Is there a clear winner for best glass?

bwahl

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 22, 2018
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#1
Out of curiosity is there a clear winner for the award of best glass? I know it's subjective and splitting hairs in some cases... But taking into account CA, resolution, light transmission, tunneling....

Is there a brand or even a couple of brands that really stand out above the rest no matter who's looking through them?
 

MACHTECH

Machinist
Feb 12, 2017
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Michigan
#3
Here's another thread where you're going to get 100 different opinions. I've owned just about every high end brand of scopes and as far as glass goes, nothing has impressed me more than Hensoldt. TT is a very close second though!
 
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diverdon

Online Training Member
Dec 21, 2011
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#4
No, and it does not matter. Mostly all of the top glass is more then good enough to be taken as a given. Now pick the reticle you like and find someone who makes reliable turrets and easy zero stop. (Don't forget to really decide if you want FFP or SFP and why.) Look at warranty build quality service reputation. Consider who has illumination that does what you want.
 
Feb 13, 2017
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#5
Henny , untill I spend time with a TT . I've had them all except TT and the Henny is a solid step above them all in glass .
 

bwahl

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 22, 2018
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Bismarck, ND
#6
All I can afford is a lowly nightforce so this was purely an inquiry of curiosity.

But to address some comments... Everything I shoot is 2nd FP because everything goes hunting and I do not like the small reticles at low end mag.
 

5RWill

Optics Fiend
Oct 15, 2009
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#9
From consensus Henny, TT, and Minox. From my personal use Kahles (new gen), Schmidt, and NF. I've heard the DOF on the TT is incredible and something to be experienced. Haven't seen it in person, past a point though it's nearly splitting hairs. Was on a crazy optics hunt during the spring and got behind a PMII, ATACR, K624i, MK5, Gen II Razor, XRS II, and finally just decided i liked the SKMR3 so much that i went all Kahles.
 
Apr 18, 2014
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#10
Haven't seen a Henny in the wild, yet, nor have I peered through a TT, but I've spent considerable time behind a Minox and S&B and even though the Schmidt is the "gold standard" of glass, my Minox tops it
 

SLG

Gunny Sergeant
Sep 2, 2009
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#11
I would like to check out a Minox in person. Aside from the glass, they should be fairly robust, and I like the design of the turrets. Not looking to get one, just curious.
 
Apr 24, 2017
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#12
I have gotten behind just about everything besides Henny and Minox. When you have them all next to each other, yes you can tell small differences in glass. When they apart, or from memory, it is exceedingly difficult to tell. At that price point everything is close enough that I make the decision based on reticle and turrets.
 

mijp5

Gunny Sergeant
May 7, 2009
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#13
True, but it sure beats the shit out of crummy glass!
There is a noticeable difference between shit glass and good glass for sure. I have a couple of hensoldts and a kahles. Used to own a couple of vortex and 3 NXS. The hensoldt glass is marginally better than nightforce or sig, but not that much that it makes a difference. Can’t tell the difference between hensoldt and kahles. Vortex and leupold were probably the worst glass I owned, but I mean worst in a relative sense; they weren’t bad at all. I like shooting the hensoldts, but I’ve never said that I wouldn’t have made the shot had it not been with the hensoldt because of the excellent glass.

Oh anyone who tells you a tangent theta or premier destroys any other scope in terms of glass is just propagating a lie. It’s a scope, not a high resolution camera lens.
 
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SLG

Gunny Sergeant
Sep 2, 2009
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#14
The reality is, we need the scope's glass to be up to the task, but beyond that, no one should be spending tons of time behind the scope. If your job or your sport requires hours of scope time, you are better off using a top of the line spotting scope and or binos for most of it. When I learned this, it was a huge improvement in my performance and enjoyment.
 
Jan 28, 2011
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#16
No, and it does not matter. Mostly all of the top glass is more then good enough to be taken as a given. Now pick the reticle you like and find someone who makes reliable turrets and easy zero stop. (Don't forget to really decide if you want FFP or SFP and why.) Look at warranty build quality service reputation. Consider who has illumination that does what you want.
^^^ This, over and over again. All of the top manufacturers have great glass, go with the features you value most. I have Swaro, Khales... but my go-to is NF.
 

Rob01

Super Mod/Team Blaster
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#17
No, and it does not matter. Mostly all of the top glass is more then good enough to be taken as a given. Now pick the reticle you like and find someone who makes reliable turrets and easy zero stop. (Don't forget to really decide if you want FFP or SFP and why.) Look at warranty build quality service reputation. Consider who has illumination that does what you want.
Pretty much sums it up. The scope isn't a spotting scope. You can have the best glass that you can see the gnats ass on the moon with but if it doesn;t track then you missed your target. People get too hung up on "the best glass". The longer you are in this sport the more you will learn that that is not the most important thing.
 
