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Low Light Scope Advice

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/20/2015 at 22:10
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This topic has probably been beaten to death. I've read several threads on it, but was hoping for a bit more specific advice since I don't entirely understand the differences. Didn't see any sticky threads???

I recently got to use a Swaro Z6i and was blown away. Added 20 minutes at least over my scope. I'm not sure I'm quite game to spend that much on a scope, but something in the 1000-1500 sounds a little more doable in terms of wife approval.

I'm not likely to shoot over 400 or so and would obviously like to improve that first/last 20 minutes of hunting time. I don't entirely understand the ins and outs of scopes, but from my vague understanding lens coatings are important as well as how high the mm is.

I'd like to get something up to 12xmag if reasonable, though I'm reading that better glass is more important than magnification. Maybe I just need to buy a reconditioned Swaro Z6i?


Anyway, any advice for a noob? Keep in mind, I'm coming from a Redfield 3-9. lol. Maybe I don't need a super nice scope to see a massive improvement...I don't know.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/20/2015 at 22:48
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This is the same thing that brought me to the OT yrs ago. And man did I have a lot to learn!!

In my opinion you have found the best place to learn and "unlearn" what you need to know. Coatings are one of the main players in low light glass. I say that based on this. Ziess, S&B, IOR, US Optics, Swaro and a few other high end brands use Schott glass which is world renowned for quality and clarity. But all those brands do not preform the same in various points. Ilya (Koskin) can explain scopes better than anyone that I know of. He helped me more than I think he knows. Anyway, each brand has developed or bought coatings for their glass. I am biased for Ziess because nothing I have had to compare to it has performed better for me. IOR is really close and US optics is right behind that. I've had hands on some S&B but not when I could compare it to my Ziess. (Note I do not have good to say for the conquest or terra) others here have had good experiences with them but I have to give them a thumbs down. Most customers I have worked with have been disappointed with them. If the Swaro Z6i appears to do what you need it is a good one to consider. What you will find no matter what scope you go with the lower the light fades the closer your range will draw in and the lower you will have to adjust the power ring to make a shot. Next to glass quality comes objective size. If I recall correctly anything over 50mm doesn't offer much if anything toward additional usable light transmission. But I think that is also relevant to tube diameter and tube length. You can get a good quality scope in the budget you mentioned and I suggest you start there until you can learn more about what you prefer from some hands on experience. But great glass cost and that is not likely to change.

Good Luck!

Welcome to the OT!!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/20/2015 at 22:50
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Meopta r2. They will run right there with your swaro
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/20/2015 at 23:30
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Originally posted by Sgt. D Sgt. D wrote:

What you will find no matter what scope you go with the lower the light fades the closer your range will draw in and the lower you will have to adjust the power ring to make a shot.
I think I'm following with the majority of your post except this. I'm a bit confused.

I will say that the shot I took tonight was very close and was VERY likely past legal time. I had it on 1.7x and felt I needed it closer to feel comfortable. Not sure what I actually adjusted the mag to. Maybe that was just a noob move to adjust to maybe 6x at well under 100yds. It was really dark man; like I said probably too dark to be legal.
Originally posted by supertool73 supertool73 wrote:

Meopta r2. They will run right there with your swaro
Thanks for the advice. Fits right in the price range and seems to check all the boxes.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 05:27
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meopta no doubt
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 09:12
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The Meopta R2 (or R1) would be an excellent choice.  The price is good and the glass is superb.  The mechanicals are outstanding.  

I have a Swarovski Z6i 1-6.  I really like it, but for the price wish I had gone with another Meopta.  The 1.5-6 with 4c illuminated reticle would have been a good choice.  I can find no advantage to the Swarovski other than the name recognition.  Don't get me wrong, it is a great scope, just not as big a value as the Meopta… though I wish the Meopta R1 3-12x56 had illuminated 4b reticle (other reticle versions do have illumination).  I like the 4b, but would prefer illumination.  
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 09:30
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Originally posted by davisj3537 davisj3537 wrote:

Originally posted by Sgt. D Sgt. D wrote:

What you will find no matter what scope you go with the lower the light fades the closer your range will draw in and the lower you will have to adjust the power ring to make a shot.
I think I'm following with the majority of your post except this. I'm a bit confused.



