August 01, 2016
By Bryce Towsley
The great innovations in our world rarely come from big, bloated, long-established companies. Rather, they come from people with a vision. Sam Colt, Henry Ford, Gaston Glock, Bill Gates, Arthur Savage and Steve Jobs were not some faceless drones in a giant corporation. They were individuals who started with a dream and a shoestring budget, and they changed the world.
Sometimes, though, the drones grow weary and break free. They start with a dream, a shoestring and a headstart from deep knowledge of the products from all those years they worked as a drone. That's the case with Tract Optics.
Jon Lacorte and Jon Allen worked for Nikon Sport Optics for many years. They loved the brand, but were unhappy in the often-bizarre world of huge corporations and how they operated. Frustrated, they resigned and when their non-compete agreements expired, they started Tract Optics.
A New Concept
Unlike so many other pioneers in their fields, Lacorte and Allen didn't set out to reinvent the products. That would have been foolish and all but impossible, given that the world of optics is well-established and full of engineers with weird brains that can understand optical engineering on a level that normal humans can't comprehend.
Unless you have a concept that is completely revolutionary, trying to improve on such a long-established and well-developed product line is a bad idea. What is bloated and inefficient is the way optics are sold. So what the Jons did differently was brilliant in its own way. They saw a problem that needed a solution, and they decided to change the way we buy optics.
Today, optics are mostly sold with distributors, sales reps and brick-and-mortar retail stores all taking a cut. Add shipping and storage, wages, taxes and all the other hidden costs, and it all adds up. You didn't seriously think the high price of a scope or binocular was all for the glass, did you? Everybody in the supply chain gets a taste. The longer the chain, the higher the price, but with no corresponding increase in quality.
In fact, quite the opposite is often the case. In trying to satisfy retailer demands, optics manufacturers often downgrade quality and cut corners rather than raise prices. It's a bit of a death spiral, which more than one company has been caught in. So, the two Jons decided to reinvent all that by bringing their products direct to the consumer.
The way we buy things has changed over the decades. My grandfather ordered from a catalog like Herter's. My dad had the small local gun store order optics for him, as they could not afford inventory. I bought from the large chain stores and my kids order from Amazon. How we shop has evolved with each generation, and with the Internet, that evolution is moving exponentially faster.
But, in every case, there is a supply chain that runs up the price to the consumer. The Jons decided to get ahead of the curve and use the technology available today to bring their products direct to the consumer. Now the supply chain has one link: Tract Optics.
What that means for you, the end user, is that you get high-quality optics ensured by combined decades in the optics business, but you get to keep all the profit that the multiple middlemen would have made.
How Tract Optics Perform
I have used the scopes from Tract Optics, and I am impressed. That's not a throwaway statement. I have been writing about optics for about 30 years and have been able to hunt and shoot with the very best. I am not ashamed to say that I have become an optics snob.
Once you use high-quality optics, it's impossible to return to budget glass and be happy. The optics are as clear and bright on these scopes and binoculars as anything on the market. If it were a blind test, it would be impossible to know them from competitors costing twice or three times as much.
To be honest, I see that as a bit of a negative for Tract Optics. We consumers have been conditioned over the years to equate optical quality with a price point, so the Tract Optics team will need to work hard to overcome those suspicions. We have always been told that there is no free lunch, so we figure there must be a catch here someplace. There is not. Tract Optics has simply figured out a better way to do it.
However, it's all new, and new concepts raise suspicions. I saw that at the range when testing the optics. We showed them to another shooter, and he would not believe that the quality was that high and the price that low. Consumers need to understand and accept that this is an unprecedented and new way to sell sport optics. We need to allow ourselves to accept the savings.
Jon Lacorte sums it up well himself.
"Starting Tract Optics was like having a clean slate to design and develop products without worrying about the barriers and hurdles normally associated with working for large corporations," he said. "We set out to design the finest binoculars and riflescopes without any limitations, and the result is a product line that shatters the expectations of what the consumer gets for their money."
Tract Optics are made by the largest and most respected optics manufacturers in the Pacific Rim. They use only the best components in each of the product lines. For example, all of the company's hunting scopes, the TORIC, TEKOA and TURION use Schott HT glass. This glass is found only in the best optics. All glass is fully multicoated, and the reticles are etched into the glass.
