Battlefield Las Vegas: Optics Report

    The owner of Battlefield Las Vegas has yet again graced us with another high round count report, but this time purely on Optics that the range has on their rental firearms. When they say high round count, they really mean it! The range apparently went through 500,000 rounds of ammunition last month alone. Poor guys had to use their personal optics on rental guns when they initially started out, and needless to say, all their lower quality brands were pretty much done by the first three weeks of operations.

    What he says about the “Big Three” of the tactical optics world, EoTechs, Aimpoints, and Trijicons, isn’t too surprising, but it is fantastic to actually see the results in from real world experience. The Eotechs of course did the worst with battery life, while the Aimpoints were used to the point of just never turning them off, and they still functioned. The one ACOG that he had issues with, had been on the firing line for a good portion of time, in addition to being 5-6 years old before that. Eventually it just fogged up and you couldn’t see through it. I’ve seen this happen with newer, and better made ACOGs in the service, where they fog up a little bit, or get water in them somewhere and have to be replaced. Now I’ve only ever seen this happening once.

    I think what I find most amazing about this shooting range, is that they make so much profit from the operation, that the amount of dedication and specialization that occurs is truly great. I mean, the range has over 70 full time employees in terms of clerks, armorers, RSOs who work to keep the guns running. They have the resources to devote to whatever direction they want to go in, whether it is small arms, optics, or anything else. Not many ranges, or even training companies in the U.S. these days have that capability.

    A majority of these weapons have red dot optics mounted on them to assist the customer have a more enjoyable experience by improving the chances they will put all their rounds as close to the center of the target as possible.

    That being said, the optics on our range suffer more abuse than you would expect. Customers drop the weapons on the shooting benches, RSO’s will drop weapons when loading them up at night, weapons get “thrown” into weapons lockers all day by RSO’s and they suffer abuse from cleaners and lubricants when dropped off to the armorers.

    When we first opened the range, financing was VERY tight so our personal optics were mounted to the weapons. Co-founder David Famiglietti (he owns and operates New Frontier Armory as well) and I had to take every optic we had and offer them to the Range God’s. Most of my optics were Eotech’s and my personal favorite, a small 4X fixed ACOG that hasn’t been made in years. David brought over all of his Aimpoint’s and a few Eotech’s as well. I always preferred the Eotech’s because of what I feel is a larger “window” and David would laugh and tell me it’s because I am so old that I need such a large field of view (I am only 10 years older). We also grabbed some of the “cheaper” optics from our retail stores because we didn’t have enough of the “Big Three” to mount on all the weapons. Some of the cheaper reddot optics were from NcStar, Bushnell, BSA, Aim Sport and TruGlo.

    After several days of being on the line, the cheaper optics started failing. Some didn’t even last one complete day on the range. Others would turn on but the red dot would bounce all over the place while shooting. I don’t believe we had any of the lower tier optics last any longer than three weeks. After we wasted all those optics, the units that we had yet to install were restricted to .22 caliber rifles only. They did last 2-3 times longer on the .22’s but the problem was the handling. In my opinion, they were not built to be used in the environment of being used seven days a week, ten hours a day and 364 days a year. The lower tier optics were handled the same as the Big Three and not treated any worse or any better. Though almost all of them offer really good warranties, we couldn’t ask any of the manufactures or distributors to replace or repair them. They were beat up pretty bad and again we felt that we got what we paid for in the capacity they were used.

    Now, for the Big Three, I will say that I was an Eotech guy. My son would always try to switch me over the Aimpoint’s but again, I prefer the large field of view. I never had any issues with my Eotech’s and I knew that I had to turn my batteries off after use or the battery would die. David and my son preferred the Aimpoint’s because you didn’t have to turn off the battery and if you did leave it on, “it will last at least a year”. The ACOG was nice because it didn’t need any batteries and it just looks cool.

    After several months of use, the first optics to go down were the Eotech’s. Additionally, the batteries died more often than the Aimpoint’s. The aluminum housing that protects the Eotech definitely works because every single one of our Eotech’s was bent. We never lost a button or cracked any of the lenses. We have some older Eotech’s (again, these were my personal optics) that though they didn’t look to abused, they just quit working. When we could afford new optics, I wanted new Eotechs. The newer models (EXP-style) lasted MUCH longer than the older units. It’s hard to gauge how well the older design was in comparison to the EXP models because my older models were already several years old by the time they went on the line. Also, I would have to check the weapons at the end of the day and make sure I turned them off. I can’t honestly remember if the newer style units automatically shut off and that should give you a gauge of how far out of the loop I am when it comes to the new stuff available.

