Best Rifle Scope Brands for the Money Asked: Comprehensive Review

Once in a while I review different ratings of rifle scope brands and usually see some information that isn’t exactly accurate. Because most of the companies offer different levels of quality within their models it is almost impossible to find out best brands just by products quality. It can vary inside of one brand. Such type of segmentation makes sense, but often complicates the situation for consumers. Many of them do not even know how the quality of the rifle scopes can differ between two product lines of the same manufacturer (brand).In this article we will find out best rifle scope brands (note that I say brand vs. manufacturer, because one manufacturer can own a few brands) using following subjective criteria:Quality: of course it is a complicated task, but I assume that good brand offer good quality in its price range. At this time I am not going to review various futures of rifle scopes. I will review the available futures.Technical innovations: it will vary depending on price range. I do not expect to see many innovations in the cheaper products. There is nothing bad in manufacturing just reliable rifle scope, but I still would like to highlight the creative design solutions.Money Asked: here I will evaluate how well the price matches the quality, as well as what is the best rifle scope for your money.Products variety: this is one of the simplest criteria for analysis. I do not hope that every brand will cover every price range (and they don’t have to), but I should note that some brands cover a wider market than others.Marketing: this is the most difficult criteria for me to evaluate. Some of you will be surprised by my definition of the marketing, but any way I will follow it. It is my personal evaluation of how well the trade mark is managed, how successful are the marketing efforts and how well the company performs the promises given by the marketing department. In some cases this is rather evaluation of how well companies manage to crate good image of the product. For example I do not like “Counter Strike” brand, but it is still on the market just because of marketing efforts. As you can see some brands are popular not because of good products, but thanks to good marketing efforts and I would like to show them to you.Customer Service: I will consider my personal experience as well as testimonials of other people.All criteria rate from 1 to 5, so you can see total points that every brand will get. Also I will try to update all data every year.You will notice that in the column “total” the score varies from 6 to 30. The higher scores are better. I understand it is not the best way to rank brands by the score, so brands are not sorted depending on overall result. Brands are sorted alphabetically. And again – this is just my personal opinion which is subjective.List of brands that participate in this review:1) Aimpoint2) Barska3) Browe4) Burris5) Bushnell6) Elcan7) Eotech8) Hawke9) Hi-Lux-Leatherwood10) Kahles11) Konus12) Leapers13) March14) Leica15) Leupold16) Meopta17) Millet18) Minox19) Nikko Stirling20) Nikon21) Pentax22) PFI-Rapid Reticle23) Premier24) Redfield25) Trijicon26) Schmidt and Bender27) Shepherd28) Sightron29) Steiner30) Swarovski31) Tasco32) Valdada IOR33) Vortex34) Weaver35) Zeiss Optronics (Hendsoldt)36) Zeiss Sport Optics1) AimPointAimpoint manufacture excellent red dot sights and nothing more. That is why I gave them a low score for products variety. I am not very familiar with their customer service, but was trying my best to determine it from user’s testimonials.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 4Products variety – 1Marketing – 4Customer Service – 3Total – 202) BarskaThe fact that this brand still exists, only proves that their marketing efforts are effective and that there are lots of inexperienced people on U. S. market of firearms who buy them. I’ve tested their best scope from SWAT products lane and the only good thing I can say about it is the fact that it does not fall apart.Quality – 1Technical innovations – 1Money Asked – 1Products variety – 1Marketing – 4Customer Service – 2Total – 103) BroweThis is relatively new brand that is attempting to be like Trijicon and Elcan. Besides it was founded by people from Trijicon (if I am not mistaken). As for now I do not know much about this brand, but I’ll try my best to find out more about it.Quality -?Technical innovations -?Money -?Asked -?Products variety -?Marketing -?Customer Service -?Total -?4) BurrisBurris offers the wide selection of products which are not bad for the money asking. Their customer service, however, is mediocre. It seems that they have being improving lately and with the right management they could improve significantly in the nearest future. Their marketing became more effective in the last two years as well.