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Thoughts on Offset Red Dots

Long ago I tried an offset Mini Red Dot on and really didn’t like it. I was using the short lived TNVC el-cheapo red dot. The red dot sucked and I didn’t like how I couldn’t use the setup left handed. I really thought the MRDS type optics were junk for a while due to my experience with the TNVC red dot.

I’ve found that there have been many times I’ve tried something, disliked it, and never wanted to do it again. I find my self plenty quick to keep bad mounting something. Well I don’t want to be someone who is so set in their ways that they ignore advancements.

A military unit running ACOG 4x Scopes with offset Micro Aimpoints

An offset sight is most popular in competitions like 3 gun where speed is the key to winning. The offset red dot is run with a magnified optic to allow the user to instantly switch between them by rotating the rifle 30-45 degrees. This is much faster than trying to dial the adjustment on a 1-4 or 1-6 power scope.

I saw in increase of popularity of using an offset Micro Aimpoint. So I figured I’d give it a try. I picked up a Larue LT724 Offset Mount during a sale, and pulled a Aimpoint T-1 off a rifle to give it a try. I put it on my 5.45 upper so that I could get some good trigger time with it. I fired a couple hundred rounds with this combination.

One of the first things I noticed when I set up the combination was that thin strip of aluminum holding the optic. I have no doubt it is strong enough during normal use, but I’d be worried about it bending if the rifle were dropped on the optic.

Adding an offset optic instantly makes a firearm a little bulkier, a fair bit wider, leaves more stuff sticking out that can catch of stuff.

Shooting with the offset Aimpoint was so much better than that old cheap MRDS from back then.

There is no argument that an offset red dot is fast.

At close range, with an AR, it isn’t hard to tilt the rifle and rapidly fire shots into a torso. Something like the offset red dot really shines when you have larger more awkward guns with higher magnification scopes.

There is a story of a Police Sniper who was carrying his bolt action sniper rifle running up some stairs to get into an overwatch position when he ended up running into the bad guy in the stairwell. As he was holding the bad guy at gun point with his sniper rifle, he realized the high magnification scope was not ideal for that.

The M110 Carbines and M110K1 had offset iron sights to give the user the ability to rapidly engage close targets.

Firearms like the long range precision rifles that might get used in close distance fight are ideal for an offset or piggyback reflex sight.

For lighter or smaller carbines, with low power optics or variable optics, the utility of the offset sights becomes questionable.

Back to the shooting.

I found turning the gun to use the offset red dot reduced the recoil control a little. Not terribly so, but enough to be noticeable.

The T-1 is high enough and out enough that I was able to use it left handed with my left eye. Had to cant the gun counter clockwise and it was awkward, but it worked. I didn’t expect to be able to do that.

The offset sight was tucked in closer to the handguard. I’ve gotten use to higher mounted optics so I found when I rotated the rifle that I had to lower my head a bit for a better sight picture with the T-1. I don’t think other people would have that issue.

An odd setup by one of the High Speed Low Drag guys. Note the offset T-1 with the Nightforce 1-8X

The offset Aimpoint Micro is a rather nice setup. Downsides are the price and width it adds to the firearm. But I think it is only worth while if you are running a higher power optic in addition to needing to make precise close range shots quickly.

Aimpoint H1 Micro, after 5 Years of use

I have always been a strong proponent of Aimpoint sights. Really, we all have been at looserounds. You cannot go wrong choosing any of the Aimpoint models that are currently available or have been previously available. When I worked for my hometown police department, I was the only officer with an Aimpoint, I carried an ML2 (purchased 2003). I never had an issue with my ML2, it just kept going strong year after year. I wrote an article for looserounds several years ago about that Aimpoint ML2 after running it on rifles for ten (10) years. (http://looserounds.com/2013/04/23/my-aimpoint-ml2-a-decade-in-use/). Since then I have used several other Aimpoints Red Dot Sight (RDS) optics.

