How can the best scopes cost more than the rifles they're put on?


PDA






mbpautz762
March 8, 2009, 12:57 AM
Ok, this I'm SURE this is a stupid question, but I have no experience with rifle scopes at all. I've been using iron sights my whole life, but lately I've wanted to start getting down into 200yd territory and above, but I can't see anything at that distance with irons.

I've heard people say "you get what you pay for with scopes", but what really makes a $1500 scope worth $1500?? It's obviously more than just magnification, but it seems to me that if a scope lets you see the target and the POI doesn't shift after shooting, it should be good enough. please don't think I'm bashing expensive scopes here - I know there's much more to it than I grasp, I just want to know what I'm missing. thanks!

If you enjoyed reading about "How can the best scopes cost more than the rifles they're put on?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
husker
March 8, 2009, 01:06 AM
i HEAR ya buddy. till of late my eyes were all i needed but i have a bad floaty in my right eye and now i need optics on my yoty rifles. after looking at a scope i liked i asked how much. well after they put their defibrillator away and i got back to my feet they asked if i was ok. i said no i aint ok. that scope is twice what the rifle is worth. KILLER prices, i went with the Mall mart high point scope. PS i can tell ya what your not missin= an empty piggy bank

gga357
March 8, 2009, 01:36 AM
I have found the Bushnell Elite 3200 and 4200 to be very good at not too crazy prices. If you get a simple 3-9x40 for 199.00
http://www.swfa.com/pc-8362-184-bushnell-3-9x40-elite-3200-rifle-scope.aspx

Coal Dragger
March 8, 2009, 01:59 AM
Why do best quality scopes cost as much or more than a rifle?

Because many of them are much more precise instruments than the rifle itself is. Precision costs.

husker
March 8, 2009, 03:06 AM
that makes sense. my David white transit was about $800 10 years ago

usmc1371
March 8, 2009, 03:31 AM
We did some comparing while elk hunting this year and I can tell you I won't be spending 1k+ on a scope any time soon. Compared leupold VXL3.5x10, bushnell 4200 2.5x10x40,bushnell 4x16x40, swarvorski 3x12x50? Set all scopes on 4x and took turns picking out a small object in the shadows in bright sunlight and again well after dark with a full moon. IMHO during leagle hunting hours "in oregon" I couldn't tell any REAL diffrance between the 1k+ scope and the 400$ bushnell. In the moon light the swarvorski is better. The VXL is also better in the dark. During Leagle hours the 2.5x10 bushnell is just as good as the other two costing twice and three times as much money. Now if you turn all of them up to their max X power you will see some diffrance and if its worth 3 times the money is up to you but I don't think so. I carry my scope on 4x and have never once needed to crank it up for any big game animal at any range.
One more thing. Some cheap scopes fog up real easy if you breath on them and its cold out. Most expensive scopes do not. Bushnell 4200's that I have work great even with the lens coverd with rain drops.

buttrap
March 8, 2009, 03:36 AM
But what does a 1200 buck scope do that at 150 buck scope wont if both are able to let you put 5 rounds in one hole at 100yds off a rest? A cheep 150 buck scope is a much better optic than what was used to aim 14 trough 16 inch naval guns at 15 miles in the past.

husker
March 8, 2009, 03:38 AM
thats a good one

nwilliams
March 8, 2009, 03:47 AM
I've always wondered this myself......:rolleyes:

Seems to me a lot more work and a lot more material would go into building a rifle than a scope.

Hostile Amish
March 8, 2009, 03:50 AM
If you've ever used a Schmidt and Bender...

...You'd understand.

benzy2
March 8, 2009, 03:57 AM
buttrap, if you honestly have to ask you must have never looked through a $1200 scope.

husker
March 8, 2009, 04:04 AM
i have and like i said i needed a defibrillator after they told me what it would coast to leave the store. but i was shopping for an old mini 14 not a long rang gun. im sure their worth every penny or people wouldn't lay down that kinda cash. i can see spending 200-300. $1200 to much for me

benzy2
March 8, 2009, 05:12 AM
Oh I'm not saying every rifle deserves $1200 glass, just that I understand why it costs what it does. The law of diminishing returns certainly is at work and to many the difference between a $400 scope and a $1200 scope may not be very noticeable. Still the difference is there and the difference is in precision and quality, as mentioned above. Look at what telescopes cost. Look at what microscopes cost. Now take the same optical demand, package it in a system that fits nicely on the top of a rifle, and make it withstand both the recoil/abuse the shooter puts it through as well as environmental issues like rain and mud and its amazing we get them for what we do. Making a system where you have repeatability in all adjustments without unwanted changes in poi is a big challenge. Add on the issue of making the glass transmit light extremely well along with being crystal clear. Then make it stand the abuse we can toss at it and there is no doubt that a top of the line scope had extreme demands through production. The difference between a $500 Leupold and a $1500 Zeiss may not be something a lot of us care to pay for. The Leupold may do 100% what we want without issue. In situations though where lives depend on it you want the absolute best made to the absolute best standards which is going to cost you.

MAX100
March 8, 2009, 05:43 AM
But what does a 1200 buck scope do that at 150 buck scope wont if both are able to let you put 5 rounds in one hole at 100yds off a rest? A cheep 150 buck scope is a much better optic than what was used to aim 14 trough 16 inch naval guns at 15 miles in the past.


If you just plan to punch paper or do a little hunting out to 200 yards and very rarely work the adjustments then a $150 scope will be just fine. If you plan to use it for something like sniper competition where you will do a lot of tracking & shooting at different ranges that requires you to work the turrets, adjusting for windage & elevation over a wide range, you will need a scope that is accurate and can handle it still return to zero. Higher end scopes transmit more light in lower light conditions and on higher magnifications. This is needed when shooting at very long ranges.

Mount a $150 scope or even some $600 scopes and go to the range and zero it @ 100 yards. Then work the turrets up and down for 30 mins and return it to zero and see if it will put a shot in the same place on the target. Try this twice week for a year and see what happens. Lower cost scope have a very high failure rate because of cheaper lower cost parts and very little if any QC.

