GUN GUY THOUGHTS: Are You Really Just Paying For A Name?

Have you ever heard that salesperson tell you “It’s just like brand X, the Navy Seals tested it and it passed with flying colors.” I know that leaves a lot of the general gun buying public in a bit of awe and they buy the line of BS spewing from the gun shop employee’s mouth. Hell, even I am guilty of buying into the ‘only buying a name’ thought process early in my shooting career.

Before we get too far into this and commenters accuse me of being elitest, there is a place for budget accessories. But viewing them as just as good as something that has a proven track record can be dangerous if you rely on that item in a professional or self-defense capacity.

So what is the reality? Are you really paying for that prestigious name attached to the gun item you are thinking of buying or is there a hidden cost that many buyers overlook?

If you are wondering what spurred this thought, I was at the USCCA Expo this last weekend and overheard a rep spewing some of the most despicable garbage to sell his product. I am not going to directly name the company, but one of the lines that I heard him deliver was “it is just as good as an EoTech, you just aren’t paying for the name.”

I happen to have a ton of experience with the optics in question and happen to know they are grade-a junk. Simply turning the optic over and looking at it closely you can see several failure points. But if you were buying it for a range toy I am sure it is going to be fine. (I will say that comparing a product to an EoTech and telling me it is as good as one doesn’t give me the warm and fuzzies.)

So when you look at many of these products that people buy instead of the ones that ‘you are just paying for the name’ hard enough it is easy to see where that extra money goes. That isn’t to say that some of the expensive products are lacking in quality as well. There are some gun things out there that are pricey as hell but don’t hold a candle to something half its price or less.


Brand loyalty, good enough, and ‘it’s just a name’ are all the enemy of quality. When you are shopping for your next gun thing, ask around before you make that purchase. See what other users are saying that have used the item in the same role you intend on using it. If they say it is GTG, buy it. If you hear otherwise then you might want to take a look at another model.

Be wise with how you spend your hard earned dollars and only consider something that is capable of performing the task you plan to use it for. Buying a Honda Ridgeline and expecting it to tow a 30′ RV is about as wise as buying a NcStar scope and expecting those multi-color reticles to help you hit a target at 1500 yards.

Patrick R

Patrick is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and TFBTV Host. He likes guns and has liked shooting guns for as long as he can remember. You can follow Patrick on Instagram @tfbpatrick, Facebook, or contact him by email at

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Matt

    You are paying for a name but it’s because some names give you more for your money. No doubt I’ve had some luck occasionally from budget friendly brands. But I’ve owned firearms in all ends of the cost spectrum and once you cross that $1K line, there’s no going back. At least for rifles. The measurable gain in both quality and performance was not luck. It was a deliberate trade of more cash for more quality. Handguns however are inherently less expensive of course but are also less consistent in cost-to-quality scale. There are a lot of manufacturers offering sub $500 handguns that are very impressive. My FNS-9 for instance is an absolutely great gun in my opinion. Offers a cold hammer-forged barrel, true ambidextrous controls, front and back slide serrations, tritium night sights, 17rd magazines, and more for around $400 street prices whereas other companies offer similar features for $800 or more. Rifles seem to hold more consistently to a pattern. Specifically relating to ARs, it always seems your budget guns range $400 to $600 and the more top-tier offering average $700 to $1K plus. Now in recent weeks the gun industry has turned into a buyer’s market and this “consistency” is no longer. There doesn’t seem to be a way to gauge things now. Prices are ridiculously good on so many things, including top-tier names.

    • RSG

      A $700 top tier AR? I don’t think so. High tier is DD, BCM, POF and LWRC. Top tier are folks like LMT, Noveske, KAC, Barrett etc. High Tier starts at around $1300 and goes up to $2800. Top Tier is even higher.

    • 22winmag

      I just paid $383 after rebate for my Winchester XPR rifle in .325 WSM. Come to find out it’s actually a Browning/FN and a Winchester in name only. That’s fine by me, because my FN barreled Model 70 shoots cloverleafs with Walmart ammo.

    • LGonDISQUS

      Ruger’s service to customer clear adds value to price, and their prices are more yhan fair. Products aren’t ALWAYS smooth python looking machines, but that is the balance, I guess.

      It all depends on what the consumer places value in, no?

  • Max

    Manufacturers like SIG and H&K have reached the “Pay for a Name” level; the same with a few AR-manufacturers.
    The small increase in performance over some lower-priced firearms is hardly a good ROI.
    For the vast majority of firearms owners, the extra you would pay for buying these firearms would be better spent in buying more time at a range.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      Um. P320?

      The thing is most buyers don’t do that. They buy the cheap thing and spend the rest of the cash on more BS to bolt on their gun.

      • SGT Fish

        right? I just got the p320 carry for my GF yesterday for $425. I would have gotten her another G19, but she liked the sig and there was definitely a difference between the two. she got what she wanted. and is 25 bucks more than the glock really paying for a name?

        • Younggun

          First: You can get a factory new Glock for $400???
          Second: You bought a factory new P320 for $425?????? Where the F#$% do you live?

