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Page AR-15 » Optics, Mounts, and Sights
AR Sponsor: bravocompany
Posted: 5/7/2003 7:20:26 PM EDT
Does anyone think it's slightly insane to charge $1300 for a Trijicon ACOG or some of the prices that are being charged for dot-type scopes ? I mean, come on !

Technology is such that $1300 buys you a near top-of-the-line PC, or .... a scope ? I mean - what's in a dot scope ? A diode laser (probably $2), an aluminum tube, a couple of glass pieces (one semi-reflective), a minimum of electronics, what else ? Seems like a complete rip to me. I have a Tasco red-dot 40mm which I paid $40 for, and that seems fair to me. What does an Aimpoint have for $400 more ? Mind you - I'm not saying the Aimpoint isn't better quality wise somehow, but $400 better ? And what about the ACOG, which doesn't even have electronics ? I'm real curious what the actual manufacturing cost for that thing is.

I think a lot of optical scopes are absurdly priced too, although I can understand that grinding high-quality lenses isn't that cheap. Even there, you get some real zealots: "My Leupold VariX-III is the BEST!" Oh really ? Compared to what ? On what basis of measurement ? How do you OBJECTIVELY measure that ?

Anyway - just some random rants. Back to your regularly scheduled programming....
Link Posted: 5/8/2003 10:07:08 AM EDT
I'm right with you on this one. I have been out of the AR world for a few years and am floored at the cost of stuff. I am looking seriously at scopes for the first time (ACOG variant)and can't believe the prices.

Bad thing is, if you want the capability that scope model XXX offers, you have no choice but to pay for it. Or, you can buy nothing.

Choose the lesser of your two evils I guess.

Items that are adopted by the military are always outrageously priced to the civilian consumer. If they are going to rob Uncle Sam, they have to rob the civilian consumer also.

I cringe at the thought of paying the going rate on an ACOG but I have no choice if that is what I really want. [>(]

Link Posted: 5/8/2003 10:20:46 AM EDT
One of the first words of wisdom I got off this forum was:

It is almost always the case when buying optics that [red]you get what you pay for![/red]
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I have no problem putting down nearly a grand on a fine piece of glass.  Well, except for coming up with the money, that is [;)].  

But paying $200 for a cantilevered Aimpoint ring that costs more than its' weight in gold, whew, THAT HURTS!
Link Posted: 5/8/2003 11:00:50 AM EDT
In regards to "getting what you pay for":

As I said in my original posting, grinding a quality piece of glass is not cheap. The next question is, what is *sufficient* quality, ie. at what point in time does the quality difference become imperceptible to the human eye ? Any increase in the optic's quality will be wasted if it exceeds that standard. I've never seen any scope manufaturer which states what kind of optical standard they use to qualify their lenses. I'm a electrical engineer, so optics aren't my speciality. There's no mention how many g's the scope should handle before something goes out of whack.

Same thing applies to any other part of the scope. Tube, mounting, etc. Once you have met a certain minimum requirement all other effort is wasted.

Let's take two scopes. I have a Bushnell 3200 3-9x40 mounted on my hunting rifle (Remington 700 bolt action in 7mm mag). It cost $180. On the other end of the spectrum take a Zeiss V/VM  which will run you about $1,100. Now, if the image *I* see through the scope is indistinguishable through the two scopes, if both scopes hold their zero and are able to withstand the recoil of my rifle, then what extra "quality" have I bought with the Zeiss ? Is the Zeiss better than my Bushnell ? Probably. In a way that I can tell the difference ? Probably not. Now spending much less than $100 in riflescopes usually does mean that quality has been compromised *somewhere* along the line, but I admit that premise is somewhat difficult to prove. All I have is anecdotal evidence that people complain a lot more of their cheap scopes going bust, but that griping usually stops at the $200 price point. Maybe they're just embarrased that their expensive scope broke too... ;-)

The discussion is even simpler when discussing red-dot scopes. Most of these have no magnification, so there's no expensive grinding. What, pray tell, makes one scope $300 more expensive than another one ? Do they use better silicon in their semiconductor ? Have they made better use of a laser diode than the other guy ?

It's kind of weird. You buy a high-dollar item and you're just *convinced* it's better. You have no proof, but the purchase price somehow makes you feel superior. Happens to me too. Of course AR's ARE superior to other rifles - that's one thing we can all agree on.

