Why Are Some Optics So Expensive? thumbnail image

Why Are Some Optics So Expensive?

5D Tactical - 22nd Apr 2021

If you’re one the smart and lucky fellows who have recently completed their 80% build, then you’re probably here because it’s time to get an optic for that newest addition to your arsenal! But perhaps you’ve also noticed the wide range of price tags on all the different optics we have to choose from these days. Today, we’ll get into what all the fuss is about just some glass.

The 1x Crowd

trijicon rmr glock 17

When looking at optics with no magnification, the selection is vast and includes red dots, reflex, holographic, and prismatic sights. First, don’t get caught up in the difference between a red dot and a reflex sight. They’re very similar and what we’ve found is that the form factor makes up a lot of the naming difference. For example, the Trijicon RMR Type 2 projects a red dot but is considered an exposed reflex sight. We carry the T2-style Holosun 2MOA red dot which is considered a tube sight as it has two lenses to look through whereas the RMR is just one lens. Yet, the Trijicon RMR can cost upwards of $6-700 when most Holosuns can be had for less than $200.

Although Holosun is a relatively new company that only started to make waves in the past 5 years, it has been widely used by American consumers and vetted by several competitive shooters. It’s often been dubbed as the best “bang for your buck” optic brand. In fact, because more competitively priced optics have been released by Vortex, Sig, and even Leupold (Venom Red Dot, Romeo-1 Series, and DeltaPoint Pro) Holosun has actually gotten even cheaper in the past few years.

So that’s the conclusion we’ve reached on why Holosun sights are priced the way they are. That answer can also partially crossover to Trijicon. If you do a little internet sleuthing, the RMR could be found for about $450.00 or so. Prior to the heavy competition in the optics market, buyers could feel safe in purchasing optics that cost more than $500 from brands like Aimpoint, Trijicon, and EOTech ultimately because of a few factors:

  • Toughness, faith in ability to hold zero when firing or even after being dropped.
  • Optics were made and tested against high standards.
  • Long battery life and harsh weather resistance.


bushnell scope

For our purposes, consider the Primary Arms 1-6x against the Vortex 1-6x Razor HD Gen 2 as a comparison. That’s a $300 dollar scope versus an $1100 dollar scope. Magnified optics like long range or low powered variable optic (LPVO) scopes are a whole different ball game. The price of different scopes can range from a few hundred bucks to tens of thousands of dollars if you include optics with night vision or infrared capabilities. However, because of this larger spectrum it makes it easier to determine the difference in quality and the factors that make some scopes more expensive than others:

Purpose – Is the scope for a duty or tactical use? Are you competing in matches or planning for a seasonal hunt? Consider what your scope’s use is to inform what type of scope you need more.

Construction quality –How well does it hold up against adverse weather conditions? We hope that the scope holding a zero is a given. How are the controls? Is it easy to adjust the turrets for zeroing? How easy is it to adjust magnification?

Optical Element Quality –This is where the quality of the glass comes into play. How does the scope perform at long range distances in low light conditions?

Parallax – Is the optic parallax-free? (Optics that are parallax-free help hitting your target much easier — as long as the reticle is resting on it regardless of what angle you’re looking down the scope from. This also applies to red dot and holographic sights.)

Vignette – With cheaper scopes, as you use a higher magnification you may experience some vignetting and see a small shadow around the rim of the scope. With higher quality and pricier scopes, a more powerful magnification won’t cause any vignetting and your sight picture will remain clear.

Is it worth the splurge?

vortex razor hd gen II

Today, we’re really glad there are so many varieties out there which has forced top brands to bring their prices down by a good amount. There’s nothing wrong with going the budget route to give you an introductory taste of what several hundred or even thousands of dollars more could provide in increased experience. If it fits your budget, and you’re in situations that require the best optic you can afford to go all in on… of course we approve!