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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 21:58
koshkin View Drop Down
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Tweener scopes

Tweener scopes are an interesting breed. 

They are somewhat unpopular these days: most of the attention goes either to Hubble sized scope used for low light and long range shooting and to low range variables of 1-4x24 configuration which are both "tacti-cool" and have the aura of being DGR scopes.

The middle of the road (3-9x40 or thereabouts) scopes get some attention from hunters, but that is largely it.

So what is a tweener scope?  Honestly, I am not sure who came up with the term "tweener".  I have been using it for a few years, but I am pretty sure I saw it somewhere.

Tweener scopes are, loosely, scopes that have objective diameters below the common 40mm diameter, but are not straight tubed.  Most common magnification range for a tweener scope is something along the lines of 2-8x, and the most common objective diameter is around 32mm.

For the sake of the discussion, I will define "tweener" scopes the following way:
  • Variable magnification
  • Low end magnification of no more than 2.5x
  • High end magnification of 6x or higher
  • Objective lens diameter in the 30 to 36mm range
  • Long enough to mount on a 30-06 length action

I am intentionally not mentioning weight or overall length, since they vary greatly.  I do, however, want to weed out some ultra compact scopes since their usefullness is limited to only certain applications and their design has some limitations imposed to by trying to make them extra short (Burris TImberline/Short Mag scopes, for example).  While tweener scopes are fairly compact, the best ones of the breed (IMO) are not overly short allowing their mounting on long actions.

By specifying the magnification range, I am also weeding out a few very capable scopes like Burris Signature Safari 1.75-5x32 and Weaver Grand Slam 1.75-5x32.  While these are excellent and much more versatile than most people give them credit for, I think they are aimed at different audiences and should be considered low range variables instead (another class of scopes I take a lot of interest in).

Why do I like tweener scopes? There are several reasons.  These scopes bridge the gap between low-range/DGR variables and full-size hunting scopes.  They offer enough magnification to shoot quite far out.  They offer sufficiently low magnification and wide field of view for fast shooting if need be.  While not optimal for low light, they have enough exit pupil for good low light performance at 4-5x. 

From an optical standpoint, these scopes are not too difficult to build, so you can expect nice performance even at a moderate price point.  One caveat is that this "ease of design" can be easily countered by trying to make the scope too short.  One feature that is not talked about much is that the combination of a fairly long optical system and small objective lens yields greater depth of field.  That is one of the reasons why I added a requirement that they should be mountable on long-action scopes.  In practical terms, that implies mounting length of at least 5" or so.  The overall length usually works out to be something between 11" and 13".  If you look up the specs of the scopes I list below, you will see that vast majority of them have overall length between 11" and 11.5".  Additionally, "tweener" configuration typically allows for generous and flexible eyerelief.  As far as reticles go, I prefer highly visible reticles that work well in low light (like the #4).  I will go over the reticle selection in available scopes a bit further below, but I am generally disappointed in most of the choices.

Until recently, the best (once again, in my opinion) tweener scope has been Kahles CL 2-7x36.  It is small and light while still having very good low light performance.  Mine has a very visible #4 reticle.  The catch is that Kahles does not currently have a US distributor and I have no idea about what is going to happen to Kahles in North America.  I hope they will partner with a new distributor soon.

Of the currently available tweener scope, here are the better ones that I can think of that are made by reputable manufacturers:

Bushnell Elite 6500 1.25-8x32
Zeiss Conquest 2.5-8x32
Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x36
Nikon Monarch 2-8x32
Vortex Viper 2-7x32
Sightron S2 2.5-10x32

Here are a few more by the same manufacturers that are a bit cheaper (and lower performing):

Leupold VX-II 2-7x33
Vortex Diamondback 2-7x35
Burris Fulfield II 2-7x35
Bushnell Elite 3200 2-7x32
Weaver Classic 2.5-7x32
Mueller 2-7x32

There are some others I left out either because I have not run into them a whole lot or because I do not consider them to be worth the money.  Additionally, there are a few that are quite a bit more expensive and are targeted at somewhat different markets: for example there are a couple of very nice IOR scopes that are aimed at the tactical market (2-12x32 and 2-12x36), and a well regarded Nightforce 2.5-10x32.

