So you want a cheap scope, read this.

Discussion in 'Optics' started by madcratebuilder, Nov 6, 2008.

  1. FortyXDM

    FortyXDM G&G Evangelist Staff Member

    Yes, top Euro scopes of the same objective size are a little brighter. Leupold scopes are well made and have one of the best guarantees out there. Send them and old scope and they will refurbish.
    I also agree with your observation on price. For snipers in hostile places, or if your life is on the line....a three or four thousand dollar scope might be the ticket. Not so much for larger game hunting. If you can't do it for 7 or 800.00, you aren't shopping enough.
    Ten Man, Txhillbilly, jwrauch and 2 others like this.
  2. Ron The Legend

    Ron The Legend G&G Evangelist

    My friend, a former Marine sniper, uses a higher end Bushnell 3x9 on his Rem. 700 7mm mag for elk hunting. His reply to the scope was "Why waste money on the 3k dollar scopes when they just get banged up?" When he was 13, his grandfather, who was a WW2 sniper taught him how to shoot water jugs at 1300 yards with a 3x9. And the scopes he used overseas were bought with the government's (our tax money) money.
    Ten Man and MosinRuger like this.

  3. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    Can anyone recommend a good long eye relief scope with variable magnification, 3 - 9 x 40 or thereabouts, with turrets instead of screws for adjustments? The only LERs I can find are the cheap Chinese NCStars.
  4. mauser9

    mauser9 G&G Evangelist

    Last one I bought Cyrano was a Vortex Crossfire with turret adj. Might not be a bad choice to avoid spending big bucks. I know they have 3x9-40 models. Decent glass for a reasonable price.
    Cyrano likes this.
  5. Ranger4

    Ranger4 G&G Evangelist

    I tend to agree. A $100 Tasco and a $2,500 scope get about 94% and 97% light transmission respectively in sunlight. Looking at a deer at 300 or an elk at 500 is not noticeably different between the 2 scopes between 8 am and 6 pm. The first 30 minutes of light and the last 30 do make a difference. But the only noticeable difference in daylight is the cheap scope may not be clear around the outside edge of the scope and that is usually how you tell quality during daylight. Spin the power settings and the cheap one may lose clarity around the edge as you go higher.

    However, we do not care if the outside edge of the scope is clear, the cross hairs are only in the center and if the mildots are seen easily at hunting ranges, 500 or less, then the added $2,400 has very little practical value in daylight.

    I have maybe 25 scoped guns and run cheap scopes on most. I can only recall one scope ever losing a reticle. A couple fogged up slowly over time but no big deal. It is always slow, just throw it away if that happens.

    I am blessed enough to afford any scope or many of them if I wanted. Just do not see the value.

    In law enforcement there was no real value for expensive scopes because no one is going to be shooting over 100 yards in daylight, just does not happen in making arrests or catching bad guys. It could, but so very rare.

    Now for snipers? Any price for dim light shooting is appropriate. Different deal, that shot may save dozens of lives down the road so if they spend $5K tax dollars on scopes so they have that additional 3%-4% of dim light clarity, fine by me. FWIW.
    Txhillbilly and Ron The Legend like this.
  6. runfiverun

    runfiverun G&G Evangelist

    Cyrano look at the leupold patriot series.
    I put one on a varmint rig and the eye relief was so long I had to remount it forward about an inch to get in the center of it's range.
    Ron The Legend likes this.
  7. FortyXDM

