Let’s Talk Optics – Magnified Vs. Electronic
May 13, 2013
Optical sights, both electronic and magnified, are pretty much standard equipment for “high speed, low drag” gun fighters. In today’s tactical equipment market, there are a lot of different optics for different applications. Some are for precision shooting; some are for fast target acquisition. So, how do you know which optics is right for you, or in other words, how do you choose the perfect optic for your intended applications?
Types of Optics / Scopes
Generally speaking, there are 2 types of optics magnified and electronic optics. In the shooting world magnified scopes are for distance or precision shooting, while electronic are provide fast target acquisition and they offer no magnification. For magnified optics, they are separated into two types, fixed power and variable power. For electronic optics, they are also separated into two categories, red dot and holosight.
Things to consider when choosing different types of optics are eye relief, parallax, and eye shadow issues. Eye relief is the perfect distance between your eye and the ocular lens which produce the perfect sight picture. Parallax is when you are not looking through the scope straight, and it might affect your point of impact or even create eye shadow issue (for magnified optics). Eye shadow (when looking through a scope and all you see is black) is when the eye relief distance is too close, too far out, or parallax.
For magnified optics it is important to set up your scope perfectly. Having a good eye relief can in fact increase your accuracy and decrease your target acquisition time. Like I have mentioned before, a good eye relief can eliminate eye shadow issue and parallax issue as well, not to mention you will have a more accurate shot each and every time by having a good sight picture.
For your typical electronic red dot, there is no eye relief and no eye shadow issue. However, you still have to watch out for the Parallax issue. Although red dot scope has almost zero parallax, by not having the dot dead center in the middle of the scope can shift point of impact, especially at a longer distance. The lack of eye shadow issue of a red dot allows shooters to have a much faster target acquisition, which is critical in a gun fight or in a competition.
The more commonly seen magnified optics on a battle rifle or an assault rifle is the fix powered optics, such as the Trijicon Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight (A.C.O.G.). The one currently issued to the United States marines are generally 4 x magnifications. 4x or 4 times magnification means the object you are seeing are 4 times larger when view. Soldiers and competition shooters generally like magnified optics because they can see and identify their target better. With a low fixed powered scope, the shooter can easily takes out medium range targets while still able to engage close range targets.
Low powered variable optics, generally 1 to 4 x zoom, offers excellent versatilities on the battlefield. Take the Trijicon Accupoint for example, it has a 1 ¼ zoom all the way to 4 times zoom. The scope has a long eye relief distance, which is good for speed shooting and fast target acquisition. The variable power option, 1 ¼ to 4 times zoom, is perfect for both outdoor and indoor use. When enter a building, the shooter can immediately rotate the bezel to the lowest power for room clearance, or he can take a long distance shot with a 4x power zoom. This scope is very popular amongst the competition shooters and even elite law enforcement personnel.
High powered optics, which are usually variable powered, allows shooters to engage targets from far, far away. Generally, a high powered optic (6x and up) are seen on precision guns, or sniper rifles. Snipers, competition precision shooters, and hunters generally will mount a high powered optic on their rifle so they can engage their target far away. However, because of the high magnification, it is not ideal to take a high power optic into a close quarters gun fight.
Magnified optics are great for outdoor shooting, and some magnified optics work decently in close quarters. However, there is always an eye shadow issue with magnified optics. Depending on different optics, just like the Trijicon Accupoint I have mentioned above. However you still have to take the consideration that magnified optics will always have eye relief, eye shadow and parallax issue.
Electronic optics is the faster target acquisition shooting aid compared to the magnified optics, a lot faster. Although electronic optics does not offer magnification, it is very popular amongst the competition crowds as well as law enforcement professionals. The origin of red dot optics is for competition shooters mounting it on their handguns, which makes target acquisition faster and therefore they can shoot faster. Eventually they apply the red dot sight onto rifles and shotgun, making them shoot even faster.
I see a lot of shooters and airsofters mount their red dot sights very close to their eye. I have mentioned before that these sights do not have eye relief or eye shadow issues, therefore it doesn’t have to be very close to your eyes. If you remember from above, red dot sights originally are designed for handguns, which is far away from your eye. Not only will you have a faster target acquisition if mounted far away from your eyes, it also allows you to see more of your surrounding. By having the sight very close to your eyes, you are limiting your view through the scope. Therefore, it is very beneficial to have your red dot sight mounted further forward of your rifle.
Whether you are a competition shooter, law enforcement / military personnel, hobby shooter, or even airsofter, choosing the right optic is paramount, not to mention it will make your gun look cool. So get to your nearest Airsoft GI and try out the different optics! Brands such as Leapers, NC STAR, NC STAR VISM, AIM Sports, Bravo, JG, AIMS, Swiss Arms, Tufforce, and Lancer Tactical offer both electronic optics and magnified optics. Both Airsoft GI and GI Tactical will assist you to choose the perfect optics for you. I am Andrew, stay safe, and get out and play airsoft (or go to the range and shoot!)