Shooting Sports USA | The Early History Of Sight Micrometers

You could probably put a PJ O’Hare visor micrometer in the center of a table at one of today’s gun shows, and no passerby in a dozen would know what it was. And those who did so were either young collectors – who saw pictures – or old fuds (really old fuds, because the O’Hare micrometer went out to pasture with the M1903 Springfield) – who used one. It was time, however, that anyone taking a Springfield to a shooting range had a viewing micrometer – and nine out of ten were O’Hare microphones. We’re going to take a quick look at the vision microphone that PJ O’Hare sold as a must-have for high-performance rifle shooters, and while we’re at it, some of the competition as well.

What is a vision micrometer? Well our British friends call them sight adjusters, and they’re for rifles with ladders in their sights, like the early military rifles Lee-Metford and Lee-Enfield Mark I and our own Krag-Jorgensen (with the 1901 sight). . They are used to make more accurate height adjustments, especially for long range shots, than can only be done with the distance scales marked on the sight. Most sighting micrometers have a screw adjustable plate that moves the sighting eyepiece up (gravity moves it down), combined with a numbered scale (a vernier scale on British versions) that shows how much height has been added. Once the desired height has been set, the eyepiece is locked onto the ladder (regardless of the micrometer) and the micrometer is removed and set aside.

The earliest visual micrometers (adjusters) were, as mentioned, British. America came into play when Thomas Conroy from New York began importing them for sale to American shooters who used them for their krags. Conroy micrometers were made of nickel silver. JW Hession and PJ O’Hare also sold vision adjusters for the Krag, which, like Conroys, was made in England. The graduations of the adjusters manufactured by Conroy and Hession in Great Britain took a few minutes. UK-made micrometers sold by O’Hare are available with both minute and vernier dials.

The foreground archer has attached a Pope sight micrometer to his sight height blade. Harry Pope’s micrometers, unlike most of his competitors, were designed to stay in place while the rifle was fired.

The first truly American vision micrometer – and its developer may actually have the Conroy, Hession, et. al., to the blow – was made and sold by none other than Harry Pope. Pope appears to have developed his micrometer when he settled down and set up in San Francisco (something he finished the night before the San Francisco earthquake destroyed everything he owned except the clothes on his back, one 4 inch steel rule and a micrometer caliper). . After the San Francisco disaster, Pope moved to Los Angeles, where he rebuilt his barrel making business. This is also where his viewing micrometers were manufactured, which were mentioned early in printed form in Arms and the Man on August 23, 1906.

The papal micrometer was made of brass with an adjusting thread made of steel. The elevation tube was calibrated in five minute increments from 0 to 120 minutes. Another scale on the setting knob enabled settings to be made in minute increments. The adjustments were continuous. In addition to his micrometer, Papst made a “Skirmish Sight Setter” – a measuring device with a fixed value and different height distances that fits between the cantilever sight base and the elevator crossbar. The Pope’s Micrometer sold for $ 3.50 and the Skirmish Setter for $ 1. In a 1908 letter to customer announcing his move to Jersey City, New Jersey, Pope stated his intention to manufacture micrometers for both the “new Springfield” and the Krag. It’s unlikely that Pope ever made a micrometer for the Springfield. However, in his final work, The Springfield 1903 Rifles, the late Lt. Col. William S. Brophy illustrated a Pope Skirmish Sight Setter on the sights of an M1903 rifle.

Meanwhile, PJ O’Hare was preparing to sell the vision micrometer that made him a legend. The O’Hare micrometer wasn’t the only accessory O’Hare sold. Under his name he also sold a useful set of front and rear visor covers, as well as a whole range of other products for shooters.

What came to be known as the “O’Hare micrometer” was developed by an instrument maker in Shillington, Pennsylvania named William W. Miller, Sr. Miller. He himself was a marksman – a member of the 1926 Dewar team – who shot the most in the 1903 Springfield Rifles, Brophy shows a viewing micrometer that, although not labeled “O’Hare” (it is not labeled at all), is one O’Hare’s product is very similar to this. It could be one of Miller’s early models. Miller sold his production to O’Hare, who took over marketing and sales under his own name.

