Cheap big scope shootout. BSA 6-24x40 vs. Leapers 4-16x56.


October 20, 2008, 02:44 AM
I went out and did a little shooting today using airguns and rimfires and decided to swap a couple of scopes around. Before doing so though I decided to try and compare them side by side. These scopes aren't dirt cheap, but considering the features on them, they are definitely lower end scopes.

Now to begin with, I've had the BSA for a few years now. I believe it cost me $99 about six years ago, but it may have been $89. It's the 6-24x40 mil-dot with the illuminated reticle and it now appears to go for around $115. It's been on a PCP airgun it's entire life, so it's never been exposed to any real recoil and not surprisingly it has held up. At 50 yards or less that particular gun will shoot MOA with this scope. It's got a 1" tube and its mounted with BKL rings.

The second scope I've only had for around 9 months. It's a Leapers 4-16x56 mil-dot with illuminated reticle and the parallax adjustment on the side. This one's been on my CZ 452. It also hasn't been exposed to any significant recoil and the rifle has delivered excellent accuracy with this scope. It's got a 30mm tube and is mounted with Beeman rings. I paid $135 for this scope and it appears to be going for $145 now.

1) Clarity. Both of these scopes have been clear enough for me to easily shoot out to 100 yards with, but putting them side by side I have to give a very slight edge to the Leapers. I was able to see just a tiny bit more clearly with it at 50 yards. Now this might be due to the BSA having been used in the field considerably more. The BSA has been used in the rain and had it's lenses wiped off with whatever cloth happened to be at hand. I always tried to use a clean and soft cloth to clean the lenses with, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that they have lost some of their clarity over the years.

2) Glare. With the magnification dialed up both scopes were very susceptible to glare when pointed in the direction of a light source. On the lowest power however, the Leapers was the clear winner. The BSA still lit up enough to make sighting difficult when aiming at treetops with the sun behind them, while the Leapers did fairly well at 4x.

3) Weight and size. These are both big scopes and not the kind of thing you would want to put on a mountain rifle. The BSA is significantly lighter however. The Leapers has a much larger objective lens, but the actual bell isn't that much bigger since it has it's parallax adjustment on the side.

4) Field of view. With the scopes dialed down to the lowest power, the Leapers appeared to have about a 25% wider field of view. With both scopes set at 6x the Leapers appeared to have about a 10% wider field of view. I didn't measure anything. I just sighted them at the same object and then made a quick guess as to how much wider the field of view was.

5) Turrets and repeatability. I haven't really done enough experimenting here to say one way or the other. The Leapers has been used at the range several times though and the elevation clicks are repeatable on it. I have been able to adjust from 50 yards to 100 yards and back again several times with no loss of zero. The horizontal adjustment might be repeatable, but at this point I don't know. What I do know is that it's not what it says it is. According to the scope it's click values are 1/8 MOA. It's actually at least double that. The BSA has had very few adjustments to it's turrets. Both sights allow for a very wide range of adjustment and both have metal target style turrets, (on the outside anyway). The turrets on the Leapers are larger and exposed with locking adjustments on the bottoms, while the turrets on the BSA are covered with caps. Both are functional, but I like the Leapers adjustments more.

6) Eye relief. The Leapers is more forgiving. That big objective lens and the lower magnification mean you can get a complete sight picture more easily. Your eye can be a little closer or a little further away or a little bit more to the side and you can still get a complete sight picture. Of course this also gives you more potential parallax.

7) Reticle. Here they are equal. Both have mil-dot reticles. Both are illuminated. The BSA has red illumination with 11 different settings while the Leapers has red and green illumination with 5 settings for either one. Both work just fine. The Leapers reticle is etched onto the lens however, so it may be stronger.

8) Miscellaneous. The sidewheel parallax adjustment is better that an adjustment on the bell. It's much easier to adjust with the rifle to your shoulder and it reduces the diameter of the ocular bell. The Leapers also comes with decent flip up lens covers while if I remember right the BSA came with a bikini cover. Flip up lens covers are much better IMO. 4-16x is a better range of magnification for use in the field. I realized fairly soon after buying the BSA that I had overdone it. It's nice when you're sitting on a bench at the range to zoom in at 24x, but in the field I just never use that much magnification. That's not really a flaw with the scope though.

Overall, I think the only thing that the Leapers did significantly better than the BSA with was glare, but it did slightly better with just about everything else and because of that, I think it is a significantly better scope.

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October 20, 2008, 05:40 AM
I go by this maxim; if it says BSA, then run away!!!

October 20, 2008, 06:25 AM
i learnt that too

October 20, 2008, 07:05 AM
This is the beginning of a a good, spin-free, baseline scope comparison. Are there any comparisons with better scopes like Leupold, S&B, Zeiss, or Nightforce?

