Politics • Science & Tech • Sports
Guns, Optics, 2nd Amendment and resisting the Left in everything they touch.
Interested? Want to learn more about the community?

Learn more first
LPVO Value Proposition?

I received a really good question on LPVOs via a private message and I think it is worth digging into a little more in a future livecast. Let me know if this is something you want discussed.
The question itself was rather detailed, which I like, and I will leave the details in a private conversation where they were asked. However, the gyst of it is as follows: "With Low Powered Variable Optics of today, at what price point do you get the most for you money?"
The same question can be asked about prismatic scopes (and I am looking at a whole bunch of them right now trying to answer that) and non-focusing sights (I spent part of the last two years trying to answer that, so I am pretty up to speed there).
Naturally, the discussion gets really complicated by the "Made in China" question. Are you willing to buy a Chinese made product or not?
I take a pretty dim view of Chinese Communist Party, as you may imagine, but I am also a realist and a lot of stuff is made in China. Moreover, I have to be honest with you and admit that sporting optics are not exactly something that makes any difference in the great power competition between the US and China. Now, high tech stuff, like 5G technology, high tech military technologies and semiconductor stuff is a different ballgame. On top of that, I also have to differentiate between the Chinese Communist Party and normal Chinese engineers and technicians who just want to live their lives and trust the CCP about as much as you an I do.
Ultimately, I do not pretend to have any sort of an answer on whether we should be buying Made in China optics and that is something you should answer for yourself. I own a good number of Chinese-made products and I make it a point to note where things are made, so you can make a decision for yourself.
I do try to stick to brands that also have some sort of a presence in the US and that are trying to grow their operations here, but as I said, you have to make your own decisions there. I am happy to make recommendation either way, as long as we define the boundary conditions the right way.
Perhaps, I'll do a livecast on where I think the value curve tops out for different types AR optics, i.e. price point beyond which you run into diminishing returns.
With LPVOs, it really depends on what you are looking for. If you are looking for a true do all scope, I think $2k for Vortex Razor Gen3 1-10x24 is where it is at. It is a lot of money, but FFP LPVOs with bright reticle illumination are still expensive.
If you are willing to compromise on a few things here and there, you can save a lot of money. For example, if your typical use is restricted to mid/close range or at least you do not need engage targets beyond 500 yards or so on a regular basis, you can save a lot of money by sticking with several excellent options in the $800-$1200 range (Delta Stryker 1-6x24, Vortex Razor Gen2, Sig Tango6, etc). That is the price range that better Chinese scopes are really pushing into and seem to offer a lot of value.
For example, SwampFox Arrowhead 1-10x24 surprised me with how competent it is for under $600 and there are several new models coming from multiple manufacturer that will likely take a step above that.
Thankfully, there are a lot of options in the $500-$1200 range made in China, Phillipines and Japan, so if you are clear in terms of feature you are looking for, it is not terribly difficult to come up with something.
I plan to continue looking at LPVOs in 2021 and the under $2k segment is what interests me the most.
I am really curious about the Sig Tango 6t that is assembled in the US.
Athlon has a new Ares ETR 1-10x24 coming out that I really should look at.
I am sure SwampFox has something interesting up their sleeve, but like most makers they have a hard time keeping up with demand with their current products.
I am looking at a few very compelling red dots and prismatics from Primary Arms, and I am considering re-visiting some of their LPVOs as well.
Burris is definitely due for a new LPVO since they discontinued the 1-8x24 XTR II. I am sure they have something coming.
Their sister company, Steiner, is doing some really clever things with thermal scopes and I wonder what they have planned for LPVOs.
Crimson Trace is a company to watch. They have some new stuff coming out and they understand how important the AR market is.
Vortex already has one of the most complete LPVO line-ups in the business, so I am not sure what to expect from them in 2021, but time will tell.
Leupold is a little weak at the moment as far as LPVOs go and a lot of their recent designs have been very good. I am very curious to see what they are planning.
Bushnell is also a little weak there, especially in the mid-to-high end where they discontinued just about everything they had. I am sure they are cooking something up.
And the list goes on. I suspect that four years of Kamala Harris in the White House will keep the gun market very lively with shortages of damn near everything. It will be difficult for optics companies to balance out the need to manufacture existing products with the need to develop new ones. 2021 will likely tell us in which direction different companies will lean.

