One Day...

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Then vs. now...
Having been born, raised, and received my hunter's education and early experiences in the French Alps, I will happily admit to a personal bias toward German & Austrian scopes. In those 1970's days in Europe, for whatever reason there were zero American scope available and the choice was essentially Zeiss, Schmidt & Bender, Kahles/Habicht - i.e. Swarovski (Leica did not make scopes in those days), or cheap and utterly unreliable (in those days) stuff from Japan: Bushnell, Tasco, etc. Anyone serious about hunting bought German (Zeiss, S&B) or Austrian (Kahles/Habicht). Period.
I will confess that part of me still carries the bias...

This being said, being of analytical nature (you guys kid me regularly on this one :)) and being conservative with my money (I do not mind spending but I want to get my money's worth) I have looked hard into Leupold over the 30+ years I have been in the US.

The three fundamental facts are:

1) Leupold scopes are as well engineered, as well made, as well warranted as any German or Austrian scope. Period.
Breakage can and will happen with any brand, so I expect anecdotal failures to be reported. My personal experience is to have add a S&B reticle break on a .338 Win Mag, and a Leupold high-end model reticle break on a ... .22 LR of all things !?!?! Both were fixed.

2) European makers and American makers have typically not catered to the same markets.
Typically European hunters shoot closer and in darker conditions because they do not have the open plains of the West, and hunting is (or at least was) allowed much earlier and later, including at night. There was a need for more magnification in the US, and more light gathering in Europe. This led to different market standards: e.g. 1.5-6x42 in Europe, and e.g. 3-9x36 in the US.

European makers cater a lot more - some would say predominantly, judging by their recent product offerings - to the US market these days, but there are still differences in product offerings. For example:
- I am personally a big fan of being able to go down to 1 or 1.5 magnification (very useful on running game at short range!), yet still have a good light gathering objective (40+ mm). Until very recently there were zero American scope offering low magnification and light gathering objective.
- I am personally a big fan of first focal plan (FFP) reticles, because I learned as a kid to use them to estimate distance on Roe Deer, Chamois, etc. Good luck to this day, finding a FFP hunting scope among US makers. In truth, affordable laser range finders make this less important nowadays, but I like these big fat posts at dawn or dusk when the thin cross hairs are all but invisible. In truth, illuminated reticles make this less important nowadays.

Admittedly, Leupold (and other US manufacturers) also cater more to the European market nowadays, and it is now easy to find 40+ mm objective on American scopes, and some of them offer low magnification on the low end of the variable range.

3) The stark reality is that Zeiss, S&B, Swaro, Leica scopes have long offered better glass, as measured in the lab and as visible in the field.
Ouch, I am likely going to suffer for this one, but there is a reason why this is a fact. For whatever geological reason sands from the Baltic Sea produce better glass than any other sand from anywhere in the world. This is a scientifically recognized fact, and this is why Schott glass has been the best in the world.

This does not mean that a Leupold scope will not work, and you will likely never realize the glass difference until you actually, as BeeMaa suggests, look side by side in different scopes in the first 15 minutes and last 15 minutes of light in the day. The difference is indeed quite visible.

Of course there is no visible difference at high noon!

I will go further and say that there also a noticeable difference between the newest 92% light transmission Leica glass and the previous generation of ~85% transmission Zeiss et al. glass owing to progress in glass coatings and vapor deposition. The difference between my 1980 Zeiss 10x40 BGA and 1990 Swarovski SLC 8x30 WB binocs and my 2020 Leica 10x42 Geovid HD-B 3000 is striking!

Is it still true?

The challenge, honestly, in these discussions, is to have the actual opportunity to compare apple to apple in low light field conditions, scope "A" with scope "B" of the same generation. Truth is: darn few of us have, because darn few of us own them all...

