Rifle and shotgun scopes are a popular way to magnify longer range shots. Scopes became popular during the Civil War. A seasoned marksman could easily target an enemy soldier at nearly 1,000 yards. Berdan’s marksmen brigades were some of the first snipers to use a scope on their Sharpes Rifles, during the Civil War. They held the southern flank at Gettysburg using accurate marksmanship to win the day.
Polishing glass lenses took precision and time. Scopes were expensive and labor intensive to build. Scope tubes were extended and often covered the entire barrel of a rifle. The diameter was small, and the field of view and clarity were limited.
Modern scopes are made using robots and time saving manufacturing procedures. Variable scopes can magnify to allow shots of nearly 2 miles, using the right caliber and marksman.
Germany made some of the best scopes. During WW2, German soldiers would mount a 4-power scope onto their Mauser rifles. These accurate weapons now became precision sniper weapons.
I have inherited one of these German military scopes and know its history. My father acquired the scope in Scniverdiggen , Germany. He had escaped a German POW camp and made his way to the allied lines. Once safely in the town, controlled by British troops, he was offered the scope as a souvenir. Apparently, a German sniper had used the scope to kill several allied soldiers, earlier that day. When he was dispatched, the rifle and scope were captured. Someone else took the rifle but left the scope. My Dad also grabbed a German soldiers pack, mess kit/canteen, and some other captured gear. These souvenirs were returned to America.
The scope was next mounted onto a Winchester 22 rifle. The rifle was used to harvest squirrels and rabbits..This was the rifle that I learned to shoot with. The unique 3 lined reticle made shooting cans, at long ranges, accurate. My dad trained me to target cans during 100 shot sessions. Over time, many cans became shredded from my sniping. Later I too would target small game using this weapon.
You can make long shots with this rig but most of my bulls’ eyes are around 100 yards. Recently I used this vintage rig to target prairie dogs during a central Montana hunt.
It wasn’t until this varmint shoot that I thought about what the scope had seen during its lifetime. Before my dad used it, an enemy sniper gazed through the scope to kill allied soldiers. How many soldiers did he shoot at? How many did he kill? This realization makes you wonder about the lethality of this specific sniper scope. I wonder what he saw through the scope during war.
The history, use, memory, and vision of this scope is alarming. We all have scoped rifles and guns. Wouldn’t it be amazing to save the memory of each shot. Recent video scopes do exactly that. Modern snipers can record every shot for analysis or future review.
I’m not sure if I want to see everything that the scope saw.