For the time being I will stick to the scopes in the first group and discuss their comparative merits.  To forewarn the inevitable question of "which one is tougher", I would expect all of these scopes to be equally durable. Either way, I do not have the means to conduct a statistically meaningful study needed to determine a particular design's durability.

Kahles CL 2-7x36
This scope is/was available with either plex or #4 reticle either with Multizero or with a normal elevation knob.  The one I have has the Multizero know which works well, but is ultimately unnecessary for a scope of this type.  As far as reticles go, the #4 is one of my favourite allround choices and that is how my Kahles is configured.  Optically, Kahles CL is the best 1" tube scope I have ever seen.  Mechanically, the adjustments are spot on and the scope has not given me any trouble so far.  It sits on one of my favourite rifles: a Tikka chambered for 280Rem.  From the low light performance stand point, this is the best of the tweener scope and by a good margin.  The eyepiece is of fairly large diameter, but it has not given me any trouble.  I think it matches well with the 36mm objective.

Bushnel Elite 6500 1.25-8x32
I have only seen this scope at the SHOT show, although I hope to get my hands on one some time this year (with the economy being what it is, I am obvously not planning to spend too much money on optics this year, so we'll see).  Optically, this scope is very good as is the rest of the Elite 4200/6500 line.  Mechanical quality and durability should be very good as well, but this is a new design and time will tell.  For the time being, there is only one reticle available: plex, which is really this scope's only let down in my opinion.  Still, it s versatilty is unmatched in this group due to a large magnification range. Additionally, eye relief is impressively long at "5-6" or so.  This scope seems to be designed for rifles with kick: 5" of eye relief AND 5.9" of mounting length.  This is the only scope here with a 30mm tube, and it is the heaviest of the group.  The overall size is still pretty trim though.  Since I have only seen this scope once, I do not recall the exact dimensions of the reticle and the eyepiece, but I recall that the eyepiece seemed of fairly normal size and the reticle seemed quite thin.

Zeiss Conquest 2.5-8x32
This is one of the heavier and longer tweener scopes, but is still reasonably small.  Optically, it is a touch below the Kahles, but still excellent as is the rest of the Conquest line.  Eye
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 22:37
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Love the post Koshkin, because I am trying to find a new scope for a Mannlicher Schoenauer and the "Tweener" is what I am leaning towards.   I thought I would try and find a vintage scope from the 50's/60's, but I am afraid I don't have the expertise to really pick one.  I am thinking the perfect scope would be a 30-36mm objective, #4 reticle, gloss finished scope with a 1" tube.  Unfortunately, on this rifle, I think it needs a sleek eyepiece as well.   I wish I could put all of this together, but I think a good compromise may be the Leupold.  Please let me know if you can think of a better solution.  Thanks for the insight...B
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/28/2009 at 23:13
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If you are looking at something with a gloss finish, your options are limited.  Leupold is probably the best way to go.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 06:16
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good stuff well done as usual!! i was quite interested in this for my own information on a new potential scope, thanks for the info.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 06:34
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Koshkin,

Thanks for a thoughtful discussion of these scopes.  I especially appreciate the way you ranked them by attribute.  It was very helpful.

I've recently been trying to sort these scopes out myself.  It's rather tough to do when none of my local purveyors stock anything smaller than a 3-9x40, and usually not even too many of those.  If a scope's not 18" or longer, with an objective bell like an oil can, they don't seem too interested.  I'm sure I'll see one of these monster scopes on a .30-30 in the woods one of these days...

