An AR newbie posted the following to Reddit, under the alarming title, “Frustrating Weekend of Zero”. See if you can figure out why his weekend was frustrating.
So I just added a new Sig Sauer M400 Enhanced to my family this last month, and got a shiny new Barska to go atop it. I finally found a range that was outdoors and had a 50 yard target to me to get a 50/200 zero on.
This is the Barska scope on an AR from the Barska website. (And yes, it’s on a full-auto post sample lower). Note that it is not made to be used with a flip-up BUIS — without messing up eye relief. But that’s the least of its problems.
Some of you will have sussed the answer already. For the rest of you, we’ll drag a red herring in the form of his first couple frustrations…
First frustrating bit is that they tell me AFTER pay range fees for the day that no FMJ is allowed on the outdoor rifle range. Ok…so I buy their up priced ammo just to save me a trip to the closest store (~10 miles away) for range/target 5.56 ammo.
First: what odds that ammo restriction is on the range’s website?
Second frustrating thing was the staffer. I started with the iron sights at the 50 and the RSO there is literally pestering me every firing iteration about how I should be zeroing it at 25 yards. Anyhow, I get it nice and zeroed at the 18 round mark. 3 rounds each group. Still feeling pretty OK at this point. On goes the scope.
A lot of outdoor ranges are requiring frangible ammo now under EPA, etc., pressure. Until the bureaucrats are displayed along the Baltimore-Washington Parkway like Spartacus’s army, our only choice is to live with it. But he put the scope on, and as we are fond of saying, Then His Troubles Began™.
By the way, if anyone here has a similar setup be aware that the rail on the M400 is BARELY long enough to fit both the scope of this length and the rear sight on it. I had to put the sight on the forward-most slots and the sight on the rear-most. It actually extends a couple of mms over the bolt handle.
One of those “sight on the forward-most and sight on the rear-most” was obviously meant to be the “scope.” The normal thing to do would be for the scope to be forward, but we have limited confidence in this guy’s gun savvy.
For most people, back-up iron sights are somewhere between an affectation and a gimmick. With a solid scope, you will not need them.
Anyways, the next frustrating part is that this scope is not intuitive to zero in. Even with the manual in hand. I field boresight to get on paper with the RSO looking at me like I have lost my mind. Looking down the open bore and then getting the scope close to where I can see it. This gets me on the paper. I quickly realize that this scope has these “locking rings” to keep the adjustment wheels from moving. The frustrating bit is that if they are locked in, you cant adjust (duh) but if they are TOO lose, the knobs will turn without clicking and without moving the sights at all. So its a freaking pain to sight in this scope.
This: “I quickly realize that this scope has these “locking rings” to keep the adjustment wheels from moving,” makes us wonder if he did anything with that manual except wave it around as a magic talisman. On the other hand, is the manual on any Chinese scope any good?
One gimmick that is a red flag for low-quality Chinese glass is the multi-color reticle.
Because here we’re getting to the root of the problem: in terms of optics, nothing from China that’s exported here is any good. (Chinese optics on their own military firearms are fine, but that’s not the lowest-bidder crap they send us). Even if the manual weren’t in an uncharming patois with English, Chinese, and Christ-knows-what elements to it, the scope itself is likely to have any of a number of problems: DOA, reticle out of place, won’t hold zero, won’t adjust, fogs up, etc. etc. etc. It’s not just Barska, which name is a watchword for bottom-drawer, Airsoft-quality junk, but TASCO (These Are Simply Crappy Optics), Leapers, NCStar, Simmons, and any other trademark that’s now emblazoned on the products of Peoples Re-Enlightenment Prison & Factory #4628. (ETA: UTG, BSA, same junk with a different name).
This character had the no-system-to-the-adjustments problem, which is not universal but pretty common on the Walmart & Dick’s, etc., scopes.
My grouping every 3 rounds was fine, so I don’t think firing moved the sights at all, but the adjustments were crazy. 12 clicks down to put me twice as far as I wanted, from about 4 inches above the target to 4 below. So I went 6 up…then 4 more up, then 4 more up, then 2 more up to get on target. Made no sense to me. Regardless I finally get it zeroed and Ive been in the heat for hours now. I am done and relieved to be done with it. I start tightening the lockdown rings on the scope…and I hear them making clicking noises. **** me…I knew I just ruined my zero, and I know that although I reversed the exact same number of clicks that this scope is funky. My zero is probably gone after all that work. I went from frustrated to plain pissed off, and at that point just decided to call it a day and head home. I will at least be on paper next weekend and go from there.
Elsewhere in the thread, he explains that the Barska scope was a gift. He amended his post to include:
Since I am getting a lot of comments about the scope. I understand that its not top quality. But it IS gift quality. And thus I use it. It is in itself not a bad scope to use for shooting. My groups are good, sights are stable during and after firing…its just a pain to adjust. I am just hoping that after I get it locked in I will never have to touch the adjustments again.
Unfortunately, a scope that seems to hold zero but that has no logic to its adjustments is unlikely to continue to hold zero. Our heart goes out to this guy. A well-meaning relative has given him something that looks like a scope, and that is, in true Chinese-maker style, laden with advanced-sounding features, but deficient in quality control and basic functionality.
His basic choices at this point are:
- Return the scope (and risk disappointing his relative) in the fond hope that another one with be without problems;
- Live with it, and “hope” it doesn’t get worse, which is clearly what he’s decided to do;
- Start saving for a real scope.
“Just as good for half the money” is not a term that has any grip in the low end of the optics market. (The high end? Maybe). And any expenditure is wasted, even $59, if it’s on a scope that you can’t trust.
A Chinese scope is not automatically bad. Maybe one in four will take zero, hold zero, adjust correctly, and last for years. Two in four will start off like that and fail on at least one of those in twelve months or less — usually, much less. And the fourth is DOA, like this fellow’s. That is not a product you can trust, and right now China, Inc. can sell as many of these things as they can make at a profit, so they have little incentive to improve the product. There’s nothing different about Chinese people that makes it hard for them to make scopes, but their industrial and social organization is at odds with modern quality control practices. In plain English, even when they have a QC process in place, they’re incentivized to cheat on it, and they do.
How will you know when the Chinese make a good scope? When they proudly put a Chinese name on it. Ain’t happened yet.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend a fortune or buy a trusted name (Leupold, Nightforce, Trijicon) to have a decent scope. You can seek out a used scope from when Simmons, Bushnell, Tasco, etc. were not badge-engineered Chinese junk. (The fact that these names are now applied to Chinese scrap-value scopes depresses the prices of the older, higher-quality glass!)
Look for scopes made in the USA, Japan, or the Philippines. (Many of the Filipino scopes are made with lenses ground and coated in Japan, so they tend to punch above their weight in clarity & light transmission).
As a rule of thumb, your optic should cost you about what your gun did. (Hark! We hear squawks of alarm). It’s not an “accessory,” it’s a vital component of your fire control system. But assuming Chel$ea Clinton hasn’t taken up shooting, the rest of you may need to compromise on your optic. The good news is that you can without going all the way to the bottom of the barrel.
For $100 more than the scope from the Peoples’ Re-Enlightenment Prison & Factory #4628, you can get a Filipino-assembled scope that will have had some quality control at the factory. You won’t be playing in Nightforce territory and the Schmidt undt Bender snobs will still sneer at you, but you’ll be spared the miserable weekend this guy just had, trying to zero a shoddy scope.