I know I was pretty hard on optics in the last post but despite that, I do hope to review a good handful of optics on Eight Pound Ops. If you still imagine yourself holding a fort against waves of 50 enemies at a time with a beam of golden light shining down on your secret weapon, an optic, without which you'd be finished for sure, then at least read this post so your hard earned money doesn't go to waste when you buy one.
|Same 42mm Red Dot Sight as Mine|
I'll tell you what I've found to be a good buy right now, then move on to what specific sort of sights to avoid. What's good? Red dot sights. Simple, short, tube like in appearance, red dot sights. Consumer level ones can be purchased for much less than 50$, are as aesthetically appealing as any other sight, and if the glass shatters they still make a good optic and here's why. They have no magnification to begin with so nothing is lost when the glass breaks on either end. Your paintballs will almost never hit exactly where the red dot sits in the middle of the sight since even the best barrel bore to paint bore match only gets at best a one and a half foot diameter spread of hits on a target at about 50 feet away so losing the dot itself is no major loss either. A broke down, destroyed, red dot can essentially be turned into a glorified iron site and function just as well as when it was new. If you can line a target up in the tube then you're likely going to be able to tag them with a 3 shot burst. On those days where I do think I might want to use my red dot, I don't actually ever turn it on because I know paintball guns aren't accurate enough to hit where the dot indicates but will hit in same the ball park area. Aside from why they're nice, what can I suggest you do when looking for one? Go for ones that are large, about 40-50mm lense size because the smaller the sight, the trickier it is to look down with a paintball mask on. And just because you don't need the red dot to last, doesn't mean you don't want it to right? Looking for ones that are rubber-armored isn't a bad idea either.
So what sights should be avoided in paintball?
|Big 'Ol 50mm Scope|
First thing's first, don't buy a rifle scope. I know I own one but again, it was 20$ and for pictures only, I don't actually play with the thing on my marker. There are a host of reasons not to get a rifle scope in particular, the first being the size and weight. Scopes are the largest optics out there and come with a weight appropriate for their size. Second is the size of the objective, the part you look down, this is usually small on rifle scopes, 1.5 to 3 cm wide depending on the model and when you have a paintball mask on, a large objective is easier to line up and look down than a small one. Third, you don't need magnification in paintball, you'll never be able to make a shot with a paintball from so far away that you'd need 10x zoom. Lastly is locating and focusing on your target; extreme zoom narrows your field of vision quite a bit and if you don't pay close attention to this you will be sacrificing your peripherals entirely and not every target that sits down your site if crystal clear, your eyes may need a moment to adjust to bring them into focus.
|ELCAN Heavy Duty Infantry Scope|
For most of the same reasons I don't recommend scopes, I also don't recommend Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights (see first picture in last post for an example of an ACOG) and I really wish the case was different with these. They are smaller and lighter than scopes, almost on par in weight and size as red dots, and they have just a little bit of magnification from 1-4x which I actually kinda like! They often come with illuminated reticles whose brightness and even color can be adjusted in some cases and some of them look pretty slick on a paintball marker But while hunting around for some last year I found the good consumer level ones to all be 100$ or more and still have the problem of a small objective lens to look down, the problem with those again being not easy to look down with a paintball mask on. I've tried every type of sight in this post except for an ACOG in game though, so I'm pulling from previous experiences with similar optics and a little “theory,” but I still want to give them a fair chance so I may review a particular one if an opportunity arises some day. Other ACOG-like optics, like the two Elcan replica's, the Heavy Duty Infantry Scope and SPECTERDR available on Milsig.ca are on the wishlist to scrutinize as well and given their price tags, I have a feeling they might turn out to be solid options.
|Reflex Sights, Quite an Exposed Piece of Glass|
Lastly, I'd also recommend avoiding consumer level reticle/reflex sights and holosights too. If you buy the real things for 500$ then you avoid the two problems associated with them that I'll bring up here but most people won't so here's what you need to know. For one thing, the sub 100$ consumer versions aren't bright enough. I've tried both kinds and in broad daylight you can't see the dots in them very well in either red or green. In the shade it's visible, indoors it's visible, but natural light on a bright day overpowers the light of the reticle. Hoods are available for purchase to remedy this and holosights powered by 2 AA batteries are significantly brighter than those powered by watch batteries but then comes problem #2. These sights are exposed on all sides so any shot from anywhere can take them out, not just one's from head on. There's a pretty good collar on the holosight which prevents this but reticle sights are very prone to being taken out this way. Negativity aside, if you have a bright enough dot in the middle then these are good sites. They have no magnification and you can scan around and snap your eyes back to the site with your weapon at the ready with ease, no having to close one eye or focus to clearly make out your target.