage and
elevation adjustments worked fine and stayed in place.  Once I had
the scope centered I locked the rear mount elevation and windage
adjustments with the knurled finger-locking nut and nothing moved
during subsequent shots.

Following is a photo of an 18” Leatherwood mounted on a recent
Winchester M1885 Limited Series rifle, which is identical to the
Browning M1885 Traditional Hunter.  The existing factory dovetail for
the rear barrel sight was used as were the existing factory holes in
the receiver.

Unertl Mounts & De-clicking a Unertl
First, allow me to make the following very clear.  I’m no expert on
Unertl scopes or mounts.  I don’t know if all Unertl turret mount
adjustments are similar, but the one I have was easy to de-click to
make it NRA silhouette legal.  See the photo below of the
disassembled ¾” mount.  The spring and plunger pictured to the left
of the mount reside in the lower left cavity of the mount.  They apply
the necessary force to hold the scope body firmly against the two
adjustable turrets, effectively eliminating backlash.

A right-angle pin is installed into a hole in the bottom end of each
turret assembly.  When functioning as originally designed, as the knob
and threaded section of the turret are rotated during adjustments,
the pin holds the bottom end from turning while sliding up and down
as necessary in a slot in the mount housing.  Through the center of the
threaded section, the bottom end of the turret assembly is directly
connected to a thin round flat disk resting on top of the knob.  Since,
due to the right-angle pin, the bottom end of the turret assembly
cannot rotate, the flat disk cannot rotate.  The flat disk has a small
“dimple” close to the edge.  When the knob is rotated under it the
dimple snaps over notches formed in the top of the knob.  Removing
the right angle pin de-clicks the turret.  It’s that simple.  Just
completely unscrew and remove the turrets.  Then grab the right
angle pin with a pair of pliers and pull it out while gently rotating it
back and forth.  In my case, one came out easily.  The other one was
very tight.  If it breaks off and you have no plans for using the click
feature, just file off any remaining rough edges.  To control the
tension on the now de-clicked mount, tighten the screw in the upper
right hand corner.  Another method that reportedly works is to clean
the turret threads of oil and apply a drop of linseed oil or some rosin.  
I have not tried either so can’t comment, but it sounds reasonable to
Unertl cage-style micrometer rear mounts come in two variations, a
standard base design and a Posa base design.  The one shown
disassembled in the above photo has a “standard” base.  Most Unertl
mounts you see are the standard base design.  The two photos below
are of a complete set of front and rear mounts with standard bases.  
These are for a larger diameter scope, but the design is basically the
same for a ¾” scope.  Tape is holding the spring and plunger from
popping out.  Also evident is the notch in the front mount plunger,
which slides over and aligns itself on the Pope-style rail or rib on the
front top of the scope.  The rib serves to hold the scope in rotational
alignment while also allowing it to slide due to recoil.

Unertl mounts with standard bases require unique matching blocks,
which screw-mount onto the top of the action and/or rifle barrel.  It’
s not visible in the photos, but the end of the base thumb-screw is cup
or concave shaped to fit a matching bump or convex shape on the
scope block.  Some refer to the block as having a crescent cut to
accept the standard thumb screw.  In contrast to the Posa-base
mounts detailed below, standard style Unertl mounts only clamp on
one side of the dovetail and in the convex bump on the other side.  
The convex bump and matching thumb screw also ensures the mount
does not slide on the block, maintaining rigid center-to-center mount
spacing.  Following the two standard base mount photos below is a
photo of a standard block.
Another version of the Unertl mounts has, what’s referred to as a
Posa base.  Below is a photo of a Unertl rear mount with a Posa
base.  Another photo of front and rear Posa mounts can be seen in
the following discussion on D. Z. Arms mounts.  Although the Posa
base mount is very similar to the standard base mounts detailed
above, notice the base is split, which allows the mount to tightly
clamp and align on both sides of the dovetail.  Hence Posa mounts are
more rigid and are typically only used with larger scopes to handle
the heavier recoil assuming a recoil spring is used (see note below).  
Posa base mounts require unique matching blocks.  The end of the
base thumb screw is flat bottomed to fit into a flat bottom notch on
the scope blocks.  The notch only serves to locate the mounts fore
and aft to hold center-to-center mount spacing.

