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  #1  
Old 01-23-2011, 08:17 AM
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Best Low Light Scope


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I was out fox hunting the other night and was with a friend who spent a ton of money on a meopta 50MM objective lens scope and had a chance to compare it to my $79.99 3X9X40 bushnell banner dusk and dawn scope. I couldnt tell a difference or at least one that justified a $500.00 + difference. Are there any scopes that make a real difference. If there was id be willing to spend the extra money I just cant tell maybe its my untrained eye. We don't use any light source just moon light or overcast snowy nights that light up like day time. Thanks for any ideas.
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2011, 08:40 AM
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There is a definate difference is quality of scopes in low light. It is readily apparent even to the untrained eye in low light hunting situations.

You might want to do a search of like threads.... I have posted to several not too long ago.
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  #3  
Old 01-24-2011, 10:09 AM
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Scope

I generally purchase Leupold or Nikon scopes. They have good light gathering capabilities.
I have not bought any other kind in many many year.

When I did have a few cheaper scopes I could tell a huge difference in the quality. I had a Bushnell that I compared to one of the VXII Leupolds. I could see a deer standing in the back of a field much longer with the Leupold than I could with the cheaper Bushnell. I would say at least 10-15 minutes longer.

Is it worth it to me? I guess it is. I like the quality of Nikon and Leupold. I actually prefer Nikon to the Leupold. Personal preference I guess. But I am not spending $500 on a scope. $300 would be the max that I would spend on glass for a standard hunting rifle.

Now i can't speak for the newer scopes. I am basing my opinion on scopes that were made years ago that are still in use.

Darin
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  #4  
Old 01-24-2011, 04:25 PM
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Look through one of these http://www.schmidtbender.com/ or one of these http://www.swarovskioptik.us/en_us/p...s/rifle-scopes. You will see what a scope is suppose to be able to do at dusk. Then you can make your comparison's to the cheap scopes. Leupolds best will not compare to either of these in low light.
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  #5  
Old 01-24-2011, 06:45 PM
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Scope

Just looking up pricing for a Schmidt Bender scope and the cheapest thing I see is well over $1000. Now I am sure to some people it may be a must have to have a scope of this quality. I would love to have one or two myself. But I can't see where, under any circumstances, that I would pay that kind of money for a scope to use for standard hunting applications. Even if it could help you to see in the dark on a cloudy moonless night with both eyes closed.

For a scope that makes a difference are you willing to spend $1600 more for a scope? If so go buy a Schmidt Bender or a Swarovski. They truely must make some nice glass. Just out of my league.

I suggest buying the best you can afford. For me that is Nikon and Leupold.

This reminds me of the time that I walked into the local gun shop and saw one of the local doctors standing at the counter with several guys. They were admiring this rifle. It turns out that he had just bought this gun and the gunsmith had set it up for him so he could go to Africa on a hunt. He went each year. I actually hunted with this doctor several years before. I walk up and look at this rifle to. Really pretty rifle with this plain looking scope sitting on top. I asked what it was and was quickly told it was a 458 magnum of some sort. Don't remember the actual chambering just it was a 458. He handed it to me and said what do you think?? I shouldered it and looked thru the scope. I said nice rifle but why didn't you put a better scope on it?? He turned around and looked at me like I had just slapped his mama. "This scope is a Zeiss and it costs over $1500!!!!" he said abruptly as he snatched it out of my hands. I said wow for that kind of money looks like they would fancy them up a little and I turned around and walked off. No one said a word. I walked out the door laughing to myself. I knew what was on that gun but could not resist.

That was about 12 years ago. Now he is retired and dead broke and the bank foreclosed on his house. He had really expensive tastes and liked younger women. His taste and the lack of a prenuptial agreement with his 3 ex-wives aided in his downfall. I bet I could pickup that scope now for cheap.

Darin
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  #6  
Old 01-24-2011, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Darin115 View Post
Just looking up pricing for a Schmidt Bender scope and the cheapest thing I see is well over $1000. Now I am sure to some people it may be a must have to have a scope of this quality. I would love to have one or two myself. But I can't see where, under any circumstances, that I would pay that kind of money for a scope to use for standard hunting applications. Even if it could help you to see in the dark on a cloudy moonless night with both eyes closed.

