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Old 01-11-2013, 07:19 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2006
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Official Optics Discussion Thread

Figured the Gun Talk section could use a thread dedicated to the discussion of Optics. As feedback is given, I will edit the original post compiling the information under each topic of discussion to make this a reference post. Feel free to add other topics of discussion that I will continue to add to the list.

Some topics for discussion:

-EOTech vs Aimpoint vs Trijicon optics
-AimPoint Comp M2 vs M3 vs M4
-Mounts (LaRue, etc..)
-Pairing BUIS with Optic
-Best optics for: Quick target acquisition/Longer range accuracy/ Balance between the two
-Magnifier + Optic Combos
-"Best" Optic within price range: <$300, <$600, <$1000, <$1500
-Pistol Optics
-Shotgun Optics
-Caliber specific optics
-Fiber Optic vs Battery Powered: Pros and Cons

In the sake of keeping this thread organized and informative, please include the topic that fits best in the first line of your post whether you are offering your opinion or posing a more specific question within a category. Please provide some sort of reasoning behind your opinion and citing personal experiences would be great. For example:


Topic: EOTech vs Aimpoint vs Trijicon optics

IMO, I favor the Brand X optics because....

Topic: "Best" Optic within Price Range

Through my personal experience with several optics and research I have done, these would be my picks.

<$300: Brand X Optic Z - Due to....
<$600: Brand X Optic Z - Due to....
<$1000: Brand X Optic Z - Due to....
<$1500: Brand X Optic Z - Due to....
Let the discussion begin and feel free to comment/PM me with any suggestions regarding formatting/organization of the original post. I want this to be as informative and helpful as possible. Also, feel free to post up links to articles or threads discussing anything related to optics.

Topic and Discussion

Topic: EOTech vs AimPoint vs Trijicon Optics

Originally Posted by Serbonze View Post
All three are top tier quality. Durability may come into question regarding Eotechs, but I have not personally had a problem. Value? They are all pretty damn expensive, and depending on intended use there are definitely less expensive alternatives.

I have owned the Eotech 516, 517, XPS, the Aimpoint H-1, and I have not owned a Trijicon. I've been lucky enough to take quite a few carbine classes and I've had the opportunity to use a wide range of Aimpoints, Eotechs, and ACOGs. I've sold off my Aimpoint and I only use the Eotech XPS 2-0 now. My eye can "see" the reticle better then the Aimpoint, I prefer the larger window vs tube of the Aimpoint, I like the 1MOA dot of the Eotech, and I like the addition of the 65 MOA ring and the benefits it brings. The ACOG, eh, I just don't like it.

There have been questions about Eotechs holding up and battery life, but i have not had mine fail through five carbine classes, thousands and thousands of rounds, and my own drills at the range. The models that Reedo has seen fail in classes (I say this because I know its coming) have been the older models.
Originally Posted by dfjaws View Post
I'm not an expert but I chose my EOTech over an Aimpoint T1 for a couple reasons...

- I like the reticle on the EOTech a lot more than having the single 4 moa dot. You can use the large circle for quick target acquisition but if you needed to take a farther shot, it just seems easier with the EOTech's 1 moa center dot.

- Aimpoint wins obviously as far as battery life is concerned but for me it isn't really an issue as my rifle is a hobby for me, not a tool or anything I'd be relying upon for an extended period of time.

- I prefer the square profile (field of view might be a better term) of the EOTech to the T-1. I don't know how to explain it really other than, to me, it seems to just flow with things I look at through it (vertical poles/trees/walls/etc). The 'round' profile of the Aimpoint isn't bad to be and it doesn't really throw me off, it just doesn't feel as 'natural' to me.
Originally Posted by Reedo302 View Post
EOTech vs Aimpoint vs Trijicon

Overall views

These are not the ideal optics for what I would need. EOTech has a sordid history that started out as being good, then has slowly degraded over the years as people have been exposed to more options from other manufacturers. To EOTech's credit, they've tried to adjust to the market by evolving their optics. The big issue at hand is that EOTech was bought several years back by L3 Communications, and longtime EOTech users have noted that that was the point EOTech took a downturn with customer service. EOTech does have the ability to say they've had NAVSPEC contracts for a long time, as a long time ago they were able to score the CCO (close combat optic) contract for the Navy. The circle/dot reticle that EOTech is known for is their major selling point, as a lot of people prefer that reticle. EOTech has developed several models to accommodate different battery types and different operational needs like night vision capability and weatherproofing. EOTechs have options that are affordable.

