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Old October 31, 2017, 10:19 AM   #1
Join Date: March 15, 2008
Location: Charleston, SC
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Low Light scope?

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?

Budget is NOT $2000.
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Old October 31, 2017, 10:45 AM   #2
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It sounds like most any scope with a large aperture will help gather more light and focus it on your eyeball.
I’d look at 50 mm+ scope.
If your budget isn’t $2k, what is it? That will help with a specific recommendation.

I see a whole lot better through my 56mm scope at night than no optics.

Cave illos in guns et backhoes
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Old October 31, 2017, 10:58 AM   #3
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<1k if possible.... used also good.
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Old October 31, 2017, 11:10 AM   #4
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Just get one with an illuminated reticle.
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Old October 31, 2017, 12:14 PM   #5
T. O'Heir
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"...40mm is too small..." No it isn't. That 3-9x 50mm Leupold VX-2 is a bit over a foot long and weighs 13.3 ounces. You'll feel both at the end of the day. It'll need high rings that put your face very high too.
Oh and all scopes are low light scopes. S'one of their purposes.
Spelling and grammar count!
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Old October 31, 2017, 12:31 PM   #6
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You have some conflicting parameters.
Like asking for 40 MPG and 5000 lb towing capacity. Nice,but not likely.

The human eye pupil is about 5mm in lower light,7mm in dark. That is the critical light "Bottleneck"

The scope will have an "Exit Pupil" You may be able to see a small dot of light if you hold the scope out at arms length and look at the ocular.

We are stuck with some math here.

You divide the Objective lense size by the magnification and you get the exit pupil size.
Using binoculars as an example,a 7x35 is regarded as a fine field magnification,as is an 8x40. Note the math will yield a 5mm exit pupil.
Now,for night/marine use,the lense size goes up,to 7x50 (49) or 8x56.
Note the 7mm exit pupil. The idea is we gather the light available on the area of the large objective lense and bend it down to a pupil the size of the human eye pupil.
There are other factors that can waste more or less light,like glass and lense coatings.Those factors aside, 7mm exit pupil,times the magnification,equals the optimum low light objective lense size.

You have a parameter of 12 X minimum. You have a need for max light transmission. For your optic to have a 5mm exit pupil,you would need a 60 mm objective at 12 X . For it to have a 7mm exit pupil,you would need an 84 mm objective.

In my limited experience,the best night performance scope I have is my Leupold fixed 6X by 42 mm. That's,IMO,plenty of magnification to shoot a prairie dog at 250 yds.I have used it in low light conditions. I was impressed. Its certainly better than naked eye. Amazing.But it has limits.And the reticle is invisible in darkness. But you are talking about legal hunting hours ,not night hunting. An illumined reticle can be useful in low light,,but it won't help counting antler points.

I don't like using my rifle scope for my spotting scope.

You might look at a 84 mm quality spotting scope ($ 1500 +) with a 12X eyepiece.

I'm not trying to be a smart alec,thats just the answer to your question

Optical quality costs money. I don't own a Leupold VX-2. I don't know what the optical quality is. Its pretty good on the 6x42. I think that's an FX-3 designation,but I forget. Leupold aside, I have a 1930's vintage Bausch and Lomb 60mm spotting scope. The "NRA" model. It has a 15X eyepiece.
On any typical range day in good light,using an orange and white target,I can see bullet holes at 200 yds well enough to sight in without going downrange to check my target.
There is more to resolving detail than magnification

Last edited by HiBC; October 31, 2017 at 12:56 PM.
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Old October 31, 2017, 01:26 PM   #7
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Need the low light to see and the magnification to qualify a shot.

As to scope height, I like it higher as I am 6'4" w a long neck. Some rifles it is hard to see sights w/o laying head on stock.

My shotgun has a movable but plate that raises stock 1.5".
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Old October 31, 2017, 04:46 PM   #8
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In low light levels you want to have as large an objective lens as possible. The objective lens is the one closest to your target, the bigger it is the more light it gathers. My scopes all have 50 mm objective lenses. At my age I need all the help I can get!
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Old October 31, 2017, 11:17 PM   #9
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If I understand the technical side of things, the issue is not how much light the scope can gather, but how much light the human eye can use. As shooters, we are pretty much limited by the size of the human pupil and how much light it can "use". In simpler terms, a 50mm objective may well gather more light, but after a certain point, your eye cannot use it effectively, to see better once the darkness, or lack of light, gets to a certain point. There are a bunch of 50mm scopes sold, that do little for the typical shooter....your eye simply cannot use the light they gather.

The issue is further complicated by your demand for 12x of magnification. The higher the X power, the more limited one is in terms of ability to discern objects as the light fades. I'll tell you that nearly all the properties I hunt have a point count rule...and generally speaking, I do not have trouble counting points with a 1", 3-9x40 variable. As light fades, I find I have to back the "x" power back a bit to see clearly.. If I can't tell it's a shooter with 6 or 7x and a 40mm bell, , it's too dang dark to shoot anyhow. Interestingly, the scope I use, which seems the brightest to my very near 60 yr old eyes, is a Leupold 6x42.....same recommendation as HiBc I note. I hunt some 6x36's as well, and they are nearly as good.

I hunt mostly blue collar Leupold's, and have no complaints. I bought most of them used. There is better glass/optics out there, and as a rule, you get what you pay for, but I am not going to shell out 4 figures for a scope when what I have seems to work for me.
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Old November 1, 2017, 03:11 PM   #10
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The objective lens determines the amount of light it can pass. When you increase magnification the light through the optics is reduced so you need a bigger objective lens for more light at the higher power.
At 8 power and a 50 mm lens you can see better than with a 7 power and a 35 mm lens. The math is that the optimum light throughput is the objective size divided by 5. So 35/5 = 7, 40/5 = 8, 50/5 = 10 and so on. My 100 mm telescope would almost blind you while looking at a full moon at 10 power but when you started looking at smaller craters at 50 power it was a comfortable level of light. beyond 50 power you start to lose contrast even with a bright moon.
As your power goes up you need a larger lens to get the contrast you need. Since all the light that the optics allow through are focused on the pupil you get all the light that goes through the scope minus any losses in the assembly, of course).
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Old November 1, 2017, 03:17 PM   #11
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Low Light Scope

My 3-9x40 Nikon Pro Staff - I have to stop hunting 20-30 sooner than the 3-9x50 VX2 Leopold.
The Leopold is better glass and the 50mm helps. My son's Zeiss Conquest in X x 12x50mm. It is brighter still.

Just checking if anything is out there different and bang for buck.

I have no issues with say a 56mm size as I like a high mount scope- I'm a big guy.
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Old November 2, 2017, 11:40 AM   #12
Don Fischer
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I have two old scope's that gather light longer than any other scope I've ever owned. Both Denver Redfields, a 2 3/4x and a 1-4x. I think Leupold has a similar scope, maybe a couple other maker's also. No 50mm tubes, very low riding scope's.
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