October 20, 2008, 07:53 AM
This is the beginning of a a good, spin-free, baseline scope comparison. Are there any comparisons with better scopes like Leupold, S&B, Zeiss, or Nightforce?

For now, I'd prefer that those brands got kept out of this thread. Threads like this inevitably end up with the consensus that if you don't drop $1K on an optic, you will be looking through dishwater, the tube is made of cardboard, and the knobs are hot-glued on.

For those that can't drop $1K on an optic, this is a worthwhile thread.

For instance, although I have a high-end optic, I have been impressed with my father's Nikon Prostaff that he got for $149.95.

-- John

October 20, 2008, 08:55 AM
I recently traded for an Encore Muzzle Loader and it wears a Leapers 3x9. I am very impressed with how bright and clear the scope is. I also have a BSA 2x pistol scope on a MKII slab side and it works very well.
When I purchased the BSA, I compared it side by side with scopes that were three times more than it was and couldn't see enough difference to justify the extra $$$. (not for a .22 anyway)
BTW, good review Elmerfudd. That is interesting to hear that the BSA held up on an air rifle. I've read that the reverse recoil of them will eat up even the best scopes in a hurry.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
October 20, 2008, 10:46 AM
Thanks for the organized report - more information, rather than less, is always a *good thing*. :)

October 20, 2008, 03:24 PM
BTW, good review Elmerfudd. That is interesting to hear that the BSA held up on an air rifle. I've read that the reverse recoil of them will eat up even the best scopes in a hurry.

Bear in mind that it was used on a pneumatic airgun. It was exposed to virtually no recoil at all, reverse or otherwise.

I go by this maxim; if it says BSA, then run away!!!

I have a pair of BSA 2-7x32 airgun scopes that I paid $50 each for a few years ago. The glass on them isn't terrific and I used them on recoilless airguns for awhile. Then I ended up with an FAL and being the type that can't really be happy until I have determined the accuracy potential of a rifle, I decided I had to scope it. So the BSA scope came off the airgun and went on the FAL and it probably went through about 400 rounds before I sold it off. When I sold the FAL, I used the money for a Saiga 308 and I put the BSA on that. Now here's where it gets really interesting. I installed an RSA trigger on the Saiga, and I improperly adjusted it with too short of a second stage. This caused it to bumpfire sometimes if my trigger pull was a little too light. I probably bumped that thing for 20 shots or more before I figured out what was wrong and fixed it and amazingly that cheap little BSA held up just fine. Cheap scope + bumpfiring + .308 should have equaled a busted up scope.

At one point when I had the FAL, I was disappointed with the accuracy I was getting and I swapped the BSA out for a Leupold EFR that I had on a different rifle, thinking, "maybe the problem is this cruddy scope." Now, the Leupold is a nicer scope with better glass, but the groups didn't get any better with it on the rifle.

In some ways I like the BSA scopes, but the 6-24x40 just doesn't quite measure up to it's competition in the same price range. It's not that it's a totally crappy scope, but rather that for $30 extra you can get a scope with similar features that does just about everything better and in the case of glare, much better.

This is the beginning of a a good, spin-free, baseline scope comparison. Are there any comparisons with better scopes like Leupold, S&B, Zeiss, or Nightforce?

I've got a number of other scopes, but I'll have to win the lottery or something before Zeiss or Nightforce enters the competition. I do have a couple of 3-9x Leupolds and a 10x Springfield Armory Govt., though and I wouldn't mind doing a comparison using those as well.

IMO, scopes should be compared based on the size, weight and features, so I wouldn't compare a 3-9x33 Leupold EFR with a big tactical style scope.

What I'd really like to see would be professional tests done on scopes using quantifiable data. I understand this is the norm with photographic lenses.

October 20, 2008, 07:36 PM
Thank you to Elmerfudd for a good report. I am not a scope snob and I do not mean my comments to denigrate the BSA's of the world.

My contrarian view was meant to actually help the scope buying consumer (like myself) by exposing the difference between the expensive scopes and the economy scopes. By using a the very comprehensive and unbiased framework that Elmerfudd has created to normalize the BSA's with Leupolds and others, so that we can see how they actually are, side by side. I have several Leupolds, should I keep shelling out the kind of money for them, or is it safe to buy BSA's?

October 20, 2008, 08:19 PM
I have owned two. Neither made it through the first day......



October 20, 2008, 08:48 PM
Leapers makes good scopes (or at least picks the right chinese guys) for a good price. They are very popular with the air gun crowd and deserve their reputation. Great write up although I'm not to happy about the lower end of BSA's

I have a Center-Point on my .22 and it is great even to 16X. I paid $70.


