Shoot­ing With Pre­ci­sion

Elec­tronic gun­sights will be­come an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant as­pect of mil­i­tary and civil­ian small arms de­vel­op­ment in the com­ing years

SP's LandForces - - FRONT PAGE - R. Chan­drakanth

Elec­tronic gun­sights will be­come an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant as­pect of mil­i­tary and civil­ian small arms de­vel­op­ment in the com­ing years

GLOB­ALLY, THE LE­GAL SMALL arms mar­ket is fore­cast to grow from $4.1 bil­lion in 2014 to $5.3 bil­lion in 2020, a com­pound an­nual growth rate of 4.2 per cent, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions in a new in­dus­try re­port from Mar­kets and Mar­kets. The pro­jec­tions re­flect sales of small arms in the hunt­ing, sport shoot­ing, self-de­fense, law en­force­ment and pro­fes­sional mar­kets. Prod­ucts in­clude pis­tols, ri­fles, ma­chine guns and car­bines and ac­cord­ing to the fore­cast five com­pa­nies — Sturm Ruger, Al­liant Tech­sys­tems, Smith & Wes­son, Free­dom Group and Colt Man­u­fac­tur­ing — ac­count for more than 40 per cent of the to­tal mar­ket.

Th­ese firearms come with or without gun­sights and there are nu­mer­ous op­ti­cal de­vices that as­sist in aim­ing a firearm for pre­ci­sion fir­ing. Gun­sights in­clude the sim­ple iron sights on pis­tols and the more com­plex front and rear sights on tar­get and high-pow­ered sport­ing ri­fles. The first gun­sights ap­peared as early as 1450. They con­sisted of a bead front sight and a notched stand­ing rear sight. Since then, other de­signs have al­lowed great ac­cu­racy in sit­u­a­tions in which the shooter can take his time in prepar­ing to fire. Yet oth­ers, e.g., the open rear sight, al­low for aim­ing and shoot­ing quickly. Spe­cial tele­scopic sights ap­peared in the 1600s. In 1737, King Fred­er­ick the Great of Prus­sia is said to have used tele­scopic sights. Snipers’ ri­fles with tele­scopic sights were used in the US Civil War and World War I. Op­ti­cal ad­vances in the 20th cen­tury led to hugely var­ied tele­scopic or “scope” sights in vary­ing pow­ers and of­ten vary­ing ranges of mag­ni­fi­ca­tion.

A gyro gun­sight (GGS) is a mod­i­fi­ca­tion of the non-mag­ni­fy­ing re­flec­tor sight in which tar­get lead (the amount of aim-off in front of a mov­ing tar­get) and bul­let drop are al­lowed for au­to­mat­i­cally, the sight in­cor­po­rat­ing a gy­ro­scopic mech­a­nism that com­putes the nec­es­sary de­flec­tions re­quired to en­sure a hit on the tar­get. The sight was de­vel­oped just be­fore the Sec­ond World War for air­craft use dur­ing aerial com­bat.The sights usu­ally con­tained more than one ret­i­cle to as­sist in proper aim­ing point: a fixed one (sig­ni­fy­ing the di­rec­tion the guns are point­ing), a mov­ing one show­ing the cor­rected aim­ing point, and a ret­i­cle to match to a tar­get plane’s known wing­span (to ad­just the sight for the tar­get’s dis­tance).

Gun own­ers are keen on im­prov­ing their marks­man­ship and only gun­sights can help them achieve that. Ba­si­cally, there are three types of sights used on firearms - open sights; aper­ture (peep) sights and tele­scopic sights.

Open Sights

There are many types of ‘iron sights’ or open sights. The sim­plest is the type found on many shot­guns. It’s a round bead at the muz­zle end of the bar­rel. You sim­ply look down the top ridge of the shot­gun and put the bead on the tar­get. It’s not the most ac­cu­rate type of iron sight but it works well enough for most types of shoot­ing that you’ll do with a shot­gun. Then there are front and rear sights on the tar­get which needs a bit of prac­tice as at no point will both sights and the tar­get be in sharp fo­cus.

Aper­ture Sights

The peep’ or aper­ture sight is eas­ier to use than open sights. The shooter has to look through the ‘aper­ture’ and cen­ter the bead on the front sight in the aper­ture. Like open sights, the two sights won’t be in clear fo­cus. For pre­ci­sion shoot­ing, nor­mally a smaller aper­ture is se­lected while a larger aper­ture is used in hunt­ing.

