5.56 Timeline

Review: Chaos Ready Flip Up Iron Sights

I was supplied a set of Chaos Ready Flip Up sights to try and review.  When I saw that they were $27.99 I was pretty doubtful on the quality of them.   When the average back up iron sight set costs about $200, I was really curious what $28 would get.

I was surprised.

These sights are sold on Amazon, so you get the normal Amazon fast shipping.  Each sight is packaged in a small ziplock bag inside the box.  The packaging also included an Allen wrench for installation and instructions.  The little box they were in was falling apart when I received it.


When I first looked at them I was pretty impressed as they were far nicer than the cheapest BUIS I’ve seen before.  Sometimes you see knockoff BUIS which are copies of major brands and they just feel cheap and chintzy.  These seemed decent.  There is a subdued logo on the front of each sight.

These sights lock in both the up and down positions.  Pressing the button on the left side lets the spring on each sight pop it up into the deployed position.  Like most BUIS, there is a little play in them when they are in the deployed position but the spring keeps the sight consistently in the same place.

If you have used A2 sights, you will be familiar with the adjustment and use of these.

Front sight is just like an A2 front sight except the detent holding it from turning is on the left.  Adjustment is easy.  I haven’t checked if the posts are interchangeable with standard front sight posts.


The rear sight is low profile but it has the rear aperture sticking up.  That may interfere with some optics.


So what are the downsides of this $28 dollar sight set?

The biggest one on this one the detent for the rear sight windage adjustment is not very positive.  It takes almost no force to turn that windage knob and I am concerned that the slightest bump or aggressive flipping between the two apertures would change the zero.  I don’t know if all the Chaos Ready rear sights have this issue, or just mine.  I see this as potentially a big issue.

There are two lesser issues.  A minor one is that because the buttons to flip up the sights are on the left side, if  you are a left handed shooter shooting from the left shoulder it may be a little awkward to deploy them with your right hand.  Practice would negate that.

The other minor issue involves the space between the charging handle and the rear sight.  Between the button and the body of the sight and the charging handle that area is getting kinda crowded.  If you are going for maximum speed in weapon manipulation you will probably want an extended charging handle and perhaps move this rear sight up a notch or two.

I really like this front sight, and I love being able to push a button and have it snap up into place.  The loose windage adjustment on the rear sight makes me less than thrilled about the rear sight.  If they sort that out I would probably highly recommend these.  I could see my self buying more of these just for the front sight.

They don’t compare to the $200+ competition, but at $28, I am very impressed.  The real question is going to be how well they hold up over time.  I am looking forward to finding out.

Optic of the week: Nightforce 2.5-10X24

For a long time the Trijicon ACOG was my favorite scope.  Transitioning from iron sights to 4x magnification was a massive force multiplier.  From there I tried some various optics and the Nightforce 2.5-10X24 became my new favorite scope.  (The Leupold MK6 eventually replaced this as my favorite).  Still I love these so much I own two of them.  Aside from the cost, I’d love to have a dozen.  I feel it is a great light little general purpose scope and would love to throw on each .22 rifle I have.

As always, all good things must come to an end, so Nightforce discontinued this scope.  But there was so much demand that they do little production runs of an updated model every so often.  They still command a premium.

There are two big draws to the NF2.5-10X24.  First is that it is quite small and feels right at home on smaller and lighter guns.  There is even a picture floating around of a Navy SEAL armory where they have one of these mounted on a MP5.  That leads right to the next reason for its popularity.  The major durability and reliability of the Nightforce scopes got them used by groups like SOCOM.  People seeing Navy SEALs running around with these scopes drove up the demand and price.  I paid about $1300 for each of mine, I’ve seen people try to sell them for over $2000.  At $1300 I think they are great, but I wouldn’t pay $2000 for one.