Note – If a recoil spring is not used than the split-base design of the
Posa mount is not utilized to its fullest extent since the mounts are
only subjected to the frictional forces of the sliding scope when the
rifle recoils.  If a recoil spring is used than the front mount must
absorb the spring energy due to recoil and especially when the spring
returns the scope to battery.  Therefore it’s more important that the
front mount is a Posa design than the rear mount although for
symmetry and esthetics both mounts are usually Posa style.
D. Z. Arms Mounts

Now, let’s digress back to the earlier example in the section titled
Considering Options where the scope mounting formula indicated the
Unertl mount did not have sufficient adjustment range for a 30” long
scope.  Enter a company named D. Z. Arms, which came up with a
solution, a very high quality modified version of Unertl’s ¾” mounts.  
Dan Zimmerman, the owner and the “D. Z.” in D. Z. Arms, informed
me that Sean Moore, an employee of D. Z Arms, deserves all the
credit.  The mounts feature an extended elevation adjustment range
for long scopes.  They are a little taller in the vertical direction and
have a longer elevation turret resulting in 200MOA of vertical
(elevation) adjustable range with a mount spacing of 7.2”.  The end
of the windage turret has also been redesigned slightly to allow for
the additional range.  The mounts do not have click adjustment and
therefore meet the NRA rifle silhouette rules.  They make mounting a
30” or 34” scope possible while benefiting from the backlash free
design of the original Unertl or J.W. Fecker mounts.  If spaced 17”
apart the mounts provide approximately 95MOA of elevation

By the way, note that the mounts in the photo are designed with a
Posa-style split base, but standard non-split mounts are also
available.  And if you’re wondering how they work with a MVA scope,
which has the Pope-style rib on the bottom, the not so obvious
answer, at least to me, is to just turn the MVA scope over.  I felt like
a real idiot after asking Dan the same question and receiving his
response.  He’s probably still laughing.  The company contact
http://www.dzhepburn.com/, dan@hepman.com,
phone, 405-691-1215.
Unertl Optical Co.

Although the earlier discussion on Unertl focused primarily on their
mounts, I also mentioned that Unertl is the most well known supplier
of early 20th century externally adjustable scopes.  Unertl scopes are
considered by many to be top of the line and generally command a
price premium when one comes up for sale.  Although manufacturing
of externally adjustable scopes ceased many years ago, Unertl is still
in business.  Following is a short overview of the current company.

Formerly known as John Unertl Optical Company, Unertl was founded
in 1934 and was originally based in Mars, Pennsylvania.  The current
Unertl Optical Company, Inc. continues to manufacture and market
products under the brand name Unertl.  The product line includes
telescopes, mirror mounts, riflescopes; specialized sights and optics
for law enforcement agencies and armed service branches.

A small operation is now located at 17 S. Hampton Rd., PO Box 234,
Donnelsville, OH 45319-0234, staffed by Aaron Davis, a long-term
Unertl employee.  Aaron repairs and reconditions externally
adjustable Unertl scopes.  He can be reached at 937-631-2854 or via
email at
aaron_unertl@earthlink.net.  Some parts are also available
for sale.  If you need parts and/or repairs, this is the Unertl guy you
need to contact.

Before closing out this section on Unertl, I included three photos of a
Unertl ¾” Small Game Scope, which is, as far as I know, the only
Unertl scope that meets the NRA’s rules for silhouette competition.  
The mounts would need to be de-clicked to make them NRA legal.  
The Small Game Scope was originally manufactured in 3X, 4X or 6X
power.  It’s 18" long and weighs approximately 16 oz. Both the
objective and ocular lenses are 3/4" diameter.  The magnification of
the scope in the photos is 6X.  If you look closely, the Pope-style rib or
rail extends along the top front section of the scope under the spring
and front mount, and ends just behind the objective lens bell
housing.  The rib serves to hold the scope in rotational alignment
while also allowing it to slide under recoil.  The rib slides in a notch in
the front mount plunger.  Revisit the earlier photos of the front
mounts and you’ll see one clearly displaying the notch.  The large
spring assembly around the front end of the scope is appropriately
referred to as a recoil spring and is meant to absorb recoil and
automatically return or slide the scope back to “battery” position
after the rifle is fired.  Since, per my understanding, the recoil spring
is not allowed by the NRA, it can be easily removed and the scope slid
back to the battery position by hand after each shot.

Another feature of the Unertl Small Game Scope is the parallax/focus
adjustment, which is located at the back end of the rib.  It consists of
a screw and washer on each side of the scope body.  Focus and
parallax is adjusted by loosening both screws slightly then sliding the
screws back and forth a small amount while looking through the scope
to check parallax and focus.  The screws hold the internal erector
lens in place.  The normal procedure is to adjust parallax for the most
common shooting distance and leave it along.  This works fine for a
small game rifle used at typical hunting distances, but may not be
acceptable for long-range silhouette competition where banks of
targets set from 200 to 500 meters.  With that said, I do know of
silhouette shooters that do not adjust parallax during an entire match.
J. W. Fecker Scopes

