Tips for Upselling Premium Optics

When it comes to riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and rangefinders, your customers may be spending their money on the wrong equipment for optimum accuracy.

Tips for Upselling Premium Optics

ATN's Day and Night optics deliver cutting edge electro-optics features in 4K. (Photo: ATN)

At some point the hunter, outfitter or competitive shooter realizes that flipping the investment mindset to spending more on optics than the gun is critical to accuracy.

This is a huge opportunity for dealers to help further educate customers to get the most out of their rifles by selecting the right optic for the job, but according to many manufacturers most retailers are still selling the optics wrong.

The optics manufacturers we spoke with all agreed that about half the time, the root of firearms dissatisfaction is choosing the wrong optic. They’re often too low in quality, the wrong magnification, or don’t fit the intended use of the gun. Here are some tips and recommendations from industry pros on what to recommend for optics. 

Low-Power Variable Optics

Dennis Phillips from Steiner & Burris notes that red dots are by far the hottest selling optics across the market. But sales are increasing fast on quality 1-4 and even up to 1-8 variable optics thanks to the 3Gun market explosion.

“Customers love the new low-power premium variable optics with magnification ranges that touch on the high range of typical 3-9 deer rifle optics but still deliver all the advantages of the very fast low magnification of a red dot,” Phillips says. “The dual and first focal plane optics in the premium optics tier are allowing customers to leverage BDC reticles through the entire magnification range to put shots on target quickly. If customers want a fast shooting gun then this category is the right recommendation.

“Low quality optics will distort at the min/max of the magnification range and not deliver clarity at even 100 yards to see shot placement,” Phillips adds. “Clarity with low power optics is actually extremely important to get the maximum of utility. Dealers should allow customers to test the optics outside where they can really see the clarity at 200 to 500 yards and see how they could use a dual/first focal plane optic at those distances. Once customers try these features on the higher tier of optics and see the clarity at longer distances, they are sold. The other great point is that an equal clarity lower power optic is usually less expensive than a similar quality higher magnification optic — to maintain clarity as the magnification increases, so does the price.”

A great example of premium low-power optics is the $1,439 Burris XTRII 1-8 with two optional BDC reticles. The Burris XTRII 1-8 can deliver everything customers need at red dot distances and still has the optical precision, magnification and BDC calibrated drop to reach out to 1,000 yards.

Mid-Power Variable Optics

ATN’s Steve Lemenov points out that this category was previously dominated by the old standard 3-9 magnification range, but customers are now seeing a lot of new options in this category including wider 2-10 magnification ranges and a lot of electro-optics features never before available.

“The deer and hog/predator hunters of today want to also capture the shooting experience,” Lemenov says. “Most deer hunting shots are taken under 100 yards on non-moving targets, so hunters have more time to focus and aim a precise shot, usually with the aid of some support. Now with electro-optics entering the market and features like our BIX Ballistic Integrated Exchange, customers are able to accurately range, target, catalog, record and share their hunts all in one solution, and almost completely automatically.

“The newer millennial customers are experience-based consumers,” Lemenov continues. “For the price of a premium quality optic, they can add in a lot of features with an electro-optic to improve accuracy and capture the details of the hunt without running extra cameras. For predator and pest hunters, the addition of thermal and night vision functionality allows very effective and successful night hunts that just were not possible before. With thermal technology, customers can scan an entire field in minutes in darkness and engage game or move to the next field. This is a huge opportunity to educate and get customers excited about the next generation of technology available for hunters, but that can take some time dedicated to each sale to really take them through the features.”

ATN’s $799 X-Sight 4K Pro Day/Night Optic and $1,999 Thor 4 Thermal Day/Night optic both are huge jumps from even just a year or two ago. The clunky optics designs have been replaced with 30mm tubes that mount and feel just like any other optic, but with a huge amount of extra features including real-time wi-fi broadcast of the shooter’s viewpoint during the hunt to a spotters’ iPad.

High-Power Variable Optics

Sig Sauer Electro-Optics’ Andy York recommends that dealers take the time to fit and properly adjust an optic during the sale cycle for a customer.

“We do a lot of education around how to sell optics, which includes making sure a customer properly adjusts the eyepiece to make the reticle as crisp as possible by turning the focus ocular all the way clockwise and then backing it out until the reticle is perfectly focused,” York says. “The next step is to then take the time to set the objective to the distance they are looking at. If you demo a great optic that isn’t adjusted properly, it will look horrible.

“Customers, especially newer shooters, often over-purchase on the magnification side with way more magnification than needed,” he says. “For varmint and small predator hunting such as coyote, a 4.5-14 or 15 magnification is a great range for the typical shooting distances for varmint hunting of under 300 yards, but for those customers who are willing to sacrifice the faster shooting utility of a lower magnification, the 6.5-20 range is good for supported shooting.

"Optic clarity is key, but at most mid and long distances, the key to connecting is proper ranging and scope dope adjustment to take the shot. With electro optics such as our BDX kits that include Bluetooth-paired optic, rangefinder and a smartphone app, the system can instantly deliver a hold-here dot in the reticle based on the rangefinder and ammo data. We also have an integrated digital level in many of our longer range optics that helps ensure when a customer takes a shot, they have every advantage possible to connect. These systems can deliver a huge amount of utility to the mid- and long-range precision shooter.”

Sig Sauer’s $1,079.99 BDX combo kit, which includes the KILO1800 digital rangefinder and SIERRA3 4.5-14X44MM electro-optic, delivers instant range and hold-here reticle dots based on environmental and cartridge data. The system even delivers a sophisticated ballistic tuning called “truing” and delivers a digital first focal plane reticle with digital holds that calibrate with the magnification.

Extreme-Range Optics

According to Vista Outdoors Bushnell Optics Manager Jacob Edson, the difference in clarity between a $200 and $600 optic becomes increasingly apparent when customers are pushing the limits of precision shooting at distances over 300 yards.

“At 500, 1,000 and 1,500 yards it becomes a necessity to have a $1,000-plus premium-tier optic to just see the target,” Edson says. “Too often we see customers buy very capable long range rifles such as .308, 6.5 Creedmore, 300 Win Mag and 338 Lapua rifles, but they become disappointed with the performance because of low quality optics.

“When precision counts, the dealer really needs to help customers discover what the higher tier of premium optics delivers. Our Bushnell XRS II 4.5-30x50 Elite Tactical is one of those optics that has evolved and improved over the years to really address this segment of precision shooters with the very wide magnification ranges only available on really high-tier optics paired with industry-leading clarity to see those long-range targets clearly.”

Riton Optics' Brady Speth suggests dealers need to show optics outdoors with pre-spotted distances to help customers see the real difference in optics at typical ranges they will be shooting.

“It does no good for a customer to look 50 yards across a store and expect that would help them make a premium optic purchase decision for a $1,000-plus optic they will be shooting at 1,000-plus yards. Premium optics are sold with customers looking at and comparing optic clarity at 300-, 500- and 1,000-yard distances,” Speth says.

“Although it has become common for a lot of features to be loaded into expensive optics, we really recommend that customers concentrate on the clarity of the optic as almost every manufacturer has the same features at this tier. As one of the smaller optics companies, we believe taking three or four optics outside with a customer is critical. The clarity is what sells this tier of $1,000 to $2,000 optics.”


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