Low-power variable optics (LPVOs) have gained popularity among hunters and competitive shooters alike because of their versatility and wide range of applications. But is it the best optic for you to use for hunting?
Find out whether using an LPVO for hunting is the right decision and the pros and cons that come with it.
For more on LPVOs, see our write on the best budget low power variable optic money can buy, where we feature various options perfect for hunting.
- LPVOs provide versatility in various hunting situations
- Provides quick target acquisition and adaptability for close to medium-range distances
- Consider the limitations of LPVOs to determine if they’re the right choice for your hunting needs
Can You Use LPVO for Hunting?
Yes, you can use LPVOs for hunting. These optics offer adjustable magnification, which is a significant benefit.
It allows you to switch between 1x magnification for close-range targets and higher magnification levels for medium-range distances. This feature is why these scopes are so well-suited for hunting environments. Choices can range from 1-4x, 1-6x, 1-8x, or even 1-10x magnification.
The true 1x setting on an LPVO offers a wide field of view to help hunters track moving targets quickly. Many LPVOs also feature an illuminated reticle so you can shoot and adapt to different lighting conditions.
Overall, an LPVO can be an excellent choice for hunting. Its versatility, durability, and user-friendly features make it a valuable tool out in the field.
Are LPVOs Good for Hunting?
Yes, LPVOs are very good for hunting. These optics are popular choices for hunting due to their versatility. They offer a useful range of magnification, allowing hunters to quickly adapt to different shooting distances.
What’s more, many LPVOs produced by well-known brands are built with robust tubes, often made of aircraft-grade aluminum. This durability ensures they can withstand the rugged environment that hunters may encounter.
Are LPVOs Good for Low-Light Hunting?
LPVOs can work for low-light hunting – depending on various factors.
For low-light hunting, the quality of the glass in your LPVO is critical. High-quality glass, such as ED or HD glass, ensures crisp, color-accurate images in challenging light conditions.
Good glass also gives you a crisp view from sunrise till sunset. Then there are the lens coatings. These enhance light transmission and reduce glare, making LPVOs effective for low-light hunting.
Now, on to another essential element: the reticle.
As mentioned above, many LPVOs have an illuminated reticle that provides visibility in dim conditions without overpowering the target. Red dots also have similar features, and some hunters prefer the precision of a reticle with MOA or MRAD markings.
The advantage of using LPVOs over other optics is that they maintain a true 1x magnification on the low end of their range. This feature allows for a wide field of view, making acquiring targets in less-than-ideal lighting easier.
Another essential aspect of low-light hunting is eye relief. Many LPVOs, like the Vortex Strike Eagle or Trijicon models, have generous eye relief, ensuring comfortable and safe use in changing light conditions.
Lastly, most LPVOs have convenient throw levers for quick and easy magnification adjustments in different lighting situations.
To summarize, a good quality LPVO with proper features can be very effective for low-light hunting. But while an LPVO performs well in many different hunting situations, it’s essential to understand its limitations to determine if it’s the right fit for your specific needs.
The Downsides of Using an LPVO for Hunting
Using an LPVO for hunting has advantages, but the weight factor is worth noting.
With configurations like 1-4, 1-6, 1-8, and 1-10, the higher the magnification, the heavier they get. So, if you’re out hunting, that added weight might become a drag.
Also, there’s the focal plane issue.
Most LPVOs come in second focal plane, and this design means you’ve got to dial into a specific magnification to get an accurate range estimation. Plus, while MOA adjustments for windage and elevation are more common in LPVOs, the absence of mil adjustments might disadvantage some hunters.
For those quick, close-range shots, a red dot optic could be a better fit to some hunters. The LPVO may perform well at true 1x magnification, but it doesn’t deliver the same quick target acquisition as red dots.
And then there’s the price tag. While top-tier brands like Trijicon or Vortex Strike Eagle deliver on performance, they can make a dent in your wallet. Opting for budget-friendly versions may mean compromising the quality or durability of the optics.
Speaking of optics, the LPVO often has a smaller objective lens. That can be a drawback when you’re hunting in low light conditions, affecting your field of view and the clarity of your image.
Durability? That can be a concern. While on the hunt, optics need to withstand rough use, the gun’s recoil, and unpredictable weather. Some LPVOs are not up for that challenge compared to more rugged hunting-specific optics.
And finally, know that LPVOs may be more tactical, catering to military and law enforcement needs. So, while there’s a lot of feature overlap, only some things about an LPVO are designed with the hunter in mind.
“Arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order.”Thomas Paine
Factors to Consider When Choosing an LPVO for Hunting
Choosing the right LPVO starts with the glass quality. Crisp, clear images make for a great viewing experience and are crucial for spotting your target. Brands like Trijicon, Vortex, and Leupold have set the bar high in this department.
If you’re using it for hunting, durability is a must. You want an LPVO that can laugh in the face of rough weather and take the kickback of a rifle without a hiccup.
When it comes to reticles, it comes down to personal preference. There’s the German #4, the duplex, and the MOA, to name a few. Their straightforward designs are just what many hunters need: simple and effective.
Speaking of simplicity, consider an LPVO on a second focal plane for hunting. Why? The reticle size stays the same no matter how much you zoom in or out. This feature, standard in LPVOs, ensures that hunters have a consistent sight picture at different magnifications.
Now, let’s talk about mounting. Fixing an LPVO to your hunting rifle is easy. Most times, low-profile mounts or rings will do the trick. But remember that the ideal mount height might vary based on your specific rifle platform.
Lastly, here’s a quick guide to what you can expect from the magnifications of an LPVO at specific ranges:
- Close-range (0-100 yards): With true 1x magnification, LPVOs can deliver a wide field of view and fast target acquisition, similar to red dot sights.
- Mid-range (100-300 yards): Magnification between 4x and 6x can be great when identifying targets and making precise shots.
- Long-range (300+ yards): While LPVOs aren’t explicitly designed for long-range shooting, 8x to 10x magnification models can assist those skilled in distance shooting.
Remember that the actual range capabilities of each LPVO may vary due to factors like the quality of glass, reticle design, and a person’s skills.
If you’re curious about the typical specs and performances you’d see from an LPVO, check out this review of the Monstrum Tactical Banshee:
Is it legal to hunt with an LPVO?
It is legal to hunt with LPVOs (Low Power Variable Optics) in most areas, as they simply serve as a magnification tool to help shooters view their target more clearly. However, hunters should still check local regulations, as laws can vary between regions.
What are the downsides of LPVO?
The downside of using an LPVO is that some LPVOs have a heavier weight that can impact maneuverability or a bigger size that can cause discomfort during extended use. Additionally, high-quality LPVOs can be costly, and some scopes have complicated reticles that might be too much for beginners or those who prefer simple aiming points.
What range is LPVO good for?
The range LPVOs can be good for goes across various distances, depending on their magnification settings. They typically offer magnification ranges of 1-4x, 1-6x, 1-8x, or even 1-10x, and a 1-10x magnification can have a range of 50 to 600 yards (45.7 to 548.7 meters).
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material for over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world, including Russia, and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American West and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems TM.
Or contact me at: