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Old March 28, 2021, 11:01 PM   #1
Shadow9mm
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spend as much on a scope as the rifle?

Heard an old adage years back. Something to the effect that you should spend as much on your scope as on the rifle.

Was thinking about all the advancements we have had in the quality of the glass, the coatings, scope construction, and manufacturing techniques.

Was this ever true?

If so when?

Most importantly is it still true?

For reference I have had some cheap $40 walmart scopes that were not great and some budget leuopold, nikon, and vortex scopes that I have been very happy with. Never got a chance to use anything over about the $300 mark.
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Old March 28, 2021, 11:48 PM   #2
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Budget scopes from some manufacturers are excellent for the money. Scopes in the $300-$500 range are what I normally go for depending on the application.

I have a Vortex Crossfire 2, 2-7x32 that is one of the clearest scopes I own and it was only $129. It is definitely a step below the Diamondback line of which I own a couple. And the Viper line is a definite upgrade from the Diamondback.

I have a Bushnell Engage Tactical 3-12x40 that is very clear and tracks surprisingly well. That scope was like $300.

I have a Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-25x50 that is pretty good until you get to the top of the magnification range. That scope is really easy to use, good quality and has an excellent reticle. For about $400

I have a Vortex Viper HST that is definitely a step up from the Diamondback, but costs like $600 and does not have FFP or as nice of a reticle as the diamondback, but the Turrets, Tracking and glass clarity are better for sure.

You absolutely do get what you pay for with a few exceptions. My next optic will either be a Leupold Mark 5 HD, a Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 or a Zeiss Conquest.

I have considered some Steiner stuff or Kahles, bit they are a little out of my price range right now.

Although you get what you pay for, it is not really necessary most of the time to buy an expensive optic. There is almost always something available in any price range that will do a job. The degree to which it does the job may vary
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Old March 29, 2021, 12:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow9mm View Post
Heard an old adage years back. Something to the effect that you should spend as much on your scope as on the rifle.

Was thinking about all the advancements we have had in the quality of the glass, the coatings, scope construction, and manufacturing techniques.

Was this ever true?

If so when?

Most importantly is it still true?

For reference I have had some cheap $40 walmart scopes that were not great and some budget leuopold, nikon, and vortex scopes that I have been very happy with. Never got a chance to use anything over about the $300 mark.
It depends on the individual shooter. How do you plan on using the optics? When and where do you intend using it? I've used the higher-end stuff, and it is worth the money based on quality; the problem is, are you going to get your money back out of it?
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Old March 30, 2021, 01:55 AM   #4
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you should spend as much on your scope as on the rifle.
That used to be the saying. Back then, rifles cost about $300 and a good Leupold was about $250-$350-ish. So yeah, spend as much on the scope. But nowadays, rifles cost anywhere from $300 for a plastic stocked/painted metal rifle to $2000 for a top of the line wood/blued steel rifle. The cost of good scopes has come down significantly for hunting scopes, tactical scopes not so much, but scopes are much cheaper nowadays in relation to how much the cost of rifles has gone up. Buy good glass and forget about the cheap stuff.
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Old March 30, 2021, 10:24 AM   #5
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I hear this, all to often !!!

Quote:
Heard an old adage years back. Something to the effect that you should spend as much on your scope as on the rifle.
That is "only" one's opinion and personal preference. I have never gone this route as I am a conservative and that makes me cheap. I have a shooting buddy that only buys high-end everything. Every firearm that he has bought is not good enough, out of the box and soon upgraded. That is his passion and gets a bit boring to hear but just "his" way. ......

I have also read where the lower end optics of "today" have gotten better than the higher end optics of "yesterday" ......

I never tell as man what to do with his wife or money. ....

Be Safe !!!
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Old March 30, 2021, 11:55 AM   #6
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I got by for a long time (decades) using Weaver K-4's.
And,for my needs,They were rugged.reliable....Thy were in the same league with Levis 501 s,Red Wing boots,buck knives, a 30-06, etc. Life was good.