I don't! And I think that we are all "man enough" to recognize the limitation of your own experience. For example:
  • I can speak very knowingly about the 1980 to 2000 German Zeiss and Schmidt & Bender, and the Austrian Kahles/Habicht/Swarovski because I own 9 of them and have tested them side by side. I can tell you that in those days Swaro was way behind Zeiss and S&B glass wise.
  • I can also compare all these to 2013 Leica (ER i) models, and the difference is staggering! It does not mean that I am going to throw away my Zeiss, S&B, Kahles/Habicht/Swarovski, or that they are unsuitable to hunting, it just means that objectively the 2013 Leica ER i glass is better, which is logical given the progress in coating technology.
  • I can also say that objectively a 2000 era German Zeiss, S&B or Austrian Swarovski has better light transmission than a 2000 era American Leupold. I own a number of Leupold too and I have looked at them side by side.
  • I can even say that 2015 China Zeiss Terra have objectively better light transmission than 2000 era American Leupold. I have actually replaced the Leupolds that were on my Walther, Anschutz and Winchester 52 .22 LR rifles with Zeiss Terra scopes...
  • However, how do 2020 German Zeiss Victory, Japan Zeiss Conquest, Schmidt & Bender, Swarovski, Leupold VX-6HD compare? I honestly do not know because I do not have them to look at side by side at dawn or dusk...
If I cannot actually compare them side by side at dusk and dawn, I will speculate that:
- optics that use HD / ED glass are better;
- optics in which ALL glass surfaces are coated are better;
- optics that use apochromatic coated glass are better;
- optics using screwed metal parts are stronger than those using glued plastic part (I know, this one will likely be challenged);
- optics benefiting from decades upon decades of military field experience are more debugged and stronger;
- optics benefiting from decades upon decades of DG caliber hard-recoil experience are more debugged and stronger;
- etc.

In addition to mechanical considerations such as the zoom ratios, the above characteristics ought to sort the boys from the men among Zeiss Victory vs. Conquest vs. Terra; Swarovski Z3 vs, Z5 vs. Z6 vs. Z8; Schmidt & Bender Polar vs. Stratos vs. Zenith vs. Exos vs. Summit vs. Klassik; Leupold VX-6 vs. VX-5 vs. VX-3; Vortex Razor vs. Viper vs. Diamondback; etc. etc.

I personally believe, and lab tests confirm, that the Zeiss or Leica glass that dominate the scientific instrumentation world and that reside in a Victory or in a Magnus still offer better characteristics that the Leupold glass in a VX-6 or the Vortex glass in a Razor, but I suspect that the enormous difference that existed in the 1980's is nowhere near as big as it once was...

In so many words: for field applications you cannot go wrong with the high-end product line from ANY of the top brands, certainly including Leupold and Vortex, and it is obvious that any high-end optic from any manufacturer is better than any low-end optics from any manufacturer. In so many words, I would take a Victory or Magnus over a VX-6, but I will take a VX-5 over a Terra...

The basics...
And of course, and above all, I will continue to apply the basic rule that a 7 mm light beam must reach the pupil at full dilatation in low light condition, i.e. a 6x magnification scope requires a 42 mm objective (6 x 7 = 42), which is why I do not recommend a straight tube with 24 mm objective on a .375 H&H rifle that may see yeoman service on a 1 rifle safari involving early or late shooting, because, regardless of glass quality, a 1-6x24 scope only projects a 4 mm light beam at 6x (24 / 6 = 4), which means that everything else such as glass quality being equal, you will factually see a Leopard at dusk, or a Kudu at dawn, better with a 42 mm objective than with a 24 mm objective. If it were a .416 or .458 we were discussing, that is unlikely to see plains game duties at dawn or dusk, a 4 mm light bean is completely OK in good light because the human pupil typically shrinks to around 3 mm in daylight.

Apologies for another over-lengthy post...
 
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One Day...

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That extra eye relief is very welcome on heavy recoiling rifles.

For those that don't know the "EE" stands for "Extended Eye" relief.
That Z6 has about 4.72" of eye relief, making a scope cut much less likely.
Yep, that was really smart of Swarovski, and it is a shame they discontinued it. The current Z6i 1-6x24 L has 3.7" eye relief. Truth be told it is standard and sufficient, but more is better on the big guns. I started on my .416 with an old S&B 1.25-4x20 that has only a 3.1" eye relief, and it touched (but did not cut or hurt) me a few times when shooting snap shot running drills. I called these "free warnings" and decided to re-scope...

