Quote Of The Day

From the Knuckledragger, commenting on this article:

“I don’t buy into that horseshit about how we should spend the equivalent of our rifle’s value on an optic. I’m sorry, but save your money and invest it in a decent trigger instead. A quality trigger will improve your shooting much more than a fancy big name optic.”

I sorta-agree, with a couple of qualifications.

Don’t buy a $1,900 rifle and put a $49.99 scope on it.

In the same vein, don’t buy an old $200 mil-surp rifle and add $$$$$ Night Force glass.

What you’re getting with a very good scope is not just better optics, but reliability.  Those $49.99 red-dot sights from CheaperThanDirt are not going to work as well, or last as long as a Trijicon.  However (as with all things), once you get past a certain quality standard, incremental quality comes at enormous cost.

And if you’re buying an expensive rifle, you’d better  get a superior trigger for your money.  If you start off with a cheap rifle and add a Timney trigger, pretty soon you’ll discover that your barrel is sub-optimal — and by the time you’ve added that, plus a free-floating stock arrangement, you’ll end up with Washington’s axe.  (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

This, by the way, is why I love CZ rifles so much:  excellent reliability, a decent barrel and (most often) a single-set trigger, all for less than a grand.  Ditto the even-cheaper Savage rifles, ever since they started putting the fine Accu-Trigger into their rifles.

All that said, my policy is always to match three things when putting together a shooting platform:  rifle, scope, and intended use/frequency.  If all you’re going to do is plink away at a range every other month, you’re not going to need a $5,000 rifle/scope combination.  If you’re going to engage in long-distance competition shooting, spend as much or more than you can afford on both the rifle and scope.  My Mauser M12 / Minox scope combination was bought with a Scottish deer stalk in mind (bad visibility, horrible terrain, 200+ yard shots), hence the scope’s illuminated reticle and ruggedness of the Mauser action.  I could have spent a lot more on a hunting setup, but given my skill level (adequate), budget (don’t ask), and likely frequency of Scottish deerstalking (annual, at best), I “settled” for the M12 / Minox.

(More on the Mauser in a later post, by the way.)

Now, if you want to shoot rimfire ammo very  accurately all the time (and you should), the CZ 452 topped with Leupold glass will do you very well — I would humbly suggest that getting an Anschutz with Swarovski glass may be overkill, unless  you want to move on to competition shooting later.   My own rimfire setup, for example, is a Marlin 880SQ (~$280) topped with a Nikon scope (~$300).

Hell, I’ve spent more time working out what ammo works best in the 880 (CCI Mini-Max 40gr FMJ), and those who have seen me shoot with this setup will attest that while I’m no world-beater, I certainly don’t disgrace myself.  Given how often I go plinking (not as often as I’d like aaarrrrgh), it’s all I need.  YMMV.

Sorry, this post has turned into something much longer than a Quote Of The Day, but it’s on a topic about which I have a little experience.  Your comments, as always, are welcome.


  1. I generally avoid getting involved with gun pr0n arguments for everyone has their own interpretation of how things are. Call it a human thing, and live with it. Or not.

    2 years ago I decided to build an AR15 from scratch. I knew almost nothing about them and had only fired one once a couple years prior. As an airborne combat engineer in the 70’s I carried an M16 and a 203. I have plenty of other guns, but not nearly enough. 🙂

    I spent 4 months doing research and making lists of parts, manufacturers, prices, etc., to determine how to build a fairly decent quality gun, and then set about buying everything and studying “how to” video’s and documentation.

    I made a few wrong choices in parts but nothing serious, that required more research and purchasing. An example is: I chose an adjustable gas block which meant that the Magpul hand guard that I purchased wouldn’t work, so I bought a floating version and all is well.

    The gun has flip up Magpul sights which were zero’d first. Then the scope was installed and zero’d to 100 yds. I am still searching for a place where I can see what it’ll do at 300 yds. The gun cost minus scope is about $2200. and I’m real happy with it. A balance between pretty good quality and price. The scope is a Barska illuminated 0-6X that cost $400. I’m happy with that as well. This gun cost far more than I originally anticipated but as I researched I realized that I would not be happy with the less expensive package models or less expensive parts. Do I regret buying a Spikes lower and a Black Rain upper and barrel as opposed to Noveska stuff? No. I made all the choices, learned how to build and repair the gun and I’m happy with it’s performance. In light of all that, goal accomplished and I fly high above the gun pr0n arguments. As it should be.