Higher priced scopes cost more because:

*Better quality control and it cost $ - Some scopes like US Optics are assembled by one person from start to finish to insure the best QC.
*Nicer glass - that means ground to the exact curvature and polish & coated to a very tight specs.
*Better more durable tube body & better internal body design, some are patent
*Better more durable finish
*Nicer and more durable turrets
*Durable more precise internal parts, some are patent
*Nicer and more durable features that work and last
*Precise and Patent reticles
*Usually better customer service
*Ongoing Government Contracts


Companies that product higher quality scopes produce less and have higher production cost. Lower cost scopes are just spit out on a assembly line, so to speak.

Most of the higher end scopes, are way over priced. Many are because of government contract drive prices up.

I feel to get a nice tactical scope you need to spend $800 & up To get a nice hunting scope or paper puncher you need to spend $400 & up.


GC

woof
March 8, 2009, 05:43 AM
I say it's hokum. The law of diminishing returns gone wild. Maybe there is a tiny differential in quality control and ruggedness and reliability. Even that is far from certain. I don't think four digit price scopes say about their owners what their owners want to think they say. PS- yes I've looked through them

PPS - Ongoing government contracts??? Maybe "that's" the reason they cost so much. Remember the $700 dollar toilet seats!

Kind of Blued
March 8, 2009, 06:31 AM
The law of the point of diminishing returns certainly applies here, but you have to ogle some of the pieces.

As a camera buff, I found it interesting when I dicovered that one of the greatest (Swiss) lensmakers had, in their books, hundreds and hundreds of different types and formulas for glass (as in the material).

Something like a Leica with a 50mm f/1 lens may not be the "best" piece of glass, but some people absolutely marvel at the clarity, consistency, and perfection, and to them it is worth it.

I really don't know what makes a good diamond, and couldn't tell a cubic zirconia from a real one, but there's a reason that one costs 100x more than the other in some instances.

1858
March 8, 2009, 07:06 AM
woof, perhaps you should read this ...

http://nightforceoptics.com/MILITARY___LE/military___le.html

I say it's hokum. The law of diminishing returns gone wild. Maybe there is a tiny differential in quality control and ruggedness and reliability. Even that is far from certain. I don't think four digit price scopes say about their owners what their owners want to think they say. PS- yes I've looked through them

Looking through a scope for a couple of minutes at a gun shop or the range and claiming to know what it's like to own and use one day in and day out is like driving a Porsche around a parking lot at 5mph and kidding yourself that you know all there is to know about how it would handle on a track.

:)

woof
March 8, 2009, 09:00 AM
The people who have a Porsche are exactly the people I would expect to spend that kind of money on a scope. They probably also have a thousand dollar putter, $300 ties, and a $50k audio system. They probably can't drive well, shoot well, putt well or know good music - and deep down, they still don't feel good about themselves.

This is getting to the basic psychology behind most advertising and why so many people buy things. People often don't buy what "they" need, they buy what they "wish" they were the kind of people who needed. Sure there are snipers who need scopes like that but how many of them are on this forum? The fact is, the people who truly need a scope like that have someone else to pay for it. But I see novices and deer hunters being told they need to spend twice the rifle cost on a scope. Hokum.

Afy
March 8, 2009, 09:34 AM
I dont know if you need a thousand dollar scope for deer hunting.
On my rifles I have everything from a baraska through to a Nightforce.
I just shoot targets, and I can tell the difference between them. That much is for sure.

jmr40
March 8, 2009, 09:42 AM
A $200 Nikon scope will do anything most people need done with a scope in this country. A $400 Leupold has optics that are about the same as the Nikon, but in a smaller, lighter package with better eye relief. To me and some others it is worth the extra $200, others don't think it is worth it.

Most of the really high dollar scopes are made are made in Europe for the type of hunting they do there. Remember they basically hunt until well after dark, way past legal shooting times here. They can benefit from the better optics that wouild be a waste of money here. Few people in Europe hunt, only the very wealthy can afford it. A $1500 scope to most of these guys probably cost less than their rifle.

DRYHUMOR
March 8, 2009, 09:57 AM
Through the years, I've run Tasco, Simmons, Springfield, Leupold, Kahles, and Ziess. The whole range quality and price wise.

I recall my first Leupold vari3 with 50mm objective. As dusk got there, I looked through the scope and thought "holy crap, I can see". The same scenario years after that with a Kahles scope allowed me not only to see antler, but to count points at 80 yds, in a hay pasture, with not much contrast.

A little different scenario, I was hunting a big buck one year. At dusk I saw a deer. I raised my Stiener binocs and could see the deer clearly, raised the rifle with the Leupold M8 on it and couldn't see the deer. Back to binocs- still there, back to scope, no deer. That's when I decided it was time to run higher quality optics. That was a grown buck too.

Sometimes it isn't the cost, or the name, but the clarity and magnification you need. Depending on the application. Daylight's not that big a deal, dusk and dawn, or looking into shadows or poor contrast is a big deal.

There's an old saying, "buy the best you can afford". Seems to work most of the time.

I sell off rifles from time to time, I don't sell off scopes.

jester_s1
March 8, 2009, 10:07 AM
Punching paper with good afternoon light is no test at all for the quality of optics. Hunting in low light is a much greater test, and target work at long distance is greater still. The high end optics are for shooters who absolutely must be able to make the shot- either because life depends on it as is the case in military or law enforcement, or serious competition, or during an expensive trophy hunt. For us commoners, scopes around $300 are perfectly adequate, and we'll never see the difference in performance.

Rembrandt
March 8, 2009, 10:09 AM
High end glass isn't the problem, it's the fact someone bought a cheap rifle.....buy a higher end rifle to match.

jcwit
March 8, 2009, 10:59 AM
Don't forget the mfg. has to figure in the FOREVER warrenty.

Stop and think what a car would cost with a deal like that.

benEzra
March 8, 2009, 11:48 AM
i was shopping for an old mini 14 not a long rang gun. im sure their worth every penny or people wouldn't lay down that kinda cash. i can see spending 200-300. $1200 to much for me
An older mini is not capable of enough accuracy to take full advantage of a $300 scope, never mind a $1200 scope.

