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Old May 16, 2018, 07:41 PM   #1
Jacket67
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Henry 30-30 Optic

Hey TFL,

My uncle recently got me a Henry 30-30 as a college graduation gift and I absolutely love it. Buttery smooth action, gold dot front sight, and American made. Perfection.

In about the next year, I plan to add an optic to it, but I'm not sure what I want. I have a Marlin 30-30 at home with a 3-9x scope, so I don't really want to put the same thing on this. No point in having two rifles exactly the same.

I'm leaning towards either a dot sight for closer shooting given the distance limitations of the cartridge, or something like a vortex 1-4x or 1-6x illuminated scope. Just not sure what would be better.

I'm moving to Missouri soon to start graduate school, and plan to use this for some hunting and target shooting. I've got a 30-06 for longer range/bigger game, so I mostly plan for this to be a deer/pig rifle.

So what would you suggest? Low power variable optic, some form of a dot sight, or a fixed-power scope?

Thanks in advance!
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Old May 16, 2018, 08:14 PM   #2
3Crows
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I love my new Burris 2.75X Scout on my Marlin SBL. You will need one of the XS rails for your new Henry to do the scout set up. 3C
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Old May 16, 2018, 08:23 PM   #3
ice monkey
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If you get a 1x4, you’ll have a great and fast hunting scope, but I don’t know about “target” shooting. Being you have a 3x9 on your other rifle let’s continue with the 1x4.

But even before that, think of what your lever is! It’s an amazing handling rifle that can take care of much - if it’s under 200 yards. You want to keep those properties I figure with a scope that isn’t so heavy that it’ll throw your balance. Moreover, you’re going to want a scope that you can keep both eyes open at 1x power as you raise the rifle and make a snap shot.

For me, those requirements came via lightweight rings and a Leupold Hog 1-4x20. Great scope!! But not illuminated. And no longer made.

Here’s a link to the illuminated one and the new “freedom” - I LOVE the pigplex reticle. Fast!
https://www.leupold.com/search?q=Pig+plex

Good luck. BTW. A red dot might be all you need if fast is the goal. It would be all you needed for hunting I figure.
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Old May 16, 2018, 10:05 PM   #4
idek
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A 1-4x scope will probably work well.

Have you considered an aperture/peep sight as an alternative? You'd probably be able to shoot more precisely with a scope, but peep sights would probably be adequate for hunting medium game at moderate distances.

Since you already have a scoped .30-30 and .30-06, peep sights might add some variety to your shooting. I enjoy them as a change of pace, and they don't affect the balance/weight of the gun as much as a scope. It also helps maintain the more old-fashioned look of a lever-gun (if you care at all about such things).

I think Skinner, XS, and maybe Williams all offer some type of peep sights for Henry rifles.

I've got Skinner peep sights on my Marlin .357 and Henry .22, with XS striped blades for front sights.
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Old May 16, 2018, 10:37 PM   #5
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I just bought a Bushnell TRS-25 for a 10/22 and love it. Far better quality than I thought it would be. Seems like it would be perfect your rifle for short range.

However, if you want a little magnification in a relatively small package, I'd look closely at a Weaver 1-3x20 V series. I've had several over the years on everything from AR's to a .45-70 to a .32-20. For the money, I don't think they can be beat. And with a little practice, they're fine out to 200y or so. You won't be counting the points on a big buck at distance, but that's what binoculars are for.
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Old May 17, 2018, 12:38 AM   #6
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Just for your information, with a scout type scope, one can use both eyes for fast target acquisition even though it is not 1X (such as the Burris 2.75X I mentioned).

A Nikon African/Monarch 1X4 scope?

I have a Leupold 2X7X33 on my 30-30 336SS Marlin and a Weaver (vintage) 2.5X on my pre-safety 336T (Texan).

