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View Full Version : Scope quality differences.


BlueSun
03-04-2012, 10:48 PM
Right off the bat I want to say I KNOW NOTHING about what makes a good quality scope a good quality scope. I do not own any scopes, but have been poking around for my Remington 700. I see the names Leupold and Nightforce floating around and think to get a good scope I have to pay $1000+ and that that is the norm. Today I attended my local gunshow where there was a vendor who had a bunch of scopes on sale, of which so much as I can tell the brand was Sniper, and for $150 I could've gotten a scope 4x-16x 40mm waterproof, fogproof, shockproof, multicoated, and with crosshair reticle in black (default) but also red, blue, and green in 3 different brightness settings for each.

My question is, what makes makes up the difference between that $120 scope and $1000+ scopes that makes the expensive ones worth the money you pay for them?

Zzzake
03-04-2012, 11:05 PM
http://www.shootingvoodoo.com/index.php/articles/practical_optics_selection/

Pretty good read for optics. In the end, you do get what you pay for (at least 99.99% of the times, some are definitely overpriced but that doesn't mean they aren't some of the best in their class).

adrenalinejunkie
03-04-2012, 11:09 PM
Right off the bat I want to say I KNOW NOTHING about what makes a good quality scope a good quality scope. I do not own any scopes, but have been poking around for my Remington 700. I see the names Leupold and Nightforce floating around and think to get a good scope I have to pay $1000+ and that that is the norm. Today I attended my local gunshow where there was a vendor who had a bunch of scopes on sale, of which so much as I can tell the brand was Sniper, and for $150 I could've gotten a scope 4x-16x 40mm waterproof, fogproof, shockproof, multicoated, and with crosshair reticle in black (default) but also red, blue, and green in 3 different brightness settings for each.

My question is, what makes makes up the difference between that $120 scope and $1000+ scopes that makes the expensive ones worth the money you pay for them?

Bolded is true for $50 scopes also. I went cheap for my AR and bought an NcStar scope but sold it at the suggestions of this forum. Went BUIS for a while then bought a Walther PS22 red dot sight. From what I've heard, the cheaper scopes won't hold zero right off the bat, or will lost their ability to do so after a while. Some will just take a **** out of nowhere like the objective lens popping out or something. I honestly think it comes down the the manufacturer and the scope you get. Some people get the same model scope and say it's flawless, some say theirs died on a .22. IMO paying the higher price tag gives you peace of mind and more options like bullet drop compensation etc.

Ryan in SD
03-04-2012, 11:19 PM
My guess, quality of lenses, hardware used, R and D, quality control, manufacturing processes, etc etc.

They do seem overprices regardless.

I use to buy cheap scopes...

...use to

Waste of time and money unless you want to put a cheapo on a red rider.

MrPlink
03-04-2012, 11:24 PM
the biggest issue with most of the really cheap scopes is the basic quality of the glass is crap. Clarity is crap and light transmission is crap.

As mentioned, the general construction is crap. Turrets are poorly made, making zeroing (or maintaining zero) difficult if not impossible or at best unpredictable.

There are some budget scopes that offer very good value for the $$$. Burris and Hilux all come to mind, but expect to pay at least 300 or so for one.

Good rule of thumb is if you see a scope for under 200 and it is FILLED with wiz bang features (such as you mentioned) it is probably a POS. NcStar and Barska come to mind in this segment.

kurac
03-04-2012, 11:42 PM
Like anything else, you get what you pay for. You can get Power Steering, Power Locks, Power Windows, and two airbags on a Kia but it still aint no Mercedes.

If you look through a no-name scope at distance and compare it to a Nightforce or Leupold the difference in quality should be apparent, same thing would happen when you test drive the Kia and then hop on the Mercedes.

Stoopy
03-04-2012, 11:46 PM
Nice scopes have more internal adjustment, return to zero when you dial in for different distances and windage. Nice scopes are easier to get a good sight picture and focus better. Good scopes don't change point of impact when changing magnification and also have longer eye reliefs at higher magnification. Good scopes are worth every penny if you want to be good at long range. Think how much you spend on match grade ammo for the life of the rifle compared to how much you spend on the gun and scope. Good scopes have a better resale value compared to cheap scopes.

ejhc11
03-05-2012, 1:08 AM
Some reference info links
http://www.chuckhawks.com/riflescopes_same.htm

http://www.chuckhawks.com/recommended_riflescopes.htm

A good scope is suppose to assist you in being a better shooter, if that equipment is not delivering the promise in quality, clarity, reliability, and affordability (your own budget) then its not a good scope.

TreeHugger
03-05-2012, 6:11 AM
Pretty much with everything, you get what you paid for. I always spend the extra money to buy good glass that will last. My friend however, is the type that learns the hard way, at first, he will spend $2000 on a rifle and then buy a $150 scope, I told him before to spend the extra money, but he insist on cheap glass, he did that for a while and finally figured it out and end up buying expensive glass, so he wasted money on junk. My business used to sell a lot of camera lenses, cheap always meant crap.

rksimple
03-05-2012, 6:52 AM
Tracking, repeatability, holding and returning to zero, glass quality, features, accuracy, etc. are all things that you will pay good money for in a rifle scope. Don't skimp. The optic is the weakest and most important link in the rifle system.

