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Old 05-30-2004, 05:57 PM   #11
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 30
When I was inexperienced I used to spend hours in catalogs perusing future purchases. Heck I still do that! Anyway I would spend hours debating over 5’ of eye relief at 100 yards. Later on I found that if you practice a little bit, you can throw the gun to your shoulder and find the target on say 9X at close range almost instantly if you keep both eyes open. (I still carry my scope on its lowest power setting figuring that there will be plenty of time to turn it up if I have a long shot.) Later still, I learned that for the kind of guns I gravitate towards, eye relief is very important. I learned that most scopes claiming 3.5 to 4” of eye relief really have more like 3 to 3.25”. Fortunately my first “real” scope was a Burris “Signature” series with nearly 4” of eye relief and with it being in 1.5 – 6X, has plenty of field of view too. My only gripes are that the weird placement of Burris’ adjustment turrets usually forces me to use extension rings and with this scope being probably 20 years old, the lens coatings aren’t as good as the current crop of scopes.

I had a brief foray with a Tasco “Bighorn” scope of 4.5-18X with about 4.5” of eye relief and very bright optics! After the 2nd or 3rd time of mailing it back at a cost of $20+ each time under its “lifetime warranty” due to the scope’s inability to handle recoil, I wised up and went with quality. I also learned that I have no use for a 50mm objective lens- I had my cheek floating at what seemed like an inch above the cheekpiece of my stock to see through it!

Then I aquired a Simmons “Whitetail Classic” in 6.5-20X in a trade for nothing and decided to use it on my .22 LR reasoning that at least recoil won’t affect it. And it works great for this application as long as changing the point of impact isn’t important. If say you adjust for up & down, you get a free shift left & right at the same time at varying degrees of distance with no predictability! Believe me, by the time you get it hitting where you want, you’ll wish you’d have never touched the adjustments! But I do really like the pebble granite finish!

Ken Marsh has a great article or three on these kinds of things at “Ro-hi Suru” (beats me where he came up with the name or how I ran across it but it is worth your reading!). Also John Barsness has a great book called “Optics for the Hunter” that is also easy reading, right to the point, and has some very enlightening stuff about some high-dollar big name European optics!

I have since gone strictly with Leupold and never looked back! Especially if what for most of us is the “hunt of a lifetime” in Alaska was on the line! For that kind of money, time, effort, the dire consequences of a blown shot, level of recoil, etc., I personally wouldn’t even think of anything other than Leupold. I’d lean towards the VX2 or 3 series and stay in the low end of the power spectrum for maximum field of view. But to each his own!
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Old 05-30-2004, 06:06 PM   #12
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 30
I almost forgot, to answer the thing about "shotgun scopes", what most manufacturers call their "shotgun scopes" means is that the parallex is "set free" on 75 yards instead of 150 and they usually have more eye relief than their non-shotgun scopes. (Unless you buy a Leupold which has the same eye relief because they had plenty to start with!)
Old 05-31-2004, 05:54 PM   #13
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 30
Don't mean to hog all the space on this topic but I noticed today that I made an error in my diatribe 2 replies ago yesterday. I meant to say that I needlessly fretted over 5 feet of "field of view" at 100 yards, not "eye relief" at the beginning of my letter.
Old 05-31-2004, 09:12 PM   #14
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 10
bhemry, take a look at the Zeiss Conquest line. Very competively priced and once I found one I suddenly looked up and I had six before I knew it. From that moment on, I forever walked away from Leupold and Burris. Incidentally, my Conquest scopes are all 3-9x40, $365.00 apiece which actually made them cheaper than several of the scopes they relaced. I would say that they are substantially better than any Leupold with the exception of the LPS series. Then for that money, you can buy a higher-end Zeiss that (unlike the Leupold) is a true 30mm. Don't get me wrong, I like Leupold and Burris for that matter. But, they don't compare to the European optics. You are right about Ken. He and I email one another on occassion (usually him correcting me). He is certainly the most knowledgeable non-biased optics authority that I know of.

Old 06-01-2004, 06:55 PM   #15
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Ohio
Posts: 30
By sheer coincidence today in the mail I received my July 2004 issue of "Rifle" magazine and it addressed this same issue of scope durability in a lot of depth and makes for interesting reading. (I've really come to love this and its sister magazines "Handloader" & "Successful Hunter" for what seems like to me at least, the least fluff and most straightforwardness of any gun magazines out there.) Essentially John Barsness says about the same thing that we here have all been saying, *buy good quality* and then adds a few additional factors to think about such as fixed vs. variable and the effect of scope weight (lighter is better) in relationship to heavy recoil.

Also I think it was Craig Boddington's book "Safari Rifles" (which is a must read for us big bore buffs!) that the issue of using a scope vs. open sights was addressed. The conclusion reached there was that for the vast majority of we Americans is, if we never or rarely ever use open or receiver sights, don't try starting it on a safari, (wounded animals cost the same as the dead ones among other consequences).

