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Objective Lens Size: Finding The Perfect Riflescope for Deer Hunting

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May 16, 2013
Objective Lens Size: Finding The Perfect Riflescope for Deer Hunting - 4

American hunters have been brainwashed into thinking they want the brightest riflescope they can buy.

They don’t.

Light-gathering ability is mainly a function of objective-lens size, which means the brightest riflescopes would be too large and unwieldy to be much help in the places most of us hunt. Picture a 65mm or an 80mm spotting scope strapped to your rifle. Bright as hell, but hugely impractical.

So, what’s the best magnification and configuration for big-game hunters? Like most things, it depends. But for all-around utility, it’s hard to go wrong with the classic configurations: a 2-10x42 or a 3-9x40. Here’s why:

LOW AND HIGH MAG

Assuming we’re talking here about second-image-plan reticles and what can be considered classic hunting scopes, as opposed to tactical scopes mainly used for target shooting, you want an optic with the best combination of light-gathering, magnification, and resolution (like the Bushnell scope we tested above).

One of the laws of optics is that as you change one of these legs of the stool, the other legs will also change. The wide range of magnification gives you the ability to dial down the power to gather more light and gain situational awareness. The higher mag decreases the amount of light arriving at your eye, but it makes your aiming point larger and clearer.

And the modest-sized objective lens allows you to mount the optic on a variety of actions using standard-height rings. These scopes are generally portable enough to let you carry your scope-mounted with ease in a wide range of terrain.

OBJECTIVE LENS

I used to be in love with big, high-riding 50mm riflescopes. I figured that the super-sized objective would let me gather more light at the time I saw most critters, at the day’s first and last light.

But then I missed a big mule deer at inside 25 yards. I wasn’t expecting to see him so close, but I was stalking another buck when I blew the big boy out of his bed. I didn’t have much time to shoot, but even though my scope was set at 6x, I shot right over him. The reason? I hadn’t practiced shooting at that close distance, but the high-mounted scope was way above my bore at that distance.

A scope that rides closer to your bore has all the ability to reach out at distance, good-quality glass will be adequately bright, and the lower-slung optic will allow you to make those snap shots at close range as easily as those distant shots at higher magnification.

Comments (4)

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from BurrisHunt wrote 29 weeks 6 days ago

I prefer 50mm objective lenses. Yes there is a high mount but if you do it right, all of the disadvantages go away. Most issues you hear about are from beginner hunters who choose riddiculous sized objective lenses, poor mounts and use it for the wrong shooting application. Stick with high quality gear for the purpose intended and you wont go astray. Also the Banner Trophy XLT is a great scope! www.bestriflescopereview.net

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from cannoneer1 wrote 31 weeks 5 days ago

I must offer a counter argument. I have a Banner Trophy XLT 6x18 50mm objective lens scope with Butler Creek flip up lens covers on a Savage 111 in .300 Win Mag. Super bright. I used the same mounts that held the Banner 3x9 40mm objective lens scope that was mounted when I bought it. Standard Weaver stuff. I simply ground some of the lens cover plastic off the bottom of the front cover with my Dremel and put it back on. Works great. I'll loan you my gun to see if you miss at 25 yards.

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from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 4 days ago

I prefer a 50mm objective lens on my rifles; and while it is anecdotal, I have never had a problem with anything being too close.

Granted I have to mount on high rings, but with modern cheek pads, I couldn't be happier.

I think the most important factor is matching the scope to the gun it is going on. Range, objective size, max magnification, lens quality, fogging etc. All have to be taken into consideration when matching the right scope to the right gun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Good information in the blog and the video. I have always shied away from the larger objective lenses because I don't like the high scope mounts that are required. Thanks, Andrew.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

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from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 4 days ago

I prefer a 50mm objective lens on my rifles; and while it is anecdotal, I have never had a problem with anything being too close.

Granted I have to mount on high rings, but with modern cheek pads, I couldn't be happier.

I think the most important factor is matching the scope to the gun it is going on. Range, objective size, max magnification, lens quality, fogging etc. All have to be taken into consideration when matching the right scope to the right gun.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from cannoneer1 wrote 31 weeks 5 days ago

I must offer a counter argument. I have a Banner Trophy XLT 6x18 50mm objective lens scope with Butler Creek flip up lens covers on a Savage 111 in .300 Win Mag. Super bright. I used the same mounts that held the Banner 3x9 40mm objective lens scope that was mounted when I bought it. Standard Weaver stuff. I simply ground some of the lens cover plastic off the bottom of the front cover with my Dremel and put it back on. Works great. I'll loan you my gun to see if you miss at 25 yards.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BurrisHunt wrote 29 weeks 6 days ago

I prefer 50mm objective lenses. Yes there is a high mount but if you do it right, all of the disadvantages go away. Most issues you hear about are from beginner hunters who choose riddiculous sized objective lenses, poor mounts and use it for the wrong shooting application. Stick with high quality gear for the purpose intended and you wont go astray. Also the Banner Trophy XLT is a great scope! www.bestriflescopereview.net

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DSMbirddog wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

Good information in the blog and the video. I have always shied away from the larger objective lenses because I don't like the high scope mounts that are required. Thanks, Andrew.

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)