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#421335 - 09/28/07 04:31 PM Re: New rifle scope [Re: ]
12 Point

Registered: 09/30/05
Posts: 6684
Loc: Knoxville, TN

 Originally Posted By: Dr. Dickel
 Originally Posted By: paincave_2000
What he will not find a scope out there that gathers light like they do.

Zeiss...there is no substitute once you have had one.
Winchester Model 70 Stainless Left Hand .270 Win.
McMillan Edge
Talley Lightweights
Zeiss Victory Varipoint #60 Illuminated

#421373 - 09/28/07 05:03 PM Re: New rifle scope [Re: Model70Man]
16 Point

Registered: 01/11/04
Posts: 16861
Loc: Allardt, TN

Zeiss is nice but then I think about all the U.S soldiers that were sniped with those optics.
-QDM=Better Deer, Better Deer Hunting
-Let Him Go, So He Can Grow

#422360 - 09/29/07 07:27 PM Re: New rifle scope [Re: smstone22]

Registered: 01/03/01
Posts: 28680
Loc: Copper Head Road

the 3-9x40 Conquest in my mind has taken over the 3.5-10x40 Vari-X III as the best deer scope made.

not by a little either..
sent from a laptop sitting in my recliner

#422544 - 09/29/07 09:14 PM Re: New rifle scope [Re: mr.big]
10 Point

Registered: 09/12/07
Posts: 4921
Loc: In a river hopefully!

Bushnell Elite 3200 4x12

I spent at least a month reading everything I could find. Petzel (Field and stream)summed it up....don't buy a scope from a manufacturer that you can't pronounce their names.. he too liked the 3200 and 4200Scoping it Out

By Randy Wakeman


They are out of business now, so it is a "buy at your own risk" situation as far as old inventory is concerned. When the "World Class" line came out I put one on a Browning 7mm Mag. It was a fine scope, in every way. However, Tasco scope designs have changed repeatedly over the years and the poor quality control eventually did them in. They had an upward hill to climb; they sold tons of cheapie .22 scopes offered as OEM specials, which cemented their perception as "cheap plastic stuff." Not true, but it seems they were never successfully able to break into the upper end market. Currently, I cannot recommend them. I still have a couple older Tasco "World Class" models mounted, and they work just fine. Quality control and market perception did in a one time huge marketer of optics. Bushnell has acquired the "intellectual property rights" of Tasco, and is now both manufacturing and marketing what appears to be the entire Tasco line.


Again, I have had several scopes with no problems. One Aetec had a defective reticle (bumps and dimples on the cross hairs). Simmons replaced it under warranty, with a $7 handling fee. The Simmons company has been sold and resold; again, there are quality control problems. Blount bought them, Alliant bought Blount, and Alliant recently sold off the optics portion (Simmons / Redfield / Weaver). Meade Instruments, a telescope manufacturer, is now the owner. Hard to tell where they are going. I have a Simmons target turret / AO Air Rifle model on my Beeman R9, and it has stood up to the reverse recoil / vibration well. I also have a Simmons 2.5 x 7 Gold Medal handgun scope on my Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Mag., which is a superlative handgun scope that has been discontinued. There are loads of Simmons tubes out there-made by a variety of plants all over the world.


Leupold is a great example of how effective ingenious marketing can be. Persuasive enough that some think they can retrieve their lost rifle from the riverbed after 10 years, and shoot MOA groups immediately. The only scope I have had fully de-gas was a Leupold. The Vari-X III's I have had are not close to being worth the money, in my view.

It appears that the Vari-X II has been given a new life, and a lower price, as the VX I. The friction "non-click" adjustments are a turn-off for me, along with the single coated lenses and three-piece tube design. It is not that Leupold makes garbage, it is merely the extra price you pay for their full-color ads. I wouldn't recommend Leupold unless it satisfies someone's ego.

