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When 'Good' is Good Enough

Maksim

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Since learning to shoot about 15 years ago, and more particularly in the last 10 years since starting New Jersey Gun Forums, I have been blessed with the ability to shoot a wide variety of firearms and accessories, everything from entry level handguns to rifles and shotguns which can purchase a decent house somewhere in the Mid-West.

One constant in the gun world is that much like in every other hobby, there is, within a certain segment an equipment race, to have the latest and greatest gear that you would find going into war zones.  While I am generally not opposed to spending more money to get a well crafted and reliable gun like a Knights Armament AR, optics in particular is an area where I feel 95% of gun owners would be spending money on features they will never use.

Trijicon ACOGs, NightForce, Elcan SpecterDR, Aimpoint, you get the idea.

Yes, they are brilliant optics with great quality glass and ruggedness to withstand a war zone.  The question is, for the non-military buyer, do you need to pay for the ruggedness when 90% of the time the gun will be in the safe and 9% of the time the gun will be at the range?  Do you need to spend thousands of dollars for the slight chance that you will drop the gun in the middle of the lake in the 1% of the time you are out boating with it? (boat, gun, lake joke).

What got me thinking about this question is doing some testing with the Sightmark Wolfhound 6x Prismatic sight.  I subjected the scope to the advertised specs and it passed with flying colors.  I drenched the optics with a bottle of water and even dropped the rifle (on purpose) to see whether it holds zero or still works.  

I then escalated the test and dunked the optic in a contain of water and left it there, running, for over an hour.  This would surely kill it, right?

And the optic continued to function.

Sightmark compares this to the ACOG 6x optic and at no time do they ever state that it is a better optic.  They do however point out that you are getting comparable features for a whole lot less.

Yes, the ACOG does not use any batteries and instead lights the reticle either via the fiber optic strip or tritium.  The Wolfhound uses a battery.  In either case, if the battery dies, you still have the reticle, it just won't light up red or green.

The ACOG is also made out of 7075 aluminum versus the 6061 aluminum used in the Wolfhound.   The ACOG is also submersible to 328 ft of water versus just 10 ft on the Wolfhound.

The question is then the following, rather than spend thousands more on buying ruggedness that you will never likely use, is the gun owner better off buying a "good enough" optic and investing the difference in ammo and training instead?

Here is the video review of the Sightmark Wolfhound 6x44 Prismatic and  Mini Shot M-Spec Reflex Sights

 



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The question is then the following, rather than spend thousands more on buying ruggedness that you will never likely use, is the gun owner better off buying a "good enough" optic and investing the difference in ammo and training instead?

Without a doubt, yes.  Though I wouldn’t use such a unmeasurable term like “ruggedness” as the example.   That’s a spectrum from “flimsy” to “bombproof” where the buyer is going to have to pick a point that is “good enough” for them. 

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2 hours ago, voyager9 said:

Without a doubt, yes.  Though I wouldn’t use such a unmeasurable term like “ruggedness” as the example.   That’s a spectrum from “flimsy” to “bombproof” where the buyer is going to have to pick a point that is “good enough” for them. 

True, the question is where is that point?

I also do find it to figure out where a product is.  For instance, testing the Sightmarks, I was blown away at how they fared based on their price point.  And at the same time we have number of reports of Aimpoint clones and others for just a bit less that just die from looking at them wrong.

But there are some things we can look at, i.e. material that they are made out of... Steel vs Aluminum 7075, vs 6061, etc.  IP67 vs IP68, if any and the warranty behind them.

The big thing for me though was realizing, despite playing gun games... the most ever, that I abused an optic was not babying it onto a padded blanket when shooting at the range. lol.    Dropping a gun/optic or drowning it in water... never.

I sure got plenty of looks at the range when I was emptying the bottle of water on the optics and then dropping the gun.  

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13 hours ago, Maksim said:

I sure got plenty of looks at the range when I was emptying the bottle of water on the optics and then dropping the gun.  

Note to self:  never let Maksim borrow one of my guns or optics.  

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It simply depends on the cost of failure. If having to switch to irons at the range or go home early is the consequence, then most will be able to live with it. If the consequences are a blown match that cost you a couple grand to participate in, or a hunting trip to africa, then it may be prudent to buy better. If your life is on the line, then its self evident.

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1 hour ago, Shane45 said:

It simply depends on the cost of failure. If having to switch to irons at the range or go home early is the consequence, then most will be able to live with it. If the consequences are a blown match that cost you a couple grand to participate in, or a hunting trip to africa, then it may be prudent to buy better. If your life is on the line, then its self evident.

“The mission drives the gear train”

- Pat Rogers

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10 minutes ago, High Exposure said:

“The mission drives the gear train”

- Pat Rogers

But what % of people actually follow that advice?

Particularly in the civilian/retail marketplace.   And I would even go as far to say the average gun owner visiting a community is more educated... 

Versus the amounts of people who buy features they will not use in a lifetime.   They buy the best... and think it is gear, versus actual training and range time.

IE... give a typical gun owner a Wilson Combat 1911  and give a USPSA/IDPA/Bullseye Master a stock Glock, or heck... even a Hi-Point.... and see who is more accurate. 

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1 hour ago, Maksim said:

But what % of people actually follow that advice?

That falls under the heading of “Not my problem”.

Personally - I follow that advice religiously. I don’t aspire to mediocrity and I will set myself up for success in all I do.