Since discovering Warne Maxima QD quick release, return to zero, rings I do not feel at all guilty mounting scopes on my lever guns or bolt guns with good iron sights, if I ever did. The scopes can now come right off and full use of the irons is available. Need magnification or better light gathering than the (older) human eye can muster, put the scope on and be happy with a much improved sighting capability a scope offers. 3C
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Old May 17, 2018, 10:07 AM   #7
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I would look for a nice used 2.5X Leupold scope with a gloss finish to match your rifles finish.
If not a, 1X4 VariX II in gloss would be pretty sweet. Both are very compact and clear with great eye relief.
Leupold's life time warranty is great and you don't have to be for the original purchaser.
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Old May 17, 2018, 11:49 AM   #8
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The dots in Red Dot sight are usually too big for an serious accuracy. 2 or 3 MOA will entirely cover the black on a regular sighting in target at 100 yards.
The 1-4x would be far better. Assumes the rifle is one of Henry's Marlin 336 copies. However, like idek says, peep sights are an good option. Williams Gunsights sells' em. They make a 'Firesight' specifically for Henry's too. There's also an option to put a ghost ring rear sight on any of their WGRS sights. A ghost ring is a larger aperture peep sight usually found on slug guns, but they work well on rifles being used fast and close too.
Anyway, rummage around here. https://williamsgunsight.com/
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Old May 18, 2018, 12:18 PM   #9
bamaranger
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to each his own

I wouldn't put a dot on a traditional rifle like a Henry. Anymore than I would scope a sidehammer muzzleloader. Just counter culture. What would the Duke say?

But I understand the desire, and sometimes the need for a 'scope. I'd keep it simple. For a very long time, a fixed 4x was about all anybody hunted and I see no reason it wold not suit your new Henry.

That said, I run several 1-4x variables (Leupold shotgun scopes) on carbines and like them, but I find they are usually set on 3X to 4x and just left there.
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Old May 18, 2018, 04:12 PM   #10
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My older Glenfield carbine chambered for 30-30 wears a 2-7X Simmons scope that has been a very good value for me: sturdy built for use in rough country and good optics. About 15 years ago, High Adventure Ranch in Missouri offered cow elk hunts for $800. I hunted with my 30-30 and it took all day to stalk within good shooting range. I had a ball! In contrast, my brother-in-law hunted with his 300 MAG and his hunt was over within an hour. But we came home with plenty of good elk meat.

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Old May 18, 2018, 04:16 PM   #11
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Ever consider a "peep" sight. Some mighty fine shooting can be done with a receiver sight and the big thing I like about them is they look right on a lever action and they don't mess up the balance.
I can shoot my Winchester 94 nearly as well at 100 yards with the Williams 5D and target peep as with a Weaver
4X scope. At 50 yards the hunting peep works better than the scope.
Think about the peep sight...they do work and it's still a viable option !
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Old May 19, 2018, 08:22 AM   #12
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This is MY experience, I did a lot of brush country hunting for 35-40 years, so take it for what it's worth...

On shorter range rifles, I perfer lower powered optics. I don't need to see the ticks in a deer's ear, I need an optic that gives me a reasonable field of view so I can find the deer in the optic when I shoulder the rifle...
The higher the magnification, the smaller the field of view, the harder it is to find your target.
The higher magnification will keep you from seeing what's around & behind the one you see, the 6 point is fine, but the 12 point standing the brush 10 feet away is better!
Looking through a drink swizzle stick, seeing cuckle burrs is fine if you are taking pictures... I'm out there to put meat on the table...

The optics with a dozen adjustments fail more often than the simple optics.
Too many seals to fail on adjustments/knobs, too may REALLY small parts that have to hold together & work precisely for decades, no matter how hard you bang around the rifle.

Brush country hunters know this, you often don't have TIME to fiddle with a half dozen adjustments while your buck wonders in & out of sight. Simple is good!
When he steps out from behind that tree, I GOT HIM! I'm not consulting the owner's manual, I'm not looking down or over the rifle for adjustment graduations, I'm not cranking on 'Zoom' adjustments...
I saw the movement when he went behind the tree, when he comes out the other side in 1.2 seconds, I have a shot and I'll be ready!

On a lever .30-30, the smaller the better... If nothing but traditional reasons.
Practical/mechanical reasons, it's a short, fast, but heavy rifle... The cheek comb on lever gun is for iron sights snug to the top of the barrel, it's difficult to get an optic low enough for proper cheek weld, adding a big, bulky, potentially heavy optic doesn't make sense.

The idea is to have a cheek weld... And have the optic line up directly, reflexively with your sight line.
Since you can't move your cheek bone or eyeball up/down to adjust to the optic height, you will have to mount as low as possible, and probably add a cheek riser (removable pad) to get your cheek weld/eye alignment.
Searching for the optical center of the optic is slow and causes misalignment, and it kills your cheek weld. You have probably seen the 'Turkey Necks', bobbing & weaving around behind the optic trying to find center & a good sight picture... Don't be a 'Turkey Neck'!