Eye relief was therefore THE critical factor in my choice when re-scoping my .416. This is why I went with the Leica ER i / Visus 1-4x24. It has a 3.9" eye relief. I went with Leica over Swaro because I could not find an EE any longer, and because I have two Leica ER i / Visus 2.5-10x42 on my .300 Wby and .375, so I truly have 100% habits transfer between my matched triplets Mod 3 CZ 550.
 
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Tally-Ho HUNTING SAFARIS

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Have you looked at the Leupold VX3 2.5-8x? One of the truly great scopes in the price zip code. Excellent eye relief.
i have this exact scope on one of my 375's
this rifle is used by me for backup on plains game and by clients for large game
this is a great scope that works well for large game close up or plains game out to reasonably long shots, great all round scope
you can turn it way down for close stuff and gives you quick sighting of target

regards
 

M McDindi

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No arguments with any of the info or opinions here. All of the main line scopes mentioned here are undoubtedly ALL fine optical devices. As I and others have mentioned, as man made mechanical devices, they are subject to failure or breakage either by repeated and heavy recoil, accidents or.........

One thing to seriously consider is if or when one goes tits up, what is the repair experience going to be like and how long will it take. I've already talked about my personal experiences dealing with Leopold. Basically, no questions asked and either the scope is repaired or replaced and back in my hands in 2-3 weeks.

Late last year one of my Zeiss 6x32 C's on one of my 30/06's didn't seem to be holding zero and was making erratic movements when making adjustments. Contacted Zeiss USA and found out it was manufactured before they started offering Lifetime Warranty. I could send it to them but the repairs would be $200 minimum. Sent it in, a few weeks later I get an email they, Zeiss USA, checked it out, but they had to mail it to Germany for repair. FIVE months later I get the scope back with a note that it just needed internal cleaning so no additional charges.

I have an old Redfield Widefield 2-7 that was original on a Steyr Mannlicher-Schoenauer M56 Mountain Carbine. Lens were clouding around the edges. Redfield said, sorry out of warranty, you'll have to send it to a 3rd party repair shop. They recommended Iron Site Inc. Contacted them and it was a flat rate repair for $95 plus shipping. Sent it in and it came back 8-months later. Cleaned and lubed internals and new lenses.

My friend in Namibia has a set of Swaro SLC binos that he's had for years. At the end of the hunting season one year, he decided to ship them to Sworo for service and cleaning. Sworo dealer in Namibia shipped them to Sworo and he finally got them back a little over a year later and only after repeated email requests directly to Swaro asking them what's taking so long.

As I say, all the glass mentioned above is all top-shelf stuff and it all has the potential to break or need service or repair at some point. It is a bit of a balancing act. I want great after the sale customer service IF repairs are needed and reasonably quick turn around time. On the other hand, I don't want something that I can get returned in a week if I have to send it back a couple of times a year for service/repair which in-turn generates lack of confidence/trust in the component, whatever it is.
 

twoshots

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leup if those are the choices
 

Wade J VanGinkel

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I'm pretty much leupold all the way now. Unless a super deal on something else.
Currently testing a sig whisky5 I got a third of retail price.
I've had 1 vortex but it broke before ever going afield. Won't buy another.
I also have 1 zeiss. Conquest 4.5x14 I purchased new. Best scope I have in good light but the worst I own in low light. Fades the fastest and actually blurs. I've heard that's not normal but again I won't buy another.
Leupold has never failed me.
 

Erny

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My 375 H&H wears a gold ring. In fact all my rifles have gold rings except one that has a Zeiss
 

GuttormG

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I have had a Vortex on my 375, it didn't end well..
Bought a Leupold vx-r 1,25-4. No more chinascope for me.
 

Standard Velocity

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Using the Leupold 7x33mm, what has been the farthest shot you felt comfortable? The Leupold VX 7x33, 8x36mm, and 9x40mm are now my 3 candidates

Which VX are you referring to? Freedom-VX6 represents a broad range of quality and price. The 2-7x33 is a VX1 or Freedom if I’m not mistaken, the 2.5-8x36 is VX3 and the 3-9x40 could be several dozen models reaching back to the dawn of time.