          • SGT Fish

            MIL/LE discounts. And you can get super good discounts on glocks for just being a member of the GSSF. do some research

          • Younggun

            Ok first off I have done my research and own both firearms in question. Second, we are talking about pricing for products in the normal marketplace. When someone says “ya I can get a car for $7,000 because I work at the dealership, know the guy that runs the place, and am sleeping with the manager” that really isn’t indicative of the actual price of the product in question. The vast majority of gun owners do not get MIL/LE discounts so using that as a measuring stick for how products are priced in the market is absurd. Do some research.

          • Hoplopfheil

            “You can expect to pay about $200 for a used GLOCK, ‘cuz that’s what my buddy who’s a police officer sold me his old one for.”

          • Sam Damiano

            Knowing the discount tells you how much the mark up is. Even with the discount there is profit being made.

          • SGT Fish

            Did you look up the gssf discount? The one anyone can get. Maybe you didn’t do enough research. And it’s not absurd, because ANYONE can get it. Also, you can get huge discounts on sign just by being an nra range instructor.

    • Since SIG has moved production out of Germany they been competitively priced compared to guns with a similar construction methodology (comparing the plain jane models not the up market models that SIG makes for consumers). You can’t compare the price of a aluminum framed SIG Classic P series with a Glock. Glock’s material costs alone are easily half that of SIG’s.

      OTOH the SIG Pro series has always been competitively price with Glocks. Along with the new SIG P320.

    • Vitsaus

      Owning many SIG pistols (West German models), as well as several HK firearms, I can say objectively that they shoot better than, and feel more comfortable in the hand than my Glocks, or S&W’s. I will say that recently SIG’s marketing has outpaced it’s quality, but the designs are certainly sound. Having fired everything from Rugers to Nighthawks, its hard for me to shrug off expensive guns as all just being gimmicks, when I can see them objectively performing better than most of their much cheaper competition.

  • 22winmag

    If I’m going to overpay for any one name, that name is going to be Leupold.

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      After using a Mark 8 recently, I can attest to the overpaying part.

      • Gary Kirk

        Gasp.. You didn’t just knock on Leupold did you?..

        • Emfourty Gasmask

          The effrontery!

        • 22winmag

          I think he meant “I can attest to the *willingness to overpay* part.”

      • The Mark 8s are vastly overrated. Lots of other options out there that are better at a better price point.

        • 22winmag

          Yeah, better on paper. Better until you freeze them, bake them, or drop them in the mud.

          • Having done all those things to my equal-but-cheaper scopes, I can tell you none of them have had any problems.

    • thedarkknightreturns

      I’ll see your Leupold and raise you a Schmidt und Bender.

      • Gary Kirk

        Love S&B.. Have also been itching to get my hands on one of the U.S. optics B-17s

        • thedarkknightreturns

          My favorite optic is my short dot. They make great glass.

    • iksnilol

      Leupolds are okay… nothing special IMO.

      • valorius

        A lifetime of experience tells me different. I own a 3-9×40 and 2-7×33 leupold, and both are outstanding products.

        • iksnilol

          Oh don’t get me wrong, they’re good. It’s just that here in Norway they’re basically considered entry tier, whilst Zeiss and Swarovski is what’s a bit more common.

          • valorius

            Zeiss and Swarovski are often 2-3x the price.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, thus Leupold being entry tier/budget level.

          • valorius

            Bushnell is entry level. Leupold is much closer to top end than lower end.

          • Paul White

            iksnilol is a bit of an optics snob. Apparently that’s more normal over there?

            Me, I don’t get it. Sure you don’t want to drop 85 bucks on a scope that sucks, but I have a hard time seeing just how most people really benefit from a 1,500$ scope over a 400$ scope

          • MNOR

            cause here in norway, it isn’t so much “buy once, cry once” when it comes to buying anything gun related. It’s more like: “keep crying and bend over for the next round”…

          • Wow!

            UTG is entry level.

            *shameless UTG masterrace reporting in*

          • CruisingTroll

            First, in Norway, you’re dealing with the inverse of the import/export relationship as here in the US. Ergo, equal quality scopes the Leupold will be more expensive there than here, and the Zeiss and Swarovski will be less expensive. Throw in the European penchant for European products, and it may not even be worth it for the importer in Norway to bring in the best Leupold glass. I know that with tools, many of the best American tools either don’t make it or are very expensive over there. The only reason some of them do is because there are very limited/no Euro competitors in the niche. (metal hand planes are one example.)
            This happens with lots of different products, no big. It mostly means that drawing a quality conclusion on the basis of one market, ESPECIALLY a small market is a risky thing. “Small market”, you must admit, describes Norway. 22 American STATES have a higher population than Norway. Heck, there are almost as many Norwegian-Americans as there are folks living in Norway.

          • iksnilol

            I presume a Swarovski or Zeiss in the US costs about as much as a beater car in good condition?

          • throwedoff

            It doesn’t necessarily have to be a beater. Maybe just a high mileage daily driver.

          • iksnilol


            Fits my car to a T.

            I just considered it a beater if its 15 years old and has driven more than 200 000 km.

          • throwedoff

            Haha, my ’09 GMC Sierra is sitting at 123,000 miles on the odometer (roughly 200,000 km), If you saw it, I doubt you would consider it a beater! I wouldn’t be afraid to get in it today and head out for Alaska (I live in the Texas panhandle). I might could get a Swarovski, Zeiss, and a couple of Night Forces along with a couple of high end rifles in a trade.

          • iksnilol

            ’09 as in 2009? Daaaaamn,son, you a Rockefeller or something?