The larger the objective/ocular bells on the optic (front & rear lense housings), the higher the optic has to be mounted...

The only .30-30 Lever I've owned I've mounted optics on was a fixed 4x.
No zoom, nothing extra on the tube or on the reticle.
Just a clean, clear reticle, minimum of adjustments, mounted so it centers with my eye immediately when I cheek weld and done.

My .30-06 mountain rifle (light weight) has a fixed 6x and the only 'Gadget' is a bubble 'Spirit' level,
Again, cheek weld adjusted to center my eye with the optic.

One thing about hunting optics, took me YEARS to lean this...
I don't use 'Clicks' (spring loaded detents between pre determined adjustment spacing).
I use FRICTION adjustments for windage/elevation. This let's me get that last 'Hair' of adjustment out of the optic instead of being 'to the right' or 'to the left' of my sight in target dot.
With friction adjustments, I can be dead center of the target dot, and therefore dead on the spot I aimed when the range isn't exactly 100 yards...

I don't want to be 'Just Right' or 'Just Left' of the heart of that buck at 152 yards... Or 203 yards...
This isn't paper, I don't need paper shooting adjustments, and since I'm not shooting 1,000 yards with all the time in the world to do the math, use the 'Clicks' plenty in advance of the shot.
I rarely have shots hunting I have time to mess with 'Clicks,...

Just some personal experience mixed with common sense, take it or leave it, your choice...
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Old May 19, 2018, 08:34 AM   #13
Jacket67
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So going with the idea of peep sights, how far out could they be used effectively? I expect I'm going to hear a lot of "well that depends on the shooter", but how far out have you used them? Until mentioned here, I had never heard of them.

I agree that the idea of a scoped lever gun throws off the balance of it. I've experienced that with the Marlin that is back home. Great gun, but it feels like my 30-06 rather than a lever gun. Which is why I mentioned the idea of putting a dot on the rifle. But if peep sights are supposedly as good or better than a dot sight, and keep the traditional look/feel of a lever gun, I definitely want to look more into that option.

So what brands should I look into/stay away from, and are there any difference in types/styles of peep sights?


Also, my rifle has the buckhorn sight on the barrel. Are there peep sight options to replace the rear sight, or will I have to remove the rear sight and mount the peep sight to the receiver?

Last edited by Jacket67; May 19, 2018 at 09:37 AM.
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Old May 19, 2018, 03:56 PM   #14
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I put the Leuplod 1.5x5 on my Henry 44 today. Had a 2x7 Vortex on it and it just didn't look right.
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Old May 19, 2018, 04:05 PM   #15
idek
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To answer a few of your questions...

My understanding is that aperture/peep sights improve upon open sights in three ways.

1) Improved vision/focus - I don't know the science behind it, but looking through a small hole (aperture) improves our visual focus. As an example, a person who normally needs glasses can punch a little hole in a piece of paper, look through it, and see as well as he could with his glasses. Same idea applies to shooting with aperture sights.

2) Natural sight alignment - Our eyes tend to center a front bead within a circular aperture more automatically than they do with with typical leaf or semi-buckhorn sights.

3) Longer sight radius - Most aperture sights are positioned at the back of the receiver or on the tang of the stock, thereby increasing the distance between the front and rear sights (compared to barrel mounted sights). The farther the sights are apart, the less pronounced errors in aiming will be.

I don't hunt deer myself, so I can't say how far I'd try that with peep sights. But just shooting targets using a stump as a rest, I get about 2" groups using budget .357 ammo (Magtech) in my Marlin 1894c with Skinner aperture sights. I consider myself a casual recreational shooter, and I have no doubt that better shooters with more carefully selected ammo would tighten that group up a lot.

As mentioned above, most aperture sights are either positioned at the back of the receiver or on the tang of the stock.

Tang-mounted sights offer the longest sight radius and may boost visual acuity most, since they are closest to the eye. If absolute precision is your goal, a tang sight is probably best. Potential drawbacks are that tang sights often require you to drill into your stock for mounting, and, depending on how you hold the stock, they may be in the way of the thumb on your shooting hand. As far as brands, Lyman and Marbles seem most common for tang sights.

