Best low light glass?

Bullmark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
502
Location
Roanoke Va
I'm not an expert on optics by a long shot. But this I do know. Being able to see well in low light is very important, simply because that is when game is most active. But, there is a lot more to it than that. I have found out as my eyes age, I have to have more and more expensive optics to see as well in low light, heck any light than I used to. This is why you will see such a huge variety of opinions on the subject. Someone with 30 year old eyes will thing a VX5 or 6 is the bomb, and just as good as top tier German glass, and not think the extra expense is worth it. A seasoned shooter 60 years old will disagree wholeheartedly. Then there are other factors that are deal killers choosing a scope. One of the most important IMO is how tight is the eyebox? This is super important on any rifle that must be put in action quickly. The more forgiving, the faster you will get a shot off. Lens flare, what happens when you look toward the setting sun? Does it wash out, or can you see? Then there is resolution. This is more important to low light hunting than most folks think. Younger eyes talk about a scope being "Clear", resolution is what they are talking about. It is at least as important as light transmission in being able to "See" the animal. I never hunted with top tier optics when my eyes were young, so I have no idea what I missed. I do know today my eyes require a $3k scope with premium German lenses to see at least as well as I could when I was young. This is why on a forum like this it is easy to burn someone, talking them into a "Great" $1000-$2000 scope that they cannot see well through. Everyone's eyes are different, and some folks have more to work with vision wise, to begin with than others. Many of us don't have the luxury of being able to test the different ones available ourselves enough to make an informed decision, and rely on places like this. My best recommendation is buy the best you can afford, they don't wear out. If you are like most of us, and on a budget, I think you can go by this and get by, or at least not get burned if your eyes are normal for your age; If you are 30 or under $1k or less, under 40, $1500 range, under 60 $2k, Over 60 $3k+. As you age you WILL replace the cheaper scopes, or quit shooting those guns, or give them to your kids... Being in a gun club is a great benefit here. Most folks will let you spend some time behind their stuff. The difference is amazing when your eyes are tired or old.
Most well thought out and articulated response I’ve ever seen to the glass question. Thank you.
Yes very well said and totally on the money. I’m 50 and my eyes are def bot what they used to be. I’ve been hunting consistently for 30 yrs and bought my first Swarovski almost 20yrs ago. It was an amazing discovery for my younger eyes....and I’ve been an optics nut since them. I’ve tried them all, but Swaro, Leica and S&B is all I care to use. They were the best for my eyes 20yrs ago and still are today.
One last remark, I had no idea how important a scope’s eye box was until recently. I bought outside of my usual short list and although the glass was superb, getting behind the scope and finding the sweet spot was tough....the eye piece was smaller and the eye box was looking for a needle in a haystack. I hated to send it back but it was that bad.....or should I say different and more difficult than I was accustomed to.
 

SEGARE

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2018
Messages
272
Location
GA
I'll be 58 next month and a VX6 is plenty good enough to get me well past the legal 30 minutes before/after sunset where I hunt. My favorite stand has a 235 yrd max and it is no problem to discern and judge a deer at the back edge against the backdrop of a creek with this scope at first legal light. As someone else mentioned, I have to watch ph to know just when I CAN shoot and not get in trouble. There may be better scopes, but what price am I paying for minuscule gains? Yes, I've looked through Swaro glass at last light and it just isn't worth the additional coinage to me.
 

Orange Dust

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
2,382
Location
Mingo Swamp
I'll be 58 next month and a VX6 is plenty good enough to get me well past the legal 30 minutes before/after sunset where I hunt. My favorite stand has a 235 yrd max and it is no problem to discern and judge a deer at the back edge against the backdrop of a creek with this scope at first legal light. As someone else mentioned, I have to watch ph to know just when I CAN shoot and not get in trouble. There may be better scopes, but what price am I paying for minuscule gains? Yes, I've looked through Swaro glass at last light and it just isn't worth the additional coinage to me.
Absolutely, and right in line with what I said. 58=$2k range. Your eyes will most likely change in 4-5 years and you will need $3k+ German glass to see as well as you do now. I know my eyes did and I had to eat some good glass because of it. I will be 63 this fall.
 

