No32 Telescopic Sight Real & Reproduction Sighting & Service

Updated: 2 days ago

Real No32 Mk3 (Top) Reproduction No32 Mk1 (Bottom)

There are websites and books that detail the No32 scope family so here Ill try to add a few common features or facts that are not so well covered.

I seem to only get real No32 Mk3 scopes, although these are appropriate for later WW2 rifles. The Mk3 uses "slip rings" on the turrets to allow the scope to be zeroed at range with a certain lot of ammunition and then the scale moved to show the zero or range value for that setting (using the tip of a round to pin the scale ring in place as the knob is turned).

One of the Mk3s that came to me had a drop at sometime in its history and this may have taken the image and graticule out of focus (a significant dent is evident at the objective lens housing). This can all be remedied with a thorough overhaul, however this is not planned or possible for a little while. The No32 design did provide a method of re-focusing that was leveraged by workshop armorers if all else was well (as in this case). Under the characteristic square plate in the mid body (held with 4 x BA cheese head screws), is a erector locking segment, when accessed and removed this allows the erector cell to be gently eased forwards and backwards in its travel - if doing so while glancing through the scope the image and graticule can be focused to suit the observer. The segment is half a thread pitch assymetric so can be replaced in either direction to re-lock the erector set closest to your perfect focal position.

Holland and Holland dedicated machines and machinists to produce the No4T for the duration of the war contracts when awarded, (some 30K rifles in all). Each machine set to a specific purpose and datum with several required to complete all the pad features. The scope brackets may have had some production tolerance, there are no details of refinishing to suit a particular rifle / pad set up - except for repairs by later armorers at workshops. So to take a rifle with pads already existing, add a scope bracket (original, authentic or reproduction) and then mount a real, reproduction or alternative 1" bodied scope on axis we have to get the centerline of the scope body over the centerline of the barrel (or its effective flight path for projectiles). The scope needs to have the graticule in the exact center of the tube / body. This is done by mounting the scope on two vee's cut into a purpose made "box" - with a few other features and tricks for low drag and twist, this allows a distant point to be inscribed by the graticule as the scope is rotated in the vee's and adjusted to center.

With a scope centered like this then it can be put in a scope bracket and mounted to the rifle. All deviation in shot at a given range then reflects the error between the scope bracket and pads (except the pads will have been put in very standardized positions by Holland and Holland - if original). In this way a suitable scope bracket can be selected - or adjusted to "match" the rifle.

The "Cabelas" No4T with 2 bracket choices on the top targets (right hand shoot / bracket was the 3MOA winner) Same brackets on an original 1944 BSA T (lower left and lower middle) and the remaining bracket on the Sante-Fe Delux (lower right)

I had two "authentic" scope brackets from the UK, the best of these gave a fit up on an original rifle of 3 MOA deviation left of Point of Aim - close enough to then use the scope adjustments to gain a zero in the middle of total adjustment travel. The worst combination was 12MOA right - this reflects potential rifle to rifle pad variation approaching 15MOA (1 MOA equates to 0.001" at the rear sight / scope pads). In this case the larger variation bracket can be used on a new replica build where the pads can be shimmed to put the scope centerline where needed with that bracket.

Here is what is under the cosmetic "erector cell lock segment plate" on the SARCO Mk1 reproductions:

SARCO sourced No32 Mk1 reproductions - In October 2019 I had an opportunity to attend a field day / hunt and took a Sante Fe derivative of a No4T and had mounted a Sarco No32Mk1 reproduction for evaluation. The scope zeroed well and was precise on the rifle with the hunting loads. However in the field I found that the turret markings for 200 and 300 yard shots were producing higher than expected trajectories so I used a field expedient to back the turret down 50 to 100 yards at these ranges. At the end of the field day an improvised target shoot showed that the scopes "200" yard setting produced 4 MOA more elevation over the 100 yard "zero" than the prescribed 2 MOA and the 300 yard setting produced another 5 MOA elevation increase rather than the expected 3 MOA.

For the re-enacting needs of myself and my friends I find the reproductions are adequate for "show and tell", with the peace of mind for the rarity and value of the gear being away from home for the weekend. I do dress them up to look the part better - overall repaint that simulates an authentic "suncorite" finish and then I add the blue "B" and or red "W" for the "Blooming" and "Waterproofing "processes that were used on the originals.

So far use and service of the Sarco / Pacific sourced No32 Mk1 scopes has seen 1 in 3 lose focus of the graticule which is a minor inconvenience for re-enacting or hunting, but a distraction when target shooting. The graticule itself is bold and thicker than those on the original, with the indicator being a single engraved line for each turret. One scope did lose its elevation adjustment (out of 6 tested so far). The adjustment of these scopes remains a challenge as the lead screw seems excessively coarse - small adjustments can lead to graticule responses that shoot under and then over a 60 MoA target box.

Numrich / Pacific sourced No32 Mk2 marked examples (actually still a Mk1 build despite the markings). These come a little better finished and presented and with a working zero - the windage is centered to the tube and the elevation seems set where 200 yards would be attained with a graticule size and proportioning more akin to the originals These clean up just as well and take the upgrades / refinements to achieve a more authentic re-enactor impression. I had a Numrich No32 Mk2 on my CMP rifle for the 2020 season and found that its elevation clicks have been cut to match the numbered range adjustment - this leaves me adjusting 2 MOA high of target or 2 MOA low of target with no in-between click as found on the real thing, The windage adjustments are in 2 MOA clicks and work well. The scope is still clear and going strong, but I feel i have put too much ammo and time into setting a 100 yard zero (and am still either just low or just high).

The scope and bracket above was ground, sanded, serial stamped, painted and stenciled to match a customers replica No4T.

Red Star Mountain - No32 Mk3 - an example was ordered just after New Year 2021 and took a little over a week to arrive be delivered by carrier to my doorstep from Taiwan. Here is how it unboxed and first compare to a real No32mk3 scope:

First impressions - the finish of the scope is good, shiny black paint throughout and clear optics with a very fine graticule - as per the original, The turrets are close to zero setting as-shipped - a spin in the centering block will show close the graticule is and can be made to the center of the tube axis. The engraving depth runs off along it length and the embedded paint is very bright white. The castings for the turret housings and the turret knobs are similar to the real mk3 except for size and proportions (the latter being noticeably smaller). The "bullet tip" bosses on the range slip rings are actually held on with screws! These are a different shape to the originals (as per other turret details) but the slip rings actually slip!

For the 2021 CMP season, I have just refinished and mounted an RSM mk3 scope on my Longbranch "Treplica" and ensured all serials and markings match. I took it for a test and tune and found that the graticule slipped out of focus within 3 shots (due to recoil) and it seemed stuck that way. I did field strip the cover plate and found the mechanism to be as per the original - albeit a little rougher.

I could move the focus to gain either focus the field of vision or reticle but not both as sharp as when it was shipped. This scope will now serve for bench strip and rebuild practice. A second scope was found to be out of focus from the factory, it did withstand 80 or so rounds of 303 in practice and competition but should not have needed re-focusing out of the box. This seems to be typical of other users feedback on the RSM product. I contacted them via Email and they offered a lifetime warranty and to resolve the problem if I can send them photos of the defect(s) - I did so and then they only offered a technical file for me to follow and rebuild the scope and focus functionality.

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