Failure is success.
The NCStar experiment comes to a close in failure. The initially good-looking 4x30 scope shot on the paper right out of the box, elevation dead on and windage 2" right at 25 yards. I go to adjust... nothing moved. I didn't overtorque the rings either, it's just flat busted. The NEF itself performed flawlessly, interlocking shots at 25 yards with some cast-off Rem 125 JSP .357mag I found.
Haven't tried the .22 scope yet, but my spirits toward it have darkened. I did notice that the BSA scope I had on there is *exactly the same*, just better dressed and with a longer tube for the magnification feature.
The mech-tech is a partial success; cranking on the red dot a bit got it where I can see the hit on the paper while aiming, but I stopped there with other issues to deal with... with the mag loaded more than 7-8 rounds it doesn't disconnect the trigger properly. Odd. Less than that though, and it runs like a scalded dog, very little recoil and incredibly controllable. That stock, however, will have to go... even with very little shock I've got a red patchwork on the front of my shoulder where it rubbed around. I need to find something that lowers the cheek weld/raises the body of the carbine, it's very hard to aim comfortably and I don't want to elevate the sight.
Win some, lose some... and I can say with certainty that the Chinese scopes are indeed junk after all; I just wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt, and for $19 I got my answer. If I ever feel like it, I'll get a warranty replacement and see if it was just a bad unit or if recoil killed it by trying it out with light .38 specials instead of warm-hot .357mag.
Asides from the busted scope, on top of the NEF rifle is a nice set of Warne 1" high-profile quick-detach rings. I'm already set up for whatever else I put on, provided it's a 1" tube. Pricey, but very sturdy.
The Marlin 444 got your usual $20 set of Weaver scope-scratcher single side clamp rings. Again, carefully tightened with finger and thumb only on a regular screwdriver, no tube-crushing here.
I also took the opportunity to toss a few rounds through my freshly-repaired 50's M&P, and lead the bejeesus out of my Ruger SP101 by shooting 18 rounds of old .32S&W. Looked like there were two steps in each chamber afterwards, just horrible. Fun though :) I would have stepped out with Frankengun but it was here and I was there...