So here's my first-hand observations of EOTech:
-At SHOT Show 2012, EOTech introduced an optic that was a collaborative effort between them and Brownell's, and this was the Zombie optic. It is an EOTech XPS 2.0 with a reticle that resembles a biohazard symbol, with a 1MOA dot in the middle. This shows that they're willing to pander to the commercial hobby market to make sales. The zombie/biohazard reticle was EOTech truly jumping the shark. The reticle is absolutely worthless and I saw a guy use it in training course and he just screamed "mall ninja"
-Battery life of the normal EOTechs is listed at 600hrs, but actually averages ~160hrs according to tests done by the Army. The XPS models are about twice that. A neighboring LE agency uses EOTechs and they have to carry spare batteries at all times, and they change out batteries monthly as a precaution.
-Auto batter shut off modes are either 4hr or 8hr intervals, depending on what you program in. The problem is that it can change without you knowing, and I've read AARs and write-ups by people who have been inadvertently in 4hr mode when they thought they were in 8hr mode. This is a problem because on long ops, you need to regularly shut down and restart the optic. The problem with this is that turning the optic on drains the battery heavily, further killing battery life.
-Windage and elevation adjustments are external, and have no cover. This allows dirt to get into the threads and shift the zero. I've seen this happen.
-Models with in-line batteries (parallel to the rail) have battery "bounce" issues under recoil. The springs weaken and the battery starts losing connection with the contact surface. The repair kit only lasts a year or two before you need another one.
-Transverse mounted batteries on the XPS/EXPS models are more reliable and have no bounce, but they mount the CR123A battery in a way that exploits the weakest point of the battery: the side. CR123A lithium batteries have longitudinal strength and were designed that way. They do not have latitudinal strength on the side, and impact or stress causes them to break and leak acid. This has been a reported issue with these models, and the battery sellers like SureFire and Streamlight will confirm this battery strength issue (regarding their weak points).
-EOTechs have a higher rate of malfunction than any other top level optic. I've personally seen three in the past two years go down on the range.
-The reticle is nice if you can see it, but if you don't have 20/20 vision, it's a giant blob/blur with no definition
-65MOA outer circle obscures targets at longer ranges. Jeff Gonzalez of Trident Concepts has noted that in his Mid-Range Marksmanship course, EOTechs have a lot of problems with this issue at extended ranges.
-EOTech lost the NAVSPEC/Crane contract
-EOTech bases loosen under movement, vibration and recoil, and they constantly need to be retightened, or you need to Loctite the threads.
I realize that I am very negative towards the EOTech, so I will lament that a lot of this is based on operational and training use. For the average shooting range patron, these issues likely won't surface often.
I should note that I am capable of writing a less biased overview of EOTech. I just chose not to.

Aimpoint has a concept of simplicity. They make a 2MOA or 4MOA dot, and they run off of several different types of batteries, depending on what optic you select. Aimpoints are proven to be bombproof, and have been tortured to levels that have made other models fail. Additionally, Aimpoint has Advanced Circuit Efficiency Technology (ACET), which allows their optics to run for tens of thousands of hours. Their current market offerings allow you to choose optics that can run 30,000 to 80,000hrs depending on what model you select. This is why Aimpoint continues to win the M68 CCO contract for the US Army every time they decide to upgrade. The current M68 CCO is the CompM4, and the last one was the CompM3, and before that the CompM2. The Aimpoint T-1 was mounted on a Daniel Defense rifle and abused to extreme levels in a Daniel Defense promo video, and that optic worked at the end, after being dropped out of a helicopter and blown up, among other things. The major downside to Aimpoint has been the price point, as they tend to be very expensive and the mounts always tack on more money. This has been a complaint of a lot of people, but Aimpoint responded by marketing the Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) model, which is an integrated CompM3 and QRP2 quick-detach mount for $440 MSRP. This is currently debatably regarded as the best value premium red dot system on the market. The other main complaint of the Aimpoint is that the dot isn't always round, which is true. Sometimes it's oblong, but it's a function of the optic design as a collimator red dot.
I currently use the Micro T-1, PRO and CompM4S, and I love them all. They've been phenomenal. The PROs that we have on our patrol rifles have been phenomenal, and they're easy to use by novices.