Capybara
03-05-2012, 7:11 AM
I just bought the Mueller 8x32x44 for only $249.00. I am somewhat of an optics snob, being a photographer as well, and for a low cost scope, the Mueller is impressive. With optics, you get what you pay for generally, but as you go up in cost, the law of diminishing returns kicks in quickly so the difference between a $600.00 and a $1,000.00 scope is pretty small, but the difference between a $150.00 and a $250.00 scope is generally pretty huge.

Dan

NytWolf
03-05-2012, 8:12 AM
Just go to a hunting/outdoors store and ask to see a scope at about the $200 mark and another one at the $500 mark. Take a look through it and you will see the difference, at least in the glass.

When it comes to scopes, pretty much any well-known name is going to be good. But choosing a scope based on brand can be a big mistake. The better route is to choose based on model. For instance, someone can tell you that Leupold makes good scopes and Bushnell makes crap. But if you compare a Leupold VX-I with a Bushnell Elite 3200, you'd be scratching your head.

russ69
03-05-2012, 9:03 AM
There are two main differences, mechanicals and lenses. The top scopes are designed to be higher quality/more durable mechanically, some use a one piece main tube as example. Then there are the lenses, glass vs fluorite. A fluorite lens can be quite a bit more expensive. As in most things, you get what you pay for and a cheap scope just isn't worth investing in.

Iloveguns
03-05-2012, 9:11 AM
I just bought the Mueller 8x32x44 for only $249.00. I am somewhat of an optics snob, being a photographer as well, and for a low cost scope, the Mueller is impressive. With optics, you get what you pay for generally, but as you go up in cost, the law of diminishing returns kicks in quickly so the difference between a $600.00 and a $1,000.00 scope is pretty small, but the difference between a $150.00 and a $250.00 scope is generally pretty huge.

Dan

I see a big difference in a $600 scope then $1000 scope. Its not all about glass quality. Unlike Camera Lenses, Rifle scopes get much more punishment. Reliability is a huge concern. As well as what you need the scope to do. If you are an optics snob you should start looking at some better glass. Snobish levels start at $1500 and go up to $4k and beyond!

kmullins
03-05-2012, 9:25 PM
To the OP:

Threads that propose questions like this usually end up being several pages in length and the last reply usually ends up being an exact paraphrase of the original question asked.

Now, my opinion (which is worth nothing more or less than anyone else's here), the largest contributor price differences amongst optics comes from the branding of the product. Your paying for a name, to a degree. If you disagree with this then why is the Pentax Pioneer 4.5-14x42mm the EXACT same scope as the Burris Fullfield II, just with a different name on the side, yet costs half the price?

The price of the optic should be in direct proportion to the quality of the rifle. The funniest thing to me is a guy will buy a factory Remington SPS 700 rifle that's worth about $550 or so and put a $2,000 Nightforce on it. Why? If your after accuracy, you'd be much better spending money on truing/blueprinting the action, replacing the trigger and replacing the barrel with a premium quality match grade barrel with a chamber that has minimal "slop".

I buy scopes that represent great value for their price. I have a $280 Viper Vortex that costs about a third of the price of the Leupold VX-III and has indistinguishable clarity and in every aspect is extremely similar. What constitutes this price difference? It's the name your paying for.

This again is my opinion and goes against a lot of the thought represented on this forum. I don't shoot tactical matches or three gun, I shoot centerfire benchrest and punch paper. I have rifles that consistently shoot in the .3s at 100 yards that have $200 scopes on them.

The best "pound for pound" scope on the market today is a Weaver T-36.

My $.02

SVT-40
03-06-2012, 7:51 AM
One of the big differences between a cheap scope (often low quality) and a expensive (often high quality) besides the glass is how the different lens elements are mounted in the tube. Cheap scopes have their lenses glued in place and have no gaskets or use plastic rings to hold the lenses.

More quality scopes use metal precision threaded gasket-ed rings to hold the different lens elements in place.

Iloveguns
03-06-2012, 8:14 AM
One of the big differences between a cheap scope (often low quality) and a expensive (often high quality) besides the glass is how the different lens elements are mounted in the tube. Cheap scopes have their lenses glued in place and have no gaskets or use plastic rings to hold the lenses.

More quality scopes use metal precision threaded gasket-ed rings to hold the different lens elements in place.

Not necessarily. The main reason some of the high end scopes do that is so they can repair or replace the lenses if anything were to happen. Most of them come with a life time warranty. March scopes are glued in and are top of the line scopes. If they get sent back for defects or anything else, they have to break the glass and start over. Not sure if they are the only high end that does this or not.

brando
03-06-2012, 2:37 PM
Tracking, repeatability, holding and returning to zero, glass quality, features, accuracy, etc. are all things that you will pay good money for in a rifle scope. Don't skimp. The optic is the weakest and most important link in the rifle system.

+1 That's about it in a nutshell

Cheap scopes are fine for plinking, but they will frustrate you to no end beyond that.

Sniper3142
03-06-2012, 5:53 PM
Tracking, repeatability, holding and returning to zero, glass quality, features, accuracy, etc. are all things that you will pay good money for in a rifle scope. Don't skimp. The optic is the weakest and most important link in the rifle system.

+1 That's about it in a nutshell

Cheap scopes are fine for plinking, but they will frustrate you to no end beyond that.

+2

Quality scopes usually offer clearer optics, stronger construction, and more precise and repeatable adjustments than cheaper ones. And these are all desireable features in a scope.