Written by ILya Koshkin
I have had some interaction at one time or another with most companies out there who sell sporting optics. However, there are some with whom I have had reasonably close relationships over the years. While I know and regularly communicate with several scope makers, I can’t rely on that too much. The reason for that is quite simple. I have to have the freedom to give bad reviews to bad scopes, so I have to make sure I can get my hands on scopes even if the people running that particular brand are not real keen on working with me. Retailers who sell all sorts of different optics, on the other hand, largely do not care which scope or binocular I recommend. They are equally happy selling you anything that they carry. Naturally, I have to keep my relationships with different retailers clearly separated; they are competitors after all. Ultimately, I want all of them to succeed. I am on the side of the consumer, and for the consumer it is good to have competition between retailers.
First and foremost, I have maintained a very cordial relationship with SWFA. They have loaned a number of scopes to me for evaluation over the years and without them I would not have had a chance to really get started with this. Aside from all that, they are a bunch of nice people who are enthusiastic about the products they sell.
Another retailer I know well is Liberty Optics. The proprietor is a good friend of mine, and I have known him for years.
As you browse through this website, you will see WebyShops mentioned quite a few times. I have written a number of articles at their request. They are good people and I make it a point to meet with them whenever I find myself in Dallas.
Recently, I have been talking to Jason at EuroOptic since they became a distributor for Hensoldt. They are easy to deal with and they make some unusual scopes available to me for testing (like Hensoldts, for example).
Lastly, for my european readers, I figured I should also suggest a retailer based in Europe. In this case, this is http://www.optics-trade.eu. Since I am based in the United States, I am naturally less familiar with the European retailers than I am with the American ones. Hence, I rely on my readers to let me know if they have had a bad customer service experience with a retailer that I have recommended.
I will be placing links to these retailers in my reviews where convenient, or at the at the end of the review right by my conclusion. Ultimately, I do not care all that much who you buy the scope from, but if you buy something I recommended from any of these retailers, please let them know I sent you. That helps me out.
There are many excellent discussion sites on the internet. Some are proprietary to the retailers who own them and others are independent. I routinely participate in a few of them:
However, I spend most of my time over on SWFA’s OpticsTalk so If you are looking to ask me a question (and tap into expertise of many knowledgeable hunters and shooters) that’s the place to go.
I get optics questions all the time. The other day, I got a question from a very polite and unassuming gentleman who mentioned that he writes a gun-related blog. I checked in on it and was very impressed with the quality of the content and the quality of the writing. I also found a short videoclip of him shooting and he is easily one of the best and fastest boltgun shots I have seen to date. He goes by a moniker Rifleslinger and I highly recommend it: http://artoftherifle.com/. The last thing I should mention about Mr. Rifleslinger is that he came up with his own shooting support sling design and I have switched all of my rifles to it. Recently, he stopped updating his blog, but the existing content is excellent and available.
Then there is Matt. He is an incredible resource as it comes to all things hunting and he writes about gear of all sorts a fair bit.http://www.rokslide.com/2012-01-10-08-43-59/prostaff/matt-cashell
Last, but not least is Ron Evenson of Kinetic Ops. He has helped me out in the past with scopes when I needed them and he runs a pretty interesting business that is involved in advanced weapons system design, UAV aeronautics, and weapons training.