What makes a scope ok, good or great?


June 4, 2009, 10:44 PM
Im doing some research for the scope Im going to get and was wondering what seperates these scopes into the lower end, mid range, and high end?

Specifications for Millet Tactical Riflescopes:
Model BK81001:
Magnification: 4x-16x
Objective: 50mm
Tube Diameter: 30mm
Weight: 1.75 lbs.
Side Focus Range: 10 Yard to Infinity
Windage: 1/8 MOA elevation Adjustment
Crosshair: Mil-Dot illuminated with green color
Lens Shade: Standard
Finish: Black

Specifications for Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm Rifle-Scopes 652165 M / 652165 MD:
Magnification: 2.5 - 16x
Objective (mm): 50
Field Of View (ft@100ft): 42 @ 2.5x
7 @ 16x
Length (in): 13.5
Eye Relief (in): 3.9
Exit Pupil (mm): 20
Click Value (MOA): .25
Finish: Matte
Adj Range (in): 80
Mounting Length (in): 5

Specifications for NightForce 3.5-15x NXS Riflescopes:

Model: 3.5 - 15 x 50 NXS 3.5 - 15 x 50 NXS Zero Stop
Magnification: 3.5 - 15x 3.5 - 15x
Objective Diameter: 50mm 50mm
Exit Pupil Diameter: 14.3mm @ 3.5x, 3.6mm @ 15x 14.5mm @ 3.5x, 4.0mm @ 15x
Field Of View: 27.6ft @3.5x, 7.3ft @15x 27.6ft @3.5x, 7.3ft @15x
Eye Relief (mm): 99 99
Internal Adjustment Range: 110moa elev., 80moa wind. 110moa elev., 80moa wind.
Click Value (moa): .250 .250
Tube Diameter (mm): 30 30
Ocular Diameter (mm): 36 36
Mounting Length (in): 6.1 6.1
Weight (oz): 30 30
Overall Length (in): 14.7 14.7
Available Reticles: NP-1RR, NP-1, NP-R1, NP-R2, NP-2DD, MLR, & MIL-DOT NP-1RR, NP-1, NP-R1, NP-R2, NP-2DD, MLR, & MIL-DOT
Zero-Stop Feature: No Yes

What seperated these rifles into different classes?

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June 4, 2009, 10:46 PM
I think the main difference is the quality of the glass. Don't think there is a spec for that.

June 4, 2009, 11:06 PM
The "quality" of the glass is just one part and I'm convinced that once you get beyond a certain price point there really isn't much difference in the glass between a $500 scope and a $1500 scope. I can't comment on the difference between $1500 and $3000 optics since I've never been fortunate enough to handle, look through or use an S&B, US Optics, PR or Nightforce or other top brand. For many scopes, it's all the other more important stuff that counts and that actually makes a big difference. For example, take the Bushnell Elite 6500. It doesn't have anything even close to 80" of vertical adjustment. In reality it's about 45" or approximately 43 MOA!! :what: If you decide on a Bushnell, good luck getting any actual real-world specs with that company. My Mark 4s have MORE vertical adjustment than advertised with 84 MOA!! Scopes are very complicated instruments with lots of internals to worry about. The number, type and quality of the internal parts will dictate how the scope works under a variety of conditions. How good are the seals, how does the scope handle abuse? Does it have accurate adjustments e.g. does a 13.75 MOA elevation adjustment equal 13.75 MOA on the target at 600 yards? Just take a look at what the professionals are using and trust their lives with. None of those optics are cheap. For the most part you'll find US Optics, S&B, Nightforce and Leupold.


June 4, 2009, 11:21 PM
OK = Nikon or Leupold, but I can never afford that much money.

Good = Nikon or Leupold, if it's on sale maybe someone will get me one at Christmas or birthday.

Great = Nikon or Leupold, and I got the money!!!

June 5, 2009, 12:01 AM
the millet has side focus, adj objective down to 10 feet, and green illum reticle. 1/8th inch adjustments, all good. we don't know about the glass.
the bushy has dual magnifier glasses inside, which gives it massive power up range.
1/4 inch adjustment; not as fine, but bushy should give you great glass,
I believe it is made by the folks who make contact lenses; can't remember
the name of the company.
don't know about nighforce glass; scope has a 30mm tube, which means hardier ingredients all over. also appears to have a massive amount of internal adj-
zero adjustments sound very repeatable, with a lock in feature, very nice;
plus it appears to have a lot of diff reticles to choose from.
tough choice, i do not know enough about them, or have used them, to make an educated guess; I do no that Millet got a govt contract on their scopes, I think with the Seals. If it uses good glass, it is simple , robust, and has good and very useful things mentioned above there, that are both user
friendly, and give you some good shooting enhancement.
I would just be guessing, but i would say that the bushy proly has the
best glass.

June 5, 2009, 09:33 AM
Check out the IOR line. Great value scopes, which perform like the $3k glass, but at a much more reasonable price.

June 5, 2009, 02:25 PM
I've just been dealing with this issue myself. A lot of it depends on how you're going to use your scope. Don't get me wrong, doing your research is great, but going to a store where you can look through several scopes and compare them side by side is worth 1000 forum opinions. Sometimes the differences are easily seen, sometimes not.