As noted earlier, Unertl is the most well-know 20th century externally
adjustable scope manufacturer.  Also mentioned were Winchester,
Lyman, Stevens and Litschert.  But scope historians and
knowledgeable shooters are also well aware of scopes made by J. W.
Fecker.  Fecker was in business many years before Unertl opened
shop.  In fact John Unertl sharpened his skills as an employee of
Fecker prior to leaving around 1934 to start his own business.  Also
known by scope historians is the fact that the J. W. Fecker Company
was the original developer of the cage-type micrometer mounts later
adopted by Unertl and others.  If you can locate a copy of the May
2002 edition of The Accurate Rifle magazine, it contains an excellent
article titled, The Life and Times of J. W. Fecker by Clarence

In every aspect Fecker scopes are as well made as a Unertl, possibly
better.  In fact, in some respects a Fecker scope could be considered
a notch above a Unertl.  During the process of finding a suitable scope
for my rifle, I ran across two very nice Fecker scopes and bought both
of them.  I later purchased several others.  Since Fecker’s are not as
well known and readily available as Unertl’s, I found that a Fecker in
excellent condition can be purchased for significantly less than a
Unertl of comparable condition.  When comparing a Fecker to a
Unertl it’s evident that both are of very similar construction.  But
Fecker’s have a unique feature not found on Unertl’s or on other
similar scopes.

Fecker scopes have an easy to adjust parallax/focus adjustment
located in the middle of the scope body.  The profile of a Fecker has
been humorously described as being similar to a chicken snake that
has recently swallowed an egg.  In actual use, when the scope is
mounted on a rifle, the adjustment is easier to reach and adjust than
one located at the objective end of the scope.  It’s a significant
improvement over the crude screw and washer adjustment found on
the previously discussed Unertl Small Game Scope.  In addition, many
of the ¾” tube Fecker’s can be found in either 8X or 10X
magnification, both exceeding the 6X power of the Unertl Small Game
Scope.  Unertl and others have produced ¾” tube body scopes that
exceed 6X magnification, but none that I’m aware of meet NRA’s
ocular or objective lenses requirement that the adjusting or assembly
rings must be less than 1” in diameter.  By the way, refer to the next
section discussing how to determine scope magnification if the scope
is not marked.

Below is a photo of my two ¾” tube Fecker scopes.  Both are the
same length (20.5”) although the one in the foreground appears
longer due to being closer to the camera.  The scope in the
background (serial # 2385) is the older of the two.  The one in the
foreground is serial # 5588.  You can clearly see the mid-scope
parallax adjustment and slight differences in the design, although
both work the same way.  Also notice the left adjustable rear mounts
are slightly different.  It’s somewhat hard to discern in the photo but
the top of the turrets on the top scope mount are smooth and
rounded which the turrets on the bottom scope mount have flat tops
with a small cavity machined in them.  Also looking close you can see
the Pope-style rib or rail that runs on top of each scope between the
parallax adjustment and the objective lens bell housing.  Also evident
is the scope stops, which are the thin circular rings clamped around
the tube body and the rib.  Prior to firing the rifle the scope is pulled
(slid) back until the clamp contacts the front mount.  When the rifle
is fired, due to recoil, the scope slides forward in the mounts.
Measuring Scope Magnification (Power)

Although the magnification is not marked on the Fecker scopes
pictured, the newer one in the foreground is 8X and the one in the
background is 10X.  I verified the power of both using two
independent techniques.  By the way, the 19th and early 20th
century term used to indicate scope magnification or power was
diameters.  Therefore, a 6X (6 power) scope was referred to as a 6
diameter scope.

One technique is based on the telescope "rule of thumb" formula that
the exit pupil diameter is equal to the diameter of the objective lens
divided by the power.  Put another way, the power is equal to the
objective lens diameter divided by the exit pupil diameter.  The
objective lens diameter is very easy to measure.  The diameter of the
exit pupil is the size of the image projected on the pupil of your eye
when looking through the scope.  Measuring the exit pupil is a little
more complicated.  But with a little work and preparation it’s not too
hard.  To make a good measurement the scope must to be held
steady, not rigidly mounted, but held sufficiently steady to make a
measurement of a focused spot around 0.065” in diameter.

An easy way is to just lay the scope on a table.  Now align a bright
light source, lamp for example, approximately 2 to 3 feet in front of
the scope.  It must be in line with the scope and objective lens.  I.e.
aim the scope directly at the lamp as if you were sighting it on the
lamp.  If aligned properly the image of the light source should pass
through the scope and form a small spot on a piece of paper held
within inches of the eyepiece (ocular lens).  With the scope on the
table and focused on a bright light, I taped a piece of paper on the
back of a chair and slid it to within inches of the scope.  If the light
source is too far away from the scope it may not supply sufficient
light to illuminate the full spot or, if too bright, may flair out on the
paper making it difficult to define and measure the spot edges.  Move
the paper back and forth until the spot is focused to the smallest
diameter.  Grab your calipers and measure the spot diameter.  
Divided the diameter of the objective lens by the spot diameter and
you have the approximate power of your scope.

