What's the Difference in Glass

Just because a company touts Japanese glass, it doesn't mean you're getting Vortex Razor or Nightforce quality. Japan can make mediocre glass too
That goes for anything made under contract for other companies. The manufacturers will make what ever a company wants to the customers specifications. An it also doesn't matter where the manufacturing plants are located. Junk specs and/or trying to get things as cheap as possible results in poor quality items being manufactured.

I definitely tell a difference between the exact same scopes (Arken SH-4) with one having Chinese glass and the other having Japanese glass. The Swampfox Patriot 6-24 scope and my lower end Primary Arms scopes all have Chinese glass too. And the Arken SH-4J is definitely better. The Arken scopes with Japanese glass still aren't as good as my old Bushnell Elite 6-24 scope.
I had an AETEC when they first came out. Worst case of fish eye I've ever seen. It was over $200 then.

I don't know what the mark-up is and don't really care. I don't begrudge people their profit, especially those that produce and sell anything gun-related.
The original japan made aetecs ive had (1st and maybe 2nd run) were really nice scopes and didnt exhibit the fisheye the Philippines made Aetecs did.....tho not all of those did it.
Ive had 4-5 I think. The 3.8-12s i had were fine, but i remembered at least one of the 2.8-10 being pretty wonky. All but my first were purchased used.
The old Aetec and Whitetail Expeditions are still my favorite scopes to snag off ebay used.
The scope that's been on my go to hunting rifle for the last 40 years or so is a Simmons 44 mag 6.5-20X44 made in the Philippines. It has no fisheye with just a touch of chromatic aberration starting at 16X. It has great low light vision and has never lost zero. The ones made in Taiwan and China are nowhere near as good. I don't know how they are since Bushnell took them over. I've got Leupold and Swift and Bushnell scopes and never once thought about swapping it out.
I know dealer cost for a small(ish) dealer.
99% of the time, Its about 20-50 bucks cheaper than the Big Dealers online sales prices.
I do wonder how much each unit actually costs to build (tho id assume thats a relatively the smallest part of the actual cost)

For a number of years I worked as an R&D Chemist ,so Lab equipment I know WELL and optical glass ISN'T cheap ,regardless of who's you buy . Especially if it's Quality optics . So I'd venture to say the #1 cost is optical glass ,then the mounting sections including the Erector objective ,Ocular and aperture . With today's CNC milling Tubes are common place and I imagine reasonable comparatively speaking .

I'm down in south Louisiana, so when someone says deer hunting, I'm thinking 200 yards MAX. Usually, 100 or closer. For that, in the $500 range, I'd be looking at a Vortex PST Gen II, 1-6x.

I don't think that anyone can dispute that it's a good scope with way better than good enough glass.

Just because a company touts Japanese glass, it doesn't mean you're getting Vortex Razor or Nightforce quality. Japan can make mediocre glass too. Really, what you're looking for coming out of Japan, is scopes coming out of LOW (Light Optical Works, I believe it is).
Some of the Crimson Trace scopes were made for them by LOW. I snagged a 4-20x FFP marked down about 50% when they got discontinued and it is fantastic glass.
I wish I knew that. I didn't give the CT scopes a second look. They were blowing them out at my LGS.

I was in the market for new glass and spotted them at over half off at Midway, marked down from >$900.

I did a little research and pulled the trigger and couldn't be happier. It is heavy, but it's a 4-20x illuminated, side focus, FFP... I didn't expect a featherweight! It's on a light rifle though, so it evens out.
CT makes some fair red dots for the price, too. I took a chance on one when Midway first got them in, liked it and now I have them on 3 of my uppers, the other two are my 1-8 Strike Eagle and one with BUIS only.
I just picked up an Athlon Talos EDC red dot to put on my TX-22C, popped it on a couple hours ago. I'll test it out in the next week or so. For $100, I thought I'd give it a shot. None of the LGS around here have the Ruger fiber optic red dot I was thinking of getting, and this was around the same price.
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