For a scope that makes a difference are you willing to spend $1600 more for a scope? If so go buy a Schmidt Bender or a Swarovski. They truely must make some nice glass. Just out of my league.

I suggest buying the best you can afford. For me that is Nikon and Leupold.

This reminds me of the time that I walked into the local gun shop and saw one of the local doctors standing at the counter with several guys. They were admiring this rifle. It turns out that he had just bought this gun and the gunsmith had set it up for him so he could go to Africa on a hunt. He went each year. I actually hunted with this doctor several years before. I walk up and look at this rifle to. Really pretty rifle with this plain looking scope sitting on top. I asked what it was and was quickly told it was a 458 magnum of some sort. Don't remember the actual chambering just it was a 458. He handed it to me and said what do you think?? I shouldered it and looked thru the scope. I said nice rifle but why didn't you put a better scope on it?? He turned around and looked at me like I had just slapped his mama. "This scope is a Zeiss and it costs over $1500!!!!" he said abruptly as he snatched it out of my hands. I said wow for that kind of money looks like they would fancy them up a little and I turned around and walked off. No one said a word. I walked out the door laughing to myself. I knew what was on that gun but could not resist.

That was about 12 years ago. Now he is retired and dead broke and the bank foreclosed on his house. He had really expensive tastes and liked younger women. His taste and the lack of a prenuptial agreement with his 3 ex-wives aided in his downfall. I bet I could pickup that scope now for cheap.

Darin
That's a good story with a moral to it. Should've posted it in the humor section. The Leupolds and Nikons will have to serve me too until my ship comes in.
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2011, 05:33 AM
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"The best", is a pretty wide open description of what you might be looking for. It's my experience that higher $$ scopes do generally provide better performance, especially in low light. The high end European glass is definitely out of my price range, without a doubt. However low light comparisons with some of the dozens of scopes I own have shown me that a $400 Zeiss Conquest does give better performance than the several Nikon Monarchs I own and also the many Leupolds I also own, including some that cost more than the Zeiss. It simply depends how far you want to go $$-wise.

And, of course, what really matters is what you want to or can afford to spend.
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  #8  
Old 01-25-2011, 06:15 AM
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A moonlit night over snow isn't really a tough test of a scope's light gathering. Try some comparative tests with moonlight without the snow, and I think you'll see some differences.
There are a lot of factors that go into good light gathering in a scope or binocular. One primary one is lens coating- lenses are coated for several reasons, one being to pass more light through the lens, rather than reflect light off the lens. Some light is reflected off a lens whenever light hits it- that's a law of physics- how much is reflected, and how much is transmitted, is the important factor. Good lens coating costs money, so you'll get better coating, and more of it as scope price increases. One easy way to lower production costs of a scope is to use a cheaper coating on the internal lenses, and doing better coating only on the objective and ocular lenses- the external lenses you can see. A scope built that way will not be as bright as a scope with top quality coating on every lens surface.
A fixed power scope has fewer lenses (called elements) in it than a variable, so, generally, fixed power scopes will perform quite well in low light tests.
Europeans often hunt long after sunset, so light gathering is very important for some of the European brands. In the US, where most hunting is done between dawn and sunset, it's a factor, but not as important.
Two scopes available now for $399 that I've seen that are particularly good at gathering light are the Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40 and the Meopta 3-9x42. Both are European companies, but the scopes are assembled in the US and are designed for the American market.
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2011, 01:54 PM
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That's why laugh when people post wanting to know "The Best" of something. Don't take long to find out, the best is not really what they want.

Lets face it, there is no such thing as "The Best" of anything. I've always said, if there was, there would only one type made. What's the best for one person, might not worth a darn for another, there are just way too many variables involved. Some don't bat an eye at paying $3,000 for a scope, while someone else thinks paying $300 for one is a ton of money. If one gives some parameter's as to what they are looking for, for instance, what 3-9X varible scopes have the best light gathering factor in the $300 - $400 price range.