However...this was before I had discovered that ring alignment might be important.
Anyway, sometimes the pre hunt trip to the range for sight in might find me frustrated because the 40 rounds I loaded was not enough.

Turning the adjustment knobs was a wish,and about as predictable as using a hammer.

The groups were fine,but changes in point of impact were chased around the target.

Once sight in was achieved,the caps went on and stayed there for a year.

I confess,I never tried Lyman or Unertl. They made some nice glass. Redfield was the "step up" brand. Leupold was for "those in the know"

Longer haul,I discovered Leupold.

Then I made a lot of exploratory cheaper scope purchases. "Maybe this $250 scope will do"

Then I'd replace it with a Leupold later. I passed those take offs on to those who could use them. Several are still in service.

Its been more than 10 years since I bought a new scope. I've grown some as a shooter. Accurate,repeatable adjustments ,to me,are of greater value than a bigger magnum rifle.

I'm not a fan of huge magnification or the necessary large objectives. They do work,but for myself,a rifle is not an artillery piece. I want to be OK with carrying it farther than from the pickup to the firing line.

My most powerful scope is 14X with a 50mm obj. I lean toward 10X and 42 mm or less.

I'd consider a Vortex or SWFA 10x SS. I can dream of Nightforce.

The gist? As my shooter shop math skills have evolved,I suspect I can get more done with a pretty good rifle from Ruger or Savage (or Tikka or CZ or Howa,etc.More likely,something I build of old junk) and a precision scope.

I need an adequate .750 MOA rifle (or so) good ammo,a good trigger,with a stable,free floated stock.

If I can get that in a $600 rifle,fine.

I need excellent optics and reliable,true tracking adjustments that repeat.

I prefer a reticle that is useful.That gives me more tools. There are a lot of them.

Many of these scopes are well over $1000. I went shooting yesterday and tried a new Leupold MK 5 that works well with a very fancy Kestrel. Amazng!

Well over $2000.

I'll say this.For nearly all of my needs,a fixed 6x by 42 mm Leupold serves just fine.

But IMO,I can get more done with a decent $600 rifle and a $1500 scope than I can with a $1500 rifle and a $600 scope.

Unless I'm hunting elk. Then maybe a K4 Weaver on a 30-06 is as good as it was in the 1970's.

Last edited by HiBC; March 30, 2021 at 12:17 PM.
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Old March 30, 2021, 12:02 PM   #7
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I have used a bunch of lesser scopes like Simmons, Tasco, Bushnell, Charles Daly, Nikon Buckmaster, lower end Vortex and keep coming back to Leupold.

They all look great in the store, but when you hunt in hot weather, cold weather, rain then the better scopes shine.

My favorite hunting Scope is a Leupold 3x9x50. It doesn't fog, very clear, great field of view and holds zero year after year.

Many of the Vortex optic and others are made in China like the lower end optics.

Also look at the used market for Leupolds if you don't want to spend the new price. They are all covered by a lifetime warranty so you can't go wrong. I have picked up VX I scopes for $125 at gun shows.
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Old March 30, 2021, 12:16 PM   #8
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It’s kind of true. Lots of guys buy high end glass to have high end glass.

I spot game through binoculars and a spotting scope.

So when looking at better glass quality, I have to ask if I can really make use of it. Will it changes hits vs misses, groups, etc.

I find I can get very usable optics from $300-$1200...for rifles that range from $350-$3500.
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Old March 30, 2021, 03:21 PM   #9
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I see guys buying 2 pound 5-25x $2K scopes for their .270 Deer gun...that is over the top. But putting a $50 Tasco on a .300WM is going to be worse. Match the optic to the task and rifle.

I took a $1000 optic off of one of my 3Gun rifles and replaced it with a $350 scope, which performs better, with less weight, than what it replaced.
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Old March 30, 2021, 04:28 PM   #10
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That sorta depends the rifle budget.

