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Posted: 10/2/2004 10:34:28 PM EDT
I Was Lost, But Now I’m found
A professional hunter in Southern Austria inadvertently performed the longest, most realistic, environmental test on a riflescope in history.

On a chamois stalk in September 1977, a Jaegermeister (professional hunter) climbed to the top of Kometeralpe, a 2,500-meter-tall mountain. After shooting a chamois with his Mannlicher Luxus 6.5x57 topped with a Kahles Helia 6x42 riflescope, the PH rested his firearm against a boulder and ascended to where the game was taken. After field dressing his animal, he returned to the spot where he believed he had left the rifle. Unfortunately, the PH couldn’t find his rifle. In the ensuing days and weeks, he regularly returned to the area, searching for his rifle, but was unsuccessful. Weeks, months, years, and decades passed. High above the timberline, rifle and scope rested upright against a boulder, being abused by the harsh elements of nature at this high elevation.

Almost three decades later, a young Jaegermeister from Obervellach, a small village in the Austrian Alps, ascended the same mountain on his own chamois stalk. After making a good shot, the hunter proceeded down the slope to a chamois he had downed. To his amazement, leaning against a gray boulder, was an old rifle. The rifle’s stock was rotten and bleached by the elements, and all of the steel parts were rusted throughout.

But the scope was another matter. The optics still showed a crosshair standing out crisp and clear against a sharp, bright image. The steel surfaces were rusty, yet all of the aluminum parts were unharmed. The mechanical parts, including both elevation and windage, still worked.

Our Take: We have to tip our hats to Kahles. Our upcoming tests of optics won’t include a 30-year torture test.

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