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Carrying a precision rifle by the scope—does it hurt anything? Login/Join 
Freethinker
Picture of sigfreund
posted
This is another of those questions that occurred to me while watching videos of long range competitions.

In one video a competitor briefly carried the rifle by picking it up by the scope. In the comments someone expressed the opinion that doing that could adversely affect precision. If that were true at all, it would obviously be affected to a degree by several factors, including how much leverage was placed on the scope by where it was grasped, the thickness of the scope tube, and the weight of the rifle.

In other discussions about the question there is definitely a lack of consensus among shooters. Some believe it can’t hurt anything, but others believe it could have an adverse effect. There is even at least one leather device on the market that’s intended to be attached directly to scopes to serve as a carrying handle.

What say the group?




“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
— Thomas Paine
 
Posts: 43816 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I Deal In Lead
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If all the mounting hardware is tight and it's a quality scope, I fail to see how it could affect anything.
 
Posts: 6153 | Location: Gilbert Arizona | Registered: March 21, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Bad form but I can't imagine it hurting anything other than turning a dial off its setting. I remember a story of an instructor standing in front of the class bouncing his AICS rifle on the floor and catching it by the barrel while he talked. It didn't lose zero, per the story.

Bruce





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Posts: 4035 | Location: NV | Registered: October 06, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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In many steel matches it's called "suitcase carry".

Quality scopes are built to take a lot of punishment, and mounts should be up to the same task. In theory, suitcase carry shouldn't cause issues for alignment. But if one lifts a heavy rifle while grabbing onto the scope quite close to the objective lens, then there's a lot of unnecessary torque being placed on the scope tube. Over time, who knows how much that torque affects point of aim. For an NRL/PRS/steel match shooter, the number of potential suitcase carries could be 100-200 in a big weekend match. I won't move or carry a rifle that way.

From a competition standpoint, suitcase carry is prohibited in many matches in this region. However, I do see a few competitors who move their staged rifles a few feet here and there, while grabbing onto the scope. But if one moves the rifle from the empty-chamber/mag-out/bolt-back staging area to the general shooting location, the competitor will almost certainly get a stern warning from the RO. Do it a second time or flag someone with the muzzle during suitcase carry, and the competitor can be DQ'd right there. Pack your shit and go home.

Many match directors have zero tolerance for suitcase carry, because it's so easy to flag someone or point the muzzle in an unsafe direction. In such matches our rifle carry options are muzzle up and muzzle down. I'm fine with that.
 
Posts: 6868 | Location: Colorado | Registered: January 26, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
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Thanks for all that explanation, fritz; good to know.




“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
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Posts: 43816 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Almost all the scope bodies now a days are one piece billet 6061, they are not going to bend shift or anything else.
 
Posts: 187 | Location: Oklahoma | Registered: January 11, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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does it hurt anything?

A fellow local competitor picked up his heavy rifle by his top tier scope, felt something... parallax was damaged.
 
Posts: 2980 | Location: 9860 ft above sea level Colorado | Registered: December 31, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
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quote:
Originally posted by offgrid:
A fellow local competitor picked up his heavy rifle by his top tier scope, felt something... parallax was damaged.


Once again: The voice of actual experience.
Thank you.




“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
— Thomas Paine
 
Posts: 43816 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Good, bad, I'm the
guy with the gun
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It's a bad habit. Carry it by the stock. Or use a sling.
 
Posts: 2254 | Location: USA | Registered: May 03, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Carrying a precision rifle by the scope …



I had no idea anyone does that. It never occurred to me. It's counter-intuitive. A scope tube is small, round, slippery, has projections (the adjustments) in the middle, and unless mounted high leaves little room to get your fingers under it, whereas you can get your whole hand under the stock. And even the cheapest scope is still a precision instrument. I wouldn't use, for example, my torque wrench as a hammer or pry bar.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: egregore,
 
Posts: 24689 | Location: Johnson City/Elizabethton, TN | Registered: April 28, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
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Why?

Because it might be the most convenient way to pick up a rifle with its attached bipod (and sometimes various bag rests) and move it a short lateral distance from one shooting position to another. That sort of movement is very commonly seen in the many Internet videos of Precision Rifle Series or National Rifle League competitions. Most competitors don’t use their scopes as carrying handles for the purpose, and as fritz points out it’s disapproved of in those competitions, but it’s not unknown.

I never do it myself either, but if I felt the urge I could with some of my rifles and scopes. With some of them there is room between the rear of the scope and the stock or receiver for my hand to fit comfortably and because most scopes are wrapped with Camo Form tape, it would provide a good, nonslip grip. That tape would also permit a secure grip on the scope if I wanted to pick it up from the objective (front) end. It might be less problematic if the scope were grasped in the middle between the rings, but as you point out, that would be less convenient.

