Lack of American made optics

Corey0372

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I have a quite a number of Swarovski scopes and love them. However, my best low light scope is a Trijicon. They are incredible value for the money.
I got lucky a while back and bought a Trijicon Tenmile 4.5-30 FFP for less than 1k on gunbroker basically new in the box. Very nice scope
 

Red Leg

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All of my rifle used to wear S&B with illuminated reticles. Sadly all were sold to pay the divorce attorneys! I am very accustomed to a German L7 reticle. Now that I am hunting again I went shopping for new optics. I found the German optics stuck exactly were I left them 20 years ago. Their only improvements are in the tactical range. I did revisit the lowly Leupold company. I found a VX.R 2x7x33 FireDot 4 Metric Matte. for my 7mm.08. This replaces my 1.5x6x42 SB L7. I believe I paid 450.00 US for the Leupold. The Leupold did it's job last month with this Colorado buck. I hunt Colorado and Wyoming where distances exceed most anywhere else. I have never used a scope greater than 10x, as I have never shot a big game animal beyond 350 yards. There is a profound difference between hunting and shooting!!! I am also well qualified to 1000 yards.

View attachment 439595
Might ought to check out the Swaro Z8i. It definitely is not what Swarovski was producing twenty years ago.

But I think that is irrelevant. If a Leupold VXR works for your intended use, then there is no need to pay a premium for best in class. Several of my rifles wear Leupolds, and I have no intention of changing them out. My first buffalo was shot over a decade ago using a Trijicon, and that particular .375 still wears that scope. On those rifles, for there intended purposes, they are more than adequate.

However, others carry Leica, Swarovski, or S&B. Those rifles and the intended game for which they will be used, at least to me, benefit from that extra bit of quality.

Very nice buck.
 

rookhawk

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An interesting presumption about others' perception of cheapness.

I am more than willing to pay a premium for Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss, and Schmidt & Bender quality (so does the American military for its sniper quality optics - S&B is the current state of the art) in the general power range you suggest. If someone wants to build "American" optics of that quality at a competitive price, then sure, I am in the market.

I should note that the critical path in your proposed American manufacturer are quality lenses. I suspect you may be looking at a rather enormous investment in optical technology that no one to date has had any interest in making in this country. Current "American" manufacturers source their optical components from Asia. They may be assembled here, but the critical lens elements come from the Philippines, China, or Japan.

Some of these assembled in America products can be quite good - Leupold has for years set the standard for the exact sort of scope you describe.

Indeed. And to narrow the field further, at least Leica and S&B are using Zeiss Wetzlar glass. Not sure about Swarovski/Kahles, but probably. So the limiting factor for the very best optics companies in the world is access to world class glass made in only one factory.

At best, an American made product is going to be reliant on American glass. That isn’t something we really have mastered and Zeiss has a hundred year head start. The best of the best glass is made by Zeiss (not saying my preference is Zeiss finished optics…I like Swaro and S&B), and the 2nd best glass appears to be made in a single glass factory in Japan. Sooooo, buying American isn’t really too much of an option if your demands for quality and clarity exceed Leupold.
 

Monsai52

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The actual production source of the optical glass itself is not really all that important in a rifle scope. None of the optical elements are very large, you just need to find a decent glass that matches the optical characteristics as defined in the lens design program being used. The real difference (other than mechanical) between a decent quality scope and a premium one is in the quality of the polish on the optic and the coatings. A high precision, ultra smooth optical surface, takes time, and time equals money. Then the newest, exotic, multi layer coatings are also expensive. It's the smooth finish on the glass that enhances the resolution of the scope, and the newer coating that increase the light transmission.

Best regards,
 

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Very interesting observation @Foxi
This would mean that the current premium German and Austrian optics makers will need to fight over even a smaller market niche in the future. And since it is unlikely their production costs go down, it will not be a price battle, but rather one or more who will need to close books…
You might think so, but that's not the case.
Zeiss and Swaro each employ over 30,000 people.
Swarowski, for example, earns by far the most money from abrasives for industry.
For the large premium manufacturers, the hunting optics sector is (from turnover) actually uninteresting.
 
