Three scopes and a binocular

Low light comparison of some optics I purchased with my own money that I earned myself from reputalbe sources. I mention this because of some previous experiences with less than happy folks when they read about a less expensive glass doing better than the more expensive glass. Also a couple weeks ago my vision was tested at 20/15 with my glasses on. Never the less I am sure some will find fault.


I compared a Swarovski Z5 5-25X52 with the Bushnell 6500 4 ½-30X50, NightForce NP-R2 12-42X56 and the Minox 13X56 binoculars. The Swarovski has a 1” tube and the other two have 30MM tubes. The NightForce was added as a last minute thought.

First let me tell you, who don’t know, a scope is a tube. All scope tubes have a wall thickness which is probably pretty thin. The “wall” thickness in the Swarovski appeared to be a little over .100”. The “wall” thickness in the Bushnell looked to be maybe .150”. I never gave it a thought before but the “wall” thickness in the NightForce seemed at least .250”. Never noticed it on the Nightforce before.

The field of view between the Swaro on 5X and the Bush on 4 1/2X favored the Swaro by a foot or so at the pump house 127 yards away. The Swaro at 17 ½ ounces is about three and a half ounces lighter that the Bush. The ocular adjustment on the Bush is a little stiffer than that on the Swaro. I prefer the stiffer feel. Both are fine, though. The crosshairs in The Swaro are, to me, the old fashion plex with the thick section thinner than those in the Bush. The Bush has a mill dot with nice heavy thick sections. The thin section openings at twenty-five yards seems to be almost 6” in the Swaro and about 17” in the Bush. The Swaro might be a little better than the Bush if it showed up in the dark woods.

When I looked through the Swaro on its lowest magnification my first impression was, “This is bright.” Then I looked through the Bush and had the same reaction. Both are pretty nice. You will see later the Night is better than either when it comes to low light performance.

By the time I got home from work, adjusted the crosshairs for my eyes and set out the scopes on sandbags on the porch aiming at the pump house and got them all pointed at the “THIS SIDE DOWN” it was about 4PM. Fortunately the rain stopped, but it was still very overcast.

I worked as quickly as I could to actually read the words instead just of making out letters. The settings were: Swaro – 9 1/2X, Bush – 12X, and of course the Night was 12X and the Minox suprisingly could not read the letters, so I put it away. How is it that a $900 binoc with two 56mm lenses as good as a $750 single 50mm? Don't get me wrong. The Minox is a very nice glass which I have used for hours at a time while hunting rock chucks without any eye strain what so ever.

By 4:10 the Bush had to go to 14X but the Swaro did not move up until 4:15 when I turned up to 12X. At this time I looked through the Night since we are at or above 12X. It is way better at this low light game than the other two.

At 4:22 I had to turn the Bush up to 22X to read the words. Just one minute later even 30X didn’t help. It took another minute for me to get to the Swaro.

At 4:23 the Swaro needed 16 1/2X to still read the words and not try to make out letters. But the Night didn’t need more magnification yet. It was still on 12X.

At 4:30 the Swaro was on 25X and I could read the words, but thirty seconds later I could not. I turned the Night up till I could easily read the words (26X) and waited a minute and checked it again. No problem. One more minute and the same thing. This continued until 4:37 when it started to drizzle while it was still on 26X; which cheated the Night out of a couple minutes I think.


Well, boys and girls, I have some more reporting on these three optics. Today I took them to two different gunsmiths for their opinions. One looked through them during my lunch break and the other after work. I tried to influence them by saying, "Look though the Bushnell first, then you can see how the Swarovski is better." It didn't work.

At lunch the sky was cloudy with some blue sky showing. The gunsmith looked through the Bush first and then looked through the Swaro. He said, "I don't notice any difference." Then we turned them up to 12X so he could compare them with the NightForce. Again he didn't notice any difference. He said, "The Bushnell seems to be as good as the NightForce." Peraonally I've noticed that same thing during the day when not looking at some kind of optic chart.

After work I went to another gunsmith. I tried the same thing with him about looking through the Bush first. Never the less, he went right for the Swaro. The sky was totally overcast when he started. This is very significant. After he considered each on their lowest setting, he said, "No comparison. The Swaro is much more defined." About that time the sun came out. He looked through each for several seconds and back to the other. Finally he made a rather odd observation. He said, "When the sun is out the Bushnell is brighter. When the sun goes behind the cloud the Swarovski is brighter." I asked him for an overall impression if the Swarovski was brighter. After a pause he finally said, "I would say 'Yes'."

Finally we got to 12X. After he gave them a few minutes observation he said, "Hands down, the NightForce is the brightest and has better definition. This is the finest scope I have ever handled."

The most interesting thing I got from this is the Swaro is brighter in the dim light and the Bush is brighter in the full sun.

I forgot to mention the NightForce is over thirty ounces.


Cerberus Training Group - Run the Gun Rifle
Cerberus Training Group
47 Cattle Dr, Goldendale, WA 98620, USA
Arms Collectors of SW Washington Gun Show
Battleground Community Center
912 E Main St, Battle Ground, WA 98604, USA
Albany Rifle & Pistol Club (ARPC) Gun Show
Linn County Expo Center
3700 Knox Butte Rd E, Albany, OR 97322, USA


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