Long range shooting is all about angles. Trajectory and wind deflection have angular values, typically measured in milliradians or minutes of angle. Turreted scopes and ballistic reticles are designed to compensate for those angles, and help deliver a bullet where we want it to go. In order to do that, we have to start with a baseline zero, and know where the reticle’s horizontal and vertical stadia lines are in relation to gravity and wind direction. To make the math easier, we plumb and level the reticle to gravity, providing straight lines to apply the corrections our ballistic solvers provide for us. In order to use these straight lines accurately in the field, a level, or Anti-Cant Device (ACD), is mounted and referenced to our plumb reticle. A good example of such a device is the Accuracy 1st Development Group Scope Level.
The Accuracy 1st scope level mounts directly to the scope’s tube. The base model is sized for a 34mm scope, with 30mm and 25.4mm aluminum reducer rings available. Held in place by two 7/64” hex head screws, the split-ring level’s body is easy to adjust, and secure when tightened. For the review, I mounted the level on Nightforce’s new ATACR F1 4-16×42.
Designed around specific military requirements, the Accuracy 1st scope level has several features not found on other ACDs. The first two things that stand out are its construction and shape. The level’s housing is 6061-T651 aluminum, and is available in anodized black, matte tan Teflon, or Cerakote RAL 8000. The shape of the housing is specified to not obscure either scope turret, and reduces snagging by remaining within the footprint of the scope body. During the review, I used the rifle to shoot in PRS-style competitions, including shooting from barricades and shooting ports. Likewise, the rifle was used for hunting, traveling in a drag bag and scabbard pack, or on a sling. The scope level never snagged, nor did it change positions on the scope tube.
The level’s curved vial is custom made of medical-grade glass for Accuracy 1st. To withstand the wide temperature swings currently encountered in combat environments, the level uses a ceramic ball instead of an air bubble for its indicator. It also has a small air bubble to help absorb the extreme pressure encountered in those environments. It’s designed to be accurate and effective from -30˚F to 160˚F. A traditional level’s air bubble can change size or split apart in extreme temperatures; a ceramic ball is unaffected by those conditions.
An additional requirement was the level could not be spotted from 50 meters. It also had to be capable of night operations. To meet that demand, the front of the level has a narrow slot machined into it that’s covered with a small rubber plug. Removing the plug allows a tritium vial to be inserted. Unfortunately, it means the level must be installed on the left side of the scope. Accuracy 1st advertises that a left-handed version is coming soon. I found the ceramic ball very easy to see in low-light hunting conditions, staying visible long after legal shooting light ended.
While a hunter will most likely never be in a situation where he has to cant the rifle to shoot, the military snipers this level was designed for might not be able to avoid it. To that end, Accuracy 1st provided lines on the vial to indicate 2 ½ degree graduations in cant angle. With the proper formula, a shooter could take a long range shot with the rifle canted, while applying a precise offset for the cant angle. I could see the utility in knowing some basic offsets for a precision rifle match, in case a stage comes up where a canted rifle is unavoidable.
During the course of this review, I found the Accuracy 1st scope level very easy to use. With my cheek welded to the stock and my dominant eye on the target, I could effortlessly pick up the ceramic ball with my non-dominant eye. I mounted it both fore and aft of the turrets, with no problems viewing the turret markings in either position. The level took a couple of hard knocks on barricades without breaking or changing position. The quality of construction is obvious, and the fit and finish is pleasing to the eye. Its retail base price of $84.95 is comparable to other levels in its class. Additionally, Accuracy 1st Development Group is a great supporter of our military, and offers a discount for active and retired service members, as well as LEO. For ordering details, or more information on products for long range shooting, check out Accuracy 1st at www.accuracy1stdg.com. To discuss this article, or share your experiences, check out LRO’s forum here.