Going the Distance for Your Shoppers With Long-Range Optics

There’s a long-range optic for (almost) any budget, so stocking a variety of price points is a smart play.

Going the Distance for Your Shoppers With Long-Range Optics

Nothing helps drive competition, value, and innovation like a growing product segment. The affordability and popularity of long-range competitive shooting has exploded in recent years, in no small part because of the proliferation of long-range rifles that most shooters could afford.

It wasn’t so long ago that long-range accuracy, beyond 500 yards or so, required significant investment, a good relationship with a gunsmith or gunsmithing skills of your own, and years creating the perfect combination of rifle, ammunition and optic performance.

Fast forward to today and your customer has a chance to buy a gun off the rack, ammo off the shelf, and an optic out of the case, head to the range and ring steel at 1,000 yards with a bone-stock setup. More than being possible, some customers now expect it.

Some of this, no doubt, is thanks to the same kind of social-media fallout that has hunters thinking they can walk to the woods for the first time and kill a monster buck. When all a customer sees on their Instatwitbooktube is folks that look like them, ringing steel at distances mostly used to describe track and field events, they start to think they should be doing that, too.

Finding shooting solutions for long-range enthusiasts didn’t used to be too difficult — it began and ended with top-of-the-line gear. Now, with popularity of long-range shooting growing, more customers means more price levels to serve. More than ever, having an optics case that gives customers a good-better-best selection is critical to converting interest into purchases.

Regardless of the final price tag, though, long-range shooters are going to be looking for some common features that should be available on the entire lineup you bring to the table.

Exposed Turrets: Nothing is absolute, but the long-range shooters I’ve been around tend to prefer to dial with their turrets as opposed to using reticle correction at about a 2-to-1 clip. Turrets deigned to be subjected to the elements are going to be a common request. Nobody wants to lose track of turret covers.

Reticle Design:  It’s tough to make everyone happy, but target reticles need to be clear, fine and precise. Ask five shooters about their favorite reticle and you’ll probably get six different answers. The sheer volume of options don’t help. They might be MOA, MRAD, ballistic, illuminated, wire, glass-etched — there are a lot of options. My advice? Clear, fine, precise.

First Focal Plane: Reticles that are in the first focal plane change their size along with the magnification the scope is set on. This popularity has skyrocketed in the last decade or so. There are still shooters who like second-focal-plane scopes as well, but overwhelmingly, you need some FFP scopes in the case for those long-range tactical shooters.

One thing that is absolutely critical in this category with this type of customer: Your employees can’t fake their way through these products. More than a few times I’ve stood alongside another customer at an optics case and heard the store employee pass along blatantly false information. There is no quicker way to rule out a store than employees who don’t know enough about the products they are selling or don’t care enough to explain that they don’t know the answer but can find out.

Never forget the resources you have at your disposal. Manufacturers are happy to help train employees. Most probably already have resources they can share to help that process. You don’t have to come up with a training system on your own — you have tools you can put to work for you.

Best-case scenario, the customer knows enough to know your employee is wrong. This probably puts your shop in a bad light, but at least the customer has the right information. Worst case, something goes wrong and someone gets hurt. Never let the desire of an employee to sound like they know what they’re talking about override your desire to deliver accurate information and quality support to your customers.

There might be product categories you can fake knowledge about. Optics isn’t one of them, especially when it comes to long-range applications.


Long-Range Optic Options

Having options across all price points isn’t easily done in long-range optics. You will need to focus on the features that your customers want and try to avoid redundancy whenever possible, while still being able to cater to those brand-loyal shoppers that frequent your store.


Budget Options – Sub-$1,000

Of all the offerings you want to have, finding a quality scope that comes in under four figures for those wanting to get into long-range shooting may be the toughest to source. Luckily, Sightmark has you covered.

Sightmark: The new Presido 3-18x50 LR2 delivers many of the features your customers are looking for, without a price tag that prevents newer shooters from exploring the discipline. The first-focal-plane reticle is structured around the .338 profile, and the turrets have the zero stops shooters like and the tactile feel that fits the category. The bones are here with this one, starting with the 30mm chassis, even if it isn’t quite as flashy as some other choices. MSRP $399.97


Mainstream Options - $1,000-$2,000

This is the sweet spot for long-range options. You have a lot of brands with models that fall in this range, and you strike a really nice balance of value. Customers can get some of those additional high-end features without breaking the bank.

Bushnell: Few names bring the history of shooting sports excellence of Bushnell, a brand that has stood the test of time. The Elite Tactical 3.5-21x50 DMR3 continues that long line of trusted sporting optics. The G4P reticle really stands out with this unit. The floating aimpoint keeps the sight picture clear so shooters can focus on the target. Pretty much what you would expect from a Bushnell scope, with a design focus on the long-range tactical shooter. MSRP $1,499.99

Athlon: I’ve been singing the praises of Athlon for a while now. They offer great value across all their products, and the Ares 4.5-30x56 is no exception. Stepping up to a 34mm chassis provides some additional rigidity to the platform. All the other features you would expect are there. The turrets are ¼-MOA value and exposed for dialing purposes with zero stops. Parallax is adjustable to 25 yards, and three reticle options are available. MSRP $1,562.49

German Precision Optics (GPO): I hope you aren’t sleeping on this optics brand. Those involved bring a long history with optics, and the products show that attention to detail. Case in point, the GPOTAC 4.5-27x50i. Similar to the Athlon offering with the 34mm chassis, it also has some differences; the extra-low-dispersion glass, for starters. Additionally, the turrets are .1 milrad value instead of MOA. Shooters who dial will also appreciate the PASSIONtrac system in the GPO turrets, which allows for resetting but has also been specifically designed for shooters who prefer to dial their shots in instead of using the reticle. MSRP $1,579.99


Premium Options – More than $2,000

Some shooters want to sacrifice nothing. They want all the features, all the bells, whistles and perks. You could argue the sky isn’t even the limit when it comes to optics. There’s always a component upgrade to be had.

Zeiss: While Zeiss may not be a name that first comes to mind when you think about long-range tactical optics, the new LRP S3 should change that. The 636-56 configuration delivers a 6-36x56 scope with an astonishing 110 MOA or 32 MRAD of adjustment. That amount of travel in the vertical turret is a huge plus for those shooters who like to spin to win. Zeiss craftsmanship throughout, ED glass, first focal plane — it’s all there. Don’t miss this one. MSRP $2,499.99

Vortex: I’d be willing to stake my next paycheck that if you walk down the line at pretty much any shooting competition in the country, Vortex sits atop more rifles than any other optics maker. Their reputation is well-earned. The Razor HD Gen III 6-36x56 FFP does nothing to betray that legacy. Clarity is incredible, reliability is the envy of the industry, and every detail of the scope screams long-range shooter. Parallax to 10 yards, 120 MOA of vertical adjustment, 34mm chassis, and exposed locking turrets, all designed and delivered with the performance Vortex shooters have come to love. MSRP $3,999.99


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