For a typical older mini, I'd suggest a 2.5x shotgun scope, perhaps 4x max if you have an accurate one. A red dot would have been more suitable on mine (best-ever group of 5.5" at 100 yards, from a rest and rear bag). And you can get a really good fixed-magnification scope for $300 (or an Aimpoint on an Ultimak rail for $700-ish).

lipadj46
March 8, 2009, 12:33 PM
Some people require the best money have to offer because their lives or other lives depend on it some just want it. Some are satified with "good enough". I am not sure why that would surprise anyone.

Jerry D
March 8, 2009, 12:49 PM
The design and quality, they will outlast 5 of those cheap scopes and the warranty allows you to send it in and get it fixed or a new one...

People will argue the glass is very similiar on a clear day which can be true... but in harsh conditions the more expensive glass is better!

The biggest part though of more expensive scopes IMO is the quality of the turrets and their repeatability. Go crank a cheap scopes turrets around and around and then back around and back around, then set it where your zero was. See if its still on zero. Do this many times as if your out long range shooting or something and volia, your turret don't work...

Cheap scopes work fine for the "normal deer hunter"
Expensive scopes are the only way to go if you want to do high volume longer range shooting.

I do think though, that there comes a point where you almost double the cost of the scope for a few extra features. I like to think that the best bang for your buck are.. Leupold VX III, Bushnell's 4200, and Nikon Monarch.

To get a better scope almost costs double of the ones mentioned.

mbpautz762
March 8, 2009, 12:58 PM
that all makes sense. I really liked the camera analogy since I'm a bit of a photography buff too. most people don't realize that if you're taking a picture in good lighting with good contrast (ideal conditions), a cheap $200 point and shoot camera will look every bit as good as a $1500 digital SLR camera :). it's when conditions differ from ideal where the SLR really shows what it can do better. sounds a lot like what's going on with expensive scopes!

woof
March 8, 2009, 01:21 PM
lipadj46, It doesn't surprise me at all. But it does annoy me when newbies come in here and ask about scopes and get told they should be spending twice as much for a scope as the rifle and if they don't they must be rank amateurs who don't care about quality. If someone wants to engage in conspicuous consumption of scopes it's fine with me, but I think people who ask should be told the truth - that unless they are in a fraction of one percent of scope buyers, pretty much anything over $300 is overkill and they can do very well for $100.

lipadj46
March 8, 2009, 01:28 PM
Personally my best scope is a Bushnell 4200 3-9x40 that I paid $250 for. It is a great scope and I always recommend it or the Nikon Team Primos for someone who wants a good budget scope that they will never need to upgrade. At the same time I would love to buy a nice Schmidt & Bender. Maybe after I send my daughter off to college.

rangerruck
March 8, 2009, 01:52 PM
also , we need to think more on the precision. Do you think the low end tasco, bushies,leapers, muellers nc star, BSA, etc., are making glass, in airtight rooms, cleanliness to a operating room, with dudes wearing surgical clothes and masks?
nope, you don't think that at all. But the peeps who make glass for zeiss or schmidt and Bender, are the same peeps who make glass for the hubble scope, and other super hi speed / hi technical applications, and the precision , cleanliness, perfection to the edges, curvature, etc., that is required, goes well beyond the normal, for what is done, and we have only talked about the glass so far. You have to pay, all those people, who make hi salaries, just to get that good piece of glass.

browningguy
March 8, 2009, 01:55 PM
It's all about the level of polishing and the coatings, that is where the money is. I use a lot of midrange scopes because I can see the difference. Nikon Buckmasters, Elite 3200's, FFII's, a couple of Weaver Grand Slams and Classic Extremes. That's about as good as my eyes are. Witht he high end scopes the clarity may be a bit better, color correction a little better, resolution a little better, but you need good eyes to use the difference between midrange and top shelf.

mr.trooper
March 8, 2009, 01:56 PM
i guess ill take the middle ground.

i used to use Walmart scopes and i thought hey were just fine. They did everything i needed to do. But after buying a decent scope, now i know the difference.

Its a rainy overcast day today. I'm looking out the window with a Tasco and a Millet. Both have the same features and nearly the same specs. The Tasco was $50, and the millet $250. With the millet i can see the rain drops as they fall, and make out individual stalks of prairie grass in the adjacent field. Thats never going to happen with the Walmart Tasco scope.

You do get what you pay for, but only to an extent. having looked through 1,000+ Zales and S&B scopes, yes there is a bit of a difference between them and a Nikon. They are clearer and the adjustments are better. BUT the gap in fairly small, and its nothing compared to the difference in wally world glass and a good middle range scope like a Millet or a Nikon. There are diminishing returns.

Most scopes under $200 will need to be replaced every few years; not worth the money. Most scopes in the $200-500 range will need to be replaced once or maybe twice in the life of your average shooter; a good buy for most us. The high end scopes will outlast you if you are anything less than a high volume competitive shooter; very spendy, but if you can afford it or save for it, then why not?

woof
March 8, 2009, 02:39 PM
Most of the money is in the last 1% of value added. That's what the law of diminishing returns is all about. As the price goes up you pay more and more for smaller and smaller degrees of improvement, and often even those are imaginary.

MAX100
March 8, 2009, 04:13 PM
There is big difference between a $150 Tasco and a $800 Sightron SIII. There is very little difference between a $800 Sightron and $1500 NF scope.

It all depends on what you plan to use the scope for and how much are willing to pay. I am willing to pay $800 for a nice Sightron scope that will track precise and will continue do so with very heavy use, nice target turrets with sharp audible clicks, ultra clear glass, precise mildot reticle, more total moa elevation & windage adjustment for long range shooting and excellent customer service. To me this is well worth $800. I have spent at least that much on cheap optics that have failed. When I am done with it I can sale it and get most of my money back.


GC

woof
March 8, 2009, 04:23 PM
Each buyer decides where his point of diminishing return is. That is, at what price does he think those dollars were worth it but more would not be? For Max100 it is $800 because he apparently spent or would have spent that but no more. Someone else might conclude that there is a big difference between $50 and $200, but not between $200 and $300. Then they buy the $200 scope and are happy. Look, if all these cheap scopes were total junk and failed constantly they wouldn't be selling. They are perfect for amny people, like 99% of all scope buyers. I have a friend who is a carpenter and he spends a lot on hammers because he is in the 1%. But if I spent that on a hammer and acted all proud of it, he would be laughing at me behind my back because I'm not a carpenter.