There are a few $200 scopes out there that I wouldn't feel handicapped using. Although the ones I prefer tend to be in the $300-$500 range.

There are a few $300-$500 rifles out there that I'd not feel handicapped using. Although the ones I prefer tend to be in the $600-$1000 price range.

I wouldn't blink an eye at using a $300-$500 scope on a $300-$500 rifle. But if I'm scoping a $1000 rifle I want something better than a $200 scope on it.

I think you reach a point with rifles, and especially optics where you have to go up significantly in price to see small gains in performance. I'm certain a $2000 scope is better than a $200 scope, but the 10X price difference doesn't mean the optic is 10X's better. Maybe 10% better. And to some people that 10% better performance is worth the cost.

Also once you reach a certain price point you are paying more for features than quality. One of the reasons I prefer the $300-$500 scopes over the $200 scopes has more to do with the features than the quality.
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Old March 30, 2021, 08:26 PM   #11
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There’s a lot of different ways to look at this in my opinion. Some people will only shoot their rifle for deer season and they get by with a cheaper option. If you’re going to shoot competitions, cheaper scopes will probably expose their shortcomings.

I used to try and save money with the cheaper end scopes, and while they may have been clear and seemed to be sufficient, I noticed they just didn’t hold zero very well if it was something that I used a lot or rode around in the truck and atv etc. Once I moved up in quality, I became much more satisfied and never really looked back. Generally speaking, I don’t necessarily spend the same on the scope as I do the rifle but I do not go super cheap.
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Old March 31, 2021, 12:26 AM   #12
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It really all depends on the application each rifle is used for. I over scope almost all my rifles, but learned after many years in the 70's - 80's using subpar optics that you get what you pay for.
My hunting rifles usually get $500 - $1000 glass, my long range rifles get $1500 - $3k+ glass.
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Old March 31, 2021, 06:36 AM   #13
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In my limited experience, serious shooters go thru stages - "it's just a sight", "You get what you pay for", "Optics make a difference"

Cheap, 1:1, 1:many.

The beauty of expensive optics is they are easily moved from one rifle to the next.
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Old March 31, 2021, 09:17 AM   #14
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I have a Weatherby MkV Ultralight in .338-06, while I did not pay anywhere near retail, it is a $2K or so rifle. The optic on it is a Burris FFII 3-9 Nickel...a $200 optic. Why, weight, aesthetics, functionality. For hunting Elk, the 6.2 pound rig fits the bill. In over a decade, still have not found an optic that would be better on it.

My main PRS rifle, a .260Rem full custom R700 has a Burris XTRII 4-20 on it, $1100 optic that significantly less than the rifle it sits on. It fits the intent and purpose of the rifle really well and spending $3K to match the value of the rifle would give me no benefit.

Ruger Predator in .243Win, a $450 rifle, wears the same XTRII optic, so over 2 times the cost of the rifle. But I use it as a trainer and shoot it out to 1K. A $500 optic won't cut it.

Match the equipment to the task without hurting yourself financially. If spending more on a gun or an optic brings you joy, I won't talk you out of it. But guns folks, especially 3Gun and Clay sports shooters tend to enjoy encouraging folks to over-spend.

Enjoy your Wednesday...I'll be mounting a new optic to a new rifle.
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Old March 31, 2021, 10:13 AM   #15
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If I were a marketing guy I’d come up with a tricky slogan for selling high end scopes like “Spend as much on the scope as on the gun”. I don’t buy cheap glass for my guns, but it’s absurd to equate some need for a two thousand dollar scope because you bought a very high end gun. Cheap glass isn’t worth bringing home, but most mid priced brand name scopes are quite usable on any gun. It’s all marketing when it comes to pushing the highest end scopes. Yes, they’re good but not necessary after a certain point.
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Old March 31, 2021, 10:17 AM   #16
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My experience with variables shows their elevation and windage mechanics are less repeatable than fixed power scopes.