Tele­scopic Sights

For tar­gets that are ei­ther very small or very far away, tele­scopic sights are used. Tele­scopic sights of­fer mag­ni­fi­ca­tion of the tar­get. Mag­ni­fi­ca­tions be­tween 2x and 24x are com­mon. While some scopes have a fixed power (2x, 4x...) many are vari­able. Vari­able scopes gen­er­ally have a lim­ited range of mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. For ex­am­ple, a scope may have a 3-9 or a 6-24 range of mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. Larger lenses typ­i­cally al­low more light in but the qual­ity of the op­tics plays a big part in the qual­ity of the im­age through the scope. There are two ‘tur­rets’ that al­low for ad­just­ment of the scope. The top tur­ret al­lows one to ad­just for el­e­va­tion (up and down). The side tur­ret al­lows to ad­just for windage (left and right). Gen­er­ally th­ese are set and cov­ers are screwed onto them to pre­vent the set­ting from be­ing changed and in some in­stances to make the scope fully wa­ter­proof.

Ad­vanced Com­bat Op­ti­cal Gun­sight

Ad­vanced Com­bat Op­ti­cal Gun­sight (ab­bre­vi­ated ACOG) is a se­ries of tele­scopic sights man­u­fac­tured by Tri­ji­con. The ACOG was orig­i­nally de­signed to be used on the M16 ri­fle and M4 car­bine, but Tri­ji­con has also de­vel­oped ACOG ac­ces­sories for other firearms. Mod­els pro­vide fixed power mag­ni­fi­ca­tion lev­els from 1.5x to 6x. ACOG ret­i­cles are il­lu­mi­nated at night by an in­ter­nal phos­phor. Some ver­sions have an ad­di­tional day­time ret­i­cle il­lu­mi­na­tion via a pas­sive ex­ter­nal fiber op­tic light pipe or are LED-il­lu­mi­nated us­ing a bat­tery.

The ACOG is avail­able in a va­ri­ety of con­fig­u­ra­tions from the man­u­fac­turer with dif­fer­ent ret­i­cles il­lu­mi­na­tion, and other fea­tures. Most ACOGs do not use bat­ter­ies for ret­i­cle il­lu­mi­na­tion, be­ing de­signed to use in­ter­nal phos­phor il­lu­mi­na­tion pro­vided by the ra­dioac­tive de­cay of tri­tium. The tri­tium il­lu­mi­na­tion has a us­able life of 10-15 years. Some ver­sions of the ACOG have an ad­di­tional day­time ret­i­cle il­lu­mi­na­tion via a pas­sive ex­ter­nal fiber op­tic light pipe. Nor­mally this al­lows the bright­ness of the ret­i­cle to match the field of view since it col­lects ambi- ent light from around the sight, although this can lead to a mis­match in light­ing — such as sun­light hit­ting the light pipe di­rectly, or stand­ing in a shadow — caus­ing the ret­i­cle to be much brighter or darker than the tar­get. Ret­i­cles have other fea­tures such as a bul­let drop com­pen­sator and other dif­fer­ent ret­i­cle shapes such as chevrons.

There are other types of sights that may be re­ferred to as ‘red dot’ sights. For some scopes, there may be a red dot in ad­di­tion to the ret­i­cle. More com­monly, ‘re­flex’ and ‘holo­graphic’ sights are re­ferred to as red dot sights. Re­flex sights use an LED to project a dot (or ret­i­cle or some sort) onto the im­age seen in the sight. Many peo­ple have laser sights on their guns. They can­not be used in bright light. They also tell your tar­get pre­cisely where you are.

Elec­tronic Gun­sights

Elec­tronic gun­sights, such as those de­vel­oped by Track­ingPoint will be­come an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant as­pect of mil­i­tary and civil­ian small arms de­vel­op­ment in the com­ing years. Such op­tics have al­ready given dra­matic im­prove­ment to ac­cu­racy and hit prob­a­bil­ity in larger mil­i­tary sys­tems, for ex­am­ple tanks and other ar­mored fight­ing ve­hi­cles. While Track­ingPoint’s sys­tem is clearly geared to­wards the pre­ci­sion shooter, it hints at other ca­pa­bil­i­ties that could be ap­plied through elec­tronic gun­sights in other ar­eas where small arms are used.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: US DoD

A US Marine sights his tar­get through an ad­vanced com­bat op­ti­cal gun sight scope

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