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Thread: Price points in centrefire hunting scopes

  1. #1
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    Price points in centrefire hunting scopes

    This wee outline is meant to help orient people on the scale of “you get what you pay for”.
    I'm hoping others will chip in and say what they think is good and where it fits (or say my framework is wrong for them !)
    I’ve focused in on hunting scopes around the 3-12x40 spec. Target and tacticals have more features, more mag and more weight and of course there are more compact scopes like 2-7x32 which will suit a lot of people. The prices are just what I could find online in one evening so are a rough relative guide and you may well be able to get a better deal somewhere. Just now, in August 2022, we’re going through a change when supply has been limited and although list prices may not change deals and specials will likely appear. The exact amount you pay won’t matter in 5 years time but could be a decider on the day. The links definitely don't endorse any particular retailers but were just where I could find one advertised tonight and give current prices; the links will deteriorate over time and break down to 404.

    I’ll start with a couple of solid brands that don’t have sky high prestige but do have a track record and reputation. If you find yourself thinking of paying more for something with similar features, think again.

    Classic American scopes
    These are standard scopes with no extra features and if you want a good tool without spending a lot then just do without dialling elevation, parallax and any special features – the quality will be there.

    Burris 3-9x40 $449 https://www.huntingandfishing.co.nz/...ballistic-plex

    Bushnell 3-9x40 $449 https://www.huntingandfishing.co.nz/...capped-turrets

    Contender Brands
    There are too many of these to mention but they are often Chinese and often relatively new brands which may or may not last the decades. Some appear as house brands for large retailers. They generally have higher specs than the classic brands and often better glass or other performance but what you see is what you get and I would recommend not relying on one as your main scope.

    Simmons 3-9x40 $249. https://www.huntingandfishing.co.nz/...-3-9x40-rscope
    Vixen V1 3-12x40 $489. https://www.outdoorsupplies.co.nz/Vi...Scopes.html#V1
    Hawke Vantage 3-12 X 44 $559 https://www.youngsairgun.co.nz/

    Leupold range
    These are tried and true, durable, tough, light and have legendary factory and NZ support. Other scopes may be better or worse but these are the benchmark for comparison with whatever you are looking at. If not clearly superior to the Leupold in the feature you need, then go for the Leupold.

    VX Freedom. $679. https://www.huntingandfishing.co.nz/...x40-cds-duplex Entry level scope but even if you move up later, this one will stay in your drawer as a trusted backup or loan out scope.

    VX3 $1049. https://www.huntingandfishing.co.nz/...5-10x40-cds-zl
    The predecessor Vari-X 3 used to be top of the range in NZ and the current VX3 High Definition are still good. There is no reason why this model shouldn’t be your main scope for 30 or 40 years

    VX5 $2199. https://www.huntingandfishing.co.nz/...cds-zl2-duplex
    A very light full featured hunting scope and capable for field target competition or long range hunting. This would be about the top of the curve and returns for extra dollars spent flatten off above here.

    Nightforce
    A premium American brand with models starting near the top of the Leupold range. Early models were for professional military use and remain a benchmark of ruggedness, precision and weight in field target and tactical shooting.
    SHV 2.5-10x42 $2078 https://www.hardyrifle.co.nz/product...ated-moar-c610 The SHV is a more compact, hunting oriented range.
    NX8 2.5-20x50 $3447 https://www.hardyrifle.co.nz/product...m-ptl-moar-cf2

    European scopes
    European hunters are a more privileged elite than New Zealanders or Americans and cost is no object to many. Both Zeiss and Swarovski have European and American ranges. Glass quality is said to be better than “American” glass. Fantastic engineering is important to these manufacturers and their customers, so we see large zoom ranges and cunning ballistic turrets.

    Zeiss
    Conquest (1”/US oriented) and Victory (metric / EU oriented) ranges. Resolution and clarity are visibly better than other scopes’.
    Conquest V6 3-18x50 $2500 https://www.reloaders.co.nz/shop/Opt...g+Turrets.html
    Victory V8 2.8-20x56 $4431 https://www.optics-trade.eu/nz/zeiss...8-20x56-t.html

    Swarovski/Kahles
    Z5 3.5-18x44 $2290 https://southernwild.nz/products/swa...z5-rifle-scope
    The Z5 is a particularly light weight inch scope that has been around a long time. Optical quality is extremely good but ruggedness perhaps not. I couldn’t find many Swarovski advertised online when I looked today. Kahles was purchased by Swaro and is more military in orientation but are hard to come by in NZ at present.

