Scope brands to avoid?

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painiac
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Scope brands to avoid?

Post by painiac » Thu Apr 14, 2016 4:21 pm

What are your overall opinions of various scope brands?
I know Leupolds are really good by reputation, but don't want to pay that much. I know Nikons are really good glass for the money and with a great warranty, and I have a 4-12 Nikon on a bolt action that I've been quite happy with. Other than that, I haven't had much experience with scope shopping. While browsing, I found I have a negative association that makes me distrust the cheaper brands like Barska, Leapers, etc, but please tell me if this is misplaced.

I'm in the market for an affordable scope for an AR that isn't a piece of shit. It'll be mostly for plinking out to 100 yards or so. It must not break, fall apart, or lose zero if it gets jostled.
I usually prefer variable magnification. I was thinking that a very low starting magnification would be ideal for close-in shooting, but my eyes suck even with glasses so a high magnification is necessary out past 30 yards or so.

Edited to add: I'm thinking $300 is the most I'd like to pay for the scope itself
Last edited by painiac on Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by RonnyRonin » Thu Apr 14, 2016 6:31 pm

I think you are on the right track, there are a lot of glass snobs out there but anything better then Leapers/Barska/BSA/NCstar is a good place to start. Probably the lowest quality I would go is Primary Arms, which has a pretty good reputation for being a decent entry-level scope. They have some budget friendly low-power variables as well as some compact prism scopes.

Redfield and Burris are two other budget brands that are probably "good enough," I would assume somewhere near the Nikons or a little below. My binos are Nikons and are maybe 80% as good as the European versions that are 10x the price.

Vortex is becoming quite popular from aggressive marketing and a warranty that everyone likes to talk about, they seem to have a few options on the lower price range.

I only have second hand accounts of most of these, but I DO have first hand knowledge of why you should never buy a Leapers/Barska/BSA/NCstar, they really are as bad as everyone says. I would really say if the scope doesn't cost at LEAST $100 (and preferably over $200) new, you probably don't want it at any price.
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by majorhavoc » Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:07 pm

I would actually rate Leapers/UTG a fair bit above Barska/BSA/NcStar. I've had very good luck with the Leapers brand on my airguns, including my break barrel spring piston pellet rifle, which is hell on scopes. I have heard of people having good luck with Leapers on real firearms. I have not hear many positive user reports with those other budget brands.

But I agree OP is looking for something a bit better, just wanted to offer a data point about Leapers versus those other airsoft grade optics. Primary Arms is a good floor for acceptable quality level. I've had their (sadly no longer produced) 3x compact scope on my AR-15 for going on 4 years now, and it's never lost zero.

If I were shopping for a variable magnification AR optic today, and were on a tight budget, I'd look long and hard at the Nikon P-223 3-9x40.

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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by yossarian » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:44 pm

I once had a Leupold rep tell me that Nikon Prostaff was the best "budget" scope for the money. I also ran a cheap Simmons on my deer rifle for 5 or 6 yrs. Worked great, put meat on the table. One year I took it out and the reticle had canted by about 45 degrees. So I got a Nikon Prostaff.

Never really shot a BSA (Broken Shit Always) but we got a bunch as a promo deal way back when I worked at a gun shop. Pretty sure those cost us money in the long run through returns and pissed off customers. Same with AIMsports, NCStar et al. We had some Barska optics and I don't remember any complaints but I don't think we sold very many.
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by brothaman » Fri Apr 15, 2016 12:20 pm

I like Burris' budget and mid-level scopes and have owned a few. The Fullfield II is tough as nails and the glass is nice and their BDC is unobtrusive yet easy to see. However, durability comes at the cost of comfort and ergonomics. The entire eye piece turns to zoom. Not just a ring. And its harder than average to turn. You would find it difficult to zoom while having the rifle shouldered and peeking through the glass. But,.. these features/failures add to the toughness of the scope. I still like these. I'm running 2 of these. They are super tough. IMHO, Nikon offers the "Best for the money". The current crop of Buckmasters often hit $90 when on sale. I bought 2 from Dick's at that price. The glass is as nice or nicer that the Burris FFII. The Nikon BDC has the weird bubbles. I'm still deciding how much I like the BDC. I certainly done hate it. The zoom has just the right tension. the Eye relief is bit more generous than the Burris FFII. The Nikon turrets are reset-able to 0. So if you prefer to crank to turret to adjust for elevation on the fly, you could. I also like the Bushnell Trophys and Weaver Classics. The last gen of those were Japanese made and superior to the newer ones. But the newer ones are OK. Comparing these to my Vortex, Leupold, and Trijicon scopes I'd say that you'd have to spend more than $200-250 to do better. This is just my personal opinion based on what I own. I'm no expert
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by SRO1911 » Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:13 pm

There is a very new company on the market, Athlon. They are building excellent scopes in a budget friendly bracket.
I recommend usaoptics.net, they are one of the largest athlon dealers and have superb customer service.

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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by teotwaki » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:47 pm

I just upgraded my .22 rifles from Simmons to Nikon Prostaff. The Simmons were "ok" but the extra bucks for the Nikons were well worth it. Better adjustment turrets and brighter optics
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by MacWa77ace » Fri Apr 15, 2016 2:52 pm

I also have a Leapers Bugbuster on an air rifle. And I read all the negative comments about it before buying. But mine is absolutely fine, incredible for the price actually. You have to remember that a high proportion of defective units get negative comments posted on the reviews for it because people are pissed so take the time to post, but a relatively low proportion of positive reviews get posted because, why bother if it worked fine.

And I also have a UTG set of; a 1x RDS and a 3x flip to side magnifier that work exactly as expected for about ~$140. But those are mounted on a $150 AirSoft.

