In the past, I have had wandering zeros and other optic problems, but have been lucky enough to never have experienced a total optic failure due to build quality, workmanship, or damage (I have experienced dead batteries.)
Either way, this is some scary stuff. I am writing this today because I have, time and again, online and on the range, seen weapon systems being run without backup irons. That’s right; I have seen primary weapons without iron sights. Although our Aimpoints and Eotechs, or whatever we are running, are probably tougher than we think, they are not as tough as the thing that is going to break them a week or two from now, leaving us stranded with no choice but to resort to our secondarys for that 100 yard shot we need to make in an emergency. A primary weapon system should never be without a seondary sighting system.
Now there are a few exceptions to this rule. First a handgun may be your primary weapon system. Cops don’t have two sets of sights on their sidearms, and rely solely on the handgun’s irons and maybe a backup sidearm. Also, your primary role may be so specialized that you may feel comfortable running, say only a scope on your bolt gun because of the role you are filling. The point is that when you are using fragile optics that rely on their thin housings or their batteries to stay operational, it is usually helpful to run a secondary sighting system, especially when we are alone, may make contact in a CQB situation, or are simply so darn far away from the smith that we can’t risk having a useless firearm. Irons add little weight to a carbine and are worth 100X their weight in gold when you need them.
I would like to note that there are several physiological problems that come up during an optic failure. Do we flip up our BUIS (Back up Iron Sights)? Do we make the transition to our secondary? Which is faster? How much time do you have? Is the target close or far? I will not go into any fast or hard rules in this article, but these are some questions we should be asking ourself during our training and muscle memory building sessions at the range and at home. I like to see what people do when the red dots are off. Do they transition or use their irons? While I feel that fixed backup irons make for a claustrophobic sight picture when viewed through an RDS, one great perk is that they are “always up”; ready for action should the red dot sight fail. Besides this advantage they have over smaller, foldable iron sights, they also tend to be a little more robust and hold more reliable zeros as they are not being folded.
Just some quick thoughts before I left for some training.
Stay Safe, and for Pete’s Sake use some BUIS on your carbines! They are not just a fashion statement; they are there for a reason.