He is talking about exit pupil.  which is the band of light that travels through the scope to your eye.  It it measured in mm.  Basically you take the objective size divided by the mag.  So if you have a 42mm objective and have your mag at 6x the band of light will be 7mm in size.  Which is pretty much the max a healthy human pupil can dilate to.  Any bigger than that will not make the image appear brighter to your eye.  Optimally in low light situations to get the brightest image you want that band of light to be at least as large as your pupil is at that moment.  But that is not to say you cannot zoom in and get more detail of the image.  With good glass you will be able to zoom in and get more detail of the animal, the image just won't be as bright.   

The higher the mag the less light is able to go through the scope.  The lower the mag then more light is able to pass through it making the image appear brighter.  So in low light, it is typically better to turn your scope down so more light is getting to your eye. 

Also when an image (animal) is closer in low light it will be easier to see.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 10:14
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Thanks for all the help guys. Looks like the Meopta R2 has an outstanding reputation and is a clear winner here. I'll have to fish around and nitpick models, but narrowing down to a brand is VASTLY helpful.


Thanks for explaining the concept supertool. I can see now why having something as small as 1.7 mag like the swaro I used is helpful. I was just noobing up the mag for no reason. lol
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 10:17
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Originally posted by supertool73 supertool73 wrote:

Originally posted by davisj3537 davisj3537 wrote:

Originally posted by Sgt. D Sgt. D wrote:

What you will find no matter what scope you go with the lower the light fades the closer your range will draw in and the lower you will have to adjust the power ring to make a shot.
I think I'm following with the majority of your post except this. I'm a bit confused.



He is talking about exit pupil.  which is the band of light that travels through the scope to your eye.  It it measured in mm.  Basically you take the objective size divided by the mag.  So if you have a 42mm objective and have your mag at 6x the band of light will be 7mm in size.  Which is pretty much the max a healthy human pupil can dilate to.  Any bigger than that will not make the image appear brighter to your eye.  Optimally in low light situations to get the brightest image you want that band of light to be at least as large as your pupil is at that moment.  But that is not to say you cannot zoom in and get more detail of the image.  With good glass you will be able to zoom in and get more detail of the animal, the image just won't be as bright.   

The higher the mag the less light is able to go through the scope.  The lower the mag then more light is able to pass through it making the image appear brighter.  So in low light, it is typically better to turn your scope down so more light is getting to your eye. 

Also when an image (animal) is closer in low light it will be easier to see.


Thanks Super!!

They can explain the specifics so much better than I. An example I can give is, I enjoy shooting a doe out past 500yds as much or more than getting a good buck at close range. I had six doe moving in a old cow pasture on a field line about 650yds just browsing and burning up day light one evening. There was a good buck in the area and I did want to get a chance at him if he might show up. I waited until about five minutes left of legal shootin time and the doe had moved up to about 400yds. The buck had  decided to spend the evening else where so I decided to take a doe for my troubles. I enjoy my Ziess very much and was counting on it for another one in the freezer. Trouble was they were on the wood line to my west and in the shadows. The tree branch I had for support was at a bad angle so I was just barely better than making a freehand shot. It was overcast and I had to dial the X down to about 8 if I remember right to gain a reasonable picture of the one I picked out. This made the target picture too small for me to have any confidence in a clean kill. If they had been at 200yds it would have an easy shot. but as it was I passed on it for another day. The point: even the best scopes out there can only go so far in poor light conditions. A warning to those getting into top glass for the first time. You HAVE to watch the time because it will help you get yourself in trouble if you don't. Especially on moon lit nights. This past Saturday we had a half moon on a very clear evening and I could still make a shot out to 400yds at 12X if I had chose to. And the law in this area are setting on go for up to an hour after shooting time listening for late shots. I know because I am good friends with some of the and I hear stories about it all the time. They even have thermal imaging on their search plane and can pin point any activity they call in. Yes, the wildlife commission is well funded!!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 10:26
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Originally posted by Sgt. D Sgt. D wrote:

Originally posted by supertool73 supertool73 wrote:

Originally posted by davisj3537 davisj3537 wrote:

Originally posted by Sgt. D Sgt. D wrote:

What you will find no matter what scope you go with the lower the light fades the closer your range will draw in and the lower you will have to adjust the power ring to make a shot.
I think I'm following with the majority of your post except this. I'm a bit confused.