Tract Optics Riflescopes
The TORIC is the top of the hunting line, and they have a 5x zoom range. The one piece main body is fully machined. The scopes have a quick-focus eyepiece and a four-inch constant eye relief. They are, of course, waterproof and fogproof. They are filled with Argon gas, which is more stable than the traditional Nitrogen used to purge scopes. The reticle adjustments can be hand-turned without tools, and they have a return to zero with a lock.
The scopes have ¼ MOA adjustment clicks and 20 MOA per revolution. Depending on the model and reticle, they have a total adjustment range of as much as 60 MOA. You can order a turret to match your cartridge and load. There is a locking side focus parallax adjustment on the 3-15X models. The scopes are recoil tested to 1,000 Gs. All Tract Optics have a lifetime warranty.
I tested these Tract Optics scopes, and the optical quality is excellent. The adjustments track very reliably and return to zero perfectly. What I am describing is a typical, Pacific Rim, high-end riflescope, one you would expect to write a large check to own.
The shocking thing is that top-shelf TORIC scopes start at only $654.00 for the 2-10X42 model. The top-of-the-line 3-15x50 is only $724.00. That's about half what you would expect to pay for a scope of this quality. Shipping is free in the lower 48 states.
Tract Optics initially has two binocular lines and five rifle scope lines, with multiple products in each line. I won't bore you with listing all the products. That's what websites are for.
I will note that the Tract Optics scope line includes the TORIC, with six scopes to choose from. The TEKOA line has eight models. The TURION has two scopes. It's worth noting that the TURION has high-quality Schott glass and other top quality features, but you can own one for less than $400.00.
The Tract Optics Response line of scopes is designed for AR platform rifles. They use a ballistic reticle that is matched to the trajectory curve of a 55-gr. .223/5.56 or a .308 168-gr. load. There are three scopes in this line.
Tract Optics also has a rimfire line of scopes called the 22 FIRE. They have a 3x zoom range and fully multicoated optics. BDC or T-Plex reticle. The scopes have ¼-inch adjustments at 50 yards. The 3-9X40 features a 50-yard parallax setting while the 4-12x40 has a 75-yard parallax setting. The 3-9x40 is just $174.00, and the 4-12x40 sells for $194.00.
With all the Tract Optics riflescopes, you can go online to the company's Impact Ballistic Program and plug in the data for any load, and it will match it to the ballistic reticle and give you the point of impact for each line.
I tested this at the range, and the results were amazingly accurate. With Jon Lacorte calling out my holds, I could make first shot hits easily out to 500 yards, which was the extent of the range we were using.
I tested the .308 4-16X42 ($394.00) on a very accurate rifle. We shot the grid on a Redfield sight-in target. Starting with a center zero, we moved the adjustments to hit the top right target, then to the bottom right, bottom left, top left and back to center.
The scope tracked extremely well, and the last shot was almost touching the first. Each of the groups on the corners were right where they should be. This is a very good test of a tactical scope, and not many can pass it. This Tract Optics scope got an A+ grade.
To prove it wasn't a fluke, we did it again with Jon pulling the trigger. The results were almost identical. If anything, they were slightly better.
Tract Optics Binoculars
There are two lines of binoculars. Both are offered in 8x42 and 10x42.
The Toric is the top of the line. It uses a magnesium alloy body for light weight without sacrificing strength. The optics are the highest quality with Tier 1 High Grade — ED Glass and are fully multi-layered coated, including an exterior coating that resists smudges and scratches. The binoculars are center-focus and feature eye cups that stay where you put them. It's frustrating to have to keep re-adjusting the eyecups every time you look through the binos. These stay put.
These are roof prism binoculars with phase correction coatings, a feature that was once the exclusive domain of very expensive European binoculars and is an outstanding feature for binos priced at $654.00.
The Tekoa Binocular uses a fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate body. They are extremely lightweight for their size. They use Tier 1 High Grade — ED Glass — and fully-multilayer coatings and have phase correction prisms. Very high end features for only $454.00.
The full specifications for all of these products can be found on the Tract Optics website. That's also where you go to buy these new optics, if you want to be part of the revolution that's coming. Just think of what you can do with the money you will save by purchasing direct from the manufacturer.