            Car I switched over to has gone 400k km. It’s been dead nuts reliable. It’s amazing, really. When you look at it it looks basically brand new and works like a dream. But it’s 15+ years old and 400k km.

          • CruisingTroll

            I would assume it depends on the optic. One major online retailer here has 26 different Zeiss rifle scopes, ranging in price from $290 to $3,700. It’s hard to find a beater car for $290, but $3,700 is doable. They have 117 Leupold scopes ranging from $200 to $4,700. Are 117 Leupold scopes available in Norway? Or is the selection a lot more limited?

          • iksnilol

            The lower end is available in Norway (the ones from 300-800 dollars).

            Nobody bothers with the 1500 dollar Leupolds.

    • valorius

      The best thing about Leupold is that compared to most of their competitors, they are super reasonably priced.

      • Patrick R. – Senior Writer


        • valorius

          My 2-7×33 leupold was under $300. My 3-9×40 with illuminated reticle was under $500.

          I call that damned reasonable for such high quality pieces.

          • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

            Take a look at their flagship scopes and compare them to everyone else. Just because it bears the Leupold name doesn’t mean it is the business.

  • Edeco

    I don’t mind paying for ubiquity, like Glock brand glocks, run one to three hundred more than generic glocks of similar glockfectiveness, but there’s lots of knowledge and accessories.

  • Major Tom

    The same is true for a great many things. Computers, cars, silverware, you name it the name on the brand is probably the majority of the cost difference rather than specific (or usable) performance benefits. Who cares if a Ferrari can do 160 on the Autobahn if you never drive above 75 like the Honda Civic next to you? Who cares if your high-end DD AR pulls 0.000001 MOA tighter shots than any other if you’re hunting deer or coyotes?

    Point being, the performance difference you gain in going for expensive brands is far less in cost than the name you just bought. The name is why it’s expensive, not the performance.

  • imtoomuch

    Sometimes you pay for just a name. Take, for example, Glock. There are lots of other polymer, semiautomatic guns on the market these days that are as good as, if not better than, Glock. But Glock is still sold at a premium.

    In other cases the name means quality.

    • SGT Fish

      sold at a premium? they are the same price as a Canik if you know where to buy. maybe your thinking of FN or HK

      • Havok

        Same price as a Canik? Please send me a link to a website where I can buy a FACTORY NEW, not like new, Glock at the same price as a Canik. I’ll cut out my distributors right now.

        • SGT Fish

          I pay 395 for base model glocks through the MIL/LE program. Looked at a Canik at the LGS last night for 399. So its actually CHEAPER!
          and don’t give me the BS about only MIL/LE being able to get discounted glocks. Look into the GSSF and their discounts that ANYONE can get. Only idiots pay retail. And Im not talking about dealer pricing, as that is not the topic at hand.

          • Jack

            Blue label pricing is significantly below dealer cost. There are several manufacturers where it’s cheaper for me as Mil to buy a gun than it is as a dealer. Using blue label pricing as your measuring stick isn’t accurate.

          • Redfoot

            Not to mention “we will get you your gun…whenever we feel like it”. Still waiting on a Glock 20 1.5 years later. I am sure if I was looking for a Glock 17 or 19 I may have gotten it by now, but even then a 6 month wait is not worth it for most people.

          • imachinegunstuff

            I think your Canik dealer is overpriced. Abase model Canik is 279.99 local. If you start getting fancy the price increases, and you can’t compare one of their accessorized models with a base model Glock

          • n0truscotsman

            nobody wants your POS Canik.

        • SGT Fish

          oh, and heres a website with the prices for you. happy to help.

      • iksnilol

        No, they’re definitely sold at a premium, they could sell them for 300 bucks and still make a good profit.

    • DIR911911 .

      there is something to being the industry standard that helps keep the price stable

    • Cal S.

      I bought my police trade-in because I wanted the amazing aftermarket stuff that’s offered. That, and I had a Kel-Tec Sub2000 that took G22 mags.

    • ORCON

      I’ve never thought Glock was over-priced in terms of hanguns generally. I just wouldn’t pay that much for a Glock as I see better value in other options in a comparable NIB price range.

    • n0truscotsman

      Glocks aren’t overpriced to begin with. And what polymer guns are those?

      Doesn’t glock get a little bit of credibility for reliability and quality? just a smidge?

      • Geoff Timm

        Compare a $500 sale price Glock 19 and a $280 sale price S&W SD9 VE. Where did all the money go? Geoff Who bought a Walther Creed.

        • n0truscotsman

          Oh brother…the SD9….

          • JD

            I’ve come to the conclusion, especially after reading some of these comments on this blog for the last week, the overwhelming majority of gun owners in America, are hobbyists, not shooters.

        • m-dasher

          actually shoot a G19…..then actually shoot a SD9…….you wont have to ask where the money went.

      • Marcus D.

        Compare the price “we” (not me) pay for a Glock versus what the police get them for, and then tell me that Glocks aren’t “overpriced” (in the sense that they could easily and profitably be sold for less). But this is a capitalist society, and Glock gets what the market will bear. Second, most of the plastic fantastic guns are just as reliable. I’ve owned an XD and carry a Kahr; both have been utterly reliable. I spent under $400 for my Kahr, and have seen it on sale now for just over $300.

