low light scope test


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TX Hog Hunter
August 15, 2009, 11:34 AM
My wife (also a serious hunter) and I did another low light comparison of several scopes last night. Conditions were perfect to check them out in actual hunting conditions. It was dark with no lighting changes. We were viewing a corn feeder (141yds which is about the maximum I would ever shoot at a hog in the dark) we have set-up accross the lake in front of our TX ranch house. The feeder was iluminated by a Texas Boars LED Big Red light which illuminates well enough for a precise shot if you have good optics.

Except for the Zeiss, Mueller and Hawke we were comparing scopes that I had successfully used and knew to be more than satisfactory for low light/night hog and varmint hunting. We ranked them on two criteria. #1 Optical clarity/quality, basically how well we could see back into the wooded shadows behind the feeder. #2 How well we could place a killing shot on one of the three 130#-150# hogs that were feeding under the feeder. This took into account how well the optics and reticle worked under real hunting conditions.

Joyce and I both pretty much agreed as we compared the scopes numerous times. Here's how we ranked them and some after action comments:

#1 Optical quality/clarity

Zeiss Victory 2.5-10x50 illuminated #40 (German #4 with illuminated dot)
Trijicon 2.5-10x56 duplex with green tritium dot
Bushnell Elite 4200 2.5-10x50 illuminated German #4
Trijicon 3-9x40 duplex with amber tritium dot (Tie)
Hawke Eclipse 2.5-10x50 german #4 with red illuminated dot (Tie)
Mueller 2.5-10x44 german #4 with red illuminated dot (Tie)
Simmons AETEC 2.5-10x44 illuminated (almost in the tie above, sooo close)
Leupold VX 3 3.5-10x50 HDPX

#2 Precision of shot placement

Trijicon 2.5-10x56 duplex with green tritium dot
Hawke Eclipse 2.5-10x50 german #4 with red illuminated dot (Tie)
Mueller 2.5-10x44 german #4 with red illuminated dot (Tie)
Simmons AETEC 2.5-10x44 illuminated
Bushnell Elite 4200 2.5-10x50 illuminated German #4
Trijicon 3-9x40 duplex with amber tritium dot
Zeiss Victory 2.5-10x50 illuminated #40 (German #4 with illuminated dot)
Leupold VX 3 3.5-10x50 HDPX

Observations

Neither of us could tell a difference between the scopes marked (Tie). The Simmons, Hawke and Mueller made a VERY impressive showing, especially when you consider the cost of the scopes they were being compared to! The Trijicon green tritium works much better under actual hunting conditions than the amber. All the illuminated scopes had very crisp and usable illuminated crosshairs or dots except the Zeiss. The dot on the Zeiss did not have crisp edges and was not a true red, somewhere between red and pink. Also I like the illumination on/off and intensity setting the least on the Zeiss and best on the Hawke and Mueller. Obviously The Trijicon has the best mousetrap hands down. None of the scopes showed any signs of internal tube flare when the intensity was properly adjusted for the lighting conditions. The 1" Simmons, Mueller and Trijicon 3-9 have an advantage in the size and weight category.

Bottom line

If you just go on performance and don't factor in price/value the clear winner was the Trijicon 2.5-10x56. The clear looser was the Zeiss Victory (what a bummer, this is the most expensive scope I have ever bought!!!) and the Leupold VX 3. For all practical hunting purposes we couldn't tell any substantial difference between the Simmons, Mueller, Hawke, Trijicon 3-9 or Bushnell 4200. However if you factor in price/value the Hawke, Simmons, Mueller and Bushnell 4200 are the winners. At a street price of around $200. the Simmons, Mueller and Hawke are VERY impressive indeed.

Bottom, bottom line

If price is no object we feel the Trijicon 2.5-10x56 is the best low light hunting scope we have checked out/used.

If you are a value shopper then you just can't go wrong with the Simmons, Mueller or Hawke. So far I have only used the Simmons in the field enough to know it's a tough scope that holds zero. If the Hawke Eclipse is as tough as the Endurance 30s I have used it will do just fine. The Mueller is on my coon gun a Ruger 10-22 so has not really been tested for durability yet.

The big and heavy Bushnell 4200 is still a good value for the money and as most of us know they are near indestructable...............

Just our opinions and not very scientific, but we hunt in low light and at night a lot and know what to look for and what works in the field. For daytime use I am quite happy with all of these.

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taliv
August 15, 2009, 08:41 PM
very interesting. thanks for the writeup!

do you think the outcome might have been different if the illumination was something other than the Big Red LED?

Cypress
August 15, 2009, 10:16 PM
Do you have any idea how much better the Bushnell 4200 is than the Bushnell 3200? I am looking for a new scope to hog hunt this year and I hunt by moonlight only so low light clarity is a big deal. Thanks for the write up!!!!

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