Scope power vs. range


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elktrout
February 6, 2009, 10:55 PM
With so many kinds of high magnification scopes on the market with just as many "long range" reticles of various types, it brings a question to the table for all you long range shooters on this forum.

Considering a ten inch bullseye, at what range do various magnifications become a handicap to the hunter being able to keep his shots in the 10 inch circle?

Or, conversely, at 300 yards or 400 yards, what minimum magnification would be necessary to ensure consistent hits on a 10 inch bull?

I have never tried this, but I am sure some of you have and hope you will add your comments to this thread. I am not looking for caliber recommendations or debate. Let's assume also that the gun would be dead on at range involved.

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1858rem
February 6, 2009, 11:17 PM
9x kept me inside 2.5 inches at 340yds this evening

Nikon prostaff 3-9x40mm

jbkebert
February 6, 2009, 11:50 PM
My personal opinion on this is the high magnification scopes both handicap and give a false sense of being a better shot than they are. Since you are refering to a 10" bull I am going to assume that we are talking about elk. High magnification scopes are great for there intended purpose. i use a 6x18 leupold on my 22-250. I am also shooting small targets usually bench or prarie dogs. The problem with carrying a scope like this in the field. The higher the magnification the less light they let in. Also the higher the magnication the more each twitch is magnified. Shooting from a bench on 18x is one this but I have never met anyone who could shoot that magnication off hand. If you are big game hunting a 3x9x40 I feel is best. Shoot at the lowest magnification that you can. Identify your target on 9x but shoot at 6x. If you need a 24x power scope to shoot a elk I would question the ethics of the shot you are about to take. I will take a 600 yard shot at a praire dog. It is either kill or miss. I havent winged a dog. I would not take a 600 yard shot at a deer or elk. Just way to much can go wrong.

kb2zya
February 7, 2009, 12:05 AM
i can group better at 120 yards with 5x than 9x with my 30-06 just my 2cents

skinewmexico
February 7, 2009, 12:09 AM
A 10" target at 300 is pretty big. Doesn't take much, if any, magnification.

trstafford
February 7, 2009, 10:11 PM
I have a 4x Weatherby on my 338 win mag. works great out to about 400 yards.

farmmer dan
February 7, 2009, 11:23 PM
I was hitting 4 inch clay targets at 430 yards with a 3-9 by 40 burris. All 4, right in a row with a 223, no wind.

mparms
February 7, 2009, 11:37 PM
I agree with many of the statements on this thread. It is true that the higher the magnification the more hinderance of light, this is overcome by a larger objective lens (to gather more light) and sun shades help. Leupold makes excellent scopes and rangefinders that are compatible especially if you use their boone and crockett reticle. I use a 3-10x50mm objective for hunting deer and elk in the rocky mountains. Honestly this is actually overkill. If you're not a former military sniper or a really hot shot taking a plink at an animal any more than 350-400 is not a conservationist attitude nor a moral shot.
I've known many people, including myself that can shoot a 10" target at 400 yds with iron...of course using a rifle that you really know, with that said I'd still never take that shot at any large game. I've never personally learned the hard way but four mile blood trails are a bummer for the animal and you.

Thingster
February 8, 2009, 02:30 AM
For a 10" target within 500 yards, a 4x is plenty.

a 10" target at 400 yards with a 4x scope would look like about a 10" target at 100 yards with no magnification. With a 2.5x, you'd still be shooting roughly a 6" target at 100 yards.

elktrout
February 8, 2009, 09:57 AM
I appreciate everyone's common sense reply to this thread. I thought, at first, that it was just me going through another maturity stage in life. But, I have a 4.5-14x44 sitting on top of a 7mm Wby magnum, and I have never shot it on any higher magnification than 10x and that (shooting on 10x) was only once that I can remember. Most of the time, I am shooting at 5x to 6x. Oh, and I shot it once at 200 meters for group on 8x at a 3 inch bullseye.

The longest shot I ever took (and made, by the way) was on a mule deer at a paced 435 yards. It was on 8x.

All of this kind of flies in the face of the current hot running fad to have high magnification scopes with complicated reticles for shooting out to 600 or even 800 yards. If someone wants to do that and can actually accomplish hits consistently, more power to them (no pun intended). But, one thing I have learned hunting here in the west is that the wind will come into play on most shots and no scope yet made can compensate for that.

It amazes me that more straight power scopes are not offered. I guess it is just offering products that are in demand, and apparently they are not. But, I am seriously thinking of just putting a straight 6x Leupold on my next gun, before they quit making fixed power hunting scopes altogether.

