It is no secret that the vast majority of sporting optics out there are not made by the companies that sell them. They are manufactured by the various OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) out there, predominantly in Asia. For riflescopes that typically means Japan, Phillipines or China, although there are other Asian countries perfectly capable of making them. The only other ones I can think of offhand that either make or used to make riflescopes are South Korea and Taiwan. Several Bushnell scopes are made in Korea and Swift products as well. I do not know if Swift has their own factory or if they use an OEM or if they are the OEM. Taiwan has made a few PU replica scopes in the past. There may be others I am not aware of. I think there is an OEM type company that hails from Taiwan, but they make stuff in China.
Vietnam and Thailand both have lens and camera manufacturing plants, so we could see riflescopes come from there in the future. It is a very similar skill set and workforce.
For the time being, vast majority of Asian scopes are from Japan, Phillipines and China. However, the whole supply chain is really muddied by how interconnected, in many ways, these places are. It is also really not that critical, aside from political considerations, where the product is made as long as it is done by a reputable place. It has not always been this way, but although Japan still offers higher end products, sometimes I wonder if it is largely driven by the fact that the market is willing to accept a $2500 Japanese scope, but not a Chinese one. That perception is clearly changing. We already have nearly $2k spotting scopes from China that are very good and $1200 riflescopes that do really well against their competition.
To me, it is intellectually interesting how all these OEMs developed. Japanese and Phillipino OEMs (some Phillipine OEMs are owned by Japanese companies) essentially started with simple, but well made designs and moved on up in terms of system complexity and additional features from there. They sorta already had the fundamentals worked out and worked to improve from there. Chinese OEMs mostly took a different path. They arrived on the scene later during a different age of consumerism with so many people shopping on the internet sight unseen. They started out making cheap crap and then added a bunch of fancy looking features. That made their products into feature rich crap aimed at mall ninjas. Once that was reasonably established, they started getting the fundamentals worked out, so the product improvement path was very different from how the Japanese, for example, went about it. The end result, for better Chinese OEMs, is mostly the same, they are now making a good product and fighting their historically bad rep.
Anyway, country of origin mostly talks about the place where the product is finally assembled and aligned and even then, it is not clear cut. For example, some US based companies re-align optics they get from their Chinese OEMs or add additional features, like turrets.
Then there is the mostly unimportant, but annoyingly persistent question of where the internal parts, bot optical and mechanical come from. From a quality and performance standpoint it is arguably the single stupidest thing to worry about, but people really obsess about this anyway.
Here is the simple answer to this: if you a willing to pay a particular company your hard earned money for a $1500 (for example) riflescope, that means you trust them to figure out where to get the internal components. They do this for a living, so they are usually good at it. If they are not, their competitors will kick their ass.
It is entirely possible that a particular scope you are buying is assembled in the Phillipines, with the mechanical internal components machined in China, individual lenses sourced piecemeal from China, Japan, Phillipines, Taiwan and Korea, with final testing done in the Phillipines and partially repeated in the US. For larger volume manufacturers, they might even be ordering the same components from multiple sources to make sure they are not entirely dependent on a single subcontractor.
Lastly, also keep in mind that some OEMs only offer their own designs that are essentially labeled with a particular brand's logo. Others do that, but they will also "build to spec" and "build to print".
"Build to spec" means that they will re-work a design or develop a new one to hit a particular set of specifications.
"Build to print" means that they are strictly a manufacturer: essentially, you make your own optomechanical design and they build it for you.
In the optics world, we have some of each and some that are a hybrid.
Essentially, it is all a convoluted mess that we should not be worrying about. It all comes down to how well a scope performs overall.
I gave it a couple of days and figured it is time to do a live show on intermediate magnifications in LPVOs and a couple of other updates.
I am budgeting 30-45 minutes for this, but it might go to a full hour depending on how it goes.
I'd like to do a quick overview of how the hog hunt went, the gear I was looking at and why I love doing this stuff.
Let's aim for tomorrow (Tuesday, October 12th) at noon Mountain Time.
Here is the wrap up of the Steiner M1050r LRF bincoulars that I have been playing with for a quite a while now.
Observation optics is a pretty involved subject as is, further complicated by the fact that most observation optics are not made for shooters. Here is a live show I did on observation optics that touches on this:
This binocular is decidedly not intended for birders. As the name implies, it is squarely aimed at military and law enforcement applications. It is a very competent overall design, but there is a feature that is sorely missing.
Let me know what you think once you watch the video. The binocular in question is the Steiner Military 10x50r LRF: https://bit.ly/2WA88hY
It is a solid design overall with excellent optics and good LRF performance. There is, however, one critical feature missing.
The registration for SHOT 2022 is finally open and I am in the process of making something resembling a schedule for it. The way it usually works, I make a detailed schedule and it goes to hell in a handbasket eight minutes after the show starts. Still, I have to make plans.
Interestingly, the Safari International event is in Las Vegas this year and overlapping with SHOT.
SHOT is Tuesday through Friday and SCI is Wednesday through Saturday.
I normally do not go to SCI given that it is more of a hunting oriented event. However, given that I am gearing up for my4th hunt this year (aoudad sheep in April, spring black bear in Alaska in June, hogs in Texas two weeks ago and New Mexico elk coming up in December), I can no longer say that I am not really a hunter with any sort of honesty.
I may not be a good hunter, but I am a hunter. Apparently.
With all that, I may be able to sneak over to the SCI show on Saturday. I always run out of time at SHOT, so I doubt I will be able to give up...
Folks, I am going to do another livecast tomorrow focusing on LPVOs and FIxed Power scopes when both are equipped with an offset RDS.
Matt of Everyday Marksman and Jacob of Pro-gun Millenial will join me tomorrow.
Yesterday's livecast, once we got done with the original topic of discussion veered a little bit toward other aspects of shooting quickly with conventional riflescopes and the topic of OEGs (Occluded Eye Gunsights) came up. I figured that I should probably write a short article on how they work when I realized that I already have and that Guns and Ammo makes this one available online.
It went into the 2019 Retro issue when they asked to write a little bit about OEGs since they were famously used in the Son-Tay raid.
It did make me want to re-visit the subject, so I pinged the good folks at Armson USA to see if I can borrow a modern OEG form them and go over the subject in more detail.