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Old November 10, 2012, 10:26 AM   #1
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Scope for low light hunting.

Time to upgrade my rifle and scope. I don't know much about scopes, and am hoping I can get some education here. I deer hunt and most shot opportunities are within 100 yards. Of course, in the woods it starts to get dark while there is still time to hunt, and it can be darn difficult to see if something has antlers or not. So, to the question... What should I be looking at in a scope? Anyone have knowledge about the Nikon 3x9x40 that comes as a package on the Savage 111? Should I be looking for something larger than a 40? Thanks

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Old November 10, 2012, 10:45 AM   #2
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I really like the Weaver K-4 for hunting. Clear, lots of light gathering, reasonably priced. Positive clicks. Lifetime warrantee.

Midway has them for $350 w/free shipping right now.
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Old November 10, 2012, 10:45 AM   #3
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The larger the objective and tube the better the light gathering ability. Although I don't do it, I have a Burris Black Diamond with 56mm objective and a 30mm tube that you can see to shoot all night if the stars are out. If your looking for later shooting I would get somthing with at least a 50mm objective
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Old November 10, 2012, 12:59 PM   #4
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I really like the Weaver K-4 for hunting. Clear, lots of light gathering, reasonably priced. Positive clicks. Lifetime warrantee.

Midway has them for $350 w/free shipping right now.

I just got one for my CZ 452. I was really hoping to see a reissue of the old K4.

The old ones had a fine cross hair and that was it. This one is a duplex.

The old one had coin adjustable windage and elevation. This one is supposed to be finger adjustable.

It looks like something is missing off mine. I would have expected to see a wheel type adjustment to make it easier. Mine looks like they left that part off.

Truthfully, I am just a little bummed about it.

Carpe Cerveza
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Old November 10, 2012, 01:13 PM   #5
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Trijicon Accupoint 1-4X
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Old November 10, 2012, 02:16 PM   #6
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I believe if the exit pupil is as large or larger than your own pupil, you will see as good as your eye will see.
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Old November 10, 2012, 02:22 PM   #7
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I have for many years used a Trijicon Accupoint Safari 1.75x-6x variable with the fiber-optically illuminated (no batteries) delta point (mine's a red triangle) post with crosshair.

The IR is easily "shut off", and the post also has a tritium insert for use in full dark, when the FO are inoperative due to the lack of ambient light.

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Old November 10, 2012, 08:12 PM   #8
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Coyota1 brought out an important point when he referred to exit pupil. What scope will work best has something to do with your age. As we age the pupils of our eyes dilate less in low light. While one person may be able to use the extra light of a 50mm scope, another may not. For some 40mm may be all they can use. If you can't use the extra light, you are better off with a smaller scope. The only way to find out is to try out some friend's scopes at dusk and compare them. Optical quality is of course important in the equation.
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Old November 10, 2012, 08:31 PM   #9
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Don't take this as gospel, but I believe it to be true. When I was researching binocs and scopes some years ago, I read that by dividing the scope magnification power (let's say 6 power) into the objective bell size (let's say 40mm), you'll get a ratio, which in this case is 6.67. If you are a young guy, as I once was, the most you can benefit from would be a 5. As you age, you won't be able to utilize or benefit from as much as 5. So in a scope with a 40mm bell, the max power you should use at twilight would be 8 power. Of course, you'll need to factor in the quality of the scope. Better scope means more available light for you.

Taking all of that into account, just buy the best scope you can afford and keep the power below 8 (or less) at twilight to pass as much light as you can. Whether or not your aging eyes will benefit from maximum passed light, I can't say.

Due to a brain tumor (since resolved), I spent about a year wearing an eye patch. Looked pretty cool and drove some women wild (and...unfortunately...some guys), but the world is dimmer with half the light coming in. And that ain't theory...that's a fact.
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Old November 10, 2012, 08:43 PM   #10
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see it

All the comments about light gathering and scope quality are +1. Let me add that one's got to be able to see the aiming point.

I am not yet sold on battery powered optics, but the new generation of high quality dots are pretty proven. If you don't mind a battery on your rifle.

The Trijicon post w/ the glow tip seems appealing and its "no battery'. I don't own one, but like the concept.

Before tritium and high tech dots, fat chunky reticles were applied in low light. The Leupold 6x42 is often thought of as a low light scope and often appears w/ a "medium" duplex, likely for that reason.

Taking that idea a step further, the big blocky German #1, not popular in the US with most folks, can really be seen in dim light. I've got a couple on various riflles and can attest to how easily seen the aiming point appears. I once read somewhere that the Germans developed the #1 for that reason, but can't really say for sure. Leupold can put a#1 in most of their scopes.

Last, any scope on a "package deal" is sold to a price point,and may suffice, but can likely be easliy exceeded in quality. The old addage of getting what you pay for applies double in optics.
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Old November 10, 2012, 09:28 PM   #11
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For low light hunting 50mm objective is better than 40mm. Medium to heavy duplex reticle is better than fine crosshairs. European glass is probably consistantly the best, but you pay for it.
One of the main reasons they make $1,000 + scopes is because people are chasing the best for low light & clarity. Hard to justify the difference in price between a Tasco & Swarovski during daylight hours, but the high end European scopes will give you give you an extra 10-15 minutes hunting time at dawn & dusk.
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Old November 10, 2012, 09:50 PM   #12
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swarovski ftw

