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Today's scopes, is there really a measurable difference

Jeff in TXJeff in TX Senior MemberPosts: 2,151 Senior Member
edited December 2018 in General Firearms #1
I figured this topic might start a fiery debate! 

Had an interesting conversation this weekend with a few locals.  We got onto the subject of today's scopes.  The question was posed, staying within a given price range is there really a measurable difference between today's scopes?  Or does it come down to brand loyalty. 

Like most things, most of today's scopes are designed and engineered using computer programs.  At the end of the day a lot scope manufactures get their glass from a handful of manufactures, of coursed sized and spec'd to their requirements.

As we get older, can our eyes see a noticeable difference in color and clarity between two different scopes brands. 

I don't think my eyes can really tell a difference between Leupold, Nikon, Burris or Vortex scopes to name a few in the same price range.  I have some high end scopes and middle of the road scopes and side by side I can't see that much of difference.

When Leupold, Vortex or some other manufactures tags their updated line of scopes with HD glass and nearly doubles the price, can you really see a difference, or double the price difference?

Most scopes have a lifetime warranty so their built rugged and made to take normal wear and tear. So this comes down to CS.

I really think it comes down to brand loyalty and personal perception of differences!

Thoughts!

   
Distance is not an issue, but the wind can make it interesting!

John 3: 1-21
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Replies

  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 21,684 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #2
    In a given price range, I haven't noticed a huge difference in quality of the glass. What I have noticed is differences with the coatings and light transmission.

    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • Jeff in TXJeff in TX Senior Member Posts: 2,151 Senior Member
    knitepoet said:
    In a given price range, I haven't noticed a huge difference in quality of the glass. What I have noticed is differences the coatings and light transmission.

    I struggle with this one.  I have a Leupold VX-6 1X6 which has a straight 30mm objective.  I have a Vortex 4.5 to 14 with a 50 mm objective and Burris 3X9 with a 44mm objective.  Side by side on the bench I may get maybe min more light transmission on the Vortex but it's really a toss up.  This is with them all set to their lowest power level except the Leupold is set to 2 instead of 1.  No difference between the Leupold and Burris.  You'd think the Leupold would be the first out with a 30mm objective.  Put my US Optics scope next to them and I get five minutes more, but that scope is 4 times the price. 
    Distance is not an issue, but the wind can make it interesting!

    John 3: 1-21
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,798 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #4
    I mostly agree with the idea that most rifle shooters lack the expertise and ability to discern a major difference between decent scopes and great scopes. Anyone who can (or thinks he can) shoot better with something better, and can afford to back it up with cash on the barrel head, should buy whatever he thinks will make him shoot better. Nikons, at several different price points, have provided me with what I 'need', now, and won't outgrow quickly, even if I become a better shooter.

    In all honesty, the K-4 Weaver that I purchased in about 1966 would have bagged any whitetail I have gotten since 1966. The difference is that the variable powered Nikons that I own are better (and more fun) on the range, where most hunters do most of their shooting.
  • ojrojr Senior Member Posts: 1,143 Senior Member
    It's those extra minutes that you pay for, I get that time at the beginning and end of the day with the Leica and Schmidt and Bender that I don't with the Night force and Leupold
     In the middle of the day it makes no difference.
    The flight was uneventful, which is what one wants when one is transporting an Elephant.
     Reuters, Dec 2020.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    I currently own several brands of scopes. I still have and use occasionally, the first scope I ever bought. It's a 4X Redfield. Damn clear scope in low light and it's 52 years old. I have a couple of Leupold Redfields 4-12X40 and for $220 they are excellent. I have 4 Nikons that work. The oldest is a 3-9x40 Prostaff and I'll be honest it seems to me the clearest scope I have in low light. However, I think most old eyes are not capable of taking advantage of a lot of light transmission.

    If I had an unlimited budget I'd put VX-3i Leupolds on everything. They seem very bright and clear but I have no idea yet as for low light performance in the field. But they do give me confidence that I'm using a sure thing that probably won't let me down. And the ones I have were priced right.

