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Inexpensive low range variable scopes

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2006 at 03:38
koshkin View Drop Down
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I've been meaning to do a comparison of smallish scopes for a little while, but I've been quite busy at work and really did not have the time to do a proper review.  While I hope to get to it and do some resolution tests within the next few weeks, I did get to spend a bit over an hour during sunset with a few scopes I've assembled.  I started before sunset in decent light and kept at it until it got dark enough to call it a semi-proper low light evaluation.

The scopes I've been looking at are in order from most expensive to the cheapest:

Weaver Grand Slam 1.75-5x32, just over $300 street price, made in Japan
Sightron S2 2.5-10x32, ~$260, made in Japan
Burris FFII 1.75-5x20 with 4a reticle, ~$175, but now discontinued, made in USA
Burris FFII 2-7x35 with BalPlex, ~$160, made in Phillipinnes
Burris Compact 4x20, ~$160, made in USA
Pentax Gameseeker 1.75-5x20 with Precision Plex, <$100, made in China

All scopes were set at 4x.  I was looking at road signs, trees, bushes, distant car wheels and an occasional rabbit or two.

It's past 1AM here, so I'll make my comments fairly brief, but I will be adding to this thread as I spend more time with these scopes.

No real surprises here, Grand Slam and S2 have better glass, but with low magnification scopes there is not a whole lot of difference.  Grand Slam has slightly flatter field of view than the SIghtron.  Sightron seems to have a very slight distortion right near the edges (first time I see this on a Sightron, all my other Sightrons are good all the way to the edges), but it has slightly better center field resolutions than GS.  The three Burris scopes have similar glass. FFII scopes with their larger ocular lenses have less of a tunnel-like image, but all three are pretty good. Gameseeker is just behind the FFII.

Gameseeker had a little more flair during sunset, while it was pretty well suppressed in other scopes, and started loosing its good image a little faster than others in low light.  All in all, it is one of the best Chinese scopes I've seen.  I suspect it is made in the same factory as Millet Gold line scopes: similar glass quality and machining.  I was quite impressed wiht it in good light though.  Precision Plex reticle with its holdover points is completely out of place on a low range variable like this, but I imagine it would be very handy on a higher-powered scopes.  However, it is more finicky with eye relief than other scopes in this comparison, which is a major no-no for me on a scope of this type.  It'll end up on Ebay once I am done with it.

With all of these scopes, except for FFII 1.75-5x20 I lost the ability to see the reticle against dark background well before I lost the image.  FFII's 4a reticle however is sufficiently thick to remain visible for quite a while longer.  S2 and GS would allow me to see the target in lower light, but FFII with 4a reticle would allow me to aim at the target in lower light than all other scopes in this comparison.

For reasons not clear to me I lost the GS plex reticle a little before the Sightron plex reticle and Burris BalPlex and Plex reticles, although they look to be of similar thickness.  I'll try to repeat the test and see why this is happening.

I like the GS glass, but the disappearing reticle is a turn-off.  I'll play with it a little more, but I am afraid it'll head toward Ebay when I am done.

Sightron S2 will be mounted on a friend's rifle.  He wanted a compact scope where you can turn up the magnification a bit and Sightorn fits the bill.  He wants to be able to see bullet holes at 100 yards.  I think this SIghton will compfortably resolve 6mm and bigger bullet holes at 100 yards.  Not sure about 223, but I'll check.

FFII 2-7x35 is currently mounted on my Kel-tec SU-16. The other FFII 1.75-5x20 may replace it there.  I was very impressed with how quickly I could acquire the target with 4a reticle.   I doubt I'll be selling the 2-7x35 though.  It is of just the right size for another project I have.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2006 at 10:52
Trinidad View Drop Down
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Great post and comparison Koshkin.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2006 at 17:12
koshkin View Drop Down
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Thanks SVD666.

Anyhow, I spent my lunchtime today looking at a resolution chart from across the parking lot behind my work building.

All the scopes are still set at 4x, except I noticed that yesterday in the dark the SIghtron S2 was apparently set at 3.5x or so.  I set it to 4x and continued.

In a nutshell: no real surprises.  Sightron S2 has better center field resolution than other scopes here (especially I now have set to the correct magnification).  Fullfield II 1.75-5x20 that I have must be a cherry sample because it has centerfield resolution on par with the Grand Slam, just behind the S2 and just ahead of the other FFII and Burris Compact. 

Pentax Gameseeker was noticeably worse in the resolution department, but still pretty good for the money, and better than other comparably priced scopes.