  2. My cheap gun/cheap scope story: I got my K31 for all of $85 back when they first came to the US. I got a St. Marie clamp on scope mount on sale, then put a cheap Bushnell scope on it. I shot a 0.43″ group of five at 100 yards or so with the set up, and that was with Prvi ammo, not the GP11 match grade stuff.

  3. I’ll second the motion, sort of; if one does a SWOT analysis – being careful to avoid the trap of paralysis through analysis – one can more easily define what’s necessary.

    For example, 5.56X45 through common barrel lengths (~16″, however 16″ is defined, usually ~14.5″+comp/hider) with common ammunition (usually something ~62 grains) dealing with targets identified with middle-aged eyes, the practical limit is ~400 meters, and the really practical limit is 275-325 meters. For that distance a 1-6 scope works well, and I’m happy with my Vortex; I’m just as happy with the 2-8X Nikon on my 3-Gun rifle (which also carries a pistol red dot offset 45 degrees to the right).

    Were I building a Distance Rifle in 300WM, 338 Lapua, or Hornady’s new 300PRC (suppresses orgasm….), neither of those scopes would be adequate, and I’d be looking at Nightforce, Swarovski or higher end Leupolds, especially ones with large objectives for twilight advantage. That said, I’ve got a Nikon 4-12 on one AR-10 used for 3-Gun Heavy Metal, and a Nikon 4-16 on another (the first also carries an offset red dot because sometimes HM does involve close-in targets, and the second has offset Dueck Defense BUIS because, well, BUIS, and it’s designated as a Social Work Rifle).

    Are there “better” scopes than those Nikons? Absolutely. But…no range on which I compete can place targets farther out than 800 meters and with my years, eyes and 7.62X51, 800 is also about the practical limit so if they’re good enough to find 10 inch plates at ≤ 800M they’re good enough; finding the target is the scope’s job, hitting it is between me and the rifle.

    Nightforce – and Leupold, Swarovski, et al – makes terrific scopes, but optics that fit my requirements for $1K less means money for better triggers and LOTS more ammo to practice with. Buying better optics doesn’t make one a Gear Whore, but back to that SWOT analysis – what’s necessary? Stupendous glass or another 1200 rounds of 7.62 to train and practice with? I may not be able to see how many whiskers the gnat has at a mile but I can sure as hell kill the 5′ 8″ bastard hiding behind the bush at 565 yards.

  4. The first consideration might be the task, what is expected of the rifle, how will it be used? If hunting, game, expected range, the amount of carrying the gun, a short walk from the truck to the deer stand to shoot 100 yards over a feeder the way I have shot Texas deer using my 6.5×55 CZ and a Leupold scope or a high altitude hike for a week in the Rocky Mountains for Elk which my son has done in past years with my Winchester 30-06 model 70 with a Leupold scope until he upgraded to a Bergara 6.5 Creedmore with a Vortex scope.

    There are a lot of neat inexpensive rifle/scope combo setups that will get the job done and it is better to have an affordable gun than no gun at all. A used gun with scope at times can be a hell of a find, 20 years ago I picked up a trade in rifle in Dallas that was a Remington model 721 30-06 with a fixed 4-power Weaver scope, plain Jane rifle with an old looking scope and when I said I would have to put a new scope on the gun, the gun guy behind the counter told me to try it out with the way it was first, it had a clean bore, crisp post sight in the scope and like an idiot I shot one deer with it and then got bored and traded it for a prettier rifle.

    As stated above, a good trigger is required for decent shooting and an adequate scope or good iron sights and then a lot of shooting to build and maintain skills.

  5. As Old Texan says keep your eyes open for a bargain on a used rifle. I picked up a Savage 110 in 243 probably made in the early 60’s with a nice Simmonds scope on it for less than $300. I can put 5 shots in a 3″ circle at 300 yards which is more than good enough for any thing I’ll be shooting at. The trigger is a bit heavy but it breaks clean with no creep so I really don’t want to mess with it.

    1. Agreed. Only fools and computer programmers (some overlap) mess with something that works perfectly.

  6. I bought a Finn M-38 with a pristine Sako heavy barrel for $250. It was built by the Finns on an 1897 Russian receiver, an “Antique”, so I was able to mail order it.

    Put that in an Archangel stock, with a Timney trigger, and it would be able to do a $1000 scope justice.

    I won’t, since I refuse to drill the receiver. ( although a scout scope might be an option here )

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