Choosing an Optic

With Optics made today there are a lot of options to choose from. It can be a challenge shopping for Optics with your options ranging with models having all the bells and whistles to a basic model. It does not matter if you are looking for Rifle Scopes, Rangefinders, Binoculars or Spotting Scopes. The technology today with advanced manufacturing techniques has had desirable results , which is lucky for you. This means you can get just what you want for your particular application.

They Are Hearing Us

The Optic companies have been listening to their customers and have been responding to your demands. There have been so many different Lens Coatings with different names coming out it is hard to keep track of them. Binoculars and Rifle Scopes with Rangefinders inside them with a multitude of choices. They offer very useful Reticle designs, not to mention the cool night vision and thermal optics we have access to now. So how do you choose a good optic without busting your bank? It will make it much easier for you if you ask yourself some questions before you start looking. What and how are you planning to use your Optic? How much are you willing to spend on the Optic.

Optic Manufacturing Companies

Although it is easy to dive too deep in this subject I will keep it brief and give you some info that you can use. As always the more you spend the better quality you get, especially with Optics. With Optics Companies many things have changed and some have not. The things that has not changed is where the Glass is actually made. The Glass is made in China, Philippines, Japan and Germany. Many companies will then have them assembled to completion in a variety of Countries. The Glass that is from Japan and Germany will demand a higher price because of the strict quality control and methods. We do have to admit that China has stepped it up their game a bit in the Optics manufacturing process.  Optic Companies dictate the design, specifications and quality control when they contract out for the foreign manufacturing. Some companies have their lower cost Optics made in China and their higher end models made in Japan. For example Rudolph Optics are made in Japan at the same factory that makes Nightforce Optics.

Why the Difference

Good Optics is all about the amount of Light that can be brought through the tube and glass. The human pupil can only take in so much no matter what, so that is the big limitation. The better the polishing process and quality control the more light, clarity gets to your eye. Also the clarity will reach to the outside edges of the lens. We have all heard about German Glass and how superior it is. The bottom line is that there are some very nice Optics/Glass that are worthy of your consideration for purchase. How much you are willing to pay for it is up to you.

The Trend

The market trend for some quality Manufacturers is to offer Optics with more features to fit any budget with lifetime warranted products. A handful of Manufactures have a no questions asked return and replace or fix policy. Athlon Optics and Rudolph Optics are two of these Manufactures that include a transferable lifetime guarantee no questions asked. We have Optics from both of these Companies available to you here.  An example of warranties available to you; Your Athlon Optics and Rudolph Optics product is not only warranted to be free of defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product. Athlon will also repair or replace, at no charge to you, your product if you should damage it through normal use. No receipt needed, no registration required. This is a commitment that Athlon will be the best product you can buy for your money. *Athlon Life Time Warranty only covers binoculars, rifle scopes, spotting scopes, red dots, prism scopes, magnifiers, and laser rangefinders.

Which Rifle Scope is right for you?

We are living in a time when technology has been rapidly advancing and still is.  Which will give you so many great choices and features for Rifle Scopes. It can also be confusing with so many options to choose from especially if you have not been keeping up with the advances and offerings in the marketplace. Some of the choices are magnification power, size of the objective lens, exposed tactical knobs or capped knobs, MOA or Milrad systems, types of lens coatings, type of gas used in the body of the scope to keep it moisture free inside.  Do you want a lighted reticle or not? Do you want a variable power Scope or fixed? Front focal plane (FFP) or second focal plane (SFP)? Etched glass reticle or not.  Plane duplex reticle, Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC), Christmas tree type reticle or some other proprietary distance compensating reticel. Do you want a parallax adjustment? Do you need it on the front or side? How fancy of a Rifle Scope do you want? What is your Budget? For many Hunters the classic style duplex reticle fits their needs. The etched Christmas tree reticle in Milrad or MOA is very popular today for the long distance shooters. I like Milrad because math is not one of my strong points and the Milrad allows me to do simple math in tens much quicker. But the MOA system allows for more fine tuning. You see there are always trade offs when you want to gain something you will have to give up something. When you answer the above questions it will help you narrow your search.

Focal Plane

Front Focal Plane the reticle is on the front of the scope which in short allows you to range targets at any magnification using the hash marks on the reticle in relation to a know size of a target at any give distance. But the reticle will appear much smaller on low settings. The Second Focal Plane the reticle will allow you to range targets but on a specific power setting but you have an easy to see reticle at any setting because the reticle appears to stay the same size on all settings. The reticles below look similar but are calibrated differently.

