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More entertaining commentary on all sorts of holster solutions for your person, car, home and office in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters!
We had the pleasure of spending the past few days at the 2013 Professional Outdoor Media Association annual conference in Columbia, South Carolina. One of the joys of the annual POMA gathering is spending quality time with corporate members like EOTech. Away from the bedlam of SHOT Show or the NRA Annual Meeting, there is opportunity for lot’s of questions. Even better, the range day event allows more leisurely trial of new products.
One of this year’s range day highlights was the new EOTech .300 AAC Blackout holographic sight. On the outside, it shares primary features with other XPS models.
For example, it uses a sideways mounted CR123 battery. There are two reasons for this. The sideways mount helps to shorten the overall length of the optic – handy for AR platforms with limited rail space. This is especially important if you also want to mount a magnifier or backup iron sights. The hidden benefit of the sideways mounted battery is increased resistance to adverse recoil effects. As the rifle fires, the battery does not move back and forth against the battery contacts. The result? Longer life and improved reliability. Clever.
The XPS2-300 model also features rear mounted on/off and brightness buttons. This is primarily for true ambidextrous operation. Windage and elevation adjustments are 1/2 MOA, or about 1/2 inch per click at 100 yards.
The real deal with the EOTech 300 AAC Blackout is the multi-dot reticle. Like most other EOTech models, there is a 1 MOA center dot. With the XPS2-300, there is a second dot below the first. This is intended for an additional range zero with the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge. The idea is that you choose either subsonic or supersonic 300 Blackout loads and establish two range points corresponding to the two dots. For example, most 300 Blackout subsonic rounds, if zeroed at 50 yards, will have the lower dot corresponding to 100 yards. In all likelihood, supersonic rounds will match the top dot at 50 yards also and depending on your specific load, you can establish a range that corresponds to the lower dot. Or, with the wide variety of 300 AAC Blackout loads, you could zero the upper dot for your choice of supersonic load, then determine the range for your choice of subsonic load sighted with the lower dot. This will be a fun optic to experiment with if you’re a reloader.
The EOTech models for .223 / 5.56mm also have a 7 yard aim point. This is where the bottom post intersects the 65MOA circle. This aim point should also apply for the 300 AAC Blackout optic as there is minimal trajectory influence at just 7 yards – most of the difference between aim point and point of impact is a result of the height of the center dot over the barrel. We weren’t able to test this, but it should be pretty darn close.
We’re anxious to get one of these in so we can experiment with a variety of both subsonic and supersonic loads and report on the reticle function. According to EOTech, the unit will be out sometime in the late spring / early summer of 2013.
More to follow.
Sweden has invented some pretty useful things over the years. Ingrid Bergman. Greta Garbo. Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite and that goofy prize for well-connected politicians. And of course, Sweden is responsible for bringing us the swingin’ pop sensation ABBA. Oh, Fernando, you dancing queen…
As if these contributions were not enough, Sweden also produced Aimpoint. As we discovered with our review of the Aimpoint Micro H1 red dot sight, the new Aimpoint PRO over-delivers. But is it the best red dot sight?
The Aimpoint PRO is actually a new packaging release. The Law Enforcement only product, the Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) was released in 2011. It was the latest iteration of sights based on the popular Comp M3 design. The Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic had a few key differences to the Comp M3 line:
In 2012, the Aimpoint PRO was made available to the civilian market. Got it?
Like the Aimpoint Micro H1 red dot, the Aimpoint PRO red dot sight runs 75% of forever. The single 3 volt lithium 2L76 battery runs for 30,000 continuous hours. That’s longer than the movie The English Patient. Although The English Patient seems longer once you’re trapped in the theater and doomed to hours of $14 cokes. In case you haven’t seen The English Patient, 3,000 hours equates to about 3 years of continuous use. We’re pretty comfortable with a design that runs for 3 years without switches or maintenance. Even if you’re really paranoid, just replace that single battery every New Years Eve before the festivities start and you become forgetful. Of course there is a real benefit to this longevity other than an exceptionally low battery replacement budget. Just leave this red dot sight powered on. Always. Then it’s ready to go without switches or any other manipulation. As we’ll see later, you don’t even have to open the lens covers.
The Aimpoint PRO red dot sight features a 2 MOA (minute of angle) red dot. Intensity is adjusted by a knob at the 2 o’clock position from the rear lens. The knob is designed with deep grooves for easy grasp, even with gloves, and allows 10 levels of dot intensity adjustment. We found that you can adjust it easily with your weak hand without obstructing the lens.
The mount has also been updated from the Comp M3 offering for effective use on AR / M4 type platforms. The QRP2 system accomplishes two objectives. First, it places the optic at such a height where the iron sights on an AR platform line up in the bottom third of the optic window. This allows easy use of the red dot without iron sights getting in the way – even if your rifle has a fixed front sight. Second, the mount features a large snap knob for mounting the optic on the rail. Simply place the optic on the rail and tighten the knurled knob until it clicks 3 times. This applies exactly the right amount of torque so your rail will not be damaged. And you can easily mount and unmount the optic without tools. Please sir, step away from the vise grips!It’s a really handy mount that proved to be solid over time and use. The height spacer of the QRP2 mount is removable if you want to mount the Aimpoint PRO on shotguns or sub-machine guns.
