Real World Difference Between a $500 and a $1000 Scope?

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by sns2, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. sns2

    sns2 Member

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    Over the course of the last year or so, I have been on a bit of a journey to replace what would be considered "average" guns with higher quality stuff. After reading, listening to, and maybe moreso conversing with certain people on this forum, I decided to get something I would be happy with for some time. I started the journey with a Sako 85 Hunter, got rid of that and ended up with a Sako 85 Bavarian. After a month of looking at what I felt was a very pretty wood oil finished wood stock, I was convinced that I would inevitably beat it up during hunting season, and get mad about it. So I got rid of it, and got the gun I deep down really wanted, a Cooper Jackson Hunter (stainless/composite stock)

    Now to my question. I currently have a Zeiss Conquest 3x9x40, that I picked up about 7 months ago, on this new rifle. Like many, I consider this to arguably be the best $500 scope on the market, but now I am pondering on putting a different scope on this gun.

    In your experience what is the real world performance difference between a $500 scope and a $1000 scope such as a Zeiss HD 5, Swaro Z3 or even a Trijicon Accupoint?

    I look forward to your answers, particularly from people who use $1000 (or better) scopes.

    PS: I'm in Canada so the prices are a bit higher than you good folks would pay for the same in your fine country.
     
  2. lsm62

    lsm62 Well-Known Member

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    I am running a falcon 5-25 menace and a SAFA SS 5-20. menace is 4 to 500$ and the SS is 1000 to 1200$. At 0-500yds they are not that different. Better clicks on the SS, better resolution on the SS but after 500yds the difference really comes out. the SS outshines the menace on every level.Targets are clearer and parallax is more easily set. That is not to say the menace is a bad scope, for the money its great. but truth be told there is a difference.
     

  3. timmay

    timmay Well-Known Member

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    in the real world no difference. In the scope snob world, all the difference
     
  4. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

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  5. minute of elk

    minute of elk Well-Known Member

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    My 2 cents:

    Loopy 6-18 vx-ii- $450 or so- turrets crapped out after 2 seasons, but glass was great even beyond 1k- however, not enough turret travel to get there on many rifles. It didn't like recoil much (love their warranty!), but because of its light weight & clarity, I miss hunting with it. It helped put a lot of steaks in the freezer. I sold it shortly after I bought the SWFA.

    Zeiss conquest 3-9x50- $450 ish again- no target turrets, so reticle holds only, which work great out to ~600 (z600), wouldn't consider it for long range, but it's great for short/mid range, and it's very light. Glass is great out to 1k, but past that it just doesn't have the power or clarity for me. Looked through a friend's 6.5-20 this spring & had the same conclusion- not for anything past 1k. My 3-9 conquest lives on my light-ish 270.

    SWFA 5-20- ~$1k- FFP reticle worked for ranging elk last season remarkably well during a blizzard, turrets are accurate & feel bombproof, glass is clear way past 1k (i've taken shots with my 7saum & SWFA 5-20 at 2275 with confidence- not saying I should be confident at that range, but the scope & rifle can get there), great amount of turret travel, and it handled 338LM recoil without any problems. I have zero motivation to spend money on any other scope- this is my absolute "go to" scope & I will happily buy a second one soon for another rifle. The only bad thing about them is their weight- they're just plain heavy.

    I haven't had a chance to touch the new conquest hd5's, but I've played with a couple trijicons (friends have them)- my only hang up about them is their limited travel, the glass is great. I've also spent some time with a Zeiss victory, and a diarange- they're incredible, but way over your $1k limit.

    I think $500 gets you into a pretty versatile group of optics- entry level for long range, with good potential, but you'll find compromises in the features & reliability. At $1k you have noticeable improvement in almost every category. $1k let's you see a glimpse of the really good stuff. You still have to forego a few bells & whistles (and coatings), but the glass is good enough & the mechanicals are solid.
     
  6. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    I agree, to a point. You can tell a difference in a $500 scope and a $1,000 scope, if they are both quality of their respective price ranges. Sometimes you might get an above-average scope for $500, and sometimes you might find a cheaper quality scope for $1,000.

