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SHOOTING SPORTS / April 2006

RE-CONNECTION

by Gary Cooper

The Connect was the brainchild of Vladimir of Soviet Bazaar. It also contributed to their demise. I saw this 'avant-garde' scope at the Midland Game Fair last year and was impressed by the metalwork. It had Mickey mouse reticule and the mounts were obscenely high - but the optics were outstanding. The build, which was carried out in conjunction with the equally groundbreaking Digital NV unit, the XVF, suffered delay after delay and it was this that killed the company…

With a mere 70 units built and sold, I though the project was as dead as a dodo. Not so, there are more than 100 on their way to England, with the prospect of more being made. I managed to get my hands on one of the initial 70, to see if the reality was as good as the promise. First impressions of the scope were not great. It came in a jiffy bag with a set of 'sketchy' instructions, which it shared with the XVF, but I put this down to the manic schedule of a failing company, where baling the boat took higher priority than painting the deck. Opening the package, the scope is similar to the prototype, and I must confess to a bit of bias here because I passed a bit of design input back to Vlad. My two pieces of advice were use an MP8 reticule and lower the mounts - both of which have been done and the scope has a really nice feel to it. Appearance is somewhere between an NV scope and a holosight, with a backward sloping single mount taking the scope up to eye-level. I mounted the scope on my S410 hunting rifle and set it to zero. The mounts, which lower, are still at about 2.4in which make it great for hunting at longer ranges but not so good for short stuff. The effect of very high mounts is to take your sigh-line slightly toward the pellet fall, so the perception of drop isn't so great, while at close range you pay double - it takes your eye a long way from the rising pellet making hold over sub-10m much greater. This kills the scope for HFT as far as I am concerned. With the new rules this year and smaller kill-zones closer in, I think the benefits will be far outweighed by the 'gimmes' you'd miss. Maybe the answer would be still lower mounts but the face position is critical, you have to get your eye up to the scope and an aggressive cheek piece could prevent this if the mount is below 2in. Mounting and clamping is excellent, with a strong single mount gripping the body via twin screws holding the dovetail clamps. I don't believe that the scope is springer proof, and you'd have to be braver than me to want it to be - a zero eye-relief scope on a springer is potentially painful and this puts the scope firmly in the PCP/subsonic rimfire bracket. Looking through for the first time, I got the impression that the ret was pathetic, a tiny excuse somewhere in the middle - but when checking it on my zeroing targets I realised that the ret is full size, it's the field of view that is enormous. Checking it with Piotr, the Connect on 10x had a wider field of view than his Zeiss on 4.5x - approximately four times the width. Comparing it to one of my conventional scopes, depth of field is better - getting both focussed at 45 yards gave the Connect a similar clarity at 8 yards to the scope at 12. Setting up is the same as a normal scope, though popping the rubber cup off the eyepiece allows the eyeball end to rotate and the ret to be brought into crisp focus, which is absolutely critical. Get this wrong and performance plummets. Parallax adjustment is via a ring around the body, and light transmission is excellent, on a par with the very expensive scopes.

NO LIGHTWEIGHT The Connect is no lightweight, tipping the scales at around 800g (1.76lb), though this doesn't signify much because the setback position means that the scope sits well to the rear of the balance point and towards your shoulder, making it seem much lighter. Zeroing is sort of conventional - except that the directions are opposite to normal ! I have seen this on some German scopes whereby left means you move the ret left, which moves POI right, and up is the same principle - the ret moves up and the POI moves down. Another disconcerting feature is a tendency to change focus as you alter zero, this is normal with this design and not something to worry about. Having mounted the scope and started to zero it, I quickly got to love the eye position. Being used to NV kit, contact with the eyepiece didn't feel in the least strange and the lack of parallax error is a definite plus. Having an adjustable cheekpiece also made it very comfortable, but I don't see it being a problem if your rifle doesn't have such a feature. The acid test for any scope is out in the field at dusk. One of my major concerns had been the fixed 10x, which I don't like for long-range sniping and is far too high for dusk use , or lamping. But at least the latter was not a woory, light transmission is so good that the lamping performance is outstanding, especially with the massive field of view. I tried with and without spectacles and found it comfortable. but the eyepiece does tend to fo up. Maybe pinholes in the rubber eyepiece would help, but I used an old diving trick - I spat on the lens, rinsed it off, and it worked - but I'll still invest in some proper demister/cleaner. Another nice touch is the weaver rail on top to fit a lamp or a laser, together with the attached 'flip-up' objective cover.

QUITE SIMPLY THE BEST. One feature I saved to last is the illuminated reticule which is quite simply the best I've ever used. actually, I'm not a lover of illuminated reticules, finding that when I need to use one, the bright graphic can get in the way of seeing the target, but the ret is more brown than red, when lit, and just bright enough to see nicely in the dark without blotting out the target.

Superb optics and a radical body are a consequence of the Connect's key distinction. Being prismatic - the light path is governed by mirrors, not lenses as in a conventional scope - There is no requirement for a larger body,as found on these types. It is this factor above all that I find the most attractive in the Connect 01.

CONCLUSION. I think it is the most exciting scope I've seen in years, Can I recommend you rush out and buy one ? No. Reaction from people has been polarised: total enthusiasm or absolute hatred. Look on this scope as the opticle equivalent of a pair of handmade shoes - superb, but if they don't fit you'll never be comfortable. The Connect is most definately a case of 'take a test drive' before you buy

WHAT GUN ? / 2001 - 2002

COBRA (Pete's Best Buy !)

