Leica Optics Worth of the $?


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CmdrSlander
December 8, 2012, 11:36 PM
So, if you know about cameras, then you know Leicas are the holy grail in terms of industrial design and quality (though I will agree they are probably overpriced). What about Leica scopes? They are cheaper than their cameras and priced competitively with other high end optics like top of range Leupolds, Nightforce, and Zeiss. Are they as good as other high end scopes? I'm interested in one because I really like Leica's industrial design, and because it dovetails nicely with my German heritage, camera and gun hobbies. My dream is to, when my ship comes in, purchase a Ruger No. 1 International in 7x57 and outfit it with a Leica Magnus.

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Archangel14
December 9, 2012, 12:01 AM
I think that when you go really high end, it's more of a specialty thing to the individual. I have a Nikon scope that is great. I paid $200 for it at a fire sale. Normally it was $450. I image the quality of a Leica is outstanding. But you can really get very nice scopes out there for a lot less money. On the other hand, if you have a great rifle and have the dough.....

esheato
December 9, 2012, 12:09 AM
Never played with their scopes, but I have one of their LRFs...glass is better than most other peoples riflescopes.

IMHO, if it has the features you want/need and it tickles your ticklin' spot, then go for it.

Gordon
December 9, 2012, 12:13 AM
Leica Range finders are wonderful, some of their binoculars are real good good most of their non ER series (European) scopes are not so good. A manufacturer in China bought the rifle scope name license :scrutiny: I believe!
http://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/leica-er-riflescopes-review/

DM~
December 9, 2012, 12:22 AM
In that price range, i'd be looking at Schmidt Bender...

DM

esheato
December 9, 2012, 01:51 AM
Didn't Leica have Leupold assembling their riflescopes a few years ago? I'd be surprised if it was China for those prices.

OP, have you looked at Zeiss? It checks the European box and would adorn a 7x57 intl stock beautifully.

Ken70
December 9, 2012, 02:29 AM
It's an incremental improvement. It's maybe 10% better, but it costs three times as much. If you have the money to buy it, it's not an issue. The rest of us buy Tasco and Simmons.....

esheato
December 9, 2012, 02:36 AM
Oh absolutely...and nobody is disputing that.

Some people have needs for that level of quality (BR, F-Class, LR, etc).

CB900F
December 9, 2012, 12:45 PM
Cmdrslander;

I'm with Esheato on this one. Take a good long look at & through Zeiss. Their warranty service is reputed to be as good as Leupold, though I haven't had to use it. The glass is good enough that I have several of the scopes. I also have other glass from Simmons thru Leupold, Nikon Monarch and Sightron inclusive, to make comparisons with.

900F

hq
December 9, 2012, 02:06 PM
The main advantage of top quality class and coatings is light transmission and clarity in low light. Dawn and dusk (or even nighttime) hunting is legal in most of the Europe and that's what many of higher-end scopes are built for. I've downed quite a lot of game in moonlight and that's when you really need the best scope you can afford - Leica, Swarovski, Zeiss, Schmidt & Bender, Kahles, Meopta, IOR or the like. I used to skimp on scopes and while the likes of Nikon and Leupold are fantastic for range use and daylight hunting, they're no match to real top shelf scopes when it gets dark. Also remember to take all claims of light transmission percentages with a grain of salt - they may hold true at certain wavelengths, but comparing many "95%" scopes to a 56mm Classic Diatal in real world hunting situation, there's a world of difference.

Leicas are great scopes, but unless you're going to shoot in the dark, you can get away with a much cheaper one and never notice the difference.

WYOMan
December 9, 2012, 02:55 PM
I have one of thier LRF's, and I wouldn't part with it, or trade for another brand. But, for the price tag, I would stick with my IOR's for scopes. I don't think that thier overall construction, or the quality of the glass, is an improvement for the amount of money they are asking.