There are a lot of micro RDS optics on the market and numerous are less expensive than Aimpoint. So, I want to put this article in perspective for you.  Just like my previous article on the Aimpoint ML2, I am talking about a serious personal defense, military or law enforcement / duty use, micro RDS optic. Something you can trust your life or others lives on. While other RDS optics might serve you just as well, Aimpoint is known for its quality. Aimpoint has the quality and quantity that has served in military and law enforcement units in extreme environments for decades.

PSA 10.5 Pistol w/Aimpoint H1. ADM Mount

In October 2013 and January 2014, I purchased two Aimpoint H1 RDS optics. These Ampoint H1’s have a 4MOA dot and are currently out of production. Aimpoint still makes the H1 micro but it is only offered in a 2MOA dot. When you are testing a RDS sight over several years, it may go out of production, but there are a lot of that sight still out there. Also it gives you an idea of how current models will perform.

I put brand new batteries in the H1’s when I purchased them and set them on setting eight (8). Aimpoint states that on setting eight (8) the micro’s should run for 50,000 hours or five (5) years on the same battery. I would say this is very accurate as I have had both my Aimpoints on over the five (5) years.   

Aimpoint H1/Larue Mount/Colt 6720
Aimpoint H1/Scalarworks Mount

Now you may be thinking, I didn’t continually leave the H1’s on and I never used them in any hard use. The H1 micro’s have seen more rounds on rifles than I even know. They have been through countless training classes, schools and testing at looserounds. I have also tested the H1’s on several different mounts over the years. I have used American Defense Manufacturing (ADM) mounts, Daniel Defense mounts, LaRue Tactical Mounts and Scalarworks Mounts.  You will see these mounts throughout the pictures in the article.  Since the batteries have been on for 5-1/2 years they probably have over 55,000 hours run time on them.

H1’s on 6920 & 6720 / Larue & Scalarworks

For the past five (5) years my pair of Aimpoint H1 mico’s have been my home defense optics, on various rifles, Colt (LE6920s, AR6720s and currently LE6960). I have also run them on a few S&W M&P15-22s and currently on a Palmetto State Armory (PSA) 10.5″ AR15 Pistol.  While I have kept both H1’s on setting eight (8) the entire time I have had them, I have bumped the setting up and down during use, depending on lighting conditions.  During bright days on the range I have had to bump the setting up to eleven (11), or one louder it you know what I mean. I have also run the H1’s on lower settings to sight the optics in on other rifles.  I find that dialing down the sight while sighting in RDS optics, gives you a more accurate Point of Impact (POI) on the sight. After shooting or sighting in, I default the sights back to setting eight (8). I find that setting eight (8) is the best all around setting for most lighting situations.

S&W M&P15-22 / Aimpoint H1 ADM Mount

 

Conclusions:

According to Aimpoint, the Aimpoint H1’s have a 50,000 hour battery life, (roughly Five years). Over the last 5-1/2 years the Aimpoint H1’s have stood up to every day work/use, countless range days, carbine course schools (on several different rifles), and looserounds firearms testing for articles, on the original batteries. Now that I have run them this long on the original batteries, I will change them out. I would suggest that you change out the battery every year just to be safe. I have said this before and it is always confirmed, Aimpoint is the only red dot optic I will ever use for professional or serious personal defense use. If you purchase one of the newer Aimpoint models, (i.e. PRO, M4, M4S, H1 – H2 or T1 – T2), with battery lives of 30,000 to 80,000 hours, these will last you a lifetime. There is no other optic that you can bet your life on and gives you that comfort that it will work every time you need it.       

Duncan.      

Optic of the week: Leupold MK6 1-6 CMR-W 7.62

This is the most awesome optic that I am not going to recommend.

I’ve been selling off some of the stuff I wasn’t using. I ended up getting this scope in trade for a scope I wasn’t using and wasn’t going to use. I wouldn’t purchased this scope outright, but now that I have it, I really love it.

