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View Full Version : Someone care to explain the difference between expensive scopes and cheapies?


Roo
08-27-2007, 8:59 PM
What exactly is the difference? Are the cheapies not accurate? Fuzzy picture? What are the reasons to buy a nice, expensive scope? Reason I am asking is I bought a cheap $80 AIM 3-9x scope and I like it. I am a noobie but the scope has been accurate for me. Please shed some light on it for me, thanks!

Jamie

Prc329
08-27-2007, 10:32 PM
Durability and repeatability are the main reasons behind paying more for a good scope. Glass quality and resolution also plays a big part.

Take the lovable Super Sniper - Good price, good glass, good function and all around good scope for what you pay.

Now let's move to an IOR, high end leupold, USO, etc. In these scopes you will get much beefier internals, better glass, better materials in the body of the scope and all this adds up to repeatability and longevity.

I personally owned a Super Sniper in 10x. Actually I owned 2 and loved the scopes. They worked, gave me good image and got me shooting well. Then I came across enough money to buy an IOR. The resolution of the image from the IOR is light years ahead of the SS, also the IOR feels much beefier and the turrets feel much more precise, especially when locking in your zero.

Think about what you can afford then add about $300 and get a really good scope.

aplinker
08-27-2007, 10:49 PM
What exactly is the difference? Are the cheapies not accurate? Fuzzy picture? What are the reasons to buy a nice, expensive scope? Reason I am asking is I bought a cheap $80 AIM 3-9x scope and I like it. I am a noobie but the scope has been accurate for me. Please shed some light on it for me, thanks!

Jamie

Let me add to what prc said...

Your idea of accuracy isn't the same as a precision shooter. For them it means putting the bullet through the same hole.

A high-end scope will hold zero and be able to adjust its impact point, then return to the same zero if you move those adjustements back. A high-end scope will adjust elevation without affecting windage.

A high-end scope's glass has better clarity and less chromatic aberration. It's also coated more for better light transmission.

A high-end scope internals will not scatter light like a cheaper scope. This scatter makes things fuzzy.

Good scopes are made for specific roles. Remember, a lot of these high end scopes are for shooting tactical matches where extremely rapid transitions for distance and wind are required.

If you're just plinking, you can get by just fine with about anything, but good optics (once you've used them) have distinct and definite advantages. Cheap stuff also breaks, leaks, fogs and isn't as reliable.

Prc329
08-27-2007, 11:16 PM
Also remember there is cheap and inexpensive. Two whole different things.

Baraska - cheap
Burris and Super Sniper - inexpensive.

Roo
08-27-2007, 11:21 PM
The only thing I don't understand in the above post is:
'be able to adjust its impact point'

Care to explain that a little more?

Guns R Tools
08-28-2007, 12:44 AM
'be able to adjust its impact point'

Click up or down dependng on the situation.
It moves internal cross hair up or down. It is necessary when you are zeroed in one distance, say 100 yards, then you want to hit a target 500 yards away. You click corresponding numbers then your crosshair is on the new target (This is where skill comes in). Fire and click back same amount and fire at 100 yards target and it will hit the same spot.
I am not good at it but I believe that is what it supposed to do.

aplinker
08-28-2007, 3:27 AM
The only thing I don't understand in the above post is:
'be able to adjust its impact point'

Care to explain that a little more?

I'm not sure what you're unclear on, so forgive me if I go too in-depth.

Where the bullet hits is determined by gravity (traveling a distance takes time, which causes the bullet to drop an increasing amount) and wind blowing the bullet off course. If you're always shooting at one distance (say, 100 yds) you can zero and use the scope with the cross-hairs point as the point of impact. 100yds also has very little wind issues. However, if you shot longer ranges, where the bullet hit would be different than the center of the cross-hairs. You would want to compensate for the differences.

With a good tactical style scope you can "dial" the windage and elevation knobs to the proper setting (using tables for the distance and wind speed, etc.) for the conditions. This changing of the bullet impact point using the scope requires good knobs and adjustments, with good return to zero.

That help?

