Consider a Glass Upgrade

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

The two deer fed into the soybean plot in the early morning light... I could see them out there in the mist and quickly brought the binos up to look at the deer.

I could see one was larger than the other - but I could not put antlers on either one of them...

I switched to the rifle scope and had the same problem... I could see the deer but could not tell exactly what they were.

It was well into legal shooting light and I struggled in vain, for several moments trying to figure out what they were.

As they turned and started to file out of the plot, I managed to get a final glimpse through the binoculars - it was two bucks and one was a great 8 or 10 pointer with high and wide antlers... but they moved out into the pines and faded from sight before I could determine EXACTLY what they were and get the rifle into position.

That was the end of the lower end glass for me - that day. That scope and pair of binoculars were gone before weeks end!

I had invested too much time, effort and money into hunting to allow that one aspect to deprive me of a chance to harvest a good buck - or to at least know what a particular deer is!

I moved to high end glass - which I think all hunters should consider.

I have taken many deer - and passed on a good many more - that good glass AFFORDED me the opportunity to make the correct decision.

I am not saying pay $3000 for a scope (which is easy to do) but here is what I propose.... and it is in two parts.

Spend the same as or up to 2 times the money on your scope that you spent on your rifle.

If the rifle was $500.00, spend $500 to $1000 on the scope. This type of money will get you some incredible glass - some of which could be American and some of which would be decidely European.

Several American manufacturers offer very good glass in this range and now, many of the European vendors are starting to offer incredibly good glass for the same amount of financial investment.

Match the scope to the rifle, however - and bigger is not always better. Scope companies now are offering incredibly high magnification powers, well into the teens... do not get lulled into this - a 3-9x or even a 2-7x is a great scope...

Here is the key - it is the QUALITY of the glass that makes the difference, the ability of the scope to help shrug off the elements and offer optical clarity to help you see what you want to see - and ultimately allow you to decide whether or not to shoot, based on the additonal information that the glass provided you with!

The second part of this is binoculars, of course...

First of all - again, higher power is NOT better and in fact, is very detrimental in many instances.

Take the time to learn about exit pupil in binoculars and learn the effects it has on the ability to gather light at the most crucial moments - the low light periods early and late in the day.

I am not an expert in glass but the exit pupil is a function of lens diameter / power, in that a 8x40 would have an exit pupil of 5.0 - compared to a 10x40 with an exit pupil of 4.0 - you get the picture.

Having said that, not all glass is created equal and one bino with a exit pupil of 5.0 can easily outshine a different pair of binos that have the same exit pupil - but the light gathering aspect that is affected by exit pupil is certainly one to consider!

Play with some 8 and 10 power binoculars - heck, even try some 7's and 6's - the higher powers make it harder to find what you are looking for or at - and also magnify the hand shake that is inherent in all devices that magnify an image.

With this said, the better quality glass is going to allow you to see what you are looking at - and like the rifle scope - will allow you to make a MORE INFORMED determination as to what to do in every circumstance.

Take the time to learn more about glass and then experiment with and look through some of the higher end stuff - it makes the hunt so much more enjoyable and in many cases, increases your odds of success!



arrowflipper's picture

A timeless tip

Thanks for such a great tip.  It is one that has been touted for years, but somehow, people often don't listen to it.

I can think of two instances where I had bad glass.  I hiked high into the mountains in Utah one night and slept on the ground so I'd be in the right place at daybreak.  I was.... but my scope had fogged over due to the very cold night and wet conditions.  I had a nice buck at about 150 yards but could not put the crosshairs on him because of the miserable scope.

Another time I was elk hunting and came on an elk with its head in some trees.  I wasn't even all that far away but could not make out any antlers.  My scope was pathetic and my binoculars weren't much better.  I went from one to the other trying to find antlers.  At least this time I finally saw them and got the elk.  I was furious.  I got rid of both the binoculars and the scope.

I ended up buying a pair of 7X35 Nikons and thought they were wonderful.  I used them for years and was very happy.  I put a better scope on my rifle and thought I had it made.  Then I looked through my buddy's pair of Zeiss binoculars and it made me a bit sick to my stomach.  My oh my, but they were clear.

I saved my money and now own a wonderful pair of Leica's that are crystal clear and have never failed me.  I also put a high end Leopold on my rifle and I'm in business.  This is a tip that if you don't ever follow any other one, please take notice of this one and buy the best glass you can afford.

jim boyd's picture

Thank you, Outdoorsman - you

Thank you, Outdoorsman - you will never regret it.

Best of luck in all your hunting!!



outdoorsman121's picture


Great tip!! I’m definitely going to change my set up!

jim boyd's picture

Hey Critter -   We used those

Hey Critter -


We used those mounts for years... later on, I just figured that if I used good mounts and a good scope... nothing would happen and so far, I have either been lucky or good - probably more lucky!

As the years have gone on, I have gotten more and more picky about the glass (OK, snobbish is a better word) but I do feel strongly that this one single facet of my hunting equipment has boosted my success more than any one other thing.

I have said this before... quality does not cost, it pays.... oh - I have also said buy once, cry once!

Here is the way I have it figured... I have a scope that is on my primary rifle... it was about $800.00 and it will just blow you away when you look through it, particularly at dim times of the day.

Say I hunt 30 days a year (which is a lot, I know) and I use it for 20 years.... that is 600 hunting days.... so, that is what... less than $1.50 a day to have a high end, European scope...

An investment, I say!!!

Critter done's picture

Great Tip

That's a great tip, we always put the raised scope mounts on our guns incase something happened we could just use the old school way.