Another thing to note is that all three Burris scopes in this group have different color coatings.  I do not think it signifies anything.  Just thought I would make a note of it.

As far as the Gameseeker goes: cheap scope keep on getting beter, but they are not there yet.  If $100 bucks is all you can afford, get the Gameseeker.  Otherwise, for an extra sixty you can get a Fullfield II 2-7x35.



Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2006 at 17:44
Trinidad View Drop Down
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Quote Koshkin:

Another thing to note is that all three Burris scopes in this group have different color coatings.

 

Great update Koshkin. I have noticed a few times with some scopes that a newer of the two scopes but the same model model will have a different color coating and sometimes the low light performance was better sometimes not.

Do you have any more info you can share as far as coating color goes, I am thinking it probaly dosent matter.

I have noticed some very odd colors in cheap scopes and more consitant colors in expensive scopes.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2006 at 18:44
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Great post Koskin.  Thanks for taking the time to do the comparisons and post the results. These scopes are right in my price range, so this info is very relevant to me.

 

Any chance you could check out the newish Weaver V-7 2-7x32?    It is also priced ~$150 and has nice (3.5"-4.5") eye relief.

 

Thanks!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2006 at 18:49
koshkin View Drop Down
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Originally posted by SVD666 SVD666 wrote:

Quote Koshkin:

Another thing to note is that all three Burris scopes in this group have different color coatings.

 

Great update Koshkin. I have noticed a few times with some scopes that a newer of the two scopes but the same model model will have a different color coating and sometimes the low light performance was better sometimes not.

Do you have any more info you can share as far as coating color goes, I am thinking it probaly dosent matter.

I have noticed some very odd colors in cheap scopes and more consitant colors in expensive scopes.



Coating color (or more appropriately reflected color) is really not important, besides it can change based on humidity, temperature, etc.  You only see it at an angle when you are not looking through the scope.  The only thing that it may indicate is that the coating formula has been changed for whatever reason, but you can't determine if it is better or worse.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/29/2006 at 18:53
koshkin View Drop Down
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Originally posted by wecole wecole wrote:

Great post Koskin.  Thanks for taking the time to do the comparisons and post the results. These scopes are right in my price range, so this info is very relevant to me.

 

Any chance you could check out the newish Weaver V-7 2-7x32?    It is also priced ~$150 and has nice (3.5"-4.5") eye relief.

 

Thanks!



To be honest I did this review because I was trying to decide between Grand Slam and Sightron for a friend's rifle.  Two of the Burris's I had and the 1.75-5x20 I bought because I have a rifle for it.  Gameseeker basically peaked my curiosity because of the holdover reticle in a small scope. 

I do not have a whole lot of interest in V7.  I've played with V7 before and unless the glass has been updated it will fit between Gameseeker and Fullfield II.  All in all, it is a nice little scope for the money, but it is not substantially cheaper than the Burris.  I do like Weaver V3 quite a bit though and played with it extensively.  I think it compares well with Leupold VX-II 1-4x20 and is beter than VX-1 1-4x20.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: September/30/2006 at 21:41
Smokey53119 View Drop Down
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Thanks for the review koshkin.  I was eagerly awaiting your test of the Gameseeker, and kind of suspected that the results would be as described above.  Could you be convinced to rate them 1-6 in terms of performance and 1-6 for value for the dollar?  The Grand Slam and S2 are more than a few dollars more money than the rest of the fleet, but are they worth it?

 

I have read your posts about the Fullfield II 2-7x35 in a few other threads.  It seems like you are partial to this model.  Do you like it more than the 3-9x40 FFII?

 

You indicate too that the Gameseeker had eye relief issues.  Does this mean that it is touchy about head position to get a full view?

 

Thanks Again for taking the time to do the comparison.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/01/2006 at 11:05
koshkin View Drop Down
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Originally posted by Smokey53119 Smokey53119 wrote:

Thanks for the review koshkin.  I was eagerly awaiting your test of the Gameseeker, and kind of suspected that the results would be as described above.  Could you be convinced to rate them 1-6 in terms of performance and 1-6 for value for the dollar?  The Grand Slam and S2 are more than a few dollars more money than the rest of the fleet, but are they worth it?

 

I have read your posts about the Fullfield II 2-7x35 in a few other threads.  It seems like you are partial to this model.  Do you like it more than the 3-9x40 FFII?

 

You indicate too that the Gameseeker had eye relief issues.  Does this mean that it is touchy about head position to get a full view?

 

Thanks Again for taking the time to do the comparison.



