Seeing Is Believing

Hawkeye Precision Bore Scope

I have a terrible weak spot for high quality optics. That’s historically been my downfall when it comes to binocs, scopes, spotting scopes, magnifying visors, microscopes and the like. Now, I need to add the Hawkeye Precision Bore Scope from Gradient Lens Corporation to the list. I’ve tried the sort of “consumer” models available, and while they get the job done, I consider them more for “hobby” or casual use. I’ve always wished for more when I’ve used one. More light, more clarity, more contrast — more quality.

Do you need higher performance for run-of-the-mill “Hey, let’s see if the bore is leaded” work? Nope. But if you’re serious and really want to see detail, colors and forensic-quality, then the Hawkeye models step in.

Simply put, a mediocre set of binoculars will allow you to “see” a deer. But a truly masterful set will render details, animals hiding in darkness, and clarity, color and sharpness that can honestly take your breath away. And now, suddenly and I’ll admit unexpectedly, the Hawkeye instrument did this very thing. When I first looked through it I blinked, looked away, looked again and then just stood there amazed. It really is that good.

The Hawkeye Shooting Edition as Roy got it. He upgraded the light to
a more powerful one and was glad he did.

The lens, light, mirror tube and muzzle bushing to keep things centered.
The unit exudes quality at every level, feeling more like a medicalinstrument
than a shooting accessory.

Need Or Want?

A borescope, in simple terms, is just a tool with a lens and a high quality mirror and light system, allowing you to look down barrels and into things you normally can’t see. In the medical profession, they use “endoscopes” to look inside bodies during surgery or autopsies. Borescopes were developed to take this same technology into industrial applications in factories, metal working, construction and more. The Hawkeye Precision Bore scope series was specifically designed for use by shooters, gunsmiths, firearms manufacturers and forensic scientists to be used specifically in firearms.

If you’re interested in seeing if you have fouling, rust, tool marks, a stuck case problem, wear, or simply want to check the general condition of your gun’s bore and chamber, the Hawkeye scope does the job with aplomb. The mirror/lens system allows a “zero degree” look (think: straight down the bore seeing all sides) or a 90-degree look at the bore’s side/rifling in one spot. Both methods offer insight into things like rifling twists and erosion, and the 90-degree modes give you a good look at the chamber, leade, rifling, etc. from end to end. Using accessory products, you can record what you see onto a computer to archive them, or send still images or video anywhere. An asset for a gunsmith to show a client what’s up with their gun, or for a competition shooter to keep track of bore wear over time.

Shooting Edition

My test sample was part of Gradient’s Shooting Edition line-up. It features a green eyecup to identify it, and has upgraded optics and new mirror technology protecting it from harsh chemicals in the bore. The “Gunsmith-AFB” (Adjustable Focus Box) set contains a 17″ adjustable focus Hawkeye unit for rifles, a 7″ version for chambers (or handguns, actions, etc.), mirror tubes, cleaning kit and light source. I upgraded my set with a brighter light and I think it’s well worth the expense.

It’s very simple to use. Clear your gun, put it in a rest or vise, screw the light to the tube/eyepiece assembly and insert it into the bore. Removing the sliding 90-degree mirror tube changes to the “straight ahead” mode allowing you to look straight down the bore. You focus the eyepiece until you see a sharp image and presto, you’ll suddenly be awake at night worrying about the decrepit condition of the bores of your guns! And plan on spending hours looking at every gun you have, and into various other places you’ve never imagined you could ever peek into.

All this magic doesn’t come cheap, but great optics and superior workmanship costs money to produce. Kits start at around the $800 mark and go up to about $1,500 or so, but you can add accessories, cameras, etc. to build your own system. I think for a club, range or even a group of dedicated shooting friends, this investment could be modest when spread among several people. And, the mysteries it can solve are astounding.

Ever wondered what a match barrel looks like inside? Here’s a brand new one,
and the smooth rifling is obvious, especially after you see most “factory” bores.

Copper fouling and tool marks on a factory bore. Yikes!

It’s easy to peer inside of a fired case. You can look for problems like potential
separation, primer hole issues, carbon build-up and such.

Placed in the “straight ahead” zero-degree mode, you can see “down” a bore.
So this is what rust looks like!

Real World Use

I just used mine to solve a decades old question I had about the true condition of the bore of my grandfather’s WWI “bring-back” M95 Steyr rifle. It turns out the bore is much better than I thought. Now our own Tank Hoover is helping me craft loads to bring it to life again. And, I’ve been using it to examine the bores of new guns we get for review. Between us? It’s amazing what you can see — even in a new bore!

This sort of tool really ramps up your game and is another step in your journey from “casual” shooter toward a more serious aficionado — and resident expert — as you build your knowledge base.

For more info:, Ph: (800) 536-0790, Email: [email protected]

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