Roo
08-28-2007, 5:14 PM
Ok I understand now. I guess I am going to be spending a couple thousand on scopes in the next month or so. Thanks for all the replies!

xenophobe
08-28-2007, 6:17 PM
With my $2000 Leica binoculars, I can point them at the sun, to where it is just outside my viewing edge and still see a clear and sharp image.

With cheap optics, point them towards the sun just out of view, and you will see light diffusion, lens saturation and lens reflections and light reflecting off the inside of the tubes.

Higher quality optics have better glass that has less contaminants, better and more coatings that reduce chromatic aberration, increase light transmission and color correct an image better as well as provide higher contrast, the lenses are not stopped down to hide coma and astigmatisms, and internal baffling keeps the light from reflecting inside the unit.

In natural sunlight at the 100 yard range, or looking at the wall inside a gun shop is not any means to test the quality of an optic. True optical superiority comes at dawn/dusk when the sun is just out of your FOV, when animals/prey closely match their surroundings, looking upwards through scattered light diffused from leaves, when bad weather conditions arise, or in any messed up situation you can think of. The worse it gets, the better good optics stand out from crappy ones. In the ideal situations though, telling the difference between the two can be a little difficult. In the worst situations, there is no comparison.

My binoculars can be used at night, in the shadows as long as there is a half moon or greater. They will work in conditions where cheap optics are useless.

mike452
08-28-2007, 10:40 PM
Ok I understand now. I guess I am going to be spending a couple thousand on scopes in the next month or so. Thanks for all the replies!

Don't be silly! :p 1.5X the price of your rifle before accessories would be excellent. Maybe 2X if MSRP.
Don't get a Benz for you donut wheels. :D

Roo
08-29-2007, 10:29 AM
Don't be silly! :p 1.5X the price of your rifle before accessories would be excellent. Maybe 2X if MSRP.
Don't get a Benz for you donut wheels. :D

I just have a couple rifles to buy for :p. One for the AR15, one for the Savage 10fp, one for the BOHICA, and one for the Bluegrass Armory .50 :eek:. For the .50s I will buy very nice scopes, since I will be shooting them far distances :)

swift
08-29-2007, 11:42 AM
Like Xeno said, you usually will get better clarity when looking through a high-end scope vs. a less expensive scope. I started buying higher quality scopes (Leupold, Niteforce) and then tried the more moderate-priced scopes (Bushnel;) and then a couple of cheap scopes. At a hundred yards for plinking, any are adequate, as long as I'm not trying to get one-hole groups. The cheapos looked really clear in the sunshine (and were a great deal), but look much worse at the range (and I realized why they were so great a deal).

My opinion (and plan) is to stick with higher end optics or iron sights for my rifles. The low-end optics are just a disappointment if you want accuracy.

If you want an inexpensive scope and you're in san diego, let's get together so you can compare high end and low end scopes.

PistolPete75
08-29-2007, 6:26 PM
Don't be silly! :p 1.5X the price of your rifle before accessories would be excellent. Maybe 2X if MSRP.
Don't get a Benz for you donut wheels. :D

exactamundo!

tankerman
08-29-2007, 7:02 PM
Take a cheap scope on an expensive hunting trip, if it fails your cheap scope will now cost you several thousand dollars.

CSACANNONEER
08-30-2007, 5:17 AM
I just have a couple rifles to buy for :p. One for the AR15, one for the Savage 10fp, one for the BOHICA, and one for the Bluegrass Armory .50 :eek:. For the .50s I will buy very nice scopes, since I will be shooting them far distances :)

Before you scope your 50s. Do a lot of research! I would suggest joining the FCSA, they're the best place to get good info on everything 50 related. DO NOT BUY AN ATN TO MOUNT ON A 50! Most scopes trhat you will see at a FCSA match are NXSs and Mk4s. Also, you may see an occasional USO, SS, Burris, MkIII, etc. If you are in SoCal and want to look through a SS or a couple of NXSs, PM me and we can arrange something.

