Rifle Scope Power Lever 1            12-2014

You might be wondering what a rifle scope power lever is, well let me explain: some scopes have what's called 'fixed power' which means they can't change magnification, in other words...'fixed'. Say you have a scope that is a fixed 6 power (6X). That's all it ever will be is just six power, which is fine for certain guns depending on what the firearm is used for.

Other scopes have what's called 'variable power' or 'variable magnification' like the one on my hunting rifle. When a scope has variable power, you can adjust the magnification by turning the power ring on it. And in my case the scope I use varies from 3 to 9 power. This comes in really handy in case your target is close or if it's far away because you can adjust the power by just turning the power ring.

Speaking of turning the power ring, this is where the power lever comes in, you clamp the lever to the power ring on your scope (arrow) so you can turn it easier. Now normally variable power scopes have a power ring that moves pretty easy and has the power lever built-in, but the scope I have is about 30 years old, doesn't turn that well anymore and was made before power levers were around. Let me set the stage for you and explain what exactly happened while I was deer hunting during the 2014 season that prompted me to make my own.




The Hunt

One morning late in November I'm walking up a hill to my hunting spot. The temperature is in the mid 20's with the wind coming out of the west with mostly cloudy skies. I work my way through some pine trees and scrub oak and up to a big bolder which was near the top of the hill. I decided to glass the area with my binoculars and noticed some low clouds hanging around at the upper elevations and say to myself, "I hope those clouds don't come to my area" and continue to look around. I liked the spot I was in so I took my pack off and then leaned my rifle against the chest high rock I was leaning against. I was in an elevated spot that overlooked a small valley with the remainder of the hill I climbed to my left which I could see pretty well. Directly behind me was a huge hill that I could also glass but some of it extended well beyond what I was capable to shoot at. I looked through my range finder and took note of all the distances that I was comfortable with. Once that was done I settled in (standing up) and started glassing while using the big bolder as a shield from the wind.

About 20 minutes later the unthinkable happened, the clouds that I saw in the distance decided to hug the ground and just like that I was fogged in. I had no idea how long this would last so I put my binoculars inside my jacket, zipped it up and just stood there. After about an hour went by, I started wondering how long this low cloud condition was going to last because I could only see about 30 to 40 yards this whole time. But every once in awhile the fog would leave gaps in it and I'd be able to see a little farther. This would only last for a few seconds and I'd be right back to seeing short yardage again.

Fog is a strange thing because you can hear really well in it, but can't pinpoint where a noise comes from. Every now and then I would here a twig break or some other kind of sound and would turn my head instinctively in that direction. And when this happens, you wonder if an animal was walking by. I even heard a voice from another hunter that sounded liked it came from a few hundred yards away but couldn't tell for sure. After two hours of standing, the fog was still there and thoughts of leaving the area had entered my head more than once. The reason I didn't leave is because deer wouldn't see me till it was to late if they happened to walk close by.

The two and a half hour mark had come and gone with the fog lifting ever so slightly and I'm getting colder by the minute. It's easy to stay warm when you walk or move around but when you stay in one spot with the wind blowing and below freezing temps, it gets to you pretty fast. And just like that I saw something move on the hill to my left. Now I've seen deer in this area before so instead of unzipping my jacket and using my binoculars, I grabbed my gun and just looked through the scope. Sure enough it was a deer and not just one but a total of four, on the other hand I couldn't make out if there were any bucks in the group. I noticed that I needed more magnification so I went to twist the power ring and it didn't move. My fingers were so cold along with my frozen scope, I couldn't move it. I think to myself...oh great, so I swapped hands but this time I wrapped the side of my finger along with my thumb and with a death grip I maxed it out to 9X to see better.

To make a long story longer, I let the deer go (it was a legal yearling) and watched them all move along slowly through the forest up and over the hill behind me. This is when I got the idea of needing more leverage to turn the power ring on my scope, in other words a power lever. Now they sell these power levers and get good money for them but after looking for one that would fit my older scope, I couldn't find anyone that made one. This is when I decided to make my own like you see below.




Being Outdoors And What It Means To Me

One of the things I really enjoy in life is to be outdoors whenever I get the chance. For instance; car shows, working in the yard, walking and hiking, but one of my favorites is being in the mountains. And speaking of the mountains, I like to deer hunt when I get the chance. For me it's all about being outdoors, breathing in some nice clean mountain air, hiking around the hills, seeing the beautiful country side, forgetting all about the rat race at the bottom of the hill but the number one thing I love about this whole experience is it 'eases the soul back in' for me.

When I was younger I couldn't wait for deer season to arrive and went to great lengths to get in shape, scout out prime areas and map out the hunt for opening day. But when the season was over and I came up empty handed, I thought I had failed somehow by not bringing home any meat and it would bother me. I remember hearing some older guys say they just liked going hunting and it didn't matter if they shot something or not. I thought they were crazy back when I was younger, but today I understand because I couldn't care less if I shoot a deer anymore, all I care about is being in the hills on a cool morning in the fall. So I can honestly say that I totally get what those older guys were talking about now.



Making A Power Lever


Aluminum was the material of choice for this project which is three-fold: first it's light, second it's corrosion resistance, and third it's easy to machine. The part that you see below has been turned on a lathe and the inside diameter (I.D.) needed to be the same size as the outside diameter (O.D.) of the power ring on my scope (red arrow in the first picture). The thickness will be .250 (1/4") which is approximately the width of the power ring and I'll be making three different lengths of levers. The reason for three different lengths is because I'm not sure what will work best for my application.



This power lever will require some tooling to be made before I start the project, which is what you see below. After squaring a scrap piece of aluminum, I used a scale to find the center by laying across the corners and scribing lines, and then drew a circle the same size of my scopes power ring with some dividers. What I want to do is remove everything around the circle and leave a piece standing in the center called a spud. The spud will be .200 tall which is slightly less than the thickness of my power lever. With this spud being .050" less in height, I will be able to clamp against the work piece without it moving while it's being machined.



I removed most of the material in a vise setup and then switched over and finished the spud diameter on this rotary table. Now I haven't used a rotary table in over 20 years because I've had the use of CNC machinery at my work. But I wanted to keep busy during our winter shutdown at my work so this is why I'm using this old school method of machining. Besides, I'm able to stay home and do all the work this way. I drilled and tapped the center for 3/8-16 threads which will be used for clamping.



I made a special washer out of aluminum to clamp my work piece down with and now I'm ready to start machining. The washer is somewhat sacrificial as it will be getting machined slightly as I go along. Note the blue layout dye on my work piece (future power lever). I scribed reference lines on it to help me while machining.



The first mill operation is complete. You can see the shape of the power lever and how long the handle is. All three will be this long at the beginning and then I'll cut them down and shape them later.



The next operation will be to reduce the thickness of the clamping area so it clears the spot between my scope mount and power ring.



Here you can see the clearance machined into the bottom that I was talking about above. Now I'm getting ready to cut the piece in half using a slitting saw. I could have used a hacksaw for this but I wanted the cut right in the center.



After cutting them all in half it's time to machine the bottom surfaces.



I lined both halves up, clamped them together, and then machined them. Doing it this way makes sure that both pieces are exactly the same.


1  2