Scope Comparison


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MI2600
November 7, 2013, 09:56 PM
I am NOT all that familiar with scopes, but leafing through the last Midway flyer caused me to wonder (again) whether a $1,500 scope is that much better than a $150 scope for the average guy? Or, is it a bragging point to display the latest $1,500 XYZ scope?

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Outlaw Man
November 7, 2013, 10:30 PM
For the average guy, the one who shoots his deer rifle maybe 10 rounds per year, no. To someone who shoots thousands of rounds a year, trying to hit targets at long, sometimes unknown, distances, it's absolutely that much better.

I went prairie dog hunting last year with an AR I pieced together at the last second with a $150 scope on it. I had better, but I didn't want to swap from another rifle. Out to a hundred yards, it was fine. At 200, I couldn't tell the difference between prairie dogs and rocks.

To some people, it's probably a bragging thing, but I don't even want to hear it until you've broken the $3000 mark. Otherwise, you're still dealing with pretty common glass in the precision shooting world.

jmr40
November 8, 2013, 05:58 PM
You get big jumps in quality for small increases in price on the low end. A $100 scope is probably 5X better than a $50 scope. A $150 scope is about the bottom rung of acceptable and most of the $200 scopes are going to be far better than a $150 scope and well worth the extra expense. Based on my needs there are lots of $300-$400 scopes that do anything I need to do, and I could be perfectly happy with a lot of $200 scopes. And I own scopes that originally sold for $1000 that I bought used for considerably less. Yes, they are better, but once you get past the $400 level the differences in quality are very small in relation to the price increases.

A good analogy is comparing optics to race cars. Lots of guys can build cheap race cars in their back yard shops for next to nothing that can hit 150 mph on a dirt track. To get a 180 mph car is simply out of the budget of many small time race hobbyist. To get up to a 200 mph car would take millions of dollars in investments just for a few more mph.

If you really need that last tiny bit of light transmission and clarity then you need to spend $1500 instead of $500. Most of us can't use it and don't need it.

Outlaw Man
November 8, 2013, 11:58 PM
It's what I've heard termed the 80/20 rule. You can get 80% of your performance at about 20% of your cost, but it takes the other 80% of the cost to squeeze that last 20% of performance out. And as JMR said, 80% of people will never need that last 20%, but 20% can't do their job without it.

Give or take a few percent, anyway.

ntg
November 9, 2013, 12:19 AM
Jrm summed up the way I see it. Where you're new to the game one way to get educated is go to a local SGS and look through them, and make sure that you ask to have them go with you so you can look through some of them outside. Once outside look at things far away and just play with the magnification, etc. BTW, it is best to do this mid-day on a weekday when the salesmen are bored and it's slow. You'll see pretty quick what's dramatically better vs. marginally better as you look through a number of them side by side. Also, maybe you know, but know how to focus them, and there's basically two styles of focus on rifle scopes. A good salesperson will be able to quickly show you the difference. Most scopes in the $2-400 are more than adequate for hunting.

I see it this way, a $2000 scope is a couple of complete, perfectly acceptable rifle set-ups for me.

Yes many need to spend too much...to be able to better puff their chest out.

greyling22
November 9, 2013, 02:59 PM
another nod to jmr40's post. you get into diminishing returns after 400 bucks. if you're shooting under 200 yds, and not at the first and last 10 minutes of daylight, most things in the $150-250 will do anything you want them to. Within price points, most scopes are pretty much the same.

taliv
November 9, 2013, 03:40 PM
I see it this way, a $2000 scope is a couple of complete, perfectly acceptable rifle set-ups for me.

that's kind of an important difference in perspective, and nothing wrong with it at all. i'm the opposite though, in that if i had a choice, i'd put ALL my money into ONE rifle setup so that i have the most capability out of it, get as much performance as i can. if i have extra disposable cash, i might get another setup as a backup. (then repeat for pistol, carbine) i just can't imagine having a house full of guns and splitting my shooting time across them. again, nothing wrong with either way, just depends on what you want i guess

CB900F
November 9, 2013, 07:05 PM
MI2600;

The advice you've recieved above concerning the cost/benefits ratio is absolutely correct. What we now need to know to is what your rifle's mission is going to be.

Itty-bitty groups at 600 yards is one thing, deer in heavy brush is another. Varmints at 500 yards, or so, can't get the dang range finder to pick the little suckers up, is yet a third. Seventy eight small varmints all at one time from zero to 180 yards is yet another.

Whatcha gonna do with that-there thang?

900F

MI2600
November 10, 2013, 05:29 PM
I was just being curious about cost to usefulness benefit. Some good answers and I now have a better idea of the field.

