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Low Light Scope

Discussion in 'Long Gun Sights and Accessories' started by drmajor, Oct 31, 2017.

  1. drmajor

    drmajor Member

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    What do you like in a LOW light scope--- Non electric.. Not night vision etc.

    This is for the last 30 minutes of deer hunting--dark 30. We are allowed to hunt 1 hour past official sunset...and of course the deer know you can's see so they come out.

    40mm is too small.. Have 3-9x 50mm Leopold VX-2 which is WAY better than Nikon Pro Staff.
    Needs to have at least 12+ magnification as we get fined for less that six points.. Almost impossible to count points with 3-9 near dark @ 100 -125 yd.

    My son has a Zeiss ____. He says it's better than my Leopold..

    What do you like?
    Why?

    Budget is NOT $2000.
     
  2. drmajor

    drmajor Member

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    I see Zeiss 50mm on EBay shipping from China...real low price..

    Avoid?
     
  3. Swampman

    Swampman Old Fart

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    Like the plague!



    I've gotten some good deals from these folks. Check out their used and demo section.
    https://www.eurooptic.com/
     
  4. LoonWulf

    LoonWulf Member

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    Your literally asking for the very best in light gathering and resolution. You cant get that on any knock off.

    IMO take a hard look at the euro optics, they tend to shoot in darker conditions than we do a lot of the time so often have larger and brighter scopes.
    @cdb1 also once theorized, that companies that build a lot of dawn/dusk/night (not bushnells line) scopes tend to carry that into there more mainstream lines of scopes as well, so that might be helpful. Tho who he suggested to me as being brands to watch have fallen clean out of my head right now.....
     
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  5. Sav .250

    Sav .250 Member

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    Check out the Natchez site for more low lights scopes. I just go to a lower power on my scope at dusk /dawn.
    A lot of scopes are advertised as 'low light."
     
  6. cowboy77845

    cowboy77845 Member

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    I use a Zeiss variable with a 56 objective. My binoculars are also Zeiss 8x56. I have found them to work very well 30 min before sunrise and 30 min after sunset. I got a set of Leica 15x56 with a rangefinder last year but had no occasion to use them yet I have tried them in low light to see how they work and they do make objects much more visible in low light. They are not light weight or inexpensive. I do not believe you will find a cheap scope to do what you ask. Both my Zeiss scopes were purchased used for less than a 1000.
     
  7. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    A scopes magnification and objective size go hand in hand determining low light use. If you divide the front objective size by the magnification the number you get is the size of the light beam coming out the back of the scope and entering your eye. For example a 40mm objective with 4X magnification results in a 10mm light beam coming out the back of the scope. This number is known as the exit pupil. The larger the beam of light (exit pupil), the better the scope works in low light. At least up to a point. The pupil on MOST adults eyes will only open about 5mm, and any more light is wasted. If you're in your 20's and have above average vision 6 or 7mm is possible but not common. The advantage always goes to lower magnification, but details are easier to see with more magnification. At least as long as you have enough light.

    For ideal low light use you want as much magnification as possible and still get a 5mm exit pupil. A 40mm scope maxes out at 8X. A 50mm scope transmits exactly the same amount of light at 10X as a 40mm scope does at 8X and only has slight edge when set on 9X. At more than 10X low light use is hampered with either 40 or 50mm scope. Both 40 and 50mm scopes transmit more light than the human eye can use on magnifications of 7X or less. To use 12X in low light you'd need a minimum of a 60mm objective to gain anything in low light.

    And all this just determines the size of the light beam coming out the rear of the scope. Not the actual brightness of the light. Very complex testing methods are needed to determine this and hard numbers are hard to find. Most budget scopes are in the 80-85% range. Most mid-level scopes selling in the $300-$500 range are in the 90-95% range and the really expensive $1000+ scopes are in the 95%+ range. Glass quality always trumps glass size.

    A good quality 40mm scope will always cost less than a 50mm scope of the same quality. At the same price point a 40mm scope beats a 50mm scope every time because the better quality glass. Now if you move up to higher quality, and more expensive 50mm glass it will be slightly better, but only at 9X magnification.

    I have several 3-9X40 Leupold VX-2's and several 3-9X40 Zeiss Conquest scopes. The Zeiss are better, but only slightly so. I can use either of them after legal shooting time has past.
     
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  8. PoPo22

    PoPo22 Member

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    I have had problems seeing the extremely "thin" reticles when used for "low light" shooting, so I generally carry a scope with a "thicker" reticle when I am expecting to be shooting in low light.
     