CraigC
December 9, 2012, 03:53 PM
The rest of us buy Tasco and Simmons.....
Until we realize that it's wiser to spend a little more on a Burris, Leupold, Nikon or Weaver than to waste money on Tasco and Simmons. But then again, this thread isn't really about that, is it???

stubbicatt
December 9, 2012, 06:09 PM
I have one of thier LRF's, and I wouldn't part with it, or trade for another brand. But, for the price tag, I would stick with my IOR's for scopes. I don't think that thier overall construction, or the quality of the glass, is an improvement for the amount of money they are asking.
+1. I agree whole heartedly. The LRF is really swell, and doubles as a really good monocular also for glassing the field in place of binoculars.
The IOR scopes are really nice, other than on my older 2.5 - 10x the magnification ring has become more difficult to manipulate over the years.

1858
December 9, 2012, 07:19 PM
OP, have you looked at Zeiss?

I agree with this suggestion particularly since you like the European look of the Leica scopes. I have three Zeiss Conquest scopes and consider them to be great value for the money. They're assembled in the US which brings the price down. Bear Basin has the 3-9x40mm Z-Plex on sale for $399.95. The 3-9x40mm with the RZ600 reticle is also on sale and there's a $100 rebate bringing the price down to $469.

http://www.bearbasin.com/zeiss-scopes.htm

DM~
December 9, 2012, 08:05 PM
The Zeiss Conquest is the scope that pulled me away from Leupold... Like was already said, they are a better low light level scope, and they have a LOT of eye relief too...

They are worth what they cost, to me!

DM

beag_nut
December 9, 2012, 09:03 PM
I'll never forget when I first looked through a Leica scope. I expected the usual reduction in image brightness, as with most scopes. Surprise! Looking through the Leica yielded a BRIGHTER than normal (naked eye) image!

.333 Nitro Express
December 9, 2012, 11:49 PM
I know I'm going to get chastised for this, but...

Nowadays, the curve of diminishing marginal returns on scopes flattens out considerably above $500--*IF* we are talking just lens quality, consistency of adjustment and durability (I'll address the intangibles later). Sure, you are definitely getting a better product with a $1500 Leica scope, but definitely not five times better than a $300 one--not even twice as good.

Think about what you use a scope for, if you're a big-game US-based hunter (I assume you are, by the choice of rifle you say you want). After glassing and spotting the game, glassing it again to assess its shootability, raising the rifle to your eyes--the scope helps you aim at something you've already spotted and judged. A solid high-midrange scope like a Leupold will do this reliably the greatest majority of the time.

OK, OK, "but what about that X% of cases in which I'd have to pass up shots when it's almost too dark to hunt legally, but there's still (technically) a couple photons in the air?" Well, sometimes life is just a you-know-what--deer could have also shown up on the day I had the flu.

Mind you, I wouldn't say the same thing about a pair of binoculars: if you're a serious hunter, it makes sense to go with the absolute best optics you can afford--as long as we understand how to compare apples to apples: a 10x25 Leica will NOT be as "bright" in poor light as a 7x40 pair of honest binos costing a few hundred bucks.

On the other hand, I do admit that Leica has a powerful brand allure to which I am by no means immune--I own several Leica cameras, and am trying to justify buying a scope like the one you covet. There's something about that little red dot that screams European quality, excellence in optics and an almost cultish sense of belonging to an exclusive fraternity. If I could afford it, every piece of glass I use would be Leica or Swarovski.

For now, I console myself by shooting with good-quality but moderately priced scopes, and taking pictures of my trophies with my 1936 Leica iiia.

I say, if you have the cash go for it. You can always sell it, and it will lose very little value if you take care of it.

jehu
December 10, 2012, 08:00 AM
Don't let anyone tell you that their Lupypold, Tasco, Simmons, or midrange scopes are just as clear and bright as an alpha glass scope such as Lieca,Swarovski,Schmit & Bender or Zeiss. I have mostly Swarovski scopes and Binos with one Ziess. Where they make the BIG differance is at the low light situations allowing a clear bright ethical shot when the big boy steps out with no guessing about shot placement.

DM~
December 10, 2012, 08:48 AM
Don't let anyone tell you that their Lupypold, Tasco, Simmons, or midrange scopes are just as clear and bright as an alpha glass scope such as Lieca,Swarovski,Schmit & Bender or Zeiss. I have mostly Swarovski scopes and Binos with one Ziess. Where they make the BIG differance is at the low light situations allowing a clear bright ethical shot when the big boy steps out with no guessing about shot placement.

True story! And it's why i switched to Zeiss on my "go to gun". I have a second rifle that i'm hunting with more and more, and i think the Leupold on it, is about to become a Zeiss!

