I've been reminded of this truth and how it applies to shooters as I've recently spent time peering into a number of rifle barrels with a bore scope. I've been using bore scopes in forensic work for a long time, and the education they have provided is amazing. You see, bore scopes are the only tools capable of showing us what’s going on inside a firearm's barrel. Bore scopes are educational tools, because without one, we're just guessing.
Picking up a barrel, pointing it at light source and squinting through it—like we all do—provides limited information. One thing it tells us is if the barrel is plugged, which is certainly important if we plan to shoot that gun.
And the other thing we can learn is whether or not the barrel is bent, although most shooters are unaware of how to spot that problem anyway—making it a topic we'll cover another time. Looking through a barrel tells us very little about its cleanliness, nothing about its quality and doesn't provide the ability to spot wear or erosion unless it's pitting as deep as a sinkhole.
A good bore scope not only covers all those bases perfectly, but it also allows a gun owner to inspect chamber, throat and crown quality, erosion around gas ports, look inside reloading dies for potential problems and even examine the inside of cartridge cases for problems such as incipient head separation.
In my work, I've used a number of different bore scopes, with my favorite continuing to be the Hawkeye made by Gradient Lens Corporation. This is a scope made specifically for shooters, with the right features and a cost, that while not cheap, reflects the high quality of this American-made product.
The Hawkeye comes in a compact, sturdy case that houses the scope, the light source and all necessary maintenance equipment. The scope tube is 17 inches long, making it capable of peering into the depths of a 34-inch barrel, minus the action length. Viewing can be done either straight out the end of the scope or at a 90-degree angle. Both have their usefulness, depending on what information is being sought.The Slim model, with angled eyepiece—which is what I'm using these days—is capable of looking inside a tube as small as a .20 caliber barrel, which covers the vast majority of my, or any other shooter's, needs. And the brightness and image quality are wonderful, making the unit a joy to use. I encourage you to take a minute and look around Gradient Lens Corp. to educate yourself about what these tools are capable of.
Bore scopes aren't for everyone, but if you're a serious gun person, you know it's time to get one, and the best price I know of right now is at Brownell’s, where they often include free shipping or have some other discount promotion.
Just remember, if you want to acquire an education about what’s really happening inside a gun barrel, the only way to do it is with a bore scope.