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Fixed power vs Variable power scopes

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Poll Question: What is your preference for big game hunting
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
5 [16.13%]
21 [67.74%]
5 [16.13%]
0 [0.00%]
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Roy Finn View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roy Finn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Fixed power vs Variable power scopes
    Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:04
Gentlemen, take a moment to cast a vote in this poll if you please. Also, if you could tell me what type of hunting you (deer, elk etc.) and the type of terrain you typically hunt in (close cover, mixed or western type open terrain) I would appreciate that as well.

If you have experienced a failure, please explain in a post what type of failure you had. I am interested in mechanical failures such as wandering POI, failure to hold zero, fogging etc. Please don't tell me about a broken scope that got ran over by a Jeep, ATV or four legged flea circus (horse).



Edited by Roy Finn - February/19/2009 at 14:49
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lucytuma Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:08
A variable is my choice, as the word implies: it's useful for variable type of conditions.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dogger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:12
Heavy hardwoods & conifers, generally short ranges (100 yd would be max).  Driven deer. Use 1.75-4, but scope has always been left on 1.75.  Have not had the need or opportunity (yet) to increase mag for a shot.
 
Could have used fixed low but thought this would give me a little more flex if ever in position for longer shot.  The big FOV is important to me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pyro6999 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:12
i cannot see any reason to limit yourself in this day and age to one power, scopes today are to well built to be stuck on one power. i hunt timber mostly shots range from 10 ft to 100 yds under most circumstances, although we do have a few stands that you could make a 400yd+ poke at a deer. when i lived in wyoming i hunted with a 3x9 in the pines or walking along the ridges it didnt matter, same with coyote hunting, at times 3x on a coyote 8ft away wasnt real comfortable, and i didnt have a shot gun to carry along. course when a coyote is that close to you, you just hit em with the stock of the rifle, less to sew up that way.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RifleDude Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:15
I prefer variables in general, however, I do enjoy using my little fixed 4X Conquest.  It kinda depends on the rifle and what I plan to do with it as to which I'd choose.

Edited by RifleDude - February/19/2009 at 22:27
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 3_tens Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:22
75% of hunting Deer is in scrub post oak with less than 50 yds visability. Then some over soybean and corn fields with open field as much as 1-3 miles open. Normaly have a different rifle setup for the area and game I plan to hunt.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bricat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:23
I've been on a fixed 4X kick for a while now. No problems from 25 to 200 yards, which is primarily the distances that I hunt. I am hunting classic up-north Michigan swales. I like the idea of pointing and shooting, my variables are all set at 4X most of the time anyway. I guess my new love for fixed 4's is kind of a simplicity thing.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bugsNbows Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 14:38
I'm also voting for variables, but I have a fixed 4X Conquest that works great... I like it a lot.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rifle looney Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 16:16
Opened up a can o worms did ya?  I hunt mostly desert terrain..  mountains consisting of scrub oak, junipers,pinion pines cactus,sage in the lower parts .  no failers thus far.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swtucker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 17:24
I hunt hardwoods and open fields, shots are from 20 yards to over 500 yards (I don't shoot that far).  I've had a variable fail, never had a fixed fail....but that isn't a fair statement because I only have one or two fixed scopes.
 
My failure was a Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40.  It lost point of impact on about the 3rd shot.  It was on my Encore (7mm Mag).  Zeiss solved my problem fast and they were really nice about it...so all's well that ends well.
 
I also sent a Mueller variable back because it had condensation inside the scope...they mailed me a new one.


Edited by swtucker - February/19/2009 at 17:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roy Finn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 17:38
What type of failure did you have? Did you get the scope fixed?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote swtucker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 17:40
Originally posted by Roy Finn Roy Finn wrote:

What type of failure did you have? Did you get the scope fixed?
 
sorry...edited my postBig Smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SD Dog Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 18:01
Deer hunting in tree claims (10 yards) to open fields, pastures etc. (400 plus yards).  Every deer I have taken has been 150 yd or less.  Have a 3x9 but it rarely goes above 5.  Do a lot of still hunting so some things can jump up real close.  Have never had any problems.  No fogging, POI change etc.  Mounted on a .270 so not a real recoil monster.  Leupy Vari X-II friction turrets.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 300S&W Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 18:12
   I voted for the variables. I reckin I've been lucky as far as scope failures go. Had an AO ring tighten up but that's been it for both variables and fixed.  I'm in WV and hunt the thick stuff,open hardwood ridges,clear cuts,and some mine reclamation sites. Shots can be from up close and personal out to no more than 350yds. I could get by with a fixed X I'm sure and I've got two mounted on carbines but for a one rifle,all around use set-up I want a variable. Use to use a Vari-XIII 3.5-10x40AO when I did alot of groundhog huntin but now use low X variables. I used a 4X scope for awhile but when I got a 2.5X I found I liked it more for woods huntin so figured even less would be better. Got a 1.5X-6X and a 1.75X-6X now and they work fine for me.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Monster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 18:41
My vote went for variable scopes. I mostly hunt open desert so a variable scope is my best option, I never know where I might see a deer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Barsness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 18:50
I like and use both fixed and variable scopes. In general on deer rifles (.30-06/7mm Magnum recoil or less) there will rarely be a problem with any scope, especially since most hunters don't shoot all that much.
 