Both front and rear lenses are inset into the optic body for extra protection. The front tube is threaded inside in case you want to mount an optional anti-reflective device. By the way, the Aimpoint PRO red dot sight is compatible with all current generations of night vision devices. It also can be used with Aimpoint’s 3x magnifier if you need to reach out and touch someone at greater distance.
Like other Aimpoint products, the Aimpoint PRO is built with attention to detail. For example, windage and elevation caps, and the battery compartment cap, are all connected with a rubber strap so won’t lose any pieces. Aimpoint even includes a sticker to record battery changes and service dates. This round sticker fits on the inside of the front lens cap so you won’t lose track of it. And you’ll see it every time you open the lens cap.
One of the first things we noticed about the Aimpoint PRO is the design of the included (and pre-installed) flip up lens covers. The front lens is made from black rubber and has two tabs that allow for easy opening. The front lens cover is spring loaded, so a light tap on either tab opens the cover all the way, and spring tension keeps it well out of the way once opened. The rear lens cover is particularly interesting. The cover itself is clear, so you don’t necessarily have to open it for use. As the Aimpoint PRO is designed for ‘both eyes open’ shooting, you can literally pick up the rifle and aim it accurately with both lens covers closed. The rear cover is clear, so you will see the red dot. Your offside eye will see the target. Your brain will put the two together and you’ll see a red dot on target. Of course, the sight picture is not as clear as with the lens covers open, but we found this scenario to be perfectly usable. This seemingly minor feature could make all the difference in a scenario where one has to react immediately. Obviously it could make a big difference in combat or defensive applications. Or it can help you avoid embarrassment in that upcoming 3 gun match.
We hear much internet wisdom about how quality optics are expensive. And how you can get the “same exact thing” from some other company. Some folks insist that the actual optic is made in the same factory as a knock off and different brand names are applied as the units are shipped out the door.
Not so with the Aimpoint product line. They are made in Sweden by Aimpoint, for Aimpoint. Period. And the attention to quality engineering is apparent.
The Aimpoint PRO is constructed from a solid anodized aluminum housing. Watertight screw caps for the battery housing and windage and elevation adjustments ensure that you can completely submerge this unit up to a depth of 150 feet. If you’re engaged in activities that cover your optic with sand and salt spray, no problem, just dunk it in clean water and you’re good to go. Do make sure the caps are on though.
Of course the real test was at the range. We mounted the evaluation unit on a DPMS Panther A3 Lite 16 AR15 rifle. This model features a front sight post and rail on the back. We have it equipped with a Magpul flip-up rear sight. Even with the rear sight flipped up, the Aimpoint PRO’s red dot was easy to see. The front and rear sights lined up just about 1/3 of the way up the glass. Perfectly positioned in our opinion.
As the Aimpoint PRO is parallax free there was no sensitivity at all to position of your head and eyes. As long as you can see through the tube, you’ll see the dot on target. We found this sight very fast to acquire.
Just for kicks, we did try shooting some 25, 50 and 100 yard targets with the both lens covers closed. Remember, the Aimpoint PRO has a semi-transparent rear lens cap, so you can see the red dot without flipping the rear cap out of the way. With the front cap closed, your brain relies on your other eye to acquire the target. The eye looking through the optic will see the dot and your brain does a reasonable job of putting the two together. We found 25 and 50 yard targets easy to hit with the front cap closed. The 100 yard targets were a little harder to acquire accurately in this manner. The bottom line is that this feature works as intended. If you need to fire a quick shot, you can do it accurately without even opening the lens caps.
All in all, this is another excellent optic and mount from Aimpoint. We’re going to have to buy one.
|Four Nuns! Built like a tank. Clear and easy to acquire. Those little details that Aimpoint considers make all the difference. We highly recommend this one.|
I’m one of those guys who enjoys reloading.
The main reason I reload is that I like to tinker. Why experiment with 42 varieties of .357 Sig? Why shoot lead bullets at 1,000 feet per second out of my 1903 Springfield? Why not?
But lately, I’m having doubts about my patience for tinkering with one specific caliber. That would be .223 Remington, or when I’m feeling tactical, 5.56mm. Quite frankly, it’s a pain in the butt.
If it was a low volume shooting round, that would be one thing. Tinkering for hours to make a few hundred rounds of some caliber is fine if it will last a couple of shooting outings.
Doing some quick math, I might spend 42.8 hours reloading .223 ammo that lasts 19 milliseconds at the range.
Not only that, the process of reloading .223 ammo is somewhat complicated and has many important steps:
I gripe at my kids to pick up the .223 brass from the range.
Next, I have to cancel texting service on their phones so they can pay attention to the request I made in step 1.