Starlite

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2019
Messages
693
Location
New Brunswick Canada
I'm not an expert on optics by a long shot. But this I do know. Being able to see well in low light is very important, simply because that is when game is most active. But, there is a lot more to it than that. I have found out as my eyes age, I have to have more and more expensive optics to see as well in low light, heck any light than I used to. This is why you will see such a huge variety of opinions on the subject. Someone with 30 year old eyes will thing a VX5 or 6 is the bomb, and just as good as top tier German glass, and not think the extra expense is worth it. A seasoned shooter 60 years old will disagree wholeheartedly. Then there are other factors that are deal killers choosing a scope. One of the most important IMO is how tight is the eyebox? This is super important on any rifle that must be put in action quickly. The more forgiving, the faster you will get a shot off. Lens flare, what happens when you look toward the setting sun? Does it wash out, or can you see? Then there is resolution. This is more important to low light hunting than most folks think. Younger eyes talk about a scope being "Clear", resolution is what they are talking about. It is at least as important as light transmission in being able to "See" the animal. I never hunted with top tier optics when my eyes were young, so I have no idea what I missed. I do know today my eyes require a $3k scope with premium German lenses to see at least as well as I could when I was young. This is why on a forum like this it is easy to burn someone, talking them into a "Great" $1000-$2000 scope that they cannot see well through. Everyone's eyes are different, and some folks have more to work with vision wise, to begin with than others. Many of us don't have the luxury of being able to test the different ones available ourselves enough to make an informed decision, and rely on places like this. My best recommendation is buy the best you can afford, they don't wear out. If you are like most of us, and on a budget, I think you can go by this and get by, or at least not get burned if your eyes are normal for your age; If you are 30 or under $1k or less, under 40, $1500 range, under 60 $2k, Over 60 $3k+. As you age you WILL replace the cheaper scopes, or quit shooting those guns, or give them to your kids... Being in a gun club is a great benefit here. Most folks will let you spend some time behind their stuff. The difference is amazing when your eyes are tired or old.
Agree. Unfortunately at my local club all the senior citizens (who seem to have endless deep pockets) also feel the need to increase the magnification as well. This is more the acceptable with LR only hunting. 10-60X60 isn’t it.
I’ve looked thru every (sniper style scope) that is available to a NATO country. In retrospect, this was the worst thing I could have done. I couldn’t afford any of them. But now I’d spend the rest of my life fooling myself that cheaper would do. Ironically as you said aging leaves you chasing them and needing / wanting them even more.
 

Orange Dust

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Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
2,382
Location
Mingo Swamp
Ever tried ZCO, Tangent Theta, or Hensoldt? ;)
Speaking of TT, has anyone here got one of their new 3-15 long range hunter scopes? If so, how does it compare to the 5-25 in the stuff that matters to us? I know its 30mm with a 50mm obj. and much lighter, nearly a pound, cheaper by 1400, has less FOV, and less adjustment. Biggest questions are what are we really giving up? Has to be more than noted above for $1400. Not hijacking the thread, These things are superb in any light and may just be the answer us old folks have been looking for, or maybe not, but for $3700 I want to know. I am hunting a scope for the LW stalking rifle I am building.
 

J.J. Weiland

Active Member
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
32
Location
Louisiana
If you can raise your budget to $900, Euro Optic has show room demos of the Leupold VX5HD 3-5x44 with the illuminated reticle. Leupold HD glass from my testing is excellent for low light. I hunt in Tennessee in both the woods and ag fields and I can see right up until legal ends. This is the scope I have on my gun.
I hunt hogs most of the year and most of that takes place @ night under a kill light. I shoot nightforce nxs or atacr. Shooting head shots at max 350 yds under a dim light takes a good scope. I think they would work well for the OP. btw in a pinch you can drive nails with them, they are tough,,,and heavy.
 

Northkill

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LRH Team Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2019
Messages
659
Location
PA
RuninL8 said:
S&B, Swarovski, and Zeiss. Top three no questions and no arguments, just facts. I'm sorry but all the others fall short in lower light, including NF, khales, and Leupold. Just not in the same class. Great scopes but don't compare in low light.
Ever tried ZCO, Tangent Theta, or Hensoldt? ;)
No kidding. Facts? Facts need underwritten with data bud. I'd take my K525i over my Zeiss any day. Now Zeiss makes a high end optic too that may compare or surpass, but it's gonna cost some pretty $$$$ too. Pretty strong language.
 

Orange Dust

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Joined
Oct 23, 2015
Messages
2,382
Location
Mingo Swamp
RuninL8 said:
S&B, Swarovski, and Zeiss. Top three no questions and no arguments, just facts. I'm sorry but all the others fall short in lower light, including NF, khales, and Leupold. Just not in the same class. Great scopes but don't compare in low light.

No kidding. Facts? Facts need underwritten with data bud. I'd take my K525i over my Zeiss any day. Now Zeiss makes a high end optic too that may compare or surpass, but it's gonna cost some pretty $$$$ too. Pretty strong language.
I'm with you on the k525i. I'd bet dollars to donuts anyone who thinks kahles is cheap or inferior to the above never owned one. Fantastic scope for $3300.
 

cabelasken

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2021
Messages
135
Location
Nevada
I'll start off by admitting the most expensive glass I've had the opportunity to personally test is the Leupopd VX5 HD. Most of my deer rifles wear various versions of the VX3. Comparing these to others based solely on low light for their prices I've not seen any that outperform. However my experience is limited to a few makes and models. How do other brands and models compare to these solely on low light ability?
For price weight clarity and low light capability, the HD-5 is hard to beat
 

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