I was in Dick's Sporting goods the other night when a guy asked the sales person what was good scope for a deer rifle. The sales person hands him an $89 Bushnell thing hanging on the pegs and tells the guy they sell more of those than anything else for deer hunters. I'm thinking, you've gotta be kidding!

Magnification, light gathering, and all those other things mean squat without high quality lens's. Lens clarity is a must for a good scope. Cheap scopes have cheap lenses.

A friends son is an top Army sniper and last year he was telling me about an international competition he was in. During the initial briefing they were told that many would not do well because of inferior scopes. He knew they were not refering to his Leupold Tactical. During one low light event, they were shown two black and white pictures, the bad buy had a big black mustache, the good guy didn't and they had to shoot the bad guy at 100 meters. When they poped the targets up, he thought it was just a trick because there was no way he could tell one from the other. There were 16 shooters, four fired shots and scored. All four were europeans using those two German optics I mentioned. He looked through one of their scopes and said you could see their facial features plain as day. When he got back to his unit, he swapped out his Leupold for one made in Germany.
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  #10  
Old 01-27-2011, 12:10 PM
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I have to agree with BKeith, this same type of thread pops up every so often on this site. When you mention Schmidt and Bender, Swarovski, Khales or the Zeiss Victory, US Optic, Nightforce the first thing that is brought up is how could you spend 3 times as much on a scope as you did on the rifle.

If you ever have the opportunity to shoot and hunt with these types of scopes you will want one of these.

And just for reference I do own 2 Schmidt and Benders, 1 Khales, and 1 Nikkon Monarch. I have owned Leupold, Burris, Weaver, and Bushnells. The quality just doesn't compare to the european scopes or the two highend american scopes.

By the way the standard sniper scope for the United States Marine Corp. is a Schmidt and Bender.
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  #11  
Old 01-27-2011, 12:34 PM
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Best Scopes

I would love to have a few of the scopes that you mentioned but I would have to sell a gun or two to buy a $1500+ scope. I don't think anyone on here posted that they do not think they are worth what they are selling them for. I am sure they are. They are just out of the majority of hunters price range. That is why I suggested the scopes that I did. Not that they are the best but because they are reasonably priced and function well.

I think he was asking if there were any scopes that make a real difference. There are and someone listed them. But for all of my practical hunting applications the Nikon Buckmaster and Prostaff, Leupold VXII and VXI are more than adequate.

If my life depended on the quality of my equipment I would have only the best and the price would be no object. But he was talking about coyote hunting on a bright night with snow on the ground. Just about any scope will perform in those conditions.

He seamed pretty happy with his $80 Bushnell.

Darin
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  #12  
Old 01-27-2011, 12:52 PM
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March Scopes. Adam
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  #13  
Old 01-27-2011, 01:51 PM
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I have several scopes in the mid price range and like my Ziess Conquest the best for low light. I have a Nitrex scope that is likely the best bang for the buck. I like my Leupolds just fine and have several although they could be described as pricey, the reliability factor gives priceless piece of mind. On both my varmint rifles it's Nikon Monarch 5X20 and 6.5X20 scopes that let me really get out there when needed.
Good luck on your procurement and happy hunting.
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Old 01-27-2011, 02:02 PM
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I feel the same as the last poster. FOR THE MONEY, the best in my opinion is the Ziess Conquest series in 3.5-10 or 4.5-15. Both 44 mm lens.
The light gathering is superior to my 4.5-14 Leupolds which have a 40 mm lens.
But the difference in the last 10-15 minutes of evening light is enough to make me change my scopes.
On the less expensive side, someone on the forum talked me into trying the Nitrex scope line. It is an excellent scope for the money. So much better that you need to try one. Get a 44mm at least. The optic bell on the front of the 50mm is bigger than I like but 44mm is perfect for me.
Good luck
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Old 01-27-2011, 05:07 PM
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I'm about at the point of moving up from 40mm scopes for low light and let's face it, our eyes don't get younger every year.