Interested? Want to learn more about the community?

Learn more first
What else you may like…
PA GLx 2x Final Resting Place

Here is a final, likely, wrap up of where I think the GLx 2x from Primary Arms belongs.
It is likely the best general purpose optic for AKs and ARs I have seen in a while for shooting inside of $200. Definitely the best for the money and per ounce.
Now, when I say "inside of 200 yards" I do not mean trying to shave a hair of of a mosquito's left testicle. Assume shooting at typical subjects the size of a human torso, or a hog's vital zone.
Most of the time, I have the GLx sitting on a 300BLK pistol. I used it to teach one of my kids to shoot and it was a very easy and forgiving optic to use for a 7 year old. It is equally easy and forgiving for adults as well. It is just that easy to get behind and moderate magnification helps with the ease of use tremendously.
Now that pistol braces are verbotten, the GLx ended up on a 7.62x39 AK (a somewhat tricked out WASR-10) and I think it is going to stay there permanently.
The ACSS reticle on this one is done just ...

SwampFox Sentinel red dot sight

This one is a very simple review:
-it is small
-it is robust
-it works they way it is supposed to
-it does not cost a huge amount of money
-the Ironside shield is a good idea
-RMSc footprint is a good idea

I messed up on price in the video. It is about $50 less than I thought at Brownells: https://alnk.to/a41u5D4

Ironsides stainless steel shield adds $40 to it: https://alnk.to/hDo4gJf

Kicking things off with 5x prismatics: SwampFox and Vortex

I plan to examine a few more prismatics as I go along, but here is the first installment that discusses SwampFox Saber 5x36 and Vortex Spitfire Gen2 5x25.
The interesting part is how little they have in common and how they do compromises differently.
Saber used a large CR123 battery, for example, but the housing gets in the way of a conventional offset red dots or irons should you choose to use one. However, the red dot mounted on the body of the sight, I think, works better.
Vortex, unlike the SwampFox comes with two different mount heights, so I was able to use it on both AK and AR platforms. It is more at home on a lightweight AR though.
The approaches to FOV, reticles, packaging and mounting are very different, which makes it all interesting to me.
The next video on 5x prismatics will talk about the Element Immersive 5x30 and Primary Arms SLx 5x Micro in some length.

Live Stream Scheduled for December 07, 2023 at 9:00pm ET
2023 Wrap-Up. More Gear Discussion. Q&A.

We are getting closer to the end of the year. The rest of the month looks seriously busy for me. I think I'll squeeze in another YouTube Livestream next week. Beyond that, I'll be focusing on making sure all questions are answered and getting a couple of reviews up and going.

I need to start thinking about optic of the year too, so we should have that discussion as well.

Pearl Harbor

Today is the 82nd anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

FDR said that this was a day that would live in infamy. He was right (there are very few things I agree with him on and that is one of them).
Biden made an official proclamation on it yesterday, I think. Not sure what exactly he proclaimed since it was made a National Pearl Harbor Day in 1994. I did not read the whole statement from the White House in detail, but at least he did not claim that he was there to witness it in person. I have expect him to get confused which side is which and claim he was piloting a Japanese plane. When that does not happen, I call it a win.

History seems to spiral into homicidal insanity with alarming regularity. There are many parallels between the world of the 1930s and the world we live in today. Then again, all the "connect the dots" people find parallels everywhere they look as long as they feed into their conspiracies.
Still, when America projects an image of weakness and suicidal stupidity, the world ...


Now that I am home after getting laughed at by all the elk in NE Wyoming, I started looking through my e-mail and noticed an article from the EveryDay Marksman called "In Defense Of The SMG". At first I thought that Matt was baiting me, but then I realized that it is written by someone else for EDM. It is written quite nicely and makes many good points. Consider reading it before my comments below the link.


I own a 10mm PCC that I can also convert to 357Sig (TNW's ASR). I do not own a 9mm PCC, but my brother has one from Keltec which works reliably. I have lot of mileage with it. I also own a Henry 357Mag lever gun which is the original PCC.

I really like them all. If politicians truly go crazy and ban semi-autos, I'll switch to leverguns as the next best thing after all my semi-autos end up lost in a tragic boating accident. Until then, I can find no compelling reason for PCCs to exist aside from the fun factor.

The only ...

post photo preview
Perfect Example of Why Numbers Matter
And that you can be a perfectly competent shot with zero understanding of what's happening

There is a thread on the Hide that brings back the topic of drop tests, but in an even sillier way than is typical.  Someone over there has already tried to get me to chime in, but I think I will skip that thread.  I have tried to explain why this is stupid on the Hide before, but was mostly met with an online equivalent of a blank incomprehending stare.

I will give it a shot here for albeit briefly, since it is a good follow-up to discussion I had with SlavGuns on Arken optics: https://darklordofoptics.locals.com/post/4779477/starter-precision and starter precision scopes.

This most recent Hide has a link from a gentleman who has an Arken EP5.  He shoots a plate at 1000 yards, then takes the scope off the rifle (it is in a QD LaRue mount, which is already not a great idea), chucks it 25 feet onto soft dirt, walks over to pick it up, mounts it back on a rifle and hits the plate again.  Then, he proudly announces that the Arken EP5 is good to go.

I have no idea who the gentleman is, so none of this should be viewed as an attack on his intelligence or integrity.  Smart people say and do stupid things all the time.  This is CLEARLY not something he has ever bothered to think about.  He likely saw some knuckle dragging lunatic on Youtube do this.  It probably looked cool.  A lot of this stuff makes sense if you do not bother to think about it.

There are several problems here.  The most obvious, aside from the fact that his "test" is just stupid, is that he looked at one scope and pronounced EP5 as "good-to-go". 

I just had a livestream with SlavGuns and out of six Arkens he had, three had problems, including some Arkens.

All of this is anecdotal data, but six data points are a lot better than one (deeply flawed) data point.

I have an Arken scope here.  It works great.  However, having talked to many people with Arken scopes, I think my experience with it is not representative.  When I talk to people who buy Arken scopes and who actually shoot, they tell me they see these go down in every competition they have been to.  Arken did a great job getting many scopes out there.  Now, they need QC and engineering to catch up with their sales and marketing.   

As far as the test itself goes, aside from the fact it is meaningless on a sample of one, it really does nto tell us anything. If you drop your rifle in the field, you should check zero.  If you have a decent quality scope and something shifted, seven times out of ten, it is the mount.  If you have a QD mount, it is probably nine out of ten or higher. 

As far as the impact itself goes, what people at rifle scope QC departments do to their products to check for zero shift is orders of magnitude more severe than chucking it onto the ground. 

Now, intentionally dropping the whole rifle with the scope is equally stupid since depending on the exact angle, what it hits, the exact type of mount, how well the whole thing is bedded, the types of turrets the scope has, where the rings happen to be, whether it is fast focus or traditional eyepiece, and a myriad other factors, you can get very different results.  With this attempt of a test, it is impossible to correct for all the variables, so when something goes wrong you have no idea what the root cause is. If nothing goes wrong, you have no idea if that is repeatable.

It does provide ample opportunity to rig the results to get what you want.  I once saw this test set up so that the product of a company the reviewer hated was in a QD mount, while the other product was in a fixed and properly torqued mount.  Naturally, the QD mount shifted and it was blamed on the scope.

All influencers claim impartiality and all that.  However, most of them live off of affiliate links and it is very hard to not bias toward what pays you more.  That is one of the reasons I was so happy to see SlavGuns raise the issue of 50% failure rate on his Arkens.  A little intellectual honesty goes a long way.

That is also why when posting affiliate links, I tend to prefer to deal with large companies that carry many brands, like Brownells or Eurooptic, for example.  It makes no financial difference to me which product I recommend, and as the memebrship here grows, I hope to phase out the whole affiliate business completely.

I do not think most reviewers/influencers rig the results (although some clearly do, just based on how they position the cameras and do the tests).  

As the (slightly modified) saying goes, "never ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence". 

Read full Article
On Customer Service: Vortex, FixItSticks, et al
I have a favor to ask

As I looked at the unfolding saga of the collapse of Liberty Optics, I couldn't help but start thingking about the value of customer service and the difficulties with evaluating it.