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 4Products variety – 5Marketing – 5Customer Service – 3Total – 255) BushnellBushnell has a very good selection of rifle scopes, but honestly some of their cheaper products are not impressive at all. Nevertheless, they offer a good price and acceptable innovations. There are different testimonials, but my personal experience of their customer service was rather positive.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 4Products variety – 5Marketing – 4Customer Service – 3Total – 236) ElcanElcan is mainly focused on military orders and their implementing. Because of that their consumer marketing is not really effective to my opinion. Their rifle scopes are advanced and excellent – especially DR series and some of the offered reticles. However, they are a little bit overpriced.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 5Money Asked – 3Products variety – 1Marketing – 4Customer Service – 3Total – 197) EOTechEOTech is the main competitor for AimPoint. Their main products are holographic rifle scopes so the variety is not really wide. Rifle scopes are well assembles and well adapted for the convenient use. They, no doubt, are selling well, and marketing efforts are focused correctly.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 4Products variety – 1Marketing – 4Customer Service – 3Total – 208) HawkeI think this is a good brand with a good customer service provided. Their products are presented in cheap and middle price segments, so the choice is not really broad. Reticles are innovative enough, especially considering such a great price. My opinion is that Hawke sells best rifle scopes that are manufactured in China.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 5Products variety – 3Marketing – 4Customer Service – 5Total – 249) Hi-Tech LeatherwoodJust a few years ago I wasn’t a big fan of this company, but lately they surprise me. They always try to represent their own development (e.g. Uni-Dial and their side focus adjustments), and they are paying a great attention to the incoming testimonials. Products’ choice is not really wide: the models available are mainly in low/middle price range. If they will continue grow up like this, their rating will only go up.Quality – 3Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 3Products variety – 3Marketing – 3Customer Service – 4Total – 1710) KahlesIt is not very easy to evaluate this brand, especially I do not know how they are doing in the rest of the world. They did a lot of mistakes on US market though. Kahles is the one of the best rifle scope brand with absolutely perfect optical and mechanical quality of the products. However, poor communication with distributors reduced their presence on the U.S. market. Currently they are trying to change this situation so we’ll see what happens.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 4Products variety – 2Marketing – 3Customer Service – 4Total – 1711) KonusThis is another mediocre Chinese manufacturer of the rifle scopes. They provide a little bit better customer service comparing to Barska for example.Quality – 1Technical innovations – 1Money Asked – 2Products variety – 2Marketing – 3Customer Service – 3Total – 1212) LeapersMy first rifle scope was Leapers; it was also the last scope of this brand I’ve ever bought. There are only few brands that are worse than Barska, and Leapers is one of them.Quality – 1Technical innovations – 1Money Asked – 1Products variety – 1Marketing – 3Customer Service – 2Total – 913) LeicaLeica is a newcomer in the manufacturing of rifle scopes. Their current line of products is very narrow, but is high quality. They offer some innovations and excellent quality for the money asked. Their marketing is partly successful, and I hope in future they will do better.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 5Money Asked – 4Products variety – 1Marketing – 3Customer Service – 5Total – 2314) LeupoldLeupold has incredibly various models of scopes, which are very popular, although some of their products slightly overpriced. Lately, they began to develop more innovative products, which was their main drawback in the past. Their marketing strategy is incredibly successful, though is not always truthful. On the other hand, it is typical for any marketing department to use the abstruse terms to avoid lying.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 3Products variety – 5Marketing – 5Customer Service – 5Total – 2315) MarchMarch is one of the best rifle scope brands in the high-price segment. They manufacture high quality scopes that are assembled in Japan. It is pretty hard to evaluate their marketing strategy since they do not spend much effort on it. On the other hand they are known as the brand with a very good reputation which is definitely their benefit. Their scopes are expensive, but if you really need rifle scope from March it is definitely worse it.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 5Money Asked – 4Products variety – 1Marketing – 3Customer Service – 5Total – 2316) MeoptaMeopta is one of the best rifle scope brands in middle price range. They offer products with excellent quality, but their product line could be wider. They can release great innovative products, but only if they want so. They offer good but not the best selling products.