Oh well - I guess the manufacturers charge those kind of prices because they can. Long live free enterprise!
Link Posted: 5/8/2003 2:52:12 PM EDT
I hate to agree with a commie but he is right.I don,t know if it,s just plain greed or stupidity.Do these people not realize if their scope,s were not so f***ing expensive there would be a lot more of them at the ranges.
Link Posted: 5/8/2003 4:09:42 PM EDT
Welcome to Capitalism and basic Supply and Demand principals, folks ;)
As long as there are people willing to pay $1300 for a Trijicon, Trijicon will gladly make and market them.
Link Posted: 5/8/2003 4:17:26 PM EDT
I am not made of money, but I have to say that the high price of optics does not bother me.
From my Holosight all the way up to my Mark 4 10x M1 Leupold, I have been perfectly happy with the price/performance ratio.
Link Posted: 5/8/2003 4:32:05 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/9/2003 5:42:09 AM EDT
I've bought cheap red dot scopes before ($30-40) range - never again.  Recoil from a .357 pistol will trash them quickly.  Or after getting them on paper at 25m the point of impact changes 12 or more inches at 100m.  

Save yourself the time and hassle and get a good quality scope like Aimpoint in the first place.
Link Posted: 5/9/2003 6:31:14 AM EDT
ACOGs were designed to win military contracts, and the military is very hard on equipment.  It's the nature of their work.  Their equipment must be built to withstand that level of use/abuse and continue to function, because lives depend on it.  ACOGs have met this requirement where many other brands have failed.  It isn't an accident; they were deigned to meet the requirement from their initial design.  But it is expensive to build precision optics this tough.
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You hit on something I did not fully think about in regards to scopes, in particular those used by the military: The fact that they are produced for the military obviously. My comparison doesn't really apply. Yes - they must work and the requirements the armed forces have for the manufacturer make the item very costly. If not in the actual production, then in the testing and the paperwork involved in dcoumenting everything.

I had some friends that worked on the abandoned A12 attack plane for McDonnel Douglas in the 90's and they commented that the paperwork on *everything* was ludicrous.

Now for the *commercial* application I think it still applies. Someone else commented that their $40 dot scope did not work properly. OK - so the standard hasn't been met in that case. All I was trying to say is that you *can* make a properly working scope for that price. An Aimpoint may work reliably, but I bet the increase in quality isn't actually worth the extra money they charge. I bet that it's more like $10. But it's a moot point if the only scopes which work reliably cost $200 - you'll either have to fork up the cash or do without....

Anyway - I understand about buying quality. The only thing I wish is that manufacturers were more realistic with their products. Make a $40 scope for lightweight applications and advertise it as such, but also make realistically priced optics which work reliably for those applications which require it.

Heck, in my day, we could make T-34 tanks out of some scrap metal and rusted-out lawnmowers lying around the back yard....

Link Posted: 5/9/2003 6:38:23 AM EDT
Who is to say what's best. BUT do you see a
Navy Seal with a $40 red dot, NO,, so we if
we can afford it and want the BEST toys when we
go out to the range,we spend the $$. I have a Aimpoint ML2
love it. Thought about having over 1200 in
rifle & scope, sometimes baffles me BUT Got it love it, now my wife
hates me!!!!
Link Posted: 5/9/2003 12:51:40 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/9/2003 1:12:55 PM EDT
If Aimpoint is too expensive, and you do not require all the feature on it, then for 200, you can buy either a Bushnell HoloSight or a OKO sight.

If ACOG is too expensive, and you do not need all the features, then a Weaver 1-4x is going for 250, and a Leupold 1-4x is around the same ballpark.  

If you complain about optic, just wait until you start to collect Surefire lights, try to justify a 500 dollar forward grip combat light.

Yes things are expensive, but it is like buying what you can afford, those manufacture aren't holding a gun to your head.  I want a Ferrari, but I can't afford it, so I bought a BMW M3; I want a FN Minimi, but I can't afford it, so I bought a Shrike; I want a playboy playmate for a girlfriend, I can't afford it, so I settle for a local stripper as a girlfriend.  [:)]
Link Posted: 5/9/2003 1:29:44 PM EDT
If you complain about optic, just wait until you start to collect Surefire lights, try to justify a 500 dollar forward grip combat light.
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Yah ! I saw the prices for those things. First I thought everyone here is nuts, now I'm trying to figure out how to justify an ACOG to my wife.

I may have to stock up on ammo before broaching the subject. She's liable to not take it very well and may become hostile...

