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Old July 9, 2016, 12:25 AM   #1
Stick Man
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Ever Had a Scope Failure?

Some of my rifles that receive regular use have clean barrels, but I do like the concept of, and to have, backup iron sights. You know, in case your on a serious elk hunt and break you scope miles into the boonies.....or if you break your scope somehow going down those whitewater rapids in a canoe and are then thrust into situation where it's either kill or squeal, like a pig.
Seriously though, it seems like some real insurance without any real disadvantage. For that reason, I've been thinking about putting irons on my other serious use guns. But then I checked reality. I've never had a scope failure, I don't know anybody who's had a scope failure, I don't even remember hearing second hand about someone who's had a scope failure. I have optics of a bit better quality than a VX-1 on anything that will be used for more than a day's walk, too. And it's not like irons are immune to breakage, anyway. The only sights I have seen break, are irons.
I've starting to lean towards the view that they're fine to have if you've already got them, but probably not worth the hassle and cost of getting if you don't, especially with good scopes.

Anyway, for the sake of conversation, has anybody had any catastrophic scope failures? Or even sight failures for that matter. Any stories associated? Or opinions on what I've said above?
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Old July 9, 2016, 12:41 AM   #2
Boogershooter
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Some brands of scopes have better reputations for good reasons. Hard to go wrong with a gold ring but I have seen them go bad. Not a big deal if you aren't on a hunt of a lifetime. I've personally seen leupold, nikon, Burris, and even a S&B go bad. It's more common for the rings or bases to become loose than a scope to go bad.
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Old July 9, 2016, 01:18 AM   #3
FrankenMauser
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I've seen many fail.
Burris, Tasco, Bushnell, Simmons, Redfield (pre- and post-Leupold), Zeiss, Nikon, B&L, and more (especially if you get into the super-cheap 'budget' scopes)...

One of mine, a Bushnell that I didn't like but left on the rifle because it was working, even failed me in the field, between shots on a Pronghorn Antelope, with no backup rifle. Not a good day. I got the tag filled, but it was ugly.


But... My family has more "boomers" and 'heavy hitters' than the average gun owning family. We have built up a nice selection of 'big bore' and 'magnum' hardware, and two people in particular, are always locked in an 'arms race' for the biggest and baddest, or even the latest and greatest scope.
With so much turnover and so many new additions, I get a chance to see or hear about a lot more than the average enthusiast, I believe.
Whereas the average gun owner or hunter might fire something like a .45-70 once in their life, if at all (the proverbial "pinnacle" of recoil for most people), we take stuff like .444 Marlin, .458 Win Mag, .416 Rigby, .450 Nitro, .300 Wby, .338 Win Mag, .340 Wby, .375 H&H, etc. on squirrel hunting trips. Suckers for 'punishment', I guess.

...My point being that we deal with a lot of cartridges that are more "punishing" to scopes than many other firearms owners, and there's a lot of turn over as the "arms race" gentlemen go through guns and scopes like my potty-training son goes through underwear. So we do see failures.

One of the more spectacular failures was a Weaver K4 on a Springfield .30-06. After being fired 3-4 times with a really nasty and sudden point of impact shift, the owner tried firing it, and one of the internal lenses hit the ocular lens so hard that it shattered the ocular and sent glass chips flying into his face. Luckily, that was a "recreational" shooting trip before hunting season; because that was to be his primary rifle.


As for backup sights...
If you don't have finger-releasable quick detach rings (and/or bases) installed, you're taking a walk back to your truck (or camp) anyway. So they don't do much good, if you're capable of having a backup rifle on hand.
I take at least 3 rifles on every hunting trip. There's "long range", "short range", and something in between as a backup. Even if there are iron sights installed on a scoped rifle, I have no plans to switch. I just grab another rifle.
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Old July 9, 2016, 01:28 AM   #4
dakota.potts
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Working at Academy, we would mount scopes and bore sight rifles for free.

I had a gentleman bring me a .30-06 (don't remember make or model) with a Tasco scope affixed. Said he couldn't hit paper. So I put the rifle in the vice and lined the scope up on the collimator. Turning the elevation knob produced no change in the scope, so I tried the windage knob. Every click of the windage knob moved the reticle one click sideways and one click vertical, resulting in only diagonal adjustments being made.

I also once sold a man a Redfield scope for his Enfield sporter rifle. It came with adjustable turrets for different calibers and when he got it home he attempted to put in the .30-06 turret. It broke on him so he returned it and this time asked me to put another one on and mount it myself. Got it all mounted up, lined up with the bore sighting tool and everything. Then I went to put the .30-06 turret on and, with medium-light pressure, the screw got roughly halfway where it needed to go and suddenly snapped in the same place it had when the customer tried it at home. So we issued a credit for the scope and used the credit to get a Vortex. No further issues.

