BSA Catseye Scopes


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn


Recently I acquired a new rifle for which I had been searching for some time. The rifle is the Marlin 45-70 Guide Gun, but is not, as you have probably discerned from the title, the subject of this article. 

What I needed for this particular rifle was a sight to be used at close to moderate range, within the trajectory limitations of the cartridge. Too much  magnification at close range increases the time needed to find the target in the scope, creating a situation wherein no scope at all would be better. Too little magnification at moderate range, out to 200 yards for example, reduces the ability of the shooter to accurately place the bullet.

What I decided was needed was a low-power variable to cover the ranges at which I expected to use the rifle. After looking lustfully through many catalogs at the almost endless variety of scopes available, I decided to give the BSA a closer look. 

Three days later, the big brown truck of happiness arrived and the driver issued me the package that I had eagerly awaited. 

I mounted the scope in Weaver rings on a Weaver base to get the lowest possible scope position on the rifle. The Weaver base also allows quick removal of the scope and rings  with the ability to use the open sights if needed, without removing the base. 

I was really anxious to try the illuminated reticle feature of the scope, which proved to be an asset in low light conditions. Many times, in  a hunting situation, the hunter can clearly see the animal, but cannot make out the crosshairs against a dark background when the light is quickly fading. The same condition can occur in the early morning, when the game is moving through the area, but there is not enough light to clearly see the reticle in a scope, and certainly not enough to see iron sights. This is where an illuminated scope reticle can really pay off. 

In the BSA, the reticle is a European style duplex with three heavy stadia wires and a normal wire on top. This reticle is very quick to see when mounting the rifle to the shoulder. When needed, the reticle can be illuminated red by pressing a switch on top of the ocular lens. The lighted reticle has seven levels of intensity, activated by repeatedly pressing the switch, each time increasing the brightness of the reticle. Cool! 

In use, the scope performed as advertised. I fired the Marlin from a benchrest position in the open field, into a target placed in the shadows within the woods. As anticipated, the lighted reticle was of great benefit in placing the bullets upon the target, making it much faster to acquire the target after the recoil of each shot. And there was plenty of recoil from the heavy handloads fired in the Marlin. 

I had doubted the ability of the scope to withstand the heavy recoil, as I have had scope reticles break before from the shock inflicted by hard-kicking guns. My fears were unfounded, as the scope held up much better than I did, shooting the rifle from the bench. 

I am not sure whether I will keep the scope on this gun, or go with a set of Williams peep sights. Most likely, I will switch from one to the other as the situation requires. 

I was and remain favorably impressed with the BSA, and look forward to using it on the Marlin during the next deer season. I am also planning a boar hunt in East Tennessee, and if all goes as planned, I will have this rifle and this scope along as the ideal hog stopper.

Jeff Quinn


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The standard BSA reticle offers a good, easy-to-find sight picture against a light background.



The lighted BSA reticle against a dark background shows where this scope (literally) shines!



The switch for the lighted reticle is well-positioned for easy reach, right behind the adjustment ring. The BSA Catseye is a good-looking, apparently well-made scope and offers good value.



The BSA Catseye mounted on the Marlin .45-70 Guide Gun is a tough, reliable package for close-quarter to moderate-range hunting. It is perfect for boar and deer or even large and dangerous game if the range is right!