    FortyXDM G&G Evangelist Staff Member

    Hope this post doesn't come off as snarky...but I have to disagree with a couple of points here, having worked with optics for some 40 years. A tasco scope that costs 100.00 belongs on a rifle costing about 100.00. The cheap ones are known for their failure rate due to recoil, fog, and some just flat fail. The alignment aspect alone requires quite sophisticated equipment to insure that an optical is truly aligned along an axis.
    Regarding glass used in scopes and other optics: Finding high quality glass that has desirable properties such as low dispersion, high modular transfer function (MTF) which we see as contrast, and properly applied cement on glass to glass joining as well as ground surfaces which are ultra smooth, is not difficult. It is just not cheap.
    As to coatings. Virtually all optical items on a shelf have "coating", but the type of coating and how it was applied and the thickness as well as number of layers varies with cost. Saying a lense is coated means virtually nothing to an optical engineer. A "coating" must have a thickness of exactly one fourth the wave length it is going to 'trap'. Additional 1/4 wavelength coating are applied for each separate wavelength. This was known to mathematicians like Abbey, A cheaply coated lense often lose 3 to 5 percent transmission at every glass to glass or glass to air element. A properly applied high grade multi coating will often lose less than 1% of transmitted light between those same elements. The limiting factor here is the objective lens and the tube size, or (fully open aperture in the case of a camera lens. Anyone looking through a 3k scope in bright daylight into a wooded area at 300 yards and comparing it by picking up a 100.00 scope and doing the same can easily see a HUGE difference.
    Also on cost, one must consider the additional elements that hold everything in place. These locking pieces must be machined to extremely high tolerances. Not so on a cheap scope, regardless the name, and that is why they become throw away scopes. All of us have most likely owned them.
    Here is where I take exception to the Ranger's post.
    Quote: "In law enforcement there was no real value for expensive scopes because no one is going to be shooting over 100 yards in daylight, just does not happen in making arrests or catching bad guys. It could, but so very rare."
    A shooting friend I have known for 20 years is former LAPD SWAT He was with his team for 6 years and It is his contention that in many hostage type situations with others often fairly nearby and the situation is going south fast. With a distance of less than 100 yds, they have to be as good at or better than someone in Fallujah fighting at 500 meters. Why ?, the guy in Fallujah might miss and no death happens. A SWAT sniper simply cannot miss. His unit required dead balls on accuracy each and every time. I agree with him.
    Long post, I know ( I try to avoid that) so I will emphatically say.... I am not trying to tell anyone not to buy the scope of their choice. I would advise against cheap, but there are some good buys out there for 250 or so. The most expensive scope I own now runs about 700.00 but have shot a number of 2 and 3k scopes.
    I have tried to separate facts and my opinion in the above, but don't hesitate to call me out if you feel I've misstated any facts.
  8. Ranger4

    Ranger4 G&G Evangelist

    Not snarky at all and I appreciate the feedback. Opinions vary and discussions should educate one or both sides. SWAT almost never fires a shot. Check this DOJ data. Deadly force by SWAT across the nation is only used about 0.17%, or 99.83% of the time, no shot is fired.

    If you look closely at the data, SWAT is mostly used nationally to serve arrest warrants. The second most often use is building searches at 5% all of which is indoors. Actual hostage cases are about 0.6% and the bad guys that actually have guns is about 8%. I would like to find some data on the actual SWAT shootings to see how many are with a scoped rifle but cannot find it.

    A deer in the shadows at 300 yards will always appear better with the better scope. The ability to judge horn mass in the shadows in my view is better served with good binoculars. Because 300 yard shots on deer should not be hastily taken and trying to judge a 3 year old deer from a 6 year old one requires more that just looking at antlers. The shape of the nose, they belly, and horn mass related to the size of the deer's ears for example. Longer shots need the time to get prone or the sticks or tripod solid without messing with the scope while ranging or anything else, just get steady and make the shot once you know for sure it is the one. If you just want to shoot any 8 or 10, no big deal and pretty easy to just count points. If I am stand hunting in open country I often put a 60 power spotting scope in my pack, then I know for sure what is there and can stalk if I want.

    And I certainly agree that there are good scopes out there in the $250 range. I like all the Leupolds FWIW. When hunting I do not take long shots after the sun is down, do not want to try and find them and process them in the dark. At dusk, if I see them, I know where they are and can wait a few minutes or move toward them if they go out of sight. Just my hunting style, everyone has their own. Thanks for the feedback. You may recall there was a day when hunters used fixed power scopes, usually 6x and the Army sniper system issue was the M24 with a fixed Leupold 10x.
    Things change and he have lots more options now.
  9. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    ^^ Tom's right, good glass, their coatings, and the mechanisms that contain it and precisely move it in specific applications are pricey commodities. Doesn't matter if it's rifle scopes, binoculars, telescopes, cameras lenses, etc. Many of those cheap optics give good image quality at low magnification settings, but are virtually useless at their full magnification range too. And that good glass can also be a distinct advantage at other times besides just at or around sunrise and sunset. If you ever hunted in forested areas where tall timber might block good midday light or in mountainous locations where you might be in a ravine or gully at 10 AM that robbed you of that good light, you would CLEARLY see that. Police and military would encounter similar situations at midday with tall buildings etc taking that midday "good light" out of the equation too.
    I wish I could afford more good glass for a few more of my firearms and a few cameras also.
  10. Kellen

    Kellen G&G Evangelist

    To Ranger4 and FortyXDM:
    Thank you gentlemen for your exhibition of good points and good manners. Unlike so many other forums, the exchange between you two exemplifies why I favor Gun and Game over all other online sites. Gentlemen may disagree, gentlemen may debate, but gentlemen (and gentlewomen) do not allow their behavior to devolve into base and callous snarkynesss. I hope others have taken note of your excellent manners.
  11. Rocky7

    Rocky7 G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Ron The Legend and Ten Man like this.