You might be surprised to hear that there are a lot of similarities between gun sights and suppressors. Much like suppressors, sights are an investment into your host firearm. Looking beyond budget, a reliable suppressor and sight can have many benefits into how your firearm functions and performs.
In this blog post, we’ll be giving you everything you need to know to ensure your gun sights and suppressors see eye to eye. We teamed up with Aimpoint to give you the exclusive on sights, suppressors, and your perfect set up.
The Things You Need to Know: Optic Definitions
When you’re looking for a sight, you’re wanting the optic that will allow you the easiest use. In terms of high intensity situations, your brain is on overdrive, meaning fine motor functions get thrown out the window. What you're left with is your amygdalic response (the part of your brain that screams, “Danger, Will Robinson!”).
Similar to suppressors, some of the best optics provide simplicity and ease on the senses. With suppressors, you’re looking for noise reduction, reduced blowback, and reduced recoil. As for optics, you’re looking for a product that is reliable, easy to use, and helps you stay on target. So let’s ease our senses by diving into a few definitions first.
No matter what optic you’re looking for, you’ll want to ensure it has a limited amount of parallax. According to Webster’s Dictionary, Parallax is “the apparent difference in position of an object as seen separately by one eye, and then by the other, the head remaining unmoved." Although you can never completely get rid of parallax because glass is involved, you should aim for a gun sight that has minimal parallax. Aimpoint’s term for their optics is that they are “operationally parallax-free” for that reason – meaning, the parallax is so unnoticeable or absent, that it won’t affect the operation of the sight when in use.
Point of Impact Shift
Now, in terms of point of impact shift, if you have an optic that experiences parallax, you might come toe to toe with POA/POI shift (or point of aim point of impact shift). If parallax is in the optic you’re looking through, then it will obviously be harder to be on target. With an operationally parallax-free optic, you shouldn’t have to be concerned because if the red dot is apparent to you, and you’re zeroed, then the projectile should hit exactly where you want it to.
There’s another aspect to consider when talking about POI shift and that is in regard to the height of the sight. No matter what, you will want your host firearm to be zeroed in using the suppressor and sight that you intend to use. This is because any optic you add to a firearm will directly affect where the round will go. The amount that is affected varies, but zeroing in is always recommended in order to get your bullet on target.
Sight picture is the visual relationship you share with your target, so to say it’s one of the most important aspects of buying a sight is a gross understatement; it’s the most important. If you can't see your target, then there's little to no hope in shooting where you want that projectile to go.
MIL vs. MOA
If you’ve been searching for optics already you might have seen two options for the same optic: deciding between MIL (milliradian) vs. MOA (minute of angle). Both MIL and MOA are used as expressions of error, or graduations of error. This means that if you sight in something at 100 yards and you are off only by a little bit, then when you try to shoot something at 500 yards, you’ll be exponentially off. It’s one reason why zeroing in your rifle is so important.
So, which is better between MIL and MOA? There’s no definitive answer to this because generally which one you use will depend on who taught you, and neither of these is inherently better than the other. If you’re starting out with a clean slate and you’re wondering which will be better to learn, we can give you two different schools of thought. Snipers tend to learn in MIL, and close-end shooters tend to learn in MOA. Our recommendation is to decide based on what your goals are for the firearm, and refer to a calculation chart when you need to reference it.
“You don’t become better by stress,
you become more simple.”
The Great Debate: iron sights vs. red dots vs. magnified optics
The great news is that you’ve got optic options! But you might be wondering what the right option for your setup is. Let’s go over the situations in which each of these categories shine.
Let’s be honest, a suppressor and sight adds some weight to your host firearm, even if it’s negligible compared to other silencer-sight setups. So, you may be looking to reduce some of the weight by cutting out a sight altogether.
In terms of fast shooting with little cognitive load (brain power needed), iron sights aren’t going to be your best bet. Buck with Aimpoint states, “there’s virtually no moment where someone would choose iron sights.” This is because shooting proficiently with iron sights takes tons of practice, work, and training. Even with hours and hours at the range, in a high-stress situation, that muscle memory might not be effective, making iron sights not entirely reliable compared to its competition.
Buck stated, “You don’t become better by stress, you become more simple.” In high-stress situations, you’ll be looking for simplicity, and red dots allow for what is called cognitive buy back.
Because you’re not focusing on crosshairs or trying to line up the front sight with the rear sights onto the target, you have less to think about. With red dots, you’re looking at one dot and your target, allowing you the simplicity your brain needs in order to pull that trigger faster.
Magnified optics tend to be heavier, especially when we’re comparing them to iron sights. But they can provide something that can be priceless depending on your situation, and that is magnification. Not to be captain obvious here, but magnified optics are going to be recommended for distance shooting.
One thing a lot of folks don’t consider though is how magnified their optic needs to be in order to remain on target. Generally speaking, the more magnified your optic is, the more parallax you may experience. As we’ve already discussed, it’s a pay off, so sometimes less is actually more.
What to Look For
When you’re keeping your eyes peeled for that perfect optic, you’ll want to consider good glass. Glass can make or break your optic experience because it is what you’ll be looking through, literally. But more importantly, if you don’t have good glass, you won’t actually be looking through your optic; you’ll be looking at it.