Perhaps I sound too anti-Leupold? Perhaps. Nobody is making a mistake with a VX-III, and the resale value is exceptional, perhaps better than any other brand. Nobody ever "got fired for buying IBM," nobody is ever completely devastated with a Leupold scope, either.

Leupold's labeling leaves a lot to be desired. For example, we "think" that a Leupold VX-II 2 x 7 x 33 really is a 2-7 power scope. Wrong. The scope is actually a 2.5 x 6.6. We are off by 25% before we start. A VX-II 3 x 9 x 40 ? Actually, it is a 3.3 - 8.6 power. Crank your Leupold 3 x 9 x 40 VX-II to three power; you are off by 10%. Not one of their Vari-X III models offers a full 3:1 zoom range. It makes Leupold scopes no better or worse than they ever have been. But, it opens up a couple of reasonable questions. Why can't they make a 2 x 7, or why did they choose not to? Why don't their 3:1 zoom range scopes offer 3:1 power? Fair questions. I'll bet a nickel that most Leupold owners do not know what their scopes will actually do, or not do. I've owned Leupolds; I always thought the numbers on the power ring meant something. When you turn your power ring to the "2X" setting, why would anyone think that it is really 2.5 power?

At one time, lifetime warranties were unusual. Now, it is standard fare with Bushnell Elite scopes, Millett, Nikon, Sightron, and several other brands. Times have changed, my friends. However, Leupold's Full Lifetime Guarantee has not changed. It is Free. Even if you are not the original owner. No warranty card is required, and no time limit applies. Their warranty service is consistently given glowing remarks by satisfied owners.


Though I've been asked to comment on Burris, I've not had a great deal of experience with them. Yes, I've shot rifles with them, but I've not lived with them long enough to form any hard opinions. They have had a loyal following in handgun glass over the years. The comments I've received have been mixed, with more positive comments about their rings than their scopes. Some of their offerings seem out of touch. The Burris Electro-Dot hits an over $300 street price, yet the $160 Millett Buck Lightning is a better design, and every bit as clear. Hard to figure what Burris is thinking. Again, I'm not saying they produce weak product, but their marketing seems disjointed. I can't tell if they want to be another Leupold, or what their objective is. Apparently, there was enough negative feedback on their Fullfield scopes to result in a major redesign of the scope as the Fullfield II. No one I've talked to seems to feel they are the "best," nor the best value. Their reputation is for a rugged scope, if not optically spectacular. Their warranty turnaround has been reported to be approximately one month, not exceptionally good. Now that Beretta USA has apparently bought Burris, questions about customer service enter my mind.


I have tested a Nikon Monarch UCC 2 x 7. Optically, they are quite bright, just a notch back from the Zeiss and Bushnell Elite 4200 tubes. However, the resolution is not nearly as good, inferior to the Conquest, Elite 4200, and Sightron SII scopes. You can see late into the evening with a Nikon, but you cannot read what you see. It is the level of detail that is lacking. The Nikon suffers from hyper-critical eye positioning. A small movement from your head, the scope instantly turns black. The adjustments are metal on metal, but have significant play after the clicks. Real-world concerns are unknown, it is not confidence building.

Nikon claims 95% light transmission. They are one of the few manufacturers that makes their own optical glass. Relatively new to the scope market, Nikon's line continues to grow.


Swarovski? They make beautiful crystal. I bought a little crystal Swarovski kangaroo for my mother when I was in Australia. Their AV series scopes are in the $700-$800 range, their PH series tubes run from $1100 to a nosebleed $1600 or so. They have been noted as a quality optical maker for decades.

Yes, I have a (very) limited opinion on Swarovski. I was born at night. But not last night. Any company that puts out product in that range should have a lifetime warranty, there is no excuse not to. The Swarovski warranty is 5 years labor, 30 years parts. If you have trouble within the first 5 years, they then take over labor for the balance of the 30-year warranty period.