And I have a Barska 60x 60mm spotting scope, ~$200 that works exactly as expected, lets in a lot of light and only a small amount of blurring at the edges, but I've never used/owned anything better or worse to compare apples to apples. It works out past 300yds if you use those splatter targets, but you can definitely tell that the lens isn't perfect at long ranges.

My personal rule of thumb for optics is that they be valued at least equal to the value of the rifle I'm putting them on. e.g. $700 rifle deserves ~$700 scope, not a $100 scope. Because your cost savings may include features like; not fog resistant, not water proof, won't re-zero, parralax, small field of view, ridiculous eye relief, doesn't let in enough light, won't work with NV, soon to be discontinued/unsupported/unbranded/sued, not durable, dots are to bright or to dim, can't focus reticle, or batteries die to quickly, etc. But rules are made to be broken, and so I have an $80 Truglo RDS on my $450 AOW 12g, but that gun isn't really any good past 20yds no matter how much optic you use, and pretty much if you have to aim with that you're in trouble. That's how I justify the optics choice for that one.

So by sticking to my rule of thumb and doing research, I have yet to be disappointed with an optic, and therefore can't actually contribute to this thread with which ones to avoid.
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by raptor » Fri Apr 15, 2016 6:48 pm

IMO Redfield and Nikon are quality optics. My expeirence with Tasco, Simmons, Burska and NC Star optics were not satisfactory.

I have found Redfield and Nikon to be on par with my older Leupold optics at about a 50% lower acquisition cost. YMMV.


When it comes to binoculars, my Fujion 7x50's marine version compare very favorably to a friend's Steiner and Swarovski. I would buy the Nikon over either for that application.
Last edited by raptor on Sat Apr 16, 2016 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:20 am

painiac wrote:What are your overall opinions of various scope brands?
I know Leupolds are really good by reputation, but don't want to pay that much. I know Nikons are really good glass for the money and with a great warranty, and I have a 4-12 Nikon on a bolt action that I've been quite happy with. Other than that, I haven't had much experience with scope shopping. While browsing, I found I have a negative association that makes me distrust the cheaper brands like Barska, Leapers, etc, but please tell me if this is misplaced.

I'm in the market for an affordable scope for an AR that isn't a piece of shit. It'll be mostly for plinking out to 100 yards or so. It must not break, fall apart, or lose zero if it gets jostled.
I usually prefer variable magnification. I was thinking that a very low starting magnification would be ideal for close-in shooting, but my eyes suck even with glasses so a high magnification is necessary out past 30 yards or so.

Edited to add: I'm thinking $300 is the most I'd like to pay for the scope itself
$300 is about the price point for SWFA fixed-power scopes, the PA variable's are in there (their 4-14 comes highly recommended), mid-range Burris, Bushnell, and Vortex are all there, and some lower-end Leupold. I've heard good and bad about Nikon, but had no trouble with any of mine.

A pretty quick giveaway for a shit-tier scope is the box itself. Do they advertise the number of colors or reticles more than the battery life? Does the box copy look like it never saw an editor's desk? That's all pretty standard for NCStar, Holosun, Aimshot, Aimpro, Sightmark, and all the others. Country of manufacture is all good one too. Google a brand and the specific line and see where the glass and body are made. Philippines and Taiwan are the lowest-end of acceptable, China is right out, Japan, Germany, and USA are and rely typically top-end, but remember that a brand doesn't necessarily use the same manufacturer for each line. Zeiss's lowest-end scopes don't deserve the same branding as their top-tier stuff, and Vortex sources their garbage-tier stuff from China, their mid-range in Pi, and IIRC all their top-tier ($900+) stuff has the glass manufactured in Japan.
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by Stercutus » Sat Apr 16, 2016 3:22 pm

I went to a gun show last month for the first time in years. One of the vendors had boxes and boxes (hundreds, maybe thousands) of cheap Chinese scopes thrown in loosely that looked like returns. All the brands pretty much looked alike.

He had them priced by how much he had figured they were off, how badly they held zero etc. I think entry was around $5 for an RDS and went up to $25 for a really nice high power Barska. If you are going to buy junk you may as well pay junk prices up front.
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by minengr » Sat Apr 16, 2016 10:04 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:$300 is about the price point for SWFA fixed-power scopes
It's very hard to beat the SS for the money, especially with the MQ reticle.
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by painiac » Sun Apr 17, 2016 6:42 am

I appreciate all the input so far. Nothing I've read here has surprised me, except that I had lumped Burris in with the bottom rung, and I hadn't ever looked at Redfields. They will be duly considered.

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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by justsomeguy » Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:17 am

trijicon or leupold


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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by teotwaki » Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:03 pm

painiac wrote:
justsomeguy wrote:trijicon or leupold
You're saying that trijicon and leupold are crap brands that I should avoid? :?
If so, everyone please send all of your unwanted Leupold and Trigicon crap to me. I'll pay the postage. :mrgreen:


(i suspect that JustSomeGuy was recommending them for purchase) :awesome:
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by minengr » Sun Apr 17, 2016 9:40 pm

I'll also throw Pentax into the mix. Not sure if they are still being made but cameraland was offering demo models awhile back. Mine looked like a re-branded Burris Fullfield. Was decent glass for the money.
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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by painiac » Mon Apr 18, 2016 7:28 am

teotwaki wrote:(i suspect that JustSomeGuy was recommending them for purchase) :awesome:
As do I. That's why our gradeschool teachers harped on us so much about using complete sentences. 8-)

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Re: Scope brands to avoid?

Post by MasterMaker » Thu May 05, 2016 4:35 pm

Weaver has some scopes that are relatively cheap and very good, the Weaver 1-3 V Classic being one.

http://www.amazon.com/Weaver-V-3-1-3X20 ... B0000V2EBM
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