    Schmidt and Bender
    These are perhaps best known for their military PMII models that are popular for target shooting where weight is no object. They also make a range of hunting and target (“sport”) scopes. Features like zoom range and focus adjustment can look modest on paper but it is done simply and done well. They are legendary tough and also pride themselves on being specially bright in low light. I gather that generally each scope is made to order and some large retailers buy in models with specs they hope will sell well off the shelf. Search out and get in touch with the NZ agent and you may get a better deal, but will wait many months to take ownership.
    Klassik 3-12x44 $2599 https://www.guncity.com/schmidt-bend...minated-377949
    Polar 3-12x54 $3499 https://www.guncity.com/schmidt-bend...reticle-368441
    Exos 3-21x50 $4999. https://www.guncity.com/schmidt-bend...reticle-377946

    Steiner
    Another European prestige brand, currently imported by Beretta and advertised with Sako rifles.
    TX5i 3-15x50 $3799 https://www.guncity.com/steiner-t5xi...reticle-353732
    MX5i 3-15x50 $5499 https://www.guncity.com/steiner-m5xi...0-msr-2-378626
    308, Woody, Mathias and 2 others like this.

  2. #2
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    Nicely done.

    It’s a cliché because it’s true that you get what you pay for, but I think the thinking is so ingrained that it’s hard to have a discussion about value for money when it comes to scopes.

    Try asking what is the best cheap scope….

    It would be really interesting to see the results of an objective comparison of money spent vs amount of scope received. Seeing in your post that the bushnell and burris are the same price for the same specs at 449 I think they can’t be of perfectly equal quality. It follows then that one would be of better value for money than the other. And if either is more than .661 times as good as a VX freedom, than it would be better value for money again.

    I recently bought a VX Freedom and am quite impressed with it. It would have to be my first pick for best return on investment from a scope. Not that I have used a huge variety. It just seems like a great scope for the money.
    Eat Meater likes this.

  3. #3
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    How much did you pay for the freedom can i ask ? Last time i looked they were in the $400 range but not this week.

  4. #4
    MB
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    Everyone is going to have an opinion on this topic. Sold a perfect condition VX1 for not much money a little while ago. Regret that now. Would have been happy with that scope on any rifle. How do the VX Freedoms compare apart from being nearly double the price?

    Had a VX3i 3.5-14x. Feature packed at the discounted price point, but I didn't get on with it at all. Main issue was eye relief, but also FOV.

    I will be scope shopping in the future. Something to go on a new hunting rifle once I've decided what I want. Had my fingers burnt with the VX3i, don't want that to happen again. Thinking about a VX5, but wondering if I'm spending money unnecessarily.

  5. #5
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    nine hundred something. Mine has illuminated TriMoa reticle

  6. #6
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    Nice work. There really are some good options on the market now.

    Im even sitting on the first samples of a new one that arrived in the country last week

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    Bagheera, Bol Tackshin and dannyb like this.

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    A good helpful thread thanks Bagheera

    Re: the Euro Scopes, you missed Minox Scopes off the list. I have owned and used a few of them. Their top of the line (German-made) scopes are the equal of any Leica or Swarovski, which is not surprising given that Minox has a lengthy fine optics history right up there with Leica.

    But, different from Leica, Swaro, S & B etc, Minox also makes a range of more affordable scopes (approx.$499 - $899) which I have found to be very good. And they are generally available in NZ.

    I have no association with Minox - just thought I would add them to this List.

    (Another underrated scope line which I have also found very good and affordable are Burris Scopes, which are on your List.)
    nor-west and Moa Hunter like this.

  8. #8
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    The older, Japanese made (Light Optical Works) Bushnell scopes really punched above their weight, especially at second hand prices

    LRHS 3-12x44 , FFP, zero stop, over 11mils worth of dial up, capped windage, side focus, 30mm tube, MIL reticle with close range 'donut of death'.

    What more do you want? Can be found for less than $800NZD in the UK...
    Moa Hunter and norsk like this.

  9. #9
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    There are only 2 major manufacturers of optical glass in riflescopes….

    Vixen a Jap scopes
    Warm Barrels!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by MB View Post
    Everyone is going to have an opinion on this topic. Sold a perfect condition VX1 for not much money a little while ago. Regret that now. Would have been happy with that scope on any rifle. How do the VX Freedoms compare apart from being nearly double the price?

