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Some optics observations

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 06:52
jonoMT View Drop Down
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While out deer hunting yesterday on a hilly, wide-open ranch , I encountered three classic conditions:

1) Game in the field but 1500 yards away - requiring better spotting optics

2) Game closer in (400-500 yards) but still beyond the range of limitations imposed both by my equipment and rifle zero.

3) Low light

Regarding the first, I was out with a compact pair of 8x25 Leupold binos so they got the job done as far as just spotting that something was there. And I could tell they were mule deer (but then I could guess that from never, ever having seen a whitetail that high up away from water). But I couldn't really tell what I was looking at and as I closed in, I discovered that there were more animals than I thought. For most conditions these little binos have been fine and I got them for $50 so I can't complain too much. In fact, I was in the woods so much looking for elk this year that I rarely could glass more than 300 yards.

But an observation I received second-hand the other day made me think about upgrading: A friend I was hunting with told me about his friend that always gets a big elk every year who said to put your money in spotting optics, not a rifle scope. That and not being able to clearly see a large buck's rack at 500 yards yesterday. Conclusion: research and purchase better binos. I'm thinking 10x42 or 10x50.

As for the second, I never could close in on that buck more than 400 yards. With the fixed 4X scope that I have on the rifle and my decision to calibrate to a maximum point blank range of 300 (inside a 8" vital zone) taking a shot with another 14" of drop would have meant holding at least a foot high. As it turned out, when I got to the last place where he was that close, it was blowing at least 10 miles an hour while I had been on a lower ridge where it was absolutely still. A more capable scope might have been a mixed blessing if I failed to notice the wind. Conclusion: I'm good out to 300 yards but will have to pass up on longer shots. I may get a more capable scope but would rather put the money into better binos and more practice ammo.

The low light conditions: Just this week I put some Alumina raincote lenses from SWFA on my 4X Leupold. I confess I mostly did it because I get tired of cleaning the optics and wanted to protect them too. I was a little worried about their impact on light transmission. But that turned out to not be a problem. Coming out of the hills towards dusk, I saw a whitetail doe about 75 yards away. She was at the bottom of the east side of a hill, 15 minutes after sunset under some pines and behind heavy brush along a creek. It was barely light enough to even spot her but putting my eye to the scope I had no problem lining up for a shot.

I realize Leupold optics are not the best. But I'll vouch for the ability of this scope with those extra filters on it to work well enough in these conditions. Most of the time here in Montana, it's not cloudy so it wouldn't be much darker than it was. (Our legal limitation is half an hour after sunset). Conclusion: Maybe someday I'll upgrade (in conjunction with addressing my ballistics limitations) but right now this is not a priority issue.

Jon
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 07:33
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Well, that was a real lot of thought-provoking stuff in one little thread.  I really never thought that I actually NEEDED  a big fat scope of 10X or 14X before.....but your scenario makes sense.......and it also sounds like those BDC whatchamacallits might actually have a use other than to hit targets at long range for the long range guys.....
 
Yep, I know we need binoculars.  I never had a spotting scope.  But maybe I should reconsider some of the ridiculously larger scopes--like 4X16 or something like that----
 
Then you brought up shooting at 400 yards---and that sounds like a job for somebody with some kind of Ballistic Missile System---and I never cared for that stuff inside of my scope...( maybe MultiZero would be OK....) 
 
Thunbs Up  I will have to think about this around the campfire----is it OK if I still wear a wool coat?  Bucky
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 07:43
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Ed you Ol' fart, get with modern day equipment!!!!      LOL 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 07:57
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Ed, you better keep wearing wool around the fire. It doesn't burn like all that new-fangled stuff!

I guess I could put all that stuff another way: I'd rather be a great shot inside 300 yards and keep it simple. But I'm starting to come around to the idea of having better spotting optics. I don't mind closing the distance because I'm a fool for walking and stalking. Best part of yesterday was being outside on a nice afternoon. Worst part was only having 2 1/2 hours to do it.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 08:15
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Originally posted by jonoMT jonoMT wrote:

Ed, you better keep wearing wool around the fire. It doesn't burn like all that new-fangled stuff!

I guess I could put all that stuff another way: I'd rather be a great shot inside 300 yards and keep it simple. But I'm starting to come around to the idea of having better spotting optics. I don't mind closing the distance because I'm a fool for walking and stalking. Best part of yesterday was being outside on a nice afternoon. Worst part was only having 2 1/2 hours to do it.



