So which scope maker absolutely 100% makes their own glass and or lens.

May 27, 2014
32.752325 -79.867804
I am sure this has been asked six hundred ways from Sunday, but since people like to constantly ask which scope has the best glass I thought we could rehash which scope maker actually makes their own glass and or lens. So lately I have seen Hensoldt and Tangent Theta mentioned as the best I assume they actually make their lenses, but I don't know for sure so for those of you that actually know please educate me and the rest of us.


Supporting Vendor
Jan 24, 2006
Old Bethpage NY
I have been in this industry my whole life as we are a family owned and operated business since 1957 and I have been coming in since I was a little kid. I can say without fear of being corrected that there is not 1 company that does not outsource pieces parts for some part of their line.

As far as glass goes, I have been to Wetzlar to Leica and they make their own optics and coat them as I've seen it with my own eyes.
I believe that Swarovski makes their own glass as well, however, as I've not seen it I will not swear to it.

Some mfg's outsource their glass and then finish and coat it themselves. The coating makes a world of difference in quality.

Getting a 100% straight answer out of a mfg is a near impossibility.

When I first started Schott was German optics and that was that. Now Schott also has plants in the Pacific Rim. Nothing is as it appears any more.

Just my $.02 worth on intel


Gunny Sergeant
Sep 2, 2009
Like Doug said, pretty much everyone outsources something. NF buys raw glass and makes their own lenses, here in the states, for some of their stuff. Not for others.
Feb 15, 2005
Mission, KS
Ah... but making glass has been a point of pride in the past. As has been the type of alloy for any number of products, etc. etc.

When DO we consider "of course they outsource [this]" to be acceptable, and when is something a vendor-produced item?

When do we care? A lot of us will complain about crappy Made In China stuff but then go buy, say, an iPhone for the amazing quality. Made in China, 100% by a vendor not Apple at all.

It's an outsourced, vendor-driven world. Often it is simply impossible to compete with not just making your own widgets, but even locally sourcing them. Hard to judge a lot of this stuff in the traditional ways anymore.

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
Arizona, good place for me...
Fifty years ago this year, I was 21, just out of the Marines/Vietnam, and an employee of Razdow Laboratories, an Optical supplier and NASA Apollo contractor.

We outsourced stuff too. Outsourcing is not a down check by any means. We did it because it allowed us to obtain the finest custom optical components from the very best suppliers without needing run an entire glass plant, grinding shop, and coating facility. Besides NASA, other customers included the US Bureau of Standards and Sandia Laboratories. We kept them all very happy with under 20 employees.

Likes: Awesymoto


Send it!
Nov 30, 2012
Black Forest, CO
Pretty sure Vortex on the AMG.
When Vortex first announced the AMG and spoke of it's "100% Made in the USA" origins they also spoke of all the parts being sourced from the USA, does that mean the glass was also sourced in the USA, it was my understanding that this was the case; however, it did not mean that everything was made by Vortex so it's highly likely they source glass and other parts from other manufacturers but here in the USA. The latest AMG's are still made in the USA; however, they now have a German etching company doing the reticles for them, I believe the glass is still sourced, ground, polished, etc. here in the USA but is then sent to Germany to be etched and then back to the USA.

Regarding the OP's comments about Hensoldt and Tangent Theta, if I'm not mistaken both scopes use glass from Schott, now, where that glass from Schott was sourced from who knows.
Feb 20, 2017
SE Florida
There is glass and then there is glass. You can come up with something you can more or less see through by going to a beach and scooping up some sand and melting it, provided you can come up with a hot enough furnace. Now, optical glass is a kinda different animal. It is mostly pure silica that has been milled and ground to very specific sizes so it will melt uniformly. There are many different additives or, if you will, alloying materials added either before or during the melting process. Again, these must be mixed carefully to form a homogenous mass for the final casting or blowing process. Then there is cooling, at first in ovens and then, maybe later in a jacket or coated for cooling.

A strange example, the 100" reflector for the Mt Wilson telescope was actually coated with manure during part of its cooling phase. It cracked, and was rejected. 3 tries resulted in no acceptable samples and the company making the product ran out of money. It was decided to go ahead and try to use the first example. 4 years of grinding and polishing later, it proved to be acceptable. It was the telescope used by Erwin Hubble to make a couple of discoveries that completely changed our view of the universe and how it worked.

