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Rifle Scopes?

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  • Rifle Scopes?

    I was having a discussion with my father-in-law the other night concerning optics. He claimed his 300 Weatherby mounted with a Swarovski scope was the ideal setup for hunting Alaskan big game. I did not argue with him but asked the question, WHY? Stuttering and stumbling quickly followed my simple question. Basically, he did not know, and neither did I.

    So my question to you is, why is an $1700 Swarovski PH 4-16 any better than a $500-800 4.5-14 Leupold VX-III or any other scope in the same price range.

  • #2
    Both are great

    Leupold is hard to beat but some of the super high end optics like Swarovski might be a hair better........

    I'd sure be proud to have one but Leupold is just fine in my book


    • #3
      See that is my question. Why is the Swaroski better at all? What does the Swarovski do better than cheaper brands?


      • #4

        Just put a $200nikon on my 300winmag And it shoots better than the $400 burris that I had on it last year. Both 3-9x40.


        • #5
          There is a difference.....

          It's just hard to explain unless you look through the two side by side. I had the opportunity to check out my brother in law's Leupold Gold Ring spotter (15x-45x I think and about $900) next to a Swarovski 20x-60 ($1500). Close range (1 mile or less) they were very similar. Beyond that, the Swarovski maintained it's clarity and focus with ease, even at the higher power. At 60x the Swarovski was hindered by the heat waves blurring up the picture a bit. Drop it back to 40x-45x and it cleared up. The Leupold was good, but not AS good. If you get the chance to put them side by side you will be able to see the difference. Is it worth the extra $$$? I don't think so for what I would use it for, but for some people it is worth every penny.

          The porcupine is a peaceful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....


          • #6

            I'm a little above my pay grade here, but my understanding is: Other things being equal (objective lens size, magnification), it's all in the glass.

            Every surface light passes through both bends/focuses the beam and diffuses some of it. This adds up pretty fast, when you consider that each lens has two surfaces to it. So, glass that deflects a mere 2% of the light per surface, after two lenses (4 surfaces) lets only 92.24% of the light to your eye. Glass that 'wastes' only 1% in the same setup lets 96.06% of the light to your eye. Add prisms and other optical do-dads (more surfaces), and the differences just compound.

            Getting that extra 1% light transmission per surface ain't easy, so you can pay big money for small differences.

            My caveat to all this is: When my wife was trying on wedding dresses she was wise enough never to even try on a dress we couldn't afford. If she fell in love with it, every other dress she tried on wouldn't be 'the one.'
            Wise woman, my wife.

            So I haven't personally compared the high-end glass to my mid-range stuff. Good optics are important, but the kids still have to go to college...


            • #7
              My take on optic's importances...

              1. Save up and buy the BEST binoculars on the market! If you are young, all the better reason to buy the BEST, you will use them the rest of your life and the best manufacturers will likely reglaze the glass for you if you send them in for whatever reason. No need to ever spend money on binos again!

              2. You only spend 2 to 3 minutes, at most, looking through the scope on your rifle, but they are quite possibly going to be the most crucial moments of your hunt. If you can't depict the object you are aiming at (that you spotted glassing with your 'BEST' binos), your hunt could be over and you would likely be unsuccessful. With that being said, so long as you can get NEAR the same clarity and light out of your scope as you can with your binos (hard to do given less light collection availability), you are going to be fine. Know your limits by viewing your scope and binos side-by-side.

              3. If you are an avid hunter OR will be hunting any game where you have to judge the age or size of an animal to be sure it is legal, you are likely going to need a spotter. If you can afford to buy or have the time to save up, follow the same rules that I outlined for buying binoculars. If you can't, then buy the best you can afford. Best to me is the most clarity I can get, higher power is often interfered by heat waves as AKmud said earlier.

              I usually don't buy on the warrentee status (If it is truly a great product, I shouldn't have to send it back). However, I did highly consider the warrentee when I purchased all of my optics because glass is glass and glass breaks. IMHO rifle scopes are the most vulnerable to being damaged. Binos are a big expense and will most likely be a once in a lifetime purchase, they are going to get scratched and things may come loose inside. Spotters again are more flexible, but if you are going to spend big bucks, you will want a good warrentee.

              My preferrences ( date, always looking for better)
              Binos...Swarovski and Leica
              Scope...Leupold VX III
              Spotter...Swaro and Minolta

              Sorry I went a little overboard here, but I believe optics are a package deal.