The VX3 2.5-8x36 is a tremendous value. There are far better scopes available but out of a dozen Leupold scopes I currently own this one is the best compromise of weight, size, price and performance for the type of hunting I do. The VX5 is a significant step up in quality and the VX6 is VX5 glass with one x higher zoom ratio. The VX5 2-10x42 is the only scope in their lineup I may prefer over the 2.5-8x36. It is quite a bit more expensive but worth it.
 

BWH

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I’m a Leupold guy....
 

M McDindi

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Using the Leupold 7x33mm, what has been the farthest shot you felt comfortable? The Leupold VX 7x33, 8x36mm, and 9x40mm are now my 3 candidates

Shardin....I kind of think it's more important what distance you feel comfortable shooting. Grab a cold drink and some chips and I'll try and explain my question back to you.

1. The 375 H&H is a fine, fine cartridge, no question. While it is capable of "long shots", it kind of depends on what the definition of "long shots" is. I think to start to answer that question for yourself, it would be very helpful if you do a little research on the ballistics of the bullets, weights and velocity your wanting to use. Next, some of the bullet choices will be driven by the species of game you're after. Obviously a huge (pun intended) difference between a springbok and an elephant. :LOL: The 375 H&H is capable of all of them. Once you've decided the species and the bullets and the velocity, now look very hard at the trajectories you're going to be dealing with. You may find that if your bullet and velocity are zeroed for between 100-150m, the trajectories start to fall off pretty fast past 300m and if you zero at 300, your mid flight trajectory hight will be seriously high to remember to compensate for at 100-150m.

2. Next set of questions you'll have to answer for yourself is where and under what kind of terrain and cover are you anticipating hunting. Again, a big difference between the lowveld and the brushy river bottoms compared to say the open savanna of maybe the Okavango delta and the mountains. Those conditions will drive the distances you're likely to typical be shooting. This is where you need to be talking to your PH as he'll be the best source of info on the conditions you'll expect to encounter.

3. Are you what I call "a shooter" or are you "a hunter". I personally believe these are two differing skill sets. My definition of "a shooter" are guys who prefer the challenge of "long range shots" on game say to 500m and beyond. My definition of "a hunter" is a person who find the most rewarding part of hunting in the excitement of stalking up close as possible/practical. These two skill sets are not mutually exclusive, just different methods. I personally classify myself as "a hunter". 95% of my shooting is within 200m and most of those are between 75m-150m. The exceptions are the shots I take at talaboon (baboon). Those bastids, I'll lob lead, (or copper) as far as they are.

4. You need to see how comfortable YOU are standing and shooting off shooting sticks. Unless you're hunting from a blind of some kind, the vast, vast majority of your shooting will be standing of 3-legged shooting sticks. There are not a lot of people who can keep EVERY shot inside a 4" circle at 200m standing off sticks.

5. Those things to think about above are what bring me to the point of max magnification to choose for a 375 H&H. Even though most of the scopes I have end at less than 8x, for the places I/we hunt in Namibian and now Botswana, the magnification is always set at 4x. Primarily, because even though I practice a LOT off standing shooting sticks (Gamo Whisper Air Rifle in the back yard at 25m hitting dime size targets), and a daily cardio exercise program, in the bush, with the heart pumping and the adrenalin flowing and money (trophy fees) on the line, I have a hard time holding that 4" circle at 150m. And I've found that for me, magnification above 4x makes my shooting off sticks WORSE because I'm constantly over correcting - chasing the wiggle so to speak.

If you can tell, I'm not really directly answering your question. I'm just giving you some ideas to work through and sort out answering your question for yourself - the variables are too.....varied o_O for a one size fits all answer.

Enjoy the ride of discovery, you're going to have a great time with truly classic "one rifle to hunt the world" with.

M.
 

Forrest Halley

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I got a nice deal on a 30mm VX-3I 4.5-14x 40. I'm mounting it in Warne QD LOW rings on my Model 70 Safari Express .375. Should be a fun optic for load development. It's a side focus CDS so I can get a free dial for longer distance. I'm guessing the only bullet for that is the Accubond. I do wonder about the ocular not having a rubber ring, but it's got 3.9" of clearance at lowest power so we should be ok.
 

EZRider

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Leupold VX6 1-6 on my .375 H&H CZ550.
Great scope, if something happened to it I would buy another exactly the same.
6 X is more than enough for bushveld hunting.
 

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