High magnification range - advantages/disadvantages?

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by Matno, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. Matno

    Matno Member

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    I'm seeing more and more scopes with high magnification ranges. I'm talking about the ratio of the lowest power to the highest power magnification. It used to be that most scopes had a 3x range (like a 3-9x) or a 4x (4-16x). Now we're seeing 5x or even 10x range like the Bushnell Elite 6500 (2.5-16x for example), or the March scopes. Can't remember who made it, but I saw one that was an 8-80x. (Yikes!)

    It seems like these newer scopes would make awesome "all-around" scopes for everything from beating the brush to 800 yard shots. My question is: what's the downside? Seems like you never get something for nothing. Do they really have good optics quality at all ranges or are you trading quality for flexibility? What changed to allow the greater magnification ranges? I'm all for options, but there's something to be said for the optical quality of a good fixed power scope.

    I've got a AR-style 308 that shoots really well with it's current low-power ACOG (holes often overlap at my 170 yard range), and I'd like something with higher magnification without sacrificing short range speed, but I'm not sure it's worth it.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. orkan

    orkan Well-Known Member

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    The positives and negatives would need to be weighed against each specific model.

    All things being equal, there is no down side to having a wide magnification range.

    However, as you said, all things are often not equal.

    With the U.S. Optics 1-8 DFP, there is absolutely no down side.
     

  3. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    Like Greg said.....I don't think there is a downside to a wide magnification range.

    I prefer to shoot higher magnification scopes, personally. After having several 20-power and higher scopes you really get spoiled, especially if you grew up shooting a 3-9x50 like I did. Heck, growing up the most magnification I had was a 3.5-10x50 Leupold Vari-X III. Before that my whole life was iron-sights and a 3-9x50 Tasco World Class, or something really old with alot less magnification. These days I am really spoiled on the higher magnification scopes.
     
  4. tulku

    tulku Well-Known Member

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    Over the years I've talked to a few Lens Designers or should I say Computer Lens Designers and Suppliers . I was told that as you go to a wider Range of Magnification and as you go to bigger and bigger Optics , one BIG downside is Cost . If you want to get the finest Resolution and minimize all the bad Optics problems / Aberrations , and maintain all the good stuff like accurate Clicks , etc . ...... the Cost goes up drastically . I don't recall exactly , but say you want to produce a top Quality 56mm Lens vs. a 28mm Lens , the Cost is not double , but goes up as the 3rd or 4th Power ..... in other words , it will Cost you a bundle ! So if you have deep pockets ....no problem . The broad Magnification Range Scopes are great for Yote Hunters or for those Big Game Hunters who also want to hunt Varmints ..... although the Retcle choice that works for both would be a real compromise .
     
  5. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    Just a though but I think the down side could be the parallax adjustment issue and speed. Meaning that a lower range 3x9 does not need an adjustable objective. IMO my NF is little complicated, but complicated is what I need to get a long shot accomplished accurately. Whereas, my vx3 leu 4.5-14 is a point and shoot scope. Both have their pro's and con's of course.

    Beyond that the wider power range scopes are quite expensive, heavy, and a little slower due to objective adjustment. I wouldn't give it up though for the precision it offers at longer ranges or even for shorter range precision work.
     
  6. Onewolf

    Onewolf Member

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    What tulku said, X2.

    With lenses (camera, scope) the price for HIGH QUALITY zoom glass goes up at a very rapid rate as the zoom factor increases.
     
  7. orkan

    orkan Well-Known Member

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    Magnification doesn't really seem to be a determining factor which affects price among high end optics manufacturers.

    A Premier Tactical 3-15 for instance sells for $3100... while the 5-25 sells for $3500. Definitely not orders of magnitude higher in price.
     
  8. nateisw

    nateisw Well-Known Member

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    Tulku is right. With a higher magnification range, either optical quality will suffer, or the price will go waaay up. Compare prices between the Bushnell Elite 3200, 4200, and 6500 (3x, 4x, and 6.5x magnification ranges, respectively). The same is true for camera lenses. Ask any professional photographer.
     