I feel your pain Bro.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 08:15
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Here's a thought (it was a painful process but I finally got it out Wink)
 
If you can't make out game that well with an 8x binoculars then a 10x is not going to be that much better.  Why not stick with your 8x binoculars and get a real good 4.5x14 scope and use that when you need to make out what those animals are at 1500 yards or if that buck is a shooter at 500 yards?
 
IME, I don't carry a spotting scope anymore, admittedly it is not a good one (Leupold 15x45x60) even to the range.  With my Zeiss Conquest 4.5x14x44 RapidZ 800 scope I can make out holes in the 300 and 400 yard targets that I can not see with the spotting scope.  Most of the time any power over 14 is unusable anyway because of mirage or wind instability.  The clarity of the Zeiss is amazing and I have made out 22 caliber bullet holes in white paper at 300 yards.
 
By upgrading to the Conquest with the RapidZ 800 you have also increased your long range shooting ability (with practice and opportunity).
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 11:21
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sakomato, those are good points. One objection I would have, however, to relying on a high-power scope is that I don't like pointing a rifle at anything I don't plan on destroying...even if I KNOW that there is not a round chambered. Sometimes I spot other hunters or whatever is interesting out in the field and want to glass it. Otherwise, what you're saying about something like the Conquest/RapidZ reticle makes sense. Given the optics and practice, I'd shoot an antelope or deer out to 600 with my .308. Whether it's justified or not, I just don't consider that cartridge a reliable elk getter out past 300.

Also, I really won't know until I go try a few pairs out but I suspect that $800+ 10X (or even 8X) glass is going to be a bit better than sub-$100 8x25s. Yesterday it was really a resolution issue. I could sharply focus in to those distances but details like antlers just seemed warbly even when I had both elbows firmly braced on a boulder.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 16:48
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Well then what I would suggest is what my brother has in a pair of binoculars.  They are the Steiner Predator 12x40's 
 
 
they are individual eye focus which means once you focus them for your eyes they are in focus from close up to infinity, they are porro prisms which means they do not have to have phase coating for color correction and they are very clear and economical at $350.00.
 
I would use a pair but I have the 10x42 Leica Geovids but his Steiners approach the same resolution at about 1/6th the price.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 17:00
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Problem you will run into with having really nice binos and spotter are you find the animals with them and when you pull up to shot you cannot see the animal good enough in your rifle scope to take the shot.  That happened to me twice this year.  Now I am reevaluating my bushnell 4200 scopes.  They are pretty nice scopes, but not even in the same league as my Meopta bino's.  Hopefully by next season I will have either a couple Meopta Meostar or IOR scopes on my hunting rifles instead of the 4200s.  Move them over to the plinking rifles.    
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 17:13
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Originally posted by supertool73 supertool73 wrote:

Problem you will run into with having really nice binos and spotter are you find the animals with them and when you pull up to shot you cannot see the animal good enough in your rifle scope to take the shot.  That happened to me twice this year.  Now I am reevaluating my bushnell 4200 scopes.  They are pretty nice scopes, but not even in the same league as my Meopta bino's.  Hopefully by next season I will have either a couple Meopta Meostar or IOR scopes on my hunting rifles instead of the 4200s.  Move them over to the plinking rifles.    


Thank you! That has been my point for a long time. If you can't see in your scope what you see in your binos:
1. Get a better scope
2. Get a cheaper pair if binos that match the scope
Of course option one is the best.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 18:04
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 18:29
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On binoculars:

you do not need high magnification to see well.  You do need good optical quality and reasonably large exit pupil.  Get some sort of a higher end 8x42 binocular.  Meopta Meostar mentioned above is an exceptionally nice one.

On scopes:

Modern day variable scopes from reputable makers are quite robust and hold zero well.  If you are comfortable with a 4x, perhaps you should consider some sort of 3-9x or 4-12x or 4-16x scope for an upgrade.  I have been playing with a Vortex Viper 4-12x40 with their holdover reticle and I can easily vouch for it.  Very nice scope that is fairly trim and can be mounted low.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 20:29
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Thanks. Many good points. And ILya, from what I've been researching, 8x42 on a higher end model (and less weight) sounds like the way to go.