Link Posted: 5/9/2003 5:19:54 PM EDT
First, let me say I own almost all of the products complained of.

Now, or in the past.

Also, I agree that we tend, as consumers in a special interest, to get what we pay for.

So yes, SEALS etc. do use the more expensive equipment, it does genuinely cost more to make a scope/light/ etc. taht will perform everytime all the time.

I think the rant though, was, that it does not cost as much as the aforementioned co.'s claim.

For these co.'s, winning a military contract is like winning an oscar or grammy, the "going rate" skyrockets.  The Mil. endotrsement is one that allows manufacturers to raise their prices, sometimes artifcially.

I spend good, hard earned money, I'm wiiling to, I wish I didn't have to, but I/m willoing.
I even understand the co.'s, sometime need, to recoup there T&E money.  But I think its foolish to think that som of their elevated prices don't stem from their knowledge that w/ a Mil. enorsement, they have the consumer by the b@!!$, if the consumer wants the best.

I am a student of the state of the art and as such pay for tech.  but don't want to be taken advantage of unnecessarily.
Link Posted: 5/10/2003 4:21:51 AM EDT

Let's take two scopes. I have a Bushnell 3200 3-9x40 mounted on my hunting rifle (Remington 700 bolt action in 7mm mag). It cost $180. On the other end of the spectrum take a Zeiss V/VM  which will run you about $1,100. Now, if the image *I* see through the scope is indistinguishable through the two scopes, if both scopes hold their zero and are able to withstand the recoil of my rifle, then what extra "quality" have I bought with the Zeiss ? Is the Zeiss better than my Bushnell ? Probably.
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Is the image you see better in the day?  Dusk?  Night?  At the edges of the glass, or just in the center?  Which scope loses more image from glare?  Which scope is more tiring to look through for long periods of time?

If we drop our rifle from 3 feet, do both survive?  How about 10 feet?  15 feet?

If we crank in 30 click of elevation, 27 clicks of windage, will both scopes reliably track back or will the cheap(er) scope be off?

What percentage of new Zeiss scopes are going to be "good" when new?  What percentage of Bushnells will have to be warranteed?

I agree there is a minimum spec that should be met when designing a product (I do it for a living).  However, exceeding these specs often produce real life benefits, especially under extreme conditions.  For example, everyone here loves Pelican cases, right?  The cases I design and our company builds perform long after a Pelican gives up the ghost.  Does that make Pelican crap?  No, just suited for less severe duty.  We don't stay in business (and grow) by selling the same for more.  We offer best value - higher price, higher performance.  Yes, you always have to be mindful of "better being the enemy of good enough", but for severe duty stuff, it's almost hard to overdo it.

Nobody has spoken much about coatings.  Glass coating are critical for light transmission.   Coatings are VERY, VERY  expensive.

Now, all that said, manufacturers do seem to be taking advantage of the move toward optics by increasing their profit margins.   Competition will eventually bring prices back down.  Excess profit always leads to new competitors.
Link Posted: 5/10/2003 6:32:40 AM EDT
1. One thing for sure, you get what you pay for.
2. Be glad thqat there are some many choices from lower cost to higher cost.
3.  Question is, do you want the "real deal?"
4.  The mil-Spec stuff is more expensive because the military users have "raised the bar" (so to speak) far beyond the requirements for a "hunting scope", picatinny rail forend", or what ever.  As industry designs new products for these enhanced user requirements (e.g., more waterproof, recoil proof, lighter weight, smaller size, pass 5-foot drop test on concrete covered with a 1/2" steel plate, salt spray test, surf-zone test, and on and on, their costs go up.  Then you add to that, that if your Mil-Spec scope that is designed to do all this ends up at the top of your line solely based on cost, then that will probably the lowest volume "commercial" sale product you produce. SO you must assume that if you lose the military selection contest, you will never make your R&D investment back solely as a commerical item, because some one else won, and they end up making the "real deal."
5.  If you put all this effort into this new mil-spec product design, but don't win, how do you make up for the investment?
6.  Another "business" factor is post award production capability.  More and more the government requires volume deliveries very soon after award as a further "qualifier" as to a vendor's capabilities.  This requires considerable investment in production tooling, etc., "up front" before anyone knows who "won".
6.  I am very glad to have the choice options, however, lets view these in "goverment reglatory perspective."  By this I mean didn't we used to be able to buy our favorite AR's with "threaded muzzles", bayonet lugs, folding stocks?  Get my drift?  And was not part of their reasoning is that removing these features was to make the arms less attractive to  criminals?  Well, yes it was.  So don't be surprised that if some loon wipes out a school yard of kids with a "post ban" equipped with a "sniper type/military scope, forward pistol grip/flashlight combo, tactical sling, red dot reflex sight (all just like the military guys use to kill people), that the "real deals" arn't banned next.
7.  My advice, buy the best mil-spec/real deals you can afford, before Sara Brady's gang bangs us.
ColdBlue sends...
Link Posted: 5/10/2003 7:45:18 AM EDT
We would die if we knew the actual markup.Here is 1 clue...In Armalites lawsuit against US Optics it was revealed that Armalite would buy the USO scopes for $318 and then sell them for $750.Now if USO could wholesale them for $318 how much could they have invested in material and labor costs???