The MK6 1-6 is kind of an odd duck. It is most often seen with the CMR-W reticles which are most like an ACOG BDC with addition milradian hash marks and wind hold marks. It has a very bright daylight visible illumination, great turrets, an awesome 1x setting, a really nice battery cap, etc. But the list price is insane, and it is build for to be used in a way that I think makes it less preferable for most people.

There are two issues which I think makes the MK6 1-6 the wrong choice.
First is cost. MSRP is $2859.99
I’ve seen them sold used, with a mount for less than half that. Even so, that is pricey. While this scope is great, I wouldn’t pay that much for it. I only have once because I traded a much cheaper scope for it.

Second is the role of the scope.
There is a spectrum between speed and precision. A reflex sight is built for speed, and that 42X bench rest scope is built for precision. As magnification increases, users tend to want something geared more towards precision. This scope has a course BDC reticle and coarse adjustments, it is more like an ACOG+ than a mini-sniper scope. Most people I’ve talked to would rather have a mini-sniper scope these days. Now we have all sorts of new 1-8X and 1-10X that better fit that role over this scope. It is as if this scope is obsolete before it came to the market.

The glass is imported, so it doesn’t say “Made in the USA” I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t agree that foreign glass is better.

The turrets on this scope lock at zero and have a button to release them. If you press the button and turn it away from zero, they are no longer locked and you can turn them normally. Each click is clearly felt and barely audible. I found it really easy to set the zero on these as once I loosen the cap, turning it to zero locked the rotation, allowing me to just re tighten the screws. I would be perfectly happy if all my scopes had turrets like these.

These scopes turrets are .2 milradian adjustments. So about .72MOA per click. This allows the user to dial in up to about a 900m zero in a single turn, but also clearly shows that this is not a scope for precision shooting. I don’t think of this as a downside, but it is certainly an unpopular choice.

This is the best scope at 1X I have ever used. It felt the most like an Aimpoint than any other.

If you are properly aligned with the scope, the illumination is amazing. At 1X it is the flattest, nicest, most Aimpoint like view I have seen out of a magnified scope. But due to the lighting system this scope uses, if you are slightly off axis it dims greatly.

Lined up and the reticle is very bright
Move your head slightly and it dims.

The CMR-W BDC reticle is in meters. The 5.56 version goes to 900m (about 984 yards) and the 7.62 version goes to 1200m.

The center dot is for 200m. To the left and right there are mRad hash marks and a mRad vertical scale on the left. Along side the bullet drop chart there are wind lead marks for 10 and 20 mile per wind hold. Also on the left side of each distance there is a range finding tool.

A side note, I highly recommend when you are zeroing a scope, that is new to you, to start at close distances. This scope is was set 9 inches low at 25 yards. Had I started at 50 or 100 yards I would have been well off the target.

The battery compartment has a recessed button and flips open

The battery compartment makes for easy and fast battery changes and removes the chance of cross threading a cover back on. For the optics with short battery life, they all should have battery compartments like this.

The 20mm objective lens looks tiny in the 34mm tube.

I really enjoy shooting with and using this scope. But I do not recommend anyone buy one. Doubly so at list price. Optics design and tech is rapidly advancing. Now there are cheaper and smaller 1-8X scopes like the Nightforce NX8. When I first used the MK6 I thought it felt heavy and clunky. I was sort of surprised when I read it is the same weight as some much smaller scopes I own. It isn’t really heavy for what it is, but it is large. I think it feels clunky and overkill for an AR15, but less of a long range precision scope than you would want on a .308 Semi Auto.

It is a great scope, but if I was spending fresh cash, I would rather spend far less cash on newer scopes.

My Colt 6940 FDE

Some time back Colt did a limited run of FDE anodized LE6920 and LE6940 models. I’ve heard there was something like 300 of these tan 6940s made, and 1500 of the 6920s.