  9. tulku

    tulku Well-Known Member

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    Orkan , I think the original question was not about High Magnification , the question was about high magnification RANGE . Both of the high end Scopes you mention have a Range of 5X . Take a look at the cheapies like the BSA Tactical 3-16X at $110 and the Mid priced Bushnell Elie 6500 2.5-16X at around $700 , and whatever else is out there and you will see that high end extended RANGE Variables are very expensive as they cost a lot to Manufacture . The case could be made that the highest Quality high Magnification Scopes of any Range or Fixed Power ( like March ) are also very expensive . Go to a Benchrest Match and ask to look through the Riflescopes and Spotting Scopes these guys use . You will see a big difference in Image Quality even at 100 , 200 , and 300 Yards , let alone at 1000 Yards . I swear there is even a big difference in what you see through Haze , on hot , humid days . I shoot only informal Targets on near perfect days and Varmints in bright light . I would be very happy with a high quality ( 2X Range ) 15-30X Variable and would be satisfied with AO not side "focus", a 44mm to 50mm Objective , and a decent Reticle like the Holland , the Leupold VH , or any of the other Christmas Tree types like Schmidt & Bender or Nightforce have . I've been told this could be done for under $750 , but I will probably never see one because a big Market is not there . Lots of folks want Giant Scopes , Extended Range Powers with all the bells & whistles . For now I will just have to be satisfied with Sightrons , used Leupolds and Nightforces which run a few bucks more than I would like ..... unless I win the Lottery & then it's March time .
     
  10. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    I wonder how many people think a night force is affordable? I have not and do not want to look through anything better than my NF as I know the cost is ridiculous to upgrade.
     
  11. Onewolf

    Onewolf Member

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    Both 5X zooms? I was saying that higher zoom factor with equally HIGH optical quality = $$$$$.
     
  12. Big Bad John

    Big Bad John Member

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    At my age (54), if it doesn't have at least 4 mm of exit pupil diameter at a given magnification, it's too dark for me to use effectively. So, to get that 4mm EPD value, the size of the glass and tube MUST go up in size, adding weight, complexity, and cost.

    In my case, a 3X9-40 will suffice for most shooting out to 200 yards or so. At longer ranges where you NEED the glass to see the target...belly up to the counter with your money boys!
     
  13. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    Another possible drawback to high zoom ratio is high glare and low contrast. Generally speaking, the higher the magnification, the higher the glare. which reduces contrast. Also, glare tends to be highest near just the edge of the exit pupil. In scopes that have noticeable glare, the glare tends to be bad when the exit pupil is smaller than the eye pupil. On these scopes the extra magnification may not be useful in high glare conditions, such as when facing the afternoon sun and looking into shaded areas, or on overcast days in general.

    Also, I have a nit about some manufacturers who claim that their scopes have higher magnification ratio than they really have. Some of these wide ratio scopes don’t actually give you a wide ratio in the field of view. Instead, the field of view stops increasing at some point before the minimum zoom value is reached. As the zoom is decreased further, the entire sight picture starts to decrease. The magnification decreases, but the field of view stays constant. It appears as though the scope is being pulled away from your eye.

    For a hunting scope, the primary motivation for turning the zoom down is to see more of the target area. A wider field of view speeds up target acquisition and provides better situational awareness. If the scope doesn’t increase the field of view, then reducing the magnification isn’t very useful to me. As far as I’m concerned, the lower end of the range is that magnification at which the field of view stops increasing.

    Here are three examples: On the S&B 5-25x50, the field of view stops increasing below 7X. In my book that makes it really 3.6:1 zoom ratio, not 5:1. On the US Optics LR-17 3.5-17x50 it happens below 6X, making it really 2.8:1 zoom ratio, not 4.9:1, On the Bushnell HDMR 3.2-21x50 it happens below about 4.5X, making it really 4.7:1 zoom ratio, not 6.6:1.

    Still, there is one thing in their favor. Another reason to reduce the magnification is to increase brightness in low light conditions by increasing the exit pupil. Fortunately, on the all wide ratio scopes I’ve inspected, the exit pupil does increase all they way to lowest magnification.

    Not all wide ratio scopes have this problem. The Swarovski Z5 and Z6 scopes I’ve looked at increase the field of view all the way down to the lowest magnification.
     
  14. BrentM

    BrentM Well-Known Member

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    Night Force?