2017 Low Light Hunting Scope Comparison

The optics compared were (left to right, above) a Nikon Monarch 5 3-15 x 42 Side Focus, the Hawke Optics Frontier 30 SF 2.5-15 x 50mm Side Focus, a Sightron S-TAC 3-16 x 42mm, Burris Veracity 2-10 x 42mm, and the Hawke Optics Endurance 4-12 x 42 LER LR Dot.

All scopes were set at 5x magnification for the duration of the testing. The “targets” used for the comparison were a dingy, beige doghouse against a low-contrast yard, and the dark trunk of an evergreen tree further out.

These five scopes were tested and compared from sunset, 5:55:55 pm, to the end of twilight, 6:23:28 pm. Then, further to 6:55 pm, the end of nautical twilight. In rough terms, this is half an hour past sunset, the end of legal hunting hours in many areas, to over an hour past sunset, finishing at 7:03 pm.

The questions posed were simple ones: can the shot be easily be made? Were any of the scopes faster at target acquisition? Which of these scopes are well-suited at after sunset use? You might be surprised by the answers, or indeed not.

Making the shot at a half hour after sunset will be pathetically easy with any of these scopes. In terms of rapid target acquisition, there are actually three winners. With the standard reticle (not illuminated), the tapered crosshairs of the Burris Veracity made centering the scope on the target the fastest by a significant margin. However, both of the Hawke Scopes had the LR Dot illuminated reticle, so that is as easy as putting the dot on your target and squeezing off a shot.

As far as the brightest scope, that would be the Hawke Frontier 30 SF 2.5-15 x 50mm by the narrowest of margins over the Sightron S-TAC 3-16 x 42mm. But, not enough to really matter, and it hardly was a significant difference between all of the scopes. Although all of these scopes except for the Sightron have ballistic reticles, all the ballistic reticles were unusable half an hour after sunset. The riflescopes themselves were all bright and clear: the Vortex and Leupold laser rangefinders tested concurrently were both dismally dark compared to any and all of these riflescopes after sunset.

In the value department, the Hawke Optics Endurance 4-12 x 42 LER LR Dot is an easy winner. It is hidden away on the Hawke site, but here it is: http://www.hawkeoptics.com/endurance-4-12x42-ler-lr-dot.html . It is the most affordable of these scopes, and it is the lightest as well at 18 ounces. The lighter weight is understandable, as this is the only 1 inch tube scope in the comparison.

For the rest of the scopes, the Burris Veracity 2-10 x 42mm is a 30mm main tube scope and the only scope with a first focal plane reticle, what Burris calls their Ballistic Plex E1 FFP, is remarkable. It is no flyweight scope at 22.7 ounces, that goes with the 30mm scope territory, but it is the superb reticle design of the Burris that makes it a standout big game hunting scope as far as I'm concerned.

Copyright 2017 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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