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How can you justify a 2-3000 dollar scope?

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by ZDriver96, Jul 21, 2013.

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  1. ZDriver96

    ZDriver96 Member

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    First off I'd like to say that I believe that you get what you pay for and that I can appreciate spending a couple hundred dollars more for a quality scope. I myself own a Minox ZA5, Gen 3 PVS14, Vanguard Spotting scopes, Aimpoints etc... I am willing to spend money for quality/rugged optics. I have looked through different scopes and in general the 700-1000 dollar scopes did not impress me any more than most of the 400-600 dollar scopes. In fairness some of those 1000 dollar scopes were more rugged and more shock resistant.

    But I have never looked through a Nightforce, Kahles, Swarovski, Steiner, etc.. I was looking through gunbroker and several of these brands have scopes that enter that 2-3k price range and even beyond that.

    Those of you who own or have experience with these brands.. do you feel they are worth the price? Or do you feel that the optical quality can be matched by less expensive scopes? Do you feel the build quality or ruggedness far exceeds that of less expensive optics.

    I know these questions depend on your use and background as a sniper on the SWAT team will probably feel differently than an occasional shooter. I base my purchases on the simple question: Are these products currently used in harsh environments or do I feel that they could endure harsh environmental conditions.

    I'd like to hear your opinions and experiences.
     
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    first, a shocking percentage of snipers/swat guys have truly crappy equipment. they use what they are issued and depts are cheap. so i wouldn't use that as a guide. vast majority of their engagements are under 100 yards and on very large targets, so their requirements are really not that high.

    to get reasonably impressive glass, you probably have to spend $1700+ these days. some of that glass is pretty awesome, but it's mostly not needed for almost any shooting application and you also really need some education to know what to look for or they will mostly look the same. there is a difference between clarity, resolution, light transmission, a couple types of distortion, color fidelity, and such things as the recent brouhaha over chromatic aberration.

    maybe 4+ years ago, you had to spend that much money to get features you wanted, like FFP, and adjustments that tracked and knobs that didn't suck (e.g. single or double turn, zero stops, locking turrets, good detents, etc). but now, there are some cheap scopes with those features too. but they do make compromises. for example, their exit pupil often leaves a lot to be desired.

    so paying $3k for a scope these days is something you should only do if you need all of the above: outstanding glass, good exit pupil and eye relief, and FFP, and knob features. and higher reliability.


    if you really want to prove to yourself the differences, i'd strongly recommend NOT just going and looking through them side by side. Without knowing what to look for, you will just come away with the wrong impression.

    instead go prepared with some charts. google them to get some examples to print out. to be honest, the birdwatchers are way better at this than gun people and way way more picky about their optics. so look around their binocular and spotter and camera forums a bit.

    Get a resolution chart like this and look at it from a long way away through various scopes and see which ones you can make out the smaller lines on and which ones you can't. use it kind of like the chart at your eye doc.
    [​IMG]

    get a similar chart like a color wheel and see how each scope renders colors.

    look up instructions on how to perform a box test and try it.

    move your eye forward/back/left/right and see how much room you have on each scope before the vignetting starts. AND see if you can dial the parallax out while you're doing that so that the crosshairs appear to not move at all relative to the target while you're moving your head.

    etc etc etc
     
  3. DeepSouth

    DeepSouth Member

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    If I had a 2-3000 dollar rifle.

    My general rule of thumb is spend about as much on the scope as I did on the rifle. I am a big Leupold fan but I do have a Swarovski on an older Remington 700 that is probably worth over twice as much as the gun, but I got the scope for $400. :D

    The Swarovski is a much better scope in every way than any of my Leupold's, but I doubt I'll ever have another one just due to price.
     
  4. ZDriver96

    ZDriver96 Member

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    That makes a lot of sense Taliv. Thanks for the advice on using a chart & technique to compare the different scopes. Taking my father scope shopping for his 22lr target rifle. Suppose it'd be a good time to get an optical chart and try though techniques.

    I agree DeepSouth... Thats why I put the Minox ZA5 on my Mosin Nagant w/Archangel stock. I have about 500 dollars into the set up so might as well put a 400 dollar scope on it. I'd rather use iron sights than a garbage scope that will fail or lose zero.
     
  5. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    for 22lr target shooting, you need to think about what scope features you really need.