It is kinda hard to rate these scopes for the dollar.  Everyone is looking for something else, and these scope while all fairly small and in some ways similar.  In many ways they are quite dissimilar, though.  Top magnification ranges from 5x to 10x. Objective lenses differ from 20mm to 32mm, price is from $100 to $300, etc.

I think all of these scopess offer quite a bit for the money.  I really liked FF2 1.75-5x20, but it is disconitnued now.  I think I got one of the last few floating around.  There are still some available here and there, but they will be gone soon.

I really like FF2 2-7x35 because it small, light and handy scope that has enough magnification to shoot pretty far out.  This is on of my favourite allround sizes for a compact gun.  FF2 3-9x40 is also quite nice and is one of the best bargains out there, but 2-7x35 costs less, weighs less, mounts lower, and does not give up  a whole lot in magnification.  I would not use 9x for anything other than paper punching anyway.  Besides, I think that at 6x to 7s ia holdover reticle such as BalPlex is still quite useful.

Weaver Grand Slam has nice glass and good build quality, but I was a little disappointed with the reticle.  In a scope of this magnification range, I would prefer a thicker reticle.  You do not buy a low range variable for shooting itty bitty groups anyway, so faster target acquisition with a highly visible reticle is more important to me.  I liked 3-10x40 Weaver Grand Slam far more because I feel it is a beter allround package.

I could conceivably make a similar argument with the Sightron, but since it goes up to 10x, it is more off an allround scope and the reticle it has has is more apporpriate.  If you are looking for the best piece of glass for the money a Sightron S2 is a pretty good bet in 3-9x42, 2.5-7x32 or 2.5-10x32 configuration.

Burris Compact 4x20 is an absolutely tiny scope with lots of eye relief (4-5 inches).  I've had it for years and it has proven to be quite durable.  If you have a lightweight rifle that kicks this one will work great and you can do 95% of all real world shooting with a 4x scope quite comfortably.

Gameseeker would probably impress me more in a larger scope (3-9x40 or thereabouts).  It is good glass for the money, but the reticle is wholly inappropriate.

ILya

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/01/2006 at 11:50
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Koshkin, how do you feel about the 4A reticle? You said you liked it on your small Burris mini size scope. It is offered in the Burris FII in 2-7x35. Do you prefer it over the standard plex reticle for shots up to 150 yrds? Are the crosshairs a lot thicker than the standard plex and a lot easier to see in low light? I have never used one and considered one for my in line muzzleloader..I wish they would have gone ahead and thickened the top post too and not just the bottom three. I also considered the Bushnell 3200 with firefly reticle and Bushnell Trophy with circle x reticle. I know the Burris may have better glass, but I want a good reticle for in the brush hunting and low light. Where I will be hunting it is a very woody hillside and even as the sun comes up, it stays dark in there a while longer. I would like to get Signature safari with LRS plex but that is too much money right now for my muzzleloader butwould it be a good all around scope (reticle) for a Remingtion mountain rifle? I dont know if it easy to aim at long distance with that reticle.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: October/01/2006 at 14:04
koshkin View Drop Down
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Originally posted by DAVE44 DAVE44 wrote:

Koshkin, how do you feel about the 4A reticle? You said you liked it on your small Burris mini size scope. It is offered in the Burris FII in 2-7x35. Do you prefer it over the standard plex reticle for shots up to 150 yrds? Are the crosshairs a lot thicker than the standard plex and a lot easier to see in low light? I have never used one and considered one for my in line muzzleloader..I wish they would have gone ahead and thickened the top post too and not just the bottom three. I also considered the Bushnell 3200 with firefly reticle and Bushnell Trophy with circle x reticle. I know the Burris may have better glass, but I want a good reticle for in the brush hunting and low light. Where I will be hunting it is a very woody hillside and even as the sun comes up, it stays dark in there a while longer. I would like to get Signature safari with LRS plex but that is too much money right now for my muzzleloader butwould it be a good all around scope (reticle) for a Remingtion mountain rifle? I dont know if it easy to aim at long distance with that reticle.


I likw the 4a reticle and I would certainly take it over a regular plex reticle.  The thick bars are roughly 2.5-3 times thicker than the thick bars on a plex reticle.  Thin wire is actually of comparable width, so you can still have very precise aiming.  I like the fact that the top post is not thickened as that would obscure a bit too much of the picture.  Three thick posts is sufficient for my tastes.

If it is really dark, a glow in the dark reticle may be your best choice.  Trijicon Accupoint 1.25-4x24 would be the ultimate choice, but it is pretty expensive.  Elite with Firefly reticle is a good choice.  If you decide to go with a non-illuminated reticle, 4a or 1a reticles would work well.

ILya
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