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Looking at scopes.

The market for rifle scopes is growing despite the emergency of powerful variable power scopes like Nikon's 4-12x (above). The 6x, such as the Redfield Tracker (below) has become the all-purpose fixed power scope for today's powerful bolt-action rifles.

At a recent gun show I was asked by a scope manufacturer's rep where I thought the market trends were leading. The question struck me as rather funny at the time because I was just about to ask this marketing guy the same thing!

He thought I might have some perspective on what the consumer was looking for. "Are there any niches that need filling?" he said.

I told him I thought the problem with the scope market was that there were too many niches already, and where scopes are concerned, that can bring some interesting marketing and sales problems for the dealer.

In optics, a diversified product line (binoculars, scopes, spotters, etc.) is one thing; more than one price (read that "quality level") is something else again. If I were dealing directly with the consumer - as most of you do every day - I would find it difficult to reconcile different levels from the same manufacturer.

When selling a product like a shotgun or rifle, it's not so hard. Take the Remington 700-ADL and BDL as examples. You can point out to a customer in a side-by-side comparison that the 15 percent more he pays for the BDL will get him a glossy stock, ebony forend tip and grip caps, white line spacers, skipline checkering, a lustrous blue job, a front sight hood, and a hinged floorplate. In short, the customer sees what his extra money gets him.

As for the performance of the ADL versus the BDL, neither you nor Remington would claim any superiority for the BDL, nor in all likelihood would your customer except it. He knows that the extra money buys cosmetics.

So what do you tell a customer when he asks you about the differences between three 3-9x variables made by the same manufacturer which sell at different price points? I'm not talking the modest 15 percent or even 20 percent which separates the standard rifle from the deluxe version; I'm talking 50, 75, or even 100 percent more.

I don't have to tell you that even the most budget-level scopes look damned good next to that same marker's best scope. Hell, there in the store you can't tell any difference at all using cursory criteria like finish, the appearance of the lens coating, or the smoothness of the power ring's movement Yet one 3-9x could cost two and even three times what that same maker's econo 3-9x costs.

So how come? Is the budget scope not constructed as well? Is it not as waterproof? (That's sort of like being "not as
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Title Annotation:Special Intelligence
Author:Sundra, John
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:May 1, 1992
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