1858
March 8, 2009, 04:29 PM
woof, so in your opinion, who's in the 1% of buyers that can justify (to you) spending $1000 + on a scope? I'm just curious since I don't want to get laughed at!

:)

ArmedBear
March 8, 2009, 04:41 PM
The $1000 scopes are nicer to look through. Anyone who has the extra cash would be a candidate.

If you are going on a $10,000 hunting trip, and it's not that big of a deal to you financially, why wouldn't you want to look through a Swarovski? I sure as hell would. Ever look through one?

I mean, does anyone need a Porsche? If you have the cash, though, and you like them, why not?

Why should anyone have to justify their purchase, if they're not taking food from their kids' mouths or anything?

Furthermore, modern production rifles are pretty accurate. After the $1000 mark, you're probably paying more for aesthetics than group size in a hunting rifle. There's nothing wrong with that, but when you pay upwards of $1000 for a scope, you are still paying for performance, not polish and figure.

redneck2
March 8, 2009, 05:31 PM
I had what I thought was a decent scope on my Knight. Simmons 44 Mag 3x9. I had been after a particular buck for five years. Finally saw him on our property, 320 yards off. Cold, rainy drizzly day. Bought this combo specifically for this situation.

I pull up my scope to take a look. Scope is fogged solid. Next week the neighbor kills him. 14 points, 28" outside spread. At that point, I would have gladly paid full list for a Swarovski.

I worked at a gun shop. Maybe 3 or 4 out of 10 Tasco, Swift, BSA would come back. Maybe 1 in 50-100 Leupold. Never saw a Burris come back. We would have fools that would spends thousands on an elk hunt, then put a $79 dollar scope on their rifle.

There are three places a good scope really shines over a cheapie. Crank the power up on a cheapie and it starts to darken and fuzz up, particularly higher power models. As noted several times, repeatability of settings. Clarity at dusk and dawn. Also, cheap scopes tend to lose zero.

One easy test is to turn the power up and down. If it turns easily, the scope is not tight and WILL fog up.

redneck2
March 8, 2009, 05:38 PM
I had what I thought was a decent scope on my Knight. Simmons 44 Mag 3x9. I had been after a particular buck for five years. Finally saw him on our property, 320 yards off. Cold, rainy drizzly day. Bought this combo specifically for this situation.

I pull up my scope to take a look. Scope is fogged solid. Next week the neighbor kills him. 14 points, 28" outside spread.

I worked at a gun shop. Maybe 3 or 4 out of 10 Tasco, Swift, BSA would come back. Maybe 1 in 50-100 Leupold. Never saw a Burris come back.

There are three places a good scope really shines over a cheapie. Crank the power up on a cheapie and it starts to darken and fuzz up. As noted several times, repeatability of settings. Clarity at dusk and dawn.

One easy test is to turn the power up and down. If it turns easily, the scope is not tight and WILL fog up.

So, buy a $1,500 Cooper rifle and you won't feel so bad about spending $500 on a scope. Solves your problem.

TRGRHPY
March 8, 2009, 06:27 PM
A nice scope with a high price tag isn't any different than any other high-quality product with high price tag. A hyundai will get you to work in the morning and so will a BMW.

If you still have to ask yourself "why?" with regards to quality and the corresponding price, then I'm not sure that anyone can really sell you on it.

Before I worked as a race mechanic, I thought that Craftsman tools were just fine. Then I started using other, more pricey brands, and found out that there is a reason for the extra cost.

Horsemany
March 8, 2009, 06:41 PM
This is definately a case of diminishing returns. I own a couple of scopes over $1000 dollars and I can tell you they offer little more than most $500 scopes. And don't believe for a minute the myth that the more expensive scopes track better or are more durable. That hasn't been my experience. Also remember the exchange rate on imported European glass means you're paying for more than you're getting. IMO anything over about $600 is not necessary to 99% of shooters. When you consider weight, size, durability, warranty it's pretty tough to beat a VX3. Yes the European scopes have slightly better optics but that ain't everything. Look at some custom gunshop websites that build the big kickers and see what they recommend if you want to know about durability. Most of them use Leupold products. I knew when I bought my Zeiss' it was because I wanted great glass. Not because I had any dilusions it was better in every category than a $600 VX3.

taliv
March 8, 2009, 06:44 PM
i don't think class envy has much to do with scope selection. budget, yes. crapping on people who have more or less $, not so much.


until fairly recently, the differences were mostly features (FFP, reticle and turrets in same units, 1-2 turn turrets, zero stop, reliable illuminated reticle, etc) and to a lesser extent, glass quality. just my opinion, but it seems like a lot of middle-tier players are offering many of those features now. so the delta is more and more about quality parts and assembly (and customer service, etc). still, good luck finding all those features on the same $300 scope.

benzy2
March 8, 2009, 07:01 PM
Woof, what are you calling cheap scopes? Are you talking tasco, bsa, barska, other china made scopes or are you talking budget line Japan made scopes? Personally there is a huge difference in quality from China built scopes to bottom end Japan built scopes. The picture is worlds different, the turrets are much nicer in every way and the overall construction is in a different class with Japan made scopes. I love a bargain as much as anyone but I really can't say much China made is worth the shipping it costs to get repaired, let alone the $100+ some of them run. I have yet to have one that was repeatable, optically clear, or lasted more than a season of use with maybe one exception. If you are arguing these scopes do everything even a bottom end Japan made scope does I think you are naive and haven't used both. If you are saying for the average shooter/hunter a budget Japan made scope will do everything one costing much more will do I would agree. With the track record I have with scopes, China doesn't compete with Japan in any category for even the most basic of hunters. I have one Mueller that is trying to go against that reputation but I have yet to put it on a hunting rifle as I just don't trust it. In the percentages game I think in general China made scopes are at best 20% of what a scope could be, bargain Japan scopes start pushing 85-90% and then from there things go up exponentially. I do think that a $200 Japan built scope is more than twice a $100 China built scope of equal features.

