Buy Once, Cry Once.
It’s a motto often repeated, and one many struggle to learn. In the firearms world, the comment that product x is “just as good as” product y (that costs twice as much) is repeated too often to count. This is especially true when it comes to optics, and particularly those designed for hard use.
By hard use, I mean the optic can pretty much deal with anything that is thrown at it and continue to function. The optic is essentially as tough as the rifle that it’s sitting on. A great example is the ACOG. Many people recoil at the idea of spending a thousand dollars or more on a relatively low powered fixed magnification rifle scope. There are hundreds of optics on the market that have decent quality glass and reticles, and are fixed at 4x or thereabouts. For most people, these types of optics are just fine. If the most action these optics will see is being bounced around in a case in the back of a truck on the way to the range, where they will sit on a bench and be shot for an hour or so once or twice a year, then there is no need to be designed for “hard use.”
I came across two photos that describe “hard use” to me. This is not how your average hunting rifle or range toy will be used.
Now, am I saying that you should never consider buying one of these optics because you will never see these kinds of conditions? No, I’m not saying that. While there is certainly an argument that people like to buy these optics because they can (hell, I just picked one up, myself), there is a certain level of comfort in knowing that the optic on your rifle was designed to deal with conditions far in excess of what you ever plan to expose it to. The same applies to a variety of red dot sights on the market just as much as magnified optics.
I’m saying that you should keep this in mind when someone is trying to convince you that a $150 RDS is “just as good as” an Aimpoint or similar that costs $500. They both do the same job, true, but one will last you forever while the other will likely choke as soon as conditions become less than ideal.