He is talking about exit pupil.  which is the band of light that travels through the scope to your eye.  It it measured in mm.  Basically you take the objective size divided by the mag.  So if you have a 42mm objective and have your mag at 6x the band of light will be 7mm in size.  Which is pretty much the max a healthy human pupil can dilate to.  Any bigger than that will not make the image appear brighter to your eye.  Optimally in low light situations to get the brightest image you want that band of light to be at least as large as your pupil is at that moment.  But that is not to say you cannot zoom in and get more detail of the image.  With good glass you will be able to zoom in and get more detail of the animal, the image just won't be as bright.   

The higher the mag the less light is able to go through the scope.  The lower the mag then more light is able to pass through it making the image appear brighter.  So in low light, it is typically better to turn your scope down so more light is getting to your eye. 

Also when an image (animal) is closer in low light it will be easier to see.


Thanks Super!!

They can explain the specifics so much better than I. An example I can give is, I enjoy shooting a doe out past 500yds as much or more than getting a good buck at close range. I had six doe moving in a old cow pasture on a field line about 650yds just browsing and burning up day light one evening. There was a good buck in the area and I did want to get a chance at him if he might show up. I waited until about five minutes left of legal shootin time and the doe had moved up to about 400yds. The buck had  decided to spend the evening else where so I decided to take a doe for my troubles. I enjoy my Ziess very much and was counting on it for another one in the freezer. Trouble was they were on the wood line to my west and in the shadows. The tree branch I had for support was at a bad angle so I was just barely better than making a freehand shot. It was overcast and I had to dial the X down to about 8 if I remember right to gain a reasonable picture of the one I picked out. This made the target picture too small for me to have any confidence in a clean kill. If they had been at 200yds it would have an easy shot. but as it was I passed on it for another day. The point: even the best scopes out there can only go so far in poor light conditions. A warning to those getting into top glass for the first time. You HAVE to watch the time because it will help you get yourself in trouble if you don't. Especially on moon lit nights. This past Saturday we had a half moon on a very clear evening and I could still make a shot out to 400yds at 12X if I had chose to. And the law in this area are setting on go for up to an hour after shooting time listening for late shots. I know because I am good friends with some of the and I hear stories about it all the time. They even have thermal imaging on their search plane and can pin point any activity they call in. Yes, the wildlife commission is well funded!!

This all makes sense now. Thank you. All I can say about the wildlife commission is WOW.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 10:30
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Whichever "low light" scope you end up with, don't overlook the reticle choice.  The greatest glass in the world isn't going to do you any good at the edge of darkness if you can't see the reticle.  A lot of the "finer" lined reticles will be tough to pick up as it's getting dark, while the bolder reticle styles (like the Meopta 4c and 4k) greatly simplify the task.  Illuminated reticles can also be a big asset here -- like the glass quality and reticle choices though, there's a lot of variation out there among companies regarding how good the illumination system is.  (I'd opt for a good, bold reticle over a poor illumination system in a scope whose main purpose is dusk/dawn hunting.)
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 11:10
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Maverick made a good point, some illuminations systems suck.   Meopta Illumination excellent.  Trijicon is excellent.  Leupold VX-r and VX-6 is excellent.  Swaro is excellent.  Those are the good ones I have experience with. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 11:12
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What Maverick saidHead Bang
Monarchs and Bushnell Elites I have used have glass good enough for most hunting. The plex reticles are uselesss in low light, though.
I also have a Steiner and a Leica scope that have pretty good glass. But the reticles are not very good in low light. In their defense, both are ranging reticles and not really designed for low light.
I have Zeiss, Kahles and S&B scopes with the #4 German style reticles. In that regard, having great glass with the right reticle makes them superior to anything else I have used.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 11:54
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I had originally wanted an illuminated reticle, but I like the ranging styles so I did spend some time looking at the R1. Can't have range and illumination. lol

Given the Meopta R2 options both have illuminated reticles then I don't see the decision of 4C vs 4K as terribly important. Maybe that is an oversight on my part.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 11:56
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This would be another to consider.  http://swfa.com/Leupold-2-12x42-VX-6-30mm-Riflescope-P49442.aspx  It gives you a hold over reticle, a CDS dial, and excellent illumination.

