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My experiences with Barska--Good and Bad

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/19/2007 at 12:16
the444shooter View Drop Down
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This will be a two parter...this 1st part will deal with overall impression of scope/optic quality and customer service...the second part will be the actual range report...I feel I owe it to everyone on here since I went into this kind of as a volunteer guinea pig since Barska doesn't have a stellar reputation. 

 

First off, let me say that this forum has been a great source of information.  I found it AFTER I ordered a Barska Tactical 3-12 scope.  I had read the reviews elsewhere and chose the 3-12 because I had heard that Barska's optics got fuzzy after 14x or so.  I also read that the Tactical model was heads and shoulders above the SWAT model as far as quality goes.  So, I ordered it, and THEN logged on to this site and read all the conflicting reports about Barska quality control.  So, Cheaptrick, this one's for you, being one of the most outspoken opponents of Barska (with good reason).   

 

Initial report:

I received the scope in October, just before a trip to Kodiak, Alaska, so I had no time to test it out...fast forward a month (just after Cheaper Than Dirt's no hassle return policy expires) I am handling the scope and examining the optics.  Optics seem clear, and side focus works...I do like the FFP Mil Dot idea.  So, optics are clear enough for this budget scope--MUCH better than the Tasco World Class I bought as a "slap on" scope for one of our 30'06s. 

But here comes the disappointment...when I held on to the rear bell of the scope, and gave the front bell a wrap against my open palm, I heard rattling inside...could've been either a spring or a loose front lens.  UH OH! I thought...this could potentially be going on my 300 RUM (which is currently wearing a Burris 3-9 FFII BPLX) if it can withstand the recoil of the Saiga .308 that I put it on.  Well, Cheaper than Dirt wouldn't accept it back, so I called Barska. 

Experiences with Sandra from Barska were no less than wonderful.  She was an absolute delight to speak with on the phone, and issued an RA number very quickly.  Only bummer is that I paid for shipping back to them.  My mistake, since I should've asked them to cover shipping.  However, they paid shipping back to me, and I had my replacement scope within 2 wks.  I was still on cloud nine after talking to Sandra, and the timely turnaround when I opened the package only to find......more disappointment.  This scope was worse than the first one!!!!!  The front bell still had a rattle, the side focus was stuck, and when I got it to turn, I could actually hear parts moving inside!  But that's not all, the reticle focus was so loose that it wobbled side to side and up and down...moving the entire sight picture.

So back on the phone to Sandra, who assured me that she would issue another RA as well as a call tag for UPS to pick it up so I didn't have to pay shipping.  So, another pleasant experience speaking to her, and a fairly rapid resolution to my issue.  She promised to personally inspect the next scope that was coming to me before it went out the door. 

So by this point I have experienced such a roller coaster of emotions with Barska, I finally began to understand why there were such conflicting reports about the quality control. 

Fast forward 2 months to this week, since I was down in South America on vacation and just got back this weekend.  I found the 2nd REPLACEMENT (dealt with 3 scopes in total so far) scope tucked in my closet, where my parents put all my stuff while I was away on vacation, opened the package and examined everything.  Optics are much clearer than both previous scopes, knobs work without a hitch, reticle focus is tighter, and overall, the scope is just better quality than the previous 2.  This one must've been a middle of the week scope, is the only thing I can figure.  So, I mounted it on the Saiga, and this week will be the test run.  

TO BE CONTINUED..... 

 

I hope someone finds this information helpful when thinking about Barska, and I will be posting again when I actually use it at the range.  

 

Would I buy Barska again?  Too soon to tell, maybe the range session will say a lot, but at this point, I would probably not buy one again with the sheer gamble on quality control.  I could've saved up another $50-$75 and got a Burris, Bushnell, Nikon, or saved even more and got a SS.   

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/19/2007 at 13:16
cheaptrick View Drop Down
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Welcome to The OT and thank you for your review.

 

My test scope still has to go back to Barska because it leaked during my water torture test.

I expect good things from the Barska CS dept based on your post and others.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/20/2007 at 10:05
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the444shooter, Thanks for your review and I am looking forward to your next post. My personal gripe is that our local guys do those very vague tests that allways comes out the same.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/22/2007 at 14:16
the444shooter View Drop Down
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Upon further review......

 

No range report yet, but after looking through the scope again, and after previously stating that the optics were better than the first two that they sent me, I have to recant. 

 

The optics ARE better by way of distortion...the image is crisp all the way out to the edges and there is no blur on the edges of the reticle (there was a slight blur no matter how much I focused the reticle on the last two scopes). 

 

HOWEVER, there are chips in the glass on the front lens that are blatantly obvious when reflected upon.  They look like tiny fibers or lint without light reflecting on them, but when light shines on them just right, you can tell that they are actually chips in the glass. 