Ranburr, I think when we get up into the top end of the quality spectrum, scopewise, its like the Chevy vs. Ford vs. _____ thing. I don't think I can tell any difference between 92% and 95% light transmission and all the optomitrical? jargon such as "resolution", "spherical aberration", "rolling distortion", etc. Heck, I remember looking through a pair of Weaver Grand Slam binoculars and the clerk handed me a pair of Swarvoskis or Kahles and said, "Now check these out!" and I couldn't for the life of me see any difference,but if anything (I was too embarrassed to admit it) thought the $400 Weavers were slightly clearer than the $1000 pair of whichever it was! I remember just a few months ago reading an article where Ross Seyfried said something like, too many people get caught up in the technical advancedness of their riflescope, instead of the binoculars which you should be spending much more time using, and the riflescope is merely something you look through to hit your target. Made me ponder that one for awhile. (No I don't think he was implying to throw a BSA on your .458 though!)
Old 06-10-2004, 11:28 AM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 503
I am not intimate with the terrain and game found in AK so I will bow to those with more experience.

However, I can say that, so far, the Leupold 1-4 shotgun scope (I think it was a "Turkey Hunter Special" or something like that) has served well on my little Steyr in .376 Steyr. I don't know about .458. I also have a Nikon 2-7 shotgun scope on my 338-06 but I have not shot it enough to say whether it will hold up or not. The odd thing is that I actually prefer fixed power scopes but compact low powered ones are not too common in the places I frequent.

I suppose just from an asthetic point of view, I might consider receiver sights for the Mauser but if ranges are going to be longish it depends on your particular marksmanship preferences. I just hit better on game with scopes but I really like irons and if the range is short and the critter big I think I like them better. Tentatively I am putting nothing on my .458 Lott except a bigger front sight I can see. If that does not work out then I will put on receiver sights and then, as a last resort perhaps a low powered scope.

Good luck on your hunt...what a great thing to do with an inherited firearm!

Happy Trails!
Jim Higginbotham
Old 06-10-2004, 07:43 PM   #17
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 194
Hard to beat the Leupold 2.5X (or older Redfield and Weavers in 1.5, 2.5, and 3X) for durability. I've got a fair number of weapons with the little 1.5-5X and 1.75-6X Leupolds mounted that also seem quite durable. Matter of fact I only own four scopes of more power than 6X and as it happens two are Leupold variables on 22 RF's and two are Zeiss 3-9's on 300 Mags. I've got a few Swarovski, Zeiss, and Kahles in rough order of personal preference also in the lower powers since I went thru a stage where I thought the Austrian scopes had a real edge in definition. Now, I think it pretty moot---especially considering that my serious hunting weapons have a scope mounted and a scope in rings that has been lapped and zeroed as contingency kit.

Personally, I really prefer a rifle with a good aperture sight, but often, in the bush, one needs the added optics to sort out hair and hide from brush or to pick up shots more efficiently in low light in the first or last few minutes of hunting light or in shadow. Weapon carries better with the irons, handles more lively, and I can still shoot about as well, maybe better with a good aperture as I can with a scope IF I've got good target definition. The latter is a big point for folks who still hunt and don't shoot from pretty well set up stands over open killing grounds.

Mostly, though, I think it's pretty moot as far as speed of acquisition of target IF one can define the target. If one can't define the target, there are times, even at mid-day in the bush that a scope is right handy if not essential.

On a purely theoretical level, though, anyone who still thinks there's an advantage to 30mm tubes should procure and read very carefully (as has already been mentioned) John Barsness' OPTICS FOR THE HUNTER. One should also consider that the steel tubed weight and the heavier 30mm Austrian optics may add more to the fragility of the sight and its mounts by their weight in the recoil process than their optics afford as an advantage over the better American sights.

The price of an object has never assured quality per se, though it seems to have driven opinions about optics just as it has about custom knives and firearms. Certainly, it's hard for a scope to be as good as another at twice the price when lenses and coatings are concerned, but it seems to me that most of us REALLY can't measure the difference between a Leupold Vari-X III and the equivalent power Swarovski, Zeiss, or Kahles scope with similar sized objective lenses in the woods. Of course, if one compares a 2X Leupold with a 4-12X Zeiss, I daresay one will find more than a little difference in light gathering power and definition. But then who would want to mount such a moon scope on a functional hunting rifle meant to be carried in the woods.

One compromise that does make sense to me on a dollars and cents basis, is that at one time, anyway, I could buy nearly three of the Leupold Vari-X III 1-5's or 1-6's for one equivalent powered top end Austrian scope. Makes a difference when you're travelling a fair bit overseas and feel the need for a backup scope for each rifle. The Leupolds for years have been so good, that I've not had a urge to replace them with the higher priced optics if the weapon didn't already have the 30mm scope in place. Certainly, the little 1.5X and 2.5 X and 3X American sights have proved their durability on heavy rifles beyond the shadow of a doubt. I don't, however, buy American or imported scopes at the lower end of the price spectrum and for some time now have used the Leupold as the base standard with which to measure quality.