    I have the one VX-2 that I have tested in low light and it is pretty good. So good in fact that I'm leaving it on my favorite rifle. The big difference in scopes isn't so much light transmission but rather clarity at distance. That's what struck me with this VX-2 was it's clarity at distance. However, in all fairness I haven't really checked out the VX-3is yet. We shall see.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    ojr said:
    It's those extra minutes that you pay for, I get that time at the beginning and end of the day with the Leica and Schmidt and Bender that I don't with the Night force and Leupold
     In the middle of the day it makes no difference.
    Yeah but ojr, you're way out of my class. If you have enough money you can go to the moon. I just don't have that kind of money to pay $2000+ for a scope.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Uncle FesterUncle Fester Senior Member Posts: 1,440 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #8
    Although I have two Meoptas that I like, all my scope purchases for a given price range are now Leupolds.  I have a VX-3i coming in the mail right now.

    In my experience, Leupolds work great.  When I had a customer service incident a few years ago, they were better than I expected.  
  • bellcatbellcat Senior Member Posts: 1,937 Senior Member
    To me, with optics, the more you pay the better you get.   The big question is:  How much do you need?   For me, the Burris, Leupold, Nikon, Sightron, and such from $180-$350 are all comparative to each other in the price bracket.   And for most of our needs, they work perfect.
    My best scopes are the old Vari X-II's with a 50mm objective.  I think they were around $300, 20 years?
    "Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see." Mark Twain
  • FFLshooterFFLshooter Member Posts: 1,057 Senior Member
    I’m not a hunter and rarely get time enough to myself to be able to go shooting anymore but I do peek  through scopes a few times a week when I mount and laser sight one for a customer. Using the back wall 30’ away in my back shop to do so hasn’t offered me the ability to tell the difference with any so far, short of eye relief.
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Member Posts: 1,547 Senior Member
    Brand loyalty is a part of my selection process.  Its more a matter of I know what to expect from the product than blind loyalty due to what I have been told.  I used to use only Burris scopes on my rifles.  That all changed when I sent two scopes in for warranty.  Lets just say that the warranty process was enough that a customer was lost for good.  I even went as far as to let Burris know that any of their scopes that I still have in use will be smashed and scraped if it fails in any way in the future.  They did not take too kindly to that.

    I have purchased a handful of Nikon scopes.  One was for a Ruger Redhawk .41 magnum set up for a scope (I have since installed a factory rear sight and removed all the scope hardware), one was an accidental double purchase (handgun scope), and the third scope is a shotgun scope on my TNW 10mm carbine.  Once I decide to off the carbine I will not be using any of the Nikon scopes.

    Every new scope purchased in the last year or so has been a Leupold or Redfield.  I like how the seem to work for me and I know what to expect from Leupold scopes due to past experience by myself and my father.  They have all been sub $300 scopes, so I cant say much for clarity compared to a higher end model.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #12
    Talk about going into a purchase blindly, a few years back, maybe 5 or 6 years, I wanted to get me a 4-12X40 Nikon Prostaff, but they, whoever I was buying it from, were out of that model and they instead had a Vortex Diamondback on sale so I thought I'd try one. It was clear and bright enough but the eye relief sucked. However, due to the low price for such a clear scope I decided to keep it. I put it on my fairly heavy 8x57 Yugo Mauser that I'd had sporterized but left the Military barrel on. It's not a hard kicker so I figured the short eye relief might not be a problem. But then I started researching and that thing is advertised as having between 3 and 4 inches eye relief. That thing was doing good to have two. So I called Vortex Customer Servce and explained what I had and they affirmed it should have more eye relief. They told me to send it in because it was under a life time warranty. But I procrastinated since I liked to hunt with that rifle and the eye relief hadn't really caused a problem yet. I just now 3 years later got around to it and sent it in to have it checked out. It's advertised to have a minimum 91% light transmission and judging by the clarity and brightness I believe it has that or more. If they can fix that short eye relief without affecting it's light transmission and resolution I would say it was one of my best scopes. But that short eye relief needs to be resolved before I'll brag on it.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,618 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #13
    There are differences.
    It kind of depends on what you are looking for in a scope and at what price range.  For me, there is more than clarity or light transmission or coatings.  Other important things for me: Reliability of turrets, zero stops, reticles, eye box, eye relief, etc...
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,871 Senior Member
    For me it goes weight, then eye relief.  Leupold and Weaver usually win in both.  I have a few Nikons I got on big sales or used for a steal,  but they're usually moved around to guns just to have a scope on them so I can shoot. I think my Zeiss scopes ARE a bit more clear, and I got good deals, but I'd be just as happy with Leupold. So for me its not brand loyalty as much as a certain brand checks my most important boxes 
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • hawk18hawk18 Senior Member Posts: 742 Senior Member
    Great thread. A lot of wisdom here. 

