A few cheap scopes for us Noobs> Cross/Hawke/Zos/Leapers and Nikon.

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  • A few cheap scopes for us Noobs> Cross/Hawke/Zos/Leapers and Nikon.

    Disclaimer: The point of this thread is for those cheap bastards among us looking for <$200 optics.

    First of all, I am a total scope noob . Never looked through quality glass (i.e. > $500), and haven't been using bangsticks for long at all, at least since being a kid on a farm before heading north.
    However, I've been using magnification up to 6x with clairifiers on my compound bows for ages, and am slowly getting my head around rimfires again.

    Last few years have been spent venturing into modern crossbows and .22LR and .17HMR rimfire (with scopes up to 24x), and .17/.22 Air Rifle. My scopes are comprised mostly of spring Air Rifle compatible (survivable) types, due the similar reverse recoil nature of xbows.

    You're probably wondering what xbows and guns have in common? Not alot. Xbows are nearly as old as catapults, being invented around 450BC, and whilst elitist vertical archer pricks (Ive shot bow and arrow for nearly 20 years mind you) view crossbows as 'guns', they have been around far longer than gunpowder, in fact it would be accurate to say that the modern Rifle takes some design cues from the crossbow......

    Anyway, with a years worth of tuning, my PSE has put a best of three shots in 1"@100m. To do it, however, has cost more than a pair of really nice CZ's.

    Also, please note that my Eye Relief measurements are written as a minimum/maximum distance from the eyeball format at specified magnification. I know thats not normal.

    So, here is a totally self-opionated, unsubstansiated, biased, fascist, racist, terrorist and downright mean look.........at cheap scopes

    You were warned......

    1. "Cross 3x32"

    Awww......my first scope ! A fixed 3x mag with an adjustable eyepiece. Never looked after, it has more dust INSIDE the scope than outside! Powered by a lithium CR2032 battery, it comes with six levels of illumination in either Tropicana Green or Hot Magma Red. Clarity is in the Coke Bottle ball park. 1" tube and a 32mm objective make it pretty much.....well actually its pretty indestructible. Ill put it atop a springer air rifle for my son.

    Its turrets are rather painful to adjust with big fingers, and I never checked to see if it would return to zero after making adjustments. Apart from having to re-zero when ever the scope and rings were removed from their bases, it never lost its zero through many filthy muddy and humid trips out bush attached to what is now my back up 'I dont care if it breaks because Barnetts are supposed to' crossbow.

    Length: 21.5cm
    Weight: 225gm
    Eye relief: 9.5cm to 14cm
    Cost: $65 or free with many Air Rifle packages.

    2. "Zos 3-9x40E"

    Wow, what a shitheap! I thought it couldnt get much worse than the Cross, but, when you take something cheap and start adding features.....something has to give. This one, the range-finding reticle is really thick, there is edge of the glass visible all round, glue visible through the ocular, and if you use the illumination function, you will go full on Stevie Wonder blind, shaking your head as you try to get rid of the last thing you ever saw....an UGLY reticle.

    Turrets have a lot of play in them, and I have tried returning to zero after adjusting. It doesnt. It also doesnt hold its zero for more than a couple of shots: No doubt due to the fact its not an airgun grade scope. Its also the nastiest piece of assembly I own. Yuck.
    It has zoom adjustable from 3x to 9x with a 1" tube and 40mm of light dispersing objective pleasure. There is a kind of 'haziness' like a white aura around the reticle, like you are catching something far too close in the objective, so it makes you keep moving around to get rid of it....to no avail.

    It has a little sticker on the bottom that says 'Nitrogen Gas Port'. I figured this is where you refill it after the lens falls out, which it did...in the mailbox. Illumination also available via CR2032 in Burnt Retina Holocaust Red or Atomic Wasteland Green.

    Length: 305mm
    Weight: 385gm
    Eye relief: 8cm-14.5cm @ 9x
    Cost: $89.00

    3. "Hawke Optics 2-7x32 Sport HD IR"

    My personal favorite so far. It features a really sharp and somewhat fine illuminated mil dot reticle: Only the inner plex of the reticle is illuminated via the usual CR2032. There is no reflection on the insides at all even at the highest light value, wether in Non Offensive Green or Rather Passive Friendly Red.

