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Illuminated or not?

Printed From: OpticsTalk by SWFA, Inc.
Category: Scopes
Forum Name: Rifle Scopes
Forum Description: Centerfire long gun scopes
Printed Date: January/21/2019 at 03:46

Topic: Illuminated or not?
Posted By: Bob4
Subject: Illuminated or not?
Date Posted: May/22/2015 at 06:08
Hell oall,
 First post here.
  Last yr I missed a chance on a decent buck as the light faded. I was wondering if an illuminated recticle would have helped. I could see the antlers and that it seemed to be a mature buck but lost sight of my recticle when placed on the animal. I was using a Swarovski Z-5. Dare I say nice glass.
 Can anyone honestly say that an illuminated recticle bought them an extra 5 or 10 minutes more to hunt? Curious as to others thoughts or experience on this.

Posted By: Kickboxer
Date Posted: May/22/2015 at 07:11

I can honestly say that a well designed and executed illuminated reticle provides an advantage in low light shooting situations... for me.  Rheostat-type control vs "step" control of illumination value requires some hands on evaluation.  Illumination allows one to "get on target" faster (and sometimes at all) under low light, low contrast conditions.  The real advantage is in low light shooting into dense areas of brush, etc where shadows can almost completely "fade out" the reticle/target.  I've taken several deer in "last minute" situations that I probably would have passed on but for illuminated reticle.  If you are always shooting into open fields with minimum shadow in those "first/last 30 minute" situations, using a good duplex/post type reticle with good (does not have to be GREAT) is probably sufficient. 

I have a Z6i (1-6) (and several other Alpha scopes with illumination).  The glass is amazing.  However, the illuminated reticle is both well designed and executed and it works extremely well.  Takes out potential uncertainty.  For me... that works.

I also have some "moderately priced" scopes with illumination where it was just an afterthought (oh, let's add illumination to the reticle... they'll buy that).  Not so good and never used (except sometimes in broad daylight, just because it is there). 

 If it is well done, I'll take illumination every time.  You don't HAVE to use it.  But if you do need it and it is not there... que sera.  Not many do illumination well, though it is getting better "across the board".  Good/great glass will always be #1. Illuminated reticles are a personal choice and need careful consideration and some "hands on" evaluation before investment (they do cost more and they do add some weight to the scope which adds weight to the rifle.). Consider well, buy quality, if you buy.   I have and have used red and green.  I like red better.  Though green impact is generally "minimal", red light has no impact on "night vision".  Thirty minutes after sunset is not "night", but vision is still impacted by bright points of light. 

Whether it will help you or not, I cannot say.  It has helped me.

My personal thoughts on the "illuminated vs non-illuminated" issue.  

Opinion,untempered by fact,is ignorance.

There are some who do not fear death... for they are more afraid of not really living

Posted By: Alan Robertson
Date Posted: May/22/2015 at 15:10
I'd agree with Kickboxer  that illumination is a worthwhile addition to a scope's capabilities- when it is executed correctly. "Executed correctly" is the rub. Until recently, many/most lower- priced illum. implementations were a waste of resources, except in higher- end, pr purpose- built optics, such as Aimpoint. There are exceptions to that statement: my experience with such scopes is limited.
The primary fault of most lit- reticle schemes is a bleed- out effect of the illumination from the reticle, over the entire viewable image. This effect becomes more pronounced as the brightness is turned up until one is left peering into a bright red/green image, completely unable to view any part of the target. In other words, you're looking into a light and the target is totally obscured. With the worst designs, even at the lowest power setting, for use in the darkest night, the effect is still there.
A secondary phenomenon of poorly executed designs is that the lit reticle (and any bleed- out into the image plane) is visible downrange, as the glow is visible if looking directly into the objective lens. That is completely unacceptable in a scope used as a CQB optic, for instance.

One additional benefit of illumination is its usefulness in broad daylight, as an aid in fast target acquisition. This is a very important aspect of scope use and should not be overlooked. The lit reticle is the first thing your eye sees as the rifle is brought into firing position and can instantly be brought onto target, with even a higher magnification than one might usually consider as a fast- action power setting.

I only have 2 scopes with illumination and neither is an Alpha level scope  One doesn't carry a battery, as it's "lit part" works too poorly to bother with and the other is a mid- range Leupold.  Leupold has developed illumination using fiber optic technology, called "FireDot" and the result is all anyone could ask for, with none of the usual faults, as mentioned above. Leupold builds this reticle into more than one model line, giving a broad price range to choose from. FireDot works, period. The only caveat is that Leupy does not currently give as good a warranty on the FireDot portion of their scopes as they do with the rest of the scope, so if it breaks beyond the warranty period, the owner pays. I suspect the short warranty is because there isn't a long enough history with FireDot to determine warranty amortization costs, included in purchase price, as with all scopes.

"Garg'n uair dhuisgear"

Posted By: bugsNbows
Date Posted: May/22/2015 at 15:59
The Trijicon Accupoint scopes work pretty darn well in low light applications.

If we're not suppose to eat come they're made of meat?

Posted By: 308WIN
Date Posted: May/22/2015 at 17:03
anyone like or seen DIGILLUM by NF

Posted By: saltydog235
Date Posted: May/23/2015 at 18:25
I've had a number of illuminated scopes, some good, some bad. Alan eluded to bleed over., a Weaver Tactical I had was the worst. Not a bad optic for the price paid but turn on the illumination even at low and it was about as useful as tits on a Bo hog. These days, I stick to a Trijicon for my late in the evening sits. They do illumination as good as anyone.

Posted By: Urimaginaryfrnd
Date Posted: May/24/2015 at 19:41
O strongly prefer illlumination.


"Always do the right thing, just because it is the right thing to do".
Bobby Paul Doherty
Texas Ranger

Posted By: Outrider
Date Posted: May/25/2015 at 01:25
I, like others, have taken bucks using a good illuminated reticle scope that would have walked without the illuminated point-of-aim being there. And like others, I recommend buying good glass along with the illumination feature. The Zeiss HT, Swaro Z6i, Meopta Meostar R1 or R2, Trijicon Accupoint and Leupold VX-6 Firedot seem to get most of the attention on several forums I monitor as being some of the better illuminated 30mm scopes. Perhaps other contributors can add to this list.


Posted By: RifleDude
Date Posted: May/25/2015 at 17:12
I like illuminated reticles a lot. It's definitely a big asset for low light hunting, as long as the illumination is well designed. As already mentioned, poorly designed illumination create too much light inside the scope or excessive internal flare. This obscures your view of your target in low light and causes your iris to constrict, hindering your dim light visibility. Usually, I've found less is better here. I prefer not to have the entire reticle lit; only the very center dot, cross, circle dot, or triangle. Any more than that, and it's easy to get the over-illumination problem discussed.

Poorly designed illumination is worse than no illumination.


Money can't buy happiness... but it's much more comfortable to cry in a Porsche than on a bicycle.

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