Trijicon is a company that is multi-faceted. They're based in the military/tactical world, but they have branched out into the sporting market with hunting and competition shooting. The Accu-Point scopes use high quality Japanese glass, and for the most part they're very good scopes.
The ACOGs are the standard for the magnified combat optic design, and the ACOG has been around a long time. It continues to be the standard, but other companies have shown up to take a bite out of this pie, like Browe Combat Optics and Elcan. The ACOG is being upgraded, with one version offering a AA battery illumination option, and the current 6x48 model being used internationally for heavy battle rifle use. The Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC) allows these magnified optics to work like reflexive red dots when using binocular vision, so this is a big asset.
The Reflex and the Reflex II were some of the first commercially available red dots that were actually quality and reliable. The dual-illumination technology that required no batteries was selected as the first SOCOM optic for the CCO selection. There are numerous issues with the Reflexes, including tritium dulling and being expensive to replace, and washout issues with the reticle disappearing into bright or light backgrounds. The newer Reflex 1x42 has partially solved the washout issue.
The TriPower was an optic that had a lot of potential, and the dual illumination portion with the fiber optics and tritium worked well. The battery assisted illumination was the problem and with an average battery life of approximately 14-18hrs, it was not ideal. The illumination in bright conditions or against bright backgrounds was not enough, so the battery-assisted illumination was often needed, so this was a problem with poor battery life. On max illumination setting, some people got as low as 2hrs of battery life.
The current trending optic is the SRS, which is their newest red dot variant. It's primarily powered by a solar cell that operates by ambient light powering the optic and being fully adjustable. This offers unlimited life. The backup is a single AA battery, and the optic can run for one year on the battery. This is far better. Additonally, the field of view on the SRS is huge.
Trijicons are EXPENSIVE. They're by far the most expensive of this group, and there isn't a whole lot of wiggle room. Trijicon spent a lot of time sitting stagnant, and now they're playing catch-up. They're making steps in the right direction, though.

Best optics?
EOTech: IF I HAD TO, I would still select an XPS model, but change out the battery more often to prevent any battery compromise.
Aimpoint: The PRO is by far the best based on the price point. It offers so much value, and 50,000hrs of battery life is hard to beat.
Trijicon: Hard to select one optic from them, as they are multi-faceted. However, the one I'd use would be the TA648 6x48 model in 5.56.

Topic: BUIS with Optics + Magnified Optics

Originally Posted by Reedo302 View Post
Backup Iron Sights (BUIS) use with Optics

BUIS is any type of fixed or folding sight is used as a secondary sighting system, and used as an alternative to an optic being used as a primary sighting system. While the term "Iron Sights" is used, BUIS refers to all sights, regardless of material. Most sights now are made of aluminum, and some are made of a polymer. BUIS are a dual-plane sighting system, consisting of a rear sight aperture and a front sight post. The front post is lined up into the middle of the rear aperture, which is why it's known as a dual-plane sighting system.

The common misconception with BUIS is that they work in RELATION to optics, as opposed to working separately from optics. This is muddied by misinterpretation of different types of co-witnesses. A co-witness means that you can use your BUIS without removing the optic, as the BUIS are visible through the optic. There are two types of co-witness: Absolute and Lower 1/3. Absolute Co-witness means that the center of the reticle is directly in-line with and on the same vertical plane as the line of sight through the BUIS. A Lower 1/3 co-witness puts the line of sight of the BUIS through the lower 1/3 quadrant of the optic, below the line of sight of the reticle. The reticle sits above iron sights.

The reason why people get this mixed up and have misconceptions is because of how the absolute co-witness works in relation to the BUIS, and how people use fixed BUIS, or have folding BUIS flipped up all the time. The misconception is that since they reticle lines up in-line with the rear sight aperture and front sight, it's meant to used in conjunction with those sights. People believe that since everything generally lines up, you have to make sure that you line all three up before ripping off a shot. This essentially turns a single-plane sighting system (dot, chevron, etc) into a three-plane sighting system by inserting it in-between a dual-plane sight. The legitimate use of an absolute co-witness is to have it so that you can use the same head position and cheek weld with the optic as you would with the iron sights. It makes for a consistent head position if you spend a lot of time switching between optic and sights. Ideally, absolute co-witness should be used with a folding rear sight kept in the closed/down position so as to not obstruct the field of view any further. Additionally, sights kept up will slow down the shooter, as it tends to force people to think about the alignment of the front and rear sight, when they should only be paying attention to the reticle and nothing else. Many people are running fixed rear sights when running absolute co-witness, and this is not an ideal setup. This is also an issue, because not every sight and mount combo lines up exactly with every BUIS.

This concept of absolute co-witness then creates confusion with new shooters when they're using a Lower 1/3 co-witness, because they believe that somehow there needs to be some kind of alignment and relationship between the reticle and the sights. In reality, there should be no intentional correlation or relationship between the optic and the sights. If you are running a fixed rear sight, or you prefer to run folding BUIS in the "up" position (defeats the purpose of a folding sight, but whatever... ), you should be running a lower 1/3.

I personally do not like the Absolute Co-Witness. It's problematic and causes a lot of confusion. People always seem to have to run it with sights up, which absolutely defeats the purpose of having an optic in the first place. Why use an optic if you're going to use the sights anyways? If you use it correctly, it works fine. However, a lot of people mess it up.