    In my opinion, the Zeiss Conquest scopes are VERY hard to beat. You get a ton of quality packed into a reasonable price. And they (Zeiss) treat every scope the same, whether it is a Conquest or a Dialyte, or a Victory HT.

    I have a Kahles Helia KX 3.5-10x50 ($1,500 when new), and have several Zeiss Conquests (including a 3-12x56 FFP, and a 6.5-20x50) and I would say that while the Kahles has a slight advantage in the glass department (as it rightfully should due to price range), the Conquests is VERY closely biting at its heels.

    I'm no expert, just giving my opinion.
     
  7. highridge1

    highridge1 Well-Known Member

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    When you take a $500 Leupold and compare it to a $1,000 Zeiss there is a big difference and differences that really matter. Glass quality and tracking are the two biggest things.
     
  8. c_bass16

    c_bass16 Well-Known Member

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    Yep...that's probably true for one reason.
    500-1000 is still in the lower end of scope quality, so you're looking at comparing a mid range inexpensive scope to an upper end inexpensive scope.

    100-1000 is the low end quality
    1000-2000 is the mid range quality
    2000-3000 and up is excellent quality
    3000+ is where you see a diminished return on your investment

    What you get for your extra 500-1000 when you're at the low end of the spectrum is HUGE. Glass quality, tracking, illumination, FFP, objective size, tube size, durability, glass coatings, eye relieve yada yada yada.
    It's not until you get over 2000 that you start to gain very little in features as you increase $$.
    Once you get above 2000, features don't change much. About the only thing you're getting is better glass...and to some, it's not needed.
    Last summer my three buddies and I laid down and set all of our optics to 14x and looked through them at the same target at 1460 yds. The difference was UNQUESTIONABLE.

    A Bushnell G2DMR (around 900), a Nightforce NXS (1700 range) and Premier. (around 3000)
    I'll use these three as examples throughout, since I got to look at each all at the same time. I've looked through the Vortex Razor HDs, Zeiss Conquests, USO, Leupold VXII, III, MK IV and a ton of others...but not all at the same time for direct comparisons.

    It was clear the Nightforce was better than the Bushnell...but we concluded that it was not worth an extra $800, due to the features Bushnell offered.
    It was also clear that the Premier was vastly superior to the NXS, although, it was hard to justify an extra $1000+.

    "Real world" for you and "Real world" for someone else is VERY VERY VERY different.

    If you don't shoot LR (beyond 1000), you don't rely on accurate tracking (from top to bottom on your turret, not just a few MOA here and there), you don't use your scope for glassing (targets or critters at or beyond a mile), you don't use a reticule for ranging (for targets or animals ) or calling misses for a partner...then your choices are vastly different than mine and your needs are much different as well.

    I'm of the firm belief that your optic should be at least on par with the value of your rifle. If you're rifle ran you $1500, then you scope better at least give you $1500 worth of quality and features.

    There are many optics that give you more for your dollar than others. In the comparison we looked at...I would be more than happy taking a NEW $1000 Bushnell Elite Tactical over a NEW Nightforce for $1800.
    Now if you can get a used NXS for 1200, or a used Premier for 2300 then thats something I would jump on because there are just some things that retain their value.
     
  9. lloydsmale

    lloydsmale Well-Known Member

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    I guess i look at it like this. For my uses a 500 dollar scope gets it done. My long range shooting is at deer not paper targets. Absolute max range is about 600 yards. Most 400 or less. A 2k scope is surely not needed for this. I have no doubt something like a nightforce is going to be a better optic then my vx3 leupolds if a guy is a competitive shooter. But then id about be over half the nightforce and other top end scopes are bought by people who couldnt tell the differnce and are just trying to impress there buddys. Kind of like buying a porche instead of a camero. Sure the porche handles a bit better buy how many guys are really capable of seeing that limit on the street. Most porches are sold to doctors, lawyers and other yuppies that could probably drive a prius as fast as they do there porche. A 1000 dollar plus riflescope is no doubt a step up but youll never convince me that its an advantage on a hunting gun.
     
