A number of knowledgeable trainers advocate the use of fixed iron sights on patrol rifles for durability. They argue iron sights aren t susceptible to damage from harsh usage or environmental factors, and that batteries can t be counted on. For a number of years, I went along with this, even though I tried a few of these new-generation optics and found them far superior to irons. But I thought, How could these well-known trainers be wrong? These guys are at the top of their game and know a lot more than me. Well, the fact of the matter is, while the high-end trainers are certainly knowledgeable, they are still products of their own prejudices.
When selecting any piece of gear, ask yourself if the equipment in question solves a problem for you. Don t be concerned with what others think. In my case, an optical sight on my AR-15 gives me a simpler sight picture. Instead of trying to align a front and rear sight with a target that will likely be moving, all I need to do with an optical sight is super-impose a dot on the target and press the trigger. This single field of view is much simpler than traditional sight alignment.
As for batteries, the manufacturers have created a product, at the risk of sounding clich , you can bet your life on. As for durability, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have proven the current generation of optical sights can stand up to the rigors of combat. Sure, these optics can be smashed and broken, but no one is saying they are replacements for iron sights. No, iron sights supplement these high-end optics: If the optics break, you can replace them in a few seconds.
Trijicon, Aimpoint and EO Tech all make exceptional close-quarter battle sights that are worth your consideration. However, there s a new sight I think will make a significant impact in both the military and law enforcement markets. I tested a final production prototype of the new Leupold Tactical Prismatic throughout the spring and summer of 2007, and I came away greatly impressed. I shot thousands of rounds using the scope, and loaned it out to numerous students, who used the optic with great satisfaction.
The Tactical Prismatic
The Tactical Prismatic is a fixed 1x14mm scope that comes with either a circle/dot or cross-hair reticle. The reticle is embedded in the glass, so the Prismatic doesn t depend on battery power in order to sight with it. The illumination module is the only feature powered by battery. It s fully removable, and the scope doesn t depend on its function. The module merely lights up the reticle so it s easier to see in low-light environments. The module is powered by a simple watch battery and will keep the reticle illuminated for thousands of hours. On my test model, the on and off switch was a twist cap, but will be replaced on the final version with a push button.
In an effort to meet the stringent impact and waterproof standards of the military, Leupold has incorporated the thickest main-tube walls of any scope found in the Leupold line. During factory testing, the Prismatic survived the equivalent of 28,000 rounds of .375 magnum in succession on a test machine without failing to keep its zero or suffer optical failure the Tactical Prismatic is one tough scope!
While the Prismatic is a one-power optic and doesn t offer real magnification, the glass is high quality and offers a clarity that enables the shooter to believe there is a level of magnification. The lens surfaces are treated with Diamondcoat 2 for increased light transmission and abrasion resistance, which exceeds military standards. The Prismatic is designed to be used with both eyes open, allowing the shooter a greater field of view to keep track of an ever-changing environment. A wide range of users benefit from the focusing eyepiece, while the minute-of-angle (MOA) click adjustable turrets offer precise accuracy. The turrets are low profile and slotted for easy turning, and I found I could do it with just my fingertips. Once I zeroed my test Prismatic, I was able to shoot MOA with my 16 Stag Arms Model 3 carbine using Hornady 62-grain TAP ammunition. Keep in mind, the Stag carbine is not a sniper rifle, but I was very happy with this gun, scope and ammo combination. In the event you think this was just a lucky string of shots, I was able to re-create this feat using Hornady s 75-grain T2 TAP ammo, which is specially designed for short-barrel carbines.
While you can mount the Prismatic to any rail system via the popular A.R.M.S. #22-34 mm Throw Lever Rings, Leupold offers an integrated adjustable mounting base I feel is as durable as anything on the market. The system offers spacers of differing heights, which allows you to set it up for a wide range of shooters. The Leupold system will work on most any type of weapons platform and can be tightened by hand or by using an adjustable wrench.
The scope is both light and compact: It weighs a mere 12 oz. and measures only 4.5 inches in length. The Prismatic eye lens offers a long eye relief that makes it easy to use under a wide range of field conditions. Last but not least, MSRP is $564.99.
All in all, Leupold s Tactical Prismatic scope offers a new alternative to optics that are currently available. Considering Leupold s proven track record in developing tactical grade optics, I believe the Prismatic is will be an excellent addition to the product line.
The Leupold Tactical Prismatic Scope
• The optic is tough and water resistant;
• The glass offers superior clarity;
• The reticle can be purchased either in a dot/circle or crosshair configuration;
• The click adjustments are simple and precise; and
• The Leupold-supplied adjustable mounting platform is tough and superior
• The switch on the prototype was poor. Production model should change this; and
• The scope is not parallax free, which some will find discouraging, though it never became an issue while I or others used it.
Leupold Tactical Prismatic
Leupold & Stevens, Inc.
PO Box 688
Beaverton, OR 97075