              My 2 cents, take as you will.


              • #8
                Bucknrut made a very good point, there is a big difference between what a rifle scope is used for, and what binoculars and spotting scopes are used for.

                To me, the most important factors in a rifle scope are it's ability to hold zero, eye relief (distance between eye and scope) how critical the eye position is to paralex, and the clarity/light gathering of the glass.

                I just don't see the advantage of the more expensive scopes for Alaskan hunting, and some of those scopes give up a bit of eye relief, which is very important for stout kicking rifles.

                If one is huting from a stand at long ranges around dusk, then I can see the top of the line scopes having an advantage. But for Alaskan hunting, I just don't see it.
                Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

                If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.


                • #9
                  What others have said. I will add that for Alaska hunting it's hard to match a stainless/synthetic rifle in .338WM (or .300WM) topped with a Leupold Vary-X III 2.5-8x. The little scope is perfect for the .338, and i have had one on my rifle since 1992. Would have I done better with a Swarovsky scope that costs three times as much? No. In Alaska we benefit from extra daylight all summer when we hunt, so any additional light gathering feature is of no use to me.


                  • #10
                    I have a few Zeiss and Kahles European scopes from time spent over there. The hunting is different, as an example, hunting wild boar at night over bait. They try to keep the animals in check partially due to the damage to crops. Anyway it was not unusual to be on the stand at midnight and the Zeiss made seeing the boar possible. Although we do not need that in the States, the ability to see a clear crisp picture is important. Putting the two scopes side by side will show a difference, whether that difference is big enough to warrent the higher cost varies by person. Some see a much bigger difference than others undeer the same conditions. All that being said, I only have three rifles with the European scopes on them at the moment, the rest have Leupolds. The one things I would not do on any of my big game rifles is put a scope of 16x or 14x on it, in my humble experience a 8x or 9x is quite enough, I'm not shooting varmints at 600 yards and don't need to see which single individual hair on the animals I'm going to hit. But that's just me.
                    Now spotting scopes, put a Zeiss next to almost any scope and you will see a real difference in clarity.


                    • #11
                      Not to hijack the thread, but since you mentioned the Zeiss spotting scope...I am in the market for a new spotter, please PM me if you have any thaughts.

                      What's the warrentee and customer service like on Zeiss? Haven't read a lot on them. How do these spotters compare to Leica and Swarovski?


                      • #12
                        If you're really interested in learning what makes a $1,700 Swaro a better scope than a $500 Leo, take a look at "" and go to Optics Talk Forums. They explain everything from lense coatings to calculating twilight performance. In the end you'll find that the biggest difference are typically optical clarity and low light performance. I 've purchased a couple of Leo VX-II's over the past few years. I purchased them for the same reason most people do, their name. I went with the VX-ll's over the VX-III's because I really couldn't justify the extra cost for what little you gained. When it came to purchasing my latest scope this past winter I asked myself the same question, what makes the high dollar scopes that much better. So I began really looking at what was out there and did my research. After gaining some knowledge, I purchased a Zeiss Conquest. After comparing the features and quality of the Conquest to the VX-lll's (they cost the same by-the-way), I'll never buy a Leupold again.

                        I guess what I'm trying to say is that there are alot of technical features that seperate scopes. If you gaining some knowledge of what features make up a high dollar riflescope you can apply that knowledge to find the best scope for the money, or in your price range and you won't have to do what I initially did and purchase a scope because of it's name.

                        Sorry if I offended any Leupold fans.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by AK Wonderer View Post

                          Sorry if I offended any Leupold fans.
                          To each his own my friend, no offense taken.

                          One thing not mentioned here is that each of us sees differently. The conquest looked better and sharper to your eye and maybe the same to someone else, but might not look "as good" to my eye or the next guy.



                          • #14

                            If he has the money to spend on the ultra high end scopes let him spend it!

                            "Just like cars......old one will get you to town just as good as a new one"

                            I prefer the Leupold's never had a problem with one in 35 years.


                            • #15
                              I just thought that I would add that my Zeiss Conquest has much better glass than my VX-III's its just that on a lightweight mountain rifle the last thing I want to do is chunk a 16oz scope on it, so the Zeiss is on my Ruger M77 338WM where weight is already accepted. For mountain rifles I like the lighter Leupolds and Nikon Monarchs. I have one of each on Tikka T3 's.


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