Optics; side-by-side comparison or buy by reputation ?

BRACES of Bristol - Mauser M12 with Schmidt & Bender 2.5-10x56 Illuminated Scope

.30-06

Well-Known Member
As per thread title I am curious whether folks do any direct side-by-side comparison when considering optics for their rifle(s) or whether you mainly buy a 'known quantity' on the basis of reputation.

There are the obvious more desirable names in sporting optics but there are also a lot of alternatives that don't cost various degrees of serious investment that offer great clarity and low light performance and excellent warranty cover.

So who goes direct to the top shelf and who spends time comparing products under field conditions (which is often very challenging to organise) ?
 

allan450

Well-Known Member
i compared z6i and zeiss victory ht and could not see much of a difference.but i went for the z6i because of the bt turret it will suit my shooting.
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
The question you really need to ask is why don't the various shooting mags do a similar comparison? Say get 10 scopes and 10 people and put up a bit of newspaper as the light fades and record the times when the testers could no longer read the headline. Can you imagine the impact on advertising revenue?

In answer to your question I've done some side by side testing at last light but as you say the problem is getting a reasonable selection of scopes - you just have to test with what you can get. Also such a test might tell you which has the best glass but it doesn't always tell you what you need to shoot a deer at last light - for example my testing put Swaro and S&B joint 3rd in last light performance but I own the S&B used and I've always decided it was too dark to shoot before I've found myself not able to see the deer. Given that I suspect that most of the "good" scope manufacturers make scopes which are adequate for deer stalking and the "need" to have the best or buy into the latest marketing is not driven by necessity.
 

timbrayford

Well-Known Member
The question you really need to ask is why don't the various shooting mags do a similar comparison? Say get 10 scopes and 10 people and put up a bit of newspaper as the light fades and record the times when the testers could no longer read the headline.

I have wanted to upgrade both my scope and binos for some time but have been put off by the lack of any proper science based review.

Comparing optics in a shop in daylight is not that helpful, Shooting Times did a comparison of 3 top end scopes but this was based solely on the opinion of the reviewer and the write ups in Sporting Rifle read like a promotional brochure from the manufacturers.

The newspaper test that you suggest seems to be an excellent idea, if only this could be arranged and published.

atb Tim
 

Uncle Norm

Well-Known Member
I agree with caorach that opportunity to test a range of products, when it matters i.e. very first and very last light, is difficult to achieve.
A year or two ago I was allowed to do so with binoculars and the result was interesting to say the least. The Meoptas held their own against the top brands at well under half the price.
I also had with me my old faithful Swaro 7x42 porro prism rubber armoured binoculars and guess what, they were brighter than all the roof-prism modern ones.
When I asked someone who is an importer why, it was explained that porro prisms will always be brighter in a like-for like comparison. I didn't quite grasp the technicalities of why but there it is. Needless to say but the old porros remain in my stalking bag and money in the wallet.
 

jthyttin

Well-Known Member
Instead of reading a newspaper at last light you should use mock antlers or some such feature that's relevant to shooting the deer. Different wavelengths etc. make a big influence in actual performance of optics while hunting. Of course it's best to use actual deer...

I use a combination of educated guess (manufacturer/internet/other hearsay), my own experience with make and hopefully the actual model I'm looking to buy and also try to compare optics once in a while. I own a selection of Zeiss, Swarowski, S&B, Meopta and a few other non-European makes. Currently I just buy Meopta, based on the price and it's adequate for my needs. When you need to buy optics for several firearms it gets expensive, fast. I know I could get slightly better performance and noticeably better ergonomics/durability/etc. by going with more expensive makes.
 

jthyttin

Well-Known Member
I also had with me my old faithful Swaro 7x42 porro prism rubber armoured binoculars and guess what, they were brighter than all the roof-prism modern ones.
When I asked someone who is an importer why, it was explained that porro prisms will always be brighter in a like-for like comparison. I didn't quite grasp the technicalities of why but there it is. Needless to say but the old porros remain in my stalking bag and money in the wallet.

The total transmission loss comprises of the losses in optical surfaces inside the bino. In porro design some of the surfaces are lossless ("totally reflective") whereas in roof prism design they're all lossy. So given the same quality of glass, porro transmission is always potentially better (I don't remember the actual number of surfaces in different designs and also phase correnctions etc. take effect).

Porro design also gives potentially better depth perception, but the downside is that it needs some width for viewing (so narrow windows in enclosed high towers are problematic etc.)

I'm currently using these, since they met my criteria (center focus and best performance while keeping cost reasonable):

Docter Nobilem 8x56 B/GA - binoculars review - allbinos.com
 

philip

Well-Known Member
I have in the past had Swarovski, Ziess, S&B and a skip load of others.

After chucking unknown amounts of money at them all. All I have and now use exclusively is S&B zenith. 2.5 - 10 x 56 illuminated in FD7 on all my rifles with a 3-12 x50 same spec on a .22 LR . Cross hair are nice and thin and the illuminated reticule is superb as are the optic glass and build quality is brilliant never had a problem with any of em

£ for £ they are a cracking no frills do what they say they do optic and superb quality.