If you have a good illumination system, the bold reticle is not really needed.  That is just mostly beneficial when you do not have illumination so you can still see it in low light.  The Leupold Illumination is outstanding, I have a VX-R patrol and I really like the illumination in it. 

I would not get to hung up on a ranging reticle.  They are extremely difficult to use with consistency, plus you have to know the exact size of your target to make them work.  With big game, that gets complicated in a hurry and most animals a different sizes.  If you are off just a bit, it can lead to an easy miss.  Get a good range finder and you will be much better off. 




Edited by supertool73 - December/21/2015 at 12:01
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(Quote) I'm not likely to shoot over 400 or so and would obviously like to improve that first/last 20 minutes of hunting time. (Quote)

With your budget mentioned this would be a top contender. Just be aware that Ziess is addictive!!!

http://www.samplelist.com/Zeiss-25-10x50-Victory-HT-Rifle-Scope-DEMO-B-P86880.aspx

And like Supertool said "Get a good range finder and you will be much better off."

With the Ziess I have if I can't see the reticle odds are its past shooting time anyway.


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Originally posted by davisj3537 davisj3537 wrote:

Can't have range and illumination. lol.

Maybe take a look at the Leica ERi 2.5-10x42 with IBS reticle.  Reticle is laid out with MOA graduations and in a manner that would allow you to range, and the illumination minimizes the liability of the thinner reticle when it comes to low light applications.  I've got a non-illuminated Leica with the IBS reticle, and love it as a multi-purpose scope. 

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I have so much to learn. haha.

I've just overcomplicated this. I'm going to get the Meopta R2 like was originally advised to me and then also buy a nice range finder.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/21/2015 at 16:43
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let us know what model u get?   thinking of picking up an R2 myself
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Don't overlook the Trijicon Accupoint with the BAC I've killed a lot of deer with mine while I hear everybody else's 4 wheelers heading for the camp. Killed a lot of deer while others have been sleeping and waiting for dawn to break too. The NF SHV isn't a bad option either, though I'm waiting one the new FFP 4X15X50 F1 MOAR to come out. I've taken quite a few real early and real late with my NF NXS as well.
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I bought the 2.5-15x56 R2 before seeing the most recent posts, but feel really good about it given the overwhelming Meopta support here. 

Apparently (competitor) is 300 cheaper than any other retailer I found. (If posting this link breaks forum rules I'm sorry. Mods please delete if needed.)



I also will be picking up a Remington 700 LR 30-06 in the next few days. I will be mostly using it as a hunting rifle (sub 400), but would really enjoy the ability to ping some metal at 800-1000 for fun. I asked around on a more sniper oriented forum for a 30-06 and it was a unanimous vote for this rifle for occasional long range shooting.

Really looking forward to mating the two and giving an update:)



Edited by Skylar McMahon - December/22/2015 at 09:48
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Originally posted by davisj3537 davisj3537 wrote:

I bought the 2.5-15x56 R2 before seeing the most recent posts, but feel really good about it given the overwhelming Meopta support here. 

Apparently competitor is 300 cheaper than any other retailer I found. (If posting this link breaks forum rules I'm sorry. Mods please delete if needed.)



I also will be picking up a Remington 700 LR 30-06 in the next few days. I will be mostly using it as a hunting rifle (sub 400), but would really enjoy the ability to ping some metal at 800-1000 for fun. I asked around on a more sniper oriented forum for a 30-06 and it was a unanimous vote for this rifle for occasional long range shooting.

Really looking forward to mating the two and giving an update:)


Dave, please remember to post according to the rules.

