Opinions on optimal magnification for hunting out West

blueshirt2

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Oct 3, 2020
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I'm sure this has been covered ad nauseum, but truthfully I am new here and looking for feedback from experienced hunters. So with that out of the way...
I am planning to get out West next season for some hunting, hopefully Elk. I've learned enough to understand that ranges are generally greater than white tail hunting in NY. I don't want to carry a telescope on my rifle, but also want to be comfortable knowing I have enough to produce a good shot at range. I'm 51 now, so my eyes aren't what they once were.

Thanks!
 

memtb

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Dec 30, 2013
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Winchester, Wy.
With the advances in optics.....it’s difficult to go wrong with the 3-18. The low end power can be as critical, or more so, than the upper end. Our conditions can vary greatly, shots measured in feet to many hundreds of yards. If I had to give up one or the other, I’d much prefer to keep the low end down around 2 to 4 power and relinquish a few magnifications on the top end! memtb
 

Mustang72

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Feb 9, 2019
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Texas
A lot also depends on your hunting style and max shooting range. Like others somewhere in the 3-18 range is good. Like Memtb I 'll give up top end to keep the bottom end down to 4 or less. I have no issues shooting 500 yards with a simple fixed 6. One of my favorite all around scopes is a 2.5-10. Great for up close and plenty for the longer stuff on game.
 

P7M13

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Jan 5, 2016
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Orygun
I have 4-20, 5-25, 4.5-14, 3x9 and a host of others all in the same range.
Even when shooting >600, I seldom use above 9x, and that is where I practice. I also prefer a wide FOV.
At higher magnification, mirage, even the heat from your barrel, can become more of a problem.
 

rammac

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Oct 28, 2010
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SW Montana
3-15 power variable for me with an objective lens of no bigger than 44 mm. As mentioned, most shots will be under 300 yards if you're in forested terrain, as far as you comfortable shooting when you're in open country.

Personally I've never shot enough rounds to create a problem with mirage while hunting - no more than 3 shots should do the job and most often one is all you'll have time to take in forested country.
 

FEENIX

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Dec 20, 2008
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Great Falls, MT
I'm sure this has been covered ad nauseum, but truthfully I am new here and looking for feedback from experienced hunters. So with that out of the way...
I am planning to get out West next season for some hunting, hopefully Elk. I've learned enough to understand that ranges are generally greater than white tail hunting in NY. I don't want to carry a telescope on my rifle, but also want to be comfortable knowing I have enough to produce a good shot at range. I'm 51 now, so my eyes aren't what they once were.

Thanks!
This is subjective as we all have different quality of vision. I currently have 2.5-20, 3-18, 4-20, 4.5-14, 5-20, 6.5-20, etc. I am 58 and like you, my vision is not as good as it used to be. I have a mono-vision, LASIK done on my left eye for the LR but my left eye is uncorrected because I need it for reading. I could have both of them done but I would need reading glasses. The problem with my mine is that I am left eye dominant but shoot right handed.

Anyways, "actual" shooter's vision plays a significant role in the magnification, you cannot shoot what you cannot see. 😇 A few years ago my son shot at a target 966 yards away at 6X, I had to crank it to 12X. As others noted, 3-15/18 is ideal for most. Good luck!
 

Backcountry sports

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Sep 19, 2019
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595
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Bend Oregon
I'm sure this has been covered ad nauseum, but truthfully I am new here and looking for feedback from experienced hunters. So with that out of the way...
I am planning to get out West next season for some hunting, hopefully Elk. I've learned enough to understand that ranges are generally greater than white tail hunting in NY. I don't want to carry a telescope on my rifle, but also want to be comfortable knowing I have enough to produce a good shot at range. I'm 51 now, so my eyes aren't what they once were.

Thanks!
5x20 huskama scope is what I use 67 years
 

parshal

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Apr 29, 2002
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648
Location
Colorado
Feenix, I wear a contact in my left eye (right eye dominant) for reading. I've considered lasik to make it permanent but am just a bit squeamish about it. It's crazy how the brain gets used to that so quickly.

I use 4-16 for hunting and 5-25 for most everything else. 18 would great, too, for hunting.
 

Alb Greg

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Dec 29, 2019
Messages
46
Location
Bernalillo New Mexico
I have lived and hunted elk here most of my adult life and I have been around a while. I have killed a lot of elk with my .300 wsm with a 3x12 Leopold. Most of my shots have bee around 300 yds, the last one was 410 yds on the CS ranch.
 

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