JohnBT
March 8, 2009, 07:15 PM
"pretty much anything over $300 is overkill"

Clearly an incorrect statement, unless all you want to do is shoot one or two shots a day in good light. I won't try to change your mind, but you are wrong.


"So, buy a $1,500 Cooper rifle and you won't feel so bad about spending $500 on a scope."

Ha, when I finally spent $1600 on a new Model 57 Custom Classic .22 (current MSRP=$2395) I already had the scope. Good scopes last, sometimes for generations. Just like binocs.

A lot of folks think a cheapish pair of binocs are all they need - until they try an excellent pair and find they can stare through them for hours at a time with no eye strain. Do you know what I say the most at a Redskins' game? "Losers" Oops, no it's "Can I have my Nikons back now? Use the ones hanging around your neck."

John

Coronach
March 8, 2009, 07:16 PM
There's two things at play here. One is the question of whether or not you need a high-end scope, and the other, more obvious question, is what a high-end scope does to be worth the money.

High-end scopes are, generally, more durable and have better optical quality that cheaper scopes. They gather more light, they offer better clarity, they have less distortion than their cheaper bretheren. These are objective facts that can be quantified. Whether or not that is worth the money to you is directly proportional to the first question, which not enough people ask.

As was said, you don't need a $1,500 scope to pop a whitetail at 150yds on a beautiful, sunny day. Will a $1500 scope do it? Oh yes. Will a $150 scope do it? Oh yes. Will the $1,500 scope do it ten times better than the $150 scope? Nope. However, if you're trying to identify, range and pop a p-dog at 300 rounds as the sun sets, your $1500 scope will do a much better job than your $150 Walmart special.

It's all about identifying your needs realistically, and buying the right tool. It's a waste of money to buy more than you'll use, but it's also a waste of money to buy less than you need.

Mike

JohnBT
March 8, 2009, 07:26 PM
"I mean, does anyone need a Porsche?"

Me, but I'm too cheap to cough up that much cash. I've always wanted a new 911. Maybe next year, but I'm getting too old for a mid-life crisis.

Did my slightly younger cousin need a new Miata hardtop convertible? Did she need a new Harley? I dunno, but she got them. Must have had a good year last year. :) She already had the basic full-sized 4x4 truck to drive to work when it snows and to haul lumber and stuff for her projects, but yes, I guess she needed them all.

John

JohnBT
March 8, 2009, 07:31 PM
"Will a $150 scope do it? Oh yes."

For a year or two or five if you're lucky.

The $1500 scopes will probably be listed on e-bay 40 years from now with huge reserve prices. And they'll be in good working order.

JT

madcratebuilder
March 8, 2009, 07:53 PM
Basically quality costs. You can get very nice equipment with out taking a second mortgage on your home. There is a lot of competition for scope dollars, you can find some nice scopes in the 4-600 dollar range. While they are nice, they well not compare with a 1500 dollar Ziess or S&B.
More than once I have seen med range scope out shoot high end, but that's mostly the shooter. Buying a mega dollar rifle and scope doe snot make you a marksman. Get what works for you and don't worry about what the other guy has, work at out shooting him.

groundhog34
March 8, 2009, 08:07 PM
Go out at twilight that is when high quality scopes prove their worth. That said a $1500 scope is not 3X better than a $500 scope but there is a great difference between a $200 ond $500 scope. For the money Leupold VXIII are the best value IMO.

jbech123
March 8, 2009, 08:10 PM
For 95% of people, a decent leupold or similar is more than adequate. As someone said, there are situations where you can at least justify spending the big $$. The quality is there, but some rich guy that only has the time to shoot twice a year and goes on a whitetail hunt with a $2500 nightforce is really just throwing away his money. Most people don't have the skill to leverage the advantage those type optics bring.
I am a proponent of at least decent optics, just for reliability. The really cheap stuff just does not stand up to the rigors of hunting in my experience.
That said, the best shooting rifle I've ever owned was a remington 700 VS topped with a simmons 6-18x scope. On at least 20 occasions I shot sub 3/4" groups with it at my buddies range, at 300 yards! I've since "upgraded" my rifle and optics, and have yet to be able to do that with any kind of consistency since.

beechnut
March 8, 2009, 08:32 PM
I guess this is one situation where the saying comes in true.You gotta pay to play.I myself cannot justify spending alot of money on a scope.Keep in mind this is coming from a savage mk2 bolt action 22lr owner who only shoots at 25 yards and rarely at 50 yards.

I use a 3x9x40mm simmons scope on my rifle.I dont need the type of quality that some of the other guys need.Plus it's a rimfire rifle also

federalfarmer
March 9, 2009, 01:19 AM
If you want over-price for under performance buy a nikon or leopold.
If you want a good scope for a fair price buy a bushnell 4200. Or tell youself that your worth a great scope and get a swarovski. It has already been said; high magnification, low light, repeatable zero.
So should I put a swarovski on my 10/22 and one on my mossberg 500 slugster??

PT1911
March 9, 2009, 01:21 AM
because without the glass the gun is pretty much an elaborate paper weight...

jim in Anchorage
March 9, 2009, 01:34 AM
High end glass comes into its own when sighting towards the sun at sunrise or sunset.looking thru a scope in a store will not tell you this. The better glass/coatings are better at not "scattering" light.

rangerruck
March 9, 2009, 01:43 AM
hey , I love the old tasco / 30 year old / made in Japan scopes. they are top notch quality in my opinion, they had to pass pretty rigorous japanese govt. inspections in those day, same with their cameras, binoculars, and telescopes, and if they didn't pass, they got trashed. I've got a couple of them right now,
and would never get rid of them.

akodo
March 9, 2009, 02:12 AM
My understanding:

For starters, part of apreciating a truely excellent scope is to drop it hard 3 times and THEN look through it (of course stores don't let you do this)

#2 To consistently get 1/4 MOA on every click, even 20 years from now. (again, hard to judge at the store)

#3 better light gathering at dawn and dusk, sharper colors then too. (again, hard to judge at the store)

However, I do think you rapidly get into diminishing returns at that price level.

I think a $200 scope is TEN times better than a $50 scope

I also tend to think a $500 is twice as good as a $200 scope.

