It Isn’t Complicated

It’s pretty common to get a response similar to; “I didn’t want to spend that much on an optic setup, since I only paid X for the rifle.”

A customer today said he has a WASR AK he keeps for defense, but can’t justify the price of a good optic.  That’s a contradiction in terms, see– you’re going to count on this weapon, possibly, to save your life but anything more than 60 or 75 dollars for a sight that you can rely on is just too much?  “I have another rifle that can put five rounds into a half minute or arc, so…[I don’t need a good optic on this one]”  He said.  So your 3 or 4 MOA Kalash doesn’t warrant an optic that will withstand a few knocks and hold zero, and has a battery life better measured in years than in hours?  Why not?  What is your life worth?

I don’t know if many people are aware of the number of thousand plus dollar scopes that are currently sitting on five hundred dollar rifles.

It’s not about matching the price of the sight to the price of the rifle.  It’s about the setup you want, and you should want something on which you can rely.  Reliable rifles with decent accuracy aren’t expensive, but good optics are.  If your optic costs multiples of the price of the rifle, so be it.  You have a good setup that didn’t have to include a super expensive rifle.  Be happy.

I recently saw an article about some AR or other and the writer had one of the new Leupold Mk 8 variables on it.  It seemed like just the thing I’ve wanted on my (700 dollar) Colt HBAR, so I looked it up.  Four Thousand Dollars!  Will I have to spend an additional 3,000+ dollars on a rifle only so I can justify a good optic?  That sort of “reasoning” doesn’t make any sense to this shooter.  It’s only a matter of coughing up the cash if you can (I do very much like the Trijicons too, and they’re not near 4K, but they don’t do all the same tricks).  Choices choices, but the price I paid for my rifle won’t even be thought of during the process.  I’ll only be thinking of what I can do with it once I have this rig setup nicely.

Disclaimer; …No– On second thought I don’t have to disclaim squat to anyone.  I’m sick and damned tired of the notion that we have to qualify ourselves, or document any aspect of our lives or explain our behavior.  If you can’t take my words at face value, or reject them purely on merits, that’s your own problem.  Live with it.  I’m not demanding anything of you, so stay out of my face and leave me the hell alone.  Or else.  This is the last discussion I will ever have with anyone on the matter of disclosure.

7 thoughts on “It Isn’t Complicated

  1. RIGHT ON, LYLE! When conservative bloggers take up the wet-noodles and beat themselves with them like libtards, it lessens all of us. I read blogs for their content, and don’t give a flying fark if the writer might own a whatziss that he got at a discount for writing about a previous whatziss. After a while, you know who you can trust, so all this disclosure/disclaimer crap is just that, excess baggage in writing, and excess baggage gets you read less often.

  2. You’ll get no argument from me on this one. I haven’t been able to pry loose the cash for a Micro T-1 and Midwest Industries mount (love the ability to co-witness with the iron sights) for my AK project…and it will rock iron sights until I do. Every once in a while I’ll catch myself looking at cheaper options but I just can’t do it.

  3. Because it isn’t about self-defense. Any working gun could be a self-defense tool, but a few of us buy certain guns for fun. Self-defense is a partial rationalization for spending the money. In my case, I don’t own an AR and would love to own one, but can’t afford it. It is theoretically possible some situation might arise (zombies, Occupy Dusty’s House Protestors), but I don’t reasonably expect to need a semi-automatic .308 or 7.26×39. When I save up and buy one, it won’t be the most awesome one and it won’t have the 500 yard scope.

    It is a wise truth that the value of the scope is separate from the bun beneath it.

  4. I’m right with you on this. People buy optics like they buy boat trailers. “I’ll have the biggest boat I can finance. Oh, I need a trailer too? What’s the cheapest one you have?” And then they go have a rodeo at the boat ramp every time they go out because it’s not up to the job. I don’t see what good it does to have a gun and HOPE that the bullet goes where you want it to. I have a $170 pawn-shop special rifle with a premium scope on it, and not one single regret, because it works.

  5. I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment and pick a nit, if you don’t mind.

    I honestly don’t see any point mounting a GOOD optic onto a rifle which is, in and of itself, incapable of shooting groups tighter than 5 or 6 MOA. I’ve got a few SKS’s and AK’s, and none of them will shoot better than 5 or 6 inch groups at 100 yards. It’s not the shooter or operator error, it’s simply that they’re solid, reliable, but relatively inaccurate firearms. Same thing with the Mini-30 in the same 7.62×39 caliber; it won’t print better than a 4″ group regardless of the type of ammo (US or Com-bloc) or projectile. So sitting on top of the Mini is a cheap Bushnell 1.75-4x 32mm scope in standard Ruger mounts. Holds zero, and the total cost was something like $45. At the ranges at which I think that the 7.62×39 round is effective (under 200 yards) it’s plenty good enough for minute-of-whitetail.

    But when I traded away a second Mini-30 ’cause it wouldn’t even do THAT good (10 rounds at 100 yards looked more like a shotgun blast had hit the target, rather than carefully benched, slow-fired rounds), I wanted a good carbine in that caliber for my wife to shoot. We ended up with a CZ 527, and I initially scoped it with another inexpensive scope. But it turned out that that rifle would shoot sub-MOA groups. It deserved a better scope, and it got a nice Leupold on solid mounts. The last time we confirmed zero before deer season she printed three rounds in an almost-perfect cloverleaf at 100 yards, the holes touching each other. And that was with Wolf steel-cased HP rounds.

    Yes, the scope and mounts cost more than the rifle, but the point is that this rifle was accurate enough to warrant putting a good optic onto it.

    The same with my .30-06 bolties, too. They’ve got optics that cost about the same as the rifle, ’cause they’ll shoot well enough that putting good optics on them made sense. But putting anything other than cheap optics on cheap rifles doesn’t make much sense to me.

  6. What is your life worth? What self defence scenario do you envision where scope quality would make a difference? Who is shooting attacking criminals 200 yards away? I would have thought a holographic sight would be more practical at self defence range.

  7. @Tim,
    You’re quite right that most self defense carbines would be well-served with a holographic or dot sight, rather than a big Nightforce sitting atop them. But – even there the price/value notion holds very true. I have used my share of $30-50 red dot sights of various brands, and they invariably crap out; the electronics die or the switches get flaky. For my plinking guns, it’s no big deal, so I put Vortex or Millett or other mid-range optics on them. But the three carbines I have that are dedicated to self defense have Trijicon or other high-end sights on them, for the reasons mentioned above.

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