Vintage Leupold Scopes in The Golden Age
The Vintage Leupold scopes and Redfield scopes of the 1970’s and 80’s were my favorite hunting and target scopes of that era. I would have installed many of these great scopes while gunsmithing in Northeast Pennsylvania. They were just a nice compliment to any classic firearms they were installed on.
Hunting scopes, target scopes, and the 22 scopes. The 1950’s would bring in a whole new concept to the shooting and hunting world. Right after World War II the firearms companies started into mass-producing high-quality firearms for the general public. The concept of adding a modern style scope would follow a short time later.
This was a time of transition and in the gun world the gun scope was starting to arrive on the scene. Some of the companies in the late 40s started to see the benefits of mounting a rifle scope and started to drill and tap their rifles for them. Remington Arms would start drilling the new model 722 and 721 in 1948. You could say they knew what was coming.
The Weaver company would start to make scope mounts at this time and other scope mount companies would produce many different styles of mounts.
The William sight company, Pachmayr Company, Echo Company and others including Weaver scopes made side mounts. These types of mounts would be very popular but would require drilling the side of the receiver. This would ruin the value of many good guns from that period.
While a few gun companies held off and didn’t start drilling and tapping all of their models until the mid-1950’s and some a few years later. The hunting scopes were starting to become popular.
I think a lot of men were still into the traditional open sites or peep sight mentality and it was a hard idea to get across about using hunting scopes and adapting to that idea in hunting. This is why a lot of men installed side mounts. They could flip the hunting scope out of the way and use the open sights. The 22 scope would take even longer to gain a significant following.
One of the drawbacks to a hunting scope was you were not able to pick up game quickly, especially at the higher powers. And men that were used to using the open sites had a hard time adjusting. I for one always liked the peep sight for hunting. Then age and eyes start catching up with you.
But by the mid-1950s things started to change and companies now making firearms, pretty much drilled and tapped for the models they made. This was especially true for the deer hunting rifles. As this made sense because you could put the hunting scope on or leave it off. The choice was now yours.
The gun scopes in those days were not the greatest in clarity or variation and some were rather ugly. But they did function well and as the years passed they did become much better in quality and appearance. The Vintage Leupold Scopes would develop into a very prominate place in rifle scopes by the 1960’s.
Men would now discuss what was the best rifle scope to have. By 1954 there were several companies’ making rifle scopes. Kahls scopes, Stith scopes, Weaver scopes, Leupold scopes, Lyman scopes and Unertl scopes.
In the 1954 advertisements’ only 2 companies were making variable powered scopes. Kahls and the Weaver scope company. The Kahls scope company was far ahead of its time in its design. They looked a lot like the scopes of today. Stith would eventually be acquired by Redfield scopes.
I will talk about some of those vintage scopes from that era in other articles, and get a little more into detail about what was available and what was used in those days. I will say some of the scope mount manufacturers of those days were not really good for the collectors stand point.
I will get into more detail about drilling and tapping in articles about alterations and what to look for if the gun was not factory drilled and tapped. Hunting scopes did add great value to deer hunting rifles. But they did help alter many great firearms of the golden age of classic firearms.
For the guns of that time, some of the mounts were intrusive as far as having to remove wood or alter metal to get their mounts in place. Drilling scope mounting holes in the side of receivers was common. This of course would cause the eventual collector value to go way down.
Although the mounts worked well for what they were designed, they were often bulky and added more weight. This distracted from the nice-looking appearance that some of the guns of that era had.The Vintage Leupold scopes had classic style mounts and they advertised that classic look in 1954.
For some of you that have the old vintage gun scopes (Like the Vintage Leupold Scopes)from that time to maybe consider having the old vintage scopes installed on some of those old classic guns. Even today, they do make the gun fit totally into that time. Having an older Leupold scope installed on a Winchester 70 pre-64 firearm can make a very nice conversation piece for that rifle.
Now this may only be advisable if you’re not hunting with it as some of them old scopes would not be up to the abilities of the modern scope. But some may enjoy that anyway, as long as you’re not messing with the guns appearance or collectability. Having one of those on your rifle may be a nice little touch being added to that collectible deer hunting rifle.
The Redfield scopes and Leupold scopes of the 1960’s were very nice hunting scopes.
There are many Redfield and Vintage Leupold scopes from those years still in use.
Most of those old gun scopes do not hold a lot of value, and unless you’re someone as I suggested who may want to install it on their classic gun for looks. They will not add much to the gun value. They just do not hold great value.(Some lesser known brands or those scopes in excellent condition can still bring some collector interest)
I do not believe you can send any of them old gun scopes of the 1950’s out to get redone. The problem with parts is the big issue and you would be better off with the newer style scopes if you’re going to hunt with the gun. Some of the old target scopes like Unertl scopes may still be good if you are into target shooting.
Some of the biggest issues with 22 scopes from the 1950s would be on the installation of mounts on 22 rifles. Many of the scope mounts were very intrusive, and greatly distracted from the guns appearance.
Because the 22 Long rifle firearms were inexpensive, many people would try to install mounts by themselves or have inexperienced gunsmiths install them on their firearms. This would leave many guns with misaligned holes or holes drilled in the wrong spots.
Those 22 rifles were not designed for good scope placement, and many of those firearms did not accept scope mounts without some alterations. Mounting 22 scopes would hurt the value of many of the classic 22 caliber rifles from that time.
Most of those old 22 scopes from the 1950’s were basically worthless to hunt with. They had no field of vision and the alignment of your eye was hard to get. In some cases they did look nice as they were a smaller diameter. They just did not provide good results.
I replaced many of those old 22 scopes with nice 1 inch compact style scopes in the 1970’s and 80’s like the compact Leupold scopes.The classic 22 rifles with a nice Vintage Leupold scope or Redfield scope mounted on it were just a great combination.
A couple of great Leupold Scopes over at Amazon.com that are great scopes to install on the classic firearms in this website. For the shorter and compact rifles, I would recommend the light and compact Leupold VX-2 1x7 . The 1×7 power is nice for thick brush hunting or for those occasional long shots. For the more classic long rifles like the Winchester 70, or the Remington 700 series of rifles, I would suggest the Leupold VX-2 3x9 . Both of these classic style scopes are a great match for the classic rifles of the 50’s and 60’s. I hunted for years with 2×7 Leupold mounted on Remington 700 mountain rifle