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revturbo9967

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I have no interest in them. And you can dig some more and find reviewers certain that the actual lenses are Japanese. That said, I am sure they are great quality.

However, for the same money, I can buy a S&B that would be acknowledged by any knowledgeable person in the world as a product created by one of the finest optical companies extant. For me at least, that is a no contest.

Moreover, I have no use whatsoever for all the sniper wannabe aiming indices.

I think most of us are best served by the best hunting optics we can afford. That does not have to be 4k investment. I have rifles mounting Leupold, Swaro, Leica, Zeiss, and S&B. Their are Vortex and Night Force options that would fit in there as well.

We should be happy with optics that are sufficient and dependable enough for the job for which we employ them. Normally, usually, most of the time a best quality glass is unnecessary. But that is not the same thing as the lower quality product is just as good as a Magnus or Z8.
I ended up digging the box out of my garage closet. One point to add is the Vortex Razor HD AMG, and Razor HD are two different product lines. From what I've read yesterday the reticle was originally sourced in the USA but had quality control issues. They handed that off to Germany shortly after production started.

I believe they're going to come out with a 3x15 sized AMG optic within the next few years to fill that gap, but only time will tell.

222.jpg


223.jpg
 

JPmbogo

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A local crew of long-range shooters who consider anything under a 1000 yds. "point blank" mostly use Leupolds. Plus Leupold offers custom services.
 

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My 6mmBR wears a Vortex 15 x 60 x 52 Golden Eagle. It is a target scope obviously. Chinese glass I believe, US assembly. March Scopes/Denon Japan would get my money for both hunting and target if they decide to make a reticle that works for me. I do not know what to make of their illumination! It is not suitable for hunting.
 
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CBH Australia

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US optics used to make high quality, albeit mostly “tactical” optics in the US. I don’t know if they still do. Is Leupold still making optics here?

American-made optics are going to cost more than Asian-made optics of the same quality. The only way making it here is economically worthwhile is if it is at a quality level the Asians can’t (or at least don’t) match, i.e. the high end, where the purchaser is relatively price-insensitive.

If we look at the high end, there are European manufacturers already doing it. Who wants to be the first to buy a $3000 American-made scope that is supposed to be as good as a Swarovski when Swarovski is available? Which company has better odds of being available for warranty work in 15 years? Only way I’d take the chance is if the American-made scope had specs significantly better than what’s available. Make something half the weight, twice as strong, more mechanically reliable, and optically better than a Z8i and maybe I’d roll the dice and hope it lives up to the specs. But I’m not sure I could afford a seat at that table. Seems like market forces don’t favor US-made hunting optics.
Are these what is now known as Tangent Theta?
Tangent Theta are expensive tactical scopes.
They are promoted by a business and hunters in long range hunting.
 

Bert the Turtle

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Are these what is now known as Tangent Theta?
Tangent Theta are expensive tactical scopes.
They are promoted by a business and hunters in long range hunting.
Looks like US optics has been sold a few times and isn't what it used to be. Still goes by US optics. They now have a Chinese-made line and an American made line. Reports vary on the American-made line, but as far as I have found, nobody is saying they are better than they used to be and most reports are they have taken a downturn. The one US optics scope I had (from back in the days when they were American and premium) was clearly very durable and weighed accordingly. The optical quality was good but no better than high-end German or Austrian glass, at least as far as I can tell.
 

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Are these what is now known as Tangent Theta?
Tangent Theta are expensive tactical scopes.
They are promoted by a business and hunters in long range hunting.

They are the same company that makes the Elcan, which is a damn fine optic for the tactical application. I believe they use LOW glass on their line of rifle scopes, but most of those start in the 3K range and go up from there.
 

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The Tangent Theta I mention would be over 3k us and some models over 5.

I have seen where some glass is an improvement over others. But it comes at a cost.

My gunsmith shoots F Class, he says Nightforce are good reliable scopes. Some others have better glass.
 

