Saw a Nikon elevation turret break off today. There was no visible abuse to the scope, and the adjustments appeared to be working previously. I have never seen a failure like that before, but it reminds me why paying more for some brands is well worth it.
I got to try a Sightron 6-20 power scope today. The Sightrons are gaining popularity here as a cheaper alternative to Nightforce and Leupold. I am not sure which model it was I was given the chance to use, but the clarity was great from 6-about 14-16 power. As the power was brought up to 20x, the picture clarity and crispness declined. At this point I do not think I would recommend a Sightron for a fighting rifle. However for a range gun or target/competition rifle, it may be an excellent economical choice.
I also got to look through an IOR 2-12 power scope. I believe the model was the Spartan. What I thought was most interesting was how compact this scope is. Many tactical scopes end up being large. A 3-15 or 5-20 tactical scope can be rather large and heavy on a smaller rifle like an AR15. This smaller scope would be right at home on a smaller lighter rifle. The power range is also good for closer range work. I have found that shooters(including my self) are slower at finding close target with 5x and up. The top end of 12x along with the scopes clarity allowed me to easily find and see 8 and 10 inch steel targets at 1000 yards. This compact scope appears to be one of the ideal choices for the compact lightweight 5.56 or 7.62 sniper system.
Both Aimpoint and Eotech are popular reflex optics for the AR15 family of weapons. Constantly online and there are heated debates over which is the better optic and many people have differing opinions for different reasons. There is one major reason the Aimpoint should be picked over the Eotech for home defense. This is the Aimpoints battery life and run time. An Eotech needs to be turn on before use, and will run 4 or 8 hours before shutting down. The Aimpoint will run months to years depending on model and brightness.
The Soldier or the police officer when going on duty or starting a patrol has the time to turn on an Eotech. You don’t know when you might need to use a home defense rifle, and you shouldn’t want to have to turn on its optic before you can use it. Even worse would be if your battery is dead when you need it. The new Eotech EXPS3 has a listed battery life of 25 days on setting 12. The new $400 dollar Aimpoint PRO will run 3 years on 3/4 max brightness.
Back when I owned an Eotech 512, I often found the batteries were dead when I wanted to use it. I had to store the batteries out of the optic to keep them from draining. Not only did I have to turn it on before I would shoot, I would have to check during the day that it is still on. When working at the range, I have seen more then a few shooters day at the range ruined when the only rifle they bought has an Eotech with dead batteries and no iron sights.
If your rifle is a fun gun, get the optic you prefer. But if you require a reflex sight that is ready all the time, use an Aimpoint.
Today I got the chance to look over and to shoot the SOCOM II rifle a close friend bought. Anyone who knows me , knows I am no fan of the M14/M1A rifle. I will not go into the many flaws it has here, but I will say despite my dislike for the rifle I always give them a fair try and never slam one unfairly just because I do not like them.
The rifle arrived with the companies 10 round mag. Why not a 20 round mag? I have no idea. The mags when new cost double or triple a USGI Ar15 mag and I know most buyers would want a USGI 20 round M14 mag to start with. Though I do understand legality can come into play depending where you live.
The stock is a nice touch, it fit well and tight unlike some cheap fiberglass types stocks I have seen with huge gaps. The grip and forearm had a sort of checkering though I felt that other then looks, it was not aggressive enough to be used for real grip. One thing I did appreciate was the mag well had a nice angled bevel to help inserting and rocking in of the magazine.
After picking it up and handling it, I found the balance to be pretty nice it shoulder well and was short and quick when moving it around tight spots.
The SOCOM was also one of the first M1As I had ever held that the top handgaurd cover fit nice and tight and not rattle around loosely like it normally does on a M14. On top of the rifle in front of the bolt is a short piece of rail for optics. This is an idea spot for a T-1 or RMR. I don’t think I would mount something as big as a CompM3 or Eotech, but it is a nice set up for the mini RDS. Having no optics on had to try out , I can not say anything about if it would co-witness with irons. The rear peep sight is bigger then the traditional rear sight. i appreciate this since I have never found the normal small peep to be handy for me at close range or moving targets. the frnt sight had a tridium vial and the protective hoods on each side of the front post are nice and wide, protecting it but not so close to cause confusion at night or in a stressful situation.
After shooting it and checking zero, we proceeded to do some faster shooting. the muzzle brake did its job well. Using Federal gold medal 168 grain Match, the muzzle stayed flat and reduced recoil with not much flash at all. However, with lake city ball, the muzzle blast would peel paint from a wall and was loud enough to be a real distraction. The ports on the brake did direct the worst of the flash away from the line of sight enough to reduce it. No night firing was done so I can not comment on how bad it would be at night with Ball ammo.
The gun was very controllable during double and triple taps. A number or shots were fired at a IDPA target at 25 yards to test how controllable it was during rapid fire. A few double taps even manged to cut into each other or a least touch because of the effective muzzle device. Double and triple taps easily stayed on the head while firing as fast as possible even fighting against the 2 stage trigger.
After having some fun and getting a feel how the rifle generally handled, we decided it was time to test if for accuracy. Since we where not on a range that let us shoot past 25 yards we had to settle for the short range. two 5 shot groups were fired using the before mentioned federal gold medal 168 match load. No optics were used nor any kind of tripod/bipod. I know it is only 25 yards and open sighted, but I have to say, it shows some real potential.
Both groups are 5 round strings fired with the Federal gold medal 168grain match load. As you can see in the pictures 3 rounds went into the same hole in both groups. Considering both were shot pretty much off hand, thats not bad at all even as close as 25 yards!!
Now the downside of the SOCOM II is it suffers the same things as all its other versions. A very slow reload. A safety that is not in a good spot at all. In fact. with the smaller trigger guard and the position of the safety, I found ever time I tried to put my finger into the trigger guard, my finger got hung up between the two and I had to take a second to make sure I got it in where it needed. Sure this is a training issue, but its a issue that really should not even really be there. Other small issues to me are miner, like having to clean from the muzzle and the gun not having a bolt closure or a better safety but these are all personal, maybe other who love the rifle will train hard enough to over come them and perform beautifully with it. It is a very accurate rifle from what I have seen and it handles great. Plenty of companies make a rail or a way to mount what else you need on a general purpose rifle so there should be no problem there, And you can replace the stock with a multitude of other options. If you want a battle rifle that is not too long, this is a good choice and its not as pricey as some AR10 type .30 caliber rifles though you do not have the versatility of the AR type rifles, you still get one nice sweet rifle that is superior to the normal M14/M1a
For rifles like the AR15 I prefer to have my optics on quick detach (QD) mounts. These are useful for a number of reasons including, the ability to quickly remove a damaged optic, quick access to iron sights, and being able to switch optics for different roles. Accessories also benefit from being QD so I can add and remove bulky bipods, lights, forward grips easily. The only real downside to quality QD mounts is the price. For me, the price is easily justifiable when I can take off the Aimpoint from one of my AR15s, and put on an NightForce scope and a bipod, and retaining my previous zero.
For optics mounts, I recommend LaRue Tactical. Their mounts have worked well for me. Recently I have been using ADM mounts on my bipods and while I find I have to adjust the mount to fit each rifle’s rail each time I move it, it works well. I didn’t like the new Surefire throw lever on their newer lights as I would accidentally bump it and it would come loose. I do not recommend ARMS mounts due to their being either too loose or too tight on various brands of uppers.