Leupold or Night Force

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by Crusty Buck, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Crusty Buck

    Crusty Buck Well-Known Member

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    I just made a quantum leap from a Nikon Monarch 5-20x44 to a Leupold VX3 8.5-25X50 LRT. My goal is to spot my 308 Win bullet holes on black targets at 400 yds. My question is this, " If the Leupold doesn't do the trick, will a Night Force 10-40X50 give me the results I'm looking for?" Is the NF worth the extra $500?

    Thanks,

    Crusty Buck
     
  2. Crusty Buck

    Crusty Buck Well-Known Member

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    I meant to write 400 yds.

    Crusty Buck
     

  3. Panchik

    Panchik Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure that you can spot holes on black targets with either one on 400 yards.
    It might be better to change black on white. Then 5.5-22 Nightforce would be enough.
     
  4. Crusty Buck

    Crusty Buck Well-Known Member

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    Panchik, I shoot with a group of guys that use the monster NF scopes. Many of them spot their 223 or 6 mm holes at 400. With my 5-20 Monarh I see them at 200. I'm hoping that my new leupold will extend that distance a bit.
     
  5. bruce_ventura

    bruce_ventura Well-Known Member

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    Crusty,

    You’re comparing scopes that have a doublet objective lens (Monarch and VX-3) with scopes that have a triplet objective lens (Nightforce). The triplet objective will have higher resolution, especially when the elevation and/or windage adjustment is set to a large value. About 20 moa from the mechanical zero is where resolution begins to degrade for a typical doublet objective. Loss of resolution is quite noticeable above 30 moa. The Nightforce has higher resolution at the mechanical zero and out to at about twice that adjustment value (greater than about 50 moa from mechanical zero). Do you know what the elevation and windage adjustments (from the mechanical or optical zero) are on your Monarch?

    I’ve not been favorably impressed with Monarch resolution in side-by-side comparisons. I suspect that the Monarch erector tube optics are not quite up to par with, say a VX-3 or Zeiss Conquest. So you may see an improvement in the VX-3. Do not expect the VX-3 to hold up to a Nightforce, though, especially if the the VX-3 has a large elevation or windage adjustment.

    There are so many other variables here, it’s impossible to predict how far you could see bullet holes with your new Leupold. Turbulence in the air is huge factor. Optical resolution at typical range conditions is usually limited by turbulence-induced image blur, not by magnification. The amount of image blur from turbulence depends on a lot of factors. Temperature, terrain, weather, time of day, height of the scope above the ground, size of the aperture are the major factors. 20X should be enough magnification to see all the details that can be seen through turbulent air (middle of a sunny day over flat terrain). On cool, cloudy days near sunrise or sunset, the turbulence could be so low that high magnification will allow you to see incredible details. Those are rare target shooting conditions, however. Are you comparing your scope with your friends’ Nightforce under the same conditions?

    The theoretical limit of resolution at 400 yds is about 4 mm. That’s barely small enough to actually resolve a bullet hole under the best conditions. In this case, target contrast is also a big factor. If the target is black and the background behind the target is sunlit terrain, the hole will appear white on black and be visible at longer distances than for a lower contrast target (i.e, a buff target). This is the same reason we can “see” stars at night, although they are far too small for our eyes to actually resolve. Are you viewing the same target design as your friends, with the same background behind it?

    The are personal factors that you should consider. Is your reticle focus (diopter) set properly? Is your scope focus set properly? Should you be wearing vision correction, for example for astigmatism, but are not?

    For two scopes of the same objective size, properly focused to the target and your eye, set to the mechanical zero, at the same time of the same day, positioned next to each other, and looking at the same target, you will likely see very little difference between between them in terms of resolution if the turbulence is high. If you do the same side-by-side comparison when there is very little turbulence, I think the Nightforce will always win over the Monarch or VX-3. If you then set both scopes to 30 moa elevation, I also think the differences will be even more dramatic.

    So,... if you want to always see the same details that your friends can see, I think you should cough up the extra dough for the Nightforce.
     
  6. rcairflr

    rcairflr Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the Leupold will do it unless you have very, very good eyes.
     
