(If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE)
TheBangSwitch – The initial evaluation phase started off with a couple of hiccups. The range we were going to use was a giant mud puddle so we had to relocate to a different one, delaying the start. But on the up side, I ended up gaining one more evaluator because one of the guys brought along this brother, who is also a cop, and happens to be a knowledgeable, experienced gun guy to boot. Weather was a very comfortable temperature in the mid-60’s and the sky was partly cloudy. Other than the soggy, wet ground, it was a great day to be at the range.
Another unfortunate thing happened and that is we ran out of time and were thus unable to get to the durability testing portion, however this has turned out to be a positive thing. While I was initially disappointed, that actually will allow me to do more in depth durability testing than was originally planned, and on a smaller field of optics. Rather than testing all of the optics in this large group, in the interest of saving myself time and money, I will just test the top four ranked optics. That durability testing will be made available shortly as Part 3 of this evaluation.
The Evaluation Process
Once the targets were hung, range safety rules reviewed and everyone was ready, each evaluator grabbed a rifle and an optic off the table and took it to their station at the 50 yard line. Each evaluator installed that optic and zeroed it for that gun. Once the optic was zeroed, it would stay on that rifle for the duration of the testing. The majority of the rifles used were AR’s, but also used were a Tavor, an AK, a GSG-5 (.22LR) and a dedicated .22LR AR. Since not all of the shooters were familiar with some of the other rifles being used, the zeroing process took a little longer than expected but was still done in a reasonable amount of time.
Once the rifles were zeroed, we moved all of the guns, ammo and other supplies forward to another table and the remainder of the shooting was done while standing at the 20 yard line. Shooters would grab a gun from the table and were free to fire at will, and allowed as much ammo as they felt necessary to get a feel for the optic. Once they felt they had enough to go on, they would bench the gun and complete the evaluation form for that optic before moving on to the next.
Once the evaluator was done shooting all of the different guns and had completed an evaluation for each of the optics, he was given a Shooter’s Choice form. That form listed all the optics and all the evaluator had to do was select his choice for the winner.
Later, all of the evaluation forms would be compiled with the individual scores for each category averaged to provide a single score per category per optic. Then, all of those scores would be added up giving us a total point value for that optic. Two of the categories evaluated were not given point values because they only were applicable to a few of the optics. The maximum total score is 75. I did this in an effort to be as scientific and impartial as possible. The results of a few of these optics surprised me, and went against my personal opinion, but the results are the results.
But before we delve into this, I need to note a few things that may or may not have affected the scores on the evaluations of a few of these optics.
– The Bushnell TRS-25 used in this test belongs to one of the evaluators and it was already installed and zeroed before we began. The Bushnell does not come with a riser, which is necessary for use on an AR and needs to be purchased separately, a fact that none of the evaluators knew and thus did not account for.
– The Tavor used in this testing (my personal gun) was initially having some function issues that I was not made aware of. A quick check revealed it was ammo related. I was trying to use up some very old Wolf, steel cased 55gr hollow point ammo (dated 2003) before moving on to my better ammo. That old Wolf ammo was too weak to fully cycle the bolt and it would not pick up the next round in the magazine. A quick mag swap to better ammo solved the problem.
– The Vortex Strikefire being tested decided to be finicky when it got to the range. Prior to this testing, it functioned perfectly at my home. BUT, at the range, it initially would not even power up. After removing the battery twice, and pressing the various buttons about 100 times, it finally started working. However, intermittently throughout the testing process, the buttons would cease to function and then a short while later, would function properly. Since this optic has a lifetime warranty, it is being replaced at no charge by Vortex, but unfortunately the malfunctions experienced very negatively affected its scores.
The Short Answer
Since I know how most people are, myself included, if I list the winner last, you are just going to skip to the end to peek so let’s just get it out of the way right now. There is a slight problem though, because we have two (2) winners. On sheer numbers totaled from the evaluation forms, the Bushnell TRS-25 is the winner, but the winner as chosen by 4 of the 8 evaluators was the Primary Arms MD-06L, with the other 4 votes being the singular vote for 4 of the other optics. That said, on pure numbers alone, they were very close in scores as can be seen in the attached final scores table, with only 1.6 points separating the top two optics.
The Long Answer
Now that we got that whole “which one won?” out thing of the way, let’s take a look at each optic and talk about a few of the strengths and weaknesses. I’m going to go from last to first place by evaluation score totals.
Click Here for Scorecards and The Fine Details