Low Cost Optics ($200-$300) What NOT to buy....


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mcdonl
December 10, 2012, 12:20 PM
Hi folks... so I searched "Best optics" for $200 - $300 and learned two "facts"

1 - If I spend less than $1000 all I will get is junk
2 - Every single brand of scope you can buy in the $200 - $300 range is the best scope ever made according to someone.

Fruitless results I must say.

So, I will try a different approach. What typical list priced scopes for $200 - $300would you avoid and why?

Usage - Almost exclusively bench shooting at 100 yards. Occasionally I will hunt coyote from a tree stand that I can pretty much drive up to, and there is a nice shooting rest. So, even in the field it would be rest shooting out to 150 yards with little lugging of the gun.

The gun - Remington 700 308 w/heavy barrel in a factory stock

Thanks!!

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chad1043
December 10, 2012, 12:34 PM
A lot of people like this one:

http://www.amazon.com/Bushnell-Tactical-10X40-Mil-Dot-Reticle/dp/B004NKY6DU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

If you go around the $300 range, you are gonna end up with a nice scope... Just stick with the brand names.

MachIVshooter
December 10, 2012, 12:50 PM
1 - If I spend less than $1000 all I will get is junk
2 - Every single brand of scope you can buy in the $200 - $300 range is the best scope ever made according to someone.

#1: Same kind of folks who scoff at most anything that doesn't sport their expensive pet brand logo.

#2: There are definitely some decent scopes in that price range, but some junk too.

At the top end of your price range, I think these two options offer the most bang for the buck:

Weaver V16 (http://www.opticsplanet.com/weaver-rifle-scopes-v16-16x42.html)

Nikon Buckmaster (http://www.opticsplanet.com/s/nikon+buckmaster/)

kludge
December 10, 2012, 02:01 PM
Watch for Burris Fullfield II scopes on sale at www.natchezss.com

hq
December 10, 2012, 02:31 PM
I'd start by reading this article about scopes in general: http://www.chuckhawks.com/optical_sights.htm

For an idea about what to avoid, try a search engine with a make/model + "problem", "issue", "warranty replacement", "help", "repair" and any other negative words you might think of. Often the worst reviews are the ones you really want to read, as well as find if there are common problems with a particular scope. You seem to have a decent budget and fairly modest requirements so you'll probably do fine with a basic, quality scope.

If my personal bias has any value, I avoid Tasco, Zos, Weber and Norinco/Norconia because of multiple bad experiences. I won't give any recommendations, they're equally biased, and oddly enough, towards scopes that I personally don't own at the moment. ;)

mcdonl
December 10, 2012, 02:47 PM
I'd start by reading this article about scopes in general: http://www.chuckhawks.com/optical_sights.htm

For an idea about what to avoid, try a search engine with a make/model + "problem", "issue", "warranty replacement", "help", "repair" and any other negative words you might think of. Often the worst reviews are the ones you really want to read, as well as find if there are common problems with a particular scope. You seem to have a decent budget and fairly modest requirements so you'll probably do fine with a basic, quality scope.

If my personal bias has any value, I avoid Tasco, Zos, Weber and Norinco/Norconia because of multiple bad experiences. I won't give any recommendations, they're equally biased, and oddly enough, towards scopes that I personally don't own at the moment. ;)

Thanks HQ, and this is my first "real" scope so I figured 200-300 was reasonable. Hoping so anyway. I am in a small country gun club with a 100 yard berm, and the desire to lose quarters to other old men. I am reading another article right now (Secrets of the Houston Warehouse) then I will move on to this one.

Also... I will only shoot this gun in full light, optimal weather situations. I do wear contacts but have 20/20 vision with them in.

I am trying to learn all of the terminology right now. These are far more complicated to learn than the the gun they mount on.

taliv
December 10, 2012, 03:04 PM
Houston warehouse is a very interesting article!

mcdonl
December 10, 2012, 03:06 PM
Houston warehouse is a very interesting article!

Yes it is!!