Another reason why I like Lower 1/3 is because of same-plane vs offset plane sights. Not all iron sights are same-plane. Same-Plane means that the rear sight aperture is directly on the same optical plane (in line with) the front sight post. An Offset Plane is where the rear sight aperture is higher than the plane that the front sight sits on. Offset plane is done for corrected longer range trajectory, which is why the A2 rear drum sight is designed as an offset plane. The A2 sight was designed to allow the iron sights to be used out to 800m, and to be able to use without adjustment form 0-300m. If you are running an offset plane with your sights in place or up, using an absolute co-witness becomes problematic because if you look through your sights, you won't be able to use the red dot properly. If you attempt to use the reticle, it will be obstructed by the outline of the rear aperture. Aside from A2 style sights, several folding BUIS have been identified as not being same-plane.

So to summarize, here are the benefits of each:

- Allows for an identical cheek weld between BUIS and optic

- Allows use of fixed rear sights, so that they don't obstruct as much field of view
- Ideal for a fixed front sight post (FSP), as it reduces how much of the target will be obstructed within your field of view
- Allows for a more "heads up" position when shooting standing up, so it causes less fatigue and more situational awareness
- Allows for a slightly higher head position in the prone, which is especially important if you have gear on your front like a tactical vest or chest rig; or body armor.
- No direct correlation between optic and sights, so there is no confusion

And to finalize this portion, I would like to reiterate that regardless of what setup you use for co-witness, the reticle of the optic should have no relationship with the sights in terms of your use. When you use the optic, FORGET ABOUT THE IRON SIGHTS!! Pretend that they're not there. Do not make any attempt to use them while your optic is operational, because they shouldn't have anything to do with each other. PERIOD. FULL STOP.
You should not be using an optic to deliberately use it with iron sights. The co-witness is merely the position where there sights sit when your optic goes down and you need to look through the optical housing when using the iron sights.

BUIS Use with Magnified Optics

BUIS used with a magnified optic, like a fixed or variable magnification rifle scope or a combat gunsight like a Trijicon ACOG, Browe BCO or Elcan SpectreDR will not co-witness with those optics. This includes a no-magnification/1x scope like the Leupold Prismatic, nor flash-dot scopes like the S&B PMII Short Dot or Leupold VX-R. You will not be able to use the sights through the optic. If you elect to have have BUIS on your weapon while using a scope or gunsight, you should employ a mount with a quick-detach (QD) feature like those offered by LaRue Tactical, American Defense Mounts or GDI. This will allow you to throw one or two levers and quickly remove the scope in case it goes down, making your sights accessible. If you are using folding BUIS, they should be stored closed/down. Ideally, you should avoid using a fixed FSP when running a scope or gunsight if at all possible, as well as avoid using fixed BUIS or running the sights in the up position.
An alternative to this is to offset-mount the iron sights. Offset mounting the sights usually places the sights at a 45 angle to the top rail. To use the sights, you simply rotate the rifle 45 to the left and sight through the sights. Knights Armament, SureFire, Diamondhead and XS Sights (among others) all make offset iron sights. It should be noted that offset irons are not wrong-hand (southpaw/lefty) friendly, as they mount to the right of the optic and rail.

See here for more on offset irons:

The alternative to this is to omit iron sights and run with a stacked or offset mini red dot. You can mount mini red dot sights like the Trijicon RMR or Leupold DeltaPoint on top of an optic, on top of one of the rings, or mounted along the tube of the optic. There is also the option of a 45 offset mount off of the rail, similar to the offset BUIS mounting. If you run a magnified optic, this is a more preferred method to run unless you are actually going into combat with the optic. At that point, run all three if you can. The offset 45 or stacked red dot option is wrong-hand compatible as well.

Offset DeltaPoint on GGG mount:

Offset Aimpoint T-1 on a LaRue Tactical offset QD mount:

"Stacked" Optic in the form of a Trijicon TA31-ECOS with a DOCTER optic mini red dot on top.

Trijicon TA31-ECOS with Trijicon RMR red dot. Note the additional integrated emergency iron sight on the left side of the optic.

Leupold DAGR (Dual Aperture Gunsight Riflescope) System, also known as the MDNS ECOS-O system (Miniature Day/Night Sight Enhanced Combat Optical Sight - Optimized) , which uses the Mark6 3-18x44 M5C2 TReMor2 with stacked Aimpoint T-1.

Topic: Mounts

Originally Posted by Serbonze View Post
LaRue makes excellent quick disconnect scope mounts that will return to zero.
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Last edited by Tom5933; 01-16-2013 at 03:04 PM.
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