A Tale Of Two Scopes

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Meopta riflescopes — the guys who make the Zeiss Conquest line — but I recently had a little cognitive dissonance when looking at options.

Typically, I’m looking for long-range “Boomershoot” target scopes, with fairly high magnification (~18x – 25x).  This time, a Reader asked me to look at a different use for him — shorter-range hunting, if you will, where the magnification needs to be more modest (~10x – 15x), with the only specs being variable focus, an illuminated reticle and a 30mm tube.  Small fields, deep woods, you get the idea.

So I got to this model, and it ticked all the boxes:

Meopta Optika6 2.5-15×44 Illuminated SFP 4C$650

Follow the link if you want the detailed specs.

I was just about to save the page for future reference, when I saw this option:

Meopta MeoSport R 3-15x50mm Illuminated SFP 4C – $450

Once again, the details are at the link.

All of which makes me wonder.  Meopta bills its Meosport line as “entry-level”, and the model above compares very well indeed to its more expensive cousin at the top.  In fact, the Sport looks a little better than the Optika:  a 50mm bell vs. 44mm, and so on.

All of which makes me suspicious.  A fifty-dollar difference in price would be one thing, but a $200 spread?  Long experience in marketing and manufacturing taught me that every price reduction for two identical items comes at the cost of quality, in some way, shape or form.  (The Iron Triangle is:  materials / features + quality + price = an equilibrium constant.  Reduce price, and you have to reduce one or both of the other two.)  But as far as I can tell, the features are more or less identical, and Meopta’s quality has been superb.

For the life of me, however, I can’t fathom the difference between the two scopes.  My penny-pinching nature says “Take the MeoSport”, but experience says, “Buy once, cry once”.

Can anyone shed any light on this issue?

Update:  From Reader Will B comes an email:

The price delta is in the glass coatings.  The more expensive scope has more/better coatings.
I also noticed you mentioned a 30mm tube.  You probably think this lets in more light, that is incorrect.
These scopes are made to the European style where they can hunt at night.  Hence the larger objective.  I have not looked through one of these but I would bet that Meopta is using lens coatings that allow the blue light to remain;  this is because in Europe they can hunt at night.  All Austrian/European scopes emphasize blue light waves.  US scopes use yellow light (think Leupold) as it is pretty good at twilight or dusk.
The reason for a 30mm tube is because Europeans do not generally have the kind of flat shooting rifles we generally use in the US.  The European rounds have a greater arc to them.   So the 30 mm tube allows for more mechanical up and down in the elevation adjustment.    That is the sole purpose of a 30mm tube.
You will not likely need that arc accommodation in a shot under 200 yards unless of course you have a slow shooting round, so usually in the US there is no need for a 30mm tube.
I bought a Conquest years ago.  The mechanicals were excellent, the glass was a single coated lens and it sucked.  I gave it away.
I have a Swarovski and a Schmidt & Bender and a few high-end Leupolds.  You can get great glass for under a thousand dollars.  I am not rich, just patient and have saved to get what I use.  Once you use a truly good scope you are ruined forever.
I will say this:  once you have used a scope that preserves blue light you will never want to use anything else.  They are very bright in daylight and are excellent at lower light levels.

I never knew the light-spectrum differences between Euro scopes and Murkin ones, and this is probably why I tend to prefer the Euro glass.  Thankee for the info.


  1. Having followed Nikon cameras and their Nikkor lenses for a while, it probably comes down to hand polishing and finishing. The best lenses aren’t made by machines and require a lot of manual labor.

    Or, perhaps they backed into the entry level price by starting with the higher level “prosumer” optic priced at $650 and then releasing a “crippled” version at a lower price point for entry level consumers.

    My money is on the former though.

  2. “shorter-range hunting, if you will, where the magnification needs to be more modest (~10x – 15x)”

    Dear Lord! Really?

    I haven’t hunted in ages, but when I did it was a Marlin 30-30 topped with a Weaver 4x scope. That is, 4 fricking x. And I could pull off a clean kill out to 150 yds, easy. Same scope on a bolt action JC Penneys rifle (made by Parker-Hale) could easily handle 200 yd shots. What in the hell does a short-range hunting rifle need with a 15x scope?

    Sorry, off topic I know. Just struck me as odd.

    1. Them were the specs, as I got ’em. My guess is that he wants to dial it in at about 5x-7x, and leave it there. Most people do.

      I had a 4x Leupold a while back, and I always seemed to want just a tad more than that at 200 yards.

      1. Yeah, if I regularly took shots out past 200 I’d want more too. But then again, probable 75% of the deer I shot were at 100 yards and less. Sometimes much less, as in archery range distances. Of course where I hunted was all south Texas dense brush, so even seeing a deer 200+ yards out was a miracle. So short range hunting scope to me is 100 yds and less, I guess other people’s experiences may vary.

  3. I had no idea that Europeans could hunt at night and that their scopes were made to enhance that experience. Makes a lot of sense though.

    I would figure that a 3-9x scope would get most moderate range work done easily. I have a Burris Fullfield II on a Ruger 77 mk II 30-06 that works. I bought a Leupold VX 3i 3.5-10×40 CDS-ZL to replace the Burris. I haven’t put the Leupold on yet.


  4. Light refracts when it passes through a glass surface. As mentioned, lens coatings are the key to efficient light transmission. IIRC, top end scopes rate around 97% efficiency. When shopping for glass, look for the term “fully multi-coated”.

    I recall reading/hearing somewhere in the dim past about night hunting in Europe (although not while I was stationed there, oddly). I did not know about the blue and yellow light. Add my thanks to reader B for the education.

    When I worked firearms retail, I would start customers out with a Zeiss scope. Their eyes would bug out at the price. I would reply “Yeah I know, I work here and I can’t afford them either. But let me show what world class glass looks like so will know when you look at other brands”. Fortunately the store had large glass windows and they could look out at the distant hills–


  5. Cabela’s (the evil money-takers…) have a branch-outlet in the shopping maul in Springfield, Oregon.
    Cabela’s (the evil money-takers…) put the glass section in the north-east rear of the store.
    That branch-outlet of Cabela’s (the evil money-takers…) occupies the space of several football fields.
    Cabela’s (the evil money-takers…) mounted a standard sighting-grid on the south-west wall, by my eye, about 104m away.
    Oh, sure, the demonically possessed glass clerks are happy to demo a 34mm-tube NightForce or other ‘life-time of payments’ glass.
    And after it is pried from my grasp, the “Now, try this incomparably lesser and mostly worthless” routine begins… along with the weeping and cursing at my misfortunes to be born into other than royalty… or a family of professional grifters named ‘brandon’ and part-time owners of the sports franchise lovingly known as the fbi.

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