I think a $800 scope is just a tad better than a $500

I also think a $1200 scope is just a tiny bit better than an $800 scope

jester_s1
March 9, 2009, 02:16 AM
I might break down the differences like this. The ranges would reflect different levels of magnification.

<$75 You're buying junk that won't hold up. Ok for .22 toys, but not anything serious.

$75-$150 The ability to hold zero throughout the average deer season if you set it and don't touch it again. The bare minimum for ethical hunting.

$150-$300 Decent clarity in the middle of the lens, useable light transmission, and will hold zero through the deer season. These are good enough for most occasional hunters.

$300-$500 Improved clarity and light transmission, solid adjustments that hold even with lots of shooting. Most of these have lifetime warranties.

$500-$800 Extra features over the group above like target turrets and illuminated reticles, extra durability, or higher magnification.

$800-$1200 The best clarity, color, and light transmission, improved durability in tactical models, the best adjustments that are repeatable over years of heavy use.

>$1200 All possible clarity enhancements, best glass, best light transmission, broad adjustment range or high magnification. All excuses removed. Break it if you can!


In a nutshell, for the casual hunter who goes to the range and burns up a box to tune up with and maybe goes through another box during the season, the $300 range works fine and will last a lifetime. The $800 range is the ticket for a critical hunt or an accuracy buff who doesn't change his adjustments much. And the high end is for the guy who needs or wants the best of everything.

Gaiudo
March 9, 2009, 03:42 AM
using the above, what are the examples of the "$800-$1200" range of scopes?

MAX100
March 9, 2009, 05:02 AM
using the above, what are the examples of the "$800-$1200" range of scopes?

Leupold MK4 & some VX-3, Zeiss Conquest, IOR Valdada, Sightron SIII, Swarovski AV, Some NightForce scopes, Burris top of the line scopes.

There are a few more.

I feel the Sightron SIII is the best deal to be had at around $800. It preforms like a scope costing 2/3 more.


GC

Horsemany
March 9, 2009, 11:51 AM
>$1200 All possible clarity enhancements, best glass, best light transmission, broad adjustment range or high magnification. All excuses removed. Break it if you can!

jester
I agree with your entire post other than this. IME and from what I've read by credited writers and custom gunbuilders, the high dollar Euro scopes are not more durable than a Leupold VXIII. John Barsness has written much on the subject and tested scopes for years. Custom gunbuilders who build heavy recoiling african game guns have had failures with some Euro scopes. More than one big name custom rifle builder will only use Leupold's. And most of them use their own Leupold scopes for testing accuracy in their customers rifles. I'm not trying to sell everyone on Leupold's. I'm just using the example that high dollars aren't proportional to durability in optics.

I'd also say it's far more important to use good glass in the binoculars. Most hunters only spend a few seconds looking through the scope before a shot. You could spend hours looking through binoculars. And many times the binocs are used to actually locate and identify the animal. Most focus more on riflescopes though.

John Wayne
March 9, 2009, 12:01 PM
Why spend $350 on a pair of bifocals when you can buy a pair of reading glasses at the dollar store?

With that said, I have a $150 Pentax scope. But it's mounted on a Hi-Point :D

Harve Curry
March 9, 2009, 12:32 PM
I don't beleive it. It's all smoke and gloss, a gimick to get alot of money for something that has nothing in it compared to what goes into a rifle, or the liability that comes with making any firearm.
In 1974 I bought a brand new Savage 99A in 308 Win, $115. Bought the Weaver K3 scope and see thru mounts at the same time, for $35.
No computors then to help with the glass or assembly all hands on in the USA. Plus a steel 1" tube.

I have had Weavers, Leopuld, Redfield all fail due to not being able to hold their Zero on normal hunting calibers. A Burris Black Diamond I bought for a 50 BMG and is still going and I did that for their claim of the "POSI LOCK " feature to keep the darn cross hairs from coming undone. I don't know if that Burris feature is worth it or not but time will tell I guess.
Something don't add up.

LongRifles, Inc.
March 9, 2009, 01:40 PM
"How can the best scopes cost more than the rifles they are put on?"


Stop buying cheap guns. Problem solved.

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u64/nesikachad/GUN%20PICS/6.jpg

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u64/nesikachad/GUN%20PICS/22250varmint1.jpg

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u64/nesikachad/GUN%20PICS/300338LapuaHeavyVarmint.jpg

http://i165.photobucket.com/albums/u64/nesikachad/DSC_0010.jpg



Now in all seriousness. If I'm your stereotyped "rich" guy I'll tell you how/why I'd justify it. I work some long ass hours and the time I have to myself is rare and it is precious. If I'm a hunter it means I don't have many weekends to go enjoy the outdoors the way others might. NOTHING pisses a guy off more than equipment failures due to poor quality while trying to enjoy a hobby. I paid 40K for my truck, I bought all this stuff, I only get these five days during the fall due to job requirements, and here comes my nice fat elk only now I can't shoot it cause the objective lens fell out of my cheap ass scope when I slipped on that wet moss.

How ****ty would that be?

Harve Curry
March 9, 2009, 02:09 PM
That still don't add up. I never heard of a lens falling out. What I have had happen with Leopold, Redfield and Weaver is they quit holding there zero.
On the Savage which shoots 3/4" MOA, I thought I had shot it out. Then one day sitting down a friend tapped on it with his finger and you could hear the reverberating cross hairs across the room. The cross hairs were loose.
It cost more to have the Weaver fixed then when it was new. A new Redfield Illuminator went the same route. A Leopold 3x9 the same way. The only one of the 3 that was ever used roughly in a saddle scabbard was the Weaver. I guide trophy elk and mule deer hunters and one of the commonest things is their scope will not hold zero, these are big names makers and well heeled hunters. You cannot depend on a glass optics. Scopes are a great tool but I won't have a scoped rifle that doesn't have good back up iron sights that are sighted in and ready to use.
The short of it is we're getting ripped off by optics and scope makers.

ArmedBear
March 9, 2009, 02:22 PM
I'd also say it's far more important to use good glass in the binoculars. Most hunters only spend a few seconds looking through the scope before a shot. You could spend hours looking through binoculars. And many times the binocs are used to actually locate and identify the animal.

I'd agree.

