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It's all about the glass

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/18/2016 at 21:06
dhenzler View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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I've been shooting with scopes for 50 years now... Think I have the answers?  NOT.  The market changes are constant, and manufacturers are morphing product lines to maximize profits.  Seems that none of them are immune to trying to make a buck.  Thus the difficulty in buying a decent scope becomes a "Pin the Tail on the Donkey", with hopes that your needs will be properly answered.

Not all of us need super glass.  Most of the Chinese scopes will work fine at 100 yards.  Mechanisms for tweaking the reticle are varied, and that becomes the prime factor in setting repeatability.  Now if you set and forget and use the mil-dot system to adjust your hold point... you likely won't care about backlash in the adjustments, or mushy clicks, or whether the adjustment even clicks at all.  Let's say the adjustment is sufficiently solid to hold zero and so we're done.  Well almost...

Now we have the desire to move our range out to 200 yards, and we are still relatively happy.  But at 300 we suddenly hit a wall of focus, and image contrast.  The GLASS is starting to matter.  Grabbing the image and sending it back to the occular lens for viewing requires accuracy in making the lens, and good coatings to eliminate spraying light all around inside the scope and damaging contrast.

Today I have a variety of scopes from the $100 range up to $2000 range.  Obviously when you have a number of centerfire rifles, scoping each with a $2000 Leupold isn't a practical answer.   And not all center fire rifles have the range capabilities to require that kind of optical purity.  Thus we begin by placing a practical limit on the range of each rifle, and purchase the optics based on the need.  And particularly what your target might be at that range.   This is the only answer I can have as I am do not have unlimited funds for optics, or rifles for that matter.

If you are shooting rabits at 400 yards with your 243 then you might want more than a 3-9 scope.  I have gravitated towards the higher power scopes because I mostly shoot paper, and like to see my bullet holes without the use of a spotting scope.  However note that military snipers used 10x scopes for some enormously long shots and were quite effective.  I consider the 10x an absolute minimum for serious target work at ranges beyond 100 yards.

Bushnell was the manufacturer of the first scope I owned.  It was not a very happy union.  I discarded it and bought a Redfield 4-12 for a Sako 243.   Later I bought a Weaver T-16 for a .223  followed by a 20x Leupold for a Sako 222   Varminter.   As time went by I bought some Leapers 6-24x50's for 308's being shot at 100 - 200 yards.  Then bought a M4 8.5-25 Leupold for my F class 308 for distance work.  Of late my desire to put scopes on some intermediate range rifles (say under 500 yards) has brought me to discarding China as a viable producer of scopes.  I bought a Burris 6-20x50 E1 and a Burris 4.5-14x42 E1 but have yet to evaluate either.  But have thoughts of trying a Bushnell in 14x power range in attempts to keep the price down.

Many shooters start pontificating about weather proof, and shock proof, and features that are kinda givens when you have decent optics inside....  Let's face it, a company putting ED glass in a scope isn't going to not fill it with Nitrogen.

I sincerely hope that this dissertation is read, and that it evokes a response from like minded folks with experiences to share.  I'm really tired of scope reviews wher only the multi thousand dollar entries are considered adequate.  There has to be a reasonable answer in the mid price products.  I believe it may be Burris, and maybe Bushnell, and Weaver.  I have my own 200 yard range, and will be doing testing in a few weeks.  If any scope manufacturers want to send me samples to run through the grinder... I'll be happy to try them.

