See, I knew you wouldn’t like that. Hey, take solace in company. Most of us rifle nuts find it hard to drop big bucks on something we screw to our pet rifles. But that’s false economy because without a good scope, the world’s most accurate rifle won’t be. You and I can run down to the local gun store and buy a brand new $500, $400, even $300 rifle that can shoot MOA or close to it. I did that last year with a Mossberg Patriot. Less than $400 and it shoots better than some rifles I paid $1,000 for 20 years ago. But, if I mount a $100 scope on that Mossberg and the scope doesn’t hold zero, all is lost.
Here’s another way to look at it: what on your scoped rifle is most fragile, most complicated and most likely to malfunction or break? If you answered “scope,” go to the head of the class.
Yeah, scopes are complicated, finely-tuned, minutely adjustable, precision instruments hanging out on platforms that get dragged through rain and snow, banged against truck doors, dropped on floors and rocks and intentionally set off with enough recoil to make a grown man cry. And we want to trust a $100 scope? That’s crazy. So don’t do it.
This isn’t to say all $100 scopes are worthless, but seriously… Are you willing to risk your entire hunt—your investment in a $500 to $2,000 rifle, $450 elk tag, 2-week vacation, $1,000 gas money—on the cheapest chunk of glass you can find?
I’d much rather put $1,000 on a scope I know is going to show me my target standing in the glare of sunset and keep its reticle where I set it (despite absorbing 200 rounds from a 300 Win. Mag.) than $1,000 on a rifle that has a fluted barrel and handlaid fiberglass/Kevlar stock. Without a dependable scope, that rifle is worthless.
A wise hunter will spend more for his rifle scope than the rifle he mounts it on.