MOA reticle= At 100 yards adjust 1/4 click it move POI 1/4  inch or 2.5 inches at 1,000 yards. Below is an example what the FFP MOA reticle looks like on low power setting and high power setting.

Milrad reticle= At 100 yards the smallest adjustment you can make is .36 of an inch or 3.6 inches at 1,000 yards. Below is an example what the FFP Mil reticle looks like on low power setting and high power setting.

Variable or Fixed Power

In general when you choose a variable power Rifle Scope over a Fixed power you have some trade offs. A variable power Scope has more lenses inside the main tube compared to the fixed scopes. This tends to let in less light because the light has to travel through all the extra lenses to reach your pupil. The lower quality variable scope will let in even less light to your eye. This is important if you are using your Scope for hunting because many shots are taken at low lighting times. (very early morning and late evening) You can see the difference for yourself if you looked through a 10X power fixed scope. It will be bright and clear letting in lots of light because the light does not have to travel through multiple lenses to get to your eye. The trade off is you will give up that close in shot because with the fixed power all you will see is a blur of hair at 10X power. I like a quality variable Rifle Scope because I have already answered the above questions about what type of shooting I will be doing. There is nothing wrong with high power fixed Rifle Scopes for the correct application they are awesome if you know you are ONLY going to shoot at a longer distance.

Red Dots

The Red Dots Scopes are mainly used for close in shooting and can be used in variable lighting. Although there are some very nice Red Dots Scopes with Reticles having hash marks (BDC type). This helps for graduating distance shooting and calibrated for distance of specific calibers. You can still see the targets far off but not with fine detail. You can still get hits on target with them at longer distances. This may be a good compromise for you if most of your shooting is under 100- 200 yards. Below are examples of some of what is available at a reasonable price.



The Christmas tree type reticles allow you range your targets and shoot at longer distances as well as account for the wind on the fly. When you put your trigger time in and get familiar with the reticles you will find they works very well. Some shooters are very good at guesstimating the wind. It gets tricky reading wind if you are shooting across a couple or more canyons. The wind gusts can and will change banytime all of which effects the bullets flight. Lighted reticles, do you really need them? I don’t know if you do but many will come as an option. There are thick reticles and thin ones and some with Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC).  Your choice.

Lens Coatings

As far as the different lens coatings it is exciting to see so many options and innovations available to you in the marketplace. High Definition (HD) is one of them being uses now. The special lens coating goal is to cut down the glare and protect from scratching the lens. Good end scope caps are a good thing to protect the lens coatings. Especially because the lens are exposed to many elements that are out of your control. (dust, dirt, rain, snow, twigs etc.) If you spend more money you will get better lens coatings especially with the newest technology and proprietary processes being used.

Type of Shooting

If you are a hunter or are going to be shooting long distance there are a few companies that specialize in making custom turrets. These enable you to dial in the known yardage for a shot. This would be just for your Rifle and a specific load you always use. They will want the velocity of the load that you always shoot in your Rifle and the elevation you will be shooting at most, then they will make the turrets for you. This is a great option for someone that mainly uses his Rifle for hunting season and does not shoot year around. The yardage will be printed on the dials, you won’t have to do the math. When choosing a Rifle Scope you can make it much easier on yourself by asking yourself the questions above which will eliminate certain products. You will be able to shoot better if you can see what you are shooting at, that is why I like the option to increase the power of magnification. What distance are you mostly going to be shooting at? Are you just going to be taking it to the range shooting 100 or 200 yards? Are you thinking of getting into competition at some point in the future? You can always upgrade to another scope later. Is your interest just a need for home defense and some range time? (maybe a Red Dot Scope is your huckleberry) How much are you wanting to spend? Remember that the more you spend glass the better and clearer you will see what you are shooting at.  You will be happier in the long run. You can’t hit what you can’t see.


I am sure that you heard the saying ” buy once, cry once” this especially holds true with a Rifle Scope or any Optics. You may have also heard about the rule of thumb that “what ever you spent to buy your Rifle then spend that same amount on your scope”. These old sayings are still around because they mostly hold true. In general I don’t think you will have to worry about scopes made today that are going fog up on you. The manufacturing processes, technology coupled with the stringent competition now in the market place for companies to risk offering poor performing products are unlikely. Don’t forget quality Scope mounts, they are extremely important. If you are going to be using a scope on your AR type Rifle they tend to need a higher mount than a bolt action would need.

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Go here for Red Dots Scopes

Go here for Binoculars

Go here for Spotting Scopes

Go here for Rangefinders