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Product review: Weaver 40/44 Series 6.5-20×44 scope

Every now and then you come across a product that presents you with the best of dilemmas. The problem I have with my new 40/44 scope is choosing which rifle to fit it to. Now, I may sound like a gushing schoolgirl at this point, but read on and let me explain why this scope’s versatility is a nice problem to have.

Price range

The ocular bells allows plenty of clearance for bolt handles and gloved fingers.
The ocular bell allows plenty of clearance for bolt handles and gloved fingers.

Let’s not kid ourselves, when you’re purchasing optics the first thought you have is, ‘How much is my wallet going to bleed to get the kind of clarity/magnification/quality I want?’

There’s a common saying that if you put a $300 scope on a $1000 rifle, then you’ve got a $300 rifle. I would argue that the 40/44 Series 6.5-20×44 is the exception to this platitudinal rule.

The manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) listed on Weaver’s website is roundabout $320-330 USD, depending on the specs you go for. If you’re lucky, you can catch it on special or find a store/site with free shipping and get it to your door for around that price. But! Does it shoot like it belongs in the $300 – $500 USD ($450 – $600 NZD) range?



The first thing I did when I unpacked the 40/44 was mount it on a Savage .243 to check out the fit and function. Unfortunately I installed it with rings that were a tad snug, and immediately had some long scratches after I pushed and pulled the scope around finding a comfortable fit.

The objective bell clears the rear sight on this Savage nicely.
The objective bell clears the rear sight on this Savage nicely.

Feeling pretty upset with myself for ruining a brand new scope (before I’d even had a chance to photograph it for this review too!), I tried to rub the marks out a bit with my thumb. And they lifted. The black, hard-anodized matte finish is built for such rugged use that even scraping it along in tight metal rings didn’t leave any permanent marks on the finish. I’ve had much more expensive scopes (especially with matte finishes) end up with unsightly scratches even from a trip to the range, let alone hiking through the bush.


If there’s one thing that’s a tell-tale sign of poor – or even average – manufacturing quality, it’s sloppy elevation and windage adjustments.

The fine gearing makes for smooth use and precise adjustments.
The fine gearing makes for smooth use and precise adjustments.

Even when I was just playing around with the scope before actually going to the range, I could tell that the 40/44 Series was just a little bit better made in this area than most. The clicks were tight and consistent, and there was no play in the adjustment turrets. After taking the turret caps off, adjustments can be made with your fingers, with no special tools or coins necessary.

The parallax and magnification adjustments have a bit of a longer throw than other scopes in the same price bracket. This is actually a good thing. What this indicates is finer internal gearing, which means more precise adjustments can be made. The movement of these parts is also smooth, but resistant enough to the point where you don’t have to worry about unintentional movement.


The optical quality is really what most people get giddy about when choosing a new scope, although I’d maintain that mechanical quality is just as important.

In my experience there are two major indicators of optical quality in a scope. The first (and most obvious) is light transmission. Is the scope clear, bright and easy to use? The answer in this case is yes. The second, and certainly equal, indicator of quality materials and craftsmanship is the ability of a high-magnification scope to continue to provide optimal light transmission at the high end of its zoom range.

In other words, if I were hiking around the back country with the magnification set around 10 for medium-range shots, but then decided to take a longer range shot requiring all 20x zoom power – at dusk – could I expect the same level of optical clarity?

Many competitor scopes at this level – and certainly the cheap no-name brand scopes on TradeMe – start to get murky towards the end of their range. I had a 6-24x power scope that I realistically couldn’t use beyond 18 or 20 without losing too much light. I’ve also owned an 8-32x scope that may as well have been an 8-24x for all the use the upper range was.

It may be a hunting scope, but it's perfectly at home on this rimfire rifle.
It may be a hunting scope, but it’s perfectly at home on this rimfire rifle, along with the aftermarket Boyds stock.

I’ve glassed tree-lined creek beds with this scope in failing light at maximum zoom, and also used it at maximum zoom at an indoor target range, and in both situations found the light transmission to be excellent. So much so that I would be confident in saying I could use the full potential of this scope, and not just stick to the lower ranges.

Specified use

Of course, how you intend to use any particular scope is up to you. However, certain optics are created with particular uses in mind. According to Weaver’s website, the primary use for the 40/44 in 6.5-20×44 with Dual-X reticle is as a large game hunting setup.

The 6.5-20x version of this scope comes with three reticle options – the Dual-X, Ballistic-X and Varminter. All are variations on the duplex reticle and the use for hunting is readily apparent. The thick posts draw your eye naturally to the finer crosshair in the centre, making for quick target acquisition.

The Ballistic-X version has some elevation holdover hashes for those who prefer to holdover rather than adjust their turrets – useful for shooting on the move, rather than from a prone position. The Varminter crosshair features a round dot in the middle of the reticle to form a natural point of focus for the eye.

If you choose the Dual-X (like I have) or the Varminter, you’ll likely be making elevation adjustments in the field. Using a ‘cheat sheet’ calculator, you can quickly figure out what adjustments you need to make and have these on a card taped to your rifle for quick reference. Alternatively, some time at a range with multiple distance options can help you figure out exactly what your load/rifle/optic combination requires.