Folks can laugh at me but I'll put a $400 - $500 scope on a .30-30 I bought for $150 without a second thought. Everything works great in broad daylight, lots of stuff not so well in the last few minutes.
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  #16  
Old 01-27-2011, 05:47 PM
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I'm about at the point of moving up from 40mm scopes for low light and let's face it, our eyes don't get younger every year.

Folks can laugh at me but I'll put a $400 - $500 scope on a .30-30 I bought for $150 without a second thought. Everything works great in broad daylight, lots of stuff not so well in the last few minutes.
Not too much different from my philosophy. I believe that I should spend as much money on a scope as I do on the rifle.
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  #17  
Old 02-23-2012, 11:07 AM
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low light riflescopes

One of the 1st things to note is scopes do not gather light they transmit what is available.
each lens in a riflescope reflects a degree of light, light reflected is not transmitted to your eye. fixed power scopes have fewer lenses, variable power scopes have many lenses. in order to transmit light scope lenses are coated with anti reflective coatings. The type of lens coatings and the number of lenses that are coated, and the the quality and clarity of the glass used for the lenses, determine how poorly or how well a scope will transmit light. most low to mid range scopes from Simmons to Leupold, advertise FULLY COATED Lens, that means the objective lens and the occular lens are coated with some anti reflective coating. FULLY MULTI COATED lens means that all lenses have been coated with anti reflective coatings. Over a period of 14 months i purchased and sold scopes from almost every manufacturer under $600 dollars. i was never satisfied with them. I purchased a Leupold LPS in 1999 or 2000 cost $1000 dollars. I thought it was great, but had a bud with a $200 simmons scope, we compared the scopes using a pie plate half black and half white at 50 yds distance, the test is to see how late you can distingusish the white from the black, in most scopes you will notice the pie plate looks grey at dusk. The later you can distingusih the white/black the better. Turns out his was as good as mine. I got a full refund from Leupold for a scope that had no factory defect(it took a while). Lesson learned: quality glass cost, lens coatings cost, really want to see early/late, buy Swarovski, Schmitt-Bender, i was really disappointed with the Ziess.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:04 PM
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For what I can afford, the Zeiss conquests are plenty for most of my hunting. I do like my Viper HS 4-16x44. Low light performance is on par with the Zeiss. I also agree with the other folks regarding the quality, grind, and coatings of the super high-end scopes. They are truly phenomenal, but I just can't afford them. The Zeiss and Vortex outperform the Leupy's and Nikons (at least to me), and they are within budget, as far as my wife knows.
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Old 02-23-2012, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by ernhrtman View Post
One of the 1st things to note is scopes do not gather light they transmit what is available.
each lens in a riflescope reflects a degree of light, light reflected is not transmitted to your eye. fixed power scopes have fewer lenses, variable power scopes have many lenses. in order to transmit light scope lenses are coated with anti reflective coatings. The type of lens coatings and the number of lenses that are coated, and the the quality and clarity of the glass used for the lenses, determine how poorly or how well a scope will transmit light. most low to mid range scopes from Simmons to Leupold, advertise FULLY COATED Lens, that means the objective lens and the occular lens are coated with some anti reflective coating. FULLY MULTI COATED lens means that all lenses have been coated with anti reflective coatings. Over a period of 14 months i purchased and sold scopes from almost every manufacturer under $600 dollars. i was never satisfied with them. I purchased a Leupold LPS in 1999 or 2000 cost $1000 dollars. I thought it was great, but had a bud with a $200 simmons scope, we compared the scopes using a pie plate half black and half white at 50 yds distance, the test is to see how late you can distingusish the white from the black, in most scopes you will notice the pie plate looks grey at dusk. The later you can distingusih the white/black the better. Turns out his was as good as mine. I got a full refund from Leupold for a scope that had no factory defect(it took a while). Lesson learned: quality glass cost, lens coatings cost, really want to see early/late, buy Swarovski, Schmitt-Bender, i was really disappointed with the Ziess.
Oh no please say it aint so!!!

I think you should consider yourself lucky to have eyes that prefer a simmons to even a lower end leupold. You can save quite a bit of money that way. I myself am not that lucky.
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