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 5Products variety – 2Marketing – 3Customer Service – 4Total – 2117) MillettIt seems like Millett completely felt down since Bushnell bought this brand. Their future is very questionable.Quality – 2Technical innovations – 2Money Asked – 2Products variety – 1Marketing – 1Customer Service – 3Total – 1118) MinoxMinox is still a beginner in the manufacturing of rifle scopes. However their first models proved to be excellent in terms of design and very good for the money asked. Customer service seems to be good as well. If it will continue like that, Minox scopes will become a very good option.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 5Products variety – 2Marketing – 3Customer Service – 4Total – 2119) Nikko StirlingNikko Stirling brand is known better in Australia, than in U. S. In past they used to have a wider product choice including a few of good quality Japanese scopes. Currently the situation has changed and they produce ordinary Chinese rifle scopes that are not much different from the other similar manufacturers. Also Nikko somehow related to Legacy Sports and this is not a very good sign.Quality – 2Technical innovations – 2Money Asked – 2Products variety – 3Marketing – 3Customer Service – 2Total – 1420) NikonNikon certainly is a big player in this market, but their recent new products seem to be slightly “unfinished” or “not completely thought trough”. Customer service recently improved, but is still awful. Nikon products are very various. However many of them are either too expensive (Monarch X), or inferior their competitors (Monarch). On the other hand inexpensive series, such as Buckmarks and ProStuff represent a very strong offering.Quality – 3Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 3Products variety – 5Marketing – 4Customer Service – 3Total – 2121) PentaxLast year Pentax completely ignored the market of sport optics. Next year they will probably do better (there is no much place for further fall). Their binoculars and telescopes are good, so they can make good rifle scope if they wish.Quality – 2Technical innovations – 2Money Asked – 3Products variety – 1Marketing – 1Customer Service – 3Total – 1222) PremierThis is definitely one of the best manufacturers of expensive rifle scopes. They had some growth problems, but they have reached a good level of quality and innovation now. Their marketing is slightly weak, but they have some strong sides they can use to improve.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 5Money Asked – 4Products variety – 2Marketing – 3Customer Service – 5Total – 2423) PFI Rapid ReticlePFI brand is built around their reticles innovations. They use reliable enough Japanese models of the rifle scopes, what is definitely beneficiary. Their customer service is at the decent level as well as their marketing. This brand is relatively young. Therefore they are approaching a turning point that will determine either they remain highly specialized player in the market or move to a quantitatively higher level of logistic, marketing and all its activities.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 3Products variety – 3 Marketing – 3 Customer Service- 3Total – 2224) RedfieldToday Redfield is owned by Leupold, therefore it’s marketing is similar to Leopold’s. Redfield specialized on niche product lines. The design of their products is old-fashioned, but they are well made and they have an excellent customer service.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 1Money Asked – 4Products variety – 1Marketing – 5Customer Service – 5Total – 2025) Schmidt and BenderSchmidt & Bender with no doubt is one of the best brands on the market of tactical rifle scopes. They manufacture ones of the most expensive rifle scopes in the world. Their scopes are great assembled. They have excellent customer service. Their product line is not too wide, and marketing could be better.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 3Products variety – 2Marketing – 3Customer Service – 5Total – 2326) Shepherd Shepherd rifle scopes follow the idea of double reticle and they stick to this concept from the beginning. I’ve never heard of a well made Shepherd scope, even though there should be some, considering they were quite a popular brand for a while.Quality – 2Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 2Products variety – 2Marketing – 3Customer Service -? Total -?27) SightronSightron is undoubtedly one of the best rifle scope brands with the excellent quality and perfect price. Sightron scopes are not about innovations, but they sold well and perfectly designed for different tasks.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 5Products variety – 4Marketing – 3Customer Service – 5Total – 2428) SteinerSteiner scopes are newcomers to this market and the current estimate is rather my early assumption of how this brand will evolve in the future. I’m going to keep a close eye on it.