Can hunt 30 min earlier and 30 min later
M&P- the other dark meat

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Old November 11, 2012, 08:22 AM   #13
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Well just last night as we left the deer woods, my Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 still had a bright picture while my sons new 44-40 Weaver, and my other sons 3-9x40 Simmons were dark.
Thanks for coming!
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Old November 11, 2012, 08:32 AM   #14
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As stated earlier, exit pupil can be determined by the size of the objective divided by the magnification level. This is a basic concept but is not the complete story. With optics it is all about light transmission, not gathering. As light passes through a scope, some is filtered out due to poor glass and coatings. This is where cheap scopes fail in low light. Better scopes transmit a much higher percentage of the available light to the exit pupil. Much better to have a quality 40 mm objective than low quality 50 + mm one.
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Old November 11, 2012, 11:23 AM   #15
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I have little use for the scopes with objectives over 40mm. They end up towering above the normal eyeline and seldom improve lowlight sighting appreciably. In the last 30 years, I can't remember a single time when my scope failed to give me a useable sight picture during legal shooting hours. I've even shot coyotes on snow by moonlight using a standard 40mm front lense.
Just this morning, I put the crosshairs on a deer fully 15 minutes before shooting time and the weather was heavily overcast. Last night, I stayed after shooting hours just to watch for deer leaving cover at last light-they would have been easily shootable almost 30 minutes after shooting time again, overcast sky conditions rather than a clear backlit sky.
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Old November 11, 2012, 05:26 PM   #16
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Except in extremely rare conditions a 50mm glass offers no low light advantages. Bigger glass lets in more light, in scopes with equal quality glass, but the human eye cannot use all of it.

Most people's eye will only dialate to 5mm. A 40mm scope set on 8X lets in 5mm of light. A 50mm scope set on 10X lets in 5mm of light. A 50mm scope is only an advantage campared to a 40mm scope when set on 9X. Anything less and they both let in more than the human eye can see, anything more and both let is less than ideal light.

And this is assuming both 40mm and 50mm scopes are using glass of equal quality. It costs a lot more to make 50mm lenses of equal quality to 40mm glass. Most companies cut corners on their 50mm scopes.

The more important factor is the light transmission rating. Most budget scopes transmit around 80% of the light coming into the scope to your eye. Better scopes are around 85%-90%. The high end scopes are 90%-95%. A 40mm scope with around 90% light tramsmission will be far brighter in low light than a 50mm scope with an 80% rating.
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Old November 11, 2012, 05:32 PM   #17
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I would like to know where I can find light ratings on scopes.
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Old November 11, 2012, 07:50 PM   #18
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I've got some real world info from this evening. I just got back in from hunting. Didn't see much till just about time that I could see little with my eyes. I grabbed the Leica binocs to scan the woodline one more time. There was a coyote way out at the far edge. That's about 400 yards. He started zigzagging in my general direction. It was pretty darn dark by then and I kept losing him in the binocs. Then..there he was out in the middle of the hay field in some dry brown grass. I could see him pretty well with the binocs, but I did worry that I wouldn't be able to find him in the scope (Leupold VariX-III 4.5-14x40). I made a mental note that the coyote was sitting just left of the round bale directly in front of me, so I pulled up the rifle, dialed the scope to about 5 power, found him in the crosshairs (and he was as clear as he had been in the binocs, and by that I mean that I could see him and determine which end was tail and which was head). The muzzle flash was very bright.

The point of all this is that my scope is not the latest generation, but I could see the coyote fairly clearly at well past legal shooting time.
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Old November 11, 2012, 08:50 PM   #19
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The Nikon (believe it's a Buckmasters) that comes with that rifle is a pretty good entry level scope. If you want something that has better clarity and light gain I'd go with a Nikon Monarch or Leupold VX-III. With glass it really comes down to what you're willing to spend.
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Old November 11, 2012, 10:05 PM   #20
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You guys are great. I was hoping for an education on scopes (to help out these old eyes) and an education I got. In between reading the post here I've been looking at reviews and prices at Cabela's, Dicks, and some others. Price is a real issue, but I am now convinced not to cheap out. Still kicking around which rifle I want to go with, but think I will pass up and packages and do my own mix and match. Thanks for the help!

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Old November 11, 2012, 10:19 PM   #21
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The package scopes will almost never be a good scope. They are sold to a price point. Your own mix n match will 98% of the time outperform whatever came with it. I recommend the Zeiss conquest 3-9x40 on sale right now at optics planet for under $400!!! Read the reviews. That's an insane price for what you get.
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Old November 12, 2012, 12:38 PM   #22
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I got a fixed 8 power with a 56mm objective Schmidt and Bender made in Hungary. They cost a third less, have the exact same parts and warranty as the Austrian made scopes, they are just made across the river so to speak.

Europeans can hunt at night.

I took this scope out (not mounted on a rifle) at 10 at night and could easily have hit targets several hundred yards away. The clarity is amazing.

The reticle is made for low light hunting too with a wide vertical post and two wide horizontal side posts. At 100 yards there is 2 meters between the tips of the side posts. The cross hairs are not very fine. They make a version with a lighted dot at the cross hairs.

I believe the European manufacturers have spent most of their time working on letting in or preserving the blue light wavelength. The thing is almost too bright on a sunny day if that is possible.
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Old November 12, 2012, 01:37 PM   #23
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I believe some scopes use plastic "glass", and some use glass. I also believe glass is optically superior to plastic, even polycarbonate in regard to light transmission. Does anyone know if makers of high end scopes use glass instead of plastic?
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Old November 12, 2012, 02:57 PM   #24
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Bushnell bushnell bushnell. For light gathering they're easily just as good as an expensive scope and way cheaper. I hog hunt at night and have researched this topic. forums have a lot of info on low light scopes.
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