        • n0truscotsman

          Those aren’t ‘as reliable as glocks’. I know it may offend your sensibilities, but they aren’t. I’ve seen many make the same arguments, then when the rubber meets the road (like in real training), reality rears its ugly head.

          • Marcus D.

            Old Kahrs were not reliable. New ones are. For a while, it was an authorized arm for the NYPD. My XD has a couple of thousand rounds through it, what am I missing? Although I no longer own it, having passed it on to my son, I would take another over a Glock any day. No matter what the Glockfanbois say. I don’t like Glocks and will never own one. Does that put me at some great disadvantage? I think not.

            What is “real training” anyway? Spending thousands of dollars to go to some fancy schmaincy gun training academy to fire off a couple of thousand rounds over the course of a couple of days? No thanks. So I guess I don’t engage in “real training.” All that matters is that a firearm will empty its mag if the need arises, the probability of which is very small. I trust all of my firearms to do that (although the Kimber was pretty iffy when it was new). I don’t plan on going to war with a hand gun. Hell, at my age, I don’t plan on going to war at all.

          • n0truscotsman

            I dont GAS if you like Glocks or not. Its really immaterial to me. But to deny that they have a well-earned reputation for reliability and durability is being willfully ignorant. There’s a reason for their popularity among organizations with the most credibility when it comes to experience and equipment.

            “What is “real training” anyway? Spending thousands of dollars to go to
            some fancy schmaincy gun training academy to fire off a couple of
            thousand rounds over the course of a couple of days? No thanks.”

            Its not a good idea discounting the training and experience of scores of good, reputable instructors out there. Nobody is asking you to take a SUT course.

            If that is all you are expecting out of yourself then your firearm, then well have to agree to disagree. We are on two different wavelengths.

          • Marcus D.

            First, you should be less rude and try some reading comprehension. I never once said that the Glock is unreliable, I said that it could be sold for less (and it is sold for less, presumably at a profit), that it is not the be all and end all (which it isn’t, as there are other reliable firearms out there, despite your contention to the contrary), and that I don’t like the Glock and won’t own one, which is true.
            I did not discounting the training and experience of instructors, I can’t afford them or the cost of attending one of their weekends, much less have the stamina to participate. Nor do I particularly see the benefit of learning to engage multiple targets in rapid succession, as the probability of this occurring in my house or my community is vanishingly small. Hell, I don’t know even what a SUT course is.

            All I expect out of my firearms are that they will defend me and my wife. I have every confidence that the firearms will perform that task. Why should I expect or need any more?

          • n0truscotsman

            1.) Rude? I haven’t even *begun* to be rude.

            2.) “I never once said that the Glock is unreliable”

            I didn’t claim you did.

            What I said above, “those aren’t ‘as reliable as glocks’, was in response to your first comment, ” Second, most of the plastic fantastic guns are just as reliable” then you bring up kahr and XD, which are well known for *not* having equivalent reliability as other polymers.

            One could argue the Walthers and M&P are just as reliable as Glocks, and I would agree.

            3.) “Why should I expect or need any more?”

            If thats what you want, then I wont argue otherwise. Training is a personal matter anyways.

        • m-dsaher

          you cant compare a police priced glock to a consumer glock and call it overpriced……..because police priced glocks are practically selling at cost.

          you need to compair it to what its competition is selling for….

      • CruisingTroll

        nah. Rationality doesn’t enter into it for either the Glock Haters or the Glock Fanboys.
        It’s like arguing Ford vs Chevy or Mercedes vs BMW or Honda vs Toyota.

    • m-dasher

      what premium?…..i can buy a G17 for $500….thats about what a M&P 9 and a Sig P320 goe for…..and cheaper than what a VP9 goes for..

      where is this “premium” you are talking about?

      • redsr

        S&W Sigmas are $300 and S&W had to pay Glock for patent infringement.

  • Independent George

    I think the fact that so many people build their own ARs has led to a lot of price transparency in that market; prices range from $500 up to $3,000, and you can usually tell exactly where the money is going in each.

    Mind you it’s not always spent wisely, but it’s almost always apparent just what you’re paying for, and where the manufacturer’s margins are coming from. As a general rule, I think the sub-$800 ARs are better than what you could build at the same price, are about equivalent from $800-$1300, and that you’re usually better off building your own for anything above that.

    • disqus_sgMcKYCZZ3

      You can also shop around for the best deals and sales on high end parts. Im half way into my first build, and Im at 1600 with optic total budget. Its going to be great for the money.

      • LGonDISQUS

        Same, I built a nearly $2500 AR for a buddy for $1100, including shipping/handling and NICS. Took five months waiting for deals but neither of us were in a rush. Scope and Barrel were most expensive parts.

        • disqus_sgMcKYCZZ3

          I got a Leupold VRX for $375, Gesielle G2S for $135, LWRC stock kit for $90, FN produced CHF barrel for $225, Sig upper for $60, and a Radian Arms BCG for $94. Im waiting to get a coupon code for AIM Surplus before ordering the Griffin Rail Kit. The kit includes rail, barrel nut, rail covers, QD swivel, tool, and gas block for $250. Hoping to get 10% off.

          • LGonDISQUS

            Check rails on aliexpress, you might be impressed.

            Got a noveske knockoff for $79. If worried, just get the legit barrel nut.

