best of both worlds, some major manufacturers make add-on mag- nifi cation units that are designed to swing out of the way when not needed. Of course, these add-ons will add bulk and expense.

Back-Up Optics When using magnifi ed optics, it might be advisable to have a back- up optic in place for sudden, un- expected close-quarters problems. A mini red dot sight (MRDS) can be offset to the two or three o’clock position or mounted atop the mag- nified optic. When the shooter chooses the offset method, he/she will be required to merely rotate the rifl e until the MRDS comes into view. In this case, the mechanical offset (the distance between the sights and the bore line) is identical to a normal RDS setup. When choosing to mount the MRDS atop the mag- nifi ed optic, the mechanical offset changes from the usual 2.5 inches to about 3.5 inches.

Cost We have seen a lot of $200 optics come and go through the depart- ment. Rarely do they withstand any kind of sustained or hard use. When the owner is fortunate, they just break. When not so fortunate, they lose zero. Thankfully, we’ve never seen consequences any more serious than embarrassment or a poor qualifi cation score. It seems that $375–$500 is the mini-

mum cost for a durable law enforce- ment-grade RDS. There are some new, lower priced options on the market, which show some promise. However, until something has seen hard use on the street for a few years, it’s best to let someone else be the beta tester and stick with known-quality equipment.

Three Must-Haves Insist upon three must-haves for a dot optic for a patrol rifl e: 1) ruggedness, 2) ease of use, and 3) solid, back-up iron sights. It’s pretty easy to tell which are rugged enough for law enforcement work by the price. Quite frankly, that is the single best indicator. By ease of use, how quickly can the operator put the

44 LAW and ORDER I April 2016

Carbine operators have to decide if they want a lower 1/3 or true co-witness.

Optics must be rugged to survive several years of law enforcement use like this well-worn model.

optic into play. Does it require that lens caps be removed? How long does it take to activate the optic before it becomes a viable part of the solution to the prob- lem at hand? Finally, is there a readily available back-up iron sight system? There is no doubt that electronics fail us at the most inopportune times. Good old-fashioned iron sights may make all the difference.

Intended Use The most important question to ask when making an equipment purchase of this kind is what is its intended use? What features are necessary, which are preferred, and which simply are unnec-

essary added expense? A SWAT team member who uses the carbine primarily for dynamic building entries will have different needs than the rural deputy or the inner-city night shift patrolman. Having a myriad of options is great, ex- cept those options can muddy the water a bit. Do your homework and save your- self some time and expense.

Warren Wilson is a Lieutenant with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team member/leader and has been in law enforcement for 20 years.

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