most reliable big game riflescope?

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by rufous, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. rufous

    rufous Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  2. Forrest Ebert

    Forrest Ebert Well-Known Member

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    The Most Reliable Big Game Scope ?

    I WOULD SUGGEST THAT YOU TRY A ZEISS. YOU NEVER MENTIONED WHAT CALIBER YOU ARE SHOOTING BUT THEY MAKE A VERY FINE 1.8-5.5X38 SCOPE THAT I USE ON MY 416 REM.MAG AND I ALSO HAVE ONE ON MY 375 H&H .I THINK YOU WILL FIND THAT THE GLASS IS MUCH BETTER THAN THE LEUY AND MAY EVEN BE BETTER THAN YOUR 3-9 AS IT HAS VERY POSITIVE ADJUSTMENTS AND THE POI IS EXCELLENT. I'M DON'T THINK THOUGH THAT THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE IS GOOD AS YOU SENT THEM THE SCOPE 3 TIMES AND THEN TO HAVE IT MESS UP ON YOU AND BLOW YOUR HUNT THEY SHOULD HAVE GIVEN YOU THE NEW SCOPE WITH SOMETHING ELSE AS A TOKEN OF GOOD FAITH BUT THEN THAT DOESN'T BRING IN THE $$$ DOES IT. I'M SORRY YOU ARE GOING TO BE USING THIS ON A 300 WIN. MAG. THEN TRY THE ZEISS 4.5-14X44SF. I USE THIS ON MY 338 RUM. AND EVER SINCE MOUNTING IT HAS NEVER LEFT THE BLACK EVEN DURING SIGHTING IT IN AND BREAKING IN THE BARREL I HAVE THE KAHLES MULTI-ZERO 3-9X42 ON MY SWITCH BARREL RIFLE AND I FEEL THAT THE ZEISS GLASS IS SHARPER AND CLEARER TO MY EYE'S AT LEAST.

    gun)
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008

  3. Tyler Kemp

    Tyler Kemp SPONSOR

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    Nightforce and IOR are known for true tracking and great glass, but they're expensive.
     
  4. Boss Hoss

    Boss Hoss Well-Known Member

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    I use USO, S&B and the VMV series. Had issues with a couple of Loopys in the past and now have gotten used to to great optics and reliability.
     
  5. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    Rufous

    I am a big fan of leupold because I have never had problems with
    them and for the money there hard to beat.

    But on my hard kicking rifles and a few pistols ( over 55 ft/lbs I
    like to use burris scopes with the Posi Lock feature.

    One of my pistols had wrecked every brand of scope I placed on it.
    and I had to go to 4 scope rings to hold it on (It kept shearing them
    off) .

    After I placed the burris on my troubles were over.(Close to 500 rounds
    and still going.

    I recently bought the 1.7 x 5 burris for my 416 Buff with no break and I
    am very pleased. It tracks perfict, has an extra inch of eye relief plus
    after sighting in I locked down the retical with the Posi Lock and it has
    not moved even with near 80 ft/lbs of recoil.

    These are good rugged scopes for the money and the glass is good.

    The high end scopes have the best glass but are not as tough in my opinion
    and in some cases tough is good.

    Just my 2 cents
    J E CUSTOM
     
  6. specweldtom

    specweldtom Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the Burris scopes on hard kickers. Your problems with the 2 1/2 x 8 Leupold caught my eye. I have a VX III 2 1/2 x 8 on a .460 Wby. No problems so far, but only 16 rounds fired. I have a Burris Mini that I was already considering putting on that rifle.

    I've got VX III L/R's on a .30 x .378 and on a .338 x .378. No problems with either one, but I haven't boxed a target with either one. Need to do that.

    Good hunting, Tom
     
  7. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    About to send my IOR 3-18 back for the second time. Went bad with less then 20 rounds (went blurry and wouldn't focus) and the second one has less then 20 rounds and has a large piece of debris on the inside. It(they) has tracked perfectly, the FFP MP8(A-5) reticle is awesome and the glass so much better then Leupold MK4's I've used.
     
  8. LewisH

    LewisH Well-Known Member

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    Bravo, was that scope from the first batch of Sniper's Hide special order IOR 3-18s?
     
  9. Jon A

    Jon A Well-Known Member

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    Crap, you scared me! The first time I read that I thought you had broken a second one. But it's only a piece of debris? Not that the debris is OK or anything but it's a whole different level than the dramatic "hunt ender" type failure the early production ones were having. Hopefully those problems are behind us.

    Did you try the USO "pound it on a phonebook" solution? I noticed a little spec on my Falcon that showed up after shooting it. It's not bad enough to bother me enough to want to send it back but I was thinking of giving this a try for the hell of it. It sounds like your debris is bigger though, maybe it won't work.
     
  10. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    I had a black speck show up in one of my IOR 3-18x's after shooting a black bear. The next time I shot the rifle the black speck disappeared and hasn't returned again since. I'm not sure where they come from (I've been told it has something to do with etching the reticle onto one of the lenses) but these small black specs can disappear as quickly as they appear. Knocking the scope with a rubber mallet or hitting it on a phone book might dislodge the particle from the lens and you may never see it again. Or like happened with me, the next time you shoot the rifle the spec may fall off the lens and hang onto the sidewall of the scope where it will never be an issue.
     
  11. Jon A

    Jon A Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, it's not uncommon, especially for FFP scopes. USO even put it in their FAQ:

    That said, if it's big on Marc's scope and he can't get it off it's certainly reasonable to want it fixed.
     
  12. Bravo 4

    Bravo 4 Well-Known Member

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    2nd round of scopes.
    I shot it a few times, all was good.
    I shot it a few times, dang it a large piece of debris
    I put it up and called Scott and left a message...he is a busy man and I must have fell through the cracks, no return call-no biggie, like I said I know he is a busy man. I haven't called back in the last week or so, I too am busy.
    I wanted to go shoot and it was gone, awesome-don't bother Scott over nothing.
    I took it out again to see if it was there and voila! It's there again. I'll just try to smack it on something to see if it goes away again.
    I see that debris and think "You piece of crap!", I just get frustrated easily. I really like it and think it has all the features a scope should have.
    But then again I did send my Super Sniper back to be replaced because of debris stuck on my reticle.
     
  13. riogrande27

    riogrande27 New Member

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    If you are tired of scopes letting you down choose any nightforce scope that you feel will work for you. The nightforce nxs is rugged and in my opinion the finest scope you can buy. Suck it up and pay the price. You will only cry once when you pay for it. The first one is very hard to buy but after that first one they get a lot easier. I have tried all the scopes over the years and used to be Leupold fan but not anymore. I also had some of the Leupold let me down. I am trying to slowly change to all nightforce scopes. I am an avid varmint hunter and have been hard at it for over 30 years.
     
  14. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

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    I firmly believe there are scopes out there with better glass than Nightforce. Like USO and Schmidt & Bender from every account I've ever read. If money weren't an issue, I would own a few of those. I think even IOR has better resolution than Nightforce, and I do happen to own a couple of those. But Nightforce makes a very high quality scope for tactical and long range use by just about every account I've read about them. Rugged, good tracking, reliable, nice reticle selection, good power range, and good resolution.

    I'd have a hard time saying they're the best, because I place a premium on resolution, and they aren't the best in that regard, in my opinion. But considering all the features that are important in a long range scope, I don't think a person could go wrong spending their money on a Nightforce either. Too many owners speak highly of them for them to be anything other than a great scope for the money.