          • So cheap likely airsoft quality parts that violate the IP of an American company. Yep that is great deal.

          • LGonDISQUS

            My philosophy is that it isn’t a part that can blow up or hurt me, just an ALU tube with a few screws.

          • They why not buy a tube that didn’t violate the IP of another company? For the same price you can get an American made tube that isn’t a knock off of another company’s product.

          • LGonDISQUS

            Likely because I’m a heartless idiot. 😧

        • Independent George

          Primary Arms has some amazing sales every now and again; if you are patient and wait for the right deal, you can regularly find high-ticket items for 20%-30% off.

          Faxon used to have weekly sales on different barrels, but I haven’t seen it for a while.

          Aero Precision “blemished” receivers are a steal; I put in the scare quotes because I have not been able to find the blemish on mine. Well, except for the ones I left trying to get the stupid bolt release in…

          ETA: speak of the devil – 25% off all Geissele products at Primary Arms right now.

    • Hoplopfheil

      The real sticking point in building your own AR is the cost of the tools you need. My first AR custom build is very nice and cost less than 700 bucks.

      However… I had to buy at least 100 bucks worth of tools (wrenches, punches, vice blocks, boresight…)

      If you’re planning on making more guns, the cost of the tools is amortized across all of them. But just one custom AR is going to cost more.

      • CruisingTroll

        $100? They are TOOLS dude. When you build your AR you’re only paying the 11% excise tax on the LOWER, rather than the whole rifle, just look at it this way:
        You spent $100 on tools that YOU own, rather than kicking $100 (or more) to the f’ing gov’t in taxes. That, sir, is a WIN!!

        • Hoplopfheil

          Sure, for you or me that’s fine. But for somebody who just wants 1 rifle, it’s important to factor in the cost of tools.

    • Paul White

      They line up well with PC’s right now. If you want a competent, decent entry level, buy it don’t build.

      If you want to go hog wild, build. You’ll get more for the same money.

    • AnriSorel

      I’ll add a caveat to that: this is true for 5.56 ARs, and possibly .300 blackout. With other, less popular calibers, it’s almost always cheaper to build your own. I’m selecting parts for a 6.5 grendel build right now, and I’m saving a couple hundred, including shipping, compared to all of the buy options at my price level.

      • AlDeLarge

        I’ve been window shopping 458s. The only places that make complete ones are really, really proud of them, but you can build one for not much more than any other AR build.

  • DIR911911 .

    do some research and shop around. there , I rewrote you entire article.

  • Ark

    Oh there’s definitely some outrageous brand taxes in the firearms industry. It’s a hobby full of white dudes with lots of disposable money to burn.

    Case in point: Trijicon.

    • Squirreltakular

      Trijicon seems like a poor example. Their regular variable power scopes are priced pretty competitively within the market, and the ACOG series is worth every penny just for the durability.

    • redsr

      And also patents. ACOGs just came off of patent.

  • Cal S.

    Let me just say that I’d put more faith in my S&W M&P-15 Sport or a sub-$900 Bushmaster (or the one I built myself) that most elitists sneer at as ‘Budget/entry-level’ than any of the $1,500-$2,500 offerings from companies with alphabet-soup names that came to prominence in the Great Panic from 2010-2016. With them, it has absolutely nothing to do with how good it is and everything to do with how much machinery or NRE they have to pay off when they started up.

    As for anything else, I have zero brand loyalty. It was, after all, just a few months ago that EoTech had some problems come to light (admittedly outside what any civilian shooter would encounter). Then again, there’s that $20 FieldSport optic on Amazon that simply will not die no matter what abuse it endures. I go by performance results, not brand name.

    • Bushmasters are low quality. They use subpar barrel steel, they don’t stake worth a damn, and for some stupid reason they like using carry handle height front sights on flat top guns.

      If all you are doing is plinking a couple mags every once in a while at the range you may not notice the issues that creep up due to Bushmasters low build quality. But they are there. There are budget brands that build pretty descent rifles, S&W is one of them. But Bushmaster, DPMS, and all those related companies just make low quality cheap rifles to sell to consumers that don’t know better.

      • Cal S.

        Are you talking about railed gas blocks? Because a high railed gas block looks…special. I’d rather buy a raised front sight. I’m not sure about Bushmaster, but I do own a DPMS AR-10 that’s never done me wrong.

        There is little wizardry involved in manufacturing or putting together an AR-15, and it has nothing to do with price tag. As long as the parts are sound in dimension and metallurgy, then there is no difference between a $500 or $2,500 AR-15 except brand name and ‘special sauce’. Sure, you can buy rifles from companies that have exceeded specs and have parts that will last longer, but how long is long enough when anything and everything can be replaced on an AR in under an hour? Whether that’s a PSA Freedom AR or a KAC-15.

        • No I am talking about front sight blocks, there are two different sizes for AR-15s, one for flap top receivers and one for carry handle receivers. Bushmaster puts carry handle front sight blocks on flat top guns.

          Wow the ignorance is hilarious, there are differences between a $500 rifle and a more expensive rifle. Just because the company built to the correct dimensions doesn’t mean that they are using quality steel, or putting the right dry lube coating on the upper.

