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Beware the Bargain

Caveat Emptor - buyer beware- is an expression that's been around for centuries. It's still good advice to follow, especially in a time when online commerce means almost anyone can sell virtually anything- virtually.

The latest example of products that aren't what they seem comes from California where the owner of an online gun equipment business is on the run from federal agents after being indicted on two counts of manufacturing and selling a counterfeit mark, among other things.



Real-or counterfeit? It's difficult to determine unless you know what to look for - and where. This one's bogus.
Field Sport, Inc. owner Yongmin "Steven" Sui, 53, is accused of selling counterfeit EOTech optics via the internet. In March, Customs officers found 700 counterfeit rifle sights and 200 counterfeit magnifier system in a shipment from China headed to Field Sport's headquarters in Anaheim.

A continued investigation led to a raid on Field Sport headquarters. There, officers discovered an additional 778 counterfeit EOTech holographic sights. All told, the counterfeit equipment had a street value of just under $900,000.

At this point, EOTech's not talking about the counterfeiting, but they have offered some suggestions on how to determine what's real versus a counterfeit.

With the counterfeits looking exactly identical from the outside- down to the printing on the barrels of the optics, it's difficult to tell them apart-until it's too-late.

Some hints that you may have gotten stung on a counterfeit include uncommon batteries (some counterfeits often require several small hearing aid style batteries), interchangeable red and green reticle colors (the switch on a "real" optic changes between normal and night vision mode, not reticle colors), highly reflective optics, a visible LED light position inside the sight cavity, a NV push button that switches the LED to a different color instead of night vision mode, and the absence of a EOTech manufacturing and serial number sticker.

Here's one way to tell the difference between the real and counterfeit optics: "real" EOTechs have a "fuzzy" holographic reticle and counterfeits have solid lines.

That holographic reticle is what makes their product special. It is the delivery system that allows you to see the reticle at the target plane, increasing shooting speed and accuracy. Counterfeits just offer a bright red image that never leaves the window.

If you have what you think is an EOTech optic and can't seem to get the reticle on the target plane when shooting, check for the sharp reticle-it may be a bogus optic.

EOTech says the counterfeit optics are most often marketed toward recreational air-soft use. Simply stated, they're not acceptable on real firearms because they can't take recoil or shock from actual firing of rounds. They also can't consistently hold - or maintain- a zero, withstand drop tests, excessive shocks or handle moisture.

Those differences are all in addition to the holographic reticle difference. If it sounds like the difference between a real product and a cheap imitation, you're getting the accurate picture.

"Anytime you purchase a knock off or pirated product, it's a virtual certainty the quality and reliability will be inferior to the genuine article. When you're talking about counterfeit gun sights, the implications are frightening," says Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Los Angeles.

"This case serves as a powerful reminder about the public safety risks associated with product counterfeiting and demonstrates yet again why intellectual property enforcement is and will continue to be a top priority for ICE."

Counterfeiting in the outdoor industry isn't new.

SHOT Show 2010 saw federal agents close down some foreign exhibitors for counterfeiting, and there's been a concerted effort to stop this sort of piracy across the industry. But it's difficult to prevent. Companies have component parts manufactured overseas, and it's nearly impossible to keep small parts from being copied.

It's the reason many companies keep their parts and pieces behind glass at trade shows-and another reason there are strict regulations regarding photography, although today's smart phones make it virtually impossible to prevent unauthorized photography.

In many product categories, counterfeits are simply lower quality versions of basic equipment - think fishing lures. When it comes to optics designed for a military or law enforcement purpose, that "bargain" knockoff could cost someone lives.

This latest raid might bring another phrase into industry language: "caveat venditor"- let the seller beware. This expression says the seller must take responsibility for the product -and should discourage sale substandard products.

While it might discourage the honest sellers, but it's not going to stop the dishonest ones.

--Jim Shepherd

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The same goes for AIMPOINT.  I got taken on what I thought was a CompM4, turns out it was a knockoff clone it had serial numbers and aimpoint logo in the lens cover and identical cosmetically to an actual Aimpoint but the function was crap, so if the price seems too good to be true it is...
 

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There are some airsoft Aimpoint replicas that say Aimpoint on the side, they look very similar to the real thing, but if you own a real one, you should be able to tell the replica from the real thing. Best solution is to only purchase optics from reputable suppliers, don't buy an Aimpoint or EOTech from some Ebay seller or some little unknown AR15 accessories supplier, buy only from a trusted distributor. The replicas and knock-offs aren't going to go away as long as China still exists, and they are very popular for airsoft, where few people are going to spend $500 on an optic for an airgun that shoots plastic bbs no further than 100 yards, if even. Some of the replicas made in Taiwan and Hong Kong are actually pretty decent quality, but they are still nothing at all like real Aimpoints, EOTechs, Trijicons, etc.
 

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yes its bad, but this happens to every popular "designer" name brand product: its the fake designer handbag of the firearms community. so if youre gonna buy something on ebay or whatever, be sure to do research first, compare every detail from the real one to the one being sold, and ask the seller questions.  ive gotten a 551 on ebay for $240 shipped before, real and in perfect working condition besides a few outside scratches.
 

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I think being informed about the product your buying is important too. Knowing that you shouldn't be able to see the NV reticule, what the correct battery is for that model, etc. A little research can pay off later
 

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I think this bust went down in Vancouver, I read about it a while back.

The fake optics' street value as stated are based on the selling price of the real optics. However, I think that you'll find that in practice, most folks know they are fake and sellers are selling the Eotechs plus the magnifies for about a hundred bucks and change- how many people actually think it's real?

The LED reflex sights for about fifty bucks are pretty decent for those that can't afford Eotechs, and while I am not in favor of somebody ripping off eotech or thier intellectual property rights, I can also see how there would be a market for Airsoft and the like "replica" sights that matchged down to the graphics because the kids (and adults that have airsoft guns) want as much "realism" as possible.

It seems to me the simple way to stop this fraud is for Eotech, Trijicon, and the other makers to simply put a holographic sticker on their products. If you go buy a $15 baseball cap that is licensed by MLB it will have a tag with a holographic sticker, they cost cents to make. Being that they are selling HOLOGRAPHIC sights, it seems a logical security measure against counterfeiting, no?

Then they can sue the Airsoft guys for trademark infringement or better yet license the Eotech trademark for the toy sights and then everybody wins. The factory in china profits selling to the airsoft guys, pays Eotech a licensing fee, and the airsoft guys get their tactical-loking gear with the LED instead of laser optics. Meanwhile ebay sellers can get a fair price for the real deal with the authentication tag.
 
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