Roo
08-30-2007, 10:20 AM
Before you scope your 50s. Do a lot of research! I would suggest joining the FCSA, they're the best place to get good info on everything 50 related. DO NOT BUY AN ATN TO MOUNT ON A 50! Most scopes trhat you will see at a FCSA match are NXSs and Mk4s. Also, you may see an occasional USO, SS, Burris, MkIII, etc. If you are in SoCal and want to look through a SS or a couple of NXSs, PM me and we can arrange something.

Thanks for the info! I already joined FCSA but I haven't had a chance to browse yet, hopefully this weekend. I am sure when it comes time to buy a scope for those I will be asking many questions on here. I would like to look through some different scopes so I will take you up on that offer! Thanks!

crs1
08-30-2007, 4:28 PM
Bottom line... You get what you pay for, but there may be exceptions. In general, made in China...usually not "great". It is not unreasonable to pay at least twice (or more) for the optic than you did for the gun.

There is an excellent article in this months American Rifleman on Tactical Scopes -- a must read. There are some decent choices out there to save you money...I can scan it and post it if you are interested.

BTW....Roo, That Savage has what you may call a poor man's leupold (made in the Philippines), very clear optics for the price, I think you will find.:)

Bob Hostetter
08-30-2007, 4:53 PM
Repeatability, durability, and clarity...........

I recommend US Optic's over anything else I have used and I have used most of them over the last 20 years.

Roo
08-30-2007, 6:23 PM
Bottom line... You get what you pay for, but there may be exceptions. In general, made in China...usually not "great". It is not unreasonable to pay at least twice (or more) for the optic than you did for the gun.

There is an excellent article in this months American Rifleman on Tactical Scopes -- a must read. There are some decent choices out there to save you money...I can scan it and post it if you are interested.

BTW....Roo, That Savage has what you may call a poor man's leupold (made in the Philippines), very clear optics for the price, I think you will find.:)

If you get around to scanning that article or find it online that would be a good read.

Yea I know the Savage scope will be good for me for now since I am a newbie but I would like to get a good scope for the .50s.. and DAMN that 10 day wasting period! :p

bruce_ventura
08-30-2007, 8:24 PM
With my $2000 Leica binoculars, I can point them at the sun, to where it is just outside my viewing edge and still see a clear and sharp image.

With cheap optics, point them towards the sun just out of view, and you will see light diffusion, lens saturation and lens reflections and light reflecting off the inside of the tubes.

Higher quality optics have better glass that has less contaminants, better and more coatings that reduce chromatic aberration, increase light transmission and color correct an image better as well as provide higher contrast, the lenses are not stopped down to hide coma and astigmatisms, and internal baffling keeps the light from reflecting inside the unit.

+1 about glare! Let me put it another way...

Most of the really cheap scopes are made in China or former Soviet bloc countries. I spent a couple days at the last SHOT show talking to most of the mid- and high-end rifle scope manufacturers. About half of the scopes in the $100-300 range were made in China. Some of the people I spoke with were quite open about the production issues they faced and how they competed against other US companies getting products from the same sources.

Obviously, the cost of a scope depends a lot on materials (glass types, optical surface quality, optical coatings, spring strength,etc.), optical and mechanical designs (number of lenses elements, aberration control, recoil resistance, etc.) and number and complexity of manufacturing processes (tolerances, hardness of materials, metal finish, light baffles, seals, etc.). At a glance it is difficult to see the flaws in a cheap scope. These differences will always show up in a side-by-side comparison by someone who has a little training. You can expect that the brands you see most often in gun magazines will charge extra for their lavish advertising budgets too.

The biggest insight I got was about quality control. The US companies that really mastered QC in the Chinese factories saw customer return rates less than 5%. The ones who didn't saw return rates as high as 10% or more (imagine how many scopes had problems and were not returned). The most common quality problem was that the factory workers left out epoxy where it was called for in the process documents. When the scopes arrived in the US and problems surfaced, the US companies had to figure out who on the manufacturing line was leaving out epoxy - from several thousand miles away and in a different language and culture!

One US company has identical detailed photo albums of every process step at their facility and the Chinese factory. They spend hours on the phone walking through these albums with factory workers, pinpointing what steps were left out on a batch of scopes. Another subjects each scope to a repetitive shock test - if epoxy is left out, parts loosen quickly (the scopes literally unscrew themselves apart) and the scope is rejected. And these were the mid-priced scope vendors. Imagine how much time is spent on quality control for a really cheap scope (<$100).