          TDP is there for a reason, it is a minimum quality level that the DOD has found to make acceptable rifles. These days more and more companies meet or exceed TDP. The problem is that there are brands that either are well below it, or just don’t care. Much of TDP is about quality control to prevent parts with detectable defects from being shipping, budget companies often skip these steps because they are expensive.

          Anderson is famous for this, the received a batch of lowers that didn’t have the grip screw threaded all the way through, instead of trashing them they sold them to consumers. And when consumers complained that their grips were attaching tightly Anderson then sold them shorter grip screws.

          • Cal S.

            Before you go talking about how “Ignorance is hilarious”, perhaps you should pay more mind, or give more consideration to my statement regarding ‘dimensions and metallurgy’, because I said exactly what you just said in a lot fewer words.

            And you’re still wrong with your $$ = quality belief, because I know of at least a dozen <10 year-old AR makers that charge top dollar for crap rifles. If you'd paid attention, you'd know that's been my contention all along.

          • Oh there certainly are people that charge for a name, but they are a minority in the industry.

            The rest are stratified pretty well.

  • Rick O’Shay

    For some things, absolutely you are just paying for a name. Others, yeah, you’re paying a premium price for a premium product. One thing I’ve noticed though, is a lot of those companies where you’re “just paying for the name,” they once had a stellar reputation, and now they’re just coasting on the name recognition. Cases in point: Remington, Kimber, Colt…

    • ORCON

      There’s also the problem of people equating the things that they own to their identity. You’ll see this with cars, appliances, bbq grills etc. So a perceived criticism of a product is therefore a perceived criticism of the person who owns it.

      • valorius

        You’re talking about my fiancee, aren’t you? LOL

        • ORCON

          Sounds like a real winner.

        • Scott

          Old Mans advice: PRENUP!

          • valorius

            I have no intention of ever getting married. 😉

          • supergun

            Marriage is wonderful, if you are willing to give more of yourself, then take.

    • supergun

      Many people have made tons of money selling weapons with the COLT name on it. Some are premium works, and so are just the name.

  • Bigg Bunyon

    Meh … if you want it and can afford it, buy it and enjoy it. If you end up with an expensive lemon, that’s called a life lesson. More often than not you need to cut your loses in a manner that suits you and move on.

  • Brick

    Kind of reminds me of the “it’s made in the same factory as the higher priced stuff” line.

    That doesn’t mean it’s the same quality, dingus. Factories can make different stuff with different materials and specs.

  • Emfourty Gasmask

    I paid way more than I should for my Galil ACE. But the smiles per trigger pull made it worth it to me.

  • Robert Davis

    It’s not just one name versus another, it may also be the name today versus the name you remember (cough cough Remington cough cough).

  • Gun Fu Guru

    @tfbpatrick:disqus: I seem to remember you writing an article a while back titled “FBI Says SIG Romeo4M Red Dot Is Good As An Aimpoint.” What changed?

    • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

      “FBI says” is not my opinion. I ALSO SAID THAT IT IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE. There are exceptions to the rule.

      • Gun Fu Guru

        Only the FBI didn’t say what you titled the article as. They approved the Sig sight because it passed the tests. That doesn’t make it as good as an Aimpoint. It just means it passed the tests.

        • Patrick R. – Senior Writer

          It passed the same tests the Aimpoint did. It can be surmised that the Sig red dot is on paper as good as the Aimpoint in the FBI’s eyes.

          It isn’t like the Sig dot is a huge savings. Again. It isn’t a hard and fast rule.

      • CommonSense23

        Where did the FBI say it was as good as a Aimpoint? Cause there is a huge difference between meeting requirements for issue and being equal to Aimpoint.

  • Hoplopfheil

    Yes. Next question.

  • As a general rule I pay for guns that have the combination of benefits, features, controls, fit/finish, material quality, and ergonomics that suit me and my needs. Sometimes that means a mid four figure pricetag and sometimes it means an econo-gun.


    I don’t have much experience with optics, but I like to look at a lot of firearm development and sales like the Kahr family of C and E pistols.

    Both function, one is made with better*** parts, refined details and style and the cost displays this.

    When looking for products I want to buy, holding zero on a scope is a shared #1 with optics clarity.

    Price second.

    Mounting ease is a fair third.

    Ease of use/adjustment/cap design/zooming ease/labeling of parts come a very far third. (I barely care about these options, because I can live/adapt to a sticky zoom knob)

  • Tinkerer

    Hi Point ♡

  • Martin törefeldt

    There is an old advise from England that an gun writer gave.
    And that was “if you are an first time gun buyer that is unsure what to look for in a gun. Then go for a gun from one of the bigger and more well respected gunmakers. For they have spent years to build their name and would not likely risk their reputation by butting their name on an inferior product”.

    In sort you maybe paying an prenium for the brand name. But on the other hand you usally know what kind of quality is to be expected.

    • Fruitbat44

      Also from England, many years ago, “Quality is like buying oats; if you want nice, fresh oats you have to pay the price. If however you’re willing to settle for oats which have been through the horse once already . . . “

  • The_Champ

    In my personal experience, obviously a small sample size, it pays off to spend on high quality optics. Cheap brand optics have gotten better, but the quality brands are still worth my pennies. In many cases, the brand names known for high quality products have well earned their rep.

  • valorius

    In many cases you are literally paying double just for the name on the product. In some cases, you are paying as much as 10x more for the name on the product.

