Counterfeit Optics: Are They Worth the Price?

Dec 11th, 2009 | By | Category: Articles

The Soapbox

You call them replicas, fakes, knock-off, clones or anything to make yourself feel better about it, but let’s face it they are counterfeit, they are illegal and they hurt our economy. Think about it. Buying a 200 dollar ACOG or AimPoint is not the deal of the century, nor does the guy in the trench coat think you deserve a fantastic deal. Chances are the sweet deal is going to be either stolen property or counterfeit. Yes, I know we see the rare exception where legitimate items are let go for far below market value, but they is more likely found at a yard sale, than a gun show, or the Internet.

I did a lot of research, trolled forum after forum, read U.S. Customs reports and what I was most disturbed about was the number of people that were OK with buying “fake” optics, “replica” lights, and so on. It is quite interesting to me that the word fake and replica is used repeatedly to describe items and help decide its worth (an obvious lesser value than an authentic product); also, to inquire where someone could get a good deal on counterfeit item. I was utterly amazed at how few users who took the stance that this is wrong. I thought maybe they did not realize what they were buying was against the law, but those, on the various forums, who speak up are largely ignored.

…and this affects me how?

US Customs seizes counterfeit goods every day. Last year U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized over $272 million in counterfeit goods. Whether it is a counterfeit Rolex, NFL apparel, designer jeans, or network equipment its all illegal.

Buying counterfeit products not only hurts the rightful trademark or intellectual property owner it hurts legitimate business owners who have to compete against counterfeiters. Counterfeit goods are not just in the back alley and on the gun show floor. Counterfeits are showing up in the normal supply chain for our government and military and this has serious implications for national security. Again, why should I care? Because buying counterfeits encourages more counterfeiting, hurts legitimate US businesses, diverts tax dollars to increased customs enforcement, and potentially puts lives at risk using inferior parts.

Very simply the American economy weakens and China’s economy strengthens.

Our Chicom ACOG Angst

We recently had a chance to evaluated a counterfeit ACOG and noticed a number of issues with it. Now maybe we could over look some of the exterior construction flaws to save a $1000 dollars, some of these cosmetic issues. First we noticed poor mating of the housing, we expect this might cause water or moisture leakage. The counterfeit came with a rail mount, but the optic would not properly attach to the mount, so we used an A.R.M.S. throw lever mount. Guess what, same thing: the optic mounting point is not square, so you cannot get the proper mating. This is a fundamental manufacturing flaw. The interior is where the lack of quality really shows. The killer flaw here: the x-axis does not track, so there is no way to adjust windage. Not very effective on a 4x scope. I guess you could say this is a $200 dollar low power spotting scope. If we had bought a Trijicon ACOG the solution to these problems would be easy: call Trijicon, they will fix it. We are not sure who to call in China to complain about the shoddy workmanship. So, what is our advice to the poor guy the asked us to look at his bargain “ACOG”: Do not buy counterfeit and chalk this up to a life lesson.

Points to remember: counterfeit items are not brought into the United States legally. Duties and taxes are not paid. The American economy suffers, China’s economy wins. Remember that next time you score a “great deal.”

Feel free to leave your comments.

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Article by Lee


Lee retired from the U.S Army in 2008 as a First Sergeant where he saw combat action during both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. He led a physical security detachment in Central America; subsequently, ran a law and order detachment in Europe. Post 9/11 he was detailed with installation physical security which included both military and DA police training and operations, local and state law enforcement liaison.

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