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Old 03-16-2021, 02:09 PM
Nontypical Buck
Nomercy448's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Kansas
Posts: 3,859

Iíll share my firsthand observations which I can point to as objective differences between varying classes of optics:

Most of us have experienced this because the scopes are so ubiquitous: viewing a target in the morning or evening light through a $50-150 scope, then through a $300-600 scope, itís like someone flipped on high beam headlights, pointed at the target.

I shot recently with a friend who had bought a few lower cost scopes from me, and I had briefly before installed, leveled, and boresighted onto his rifles. He HAD been shooting inexpensive rifle package scopes on his rifles, so despite the fact these were still inexpensive optics, $250-300 class, they marked a substantial improvement in his ability to see and engage targets lost in the shadow of the berm.

But this contrast between quality levels of optics does honestly continue between various classes. Albeit true that most folks simply will not have applications sufficiently challenging and demanding of their optics to observe, let alone NEED these advantages.

Admittedly, I will skip detail here in comparing this entry level $250-500 to $500-700 optics, and $500-700 optics to $1000-1500 optics, other than to say the difference in clarity, contrast, and resolution between each step, and the functional feature set between these classes are real. Aberration, shadows, contrast, distortion... all of these things improve at every level Iíll mention here.

Spotting impacts at 1000+ yards through even mild mirage, whether on target or against grass background - looking through a Vortex Viper HSLR or PST, the small dust splashes in the grass, the distant puff of bullet splash on target, or the grey/silver splatter on target are often lost in the light. Viewing through a Bushnell XRS II or Nightforce ATACR, these fine details of contrasting light will more often be clearly defined and fully visible.

Watching a target at 1200 yards looking through a Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II, a $1600 optic in its time, or a Vortex Razor Gen II, a $2400 optic, bobbing in and out view, being swallowed and regurgitated by the waves of mirage. Sliding over behind a Kahles K525i and a Tangent Theta, the target remains resolved in view far better - shootable, when with the others, it was not. Equally, shooting through pouring rain, standing on a tower 25ft in the air, engaging targets out to 1400yrds - the Swarovski glass in my binos (same as that in my Kahles riflescope) could cleanly resolve the targets, however my Bushnell DMR II and my squadmateís Vortex Razor could not draw sufficient contrast between the grey haze of the rain, the grey and white bullet splattered target, and the caliche berm of the bowl canyon behind the targets.

Yes, there are bells and whistles like locking turrets, zero stops, tool-less re-zero, illuminated reticles, etc which add to scope prices even when glass is equivalent, but itís also true to point out REAL differences in clarity, resolution, and contrast between optics at varying price points. Many folks may not NEED that level of performance, and many more of us may not need it on most of our rifles, even if we do occasionally need it on some. But the performance gap is measurable, at every level.
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