Holy crap --- that scope costs more than the rifle it's going on!!
And there’s not often an argument to be had, there – for many of the scopes we sell, they are going to be a larger investment than the rifle itself.
For part of this year’s NRA convention in Nashville, I manned the Schmidt Bender section of our convention real estate, and I heard this phrase (or many like it) more than a few times during the show. And really, I’ve no problem with it, as I understand that anything at a price point comparable to these scopes is going to be significant to most folks.
But while some make this statement to laugh off such an expenditure as foolish, there’s a slight difference that you can discern for others- they actually want to know why they should put forth that level of investment for just the optic that sits on top of the gun, and not just put more capital into the gun itself.
So, why would you spend that much on a scope? Here’s why I believe it’s not just normal to invest just as much in the optic as the rifle – but that investing even more in the optic should be strongly considered.
It doesn’t matter how accurate your rifle is, if your scope is not.
Imagine you could sing like your favorite vocalist – but that you could only ever sing to your audience through a set of tin cans connected with a wet string. Wouldn’t matter how good of a singer you were, right? Same principle here – you could have a brand new Accuracy International AXMC, or a Christensen Arms Summit, and if your scope won’t allow you to pinpoint where you think you’re going to shoot, it doesn’t matter how awesome that rifle is. You may as well have gotten a cheaper one…
There are many places where a scope can fail or mislead you. Durability. Precision and consistency of measurements. Clarity. Visibility in low light and bad conditions. Cheap/obstructive/non-illuminated reticle. If you’re going to invest in a rifle – or a hunt – or a competition – or anything where you need your rifle to make that shot, why would you make that investment, then not give the rifle the best chance it can have to place that round on target?
Because while I may grow through this rifle, I’ll always need an optic.
When my brother talked me into spending way more than I thought I should have on my first Schmidt Bender PM II 5-25, I was gearing up to start shooting a Remington 700 in .308 Winchester. Not exactly a long range rifle, or one with laser beam accuracy, so why would I spend over three times the rifle purchase price on the glass?
What I didn’t realize at the time was that that rifle was only a moment in time for me. I shot it for a year or two, got tired of it and sold it. 12 months later, I moved on to some gas guns, in various calibers, for a while while doing some training. Not long after that, you could usually find that rig set up on the top of a custom 6mm Dasher.
But what didn’t change through each of these portions of my shooting passion was the fact that I always needed to be able to approximate, to the very best of my ability, where my bullets would impact at great distances – and so the Schmidt went along for the ride. I still have that Schmidt, I will never sell it, and it is always on my #1 rifle because I know it won’t let me down. I will pass this scope on to my son someday, and I am confident that it will serve him as well as it does me.
For the amount of the highest-quality use I’ve gotten out of this scope, the price now seems very reasonable. And so will you – a year or two from now, you’ll be shooting a different rifle, a different sport or hunt, or a different competition – and if you take your shooting responsibility seriously enough to have invested in the optic, that optic will be coming along for the ride. It’s a sunk cost – buy once, cry once.
When I look now at the price tag of a Hensoldt, Nightforce or Kahles for tactical application, or a Swarovski X5i or Z6 for long range hunting, or any of the Schmidt Bender line – sticker shock is not what I see, but the same commitment to quality and precision that I expect out of my personal shooting ability and rifle, reflected in the optic – perhaps the most critical piece of my equipment. And that’s it.