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Why Non-Magnified Optics Don't Belong on

16" Rifles
It's very common to see a variety of non-magnified optics, such as
Aimpoints, EOTechs, and others, mounted on 16" carbines. The obvious
benefit of these optics is the speed that comes with them. It is
undeniable that these optics are faster than any other type of sighting
system, even the 1-4x scopes that have been quickly gaining in
popularity. Whether it be target transitions or even inital target
acquisiton, non magnified optics are the top dog when it comes to
So, with this said, why would I ever want to give up this hot, nasty
speed? Well, I don't really want to give it up. I don't want to use a nonmagnified optic on a 16" gun because the range of a 16" gun is far
greater than these optics can support. I've shot an Aimpoint t1 out to
500 yards and achieved somewhat consistent hits, but that was under
nearly ideal conditions. I was proned out, supported against the edge
of a window, had a know distance, small and steady crosswind, a dope
sheet, and multiple misses to find the perfect holdover. So, can you
make hits at distance with these optics? Yes. Is it probable under real
world circumstances, with unknown distance and less than perfect
shooting positons? For me with my skill, no. Your mileage may vary,
but I would guess that nearly anyone who has actually pushed a rifle
that far will concur.
There's also another little point that I should hit on. It's a kind of
important thing called PID, or positive target identifcation. You know,
the thing you use to ensure you don't kill someone who doesn't have to
die. Good luck making out any features, clothing, or insignias on a
person at 500 yards. It's difficult enough with magnification, without it,
it's virtually impossible. So, if you have a non-magnified optic on your
rifle, I hope you always have a set of binos or a spotter with you.
So, if a non-magnified optic isn't the answer, what should you use? For
a .223/5.56 rifle, I recommend an optic with a magnification with a
range from 1 power to 4 power. With this range of magnification you
can shoot nearly as fast as a non-magnified optic inside 200 yds and
you can dominate past 200, where a non-magnified optics start to drop

off. I've used a 1-4x Vortex Viper PST to get very consistent hits out to
840 yards on an IPSC sized steel target. I'm not a fan of optics with a
greater magnification than this because, based on the ballistics of the
round, it's overkill. Also, the extra size and weight don't make it any
more desirable.
Now that we know that a non-magnified optic doesn't belong on a 16"
gun, we can talk about where they do belong. They belong on guns
designed with the idea of shooting 200 yards and in. That means on
SBR's, AR pistols, and handguns. These weapons are designed for close
quarter where speed is extremely important, not for shooting long
distances. Therefore, we treat them as such and supply them with the
appropriate optic.
In closing, non- magnified optics are great, but aren't suited for 16"
rifles, the same way cowboy boots are nice, but aren't good for
sprinters. Equip your tools with acessories that allow them to reach
their full potential. If your situation calls for more speed at closer
distances, get a shorter weapon that will make you more capable.