Adjustment were available in 1/4 MOA and in 1/10 MIL.  Some were made with 1 MOA elevation adjustments.  Most of these scopes have exposed turrets, but some have capped 1/4 MOA turrets.  I prefer the milradian adjustments with the mildot reticle.  Clicks are slightly spongy, but very clear and you are not going to accidentally miss one.  The turrets are plenty stiff so they are very unlikely to get accidentally moved.  Many of these scopes do not have any zero stops.  Some do.  I’ve read that the newer scopes have a different style(improved) zero stop.  The stop on this scope requires removing the elevation knob and using an Allen wrench to turn a physical stop into place.

The scope also offers illumination with multiple brightness including a night vision setting.  These settings are not daylight bright.

The small objective lens allowed this scope to be mounted over IR lasers such as the AN/PEQ-2 or a DBAL-A3 like in this picture.  Unfortunately this small objective lens limits the incoming light and makes this scope less than ideal for low light.  A 32mm objective lense was put on the 2.5-10X32 scope this model that replaced this one in production.  Later a similar model with a 42mm objective and adjustable parallax was made.  The 42mm model is still in production.

This scope, as great as it is, shows its age when you look at its features.  It is second focal plane, having been designed before 1st focal plane scopes became very popular.  It seems to have a mixed following in the gun community as people recognize that it is a very durable and reliable scope, but the combination of a unforgiving eye box and eye relief along with lower max magnification made it less popular.  People snatched these up to put on MK12Mod1 clones then found when they were trying to shoot tight groups on paper that they would prefer to have something else.

I think I would best describe this as a major step up from the ACOG for farther distance shooting, but in a similar use.  You use this to to hit targets that are smaller or at farther distances than an ACOG.  But if you are dedicated to one hole groups on paper you would be better suited by a scope with a parallax adjustment, greater magnification, and a finer reticle.

Oh, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tons of adjustment this scope has.  The 10.5 inch 5.56 rifle in the picture above was zeroed at 100 yards and I could reach a 1000 yards by dialing up and holding over with the reticle.  100MOA or 27.3 mils of adjustment on the respective models.

Here are a picture of the mil dot reticle.  The dots are hollow which I really love.  This scope was offered with a variety of reticles but the mildot seems to be the most common.  A mildot reticle with 1/4 MOA turrets may have been the most common configuration.

They did offer a 1-4x version of this scope that was slightly shorter but it didn’t seem to be very popular.  Of the various 1-4X power scopes the Nightforce version seemed to have none of the benefits and all of the downsides.

I hate to say it, but this is really like a more tactical 3-9x scope.  Unless there is some particular feature of you scope you need, you could get very similar performance out of a much cheaper more available 3-9x scope.  Much like the Unertls, these have become collectible.  But technology has surpassed them, and for pure cost to capability there are much better options now.  That said, I love mine and I won’t part with them.  I do wish that Nightforce would consider making a cheaper version that is just a fixed 10x.

If you ever see a Nightforce labeled RECON, NAV-SPEC or ARMY-SPEC on the bottom it shows that it is a standard production scope that had a little more abusive testing than normal.  Those really command a premium.

Optic of the week: Trijicon TA31RCO-A4

I can’t believe I haven’t written about the TA31 series of ACOGs yet.  These were my favorite optic for a long time.  My first experiece with them was in the Marine Corps using the TA31RCO-A4 on the M16A4.

The 4x magnification of the TA31 series of ACOGs will leave a shadow of the front sight base in the sight picture.

I believe that the first of the TA31 models of scope came with a donut reticle.  I had one of these back in 2007ish and while it worked fine, I didn’t not care for the donut as it did not give a clear aiming point for 100 meters.

Reticle picture taken from Trijicon’s website.

The 31 series of ACOGs started with a Bullet Drop Chart(BDC) that went out to 800m.  Longer than the 600m that the TA01 series reticles were set up for.  Later the 4x ACOGs would get reticles that would go out to 1000m.

The TA31F used a blended BDC that was suppose to be close enough for the 20 inch rifle or the 14.5 inch barreled carbine.  Numbers that have been provided make me think that the BDC on it was based off a 16 inch barrel.