Compared to receiver-mounted sights, tang sights tend to be larger, more expensive, and may be less bump/snag resistant out in the field than receiver or barrel mounted sights.

Receiver sights can typically be mounted using the same screw holes you'd use for a scope mount and still increase sight radius an extra 6" or so. Since my guns are more for plinking and small game hunting than serious target shooting, I prefer receiver mounted peeps. Among receiver sights, Williams, Skinner, Lyman, and XS are ones that come to mind. I'm most familiar with Skinner sights. A couple things I like about the Skinner sights are that they seem designed to blend into the lines of a rifle aesthetically, rather than look like an obvious add-on. Unlike some options, you can easily swap different size apertures for different needs and lighting conditions... bigger apertures for closer, faster aiming or dark conditions; smaller apertures for more precision or bright conditions. Not putting an aperture in at all leaves you with a ghost ring, which offers very fast aiming at the expense of precision (probably most useful for home defense or hunting dangerous game at close range).

As for barrel-mounted peeps, I own a Skinner barrel-mounted peep and have tried a Marble's barrel-mounted peep. Both fit into a standard rear sight dovetail. I really like the sight picture of the Skinner (using it as a ghost ring, since it's farther from my eye and therefore looks much smaller), and it does provide benefit #2 listed above, but it doesn't provide benefits #1 or 3. I didn't like the Marble's sight picture.

Another consideration is the front sight. Many peep sights sit higher than factory rear sights, and so a taller front sight may be needed. I don't think I needed a taller front sight with the Skinner barrel-mounted sight or their low-profile receiver sights. However, even if I didn't have to change them, don't like the standard front bead of most guns. I tried fiber optic beads and didn't care for those a lot either. In bright light, they flared too much for my eyes, and precision went down. I found I generally prefer a flat-topped post or blade over a round bead with aperture sights. A couple of my guns have these XS front blades. I know the description says "AR-15" but they fit in all standard front sight dovetails. I prefer these over other blades I've tried, because the white on black gives me good visibility in different lighting conditions against both light and dark backgrounds...and no flaring like a fiber optic. (the reason I don't use XS rear sights is that they offer only ghost rings, and I like the option of smaller apertures)

Last edited by idek; May 19, 2018 at 07:02 PM.
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Old May 19, 2018, 04:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendyj View Post
I put the Leuplod 1.5x5 on my Henry 44 today. Had a 2x7 Vortex on it and it just didn't look right.
Nice!
Some people just prefer a scope.
Small objective scopes look good on carbines.
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Old May 19, 2018, 08:19 PM   #17
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Hard to beat anything at any price that has the gold ring.
I've spent a crap ton of money on optics, keep coming back to Leupold...
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Old May 19, 2018, 09:53 PM   #18
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Unfortunately open sights peep or not I can't be ethical enough to hunt so the gold ring makes sure I do my part.
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Old May 20, 2018, 06:12 AM   #19
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Exactly!
Some peoples eye sight doesn't allow use of iron sights.
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Old May 20, 2018, 01:05 PM   #20
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So are barrel mounted peep sights at that much of an accuracy disadvantage that receiver-mounted? I understand the shorter sight radius means there is likely some loss in accuracy in comparison, but I like the idea of having the peep sight there to fill the dovetail gap rather than having that open slot. BUT, if a receiver mounted peep sight is that much better, or if barrel mounted peep sights aren't good, then I could get over that.
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Old May 20, 2018, 02:23 PM   #21
Guv
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You can get machined blued blanks that fill in the dovetail.
Receiver is best for accuracy.
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Old May 20, 2018, 11:55 PM   #22
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Well said Wendy!
I wish others would take that very que.
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Old June 3, 2018, 07:33 AM   #23
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2x7 Leopold on my Henry 45-70. BEST decision on a scope I ever made. Inexpensive, great optic for our guns. Check one out at a store...I think I remember paying about $150.
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Old June 3, 2018, 08:04 AM   #24
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I've got a vintage Marlin 336 in 30-30. I mounted a vintage Leupold 4X compact on it, and it's a fine thing for a hunting rig; no need to remove barrel sights, either, on mine anyway. The straight power Leupolds are pretty much "bullet-proof" on most any rifle (IMO).
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