Originally posted by Chris Farris Chris Farris wrote:

3.  Do not advertise other retailers selling the same or similar products as SWFA, this includes posting links to other retailers for products sold by SWFA.  SWFA does not provide this forum as a vehicle to redirect customers to our competition.

http://www.opticstalk.com/the-ot-rules_topic5473.html




Edited by Skylar McMahon - December/22/2015 at 10:16
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Sorry about that. That makes perfect sense. There is still a reference to where I bought the scope in my post. I can't edit it.
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Fixed it, as you post more, you will have the ability to edit your posts or post pictures.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/22/2015 at 19:40
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Originally posted by davisj3537 davisj3537 wrote:

This topic has probably been beaten to death. I've read several threads on it, but was hoping for a bit more specific advice since I don't entirely understand the differences. Didn't see any sticky threads???

I recently got to use a Swaro Z6i and was blown away. Added 20 minutes at least over my scope. I'm not sure I'm quite game to spend that much on a scope, but something in the 1000-1500 sounds a little more doable in terms of wife approval.

I'm not likely to shoot over 400 or so and would obviously like to improve that first/last 20 minutes of hunting time. I don't entirely understand the ins and outs of scopes, but from my vague understanding lens coatings are important as well as how high the mm is.

I'd like to get something up to 12xmag if reasonable, though I'm reading that better glass is more important than magnification. Maybe I just need to buy a reconditioned Swaro Z6i?


Anyway, any advice for a noob? Keep in mind, I'm coming from a Redfield 3-9. lol. Maybe I don't need a super nice scope to see a massive improvement...I don't know.

Davis this is indeed a great place to learn about scopes I've bought several from here. This is my best advice to you that I can give you from PERSONAL experience with low light scopes.

My advice is hopefully in the 200 inch club. I shot this buck that we gross scored well over 200 inches typical in Wisconsin this year near Buffalo County. Look at the background, its dark with snow overcast. I watched this deer on Monday afternoon in a snowfall at 300 yards on the opposite side of a creek bottom chasing a doe for 4 hours in a corn field from 8 am to about 11:30. Just running around in circles, protecting her from 5 other bucks one scoring easily in the 170s. I was never offered a clear shot and about noon they vanished when they heard other rifle shots. The next morning we go into our stand over looking a radish food plot that had been planted. The plot was 125 yards away. As it started getting light, the sun was behind the clouds and it was COLD.This fella pops out on a dirt road next to the same creek bottom. We weren't sure if it was him and we waited. 40 minutes until sun up and I'm getting nervous. Its getting a little more light and we see a doe. Sure enough its him and her and 3 other bucks walking toward the plot and us. Still not legal shooting light. My buddy is using a pair of 10x50 Swaros I'm using Zeiss' new 3-12x56 HT exactly at 30 minutes I put my scope on this deer. I can see him as clear a day, my friend in the blind with me says lets wait 5 more minutes, he's shaking as much as I am and he wanted to make sure we're legal and I have more light. At exactly 25 til sun up I squeeze off a round in my 30.06 high shoulder shot hits bone and goes through the spine he drops like a sack of bricks. And I'm amazed at how dark it still is that far up north. I would have never gotten this deer at that time without this scope. I think right at sun up or 10 15 minutes before sun up they would have gotten out of there. I'm a huge fan of Zeiss, Swaro and Kahles scopes. I have 2 Kahles 3-12x56s had them for years and they are wonderful in low light with a plex recticle for about 1,200 bucks. I have heard good things about Meopta lately but don't own one. Now don't get me wrong I'm not a better person or a better hunter and my deer aren't better because I have these scopes. I'm just telling you on high end scopes you usually get what you pay for. I will tell you honestly that Leupold Bushnell & a few other scope makers are twisting their claims & are flat out lying to customers with claims vs Zeiss, Swaro and other high end European scopes. That doesn't make the people who own them bad or any less of a person or hunter. But they are making false claims.  IMO just mine the weather is terrible, you're in low light and your have 20 minutes legal time left and a brute like this walks out of a creek bottom at 150 yards. Put a Zeiss 56 or Kahles 56 in my hands please.



Edited by Obi Wan Kenobi - December/22/2015 at 19:48
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