We are now seeing more and more Russian-made optical equipment in the UK these days, from scopes to night sights and now Red Dots. I have tested the earlier version, but this is far superior in every way. The unit offers a similar, if heavier build-style to the SGC Quatro with an open, L-shaped frame with the lens at the front. And also offers similar features. First and most important is a choice of four aiming marks - single dot, open T, reversed chevron with dot on top. All these can be selected by the simple push of a button, as opposed to having a dial them in. The ON/OFF is a rotary lever and the the rheostat a rocker switch all of which are located on the right side of the body. At the rear top and right are the adjuster turrets and best of all the Cobra comes with a Weaver-style base with a QD locking lever catch. The Cobra comes in a padded, camouflage carry case with spare battery, lens cloth and full instructions. There's even a tool that allows to re-zero the turrets if you run out of adjustment. A little bulky, when compared to the competition but tough, well built with some enviable features at a very competitive price. This definitely gets my best buy

TARGET SPORTS / September 2001

Seeing 'RED' ?

by Wheel Write

The all-new Russian-made tubeless Collimator Red Dot THE FIRST EVER single lens tubeless red dot was developed by Ira Kay and appeared under the American C-More banner in 1993. The Serendipity SL was on the winning gun at the IPSC World Championships of that year and immediately became the 'must have' fashion accessory for IPSC Practical Pistol shooters around the world. To be fair, it proved to be much more than a fad - offering a lighter, slimmer and eminently more user friendly pistol mounted red dot system the the alternative 'coke cans' of the day. Equally radical was the fact, that it was made in America, at a time when the best of the coke cans came from Scandinavia and the Pacific Rim. Tubeless red dots were here to stay!

More recently we have seen the arrival of the Japanese-built Hakko model, the Panorama Electro-Dot Sight, sold in the UK as a Quatro and offering a greater level of features at a reduced price. Now we have a third option, the Russian-built Collimator Red Dot Sight, equally well featured and entering the market at an amazing sub £ 100

'MIL' Type appearance The Collimator Sight is supplied in a stout brown cardboard package. Opening this box reveals the instruction manuals and substantial camo pattern pouch, that contains the sight, adjustment wrench, lens wipe and spare battery. The first impression is of a military-style product. The chunky all metal construction including switches that are easily operated with a gloved hand. The reflector shroud is quite wide and has a notch cut in the top - the purpose of which is not clear. As with all such reflectors, the lens has a distinctive blue tint.

The 'control panel' containing the on/off toggle switch, the rocker operated intensity switch and the push button reticule selector is screwed to the right hand side of the body, visibly sealed with a gasket. The on/off switch points to a figure 'O' when in the OFF position and 'B' when ON. Beneath the reticule adjuster is marked a slotted 'T' with a central dot. Rearmost of the controls, the intensity rocker is marked with the three figures '- 0 +'

To the rear of this is the windage adjustment knob. In common with the elevation adjuster on the top of the body it is 22mm (approx.) in diameter and has a milled edge. Bold white figuring indicates a zero and then the numbers one to seven in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. Care must be taken to unlock these rings before making adjustments - the instructions manual explaining the use of the tool supplied in the kit. A tiny grub screw is set into each of the knobs limiting rotation to eight clicks in each directions - more than ample on the set-up as tested.

Novel cam-lock On the underside is a large slotted cover, sealed with a gasket. This is the battery compartment. It houses a standard CR2325 Silver Oxide button-style battery - a type readily available on the High Street. The position of this compartment offers one slight disadvantage since it requires the sight to be removed from the rail in order to change the battery. I say 'slight' disadvantage because, unlike all other red dot sights that I have seen, this Collimator Sight comes with a novel cam-lock quick release system.

The cam-lock supplied with this sight is but one of a number of designs detailed in the instructions manual, but is the only one to be currently offered. At a nominal seven eighths of an inch, it is designed to drop on to a stock Weaver or B-square rail system. Sod's law dictated that the only rail to which it CANNOT be fixed is the custom B-square design for the Rossy Puma gallery rifle - the locking grubscrews of the rail being totally inaccessible with the sight in place - the sight having to be fitted before these screws are tightened !

Nonetheless, the idea of the cam-lock fitting is excellent. Simply unlatch the cam, slacken the tension nut, hook the long side of the mount over the rail and cam the latch shut - initially repeating the process with small tightening adjustments of the tension screw until a firm and repeatable lock is achieved. With rails that are flush fitted to a flat top receiver the sight can be a tight fit as the 'bite' of the jaws is slightly too tight... cured with a light touch from a file.

Getting to zero. The body of the unit is quite deep, placing the line of sight more than five cm (2 inches) above the bore. This requires the user to allow for the effect of parallax, carefully considering the distance at which a visible zero point of aim is to be set. The extent of the light intensity adjustment allows for use in the widest range of conditions - from dull indoor ranges to blazing outdoors.

The choice of reticules is as much a matter of personal taste as anything - they are all extremely well defined. My preference was for the dot above a chevron. The other options are a plain dot, a standard 'T' and a plain chevron.

Value By the standards of other tubeless sights this is quite a bulky design. However, the solid construction, quality of operation and remarkable price make it amazing value for money. It is sure to sell well

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