The prices are insane.
Link Posted: 5/10/2003 11:33:43 AM EDT
The high asking prices among other things, pay for the usually excellent customer service.  Leupold's warranty is for the life time of the scope, Trjicon is also very good.  If you buy an el cheapo scope such as Leapers or Tasco, just hope you don't have to ask them to repair it under the much shorter warranty period.  Since the prices are so low they're like disposable scopes, most people don't bother getting them sent in for repair, instead they'd chuck them and buy another one, or hopefully learn their lesson and move on to quality optics.  I bet the cheap scope companies realize this and therefore don't put forth much effort to please their customers base.
The money also goes to future R&D.  Cash strapped companies have neither funding nor initiative to innovate, for the most part I'd imagine they're content with copying more expensive designs but use less expensive components that have not been tested thoroughly for long time use and field abuse, or they're simply making low end stuff to fill the market for those that don't want to spend the money.
Link Posted: 5/10/2003 2:40:16 PM EDT
I bought a shirt at a major Gap type of story.   Looking over the girl's shoulder, I could see their books and saw that the $28 shirt I was buying on sale for $14 only cost the store $2.80.   10X markup!!

Imagine what the wholesaler paid.  Imagine the cost to manufacture!

In my experience, we usually marked things up 2X in the bicycle shop, sometimes more.   Bicycles a lot less, but most parts and accessories were double our direct cost.
Link Posted: 5/10/2003 11:52:08 PM EDT
We would die if we knew the actual markup.Here is 1 clue...In Armalites lawsuit against US Optics it was revealed that Armalite would buy the USO scopes for $318 and then sell them for $750.Now if USO could wholesale them for $318 how much could they have invested in material and labor costs???

The prices are insane.
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[red]Somehow $900 for a USO SN-12 doesn't seem so bad does it?[/red]


Link Posted: 5/11/2003 2:25:28 AM EDT
Nice setup DMCI.Hope you didn't take that as USO bashing.They are certainly the Rolls Royce of scopes.I have no doubt the other manufactores have the same markups.
Link Posted: 5/11/2003 3:01:43 AM EDT
Just to clarify...

NOONE PAYS $1300 for an ACOG but an idiot.

So what have we learned here?

1.  SMG Lee has good taste in cars.

2.  SMG Lee has some kind of illegal DIAS for his Shrike since he lilves in CA (just kidding) [;)]

3.  SMG Lee's girlfriend either A. Gives him the cash to pay for all these toys or B. Will soon bleed him dry of his cash and move on to a new sugar daddy. (again just kidding) [;)]
Link Posted: 5/11/2003 6:56:37 AM EDT
Hope you didn't take that as USO bashing.
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Not in the least, and...

For the record, I will say the AR-15.com has been the most open minded and accepting of information on technologies not in the main stream.

I think this speaks well for the fine spirit of this forum!

D. [:)]

PS: I suspect that part of the reason for the default on the contract was that they couldn't produce the scope for that price. But I have no evidence of that.
Link Posted: 5/11/2003 9:07:11 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/11/2003 12:41:46 PM EDT
The manufacturers are in business to make money - plain and simple.  Capitalistic markets define what can be charged - it's called what the market will bear - if you don't like the price of the item, then you won't buy it; but another competitor sees the opportunity and produces a similar product for less and that's called competition.

Part of the reason for high prices is the necessity to make profits to either reward shareholders or owners and workers.  I'm grateful to work in an industry where there are high profit margins (there is also a lot of risk) and I'm well paid for marketing those products and then can enjoy buying high quality optics.  It's all simple economics.
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