Millett has a great reputation for their rings, and rightly so. Their Buck Silver and Buck Gold scopes are made in China, however they are designed by Millett and backed by Millett's lifetime warranty. Millett is new on the scope scene, but they do offer a lot of value. Currently I have three mounted. A Buck Silver, a Buck Gold, and a Buck Lightning (a buck gold with illuminated cross hairs). I'm pleased with all three. There is no $69.99 street price 3 x 9 x 40 scope close to a Buck Silver that I have found. The Buck Lightning is a wonderful scope, you won't find a better electronic X-hair scope on the market for the money. As opposed to most such tubes that light up the entire reticle, the Millett lights up only the fine cross hairs in the center. For low light / brush shots, or even target shooting on black targets, it is a joy. I strongly recommend that anyone looking for a new scope on a budget take a good look at Millett.

Millett attempted to enter the scope market with a "moderate to high end" scope back some 5-6 years ago. It was called the "Buck Gold," and was made by Hakko. Dealer cost was close to $300, and it sold like mud. Additionally, Millett and Hakko did not "get along" very well; return rates were high, and suggested design changes were met with "that's how we make them" retorts by Hakko. So, the original "Buck Gold" attempt came to an untimely demise.

The current Millett Buck Gold and Buck Silver lines have only been available for the last 1-1/2 years or so. Millett is not a large company, and they have never sought to be primarily a scope company. Their product offering is modest, and they intend to keep it that way. Their focus is on keeping what they have in stock, and keeping their return rate low. Currently, the return rate is under 2%, one of the lowest in the industry.

With current product, they aimed at the low to medium price market. Their lifetime guarantee is no-nonsense, if you have a problem they send you a new tube. They have no repair facilities here in the states. That is an expensive proposition should they have QC problems. Their Buck Gold tubes have coil springs (as opposed to flat leaf springs) that keep a constant 14 lbs. of pressure on the adjustments vs. the somewhat variable 8 lbs. of pressure with leaf springs. It may well be overkill for hunting scopes (Millett admits that), but L.E. and military scopes use coil springs because spring-fatigue induced elevation drift is not a good option, particularly for a rifle in storage for a few years. They claim their Buck Golds to have 91-93% light transmission, and 3.5" of eye relief, 3" on their higher powered examples.

Are they perfect? Nope. They use thick aluminum tubes, and are a bit on the heavy side. The cross-hairs on most of their line are metal, not etched on glass. In a back-lit situation, the Millett tubes flare badly. This seems to be a coating issue on the ocular end.

If you are looking for a low-priced riflescope, check out Millett. Show me a better value than a $69.99 3 x 9 x 40mm Buck Silver, and I'll buy a couple tomorrow.


Sightron touts their 7 layer lens coatings. Ahem. Is 6 enough, but 8 too many? Back in World War II the only optics widely coated at all were the Japanese Navy binoculars. Where uncoated lens lost 1% light transmission per lens surface, the early single-layer coats knocked it down to one half of 1%, a vast improvement. Now, modern multi-coated lenses offer light losses of one tenth of 1% per lens surface. What we are left with is marketing hyperbole over whose multi-coat is "best." More noise than substance, the magnesium fluoride (and variant) coatings from all major scope makers work well. "Sightron USA" markets Sightron Scopes, which are made in the Sightron plant in Japan.

I have tested a Sightron 3 x 9 SII, and found it to be one of the best-kept secrets in the industry. Their adjustments are positive, precise, and repeatable. There is something to their "ExacTrack" full-contact internals after all! The scope has excellent resolution, displaying detail in low light that only more expensive scopes can equal or better. Sightron's broadband Rev-Coat 7 coating is more than just noise; it is a superb hunting scope. It is currently one of the best scopes for the money, and worthy of anyone's consideration.