  • Ratcraft

    It’s all about fit form and function. Am I going to war? No, okay, I don’t need a $2,500 Alcan to go shoot flippin pop cans on dirt. My Lucid7 will be fine, my vortex will be fine my Primary Arms will be fine. But what if the Chinese invade? I’ll be one of the 1st ones killed. I live smack dab in the middle of JBLM, the Everett navy base, NAS Whidbey, Bangor and both Boeing Fields. I’ll be smoke and dust.

  • valorius

    I saw ruger AR556’s advertised brand new for less than $450 last week. Amazing deal.

  • Calavera

    Gun buying is an painfully exhaustive process for me. Money usually burns a hole in my pocket, but not when it comes to buying firearms. Prestigious names, doo-dads and gew-gaws don’t impress me. I acquire, and retain for the long-term. I research, talk myself out of it, window shop, “kick the tires,” more research. Make the decision. Pry that money out of my wallet with a crowbar. I look for only two things: a battle-proven record of reliability and long service life. Very long service life. Something to keep me going until my plasma rifle gets here.

  • jack smith

    just paying for a name, like umm, B&T? I have this image of the B&T people buying leftovers on some surplus and seconds website and then making it Swi$$…

  • adverse4

    There are three price ranges: cheap, inexpensive, and that which I can not afford. I just don’t buy cheap.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    Price is a pretty good indicator of quality in my opinion even though there’s obviously diminishing returns at a certain point. I can only think of a handful of cheap Chinese and Turkish knockoffs which I’d still depend my life on. But even then I wouldn’t buy them or recommend them for political purposes.

    I also don’t really see the point of being a cheapskate when it comes to firearms (unless you’re poor). We all want a Lamborghini but most of us can’t justify the massive leap in price, right? Welp, when it comes to firearms, you can get the equivalent of a Lamborghini when you’re selecting your carry gun or home defense gun because the difference is only a couple thousand dollars at most. And since the long-term maintenance costs are pretty similar regardless of how expensive your firearm is, that shouldn’t even factor into your purchasing decision.

    Expanding this philosophy across the board will make you broke pretty quick, but if you limit it to the hobbies that you’re passionate about, then you should be fine financially. And when it comes to products that you need to rely on for the safety of yourself and your loved ones, then that gives you another good justification to pay extra for a product that has a solid reputation for quality.

    Pride of ownership is also important to a lot of people. Will a cheap Aimpoint knockoff made in China work for home defense? Probably. But I’d never buy one in a million years because it would make me feel dirty. I also enjoy the process of researching which products are the best. When a company creates something excellent, rewarding them with your money feels like the right thing to do. That’s why I decided to buy an FN SCAR 17S over a .308 DPMS even though it sits in a gun safe for 99% of the year.

  • Paul White

    Even if the extra dough does buy extra quality/capability, it may just not be relevant.

    64 gigs of RAM does buy more capability than 24; but I’d never notice the difference for anything I do. Ditto a Nightforce scope is almost certainly a better scope than my entry Ziess’s and Prostaff 5s and Vortex Diamondbacks and stuff, but I don’t think it’s better enough *for my uses* to be worth paying 3-4x the cost.

  • Marcus D.

    Whether you get what you pay for or are just buying a name really depends. I’ve always wanted a Colt 1873, and they seem–at least in pictures never having seen one at a LGS–to have more colorful case hardening and better polished bluing. However, they start at around $1400 MSRP, rarely selling for less that full price. Are they better than the Italian clones? I have no idea; but the MSRP of the standard 1873 clone is just over $500 and a bit over $850 for one of their tuned pistols, with many sold for savings of over $100 off MSRP. There is one particular mil-spec 1911 I would like to buy that I know for a fact retails for $165 over wholesale; but from the dealer’s perspective, when you are trying to pay employees and keep the doors open, that’s really not a whole lot of money.

  • adverse4

    As to ‘name brand’: Whatever Dolly Parton is asking, I’ll pay. Yes, she is old, but so am I. Dammit.

  • RealitiCzech

    The older the tech, the more likely you are paying for the name – Rolex is not the best watch, not even the best mechanical watch. But there are high end, budget end, and middle of the road options for most products. Budget end can be decent quality, or fragile garbage.
    Optics tech is far newer than gun tech. An ancient Colt Walker won’t be ruined forever if you drop it in the water – just get it out and oil it. Cheap electronic optics can be ruined that way.
    Pistols in particular use cartridges 100 years old or more, with pressure that is easily contained with decent metallurgy. Rifles? The most powerful rifles tend to use 1800s era bolt actions. Idiots can screw up anything, of course.

  • JD

    The average gun owner doesn’t want to pay the premium prices because they think the cheaper option is “just as good”. Well, there is a reason why a high point costs what it does and there is a reason a Wilson combat costs what it does. But the average gun owner can’t get past this because they have put 500 rounds thru their high points and it never failed them. The difference comes in those of us that actually DO shoot. When you’re shooting 15, 20,000+ rounds a year, the quality becomes glaringly obvious. The cheaper shit WILL break down, won’t be as accurate, etc. I think, for the most part, in the gun industry, you get what you pay for.

  • Evan

    It was SightMark or whatever they’re called. They’re crap. My friend has two of them. One he finally took off the rifle after he realized it wouldn’t actually tighten down on the rails, but I’ve heard the guy selling them as “as good as EOTech”. They’re not. EOTech makes amazing optics, SightMark makes junk.

