by Paul Rackley - Monday, November 28, 2011
Aimpoint got its start in the optic business building high-quality reflex sights with unlimited eye relief for hunters. Of course, it didn’t take Aimpoint or shooters long to see the benefits of reflex sights in fast-action tactical situations. It also didn’t take long to realize how shooterseach haveslightly different requirements and desires in a red-dot scope. Enter the Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic).
The Aimpoint PRO is ared-dot scope designed especially for police officers, tactical shooters and competitorswho requirea tough, accurate optic atop theirrifles.To do this, Aimpoint engineers consulted law enforcementprofessionals to determine their requirements, and built an optic around those specificationsgiving special considerationto thefeatures that officersrely onto protect and serve their citizens. And they had to build it within the confines of limited budgets.
“A lot of departments are having issues affording ammunition for training in this economic climate,” said John Enloe, Aimpoint regional sales manager. “So we took our expertise and put it in an optic with a price for law enforcement officers’ budgets.”
The PRO is housed in a hard-anodized, aluminum body for protecting the glass and electronics under hard use. The front glass is also recessed for further protection from scratches and multi-coated for optimal viewing. The front lens also comes with a special band-pass coating for use with night-vision devices as a lot of police work is conducted after the sun goes down. The 30 mm housing is matte black and it comes already attached to a QRP2 mount that incorporates a torque-limiting knob for fast installation while preventing over tightening. All the shooter has to do after determining where the mount should be placed is turn the knob three times to lock the optic to the rifle.
While optimized for use with M4/AR-15-type rifles, the PRO can also be mounted on the SIG 516, which is also popular with police officers, and most shotguns by removing a spacer that is located under the mount. This provides a high level of adaptability with firearms used by law enforcement.
As with all Aimpoint optics, the PRO comes with 1X magnification, which allows it to be used with both eyes open. This is as important for full peripheral vision as it is for fast target acquisition. Searching for suspects requires both eyes to be open, and when an assailant is encountered, the rifle must be aimed quickly to apprehend the potential suspect.
Other features that benefit police officers are its threaded front lens for attaching an anti-reflection device, unlimited eye relief, 2 minute-of-angle red dot and transparent rear lens cap for use in fast situations, as well as its ability to handle wide variations in weather. The PRO is water-resistant to 150 feet and handles temperatures ranging from negative 50 to 160 degrees F. It also has battery and adjustment cap retainer straps to keep the caps from becoming lost.
But its most intriguing feature is its 30,000 hour battery life. Even though the power knob is easily switched through its six levels of dot brightness, the PRO is designed to be turned on and left on, so the rifle is always ready for deployment. It even comes with a sticker than can be placed on the inside of the front lens cap where the date that the optic is turned on can be written. All a shooter has to do is check the date periodically to know when the 3V Lithium battery should be replaced, which is about every three years.
Since the PRO is designed for police, I decided testing should be as real and rugged as I possibly could make it. As this isn’t an optic for sitting on an exquisite wood and blue hunting rifle, I mounted it on my personal DPMS Panther AP4 carbine in 5.56x45 mm and sighted it for the recommended 50 yards.
Fast target acquisition was great, and within 50 yards accuracy was definitely on par for my abilities. I was able to consistently put two rounds into center mass from the ready position, even on the move, and I even conducted a few failure drills to take an early look at target transition. However, long-range, pin-point accuracy was unattainable by me without some sort of magnification. But in full disclosure, my eyes are not the best. Even at 50 yards, about a 2- to 3-inch group was the best I could obtain, and at 100 yards groups expanded to 4 and 5 inches. Now this is probably good enough for most applications, but sometimes police are required to take more precise shots.
While Aimpoint produces magnifiers for its products, I wanted to see how the PRO matched up against other magnifiers. So, I mounted a Lucid 2-5X magnifier behind the PRO via a Samson 30 mm Quick Flip Optics ring and headed back to the 50-yard range where groups were reduced to near m.o.a. levels. At 100 yards, groups were significantly improved with five consecutive, five-shot groups averaging 1.2 inches with Winchester, with the best group measuring 0.8 inches. I also ran Federal through the setup for comparison’s sake, which averaged 1.3 inches with the best group measuring 1.1 inches.
Of course, this setup is more for fast, tactical encounters rather than sniping, so I didn’t expect sub m.o.a. Then it was time to see if the PRO could handle the rigors of real world use.
Through the Ringer
Shock and awe was the term used for the U.S. military’s run on Baghdad, and it sounded pretty good as the name for a torture test of a high-quality tactical optic. First, I turned the PRO on and left it on for the duration of the test. Then, I conducted a variety of training drills from slow aimed shots to fast action shots, including transitions between the PRO and the magnifier using the Samson flip mount. Nothing I did seemed to damage the optics, including letting the entire setup bounce around behind the seat of my truck between uses. Every time I pulled the rifle out, it was ready to go to work and still putting rounds on target.
Next, I had to determine if the optic could really handle the elements that it could be exposed to in the line of duty. For this, I dropped the optic in a bucket of water for an hour to see if it was completely sealed. It was. Then, I started rotating it in and out of the refrigerator to simulate taking the rifle and optic from a cold car to a warm house and vice versa. I even put it in the freezer to see what would happen if the rig got left out overnight during winter. There was some fogging on the outside of the lens when brought back into the warmth, but that was to be expected. I simply wiped the lens and went to work. Finally, I dropped it back into the bucket to make sure that no problems had been created before taking it back to the range.
After remounting the PRO on the rifle in line with the Samson-mounted magnifier and ensuring that it was sighted in, I checked the m.o.a. by firing three rounds at the target before adjusting it to the right by five clicks and shooting another group. After that, I moved the adjustment five clicks down, shot a group, moved it five clicks to the left and shoot another group. Finally, I moved it five clicks up and put the rounds right back into the original group. This is called shooting the square and it is the best way to ensure that the optic has positive adjustments. As a near-perfect square showed on the target, the PRO, once again, passed the test.
The Aimpoint PRO is exactly what it claims to be: an affordable, fast-action optic that is always ready for action in the real world. While I didn’t have three years to test battery life, I left the dot on for the entire time I had the optic with no perceptible reduction in brightness. The PRO also took the rigors of multiple range trips, bouncing around behind the seat of the truck and the torture test in stride. This is not a reach out and touch them optic, but do you really need a high-powered scope for tactical and self-defense situations?
Manufacturer: Aimpoint; Aimpoint.com
Model: PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic)
Housing: anodized aluminum
Finish: matte black
Reticle: red dot (2 m.o.a.)
Lens Coating: multi-coated including band-pass coating for night vision
Eye Relief: unlimited
Weight: 11.6 ozs. (with mount)
Suggested Retail Price: $440.00
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