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  9. hq

    hq Member

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    The traditional holy trinity of low light scopes is Zeiss, Swarovski and Schmidt & Bender, particularly their higher end models with 56mm or larger objective diameter and magnification range somewhere between 2 and 12. That's what everyone either uses or would love to use in European dusk and nighttime hunts. There are several high-end scope manufacturers; Leica, Steiner etc. even though any of the "big three" is the most traditional choice. If they're out of your price range, manufacturers like Meopta and Kahles offer quite decent alternatives for somewhat lower prices.

    While Leupold, Nikon and others are undeniably quality scopes, their glass and coatings aren't quite up to par in this regard.
     
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  10. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    There simply won't be any free lunch when it comes to doing what you'd like. There are some solid values out there, all relative of course.

    If my needs were similar and money was tight I would consider the Minox ZX5 3-15 X 56mm Plex reticle with Side Focus. It's a shade under $500 and should meet your requirements (unless your budget is really $200 in which case I'd suggest binoculars). I like Minox for their color fidelity to my eyes, clarity, and longer eye relief.

    As I've brought up the point I'll mention that I glass for deer constantly during early or late hunts. Better binoculars will pick out deer you never knew were there.

    Back to suggestions, and this is something of a leap in price, but an IOR 4-14 X 56mm at $1,100 will add illumination (I know you said no to it but you can leave it off) with a 4A Dot reticle. Slightly better than a standard duplex for hunting, very good glass quality, and rugged.

    I don't feel there's anything at $250 or $350 that buys you more than you've already got.
     
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  11. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    Here it is legal to hunt 30 minutes before/after sunrise, sunset. I use a VX-R 4-14x40. I can see deer clearly before/after sunset that are nearly impossible to see without the optics.

    There are probably better choices, but I consider mine more than adequate. The Firedot is REALLY excellent. Easy to adjust brightness. Never needed to replace the battery. If you don't move the scope, it shuts itself off after five minutes, and comes back on when it moves again.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
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  12. Sniper66

    Sniper66 Member

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    My brother shot lots of roe deer in Germany in low-light conditions and used a Pecar with 56mm objective. Zeiss now owns Pecar and make really good low light scopes.
     
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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  14. hq

    hq Member

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    Good choice. I've had HD5 2-10x42 on my .375H&H for a few years now and while it was a bit more spendy than the VX-3 3.5-10x40 I also considered, there's quite a bit of difference in their performance. A solid 15-20 minutes more visibility before dawn and after dusk. I'm not sure if Cabela's Euro-series, rebranded Meopta MeoPro scopes are still available. They're exceptional value in this regard, the 4-12x50 trumps the 42mm Zeiss and comes amazingly close to rivaling the 50mm, for approximately half the price.
     
  15. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I've been hunting coyotes at night - not just dusk - for many years (over 25), without illumination. I've done this successfully with 3-9x40mm scopes, but REALLY enjoy the Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x50mm for this. It's all about your magnification setting.

    Exit pupil is the trick. Your eye will be about as dilated as it can be as the sun goes down, so you need to be sure your exit pupil is as large or larger than your physical pupil. So you need your exit pupil to ride around 6-8+ millimeters. The easy way to do that is run low magnification. A 3-9x40 at 3x will have a ~13mm exit pupil, plenty of light for NIGHT hunting, more than your eye could take in. Crank up to 9x and you drop to 4.4mm, which would appear quite dark, no matter what brand was on the box.

    Great glass with great transmissivity is great, but it's not the end all of all scopes for dawn and dusk hunting. I'm an optic snob, typically, but I still own a lot of lower end scopes, suited for the tasks I ask of them. Hell, I use my Simmons ProHunter handgun scope at dusk, 2-6x32mm, as my eyes, because I can see better through it than my naked eye - a $125 optic. High end optics will be brighter and more resolved, but a guy can buy a lot of brightness simply by lowering the magnification.

    Glass with high resolution and RELATIVELY good coatings will produce a well contrasted, crisp image, better than cheap junk, but a guy can buy this for $500 easily. It doesn't, however, in my experience, typically say Leupold on the box at that price point, which surprises a lot of folks. I've kicked butt with Bushnell in the dark - not the trophy's or banners, but anything from the Elite line has done well for me. Nikons have not done well for me either. VX3 and up Leupolds have done well enough for me at night, but to be honest, Bushnell does better. I've been very happy with Nightforce BR, NXS, and SHV F1 in the dark and have never had a Zeiss Conquest which didn't do well at night as well, but none of these are cheap. Vortex and Leupold are serviceable, as is Nikon, but for the money, better scopes are out there.

    If a guy is wanting to shoot 200yrds at dusk, wanting to be cranked up at 12x, it really just isn't going to go well. To have an 8mm exit pupil at 12 the objective has to be 96mm... but if a guy runs a 50mm at 6x or less from a $500+ scope, the picture will be plenty bright.
     