    1. you need contrast, not colors.
    2. knobs that track perfectly are nice, but with those friggin tiny bullseyes, what you really need is for the zero to not shift at all. those close range bullseye are very unforgiving!
    3. you need parallax either set at the distance you plan to shoot (and you test it, not just believe what the box says), or that is adjustable and comfortably covers the range you need to shoot. many $3000 scopes have parallax adjustments that only go down to 50 meters or so. small bore matches usually go from 50' to 50m. -ish.
    4. you don't need a lot of eye relief, since 22lr recoil isn't going to give you scopeeye or break your nose :)
    5. you don't need a large exit pupil since you will always put your head in the same position for those competitions. (or at least try to, and a small exit pupil will remind you if you're out of position)

    (ignore that if he's using his target rifle for squirrel hunting or something)
     
  6. ZDriver96

    ZDriver96 Member

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    LOL I was gonna say he uses it to hit birds and chipmunks that attack his garden. I'm not gonna go into that great of detail with him as Im sure he doesnt care but I'll definitely use that advice when picking out one for me while he shops around
     
  7. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    hah, well good. that's a whole lot more fun than smallbore :)
     
  8. MaterDei

    MaterDei Member

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    Some people want the best and cost either isn't an issue or they make the plans/sacrifices necessary to buy the best. They don't need to justify spending whatever they spend.

    I'm not one of those people and I can't justify spending $2 - $3k for a scope.
     
  9. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    I don't understand it either, but there's nothing a $3k scope could do for me that a $500 scope wouldn't do. I'm not taking any shots past about 300 yds and legal shooting time ends 30 mins after sunset, so no low light conditions. A $300-$500 Leupold or Nikon is all I need. Some people's needs are different. I do believe that a scope that will hold zero is more important than astronomy grade glass.
     
  10. fallout mike

    fallout mike Member

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    30 minutes after sunset and no low light situations. How old did you turn today again?
     
  11. Hanzo581

    Hanzo581 Member

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    I can't justify a 2-3000 rifle let alone an optic.
     
  12. mike.h

    mike.h Member

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    Hmmm, a couple years ago I might have agreed. But today... not so much. My AR (Colt, crp-18), is a solid 2. My new bolt gun is approaching that, custom work, tactical stock, trigger.... and glass...like I said a couple years ago, this would be crazy talk. not so much anymore.
     
  13. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Ha. My Leupold Rifleman or the VX-1 I bought from you do just fine at that time of day. You don't need extreme light gathering optics for that.
     
  14. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    even the guys paying $3k for glass would agree with that


    you should do a review of that. i'd love to hear what you think of that rifle
     
  15. OpticsPlanet

    OpticsPlanet Member

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    A grand was my personal limit, on an $800 rifle.

    I've always looked at it like stereo stuff (yes, I'm old and remember components): Better good speakers (riflescope) on a lesser stereo (rifle) than crappy speakers (riflescope) on a good stereo (rifle).

    Hope that made sense. Hard to get the best the rifle (and myself) is capable of with a bad optic.

    Mark H.
     
  16. Cannelure

    Cannelure Member

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    For my AR-15, I'm going to buy a Trijicon VCOG when it's available on the market. When you include the price of a QD mount, it will come out to around $2,000. I justify that price because I want an illuminated front focal plane ballistic reticle calibrated for 77 gr. 5.56mm, long battery life, true 1x magnification setting, 6x magnification setting, generous eye relief, extreme water resistance, extreme durability and good glass.

    On the rimfire rifles for my wife and I, we're going with a Leupold VX-R. The VX-R has similar features of the VCOG, but costs much less. What we're giving up to save money is a front focal plane ballistic reticle, long battery life, true 1x magnification setting, extreme water resistance and extreme durability. For our needs, we don't need the features of the more expensive optic, so why pay more for what we don't need?

    In other words, buy the optic that meets your needs and wants and don't spend more on stuff you don't need or want.
     
  17. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Member

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    It is an interesting question.

    Schmidt and Bender, on their website, say that the very best any scope glass does today is pass 95% of the available light.

    Most of the magic of clarity is in the coatings. If you get a chance to look into the objective end of a $2000 scope you are not likely to see your reflection. The coating on that lens lets 97 to 98 percent of the light thru and very little is reflected back. Also very little bounces around inside the scope which contributes to hazy images.

    I have noticed that the German scopes also tend to preserve the blue wave length making some of them almost too bright in clear sunlight. Just my presumption, I could be all wrong but that ability to allow the brightest light (which is the first one to scatter or diffuse) preserves visibility way into low light conditions. A coating can only work with one wavelength of light. No coating I know of works with multiple wave lengths.

    A coating can be anti reflective or scratch resistant or water repellant or phase correcting. Lenses can be single coated or multi coated. Applying the coating is done in a vacuum and the coatings absolutely constitute the trade secrets of the manufacturer.

    Then when you toss in making all of this both rugged and precise and probably producing them in smaller numbers well the price gets right up there. I don't think the $2500 scopes are flying off the shelves.

