When you break your optic, you’ll appreciate those iron sights…………..
So, those who have been in a rifle class specifically, but pretty much any class that involves the use of a rifle, can tell stories about how John Mosby abuses the shit out of his rifles. One of the demonstrations I do to illustrate a) the robustness of the Stoner platform, and b) the robustness of modern optics, is to hold my rifle out, at shoulder-height, and drop it, optics down, onto the ground, before standing on the rifle, while I finish an explanation. After four-plus years of doing that, I had—until very recently—never caused a single bit of damage to a rifle.
A couple years ago, in Arizona, I bent the rear bell on a Burris MTAC 1.5-6X, just enough that it made it difficult to adjust the magnification. Not impossible, or even close, just not as easy as it normally is. Despite the damage, the optic retained its zero, and when I removed it from my fighting rifle and put it on a hunting rifle, it zeroed to the new rifle easily. So, really, minimal damage, and for practical purposes, no damage.
A month or two ago, I finally managed to fuck a rifle up. In a vehicle class, back east, someone asked about “protecting” the rifle from banging off stuff when dismounting the vehicles. I was a little—should I phrase it….”overenthusiastic”–in my demonstration. Instead of just dropping the rifle, I chucked it—hard–about 40 feet across the meadow that was our training site. I had an AmTac Precision 15” free-float rail on the rifle. The rail ended up bent into a slight S-curve, was torqued a good 20+ degrees in twist, and the holes along the bottom of the rail were split out, and the rail section that held my Streamlight TLR-1HL weapon light came off. That is NOT, in any way, shape, or form, a denouncement of the rail system. For a couple reasons, as we’ll discuss in the next paragraph, the rail performed flawlessly, considering the abuse.
So, what happened to the optic? Well, the same thing that happened to the barrel: fuck all. When I got a chance to test-fire the weapon again, on a known-distance range, at home, it still shot sub-2MOA, and the POA/POI remained exactly the same as it was when I left for the class.
What is the point of this? There are a couple, actually.
1) Considering the cost, the Burris MTAC is, despite the one minor drawback (I absolutely despise the weird ass size of the center dot. Seriously, Burris, make me one with a 1MOA center dot, or a 2MOA at worst!), an extremely robust, well-made piece of optic.
2) AmTac makes a hell for tough piece of rail. Sure, it took some damage, but considering the fact that it protected the barrel—and all the impact would have occurred right on the barrel nut, the fact that it didn’t damage the barrel or the barrel’s straightness, at all, is noteworthy. AmTac now has the rail sitting in their front lobby, at their shop in Garden City, ID, if you want to go in and see it for yourself….
3) I see lots of comments on blogs and forums, posts on Facebook, and everywhere else in the gun community, with dudes talking about “Optics are great until shit hits the fan!” or “Well, what about when batteries run out?” “What about when you break the optics?”
As I pointed out in The Reluctant Partisan, Volume One, the chances of breaking a QUALITY combat optic, without irreparably breaking your gun in the process, are so slim as to be remarkable. Does this mean you shouldn’t run iron back-up sights? Not at all. If that tickles your taint, or gives you warm fuzzies, by all means, mount them. It’s not going to hurt anything, and the weight is negligible. When some knucklehead troglodyte at the gun store counter starts harping on how fragile optics are though, don’t get buffaloed by his baffling bullshit. You’re not going to break your optic, unless it’s a) a complete piece of shit, designed for Airsoft, b) you do it intentionally, or c) you do something really stupid, like fall off a mountain, drop your rifle off a mountain, or throw your rifle across a range to prove a point.
I wish I were as robust as a modern, quality, combat optic….