    The turrets are nice and firm, and surprisingly grippy. Its held its zero ever since I owned it (came with another Crossbow) and I immediately bought another to put on my dads Brno. 1/4" turrets are a bit much though....I mean....you know, at 7x Mag.

    Rated for Air Rifle and Crossbow use, airgunners will rejoice at the ability to get parallax down to 15ft (yes, FEET), and rimmers...er.....rimming lovers....no...Rimfire Enthusiasts will appreciate parallax marks at 25/50/75/100/200 YARDS (yes Yds).

    This is one more reason to shoot with both eyes open.

    Length: 290mm
    Weight: 500gm (yep, shes a little chubby)
    Eye relief: 6cm-9cm @ 7x
    Cost: RRp US$119.95 but I got it as part of another Crossbow Package

    4. "Leapers 6-24x50 AO Mil Dot"

    Unfortunately, the internal quality looks just like the Zos. Theres edge of the glass visible, machine marks, glue, and personally I feel a bit sheepish owning one. Functionally, it works as the box says, save for one minor thing: The Illuminated Face Reticle. It just bounces off everything inside the scope. Maybe a non-IR version might have recieved a happier review, but even with the battery thrown in the bin to make sure no one else goes blind, if you use it on a sunny day, the insides are on full display like the back of a porno DVD, and the holder gets to see every little bit. Sunshade just makes the edges seem even more blurry.

    I dont use this scope anymore, but it does make a good back up just in case. One cool feature that works is the lockable turrets. Undo the lock ring, sight in, and lock it back down to prevent accidental change. The times I did use this scope, it held its zero.

    It has adjustable AO down to 15 yards, and increments up to 150 and infinity.

    I couldnt recommend this scope to anyone for anything, so dont buy it when you see it for sale on abusedguns.com.au. Or buy it, I ain't no friggin socialist, you are responsible for YOU!

    Length: 390mm
    Weight: Super BBW ( >750gm)
    Eye relief: As soon as you stop looking through it.
    Cost: I paid $154.00 but have seen it cheaper.

    5. "Nikon Buckmasters 6-18x40"

    Well, a couple of years of playing scopey, and look who thinks he's good enough to step into the big league (by noob standards I mean)?

    Yep, got serious and forked over the big ones for a genuine "Rifle. Scope."
    Obviously, nothing compared to the REAL "big-dangley-slingin'-roll-out-mah-sniper-mat" boys, but at $400, Im feeling kinda.....'kewl'. Thinkin' I might get myself a......"Centrefire. Rifle." You know...once I get used to the recoil of mah big bore 22LR....

    Anyways, I learnt that having 50 or 56mm objective on a cheap scope isnt going to make it look like Ultra HD Home Theatre. Nor is 24x zoom if you are looking through glass capable of only 6x.

    Anyway, I still screwed it up. There is no one scope fits all, but this crisp, clean, target reticle has taken me to the end of Crossbow related accuracy. I put 3 552gn arrows (yes, crossbows fire arrows these days, not bolts- regardless of what those die hard vertical bow elitists think) in to less than an inch at a Nikon rangefinder speicifed 100m, and Im not the only one to do so (and certainly not the first).

    Sight picture and 'light gathering' (professional terminology now, coz Im in the big league and all) poop all over the Hawke. Its like being at the point of impact. Only not.

    You know how you know when you're old? When you start naming wildlife like birds that you see everyday. Because you dont go out anymore.

    When stretched out to its 18x zoom, I can see details on a bird I call 'Two Feathers', a Black Kite perched a good 500m (My rangefinder only does 550m and it wont register this bird or its tree) away that I cant make out at all with 24x on the Leapers/UTG. I quickly understood why it came with 1/8" turrets. Another bird, 'Ruffles' who is a Whistling Kite lives 390m away in a dying Pandanus tree. With the Nikon, I can make out his tail feathers that identify him as 'Ruffles'. I cant be sure when using the Leapers. Maybe it was Megedagik, the killer kite.

    For the money, the Buckmasters comes with two sets of turrets, a standard 'set and forget' pair that are great for hunting trips as they are protected by covers, and a decently large 'target' set that are very big, and easy to read but are exposed. No issue if you are at the bench. They adjustments are appropriately firm, just right, and have almost no slack. I have spent more time zeroing and adjusting this scope for different .22LR rounds, and as long as I have the written data stuckto the side of my stock, I can bring it back to within a 1/4 to 1/2" re-zero. And I specifically went through many drills to this effect, wanting to see if there was more than just good glass in the price tag. Confirmed.

