Barska Benchmark scope
- 3 Comments
- Last updated: 14/12/2016
I am a massive fan of the first focal plane scope, even though not many are made when compared to the much more common second focal plane scope. This is mainly due to the increased manufacturing costs. I try to convert as many people who will listen, which is not easy as not many shooters actually understand the difference between first and second focal plane scopes.
What’s The Difference
A variable magnification scope with a reticle positioned in the first focal plane means that any aim points on the reticle remain the same whatever magnification the scope is set to. To the casual observer the first focal plane reticle appears to change in size, although it actually remains the same size relative to the increase and decrease in the field of view due to the change in magnification.
A reticle in the second focal plane will not appear to change in size – it stays constant, even when the field of view increases and decrease with any change in magnification.
The amount of image you see decreases with an increase in magnification and increases with a decrease in magnification. This means if you use the second dot down in a Mildot scope for 100 yards on ten mag then wind the mag up to 24 the second dot will no longer be 100 yards. For this reason I personally cannot see any plus points with a variable magnification scope having a reticle in the second focal plane. They are cheaper to make for the scope manufactures and means they do not have to think very hard at all about reticle design. They have been pushed by the scope firms so much that some shooters just take it as read that they are what is required in a scope.
The Benchmark Range
Barska’s Benchmark series of scopes have reticles in the first focal plane, so they can be used as the same aiming marks regardless of what magnification they are set on. The only downside was the fact that Barska did not make the reticle a true Mildot. It measured in at 1.25 mil on all the scaling/measuring charts I tested the scopes on. South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies the sole UK distributor now bring in the whole range of Barska’s Benchmark scopes. They are at the top end of the US firms product range, hence the name Benchmark.
Benchmarks are a 30mm body tubed series of variable magnification scopes, all with side-wheel parallax adjustment and 1/8 minute of angle windage and elevation click values at 100 yards. The range consists of a 4-16X50 a 5-20X50, a fixed 40X50 and the test model - an 8-26X50. The fixed 40X mag is the only one of the range not currently brought in by SYSS.
Changing Closest Focus
The Benchmarks have a minimum parallax setting of 50 yards which makes them ideal as a pure full-bore scope. I would have loved it if they came down to 20 or 10 yards closest focus, as it would be a perfect Field Target air rifle scope… still you can’t have everything.
But after taking a careful look at the construction of the scope it appeared to me that I could indeed re-parallax it for ultra short Airgun ranges without using any tools or taking the scope to pieces to any real degree. I did contact Barska about removing the locking ring on the objective lens, to which they stated it would void the warranty. But I found that you do not have to undo this locking ring at all. I have lost count of the number of full bore specification scopes I have re-parallaxed down to make them useful at airgun ranges, some are easier then others and the Barska is very easy indeed as the objective lens carrier can be unscrewed to move the objective lens out. This lessens the parallax distance from its factory set 50yard closest focus. On the 8-26X you only need to turn the lens out less then 3mm. I also tried it on the 4-16X to see if it would work for HFT and that needs less then 2mm of movement.
First turn the sidewheel parallax down to its factory set minimum of 50 yards then unscrew the lens out while looking at a twenty five yard target on the full 26X magnification until it becomes clear. When you move your head looking at a mark lined up with the crosshair the crosshair does not move off that mark. That means the scope is parallaxed for that range. There is a very small diameter rubber “O” ring behind the locking ring which is exposed as you screw the objective lens carrier out, be very careful not to damage this. This process does not vent any of the gasses inside the scope and does not mark or harm the optics or body of the scope in any way.
The Benchmarks parallax sidewheel is not marked up in yards – just 50 at the closest focus and 8 (infinity) at the other end of the travel. On the 8-26X the only difference is that the bottom limit of travel on the wheel will now equate 25 yards, while 8 becomes 60 yards. Obviously for the scopes’ intended use for full-bore or rimfire rifles I would leave it at its factory setting.
Fixtures and Fittings
First impressions were very good, the scope “feels” like a quality scope and has a rugged internal construction to withstand the recoil of heavy weapons. They also use a coil spring, not the more normal leaf spring behind the erector tube which they call the “Accu-lock” system. The lenses are fully multi coated giving a sight picture way above what you would expect from a scope at this price point. The 50mm objective lens actually looks smaller than it is, due to the 30mm diameter of the body tube.
The magnification zoom ring has clearly been manufactured to tight tolerances, rotating with a satisfying stop into each magnification mark. The adjustable eye bell has been made to the same high standard with no play what-so-ever in the movement of the lens carrier.
The windage and elevation turrets are housed under screw on protective caps. Under these the turrets are marked up from zero to 7.5 minutes of angle, with each click moving the reticle an eighth of a minute at 100 yards.
I apologise for harping on about the Benchmark’s airgun and rimfire shooting potential, but as well as being a competitive full-bore shooter I also compete with air rifles and rimfires too. Barska Benchmark scopes have impressed me with their quality and features, in fact I fancy one on my .223 for foxing, as the first focal plane reticle will give me the same aiming marks no matter what magnification I shoot on.
£285 for scope on text (4-16X £250, 5-20X £265)