    Yes, you can see the difference. Yes, the "mechanics" make a lot of difference. Yes, paper is cheap. Yes, brand loyalty is big. And, yes, my K4 or K6 will cover nearly all my big game hunting needs in this country. 

    Hawk
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    There are differences.
    It kind of depends on what you are looking for in a scope and at what price range.  For me, there is more than clarity or light transmission or coatings.  Other important things for me: Reliability of turrets, zero stops, reticles, eye box, eye relief, etc...
    Yeah me too kinda sorta but eye relief is chief among them. I get nervous when the ocular lens blocks out the sun. I've busted my face before and I'm already ugly enough.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #17
    cpj said:
    The only way to be 100% sure is with some sort of measuring instrument. 
    What I think is clear and what Bob thinks is clear and what Jose thinks is clear....are 3 different things. 
    '
    Or by comparison. When I look through three scopes and this one's the clearest I tend to believe it's clear. I don't really care what Bob or Jose think, But I agree, it can be or rathr it is a matter of personal perception.

    Anyway, This scope that has no eye relief is gone back to Vortex. It's in their hands.
    I hope they can pull a rabbit out of the hat and give it at least an inch more eye relief. I wasn't aware but they told me there are some internal adjustments they can do to help it. But how much they can do and how much it will affect clarity and brightness is the question.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    hawk18 said:in
    Great thread. A lot of wisdom here. 

    Yes, you can see the difference. Yes, the "mechanics" make a lot of difference. Yes, paper is cheap. Yes, brand loyalty is big. And, yes, my K4 or K6 will cover nearly all my big game hunting needs in this country. 

    Hawk
    I have the K-6 made in El Paso about 1979. It's bright enough to kill deer at least 12 hours a day. Last gun I had it on was my 7 Mag, But I got worried because that scope is 40 years old and I didn't want to shake its guts out. So I swapped it out and put one of my Redfield 4-12x40s on the 7 mag and will put this on my AR.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    For me it goes weight, then eye relief.  Leupold and Weaver usually win in both.  I have a few Nikons I got on big sales or used for a steal,  but they're usually moved around to guns just to have a scope on them so I can shoot. I think my Zeiss scopes ARE a bit more clear, and I got good deals, but I'd be just as happy with Leupold. So for me its not brand loyalty as much as a certain brand checks my most important boxes 
    Just curious but what is it that you don't like about Nikons? Mine have very good eye relief, they're clear and don't seem to me to be heavy.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,871 Senior Member
    I don't dislike them,  I just like Leupold more. And they are a bit bulky 
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,618 Senior Member
    snake284 said:
    Anyway, This scope that has no eye relief is gone back to Vortex. It's in their hands.
    I hope they can pull a rabbit out of the hat and give it at least an inch more eye relief. I wasn't aware but they told me there are some internal adjustments they can do to help it. But how much they can do and how much it will affect clarity and brightness is the question.
    Can you move the scope back an inch?
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #22
    snake284 said:
    Anyway, This scope that has no eye relief is gone back to Vortex. It's in their hands.
    I hope they can pull a rabbit out of the hat and give it at least an inch more eye relief. I wasn't aware but they told me there are some internal adjustments they can do to help it. But how much they can do and how much it will affect clarity and brightness is the question.
    Can you move the scope back an inch?
    No, the bell's up against the front ring and the front ring is as far back as I can put it. But if I move it back an inch it only gives it an inch of eye relief and at that point I'm pretty sure it would bust my eye brow. Anyway, for better or worse it should be at the Vortex plant today. They told me their turn around time is one week. So I should know if they can fix this one or give me something else pretty soon.

