Mounts more than a match for anyone
The wise old saying of “If you want a thing done right, do it yourself” has never been more apt than with British scope-mount maker Sportsmatch UK, as Stan Piecha discovers.
Sportsmatch UK, based in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, England, was created by keen rifle shooter John Ford in 1972 because of his frustration at being unable to find any mounts – at a reasonable price – that kept his telescopic sights working perfectly.
The Japanese mounts available at the time tended to ‘creep’ and slide rearwards on the dovetail after several shots, causing huge problems with accuracy, while the alternative German scope rings were very expensive and difficult to obtain.
Thanks to John’s engineering background as a design and technical director of a company making specialised wheels for world championship-winning rally cars, he set about manufacturing his own mounts.
The products were instantly admired by fellow shooters, who were so impressed with the quality that they asked John if he could make some for them.
John quickly saw the opportunity to cash in on the growing demand for a unique product and initially set up a manufacturing unit at a friend’s sheet-metal factory before moving to his own premises.
In 1988 he even produced a totally hand-made pre-charged pneumatic air rifle with a fully regulated valve system that went on to win the world field target championship.
It was called the GC2 and was regarded as the crème de la crème of air rifles but was discontinued in 1995 so that the company could concentrate on production of its increasing range of scope mounts.
It was a wise move because Sportsmatch has grown into an organisation that is respected worldwide for not only producing mounts that are within everyone’s pocket, but also the outstanding quality of each model made in its 4,000 sq ft factory, which is equipped with the latest state-of-the-art CNC high-speed machinery.
Sportsmatch is so confident of the quality and reliability of each model that comes off the production line that it offers customers something quite remarkable – a lifetime guarantee!
Matthew Ford, who took over as managing director when his father John retired, told GTW: “The guarantee we provide is fairly unique and shows the faith we have in all our mounts. However, the reason it is offered is because the returns we get are so minute that they can’t be measured as a percentage against the hundreds of thousands that we manufacture.
“We offer the guarantee with confidence and people like that, especially retailers and distributors who have enough to deal with without having to send faulty items back. They simply do not want the hassle that returns involve. On the rare occasions that a product is returned, it usually turns out that it has been damaged by something like a screw being tightened too much by the customer.
“The confidence in our products is down to the accuracy of our machinery, using the latest high-tensile, aircraft-grade materials and having all parts constantly inspected during manufacture and assembly.”
Sportsmatch currently exports to 40 countries, with America, Australia and Italy among its biggest customers. It has also recently got a foothold in France, a nation of big shooters, especially in the hunting sector, and it is hoping to increase sales even further.
Russia is another shooting nation that would benefit immensely from the products but Sportsmatch is currently struggling to find the right partners to handle its goods.
The array of more than 70 models covering all aspects of rifle shooting, from airguns to rimfire rifles and centrefire rifles, are mostly used by hunters or target shooters but it also has some very prestigious contracts supplying mounts for sniper rifles for various armed forces around the globe, where the user relies on ultimate performance in all conditions.
Leading the way
One way to ruffle Matthew’s feathers is to mention the Chinese imitations of its models currently available.
He says: “They say that copying is the highest form of flattery but I have never been happy seeing cheaper versions of our unique mounts being offered to shooters.
“Fortunately, we have been able to maintain our market lead and these days there is a very identifiable blue mark on each mount to depict that it is a genuine Sportsmatch product and not a cheap and nasty copy.
“The good thing is that the prices of the Chinese mounts are increasing as wages and production costs rise, so they no longer look like such a bargain.
“It still surprises me how little thought some people actually give to their mounts. On paper, our products do not appear to be the most exciting part of a firearm but they provide the solid and vital link between the rifle and the scope. Without that link between the two, the gun is not a lot of use.”
Sportsmatch can cater for most mounting solutions, including rifles with a Picatinny/Weaver rail, which is wider than most dovetails.
Its biggest seller is the TO4C two-piece, medium double screw mount but one of its more recent models – the DM80 – has also been a real hit in the industry.
It’s a one-piece Dampa mount with rubber bushes that prevent scope damage and is considered the ultimate choice for high-powered air rifles with Picatinny rails and large-calibre centrefire rifles.
The one thing that all the models have in common is that, once you zero in a scope, it will continue hitting the desired mark time and time again thanks to the precision engineering and rigidity of the mount.
With Sportsmatch constantly looking at new ways to further improve its range of products, the future of the company is just like its mounts… rock solid.
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