It is giving me one of those "what have I gotten myself into" feelings though.... :)

targetshooter22
December 10, 2012, 03:19 PM
Personally, I have good experience with Nikon and Leupold products in that range (yes, some of the lower magnification Leupy's are in there). Bushnell and Simmons can be acceptable (own both), but YMMV and they seem prone to good ones and bad ones. Personally, I will trade a clear, bright picture with fine cross hairs for high magnification any day of the week. Please keep in mind I am a recreational shooter and hunter, not a competitor in this space.

Another way to look at it is quality of the following in order (assuming you won't be taking the rig over hill over dale):
1. Glass quality as defined by clarity and brightness.
2. Fine cross hairs, not "tactical" or super-fast target acquisition.
3. Magnification as long as it's at least 3-9x.

That's at least my $.02.

TITAN308
December 10, 2012, 04:04 PM
Vortex Optics. Something for everyone.

/thread

mcdonl
December 10, 2012, 04:07 PM
Some good information, thanks guys... but again I know that every brand will have supporters, but I am interested mostly in what to avoid. I have already come to the conclusion that every manufacturer that has a $200-$300 model will produce a nice low/mid range scope so I will look for the best deal when I have the money but I want to AVOID any sort of bad scopes that are out there.

Also, what about used? Too dangerous?

targetshooter22
December 10, 2012, 04:10 PM
Nothing nice to say about any Tasco product, and not a fan of BSA (seemed to have low quality glass).

MCgunner
December 10, 2012, 04:17 PM
I wouldn't buy Simmons. I had one go wonky on my 7 mag, a Whitetail. I will never own a Simmons. Even a CHEAP Bushnell Sportview held up for years on that gun, then I decide to "upgrade"? :rolleyes: It has a Weatherby Supreme on it now that I REALLY like. That scope is no longer marketed, though. I also own a Weaver KV 2x10x40 I like and I like the Nikons. Lots to choose from in this price range and it ain't cheap 40 dollar Tasco type crap even if it ain't quite Schmidt and Bender.

clang
December 10, 2012, 04:42 PM
Leupold VX-1 can be had for around $200 new. Good scope and great gaurentee.

Nikon makes some good scopes in the $200-$300 price range.

Pentax also has some very good $200 scopes.

Dr. Sandman
December 10, 2012, 04:55 PM
+ 1 on the Leupold VX-1
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Leupold-VX-1-2-7x33mm-Riflescope/22049020
Made in USA, Full Lifetime Warranty

mtrmn
December 10, 2012, 04:58 PM
I've always had good luck with Bushnell over the years, and if not for "cheap" scopes I'd never do any shooting because I'd always be saving up for a Nightforce or Swarovski. Cheap scopes are all I have. "Poor folks got poor ways."

R H Clark
December 10, 2012, 05:32 PM
The bad list is too long just stay with Leupold, Zeiss,Nikon,Weaver,Burris,Bushnell, or Vortex and you will be fine.

Spend as much as you can on your power range.You will get more for your money in the 3X-9X rather than 6X-18X.If you need greater than 9X try for a fixed power.

If Cabelas still has thoes Zeiss Conquest scopes on sale,you won't do any better for $300.

dvdcrr
December 10, 2012, 05:35 PM
I hate to say it, and I won't tell you not to buy them, but look hard before you buy redfield and the newer leupold vx1 scopes. The finger adjustment knobs are a real step down from traditional leupold quality in my book. I have two of these units and both can exhibit movement before they click when you first go to turn them. Its sort of a gritty slide or half click which prevents you from adjusting one sharp click. Though the optics, tubes and reticle are fine.

Hit_Factor
December 10, 2012, 05:40 PM
How about what to look for in a scope? I like to look through the scope into a dark area. If it's just dark, put it down. If you can see and recognize items consider further.

Place the scope on a table, set the cross hairs on a 100 yard object. Now move around and look for the cross hairs moving off the target. This movement is due to parralax. Too much movement? Consider another scope.

Look at the color rendition at the edges. Do you see a rainbow? look for another scope.

Look at something bathed in sunlight, is it foggy? Thats a flaw in the anti reflective coating.

