I am the co- patent holder for the optics for the Remington rifle Telescope that was manufactured for a short time 50 years. I have written a short history of the development of this item and have included it below. If anybody wants to talk please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Larry Burrows and I live in Melbourne, Australia which is a good way from the old Remington Arms Plant and Custom Shop in Ilion, NY. .
I stumbled on the Benchrest blog talking about the Remington rifle telescope by accident. There were a number of entries regarding these telescopes and some of them addressed what were known by the authors as to the history of the item. I thought I would put together a diatribe which attempts to clarify some points raised in the blog and to present the history of this device. I am the co-patent holder for the optics system used in these telescopes along with Mike Walker. He provided the idea I did the design. You can view the patent by entering US patent 3612646 into Google.
Many of you will remember Mike who ran the Custom Shop at the Remington plant and was the holder of 15 patents in the field. Mike had conceived the idea of a bench rest competition quality telescope with unusual characteristics in the early 1960’s but had not made any headway. I was finishing a graduate course in Physics in 1966 and sent letters of application to several arms manufactures including Remington. Several months later I had given up hope of employment in this area when I got a letter from Mike saying he would like to consider me to work on his team. Mike was planning to drive his hopped up Camero non-stop from Ilion to Chicago to attend the NRA convention and offered to divert 150 miles south of Chicago to Terre Haute to interview me on the fly. It is 15 hours by car from Ilion to Terre Haute and another 4 hours to Chicago. Mike did like to drive that Camero.
Mike hired me to work on his team and I arrived in mid-August ready to start a new career. Mike explained that he envisioned a high quality telescope of 20X that would be short enough to allow both mounts to be located on the top of a Remington 700 action and to provide optical quality that exceeded anything on the market. His reasoning for wanting both mounts on the receiver was he believed that the temperature differential between the receiver and the barrel after three sighters and five official shots was significant enough to cause the point of aim of the scope to shift a measurable amount, therefore degrading the results.
I had used lots of rifle telescopes in target shooting and varmint hunting but had not the foggiest idea regarding their design and production. I asked him if he could point me toward the work that had been done and he indicated nobody had a clue as to how to achieve his goal including people at the several telescope manufactures.
Remember, this was 1966. No internet, no Google. Information was contained in things called books. I then started to read everything I could find on telescope design and the related art of optical lens design. One of the books I read described surveyor telescopes and their design. It occurred to me that what we were talking about was a surveyor telescope (short and powerful) with a large front aperture and at least 3 inches of eye relief where the surveyor telescope had none. The so called secret of the short design of the Remington telescope was the inclusion of a concave/convex lens (surveyor telescope) in front of the erector lens that that bends the light so that it is more horizontal. This in turn allowed us to use a front lens of short focal length and provide the overall length reduction. One key item was eye relief which is the position of the image of the front lens as produced by the other lenses in the system. A bit of math indicated that this design was theoretically possible. You can see a picture of this arrangement in the patent description.
Now that I had a general idea as to how to proceed, the question was how do I do a proof of concept and if that works how do I produce an optical design that is better than anything currently available when I had never designed a lens, did not understand what lens quality actually meant, and did not have a clue as to how all that was done.
About that time I remembered a company called Edmund Scientific that sold surplus lenses. As luck would have it they had a supply of lenses that close approximated what I was looking for. I ordered a selection with the idea that I would put together some lens holders and a slide so that I could fool with the various combinations in the shop. We quickly determined that we were on the right track. The next step was to mount the lenses in a telescope like tube so we could get an idea of how good or bad things actually looked. We had already decided that if we went ahead with production we would buy a Torrington Swegger to make the tubes. For now we needed to formulate something in the shop. After several failures one of the master tool makers (Walt Kencharik) asked to see the drawing. He said, “hell, I’ll take a piece of aluminium bar stock with a diameter equal to the largest diameter of the tube and cut away everything that gets in the way.“ Which he did.
When Walter had produced a scope tube we mounted the lenses and had a look. To our surprise, everything looked great. There are six major categories of lens aberrations and none were visible to me. I told Mike that it looks good to me and we should proceed using surplus lenses. He said no, got to have flawless complimentary lens designs. Great, HTF do I do that I said to myself.
About this time Remington started to automate and in the process they installed an IBM 1130 at the ammunition plant in Bridgeport Conn. At that time IBM offered lots of free software with their computers. We in Ilion got a list of what was offered and among the offerings was a program called POSD (Program for Optical system Design). Hot damn, the same computer I learned to program in graduate school two years earlier. We got permission to submit data to be used with POSD and proceeded to make computer runs by driving to Bridgeport when we were ready. Talk about slow turnaround. Ilion eventually got its own IBM 1130 and we were able to iterate designs without driving a few hundred miles.
I finally got to the point where POSD could not minimize the aberrations any further. Now we had to find a way to manufacture the lenses at a reasonable cost. We found a German lens grinding operation in Pennsylvania and made arrangements for them to make the first lenses.
Mike wanted to show the shooting community what we were up to before the new lenses were available so we mounted the prototype with the Edmund Scientific lenses and Walt’s tube on a Remington 700 action with a Hart barrel chambered for the 6mm-.25 Cal Remington “ideal cartridge” that Mike was experimenting with and took it to a shoot at Johnstown NY. Everybody was suitably impressed and I proceeded to do what I could with a new rifle, loads, bullets and telescope. On one of the 200 yard matches I was have a dickens of a time getting the wind to cooperate. My group was just below the aiming square when it should have been 1.5 inches below the square. The first two shots cut well together, I could not see the third shot and the fourth barely clipped the rim of the hole of the first two. I could not see the fifth shot. I was the last guy finished and a person a couple of benches down was watching me shoot, for some unknown reason. I ask him if he could see if the two shots I could not see were up in the black and he said no they were not. That meant I had five shots making a group size just slightly larger than a 6mm hole at 200 yards. Turns out I was .030 inches over the world record for that class at that time. Not bad for a cobbled rifle, ammo and scope.
In March of the next year I got a job offer from General Electric that I could not refuse and went to work for them for the next 40 years retiring to Australia in 2004. Dick Lemmon and Jim Stekel and others at Remington took over the scope job and brought it into production. I had not seen one of the scopes until some blog folks sent me some pictures. I would like to buy a copy with the Unertl mounts if one is available.
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