Another, possibly easier method for some is to use the time honored
technique of looking at a small far away object with one
unobstructed or "naked" eye while looking at the same object through
the scope with the other eye.  Then, while superimposing both
images over each other, estimate how many times the image seen by
the naked eye will fit into the larger image seen through the scope.  
Admittedly this can be a little tricky.  It requires a very steady rest
and the ability to concentrate on both images at the same time,
which some find
hard or impossible to do.  In performing this highly scientific
procedure an excellent object to look at that offers a great reference
image is a brick wall, better yet a brick column.  If you are able to
master the technique, just count how many of the small bricks seen
with the naked eye fit into one of the large bricks as seen though the
scope.  The answer is the approximate scope power.  If circles are
used rather than bricks, it's easy to understand where the old term
diameters originated to define the power; for example a 6 diameter

Short Malcolm-Style Scope Mounting Adapter Rail for
Browning or Winchester M1885 BPCR

If you’re like me and prefer to avoid having additional mounting holes
drilled and tapped in your rifle barrel, there’s an alternative solution
when mounting a short externally adjustable Malcolm-style scope on
a Browning or Winchester M1885 BPCR.  Steve Earle, the well-known
supplier of scope blocks for externally adjustable scopes, is now
offering a scope block rail that will attach using the existing factory
holes.  For more details on Steve’s scope rail see the article titled


At this point in my research I had decided to mount a Leatherwood on
my BPCR using Fecker or “de-clicked” Unertl mounts.  I believe it’s
still an excellent idea and likely the most cost effective solution
available if the mount can be found at a reasonable price.  However
my plans were changed due to coming across a couple of good deals
on Fecker scopes complete with silhouette legal mounts.  The amount
I paid for each Fecker was less than the cost of a Leatherwood and
separate Fecker, Unertl or D. Z. Arms mounts.  In addition, the
Fecker scopes feature a Pope-style sliding rib feature.  Remembering
the earlier comments made by Randy Oates, the owner of
R.H.O., I’m not convinced a sliding scope is necessary.  But since the
feature is available on the Fecker’s, I’ll use it.

One area I did not discuss in any detail is the option to install mounts
in the existing dovetails on your rifle barrel.  Modern day mounts or
scope blocks made from good quality steel may very well offer a
satisfactory solution for dovetail mounting, but I’ve been warned to
stay away from dovetail mounts in general as they are prone to work
loose.  If the dovetail blocks are sufficiently hard the barrel steel may
not be.  A long Malcolm style scope is much heavier than the typical
front sight on a BPC rifle and therefore puts significant lateral stress
on the dovetail slot.

I’ve covered and discussed several options for “scoping” a BPCR,
including USA made top-of-the-line modern day replicas, mixing and
matching original models with silhouette legal mounts or with modern
copies of legal mounts, and a couple of imported models.  If money is
not an option, in my opinion, the best high-quality solutions are a
MVA standard scope with D.Z. Arms mounts or a complete D.Z. Arms
setup with scope and mounts.  A less costly option is the MVA “B”
series scope setup.  The only other items required to install the scope
and mounts are the correct scope blocks (bases) and the option of an
adapter rail discussed earlier from Steve Earle for the modern
Browning or Winchester BPCRs.

But, as the title of the article implies, this was an exercise to find a
cost effective solution.  To that end the most cost effective solution
is to mount a Leatherwood 18” 6X scope with a set of Fecker or de-
clicked Unertl mounts, or better yet, use the Leatherwood Sniper
scope mounts assuming they can be de-clicked.  If a Leatherwood is
desired with a scope sliding feature, a sliding lock ring will be
required to ensure the scope does not rotate as it slides under recoil
and is returned to “battery”.  Hopefully I've provided sufficient
information to help you understand the various other options
available and come to a decision.

But before you make a final decision see my article titled
Consideration & Math for External Adjustable scopes.

In Closing & References
In closing, I’d like to leave you with a couple of references:

A good guy you need to get to know is Steve Earle.  Steve supplies
dovetail-type scope blocks for many old and new mounts for external
adjustable scopes.  He can fit just about any scope mount and rifle
configuration and supplies the adapter rail for Browning and
Winchester BPCRs mentioned earlier.  Steve can be reached at Steve
Earle Products, Inc., 24 Palmer Rd., Plympton, MA 02367, (781) 585-
http://www.steveearleproducts.com/, steven.m.

Finally, for a list of companies that can help you mount your scope or
return your damaged scope back to operating condition, see the
article titled

Now you know everything I do about available scope and possible
options. Have an enjoyable time with your scope shooting and come
back now and then to check in to see what new information or items
have been added to my web site.

Wishing you great shooting,