 

VERDICT:  Even without a range test, Barska as a product line has failed miserably.  Their customer service is very friendly to deal with, but one should not have to deal THAT much with a company's customer service staff. 

 

My advice....SAVE FOR ANOTHER MONTH TO BUY A BURRIS, BUSHNELL, SUPER SNIPER, OR NIKON.  Just another example that there is no free lunch when it comes to optics.

 

I hope my experience will help somebody avoid the disappointment I have felt.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/22/2007 at 17:22
cheaptrick View Drop Down
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Thanks 4 Shooter.

Sounds like our Barska experience is about the same, huh?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: March/23/2007 at 19:48
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Hi, I am new here, obviously, and ran across this. Since I have one of these I think its probably OK to comment.

Barska seems to be a gamble to what you get reading posts. I have one of their varmint scopes and its uninspiring despite the low expectations to begin with. Haveing said that, I am either an anomally or just lucky because mine has been pretty decent.

Here is a patial paste of a little review I did elsewhere. Mainly just my impressions of it, not torture testing or anything.

_____
1st impressions:
Solid and heavy, its a full size scope nothing compact about it, it feels well built. (it did not rattle)
Clear distortion free glass at all power settings.
Solid positive clicks on windage and elevation turrets.
No extras or frills, you basically get a box with a scope in it. They do send a set of lens covers and pair of extra high see through rings, but they are cheesy and really not worth the effort to include. Instructions are generic to all Barska scopes with no mention of the mil-dot.

Onto the cool things:
The 1st focal plane reticle allows the mildot to expand or contract with the zoom so you can range find at any setting of magnification. Now while I don't neccessarily range estimate that much with them, I do use it for hold off. The scalable mildot to magnification setting are pretty slick in that respect. Closer targets you can zoom out on and not miscalculate the hold off because the dot space remain the same size. A little thing, but can be important when hurrying or tracking a shot.

Side parallax adjustment is another minor thing over all, but it does make a ergonomics difference when shooting between mid and long range being able to stay on target and adjust the parallax to sharpen the picture. The glass is clear enough on this scope that it doesn't make a lot of difference except at longer or very close ranges.

Clear glass is important which is obvious, so is the amount of glare and eye relief. In that respect, is this an equal to a Leupold or IOR tactical scopes? No and one shouldn't expect as much from this price range of scope, but I would say without hesitation is has very good optic quality for the money. For instance, the glass is as good as a higher priced Simmons Aetec 2.5-10 x44, which I think has very nice glass quality. On the same power settings it comes pretty close to the Burris Fullfield I have, which is also a higher priced scope. All in all it has some pretty good competition to judge against side by side and stands up well in this department.

The eye relief, especially when zoomed in is pretty narrow for range both side to side and front to back, you pretty much have to have the same cheek weld everytime to get the clearest picture through the scope, but then you are supposed to repeat cheek weld anyway. This was not a major issue, but it was noticeable.

Range report:
It's just pure luck, but the superstitious part of me sees it as a good omen, 1st shot out from 120 yards, It was dead on for windage and 3" high. I had it zeroed within 6 shots. I never touched it again for 60 or so more rounds of Guatamalan 5.56 surplus. I switched to Black Hills 68gr match and had to re-zero up and left 2". No chasing zero, straight forward count the clicks and shoot. I shot groups ranging from 1 MOA to 2 MOA, no larger, but no better, mostly due to the shooter I suspect more than anything mechanical since I did no better with another rifle I had with me. It was consistent, no wild variation in any groups. With just over a 250 rounds ran under it in 2 separate sessions, I can't say how it will hold up, but it seems solid so far.

My personal feeling is it was worth the money. Maybe not a steal, but a reasonably priced solid scope that has features that are not typically found in this price range. It lacks illumination and Bullet Drop Compensation, and Trijicon knockoff looks, but that's OK with me, just less stuff to break. It does have mil-dot range estimation at all magnification, and that is useful.

Is this a replacement for any medium to high quality tactical scope? Not hardly. The glass is decent, but not near the high end Burris or Leupold etc and at this point its a WAG as to durability. However, over all I would give it a 'thumbs up' for those in the market for a low end usueable scope. Though it may not be the best buy unless it has something specific you are wanting. Although some will dismiss Barska simply because of brand name reputation, this scope seems to deliver performance above the price. Time will only tell if it does that long term and at this point that is the only remaining concern I have with it.

____

That was last September, since then I have ran just under 500 rounds under it altogether, most of it lately varminting, and I like it as much now as I did when I first got it mostly. The glass is still sharp and clear, nothing is jiggling through a lot of ATV travel on the handlebar racks. Cross hairs still straight etc. That isn't a huge amount of use, and its on a light recoiling rifle, but so far so good. The scope itself is fairly heavy and makes the rifle front heavy is about the only thing I complain about it.

So FWIW, they are not all broken out of the box.
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