Twist the turrets, are they smooth or rough?

Is the adjustment per click suitable to your needs?

Is the reticle suitable, heavy reticle might be good for hunting but a light reticle is best for targets.

Check that there is enough eye relief at the highest magnification.

Stay away from Barska, BSA, low end Bushnell and Tasco.

pseudonymity
December 10, 2012, 07:20 PM
I think in the $200-300 range you are going to get decent glass, but not great. More expensive scopes will have better quality glass, but the glass on a $600 scope is probably not 2x better than a $300 scope.

Assuming the glass looks good (anti-glare, anti-fog and light transmission are covered in earlier posts), you are looking at differences in a few areas - magnification, reticles, turret adjustments, parallax adjustments and manufacturer warranty policies.

For a target scope, I like a fine crosshair reticle, side adjustable parallax adjustment and large turret caps with 1/8 MOA adjustments with a solid detent system.

Reticles are personal choice, but for target shooting I like cleaner designs. No need for range finding reticles if you shoot at fixed, known ranges. Fine crosshairs obscure less of the target.

I prefer side parallax adjustment, it just seems easier, although it tends to make the scope body that much larger, and could be a problem with covering much of the ejection port on some rifles. If you single load rounds in a bolt action for instance a large scope body with low rings can be a hassle, especially if you have gloves on.

Some scopes have removable turret covers, others you can adjust the scope without removing covers. In either case, you should be able clearly feel the detents in the scope adjustments as you turn the dials. Larger wheels tend to be easier to feel the detents in gloves or with cold hands. With either adjuster style, the markings should be engraved into the turret or cap. Painted marking and similar will wear off eventually. What is really helpful is if the scope tracks accurately. It may be listed as 1/4MOA per click, but if some clicks are .2MOA and others are .3 MOA it can be frustrating. A box test is a good way to test scope tracking.

Some manufacturers have better warranty and customer service than others, and even the best scopes sometimes just fail without warning.

col_temp
December 10, 2012, 08:01 PM
How about what to look for in a scope?
Hey Hit Factor, Good info thanks. this is a great question and its been interesting reading so far.

floorit76
December 10, 2012, 08:02 PM
I am very happy with my Redfield Revolution $200, and really like the looks of the Redfield Revenge, $250ish.

CharlieDeltaJuliet
December 10, 2012, 08:40 PM
I have to agree with Chad about the Bushnell Tactical. I am a big fan of the Bushnell Tactical and Elite Tactical scopes.

Elkins45
December 10, 2012, 08:58 PM
Do the really bad makers make scopes in the 200-300 range? I will break ranks with the conventional wisdom and advise you to avoid the Nikon ProStaff and Buckmasters lines. I have found them to be markedly optically and mechanically inferior to the Leupold offerings in the same price range.

The most overlooked scope brand is Sightron, and you can get a very nice example from them in that price range. Or just buy the best Leupold you can afford and be done with it. There's a reason everybody compares their stuff to Leupold.

Marlin270
December 10, 2012, 09:17 PM
For me, I had to look through various scopes. My eyes are not the best, so I wanted a scope that would allow me to pull the rifle to my shoulder and get a picture without dealing with eye relief issues. I found that some scopes, although nice and clear, had less forgiving eye relief. I looked through a bunch of brands from $150-400 with that in mind. I ended up with a Leupold VX-2 as a good choice at about $275.

WVMountainBoy
December 11, 2012, 01:04 AM
I have had no luck with Tasco or BSA, I would avoid them. Have a Swift I'm pretty fond of and two simmons that aren't bad. You pretty much have the idea.

soonerfan85
December 11, 2012, 01:26 AM
Cheap scopes are cheap for a reason. And it ain't just cause they're made in China. I have cheap China made Tascos and BSAa and both are OK on my .22s, but on a large caliber rifle you want something more substantial. The Burris I have on my 30-06 has been a really good scope, and it's made in the USA. Leupold makes very good optics. Top end Tascos and Bushnells are very good as well, but not in your price range. No way around it, you pay for quality. Even if you mostly bench shoot, you'll notice the difference in inexpensive vs quality glass. Cheap optics will never improve, and quality optics rarely get worse over time. Buy quality first and it only hurts your check book once.

