BREAK­ING PROD­UCTS AND DEAD­LINES

CON­FES­SIONS OF A PROD­UCT TEST JUNKIE

Gun World - - Scope-eye Chronicles -

Ihave a de­served rep­u­ta­tion for break­ing things. I’m of­ten one of the first folks to get sent pro­to­types and new prod­ucts, and a lot of this stems from re­la­tion­ships I’ve had in this in­dus­try for al­most 30 years. I was taught long ago never to burn bridges, and I’ve tried to live by that ad­vice. I’m hum­bled that com­pa­nies let me play with their equip­ment and re­port my find­ings. But a lot of times, I find flaws in prod­ucts be­cause I use them to their max­i­mum po­ten­tial.

This month’s ar­ti­cle started with test­ing a dig­i­tal binoc­u­lar. It went with me ev­ery­where for two weeks be­fore it started hav­ing is­sues. The is­sues were com­pounded the more I used it, un­til it failed com­pletely. The com­pany overnighted me an­other one—only to have it also fail, but in dif­fer­ent ways.

PLAN B?

Af­ter far too many hours of test­ing and pho­to­graphs, I washed my hands of it and scrapped the project. Over two weeks down the drain. My ed­i­tor is ask­ing where my over­due ar­ti­cle is.

So, I pulled out a backup plan: I would test a new red-dot sight that cre­ated a lot of buzz when in­tro­duced at SHOT this year. I was quite pleased to be one of the first folks to have it!

I fully ex­pected it to be a bul­let­proof ex­am­ple of a new gen­er­a­tion of sights that oth­ers would even­tu­ally em­u­late for a piece of that sales pie. I wanted to show my read­ers that by me tor­ture-test­ing it, they could be sure the prod­uct would be nearly in­de­struc­tible.

I thought I would proof-test it us­ing my Free­dom Arms model 83 in .454 Ca­sull—a 6-inch, un­ported early model. Us­ing 31 grains of H110 with a 300-grain Hor­nady XTP Mag­num gen­er­ates sub­stan­tial re­coil ve­loc­ity in this mid­dleweight re­volver. This is not a gun and load for the in­ex­pe­ri­enced!

I set up at my lo­cal range, the ex­cel­lent GAT Guns in Dundee, Illi­nois, with my pho­tog­ra­phy equip­ment and lights, ready to cap­ture the gun in full, al­most ver­ti­cal re­coil. Although it was still a bit dark, I was able to get a few ac­cept­able pic­tures.

It took five rounds to turn the sight into what sounded like a maraca. I no­ticed that “shat­ter­proof” did not ap­ply to this ap­pli­ca­tion. Five rounds. More time wasted. (Now, my ed­i­tor is de­mand­ing a sub­mis­sion im­me­di­ately.)

CHECK THOSE SPECS

Both of th­ese com­pa­nies were pained to hear of th­ese fail­ures and are cur­rently work­ing on fixes to pre­vent th­ese prob­lems re­oc­cur­ring be­fore they are re­leased to the con­sum­ing pub­lic. They also ap­pre­ci­ate that flaws were found and im­prove­ments sug­gested.

Some­times, com­pa­nies won’t change a prod­uct, just the spec­i­fi­ca­tions. For in­stance, “NOT sub­mersible.” It seems like a sim­ple is­sue to check such a spec, but things of­ten slip through the cracks. Night vi­sion com­pat­i­bil­ity? I burned the screen in a few PVS-14 night vi­sion tubes, so it sure seems pru­dent to avoid cus­tomer back­lash and re­move such a state­ment.

The word, “Pi­catinny,” is thrown around a lot, and many times, it is not at all true to MIL-SPEC 1913 spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Even from the high­est com­pany lev­els, the mar­ket­ing de­part­ments take over, be­cause sales fig­ures are as im­por­tant as air. Reg­u­larly, the re­coil lugs on mounts and rings are way too small to fit snugly in the .206 grooves of a true 1903 rail—but they’re still called Pi­catinny, be­cause that’s what the cool kids want. Some well­known man­u­fac­tur­ers de­lib­er­ately use small ring and mount re­coil lugs so they can be used on Weaver-style bases with a va­ri­ety of non­stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

I’ve put my hands through the pock­ets of “dou­ble-Kevlarstitched” pock­ets, bro­ken the switches off “tac­ti­cal” weapon lights and trashed plenty of scopes that were sup­pos­edly “air­gun rated” be­cause they couldn’t han­dle the two-way re­coil of spring pis­ton air­guns.

I HAVE A DE­SERVED REP­U­TA­TION FOR BREAK­ING THINGS.

A Vor­tex Ra­zor HD Gen II 1-6x24 in a Vor­tex Can­tilever mount. This com­bi­na­tion has never failed the au­thor.

I A Swarovski 8x20 Pocket Binoc­u­lar and Stream­light

TLR-2. Th­ese old friends travel with the au­thor a lot.

The au­thor’s trusted daily carry com­pan­ions:

a Glock 19 with a Crim­son Trace Laser­grip

and Light­guard, along with a Sure­fire E2D LED

Many folks have bor­rowed this Tri­ji­con ACOG (TA31DOC) and Doc­ter from the “Ledin lend­ing li­brary.” Th­ese

are true work­horses.

The au­thor’s proof-tester (EOTech EXPS-3 on the Free­dom Arms model 83 .454 Ca­sull)

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