Unrealistic AR15 Scope Expectations

Something that I try to address in my videos, and somewhat here on the blog, is realistic expectations of scopes and accessories that I discuss.  But this issue is coming up so frequently that I want to dedicate an entire post to it.

Scenario #1: person buys a $150 red dot sight for his AR15.  While at the range, and prior to mounting it, the red dot is sitting on the table.  It gets bumped, falls off the table to the concrete floor, and breaks.  The person then posts all over the internet what a piece of junk that red dot is and bad mouths the brand name and manufacturer.

Scenario #2: person buys a $150 scope.  It’s a short, compact scope with a “tactical” look to it and claims to be made for AR15s.  Decides to take the AR deer hunting.  While climbing into his tree stand, his rifle somehow comes loose and falls to the ground.  The scope is broken.  He then gets on the internet forums saying how that scope is worthless and “I’d never trust my life to that brand of scope”.


Ok, these are not real scenarios, but based on actual complaints I hear regularly so I want to address this issue and hopefully shed some light on realistic expectations.  Since the expiration of the assault weapon ban in 2004, the AR15 has become the most popular rifle in America.  Needless to say, with that type of demand, the market for accessories has exploded.  Prior to 2004, about the only optics made specifically with the AR15 in mind were Trijicon, EOTech, Aimpoint, and Leupold.  If you’re familiar with those brands, you know they are expensive.  That’s because their optics are made for combat.  Prior to 2004, most AR15 scopes were actually being used on rifles for military or law enforcement duties.  Some civilian shooters were buying the expensive optics for their rifles, but a lot of them were just mounting regular scopes because they didn’t want to spend the big bucks for a combat grade optic.

Fast forward to the present day… with the explosion of the “tactical” industry, there are all kinds of scopes and accessories out there.  Here’s the problem… and in my mind it shouldn’t be a problem, not everything marketed and sold for the AR15, or any other tactical rifle, is made for combat.  You cannot buy a $100 scope, even if it looks “tactical and really cool” and expect to get the same quality you would in a $800 scope.  Nor should you trust your life, or anyone else’s life, to it.  I just don’t understand what people are thinking.

When an EOTech costs $550 do you really think you can by a $129 Sightmark reflex sight and get comparable quality?  Do you really think you can buy a $189 NcSTAR and get the same durability and optical clarity as you do with a $1600 Trijicon ACOG?  It’s totally unrealistic.  This doesn’t mean Sightmark and NcSTAR are junk.  It just means they are made for target shooting and light hunting.  If you drop them, they will break.  If you drop your gun on a rock, they will break.  It’s kind of like buying a stock Ford Mustang and then being pissed off when it doesn’t perform like a Ferrari.

Low cost scopes are meant for plinking, target shooting out to a couple hundred yards, hunting in optimal conditions, etc.  They are not combat grade scopes.  They are not meant to “trust your life to”.  They are great for what they are designed for.  Now if you want or need better performance from your scope, then you must spend the money for it.  That’s the cold, hard, reality.  If you want a scope you can “trust your life to”, then you better save up your money because it’s going to be almost as much, if not more, than what you spent on your rifle.

I’m not trying to be rude here.  I just want to say it plainly though.  It seems like there’s this big misunderstanding out there.  People buy a $100 scope for their AR15 and then they’re not happy with it because they don’t feel like they can trust their life to it.  Why would you ever feel like you could trust your life to a $100 scope?


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