Redfield Widefield Riflescopes
By Chuck Hawks
Let me begin this article with a notice: Redfield Widefield scopes manufactured in Colorado are no longer warranted by anyone. The Company has been bought and sold several times since these scopes were manufactured and no guarantee applies today. If you have a Widefield with a problem, dispose of it; it is time for a new Redfield scope made by Leupold.
Redfield was an American sight and riflescope company, nearly 100 years old, which formerly made all of their scopes in-house in Colorado. Redfield also devised the excellent dovetail mount and ring system later copied by both Leupold and Burris. In the early 1960's, when I was working in a retail store selling guns and sporting goods, Redfield was our top riflescope brand. Through the 70's and 80's Redfield's market position was increasing impacted by their competitors, especially Leupold, in the deluxe scope market, and by the enormous increase in cheap foreign competition.
By the 1990's Redfield had fallen on hard times, and their service and customer relations, traditionally very good, suffered. Sometime in the middle of that decade the company was acquired by Blount, which at that time owned Weaver and Simmons. Blount discontinued the manufacture of Redfield scopes, but retained their line of mounts. During 2001-2002 Blount sold all of their shooting and outdoor lines, including Redfield, to ATK (Alliant Techsystems) and ATK resurrected the Redfield scope line. ATK then sold Redfield, Weaver and Simmons to Meade, a U.S. telescope manufacturer, who tried to "reinvent" the riflescope, unsuccessfully. Meade never produced any Redfield scopes, beyond prototypes. Today, Leupold owns the Redfield name and Redfield scopes are again made in the USA in Beaverton, Oregon.
The Redfield Widefield line, the subject of this article, was introduced many years ago, when Redfield was still in its glory years. These scopes were distinguished by their oval ocular and objective lenses (wider than they are tall). I think that this design, touted by Redfield as offering increased horizontal field of view, met a lot of resistance from shooters. I know that the Widefield scopes looked strange to me when they were introduced, and it wasn't until I actually used one that I understood the design had merit.
I still hear negative comments from fellow shooters, like "strange Redfield," and "those scopes with the funny flattened bell housings." I am sure that the Widefield concept never caught on with most shooters, certainly not to the extent Redfield had hoped it would.
This is unfortunate, because the Widefield design really works. Widefield scopes do have a wider than normal field of view and they allow a low mounting position on most rifles.
Their field of view is approximately 30% greater than similar scopes and that can matter in the woods, or when trying to track running game. It allows for faster target acquisition, particularly at close range. This can, of course, be a life saving advantage if suddenly confronted by a charging animal.
There is no doubt that a rifle with a low mounted scope handles faster and better than the same rifle wearing a scope in a high mount. A low mount makes it easier for the shooter to quickly align his or her eye with the scope, and allows a firmer contact between cheek and stock comb for more accurate shooting.
Redfield accomplished all of this in their Widefield scopes by starting with oversize objective and ocular lens elements and simply grinding away the top and bottom. The result is an oval lens and something like a TV-format view through the finished scope. The fixed four power Widefield scope, for instance, has a front objective lens 30mm wide but only 22mm tall. This makes for a very compact scope with a horizontal field of view of approximately 36 feet, outstanding for a fixed four power scope.
Redfield's Widefield scopes were traditionally a high quality product. They were the top of the Redfield line for many years, only in the last years of the Company giving way to the Illuminator line, which features illuminated reticles. The actual quality and construction of the two lines appears to be similar.
Redfield Widefield scopes were built on rugged, one-piece, aluminum alloy main tubes. They featured 1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments and fully multi-coated optics. Eyepiece focus was by multiple turns of the ocular housing on fine threads and was secured with a locking ring. Widefield scopes were shockproof, fogproof, and waterproof. All models were available with either a gloss black or a matte black finish, and all models came standard with a Duplex reticle.
This type of reticle, invented by Leupold, incorporates a heavy a crosshair that becomes a fine crosshair near the center of the field. It is offered by more scope manufacturers than any other type and is probably the best reticle ever invented for most hunting applications.
The Widefield fixed power 4x scope was 11.38" long and weighs 12.4 ounces. Its front objective lens measured 30x22mm. The horizontal field of view at 100 yards was 35.95'. The optimum eye relief was 2.88". The exit pupil was a big 5.3x7.4mm, plenty for use in the lowest light. Like any 4x scope, the 4x Widefield was suitable for use on big game rifles chambered for a wide array of calibers from woods cartridges like the .30-30 to long range numbers like the .270 Winchester.
The Widefield 2-7x variable power scope also had a front objective lens measuring 30x22mm. It was 11.5" long and weighs 13.7 ounces. The horizontal field of view at 100 yards was an outstanding 57.78' at 2x and 18.34' at 7x. The optimum eye relief was 3.75-2.88". The compact 2-7x variable was the alternative to the fixed 4x scope for all-around use and was, I feel, superior to the more popular 3-9x scope for the purpose. Its magnification and excellent field of view made it a good match for the trajectories of woods and all-around big game cartridges on the order of the 6.5x55, .270 Winchester, 7-30 Waters, 7x57, .280 Remington, .30-30, .300 Savage, .308 Winchester, .30-06 and 8x57JS.
The Widefield 3-9x variable power scope had a front objective lens measuring 36x27mm. It was 12.38" long and weighed 15.0 ounces. The horizontal field of view at 100 yards was 42.5' at 3x and 10.9' at 9x. The optimum eye relief was 3.25-3.0". The 3-9x variable scope was the most popular all-around choice in the market place. It was suitable for big game rifles in calibers ranging from .243 Winchester to 8mm Remington Magnum, expressly including such all-around favorites as the .270 Winchester, 7mm Remington Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 and .300 Winchester Magnum.
Remember, the old Redfield lifetime guarantee is worthless. The Company that offered it is defunct. If you own a Redfield scope and it breaks, it is time to move on and get a new Reffield made by Leupold.
Copyright 2005, 2010 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.