I don't currently do enough field shooting to have any stories of my own about scope failure in the field.
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Old July 9, 2016, 02:30 AM   #5
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It has been a long time since I have seen a good scope fail. Last one was a Redfield (about 30 years old) that had one of the lenses come loose inside. No hope for that one, so the customer mounted another scope. And, of course, I have seen cheap scopes that never made it past bore-sighting, most recently a couple of AIM scopes. But I typically buy pretty good scopes, so I have not had one quit on me.
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Old July 9, 2016, 05:42 AM   #6
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I've had some cheap Bushnell scopes go bad on me. But NEVER had a Leupold, Zeiss or other quality scope go bad. I think it would be good insurance to stick to a quality fixed power scope on anything with over about 30 ft lbs recoil. But most quality variables seem to hold up very well with standard rifles.

I stopped worrying about having iron sights on a rifle years ago. I've even removed them from rifles that came with them to prevent the rifle from hanging up in brush. I've also had at least as many iron sights fail to perform as scopes. If I expect shots to be up close and fast I've found low powered scopes set on 1X or 2X to be every bit as fast to get on target as iron or dot sights.
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Old July 9, 2016, 06:16 AM   #7
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Fail

I bought one of Leupold's V-series scopes and mounted it on a model 70 Winchester. Brand new. I took it to the range to sight it in and when I went to take the cap off the windage turret....the turret fell off.
Leupold replaced it directly.
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Old July 9, 2016, 07:34 AM   #8
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Only two. A Bushnell Japanese made 2X8 Scope Chief. Leaky seal causing it to lose its Nitrogen charge. Shot a nice doe and the scoped immediately fogged. Where did she go? Where did she go? Oh there she is. Sent it back for warranty repair.

Not learning a lesson. I bought another Bushnell. 2x8 Scope Chief this one having a battery lite recital. Same thing another seal leak when bench-resting. A whole lot of 243 recoil must'a done it. No sending this one back for repair. Slam dunk through the swinging door of the kitchen trash can.

Yup!! Learned my lesson. My one or three rifles now. All are outfitted with Leupold Vari-X IIIs. Spendy yes. But a fellow has to do what a he has to do.
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Old July 9, 2016, 09:14 AM   #9
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I had several budget brand scopes fail years ago and will not put one on a hunting rifle ever again but I have had Leupolds and Nikons on my hunting rifles for years without issue.
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Old July 9, 2016, 09:42 AM   #10
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On spring air guns I have destroyed a few cheep scopes such as a Tasco 3X9 and even a Bushnell 3X9 but they where both less than $100 scopes.

I went with a Leupold 2X7 and its down well so far.

For center-fire/rim-fire rounds I have never destroyed a scope.
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Old July 9, 2016, 09:48 AM   #11
Brian Pfleuger
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I've had one scope fail.

It was a Tasco 10-40x that was the first scope I put on my .204. It was the definition of junk from day 1 but it also served me well for several years. Even brand new, it was unusable above ~32x except if both shooter and target were in the brightest of absolute direct, mid-day summer sun.

Anyhow, one summer I brought the gun out for the first time. First shot at a woodchuck, 50 or 75 yards I forget, missed by FEET. With the turret cranked all the way the other direction it was still off by something like 18" at that distance.

In the context of the OP's theoretical hunt in the wilderness, you have to realize that everything is a trade off. Sure, irons are more reliable but they're not "bullet proof" so to speak. They too can be damaged. Plus, if you go with straight irons, no scope, most shooters are realistically limited to 100 yard shots. Some guys less. Yeah, lots of folks will tell you they could kill an elk at 500 yards with iron sights. Some guys could. Most who could, wouldn't.

Me, if I'm going on an elk hunt, I'm having the brightest, most rugged 3-9x I can find. My rifles don't have irons and I won't start adding them now.
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Old July 9, 2016, 09:55 AM   #12
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"Fogged" scopes were really common years ago, no matter who made them. Most of the older guys I hunted with refused to buy one for that reason. The only other failure I had was a Weaver 3-9 that froze. I was sitting in the woods opening day and looked through it to see if it was clear, and realized I had it up at 9 power. I cranked it down, but it was stiff and really turned hard. I hit a deer and lost it. When I checked it at the range it was shooting about 4" low. Never bought an adjustable power scope again.
I have a couple 99' Savages that I bought with " Tip off" mounts on them. These are true "Tip off" mounts, not the Weaver rings you see advertised as such. At the 100 yard range, they seem to repeat perfectly. If you wear glasses and are out in a rain storm, they are really handy.
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Old July 9, 2016, 10:37 AM   #13
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I had a $30 Ncstar 2-6 scope on my AR that I shot 1.56 moa 5 shot groups with.

I loved that scope and the fact that it was cheap just made it better.

Then, without any bangs, bumps or other reasons, it shifted POI by 11" at 100 yds.

It got replaced by a Leupold.
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Old July 9, 2016, 11:53 AM   #14
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If you are going to buy a cheap scope, the trick is to stay with fixed power. Back when rifled shotguns were just starting to get popular, shot gun scopes were few and far between. Nobody would guarantee a rifle scope on a shotgun. I put a cheap import rifle scope on a single shot short tube gun and am still using it. It has well over 100 rounds through it, and kicks like a mule. I refuse to pay top dollar for a "Namebrand" scope that uses imported parts anyway.
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Old July 9, 2016, 12:09 PM   #15
T. O'Heir
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Not at any "critical" time, but yep. Had a 4X Tasco I could watch the reticle bounce left and right when I opened and closed the bolt through a bore sighter.
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Old July 9, 2016, 12:43 PM   #16
Art Eatman
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One non-critical failure in forty years, and out of more scopes/rifles than I can recall. (None of my scopes were el-cheapos.)