October 20, 2008, 09:06 PM
My buddy put a Leapers on an Olympic Arms AR build. He was quite pleased with it. He totalled 200 or so rounds, but it kept good zero, and showed promise to do more. I wish he could have run it longer, so I had more to say for it.

October 20, 2008, 11:49 PM
I have a Barska 6.5-20 that I've had good luck with so far on a Saiga .308. Was on clearance a Midway for $65 but even regular price was under $100. I really only have used it from a bench so far but it's been dark and overcast the last few afternoons I've gone out and clarity and brightness have been good.

October 21, 2008, 01:06 AM
I've got a huge Leapers on my FAL as the "great experiment." So far so good. If it passes the 100 and 200 yd tests, I'm planning on getting some good glass for it. Looking ahead, the Nikons have impressed me as well.

October 21, 2008, 01:42 AM
I have mixed results with BSA scopes. Honestly they have all been anything but fun to look through if they had much magnification to them. Maybe I have looked through a few good scopes but it is something I cringe at every time I look through a higher magnification BSA. The adjustments on the turrets have all been excessively mushy. I have never felt very confident that any change would be repeatable. On the positive I have never had one not hold zero at a given magnification. For range use it works fairly well when I setup for the same distance with the same magnification every time I go shooting. Also they are really inexpensive. I guess I never expected them to do much. I really didn't think they would even hold zero so to some respect I have been impressed with the ones I have tried.

I will say that for the price of some of the higher optioned "cheap" scopes I will never pay for them again. The more expensive barska line runs from $200-$400. The more expensive BSA line runs from $150-$200. Weaver, Nikon, Leupold, Bushnell, etc all make very nice scopes in the $250-$350 price range. Personally after looking through and using the top end range of "cheap" scopes they are FAR from what the $250-$350 offerings from the better respected names are. I can understand the justification to use a $50 scope instead of a $350 model if money is tight, maybe. To me there is so much more confidence in a little bit nicer scope than what is given with a cheap China made model. For the longest time all I bought was cheap stuff. Even now a lot of people would say I buy cheap scopes. I like shooting and I like shooting scoped rifles even more. For me the view I get through the scope is just about as big of a deal as how the trigger feels and really how the holes show up on the target. If it isn't for you and an inexpensive scope is what counts great.

October 21, 2008, 10:17 AM
This is a comparison between a low-end Bsa, and a low-end Leupold vx1 I posted back in Feb.

I have a BSA Cateye 1.5x4.5x32mm scope that I had mounted on a Marlin 1895M (.450 Marlin cal.) until I decided to revert to iron sights due to ease of carry. That is a pretty stout recoiling rifle/cartridge combination. So mounted, I shot approx 100 rounds, though I assure you, NOT in one day. Point of impact did not shift whether adjusted to 1.5 or 4.5x. I "shot the box" with it, meaning, I shot 3 rounds as zeroed, adjusted it 20 clicks left, shot 3 more times, adj up 20 clicks and 3 more rounds, 20 clicks right-3 more shots, and adj 20 down, shot 3 more at a new target. Shot 3 more on original zero. My "box" target had 4 nice cloverleaf groups with the center of each about 5 " apart. This proves that the adjustments are repeatable. It went from 10 degrees outside to inside, several times without fogging up internally. I also hunted with it once in a miserable, cold drizzle, and it didn't fog. When I bought the rifle, I didn't have much money left over for scope, rings, and mount, so I decided to try the BSA. I think I paid $65 for it in 2001.
In 2004, I bought another Marlin, the 1895MR, with the 22" barell, and a $200 Leupold VX-1 2x7x32mm for it. Why? I wanted a little higher magnification, I wanted a Leupold, and I could afford it.
Now, on a side by side comparison, opticly, the L is a little brighter and clearer edge to edge. The B is not crystal clear at the very edges. This doesn't matter much to me as I'm going to be shooting at what's in the center (and I don't use my scope as binoculars). As for adjustments, both are 1/4 moa. The B uses a raised "blade" that you turn with your fingers (no screwdriver or coin needed), and you can both feel and hear the clicks. With the L, you need a coin, and the movement is by overcoming friction- no clicks, and you have to be looking at the marks when you adjust. Again, this doesn't matter to me because these scopes were/are mounted on a rifle(s) that are basicly short range guns. They are zeroed for 100 yds, and I doubt I'd ever change the settings (other than for a load change). Now, if I were shooting a .308 or something for longer ranges, and I might adjust the settings in the field rather than hold over or under, I would want the tool-less click adjustments.
The BSA is made in china, and the L in Beaverton, Oregon. I don't remember the warranty on the Bsa, the L is forever. The BSA cost about $65, the L about $200. Is this particular Leupold (it is a low-end model) worth 3 times the cost of the Bsa? Maybe not. I would rather spend my money in the good 'ol USA to be sure. The BSA sits in the back of my safe for now but will probably end up on some rifle sometime in the future, who knows. But it did very well on a hard kicking rifle at a time when money was really tight.
I hope this helped you out some. You'll hear pro (a few) and con. This is just my opinion and experience with these particular scopes, on those particular rifles.
Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited by law, batteries not included, Do not try this at home, professional driver on a closed course, etc.

