How Much Do You Really Need To Spend?
Quite a few shooters still claim, “You get what you pay for, especially in optics,” but this claim is partially a holdover from the days when really good optics were manufactured only in the United States and some other “First World” countries. America, Great Britain, Germany and a few other European countries were the leading industrial nations of the world. They possessed the technological capability to make excellent optics, and their standards of living were higher than in other nations. Anything they produced cost more.
After World War II more of the world became industrialized, especially Asia, as quicker transportation and electronic communication spread new technology. By the 1980s Japanese cameras dominated professional photography, and several American optics companies quit making their own riflescopes, instead importing them from Japan. By 2000, other Asian countries produced very good optics, often aided by American and European companies importing scopes or scope parts.
That’s the way today’s worldwide manufacturing works, and it’s also the way capitalism works. We can rant about unfair competition from China, but Adam Smith’s “invisible hand of the market” always searches for lower-cost labor. The end result is quality goods at lower prices.
Yes, German optics manufacturers still make very fine scopes, certainly among the best in the world, but assuming a direct relationship between price and scope quality is very much like assuming a $19.99 Reuben sandwich from an upscale Manhattan restaurant is three times as good as an $6.49 Reuben from a cafe in Casper, Wyo. I’ve eaten Reubens in both places, and while the New York sandwich was better, it didn’t beat Wyo. by much.
Similar assumptions are often made about scope mounts. Many shooters believe mounts must be made entirely of steel, preferably a lot of steel, in order to keep scopes in place, and any mounts costing less than $100 or even $200 are suspect. In reality some mounts costing under $50 hold scopes quite well. You may not be able to pull your scope off the rifle, then replace it as precisely as with a $500 German detachable mount, but then again you might!
By John Barsness
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