There is also, to this hunter, a certain look that the small straight tube scopes give to a classic hunting rifle, that is RIGHT for the weapon. The man who takes a lovely little full stocked Mannlicher-Schoenauer and mounts a moon scope on it has just defeated the very purpose for which the lively handling little carbines were developed and, to this individual, looks pretty damn grotesque to boot. The little straight tube scopes in fixed or 1-5 are just RIGHT for that sort of weapon.

Still we shooters are a bunch with widely disparate tastes and ideas of what we need. Many like the moon scopes for the possible super long shot that may or may not realistically be within their capability. Many hunt preserves and stands where weapon weight and balance and handling ability is minimized by the static shooting position. Me, when I hunt in the piney woods and oak bottoms of the Southeast, or the alpine meadows of Wyoming, or the rain forest or savannahs of Africa, I'll stick with my durable little low powered Leupold fixed or Var-X III's that have been proven over the years to work and withstand the recoil of so many of the heavy bores I like.

When I can get away with it, I'm perfectly happy with a good, well made aperture sight and, actually, on a recent bear hunt, found that I could still see my old Redfield sourdough foresight thru the aperture of my Lyman 65 mounted on an old Winchester 71 long beyond when target definition in the dark woods was impossible even with good binos.

Sorry for the long winded post, but it's surely easy to just scroll on down especially given the price we users pay for this forum so generously maintained by Dane....
Old 07-09-2004, 03:39 AM   #18
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 16
Best Optics fot Big Bores


I hope this reaches you in time, as I saw your original posting was a few months back.

Over the years I have done a lot of research on optics. I have owned and tested most major brands. A note of caution I want to provide is be careful of acceptance of "expert" statements like... The performance of European scopes exceed Burris and Leupold.

Outdoor Life provides a Editor's Choice Award for optics each year around the July issue. In 2003, the Nikon Monarch Gold 2.5-10X50 won that coveted award. ... 21,00.html
(see Rifle Scope Chart & Editor's Choice and Great Buy Riflescopes)

Although the Nikon Monarch 2.5-10X50 is too bulky for a practical Alaska hunting gun, their 1.5-6X42 would be about perfect, in my opinion. It will provide you a minimum 7mm exit pupil at any magnification. Internet prices are down to $395 USD.

As far as value for the money, considering light transmission, weight, dependability, my scope ranking would be as follows, in order of value/$:

Burris Fullfield II
Nikon Monarch Gold (30 mm tube, 30 mm internal optics)
Bushnell Elite 4200 (little short on eye relief for hard thumping magnums)
IOR Valdada (30 mm tube)
Meopta Artemis (30 mm tube)
Leupold VX-III

The first three brands listed provide 95% or better light transmission (more than any Swarovski or Schmidt & Bender). The Leupold VX-III's also exceed 95%.

I am NOT a fan of the Zeiss Conquest. They use plastic dust caps. If they are taking shortcuts on external components, what are they doing on the inside?

Although the Swarovski scopes get a lot of praise, they are WAY over-priced for what you get. Their specs also denote relatively short eye relief.

Lastly, I am a big fan of Butler Creek flip-up lens caps. They work well on scopes which do not have a focus dial built into the eyepiece (Burris) or scopes with an adjustable objective lens. The Leupold folks have a real nice system for the use of dust caps with their A/O models, in which the adjustment ring is set back from the end of the objective lens.

Without knowing your terrain in that part of Alaska, I cannot make any further recommendations. In any event, I hope you get that scope mounted properly and get out and enjoy grandpa's old gun. Regarding mounts, I'd recommend a 2-piece base with Leupold Dual Dovetails or Burris Signature rings. I have some sure-fire tips for mounting a scope if you need them. has some good postings under Optics.
Old 07-14-2004, 12:54 PM   #19
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 20
Help needed W/ Scope Selection

I would avoid putting any scope on it. Firstly you're likely to get a nice scope cut from the recoil and secondly most of your shooting is likely to be offhand and within 100 yds. Go with open sights. Many people say don't bother putting scopes on anything bigger than a 375.
Old 07-14-2004, 08:22 PM   #20
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 16
Best Optics for Big Bores

If you go with a scope offering 4" of eye relief (like the Nikon Monarch Gold), you should not have any issue with scope-eye.

I have a 2.5-8X36 Vari-X III mounted on my Marlin 1895 Limited III in .45-70. It weighs next to nothing and even with the 420 grain Garrett Hammerhead +P loads, I have never been bit by the scope at 8X with 3.5" of eye relief. The recoil of this combo is quite refreshing from a bench. My shooting friends will not even try one round through it after seeing it set me back.

The Nikon Monarch Gold 1.5-6X42 would be perfect for you, in my opinion, if you decide to go with a scope.

However, I mount scopes on everything. Handguns, compound bows, duck/goose guns, etc. To each his own.

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