7 Nov 17

High-magnification optics on ARs:

During an ARTA Course (Armed Response to a Terrorist Attack) on the East Coast last weekend, a student brought an H&K MR762A1 (commercial version of H&K’s 417), with a 6x Acog optic (6×48) mounted on the upper receiver.

This is an gas-piston, autoloading, military rifle in 7.62×51 (308), with an “AR profile”

Like all Acog optics, the 6×48 is rugged and thoroughly militarized. But it is bulky, heavy, and pricey ($2,500.00). Reticle is a glowing, orange triangle, with assorted other aiming points, designed around the 308 round. Reticle illumination is self-powered, so the optic does not require batteries.

I’m sure the combination of rifle and optic would turn-in a suburb performance at 300m-600m, but we were shooting in heavy brush, in the rain, in low light, at targets from twenty to thirty meters.

Targets were steel silhouettes, ensconced within fall foliage.

My student could not find the targets in his scope!

He cast about for long seconds, alternately squinting and moving his head back and forth, trying with scant success, to determine where targets were.

When he tried to illuminate targets with a high-powered flashlight, it only made matters worse! Flickering glint from glistening foliage made the task of locating targets in the brush through the Acog all but impossible!

To be sure, the task was challenging for Aimpoints and EOTechs too, not to mention iron sights, but the rest of my students (so equipped) were still able to do it with significant success.

The second day, my student removed 6×48 Acog from his rifle, and ran with iron sights.

He did slightly better. At least he could find targets!

High-magnification optics are convenient for making-out down-range detail. As Jeff Cooper put it, they don’t improve your shooting, but but they do enable you to see better than would be possible through iron sights or zero-magnification red-dots!

Through high-magnification optics, your get to see “ a lot of a little.” For that privilege, you inherit considerable bulk and weight. Plus, all such optics are eye-relief-critical, and thus must be mounted so that they are just a few centimeters in front of your sighting eye.

Bottom line is that the rifle and optic combination described above, wonderful though it was, proved itself unsuitable to the close, rapid, 100-meters-and-closer, low-light-in-the-cold-rain, shooting that we did.

Red-dots did much better. And, for those with young eyes, iron sights run just fine also, be they Western-style or Soviet-style.

The lesson learned by all present was:

1) You have to run your gear, and yourself, under realistic, even harsh, circumstances, before you can be sure it will serve you adequately.

2) No one piece of gear, no matter the configuration, does everything well. You give-up some capabilities to get others.

3) When you can’t predict the challenge, high-specialized gear is usually contraindicated!

“It all looks great in the showroom”