June 5, 2009, 02:28 PM
I love my Millet TRS-1 the glass is tits, I belive I got a deal!! However If I had More $$$ I would have gone leupold...

June 5, 2009, 06:13 PM
The glass Is TITS
Have not heard that term In many years

Col. Plink
June 5, 2009, 06:30 PM
What's the general consensus on Centrepoint? I know they are made in China, but what's their quality like for the money? WalMart has the 3-9x for around $55, the 3-11x for about $65. Illuminated (red or green) mildot reticle.

Lone Star
June 5, 2009, 06:41 PM
Just buy something in the right power and size range with Zeiss or Swarovski on it, and quit worrying over what makes a scope great. You'll KNOW! :D

Lone Star

June 5, 2009, 06:42 PM
With modern optics you hit a ceiling at around $250-$350 with the cheapest Monarch, Bushnell 4200, Sightron etc (fully multicoated optics). Those are your best bang for the buck from there you may pay a few extra for things like more magnification, side focus, target turrets, bigger tube etc. but the glass is all the same, really really good.

Now to get to the next level in optical performance you will have to shell out maybe another $700, around $1000 total, this will get you a small incremental increase in optical performance and better turrets and more adjustment and more reticle choices (and etched reticles).

Now to get to the next level in optical performance we've now gone to (mainly) european glass that is on the cutting edge, lenses are indexed matched by a technician (a human, I would guess). You will pay anywhere from $1200 - $3000 for these scopes. Everything will be top notch but still the performance difference when compared to say your Nikon Monarch will not nearly be as great as the price difference, not even close.

I guess is kind of like automobiles where you can get a corvette for $60,000 that will give you 90% of the performance of a $250,000 European super car.

Coal Dragger
June 6, 2009, 01:57 AM
I have a Nightforce 3.5-15X50. Other than the excellent glass, and wide range of reticle choices, and very good illuminated reticle what you are really paying extra for are the mechanical abilities of the scope. Rock solid repeatable adjustments, lots of elevation adjustment, really tough construction. All of that costs more money.

June 6, 2009, 02:19 AM
GLASS is what really defines optical quality. Durability, features, and magnification makes it suitable for the job required. I think the best scopes for the money are IOR, Ziess, Nikon, and Bushnell. I wouldn't recommend anything cheaper than Bushnell, but they make a decent scope for the money. Keep in mind that the 6500 has gotten worse reviews than the 4200 though, but it has the additional magnification, and if that is what you need, then it should still be considered. :)

June 6, 2009, 03:03 AM
For what cartridge/rifle? 16X is too much for most cartridges. Maybe varmint cartridges. The FOV is very small.
Like Maverick223 says, it's about the quailty of the optics. However, the size and weight of a scope matters too. 30 oz is nearly 2 pounds. You get to lug that weight around on top of the rifle's weight.

Lone Star
June 6, 2009, 04:25 AM
Beware of companies like Bushnell and Nikon, which offer more than one quality of scope. Quality differences occur, although the scopes may be good values for the money. But even their best are not really (in my opinion) equal to Zeiss and Swarovski, which have essentially one level of quality...the best.

That said, if you simply cannot afford them, Leupold and the other firms mentioned make perfectly good scopes that will probably meet 95% of your expectations in a glass.

I recently looked through a fixed power 4X Nikon that I think represents exceptional value for money, omitting the unneeded variable powers saving on cost.

Lone Star

June 6, 2009, 05:51 AM
Leupold is on every rifle I own. I stayed away from the imported line they recently got involved in. Again, what are you shooting at and what caliber are you shooting. These two answers help us help you.

June 6, 2009, 07:23 AM
I think you have to first decide what you are going to do with a scope. If you are going to put it on a very heavy recoiling rifle then spend a little more for quality assurance. Going to use it for hunting at first light and dusk. Spend more to get a higher quality of glass. But if you just want a scope for daytime plinking on a .223 or some other mild recoiling rifle there are plenty of scopes out there in even the 100 to 200 dollar range that would give good service and never let you down. "For That Specific Purpose".

I'm convinced that once you get beyond a certain price point there really isn't much difference in the glass between a $500 scope and a $1500 scope.

I too believe that for the average hunter/shooter you hit a wall of diminishing return out around 500 dollars. I cannot fathom what a 1500 dollar scope can do for me that my 400 to 500 dollar Leupolds, Nikons, and Zeiss Conquests aren't doing now. They are clear, hold zero, have accurate click adjustments, don't fog up, and focus light well enough for me to shoot well beyond the end of legal shooting light if I so desired. What else is a scope supposed to do?

June 6, 2009, 03:45 PM
I think we would all be able to find the bargains if this wasn't true.I agree King G., but I have to say that every "cheap" scope that I have bought has been a dud in one way or another, with the sole exception of my old Bushnell fixed 4x. Been a great scope and probably paid about $20.00 for it back in the day. That is why I can't recommend any cheaper scope than a Bushnell, others have had better experiences though. :)

June 7, 2009, 02:20 PM
What's the general consensus on Centrepoint?