    The Aimpoint’s we initially used were David’s older CompM2’s. He always kept his equipment in perfect shape and these looked like new when we first put them in service. Again, as money eventually started coming in, we started purchasing the Aimpoint PRO’s. I would constantly check the weapons at the end of the day and not one of the RSO’s would turn off the light. It didn’t make a difference because thebatteries never seemed to die. They would get scratched, banged and dropped and never an issue. They would lose the adjustment covers from either being dropped or stripped because of the rubber retainers cracking but it never affected the accuracy. After a year into it, some of them were looking really bad but they still continued to function. Some of the battery “buttons” were eventually lost because the rubber retaining straps cracked as well. Of course those were pulled from the line and put in a box with the other broken Eotech’s.

    Initially, we only had one ACOG and it was already about 5-6 years old when put on the line. It was a super compact 4x ACOG and I remember how hard it was to make the initial purchase. I wanted a “cool guy” optic when hanging out the range and since I couldn’t afford new at the time, I bought it from a fellow Arfcom member in the Hometown EE. It killed me putting that optic on the line when my staff told me that quit making that model but we didn’t have the money to purchase anything else so on the line it went. That ACOG continued to function up until approximately six months ago. The armorers put it on my desk and said “sorry Boss, she’s dead”. Well, it still functioned like it was supposed to but the lenses had fogged up so bad that you could no longer see through it. We have added several more of the 3X ACOG’s on the line since with ZERO issues. The finish has slightly scratched up a bit but no dead batteries, no fogged lenses, no lost battery caps and no lost adjustment screw caps.

    About six months ago, David and my wife started talking about sending all of the broken optics in for repair or warranty work. We were honest and up front about the use they were getting and got two different response. Trijicon and Aimpoint emailed a RMA, told us to put them in a box and they would repair them free of cost. All of our Eotech’s were out of warranty and even newer EXP models weren’t covered. We were give an estimate of what it would cost to repair and we figured for that price, we will just purchase new optics instead of fixing something that’s broke. All of the Aimpoint’s and the single ACOG were returned in like-new condition. My precious little ACOG was just like new and I have since taken it off the line.

    You have to understand that in our operation, looking cool is almost on the same level as durability, in the terms of pricing. A majority of our shooters have never seen a real firearm let alone handled one. Customers recognize the shape of optics from video games and movies and those profiles are crucial to a customer’s experience. We still use optics from the Big Three but because of the abuse WE put them through, the Eotech’s go on certain weapons that don’t get the same abuse as others. An example of that is the P90’s and Kriss Super V’s get Eotechs and AK’s, M4’s, SCAR’s, M60’s, M240’s, M249’s and plenty of others get Aimpoint’s and ACOG’s. I am in no way knocking the Eotech’s durability but only explaining OUR experiences on a range that is far from typical and 95% of other owners will never get a fraction of the use that we do out of our optics.

    (On the use of Mepro sights)

    We have two of them. One (newer) is installed on our factory full-auto Tavor and the other one (older) is mounted on our F2000. The second one has been on the daily for the last two years and gets it fair share of abuse with zero problems to date.

    (On the use of Elcans)

    We have an Elcan M145 that was mounted to our M240 for at least two years. I would catch the RSO’s switching it out for the Aimpoint PRO and it’s the little things that set me off After asking for the umpteenth time why they keep “taking off my damn optics” one of the armorers explained to me that customers can’t figure out how to use the reticle and don’t know where to shoot. He continued to explain that if it just had a red dot or at least a cross hair, they could comprehend how to use it but customers shoot down the target holders on a regular basis.

    I didn’t understand why the RSO’s were “sneaking around behind my back” and swapping the optics but once explained, I agreed 100% with them. They just didn’t say anything to me because they know I am all about the “looks” of the weapon just as much as it functioning properly.

    The Elcan continued to function properly until we took it off the line. Hopefully we will be able to use it later when we open our outdoor range with the room to use it (167 acres).

    (On the use of various other optics)

    Quite a few of you guys have asked about the Trijicon RMR sights and we do have two in use. They are mounted on our suppressed FNX-45’s and one has been been on the line since day one. The oldest one finally had to get sent back to Trijicon for repair but I couldn’t believe how long it lasted. It wasn’t my RMR sight (it’s our friend Mario’s) and I initially felt bad because the pistols get thrown (yes, the thrown) into a cart and the end of the day and hauled off to the vault. In addition, it’s lasted constant tossing onto a range cart or thrown into a dump pouch with either other pistols or mags all day long.

