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I hunt with a Nikon Monarch in 3X9X40. Anyway, over the years there have been numerous occasions when deer have walked out and it was just too dark to see them. Therefore, I have been pining after a 50mm.

Well, a couple days ago, a buddy and I happened to be perched on a mountain hunting. He has a Leupold VarX III (3.5X10X50). As it got darker, I became curious and looked through my scope and then his, several times, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

Through every power setting, I couldn't see any better out of his scope than I could mine. I already had it in my head that the Nikon was as good a quality scope, for a lot less, but I was really very surprised that I didn't see a noticeable difference in the amount of light transmission.

Now, before anybody jumps on, let me say that I do believe that it transmitts more light. It has to. All I'm saying is that I now believe that the difference between 40mm and 50mm (in the context of this comparison) is not near as great as I had previously assumed.

I still want a 50mm, BTW. One thing the Leupold has over the Nikon is it's size. The Nikon is about an inch and a half longer.
 

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You need to keep in mind, however, that while a 50mm may indeed transmit more light, there is a limit to what the human eye can take in, so the extra may not help as much as you think, if at all. You saw this in your comparison with the 50mm Leupold comparison (though the monarch's tend to have better glass than the Leupold's which may have made some difference)

The Nikon Monarch is one of the brightest clearest scopes out there in its price range. You won't do much better unless you spend ALOT more.

Also keep in mind that shorter isn't necessarily a good thing, as it can be harder to mount sometimes. Thats one thing I don't like about my Weaver Grand Slam--excellent optics, but short enough and w/ a long enough front bell that they can be a PIA to mount. I actually like my Burris scopes which tend to be quite long because I never seem to have a problem mounting them.
 
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