Optics Advice From Experienced Elephant Hunters or Professional Hunters

Scott CWO

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If able to travel, I will be headed to Botswana in 2021 for my first ele hunt. I was looking for a proper double rifle but @Ray B beat me out on the 1910 Rigby .470NE that was offered on AH last month so I've decided to use my brown bear guiding rifle, a CZ 550 Safari .458 Lott with AHR upgrade #2. It's a great rifle with flip-up express sights. I currently have two scopes sighted in for the rifle, a Leupold VXR 2-7x33 (with illuminated FireDot reticle) and a Leupold VXIII 1.5-5x20, both with Talley QD mounts so I can switch scopes if needed.

I am partial to the 2-7 power scope with the illuminated dot reticle. I am pretty fast at target acquisition and this scope is only .5x more magnification at the lowest setting than the 1.5-5 scope. However, the FOV at 100 yards is 43.7 feet vs 68 feet on the 1.5-5 scope. I am still thinking that the advantage of the FireDot might outweigh the FOV issue? I have never ele hunted but I know it is close quarters shooting. Do you think I am fine with the 2-7, especially since I can always remove it and use the iron sights? Or is the 1.5-5 a better choice? Thanks for any help.
 

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Without a doubt your 1.5-5 is better suited for the task, most likely set on 1.5! Your shot will probably be taken at 25 meters of less, possibly much less! Ask your PH for his advice, he knows the shooting conditions that you are most likely to encounter. Which ever scope you decide on be sure It is securely mounted. 458 Lotts are a bit unkind to scopes and mounts.

I hope you have a great hunt!
 

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@Scott CWO Have you looked into the RMR's? Such as Trijicon or Docter? Have found them great for quick acquisition and really think it will be perfect for your needs.
 

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If you are comfortable with them I would use iron sights. The shots will be close and the lighting will be good. The scope is just one more thing to snag up in that thorn scrub.

In that vein, don’t wear a pack. Put what you need on your shooting belt or in the trackers pack. Be careful on hat selection as well.
 

mikecatt13

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Ive never elephant hunted but I have very extensive experience with LPVOs and close targets in national competitions

If you dont want to buy another optic, definitely the 1.5. Even with practice, Youd be surprised how disorienting a 1.5x can be vs even a true 1x at under 25 yards. I can't imagine a 2x at those ranges under pressure.

Personally, I'd HIGHLY recommend a 1-?x or red dot
 

calling4life

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And there is a difference between a true one power scope and one that may still claim being 1x, but isn't.

True one power allows both eyes open full sight picture shooting, with a lit reticle it is incredibly fast.

I have a CZ in 458 lott as well, iron sights for me, shallow V rear, big white dot up front.
 

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Sir , I would ask your PH what his recommendations are. Both scopes will work. The conditions at hand will however dictate which one. only your PH knows that.

Enjoy the hunt. Nothing like hunting Elephant.
 

YancyW

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Just to echo what was said above, I have a lot of range time under my belt with LPVOs, there is a huge difference between a true 1x and a 1.5x.
 

DG Gunsmith

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Personally, I would shy away from Optics for close range hunting on animals that have a tendency to charge... I would highly recommend open sights... They allow for much faster target acquisition, which could save your life in an emergency... My 2¢ worth...
 

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Have you taken a look at the Trijicon illuminated scope? I have the 1-4 and they are an interesting design at a reasonable price.
 

cal

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I'd leave the scopes behind and just use the open sights, if your eyesight is capable of that. If not, an RMR or similar as @KMG Hunting Safaris suggested. I personally am putting a true 1-6x scope on my DG rifle, for Elephant I'd take it off though.
 

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To answer your question, I think you are perfectly fine with either Leupold you choose to use. Personally I prefer the Firedot even though it is greater magnification, and have used the exact same scope at 15 and 30 yards.

Look forward to your hunt report!
 