I've been drooling over a pair of $1200 Swarovski binocs since a guy passed me some while we were "glassing" in aptly-named Big Sky Country.

I'd like to get some expensive rifle scopes, but the binocs are something I REALLY WANT.:)

Now if I were a benchrest shooter, the rifle scope would come first. But I'm not, and have no plans to be.

LongRifles, Inc.
March 9, 2009, 03:05 PM
That still don't add up. I never heard of a lens falling out. What I have had happen with Leopold, Redfield and Weaver is they quit holding there zero.
On the Savage which shoots 3/4" MOA, I thought I had shot it out. Then one day sitting down a friend tapped on it with his finger and you could hear the reverberating cross hairs across the room. The cross hairs were loose.


You took me a little too literally. I've never personally had that happen either. Nor have I ever heard of it happening. It was meant more at an attempt at humor.

Obviously didn't work.

But I have heard of turret knobs going bezerk, wandering zeros etc.

Horsemany
March 9, 2009, 03:24 PM
But I have heard of turret knobs going bezerk, wandering zeros etc.

That's my whole point. For $2000 you are often NOT buying more durability or repeatability than $600 scopes. Mr. Barsness has written some interesting articles on this subject. And he's hunted all over the world with all kinds of scopes. "You get what you pay for" doesn't tell the whole story when it comes to optics IMO.

1858
March 9, 2009, 03:38 PM
That still don't add up. I never heard of a lens falling out. What I have had happen with Leopold, Redfield and Weaver is they quit holding there zero.
On the Savage which shoots 3/4" MOA, I thought I had shot it out. Then one day sitting down a friend tapped on it with his finger and you could hear the reverberating cross hairs across the room. The cross hairs were loose.

What century are we talking about here? :D Companies such as Leupold, US Optics and Nightforce laser etch the reticle onto a glass disk ... the reticle isn't a piece of wire that was common in the 70's and 80's and may even be used today in low-end optics.

I wonder how many folks that started with $150 Tasco, Weaver and Burris optics, then upgraded to $300 to $600 scopes and finally ended up with $800 to $1300+ scopes went back to lower end optics by choice.

:)

1858
March 9, 2009, 03:41 PM
That's my whole point. For $2000 you are often NOT buying more durability or repeatability than $600 scopes.

Somehow I doubt that Nightforce owners will agree with that. :D

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/NF.jpg

How many scopes would pass this test .... ?

:)

jacob.elliott
March 9, 2009, 03:46 PM
my uncle has a swarovski on a sauer 243 and a friend of mine has a leupold vxII on his 300 wsm and i much prefer the leupold and it was less than half the price of the swarovski

Horsemany
March 9, 2009, 03:48 PM
Don't get me wrong 1858. Nightforce scopes are known for their durability/repeatability. But how bout Swarovski? How bout Zeiss? Mr. Barsness had 3 Swarovski 3-9x36's fail in a row. 3!!!!! Yes many high end scopes are as durable as a VXIII. But not all of em. By the way I own 2 high end Zeiss scopes. I like them. The optics are amazing. When I shoot box tests they are not the best I own though. Durability has been good but they are not on heavy kickers either.

LongRifles, Inc.
March 9, 2009, 04:03 PM
Impressive no doubt, but indulge me and allow me to tell a story.

It's the early-mid 1980's and it's a hot/humid day on the ranges at MCB Quantico in Virginia.

The Marines are evaluating optics for sniper rifles and all the big brand names are there. So are the Unertyl clan. The old man and his son.

The scope (Unertyl) is mounted and they are putting it through the paces, cranking knobs, checking ballistic cams with drop tables and seeing just how well the things work.

They finish with 300meters and decide to take a break. It's suggested that the scope be pulled from the gun and then reinstalled to see if the scope mounts repeat at all.

John Unertyl's son goes one better. He uses the scope as a hammer to drive a GP Medium tent stake into the ground.

They then reattach the scope and it repeats within half a minute of its previous zero.

The rest is as they say. . .history.

True story. Wasn't there but colleagues of mine were and they all tell it the same way.

http://128.171.62.162/hawthorn-engineering/thr/NF.jpg

ugaarguy
March 9, 2009, 04:31 PM
LRI, part of Nightforce's 60 point inspection includes beating the scope three hits each at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock on the objective bell against an anvil (faced with 1mm thick neoprene to protect finish). The scope is then reinstalled in a fixture and checked for both minimum resolution, and adjustment repeatability. This test is repeated three times.

LongRifles, Inc.
March 9, 2009, 04:39 PM
that must be why one of my NF doesn't work. . .

Just kidding. I own a few of them. Great optics. Just passing info that's all. (those guns in the photos are all personal guns of mine.)

Horsemany
March 9, 2009, 04:41 PM
Yes I've heard the Unertyl story before too. I'm sure they're great scopes. I've never owned one. I'm not trying to take away from all the great high end scopes out there that ARE durable. I'm simply saying you don't by default get a more durable scope the more money you spend. Yes some like Nightfoce, Unertyl, US Optics etc are very durable indeed. I'm referring more to hunting scopes than tactical.

Zak Smith
March 9, 2009, 04:41 PM
There is type of fallacy in many of these optics discussions: that scopes "features" are all the same, the application of scopes is the same, and that scopes X can be compared to scope Y by being "30%" better or worse, etc.

In reality, it's more like vehicle selection: some scopes are the equivalent of the 6-year-old Honda Accord (not glamorous or luxury or very fast and can't haul very much), while some are like a BMW M3, and some are like a Dodge turbo-diesel truck.

Is a big 3/4-ton truck "not worth it" to anyone if all you need to haul is groceries?

Realistically, most scopes are used for relatively short-range target shooting or average North-American big-game hunting. That's the grocery-getting.

To make a contrasting example, there are relatively few scopes that have all the features one really wants for practical long-range shooting. The ones that are "close" start $1200-1800. The good ones are $2000-3500.

-z

1858
March 9, 2009, 04:49 PM
But how bout Swarovski? How bout Zeiss? Mr. Barsness had 3 Swarovski 3-9x36's fail in a row. 3!!!!! Yes many high end scopes are as durable as a VXIII. But not all of em. By the way I own 2 high end Zeiss scopes. I like them. The optics are amazing. When I shoot box tests they are not the best I own though. Durability has been good but they are not on heavy kickers either.