B!ngo
December 11, 2012, 01:44 AM
You might want to look here at: http://www.samplelist.com/
It's the 'slightly used/demo/returned' list from SWFA. I've bought two scopes from them. One in particular was a high-priced one that I just 'had to have' for many years and saved some money when buying it from them.
My take is that there is a notable difference between $300 and $500 scopes. Perhaps you could look at this sight and find a $500 scope for $300. FWIW I don't feel like this site is like buying from EBay which is riskier. And I don't like to take chances with optics.
I should add, after re-reading this thread that there is a lot of good, useful and helpful info here. It's a good read. I would just add (or subtract) that at this price the most important thing, almost the only thing you should prioritize for is glass quality. If the controls are a little rough but the glass is better, that would be my choice. I'd also note that in the list of vendors to more strongly consider, just think about which ones are renown for making great glass - in scopes, binoculars, cameras, and the like. Stick with those folks.
Oh, and I feel obliged to state that I have no affiliation with these SWFA folks, other than being a repeat and satisfied customer.
V

ElToro
December 11, 2012, 02:09 AM
you can buy a leopuld VXII 3-9 gently used for that budget

i have leupold glass on all my rifles, have bought them all used on ebay. their warranty is forever and customer service is legendary

mcdonl
December 11, 2012, 08:52 AM
you can buy a leopuld VXII 3-9 gently used for that budget

i have leupold glass on all my rifles, have bought them all used on ebay. their warranty is forever and customer service is legendary
Eltoro... thats great information, thank you. I see Loepuld scopes used but have always been hesitant. Knowing they have a lifetime warranty is good info.

mdauben
December 11, 2012, 12:24 PM
1 - If I spend less than $1000 all I will get is junk

I think you already recognize that this is false. Its true that some of the $1000+ scopes are amazing, but IMO you are really getting into the range of diminishing returns. There are plenty of good scopes available for much less that meet most people's needs.

2 - Every single brand of scope you can buy in the $200 - $300 range is the best scope ever made according to someone.
Unfortunatly, even junk scopes work for some people. This is why you can't rely on just one opinion. If one guy says "scope X is great" I take that with a grain of salt. If a dozen people all like "scope X" I'm more likely to start thinking that "scope X" might be worth looking into.

FWIW, in your price range I would look at these brands, in this order:


Leupold
Nikon
Weaver
Some might argue with the ranking but I think most would agree that these manufactures all make pretty good scopes in this price range. There may be others in this price range but these are the three I have the most experience with. :cool:

mcdonl
December 11, 2012, 01:02 PM
Unfortunatly, even junk scopes work for some people. This is why you can't rely on just one opinion. If one guy says "scope X is great" I take that with a grain of salt. If a dozen people all like "scope X" I'm more likely to start thinking that "scope X" might be worth looking into.

FWIW, in your price range I would look at these brands, in this order:


Leupold
Nikon
Weaver

Some might argue with the ranking but I think most would agree that these manufactures all make pretty good scopes in this price range.

Thanks, that is why I figured I would go the what do you NOT recommend route... It seems like your list (At least your top two) are common on everyones lsit.

Thanks everyone!! I will let you know what I end up with, but it will likey be the end of January before I get the scratch saved up. Darned kids and christmas!!

R H Clark
December 11, 2012, 01:10 PM
For the money,a Leupold VX2 will be hard to beat.I'm not so sure about the VX1,Rifleman or Redfield series.

The VX2 is the newest version with better glass,There is also a VXII and Vari XII.The Vari being the oldest.All are decent scopes and will be fully covered under as good a warranty as you can get.No fear in buying used.

slowr1der
December 12, 2012, 01:01 AM
I'm a big fan of the Burris Fullfield II in that price range.