  7. Crusty Buck

    Crusty Buck Well-Known Member

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    Thank you gentlemen for your responses. You both said the same thing in differentg ways. bruce_ventur's explanation was very interesting. Being a ag science major, I really enjoyed the tems used. I plan on looking them up. Bottom line for both of you guys has me shelling out a few more sheckels. My very understanding wife, to this point anyways, has been onboard with my paper punching addiction. I'll try to baffle her with bruce_ventur's stuff. Seriously, thanks for the explanation.

    Crusty Buck
     
  8. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    By far the easiest way to see bullet holes on a black target is to rear illuminate the target. Assuming you're shooting paper on a cardboard backing you can place a white cloth (old bed sheet or towel) on the berm behind the target so your line of sight though the bullet hole is in line with the white cloth illuminated by the Sun.

    That method works fine for me at distances up to a mile with a 16x40 scope for 7mm bullet holes. It doesn't matter whether the the scope is a Mk4 Leupold or a 16x40 SWFA SS for 1/4. I haven't tried it with more expensive scopes but I doubt any would make a significant improvement.

    The diameter of the holes doesn't mater as long as the bullet holes are unobstructed so they're bright. magnification is only needed resolve the >spacing< of the bullet holes. Enough magnification to resolve the diameter of the hole is not required. It's like looking at a star in the sky at night. No visible star has an apparent diameter even close to 1 arcsecond. A normal human naked eye can resolve about 1 arc-minute. that's ~1" at 100 yards, so a 10x scope should resolve about 0.4" at 400 yards or 1" at 1000 yards. By resolve that means you can detect that it's not just one hole. Of course mirage (atmospheric scintillation) will reduce the resolution. The wavefront and image quality is distorted before it reaches the scope and no lens design will fix that. Active optics theoretically could, but no commercial rifle scope has that.

    What's important is that a bright dot on a dark surface is far easier for the eye to detect than a black dot on a white surface or any other combination.
     
  9. Crusty Buck

    Crusty Buck Well-Known Member

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    LouBoyd,

    We won't be back lighting our target birms because we don't have target birms. We shoot in a 1/4 mile long gravel pit at targets on stands with carboard backing. every now and then, when the atmospheric conditions are right, I can make out bullet holes on black paper at 200 and 300 yds with my Monarch 5-20. If there is over cast skies, I cannot see the holes and rely totally on a range card. We'll see what the better glass of the Leupold does. Thanks for your input.

    Crusty Buck
     
  10. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    The farthest back stop at my local range is 427 yds. I print up my own white targets on my printer. If there is no mirage, I can count the bullet holes of a 25 cal bullet with my 5.5-22 NXS. If any mirage kicks in, I can not see them or 308 cal holes.
     
  11. Crusty Buck

    Crusty Buck Well-Known Member

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    MontanaRifleman,

    When mirage is involved, all bets are off:) I sat at the bench this evening under a beautiful fall sky and was able to pick up 308 holes at 200. Still at 300, they were hidden. My 300 target is back in the shade a bit, so maybe the Leupold 8.5-25x50 LRT could have made them out in the sunlight? Again, we are talking black target fields with a blaze dot. I called my favorite Italian retailer tonight and they are working with me on a special order Night Force 8-32x56 Precission Benchrest scope. Do you know anything about then, other than the glass comes from Japan?

    Crusty Buck
     
  12. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    Buck,

    I have no experience with the Benchrest Scopes. I imagine the glass is the same as the NXS. Best way to find out would be to call or email NF. I probably will pick up a 12x48 NXS to serve double duty as a varmint rifle scope and as a spotting scope.

    Good Luck!
     
  13. Crusty Buck

    Crusty Buck Well-Known Member

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    MR

    I called NF today and they assured me that I would be able to see holes out to 400, but that was with the 12-42x56 in the precision br. I figured if I saw them at 200 with the leupold 25, I should see them at 300 easily with the NF 8-32x56. The NF 12-42 is nealy $500 more than the 8-25 Leupold.Your NXS is by far a better scope than the NF Precision Benchrests.

    CB
     
  14. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    That's interesting, the NXS is a more rugged field type scope but I would have thought that the BR's would have the same glass. Maybe not? Or maybe they are giving you a conservative answer?