What's the point? You can get lucky and get a cheap scope that will continue to get the job done for many years. If your life, reputation or once-a-year hunting trip depends on it, however, spend the extra bucks on better quality control, materials, designs and manufacturing. I don't believe in a spending rule of thumb (1.5X the rifle cost - who made that up?) - you can save some if you skip the frills and are not brand concious. There are some really great values out there for $150-$300 (street price). Some very high quality scopes can be found for $300-$600. And as we all know, exquisite optical instruments can be found for well over $1,000.

Roo
08-30-2007, 9:16 PM
So what would some of you suggest for a .50?

What would you suggest for a savage 10fp?

What would you suggest for an AR15?

Since I have heard 1.5x the price of the rifle to $300-$600... If I go by the first one then I would need to spend $4,500 on a scope for the .50. But if I went with the other one I may not hit crap... Please point towards some good scopes!

Mucho Gracias! (disclaimer: I do not speak spanish and therefor do not know how to spell anything in spanish. If you rely in spanish with anything but 1-10 I will be even more lost!)

Jamie

PistolPete75
08-30-2007, 9:52 PM
So what would some of you suggest for a .50?

What would you suggest for a savage 10fp?

What would you suggest for an AR15?

Since I have heard 1.5x the price of the rifle to $300-$600... If I go by the first one then I would need to spend $4,500 on a scope for the .50. But if I went with the other one I may not hit crap... Please point towards some good scopes!

Mucho Gracias! (disclaimer: I do not speak spanish and therefor do not know how to spell anything in spanish. If you rely in spanish with anything but 1-10 I will be even more lost!)

Jamie


dude, optics can be really expensive. if you want crazy insane quality go us optics. if you want good quality glass go ior or leupold mark 4. if you want a good scope without spending too much money, and one hell of bang for the dollar go super sniper. this is for your savage and ar, 50 i have no idea. stick with mildot recticles for the most part unless your going us optics.

also, you need a budget for rings and mounts.

Prc329
08-30-2007, 10:05 PM
Hey Roo, where are you located?

bruce_ventura
08-30-2007, 10:18 PM
So what would some of you suggest for a .50?

What would you suggest for a savage 10fp?

What would you suggest for an AR15?



What are you planning to use these rifles for? What targets and range? Are you primarily interested in plinking, competition, hunting, LE, showing off, what?

If you can be more specific, I'm sure members can give you useful feedback on specific models.

Roo
08-30-2007, 10:24 PM
Hey Roo, where are you located?

La Verne. About 30 minutes north of you

Roo
08-30-2007, 10:26 PM
What are you planning to use these rifles for? What targets and range? Are you primarily interested in plinking, competition, hunting, LE, showing off, what?

If you can be more specific, I'm sure members can give you useful feedback on specific models.

Just for fun really. BUt I want something that when I aim at something downrange, I can hit it. IE, a watermelon, water bottle etc. I know if you have a nice scope you won[t automatically hit it but I want something that will not hinder my inability :cool2:

Prc329
08-30-2007, 10:28 PM
La Verne. About 30 minutes north of you

Meet me at Angeles Saturday morning and you can look threw my IOR and Nikon. One is a $960 scope and one is a $300 scope.

Roo
08-30-2007, 10:29 PM
Meet me at Angeles Saturday morning and you can look threw my IOR and Nikon. One is a $960 scope and one is a $300 scope.

PM sent...

PistolPete75
08-30-2007, 10:32 PM
if it's just for plinking, don't spend alot of money on scopes. stick around the $300 range. super sniper 10x, any nikon 3-9x buckmaster/ monarch should be plenty good. i would still stick with a mildot recticle, just in case you want to go to the competition level.

bruce_ventura
08-30-2007, 11:10 PM
Just for fun really. BUt I want something that when I aim at something downrange, I can hit it. IE, a watermelon, water bottle etc. I know if you have a nice scope you won[t automatically hit it but I want something that will not hinder my inability :cool2:

OK, fair answer. Here's my advice. Buy one scope with turret knobs and a mildot reticle that costs between $150 (i.e, Bushnell 3200 10x40) and $300 (i.e, Super Sniper 10x40). Set up all your rifles with Weaver rails. Get a good one-piece mount that fits your scope. Torque the mount properly. Sight in each rifle, noting the turret readings. Now you can put the scope on and off each rifle and get back to zero by dialing in the turret readings.