I have preached this mindset, as have others. People follow it or not. If their equipment selection doesn’t affect me or my people, I don’t care what people buy. I will attempt to guide them, using their stated mission as a template, and reminding them of the difference between "Lowest Price" and "Best Value" an important distinction that many gun owners seem to ignore.

I can direct the people under my care and control to examine their personal needs and buy accordingly.

As for the rest, we can advise and guide, but we can’t mandate. There is some personal responsibility involved and some folks just can’t be reasoned with. 

The “just as good as” crowd, the “parts is parts” crowd, the “keep it simple” crowd - all have legitimate philosophies to some degree. The lack of flexibility in the thought process is the hard part.

Ultimately, you can’t resolve a software issue with a hardware fix. Yes, 99.9% of shooters would be better served with 1000 rounds of ammo and some quality training than a new aftermarket trigger and lighter springs. But, you know what they say about leading a horse to water...

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Maks, a little less tangible but fits in your scenario are people that view things from an insurance policy perspective. Better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it. For others there is pride of ownership. But think for a second how this can be a slippery slope that does NOT serve the consumer communities best interest. Think about how many manufacturers have eroded into building for the low round count consumer. They count on the avg consumer to shoot less than 500 rds a year and anyone that really uses the firearm as intended is probably sending it in for warranty work. HK is one of the very few companies that still test fires its weapons before shipping.

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9 minutes ago, Shane45 said:

Maks, a little less tangible but fits in your scenario are people that view things from an insurance policy perspective. Better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it. For others there is pride of ownership. But think for a second how this can be a slippery slope that does NOT serve the consumer communities best interest. Think about how many manufacturers have eroded into building for the low round count consumer. They count on the avg consumer to shoot less than 500 rds a year and anyone that really uses the firearm as intended is probably sending it in for warranty work. HK is one of the very few companies that still test fires its weapons before shipping.

Shane, great point and good discussion.

I agree with firearms and I believe that is the one place where you should  get the best that you can.

I suppose my main challenge and focus is on spending money on something "just because you can" and locking it up.

I agree 100% with @High Exposure that we can lead a horse to water but can't make it drink.  At the same time, are many of the people really just wasting money that should be spent elsewhere?

Just walk into a local store and look at all of the people that buy or go "gaga" when the store counter person says... "This is the same optic they use in the military."

Rather than... "This is the same optic they use in the military, but unless you are planning on abusing your gun, why don't you buy this, and spend the difference on our training classes, range time and ammo."

The industry of course is built upon the notion of "Good enough for military, good enough for you." and sells precisely on that basis... but does that actually do anything good for the gun owner?  And is that where the gun community itself should be speaking up?

Again, with guns I am 100% on board but you don't need to spend $4,000 to get a gun that will be reliable... you can spend $500 on a bone stock Glock or a little more on an HK P30.  

The big place where I am seeing the disconnect is the accessories market.

In the bike world I suppose this is also the different mentality of buy a Ninja 250 and learn the hell out of it instead of going straight to an R6 or an R1 because that bike is ready for the track.

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Well, to use motorsports, win on sunday, sell on monday right? But there is no doubt that mill adoption and or building for the top pros in shooting sports are what push the envelope in devvelopment right? So I actually am glad that there is a market segment that can afford to buy the best even if they dont need the best, otherwise dev would not be where it is. BTW I DONT recommend starting on a 250 :D

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While I completely agree that your average gun owner would highly benefit from more training and less gear (myself included), I'm pretty surprised that you're justifying a rifle that retails for more than $2,000, yet criticizing optics that cost ~$400.

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31 minutes ago, vjf915 said:

While I completely agree that your average gun owner would highly benefit from more training and less gear (myself included), I'm pretty surprised that you're justifying a rifle that retails for more than $2,000, yet criticizing optics that cost ~$400.

Vic,

Not sure whom that was addressed to or to cite an example? 

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15 hours ago, Maksim said:

Vic,

Not sure whom that was addressed to or to cite an example? 

Maks,

I may have read it incorrectly, but that's how I read this portion of your introduction:

Quote

One constant in the gun world is that much like in every other hobby, there is, within a certain segment an equipment race, to have the latest and greatest gear that you would find going into war zones.  While I am generally not opposed to spending more money to get a well crafted and reliable gun like a Knights Armament AR, optics in particular is an area where I feel 95% of gun owners would be spending money on features they will never use.

Trijicon ACOGs, NightForce, Elcan SpecterDR, Aimpoint, you get the idea.

Mainly the portion in red.  Taking a second look at the optics you referenced, my $400 price point was inaccurate, as those optics are in the $1,000 to $2,000 range.  I remembered Aimpoint, and thought I saw EOTech.  That being said, I still believe my point holds true.  I'm not going to buy a KAC, BCM, DD, LMT, etc. rifle and throw a Holosun optic on it.  Conversely, I'm not going to take a PSA rifle and throw an ACOG on it.  I'll normally keep quality relatively consistent across the board.  This includes everything from the optics, to the light, to the sling.  I also prefer quality over quantity.  I would much rather have one or two quality rifles with quality accessories than 7 cheap builds.  To each, his own.

Again, I still completely agree that most shooters would benefit much more from training than from the latest and greatest gucci gear.  But I also believe that a happy medium can normally be found within a reasonable budget, allowing both reliable and proven gear, as well as training and practice.

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