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Scope Reliability

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/13/2006 at 12:42
pedi View Drop Down
Optics GrassHopper
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I was wondering if the folks at SWFA could give the real skinny on which scopes are most durable and reliable.  You hear nattering about Leupolds being "as solid as a rock"  (not in my experience), Swaros and Zeiss have great optics but are fragile, etc etc etc.  What's the real truth?  I figured you guys would have a sense of which scopes are breaking and which are holding up. Although good customer service is imperative, I guess I'd rather not know whether a company has good service or not!  After all, the best company service in the world won't help you if you are in the middle of an Alaskan hunt and your erector system takes a dump!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/13/2006 at 12:58
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I do not work for SWFA, but, with your permission, I'll voice my opinion.

 

All things mechanical can break.  No way to escape that.  There is no such thing as an unbreakable scope. 

 

All reputable scope companies make pretty durable scopes.  Some are a little tougher than others.  Leupold and Burris have a reputation for being pretty tough.  I prefer Burris personally, between these two. 

 

Fixed magnification scopes are tougher than variables: fewer moving parts.  The difference is pretty minor though.

 

True tactical scopes (like Super Sniper, for example) are built tougher than typical hunting scopes.  However, a lot of scopes labeled tactical are not built any differently from run of the mill hunting scopes.

 

The brands that have been very durable in my experience (I am not very tough on scopes though) are Sightron, Burris and IOR.  I've had some problems with Leupold and Nikon, but I think I was just unlucky with those.

 

Just my experience though.  Your mileage may vary.

 

ILya

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/13/2006 at 13:01
RifleDude View Drop Down
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I guess maybe I've been lucky.  I've not had any scope of any brand at any price fail. 

 

About 3 years ago while climbing into an elevated blind, my rifle slid off my shoulder, landing scope first onto a large rock from about 8 feet.  The impact bent the scope's ocular housing slightly and scratched the finish a little.  The image was a little fuzzy afterward due to the misaligned ocular, but when I went back to camp to check my rifle's zero, it hadn't moved, so I just continued hunting with it!  The scope was a Swarovski 3-10 X42 AH, so based on that, I'd hardly call it "fragile!"  I sent the scope back to Swaro for repair, explained exactly what happened, and asked for a quote.  Within about 8 days, either a new or "repaired as new" scope arrived from Swaro with "$0.00" on the invoice!  That kind of service is probably typical of most of the better brands, though I haven't had the need to test any other manufacturer's customer service / warranty departments before or since.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/13/2006 at 14:18
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John Barsness had an interesting article on "toughest scopes" in Rifle Mag a few years ago.  In a nutshell, he found that all the makers sell a clunker now and then.  He had good luck with B&L/Bushnell Elite and Leupold.  He surveyed some well known custom rifle makers to see what they used and found Swarovski, Zeiss, and Leupold.  On really hard kickers, Leupold was always the choice; all the builder found that the Euros didn't hold up.  The most interesting thing to me was that Leupold acquired a .458 Lott from Echols, I believe.  They concluded that they, nor anybody else, could build a variable that could hold up on the Lott.

 

Toughness really depends on what you put it on.  He found that nearly all scopes held up OK on a 30-06 of reasonable weight, but that same scope didn't last five rounds on a .416 Rem.

 

The only real constant was that lighter scopes held up better than heavier ones.  There's a lot of inertia at work when a rifle goes off.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/13/2006 at 14:43
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Good reports on heavy magnums sporting leupolds have been few and far between from what I have seen.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/14/2006 at 08:21
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i have dropped a zeiss conquest on a HEAVY 30.06 from about 6 feet on to the hardpan - held zero

 

and have 'frammed' the crap out of a elite 4200 while working at the hunt club - and IT held zero

 

mounts have a good deal to do w/ holding zero as well - i use only leupold for mounts, or have until now.

 

my 2 cents.

 

J

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/15/2006 at 09:26
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I have heard of scopes from almost every manufacturer failing. I believe that when it comes to toughness the less features you have on a scope the tougher it is.  For example the only Burris I have is a 1x short mag that is on a 45-70 Encore Pistol. When you look up the word recoil in the dictionary the Encore pistol is pictured there (or should be).  The oldest scope I have is a 4x Leupold and it has been on lots of rifles over the years. I am really quite comfortable with Leupolds myself. The military uses and abuses equipment as roughly as anyone they use Leupold, U.S. Optics, Trijicon, Aimpoint, EOTech, Super Sniper etc, and they carry backup iron sights.  One advantage to using a Badger ordnance base MIL STD 1913 (also called Picatinny)  is that you can find quick release mounts from several companies   GG&G ,  La Rue,  ARMS.  These types of mounts allow you to bolt on Badger rings and a traditional optic take a 1/2 in wrench and take it off if the scope breaks and quick attach a Trijicon, or EOTech or Aimpoint as a backup optic and expect it to be within about 1MOA of zero (providing you had sighted it in originally.) You could also use Leupold quick release mounts or Warne steel mounts but I think the Badger base would be the most secure system. You could carry two scopes with rings attached both pre sighted in but it would be a lot more practical to pack a small mil type optic  like an EOTech as a backup. 

 

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/15/2006 at 23:04
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Did you ever notice how  many stories include an anecdote involving 'when my Leupold laid down they sent me a new one right away'?

Too many for me.

I don't own any.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: December/16/2006 at 17:44
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Ive never had any axe to grind with Leupold, except for the pricing increases over the past decade or 2. The quality doesnot seemed to have lept forward with the prices, however on the few occasions I have sent a scope back or had any other questions, action or answeres have been rapidly forth coming. With the exception of the el heapos, there are [probably more Leups out there than any other brand, so I expect to hear more of problems with them. Those with the "el C" just use them to prop up a window when they fail.The Leups are expected to be fixed and they certainly do so. i dont think thereir failure rate is excessive, just we hear more about it.The higher pricing is one of thwe ways they can afford to be so magnanimous in replacing any problems....Remember how many scope manufacturers have gone bankrupt in the last 2 decades.

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