    My buddy Pete used to run a RMR on his MP5 for 3-gun and I always thought it was such a fragile looking sight and for the cost, there was NO WAY I would ever use one where it had the chance of getting damaged. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have any worries putting one on a weapon that’s going to get daily use.

    We do have three Vortex optics (looks like the the Aimpoint PRO) installed on three of the heavy-use guns. My staff brought them to my attention after somebody recently did some kind of torture test and set one on fire and it still worked. They also know that optics aren’t cheap but they do want them on every single weapon (they will swap optics from guns taken off the line) because it’s much easier with the customers experience. Because SO many customers want their weapons to look like Call of Duy, Modern Warfare and Battlefield, I told them also order the Vortex magnifiers to go along with them. I will get status on how well they’ve held up and when they were issued.

    As for scopes for our Barrett’s, SCAR-H’s, Remington 700’s the “sniper” HK SR9’s and AR15 rifles, we use a mix of Trijicon, Bushnell and Leupold. They get a LOT of abuse daily because they always go onto carts and they usually get stacked 5-6 guns high on a cart and they could be on the bottom with a M60, M240 or some other belt-fed MG laying on top of it. For some reason, maybe just human nature, but the RSO’s seem to always be a bit more careful with the Trijicon Acupoint scope. They know that the scope wasn’t cheap but customers who have never once in their life even put their eyes on a real weapon would get disappointed with a “regular” Bushnell scope. It’s crazy how people from around the world are so influenced by movies and video games. They come in try to explain to my RSO’s why Scope A is better than Scope B because it’s an upgrade on a video game.

    I don’t have any specific data on the Eotech’s as to how long they last. When we first opened I was in the armory every day and doing all the ordering for everything we needed. We’ve become so busy that I had to pull myself away and (it’s hard when it your business) to pass the responsibility on to my armorers. They now put the requests in with the operations manager and he and my wife do the higher dollar purchasing. I’ve just noticed more and more PRO’s and ACOG’s without really thinking about it.

    When it comes to other brands like Primary Arms micro or the similar Bushnell micro RDS, I don’t have a problem with trying them out but again, it comes down the name brand and the exact look of what’s in video games. When my staff asked about the Vortex, I didn’t have a problem with them because along with the 3x magnifier, it looked just the same units on the video games and movies. Also, I didn’t plan on using the range as a test bed for various manufactures product. I have to make sure everything we purchase is going to last because it’s not cheap and the customer’s experience is main concern.

    Somebody asked about Russian optics. Well, I can tell you that I put my own personal factory Kobra side-mounted AK scope when we first started and the body cracked about 2-3 months into it. At first I was pretty pissed and kind of blamed the staff for mishandling it. After I thought about it, that’s supposed to be a military-grade optic and not one of my Eotechs, ACOG’s or Aimpoint’s ever experienced something like that. I haven’t purchased any other Russian optics since that time.

    (On AUG optics)

    We have a total of five AUG’s on the line and three of them are the original style with the integrated optic in the carry handle. They have been well used and abused for many years and they still continue to hold zero and function properly. The oldest AUG is approximately eight years-old and was used for FWT prior to being put on the line for range use. Very reliable weapon overall considering how many rounds they have seen.

    (On Doctor Optics)

    Here’s another optic that I have to admit that I had ZERO faith in. My friend Mario put this optic on the line for us when we first opened because we didn’t have any “cool looking sniper guns”. I thought for sure this little Docter’s optic wouldn’t last the week. Well, three years later and other than some finish wear, it’s still working properly. I’ve stated before that these weapons get dropped, thrown into carts and weapons stacked on top of them every day of the week.

    I guess I had no confidence in this optic because it looks so fragile. I didn’t even want it on the the line because I figured I would just have to reimburse my friend money that I couldn’t afford to pay out. This is the only one we have and I don’t even know what they cost. I just know that it was something that we couldn’t initially afford. I do plan on purchasing another one because our “sniper” package gets used so often that I need 4-5 of the same rifle set up.

    (And on the Trijicon Accupoint)

    We’ve had one on our Barrett for approximately two and half years and it’s held up perfectly. At one point, my staff members actually pulled it off the rifle because they new how much it cost and at that time finances were an issue. They were looking out for us and didn’t want to see the optic get ruined. I had to put it back on twice before I told them to quit removing it. Since that time, it’s had a bit of wear on the finish but the reticle is still 100% on point and hasn’t shifted. Also… no batteries to replace!

    We are using Aimpoint Pro’s exclusively with that brand. I try to keep things as uniform as possible so we’ve pulled the other Comp models off the line. I really like the Pro’s because they continue to work regardless of how much abuse they take on the range.

    Miles

    Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

    Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at [email protected]


    Advertisement