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low light scope question

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Unread 12-31-2011, 01:50 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: West Tennessee
Posts: 52
low light scope question

Due to the very warn weather we've had in the Tennessee deer season this year, the mature bucks didn't leave cover until the very last minutes of legal shooting light.. the scope I'm using serves me well under most conditions, but I could use some better light gathering glass..

what do some of you folks use for very low light conditions?

I understand now why the German made scopes emphasize low light ablility..
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Unread 12-31-2011, 02:28 AM
Official LRH Sponsor
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: N. Texas and S. Africa
Posts: 8,064
Re: low light scope question

That depends on your price range.

A lot of the high end German scopes will have a 30mm Tube and a 56-60mm obj with no more than 12x specifically for low light work.

The price is going to be pretty hefty new though.

I was watching deer tonight with my VX III 6.5-24x 50mm (30mm Tube)at around 300yds long after I could no longer see them with the naked eye.

Just for kicks I also pulled out the Mark IV 8.5-25x50 (30mm Tube) and it was even brighter.

I had them both set a 16x.

We were at least 20-25 minutes past legal shooting hours by that time.

My IOR tactical 4.5-14x50 (30mm) with lighted reticle is right there with the above two scopes in low light conditions.

I've also shot coyotes with a 3.5-10x50mm (1" tube) VX III out to 300yds under a full moon without any added light source.

I really like my Zeiss Conquests as well, but they are not nearly as effective in low light as the above scopes.

Hope that helps.
Without the First and Second Amendments the rest of The Constitution is Meaningless.
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Unread 12-31-2011, 09:06 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Northeast
Posts: 3,614
Re: low light scope question

I have the same kind of conditions, being mostly a whitetail hunter in the northeast. I have used and tried a large variety of different scopes with the hopes of finding the magical one that gives me the best low light visibility. Unfortunately my search has not ended. Some observations:

Make sure your exit pupil(objective lens dia./scope power) is 4-5mm. Example: 50 mm divided by 10x= 5mm exit pupil. Not less. Much more isn't going to do you much good as far as light gathering. That's about all the typical human eye can take advantage of.

All other things being equal, a 1" tube vs. A 30mm tube isn't going to make much difference. The image projected through the tube is less than an inch in most all scopes. The bigger tube is for turret adjustment range, not light gathering on most practical hunting scopes.

Reticle thickness or ability to light is pretty important. Don't go too fine. If the
crosshair disappears, your done hunting. Nightforce lights the Reticles because they
are so fine, and poor in low light unless lit. Don't go bright on the lighting or you will
get glare/washout.

Glass quality/coating technology after all other factors are considered is going to help but you will be disappointed, given you are already using a top quality scope, if you think you will get an extra 5 or 10 minutes of shooting in low light. I can see a bigger difference in lens quality in daylight, but in low light, the differences begin to disappear. I wouldn't spend an extra $500-2000 on trying to possibly get an extra couple of minutes of shooting if you are already using the quality level of a Leupold, Zeiss, Nightforce, Huskemaw, etc. IMO

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready"-T. Roosevelt
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Unread 12-31-2011, 10:19 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Missouri Ozarks
Posts: 444
Re: low light scope question

I tend to like a little more magnification as the light decreases, I can make out more detail. My MK4M3 Leupold is a good low light scope. A new Minox Z-5 4-20X50 should be as good, maybe better, time will tell but the glass is fantastic. My old Vari-X IIc 2-7 will allow me to shoot far past legal shooting hours (30 minutes after sunset here) in the last few minutes of legal light I crank it up to 6 or 7 power. I also favor fat reticles like the heavy duplex or the German #4. I'm thinking a Leupold FX 6 with a German #4 might be about as good as it gets. May have to try one!

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Unread 12-31-2011, 12:33 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: NW MT
Posts: 3,042
Re: low light scope question

Try a Ziess 6-24x56, or go for the 6-24x72 victory, big dog
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