When Colt recently asked me to review their 16-inch “monolithic” 5.56mm carbine, I decided to also take a fresh look at patrol rifle optics. When I published my “Police Rifles” book in 1994, the options available in both sighting and mounting systems for AR rifles were quite limited. My first patrol rifle in 1985, an original Colt AR15, was fitted at various times with either a Colt 3x dedicated scope or a Bushnell 3-9x scope in a specially modified B-Square mount.
The carrying handle was permanent in those days, requiring a very high cheek weld to line up your eye with the optics. The Colt 3x scope had a fairly reliable return-to-zero mount on the carry handle, but the optical quality didn’t impress me. So, I had a machinist re-work a B-Square mounting system so I could mount/dismount a one-inch scope without tools and it also returned to zero well enough. Most of the times I actually pointed the rifle at human targets, I ended up being so close even a 3x optic was too much magnification, so I took to carrying the optical sight in a briefcase to be mounted when needed. Because of that experience, I have always strongly recommended that any optics you mount on a patrol rifle MUST be dismountable without tools and should return to zero when remounted — again, without tools.
One of the nicest rigs I’ve found so far is the AimPoint PRO, which stands for — appropriately enough — Patrol Rifle Optic. Weighing in at about 11 ounces, complete with mount, the PRO exudes a feeling of solid strength without being cumbersome. The PRO includes AimPoint’s latest battery management technology, allowing the 2 M.O.A. red dot to be left on a low setting for... years! I would plan on replacing the battery every couple of years, just to be safe, but pulling out a patrol rifle with a dead illuminated sight is a thing of the past.
The best feature of the PRO is the tension-locking mount system that fits any mil-spec picatinny rail. After the sight is set in place on the rail, you simply turn the big, knurled knob until the torque setting clicks over three times to return the sight to zero. I marked my rail with a pencil to make sure the sight went back in the same groove each time and it kept throwing rounds into the same group at 100 yards, no matter how many times it was dismounted and remounted.
The PRO system comes out of the box ready to mount and zero on any patrol rifle with an A4/Picatinny rail flat-top receiver — I’ve never seen a more user-friendly optic. It even comes with pop-open front and rear covers to protect the lenses. The rear cover is transparent, so if you need to engage a target before you have time to pop the caps, just keep both eyes open and the red dot will appear in your field of vision as it would with any “occluded eye” sighting system. The PRO comes set up to give an absolute co-witness with your iron sights, putting the red dot at the tip of your front sight.
With an MSRP of $440, the AimPoint PRO is one of the best optics deals I’ve found.