When power is set to either limit, they are better.

Made my own bench top collimator to test them.
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Old March 31, 2021, 11:28 AM   #17
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Quote:
It’s all marketing when it comes to pushing the highest end scopes. Yes, they’re good but not necessary after a certain point.
Interesting. I wish they were marketed better. Show me why I can’t hit something with your competitors inferior product. They never do. They never explain why one scope is $3k and another $300.

I actually think you could make quite a bit of money selling a x brand 3-9x extreme made to high spec for a year, then keep the name and cut quality drastically....with no change to price! People just don’t know.
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Old March 31, 2021, 11:55 AM   #18
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Nathan, in the under $1k range, and even more so in the under $500 range, three things come to mind.

1. Parallax. All optics have at least a little, but the cheap ones, especially variables, have more and more. Most of the $1K plus optics have adjustable parallax. This also gets magnified the larger the mag range is. 2-7 and 3-9, at 3x are decent for the most part. When we get into the 5x and 6x mag ranges, especially in the sub $500 range, the parallax is significant with a lot of optics. Some brands so better than others.

2. Repeatability. This is in the adjustments, less so in mag range than in adjustments for windage and elevation. There are two issues...spin the knobs one way, then back, does the crosshair return to the SAME exact position every time? Cheap scopes, no. Then there is recoil. A more robust and durable scope is going to not have shift of the reticle within the tube, and therefore maintain zero shot after shot. Cheap scopes are more prone to shifts than more expensive scopes. Again, variations from manufacturer to manufacturer.

3. Durability. Will it take the recoil, the drops, the temperature swings? The higher the build quality and strength of the system, the better. If you have to use the warranty, I am not interested.

There are brands whose top end optics are excellent and whose bottom third, where 70% of their sales are, need that warranty all too often.

Still, I'd bet a dollar to a doughnut that 90% of the public buying scopes have no clue when it comes to repeatability and parallax. Even when given "free" information that they can go and test on their beloved optic, they don't, and will continue to push the brand they own without regard for actual quality and performance.

I have been sponsored by Burris for years, and I used Burris optics for years before that happened. But I also keep myself educated on the current topics in optics and what the other companies are doing. I buy optics from other companies to run box tests and parallax tests. (Usually on sale, then I sell them afterwards if I don't keep them). I tested a product for Burris and sent it back and told them to fix it. But I have also suggested Holosun, Nightforce, Kahles, and other brands when they have a better product for an application than Burris. I am a working man and I'll not be affording a Beast, I want to keep it real and look at value for dollar for application. We work too hard for our money to waste it. Cheers.
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Old March 31, 2021, 12:16 PM   #19
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Spend as much on a scope as the rifle???

Never have. likely never will.

I have mounted scopes on rifles where the scope was worth more than the rifle, (such as a good 3x9 on a cheap .22 rifle) but those were cases of I had the scope already and didn't buy it for that rifle. Not buying an $80 scope to put on a $50 rifle (prices at the time, not current $)

Would (and have) bought an $80 scope to put on a $300 rifle, but am not going to spend as much on a scope as I spend on a rifle. I don't see the point in that, as scopes that cost less than rifles have always worked for me.

and, I'm cheap...
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Old March 31, 2021, 03:26 PM   #20
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Don't confuse target range focus with parallax. They are two different things

When the aiming eye is on the scope's optical axis, there will be no parallax error regardless of different target ranges for a given focus range.
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Old March 31, 2021, 05:08 PM   #21
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If I may piggy back on what Bart just said

Think of your scope as being similar (in some ways) to a receiver peep sight.

Your "spot weld" and centered eye have a lot to do with how they perform.

Some scopes have a very forgiving optical window. The field is easy to find. Thats a lot like a ghost ring aperture. Fast and friendly,but maybe less precise.

A tiny aperture demands your eye to center,or you cannot see through it.