If I can't hold the scopes, look through them, or hold them up to my rifle, I'm left to try to guess what would be best for me based on tons of unsubstantiated internet drivel.  Less than fun.
 
 
Thanks again for helping lift the veil on the murky world of scope offerings.
 
FC
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 07:30
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Thanks for the information.  The tweener scopes have become my favorite scopes.  I currently have the Nikon Monarch, Votex Viper, and Vortex Diamondback.  The Nikon is mounted on my 7mm-08, the Viper on my Savage 308, and the Diamondback is looking for a home.  I really want to get the Zeiss, but I will have to wait until I get a new rifle, which won't be long.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 08:06
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Thanks Ilia, I too own this KAHLES 2x7x36 scope and always said it was my favorite . So know after reading your post I feel a whole lot more comfortable in thinking so......COOL!

Edited by rifle looney - May/01/2009 at 18:44
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 08:16
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Ilya,
you mentioned that the C3 reticle on the Viper has thicker post than the V-Plex, yet the website shows the V-Plex to have thicker post. Is this just a mistake on the website, cause I'm sure you have looked through all of them. I am thinking hard about getting a Viper in the 2-7x32 and would like the best reticle they make for low light conditions. ( leagual shooting hours )
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 08:39
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Mr Koshkin, Thank you for the post EXCEPTIONAL INFO as always. I  have been trying to decide what to put on a 416. This will help to make my decision........
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 08:43
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Good post, good info.

But every rifle needs a Hubble, they do it all!  You can't see the rover on the moon's surface with a "tweener"!








Edited due to terrible spelling


Edited by Rancid Coolaid - April/29/2009 at 09:38
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 09:18
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I have gotta agree--"Tweeners " definitely have a place in the optics world and simply work.
I have several Monarch 2-7's ( favor it over my Monarch 2-8..just feels more substantial ) , Leupold 2.5-8's, 3200 Elite  2-7's ( prove both rugged and a great value) , Browning 2-7's ( out of production and a steal when they were highly discounted) ,and  Pentax 2-5 Whitetail Unlimiteds ( twilight plex reticle is just about perfect) .... Admittedly I have a telescope or two on rifles, but  these midsize optics are ideal for just about every real world  hunting situation , and are efficient in performance and size / weight.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 09:29
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ILya,
 
Have you measured the eye relief on the 2.5-8x Leupold VX-3? On the 3.5-10x40 VX-3 I tested eye relief varied less than half an inch, which ain't much. In fact I have tested the eye relief on scopes that are advertised to have constant eye relief and have found it to vary that much.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 09:42
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tweeners are strange-- no really good ones out there-- anyone looking to spend that much usually wants something more specialized. 2x7 on a 416 and use occasionally on ak side mount to give an idea of their versatility. leo is a bit to short and mediocre glass, but very tough.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 11:37
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I've always liked the tweeners. The Leupy VX III 2.5 -8 X 36 has been a standard. My current favorite "sort of tweener" is a Swaro AV 3-9 X 36.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 13:02
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Originally posted by Bullet74 Bullet74 wrote:

Ilya,
you mentioned that the C3 reticle on the Viper has thicker post than the V-Plex, yet the website shows the V-Plex to have thicker post. Is this just a mistake on the website, cause I'm sure you have looked through all of them. I am thinking hard about getting a Viper in the 2-7x32 and would like the best reticle they make for low light conditions. ( leagual shooting hours )
 


Your best bet is to call Vortex and ask.  According to their website, the thick lines on the V-plex are 0.42MOA and on the C3 1 MOA.  Thin lines are 0.12 on V-plex and 0.2 on C3.  Are we looking at the same diagram?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 13:07
koshkin View Drop Down
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Originally posted by John Barsness John Barsness wrote:

ILya,
 
Have you measured the eye relief on the 2.5-8x Leupold VX-3? On the 3.5-10x40 VX-3 I tested eye relief varied less than half an inch, which ain't much. In fact I have tested the eye relief on scopes that are advertised to have constant eye relief and have found it to vary that much.