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Feb 13, 2017
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#18
Good glass isn't everything, but it's a factor for many shooters . Obviously tracking and reliability are paramount, but there are several scopes available that that have excellent tracking and top end glass , why not have the best of both worlds? It's only money, you can always make more!
 
Feb 20, 2017
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#19
You'll find the absolute best glass in astronomical telescopes, not something you can buy in a hobby shop but something with a 1000 or so tons of steel supporting it and it mostly looks up at the distant objects in the sky.
These days, with modern grinding and coating techniques, all of the upper end scopes are pretty much equal. The tunneling thing is really not a glass issue, it is almost a given when working with 6-8x zoom ranges in narrow tubes. When you increase tube diameter it works better.
 
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Mordamer

Professional Know It All
May 11, 2010
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Hooker, OK
#20
True, but it sure beats the shit out of crummy glass!
I have to disagree with your line of thought. On a day with tons of mirage and a little bit of haze in the air I have compared multiple top tier optics with multiple lower tier optics. The conditions made all of the optics look almost exactly the same when it came to being able to resolve details of the Target. Of course, that experience hasn't stopped me from purchasing $3,000 optics. Just know that if you are going to show off your super expensive glass to someone with a $700 scope then you might want to do it on a clear cool day. Haha.
 
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MACHTECH

Machinist
Feb 12, 2017
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Michigan
#22
The OP never said anything about hot hazy bad mirrage days. mijp5 derailed the original topic by bringing those conditions into the equation. The original question was simply who has the best quality glass.
 
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bab029

Hammer Mechanic
May 16, 2011
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#23
My experience is not quite in line with this statement. Using a gen2 razor and a swfa 3-15 side by side in heavy mirage, at the same mag, the razor definitely handles it better.

Edited - quote fail, meant to quote the post about good glass not fixing mirage.
 
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SLG

Gunny Sergeant
Sep 2, 2009
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#24
If I want a scope for dedicated LR stuff, then tracking absolutely matters more than glass. If I'm going to MPBR zero a hunting scope, or a fighting scope, then as long as it is rugged enough, I would always prefer to have the best glass. If I can have the best glass, and have the LR precision I need, and I can afford the scope, then that is better still.

Clearly the OP has a very good scope, and he did say he was just curious. I've tried most scopes out there but not all, and I'm curious too. Sometimes choosing better glass is the better way to go.
 

lash

Swamp Rat
Sep 28, 2012
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#25
In ELR situations, better glass most definitely is noticeable during high mirage conditions. The difference at a mile or so between my S&B and the Razor 2 for being able to discern the target amongst the mirage and being able to read the mirage versus seeing just a smarmy blur is quite noticeable.

At regular long range shooting to 1000 or so, it's not normally needed. In addition, I still haven't found a reticle I really like in the S&B for use in match style shooting.
 

bwahl

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 22, 2018
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Bismarck, ND
#26
The OP never said anything about hot hazy bad mirrage days. mijp5 derailed the original topic by bringing those conditions into the equation. The original question was simply who has the best quality glass.

We stayed on track for the first few posts.... I suppose that's all one can expect or hope for.
 
Apr 18, 2014
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#27
At regular long range shooting to 1000 or so, it's not normally needed. In addition, I still haven't found a reticle I really like in the S&B for use in match style shooting.
That's the only issue I have with Schmidt. The Minox MR4 is the ideal reticle for me. The glass is just an added benefit. If Schmidt had something like the MR4 or SKMR3, I'd have nothing but S&Bs on my rifles.

Back on topic, I definitely agree that above a certain price point, the difference in glass is negligible. Certainly more important factors come into play, like tracking, reticle choice, field of view, etc, but OP's question was solely glass related.
 

Nortex

Sergeant
Jun 2, 2010
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#28
Once you get over the 2k mark they are all pretty even and easily usable. I've only seen a few advantages when jumping up to the 3k level for example from the popular gen 2 razor and the euro glass (ie schmidt, khales gen3 and premier/tth). The mirage abatement and target acquisition in the shadows.
 

Rob01

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#31
Once you get over the 2k mark they are all pretty even and easily usable. I've only seen a few advantages when jumping up to the 3k level for example from the popular gen 2 razor and the euro glass (ie schmidt, khales gen3 and premier/tth). The mirage abatement and target acquisition in the shadows.
Not my experience with the S&Bs vs the Razor IIs. In heavy mirage both are similar. Same with targets in darker areas. Ran multiple S&Bs for over 6 years in matches so have a lot of time behind them. Same for the Razor IIs. I think they are right on par with each other as far as glass but the Razor II is better for knobs and reticle.
 