Horsemany, I value your opinion more than most on this matter since YOU own and use the scopes in question. There are folks here expressing opinions about things that they have ZERO experience with. How can you talk about the merits (or lack thereof) of high-end optics if you've never owned or used them for more than 30 seconds? Do you know all there is to know about a car or truck during a 10 minute test drive? Some people here think that looking through a scope at a gun shop or looking through their friend's or relatives's scope makes them an expert on the matter. The one consistent thing here is that the folks that go on and on about how high $ scopes are a rip off or a waste of money, or are no better than the a cheap scope, don't own them and most likely have never owned them.

My experience/expertise with scopes is limited to WHAT I OWN or HAVE OWNED (unlike so many here) which include a couple of Tasco scopes that I owned 15 years ago, a Leupold Vari-X III and Varix-X II (still own) that I bought 10 or so years ago and six Mark 4s that I started to buy about two years ago. I don't know anything about Zeiss, Swarovski, US Optics, Nightforce or Schmidt & Bender. Not only have I not owned any of those brands, I've never looked through one or even handled one. It's ridiculous that people here have an opinion on a scope that they don't own, have never owned, and probably haven't even looked through more than once or twice, if at all.

:)

1858
March 9, 2009, 05:09 PM
Zak, I think most here know that you're heavily involved in long-range shooting, so what optics do you use and why? What would you consider to be the bare minimum for your particular sport and why? How many successful competitors use low-end optics (feel free to define low-end)? How many successful competitors use mid-range optics (feel free to define mid-range).

I ask these questions with the genuine hope that we can all learn something and separate "the woods from the trees".

Thanks.
:)

Zak Smith
March 9, 2009, 05:35 PM
This article lays out the qualitative differences in LR scopes (IE, the difference in features, not "amount" of quality)

http://demigodllc.com/photo/CGMG-2006.11/icon/D100_3368_img.jpg
article | Practical Long-Range Rifle Shooting, Part I - Rifle & Equipment http://demigodllc.com/icon/extwh3.png (http://demigodllc.com/articles/practical-long-range-rifle-shooting-equipment/)

Here's the published version

http://demigodllc.com/photo/TRG42AWSM/icon/D100_4689_img.jpg
article | Introduction to High-End Long-Range Rifle Scopes ("Don't Skimp on the Scope!") http://demigodllc.com/icon/extwh3.png (http://demigodllc.com/articles/intro-long-range-rifle-scopes/)

I use S&B PMII scopes (namely the 3-12x50 and 5-25x56) on my long-range rifles, although I currently have one of the new Premier Heritage 3-15, a couple USOs, and the new FFP Nightforce here for testing/eval (as well as a Leupold M3 and a Burris, and some other stuff). For LR scopes, I've bought Leupold, NF, USO, and finally S&B with my own money- kept the S&Bs.

The bare minimum that I recommend is a Leupold Mark 4, either in the 3.5-10 or 4.5-14 versions, with M1 or M2 knobs. If you look at the economics of long-range shooting, it's not worth it to get an insufficient or questionable fixed-cost item, when you'll be wasting recurring costs (and time) because of its failures/deficiencies.

I was the match director at last year's Steel Safari and I collected equipment information.
Expensive scopes were the rule. Nightforce lead with 32%, followed by S&B (27%), then US Optics (18%), Leupold (13%), and 4% shooting Burris or Tasco. Half the scopes had mil-based reticles, followed by 30% MOA and 10% with the DTAC reticle. However, 70% of the scopes had MOA knobs, while 20% had mil knobs.
I'd estimate that about 85-90% of the scopes used would cost more than $1200 if purchased new today. Some of the Leupolds (only 13% of total) were under a grand when purchased years ago. 45% of all the scopes used were more than $2000.


http://demigodllc.com/photo/SteelSafari-2008/icon/D462_6886_img.jpg
article | Colorado Multigun 2008 Steel Safari Practical Rifle Match http://demigodllc.com/icon/extwh3.png (http://demigodllc.com/articles/colorado-multigun-steel-safari-2008) (survey starts on page 3)

1858
March 9, 2009, 06:18 PM
Zak, thanks for the excellent information but I'm wondering about the remaining 6% of shooters in the "% by manufacturer" quote ... maybe they use iron sights! :D

How many of the shooters at those matches started out with low to mid range equipment but eventually upgraded. I'm sure that some jumped in the deep end but there must be a bunch that have upgraded over the years.

So has anyone won a match using a scope other than NF, S&B, US Optics or Leupold? It would be interesting to see the results by manufacturer.

:)

Zak Smith
March 9, 2009, 08:48 PM
Should have been 9% not 4% Burris/Tasco, and the rest is rounding error.

Almost everyone goes through a process of buying the wrong thing and then buying the right thing later. Some of these guys have been shooting the same Leupold and Nightforce scopes for 6-10+ years (since before I met them); some of them have upgraded to USO/SB; some of them started with USO/SB.

Very few people have shot more than one match with anything "less than" a Leupold M1/M2/M3. Those that try to invariable come better prepared the next match... with a Leupold, NF, USO, or S&B.

Keep in mind that I am talking specifically about field-style "practical" long-range rifle matches. There are different qualities someone wants in a Bench-Rest, F-Class, etc scope vs. this criteria.

If you think about it, it's cheaper to buy the right thing (or one of the right things) from the get-go. Upgrading loses money at every step. If you buy a $300 scope, and then a $600 scope, and then a $1300, and then finally a $2400 scope, even if you get 65% when you resell them used, you've still wasted $2200 x 35% = $770.. which means you could have used that money on training, ammunition, or to get a $3170 scope. Bottom line, it's wasted time and money.

I don't have an answer to your last question. However, I can run down the 2008 SS winners and tell you what people ran, places 1-10: Leu, Leu, Leu, NF, S&B, x, USO, USO, Leu, x. (x= I can't remember.) For the 07 match, places 1-3: Leu, S&B, Leu. For 06, I believe it was S&B, Leu, NF.

If you enjoyed reading about "How can the best scopes cost more than the rifles they're put on?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!