Dave
Please post here unless you have a message for me.  Please send direct email to shoot@ccskeet.com
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/18/2016 at 22:40
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There are a number of scopes in the "mid price" range that are "adequate"… Nikon, Bushnell, Burris, Meopta (mostly superior for mid-range prices), Weaver, some Leupold, SWFA SS (I have several of those and they are "mid-priced" and are among my "go to for anything" VALUE scopes… you have to pick your requirements and adjust for the price range you want to or are willing to fall in.  
The "mult-thousand dollar" scopes are going to outperform the "mid-range" in most, if not all categories… whether it is "worth it" is up to the buyer.  I like the Leatherwood ART scope a lot (lower end prices)… have 5 of them and love their performance (mostly).  The Leatherwood 14CRT is one of the best values "out there".  I have a number of high end scopes that are far and away favorites… yes, they are several thousands of dollars… but the performance under any and all conditions is worth the "extra" cost… to me.  Some may not think so.  I DON'T CARE… they are worth it to me.   Does not in the least detract from the utility of the lower priced scopes I have… they serve a purpose and I am confident in their performance for my requirements.  
There is really no way one person can judge for another utility of performance vs cost.  I can only evaluate MY needs vs cost and decide what works best for me.  I can relate my experiences and thoughts, but it is up to the person with a requirement for an optic to determine if MY requirements and dollar bottom line match theirs.  I've sacrificed some things in order to have the optics I want and require… I don't buy new vehicles, I don't go out to eat very often… don't do a lot of things others do in order to have the firearms and optics I want.  
It's all about choices.  Get your "pet rock" or settle for less.  All depends on what you are willing or not willing to sacrifice.
Yes, there are many lower cost scopes that are "adequate"… adequate is seldom superior.  That does not mean that adequate is not good enough (but also does not mean that it is).  Choices...
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/18/2016 at 23:22
dhenzler View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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As I said... I have several in the $2000 range, but for ranges less than 500 yards it seems that something in the around $400 - $500 range would suffice but still not be Chinese junk.  Sorting out the myriad of reviews is not only frustrating but ineffective when all point to top line optics are best...  that is a given.  You do get what you pay for.  However sorting out the mid price product is where my interest lies.

I think the Burris 6-20x50 E1 Side Focus is a "good scope"  Burris spent two years training Phillipeans staff to make the product like it was made here in the USA.  And since the Phillipeans are a US possession, perhaps we should cut them some slack.  They may be a state some day.

Well nuff said... I think I've made my question clear.  You as many others have answered the question by spending top dollar on them all.  Discerrning the differences that matter and quantifying the results remains the problem.

Dave
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/18/2016 at 23:24
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Optics GrassHopper
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http://24.172.105.90/z/Predator.jpg

This seems a good match for the rifle it's on and 500 yards max.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/19/2016 at 08:58
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Originally posted by dhenzler dhenzler wrote:

As I said... I have several in the $2000 range, but for ranges less than 500 yards it seems that something in the around $400 - $500 range would suffice but still not be Chinese junk.  Sorting out the myriad of reviews is not only frustrating but ineffective when all point to top line optics are best...  that is a given.  You do get what you pay for.  However sorting out the mid price product is where my interest lies.

I think the Burris 6-20x50 E1 Side Focus is a "good scope"  Burris spent two years training Phillipeans staff to make the product like it was made here in the USA.  And since the Phillipeans are a US possession, perhaps we should cut them some slack.  They may be a state some day.

Well nuff said... I think I've made my question clear.  You as many others have answered the question by spending top dollar on them all.  Discerrning the differences that matter and quantifying the results remains the problem.

Dave

Would not exactly call SWFA SS (true value), Barska, BSA, Leatherwood, Nikon, Bushnell, Burris, Weaver/Redfield, Aimpoint Hunter, Springfield Armory "top dollar".  Have some of those and use them regularly.  I also have Zeiss, Swarovski, Hensoldt(Zeiss made), USOptics and use them regularly.  I have evaluated Leapers, Countersniper, Millet, Seal, ATN and a number of other "throw away" scopes… they always fall short when they are truly needed.  To be fair, an older Millet might be a good choice… not much good to say about those after about 2008-2009 timeframe.

There are differences that matter, to some.  If you can't see the differences, then you certainly don't need them.  My Springfield Armory 6-20x56 will match against most of those in that magnification range that are available… certainly not a "high dollar" scope.  I paid a little over $600.00 for it, new, when I bought it.  It beats down a lot of higher priced scopes.  You won't find many made now wth the care and precision of that scope… in that price range.  It's been on most of the rifles I own and never failed and I tend toward calibers that are unforgiving.  Getting close to 20 years of usage… some of it pretty hard.  
Most of the people on the OT look for VALUE, not name.  Value is how many of your requirements can be met at a "reasonable" price.  That is very subjective and subjective issues are almost useless to banter about… my pain point is different than many, there are some on here who have a much higher threshold than I do for different levels of performance.  Sometimes, I don't really need the Alpha performance… I just WANT it.  Unlike some, I always evaluate the pros and cons before making the decision.  
Just to be clear… when I purchase scope, COST is not a primary factor… it IS a factor, just not the one that will drive my final decision.  Certainly, those scope manufacturers who have a proven long term reputation for excellence will always be "on the list"… does not mean they will win.  
A quote I always think about when making an equipment purchase:
" The race is not always to the swift… the battle to the strong… But that's the way to bet."  Works for me.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/20/2016 at 20:54
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My needs are probably different than most here, as this seems to be a more tactical crowd. The most important criteria for me, by far, is the requirement to hold POI. Pure optical ability is not.