Added: The Leupold also "shot the box", demonstrating it's repeatability.
Shooting off a bench (at 100 yds) using sandbags front and rear, the short bbl 1895M with the BSA, and the 22"bbl 1895MR with the Leupold, will regularly shoot 3 round groups that can be almost entirely covered by a quarter (coin); 2 shots completely covered and anywhere from a crescent of the third shot showing, to about 1/2 of the 3rd shot showing. Both rifle/scope combo's will occasionally shoot groups that can be entirely hidden by a quarter. All Factory 350 gr flat point Hornady ammo.

October 21, 2008, 03:05 PM
I have mixed results with BSA scopes. Honestly they have all been anything but fun to look through if they had much magnification to them. Maybe I have looked through a few good scopes but it is something I cringe at every time I look through a higher magnification BSA. The adjustments on the turrets have all been excessively mushy. I have never felt very confident that any change would be repeatable.

This is something I should have addressed in the original post, but when I was doing the comparison I tried to use the same level of magnification on both scopes so that I'd be comparing apples and apples. The BSA goes clear up to 24x, but it's a setting that I hardly ever use since I always found the image too dim, the eye relief too narrow and the scope too prone to glare at that setting. Except for the glare, that's largely a matter of high magnification and a small objective. 40/24 leaves an exit pupil of less than 2, so I don't blame it entirely on poor quality, but the image at 24x does indeed leave a lot to be desired, while the Leapers still has a pretty decent image at 16x.

I never had any problem with the adjustments and in fact I always appreciated the wide range of adjustment available on the BSA's. At one point I wanted to use that same Leupold EFR, that I mentioned above, on my Saiga .308, but the range of adjustment did not allow me to zero it on that rifle. I've always just set the zero and left it with my BSA scopes though so I don't know about their repeatability. I'm a little dubious about it though.

November 12, 2009, 02:04 AM
I know this is old, but I wanted to say thanks for posting it. I have been looking at the leapers for a few months now

November 12, 2009, 02:49 AM
anything....ANYTHING BUT A BSA!!!! " If it says BSA, then run away!" mine.

Max C.
November 12, 2009, 03:27 AM
Old yes, but since it's up here now, I figured I'd add that Nikon makes nice scopes that will only set you back ~$180-$300 for a quality product that should last just as long as one of the other "big names." I think they get overlooked a lot because people hear nothing but Leupold, Zeiss, Leupold, Zeiss, etc etc etc.

November 12, 2009, 04:02 AM
I do love my leupold and bushnell 4200 long range... but with the scopes you have presented, I would suggest the leapers.. I just have not had good luck out of anything bsa (with the exception of their reflex red dot) but have been pretty happy with an illuminated reticle leapers that I purchased last year.

Uncle Mike
November 12, 2009, 10:13 AM
and the knobs are hot-glued on.

Damn...ruined another shirt! hehehehe LMAO

Sir...I will have you know that the knobs on my S&B PMII are NOT hot glued have some nerve!....they use Velcro!

hehehehe Nice write-up comparison.

You know, people just don't look at the quality they pay for...we have folks stop in and buy....a BSA let's say...
Mount it on a .300MAG., bring it now rattles....they are mad, because their father in-law's brothers cousins nephew has a Leupold on his .500 splatblart and it has given him excellent service....I want my money back!

There aint no free lunch in retail, you may think you got off good, but....NO! actually you didn't.
You get what you pay for...for the most part, with optics!

August 5, 2010, 11:55 AM
i will agree that bsa is cheap but i have 2 of them on .22lr rifles and they hold a zero just fine and have never had any trouble out of them other than one is a little blurry but still shoots true. 4x32 .22 special and 4x32 classic. i would not advise mounting them on a .300winmag due to extreme amounts of butt kicking on both ends however

August 5, 2010, 02:40 PM
I have a Simmons "whitetail classic" 6.5-20x50 AO scope that came with a used rifle I bought. The MSRP is $250 but MidwayUSA has them on sale every couple months for around $110. Although it's a lower end scope, I was pleasantly surprised at the clarity and feel of quality. The adjustable objective is a must for it. The optics are supposedly fully multicoated. In short, it's not in the same ballpark as my nicer scopes, but if you have only $100ish to spend and want a lot of magnification, it's pretty good.

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