I use leupold variable scopes and find them better at distance in low light then my own eyes or a red-dot.
IMHO the dividing line between cheap and expensive optics is low light performance. I have yet to see a cheap optic of any sort perform well in low light situations. Also IMHO every pistol scope besides the leupold that I have used is cheap. I would expect the fixed scopes to perform better then the variable at comparable power.
In MN, we can hunt 30 min before and after sun rise and set. Where we hunt, ~50% of the deer are seen in those periods before or after sun rise and set. We also hunt in a bowl surrounded by trees and hills, so it gets dark fast. I had no problem shooting a doe at ~15 min past sun set with the leupold scope @ 60 yards, but had a bugger of a time shooting a buck the weekend before @100 yards with a red-dot at a similar time.