Sort thousands of rounds of dirty brass to filter out the desirable .223 brass. Separate it from the 5.56mm brass that has gotten mixed in. Those Navy Seals have a bad habit of mixing their military brass into my stuff. Sneaky bastards.
Call Discovery Channel, again, to request that Mike Rowe does an episode of Dirty Jobs about sorting range brass. Ask why they have stopped taking my calls.
Shoo my dogs away from nosing around dirty, leady brass that suddenly seems more interesting to them than bacon topped with Cheez Whiz.
Dump a pile of filthy .223 brass into my Lyman 1200 Auto-Flo Tumbler. This causes earthquake like sounds to reverberate from my garage for hours. Fortunately the neighbors no longer call 911 or the University of Southern California Earthquake Research Center.
After the brass is reasonably clean, I make sure that all of the walnut / corn cob / gritty tumbler media stuff is out of the cases.
Shaking the case vigorously doesn’t always do it, so I’m thinking about rinsing them with an insect-sized Neti Pot.
Now for the brass depriming and resizing step. Here is where things get interesting. Invariably, at least 5 out of 4 cases will get stuck in the sizing die, causing me to stop the operation, drill out the case head, and remove it with bolts and a thread tap I bought at Wal-Mart. Yes, the stuck case situation might have happened one night after proper hardware stores were closed. Friends don’t let friends buy tools at Wal-Mart after all – that’s what pawn shops are for. Oh, by the way, Mighty Putty is on sale.
In a fit of impatience trying to get the show back on the road, I break the tap. What, anger issues? Me? Hey it was a cheap tap bought at Wal-Mart after all. It was asking for it.
Figure out how to remove a case that’s stuck in the die, that in turn has a broken tap stuck in it.
After the load of brass is successfully deprimed and resized, I break out the case trimmer. Don’t lose heart, we’re 10% of the way done.
My wife and kids decide to go on vacation. They know I will be trimming brass 18 hours a day for the next few weeks.
I gently move my dogs that have camped out on top of my feet. Apparently they think I have died standing in this position and are holding vigil.
Some ammo companies have the audacity to crimp their .223 primers in place. I have reason to believe that this is a plot by my dogs to keep me from moving for another couple of weeks as they are continuing to soundly sleep on my feet. Apparently my shoes are comfortable and smell nice. In any event, this step involves either reaming or swaging the primer pockets to make sure that new primers will actually fit. Swaging is the way to go here. You don’t cut away metal and the results are consistent. It’s kind of like making an auto part fit by hammering it really hard. Dillon makes an excellent swaging tool that is well worth the money.
Now we’re on the offensive and are beginning steps that are actually adding stuff back to the empty case. So you can think of this as the beginning of the 3rd quarter. Except that the Colts are ahead.
Using one of several highly scientific techniques, I stuff new primers into the newly reamed or swaged primer pockets. Depending on volume and how bad my mood is from dealing with stuck cases in my resizing dies, I will use the hand method or a progressive reloading press. If something really good is on TV, like Band of Brothers reruns, I use my hand operated Lee Auto Prime tool, since I don’t have DirectTV in my man cave.
But for discussion’s sake, let’s follow the hand priming route. It’s far more dramatic for this particular column.
If you’re feeling like the Anal Retentive Chef, it’s time to chamfer and deburr the case mouths with some sort of hand or electric tool.
Either that or I skip this step entirely.
It’s time for charging the case. This is fancy techno-speak for adding powder that makes things go bang. I like to use TAC by Ramshot as it works well, and more importantly, is really easy to measure consistently. And it looks like something people would identify as gunpowder.
It’s bullet time. The grand finale. The climactic moment. Add the bullet and crimp the case – usually in one simple step.
And now, last but not least, it’s final check time. As I put the rounds into plastic ammo boxes, I like to do one last visual check to make sure primers are there, they they are not upside down, that the case looks good with no cracks, and that there are no love handles on the case shoulder. Sometimes, a case will sneak through the system that is a tad to long, and when it gets to the bullet seating and crimping step, a very unsexy bulge is created at the shoulder. Not good. Mainly because it creates another step – pulling the bullet out and fixing the case.
And there it is. Just a few simple steps to prepare for my kids unleashing a hailstorm of .223 downrange – for at least 9 seconds.
Sometimes I think it’s just better to buy some bulk .223 ammo.
Tom McHale was born helpless, hungry and shooting-deprived. He later discovered the joys of collecting and shooting guns, reloading ammunition and writing about his adventures with a healthy dose of fun. Tom's career has been diverse, bordering on dysfunctional, with most of it spent leading marketing teams for a variety of technology companies including Microsoft and more than a couple of high-tech startups. He's finally seen the light and given up the corporate life to pursue his passion of creating slightly crazy, but educational, content related to guns, shooting, concealed carry and self defense.
His most recent project is publishing a series of informative books under the Insanely Practical Guides brand. You can learn more at InsanelyPracticalGuides.com.
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