    Had a VX3i 3.5-14x. Feature packed at the discounted price point, but I didn't get on with it at all. Main issue was eye relief, but also FOV.

    I will be scope shopping in the future. Something to go on a new hunting rifle once I've decided what I want. Had my fingers burnt with the VX3i, don't want that to happen again. Thinking about a VX5, but wondering if I'm spending money unnecessarily.
    surprisingly well mate they seem to gather more light I just personally like the caps that the vx1,2,3s have for asthetics
    they feel lighter but that is only an advantage to me. mine is a Mark AR but from all accounts it seems just like the vx freedom series from what I can tell just with a few bells and whistles added
    MB likes this.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bagheera View Post
    How much did you pay for the freedom can i ask ? Last time i looked they were in the $400 range but not this week.
    I nearly had kittens when I saw they were nearly $700 in the H&F catalogue earlier this week!
    I got mine not too many years ago from a retailer as an add-on to a rifle they had on TM for an extra $250 above the buy now or $350 above their reserve.
    But also a lot of the scopes the newer versions of models have more features (CDS, HD glass. etc) so you would expect them to cost more

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    @mcche171 where are the Steiner Predators made?

  13. #13
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    Hunters have quite different requirements from a scope than target shooters and typical differences are light gathering and reticle thickness for hunting along with weight.
    It is a bit of a conundrum these days for a hunter selecting a scope; viz:- do I need to dial up and adjust for parallax and windage? Many of the marketing and magazine gurus and retailers push tjose barrows very convincingly and of cpurse the more bells and whistles attached equate to more $$ (and more to go wrong)
    Here's the thing; in my experience, even if you have a sub 1moa hunting rifle, while you may be able to put a group inside 1moa at 300 or even 500 metres (150 mm group) field precision is vastly more challenging and that group would likely expand to 2+ moa (@500 m = 30 cm)
    In reality a 300 m shot at an animals vitals is a very long way to achieve ethically with certainty.
    Following that premise the question then becomes ; "what scope will do the job well at 300 m well?
    The fact is, that for all commonly used deer hunting cartidges like 303, 308, 270, 3006, 243,7mm etc a 200m zero will allow easy holdovrr and hold under out to 300m and beyond without the need for dialing. At 300 m a simple hold on top of shoulder will drop one into the vitals and a hold point at lower chest from 100 m will do the same.
    When it come to wind , a pretty strong crosswind even at 300m will .ove your bullet about 15cm so easy to hold off without dialing.
    At the end of the day the light gathering comes down to objective lens diametrr in mm divided by magnification power. Viz: 42mm ÷ 7X = a light factor of 7, which is the maximum a human eye van utilise. If that 42mm scope is screwed up to 14X the light factor drops to only 3, and you wont see much of a deer in the twilight.
    Next question is to consider how much magnification you really need in order to hit a 150mm target at 500 m? The fact is that 3X would be enough but 10 X would make it very easy but in twilight with a 42 mm objective anything more than 6X would didadvantage your visibility. Hence the popularity of fixed 6x by 42 and 8x by 56 scopes in europe for decades.
    Thus a good quality 3-10*40 scope with capped turrets will meet almost every hunting requirement in NZ. A small firedot of adjustable light intensity is a useful addition. All the other bells and whistles along with the extra$$ costs are likely not needed by most hunters.
    Summer grass
    Of stalwart warriors splendid dreams
    the aftermath.

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  14. #14
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    Apologies for my dpelling above. The edit function is not working for some reason
    Bagheera and ZQLewis like this.
    Summer grass
    Of stalwart warriors splendid dreams
    the aftermath.

    Matsuo Basho.

  15. #15
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    Good work.
    My experience:

    NF NSX - sturdy, reliable dialling, far to heavy for hill hunting.
    Swarovski Z6i - my main scope for over 10 years, great glass, light, relatively fragile, very expensive.
    Leupold VX6 - fairly new addition, good glass (but not as good as Swarovski), light, expensive(ish), superb warranty.

    I think we generally look at lightness, cost and warranty more in NZ than many do in Europe and the US. Our type of hunting calls for light rifles and scopes for the hills and light, wieldy set ups with low magnification for bush hobbits. Our terrain is rough and breakages reasonably common, so a great warranty (Leupold) is a must for many of us.

    Cheers
    The member formally known as Spitfire

 

 

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