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Best low light performance under $700

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/24/2004 at 18:43
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I have a budget of around $700 and need a scope with excellent low light performance.  We can harvest deer up to 1hr. after sunset so I am looking for a scope in the range of 3.5x10x50mm or 56mm.  Naturally, I am curious about the performance of the Nikon 2.5X10X56 Gold. From it's specs it "should" be a top contender, but I haven't looked through one at dark.  I am familiar with the Weaver GS.  As I have posted before, it beat my Vari-X-III's but I don't know how it will compare with the VX-III's, 4200's, Conquests or Burris BD's. My luck with Burris reticles has not been too good though. Leupold scopes have been famous for zero glare.  This is an important consideration, but a VERY small amount of glare can be dealt with if accompanied with superior light transmission.  Your "experience based" opinions would be greatly appreciated.

 

Chris.......you have probably looked through all of them.  What do you think?  I don't mind spending the money for the quality, but if there really is not a spits worth of difference between the Nikon and the GS for example, I would rather save the $$$.

 

Thanks!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/24/2004 at 21:33
redneckbmxer24 View Drop Down
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my bet would be a conquest, kahles, or a swarovski american. i would say the swarovski would probably be the brightest.

 

cory



Edited by redneckbmxer24
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2004 at 00:52
Bart Simpson View Drop Down
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I,too, hunt in the SC lowcountry and have used Nikon Monarchs for several years(also Burris, B&L). This season I tried a Nikon Gold 2.5-10x56 and found that it does well for me at least through one hour past sunset(and then some). My monarch 3.5-10x50 seems to fall off at about 45 minutes after sunset so, even though I'm keeping it, I'm glad to have bought the Gold(in spite of the weight). I do wonder about the Elite 4200 2.5-10x50 w/ 30mm tube and illuminated dot but hear alot of stories about washout from the illuminated reticles. That Zeiss 3-9x50 Conquest sounds interesting. Good luck.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2004 at 11:56
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I would definitely check out the Kahles or the Swarovski American (1 inch tube), they are definitely brighter than the Nikons.  You can probably get one from the sample list at or near your $700.  Haven't checked out a Zeiss Conquest but I've heard they are good but not as good as the Swarovski!

gozer 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2004 at 21:00
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I looked at a Swarovski 4-12X50mm about a week ago.  The resolution was absolutely amazing.  I have never seen anything else like it.  This was in the daytime however.  A few years ago, I found out the hard way that daytime resolution does not always translate into superior low light performance.  It may with the Swarovski though.  I know that the 3.5X10X50 Leupold is good to about 40-45 min. after sunset (no moon) as long as you are in the open, the sky is clear, and you are not looking over about 100-150 yards.  After about 45 minutes after sunset it begins to get dark very quickly.

 

Bart, have you compared your 56mm Gold to a Vari-X-III?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2004 at 21:03
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i think the gold would crush the leupold in low light preformance. im going to go outside now, and check out my brand new VXII 4-12x40 i jsut got this morning, and ill let you knwo what happens, its now 10:03 here in VA.

 

cory

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2004 at 21:13
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ok, all i can say is WOW. this thing was awesome. had a little trouble making out the reticle on soem objects, well most objects, after all its the fine duplex, but one of those $12 reticle illuminators would probably do the job. but it was so clear. when i get my next LVSF in 204 ruger for night hunting yotes, i will be topping it with a heavy duplex 3-9x40 VXII.

 

cory

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2004 at 21:19
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You got about 3/4 moon tonight.  It should do OK.  On a full moon I could "theoretically" hunt as late as I wanted even with a Vari-X-III. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/25/2004 at 22:05
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CWPINST,