I have seen too many variables fail in some fashion to count anymore, but I hunt a LOT, and the vast majority of those failures has been on rifles of .300 magnum and up.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Big Squeeze Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 19:32
I cast my vote for the variable. I don`t want to be limited to one fixed power for all types of situations.
 
The fixed are less complicated and as such maybe more reliable. But, I`ve never had a variable fail on me yet. It doesn`t take long to adjust a variable from the low end to the 5x or 6x for a longer shot.
 
While on a stock, if I know ahead of time the approx range for the kill shot, I`ll adjust the scope prior to setting up to take that shot.
 
That`s one area I`ll disagree with Wayne Van Zwoll on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roy Finn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 19:45
John Barsness, could you give some more detail regarding the failures? In other words, did they fail due to accumulated recoil or did they have their potential life shortened through some other means.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tracker12 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 20:24
Can't vote but I can post.  I vote vari all the way.  I have never had a failure in a scope in over 35 years.  Testiment to Leupold I guess.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tip69 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 20:52
no failures yet.  1 Weaver 4x (70's) and a few 4x rimfires - all the rest were variables.  Deer hunting in timber; some small - some big and open country.  Don't think I've ever shot at a deer more than 300 yds away.  I have shot at coyotes farther and maybe hit one.  Most of my plinking has been 200 yds or less. 
take em!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Barsness Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 22:36
Roy,
 
First I must emphaszie that I shoot and hunt a lot more than most people, sometimes with harder-kicking rifles.
 
Most scopes have failed due to accumulated recoil, though quite a few did so within 20 rounds on a .300-.416 magnum. Some took 100-200 rounds to fail, occasionally on rifles of pretty light recoil. One highly touted 2.5-10x failed within 150 rounds on a .204 Ruger. Two fairly pricey scopes in the 3-10x range failed to hold zero on a Mark X Ultra Lightweight .240 Weatherby in the past two years.
 
I do not bat scopes around while testing them, but apparently sometimes bouncing around in a safari vehicle has done scopes in.
 
Most commonly scopes fail to hold zero, or groups grow a LOT. The last is due to the erector tube shifting under recoil. I have also had the objective bell of two scopes come unscrewed. This is not always a part of "one-piece" tubes. One objective lens came loose within 20 rounds on a .416, and made a musical sound when the rifle was tilted back and forth.
 
But I must emphasize again that this is with a lot of shooting, with a lot of scopes. I have been testing 15-40 centerfire rifles and half that many scopes a year for at least 20 years. I have also hunted with a lot of other people in that time, and include among the failures those that happened to other people. In all the time only a few dozen variables failed in some way, a relatively small number considering the amount of shooting and testing. A deer hunter who shoots a rifle of at most .30-06/7mm magnum recoil will probably never have a scope fail.
 
On the other hand, I cannot recall having a fixed-power scope fail due to normal use in that time, though some have been broken by people or horses falling on them. I did break the reticle on a 6x scope once by over-tightening the mount rings, but that was my fault.
 
JB
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jonoMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 22:36
I've had both and am now going back to a variable to extend my range. However, for anything under 300 yards I would have stuck with the 4X. It was just fine.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Roy Finn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/19/2009 at 22:56
Thank you John. You may remember me saying that I had several instances of two variables getting knocked of zero during airline travel to Sask. I'm not sure that I could classify that as a scope failure because in all instances after the scopes were re-zeroed they stayed that way. I will say, however, after spending the time and money on trips like that it doesn't exactly give you a warm and fuzzy feeling as you go afield. One of those scopes was a popular 4.5-14x40 and the other was a much touted 2.5-8x36 of the same manufacture. After a couple of years of this I switched brands (and you know what that is) and I haven't experienced it since. I realize this is a very small sampling, but on the other hand, I don't believe that I am either that unlucky or lucky to have gotten two bad scopes from the previous brand to two exceptional from the latter.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 300S&W Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/20/2009 at 07:32
  Hey John,
  If you've still got that Simmons Prohunter Master Series scope you tested when they first came out,how is it doing? You seemed to be impressed with it and,if I remember correctly,you certainly put it through the ringer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ed Connelly Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: February/20/2009 at 08:31
I certainly think that variable scopes are much more versatile, especially in rifles where the average fellow is not going to be shooting 10,000 rounds a year. 
 
However, I do not feel hampered by going out hunting with a 4X scope.  A 4X scope can absolutely be used on animals out to 300 yards.......the animals are just going to look kinda small in the scope and you are really going to have to concentrate to make a good shot.............kind of like shooting a woodchuck or a jackrabbit with a 22 with open sights at 130 yards......Bucky
 
I like fixed powers. They work.  They are tough.  They're " old fashioned "----like me.   Big Grin
 
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