The TA31F had a chevron where the tip was used for 100m and the inside point of the chevron was 200m.  The top of the BDC post is for 300m.  The Chevron is 19 inches wide at 100m, approximately the width of a man’s shoulders.  The USMC adopted and issued the TA31F, but then had two models made to replace it.  The TA31RCO-A4, and TA31RCO-M4 with bullet drop charts for the respective weapon systems.  Marine Corps reported that the BDCs were close enough that for the Corps purposes the optics were interchangable.  There were rumors that Trijicon used the same BDC for both optics, but does not appear to be true from testing.

The RCO reticles added 10 mil hash marks on either side of the BDC to allow troops a tool to help them adjust indirect fire assets.  Occasionally I have seen misinformed people say that the lines are for leading running targets, but when I ask those people how much they are suppose to hold over for a moving target none of them have ever answered me.

An unreliable source (Marine Corps Times, slightly less reliable than the National Enquirer) claims that when the Corps is sending ACOG scopes back for refurbishment that they are moving to the reticle used in the TA11SDO ACOGs.  That looks like this:

The Horseshoe dot reticle is suppose to cover less of the target up close and the modified BDC is ment to be easier to  use and useful out to a longer distance.  It looks like the mil hash marks have been expanded and given markings to help avoid confusion.

ACOG reticles can also be had in green or amber.  People don’t seem to care for the yellow amber reticles, but green has steadily been growing in popularity.  Note that due to the prisim in the ACOG the far right side of the mil hashmarks will be bury.

Older ACOGs came with capped 1/3 MOA adjustments that required a tool or coin to turn.  Those were replaced with the capped 1/2 MOA finger adjustable turrets.  On the RCO models these caps are tethered to the scope.  Some of the newest models have switched to a 1/10 mil turret, which would be about .36 MOA.

I still love the ACOG, and I argue that with practice a person can be very fast with one.  But ultimately up close it is going to be slower than a proper reflex sight.  While the ACOG excels are helping you put rounds on man sized targets from say 1-500m, it is not a good choice should you want to do precision shooting.  You would want a finer reticle and better adjustment.  ACOG scopes are notorious for having squishy clicks in the turrets and the scopes not tracking nicely or smoothly.

Now the ACOG is falling out of favor due to the new options of 1-6x and 1-8x scopes.  While many of those are a good deal larger, heavier, and more expensive than the ACOG, the variable power scopes are improving all the time.  The variable power is appears that it will be the future of combat optics, and the ACOG is the stagnating past.

Optic of the Week: Leupold CQ/T

First time I used a Leupold CQ/T it was mounted on a friends M1A.  It seemed to me an impractical combination as it was mounted really high making it awkward on the M1A and I’d much rather have more magnification on a .30 cal.  That aside, I found the CQ/T rather interesting.

The Leupold Close Quarters/ Tactical is a real odd duck of a scope that really came out before its time.  Before the 1-X variable power craze of nowadays, there was the 1-3x CQ/T.  It is fast and easy to switch between 1x and 3x because the entire ocular section of the scope (up to the rail) rotates.  The Leupold CQBSS received rave reviews for this feature, but it was in the CQ/T long before it.

Most of the CQ/T scopes have a circle dot reticle (much like the Eotech) that can be illuminated in amber or red.  The circle dot is always visible.  Before it was discontinued Leupold did finally make some with their CMR reticle, an ACOG like bullet drop chart(BDC).

Reticle is 2nd focal plane.  It is eteched At 1x the Dot is 3 MOA and the circle is 18 inches at 25 yards (~69 MOA), at 3x the Dot is 9 MOA and the circle is 6 feet at 200 yards (~34 MOA).  The math is much simpler if you round to 72 and 36 MOA which I think was the intent.

Illuminated reticle is bright, but still somewhat lacking outdoors.  The adjustment has 12 positions including OFF and night vision modes.  The reticle will blink if you have a low battery.  I couldn’t get a good picture outdoors of the illuminated reticle so here is an indoor one.

Adjustments are a simple 1/2 covered turrets.

The “battery pack” is easily removed or secured with less than a quarter turn.  

