They have become lighter and more rugged, and worries about battery failure are for the most part now a thing of the past. Aimpoint has been at the forefront of many of these developments.
Given the right design, iron sights can be as (or more) accurate than an RDS. However, irons are slower to acquire in dim light and harder to use when the good and bad guys are both moving. With an RDS, you put the dot on the target and press the trigger.
Most military units now use some type of RDS, delegating iron sights to a backup sighting system.
Law enforcement has been slower to make the switch to RDS for many reasons. Among these are the cost to place them on issue rifles, the “we didn’t have them back in the day and don’t need them know” mentality, and administrators who can only properly tell which end of the firearm a bullet exits two out of three times (usually with coaching from a subordinate).
I have been to more than one carbine course where hobby shooters were running an RDS, while cops, who carry guns for a living, were forced to go old school with iron sights either because their agency requires irons or the cops can’t afford to purchase a quality RDS.
I’m happy to report that, at least as far as the cost is concerned, those days are over.
At the 2011 SHOT Show, Aimpoint introduced its first economical RDS designed specially for law enforcement— the Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO). The basis for the PRO is the Comp M2, but the similarities end there.
The Comp M2 has a four MOA dot. The PRO has a two MOA dot, allowing for more precise fire as long as the shooter does his part.
Both the M2 and PRO use the same single 3-volt, type 2L76 or DL1/3N Lithium battery. Battery life on the M2, using Circuit Efficiency Technology (CET), is 10,000 hours, meaning it can be left on for over one year—unheard of when it was introduced in the year 2000.
The PRO uses Advanced Circuit Efficiency Technology (ACET), which ups the battery life to 30,000 hours, or over three years of constant run time on setting seven. The SOP for Aimpoint sights is simple—turn it on and leave it on.
The M2 requires a 30mm ring mount. The PRO comes complete with a QRP2 mount (the same mount used on the Comp M4/M4S being used by our military) for the M1913 standard Picatinny rail. A spacer that will cowitness with AR-15/M4 iron sights is included. This is an absolute co-witness. Users who prefer to have the iron front sight in the lower 1/3 can purchase an LT-150 Mount from LaRue Tactical.
The weight of the PRO with the mount and spacer is 11.6 ounces.
In terms of waterproofing, the M2 is good down to 80 feet. The PRO can go almost twice as deep, being waterproof down to 150 feet.
The PRO’s rotary switch has ten positions. The first four positions are for use with night vision (all generations), and the tenth position is extra bright.
Flip-up lens covers are standard. The rear cover is clear, which allows the sight to be used in an emergency without flipping the front cover open (if proper technique is used and both eyes are open).
The battery cap and windage and elevation caps are tethered to the body of the PRO to prevent loss.
Included in the box with the PRO is a decal to be placed on the inside of the front lens cover. This decal has check boxes to show what month and year the sight/battery were put into service. Not a big deal to most folks, but a nice touch nonetheless.
A word about rails: All rails are not created equal. Some manufacturers refer to their rail as a “Picatinny” when in actuality it does not meet specs. I don’t know if they are unaware of the differences, find the term exciting, or just use it as a marketing tool….
The width of the grooves on a 1913 Picatinny rail must be .206 inch and .394 inch apart (center-to-center) in order for it to be a true Picatinny milspec rail. The grooves on a Weaver system (sometimes called a Universal rail) are .180-inch wide. What this means to you is that something designed for a Weaver mount will fit in a Picatinny rail (though not always securely), but something designed for a Picatinny will not fit in a Weaver due to the groove being too narrow.
Since the QRP2 only attaches in one groove, the spacing of the grooves is not critical, but the width is. If you are sure your rail meets specs, you won’t have a problem. For example, the PRO’s QRP2 mounted easily and securely on the milspec rail of my Bravo Company Manufacturing M4 Carbine Mod 2.
Earlier I said that the PRO was designed with economy in mind. So what does it actually cost? Complete with mount and flip-up lens cover, the PRO has a suggested retail price of $440.00. But I have seen vendors on the Internet selling it for $400.00.
The PRO represents a best buy in terms of a red-dot sight. Complete with mount, the cost is right at or less than that of many competitors, plus it comes with Aimpoint’s reputation for reliability.
With a constant-on time of three years, the PRO is always ready to protect and serve.