SLG

Gunny Sergeant
Sep 2, 2009
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#32
Not my experience with the S&Bs vs the Razor IIs. In heavy mirage both are similar. Same with targets in darker areas. Ran multiple S&Bs for over 6 years in matches so have a lot of time behind them. Same for the Razor IIs. I think they are right on par with each other as far as glass but the Razor II is better for knobs and reticle.
I've been "testing" my personal scopes lately, specifically for ability to see targets in shade. It seems that pure magnification trumps glass quality in most cases, but my SWFA's have held their own with my better scopes, even at lower magnification. That's only one metric, and not scientific on my part at all, but I find it interesting.
 

Nortex

Sergeant
Jun 2, 2010
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#35
Not my experience with the S&Bs vs the Razor IIs. In heavy mirage both are similar. Same with targets in darker areas. Ran multiple S&Bs for over 6 years in matches so have a lot of time behind them. Same for the Razor IIs. I think they are right on par with each other as far as glass but the Razor II is better for knobs and reticle.
Not what I've experienced in matches on multiple occasions. There is a clear difference/advantage.
 

Nortex

Sergeant
Jun 2, 2010
853
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WF, Texas
#37
That's why all these scope glass posts are pretty useless as people see different things.
I agree to an extent but when there's clear comments within squads of seeing or not seeing a target then there is a difference. That being said all in that 2k plus range are well capable of winning matches.
 

Rob01

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#38
I agree to an extent but when there's clear comments within squads of seeing or not seeing a target then there is a difference. That being said all in that 2k plus range are well capable of winning matches.
Again the personal opinions of the shooters. Just like the "best glass" threads.
 

Rob01

Super Mod/Team Blaster
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#40
Yup pretty much. Was the same person looking through all the scopes at the same time of day? Nope. Even then it would still be opinion as like I said I have a lot of time behind both in many conditions and have my opinion which doesn't seem to line up with yours. So yup they are opinions.
 

wjm308

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Nov 30, 2012
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#44
Out of curiosity is there a clear winner for the award of best glass? I know it's subjective and splitting hairs in some cases... But taking into account CA, resolution, light transmission, tunneling....

Is there a brand or even a couple of brands that really stand out above the rest no matter who's looking through them?
These types of posts are always very difficult because you're asking us to give an objective answer to a subjective question. First, you need to define what does "best glass" mean to you? There are many elements that go into an optical formula when designing a scope, but there is something that no single manufacturer can account for and that is the differences in the human eye and our own personal preferences - the things we like. So asking a question like "who has the best glass" is almost akin to asking "who makes the best ice cream", we all have different tastes and while you may find a group who all love Chocolate you'll just as easily find another group who prefers Vanilla and then among the Vanilla makers, is it brand X or brand Y or... The same goes for scope manufacturers and the different scopes they make, just because Vortex makes the AMG (which has great glass) doesn't mean their Diamondback is going to have the same quality. In general, within the optics community, you get what you pay for, so the "better" glass typically comes in the higher priced optics.

In the not too distant past, the general consensus was that the scopes with the best optical quality came from German/Austrian/European descent; however, over the past few years the introduction of high end Japanese glass and designs has put a dent in that trophy; hence the responses above where many list out Vortex Razor Gen II's, or Nightforce ATACR F1's, etc. who are all using Japanese glass.

But to get back to the OP's question, there is no "award" for best glass and, in fact, there is no spec that is provided by any manufacturer that determines how good their glass is, it takes some pretty expensive equipment to measure resolution in lpm (lines per millimeter) or the like, but resolution is not definitive in and of itself, there are other qualities like color, contrast, flare, CA and more that go into a great optical design and this is where a lot of personal preference goes into the mix. For example, my eyes tend to prefer a "warmer" or yellower color cast to the image vs. a "colder" or bluer color cast, my eyes can also pick out CA pretty quickly and while it is an annoyance for me, it does not bother other people at all. Then there's terms like clarity, pop, eyebox, parallax/depth and so forth that can further confuse matters.

In the end, you have to define what is the objective for you, so when you ask who has the best glass or the like, what are you really looking for? Are you a competition shooter who is looking for the edge in being able to spot the gray steel target that's blending in with the background at 768 yards? Or are you a hunter who's looking for a scope that will help them identify whether or not that bull elk is legal 30 minutes after sunset when it's hard to see how many tines are sticking up, or is that a buck in the thicket or a branch? The good news is, many of the top tier scopes excel in these areas so you no longer have to decide on one scope for one thing and another for something else (we'll table the SFP vs FFP arguments for now).