Go have some fun for the next six months. After then, you'll have a much better idea of how you want to use the rifles and how much scope is enough for you. At the end you can sell the scope on eBay for 2/3 the price you paid. Pretty cheap education.

aplinker
08-31-2007, 1:00 AM
I will suggest, for almost all range enjoyment, you'll be just fine with lower priced optics.

Don't forget we're all gear junkies here. :D

rksimple
08-31-2007, 8:03 AM
So what would some of you suggest for a .50?

What would you suggest for a savage 10fp?

What would you suggest for an AR15?


I agree on the Bushnell 3200 10x mildot. Its a fantastic scope with a very robust design. Many people use these on 50's without problems. If you want to go Leupold, stick with the higher end MK4's. I've seen VXIII's come apart under heavy recoil.

The Savage could benefit from the same scope. I used that exact one on my Savage for 2 years. I beat plently of people that were using scopes costing 10x more. Its a great piece of glass to cut your teeth on and resale value is pretty good too since it has a good reputation. Bottom line is, given a fixed income, you'd be better off with an inexpensive but reliable scope and lots of ammo and practice.

What kind of AR do you need to scope?

Roo
08-31-2007, 11:04 AM
What kind of AR do you need to scope?

GF likes to shoot the AR out to about 150 yards or so. The scope we have on it now works but it doesn't hold zero very well.

mecam
08-31-2007, 1:23 PM
GF likes to shoot the AR out to about 150 yards or so. The scope we have on it now works but it doesn't hold zero very well.

Dude, you're paying more attention to your guns, your GF is gonna leave you. :) j/k. She's probably gonna want her own AR with pink evil features.:D

rksimple
08-31-2007, 1:34 PM
GF likes to shoot the AR out to about 150 yards or so. The scope we have on it now works but it doesn't hold zero very well.

I have an IOR M2 on my 16 inch AR. Has BDC knobs and CQB reticle. For the price, its a great scope.

Roo
08-31-2007, 6:45 PM
Dude, you're paying more attention to your guns, your GF is gonna leave you. :) j/k. She's probably gonna want her own AR with pink evil features.:D

Hell no! She said if I don't get her an AR for her to shoot she'll leave me!

Roo
08-31-2007, 6:46 PM
Ok so now I know what scopes I want.. Any online tutorials to teach me how to use them :). At what range to I compensate? etc tec.. I am tired of my shots being all over the place :)

Pthfndr
08-31-2007, 7:28 PM
Ok so now I know what scopes I want.. Any online tutorials to teach me how to use them :). At what range to I compensate? etc tec.. I am tired of my shots being all over the place :)


Practical Long Range Rifle Shooting
http://demigodllc.com/articles/practical-long-range-rifle-shooting-equipment/

Roo
08-31-2007, 10:57 PM
I just spent 2 hours reading, reading, and rereading that site. A lot of good info! Some parts had me confused but I am going to read it again in the morning and then ask questions, thanks for a great link!

Jamie

aplinker
08-31-2007, 11:10 PM
Ok so now I know what scopes I want.. Any online tutorials to teach me how to use them :). At what range to I compensate? etc tec.. I am tired of my shots being all over the place :)

This is fun.

http://www.shooterready.com/lrsdemolow.html

striker3
09-01-2007, 4:08 PM
try browsing
www.snipershide.com

www.snipersparadise.com

Both of those sites are completely chock full of a wealth of information from real world users. I have spent the last week on there reading up on everything I can and decided on an IOR 6-24x50 for myself. I picked up a used one from the for sale board there for $1000 shipped with butler creek flip up caps. The image quality between that optic and the cheap Leapers optic I had from a few years ago is truly amazing. I will never skimp on optics again.