These scopes, quality vs. cost
I have been away from hunting for quite a while and before I get into the questions, I would like to tell a story. I'm in my early 40's and in 1979 while in high school (here in the US) I bought a Steyr-Mannlicher Luxus w/half stock with single set trigger in 270 with the slick Steyr QD rings along with a Leupold Vari-X III 3.5-10x with AO all for $810 new (I cant remember the objective size)I'm originally from the Midwest and I used to practice on prairie dogs and that got me accurate for larger game. When I went to college I needed some money and my brother bought the Steyr and he gave me what I had in it, but he has never been willing to sell it back (lol) so this summer many yrs and a lot of patience later I picked up this same gun unfired in 7mm Rem. Mag., NIB (they stopped making them in 1996 for ~ $3,000 and I got it for a deal. Now were getting close to the scope issue so hold on a little longer. I needed to find a set of the Steyr QD rings in 30mm, (uncommon for the US market)I found a set that was almost complete and new with the exception of the top half of one of the rings I called the US distributor they were helpful, but they didnt have it. I emailed Steyr in Austria - no response, I called them and left a message for their US sales rep - didnt return my call. Even the US distributor emailed them several times and couldn't get the part, finally the US distributor went through a box of new old stock parts and found a set of complete 30mm rings and gave me a good price on them.
So what does this have to do with scopes? My first concern is there seems to be a different perspective on customer service by at least some european companies as my story above illustrates. I called Schmidt & Bender with a scenario of if a S&B scope is damaged while hunting and the tube is damaged and needs to be replaced what is there policy, how much would the cost be, how long will it take to fix and what is there basic warranty? The answer I received was I would have to pay to get it fixed (reasonable) they didnt have a current price, but the old price to replace a tube was $500, but that price would "likely be more now" it would have to be sent to Germany as the technician who could do major repairs had retired and the turn around time would be 6-8 weeks. In addition I was told the warranty was 10 yrs on labor and 30 yrs on parts. I was surprised that the most expensive maker of scopes didn't have a commensurate warranty such as lifetime to match the price. There is no dispute that they are fine scopes, but geez do you get a jar of vaseline with each purchase? I bring this up because I have talked with two people in the last week who work in gun stores and each of them had a fortune in rifles and scopes. Both had SB scopes and said they were fantastic. They also both had Zeiss Diavari, Swarovski, NF and Leupold. One of them said the SB was only slightly better than his NF, but the SB didnt justify the huge price difference in his opinion. The other guy whose gun store sold all the mentioned brands said that now that Leupold has come out with their 'indexed matched lenses' and improved coatings, he said he wouldn't consider buying any of the ultra expensive european scopes any longer. In addition, he told me that Leupold's warranty is second to none as he had loaned a rifle to a friend and while huntiing he fell with the rifle and the scope took the blunt of the force which resulted in the tube being bent, the scope was sent to Leupold and they replaced the scope with a new one, this certainly wasn't a defect in material and workmanship!
So I have a two-fold objective to put a scope on this Steyr 7mm maybe a Leupold Mark 4 3.5-10x40mm LR/T with the BDC dials, the BDC are amazing its like having different lures for fishing! My second rifle is likely to be a Weatherby Accumark w/Accubrake in 30-378, I have friend that has this very rifle with a SB 4-16x50mm with the varmint reticle and the 5th circle down is dead on at 650yds and he loves this scope.
I'm very pragmatic, if there is value in a SB over a Leupold then fine, but I think with the German 35 hr work week and the 30 days of vacation that a new employee gets from day one and all the other benefits that many european workers get there is a lot of 'fluff' in the price of these German/Austrian scope makers products and they don't seem to mind passing the prices on to their customers with a not so hot customer service mentality.
The realities of my personal situation is that I'm never going to go on a hunt in a mountainous region of Alaska for example with a 10 lb gun and a 30 lb backpack up a mountain half dead from exaustion to only come face to face with a boone & crockett record breaker and realize that it will finish me off to haul the carcass out of there (getting prepared to hunt in these conditions when you live in a near sea level conditions is for another discussion). The other reality is the amount of time that I will have to practice and hunt, it really doesn't matter if you have superlative equipment and your only a mediocre shot, becauase the end result will be disappointing anyway. One of the reasons I'm interested in the 30-378 is its long distance knockdown abiltity, my friend in Montana took a mule deer at 795 yds. So I do need a scope with long range capability.
So what are your thoughts? How about the Zeiss Diavari 6-24x56 (I had an opportunity to buy one in July NIB for $1200), but with the price increase the new low price is $1450, which is almost half of what the new SB 5-25x56mm is going to be? Is the Zeiss that bad is it half the scope of the SB? I mention Zeiss also because they have a liftime tranferable warranty. Swarovski's warranty is only for the original owner, IIRC. I've read good things about Nikon scopes which stands to reason since they make some of the best camera lenses on the planet? How about Pentax, I know in telescopes the optics are superlative. So I look forward to your recommendations and if you would include the reticle you recommend as well that would be appreciated [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]