Over the past few months I’ve been reading Jeff Cooper’s Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip, Volumes I and II, which was a blog before there were blogs. Several themes run through it, and one of them was the unreliability of scope sights. Chairman Jeff claimed that for every ten scopes that went through the Gunsite rifle program, two would bite the dust.

My own experience doesn’t agree with this. In 47 years of using scope sights, I’ve had two actually break, one that was loaned me and probably busted by its owner, and three prototypes that didn’t work in the first place. Considering how many scopes I’ve used, and how much use they’ve had, that is a pretty damn good record for reliability.

Probably the best testimony to a good scope’s durability is the Unertl MST-100 10X, which was first issued to Marine Corps snipers in 1981. Most of these scopes made it to the 21st century or a bit further before they began to give out. On the one hand, they were mounted on .308s that weighed upward of 12 pounds and therefore kicked very little, but on the other, they saw a ton of use, and were being used by Marines, who can break anything. The Unertl is being replaced by a 3X-12X Schmidt & Bender with an illuminated reticle; it’s supposed to be even more durable.

As for myself, if I’m going somewhere that sporting goods stores are not handy, I always take an extra scope. There’s nothing wrong with hedging your bets.