Anything i can see with my GOOD bino's, i can shoot with my Zeiss, can't say that for any other brand of scope that i own. That's important to those of us that take our hunting seriously!

DM

aka108
December 10, 2012, 09:05 AM
I shot with a guy in Nevada who can buy anything and not miss the money. He used Zeiss for all of his optics. Beautiful stuff. Since the range I use is 100 yds max I use a "Focal" brand scope, made in Japan, that I bought from K Mart years ago for 19 dollars and a garage sale 5 dollar tripod. It will clearly show 22 cal holes at 100 yards. Have thought about upgrading but then better judgement sets in and says why.

hq
December 10, 2012, 09:38 AM
At the range you can get away with a toilet paper roll and two pieces of cotton string for a reticle. For anything else a baseline I've kept is somewhere between Bushnell Elite and Leupold VX-II. For serious hunting it's something else entirely, the lowest end scopes being Zeiss Conquest/Duralyt and Meopta Meopro. Nighttime hunting? Swaro Z6i and Zeiss Diatal/Diavari all the way.

Once you've had enough cheap scopes and even one failing on you on a $$$ overseas hunting trip, you realize what cry once means. Never again.

.333 Nitro Express
December 10, 2012, 09:59 AM
Guys--jehu, DM--what you say is true, "alpha" glass being objectively better than the midrange stuff. It is measurable, and it's not a matter of opinion.

But to suggest that unless you put a $2,000 scope on your rifle you are not a "serious hunter"--or that serious hunters put only $2,000 scopes on their rifles--I think that's taking it way too far.

Throughout my life, I've known plenty of men of modest means whose passion (or even profession) is hunting, who buy only the best they can afford--falling far short of Zeiss-quality scopes--but who constantly have more success at hunting than many who bring only the very best to the field.

I stand by my assertion that above $500, the law of diminishing marginal returns on scopes (binos are another story) kicks in a lot harder--even for hunting at dusk. The "slice" of legal shooting time in which a Leupold or Nikon fail but a Zeiss or S&B would still enable you to see is too thin to justify the theory that "serious hunters" only put four-digit glass on their rifle. :)

The bottom line for me is this: if you're a serious hunter, buy the best rifle and the best optics you can afford. If you have the budget to get a premium Euro scope, great--if not, there is plenty of good, honest US-made stuff that has been more than enough for a majority of hunters to collect fantastic trophies in the last 50 years.

R H Clark
December 10, 2012, 10:11 AM
I have heard a couple bad customer service stories about the Leica scopes.I would stick with Zeiss or Swarovski.I haven't used their top end glass,but I'm sure it is comparable with a proven CS record.

DM~
December 10, 2012, 10:15 AM
But to suggest that unless you put a $2,000 scope on your rifle you are not a "serious hunter"--or that serious hunters put only $2,000 scopes on their rifles--I think that's taking it way too far.


WHO said or suggested that??? Did you even read my post?? Have you priced a 3x9 Zeiss Conquest?? They are LESS expensive than many Leupolds...

It's important to me to beable to see and beable to shoot 30 minutes longer each day, as that's when the animals are moving best. If you are serious about your hunting too, then it's important to you too.

DM

MCgunner
December 10, 2012, 10:20 AM
IMHO, Euro stuff tends to carry a bigger price tag than it's worth, but in most cases it's superior optics, so it really COSTS. :D If you got the money, why not? I've got more of a Nikon/Weaver budget for rifle scopes and they do the job for me.

Now for binos, I inherited a Canon from my wife's ex, well, and my wife...his loss...:D These things cost up in the 2K range new. He was into bird watching and the wife says he never bought less than the best. Seems he had problems hanging on to it, but hey, another thread. Anyway, these things are image stabilizing which is a good thing since they're something like 16x power. Push the button and all the shaking goes away. Only problem, they weigh like 200 lbs. Okay for hunting a blind, though. :D Now, ME, I have a pair of 50 dollar 10x22 compact Bushnells for walk and stalk. Yeah, I'm a polar opposite of her ex, probably one of the qualities that attracted me to her....:D Now, if only that guy woulda bought a Schmidt and Bender rifle scope.....