Ditto the scopes window.

Thats one good reason a scope selection should be in balance with the overall rifle.

A conventional sporting rifle with a moderate comb height may not allow the face to find a consistant spot weld on the stock to work with a high mounted 56 mm obj scope.

One of my criteria is,when I shoulder a rifle in shooting position with my eyes closed, I MUST see the full field scope window when I open my eyes.

If that does not happen,either the comb must be adjusted or the scope repositioned. That MIGHT require abandoning the 50 + MM obj for a 40 mm obj. that can use lower rings.
And that might require (IMO) a max power of 9 or 10 X to get a decent size exit pupil.(Ball park rule of thumb,dayligh eye pupil is about 5mm ,max,and a 8x by 40 mm will deliver that. A 10x by 40mm is slightly compromised..

A 20x by 40 mm has a 2mm exit pupil. That restricts light.

Back to the OP.its been a few years back,but my M-70 Classic Laredo 7mm Rem Mag(Winchester's version of the Sendero) was about $600 closeout. I found an online deal for a Leupold 30 mm tube long range,target turrets,side focus,mildot, 50mm obj for IIRC about $800.Mounted in Nightforce 20 minute rings.It fits me fine,and IMO,its a balance pkg for my purposes.

Lifting my face and turkey necking around trying to find a scope window is just unacceptable. The magnification is not worth it. IMO.Its slow,awkward,and pretty tough to shoot well.

Last edited by HiBC; March 31, 2021 at 05:51 PM.
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Old March 31, 2021, 05:28 PM   #22
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My 10/22 cost $200 and my used 4x Simmons scope was $24 on EBay. By forgoing a zoom feature I don’t need, a huge amount of optical complexity and moving parts are eliminated. For shooting bunnies, squirrels and pine cones from my “bad weather” .22, it’s perfect for me.

I have a fixed 6x Burris on my 30-06. I consider it a rugged “bottom of the top tier” scope. Again, fixed power makes it a relatively simple design less expensive than a zoom scope.

Hunting grounds are 30 minutes from my house. If we are talking about a western mountain hunt where scope failure meant retiring the trip, I might feel differently.

Price is not an absolute indicator of quality.

I agree that low quality scopes are a waste of money.
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Old March 31, 2021, 08:15 PM   #23
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Generally speaking my not so good eyes can't tell any difference from a $800 Sightron vs. a $2300 Steiner . However my eyes can differentiate turret click consistency from a $800 Sightron vs a $2300 Nightforce . Glass is glass for the typical short range recreational shooter, the long range competition guys lean towards high end optics that produce the highest level of repeatable tracking precision.
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Old March 31, 2021, 08:44 PM   #24
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Quote:
Heard an old adage years back. Something to the effect that you should spend as much on your scope as on the rifle.
I have heard similar. I have a feeling it has a history in optics sales, sort of like deBeers suggesting you spend 2 months salary on an engagement ring. It is an arbitrary marketing thing. I don't think here has every been a relationship between scope cost and capability that corresponded in any sort of direct manner with rifle cost and capability.

They was I see it, there is no relationship between the cost of the rifle and the cost of the scope. I buy the scope based on what I need it to do, not how much the rifle costs.

As I get older, I have found that I need better optics to get the same job done that I did with cheaper optics years ago. In many cases, my optics cost a lot more than my rifles.

A similar adage I often here is to not shoot cheap ammo in an expensive gun. Again, nobody has ever shown there to be any sort of relationship issue - just another way to get you to spend more money than you may need to spend.

The bottom line is that you should spend as much or as little money as you need on the optics to get the job done that you want done with the rifle.
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Old March 31, 2021, 09:43 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by MarkCO View Post
Parallax. All optics have at least a little, but the cheap ones, especially variables, have more and more.
Please explain why they cannot focus exactly at target range.

Last edited by Bart B.; March 31, 2021 at 09:49 PM.
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