I am nto going to rehash the whole Liberty Optics business.  We talked about in a livestream a couple of days ago anyway.  The short version is that Liberty Optics is no more and it did not end well.  I still fidn it hard to believe that Scott Berrish who I have known for many years walked off with other people's money, but at this stage the evidence is pretyt overwhelming.  If he re-surfaces, he will have a lot of explaining to do.

The interesting part, is that a VP from Vortex (Shamus Terry) showed on an Sniper's Hide thread, gave everyone his personal contact information, and went far above anything reasonable or expected to help people who ended up in this mess.  That is bound to generate a lot of good will, so it is a smart thing to do.  However, it is a smart thing to do long term.  Short term, it is bound to cost Vortex some money.

Vortex' reputation for excellent customer service is well established and, given the above, is not going to be diminished any time soon.

Another company that came to mind is FixIt Sticks.  I have talked about their toolkits and have several of them that I use all the time.  A few days ago, I pulled one out when mounting a socpe and realized that the All-in-One torque wrench I have went bad on me.  It no longer went back to zero.  I took a pictuer and sent them an e-mail to see if it can be repaired.  I have several of these and I really was not sure if it is under warranty or not.  This one is from the Rifle and Optics kit that lives in my drag bag: https://bit.ly/3Q0BhL0

It is a tool and tools wear out.  All I was looking for was information on whether it is repairable or whether I should buy a new one.  I sent the e-mail on Sunday.  Got a reply on Monday morning.  He asked the part number of the Torque limiter and for my address.  I had a tracking number for a replacement before the end of the day on Monday.



Now, it is possible that they know of me, but it is unlikely.  Most optics companies do, but Fix It Stick is not an optics company.  I have a feeling that he simply thought that his tools should last, warranty be damned and made sure the issue is rectified.

Here is the part where I could use some help.  I try to keep tabs on customer service experience that different optics companies offer.  By definition, it is not a particularly scientific way of doing, but anecdotal data is still data. 

Customer service is also not a constant and that is why I want to keep tabs on it.  For eample, nbck when Nikon made riflescopes, their customer service was crap a long time ago and remained that way until they exited the business.

Burris customer service used to be less than stellar, but improved tremendously starting about 10-12 years ago.  To be fair though, I have had a chance to use it back when everyone was complaining and they were exceedingly accomodating.  That was before they knew me from Adam.  

Now, it is patently useless for me to try to evaluate the quality of the customer service.  I have an unusual (for Americans) and easily recognizable name.  I could always come up with a fictitious name to use, but it is a hassle.  Besides, I still only look at a fairly small number of scopes and they fail rather seldom.

As this community is growing nicely, it occurred to me that I can ask all of you to help.  If you happen to use the customer service of a company in the optics or firearns business, if you have a minute to spare, tell me how it went.  Leave it as a comment here or make a new post.  Just make sure to tag me in it.

I'll start keeping better organized notes by company and I'll make these notes available to everyone here.

I am not really looking for much:

-what was wrong?

-how long did it take to get it resolved?

-did they repair or replace your product?

-were they courteous? 


The business of "replace vs repair" is interesting.  All of the larger US-based companies have faclities here with some evalutaiton and repair capabiity even when the scopes are made overseas.  Vorte, Burris, Primary Arms, Leupold, for example, all have significant facitlities and man power in the US.

For many smaller companies, it becomes a bit of an issues.  S&B does have a service center in the US, for example.  However, the repair center is not the disrtibutor.  I suspect that has something to with the fact that they bid on military contracts, that comes with support requirements.

March does have someone in the US, but I am not sure if they can do much repair here.  I suspect most repair happens in Japan.  They are are very acocmodating and ump right on it, but it can still take some time.

Delta does not have a repair center in the US, to the best of my knowledge, so they probably send stuff back to Poland.  For companies with that level of US presence it is probably more cost effective to just quickly swap scopes out, but as they grow options open up.

Element has some US facilities and they are growing so I am sure there will be more of that.  They used to be distributed by FX USA, but now that the guy who was in charge of FX USA was, allegedly, caught embezzling (learned about this a couple of weeks ago https://hardairmagazine.com/news/whats-happening-at-fx-airguns-usa/), Element is likely to do their own thing.  I do not doubt FX will get through this fine and Element Optics will probably be better off this way.  They way they are growing, it is better if they focus on optics anyway.