IMO for the type of shooting you say are going to be doing, or 90% of all hunting situations you can get a scope for $2-300 that will be all one will ever need. Once you zero them, you will hardly ever mess with them. You can get one that is reliable, has good glass that will work well past legal shooting hours, etc.

When you start needing to spend more is when you want to do long range shooting. When you need a scope that tracks accurately and is repeatable, that's where you start paying for it.

mcdonl
December 14, 2012, 04:05 PM
Thanks for your advice everyone. Hard to beat the deal Cabelas has going on so I purched a Nikon Buckmaster 3x9x40 BDC in Matte finish today for $168!!

My first real scope!

Lloyd Smale
December 15, 2012, 07:59 AM
about all the 200 dollar scopes are decent scopes. Some have a bit better glass, some have more reliable tracking and some are a bit more durable then others. Most scopes in this price range do have a compromise somewhere. Step up to the same manufactures 300-400 dollar scopes and most of these compromises go away. Something like a vx2 or 3 leupold, a nikon monrach, a bushnell 4200, vortex vipor ect. can be bought in this price range and are more scope then a 1000 dollar scope was 10 years ago and that same 1000 bucks is probably worth 2000 with todays inflation. The best bargins ever in optics are whats available to us today. Im not a scope snob but I do think the piece of mind that comes with buying a scope in that price range is well worth it to me to insure a good hunt.

Win73
December 16, 2012, 12:00 AM
Nikon Buckmaster

That's a Nikon Buckmaster 3-9x40 on my .30-06. I have put down 10 deer and 1 coyote with 11 shots at ranges from 25 to 125 yards.

http://i1322.photobucket.com/albums/u570/TruckinHunter/Deer/1.jpg

WYOMan
December 16, 2012, 12:12 AM
Burris has really well made scopes in your price range. My NOT buys, would be anything from Simmons, Tasco, BSA, NCStar, and a few others who I won't name.

soonerfan85
January 17, 2013, 01:21 PM
Burris has really well made scopes in your price range. My NOT buys, would be anything from Simmons, Tasco, BSA, NCStar, and a few others who I won't name.
You forgot Barska. :)

Art Eatman
January 17, 2013, 01:56 PM
Even with tri-focals, this old cigarette-smoking, coffee-drinking Olde Phart can get MOA or better from a benchrest with an old Weaver K4 or an old Leupold Vari-X II in either 2x7 or 3x9.

The 2x7 was new in 1981. The 3x9, 1973. TLOK how old the Weaver is. The 2x7 is on a .243. The 3x9 got moved from an '06 to a .223.

Lotsa good brand-new scopes out there, of course, but some old scopes just don't ever seem to wear out. :)

mcdonl
January 17, 2013, 02:22 PM
Art. Many of us would be in trouble if we were replaced just because we are old :)


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

gotboostvr
January 17, 2013, 10:46 PM
I picked up a primary arms 4x12 mil/mil first focal plane target turrets adjustable objective for $ 250. I'll wring it out here within the next few weeks and report back. It seems very nice and has all the features I Wanted for well under what I wanted to pay.

jerkface11
January 17, 2013, 10:48 PM
In that price range your best bets are Leupold and Sightron.

Jasper1573
January 17, 2013, 11:16 PM
+1 on everything above...recommend you avoid Mueller. My Dad had two of them (both under $200) and neither functioned well. Talked him into a Vortex for around $400 and it works very well.

ZigZagZeke
January 19, 2013, 02:20 AM
Vortex customer service and lifetime, no questions asked, any owner warranty can't be beat. I bought an AR with a Vortex Crossfire mounted on it, figuring I'd have to throw it away and buy something else. Sure enough, the scope was broken. It had a loose inner tube. I called Vortex after reading about their warranty and they said they'd replace it free of charge. When I got the new Vortex Crossfire it worked just fine, but I didn't like it due to the parallax adjustment being difficult to use. I called again and inquired about an upgrade. They said sure, and for another $150 they sent me a Vortex Viper. I've been using the Viper on the AR and loving it.