Weirdly, you have a removable container to put the battery in.  If you had several you could do quick battery changes, and this also would protect the optic should the battery leak.  It doesn’t slow down battery changes, but makes the process different from other optics.

The mount is rather weird.  The CQ/T has a narrow section so that it can mount to an AR15 carry handle.  Unlike other scopes that can do that, this one has 3 threaded holes to give different eye relief options.

The rail mount is two piece and pinches the scope to your rail.  Solidly mounts the scope but makes it annoying when you are taking it off or moving it.

I am really impressed by the CQ/T and I think it is a good scope, but it is just shy of a great scope.  Leupold seemed to make some odd design decisions regarding it.  For example the rails on the scope, they should have either gotten rid of them, or gotten serious with low profile adjustment so that there would be a usable amount of rails.  The circle is huge, I think they would have been better off with a 1 MOA dot and a 19-20 MOA circle.  A mount that doesn’t get all loose and floppy when you are removing or attaching it would also have been an improvement.  The battery pack was an interesting idea but could be replaced with a simpler cap.  I think the biggest possible improvement would have been an illuminated horseshoe reticle with an ACOG like BDC.

I went and read some old reviews of this scope and the complaints were generally about cost, weight, size, and eye relief.  I think this came out in a time when people were not used to spending a good bit of money on an rifle optic.  Now people gladly spend large sums for AR optics.  This scope is 17.5 oz, so it is heavy, about twice the weight of an ACOG.  But to put it in perspective it is a 1/3 pound lighter than the similar Elcan Specter DR.  To me it doesn’t feel overly large or heavy on an AR.  Eye relief seemed fine to me, but unlike a reflex sight, you still have strict limits on where you can place your head to use it.

I put this scope on my 5.45 AR (pictured in the first picture) and did a little bit of rapid fire and shot some clay pigeons at 50 yards.  I found the CQ/T to be very fast and easy to use.  I like it, but I feel it is just shy of being a great optic.  I would not recommend it because it has discontinued, not to mention there are now 1-6x scopes that are similar size, weight, and MSRP.  I think that is a shame because I think with just a little work it could have been exceptional.  Lastly, there are some being sold really cheap lately, if you want one, now might be the time to get one.



This scope has a lot of history.   Leupold made these in the 90s and for a long time, it was the standard scope that came with the Remington M700 police sniper rifle package sold to countless LE departments across the country.    The scope is the  Leupold VARX-III 3.5x-10X tactical with mil-dot . It has a one inch tube and  comes with the target turrets used on most target and varmint optics from that time.

Adjustments are 1/4 inch per click with  60 clicks in one full rotation.  Being a leupold, the adjustments are solid, repeatable and accurate.This scope is over 20 years old and it has not failed me.  The turrets have set screws that can be loosened to reset the turret to have the index line  and the “0”  line up  where you want to set it.  You can also remove the turrets and replace them with a large version that can not be covered by the turret protective caps that screw on and protect the turrets. If you don’t like either of these, leupod will install the M1 tactical turrests for $130 yankee dollars.

The scope comes with the tactical mild dot reticle.  The glass is clear as is usual for leupold.

The power is 3.5x at the low end and 10x at the max end.  The power ring is also marked like all variX-IIIs in that you can use magnification and the reticle to range a target within hunting distances. Not needed with a mil-dot, but  was marked anyway.


It is a long way from the ultra modern long range tactical optics found today with its once inch tube and  no side focus knob or illuminated reticle. It does have enough internal adjustment for long range shooting.  It has a reticle that is useful still especially for those of us older guys who grew up with it and not the various christmas tree reticles now popular.    It is a tough and dependable optic so much so that I still use it on my MK12 MOD1 and have no plans of replacing it.

Mounted on the most excellent Larue SPR base it is a favorite combo for me.   If you see one some where used at a good deal I give it my highest recommendation.  Even if its too”cold” or not tactical enough for you, or you are ashamed to show it at the gun prom it would still serve you perfectly in any thing you see fit.