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GOOD Low light scopes

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Old 10-13-2003, 09:52 AM
Silver Member
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Colorado
Posts: 273
Re: GOOD Low light scopes

After having looked through a Leupold Vari-X III 3.5-10x40 and a Nikon Monarch 4-12x40 while hunting coyotes in the "late evening" against the snow, I am thinking the Nikon 3.5-10x50 illuminated mil-dot might be an ideal solution. At its low range it should be good for picking up yotes at night and be able to see the cross hairs.
Does anyone have any experience with these?
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Old 10-13-2003, 08:02 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: North, Texas
Posts: 610
Re: GOOD Low light scopes

QH, if you check the review section Ian did a writeup on the Nikon Tactical.
Courage,Spirit and Honor
Pass It On
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Old 10-14-2003, 07:19 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
Posts: 41
Re: GOOD Low light scopes

My Leupold LR scope are sharper to my eyes then my Nightforce NXS is at the same power setting.
As a matter of fact, the older Unertl 2" 15X Ultra Varmint is clearer then either of the above mentioned scopes when you set the Leupold or Nightforce at 15X.


I believe you, but I am not talking about sharpness, that test could be the other scope wasn't ajusted for your eye focus...
in any event, I'm not concerned about sharpness in bright DAYTIME hours, I'm looking for the best low light optives (without getting Night vision)..

That is the ultimate comparison... most deer hunters harvest early morning or right before dark...
being able to tell the differnace between a log and a deer (or coyote) is what counts..

I can understand in your situation... at 2000 plus yards in daylight, the shaper the better... So I can see your point also..

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Old 10-14-2003, 07:31 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Virginia
Posts: 21
Re: GOOD Low light scopes

I know a guy that said his Swarvski gave him 10-15 more minutes of shooting light, but he paid for it too, about like 1800 bucks. Most scopes I find are quite comparable until you get into the extreme and overly expensive category...
P.A.S.S. (Pick a Spot, Squeeze...)
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Old 10-14-2003, 07:33 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Terre Haute, Indiana
Posts: 41
Re: GOOD Low light scopes

You need to consider the science involved before knocking Leupold in this case friend.

The amount of light gathered by an optic is a function of the objective lens -- the one that looks out. Then you got quality of glass, coatings (preferably full multicoatings), blackened internals, and the like to ensure the maximum amount of light gets transmitted to your eye. A variable magnfication optic will not transmit as much light as a fixed power optic. Lastly, you need to consider 'exit pupil', which is how big the light image is that you can actually see at the ocular lens (eyepiece).

To compare how bright an image is from a cheap bino to a fine riflescope is like saying you'd rather count change from a muffin tin than a cash register -- because you don't know how the cash register works.

Exit pupil is calculated by dividing magnification into the objective lens diameter. In a 7x35 bino, the exit pupil is 5mm. And of course you have the double advantage of an image at both of your eyes.

So what you are experiencing at 10x is not out of the ordinary. You've got both eyes seeing a 5mm image, in a glass that has very little else happening between the objective and the ocular lenses, vs. one eye looking at a 5mm image that is transmitted through a scope that must also provide other magnification and the internal ability to change point of impact.

Furthermore, the porro-prism design (presuming this here, as most inexpensive glasses are of that sort, cheaper to make them) is inherently superior to a 'roof' prism (which you get in straight, vs. dog leg style binoculars, and riflescopes).

In a 6.5-20x50 scope, you have a 7.7mm exit pupil at lowest power (where you should have cranked your scope to get a brighter image), and at max magnification the exit pupil is a mere 2.5mm.

The human eye can dilate to about 7mm maximum, in general. So if you want to see the best you can in low light, you need to utilize an optic with a similarly sized exit pupil. Next time, crank your scope down.

High magnification is best used at stationary targets in broad daylight. Consider the exit pupil on a fixed 36x scope with a 40mm objective. Just 1.1mm. Does that make it a crappy scope? Hardly. It does make it an unsuitable scope for lowlight useage, or for shooting at moving targets in virtually any conditions, unless the target is a snail.

You want a bright riflescope? Use a fixed power, like 6x with a 40mm objective, and ensure that the lenses are fully multicoated and the internals are blackened.

Otherwise, you can always turn to NOD stuff, (Night Optical Device), but that's a whole 'nother story.


I'm not sure I'm knocking Leupold Nate, just they could do better...
Your argument is well taken about optics..
But still look at Leupod.. the cream of the crop of American made scopes... They should either be the best or be really darn close to it, yet you can stick a Nightforce besdie the best Leupod and you can see a NOTICABLE Differnace if quality, sharpness and light gathering ability....

Everyone else is offering huge 56mm objectives, and Leupold is stuck back in the "Cave man" days with the dinky 50mm...
and yes 50 is dinky in the world of light gathering by todays standards...... When over 3/4 of the scope makering have gone up to 56-57mm objectives, 30-35-40-42mm tubes even..

Your argument on turning down the power is mute... I bought a 6.5-20x50 to use 20 power if I wanted.... a Coyote at 450-500-600 yards is not as big as a Elk.. alot of scope Crosshairs a bigger that the Yote at that range... you need magnification...

Yes I like my Leupold, and yes they are good.. but it seems they are falling further back in time... everyone is starting to make good or even better optics it seems now..

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Old 10-14-2003, 11:15 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Newburgh NY
Posts: 235
Re: GOOD Low light scopes

Darrel-To answer your question yes they were all at the same magnification! Each scope was adjusted with the eye bell to each persons eye and then the parallax was set. If you looked through any of my scopes without adjusting the eye bell you would probably not get a clear focus with the parallax adjustment. The Leupold was not as clear as the other two. It would not be fair to look through one scope adjusted to your eye then look through mine without adjusting to your eye so all the scopes were tuned for comparison. The Leupold was the least clear/bright! The person that owned the nightforce started to compare without adjusting and it proved to be biased to say the least. He could not believe that my Springfield was clearer and brighter than my Leupold. I am disappointed too because I spent 100 dollars more for the Leupold. By the way my Leupold is new about 2 months ago where the other two scopes were older with my Springfield being about 5 years old!(read that used and abused) My fat ass even fell on the Springfield and it still works perfectly.(185lbs square on the top turret)
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Old 10-14-2003, 11:17 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Newburgh NY
Posts: 235
Re: GOOD Low light scopes

oops sorry for the typo on your name Darryl
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