HighExpert
January 21, 2013, 01:36 AM
I would not recommend this scope for your gun as not enough magnification, but I have been pleasantly surprised by an Aim-sport tactical that I bought.. it is 1-4 and has a lighted reticle and uses a post with half circle above it. It was cheap at $140 but has very bright glass and so far not issues.

shootr
January 21, 2013, 02:34 AM
Used Leupy VX II or III, or older Vari X in that price range will do well. Any issues, send it to Leupy and they'll fix it.

TimboKhan
January 21, 2013, 02:43 AM
I have the Vortex Viper found HERE (http://www.vortexoptics.com/product/vortex-viper-4-12x40-pa-riflescope-dead-hold-bdc-reticle) on my Gunsite Scout that I have so far been happy with. Better than average is a good way to describe it. Glass is good, adjustments are crisp and accurate, and it has held zero for almost a year now. I have looked through other scopes that I thought were anywhere from a little to a lot better for whatever reason, but for the price and the performance I have gotten out of it, I really have no complaints or plans to change it. Also, as mentioned previously, Vortex apparently has very good customer service, so thats nice.

Wylie1
January 21, 2013, 07:09 AM
ProStaffs haven't been very good to me, still haven't shipped back my 4-12x40, just can't see mounting another after my experiences.

2ndtimer
January 21, 2013, 09:50 PM
I can somewhat echo other posters:
Avoid: low end Bushnells, low end Simmons, Barska, BSA, etc.

Based on personal experience, I just purchased a new Leupold VX-2 3-9X scope and after I ordered it, heard about the $279 Zeiss Conquest 3-9X Cabelas deal. So I ordered one of those, too. I compared them side by side and my conclusion was that the Zeiss might be slightly (just barely) better optically than the Leupold, but that the Leupold is lighter and trimmer in appearance. Both of them are excellent and were (are) my choice, in the $300 price range. The Zeiss is rarely found at that price point, which is why I jumped on it. ( I have a difficult time resisting a really good deal on quality merchandise that I can afford, and had never seen a new Zeiss scope for less than $399) The Leupold VX-2 3-9 is probably as good a scope as any big game hunter really needs and Leupold warranty and service are top notch.
In the $200 (or slightly under, even) to $250 range, I have the Nikon Buckmasters 4.5-14X, Redfield Revolution 4-12X and the Burris Fullfield II 3-9X. All of them have worked well for me and I can recommend them without reservation in the under $250 or so price range. IF you can step up to the VX-2 class, I think it worth the extra $50 or so to do so. I also have a couple of Leupold VX-3 class scopes and they are also very nice, but priced above your budget. I don't believe they are really worth the additional money over the basic VX-2 for big game hunting. YMMV, but this has been my experience.

Eleanor416Rigby
January 21, 2013, 10:36 PM
For broad daylight paper shooting and occasional coyotes at 100 or 150 yds the optical quality is not that critical; as long as the zero stays locked down through the light/moderate recoil of a .308, any of them will be fine.

For broad daylight paper shooting at 100 yds, you could almost build a scope from toilet paper rolls and John Lennon reading glasses. It's the low-light, fog, haze, sunset glare, sunrise glare, long range, rain and other variables that justify spending premium money for hunting scopes.

Avoid the low-end Bushnell, low-end Simmons, low-end Tasco. Even with those, the optics are good enough for the OP's stated purposes, but I've had budget Tasco reticles shake loose from the light/moderate recoil of .270. I have a Burris 2-7 Nikon 3-9 and Simmons 3-9 that would all fit the OP's bill for around $200 or less.

tuj
January 22, 2013, 10:47 AM
If you are mainly bench shooting for competition, then it's very hard to beat the Weaver T36 series scopes.

If you need variable zoom, I personally like the Mueller Target Scope quite a bit. It goes from 8-32x, has side-focus and target turrets.

Hokkmike
January 22, 2013, 01:45 PM
Avoid Bariska.

tuj
January 22, 2013, 01:57 PM
I think Hokkmike means Barska. I have had mixed experience with Barska; they are definitely low-end optics, but I got a 20-60x spotting scope from them that is actually not bad at all.

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