    Another part of MY learning curve, is that Illuminated Reticles, are for the most part, unneccessary. Yes, there are some who swear by it, and if your game only shows in the dark or against really dull backgrounds, it could be invaluable.

    What I found, was that Id happily trade being able to well and truly stay on target and adjust a side wheel parralax, than try to adjust an objective parralax which always results in moving the x-hair off target on the cheaper scopes I've had.

    Length: 365mm
    Weight: 550gm
    Eye relief: 9.5cm-11cm
    Cost: $455.00

    Normally, a 'review' would have some sort of wet remark how all the items had their own special features.


    Buy once, cry once. If you want to buy one cheap scope, buy a Hawke and have lots of change from $200 and a fine piece of equiment that will outshoot your ability.
    Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

  • #2
    I now realize how much money iv wasted on cheap scopes and I could have had a top quality scope by this, I won't even consider a cheapy. Looking at Pecars and German ones a bit more intently instead.


    • #3
      Fantastic read, DeadMeat. Really enjoyed your reviews. I think, if you haven't already, should pursue a career in writing. Very well done.
      Scopes are a touchy issue, aren't they? I've been running this debate in my own head and else where for a long time.
      Thanks again for your wonderful reviews.


      • Guest's Avatar
        Guest commented
        Editing a comment
        Nice review mate!!!
        When you have nothing else you can make a cheap scope work but I will add NcStar to the list of be cautious when purchasing. When I got back into shooting I bought 3 of these had one replaced twice under warranty the 6-24x50 absolute rubbish scope. My 4x still works and holds zero but washed out in some light cost me a few rabbits and a fox so now sits in the cupboard. The 3-12x56 I bought for my HMR worked well and held zero but optically not the clearest scope. So all in all NcStar pretty ordinary.

        I have a Nikko striking mildot functional and holds zero but not very bright and has a milky haze.

        Leapers is crap despite what billy says my experience is shite and if you want a cheap scope that looks terrible and holds zero let me know. Good for daytime targets only.

        I have never looked back from dropping my coin $515 on a leupold vx-2 (4-12x50) a really nice scope. sadly I feel that there are better optics for the dollar now availible.

        Next was the weaver super slam 3-15x50 $430 landed from Natchezss.com wow!!!! High end glass on special awesome scope see one under $500 and you can't go wrong.

        Now being addicted to nice glass came my first expensive scope the Swarovski Z3 4-12x50. $1200 ...... You get what you pay for nothing comes close!!!

        Budget became restricted and I had a spare rifle so I bought a couple of nikons m-223 ($460) and p-22 ($220) both with BDC reticle. I think the monarch is a brilliant scope for the dollar. Nicer than my vx-2 and just as bright with a 42 mm objective.

        So in summation from my experience Nikon, weaver, leupold are all good bang for buck. Swaro is the next level and I would buy another one tomorrow wife permitting. I have assisted some mates in hunting down some good dollar scopes and have spent some trigger time behind the clearidge ultra and minox za-5 and za-3 and I would have no problems in adding either of those to my collection as both brilliant sub $500 scopes.

        As an addition to this thread I don't think you should forget rings and bases. No point having a Ferrari if you drive it on bubblegum tyres so add a good quality solid foundation for your scope.

    • #4
      Haha, nice review mate. Bought a cheap Chinese scope once for an old 22, Cost $69. Went back to using rifle with open sights instead.


      • #5
        Great thread guys, keep it going!!!!

        So, crabby crab, bases? Being a 22lr shooter, I've been looking at the Burris Signature, and the Redfield rimfire. What do you think about those?


        • #6
          Thanks for the reviews. Soon,I'll,be looking into buy my first scope for a Springer ad I think after reading this the hawke seems to be topping my list

          Thanks again


          • Guest's Avatar
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            Editing a comment
            Of the scopes I had recently I think the Simmons Whitetail Expedition was the most robust. (Ebay, 2nd hand only)

            I consider another one if the smaller ones models but fixed type are as heavy/robust feeling.

            Scope mounts, steel! I like Millet Angel Loc, now that I understand how to adjust them,.

            Warne steel Rimfire mounts are good, not windage adjustable but still good.

            Sometimes it good to have mounts that look the part too, I like the look of Millert Angle locs too. The warnes were just mounts.