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Thread: Do you really need an expensive 6x zoom scope?

  1. #1
    A Better Lover Than A Shooter Ultimitsu's Avatar
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    Do you really need an expensive 6x zoom scope?

    When we buy a scope, we want a scope that is clear, has good light transmission, accurate and repeatable turrets etc. These are the features we will not be talking about. The one single feature we talk today about here is zoom ratio. In deciding the zoom ratio we want, we usually first decide what is the top end of the required magnification. That is dictated by the longest shot we intend to make. We then consider how close to our target we will also use the same scope. For hunting people tend to want something between 2x to 4x at the low end.

    A common practice of scope manufactures today is separate product lines by their zoom ratio. Leupold and Bushnell are such examples. Leupold's VX3 line has 3x zoom ratio, VX5 5x zoom ratio, and VX6 6x zoom ratio. Bushnell Elite 3500 line has 3.5x zoom ratio, Elite 4500 has 4.5x zoom ratio, and Elite 6500 has 6.5x Zoom ratio. Usually you pay a little more for a scope with higher magnification within the same line, but you pay a big premium for scopes of a high line. For example, price difference between VX3 2-7, 3-10, 4.5-14, and 6.5-20 are incremental, but when you go from VX3 to VX5 you pay big, when you go from vx5 to vx6 you pay bigger yet again.

    Sure, there are additional features such as side focus, zero stop, high speed turret etc as you go up product line. But you mostly pay for the optics in the zoom part. Between VX3, VX5 and VX6, there are some image quality differences, but they are not big (at least so based on the reviews).

    Put this another way, you pay a lot more money when you go up a product line for comparable magnification. For example, VX3 4.5-14 is about 1100, VX5 3-15 is about 1700, VX6 2-12 is about 2700 and 3-18 is about 2900. Aside for the extra features, you are paying a lot of money for the low end magnification. Basically, how low it can go.

    A wise person has said (in another forum) that no one actually want lower magnification. People want zoom down because they want wider field of view. This is important and there is an important distinction between field of view and zoom magnification. Many scopes do not actually give you wider field of view when zoom down. Instead, you simply get a thicker black ring around you image. This is known as the tunnelling effect. In other words, when you have tunnelling, you are not getting wider field of view, the extra lowering of magnification at the low end is meaningless.

    Even some very high-end scopes suffer from this problem. See below the extract of a review of the super high end S&B PM II:
    "Low and behold, it is true. What is tunneling? On this 5-25x PM II, it happens between about 5x to just a tad over 7x. The magnification changes as normal, growing or shrinking what is viewed through the sight picture, but what happens is that the field of view remains exactly the same, it does not shrink the field of view when going from 5x to 7x. It is hard to explain, but when looking through the scope, it is like the entire scope image is moved away from the user, or closer to you. If you look at our side by side reticle pictures above, you can kind of see it. Look at the edges of the scope view in the 5x picture on the left compared to the edges on the 25x picture on the right. It is like the internal erector tube is moved away from you and it seems like you can see the edges of the tube itself. It is odd, and we measured the field of view to confirm what we were seeing and verified that it did not change from 5x to 7x. Above 7x everything is great and as you would expect."

    Basically, for all intended purposes, PM II is not 5-25 5x zoom ratio scope, it is a 7-25 scope, less than 4x zoom ratio. In this regard, Leupold is actually one of the more honest scope makers on the market, their indicated field of view usually correspond with reality.

    This is important because people are paying a lot of money for that extra zoom ratio. if one only needed to use the 25x magnification, one would not have bought this scope. There are many scopes with less zoom ratio and perform very well as 25x magnification.

    It is a pity that this issue is not considered more by the scope makers and the shooting industry generally. With AR15, one alternative solution is to have iron sight on the side going 45 degrees from the scope. Basically if you want to aim the iron sight you just tilt the gun by 45 degrees on the side and you get full field of view of your natural vision.
    Another AR only solution is to have a tiny iron sight on top of the scope. like this . I think it should work well with hunting scopes too. Hunting scopes tend to be far longer, and would provide longer aim aligning distance making it more accurate (not that accuracy for close distance hunting is required). 20x scopes are usually between 36 to 40 cm long, that is how much distance you would have between the front and rear sight on a 16 inch barrel (if both sights are installed on the barrel). If implemented I think you can get away with using a light weight 6.5-20 scope and a pair of light weight iron sight that would cover you the shooting situations as a very expensive and heavy 2-20 scope would.

  2. #2
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    A small red dot sight mounted on one of the scope rings could be a better option than the iron sights. Something like the Burris FastFire, Aimpoint ACRO or Trijicon RMR type dot. Its good for close shots, but also useful for finding your target at long range without having to zoom out.
    Personally I think anything more than a 3x zoom ratio is just "nice to have". Not too many people have a real need for a low of 2-3 times, and a high of 25+ on the same rifle.

  3. #3
    Member Micky Duck's Avatar
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    shikes some of us are more than happy with a fixed 4 power........
    7mmsaum, tetawa, Dama dama and 1 others like this.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisW View Post
    A small red dot sight mounted on one of the scope rings could be a better option than the iron sights. Something like the Burris FastFire, Aimpoint ACRO or Trijicon RMR type dot. Its good for close shots, but also useful for finding your target at long range without having to zoom out.
    Personally I think anything more than a 3x zoom ratio is just "nice to have". Not too many people have a real need for a low of 2-3 times, and a high of 25+ on the same rifle.
    Yeah typically the size, weight and cost of the big mag range scopes precludes them from being usefull in the Bush.

