Buying a second-hand riflescope can be a rewarding experience, you can get quality vintage or modern scopes on eBay with makers names like PECAR,KAHLES or LEUPOLD which are the ones that I'm most familiar with so I'll stick to talking about them.
PECAR-BERLIN...went out of business in late 2006 after being in the rifle scope business for over 50 years, they say because the lease on their factory was not renewed but I think it more likely that the fierce world-wide competition in the rifle scope market place killed off what is, or was, a top-quality but high priced German made scope that didn't evolve or progress in design like other leading brands did, PECAR's can be found in 26mm or 25.4mm tubes, 26mm being common in older scopes.
There are a few 26mm tube Pecar's getting about with home-made turned down main tubes to 25.4mm or 1", they can be identified by a step either side of the turret block, tube wall thickness would be getting thin on these.
Reticle moving are standard in the older scopes with the reticle moving to either side or up & down in the view as adjustments are made, newer Pecar's are image moving with the reticle staying centered in view, these scopes can be identified by a white circle with a dot in it on the reticle block near the top turret.
KAHLES...Austrian made scopes are another top-quality scope that can be found in 26mm,1' & 30mm tubes & other un-usual WWII tube sizes.
Kahles say they were the first to introduce multi-coating to riflescope lenses in 1972 but as I state further on, my research indicates that single film or lense coating technology can be traced back to ZIESS in 1935 as a German top secret military invention.
I've spent many a cold night out on the hunt..peering one-eyed through the cross-hairs at my target with a 1989 model Helia S 8x56 marvelling at how well Kahles scopes work while spotlighting or even in soft moonlight...there's just that little something extra about Kahles glass & optics that no other brands seem to have.
LEUPOLD have the worlds best warranty on most of their scope line-up...lifetime-fully transferable (rangefinders/illuminated reticles are less) and make at least one scope for any given situation.
In my humble opinion..some of Leupold's scopes and their accessories like Alumina flip-up covers are the worlds best and build quality, design and function is up there with the best if not equal too or setting the standard in most categories, perhaps the best modern scope you can buy for your money and they keep on improving and innovating, coming up with new & better designs every year.
Leupold began alphabet letter coding serial numbers on their scopes begining in 1974, all scopes produced in that year started their serial number with the letter E as a prefix, the next year it was F and so on but the letters I, 0 and Q were skipped so as not be confused with the numbers 1 or O until Z was reached in 1992, then Leupold re-started at A again in 1993 but as a suffix and in 2010 they are at U.
There are plenty of counterfeit Leupold Mark 4 scopes in a range of powers & scope types for sale on internet websites so visit Leupold.com and familiarise yourself with the pictures of some of the counterfeits.
Needless to say the fakes are nowhere near the same optical performance, reliability or precision as genuine Leupold Mark 4 scopes and the counterfeits are not exact replicas made & designed the same way, they have diecast parts & poor quality glass as opposed to Leupold Mark 4 scopes made from CNC machined billet aluminium stock, they may look or appear similar in a quick glance but that's it.
It should be clear the counterfeits are not covered by any Leupold warranty and it is also an offence in many countries to import counterfeit trademarked goods so you may lose your purchase at customs inspection.
Common scope faults to be aware of....
One possible fault with an older scope is lense seperation, it looks like a silvery or dried water spot/spots or a patch inside the glass lense that is caused by the adhesive that holds the two lense halves together giving way and it will only get worse, I've had scopes & binocular's with it and it doesn't seem to affect performance or vision but it is a defect, the only fix is a new lense if available although I see some repairers offering a service now days.
Lense coatings can easily get scratched from improper cleaning & the only fix is a new lense or polish off the coating but unless it really scratched up performance will not be badly affected in most situations, the first lense coating/s were invented by Carl Zeiss optics in 1935 and were a German military secret technology during WWII.
Internal haze on the lenses in older european scopes & binocular's can be caused by the vapours given off by the thin film of special sticky grease that is wiped on the inside walls of the tube and objective bell at manufacture to capture any tiny foreign objects or dust particles before they settle on the lenses or reticle, this vapour accumulates over time on the inside of the lenses and it can be cured with a service & clean and new grease.
Hiding behind a post...