Newby

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Yes, and yes !!
Never hunted elephant, but have used Aimpoint. Nothing faster or with a better view. Look through one mounted on a rifle and you will understand.

Note - I haven't used reflex sights, but would expect them to have similar benefits to the Aimpouint.
 

One Day...

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On the technical side...

1x...

Hello Scott, as much as I hate to say this, in a best case scenario I would use neither of your scopes. Sure, anything can be made to work, but as mikecatt13 or YancyW already emphasized, you need a true 1x (zero magnification) optic in order to be able to shoot with both eyes open, real fast, real close, and calling4life is right on about so-called 1x optics that are in fact 1.25x or 1.3x etc.

Open sights...
Since you were considering purchasing a 1910 Rigby .470NE double rifle, I would assume that you would not have ruined its collector value by mounting a scope on it, right? That seems to indicate that you would have shot it with open sights, right? As WAB, DG Gunsmith, or cal suggest, nothing beats open sights for up-close & personal shooting, provided you can still see the front bead. If your eyes are going down, like mine, try a bigger front bead to see how it works. New England Custom Guns (NECG) sell some specifically for the CZ 550. These WILL make a big difference...

1609278023196.png


Optical sights...
If your eyes are so far gone that a big front bead won't do - welcome to my impending predicament! - then you have no other option than to use an optical sight. At this stage, you have two options: with or without variable magnification.

Non-magnification optics...
In the non-magnification optics field, there are also different options:​
Tube red dots
The grand classic "tube red dot" technology, exemplified by Aimpoint, features a red dot (typically a LED) in a tube with zero magnification glass. As much as I hate to say, this technology is essentially obsolete. Basically, you get a scope for the use of a red dot. There are good reasons why the military moved away from these: too bulky, too heavy...​
Reflex red dot
These are exemplified by the Trijicon RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex), the Docter Sight, etc. They project a red dot (also produced by a LED) onto a heads-up display and fulfill the same function as the "tube red dot" but at a minuscule fraction of bulk and weight, without sacrificing anything in term of practical battery life and reliability.​
Holographic red dot
This is the technology used by EoTech, and widely adopted by the US military. The big difference is that a holographic sight is usable even if the front glass is shattered, and even if most of the glass is covered in mud. A reflex sight will not.​
Conversely, a holographic sight is bigger and more expensive. A reflex sight is small enough to mount on a pistol, a holographic sight is not. But it is perfectly proportioned for a close quarter battle (CQB) M4 carbine...
1609279093701.png

Variable magnification optics...
Variable magnification optics, exemplified by low power variable scopes, offer the advantage to be usable at close range both eyes open, IF they are truly 1x at the low end of magnification, and to be also used at longer range when using the magnification. A few considerations are worth pointing out:​
  • The true low end of the magnification range MUST be a true 1x (i.e. zero magnification).
  • One would be foolish nowadays to select a scope that does not integrate a illuminated red dot. Right there, this gives you in essence 1) a tube red dot, plus 2) a scope.
  • To keep the scope mountable on magnum length actions, and reasonably light, these scopes typically do not have a front bell, but just a straight tube. It saves bulk and weight, but it also means that the front objective is very small, typically 24 mm.
  • Small diameter objectives mean that their light gathering ability is limited, therefore the usefulness of their magnification will drop dramatically at dusk and dawn. In order to retain a 7 mm light beam reaching the eye pupil in crepuscular light, no more than 4x magnification should be used (4x 7mm light beam = 28 mm objective). Sure, in broad daylight when the human pupil shrinks to 3 mm, a lot more magnification can be used even with a small objective. This explains why Swarovski makes a Z6 1-6x24 and even a Z8 1-8x24.
  • There is no "free lunch" though, a 1-6x24 or 1-8x24 is also a lot bigger and a lot heavier than a 1-4x24 (and also a lot more expensive). Choose wisely...
So.......... these are your objective options...