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American-made optics are going to cost more than Asian-made optics of the same quality. The only way making it here is economically worthwhile is if it is at a quality level the Asians can’t (or at least don’t) match, i.e. the high end, where the purchaser is relatively price-insensitive.

If we look at the high end, there are European manufacturers already doing it. Who wants to be the first to buy a $3000 American-made scope that is supposed to be as good as a Swarovski when Swarovski is available? Which company has better odds of being available for warranty work in 15 years? Only way I’d take the chance is if the American-made scope had specs significantly better than what’s available. Make something half the weight, twice as strong, more mechanically reliable, and optically better than a Z8i and maybe I’d roll the dice and hope it lives up to the specs. But I’m not sure I could afford a seat at that table. Seems like market forces don’t favor US-made hunting optics.
Exactly this.

At present, American optics compete with Japanese optics, not German ones.

Now I'm absolutely sure that Leupold or even Hawke could devote a load of time and money into r&d, poach all the best minds in the business and upgrade the production quality and after market support to make a genuine competitor for S&B. But then, if they did, the product would cost as much as a S&B anyway.

And 'just as good as S&B' doesn't justify S&B money, S&B does.

Thats the missing ingredient.

To be competitive in the euro optic space, Leupold not only need to make as good a product, they need to devote just as much time and money, if not even more, in refocusing the brand and building their reputation to justify the price such products justify (require?).

All American optics makers fit in this same mid-market space. Personally I think this is because US optic makers aim to meet the needs of the US hunter, who is much more the 'everyman' than the European hunter that Zeiss and Co have historically catered for.

Rich Americans might buy Swarovski, but most are quite content with a decent Leupold or Bushnell.
 

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Agree. I've killed somewhere around 350 big/medium sized game animals, not including hogs. I also guided well over 150 hunters here in the US over a 16 year period for aoudad, deer, antelope, etc. The vast, vast majority of hunters I had in camps hunted all over the world, and could buy whatever they wanted. These same hunters usually had a Leupold of some sort on top of their rifle, and a Swaro binoc around their neck. A scope is simply an aiming device to steer bullets into the proper POI. Anything with a VX3 type glass gets you well past legal shooting light. There are "rich" hunters, and there are well healed guys who happen to hunt.
 

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I never got on that ladder and am also very happy with Leupold scopes! Paying more for the aiming device than one pays for the rifle just seems foolish to me.
@Joker12
In Australia I stepped up to a meopta 3 5-10×44 BDC, 25mm tube as they are cheaper than Leupold out here.
There was nothing wrong with my budget 10 year old scope. Good optics, precise adjustments and never lost zero. Adjusted 2 clicks left when I changed from SSTs to nosler balistic tips.
Just decided to treat myself to something better optically.
 

ldmay375

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I know little of the Tangent Theta, other than they are suppose to be at the top of the line.

This is part of what is on their website:

Tangent Theta Incorporated is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada and was established to design and build a series of rifle telescopes specifically for the requirements of Professional Marksmen.

Tangent Theta rifle telescopes are built in our own manufacturing facility in Halifax and distributed internationally by Armament Technology Incorporated.


Are these what is now known as Tangent Theta?
Tangent Theta are expensive tactical scopes.
They are promoted by a business and hunters in long range hunting.
 

Vashper

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In order to defeat cheap producers, it is necessary that society agrees to strict protectionism. The temptation is too great when you can use the services of cheap manufacturers who can also work efficiently. After all, Swiss watches are now partially made in China.
20211204_132029.jpg
Here is a purely Chinese 1-6×24 sight, it cost $ 80. Outwardly, it is indistinguishable from the Lup and some more expensive sights. It has simpler electronics (the backlight does not go out by itself, if you forget, it will discharge), there is no multilayer coating, and perhaps the inner lenses are plastic. But it's still working. How to compete with this? (I'm not speaking from the position of a hunter, but a manufacturer, I once worked in this field). Photo the day before yesterday, the license was for a calf.
 

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I am not sure I fully understand the point but the answer is Leupold.
 

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I'm not sure if it matters, but for what it's worth, the Swarovski Z3s and Z5s are assembled in the US.
 

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