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Very good thread Bjorn. I think there are a lot more bad scopes out there than people realize, and I don’t think people understand what a bad scope is,
I have often tried to explain to my clients that scope quality is imperative to them getting good results from my rifles.
The scope is not part of the rifle. Period.
The scope is a parallel system, and the groups you produce are a reflection of the total variance between the scope and the rifle, and the apparatus you are using to join them together (rings and mounts). However, this is not something people like to hear about.
However, almost everybody wants to be able to shoot a one hole group! The scope is simply a very very big part of that equation, because if the internals of the scope do not return to zero every time and the total variance is .001 inches, you will NEVER shoot a sub MOA group let alone a 1/2″ group. You might have the most accurate rifle you’ve ever owned, and if you mount a “bad” scope on it, you’ll never realize it.
Back in 2000 I was shooting like an absolute fiend and demanding pretty high standards. I tested and broke every single scope on the Walmart rack. Yep, even the Leupold I 4-12X40. What I learned was that they all threw me under the bus eventually. It was just a matter of how long it took to get the job done. Most would biff it within 1000 rounds. One bit the dust right out of the box (BSA). The Leupold held up and I actually thought it was perfect, till it threw me under the buss 4 years later!
Of all the scopes tested, they all failed. Most of them failed to hold zero, or produced groups larger than what I knew my rifle was capable of. Only one had a complete internal failure. I was banging away at a target and my crosshairs went sideways, then my field of view turned into a little sliver in the bottom left quadrant. That was a Bushnell Sportsman 3-9X40. It was less than 2 weeks old and had been mounted on my 10-22! (ya think recoil got to it, or is that just a really cheap scope? LOL!).
The thing is, most folks will not call BS on a scope until they literally cannot see out of it anymore. If they are already a judo master at shooting 3 shot groups and explaining away every flier, they will never catch it!!!!
This is just another area that is covered under that blanket statement: “I can’t shoot well enough to afford to spend money on expensive optics (or rifles, or barrels, or ammo, or etc etc etc)”. Unfortunately, that’s the same thing as saying you have to get cleaned up to take a proper bath.
I just took my Uncle out shooting yesterday for the first time. The man is 50 years old and has never shot anything hardly at all. He simply said “I shot a 270 once and it kicked a lot!”
I put him behind my 300 winmag precision rifle loaded with 200 grain VLD-X (not a light kicker, but the rifle weighs 18lb soaking wet). He was able to shoot a 1.5″ group first rattle out of the box. Later, we started shooting rocks on the berm. I would spot for him, and he would shoot. If he missed the rock it would move, but if he hit it, it would immediately turn to dust. The man was getting pushed around pretty bad by that rifle, but the surgical precision with which he was turning small rocks into powder at 210 yards was as addicting to him as it is to me. (honestly, you’d have to be from a different planet not to love stuff like that!) So even a novice shooter was doing quite well with the right equipment!
The 300 Winmag wears a Vortex Viper 6.5-20 X 50 scope. So far, I’ve got about 450 rounds through the gun and the scope continues to hold. This rifle is capable of .75MOA at 100 yards with the 178 Amax, but I changed to the 200 grain ELD-X and got about 1″ groups. I’m going to mess with it some more, but one variable that I am considering is scope failure. If the scope is bad, then you will see why I bought Vortex. Customer service is absolutely imperative to me with optics. If my glass fails to perform, I want it replaced pronto and I don’t want any lip about it.
So far, the scopes I have personally wrecked are:
Leupold but but but…it’s Leupold!!! but but but it FAILED. Sorry.
Ziess (Conquest……Twice) but but but…it’s Ziess!!! but but but they FAILED. Sorry.
Bjornb was good enough to add Mueller to this list as well.
The scopes that I never seem to hear about and have never tested personally are all outside my price range. They include US Optics, Scmidt and Bender, Nightforce, Steiner etc etc etc all of them $1500-$2500 tickets.
The long and the short of it is that scopes that cost less than $1000 are a crap chute. You cannot ever take them from granted and if your groups aren’t what they should be, you really have to check that scope before you call BS on anything else. Here was bjornb with two bad scopes in a row! I was starting to doubt everything because the chances of that happening are supposed to be slim. Not so slim at all as it turns out. He’s just got a bunch of rifles now that can tell the difference.
Now I’m not advocating taking a loan out and buying one of the top end scopes, If you’re well heeled enough to do that, then you certainly don”t need to even read this thread, but for the rest of us who are on a tight budget and who MUST stick with scopes that cast about $500, first thing I’ll say is buy the very best you can afford, but once you buy it don’t turn your back on it.