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  16. hq

    hq Member

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    Actually, you're "wasting" light in both cases. The closer the exit pupil at your actual pupil diameter the better and the rule of the thumb of 7-ish mm works. I tend to crank 56mm diameter scopes to magnification of 8 and 50mm to 7 for maximum light transmission in the dark, following the legendary fixed mag low light scope, Zeiss 8x56 Diatal principle. More often than not you can tell the difference by looking through the scope, changing magnification slowly and suddenly the image seems somehow brighter.
     
  17. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    "Actually" - maximal pupil dilation varies from one shooter to the next, and the parasympathetic and sympathetic responses of the shooting eye through the scope vs. the off eye vary from shooter to shooter, and with the ambient light remaining on the field exposed to either eye, and "actually" both maximal dilation AND parasympathetic & sympathetic responses will vary throughout the individual shooters life... If 7mm isn't within the 6-8mm I cited, I guess I need to go back to grade school... The actual physical size of the shooters eyeball and resulting actual physical size of the shooters retina also plays a part - a shooter with a smaller retina doesn't see as well in the dark as someone with a physically larger eye... so more importantly, how many angels can dance on the head of a laden European Swallow?

    Whether you believe the rule of thumb number should be 6-8mm or specifically 7mm, the principle remains - if the exit pupil is too small, the image won't be as bright. Considering the OP's request of 12x minimum, the fact remains, 12x doesn't work. If your exit pupil is smaller than your actual pupil, it's going to appear darker than the field. If it matches or is larger in diameter, then you'll see as bright or brighter picture in the scope than with the naked eye, and no coatings or brand name or price tag can fix it. To maximize light transmitted to the eye, a scope at 12x would have to have a larger objective diameter than anything readily available on the market.
     
  18. hq

    hq Member

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    Which is exactly what the "rule of the thumb" and "-ish" -part after "7" in my previous post are ment to illustrate.
     
  19. Ks5shooter

    Ks5shooter Member

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    My Leupolds have and still do provide me all I need in low light conditions. My wall reflects the results.:thumbup::thumbup:
     
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  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have been wanting to upgrade the glass on my .308 hunting rifle for some time now and have been waiting for deals. I wanted a low power for a wide FOV, good to very good glass, and a larger than 36MM objective. Almost just bought a new VX3i 1.75-6 or 2.5-8, and I am sure they would have served well. (Gun has an old VariXIII 2.5-8X36 on it now)

    I found this Lieca ER5 2-10x50 on sale and ordered it yesterday. 54 feet FOV at 100 Meters. Nice. Great glass. Nice. Great price for the quality. Always a winner. Credit card trashed. Well, the pain of the purchase price will wear off, but the joy of a nice scope will last for years and years and years.

    Still tempted by the Ziess I linked to. Hate to pass on great sales on great glass.
     
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  21. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    That’s a screaming deal. I’d really like to do a side by side against my Leupold VX-3
     
  22. Lloyd Smale

    Lloyd Smale Member

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    what is your budget? In all reality a great low light scope might add a few minutes of extended shooting time over a good low light scope. You can pay 2-300 for a good low light scope and 2-3000 for a great one. In most states theres legal shooting hours anyway and you aren't going to benefit much from spending BIG bucks on a HUNTING scope. Target shooters and long range shooters will benefit more from great glass then hunters. Personaly I could get by with scopes like the vx1 and vx2 leupolds. Nikon monarchs and there new prostaffs, Bushnell 3200 and 4200s and the mid priced vortex scopes on any of my hunting rifles. Sure id like to have something like a Swarovski, night force ect on them but that would require a winning lotto ticket in my house.
     
  23. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    The Lieca came yesterday. Toady at dusk I took it out back and looked around, including under a shed at the back of the yard. I have an S-Tac 3-15X42 I bought on sale (They were selling for around $700, then went on sale all over the web, I got it for $380 with the MOA-3 reticle. After that they went up a little at the new "regular" price.). It was just sitting in the safe so I got it out and did a comparison. I set them both at 3X. The Lieca is significantly brighter. The exit pupil with the S-Tac at 3X would be 14 and the Lieca at 3X would be 16.66, so the objective size shouldn't be much of a factor at 3X.

    I wish I had a new VX3 or 3i to check it against. I do have a Monarch 5 3-15x50 on a rifle, but didn't want to wave a rifle around the back yard.

    Either way, the Lieca is very bright and the glass is very clear with great color. I like it. :)
     
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  24. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Another one on sale that should be good for low light. Minox 2-10X50. Sales are the only way to buy scopes if you are "frugal" like myself. Deals can be had if one is patient. I had been looking for three years before purchasing the Lieca the other day. This Minox has an even bigger FOV at 2X than the Lieca.

    https://www.eurooptic.com/Minox-66608-MinoxZX5-2-10x50-Plex-Absehen-66608.aspx
     
  25. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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