The O’Hare micrometer was robust, accurate, repeatable, and convenient to use. In a short period of time, it dwarfed its competition. Riflemen who, almost without exception, bought a Model 1903 rifle from the government sales office in Camp Perry, walked down Commercial Row to PJ O’Hare’s store and spent $ 5 for a micrometer and an additional $ 2 for a range of face shields (retail price 1935). . Military teams bought them in large numbers and usually added a service or unit identification and serial number to the O’Hare logo. After WW Miller’s death, O’Hare must have found another source to purchase supplies of his signature product from. As it was, advertising for the O’Hare micrometer took a sabbatical year from late 1929 to mid-1936. If you read the pages of the American rifleman of those years, the last micrometer ad was in the December 1929 issue. O’Hare continued to advertise on American Rifleman during the first half of the 1930s, but other products including rifles were also featured . Just in time for the Camp Perry Games, the micrometer returned to American Rifleman billboards in August 1936.

It is also interesting that the competition for the O’Hare micrometer only began around 1930. And there were at least five competitors. The Lyman Gun Sight Corp. sold a “micrometer” that looked and worked like the Pope Skirmish Sight Setter, but was adjustable. Ads appear in American Rifleman from early 1928 through about 1937. The price for the Lyman micrometer was $ 1.50.

Stoeger micrometer

Advertisement for the Stoeger micrometer.

No less a giant than AF Stoeger, Inc. entered the micrometer business in 1932. The advertisement for Stoeger’s micrometer, which sold for $ 4, first appeared in March and April, and the product was featured in the May issue of American Rifleman. In contrast to the O’Hare microphone, Stoeger’s micrometer was attached to the viewing guide and to the height adjustment. It was graduated angles from 0 to 280 minutes in large steps of 10 minutes. A graduated button on the microphone allowed a setting of five minutes per complete revolution with “clicks” for every half minute. The Stoeger micrometer, which was attached to the side of the ladder facing the shooter, and its spring clips enabled the instrument to be fired on the spot.

In October 1932, Will Carroll of Los Angeles, California, sent Fred Ness, then editor of The Dope Bag, a sample of a micrometer that he had made and sold for $ 1.50. The Carroll micrometer, as Ness describes it, sounds like a less sophisticated variant of the O’Hare, but it lacks the tactile “clicks” to adjust, so the user has to make changes to the gradations on the sheet instead. The Carroll micrometer should remain in sight while firing the rifle. As with the inspection of the Stoeger microphone, Ness pointed out that leaving the microphone while shooting violates the external change rule for authorization for service rifles.

Westchester Trading Post, Mt. Vernon, NY, supplier of shooting accessories, began promoting a vision micrometer in American Rifleman in 1935 (June, July, and August issues). According to Brophy, Westchester owner Bill Trull had his micrometers – which resembled a British sight adjuster – made in the US by LS Starrett in Athol, Massachusetts. The micrometer Trull and Westchester sold for $ 5.

Nelson micrometer

Advertisement for the Nelson micrometer.

And finally, Lt. Edward A. Nelson, AC Res., 1936 a “Micro Precision Rifle Sight Gauge” for the Krag or the M1903. The two instruments were not interchangeable (the lightweight ladder of the 1905 Springfield visor is longer than the ladder of the 1901 cantilever visor), so the buyer had to indicate which version was desired. One wonders how many Krags were still in use by 1936 – apparently it was enough for Nelson to see a market.

The year 1936 was also the year in which the fatal blow of the sight micrometer sounded – if only weakly. In November 1935, the Assistant Secretary of War approved a John C. Garand-designed military self-loading rifle for procurement. The following January (1936) the U.S. Army Adjutant General approved the standardization of the U.S. Cal rifle. 30, M1.

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