Random Discharge
February 8, 2009, 11:00 AM
I have a Weaver V3 (1-3X) on my 30-30. Works fine for the range of this rifle.

mparms
February 10, 2009, 04:19 AM
Well if you can have a one-shot-kill at 435 yds. that you were confident about and not lucky with, don't mess with it.

If you're comfortable with a fixed 6x then do it and don't look back.

1858rem
February 10, 2009, 09:41 AM
is clarity generally better on a fixed power scope?

i have been thinking of a fixed 10x for my .308(mostly target 100+yds), or keep using the 70 dollar 4-16x40mm centerpoint for now since it works so well anyhow.

1858rem
February 10, 2009, 09:44 AM
I have never tried this, but I am sure some of you have and hope you will add your comments to this thread. I am not looking for caliber recommendations or debate. Let's assume also that the gun would be dead on at range involved.
elktrout is offline Report Post



do you mean zero for 300-400yds?

elktrout
February 11, 2009, 08:34 AM
If you took the point of impact out of the equation and simply looked at the ability to see the target and have it sufficiently large enough to see it divided into quadrants by the reticle (reticle does not blot out the whole target), how much scope magnification do we need at say 300 yards or 400 yards? Granted, these are arbitrary yardages, but most hunters I know will shoot at a big game animal at 300 yards and some even 400 yards but not beyond.

I'm not really trying to criticize those who like and use high magnification scopes with range finding reticles. But, I can't help but notice that the scope manufacturers are bringing out more scopes of higher magnification and with reticles now good to 800 yards and beyond.

The cost of these things is astronomical. I question their necessity for a hunter who wants to shoot an adequately powerful rifle up to 400 yards on big game. I still remember as a kid reading all the hunting magazines in which the writers nearly always recommended a straight 4x scope, maybe even 6x for open western hunting.

I hope to get out in the next few weeks and test it myself with my variable at different magnifications and see just what works out to 400 yards on a ten inch bullseye, which is a reasonable sized target for deer and elk.

rangerruck
February 11, 2009, 12:51 PM
It's funny, but it is kinda an inverse thing; super hipower scopes are great for benchrest dudes shooting rimfire, who need to see some serious close up detail.
that is what I use them on. I have a hi power scope on a 243, but I never move it off of 6x.

gdcpony
February 11, 2009, 03:10 PM
Magnification means little. Your ability to aim is what matters. I had a 6-24 on my .223 and it went to 3/8"@100. I used a 1.5-5 and went 1"@100 with a shotgun (slug barrel). I swapped them because the small one impressed me so much and guess what. Nothing changed. I now am buying more of the 1.5-5's (as I can afford) and am swapping them unto every gun I own. Of course, it is the reticle that impressed me and made the scope faster and more accurate for me. Had it been a 3-9 (not offered) I would be looking for those.
Magnification helps if your target is tiny. A 10" bull is not nearly a 3" squirrel at those ranges so any decent scope should work if you find it works well for you.

hunting-scopes
February 11, 2009, 04:05 PM
There you have it........some first hand experiences.....excellent thread.
It is indeed interesting to learn the general consensus on "fixed" magnifications.

My take is stick with 6-9 magnification.

Cheers

Samson

jbkebert
February 11, 2009, 05:56 PM
I still remember as a kid reading all the hunting magazines in which the writers nearly always recommended a straight 4x scope, maybe even 6x for open western hunting.

The bad thing is now those same magazines feature a flashlight salesman telling you that one needs a high magnifcation scope and a $5000 dollar rifle to be a sucessful hunter.

Afy
February 11, 2009, 06:01 PM
I have a 12x42-56 That I love.
Even shoot at 100... I love cranking it up. But that is me...

rcmodel
February 11, 2009, 06:14 PM
I guess the intended use is all that matters, and whatever tickles your fuzzy is the right power for you.

But I think many folks are being sold down the river by all the high-pressure salesmen, hawking what used to be considered more glass then folks like Carlos Hathcock needed or wanted, to kill the enemy at over three-quarter mile.
Now we need 24x to kill a deer at 150 yards?

I have had a 3x Weaver on my 30-06 for about 45 years, and have killed coyotes & crows with it past 400 yards on more then one occasion.

My smaller caliber varmint centerfires carry 3-9x variables, and are very seldom used above 6X. More often left on 3x or 4x while calling or hunting in brushy conditions.

I once had a K-10 Weaver on a 22-250, and found it was too much power about 90% of the time for coyote hunting.

