Brightest Scope at Dawn and at Dusk / Moon Light?

andrews1958

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Sep 17, 2008
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299
Who make the brightest illuminated scope for hunting at right before sun rise and just after dusk? Moonlight hunting??I have all Swarovski (Z3,Z5 and Z6), Zeiss, Schmidt & Bender and March scopes on my rifles. Do they make any brighter ones? I was looking for and possibly buying a Steiner Night hunter Xtreme Rifle Scope - 2-10x50mm. Does anyone know if this would be any brighter? Any others?
 

lancetkenyon

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Jun 3, 2013
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Arizona
The S&B Ultrabright are outstanding at very low light, almost no light. But I have never had an issue with my S&B PMII, TT, or ZCO allowing much better viewing at any legal hunting light. But I have never night hunted coyotes before. Since this is the deer hunting sub-forum, I assume you are looking for big game scopes.
 

Skimbleshanks

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Some of the high end Zeiss scopes from a few years ago with 70+mm objectives were built specifically for night hunting. Never seen one in person unfortunately.
 

Rifleman97

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I’ve used a lot of scopes, and I don’t think you’re going to best Swarovski by much without going night vision/thermal/FLIR

If you do, you’ll want to look for the biggest tube you can find, and the biggest objective you can fit. For example, 40mm tube and 50-60mm objective. Here’s a couple examples:



Leupold VX5’s with the 35mm tubes also have amazing low light capability, just as someone else mentioned. But you won’t be absolutely blown away by it compared to swarovski’s superior glass in my opinion. Even if their superior glass is in a smaller tube.

I also saw a Zeiss a while back with a 60+mm objective, I don’t remember what it was called but that would probably be good too.

If none of those options are good enough, it’s probably time to consider night vision. There’s only so much visible light that can go through any number of lenses before it’s too dark to see anything. Even relatively cheap scopes have 95-98% light transmission. Hope you find what you’re looking for.
 

Hand Skills

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If none of those options are good enough, it’s probably time to consider night vision. There’s only so much visible light that can go through any number of lenses before it’s too dark to see anything. Even relatively cheap scopes have 95-98% light transmission. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

The problem with NV is direct sunlight can damage the tubes. I was going to suggest Thermal which can also be used in daytime.


I don't know of any cheap scopes that have 95% visible light transmission. Have ye any examples?
 

Scrumbag

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London, UK
Over here in Europe we hunt wild boar at night and in a lot of places the hunting laws prohibit the use of lights and thermal so you are basically using whatever natural light is there.

The preferred scope of choice is usually a big German / Austrian name (Zeiss, Schmidt und Bender, Swarovski) scope in 8x56 - Personally I use a Swaro 8x56 Kurz with an illuminated No 4 reticle.

For light transmission there are a couple of rules of thumb:

The fewer elements in a scope, the better the light transmission (Each lense the light travels through reduces the amount of light getting to your eye) so all other things being equal, a fixed scope will have better light transmission than a zoom scope.

Remember the "rule of 7" - Your eye pupil opens up to a maximum of 7mm (letting most light in) therefore you want an objective combination that will give you a 7mm image on exit. To get this, divide the objective by the magification. So

56mm / 8x = 7mm
50mm / 7x = 7mm
42mm / 6x = 7mm

(If you have ever wondered why fixed scopes tended to be sold in those measurements, there is your answer).

That formula also works for zoom scopes. So, if you have a 3-12x50 scope, for maximum light transmission set the scope no higher than 7x. So, objective lense size - do not mess around with anything less than 50mm. Do not believe the hype. Get a scope with a big front end!

Also, the higher the zoom range generally the worse the light transmission, so a simple 3x or 4x might be better than something with a very big zoom range. The zoom scope with the best light transmission Swarovski ever made is the Z4 series. I have the Z4i 3-12x50 and it's really capable in low light. (If you want a zoom scope for low light work and can find one, I would suggest the Z4i in 2.5-10x56).

A word on reticles - fussy target / tactical reticles in low light are not your friend. My advice would be something like a number 4 / duplex type with an illuminated centre dot. The reticles are thick and distinct so good against dark coloured animals in low light and the centre dot is very helpful as you put the little red marker where you want the bullet. When you start hunting turn the dot onto the lowest setting. You don't want a bright setting as it will flair when really dark and the darker it gets, the brighter your dot appears.