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 3Money Asked – 4Products variety – 1Marketing – 4Customer Service – 4Total – 2129) SwarowskiSwarowski have a narrow line of excellently made rifle scopes. They have both innovations and an enviable marketing combined with the impeccable customer service.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 5Money Asked – 4Products variety – 2Marketing – 5Customer Service – 5Total – 2630) TascoTasco is another brand that eventually became almost nothing. It is owned by Bushnell, so you get their service, but otherwise it will be the most ordinary scopes.Quality – 1Technical innovations – 1Money Asked – 2Products variety -2Marketing – 2Customer Service – 3Total – 1131) TrijiconThe Trijicon brand is all about their reticle illumination technology, which works fine. However, if they will not offer something new in the nearest future, their innovative spirit will disappear.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 4Products variety – 3Marketing – 5Customer Service – 3Total – 2332) Valdada IORIOR scopes are manufactured in Romania. Valdada is their importer in the United States. They have an innovative design and good quality, but some models have reliability problems. Nevertheless, in the last few years IOR improved both quality and customer service.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 5Money Asked – 4Products variety – 3Marketing – 3Customer Service – 4Total – 2333) VortexVortex is an example of a company that produces lots of different products. Their rapid growth occurs different management issues once in a while. They achieved excellent results in both: development and customer service. Their marketing strategy is extremely effective as well.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 5Products variety – 5Marketing – 5Customer Service – 5Total – 2834) WeaverDuring the last few years Weaver had changed the ownership several times. It is difficult to make a structural judgment, but I think that there were some positive changes while they were under the ATK management. Weaver’s products are more than good for the money asked. They compete well in the middle and lower price ranges with a wide selection of hunting rifle scopes and a couple of good tactical scopes. I do not know a lot about their customer service and I think they could be more specific in their marketing strategy.Quality – 4Technical innovations – 3Money Asked- 5Products variety – 4Marketing – 3Customer Service – 3Total – 2235) Zeiss Sport OpticsZeiss and Kahles are the oldest players in the world of rifle scopes. Zeiss, unlike Kahles, very carefully develops and supports its brand. The variety of scopes is wide enough – they range from the middle price range and go above it. All of their models are excellent quality with no room to failure. They are relatively conservative (so as Kahles) but are innovative enough to stay on top.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 4Products variety – 3Marketing – 4Customer Service – 5Total – 2536) Zeiss Optronics (Hendsold)Hensoldt is a division of Zeiss, which is engaged in the production of narrow and ultra expensive line of tactical riflescopes with the excellent quality. They are not actively promoted in the U.S. at this time, but they have an extensive history and good brand awareness.Quality – 5Technical innovations – 4Money Asked – 3Products variety – 1Marketing – 3Customer Service – 5Total – 21Additional CommentsLooking at the entire review (which is quite different than comparing one brand to another), I noticed that Vortex received the most points, slightly ahead of such brands as Leupold, Burris, Sightron, Swarovski and Zeiss. When I just started to rate these brands, I was sure that Leupold and Zeiss will win easily, just because of brand awareness and the wide product selection; and Swarovski will be slightly behind, as it’s product choice is more limited. Presence of Vortex, Sightron and Burris in the leading group shows their growing popularity and my personal preferences. Another company that got high score is Premier Reticles, which is now experiencing some internal management issues. However, it seems that they get over it lately and their product line becomes more promising.Another point that effects score in “Product Variety” column is a factor of innovation. In recent years scopes with wide range of magnification become more popular. For a long time the most common configuration of rifle scopes was 3-9×40, but now many scopes offer twice wider range, for example 2-12×40. Such models allow to cover much broader tasks that can be solved with a single scope. Thus we can say that today “Product variety” is not determined by the quantity of offering models, but by the range of the tasks that can be solved with such products.Finally, once again, I note that all this is just my personal opinion and I could be wrong.

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