MCgunner
December 10, 2012, 10:31 AM
Oh, BTW, took my last deer with iron sights on an SKS. Seems the eyes still work good 'nuf. :D I guess I'm not a serious hunter, though. I don't know that I've ever met a truly serious hunter, though, that wasn't a guide, perhaps. I mean if you're that serious, you'll drop your day job and do it full time, right?

Is anyone more serious a hunter on this board than Caribou who posts in the hunting board? If he don't kill it, he don't eat, lives up in the arctic in a native American community. He hunts with an iron sighted Mosin Nagant and surplus ammo. :D He's the most serious hunter I can think of.

hq
December 10, 2012, 10:42 AM
Twisting the analogy of "serious" to meaning an absolute amount of money spent, instead of a mindset of not cutting corners where better options are within reach financially, sounds like an attempt to intentionally misunderstand what has been said. I'm sorry but I'll have to ask you whether you're doing this on purpose and what, exactly and in detail, is the point you're trying to make?

MCgunner
December 10, 2012, 11:14 AM
Define "serious". To me, that's when you don't kill, you don't eat. That's the ultimate "serious".

By your definition, "serious" has to do with hardware. I can be just as serious and swear off scopes, only use irons because to me, that's SERIOUS. Or, hell, some only use a bow. I met one serious fellow in New Mexico that dresses up in buckskins and hunts with his .58 caliber flinter every season. That's pretty serious. He's really into the black powder thing. :D That guy doesn't even LOOK at optics catalogs.

hq
December 10, 2012, 11:56 AM
You still haven't answered my question about your point. As you, and you alone, limited the definition of "serious" to equipment, I'd be quite interested to hear the logic behind projecting that assumption of yours to others who in no way have implied or expressed anything like that. Especially when this thread is about rifle scopes. Don't be offended, I'm just questioning your wild imagination and trying to figure out your motives of bringing up unrelated subjects and your own assumptions to a scope discussion.

Now we're already in bowhunting and an ascetic hunter-gatherer acquaintance of yours. What next, asking for a psychologist's certificate that someone is a "serious" person and can prove it? Please, stick to the subject and if you have assumptions that are as far-fetched as the ones we've seen thus far, just ask and they'll be easily corrected.

CraigC
December 10, 2012, 12:29 PM
"Seriousness" and socio-economic status are mutually exclusive. For one can be extremely serious about hunting inherited land with an inherited rifle and not have two nickels to rub together. Likewise, you can have a $6000 Dakota model 10 with all the options and a $2000 Schmidt & Bender and not be serious at all. The most "serious" hunter I know spends tens upon tens of thousands of dollars a year on hunting and is able to afford whatever he wants but it was not always so. Far as I know he has only two rifles and they wear Zeiss glass but I remember when it was an old used Remington with a Redfield.

.333 Nitro Express
December 10, 2012, 01:17 PM
DM,

Please don't misunderstand my tone, because I wasn't trying to be polemical at all. :) I know Internet communication can lend itself to misunderstandings, but yes, I did read your post--I *always* read the posts to which I reply. You wrote:

Anything i can see with my GOOD bino's, i can shoot with my Zeiss, can't say that for any other brand of scope that i own. That's important to those of us that take our hunting seriously!

Put another way, I just wanted to emphasize that if hunter X shows up at camp with a Leupold, he shouldn't necessarily be taken to be a perennial amateur or at least someone who's automatically handicapped in normal American big-game hunting situations. That's all.

Whether or not that's what you meant (and I don't believe it was--I usually very much agree with your posts!), this is the gist of the few posts after mine: unless you get a Zeiss-quality scope, you are selling yourself short. I really don't think to be the case.

And point taken about the Conquest. I've been thinking about getting one.

DM~
December 10, 2012, 01:29 PM
DM,

Please don't misunderstand my tone, because I wasn't trying to be polemical at all. :) I know Internet communication can lend itself to misunderstandings, but yes, I did read your post--I *always* read the posts to which I reply. You wrote:

Anything i can see with my GOOD bino's, i can shoot with my Zeiss, can't say that for any other brand of scope that i own. That's important to those of us that take our hunting seriously!

Put another way, I just wanted to emphasize that if hunter X shows up at camp with a Leupold, he shouldn't necessarily be taken to be a perennial amateur or at least someone who's automatically handicapped in normal American big-game hunting situations. That's all.