Haven't compared Gold to Varix III but a couple friends have them so I'll try to check them side by side. I have shot them both in dim light and they are fine scopes but as I mentioned, they don't seem right for 'my' eyes. Up in SC I've harvested two bucks at 60 minutes after sunset with the monarch 3.5-10x50(at least I've got an illuminated watch) and could have gone longer. This would be in open fields, of course. Nobody in my hunt camp uses an objective of less than 50mm. Yes, I realize that many factors of a scope's design and construction affect it's performance this late, including the german #4 in my Gold. For 5 years now I've harvested 8+ point bucks between 30-60 after sunset in SC. Sorry if that seems boastful but it is only to illustrate my point. The guys in my camp sometimes come to check to see if I'm OK because I'm still in the woods after they had to quit. In spite of my loyalty to Nikon, for my next purchase I'm considering a Swarovski!!! I do like to have similar rifles and scopes for this late hunting because in the dark the safeties and power rings function in a like manner. One less variable-pun intended. 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/26/2004 at 10:59
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GEEEEEEEZ, the worlds going to come to an end. guys, he's considering something BESIDES a NIKON. lol, just messin with ya.

 

cory

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/27/2004 at 19:16
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You do not have to have a 50-56mm scope to hunt in the dark.  You do have to have a 7mm exit pupil (or close to it, depending on your age).  For those reading this thread that don't know what I am talking about I will explain.

 

Exit pupil is the amount of light your scope emits out of the eye piece.  Hold your scope at arms length and you will see a circle of light on the ocular lens, this is the exit pupil.  The pupil of your eye can only take in a maximum 7mm's of light when it is completely dilated and of course your pupils dilate when it gets dark.  Because the exit pupil changes with power, we need to know how to determine when it is 7.  This is done by dividing the objective lens size by what power the scope is set on.  IE; a 3-9x40 set on 5.7x will have a 7mm exit pupil (40/7=5.7).  A 3-9x50 set on  7.1x will have a 7mm exit pupil (50/7=7.1).  This is why many optics makers offer a 6x42 scope or an 8x56 binocular.

 

The most important aspects of a good low light scope are glass and coatings not objective lens size.  The only advantage to a larger objective lens is that it will produce the magic 7mm on a higher power.

 

That being said I would highly recommend a Kahles 3-9x42 if you feel that 6x is sufficient for your low light shooting or a Swarovski 4-12x50 if you feel 7x closer to what you shoot on at dark.  Both can be had on the SampleList for under $700.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/27/2004 at 22:30
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True enough! In spite of my age I've always had good night vision and by changing powers during this dim light have found that an exit pupil of 7mm is the best for my eyes. Target distances are between 150-225 yards so the higher magnification is helpful. Average live weights-doe 90 lbs, buck 130 lbs, including ticks. Rather on the small side as far as kill zones go. Not bad to drag and load into the truck, though. BTW, I'm keeping the 56mm but I do think my next scope will be a 50mm, probably 2.5-10.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/23/2004 at 12:44
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The european brands are the low light experts. I have several euros ( In my country 90%of hunting is in low light conditions) , for me the best in price/cuality are DOCTER, MEOPTA and IOR. Choose a low light reticle , like N 4, N 1, N 8 or iluminated reticles.     
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/24/2004 at 16:58
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For the ultimate in low light performance, IMO, your best bet is a fixed magnification scope from one of European manufacturers.  One scope that comes to mind right off is an IOR 6x42 Tactical scope (MP8 reticle) or Hunting (Plex reticle).   IOR also has a couple of 4x scoep that are worth a look.  In particular a 4x32 hunting scope priced in mid-200s is startlingly clear and sharp.  Kahles makes a couple of fixed 4x and 6x scopes that have a 4a reticle which is a little better for low light shooting.  THeir 6x42 is probably more than $700, but the 4x36 is quite nice and is certainly worth a look.  There is little big game hunting that can not be handled with a 4x scope.

Ilya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/25/2004 at 15:29
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Comparing the scopes I currently have and use:  Leup VXIII(older versiion), Zeiss Conquest 3.5-10x44, Pentax Lightseeker 3-9x42, and Swaro A-line 3-10x42...the clear winner in low light category is Swaro.  Nothing real close to its performance that I have.  Zeiss and Pentax are really close, Zeiss maybe a little bit better.  Leupold not in same league (really, no bias intended).  If you have the cash the Swaro is awesome.  Hope this helps.

 

 

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