Compared to what? Compared to another scope from China...pretty good. Compared to a even a budget Nikon Prostaff optically they fail. But you don't get all those "tactical" features on the Prostaff. I like my Center point for what it is. It's on my cheap Mossberg ATR 30-06 it shoots 3/4" groups at 100yards, has target knobs with a locking feature, Mil-Dot reticle with both red and green illumination and seems pretty recoil proof. The adjustments aren't perfectly repeatable but it is very serviceable. I wanted to see what an inexpensive Wal Mart special would be capable of and I was pleasantly surprised but compared to my Bushnell 3200 or Nikon Buckmaster...not even the tactical features make up for the optical shortcomings.

June 8, 2009, 11:53 PM
the big problem with it is the adjustments are plumb wacky. It takes a lot of cranking to get it where the POA is the same as the POI. I can crank it 3 or 4 notches and nothing will happen until 2 days later when I go to shoot again and then it's moved.Mine is much better, must have been built better back in the day. :)

June 9, 2009, 12:10 AM
Difference being the high end guys make the lenses in house and the other guys like Bushnell, Nikon, Leupold, etc outsource them. There are a handful of Japanese lens makers. The rifle scopes are like the AR15 world. There is a lot of subcontracting going on. One lens company might make lenses for 15 different brands of scopes.

There was an article in a gun magazine about optics a few years back. Really opened my eyes. Basically the company calls a lens maker overseas, tells them what they want, what price point, and signs a check. Then the lenses arrive, then assemble the scope, maybe seal the tube and fill it with nitrogen, and put their name on it.

Uncle Mike
June 10, 2009, 01:06 PM
The difference between a good scope and a great scope is.... about $1000!

I just had to do that. hehehe:neener:

June 10, 2009, 01:48 PM
Sweet. I've got a Famous Maker brand scope for sale. It's a 4x32mm and the price is $2250. Does that make it a quality scope?;)

Uncle Mike
June 10, 2009, 06:05 PM
Sweet. I've got a Famous Maker brand scope for sale. It's a 4x32mm and the price is $2250. Does that make it a quality scope?

well.. yea...it does. :neener: If you could get $2250 for a Fm, and I bet you could find someone that would pay that for it and brag about it all the way home.. that would be a darn good scope.
I'd sell em' all day for that... ROTFLMAO:D

June 10, 2009, 07:26 PM
The difference between junk, ok, good, and great are build quality and for the most part follow the prices that they fall under. The bargain priced China made scopes are in my opinion junk. I have had a dozen of them or so and all had something far from desirable. Either the glass plain sucked, the point of impact moved through zoom adjustment, the adjustments felt terrible, the adjustments didn't work well/repeatable/consistent, the thing gave up the ghost, or a combination of the group. Many of these scopes lasted a while, some only a few outings. Some the glass looked decent but other construction issues turned me off. They are all cheap and for what I paid many lasted far longer than I had expected and probably gave me all I could expect for the money spent. Still that said most weren't enjoyable to use, one or two were ok, and one or two were nothing but a headache from day one.

Ok scopes tend to be the bottom line scopes coming from somewhere but China such as the Sightron SI, Nikon Prostaff, Leupold VX-I or more so their rifleman line. These scopes tend to have equal or slightly better glass than the best of what is coming out of China and tend to have quite a bit better build quality though lemons are still present.

From there I think there is another step in the Nikon Buckmaster, Leupold VX-II, Bushnell 3200, Sightron SII, Weaver, and maybe a couple others that are better than ok but not what I would call good. These tend to be speced in the 92% light transmission level and are multicoated or fully coated but not fully multicoated.

Good scopes tend to spec out in the 95% transmission level as well as being fully multicoated. Nikon Monarch, Leupold VX-III, Bushnell 4200, Sightron SIII (not sure where their SII Big Sky fits), and a few more fit this bill. They tend to be in the same general price range for similar features as well.

Great scopes are going to shoot way up from here in price to get the best of the best resolution, transmission, error free field of view, color representation, etc. as well as build quality which is at this point more of an issue personally than if I can identify if the shade of brown I see is absolutely accurate or if it is a hair off. While I don't put my life on the line when using any of the rifles and scopes I own I would certainly want the best money could buy to give me the most peace of mind that it is going to work as designed and I am going to be the only issue that needs checked.

All of that said there are always going to be exceptions. There is always going to be a cheap scope that ends up with all the tolerances lining up just right that lets it have a good image, adjust well, and last a long time. People will run across these scopes and then it seems they will push how ALL of that line are perfect and worth the money. Reality is that unless you can inspect the scope for a good 20-30 minutes outside its a crap shoot with the more expensive scopes having the best odds of ending up happy.

I have personally given up on China made scopes for now. I say for now as Japan made scopes used to have the same stigma as the China scopes do now. I do think China has the ability to make scopes well into the good category, just that currently scope manufacturers are asking for budget rather than quality. Until that changes I am skipping China made and from there buying what fits my budget and uses for the scope.

June 10, 2009, 11:49 PM
not sure where their SII Big Sky fitsI think the Big Sky is to the SII as the Mk 4 is to the Vari XIII, but not sure. :)

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