Whether or not that's what you meant (and I don't believe it was--I usually very much agree with your posts!), this is the gist of the few posts after mine: unless you get a Zeiss-quality scope, you are selling yourself short. I really don't think to be the case.

And point taken about the Conquest. I've been thinking about getting one.

Thanks for clearing that up.... I never ment to snub anyone just because they don't have a lot of money... Truth is, i don't have a lot of money either, i've always just took my hunting so seriously that i've been willing to go without "other" things, so i could have good hunting gear.

There was a time in my life when, if i didn't shoot something to eat, there wasn't much to eat! I took my hunting pretty serious those days! lol

DM

MCgunner
December 10, 2012, 03:44 PM
I lived off the land for a while in college since I was hungry and had the opportunities. I did it because I was broke and my parents were working stiffs, lower middle class. I worked my way through school without loans or other assistance.

I remember hunting with a .22 because shotgun shells cost too much. I certainly couldn't or wouldn't put my whole budged into something as trivial as optics! I was and am good with that .22, can hit a running cottontail most times with enough lead time. One summer in south Texas, there were lots of rabbits and I ate a few rattlers. No deer, out of season, but I killed one with a Savage 340 and an old Weaver steel tubed k4 that fall. That got me through the winter. I didn't even own a par of binos at the time, couldn't afford the Tascos at Gibson's Discount. :rolleyes:

If one can buy Leica optics, one can buy a lot of big macs instead. :rolleyes: That kinda money could have paid for a semester back then. LOL

buckhorn_cortez
December 10, 2012, 04:19 PM
There are three things that Leica excels at in optics: optical design, glass formulations, and coatings. Leica scopes are designed to have the highest light transmission possible and the best contrast for the front objective size of the scope. You can see the difference in the scope if you know how to evaluate optics.

However, where Leica scopes fall down in my estimation is in a poor choice of reticles, lack of magnification range, and small front elements. In high end scopes, Zeiss, Swarovski, Schmidt & Bender, US Optics are equal; and IOR, Kahles, and a couple of others are within a hair of Leica.

While Leica no longer makes their own glass, they do have the glass custom formulated to their specifications and do all of their own lens grinding and coating.

Leica learned a long time ago, that higher contrast in optics gives a better impression of sharpness and will trade off pure modulation transfer function (MTF) performance for better contrast.

You can see this in their camera lenses where MTF performance on a specific lens may not be as good as another manufacturer's lens, but the contrast is far better. The ability to render microcontrast changes makes the image appear sharper because the edges are better defined.

In direct optical goods (scopes and binoculars) this translates into giving the image a 3D look which goes beyond exit pupil size and twilight factor.

Are they worth the money? Yes, if you can find the magnification range and reticle you want. The limiting factor with Leica scopes is that the front element on their scope will often not be as large as another manufacturer's scope and this reduces the brightness under dim lighting conditions. As an example, many of their scopes have a 42mm front element while you find 50mm or 56mm front elements on other manufacturers scopes.

jehu
December 11, 2012, 07:40 AM
I totaly agree with "Buy the best you can afford" when it comes to optics wether it is Bino's or scopes. I think that the best value in mid range priced scopes are Burris scopes and my rimfires and some AR's wear them now, but when it comes to killing Ground Hogs up to 300yds or White tails at the last minutes of shooting time and very low light the Alpha glass scopes don't make you a better shot, they enable you to make a better shot.

Ken70
December 11, 2012, 09:09 PM
From what I've read in the Gun mags and Gun Digest, low light conditions are really where the expensive glass makes a difference. But I don't shoot then, or go on a $30K safari. If I did, I'd buy the boutique glass. But I have 8 rifles, and I can't afford $5000 to scope them. So it's Simmons, Tasco, and NcStar. Another thing is the big name companies that buy the budget scope makers. If they made absolute trash, they wouldn't being paying multiple millions to buy them. Think about that.....

buckhorn_cortez
December 11, 2012, 09:33 PM
If they made absolute trash, they wouldn't being paying multiple millions to buy them. Think about that.....

