I picked up the new Larue LT204 scope mount. The LT204 is a newer version of the classic cantilever LT104 mount. You can get it in 1 inch, 30mm, and 34 mm rings. Best of all, it is about $70 cheaper than the old LT104.
Instead of explaining the story behind it, let me quote Mark Larue:
Because we suspect some of our near and dear competitors have been telling Uncle Sam for years that the LaRue 3/8” adjustment wrench is the chink in our armor. We suspect this because after nearly 1 million legacy LaRue mounts in Uncle Sam’s .mil system, a system that has to be awash in 3/8” LaRue wrenches, they came out with an optic solicitation that specifically specified “tool-less adjustment”. Fine, we’ll play.
It’s essentially our legacy LaRue Combat Proven QD mounts, with the slight change of no wrench needed to adjust the lever to the Picatinny rail. You adjust it by “clicking” the proprietary thumb nuts, much like clicking your scope turrets. It’s very-fine click adjustment is real close to an infinite adjustment.
Something interesting is you can “count the clicks” when switching optics between different uppers, allowing you to predictably maintain the torque on each rifle (and yes, you have to keep up with the scopes clicks, but you have to do that anyhow).
The tool-less adjustment is nice, but the $70 cheaper is nicer. Lets take a look at the LT204 next to a LT104.
I’m sure there will be people out there who prefer the legacy LT104, and there is nothing wrong with that, but the LT204 is a nice alternative choice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We were asked, “What are the pros and cons of M-Lok vs Keymod?”
Long ago there was no standard for attaching stuff to firearms. We use sling studs, bayonet lugs, hose clamps, bespoke custom mounts, etc.
Then came the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail. And all was well. It took some time for people to move away from the weaver rail, but eventually most of the world adopted the 1913 rail. Except for Zee Germans, who as always thought they could do better. They came up with their own spec for rails, where they took the surface most likely to get damaged in use and make that the critical dimension. Thus the NATO spec rail was born.
Then people wanted smaller and slicker hand guards. Companies started milling off the rail section and offering bolt on rail sections. But each company had their own system. While the bolt spacing was somewhat standardized due to the sizing of Picatinny rail, how the rail section interfaced was not standardized. KAC, LMT, Larue, Colt, etc all had their own various rail attachments for their slick handguard.
VLTOR designed a new mounting system in 2012. Somewhat similar to the old post and slot system used in shelving, they included a taper on the mounting tab and recoil lugs. Best part is that they released the design as open source, so any company could use it for free.
Noveske and Bravo Company were early adopters and helped popularize the system. It looked like it was going to be the next standard. But then something interesting happened.
Before we get to what happened, lets talk about the other option, M-LOK.
Magpul came up with a new mounting system on their Masada and their early MOE line of accessories. They had slots cut(or molded) into the hand guards allowing accessories to be bolted to the slots. This was 2009. But this MOE slots sucked. They were inconsistent, and the backside of the slot had to be accessed to install an accessory.
In 2014, Magpul came up with a new standard, the M-LOK. M-LOK used slots where the accessory would lock in using a rotating T-Nut. M-LOK is free licensed, not open source like KeyMod. So people can made it freely, but they have to get permission from Magpul. This way Magpul ensures people don’t deviate from spec.
Wow, writing the history there took longer than I thought this article would be.
So what are the cons:
KeyMod accessories can be installed wrong. When I first mounted a KeyMod QD swivel, the next day I read about people mounting Keymod accessories backwards. I said, “How could anyone mount one of these backwards?” Then I found out that I mounted mine backwards. Doh.
Also some companies are cutting corners and making KeyMod accessories out of spec. Either missing the critical taper on the lugs, or missing recoil lugs.
As for M-LOK. M-LOK accessories protrude into the rail, so in areas with little clearances they can be an issue. Or sometimes the screws can protrude enough to touch a barrel in a narrow free float tube.
It looked like KeyMod was winning the modular handguard war. Many were pushing it as the superior mounting system and it looked like the Army was going to adopt it for use on newer hand guards and sniper rifles.
Then we get to the interesting test. NSWC-Crane did a test between the two. They deemed M-LOK as being better.
Overall, test and evaluation demonstrated that the M-LOKTM modular rail system surpassed the performance results achieved by other modular rail systems. In repeatability testing, M-LOKTM allowed for the repeated installation of the same accessory rail in the same location on a handguard with an average point of aim (POA) shift of 1.3 MOA, as low as one quarter the average POA shift observed by other modular rail systems. Drop test results demonstrated that M-LOKTM systems maintain securement of accessories to the handguard and sustain less damage from impact forces than some other modular rail systems. Failure load testing demonstrated that M-LOKTM systems support the highest load of all modular rail systems tested. In fact, the test equipment used to interface with 1913 accessory rails secured with the respective modular rail system across testing repeatedly failed prior to failure of the M-LOKTM attachment system. Even so, testing of the M-LOKTM systems failed at loads as high as over three times the maximum failure load of some other modular rail systems. NSWC Crane recommended to USSOCOM that the M-LOKTM modular rail system be utilized over the alternative systems tested. USSOCOM has chosen to incorporate the M-LOKTM modular rail system in acquisition efforts including the Suppressed Upper Receiver Group (SURG) and Advanced Sniper Rifle (ASR).
Since this test, interest in KeyMod has been reduced, but it is far from dead. M-LOK is gaining much more popularity.
M-LOK design of just being simple slots has allowed M-LOK mounting slots to be added to a great deal of accessories for other older firearms. Newer gun designs are able to have thin aluminum hand guards with simple slots milled in them allowing for the end user to add what ever accessories they deem fit.
Both are good, but now the consensus is that M-LOK is better.