As far as I'm concerned, the Bushnell Elite 4200 is one of the finest scopes available in the world today, at least that I can afford. It is astonishingly bright; the images just jump out at you. They publish it as "the brightest scope in the world" and I don't doubt that. (I don't fully believe it, either.) Any dunderhead knows that the bigger objective, the brighter a scope can be. Crank up the power on any scope and it gets darker. This dunderhead feels that "bright enough" is just that, and only so much light can be used by the human eye. Promoted as the only scope made that is fog-proof, inside and out (that includes their 3200s as well). The "Rainguard" coating actually works. If you settle for the best within a sub-$400 price envelope, the 4200 is my choice. When I first heard of "Rainguard" I wondered why no one had thought of it before? It was a long development process for Bushnell, and they deserve high praise for this.

The Bushnell Elite 3200 is more affordable, yet is very close to the 4200. There are subtle differences (88% light transmission vs. 95%), but the main difference is that the 4200's feature a 4X zoom range and the 3200's are primarily 3X zoom range scopes, although there is an exception. They also feature Bushnell's "Rainguard" coating.

In June of 1997, Gun Tests magazine gave a thorough, if flawed, evaluation of "3 x 9 Hunting Rifle Scopes." At that time the Elite 3000 (then marketed under the Bausch & Lomb brand) was tested, along with several other scopes. It was found to have the best tracking of any scope tested. They could find no flare in the optics, no point-of-aim shift, no glare, and couldn't get it to fog. Things have changed in the last five years--the Elite 3200 has gotten better.

If you want a high quality scope that will serve for a lifetime, consider a Bushnell 3200 or 4200 series scope. The 3200's display a rare combination of affordability and quality, matched perhaps only by the optically superior Sightron SII in its price range. There are other scopes available that most would be just as happy with as the Bushnell Elites. The one feature that I personally can't get past is their Rainguard. It's not "Mudguard," but it is the best (only?) coating of its kind, at least until it gets copied--those who do can expect to find themselves in court. With the combination of Rainguard, titanium alloy tube, lifetime warranty, and a $189.95 street price, look for the Bushnell Elite 3200 3 x 9 x 40mm to become one of the hottest-selling and most satisfying hunting scope in the world. The Sightron SII deserves equally high praise, and has noticeably better optics. It is April, 2003, as this is being written: wait and see!

The Bushnell Banner "Dusk to Dawn" series rates a close second to the Millet Buck Silver in the low price class. The Banner is a broader line, and they are more commonly available.

Over the years, I've used many, many Bushnell scopes. A inexpensive Sportsman sits on top of my Ruger 10/22, and it is far brighter and clearer than I expected. I've also used their Trophy models quite a bit. They have gone through subtle design changes over the years, but their current production 3 x 9 x 40mm Trophy is a well-proven, reliable (if not spectacular) performer. Its 42-foot field of view at 100 yards is rarely exceeded in the low price class, and it is quite affordable at under $95 street price.

Bushnell has a huge line of optics; there are not many areas not well covered. Their new "Firefly Reticle" appears to make battery powered illuminated reticles obsolete in hunting scopes. The pre-dawn and post-sunset minutes no longer mean the loss of your reticle in the dark, deep woods. Finally, it is back to your optics. Most people might think, "that's easy, my old Timex glows in the dark." So did I! Not true, it actually took some 9-1/2 years of development.

Carl Zeiss

Perhaps no current scope maker is carving up the deluxe scope market like Zeiss and their "made in USA" Conquest line of scopes. People seem confused about them.

