Dot sights have taken over the market in the high end competitive field. You can not go to an ISPC match without seeing these modern marvels atop race guns of all types. But they do have another purpose and one that is of interest to our readers! Tactical shooting. A dot sighting system is meant to be used with both eyes open and this has obvious advantages for the police officer affecting a room entry. He can keep his situational awareness high and use all of his peripheral vision. The target can be snap shot in a pinch as the reticle and sight present very little occulting of the forward view. With both eyes open, one tends to simply see a dot superimposed over your normal, naked eye field of view. This effect is literally like having a heads up display before your eyes. Best of all, aim does not seem to be affected by small imperfections in cheek weld as the dot can float about and you will still hit point of aim. For the officer going into a high risk, high tension situation, these sights remove one distracting element from the equation. The military has experimented heavily with this type of sighting system for special operations. It is said that Aimpoint has proven itself very well in these trials. A new contract with Aimpoint proves it.
Aimpoint has long been a developer of the Dot sighting system. Their latest claim to fame is the Comp series, of which two are specifically designed for the military and police operator. The Comp M and the Comp ML. Virtually identical, these sights differ only in the level of brightness of the reticle dot. On the Comp M, the first two illumination settings are so low they can not be seen with the human eye. This allows the operator to use a night vision device without the blooming effects a normally illuminated dot might cause. The sights come in Matt black and are factory equipped with Butler Creek scope caps. The sight can be used by either left or right handed shooters by simply rotating the entire sight barrel to move the windage turret out of your view. Either turret can be used for elevation. As a lefty, I had to rotate the sight counter-clockwise in its mount so that the top turret became the windage turret, now positioned on the left side of the barrel. This provided a clear view for my right eye which is required for the proper operation of this system. The scope caps are also positioned so as not to block your vision.
The rifle I mounted the sight on was a civilian equivalent of the flat topped M4A1 Carbine. Aimpoint has a special Rail Grabber mount that features an integral ring and a torque-limiting quick release knob that is designed to be mounted directly on the upper receiver accessory rail. This must be purchased separately to accommodate the flat top AR15. It raises the sight higher than does the simple ring mount included as part of the Comp M or ML package. The stock ring mount will suffice for mounting on most systems, but with the Flat Top AR you need to get the scope up higher to facilitate a good eye position. This Rail Grabber is quite nice and worth the extra money. It has a single knob for securing the bracket to the scope rail. This knob has a cam in it that allows you to only tighten the retention clamp to a specified inch pound setting. You simply turn the knob till it starts to slip on the cam, and that is it. You are done. Removing and replacing the mount has no affect on zero, as it is clamped on exactly the same each time. For those of you utilizing the standard A1 or A2 upper, a forward mount can be purchased that positions the Comp M forward of the AR15 handle and in-line with the sights.
Zeroing the sight was done at 25 meters. This will provide a fair balance of trajectory from 0 feet out to 250 meters. At first the appearance of the AR front sight base in the sight picture was a little distracting but once you get used to shooting with both eyes open, you find that the sight post fades away and has no effect on your ability to aim. Once zeroed, the illuminated dot fell somewhere on the AR front sight post. As an interesting aside, if the Aimpoint sight goes down, or fails in any way, you can just transition to the stock front sight post and keep shooting. I found that the Ring of the Aimpoint body could be used as an effective aperture sight, even at its large 30mm size. Just transition to the mechanical front sight and center it in the scope body. At the close quarters range this system is designed for, you will still be able to shoot quite accurately!