Supertool73 and tahqua, I do have to disagree somewhat with the line of reasoning that a scope should match the quality of binos or spotting scopes. For one thing (unlike yesterday) I usually have time to either stalk into a good shooting position or start from a more advantageous location. And as I mentioned, I think the .308 Win has limitations out beyond 300 yards, at least on elk. I have a notion at least that if I had some better glass yesterday and the sense to use it earlier on I could have taken a concealed, downwind approach to get within range instead of traipsing around without much of a plan.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 20:39
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you do realize that at 300-500yds with the same 150gr bullet the .308 is within 100fps and 100ftlbs of energy of the 30-06, you may be surprised at effective the .308 can be on elk, as a 30-06 and 300mag owner i often thumbed my nose at the little .308 when i was hunting elk when i lived in wyoming, now that i spend more time studying ballstics i realize that i was wrong to do that especially when i compare it to the 30-06, its a little more defined with the 300win mag of course.
not that this has anything to do with your scope issue, so excuse me for hijacking your thread for a min.  im sorry
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/25/2008 at 20:59
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Originally posted by pyro6999 pyro6999 wrote:

you do realize that at 300-500yds with the same 150gr bullet the .308 is within 100fps and 100ftlbs of energy of the 30-06, you may be surprised at effective the .308 can be on elk, as a 30-06 and 300mag owner i often thumbed my nose at the little .308 when i was hunting elk when i lived in wyoming, now that i spend more time studying ballstics i realize that i was wrong to do that especially when i compare it to the 30-06, its a little more defined with the 300win mag of course.
not that this has anything to do with your scope issue, so excuse me for hijacking your thread for a min.  im sorry
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/26/2008 at 09:09
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Binocs are like scopes, which ones you use are dependent upon application. If the hunting requires a very good scope, then you will also need very good binos. They are a matched set for the intended purpose. Wide open terrain will often require very good glass with decent to excellent resolution, and moderate to high magnification. Backwoods, and swampbottom areas will require less magnification and excellent resolution capabilities along with low light use. Either way if you need to use binos, make sure they are close to what the scope is capable of. It does you no good to be able to see with the binos and not with the scope, it does no good to be able to see with the scope what you can't see with the binos.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/26/2008 at 10:36
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Originally posted by cyborg cyborg wrote:

It does you no good to be able to see with the binos and not with the scope, it does no good to be able to see with the scope what you can't see with the binos.


(Sorry, I'm kind of an argumentative guy). I'll admit I'm not the most experienced hunter but it seems to me that the point of having good binos (or a spotting scope) is too spot animals even at distances beyond the effective range of almost all cartridges (I'm not moving to a 50 BMG!). Or to spot animals in deep cover (which you certainly mentioned). Once I'm on to an animal's location I've found I can put the rifle scope on it without a problem - within the limitations I've mentioned before (mainly scope zero on a regular duplex reticle).

As far as glassing animals at a distance, it's not that big of a deal to me to move into firing position. I once walked 1 1/2 miles around a large bowl-shaped drainage just to get a shot at an antelope buck holed up under the only two trees for miles around. (In fact, I got within 25 yards of him). I've spotted a fair number of elk that will stay put in a meadow for an hour or more if it's the right time of day and they aren't spooked. That's plenty of time to close distances under a mile in most of the terrain I hunt.

I realize that conditions differ from one area to the next and probably what I'm talking about wouldn't work at all for beanfield hunting or really dense forest. We have some in parts of Montana but not where I live. My biggest worry is staying out of patches of new growth and deadfall from old forest fires. Pushing through that will ruin your day. I guess what I'm aiming for is the most reasonable, versatile (and cost-effective) combination of hunting gear to make my days in the mountains as pleasant and productive as possible.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: November/26/2008 at 14:30
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The problems I had this year was in the low light mornings.  I saw a herd of elk coming into me.  I watched them with my binos until they were close enough to start shooting.  I could easily make out the spike bulls with my binos.  So I pull up my rifle with a 4200 and I could not tell at all which ones were the bulls.  In fact the only one I could tell was a 5 point bull and not because of the rack, but because of his large body.   So I then had to pull up my binos again to double check which ones were the spikes.  Luckly for me I had a lot of time to go through all this and was still able to shoot.  But if my scope had been as good optically as my binos that would have never been a problem.  So I think it is a very good idea to have a scope as good as your binos, there is absolutley no reason not to. 