As to personal advices, we will each have our own, and they are worth what you pay for them, which is exactly nothing :E Rofl: , but I will offer mine as well because you are asking for input :)
  1. If your eyes are good enough, and since you have great open sights on the CZ 550 (possibly with the addition of a NECG wide and/or fiber optic bead), this is probably your most reliable option.
  2. If you need optical sights, and you favor compactness and light weight, a reflex sight mounted on the front bridge is likely your best option. The Trijicon RMR and Docter are probably the two most proven. I have a Docter III on my Mauser 66 .458 Lott, but nowadays I favor the Leica ASPH for the reason that you do not need to dismount the sight from its carrier plate to change the battery. A tube red dot (Aimpoint) or holographic sight (EoTech) are much bigger/heavier for no appreciable added feature on a DG hunting rifle.
  3. If you want dual purpose function, a variable scope WITH red dot is the way to go. I personally have no use whatsoever for more than 1-4x because I cannot think of any scenario where I would need 6x or 8x on a DG rifle, but to each our own. You can spend a lot of money on glass, but I find the economical Zeiss Conquest V4 1-4x24 ($500) to be near ideally proportioned. I personally use a Leica Visus 1-4x24 on my CZ 550 .416 Rigby because it has a longer eye relief, but this particular model is not manufactured anymore...
Just my $0.02 and I hope this helps Scott :)
 

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Gemsbok45

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I have shot a few elephants and been on quite few hunts for not being a PH.I like a tritium dot on my iron sights.The fun of elephant hunting is being close.
 

DG Gunsmith

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On the technical side...

1x...

Hello Scott, as much as I hate to say this, in a best case scenario I would use neither of your scopes. Sure, anything can be made to work, but as mikecatt13 or YancyW already emphasized, you need a true 1x (zero magnification) optic in order to be able to shoot with both eyes open, real fast, real close, and calling4life is right on about so-called 1x optics that are in fact 1.25x or 1.3x etc.

Open sights...
Since you were considering purchasing a 1910 Rigby .470NE double rifle, I would assume that you would not have ruined its collector value by mounting a scope on it, right? That seems to indicate that you would have shot it with open sights, right? As WAB, DG Gunsmith, or cal suggest, nothing beats open sights for up-close & personal shooting, provided you can still see the front bead. If your eyes are going down, like mine, try a bigger front bead to see how it works. New England Custom Guns (NECG) sell some specifically for the CZ 550. These WILL make a big difference...

View attachment 381637

Optical sights...
If your eyes are so far gone that a big front bead won't do - welcome to my impending predicament! - then you have no other option than to use an optical sight. At this stage, you have two options: with or without variable magnification.

Non-magnification optics...
In the non-magnification optics field, there are also different options:​
Tube red dots
The grand classic "tube red dot" technology, exemplified by Aimpoint, features a red dot (typically a LED) in a tube with zero magnification glass. As much as I hate to say, this technology is essentially obsolete. Basically, you get a scope for the use of a red dot. There are good reasons why the military moved away from these: too bulky, too heavy...​
Reflex red dot
These are exemplified by the Trijicon RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex), the Docter Sight, etc. They project a red dot (also produced by a LED) onto a heads-up display and fulfill the same function as the "tube red dot" but at a minuscule fraction of bulk and weight, without sacrificing anything in term of practical battery life and reliability.​
Holographic red dot
This is the technology used by EoTech, and widely adopted by the US military. The big difference is that a holographic sight is usable even if the front glass is shattered, and even if most of the glass is covered in mud. A reflex sight will not.​
Conversely, a holographic sight is bigger and more expensive. A reflex sight is small enough to mount on a pistol, a holographic sight is not. But it is perfectly proportioned for a close quarter battle (CQB) M4 carbine...View attachment 381641