1) Neither Leupold nor anyone else makes scopes for Zeiss. Other scope manufacturers do buy uncoated glass from Zeiss for their own product. Zeiss coatings are proprietary, however. No coated scope lenses are sold.
2) Zeiss Conquest tubes are made in Long Island, NY, at Zeiss' own facility.
3) Zeiss power ranges are as stated.
4) The optics in Zeiss scopes are made by Zeiss, imported from Germany.
5) Zeiss conducts sporadic destructive recoil testing; however, it is a small percentage of their production. None of these scopes are sold; they are destroyed after testing.
6) Light transmission through Zeiss Conquest tubes is approx. 93%. Zeiss was quick to point out that what degrades image quality is the grade of glass. Lead and arsenic content is destructive to scope images; that is why Zeiss is quite proud of their lead-arsenic free glass. Production of optical glass requires analysis and variation of the refraction factor, etc., so that the best possible combination and compounding ratio can be selected. To eliminate the use of lead (lead oxide), it was discovered that titanium oxide compares well with lead. Titanium oxide does no harm to the human body; it also renders a high refraction factor and is chemically stable. A big plus for scope use is more lightweight lenses, as titanium oxide is very light.

The 93% light transmission seems a bit light compared to other claims. Zeiss explained that they don't measure "light transmission" like other manufacturers, they go "air to air" not "lens-to-lens." The lead-free arsenic-free glass allows for non-distorted light, which is allegedly more perceptible and usable by the human eye, along with their own coatings, which they feel are generations ahead of the many scope gluers.

Naturally, I also asked why they felt they were "ahead?" The answer was, as they actually make their own glass (Schott), they should know a little bit more about it than people who just buy it.

The BS of tubeland

There are been tactics used again and again by new scope lines that are worthy of disdain. Often, a new face on the market will have the first several runs manufactured in Japan by Light Optical Works or Hakko, well established OEM's. After establishing a reputation for quality, off they go to Taiwan, Thailand, China, wherever. "Find a cheaper OEM, make more pesos" is the mantra.

I hear the same questions asked over and over: "Will a ___ scope hold up to the recoil of ___?" The answer is absolutely positively: no one knows. Most will; that is what they are made to do. Will one example of a mass-produced item last forever? Who knows? Will my new Chevy last 100,000 miles? You tell me. Most scope failures are a matter of operator error. Scopes aren't carrying handles, you really shouldn't use your scope like a crowbar to turn in your rings, and rings that smash and twist your tube aren't a good thing.

"Where are ___ scopes made?" In a scope factory, I presume. Country of origin guarantees nothing. Anybody take a tour of all major optical assembly plants throughout the world? I didn't think so. Spec scopes made by OEM's are just that: made to spec. Better glass costs more money, more QC costs more money. Excellent scopes have been manufactured in most every major country in the world. So have crummy ones. A Thailand tube might be better than a German tube, it all depends how much quality is paid for and put into it by the marketer. Unfortunately, we are seldom privy to that.

Exit pupil is another interesting topic. Ken Marsh states it well: "If the exit pupil is very small, (less than 4mm) the eye must be held very precisely in line with the scope to see. While the human eye doesn't use more than about 6mm at a time, a larger size aids in maintaining a clear view despite slight movements of gun, head, etc., and greatly speeds target acquisition as well."

So yes, AFIAK, we are lucky to actually use huge amounts of exit pupil. As our eyes age we need less. The 7mm figure to which our eyes can dilate in low light is used by Zeiss. Calculating it is not easily done. Example: Bushnell Elite 4200 1.5 x 6 x 36 spec is for a 14.6mm exit pupil at 1.5 power, a far cry from the 24mm you would have in a perfect world.

Though the 6x exit pupil is spot-on at 6mm for this scope, the 1.5x isn't. Naturally, I asked Bushnell what "the deal was." Their response: "The confusion is due to the fact that at low power some vignetting occurs. Given that the eye can only utilize about 5MM of exit pupil even in very low light, the vignetting is immaterial and is typical of lower power scopes (at low power only). The magnification is what is claimed. There is no vignetting at high power."

The "vignetting" is what has been referred to as "tire ring effect," I've always called it tunnel effect. In this case, the 4200 1.5 x 6 has no such effect to my eyes; nor should it, as the remaining 14.6mm exit pupil is twice the size to which most any eye can dilate. The "vignetting" is still there, we just can't detect it (in this case).