So while Schmidt & Bender, Zeiss/Hensoldt, Swarovski and the like may have ruled this market not long ago, the likes of Vortex, Nightforce, March and others have steadily encroached upon their territory and the likes of Tangent Theta and Minox ZP5 may have actually exceeded in some areas. What might be drawing even more attention these days than "good glass" are good reticles and that's where you'll start seeing some interesting trends, Kahles has made some great strides since their Gen III scopes teamed up with Shannon Kay to create the vaunted SKMR (Shannon Kay Milling Reticle) reticles. But here's the problem with trying to define the "best", let's say I recommend the Kahles, but if you're one who is really bothered by CA I'd tell you to steer clear of the K624i, so maybe I recommend the Minox ZP5 with MR4 reticle but you're a turret purest and are bothered by minute amounts of play between clicks, so then I'd steer you towards a Tangent Theta but you insist you must have a .2 mil reticle and so I recommend the new Nightforce with Mil-C reticle but you tell me the scope has to be less than 30oz so now I recommend the Vortex AMG 6-24x50, but you insist you must have lower than 6x magnification so now I tell you about the March 3-24x52 and... the list goes on, and on, and on.

Again, this is why it is so very difficult to quantify who has the best glass or best scope because there are so many other factors at play, so a better question is to ask, "who has the best scope/glass for me and my style of shooting" that is something we can narrow in on by defining what kind of shooting you do and what are some of the constraints that you want to keep within, constraints like weight, cost, length, mechanics, forgiving or easy eyebox, forgiving parallax, etc. and then realize that even with all the constraints you're still going to get multiple choice answers and in the end you will have to choose for yourself and be content with your choice unless something serious is wrong with you scope, which at the alpha class prices you will find few and far between. All too often we ditch a tried and true scope for another over petty things, things like trying to find the absolute best glass when you've been perfectly happy with your Nightforce for years now; can you find a scope with better glass, arguably yes, but what have you gained in doing so?

My recommendation for anyone looking to upgrade your scope to something more expensive is to ask yourself why? Does your current scope no longer serve your needs effectively? If you can answer with an emphatic yes then maybe it is time to upgrade, but if your current scope gets the job done and done well, again I have to ask then what is the real reason you want to upgrade? Right now I'm sitting here looking at a bunch of scopes for my next review, but the real question is, do any of them offer me anything more than the scopes that currently sit on my rifles, I could argue that yes, a Schmidt 3-20 gives me more bottom end than my AMG 6-24 or the Leupold Mark 5 3.6-18x44 is a lot shorter than the Burris XTR II 4-20 and so forth, but all are fantastic scopes in their own right. The great news is that here we are in 2018 and there are so many great tools to choose from and no longer do you have to pay $3k to get a great tool.
 
Dec 19, 2011
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#45
In my experience with MY eyes, the Minox ZP5 and Tangent Theta riflescopes are in a league of their own as far as glass goes. I've owned most of the higher end optics (S&B, Nightforce, Steiner, and Kahles). The Minox and the TT stand out.
 

kthomas

Sergeant
Jun 17, 2009
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Houston, TX
#46
I feel like I went back in time to 2010. We are still talking about "best glass"?

That is the least important feature of top tier scopes - they are so close, that any discernible difference will not make a difference on the range. People need to focus on reticle design, mechanical features, reliability, etc.
 

mijp5

Gunny Sergeant
May 7, 2009
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#47
I think it’s a waste of time to be talking about “the best”. There’s a few mfrs in the running, mostly German glass. But even if you do have the very best, you ain’t gonna shoot any better. I just shot 600 yds today, once around noon and then again at 5 Pm. It was so hazy I could barely see the center bullseye at 15x. And this is with a hensoldt. Buy a scope based on its reticle, functionality and durability. The glass will be fine if it’s a good company, and the price will reflect it.
 
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TimK

Gunny Sergeant
Jan 13, 2010
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#50
Eh, I like conversations about best glass. Not every conversation is real life has to be sharply focused and clearly defined to be enjoyable. Why must it be so here? I have an abiding interest in good glass purely for the joy of looking through it. I measure tracking on a jig, because that's what matters to me when I'm actually shooting (that and good reticles for my style), but I don't mind at all conversing about glass in fairly loose, not-so-technical terminology. I'm not knowledgeable enough to be able to talk intelligently about the finer points of optical clarity, so just hearing that XYZ scope knocks someone's socks off is about enough for me.

I've not owned a Minox, Hendsholdt or TT, but have most everything else that's been mentioned. My eyes and I are probably all just getting old, but neither my NF ATACR 5-25 nor my Schmidt 5-25 really impress me all that much. It's possible I've just gotten jaded or spoiled, but neither of those gave me any of that "wow" reaction when I first looked through them. I keep hearing about the Minox and would love to look through one. I did get a little time behind a TT one day, but the conditions were terrible. Too much mirage to see much of anything.
 
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