Set your scope up zeroed at 100 or 200 yds. Generally you don't want to be shooting far at night. So, don't be too tempted to hold over or dial. You can't see so well for hold overs nor do you want to be turning turrets when you can't see the markings - learn your MPBR and keep the ranges sensible.

Sorry if that's a long a preachy post but having tried a few things, that's what really works if you aren't going down the MV / thermal route.

Scrummy
 

RT2506

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Jan 10, 2008
Messages
2,143
It all depends on where you hunt but my old Zeiss Deivarie (SP?) 30mm tube 3-12x56 and my Meopta Meostar 30mm tube 3-12x56 can get you locked up for hunting before or after hours especially if there is a half to full moon.
 

Rifleman97

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Dec 28, 2017
Messages
310
The problem with NV is direct sunlight can damage the tubes. I was going to suggest Thermal which can also be used in daytime.


I don't know of any cheap scopes that have 95% visible light transmission. Have ye any examples?
The Nikon monarch (when they were making it) was usually around $250-300 and claimed 95% light transmission. So does multiple of the sub $300 Bushnell’s. I remember a vortex advertising the same thing.
The best way to have bright pictures is to increase the area that the light can go through. 95% of a small area (small objective and small tube) doesn’t get terribly bright to my eyes. 95% of a huge objective and big tube (35-40mm) appears a lot brighter to me, even when both claim 95-98% transmission.
 

JTComfort

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Joined
Nov 19, 2017
Messages
165
Location
VA
Over here in Europe we hunt wild boar at night and in a lot of places the hunting laws prohibit the use of lights and thermal so you are basically using whatever natural light is there.

The preferred scope of choice is usually a big German / Austrian name (Zeiss, Schmidt und Bender, Swarovski) scope in 8x56 - Personally I use a Swaro 8x56 Kurz with an illuminated No 4 reticle.

For light transmission there are a couple of rules of thumb:

The fewer elements in a scope, the better the light transmission (Each lense the light travels through reduces the amount of light getting to your eye) so all other things being equal, a fixed scope will have better light transmission than a zoom scope.

Remember the "rule of 7" - Your eye pupil opens up to a maximum of 7mm (letting most light in) therefore you want an objective combination that will give you a 7mm image on exit. To get this, divide the objective by the magification. So

56mm / 8x = 7mm
50mm / 7x = 7mm
42mm / 6x = 7mm

(If you have ever wondered why fixed scopes tended to be sold in those measurements, there is your answer).

That formula also works for zoom scopes. So, if you have a 3-12x50 scope, for maximum light transmission set the scope no higher than 7x. So, objective lense size - do not mess around with anything less than 50mm. Do not believe the hype. Get a scope with a big front end!

Also, the higher the zoom range generally the worse the light transmission, so a simple 3x or 4x might be better than something with a very big zoom range. The zoom scope with the best light transmission Swarovski ever made is the Z4 series. I have the Z4i 3-12x50 and it's really capable in low light. (If you want a zoom scope for low light work and can find one, I would suggest the Z4i in 2.5-10x56).

A word on reticles - fussy target / tactical reticles in low light are not your friend. My advice would be something like a number 4 / duplex type with an illuminated centre dot. The reticles are thick and distinct so good against dark coloured animals in low light and the centre dot is very helpful as you put the little red marker where you want the bullet. When you start hunting turn the dot onto the lowest setting. You don't want a bright setting as it will flair when really dark and the darker it gets, the brighter your dot appears.

Set your scope up zeroed at 100 or 200 yds. Generally you don't want to be shooting far at night. So, don't be too tempted to hold over or dial. You can't see so well for hold overs nor do you want to be turning turrets when you can't see the markings - learn your MPBR and keep the ranges sensible.

Sorry if that's a long a preachy post but having tried a few things, that's what really works if you aren't going down the MV / thermal route.

Scrummy
Great comments here and thank you. How much is gained by having a larger main tube diameter? In the dark ages, 30mm was the step up now we're seeing up to 36mm. From 30 to 36mm, almost a 30% gain in area of the internals - how much of that transfers to the eye?
 

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