Our new Malcolm scope is a piece of history. Since very little is generally known about early telescopic sights, a little history is in order to understand how the Malcolm scope fits in.
Good terrestrial telescopes were being built by the early 1700's. These had all the optical quality that was necessary for a rifle telescope. However it would not be until the mid 1800s that rifles became sufficiently accurate to require a telescopic sight. The problem was how to mount the scope to the rifle so it could be "zeroed" to the rifle.
In 1855, William Malcolm started building riflescopes. He understood that a riflescope must be properly constructed to hold zero. He made his scope tubes by the same procedure as was used to build rifle barrels, by boring them from solid bar stock. The lenses were mounted in a separate housing securely screwed to the scope tube.
His first mounts followed the design written about by John Chapman in his book published in 1844 and used by many early riflescope builders. The elevation adjustment was a threaded post in the rifle tang. The scopes were the full length of the barrel for two reasons. One: The long length increased the accuracy of the adjustments. Two: The effect of heat rising from the barrel was eliminated. In order to shoot long range (1000 yds) with a black powder rifle, the scope has to be elevated around 3 degrees. With a full-length scope, this means that the rear must be raised about one and a half to two inches. The tang mount screw adjustment was very fragile when raised to this height.
At some point (probably after the Civil War) Malcolm devised a new solution to accommodate this much elevation. He built a "rabbit eared" type mount that was located where the rear sight was usually positioned. This was more rugged than the previous designs and could be precisely adjusted either by a vernier scale or a scale and a micrometer like screw system. Also his scopes were assembled to withstand the recoil of the heavier calibers.
By the turn of the 20th Century, Malcolm had become the leading scope manufacturer in the U.S. The company would continue in business until WWII. However new optical technologies being developed in Europe along with the development of smokeless powder and jacketed bullets made his designs obsolete by the time of the Great War.
In the time between the opening of the West and the death of the great Buffalo herds, Malcolm scopes saw it all. Our new Malcolm scopes are constructed in the same manner as the originals and in keeping with the general look and feel of the original scopes and only use high quality fully multicoated lens. The mounting system keeps the look of the original scopes but is much easier for a modern shooter to adjust. The rear mount has both windage and elevation adjustments yet has the same look as Malcolm's original mount and is a design that could have been built by Malcolm in the 1800's.
Period Correct Wm. Malcolm Scopes Information
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