    So are you missing out by using a Leupold instead of some incredibly expensive unit? I don't know as I have never used a scope that cost over $1000. But in no way is a Leupold inadequate!

    So I think its a matter of what you can afford and how you define your budget. I find the Leupold lifetime guarantee very hard to beat and they make a great product. I know a lot of Tasco scopes have taken a lot of game.

    Your "get what you pay for" attitude is right on to me. The gains do get smaller as you approach the pinnacle of whats out there and having 95+% of the best you can get and still be under $1000 probably keeps 95+% of us perfectly happy.
     
  18. Magnuumpwr

    Magnuumpwr Member

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    Personally own an IOR valdada 12-52x56mm with a 40mm main tube mounted on a Christensen Carbon custom 338 Lapua mag. Also have a Nightforce 8-32x56mm BR mounted on a Steyr SSG 69PIV 308. Price points for each are: $2500 on $4900 and $1700 on $2000. I am very pleased with both optics resolution and clarity. My wife believes in the optics costing 3/4 the cost of its intended rifle and I stand behind her decision! But inevitably this falls back to the adage: "to each his own".
     
  19. jstein650

    jstein650 Member

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    I'm glad the OP asked this question, and I appreciate the responses. I do believe, when it comes to glass, there is some truth to 'you get what you pay for'. But It seems there is a point of diminishing returns. If I made a mil' a year, I don't think would flinch at a $2-3k scope, but I don't, and won't. When it comes to shooting, I think we all live in our respective worlds. e.g., when people talk about 600 yd+ shots on prairie dogs & 'yotes, my head kind of spins, but to a lot of folks, that's the world they live in. I don't see the day that a good sub- $500 scope wouldn't do anything I can imagine. For now, most sub $300 scopes impress the heck out of me.
     
  20. Eb1

    Eb1 Member

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    I could never justify a $2k-$3k scope. Not even on a $3k rifle.

    This scope I have had personal experience with, and it rocks. It returns to zero, it shoots perfect squares. I am not a sales man, but for the average joe who needs an awesome scope on any rifle this one will do.

    http://swfa.com/SWFA-SS-10x42-Tactical-30mm-Riflescope-P499.aspx
     
  21. jack44

    jack44 Member

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    The most I pay is 400. for a scope and even that is to much.
     
  22. Lloyd Smale

    Lloyd Smale Member

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    i cant afford a 2k scope. Are they worth the money? probably. But for my uses there sure not needed. If i was competeing in 1000 yard matches and it was my main hobby id probably have to come up with the money somehow but for what i do which is hunting out to 500 or maybe at the most 600 yards a 2-500 dollar scope will get it done. Id bet if people were honest about 3/4s of those high dollar scopes are bought to impress not to perform.
     
  23. Magnuumpwr

    Magnuumpwr Member

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    I, for one, will admit my high end items are just for looks. Not a competition shooter, rifle or handgun. Typically, I see something that I like and I buy it. They do provide lots of fun during group shoots, by this I mean when I invite people over to shoot. With any of my guns I keep my shots 200 yards and under. And before anyone pipes up with "what a waste". They are mine and I really do enjoy them. This reply would conform to other threads better, but it is in reply to the statement Lloyd made in post #22.
     
  24. ZDriver96

    ZDriver96 Member

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    Magnuumpwr: Do you feel your $4900 scope offers clear advantages over your 2500 dollar scope? I see your running a 338 lapua cartridge that in my limited knowledge would benefit the most out of the high end scopes because of the range its capable of...

    It seems like most of us agree on how we determine what glass we need. The Minox ZA5 I own is a pleasure to look through, clear & crisp... and the comfortable constant 4 inch eye relief is a noticeable benefit over others 100 dollars cheaper.
    But as for my Gen III PVS14 optic... its a different animal but it offers noticeable clarity,resolution,low light visibility when compared to a Gen I or II. If I could see those types of gains in a scope I would be more likely to purchase a 2-3k scope. Of course thats if I could afford it :) ...
     
  25. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    This is my point as well. I'm sure they are better quality than lesser expensive models, however for my purposes they are not necessary. I doubt they would help shrink my groups at 200 yds in broad daylight.
    I chuckle when I hear folks talking about there being little or no difference though. They're either ignorant, or just jealous that they can't afford them.
    Heck I'll be the first to admit if I was loaded, I'd buy a high end hunting rifle and mount a Scmidt and Bender on it in a heartbeat.

    He doesn't have a $4900 scope. He has a $2500 scope mounted on a $4900 rifle. The question would be does the $2500 scope offer clear advantages over the $1700 one.
     
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