I have some inexpensive scopes on a few .22s and another economical Bushnell on my old Mauser.

CB900F
November 10, 2013, 08:06 PM
MI2600;

OK, then it depends on what's important to you. This guy may think those 78 varmints are enough fun to spend some money on & have a $350.00 scope on his .22. You may not care a hill of beans & keep the basic glass on your .22. Flipping the scenario, you really care about hitting the animal you're shooting at during big game season & will spend money on a damn good scope for the purpose. Whereas our varmint guy doesn't hunt big game much at all & a $100.00 scope is "good-nuff" for his very basic .308.

900F

351 WINCHESTER
November 10, 2013, 09:26 PM
If you are a hunter that extra money for better optics really shines during low light.

Lloyd Smale
November 11, 2013, 07:10 AM
most states dont allow hunting past a set time they say is sundown and again dont allow hunting till sunrise. If you are going by the rules you probably shouldnt even be shooting during times that you need a 2k dollar scope to see a deer.

DM~
November 11, 2013, 08:48 AM
For me, my eyes are getting older, and a better scope does a MUCH better job of allowing me to see into the "shadows", in the early morning/late evening light.

I'm with the camp of having less "cheaper quality" guns/scopes, to beable to afford much "higher quality" guns/scopes.

I'll take "quality" to "quantity" any day...

DM

Outlaw Man
November 11, 2013, 08:49 AM
Lloyd, I've hunted in areas with a canopy so thick it was like dawn/dusk unless the sun was directly overhead. I'm not saying you needed a $2000 scope, but a $60 Barska would have been pushing it. I actually just used iron sights in that scenario a couple times.

cactus02
November 11, 2013, 07:45 PM
For a great discussion on scopes and quality go to you tube sniper 101 and chapter 43? on a quality scope and long range shooting glass.

nyresq
November 18, 2013, 12:39 AM
Yes, there is a difference. To really appreciate a good scope you need to be looking at long distance to see the extra worth of a premium glass.

A good rule of thumb is 1.5x or 2x the yardage you are commonly going to shoot at. Thats your price point for a decent scope... ie, 100 yard plinking, a $150-$200 scope will suit you well. If you do a good amount of shooting at 500 yards, $750-$1k is not an unrealistic number for glass that will allow you to see things clearly and have precision adjustment to put rounds on target. 1k yards you are looking at a scope in the price range of $1500-$2000.

Can you hit a target at 700 yards with a $100 scope? Sure, but to do it consistantly and with the ability to adjust and return to zero, and identify your target? It is not going to be easy... Even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while...

hardluk1
November 18, 2013, 10:04 AM
The difference is are you try'n to shoot world class groups at 600 to 1000 yards are looking to put meat on the table at 100 to 400 yards and with the right scope out to 500 yards and see well at legal light . Spend 250 to 450 bucks and cover the the hunting needs very well. Even shoot some really good groups at 500 yards with your hunting rifle. Forget the world class groups till your at the top 3% of scopes for the most part. There was a guy that got lucky after breaking a match scope and shoot and won a 1000 yard match with a 6X weaver. Just ain't gona happen often.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
November 18, 2013, 04:36 PM
For a $150 let's say you get a Bushnell Banner. It probably has about 25 -35 MOA of adjustment tops. The lenses aren't fully coated for glare and clarity. You buy a $2300 NightForce ATACR and it has just over 120 MOA adjustment. The lenses are ED glass and fully coated. Honestly watched a guy drive a slightly larger than a finishing nail and re-mount it and shoot with it. It was within a 1/4" of zero at 100 yards. The clarity is where the money is though. The $150 scope looks like you are looking through the wrong prescription eyeglasses.. There is a difference for the money. The average hunter doesn't usually need a $1500 scope to use but a Competition shooter most likely will.

reddrumtoo
November 19, 2013, 05:33 PM
Depending on the target & the distance designates scope needs . If you can't see it you can't shoot it .

hq
November 30, 2013, 05:46 PM
If you are a hunter that extra money for better optics really shines during low light.

I absolutely second that. Another consideration is objective lens diameter. Having just spent a whole evening in a blind with a way too small (32mm) Zeiss scope, trying in vain to see, when choosing another of my rifles with a 50 or 56mm scope would've given me at least another hour of sufficient light to hunt.

Sweet spot varies depending on who you ask. For me, $450-1000 usually means great bftb for a hunting scope. For range work up to 500 yards in daylight, it might be half that. Some people swear by their $100 scopes, others sneer at anything that doesn't retail for four figures. I rarely shoot very far but I hunt at dawn/dusk, sometimes even in moonlight (hold your horses, around here it's perfectly legal), which means that light transmission and picture clarity are an absolute must.

