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Thread: My Experiment with a Simple, Lightweight Optical Solution

  1. #1
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    My Experiment with a Simple, Lightweight Optical Solution

    The following is presented for informational purposes only, no editorializing implied or intended.

    Background

    As a sixty-something year old guy who has enjoyed the shooting sports for nearly four decades, and has owned at least one AR for the last 20+ years, I’ve been fortunate to have been able to experiment with many different AR sights and optics. These have included at least five different sets of iron sights, two Aimpoints (Comp M3 and PRO), the Leupold Prismatic (twice), three different LPV scopes (SWFA, Bushnell Elite and Leupold VX-R Patrol), two ACOGs, and a long time ago one of those 4x scopes that attaches to the carry handle.

    Each of these systems had unique advantages and disadvantages for my eyes: the RDS was tops for two-eyes-open use, but due to astigmatism the 2 MOA dot was more like a 3 MOA by 5 MOA cluster of grapes. The Prismatic offered a sharp aiming point (and I’m a HUGE fan of etched reticles), but I never warmed up to the dot-in-a-circle design. The ACOGs would have been awesome if it wasn’t for my crappy eyesight – due to the absence of an adjustable eyepiece, the chevron and FOV through them was never perfectly sharp. The LPV scopes really worked the best for me, but certainly added more bulk and weight than I cared for. Additionally, I always found myself fiddling with the magnification ring and reticle brightness instead of just focusing on making the shot.

    So my KISS carbine was up until recently adorned with only a set of Daniel Defense iron sights. I am a fan of irons, having dabbled in NRA High Power with a SA M1A for a while, but my aging eyesight could no longer use irons effectively: with my glasses on, the target is sharp but the front post impossibly blurred; with them off the post is sharp but the target just a distant blur. As much as I did not want to admit it, I was truly in need of another optical solution.

    I had for years considered the Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5x20mm, a scope with 4.9 inches of eye relief that weighs a mere 6.4 ounces, and is intended for hard-kicking dangerous game rifles. Everything I had read about it was positive and it evidently has a good reputation for standing up to punishing recoil. I was able to find a few mentions of this scope being used on an AR, but nothing very definitive.

    More recently I was on the Daniel Defense website and came across their new optic mount, which is available for 1-inch tubes. A simple yet robust non-QD mount weighing 5.5 ounces, the Leupold scope immediately came to mind: a quality scope in a quality mount that would weigh about 12 ounces combined. After taking some measurements and thinking it through, I decided I would roll the dice and order the mount and the scope. Total cost including shipping for both pieces came to $397.00.

    The New Set-up

    Now that I’ve had the chance to try yet another scope set-up, here are my observations;

    • Scope and mount combined weigh 12.2 ounces (just a half-ounce more than the Aimpoint PRO in factory mount)
    • The clarity of the Leupold scope is excellent, though with some minor softness at the edges
    • Adjustable eyepiece provides super-sharp reticle focus and FOV without the need for my glasses
    • Easy two-eyes-open use
    • The generous eye relief and forgiving eye box allow fast target acquisition with minimal blocking of FOV by scope housing and rings
    • View through scope is more than sharp enough for defensive use down to arm's length range
    • In low light the use of a WML allows for PID of target, renders the reticle sharp and easy to see
    • Due to low covered turrets and no protruding nuts or levers on the mount, the entire rig is really slick and snag-free


    Maybe it’s the Fudd in me, but I’m not missing variable power and/or an illuminated mil-dot reticle. The simple duplex reticle pulls my eye to the center and on to the target (the center crosshair appears to subtend about 1.5 MOA) and the long eye relief/forgiving eye box greatly aides two-eyes-open shooting. For the 25 to 300 yard range I enjoy shooting with the AR, I’m finding the fixed 2.2x magnification with a duplex reticle a simple yet effective solution. Hold-over at 300 yards is about 12 inches (depending on load) using a 100 yard zero.

    My entire KISS carbine weighs 7-pounds, 2-ounces (unloaded) with this scope and mount. Shouldering the rifle, target acquisition is fast due to relatively non-critical eye placement compared to the other scopes I have used. Clarity of view and reticle size/design leverage the precision this upper is capable of producing.