Buck emphasized the importance in the delineation between the two. He stated, “Perception is huge. We’re designed to see tiny things we don’t think about. So when you have an optic variability or artifacts in the glass, you’ll get caught in the optic… anything that could get in the way of cognitive efforts will get in the way of efforts.” It’s understandable that this would be the case, but hindsight is so 20/20.
Battery Usage & Choice
Aimpoint’s motto is “Always ready, always on” and it’s a true testament to their battery life. Because their battery endurance is famously long, you can literally set it and forget it, but still depend on it when the time arises. Buck states, “Seems silly to consider, but it’s important because when you pick that gun up, it’s always on and it’s always ready.” Since batteries are what give your sight life, either make sure that the battery life is long and dependable, or be good at changing batteries and staying on schedule.
Also, some people don’t have to consider this at all, but different optics require different batteries. Depending on where you intend to use these optics, this might be a bigger deal than you’d ever realize. We’re going to use Aimpoint optics as a good example of this. The Aimpoint CompM5b uses AAA batteries whereas the Aimpoint Acro P-1 uses CR1225 3V batteries. It’s definitely easier to come by triple A batteries than the latter, so if you’re travelling with an optic, then you might want to consider battery accessibility just in case.
There are three immutable laws you want to keep an eye out for. These three factors will be your North star as you begin your optic purchasing process:
Reliability. The goal is for your optic to work every single time, no matter what the situation.
Simplicity. Circling back to your amygdalic response, in high stress situations, you won’t be able to function with complexity. Even though you can train to handle more stressful situations, generally speaking, simplicity is going to be your friend.
Price point. Now, the final immutable law is price point: asking yourself what is the most reliable and simple in the price point that you’re willing to spend.
"A gun fight happens where the gun
is pointed, not back at the gun.”
Sights: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The beauty of a good optic is that it requires the least amount of cognitive function; it’s merely designed to ease your cognitive load. As Buck eloquently stated, “You can have the best method in the world, but if you have a poor tool, then your brain will work against you. The propensity in all of us will have you back at the gun. And a gun fight happens where the gun is pointed, not back at the gun.”
When optics can be bad is when there hasn’t been training. There is a learning curve involved with anything, even if it’s to simplify your situation. Once you take time to learn your optic, it’ll reach the good phase we just mentioned… unless it reaches the ugly.
So, when are optics classified as ugly? When they’re unreliable. As Buck stated, “everyone’s got a warranty, but warranties don’t matter if the optic fails; it’s a matter of where you are when it fails.” Whether you’re at home or overseas, a sight failing could be life threatening, so a dependable sight could be something you bet your life on.
Aimpoint Sights: Recommendations & Considerations
For the handgun shooter
For a handgun, an Aimpoint Acro P1 would do the trick. Average shooters “will find that they are faster and much more accurate with a significant amount less effort.” And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? It’s like Buck read our minds!
For the pistol caliber carbine and rifle shooter
When you’re just plinking with a rifle, you’ve got a few options. The Aimpoint Micro T-2 will be great for those tactical days. For the days you’re looking to take it out for some distance shooting, Aimpoint offers 3x and 6x magnifiers that fit perfectly behind the red dot sight, providing the magnification you might need. Sometimes magnification isn’t imperative, so, similar to suppressor purchasing, determine your use case first. Then you can backtrack to whether you actually need magnification or not.
For the rifle hunter
A lot of hunters tend to use optics that have more magnification than they realistically need. Magnification yields parallax, so if you can get away without it, that’s usually the most recommended. A huge benefit to red dot sights is that you can get on target faster. If you’re hunting anything that moves and your shot isn’t at a long distance, then a red dot sight with no magnification is the way to go. That being said, the Aimpoint Micro or Comp series would be your bread and butter.
For home defense
No matter what, you want your optic to be as reliable and stress free. Controlling as much of a situation as possible helps with that. In terms of a highly stressful situation, someone uninvited coming into your home ranks extremely high. As this article has laid out already, reducing your cognitive load is imperative, and a simple red dot helps with that. The Aimpoint Micro series of sights is a great option. And the Micro S-1 is the Aimpoint optic for shotguns. Truly the sight world is your oyster.
Most Popular Sights
You might be asking what gets picked up the fastest by the people who know their sights? Well, we’re glad you asked! Let’s cover Aimpoint sights by popularity, shall we?
The Aimpoint PRO is an economical price point without sacrificing any of the Aimpoint optic reputation.
The Aimpoint CompM5 or CompM4s and the Aimpoint Micros are extremely robust and “does everything a red dot should do.” They’re considered popular items because they are something you can trust implicitly without having to think about it. And hey, the CompM4s just so happens to be the US Army’s chosen M68CCO (Close Combat Optic)... how can you argue with that?
Just like suppressors, there’s a lot that goes into sights. Building your dream rig does come with considerations. As you can see, your use case will help you narrow down what you might want. But reliability and dependability for both your gun sights and suppressors are top priorities when it comes to shooting. Between Aimpoint optics and Silencer Shop suppressors, we’ve got you covered.