most reliable big game riflescope?
I have mostly been a fan of Leupold riflescopes but I have had a number of problems with a couple of their scopes. This has caused me to wonder if there are more reliable riflescopes out there designed for the big game hunter.
I bought a Leupold 2.5-8 back in 1993 or so and it went belly up three different times in three different ways. The first time it would not hold its zero. I discovered that after missing a bear on a hunt in the fall of 1996. I sent it in and they repaired and returned it. Then on a winter mountain lion hunt in about 2001 it fogged up internally. I sent it in and they repaired and returned it. Then the elevation adjustments would not track true. I was in the practice of dialing up to rezero for long range shots, rather than holding high. After the shot I would dial back down to my original zero. Well eventually when I dialed back down it did not fully return to zero. So I returned it for the third time and told them that I did not want the scope back as I figured three strikes and that was enough for that scope. They replaced it with a new 3.5-10 with the Boone and Crockett reticle for a reduced price.
I was happy with how they handled that and the scope has worked well except that it seemed that the adjustments were a bit mushier than I was used to and it also seemed to take a couple shots before the scope settled down after an adjustment. I was not used to that from my experience with my previous 2.5-8 (other than when it went belly up) or my 8.5-25- those scopes dialed up and down and left and right spot on.
This spring I was on another bear hunt and this newest 3.5-10 fouled me up again. After many days of hard hunting I finally had an opportunity. It was a long shot of 450 yards but I had practiced a bunch at 500 yards, both from the bench and prone with bipod and sling. From the bench the load I had worked up put 6 shots into 2.98" at 500 yards and while prone I could more often than not burst gallon jugs filled with water at the same distance. I zeroed the main crosshair at 250 yards and would just use the 500 yard aim point (in this case the smallest cross hair). It worked out very well for my load (300 Win Mag using the Barnes 180 TSX at 3030 fps).
So here I was taking aim at this bear across the canyon. I was prone and steady and the bear was broadside and stationary. I fired and missed. The bear ran off. It eventually came back out and I fired again and missed again. I was not certain if I had hit or missed. The bear was not down and dead but was it hit and wounded? Anyway once I start firing at an animal I tend to keep firing until the animal is down and dead because I do not fire initially unless I am confident that I can make a killing shot. It was clear that I was not making good hits but I felt obligated to finish what I had started. Had I been sure I was missing it would have been prudent to just stop shooting. As I was unsure I chose to fire again.
After the second shot at 450 yards the bear ran up hill some and across slope for a bit. I let out a screaming yell and the bear stopped facing me at 530 yards. In my haste I used my 500 yard aiming point and fired at the white blaze on its throat patch. My bullet hit basically right where I was aiming and the bear only made it about 30 yards in a stumbling run before piling up dead.
Once I thought through the situation I realized my bullets must be hitting higher than the additional aim points indicated. A few days after the hunt I shot on paper at 250 yards (still zeroed) and at 500 yards (bullets were hitting several inches high). I called Leupold and they suggested a test. Put a target up at 100 yards and see if the aim points were the proper number of inches apart. I did the test and discovered that they were not where they should be. That is why my bullets were hitting high. Presumably I was shooting over the back of the bear at 450 yards and when I used my 500 yard aimpoint on the bear at 530 yards that actually put the bullet where I wanted it to go.
Anyway I am kind of fed up with having my hunts screwed up (thank God that I did not wound and lose that bear- I easily could have) due to problems with Leupold scopes. Are there better built scopes made that are designed for big game hunters? By designed for big game hunters I mean a 3-9 or so variable that weighs about 11 to 13 or so ounces with a 40 or so millimeter objective lense, obviously superb optics with repeatable, reliable adjustments and that will not fog up internally. By the way I have a Swarovski 3-9 AV and it does not track up and down terribly reliably. If I am zeroed with it at 250 yards and I dial up 25 clicks to shoot at 500 yards then dial back down 25 clicks I am not always properly zeroed at 250.
So this 3.5-10 with the B and C reticle is on its way back to Leupold. I am sure they will do their usual excellent service and repair or replace it but honestly I sure wish I knew nothing of their superb customer service. I would much rather they just made excellent optics that did not fail me at critical moments.
Any recommendations? Thanks, Brian.