I had a rather lengthy discussion with one of a major scope maker's brass recently. Forgetting whom his company was, I asked him what he personally would be shooting with. FWIW, the answer was Bushnell, Leupold, or Sightron.

As to variances in power, all scopes have some- though normally very tiny (.05X or so). They are all hand-assembled, you have 12 lenses that need to be aligned and focused. One lens out of alignment slightly can significantly degrade the scope. This is pretty common in low priced optics; quality control is expensive.

As far as a consumer being able to tell how "durable" a scope is, there is just no way. You must rely on the manufacturer's reputation for reliable products. As far as "brightness," he felt that was over-rated. In daylight, most scopes are plenty bright enough, and four coatings are optimal. How a scope handles low light, glare, etc., was far more important in his opinion.

Weight was unimportant in his view, as far as EXTERNAL components. Lightweight is very important as far as longevity of the internals. Problem is, again, how does the consumer know the internal component group weight? We don't.

I asked about the mislabeling of scope powers. I was told that the fact of the matter is that there exists no governing standards, and the power number is considered only a "part number."

He cited one instance where a Burris 6X scope was popular in rifle shoots where 6X was "the limit." The Burris 6X fixed was actually above 6.8X. It stayed legal. As to calling a 2.5 x 6.6 a "2 x 7," I was told that to call it anything else, customers might feel cheated--and it would hurt sales.

I asked, "Aren't they?" Reply: "No comment."


I won't ask how much money you spend on DVD's, Nike's, or blue jeans in your household. That is none of my business, of course.

Price is a one-time thing; cost is a lifetime thing. The notion that anyone would spend more on rings and bases than their glass, and invest more time and money sighting in (ammo / range fees, etc.) their scope than the price of the new scope continues to puzzle me.

Don't expect a $500 scope to be four times better than a $125 scope; it just isn't so. Forget the ad copy. Scope makers could publish resolution specs, brightness specs, allowable tracking variances. Valid hunting issues like depth of field cannot be gleaned from the printed page. Most don't, and apparently won't. They are all "bright," "shockproof," and "fogproof." None, it seems, are fully schlockproof. Their ad-copy certainly isn't "parallax free," at any range.

My personal wish is that the development in hunting optics would change course from the current trends of high magnification and large objectives. It seems mutually exclusive to want a big objective, yet a lightweight scope. We seem to want brightness and field of view, yet go hunting with 4 x 12 x 50 scopes, rather than 2 x 7 x 32's.

I can't fathom a big game hunting situation out to 400 yards where more than 7X could be required, and have never taken an animal with the scope cranked past 5X. The heavier, big tubes snag more tree branches than big game in my experience. It wasn't all that long ago when 4X was the standard hunting tube, with 6X reserved for long-range work. Maybe grandpa was a better shot? In any case, we all have more and better choices than ever; that's a good thing!

Good shooting!

Please note: "Scoping It Out" is an article written by independent sportswriter Randy Wakeman, who is solely responsible for its content. The opinions expressed are not those of SWFA, Inc. Questions, comments, and suggestions should be directed to Randy Wakeman at

I know this long but hope it helps

Edited by 7mm08 (09/29/07 09:21 PM)
I hunt and fish not for the thrill of the kill, but for the thrill of the grill!!

#423358 - 09/30/07 03:24 PM Re: New rifle scope [Re: 7mm08]
12 Point

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 6339
Loc: Nashville, TN

Good info. 7mm
I'm in the market, trying to learn, and your post helps tremendously. Thanks.
It is not the killing ...; it is the contest of skill and cunning. The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.

Dr. Saxton Pope

#424641 - 10/01/07 10:21 AM Re: New rifle scope [Re: gil1]
Hillbilly Hunter
16 Point

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 17783
Loc: Branchville

I love Leupold's. The one at the top always recieves the most criticism, wether it is a scope or a person.
...they never call me by my name, just Hillbilly...

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