I did. I think if they wanted a low cost line without their name on it, they'd buy whatever fits the market niche they're after regardless of whether it's "trash" or not. They're trying to sell into a market that they don't have market penetration and if they can find a manufacturer with a significant market share - that's what they're after.

hq
December 11, 2012, 09:37 PM
Price is a major selling point. There's a lot more money to be made by selling hundreds of thousands of $100 scopes than selling just thousands of $1000 scopes. Profit margin is also much higher, the cost of manufacturing a whole cheap scope is lower than making just one lens (out of typically 8-14) for a top quality scope.

The sweet spot for a discerning consumer is somewhere in between. $300 buys a very good scope these days, even better than could be bought at any price 30-40 years ago. As long as you buy quality, not features.

WALKERs210
December 11, 2012, 09:42 PM
My son is a tech for that company. Even with his employee discount I still can't afford to buy the things I want from Leica. From what my son says about Leica, they don't cut corners, just about everyone from home office thinks Americans are dumb as heck and have no respect for us at all. Some of the optic tools they manufacturer can measure the hair on a fleas back from the next state. But for me iron sights, or a cheap Tasco still works great.

Ken70
December 11, 2012, 09:56 PM
It's price with some level of quality. If they were pushing a $100 scope that falls apart within the first mag, won't focus, won't adjust to get the bullets on paper, even with a low price they will rapidly go out of business. There has to be a given level of quality, suitable for the purpose, or it goes away. Tasco and Simmons and the rest have been around for well over 20 years, if you make what the glass weenies claim is crap, that just don't happen. Another thing to consider is one of the cheaper companies buying the boutique glass and reverse engineering it. The details of construction are pretty obvious; it's the makeup of the glass and coatings that are the hard things to figure out. But they can test their scopes against something that costs 5 times as much and see how it does. It's not impossible to make a scope that doesn't cost a fortune and still works. The DIY telescope market has disappeared because you can buy a ground lens that is quite good, at a good price.

R H Clark
December 11, 2012, 10:55 PM
I will not buy the low end Simmons,Bushnell,Tasco or anything made by NCStar,Barska,or BSA.

On the other hand,I don't have to spend $1000 for a nice scope.$400-$500 will buy a nice hunting scope.$300 will also but you have to do your homework and look for deals.

I hear guys say all the time that they can't spend more than $100 on a scope and brag how their blister pack special is (just as good).Most of the time thoes same guys spend money on tobacco,beer,and burgers.I learned a long time ago that $15-$20 a week would buy a nice scope every year.I just don't do the tobacco,beer,or burgers.

1858
December 11, 2012, 11:05 PM
From what I've read in the Gun mags and Gun Digest, low light conditions are really where the expensive glass makes a difference. But I don't shoot then, or go on a $30K safari.

Low light and poor contrast can occur at any time of the day, particularly in the winter months, so I don't put much stock in the "good glass is only good after the sun goes down" argument. Good glass is good at any time of the day.

hq
December 12, 2012, 07:29 AM
Has anyone wondered why the majority of the scope threads are started this time of the year, when days are getting shorter and it's darker, instead of earlier in the fall at the beginning of the hunting season? Christmas could explain something if people were buying them for presents and not for themselves, but there hasn't been much talk about presents lately. :)

DM~
December 12, 2012, 09:43 AM
I will not buy the low end Simmons,Bushnell,Tasco or anything made by NCStar,Barska,or BSA.

On the other hand,I don't have to spend $1000 for a nice scope.$400-$500 will buy a nice hunting scope.$300 will also but you have to do your homework and look for deals.

I hear guys say all the time that they can't spend more than $100 on a scope and brag how their blister pack special is (just as good).Most of the time thoes same guys spend money on tobacco,beer,and burgers.I learned a long time ago that $15-$20 a week would buy a nice scope every year.I just don't do the tobacco,beer,or burgers.

Same here, never drank, smoked or wasted money on some of those "pretty boy" expensive haircuts you see. ha ha ha OR you see guys with $50,000.00 pickups going to the store, and they wonder why they can't afford a good scope????

Then you have those guys that whine they don't have money for a drcent scope, but they have 5 or more rifles... lol I'd rather have 2 rifles with really good glass than 5 with cheapo glass on them.

It's the American way, buy MORE instead of really good!

OK, go ahead and kick me now... lol

DM

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