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-   -   Expensive optics? (http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f65/expensive-optics-76969/)

maddoccanis 11-24-2012 01:55 AM

Expensive optics?
 
I have a PhD in Physics and have worked on designing optical devices. I have to say I am hard pressed to justify the cost of high end optics. When optics were hand made one at a time they were expensive. Now they are mass produced. Can someone tell me why I am wrong?....doc

SSGN_Doc 11-24-2012 02:26 AM

Quality control. Hand assembly in controlled work spaces. There is still a lot of manual labor involved in sporting optics. Then those optics are subjected to weather, temperature extremes, recoil etc. and still expected to hold zero through power adjustments and maintain repeatable adjustments. Cost of facilities and equipment for mass production. Paying technicians that maintain the equipment. Unions, benefits packages, insurance, testing, marketing, lawyers, shipping and receiving, accounting. Designing it is only the beginning.


A lab microscope doesn't get exposed to as many variables and extremes as a rifle scope. It has a controlled light source and background. Telescopes may get exposed to some weather and temp extremes but usually not as extreme and with less rough handling.

Then when you get into red dots the best have to meet military requirements like all of the rough handling while holding zero, submersion requirements, ability to be exposed to salt water, night vision settings, and circuitry that can handle all of this along with battery power management that allows 50,000 hours of constant illumination. Some optics use radioactive gasses to illuminate the sight.

Purging gasses and other hazmat costs. Lots of these are built outside of the US because of the labor and environmental costs that would be incurred here, and they are still expensive overseas. Then add import tariff. Then add good old supply and demand, and the market drives the price up even more.

JonM 11-24-2012 02:34 AM

a lot of the cost has to do with how rugged the internals are and how well they repeat adjustments and how consistant the clicks are from stop to stop. the glass itself isnt the major factor.

ssgn beat me to it with a better explanation :P

SSGN_Doc 11-24-2012 02:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonM (Post 1024956)
a lot of the cost has to do with how rugged the internals are and how well they repeat adjustments and how consistant the clicks are from stop to stop. the glass itself isnt the major factor.

ssgn beat me to it with a better explanation :P

But you were more concise.

Cattledog 11-24-2012 03:04 AM

and you two beat me to all of it. What they said....:-p

Sonic82 11-24-2012 03:21 AM

I think there's only a handful of labs that precision grind glass. I heard alot of the big manufacturers use the same labs.

Actually, I used to grind and polish precision glass. Much tighter tolerances than for Sporting Optics. I made Ring Laser Gyros for the Aviation and Cruise Missle industry.

Cattledog 11-24-2012 03:31 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sonic82 (Post 1025030)
I think there's only a handful of labs that precision grind glass. I heard alot of the big manufacturers use the same labs.

Actually, I used to grind and polish precision glass. Much tighter tolerances than for Sporting Optics. I made Ring Laser Gyros for the Aviation and Cruise Missle industry.


True that. Try looking at the stars with even a mediocre rifle scope and it wont look nearly as good as a cheap telescope. Strap that same telescope to a rifle and watch it become a paperweight in .005 seconds.

KG7IL 11-24-2012 04:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by maddoccanis (Post 1024918)
I have a PhD in Physics and have worked on designing optical devices. I have to say I am hard pressed to justify the cost of high end optics. When optics were hand made one at a time they were expensive. Now they are mass produced. Can someone tell me why I am wrong?....doc

hmmm tell you why you are wrong. .. ..Ok, sure..

You are wrong because the real world is a little tougher on scopes than a classroom or lab. Execution of design is critical. Manufacturing makes the biggest difference.

Lower end manufacturing skimps on the quality of the manufacturing steps to keep costs low. Scopes do not acheive theoretical goodness. Approaching the goodness costs money.

precision, material, coatings, mounting, seals, gas ......
you know all of this as a design engineer.

Hit the websites to look at the features and specs.

Hit the stores, compare scopes.

Try your constestants in low light condition and try the controls.
Buy what you think is good enough.

My guess is that you will soon see why you should spend a little more.


References:

Sonic82 11-24-2012 04:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cattledog (Post 1025044)
True that. Try looking at the stars with even a mediocre rifle scope and it wont look nearly as good as a cheap telescope. Strap that same telescope to a rifle and watch it become a paperweight in .005 seconds.

Not sure of your point...glass quality doesn't have much to do with durability that I know of.

TCH2FLY 11-24-2012 12:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by maddoccanis (Post 1024918)
I have a PhD in Physics and have worked on designing optical devices. I have to say I am hard pressed to justify the cost of high end optics. When optics were hand made one at a time they were expensive. Now they are mass produced. Can someone tell me why I am wrong?....doc

Just to be clear, what can't you justify? Is it the list price of the optic or is it PAYING that price because those are two very different things. I'm also not sure what price point you consider "high end", $500, $1000, $3000 or :confused: ?

Several valid reasons the list price is so high have been listed above so I won't go back over them but complexity also plays a big part of high end scopes.
As a designer you must know that as the user requirements increase so does complexity. The shooters requirements for high resolution and clarity with good contrast will require a more complex lens array so where a low end scope might have 5 lenses, a high end scope might have 10 or more. This increases the critical nature of the assembly process to ensure proper alignment and increases the cost to produce.

As far as paying for a high end scope, I can't possibly say you are wrong because you may not have a need for the level of clarity, ruggedness or functionality offered as the price increases. Honestly, the differences between top-end and bottom-end optics are huge but grow smaller as the price point increases from the mid-range up. It really becomes a personal preference due to the unique qualities of an individual's eyes/vision.

If you hunt in open country with good light you will likely not see an advantage to a high-end scope. If you hunt in dense vegetation under low light you might need the better resolution and contrast in order to separate the game from the background or each other. If you shoot long distances then higher magnification with less distortion is very important and can be provided by the higher end products.
I own scopes that range for $50 to $3000 and they each fufill a specific requirement ... in the end only you can “justify" making that purchase. :)


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