In short, good optics cost money and there aren't many exceptions. It all boils down to how good scope you want and maybe even need. The law of diminishing returns applies.

moonzapa
December 1, 2013, 01:20 PM
How much money is in your budget for a rifle scope?

I would let that be the determining factor. I can tell you that I kick myself in the lower posterior for not getting the focus dial available on a Leupold scope I recently purchased. It is the third dial on a scope, that is offered by all almost all the premium scope manufacturers. I'm particular to 4.5X-14X one-inch diameter variable power scopes for my shooting. However, I have a buddy, former National Guard match shooter that swears by the Leupold FX-3 fixed focal length scopes, 6x, 12x, etc. You couldn't get him to switch over to a variable power scope. I can attest to Leupold and Zeiss rifle scopes as first rate because I have used them for many years. (I have had only one failure with the Zeiss and I believe that was a fluke.) There are other good brands out there, i.e., Nikon, Bushnell, and of course NightForce. I know I have omitted some other good brands, but this is just a starting list of what's out there. The bottom line is that you get what you pay for. If you go cheap, then you will get mediocre results and many frustrations along the way. Spend some money and get a quality riflescope. This is my recommendation to you.

Good Shooting.

Lloyd Smale
December 5, 2013, 07:45 AM
For me, my eyes are getting older, and a better scope does a MUCH better job of allowing me to see into the "shadows", in the early morning/late evening light.

I'm with the camp of having less "cheaper quality" guns/scopes, to beable to afford much "higher quality" guns/scopes.

I'll take "quality" to "quantity" any day...

DM
I just had a conversation with doug at cammera land the other day. I was thinking of upgrading my 300 dollar 8x bincos. to something around twice that. I asked him if i was going to see a differnce. he told me at my age 56 it was doubtfull my eyes were good enough anymore to really see an improvement. now he could have easliy told me id should buy those new ones but was honest enough to tell me to keep my money.

Lloyd, I've hunted in areas with a canopy so thick it was like dawn/dusk unless the sun was directly overhead. I'm not saying you needed a $2000 scope, but a $60 Barska would have been pushing it. I actually just used iron sights in that scenario a couple times.

i sure wont argue with that as a matter of fact were on the same page. I seldom buy a scope under 200 dollars and seldom buy one over 500 bucks. I shoot lots of deer every year and cant ever remember a time when i could blame a shot on a scope in that price range. Bottom line is if you cant see a deer in a 400 dollar scope you either got took on that scope or should be shooting in those conditions anyway because even if you can see good enough to place a bullet you sure cant see whats on the ohter side of that animal. Be it a man or another deer that may get killed and be illleagal. A 1500 dollar scope might buy you another couple minutes at dusk and dawn but for that extra 5 minutes max you get for your additional 1000 dollars is it worth it. I can buy alot of beef for a 1000 dollars. Bottom line too like a said most states have legal shooting hours that end at set and if you hunt those legal hours a 200 dollar scope is going to be all you need in light gathering. Im betting if that 1500 dollar scope is getting you more deer your not doing it legaly. At least not in michigan.

hq
December 5, 2013, 08:54 AM
A 1500 dollar scope might buy you another couple minutes at dusk and dawn but for that extra 5 minutes max you get for your additional 1000 dollars is it worth it.

Just to counter your argument, $1000+ scopes have bought me hundreds of moonlit nights of hunting and dozens upon dozens of kills since the 80's. The difference between them and $500 scopes is decisive when you hunt in the dark.

But mainly/only if you do.

For example, the sun just set and tonight we'll hunt roe deer from 9pm to 1am; if I take a run of the mill $500 scope with me, it'll only be useful for mashing potatoes. :)

Vol46
December 6, 2013, 01:32 PM
Why would someone spend good money on a rifle that can shoot MOA or less and then put a cheesy scope on it that is not clear & crisp throughout the field of view, cannot hold zero, adjusts inconsistently, and/ or cannot get a bright enough image in the low light conditions that all hunters occasionally encounter?
I think the rule of thumb that you should spend as much on optics as you do on the gun is a pretty good one. A $100 - $ 150 scope on a used " truck gun" or a "plinking" .22 is fine, but in optics you generally get what you pay for, & I want better on my centerfire big game rifles.
To the OP's question, $ 1,500 may be a little steep, but $150 won't get it in my opinion.

Lloyd Smale
December 10, 2013, 05:04 PM
that rule of thumb was made up by the scoped salesmen. Kind of reminds me of the jewlery dealers saying you need to spend a months salery minimum on a wedding ring. Im not a big fan of 150 dollar scopes either but if a guy has 300-500 bucks to spend he can buy a good scope. As good as ANYTHING that was made 15 years ago.

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