Lest we forget, the original M16 was equipped with a clearly-designated carry handle to permit the rifle to be carried that exact way, so the basic idea and practice has been around for a long time. And as another reminder, because someone asks a question about a practice does not imply that he either does it himself or that he advocates it. Smile




“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
— Thomas Paine
 
Posts: 43816 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I've seen people do it countless times at matches, usually just to move a rifle over a few feet. I can't see it doing any damage if you pick it up by the main tube near the rings, but I certainly would never pick up a 20 pound rifle by the objective. YMMV
 
Posts: 3411 | Registered: June 27, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Sigless in
Indiana
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quote:
Originally posted by sigfreund:


Lest we forget, the original M16 was equipped with a clearly-designated carry handle to permit the rifle to be carried that exact way,



Actually that 'carry handle' was originally designed as a shroud to protect the charging handle which was located on top of the receiver.

It was left that way because the rear sight was designed into it and the machinery was already made to create the raw forgings that way.

Early doctrine forbade carrying the rifle that way, as it was slower to employ.




 
Posts: 13696 | Location: The Edge of the Ozarks | Registered: December 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Wait, what?
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^^^^
This. I tell people all the time on the range that the upper receiver is not a carry handle.




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Posts: 12559 | Location: Martinsburg WV | Registered: April 02, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by kyoung:
Almost all the scope bodies now a days are one piece billet 6061, they are not going to bend shift or anything else.


That's quite the generalization. I know some riflescope makers who use a better grade of aluminum, better suited for riflescopes. Also, many, if not most makers extrude the aluminum to shape the objective bell and so on. A few actually machine the whole thing from a billet and eschew the extrusion; this makes for a much stronger riflescope body.
 
Posts: 3224 | Location: Texas | Registered: June 20, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Stupid I'm-old trivia.. The original m-16 toy rifle that came packaged with the GI Joe Doll with the Kung Fu grip (fuzzy felt hair GI Joe) had the charging handle inside handle pattern M16. I remember I always had trouble trying to get GI Joe's trigger finger through the space between the charging handle and carry handle for the "carrying" pose and wondered as a kid why there was a upside down "trigger" there!
 
Posts: 4207 | Location: Boise, ID USA | Registered: February 14, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
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Thanks for the history; interesting as always.

However, and not to flog a deceased equine, regardless of how it started, in common and technical use later it was indeed known and used as a carrying handle as described in the Colt Operation and Unit Maintenance Instructions (see below). It is also labeled as a carrying handle in my FM 23-9, Rifle, 5.56-MM, M16A1, dated March 1970. Or search for “carry handle” on a site like Brownells for countless other examples.

As for how it was used, I often saw soldiers in Vietnam and later using it for the purpose; not, of course, in combat, but in other, more common situations. In fact, more than once I personally saw two or three rifles being carried in one hand with their carrying handles in situations when soldiers were being rotated through training and qualifications when the rifles were maintained at a central depot and issued out for the limited purpose. But of course all those soldiers (including me, on occasion) didn’t have any latter day experts to teach us otherwise, so perhaps we can be excused.

Ironically, although the removeable separate part that can be clamped to the top of receivers is still known as a carrying handle, there is less room in the slot and therefore that type is less useful for the purpose.






“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”
— Thomas Paine
 
Posts: 43816 | Location: 10,150 Feet Above Sea Level in Colorado | Registered: April 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Truth Wins
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Are precision rifle scopes generally one or two piece tubes? I've seen that some Nightforces are two piece tubes. Given the weight of some precision rifles I've seen, and if that rifle has a two piece tube, then carrying the rifle by the scope seems unwise at best.


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Posts: 4231 | Location: In The Swamp | Registered: January 03, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I understand the intellectual exercise but I struggle with the idea that anyone would pick up a precision, expensive, heavy rifle by its most fragile portion. Ever. Even for a lateral couple feet. This reeks of negative reinforcement. You might do it a hundred times with zero issue but on 101 you shift something internally and your whole match is ruined.

Seems like a huge downside potential for what at best is an inconsequential gain.

At least now I know the proper term for that thing on an AR though. Lol
 
Posts: 3799 | Registered: June 18, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Can it? Maybe. I don't think we will ever see anything other than some anecdotal evidence either way.

I wouldn't do it though. It would probably be fine, but why am I going to pick a rifle up by one of it's most precise if not fragile parts when it literally has parts it's made to be picked up by? Sometimes things happen, but I try to be careful with my equipment whenever I can.




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"It honestly doesn't occur to them. They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards."
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Posts: 2885 | Location: Two blocks from the Center of the Universe | Registered: December 30, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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