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Scope Of Work

Scope of Work

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile you’ll note that I rarely talk about gear. There are two reasons for that. The first is, I’m not really interested in gear all that much. I mean, as long as you carry something reasonably appropriate (no derringers, no micro-sized single-action revolvers, no sub-$200 semi-autos), can hit a man-sized target at 10 yards and get your gun into play in under two seconds, it doesn’t really matter if you have a $300 Sccy or a $3000 Wilson Combat in your hands. 

Secondly, what interest I have in hardware is channeled into my day job. I mean, they pay me, so I should probably give them what they want. 

However,  I’ve decided that I’m not a fan of first focal plane low power variable optic scopes. 

But Kevin, you mad impetuous fool, those are the perfect “do it all” scope! How dare you not recommend them? You can range targets with them! You can shoot close targets at 1 power and then zoom all the way out to 10 power! They do it all! 

Ok, great. But is that what I really need in an optic? Let’s break this down. If I’m shooting an AR, it’s either in a) a 3 Gun match, b) hunting for hogs or c) practicing with my home defense gun. Now, in a 3 Gun match, an LPVO makes a lot of sense, as you’re shooting at targets from 3 feet out to 300+ yards. The longest shot I have for home defense, however, is 42 yards. I don’t really need ANY magnification then. And hogs? Maybe 4x, and forget about ranging the suckers. So a 1-8x or 1-10x optic is going to have an eyebox the size of a matchbox. Not optimal on a gun that’s really only effective out to 600 yards or so*, and really awful when you’re shooting at closer distances.

The biggest issue, though, is that first focal plane. This means your reticle shrinks and grows as you zoom in and out, which in turns means you have a formless blob at 1x and a full-sized reticle at max power. And ranging? If you know your holdovers and your zero, you can make hits on man-sized targets out to 400 yards, no matter what magnification you’re using. 

This is why I like second focal plane optics for LPVOs. Your reticle is consistent, and any ranging you need to do can be done at maximum power, which is most likely when you’ll be doing ranging with a first focal plane optic, anyways. Actually, if I’m honest, I prefer a prism optic on my home defense gun ‘cause it’s always on and doesn’t need batteries to create an aiming point. Also, I’m not a fan of how you feel like you’re staring down a tube with an LPVO, even if it is a true 1x scope. I much prefer the open field of view of a prism or a red dot. Plus there’s the fact that an LVPO is a heavy sucker, with most weighing around 20 ounces. 

These days, if I want a general-purpose “do it all” optic on one off my ARs, I’m more likely to choose a red dot with a flip-out 3x or 4x magnifier than I am an LPVO. This set up gives me lightning-fast shots close up, and it’s just as easy to flop that magnifier over as it is to zoom my LVPO out to full power. Am I giving something up with this setup? Yes, it’s not the best rig for shots out past 300 yards. However, that is really not a thing for me. If I lived someplace where coyote control was something I’d need to with my “general purpose” AR, I’d change my mind. But I don’t live in that sort of place, and a red dot and magnifier will work just fine for me. 


* Yes, I know, you can hit targets at longer ranges than that with good-quality ammo and a nice gun. But check the energy of your rounds at, say, 1000 yards, and you’ll see why I used the word “effective” there.