Night Force Optics
Twenty years ago as U.S. forces went storming into Iraq at the beginning of the Gulf War hardly any infantry soldiers had optics on their rifles. As they had been for s century, scopes were only used by snipers and Special Forces units. Today, as the U.S. military fights terrorism around the world, our troops would sooner go into combat nude than rely merely on iron sights when things get hot.
Optics allow soldiers to acquire targets quickly and help them put fire on that target when necessary. They are force multipliers for the U.S. military.
It's a truism that when the military starts using specific gear, law enforcement won't be far behind. After the 1997 North Hollywood bank robbery and after 9/11, many agencies started replacing the shotguns in their patrol cars with M4 carbines and AR-15s. And officers who served in the military soon started outfitting those long guns with high-quality combat optics from companies like Aimpoint, EoTech, Leupold, Night Force Optics, and Trijicon.
Today, rifle optics that once were only seen on SWAT weapons are now commonplace on patrol rifles. A lot has changed in less than 10 years. Which begs the question, What innovations are likely to change law enforcement CQB optics between now and 2021?
The Bigger Picture
In recent years, the military has been equipping personnel with CQB optics that feature greater than 3X magnification. The goal is to give troops the ability to engage and destroy targets out to 1,000 yards. But too much magnification is a big no-no at many law enforcement agencies.
"Agencies restrict the amount of magnification that patrol officers can use because they don't want them acting as snipers," says Tim O'Connor, law enforcement sales manager for Leupold.
O'Connor believes that the restriction will be lifted at many agencies as more and more current military veterans join the ranks. "The folks coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq are used to having magnified optics on their carbines, so they're going to look for that in law enforcement."
One of the primary reasons that many agencies are skittish about magnified optics on patrol rifles is a training issue. They don't have the money or the instructors to train officers to use such equipment. Veterans returning from "The Sandbox" eliminate that concern. They have already been trained to use magnified optics in the wars.
That's one reason why O'Connor predicts so many officers will soon demand higher magnification ratios on their rifle optics. "I think that's going to be the biggest change, what the officers are looking to use more than what's available to them," he says.
Improved circuitry in combat optics that allows them to run for several years on one battery is one of the great advancements in the field during the last decade. But most still require batteries in order to operate. As do the lights, laser indicators, and other accessories that officers and soldiers add to their rifles. Each accessory may even require a different
Experts contacted for this article believe the next generation of combat optics may be powered by a single battery. The idea is that the rails that the accessories are attached to will carry the charge instead of each accessory needing its own battery.