Under optimum conditions many scopes will appear to be similar in resolution and brightness, perhaps because as you mention, many share the same lens manufacturer. There are not very many sources of lenses, most come from a couple of plants in Japan. Matter of fact, if you check a Cabela's catolog there are several virtually identical scope bodies that come under different brand names. Many of the big names do not build scopes, they spec them out and have them built with their name on them, that is the way the industry has evolved. If you want a 4-16x50 scope with the brand name JAY GORSKI SIGNATURE VARI-XFIVE MONARCH ULTRAMATIC WITH OVERDRIVE, there is a company in Japan that will do the job, if you are willing to pay for it.
Scope testing is a difficult task as there are not always great differences to assess, plus we should do it under controled conditions so that the review is fair and repeatable. I use an optical test target that lets the viewer assign a number to what he can see - it works very well. If you are interested it is called Resolution Test Object RT-3-72 and it is available from Graphic Arts Research Center, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY 14623, not sure what the cost is today. There might be other test targets but this is the only one that I am aware of.
BUT this only tests what our eyes can see, what about the guts of the damn thing, how well it is sealed, is a click 1/4", are the lenses and internal parts crazy-glued or held together with screws so that they can be re-adjusted? Few people can compare these factors, yet they will determine how well the scope functions and how long it lasts. Another factor is the hard fact that some lemons get out of every factory - they shouldn't but they do. I just had a new Black Diamond fog up and I saw a turret separate from the tube of a brand new Swarovski a while back. How do we know that we didn't get a bad-one - only time will tell - a short eye-ball check won't tell you that.
I also try to do the comparing in a variety of light, not only the time of day but at varying angles to the sun to assess flair and brightness.
Not very many people can really compare high-end scopes head to head. That is a simple fact as not many shooters have access to a wide variety of scopes and can shoot the hell out of them over a significant period of time over a wide variety of conditions. Looking thru four or five scopes in a gunshop really doesn't tell you a hell of lot, but what else can a person do? Unfortunately sometimes you have to go by other shooters assessments and become subject to their personal biases. Fortunately there are guys around, including gunshop salesmen, who know their stuff, have used a wide variety of scopes and will tell you what you need to know.
I have been shooting the Nikon Tacticals for over 16 months, so I feel that I know a lot about them. I got to do the prototype testing for the company and wrote the mildot manual that goes with each scope. I had the unique opportunity to meet with the engineers from Japan and actually tell them what shortcomings their original scope had and what they should do to correct them. Believe it or not, they listened and did every suggestion. How do I know so much? Only one reason - I use the NXS's and MK4's on a continuing basis and these great scopes set standards that have to be met.
I have been shooting some NXS scopes for over three years, and again I feel that I have a fairly good understanding of their qualities. Same goes for Leupold MK4's, I have been using them for five or six years and have put a hell of a lot of ammo thru rifles they are mounted on, that has given me a pretty good assessment of what the scope really does. Fact is, I have also been shooting your beloved Burris's for about five years, both Signatures and Black Diamonds, and have built up a nice info base on their ability and some little quirks. I also have shot S&B's, Swarovskis and Zeiss a lot, but not as much as the above scopes as I want my clicks to move 1/4", not 1/3" or in centimeters or celcius of whatever the hell that metric **** is about.
I am not saying this to brag about what scopes I own and use, simply to try to make the point that I don't believe you can say much about a scope until you have used it for a while. Darryl C. uses Leupold 8.5-25's with great success, if I was going to buy one I would ask him a few questions. S1 has great experience with NXS and again if I had questions I would ask him. There are guys on this forum who have forgot more about optics and scopes than I will ever know, and it is very nice to have the opportunity to get info as we need it. We have a fellow here who goes by the name Catshooter who is an optical expert and he is great about calling a spade a spade. I am fortunate to know several guys in the optics industry, some are hard-core salesmen and some are very knowledgable individuals who will answer my dumb questions time after time.
We can get our shorts wadded-up about brand X vs Brand Y, but to what end? Last time I checked we could only put one scope on our rifle at a time so what in hell does it matter. It all comes down to hitting the target. There are guys who can outshoot me and my fancy tacticals with 35 year old Weaver K-4's. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]
Ian, Like I said, not an scientific test just an observation. It would be nice If a guy could go somewhere and test all the top scopes to get an unbiased evaluation of said scopes but like you said many of have to go by what your buddy thinks about a particular model and decide from there. I'm very interested in that resolution test, I'll check it out. I was telling my buddy at work that a scope is only as good as that companies QC, Larry at Burris was telling me the president of Burris caught a fellow in their QC dept. not checking the scopes and fired him right on the spot, and Brent was saying something to the effect the higher price of Leupolds may be do the fact they QC their scopes to the umteenth degree, which maybe true, Burris claims they do the same sort of tests as Lupy, I don't know but plan on visiting the Burris plant next year. But thank goodness for forever warranties. Ian, what kind of qualities and quirks did you find with Burris scopes by the way? And the ones you found, have you ever called Burris and told them about them? I don't shoot near enough to notice stuff like that. I got to tell you about my buddy at work, he believes in his mind there's no other scope that can do the same as a Leupold(8.5-25LRT), says Burris can't shoot as accuratly, isn't as clear, not repeatable, etc, etc. Told him lets do a side by side test, I'll smoke ya. Said he heard of a guy who threw his NF away after he looked through his buddies Leupold, horseshit. I tried the repeatability test with my Sigs.(6-24) using the Leupold 100yd targets, 16 clicks went 2" and back again. Well, I notice they got a NF on the Tubb 2000t, I mentioned to him, heard mumblings as he walked away. Tubb and Speedy Gonzalas are his Gods, only listens to them. I'm an openminded person and love to hear from guys like you, experience is everything, keep it coming. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] Jay
Obtaining a fair evaluation of any type of gear can be difficult because of the brand allegiance you mentioned. Some guys have their minds made up, I figure if you want to paint yourself into that corner, so be it.
There are so many good scopes out there that anyone who says X is best is just sticking his neck out.
Had a boo-boo re number of clicks vs the number of 1/4 minute markings on a Burris turret collar, not a big deal since the turret returned nicely but it had one or two more actual clicks than there were markings for a revolution. Plays hell with trying to keep records if you are a click counter...
I have a Leupold 6.5-20x50, side focus, target knobs, matte finish, 30 mm tube with a fine-pex reticle. I'm going to put it on ebay unless you're interested. If you are drop me an e-mail at email@example.com .
I contacted S&B and asked them if they had a release date for the 6-24X50. Their representative said they were working on it, still had a few mechanical problems to sort out, and that it would not be relaeased until 1 1/2 to 2 years from now. No specs yet.