Best low light scope!!

jackhwll

New Member
Joined
May 6, 2014
Messages
3
I'm looking to upgrade scope and would love to here what you all think is the best light gathering scope. I've read all the reviews on mfg web sites and looked at some scopes but we all know that looking at optics under store lights can be misleading. I'm looking for a scope that would be good for hunting big ag fields at last shooting light.​
 

LouBoyd

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Joined
Oct 15, 2007
Messages
770
Location
Patagonia Mountains, Arizona
The fundamental rules of optics prevent any passive (non electronic) scope from presenting an image which has an apparent surface brightness greater than what you can see with the dark adapted naked eye. However, the dark adapted naked eye uses only the non color sensitive rods of the eye, which are only about 1/100 as dense (frequent) in the eye's fovea as the color sensitive rods, and because of that give only about 1/10 the linear resolution of the normally illuminated eye. So to see with normal resolution you need about 10X magnification just to make up for the sparse distribution of the dark adaptable rods. So to have "naked eye" resolution one needs at least 10x magnification with an objective lens with 100 times the area for it's entrance pupil compared to the dark adapted eye's entrance pupil to give an equivalent apparent surface brightness. That mean a 50 to 60 mm objective. The scope at best can only preserve your "night vision" allowing your eye to stay dark adapted, so unless they're extremely faint illuminated reticles don't work well. Non illuminated reticles need to be 10x wider than in daytime scopes to be equally visible which doesn't do good things for accuracy. There is no "make or /model" scope which is particularly better than others. Good optical coatings help but there's no magic. Covering you head with a black cloth and looking only though the scope will help preserve dark adaptation.

No optical scope can change the F-ratio of the light coming into the human eye which is about F-3. Electronic night vision scope use several features to enhance vision.
1. Faster F ratio optics. using lenses faster than F-1 gives about a x10 increase in apparent image brightness.
2.higher quantum efficiency detection gives about an X4 improvement in brightness.
3. using electronic gain to increase the brightness so the eye's cones in the fovea accounts for a 10x improvement in resolution over the dark adapted eye.
4. A Gen 3 or 4 Galium Arsinide phtocathode on the image tubes use the natural sky glow in the 700-900 nm wavelenght range which is about ten times brigther than the natural sky glow in the visible 400-600 nm range.
Those together. allow a gen 3 scope on clear moonless nights to give roughly equivalent performance to a 4x optical scope although without the advantage of color vision.

Know your state hunting laws. Some don't allow hunting at all during certain nighttime hours. Some don't allow artificial illumination. Some don't allow electronic intensifiers.

If your state laws allow it my suggestion is to use about any 6 x 40 rifle scope in conjunction with a 35 watt halogen spotlight for the clearest, and longest range night vision rig which gives natural full color images. It will be good to about 400 yards. Mounting the light away from your rifle can improve range by reducing near-field back scatter.
For longer range illumination you can use parachute flares.. The available HK 26mm flare guns give 45 seconds of stable white light when fired downrange. Plenty of time to spot animals and take shots..
Again, state laws vary.
 

Rich Coyle

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Joined
Aug 14, 2013
Messages
4,622
Location
Grants Pass, Oregon
jackhwll,

After comparing a few side by side in low light outside the store I settled on a Swarovski z5 5-25X52. If you can't afford that then the next best, in my opinion, is Bushnell 4200 4-16X40.
 

Bullmark

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Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
548
Location
Roanoke Va
My vote would be the NF ATACR or the S&B 3-20. My 3-20 is outstanding.
What model is your 3-20? I have an Exos that’s 3-21x50, and it’s top shelf glass. A little heavy but still 8-9oz lighter than the NF, and built just as rock solid.
I see there are 2 great scopes for sale on this forum. Both just a smidge over $1000 and both great glass for that price....a Swaro Z6 and a Trijicon Tenmile.
Choose your preferred reticle and then see who offers it or something very close.
And don’t be afraid to buy a demo or used, if it’s high end glass. They may have a ring mark or a scuff but unless the glass is damaged it should perform as good as new.
 

jonthomps

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Joined
Dec 2, 2005
Messages
2,090
Location
Missouri
What model is your 3-20? I have an Exos that’s 3-21x50, and it’s top shelf glass. A little heavy but still 8-9oz lighter than the NF, and built just as rock solid.
I see there are 2 great scopes for sale on this forum. Both just a smidge over $1000 and both great glass for that price....a Swaro Z6 and a Trijicon Tenmile.
Choose your preferred reticle and then see who offers it or something very close.
And don’t be afraid to buy a demo or used, if it’s high end glass. They may have a ring mark or a scuff but unless the glass is damaged it should perform as good as new.
I had an S&B 3-20 ultra short. Great scope but I'm a lefty and got tired of fighting with the illum knob whenever I worked the bolt. Swaro makes great scopes. The Z6 and Z8 scopes have some of the best glass out there, but falls short in the reticle department, IMO. As an aside, I've been running Tangent Theta scopes for several years now and love them.
 

Bullmark

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Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
548
Location
Roanoke Va
That’s funny, I’ve always wanted to try a Tangent but I prefer a simpler reticle. I don’t really shoot long ranges, as defined on this forum. I like as little reticle as possible and have been drawn to Swaro, S&B and Leica for that reason. A thin duplex with an illum center red dot is my cup of tea.
 

jonthomps

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Joined
Dec 2, 2005
Messages
2,090
Location
Missouri
That’s funny, I’ve always wanted to try a Tangent but I prefer a simpler reticle. I don’t really shoot long ranges, as defined on this forum. I like as little reticle as possible and have been drawn to Swaro, S&B and Leica for that reason. A thin duplex with an illum center red dot is my cup of tea.
If that type of reticle is your cup of tea you’ll love a Swaro.
 
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