Older variable power european scopes cross-hairs appear to get thicker as you twist up the magnification setting because they have the reticle in the first focal plane, not quite what is best for pin-point accuracy at 300 meters on a one inch black dot but OK on a larger sized target, they should also be sighted in on the highest power setting at 100 meters to minimize bullet impact variations at lower magnification settings...if it's an older scope it will also more than likely have a moving reticle which means as you adjust for bullet impact the cross hairs move in the view, up, down or sideways, modern scopes will be 'image moving' having a constantly centered reticle.
You should be careful that some-one hasn't clamped a 26mm scope tube into 1"(25.4mm) rings as tube damage can result, a common problem on older european scopes sourced from the U.S.A where one inch was the standard tube/ring size until 30mm came along.
HAIRY RETICLE SYNDROME.
It's one defect common on european scopes, particularly KAHLES but PECAR as well and is found on the thick stadia or posts of the nickel steel reticle and is rust forming, it looks like tiny black hairs or jagged lumps growing on the edges of the thick reticle posts and look's pretty bad, it can be temporarily fixed with dis-assembly & cleaning but it will slowly & sometimes quite quickly re-occur in my experience if your using it in day/night temperature variations.
The only sure fix is glass reticle or a fine wire reticle, older european scopes are not nitrogen gas filled but carry natural air inside that contains a percentage of moisture depending on the day they were assembled.
There are many specialized reticles available on scopes,some with range estimation like the mildot, TMR, Leupold SPR or the now sadly obsolete Kahles #104 in the ZF95 6x42 & 10x42 military scopes which was easily the simplest & fastest to read out to 1000 meters & had an un-cluttered view and thus was probably the best....but the ZF95/#104 lost out in sales to Leupold with the M1 & M3 Ballistic Drop Cam dial scopes with optional illuminated mildot or TMR reticles with variable magnification up to 25 times.
Most scope users will be happy with the trusty, reliable as a hammer, duplex reticle that will suffice in 99.9% of hunting situations but the german 4 or 4A (heavy duplex) is one worthy of consideration as a day / low light / night reticle choice if available and a personal favourite of mine.
Most modern scopes with click type adjustments are in the range of 5mm at 100meters or 1/4" at 100yards.
A word of advice about radioactive Tritium illuminated reticles (should carry a small circular radiation warning symbol on the optics body) in some 1970-1990's european ex-military scopes such as PHOTONIC optics (a mid 1980's KAHLES group sister company no longer affiliated with KAHLES) or the ZEISS EDF 7x40 binoculars is... stay away...you won't find an optics repairer who will touch it if it ever needs repair or service and they won't work as intended as the tritium decays & has a fairly short life span of about 15 years...buy a battery powered illuminated scope with adjustable illumination if you need that reticle option.
It's all in the setting-up..
When setting up a scope on a rifle I set the rifle up firmly on a shooting bench with V bags, firstly I position a 12 inch long piece of aluminium tube of the appropriate diameter in the rings then fit them to the rail or bases to align them to prevent scope tube ring marks and tighten to specifications.
Then I remove the scope rings top halves keeping both top halves seperate so they go back on same lower half the same way, to align the reticle with the action I use a L shape long handled hex key laid across the machined flat of the receiver dovetail or flat section of mounting rail & held down by a rubber band underslung around the stock on either side of the key in a U shape.
Make sure the hex key is sitting flat on the receiver or rail and then take a look at some distance behind the scope, the cross hair alignment can then be compared to the plane or level of the hex key & adjustments made, tighten everything up carefully & re-check..if everything's OK your rifles centerline of bore will be vertical with the centerline of the scope when you shoot, improving longer range accuracy and your scopes adjustments will track true.
After bore sighting to get on paper, I shoot one carefully aimed shot at an X marked on a A4 sized target at 40 meters distance, then after firing that shot I set the rifle firmly back in the bags on the bench rest and sight the cross-hairs onto the X, then carefully adjust the scopes cross-hairs to the bullet point of impact with-out moving the rifle, the next round I fire should be pretty much on the spot aimed at.
Now reset the target at 100 meters & fire and zero it which is a good hunting range, longer range bullet drop can be calculated from that setting using ballistic charts or computer models.
I have bought and sold some really good European and U.S scopes on eBay and you can't get a better market-place, don't be afraid to ask the seller questions about condition and do your own research & you will get a scope that you can be proud to own and should last a life-time with-out trouble at a good price, if you found this guide helpful I would appreciate your vote by clicking the thumbs up button at the top of the page.