Uncle Jock’s Rant – Part I

Monday, September 8, 2014

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you probably have noticed that I don’t generally do negative reviews. Oh, sure, I may mention that I didn’t like this or that about a particular airgun or that something could be improved, but if I find that an airgun has what I call “a fatal flaw” (for example, the trigger weight might be unacceptably high), I tell the manufacture that the review will have to wait until they fix the problem.

My underlying philosophy is that you, the reader, would prefer to read about products that work reasonably well and that perhaps you might like to buy. My presumption is that you, like me, read reviews of products on-line as a kind of “decision support tool” that you use to figure out whether you are interested in a product.

Lately, though, I have noticed a trend that has gotten me hot enough that I need to blow off some steam. That trend has been the inclusion of really crappy scopes in a package with an inexpensive yet decent air rifle.

What do I mean by “a really crappy scope?” Quite simply, a scope that does not have an adjustable objective. An adjustable objective – usually a rotating bell on the end of the scope that faces the target but sometimes a sidewheel on the scope – allows the shooter to critically focus the scope on the target. Sometimes because the scope cannot be focused, it is just plain difficult to see the target clearly.

But there is another problem: a non-adjustable objective can result in something called parallax error. For a detailed explanation of parallax, go here: http://198.154.244.69/blog/2009/07/parallax.html The upshot of parallax error is that if you don’t place your eye in exactly the same spot behind scope for each shot (and it is surprisingly easy to get it wrong), you may think that you are aiming at the same spot on the target, but you may not be.

Now, at this point you would be right to ask: “So what?” Well, it is a very big “so what.” If you can’t be sure that you are aiming at the same spot on the target, your attempts to shoot groups for accuracy and to test different pellets to see which is the most accurate will be in vain . . . that’s what.

The reason that I am writing about this is that in the past month or so, I have been sent three different air rifle/scope combos that included crappy scopes. In one case, I contacted the manufacturer and said, “The previous generation of this rifle had a better scope; this is a step backwards.” I was told: “The decision was made to include this scope with this rifle. I’ll let you know if anything changes.”

In another case, I contacted the parent company, and they said, “Maybe you got a defective scope.” I sent the scope back and in a few days I heard from them: “You should test this rifle with whatever scope you prefer.” In other words, the scope was not defective, just crappy. (And in private conversations, the guy I spoke with, a marketing guy, admitted that this was likely to create a customer satisfaction and product return problem for them.)

Next time, we’ll look at why airgun companies do this.

Til then, aim true and shoot straight.

–          Jock Elliott

9 Comments

  1. RidgeRunner says:

    Go for it Jock! Any time I see a scope in the package, I take my money elsewhere. Why should I pay extra for what I know is going to be a piece of junk that I will likely just throw away.

    The up side of this is that newbies will buy the package and then sell it real cheap to get rid of the junky air rifle. I have picked up some nice air rifles that way.

    Of course that is also a down side as they are turned off by the cheap junk and never waste their money on airguns again.

    The marketeers should offer two packages, one without the junky scopes. However, they are hoping to make large volume sales to the big box store and the purchasers there have no idea what they are buying.

    I applaud your efforts to communicate this issue to the marketeers. Unfortunately, it is not a requirement to actually use your product that you market.

  2. cmz128 says:

    Very well said, and I think the same thing myself whenever I see a “combo” advertised. If the manufacturers are going to include a fixed objective scope, why don’t they make it one that has the parallax set for 10 yards? I’m sure the scope manufacturers would do it for the airgun manufacturers since they are purchasing a large number of scopes and it would be a relatively easy thing to do. I guess it just goes to show that the airgun manufacturers really don’t use their products and don’t care about customer satisfaction.

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      CMZ128,

      Thanks for the kind words.

  3. MLM says:

    Great comments. Combo springer budget packages are a complete waste of $ for anyone with minimal airgun experience.

    A couple of years ago that was me, but within a few weeks I upgraded to a still inexpensive but adjustable objective scope that was orders of magnitude better. Result: the budget combo was poor value because I ended up paying for a scope twice. Once for a piece of junk I could not give away, and again for something usable, that would have cost maybe $30-50 more in a bundle.

  4. Bradly says:

    A rant I have it that more and more air rifles don’t have open sights. I love having the option of open sights. If you buy a air rifle with a crappy scope, you have no back up without open sights. You are forced to buy a better scope. Open sights seem to becoming a lost art. A lot of the “younger” shooter I see can’t use open sights. They never learned how.

  5. Mike says:

    I agree! I give the junk scopes to the neighbor kids to play pirate with. With the recent “Pirates of the Carribean” movie series, I’m a popular guy!

    1. Jock Elliott says:

      Mike,

      I love it! A fine and fitting way to repurpose those junk scopes.

      Mark Twain said:

      Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.
      – Life on the Mississippi

  6. Bob Todrick says:

    Same applies to a lot of rimfires.
    A couple of years back I purchased a Savage .22WMR that came with a ‘Bushnell’ 3×9 scope.
    I’ve italicized ‘Bushnell’ because no where in their catalog can you find this particular scope, and the local rep (whom I know) had never seen one.
    Being that it boosted the price of the rifle by only $20 I knew from the outset it would be bad…but woo-boy, I didn’t realize how bad.
    The best that rifle would do at 100m was a three or four inch group.
    Within a couple of weeks I upgraded to a decent scope and the gun consistently shoots 1.25″ at 100m.
    My 13 year old son has a Slavia 631 with open sights. He wanted the Bushnell but I wouldn’t give it to him…figured the open sights are more accurate than that piece of crap.
    In my opinion this only hurts a gunmakers reputation.

  7. Roger Voyles says:

    I have bought probably 50 air rifles in the past 10 years and quite a few of them have came with crappy scopes and I have shot every single one of them air gun manufacturers need to make more open site air rifles stead of non open site air rifles

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