Optics for low light shooting

Varmint Hunter

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2001
Long Island, New York
I am interested in upgrading one of my whitetail rigs by replacing my 1" tubed 44mm objective scope with a decent low light scope for shooting in first & last light conditions.

The Leupold 4.5-14x56 VX-3L has caught my attention. Does anyone have any experience with this scope or any other scopes that you would recommend for this application?
I have a good scope with the same power range you mention but a 44mm. The lower the power the better the light. Assuming you're doing you shooting in NY the power range you mention is good. A 3-9 X 40 would probably work as well.

When walking back from the ambush spot to camp or truck I set the scope on 4.5X which is good for "protection" purposes long after higher powers become useless and long after LR shooting light.

Just my thoughts.
I was originally considering a 50mm objective but the 56mm L series can be mounted as low as my 44mm. I wonder just how much difference the bigger objective would make in actual field use. I'm sure it would look bulky on my 308.

I've been hunting out of elevated box blinds in the Carolinas. The mature bucks frequently come into view either very early in the am or fairly late in the pm. A little improvement in light transmission just might help put one in the bag. :D
If you do a true mm calculation on the "L" series scope you'll find that they come out a bit less than 56 mm.

A 50mm will do you fine. If fact put a VX-II 3-9x40 and the VX-III in 4.5 - 20 X50 alternately to your eye on their lowest power and you'll be scratching your noggin'.....
Some low light scope tests have been made by Finnish hunting magazine Metsästys & Kalastus during the past two years. Here are the links for the results:
56mm scopes
The Optics Talk Forums - Finland Low Light Scope Test - Page 1
50mm scopes
The Optics Talk Forums - Finnish low light scope test - 50mm scopes

In 2005 Finnish gun magazine Ase-lehti made a pretty thorough tactical scope test containing 15 scopes. Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x50 was on par with Meopta 3000 4-16x44 Tactic in low light performance beating for example IOR Luneta 4-14x50 and 6-24x50 and _clearly_ beating Leupold Mark 4 4.5-14x50. S&B and Zeiss scopes were superb in low light. Low light performance was measured by trying to read boards containing line pairs and also consider if the shooter would be able to make a shot at the target.

For example:
Zeiss Diavari 6-24x56 V T LA ret #63
21:05 4. line pair still visible. Able to shoot.
21:35 Both reticle and target still visible. Able to shoot.

Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x50 MLR
21:05 4. line pair visible. Able to shoot.
21:35 Target and reticle somehow visible. Shooting is uncertain.

Leupold mk4 4.5-14x50 LTR M1
19:40 Hard to see line pairs 1 and 2
20:05 Cannot see clearly
20:35 Cannot see any of the line pairs

IMO the performance of Nightforce was very impressive in this test. I wonder why the BR model didn´t cope in the M&K 56mm test. Either the mid-European manufacturers had increased their lead in low light performance or BR has different lenses than NXS. Go figure.

To my knowledge the new VX3 has inhereted features from VX-7 which may boost their low light performance. I haven´t yet seen any low light reviews on either of them. There are rumours saying that Meopta makes the optics for Zeiss Conquests. If the lenses are finished and coated the same way as in Meopta Meostar scopes, they should be pretty good low light performers.
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forget leupold i do a lot of shooting and hunting in low ligth situations and afther try many leupold products i quit and start using german or austrian glass and there is a big diference allso a red dot would help in a quick shoot or inside of a shadow.

s&b zenit
zeiss diavary
sigthron ss3 (is not german buth has better optics)
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