  • It would have been nice if the failure points of the unnamed optic were actually mentioned, then it would have been more then just an opinion article with right hand side click bait.

  • survivor50

    For a stand off weapon you better spend the bucks to hit first and often. You don’t need to get raped at the cash register, but spend some bucks.
    For up close and dirty, your Primary Arms on your AK will do…
    Tools and Jobs, match em’ up.

  • Old Gringo

    One of my degrees is an MBA and I have experience in marketing for a fortune 50 company. I have toured factories where they make the exact product and just put different labels on them, some of them house brands and some of them leading names. I am now a retired attorney and familiar with many of the famous cases involving name brand vs copies and companies who sell the same products under cheap brands and their own name brand. The point is, there is so much hype out there that you can never believe any marketing hype. For example, a dozen years ago I bought several of the old Tasco World Class 3 x 9 scopes. 100% of them are still on rifles and working well. They were about $60 each since Tasco went under. Now I compare them to my expensive scopes and read all the scientific literature. The only scientific difference is the amount of light transmission during about the first and last 10 minutes of day light. And you really cannot judge a trophy rack in that limited mount of light. So, to me there is very little practical difference between these $60 scopes and a $600 scope. But most people reading this are not emotionally mature enough to accept the science as they fear the cheap scope will go bad. Don’t get me wrong, I like those $1,200 sig sauer handguns but no one can dispute the reliability of the Glock platform and by design the Glock will last longer and shoot longer without repair. Does not matter that the seals or anybody else does a 100,000 test. Glock has been thru 40 trillion rounds of tests on the street. And think about it, the Glock hand 100mm pressures? Glocks like rugers are overbuilt with removes the concept of wear and tear. Jut pointing out that it takes a lot of emotional intelligence to buy a cheaper product and not worry about it.

    • redsr

      Tascos today not as good as yesteryear… Likely made in Japan at that point, now China…
      Scope quality needed is directly proportional to magnification….
      And also consider warranties — a $500 scope w/ 2 year warranty vs an $800 scope for a lifetime warranty, the more expensive one will save you $ over the longterm.

  • Old Gringo

    Then there is the psychological concept of ownership pride. I you buy a Dodge Ram and pay big bucks for it, you are going to tell everybody how much better it is than a Ford or Chevy. Think about it. Those high points never jam and never wear out, but would you admit it if you owned one?

    • RetiredSOFguy

      Uh, didn’t RECOIL magazine review one a year and a half or so ago? I only remember because of the failure rate they literally threw it at the target and included that in the write-up (maybe even some cheeky number crunching about energy transfer, etc).

      Anyway, I understand pride of ownership. I’ve got a couple of Hi-Powers and even an Argentinian FM Hi-Power. It’s never failed me (although I haven’t run it at a shooting school) and I used it over the years to point out to my nephews that they could buy on budget as a 21 y/o, and upgrade (ok, really just add to their collections) over the years as they became more established. Still a buyer beware situation as always, but with some research they could find some under the radar, very solid buys.

      Ok, I kinda meandered there. So rather than delete/rewrite, here’s the link

      The comparison pic to the Dewalt drill is priceless…

      • OldGringo

        I was just joking about the hi-point, never shot one but did shoot one of the 9mm rifles once and it shot well. Point I am making is I have a $2,500 Weatherby Mark V Deluxe in my safe along with a $500 Weatherby Vanguard in my safe. I find the $500 one to be just as good as the $2,500 one. Another example, I collect lever actions and have them from many makers. I find the $500 stainless Rossis to be superior in function to my Marlins, Henrys, and Winchesters. Just my 2 cents,

        • RetiredSOFguy

          All good here…sorry if I came across as one of those offended poster type folks. I was actually trying to go along with your point 🙂

  • Alex Jay

    Them: Lifestyles….just as good as Trojans…..Navy SEALs use them.
    Me: Take my money

  • CavScout

    Won’t stop the cheapest brands, with the highest rates of failure, to get huge followings. Cheap = big loyal crowd, problems or not.

  • OldGringo

    rdsr: Good comment. Anytime you get a transferable lifetime warranty from a company that has been in business for years, you can pretty well count on it being a good product. ON the other hand it depends on the person, and there is always marketing hype. For example, I am 68 years old and recently bought a new mattress. We went to a mattress store that had them from about $500 to $4,000 (yep $4,000). And we now know that due to dust mites you should change your mattress every 8 years or so. Well the marketing guy tried to sell me a high end mattress with a 40 year guarantee…..really he did. SO, I asked him to look at me very close, as I asked, do you really think I will pay for a 40 year warranty? Now, I bought some floor mats for my Jeep and Dodge ram, 4 x 4s….and they came with a 100 year warranty… one set is about 10 years old and doing fine, so must have been a good product…the point is, I shoot 2 deer a year and maybe 100 rounds for practice from my 257 Weatherby. Again, I am 68. Do I need to pay extra for a chrome lined or stainless steel barrel or that gun? The marketing guys say you should always get the lined or stainless barrel for the fast calibers. Well you get the idea. In my view, I would never pay extra for barrel lining even thought I have several that are. If the barrel wears out after 3,000 rounds, that is an excuse to buy a new gun, right?