An interesting feature of Aimpoint dot sights is the fact that the dot can appear to float about within the body of the sight and yet you can still hit point of aim. The Comp M and ML has a patented double front lens which eliminates the parallax error. To test this I purposefully moved my head so that the red dot was pushed all the way to the edge of the sight. I fired at the 25m target and scored a bullseye. I then moved my head again and positioned the dot to the opposite side of the scope. This round fell with in an 1/8 of an inch of the first round. As long as the dot remained on target, and I kept both eyes open, I could score center hits. It came immediately to mind that this would be an excellent sighting system for a SWAT entry team. No matter how you got jostled or stressed, you could always keep that dot on target no matter what your head was doing. With zeroing done, I tried a few shots at 200 yards. Freehand and with both eyes open, I found it pretty simple to keep the 3 moa dot on the center of the steel target. Here again the Aimpoint proved its worth as that small dot was much easier to line up at longer ranges than some of the sights that utilize a 7 moa or 10 moa dot. These tend to totally occult the target at long range. The Aimpoint truly can be used for effective close or medium range combat shooting. Dinging steel at 200 yards was child's play and I can almost feel envy towards our British cousins who have long turned to low power optics for their standard infantry rifle. The Aimpoint has no magnification whatsoever. It allows you to acquire the target with as much if not more speed than would a regular peep sighted rifle and as I will illustrate below, hit probability seems to go up. As a point of interest, Aimpoint now offers both the Comp M and ML with 3, 7 or 10 moa dots! All are available to civilian shooters and one of these sights will surely fit your needs.
As stated, dot sights are to be fired with both eyes open. This has obvious advantage in a combat environment. Target acquisition is increased, situational awareness maintained, and sight picture can be maintained even in low light and downright shitty weather. To illustrate just how well this works I will relate a recent experience. On my last visit to Storm Mountain Training Center for a refresher at their sniper course, I took along my Aimpoint equipped M4 carbine as I planned to operate as the spotter for my new partner. This had some decided advantages, particularly on the long stalk where I happily left my 700 PSS at home! One evening we were out shooting in the rain. It was about 2045 and the sun had long gone down. There was still enough illumination to pick out the steel human silhouette with the naked eye so I promptly returned the PSS to its drag bag and pulled out the M4 for a little experimentation. Engaging targets to 300 yards proved surprisingly easy even in the drizzle. I could see the target very well with my off eye and just see it in the sight with my sighting eye. The red dot, set at its low setting, floated on the center of mass of the target and between the two eyes, a good sight picture could be found. Round after round impacted the steel and one of the snipers to my right commented that it just didn't seem possible as he could just make out the target with his 10x scope! Things got very interesting after that as it began to rain in earnest. After a short time I could no longer see though the sight. The rain was blowing right to left and quartering in a manner that drove it right onto the lens of the sight, totally obscuring the view from that quarter. But I could still see the 300 meter target with my right eye. After a short pause, I decided to have at it and see what happened. Tracer after tracer slammed into the target with boring regularity! Again, the shooter to my right was amazed and to this day probably thinks I am the Dalai Lama of rifle marksmanship! Sadly, that status will forever be in contention and I make NO claims! But what happened was this: My left eye could only see the red dot in the sight. My right eye could only see the target, and barely at that. But between the two, the dot was superimposed over the target and I was able to maintain enough of a sight picture to score repeatedly! God gave you binocular vision and the Aimpoint allows you to USE IT.
I believe the Comp M or ML would make an ideal sighting system for the spotter in operational areas not conducive to long ranges - heavily wooded terrain and jungle. Armed with an M16A1 with an A2 upper (sorry Uncle Sam, I'd prefer the full auto of the A1 lower receiver for combat ops!), or an M4A1 Carbine this spotter could handle the chores of defending the team up close and personal and still be able to hit targets out to possibly 400 yards with training. A civilian equipped with a semi-auto flat top carbine mounting an Aimpoint has at his disposal a very effective firearm. For police use, the Aimpoint Comp M series seems tailor made for the task these fine but hard worked people face. From my short experience with the sight, it has proven able to take targets at ranges I had only thought possible with a good peep sight or scope. You must still use Kentucky windage in cross winds, but with practice, this is easy and follow-up shots are very fast. Aimpoint has recently renamed these sights as the Comp M XD and ML XD. This stands for Extreme Duty. The military has recently contracted with Aimpoint for 80,000 units. This speaks well for the sight and it should prove quite effective in the field. With its renowned 10 year warranty, it should serve you long and well. Springfield Armory was recently elected to be the only supplier for this sight.