John,
I have not looked at the 3.5-10x40 VX-3, but on both 4.5-14x40 and 2.5-8x36 (the two VX-3 scopes I looked at in reasonable detail) the eye relief varies by about an inch or so. 
Variable eye relief is a tricky issue that I can't quite put my figure on.  Some people are clearly bothered by it, and some simply do not care.  I used to be in a do not care camp, but as I started to practice more, I found it bothersome.  At some point I need to try to quantify what amount of eye relief change bothers me and what does not.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 13:34
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Like you, ILya, I do not care for scopes with variable eye relief. Once you start using scopes that have a fairly constant eye relief you will find it difficult to go back. Not sure why Leupold can't seem to get with the times on this eye relief issue. I can only assume that their customer base has learned to live with it.

Edited by Roy Finn - April/29/2009 at 13:35
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 13:55
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The eye relief change has never brothered me with Leupold's. I am a stock crawler when it comes to mounting scopes and maybe that comes into play.
Nice thread, BTW.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 14:00
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  +1  My SII 1.5-6x42,while not the best scope in the store,has an e/r of 3.8" to 4".  I'm sold on constant e/r!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 15:00
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Nice work, Koshkin. I always appreciate the analysis you are willing to undertake. Since I don't hunt anything but antelope, deer and elk I can't see much reason for having a scope bigger than a tweener or over 10X. The tacti-cools don't bother me as much as the big bells (maybe it's partially because I own a tactical 2.5-10X) since they're at least functional at closer ranges. But most of them probably offer few advantages over a fixed 4X.

One thing that puzzles me is why Leupold sells all these scopes labeled like "2.5-8X" and then in the specs (as you noted) show actual magnifications that are odd and usually a smaller range. Do other scope manufacturers do this and does it mean that it's a common industry practice to just round the numbers? If not, why not engineer the optics to the nominal specs?

Jon
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 16:43
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Yes we are looking at the same diagram, I really like the Viper, but I might have to get something with a heavier reticle, since i start hunting  30 min before sunrise and 30 min after sunset like most hunters.
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This is my favorite category for general purpose big game hunting scopes.  They provide a good compromise between sufficiently high magnification on the high end and good FOV on the low end, in a compact, fairly lightweight package that just looks good on a trim hunting rifle.
 
Good analysis, Ilya!Excellent
 
I too am a huge fan of the Kahles 2-7X36 CL (and its predecessor, the 2-7X36 AH).  It's one of my favorite scopes!  I wish mine had the 4a reticle, but alas, it has the very thin plex.  I bought mine used at a good price or it would have had the 4a.  Unfortunately, without a US distributor, I'm not willing to go through the hassle or expense of having it changed to the 4a.  It's still a great scope as-is.  I wish there were more quality "tweeners" available, but this is an overlooked category.  Obviously, they must not be strong sellers.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 19:37
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Boy howdy, that is the kind of post that draws me in to OT everyday, if only to read. Thank you for the analysis, sir! You have me looking at another Kahles scope now, though! And that will lead to another rifle! Good grief... I'va fallen and I can't get up!
 
Regards, Texas
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My tweener on the AR

Perfect


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/29/2009 at 20:35
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Quite often the good tweeners are discontinued, due to lack of sales. A great one for many years was the variations on the 1.5-6x Balvar. This was the Bausch & Lomb scope first made in Japan by Light Optical, which morphed eventually into the 1.5-6x Bushnell 4200, not no longer made.

It was screwed up by being given a HUGE objective by Bushnell for a while, when that was in style even if there was no optical reason for it. This made it as heavy as the 2.5-10x, so buying the 2.5-10x made more sense.

Eventually it was turned back into a more reasonable scope (and I have one of the 4200's) but evidently very few of the engineers who design scopes get the idea.

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