My thinking is that some top level optic companies are now in a gimmick race, this is defo not for any gain for the end user

Measure twice cut once on optics, once purchased at the price they are now, the wallet takes a sever bashing

Atb

​Phil
 
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Marcher

Well-Known Member
Hi,
I recently read an article in the SCI Magazine by Jon Sundra, who was visiting the Swarovski factory, which indicated that "Light Transmission" was not the only important factor in glass. He says some companies claim 95% transmission, while Swarovski only claim 90-91%, because they believe once you get beyond 90% level, other issues are compromised, not least Colour Fidelity. I have noticed that my Leica Binos have a different colour tinge (red/green) from my Zeiss Binos (blue). This is all rather subjective, and personal, but may be worth further consideration ?
 

jcampbellsmith

Well-Known Member
I have a target shooting friend and I know he has organised several side by side line-ups of scopes. I also know my local BDS branch organised an outing to test binoculars and scopes, but I was away and missed it.

Personally, I've used Swarovski, S&B, Nightforce and Meopta scopes and they have all been good. Moving to the Swarovski 8.5 x 42 binoculars was a quantum leap forward for my spying. The good thing about quality glass is it holds its value, unlike rifles.

​Regards JCS
 

joe soapy

Well-Known Member
Was out last night with the hmr on the back of LR and got to thinking as you do.
what I want is fast target acquisition, fairly rugged, reasonable price, not too heavy, and would like to try
a single illuminated dot reticule on a fixed power 6x scope.
rabbits up to 100 yds and fox up to 150 max.

It seems there is tremendous emphasis on deer/varmint scopes, but in terms of numbers of shots fired, night shooting rabbits
would top any comparison by a very large margin
​Any suggestions
 

The Singing Stalker

Well-Known Member
I did a test the other year with a whole bunch of scopes, lower priced stuff. Up to£400. Still have the results somewhere. I used a photography thing, which I think I got off here. It was all black and white images of various sizes and numbers. So if you could control the light you could do a good test. But this was all done inside over a short distance. Probably 20 meters. There was a huge difference in what I could see in quality.
It would not be difficult to arrange. The biggest thing is controlling the light. So a long dark factory is ideal. If anybody has got such a facility it would be an easy matter of getting a range of scopes together and a range of testers, because every bodies eye is different and gather some conclusions.
hmmm, I will have a look at work and see if there is anywhere long and dark. The problem is you need to be able to get enough distance to be able to get the scopes properly focused. Oh and having a steady to put the scope on to stop it moving helps as well.
anybody interested in this?
 

.30-06

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the replies - some interesting comments and observations.

This stems from a healthy mistrust of all marketing and most product reviews which I have found to be far from objective and independent.

You will always find more people who are willing AND able to spend smaller amounts and having looked through a lot of scopes at what many would consider the lower end of the market some of them offer affordability with oustanding low light performance and, in some cases, top flight warranty cover.

I don't think anyone would contest the quality of engineering and other aspects of the higher end products but I was surprised at how well certain scopes performed in low light - Nikon Prostaff and Vortex Diamondback to name but two.

Yes, I know we're talking apples and oranges in price point and brand perception terms, but excellent low light performance need not cost the earth which can bring decisions down to other factors.

Please don't jump all over me for being a heretic - it just seems to me that the gap is very definitely closing between some of the lower priced glass and the top names and any leisure activity needs affordable options otherwise unnecessary exclusivity results.
 

Cooter

Well-Known Member
There is an article on 6mmbr that looks over some of the top end scopes without bias.

There was also an article I read a few years ago that was based on practical use of a scope by a group of shooters in the US.
It covered things like eye relief, quick acquisition real low light performance amongst others, and it included some of the budget scopes. If I can find it again I'll post a link.
 

.30-06

Well-Known Member
I've had Prostaff and Diamondback scopes on the hills in twilight and they compared very well to scopes that cost many, many times more. Colour saturation is a very good point but I am horribly colour blind and any anomalies usually go unnoticed by my eyes.

A friend's Zeiss bought him maybe ten minutes shooting time over a scope that was quite literally a tenth of the price.

Once again, it should be noted that I am not saying all things are equal at the different ends of the scale - very obviously, they aren't.

What I will say is that having owned S&B and Meopta I am honestly amazed at how favourably the Prostaff and Diamondback scopes perform by comparison.
 
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The Singing Stalker

Well-Known Member
.

A friend's Zeiss bought him maybe ten minutes shooting time over a scope that was quite literally a tenth of the price.

​But that is the point, that 10 minutes is what you are paying for. It is at that time when the fallow steps out from the wood and the cheap scope will not see it and the quality one will.
 

.30-06

Well-Known Member
​But that is the point, that 10 minutes is what you are paying for. It is at that time when the fallow steps out from the wood and the cheap scope will not see it and the quality one will.

Or if the fallow steps out, and if you can't see it you won't have any regrets on the basis of "ignorance is bliss" ;)
 

Grant.N

Well-Known Member
To be honest if it is that dark and a deer pops out on the woodland edge would it be wise to take a shot anyway ?
In my opinion NO.
A chest shot deer that may run into the wood could be quite a challenge to find.
 
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