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European Optics

12 Feb 2011
@ 07:46 am (GMT)

Simon Jeffreys

Disappointed that you apparently don't rate European optics. You do rate Japanese and US made optics but ignore European manufacturers like Zeiss, Schmidt & Bender, Swarovski etc. I don't think that is fair at all. Many reckon we Europeans ( all right it's justs the Germans, Austrians, Czechs and Hungarians) make the best.

Do you have experience of European optics?


12 Feb 2011
@ 10:51 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: European Optics
Hi Simon. Yes, I have used all of the European Optics. I don't pass comments on kit I have not used.

It sounds like you were reading the comments I made in the Dummies guide to rifle accuracy. If you read closely, you will have seen qualifying statements. Nevertheless, I will try to re-qualify statements made.

A lot of my hunting clients are middle income earners. They work very hard at their trades and have to save just as hard to afford their hunting kit. In contrast, a company like Swarovski, ask approximately two full months wages (for a New Zealand tradesman) for one of their scopes. A Japanese scope is worth approximately half a months wages. So what you have to ask yourself is, if I am to forgo two months wages, is the scope really going to be worth it. If the answer is yes, then the cost is justified. For my own part, I don't see how the costs are justified with some brands. The most recent Swaro I worked with, while helping a client, had minimal eye relief and was simply uncomfortable to use, occasionally striking the shooter's eyebrow under recoil. The optical quality was very good but no better than the Japanese optics we have here. The owner of the scope was a low income earner who had been told that this was the only scope suitable for long range hunting. He spent a year saving for the rifle and optic. His yearly income is $42K. The rig cost $8k.

Swarovski have now entered into the tactical market. The tactical scope is again, worth 2 months wages, perhaps closer to 2.5 months wages. Swaro have made no attempt to provide a reticle with minute hash marks or mildot hash marks. The turret calibration is metric. While this may be perfectly suited to European hunters, I do not believe it is fair to export such a scope, charge huge prices, but not provide universal calibration.

As for Japanese optics. The Japanese don't design optics- or when they do, they don't really have an idea of what is required. Whether a Japanese optic is good or bad, is purely dependent on the specs defined by the U.S business that has contracted the work out. The U.S businessman asks for certain features, the Japanese build it.

Much of the scope industry is changing at present. The general quality of Leupold is dropping like a stone while Bushnell and Sightron are rapidly gaining popularity worldwide- including Europe. Not all of the Japanese optics are good, there are many less than desirable models. NightForce are in a league of their own, they charge a lot for their scopes and they offer a lot of features. German company Schmidt & Bender are producing some very good optics with the choice of either metric or minute adjustments. Very pricey but very good.

15 Feb 2011
@ 01:24 am (GMT)

simon jeffreys

Re: European Optics
Fair enough reply. I didn't mean to come over bolshie in my first post.

I quite take your point on price /value for money. I bought my Zeiss when the £ to Euro rate was favourable to us here in the UK.

Mine, a 6x42, seems to have been assembled in the USA and not Germany. S & B assemble some of theirs in Hungary.

Lots of scopes are built in China and other far eastern countries now I understand.

15 Feb 2011
@ 10:32 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: European Optics
Yes, the chinese optics are a concern. The Chinese make many very good products, we have farm motorbikes here in NZ that give absolutely reliable performance under the harshest conditions. But when it comes to scopes, the Chinese optics don't often last. Every client that has hunted with us using a Chinese Optic, has either had that optic break down while they have been with us- or over the course of a year or so after visiting us (we always stay in touch with clients as the hunts tend to build lasting friendships). When a Chinese optic is pulled to pieces, it seems as though the optic was awfully close to being up to the task, just lacking a few basic, but very important features. Eye relief is always poor on Chinese scopes. The Phillipino Nikko Stirling's are interesting, very much a replica (internally), of the Leupold VX1 but again, prone to break down when used regularly on high power rifles. No doubt the Chinese will improve optics with time, another reason why companies like Leupold need to stay on top of their game and keep one step ahead of this competition, rather than gradually slipping down to equivalent quality.
06 Mar 2011
@ 08:21 am (GMT)

Jim Moseley

Re: European Optics
Another factor in the purchase of a quaility scope is the life span of the product. I have a 8-32x56 Nightforce which I've had for 12 years and never had a moments problem with it. Back then I paid $800, now they cost $1600 plus, but I consider it as a lifetime investment.
06 Mar 2011
@ 03:11 pm (GMT)


Re: European Optics
I agree with Jim, It's all about how long the piece of kit is expected to last.
I have a Burris fullfield 2 (3-9x40) and Leupold VX1 (4-12x40) scope on my 223 and 308 and am completely happy with them for what I use them for. The Burris has a balstic plex reticle which matches the ammo I use in the 223 well, I use a 100 yard zero. Yesterday I head shot 4 goats at 220-250 yards with this combo. My 308 has the VX 1 on it which also matches what I expect from it, the clicks are not true 1/4 MOA but I have still used this scope on a 7mm RM and shot out to 750 yards. It's not great for dialing but can be done. Then I brought a NXS Nightforce 5.5-22x50 for my long range rifle, and again using it yesterday I shot 2 goats at 1000 yards, the NXS are expensive but I hope to get alot of use out of it over the years. It bounce's along on the back of my 4 wheeler and takes a real pounding but NEVER losses zero. This may seem a bit weak but the reason I spent twice as much as a Sightron on a NXS is, reticle and turrets in MOA (Sightron now have this option called LRMOA), no turret caps required, illuminated reticle and the most important for me, zero stop.
I am now thinking about a scope for a light weight rig that is still capable of shooting out to 800-900 yards. Sightron SII ? Bushnell 6500 ? NF new light weight 4-16x42 thats coming out soon? At least I don't have to make a my mind soon as I have quite some saving-up to do first.
27 Aug 2014
@ 06:38 am (GMT)

Matt the Batt

Re: European Optics
I have used many European and U.S. scopes over the last forty odd years. I agree that the quality of Leupold scopes has dropped, well at least in the lower priced models. The Leupold VX-6 scopes are very good and have constant eye relief unlike the variable VX-2 & VX-3, however they're expensive. My old Leupold 2-7x32 I bought in 1974 is better optically than the modern equivalent.

Currently I'm using a Swarovski Z6 1.7-10x42 on my .308 and it has brilliant optics and very good eye relief. Is it worth $3K? No it is not and it is over priced; I bought it 2nd hand in mint condition for nearly half that. I'm going to sell it for a smaller 1.5-6 variable. I also have a Leica ER 2.5-10x42 on my 7mm RM. It has 4" of constant eye relief, better optics than any U.S. scope and is 2/3rds the price of the Swaro Z6 mentioned. Does it get me anymore deer than the Leupold VX-6 2-12x42 I once had? No it doesn't but it's my favourite and is extremely well made and has Aqua Dura coating on the lenses which really works.

These days I see a lot of young guys and some not so young ones too, toting large variable "Hubble" scopes around on their one and only lightweight deer rifle and in the process completely ruining the balance of the piece. They've been led to believe by magazine writers etc that they need at least a 4.5-14x50 scope to shoot a deer. A reasonable shot should be able to easily shoot a deer with a 4x scope at 300m and a little further with some practise and knowledge of the ballistics of the cartridge and load they're using.

A friend has a Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56 on his .338 Lapua Mag and says the optics are nothing exceptional but more importantly to him is that it's ultra rugged and reliable. I suppose ultimately, that's what really counts.


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