As far as a .308.  I have a cousin who is a professional guide/hunter on a big private ranch.  He guides and hunts are year long, taking may big bull elk, deer and buffalo.  He says they have taken many big bull buffalo at over 300 yards with a .308 and all of them that have been good vital shots has only taken 1 bullet.  One they took at over 400 yards with a .308.  He claims the most successful shooters use .308s 30-06 and 7mm mags.  All the people that bring the big bores wound all the time and then they have to chase the animals to get them.  He says many times he has seen hunters bring in .338 and .375s to hunt deer and elk and many times they use such heavy loads and big thick bullets that all the do is punch a bullet sized whole right through the animal.  Where the ligher bullets with thinner jackets do significantly more damage.  He is also the taxidermist and processor for all the meat on the ranch.  So he gets to see and inspect all these animals as they are processed so I take his word on this data.   

I think us as americans just like everything else go way overboard on gun calibers.  My dad and I have killed I believe 7 elk now with 2 shots or less with .243s, my dad killed another one this year.  So a .308 for an elk out the 300 yards no problem with proper shot placement, if it will take down a buffalo at 400 yards anything else inside of that should be no problem at all.   
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That's good to know about the .308. I've always liked it because it has been very accurate for me, especially in my Rem. LTR. And really, I've had nothing but good results out at longer ranges using Accubonds or Federal Fusions. (I did learn the hard way that at close range, it's better to not use polymer-tipped rounds). I've certainly been flirting with the idea of moving to a scope with a ballistic reticle and moderate variable magnification. I really think even a 3-9 might be too much although that's the broadest offering. If I had known for a certainty that the elevation of my round would have been right, I would have taken a shot. Even though that buck looked small at 400 yards through a 4X I have a Harris bipod.

I'll probably take a look at the Kahles 2-7x36 MultiZero again...if they ever get their North American distribution straightened out.
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Originally posted by supertool73 supertool73 wrote:

The problems I had this year was in the low light mornings.  I saw a herd of elk coming into me.  I watched them with my binos until they were close enough to start shooting.  I could easily make out the spike bulls with my binos.  So I pull up my rifle with a 4200 and I could not tell at all which ones were the bulls.  In fact the only one I could tell was a 5 point bull and not because of the rack, but because of his large body.   So I then had to pull up my binos again to double check which ones were the spikes.  Luckly for me I had a lot of time to go through all this and was still able to shoot.  But if my scope had been as good optically as my binos that would have never been a problem.  So I think it is a very good idea to have a scope as good as your binos, there is absolutley no reason not to. 

 
I had a situation like this in the Black Hills hunt I was on this year (supertool has heard the story already) I  spotted a deer with my Leica bino's, and when I went to put my scope on it, I had to wait for her to lift her head to know which end to shoot at. She stood at 516 yds, and without the equipment I used that shot would have never happened. Considering how dark it was, (just barely legal light) with the optics I had prior to last year, I doubt I'd have even seen that deer. I can only imagine if I'd have spotted her in the bino's and pulled up my scope and not been able to shoot. That scope would have to go. I now believe in "matching" optics as well.
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If I had to choose between a really good bino or a really good riflescope, I would put my $ into a really good bino, since if you use the bino properly, you'll spend far more time looking through it than the scope.  You can get a decent quality riflescope for $300 - $400 that will have you covered for most situations.  Ideally, if it's in the budget, I would obviously prefer to have both a top drawer bino and scope, but you can get an above average scope for much less than you can an above average bino.
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I don't know that it is really possible to truly match your optics. 
 
Assuming you are at the very least always using quality equipment, then you will always be able to see better with your binoculars than with your riflescope.  Just the fact that you are using both eyes with the binoculars all-but gaurantees this.
 
I would venture that even a moderately priced binocular will "see" better than even the most expensive riflescopes - when set to comparable magnifications.
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Originally posted by lucznik lucznik wrote:

I don't know that it is really possible to truly match your optics. 
 
Assuming you are at the very least always using quality equipment, then you will always be able to see better with your binoculars than with your riflescope.  Just the fact that you are using both eyes with the binoculars all-but gaurantees this. ...

Lucznik, these are excellent points and I agree completely. Since binos engage both eyes at the same time, they allow more indistinct objects to be engaged by the brain and provide up to 20% better color perception and contrast than scopes. I have seen some estimates of up to 40% better, but I have not personally seen that much difference.
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Last year I broke down and bought a a pair of Vortex Razor binoculars and they are simply amazing! I can now see and identify things that used to be out of bounds.

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JonoMT, A little off topic, but where are you at in MT?  And where were you hunting?  Just curious since I am in MT too.
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