  10. c_bass16

    c_bass16 Well-Known Member

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    A hunting rifle is where I would RATHER spend the money. That's pure ethics.
    If you miss a piece of steel or a piece of paper, it's no big deal...maybe your ego gets bruised.
    You miss, or wound a 200" white tail because of your equipment, and that will haunt you forever.
    If it's an advantage on A GUN, then it's just as advantageous on a HUNTING GUN.

    Choosing to use lesser equipment is your choice, but don't place your limits on someone else.

    (nearly)Perfect example.
    Last October, we were lucky enough to have the crew from Carnivore on the Pursuit Channel come out to film a coyote hunt with us.
    Their goal was 6 good kills filmed with TV quality action to produce a show for this season. We ended up getting 20+.
    On the close of day two, we had a coyote approaching slow in the fading light.
    It stopped on the opposite ridge and stood still for about 8 minutes, and as the sun set...we were running out of light FAST.
    The host Dustin Whiticare, using his sponsored Nikon optic, couldn't even see the coyote in his scope. He told my partner that he couldn't take the shot cause he couldn't see it.
    James, with the larger 56mm objective and superior glass, had plenty of vision to make the shot for a day ending 13th dog.

    Now clearly...this kind of equipment isn't needed to take a lowly predator....but most of our equipment serves double/triple duty. It rides predator rifles, big game rifles and we take them to matches.
    I hope the time comes, that you have a record setting animal present itself and you can't take the shot because of inadequate equipment.
    Buy once, cry once.
     
  11. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    Agreed! Which is why my target-only guns get cheaper scopes than my hunting guns.

    I had the sun go down and not be able to see my bow sights on a MONSTER (150"+ rack) whitetail one evening. I am still pissed about that. I drew back, sun dropped into a shade, and I couldn't see which pin was which. I was MAD! I drew back down, and let him pass...........Never seen another one that big within bow range since. Maybe this year I'll get my chance.
     
  12. jakelly

    jakelly Well-Known Member

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    Bear in mind, these "small" differences can mean a lot in real world opportunity as c_bass' example proves. That coyote could have been a 350" bull on the last day. I personally sold every vx3 Leupold I owned when I saw how much longer and better into dusk conditions I could see and shoot with Weaver Grand Slams. It was 20-30 minutes! Grand Slams are in the same tier as the Leupolds and the mid and top tier stuff is significantly better still.

    The glass is usually much better in adverse conditions from 500 to 1000. At 2:00 pm looking across a stubble field the difference wont seem to justify the extra money.

    The composition of the device is usually much more precise and rugged. If you actually shoot beyond point blank and holdover range repeatability is ESSENTIAL.

    1500 will show a significant improvement over 1000. That price point opens up a lot of options in the used market.

    You've gotten some real insight here. People have spent thousands of dollars in tuition at the school of hard knocks to figure out what these markets are "really" like
     
  13. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    JAKelly, if you like those Weavers, you should look through a Zeiss. It's insane how well you can see over an open greenfield at night when coyote hunting...

    I shot a deer @ 120 yards with my 7mm STW about 10 years ago @ 8:00 at night. I could see him perfectly enough to make a clean and humane kill. Was using a Bausch & Lomb Elite 3000 3-9x50 30mm with a German #4 FireFly reticle (gathered star light). That scope was insane. It traveled around from rifle to rifle in my stable, till it landed on my Browning A-Bolt II 7Mag, and both of them got stolen back in 2008. I have since replaced the A-Bolt with another identical to it, but haven't been able to find another one of those scopes identical to that one I had. When I do, I'm snatching it up! That scope was one badass optic. gun)
     
  14. jakelly

    jakelly Well-Known Member

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    Somewhere on the web I was reading an optical analysis of many scopes. There were scopes from all different price points. This was done by a computer and supposedly empirical. The best overall and lowlight performance was the Zeiss Diavari 3-12x56 and almost all the highend companies had representation (S&B, Swaro, Kahles, et al). The margin was fairly impressive. The roo shooters seem to prefer the straight 8x56 and they shoot all night. I guess I'm saying you're probably right about the conquests. I actually have a 4.5-14x50 Conquest that I just got as part of a package, I'll have to check it out at night.