    Right tool for the right job. Nothing wrong with the good old 3-9

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  5. #5
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    Need? No.
    Want? Yip.

    Z6i and VX6 in my stable. I like to have 3x for bush hunting and 15-18 for longer shots and animal assessment. That said, I shot most of my deer with a fixed power 8x Swarovski. Locating tiny muntjac deer at less than 20m with that was a challenge. I think I might dig that scope out and mount it for old time's sake.

    Cheers
    SlimySquirrel, mikee and Sideshow like this.

  6. #6
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    Don't know how I shot deer with a 2-7 or 2.5-8 for 50 years, if I'd had a 2-12 or 3-18 there wouldn't be a animal left.
    mikee, erniec, 10-Ring and 3 others like this.

  7. #7
    Almost literate. veitnamcam's Avatar
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    I think it depends on the rifle and its use and if you have a safe full of options to choose for a day on the gongs, bush stalking, tops hunting, night hunting.
    I dont I just have the one rifle that does all those things so it wears a VX6 2-12......if I was to do it again I would go 3-18, I thought at the time 2x would be the mutts nuts for in the bush but now I think the 2x is unnecessary even in very tight bush and 3 power is as low as I need.
    I had a 4.5-14 vx3 with side focus but the 4.5 was a touch to much sometimes and the side focus was always in the wrong place when a quick shot presented itself.
    If I had a dedicated bush rifle and another open country one I am sure 3x adjustment on both would be heaps.
    tetawa, Dama dama and Micky Duck like this.
    "Hunting and fishing" fucking over licenced firearms owners since ages ago.

  8. #8
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    Yes, Ulti, I agree. I read a similar review recently.

    My S&B 3-12x tunnels from 3.5x down. Quite difficult to pick unless you hold the rifle in a rest and carefully wind it down. Being FFP, the reticle is very fine on 3x, difficult to see except in good light. So, it's a 3.5-12x scope. And that is a very good range for my use. I could shoot a smaller group with a mate's 5-25x56 (on 25x) but that's not what my rifle is for and skiting rights on the range aren't worth carrying the extra weight and length for. At the low end, 3.5x is plenty low enough and I never really had trouble when I used a fixed 4x either; its having a good cheekpiece and scope setup plus plenty of dry fire practice make for good useability. The S&B does have better FOV at medium powers than most other scopes, including VX3, but not by much.

    I've been looking for a new scope and had decided I don't need 2.5x, 2x or 1.8x. Maybe they say if you're "going into a room" or craweling under scrub for a lion or a wounded pig, but not for snapshooting deer in the supplejack.

  9. #9
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    Having a light scope, with good glass, and a 2.5-25 magnification range pretty much has all of the bases covered. Thankfully March came to the party quite some time ago, so there are some well priced second hand scopes out there.
    Ross Nolan likes this.

  10. #10
    Member Micky Duck's Avatar
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    my best scope for field of view by a country mile is an old japanese made nikko stirling gold crown 3x9x40mm it beats leupold 2x7 or any 3x9 Ive tried it against,beats the fixed 4x too.awesome scope for running wallabies,Ive killed 3 of those scopes (fogged,bent and fogged)and have one left,currently sitting in box as have loopies on everything.

  11. #11
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    Na don't need 6 x I've got a nice Elcan Specter 1 - 4 off my dangerous AR I've had for 10 years, cant believe how scary that rifle was without being told by city progressives and UN wana bee's.

    Anyhow open to offers on my Elcan paper weight?

    Absolute amazing optics and field of view at 1 or 4 x magnification.
    Last edited by xtightg; 24-07-2019 at 09:39 PM.
    Moa Hunter likes this.
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  12. #12
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    I have found 3-9 to be a fantastic useful magnification range, that has enough light and good enough clarity at a reasonable price point in a light and not bulky. Thinking back to when a 4x was a great bush calibre, as opposed to open sights, we really have it good!

  13. #13
    Member mikee's Avatar
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    I hate anything with adjustable Parallax and dial up as invariably its not set right for that quick shot, 2-8x with B&C reticle on my hunting rifle now (after trying 4.5-14x. 5.5-22x and 3-18x with flash harry reticles) mounted in extra low tallys. Expensive optics have their place though. Buy the best you can

  14. #14
    Member Marty Henry's Avatar
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    An old vx1 3-9 ticks the box, but then i have a weaver k4 on a parker hale 3006 and that works out to 300 plus with a little holdover, just like it did before we got carried away with dialling, bdc and phone apps
    Dama dama and Micky Duck like this.

  15. #15
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    Have had a M8 4x Leopold on my .308 for 36 years, a Nikko Stirling 4x for 7 years before that. Its all I've ever needed and they are used frequently. On my .223, which I use mainly on goats , I've usually had a Burris 2-7 mini ( 30? years approx.) which has been excelent. Recently changed rifle (.223) and using 3-9x that came on it, time will tell how long it stays on but it seems to be o.k. Also used red dot which is also very good for my style of hunting. Just my 2 cents worth.
    tetawa and Micky Duck like this.

 

 

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