For some off shore companies customer service is a challenge.  For example, I had an Optolyth monocular that fogged up.  They fixed it.  It took them two years.  I've had some occasional interaction with other small-ish companies in Europe (Kaps, Nickel-AG, Noblex etc) and I never quite know what to make of them.  It is not clear they are ready to play in the enormous US market the same way that Delta, for example, clearly is.  

Read full Article
post photo preview
GRS Bipod
Not a lightweight

One of the oddly positive sideeffects of having COVID again is that staying away from people is somewhat encouraged.  That gives me an opportunity to wrap up with a few things that I have been meaning to write for a while.  As is always the case, the plan is to do a video later as well, but writing is faster, so at least I can get some information to you.

With my studio in complete disarray after the flood and the wind making sound recording tricky outdoors, making videos is a little more involved than it used to be.

Since I have been preparing for hunting season for a little while, my focus has been, to a significant degree, on lightweight gear.  However, it is sometimes nice to take a detour and focus on simply looking for precision.  In one of the recent livestreams I joined (by SlavGuns), the subject of intro-to-precision optics came up and I opined that if I were starting out with a basic rpecision setup, I'd be looking at Vortex Venom or Element Helix FFP.  I'll talk about the Venom separately, but as I was talking I realized that I still ahve the Venom here, so I dug it up and decided to go do some shooting.  It was zeroed a couple of years ago and I simply wanted to see if it has remained zeroed.  The rifle it is on ended up crash landing on the concrete floor of my garage as I was shuffling things around a couple of times.  I was not particularly concerned about the scope shifting zero, but spring loaded QD mounts are notorious for this kind of stuff.  They really do not like side impact.  Well, I am happy to report that the Burris XTR one piece mount stayed zeroed just fine and once I pulled the rifle out, I decided to give you an update on the GRS bipod I was shooting off of.

Before you read further, this bipod is neither cheap nor light.  Together with the picatinny spigot adapter it tips the scale at a bit over two pounds and costs a bit over $500.


https://bit.ly/3Qiklkw and https://bit.ly/3rRsxik

You can also by the spigot only if you have GRS Bifrost stock. https://bit.ly/46uq7Fv

I suppose you can say that price and weight are negatives for this bipod.  The other negative is that on some picatinny rails, it will not work.  You need to have crosslots go all the way to the fron of the rail, so on my Fix, for example, I can not use this bipod in the top mounted configuration. 

It works fine if I reconfigure the adaptor to mount on the bottom of the handguard.

Also, while you can adjust for tilt, the bipod does not have a panning feature.

That's pretty much a wrap for the negatives. 

Let's move onto the positives, then.

In the top mounted configuration (which is why I got it).  This bipod is stupid sturdy.  The geometry helps (top mounted bipods are generally sturdier).

The rifle it is currently on is not a particularly heavy kciker, but I have tried it on a few.  It is seriously sturdy.  Everything in this bipod is either aluminum or steel.

The feet are reversible with a flat smooth surface or clawed feet.  I shoot of of a concrete bench fairly regularly, so I wrapped the smooth side with a little electrical tape to avoid metal on concerete contact.

So far, tripod feet have been very secure on any surface I have tried to date.  The legs extend and there are notches that help with granularity.

Splay angle is not adjustable, but forward angle is.  You can set the legs at 90, 68 and 34 degrees, in addition to fully folded parallel to the barrel.

In every position, the legs are extremely secure.  I've had the rifle index on the barricade using the legs (one or both), load it against a variety of surfaces and it was always sturdy and secure.

Beyond this, I really do not know what else to add.  When something is wrong, I can always offer a lto of commentary.  However, when the bloody thing just works no matter what I throw at it, there really isn't much I can say that does not sound like a sales pitch.  

It is not a bipod I would take hunting simply because of weight.  However, I have a long running heavy precision rifle project that will eventually get completed.  The GRS bipod is going to go on that.  Until then, it will stay on the large frame AR you see in these pictures.

Read full Article
Available on mobile and TV devices
google store google store app store app store
google store google store app tv store app tv store amazon store amazon store roku store roku store
Powered by Locals