MODERN DAY PATROL OPTICS

One of the eventualities of being in a particular field…

One of the eventualities of being in a particular field for a long time is the necessity to eat some crow on occasion. Having carried a firearm for work or self-protection since 1983, I’ve seen many things come and go. In many cases improvements were anything but, often nothing more than a gimmick. Most of these improvements looked great and worked great in the store, but failed miserably in the field. The move to assisted sighting systems was no exception. Early on there was simply a dot in the sight, followed by one that glowed. But today you have to specifically ask to get a pistol without a dot, and the fiber optic front sight is gaining popularity every day, as these sighting systems have proven to be rugged, reliable and practical.

Next Step
The next evolution was what is essentially a floating dot, or red dot sighting system. It was the hunting and competition world that pioneered these devices, and much like the mechanical sight improvements these presented some reliability issues early on but provided a significant advantage when they worked well. The reliability issues placed me firmly in the “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it” crowd, fighting the use of these devices for a long time. Like most everything else in this business, time has proven such dogma to be just flat out wrong.

The primary arguments have always been repeatability, battery life, reliability and dependence on the device. There was always that “what do you do when it does not work” argument. Or, what if the “zero” changes. Lastly, what if you forget to put batteries in it? All are good arguments, but they have been pretty well dispelled today. The high-quality sights just do not suffer from any of these things anymore, or when they do so it is an aberration, not the norm. The Aimpoint used on many of my test rifles has been in service for four years now and the batteries have never been changed. Most of them come with automatic shutoffs and the batteries last for years. The EOTechs, Aimpoints, and Trijicon sights I use have never changed their point-of-aim. Honest attempts to make them fail have always met with frustration. Sure, a sight or two has had an issue, but for the most part they are as reliable as any mechanical device can be. All the old arguments about reliability and repeatability simply do not wash anymore. The only remaining argument is dependence on the sight and that is a training issue, not an equipment issue. These systems simply make aiming easier, you still have to do the rest and practice with a BUIS system is a must.

Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that they make it easier for a police officer to engage threats — especially multiple or mobile threats. When the gunfight is on, the only real goal is to win. If a device can be added that helps you win that fight, it is really no longer a luxury. The threats officers engage are more lethal with every passing year, and officers need every advantage they can get.
For me, the circle is complete. All but my competition pistol has a dot of some sort on it. Every rifle in my collection has a red dot on it or even an optic. Even the back up sight on my favorite deployment rifle is a red dot next to a 1-4x optic. So it seems this old dog has learned a new trick or two. Now all we have to do is convince the administrators that pay for them of the need. Because really, it is only a luxury if you are not the one in the gunfight!

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