    Photos

    Scope and mount installed on my BCM 16-inch mid-length ELW BFH rifle;

    scope-1.jpg

    scope-2.jpg


    Typical precision capability of the rifle/scope combo with my two favorite loads: the Speer LE .223 75 grain Gold Dot load and the Black Hills 5.56 77 grain OTM load;

    target-1.jpg

    target-2.jpg


    The rifle consists of a BCM lower fitted with a Geissele SSA trigger and an A5 RE with A5H2 buffer, the BCM upper fitted with a Surefire 3P (non-mount) flash suppressor. Stock is shown positioned on the A5 tube where I like it, placing my eye well within the generous eye box of the scope;

    rifle-1.jpg


    For this non-LEO/non-mil shooting enthusiast, it’s a simple aiming apparatus that allows me enjoy my time ringing steel and punching paper: no fumbling with levers or dials, no extraneous decision-making to overwhelm my limited-capacity CPU, all while keeping the rifle light and nimble. No doubt this set up will remain on my AR for the foreseeable future.

    I hope those who find themselves in a similar optic-selection quandary find this post useful.
    Last edited by Canonshooter; 11-19-18 at 11:19.

  2. #2
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    Great thread. I am 50+ and watching my ability to lug 15-lb monstrosities around gradually diminish. I don't think I could even shoot a scoped M14 offhand anymore.

    My solution so far is to concentrate on Colt 6720 carbines with the pencil barrel. I also acquired a PA police trade-in 6520 because I too appreciate iron sights still. My bastard child is an HBAR 6721 that is going to rebarreled to the pencil barrel. It will become my everyday shooter since I'm guessing that bastardizing it from a 6721 to a 6720 will devalue it some.

    For optics, right now I'm using a Meprolight M21. I plan to experiment with an RMR on a riser once funds allow. For WML I'm looking into several lightweight options.

    I had a Colt 6920 decked out with an aluminum M-Lok handguard, a forward pistol grip, and Surefire G2 light. Due to the weight of even that rifle beginning to wear on my shooting stance, I ended up tearing all the doodads off it. It now looks like it came from the factory.

    My KISS 6720 will sport lightweight polymer handguards, either an RMR or similar light optic, and just enough rail or mounting for a lightweight WML.


    W.I. Thomas: "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Safari View Post
    For WML I'm looking into several lightweight options.
    Oh, the joys of old age! :-/

    Currently I'm taking the quick-attach/detach approach to the WML. I'm using a Vltor mount with a variety of flashlights, mostly of the Malkoff brand. Definitely not a lightweight approach but when the AR goes into the safe, the light is attached. When it comes out for some range play, it comes off.

    If I chose to mount something permanently, a Scout 300 style would be my choice to keep weight as low as possible and I would do my buying on the Arisaka website.
    Last edited by Canonshooter; 11-19-18 at 12:16.

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    Can’t argue with success-re. your targets.
    Nicely done.

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    Leupold FX II 2.5x20mm

    I used the same scope for several years. It's fast, light, durable, and holds a zero.

    Replaced it with a Short Dot, but kept it for a back up. I think that it is stil one of the better scopes made by Leupold.

    I think the idea of using it on an AR came to me after reading a Wilson's catalog where they were mounting scopes on the first ARs the company made. They mounted low powered non-tactical scopes on the rifles.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by SkiDevil; 11-20-18 at 05:15. Reason: Spelling

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    SkiDevil, your photo and report of using this scope is one of the "few mentions" I was referring to!

    So far I'm very pleased with the scope and the mount, and am looking forward to spending more time with it at the range.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canonshooter View Post
    itís a simple aiming apparatus that allows me enjoy my time ringing steel and punching paper: no fumbling with levers or dials, no extraneous decision-making to overwhelm my limited-capacity CPU, all while keeping the rifle light and nimble.
    "My limited capacity CPU"? "Fumbling with levers and dials"? LOL, do you have trouble crossing the street too?

    As for the weight, do pushups and ready-up drills.

    I'm 50+ too but I don't bitch about getting old.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Quijote View Post
    "As for the weight, do pushups and ready-up drills.
    Will do, Macho Don. ;-)

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    There is also the Leupold VX Freedom at 1-4x20, (sometimes said to be 1.5-4x20) non-illuminated at 9.6 oz. if you begin to miss variable power. So three oz. more.

    https://www.leupold.com/scopes/rifle...eedom-1-5-4x20

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