I'm on my way home from my 4th African hunting trip as we speak, and my 3rd trip with Kowas Safaris in Namibia.   Instead of fighting the hassle of taking my own rifle this time, I just used theirs, a BRNO 7x64 that wears a Leupold Rifleman 3-9x. Glass is good enough, as I was able to take 10 animals on this management hunt without much problem. I was told that combo has accounted for over 400 animals now. Pure optical quality is over rated IMO in a riflescope, as most any $200 sample has good enough glass. Not all will hold zero though.

Edited by JGRaider - August/20/2016 at 21:02
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/21/2016 at 13:23
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Qapla'
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/22/2016 at 12:29
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Be sure and post pics of your critters from your Africa hunt, JG!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/22/2016 at 12:47
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Getting to the conversation late, a few thoughts to add:

1.  Unequivocally for one dumb old Marine: glass is not ever the prime factor.  If a scope's adjustments do not only track true but stay where you put them, glass does not matter at all, the scope sucks.

2.  Many talk about hanging up on glass quality, but unless you are accustomed to top tier stuff, you almost never get behind a scope and say, "Wow, this sucks."  Unless, that is, the glass genuinely sucks.

3.  Those using most scopes, hunting and tactical, are doing so in an environment way, way below anything one could reasonably consider harsh.  And seldom are these scopes used in low light.

4.  When you move to harsh environments and long shots from less-than-ideal positions and tough wind, a good scope helps, but only so much.

5. Low light is the one area that separates good from great, and to a lesser extend okay from good.


There is much truth to the adage, "it is the Indian, not the bow."  It is my experience in hunting scopes that the difference between decent and great is maybe 2-4 minutes of additional shooting time.  With tactical scopes, Nightforce has made themselves successful with scopes everyone admits have "okay" glass, and Hensoldt has vacillated with what most agree is the best glass money can buy.  I own both, I use both, I have more confidence in Nightforce products than I do Hensoldt for those times when a shot really counts.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/22/2016 at 20:13
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Originally posted by Rancid Coolaid Rancid Coolaid wrote:


There is much truth to the adage, "it is the Indian, not the bow."  It is my experience in hunting scopes that the difference between decent and great is maybe 2-4 minutes of additional shooting time.



I could not agree more. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/22/2016 at 20:14
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Originally posted by RifleDude RifleDude wrote:

Be sure and post pics of your critters from your Africa hunt, JG!


I always have trouble doing that on this site, but I will try. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/22/2016 at 23:29
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Couldn't agree more, RC. I have Meopta Meostars, a Zeiss HT and lesser ones, a range of something-X Leupolds, Simmons Aetecs, Nikon Monarch, Redfields, and a Weaver. Every one will do the job in good light. Wouldn't hesitate carrying any of them in daytime searches for Bambi. However, when all the others have turned out the lights, the Meoptas and Zeiss are still standing.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/23/2016 at 22:39
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I have an NcSTAR 10-40x50 that compares, optically, favorably, to my high end scopes in broad daylight.  Adjustments are a bit mushy, but not show stopper quality, there are some "oddities" with the scope.  It has always been accurate, once adjusted.  I would never take it hunting. 

However, there are many who would disagree with the Nightforce glass assessment. Just one:

http://www.opticstalk.com/nightforce_topic29116.html

In a number of forums, NF is touted as having "the best available optical glass". 

Personally, I disagree with that, but also disagree with choosing NF over my Hensoldt.  Just wouldn't do it... there is no justification I can find.  I would probably choose NF over Swarovski or Zeiss Diavari... for certain applications. 

I've not "looked at" Nightforce in a while.  Probably should revisit.

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