Now, the small lenses as used in our telescopic sights are much easier to work on and automated grinding and polishing machinery is very, very good at its job. Coatings and modifications like etching of reticles are pretty much undertaken by specialist companies that may or may not be in whole or in part be owned by scope manufacturers or both entities may be under the umbrella of a much bigger corporation. Such is the modern world of manufacturing.
Feb 13, 2017

The key here is each of these companies also make lenses for other applications (like photography and astronomy). So they're already set up for it. Meopta is actually an OEM too, not just a manufacturer.
May 27, 2014
32.752325 -79.867804

The key here is each of these companies also make lenses for other applications (like photography and astronomy). So they're already set up for it. Meopta is actually an OEM too, not just a manufacturer.
Do you think even in Nikon’s lower end stuff like the FX SERIES they make those also or are they outsourced?


Jan 7, 2009
Nikon sport optics does not make or grind glass. Every one of their products is outsourced from China, Philippines, or Japan(not 100% sure if they have anything from Japan at the moment).
Meopta has there own manufacturing plants. One in Europe that I know of and one in New York that I know of. I dont believe zeiss sport optics is making any of their own products anymore either. Meopta does some stuff for Zeiss along with a a few asian factories. The only Zeiss products I am not 100% sure about is their high end products. That being said, I do not know if meopta grinds,polishes, or coats lenses. If I had to guess. I would say they do not(and I would be wrong,lol. Thanks Ilya)

The one thing you really need to remember is that most of these European countries are not nearly as strict on their country of origin laws as the USA is. Which means they can source many parts from Asia and do not have to disclose that info. Steiner, IMO, has been the most deceiving about this.

Ilya would most likely be able to shed some light on this subject. However, he may not just as a professional courtesy.
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Dark Lord Of Optics
Feb 22, 2006
Los Angeles
Meopta grinds, polishes and coats their lenses, or at least has the capability to do so and does for at least some of their products. Coatings in particular are their field of expertise and they are among the best in the world at it. I would not be surprised if they did coatings for a lot of people. Their US facility has moved to Florida. Used to be in New York.

Nikon, in the sport optics world, is largely a branding and distribution company as far as riflescopes go. They spec out what they want from OEMs, who do the both the design and manufacturing for them. All of their riflescopes are made in the Phillipines at the moment. I think they have designed some of the binoculars and spotting scopes, but I do not think they manufacture any of them outside of the ultra high end binos like the WX.



Sergeant of the Hide
May 28, 2018
Someone help me understand why this matters. It seems to me that outsourcing parts may imply better quality potential because specialized companies are providing product that’s very particular, expensive, and difficult in manufacturing.

I’m imagining a group of designers and engineers with a vision for the best configuration of a product. Once they spec their needs, they likely must go to different sources to ensure the best parts. To stay competitive. What if an innovation is developed that requires certain extremely expensive equipment? A company can’t stay profitable chasing tools that may not pan out.

On a similar note, I’d say the best rifle scope can’t be developed by the nerds behind incredible glass. They don’t have the expertise and understanding of the nature of that product to construct best features. And shooters don’t have the expertise and science to pursue best glass.

IME, To be the best, you have to start with a vision and a design. To find the best parts, you may need flexibility, especially as technology advances.

Let the specialists compete and they will provide components beyond expectations and imagination. Then when the next incredible development comes along, switch again!
Feb 13, 2017
There's a long overview and factory tour of Meopta out there if you do a Google search. Really interesting stuff. Helped me decide to get one of their spotting scopes and it's an amazing piece of equipment.


Sergeant of the Hide
Apr 25, 2018
Not many people grind mirrors for their own telescopes but far fewer grind the lenses for their eyepieces.

It's a rare optometrist that ever grinds the curve on a lens.

I think I would rather buy a scope made by a company that focuses on design and QC while using the best products available than a company trying to use up all the output of a glass foundry.

And one of these days I'll melt down a bunch of Schott Borofloat I have to make a honeycomb mirror blank but I don't think I'll drop six figures to set up for alumanizing it.