The failure was a 30-year-old Leupold, on a rifle I inherited. Adjustments quit working. Free fix, quick turnaround.
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Old July 9, 2016, 01:52 PM   #17
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This past spring my Marlin 444 killed the Weaver K4 that had been on it for several years. Normally it was very accurate, but it started scattering shots into much larger groups. Attempts to re-zero produced erratic results, so back in the truck and home it went. I replaced it with a Weaver Super Slam Euro 1.5x6 and order is restored. The K4 is back in its box; I need to call Weaver and see how much they would charge to fix it. I'm not the original owner and don't have a receipt so the warranty doesn't apply, but if it's cheap enough I may get it fixed. I've always liked K4s and found them useful.
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Old July 9, 2016, 03:28 PM   #18
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I just had a Vortex HS-T give up on its tracking, took me a long while to figure it out, but I finally did. This was on a custom rifle I had built that shoulda been wearing a better scope, but just never got around to it.

Once I did figure out what was wrong I replaced it with a Nightforce NXS, the scope I had always intended for it.


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Old July 9, 2016, 03:29 PM   #19
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Never had one fail, but I bought a Marlin 336 30-30 a couple of years back for my son that had a scope on it that was fogged up. It was a brand i had never seen before. I took it off, put a new base, rings, and Bushnell Elite 3200 SA 3-10x 40mm on it and no problems.
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Old July 9, 2016, 04:18 PM   #20
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I've had three Leupolds and one Redfield (original, not Nosler version) turn toes up. The reticle on the Redfield came loose and take a big jump when dry firing the rifle. Two of the Leupolds dies at the and and number three did it when I took a shot at an elk at 350 yards with my .35 Whelen. Held for a solid chest hit and the elk went down. When I got to it, I found the bullet had broken its neck at the base of the skull. A few days after getting home from the hunt I took the rifle to the range and sure enough, bullets were scattered all over the target, some not even touching it. Sent the scope to Leopold and they fixed it free of charge just like they did with the other two. I'm seriously thinking of replacing all my variable power scoped with good 4 and 6 power scopes. Not even sure about the 6X as every time I took a shot at game, the 3x9's were set at 3X.
I recently bought a 2.5x10X Minox brand new and it was broken from the factory. Probably in shipping I'm thinking. Activated the warranty and sent it out. Came back fixed and ready to mount. Pretty quick service I'm thinking.
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Old July 9, 2016, 04:21 PM   #21
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First failure was a 3x9 Weaver, back in the 1970's. A big buck was silently gliding under my tree stand. Heart was pounding. Scope fogged up. Dang. Next failure was a Redfield. I switched to Leupold and had no issues for decades. Decided to try a Nikon Monarch 4-16. It failed. Replaced it with a Leupold VX2 6-18, which failed after a few years. All good for the last 3 or 4 years.

I suppose any of them can fail, but I like Leupold customer service. I've had a few reticles switched out, and Leupold is easy to work with, and fairly fast. When I had the reticles changed, they refurbed each scope. I didn't ask them to. They just did it, and sent along a work order list of all that they did.
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Old July 9, 2016, 09:47 PM   #22
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I won't own a Nikon, just going to leave it at that.
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Old July 10, 2016, 12:14 AM   #23
FrankenMauser
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I've seen Leupolds fail due to negligence.
I can't recall an incident involving one that failed due to quality or design - though I believe it happens.

Most of the rifles that absolutely must not fail me are wearing Leupold products.

Quote:
This past spring my Marlin 444 killed the Weaver K4 that had been on it for several years. Normally it was very accurate, but it started scattering shots into much larger groups. Attempts to re-zero produced erratic results, so back in the truck and home it went. I replaced it with a Weaver Super Slam Euro 1.5x6 and order is restored. The K4 is back in its box; I need to call Weaver and see how much they would charge to fix it. I'm not the original owner and don't have a receipt so the warranty doesn't apply, but if it's cheap enough I may get it fixed. I've always liked K4s and found them useful.
Weaver won't help you.

If you want to save the scope, it'll need to go to Iron Sight Inc.

They're the best option now, for pre-Vista Weavers. (Weaver was bought out several years ago ... again ... [paired with Bushnell, I believe] and the older models are not repaired by the new owners.)
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Old July 10, 2016, 01:33 AM   #24
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Bought a brand new Leupold and it wouldn't focus. Had to send it in for repair.
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Old July 10, 2016, 09:15 AM   #25
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I've had one scope failure. A Leupold VXIII mounted on a 300 Wby. The turret blew OFF! IT BLEW OFF! You could look down into the scope. I sent it back to Leupold and they fixed it for free. I was hoping they would replace it but it was the same scope. I don't know how they fixed it but it still works fine 10 years later.
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