Variable magnification optics...
Variable magnification optics, exemplified by low power variable scopes, offer the advantage to be usable at close range both eyes open, IF they are truly 1x at the low end of magnification, and to be also used at longer range when using the magnification. A few considerations are worth pointing out:​
  • The true low end of the magnification range MUST be a true 1x (i.e. zero magnification).
  • One would be foolish nowadays to select a scope that does not integrate a illuminated red dot. Right there, this gives you in essence 1) a tube red dot, plus 2) a scope.
  • To keep the scope mountable on magnum length actions, and reasonably light, these scopes typically do not have a front bell, but just a straight tube. It saves bulk and weight, but it also means that the front objective is very small, typically 24 mm.
  • Small diameter objectives mean that their light gathering ability is limited, therefore the usefulness of their magnification will drop dramatically at dusk and dawn. In order to retain a 7 mm light beam reaching the eye pupil in crepuscular light, no more than 4x magnification should be used (4x 7mm light beam = 28 mm objective). Sure, in broad daylight when the human pupil shrinks to 3 mm, a lot more magnification can be used even with a small objective. This explains why Swarovski makes a Z6 1-6x24 and even a Z8 1-8x24.
  • There is no "free lunch" though, a 1-6x24 or 1-8x24 is also a lot bigger and a lot heavier than a 1-4x24 (and also a lot more expensive). Choose wisely...
So.......... these are your objective options...

As to personal advices, we will each have our own, and they are worth what you pay for them, which is exactly nothing :E Rofl: , but I will offer mine as well because you are asking for input :)
  1. If your eyes are good enough, and since you have great open sights on the CZ 550 (possibly with the addition of a NECG wide and/or fiber optic bead), this is probably your most reliable option.
  2. If you need optical sights, and you favor compactness and light weight, a reflex sight mounted on the front bridge is likely your best option. The Trijicon RMR and Docter are probably the two most proven. I have a Docter III on my Mauser 66 .458 Lott, but nowadays I favor the Leica ASPH for the reason that you do not need to dismount the sight from its carrier plate to change the battery. A tube red dot (Aimpoint) or holographic sight (EoTech) are much bigger/heavier for no appreciable added feature on a DG hunting rifle.
  3. If you want dual purpose function, a variable scope WITH red dot is the way to go. I personally have no use whatsoever for more than 1-4x because I cannot think of any scenario where I would need 6x or 8x on a DG rifle, but to each our own. You can spend a lot of money on glass, but I find the economical Zeiss Conquest V4 1-4x24 ($500) to be near ideally proportioned. I personally use a Leica Visus 1-4x24 on my CZ 550 .416 Rigby because it has a longer eye relief, but this particular model is not manufactured anymore...
Just my $0.02 and I hope this helps Scott :)
We put, Mate... I reckon you covered pretty near every possible angle, with regards to the various sighting systems... One additional, option for those with diminishing vision... Is the Flip-Up Night Sight Blade from NECG...

R-104-256LWS.jpg
 
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WAB

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We put, Mate... I reckon you covered pretty near every possible angle, with regards to the various sighting systems... One additional, option for those with diminishing vision... Is the Flip-Up Night Sight Blade from NECG...

This is the front sight I use on my DG rifles.
 

Bert the Turtle

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This is a picture of my elephant just before I took my shot. He is at 29 yards. There is no way on God's green earth I could have made the perfect head shot that I made if I didn't have a scope. Waited at least 10, probably 20 minutes before the wind swayed all the grass just right and gave me a clean path.

I used a 1-6 Z6i. Agree you probably don't need 6x, but in my opinion, 1x is mission-critical. Everyone likes to talk about taking off the scope for up close work, and while I enjoy shooting irons, can shoot well with them, and appreciate that the lack of sight offset is an advantage close in, I can assure you that there ain't no quick-detach mount quick enough that I would have been taking off the scope after I took my shot. Not with mama trumpeting at us from less than 30 yards and 3 other elephants somewhere close by in that tall grass.

IMG_3612.JPG
 
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