Shawn was a pretty early adopter of the monolithic upper model of the 6940. He wrote a nice write about the 6940 back in 2012. You can see it here. When the FDE 6940 came out, he picked one up and switched to it.

An old picture of Shawn’s FDE 6940

I always thought how he has his rifle set up is pretty practical. So years later when I picked up a LE6945, a shorter barreled 6940, I set it up similarly.

My LE6945

Every so often I would see one of those limited run FDE 6940s come up for sale. Often $3000+. Insane.
Then I saw one for sale just a little over what I thought was reasonable, so I snatched it up.

This rifles comes out of the box ready for use, it even included a nice accessory kit I teased about here.

The kit comes with 2 mags, sling, cleaning kit, ladder covers, manual, a vertical forward grip, and a QD sling swivel.

Now I could write about this rifles performance, reliability, etc. But being it is a Colt, I think you what is going to be said. Now sometime down the road I plan to do some accuracy testing, but that hasn’t happened yet.

The 6940 has two heat shields in the hand guards. One above the gas tube and one at the bottom to help protect the shooters hand from heat when rapid firing.

The bottom rail is removable when you press a recessed button.
A 6940 has a 16″ M4 profile barrel. A notch in the upper receiver allows for a M203 grenade launcher to be mounted.

The 6940 model is a great gun, but I think it has a similar problem the FN SCAR has. It is a product of an older time. Now people want longer slick hand-guards, greater molecularity, etc. It is great at what it is, but you are limited to what you can change on it.

So what did I change on mine?

The Magpul MOE stock and grip on the rifle are fine, but I replaced them with the CTR (with extended pad) and A2 grip as I prefer. I removed the Magpul winter trigger guard and replaced it with a standard trigger guard (why?). A Tango Down stubby VFG was added to the hand guard. This rifle will normally wear an Aimpoint T-1 with a 300m zero. A KAC Ambi-Safety & Norgon Ambi-Catch aid in making the rifle more ambidextrous.

Eventually I’d like to swap out the Magpul rear sight for a KAC 2-600m sight. I’m also going to add a Surefire Warcomp so I can mount my silencer. I’d like to add Surefire Scout Light, once I can find another one cheap. Other than that, it is as it will be. I just need to shoot it more.

Build a 9mm AR15 Pistol, I don’t like it.

Bottom Line Up Front: 9mm AR moves more than 5.56 ARs, made me not like the 9mm pistol configuration.

Long rambling explanation below:

Recoil has multiple components. There is the muzzle rise AKA muzzle flip. There is the rearwards force. There is also the intensity or how drawn out that recoil is. Some guns are a push and some are snappy.

For example, some say that .40 S&W has less recoil than .45 ACP, but .40 is snappier due to the recoil being in a shorter time which can make it harder to control.

The Colt pattern 9mm AR15s are blow back operated. Because of this they have heavier bolts and buffers giving them a good bit more mass moving during the recoil of the firearm.

So these blow back 9mm AR15s (well this does apply to all blow back guns) have a more violent recoil then the rarer pistol caliber carbines that are not blow back.

Note that I said “more violent”, not just more or bad. These 9mm ARs are still pleasant to shoot, especially due to the greatly decreased muzzle blast.

So where am I going with this? When I finally got out and shot this 9mm AR pistol I found it moved a good bit with each shot. Shooting accurately was easy. But shooting fast wasn’t.

I was surprised at how well I shot the pistol off hand. Using the iron sights and also an Aimpoint, I was easily shooting tight groups, nearly cloverleafs at 5-20 yards. In hindsight I really should have kept that target. But the gun moved so much off target with each shot I was really off-put by the whole experience.

Now if I had a pistol brace it would probably be a whole different story.

Anyways. I decided I am going to sell this 10.5 inch 9mm upper, and just replace it with a full 9mm rifle. Maybe a Colt 6951. And I have already swapped the pistol over into a 5.56 configuration.