    I really want to deal with Vortex. They are very accommodating. In fact from the little I've seen I'd put them up with Leupold as far as Customer Service quality. I don't know yet if their lifetime warranty is as good as Leupold's but if it is as good as their service then they are a first class outfit. So I hope they can make a good product or give me some sort of satisfaction with this scope. If I can have this scope with one more inch eye relief and as clear as it is right now I will definitely be a Vortex fan. We shall see.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    I don't dislike them,  I just like Leupold more. And they are a bit bulky 
    Oh I agree there. They are not quite up to Leupold. But they are close and for the money they're a deal. I know this, Nikon makes some of the best Lenses in the camera business. They are rated a bit higher than Cannon. And Cannon ain't no slouch.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,871 Senior Member
    They'll get moved to guns im not as concerned about with,  or that don't recoil too hard to worry about eye relief
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,394 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #25
    They'll get moved to guns im not as concerned about with,  or that don't recoil too hard to worry about eye relief
    Did you have an issue with a Nikon with eye relief? All four of my Nikons have good eye relief. In fact, the only scope I've had any issue over eye relief has been the fore mentioned Vortex. All my Nikons have at least 3 inches or more minimum.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,780 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #26
    snake284 said:
    I don't dislike them,  I just like Leupold more. And they are a bit bulky 
    Oh I agree there. They are not quite up to Leupold. But they are close and for the money they're a deal. I know this, Nikon makes some of the best Lenses in the camera business. They are rated a bit higher than Cannon. And Cannon ain't no slouch.
    I would not agree that Nikon (Nikkor) lenses are rated a bit higher than Canon lenses.  As with anything with top vendors, some Nikon lenses in a specific model or range maybe better than the equivalent Canon lens offering, and it will be the reverse for other specific lenses.

    In a similar price point, it's virtually impossible for the human eye to discern a difference in similar scopes at the same magnification and with the same objective lens size.  The glass comes from a handful of vendors, tailored to certain specs depending on the riflescope maker.  The differentiator will be features, CS (as was mentioned earlier) and so on.

    Of course there will be some models from a vendor that will be better than expected and another model that will be a dog compared to similar, but overall, it's pretty much the same to within a few percentage points.

    The main differentiator in riflescopes is price.  It remains for you to decide if a $1000 scope is really 3 times better than a $300 for your purposes. 

  • MileHighShooterMileHighShooter Senior Member Posts: 4,871 Senior Member
    snake284 said:
    They'll get moved to guns im not as concerned about with,  or that don't recoil too hard to worry about eye relief
    Did you have an issue with a Nikon with eye relief? All four of my Nikons have good eye relief. In fact, the only scope I've had any issue over eye relief has been the fore mentioned Vortex. All my Nikons have at least 3 inches or more minimum.
    I have not had a problem so far,  and I intend to keep it that way ... by buying scopes with longer eye relief ;)  Remember there Snake,  your hardest kicking gun is mid range compared to the guns im building or already have. Either by sheer increased power, or by much lighter rifles.  
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    Once again, please refrain from cutting short any baseless totally emotional arguments with facts. It leads to boring, completely objective conversations well beyond the comprehension ability of many.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 24,979 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #28
    My biggest draw are features and CS. 

    Glass, in a price range, is glass. 

    From what ive seen and experienced in rifle scopes.........sub $500 suck balls in glass and features. I have a couple. And every time I look through them, I hate life. Sorry. 

    $500/$1k/2k/3k+

    Each step has relatively comparable glass in the 3 I’m most familiar with (Leupold/Vortex/Nightforce) and have examples of all of them. 

    I am not impressed with or do not particularly like Burris/Nikon/Bushnell/Simmons/Low End Vortex glass in any of the scopes I’ve looked through. And I have all of those scopes as well. 

    Features and CS are what draw me within price range.

    My biggest check marks are external turrets, side focus, eye relief,and reticle. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 24,979 Senior Member
    edited December 2018 #29
    Scopes are like triggers. Once you use a good one...........you’re ruined for life. 
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,618 Senior Member
    I am an unashamed trigger snob
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,797 Senior Member
    For my purposes, Wambli hit it on the head about being able to see an animal in the shadows or in the treeline at dusk on an overcast day. The other side of the coin is important to me also as sitting in a tree stand facng into a rising or setting sun will separate quality lens coatings from crappy stuff. Those cheap scopes (and binoculars for that matter) that many claim are "just as good as the expensive stuff" usually give you an eye full of glare when facing into the sun while higher end glass is unaffected. 
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
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