Thankfully the 40/44 is designed with quick adjustments like these in mind. After removing the turret caps, you’ll notice the turret markings are easily visible from the shooter’s position.

The turret adjustments are easily seen from the shooter's position.
The turret adjustments are easily seen from the shooter’s position.

The ocular bell is also quite compact, which has multiple benefits. It’s easier to see past when making turret adjustments for starters. But more importantly it means more clearance between the bolt handle and the scope. This makes for easier mounting on older rifles, as well as convenient use with gloves when you’re in the mountains.

Overall impressions

It’s easy to see how this scope could be favoured by hunters the world over. It’s not a Super Slam, but for the budget-conscious shooter or the back-up rifle, it’s great value for money with many of the same features as the more expensive scopes. It’s no surprise that it’s a ‘best rated’ product on Optics Planet.

The ruggedness and mechanical reliability means a lifetime of use, while the optical clarity makes it perfect the times of day you really expect to be hunting in New Zealand. The uncomplicated reticle and ease of adjustment makes for more confident shooting in the field too.

While this scope was originally mounted on a .243 Winchester for hunting use, it’s found a new home on my bolt action .22LR along with a Boyds Pro Varmint stock for target shooting. While it may seem a strange application, indoor smallbore target shooting involves known distances without wind variation, making the simple reticle ideal. The high level of magnification also means precise shooting and knowing what your score is before you leave the mound. The large objective lens also means plenty of visibility indoors under artificial lighting. Lastly, the adjustable objective means you can shoot at high magnification at ranges as close as 25 yards.

But, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, this scope could sit on almost any of my rifles and be fit for purpose. It could go on my 6.5×55 and be used for F-Class, or thrown onto my 7mm-08 for a light, bush-ready rig. Like I said at the start, it’s a good problem to have!

Push feed vs controlled feed bolt action rifles

Whenever there is more than one option, shooters around the world will have vastly differing opinions for and against each. The same could be said for push vs controlled feed bolt action rifles. However, after over a hundred years of having both on the scene, it seems a sort of stalemate has been reached.

So, what's the big deal?
So, what’s the big deal?

People still have their preferences, but realistically, there are much more important factors to consider when choosing a bolt action rifle, and the feed/eject mechanism is almost ancillary to other concerns. That being said, there are differences.

The double feed

A push feed action is exactly what it sounds like. The round is pushed by the base of the bolt into the chamber. Once the bolt is fully closed the extractor claw will engage the rim of the cartridge, so that the ejector plunger can push it out when it’s clear of the chamber again (once the bolt is pulled rearwards).

The oft-quoted push action double feed can occur if you do not fully close the bolt upon chambering a round. This means the round will not eject as the extractor claw has not engaged the cartridge. If you move the bolt forward again, you’ll feed a second round into the base of the first.

The bolt in this .243 Stevens literally pushes the round without grabbing onto the rim until the action is fully closed.
The bolt in this .243 Stevens literally pushes the round without grabbing onto the rim until the action is fully closed.

This situation is very unlikely to occur, except through clear operator error. We all like to think we’re beyond such simple mistakes, but stress can cause us to do funny things. When might you be this stressed? Hunting dangerous game, or perhaps in fast-paced action matches like the Precision Rifle Series. However, most competitors use modern push feed actions without any issues. Big game hunters on the other hand, are probably the biggest proponents of the Mauser-style controlled-round feed.

Making life easier

The main reason for the proliferation of push feed rifles is that they are cheaper and easier to manufacture. Having said that, some very expensive, reliable and accurate rifles use push feed actions.

There’s one thing that just makes like easier with a controlled-round feed. You don’t have to push the bolt fully closed, or completely work the action, to pick up and eject a round. And no, this isn’t the same point above worded in a different way.

This Mauser action with its large claw extractor grips the round upon picking it up out of the magazine.
This Mauser action with its large claw extractor grips the round upon picking it up out of the magazine.

If you spend a lot of time on the range drilling small holes into paper, you’ll come across plenty of situations where you have to clear your rifle so someone can go forward. This may be for a change of targets, a ceasefire in a match or  some other situation where rifles need to be made safe.

If you have a box magazine, no issues either way. However, if you have a blind magazine, emptying a full mag with a push feed action can be annoying and time consuming. A good example of this is the Mossberg 100 ATR which I recently reviewed. A nice, slick bolt action, but you can’t pull the magazine out or drop a floorplate if you want to quickly empty your rifle.

With the Mauser-style actions built by CZ, Winchester (some model 70s), Ruger, Kimber and others, you can simply move the bolt a fraction of the way forward and pull it back again to solidly pick up and eject a round. I do also find that the bolts are generally less sloppy in the action, as the long extractor acts as another guide to keep the bolt going forward and not sideways.

These sound like silly points to favour one rifle over another, and they are. Although it’s a feature I really like, it wouldn’t influence which rifle I bought if I was choosing between two (unless they were otherwise identical, which isn’t going to happen).

If you want to dig a bit more into the subject, there’s plenty on the web, including this well-illustrated article at Lucky Gunner.