This Saturday I’m teaching a defensive rifle course. And if it’s like most courses, I’ll have folks show up with a wide variety of optics on their rifles and most will be surprised to see that I use iron sights and I don’t use any optics at all.
There are many reasons for this. One of the main reasons is because I’m a simple man… a minimalist if you will. I like my guns simple and I don’t like to put a bunch of accessories on them if I don’t need them.
Luckily, I’m not out in the mountains of Afghanistan where I might have to take a 300-yard shot and my eyesight is good, so I do just fine without a red dot for my defensive rifle purposes. (In other words, I don’t pretend I’m Rambo, I realize my rifle is for my urban environment.)
Another reason I’m not a huge fan of optics is because I’ve seen them fail many times.
In fact, here are two instances from the last two rifle courses. In one case, I saw a guy staring at his red dot and pushing a bunch of buttons with a funny look on his face. He said his battery was dead so he went to change his batteries. He seemed to be back there for a long time and finally came back to say he had accidentally purchased the wrong batteries for his red dot so it was now useless to him.
In the other instance, the fellow was doing the same thing, staring at his red dot making a funny face, but this guy did bring the right batteries.
Remember, these were classes, where it’s no big deal if you run out of batteries, but if that was a life or death situation, obviously things could have gone downhill very quickly. That’s why, if you use any type of optic on your rifle you must have back up iron sights.
Even more importantly, both your optic and your iron sights must be zeroed.
If you’re too lazy to zero your iron sights and your batteries go dead, then I’d be very careful taking any shots because you don’t know where the bullets headed, and, as you’re well aware, you’re responsible for every round that leaves your gun.
But if you really want an optic on your gun, I’d go with Aimpoint if I were you. Their batteries last for a long time and you should only have to replace them every 5 years, even though I recommend getting fresh batteries every year, no matter what.
And if you really want to break the bank and pretend you’re Rambo, then go with an ACOG. It will probably cost you more than you paid for your rifle, but it should last you forever and you can certainly bet your life on it.