I would much rather have a fast wide field of view on any hunting rifle, then a dim narrow view of mirage & heat waves shimmering off in the distance!

rc

BlueSmoke
February 13, 2009, 03:13 PM
thinking of just putting a straight 6x Leupold on my next gun

A Leupold 6X fixed is exactly what's on my 7mmMag BAR. 6X is IMHO optimal for hunting, a good compromise between enough magnification at longer range and good FOV at closer range.

I'll use a variable with more power when target shooting. But when I'm hunting I don't want to be diddling with knobs and rings. Dad's .270 has a 4-10X variable on it and when I use it, I just set it at 6X and leave it there.

Fixed = less expensive, less to go wrong and less fooling around in the field.

CWL
February 13, 2009, 04:23 PM
I've tried 24X and 40X scopes, my heartbeat & breathing affects the aim.

I prefer between 4X-9X. Farthest distance I've ever fired is 300yards and the 4X kept everything grouped within 2.1". This was a Ruger MK77 in .308 using Sierra matchking bullets. As good as I'll ever need.

DRYHUMOR
February 13, 2009, 04:32 PM
I like the higher magnification (14X to 25X) for seeing more depth into edges of fields, but shoot typically in the 6X to 10X range, depending on distance.

It's hard to come to grips with the fact the eyes aren't what they used to be.

gga357
February 13, 2009, 04:57 PM
4x for anything under 400 yrds.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
February 13, 2009, 05:34 PM
I guess I'm the odd man out, with Afy and a few others perhaps - when shooting targets, there's really no such thing as too much magnification, regardless of bull size. I agree with the benchrest shooters who prefer a 30x45, 40x45, or 50x52, etc., at long range. The better you can see, the better you can hit. I like at least 12-14x top end for 50 yards, and at least 14-20x top end for 100 yards, and the more the better from 200 on.

Hunting is a completely different story. For large fields, a 3-9 or 4-12 is preferred. Beyond that, you might be encouraged to take shots you shouldn't. For mixed terrain, I like a 2-7x. For woods, I like a 1-4, 1.5-4, 1.75-5, or 1.5-6, something like that. Usually keep it on 1.5, 1.75, or 2x when stalk hunting, and 3 or 4 power when sitting/standing in a stand or blind in ambush.

Walkalong
February 13, 2009, 06:33 PM
I guess I'm the odd man out, with Afy and a few others perhaps - when shooting targets, there's really no such thing as too much magnification,I am with you on this one, at least at 300 yards and in, which is where my experience lies, although I have shot farther informally. :)

The only downside to too much power with target shooting is mirage on occasion. Folks just learn to deal with it because the high X power is so much better almost all of the time.

Varmint shooters, on the other hand, usually deal with more mirage and want a variable so they can turn down the power when the mirage is real bad.

1858rem
February 13, 2009, 10:02 PM
what exactly do you mean by mirage being worse at a higher magnification? shouldn't it be the same at all x's? i haven't delt much with mirage though

Walkalong
February 13, 2009, 10:58 PM
what exactly do you mean by mirage being worse at a higher magnification? shouldn't it be the same at all x's? No, it is worse at higher magnification.

Mirage is distortion. The higher you magnify it, the worse it is.

Mirage also displaces the image of the target when the air is moving. You aim where you see the target, but that is not where it is at.

usmc1371
February 14, 2009, 02:36 AM
My .204 has a leo 4.5x14 LR and its a nice scope for varnints and is on 10 for squrils but win calling dogs in I leave it on 4.5 just for the feild of view. MY elk rifle has a bushnell 4x16 and its a nice scope but I would trade it for the 2.5x10 in the same modle in a heart beat. I cary it on 4 and have never had a need to turn it up, elk look big on 4x even at 340 yds, my longest shot ever attempted on big game. No tracking requried. And I hunt southeast oregon wich is a mix of wide open sage and steep wooded canyons.

Art Eatman
February 14, 2009, 02:09 PM
I've used variables from 2x7 to 3x10, since around 1970-ish. They spend most of their lives at the lower magnification, particularly when hunting anything bigger than prairie dogs. I use the higher magnifications for sight-in and playing on paper.

I did buy a Bushie Match Target with a 6x24x40 on it; it was fun at the bench at 24X, but I never used it in the field.

I've come to believe that for most hunting, 4X is the upper limit of "need", generally. Beyond that, it's "want" coupled with affordability.

And if the hunting is not in horrible light, any mid-price scope's glass is plenty good. A Weaver's as good as a Swarovski, if you're gonna shoot Bambi within the typical 200-yard distance in the middle of the day. Not many people plan on a 6x6 elk at 400 yards in the last light of evening...

C5Cruiser
February 14, 2009, 04:53 PM
I have a 3-9 power and I find that anything above 6 I can see my pulse moving my cross-hairs however it good to have that option.

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