Product Review: Essential AR accessories
By David Kenik
Publications Director, The Police Officer Safety Association
The CompML3 is a red dot sight designed for law enforcement and military duty in daylight and lowlight applications. Aimpoint products are favored on the street because of their solid reputation for durability built in military.
With no magnification and a single red dot as an aiming point, red dot sights allow for very fast target acquisition because you don't need to align rear and front sights and the true 1X magnification facilitates shooting with both eyes open. Regardless of where the red dot appears within the sight, the bullet will impact where the dot indicates. Because you don't need to center the dot in the optic, a proper cheek weld is not required, making red dot sights great for fast, close quarters sighting.
The difference between Aimpoint's law enforcement/military sights andtheir hunting/sporting versions is that the LE/mil sights are finished with an durable, milspec hard coat anodizing, they are guaranteed to 45 meters underwater compared to 5 meters, and they go through a more rigorous testing regiment ensuring their ruggedness for the demands of the street or military.
One 3-volt lithium battery and Aimpoint's Advanced Circuit Efficiency Technology (ACET) provides approx. 30,000 hours of operation on the brightest settings and 50,000 hours of operation on the lower settings. That's not a typo, yes, it's 30,000/50,000 hours on one battery! There are nine dot intensity levels available, selectable on a rotating dial. A choice of 2 or 4 MOA dots sizes are available (noninterchangeable) depending on model. Aimpoint also makes night vision compatible models as well. Operational temperatures are from -50 to 160 degrees F and it is submersible to 135 feet. The Comp ML3 measures 5.1 x2.2 inches and weights 7.8 ounces. A removable rubber cover is included and adds extra protection against impact damage.
On the range, I found the dot easy for my eye to pick up and sighting was fast — far faster than iron sights. Shooting with two eyes open was easy and still permitted highly accurate sighting making this an excellent tool for close quarters engagements. The model I tested, had the 2MOA dot which I think is the best choice for use with the 3XMag (see below.) If you do not have plans to use it with the magnifier, the larger dot of the 4MOA dot will be even easier for your eye to pick up. The CompML3's ruggedness, ease of use, and extensive battery life makes it a top choice for patrol rifle use.
Aimpoint Inc. www.aimpoint.com (877)-246-76468
Designed for fast up-close and personal contact, the operational weakness of red dot sights is their inability to perform well at distance. Aimpoint's 3Xmag changes all that. Placed in front of a red dot sight, the 3XMag, as the name implies, offers 300 percent magnification. While designed to work in tandem with Aimpoint's red dot sights, the 3XMag can actually work with any red dot sight. The additional magnification affords the patrol rifle mid range sniper capability. The optic measures 4.3 x 1.7 inches and weighs 7.1 ounces. Field of view is 7 degrees. Operational temperature range is -45 to +70 Celsius and it is submersible to 67 feet.
Aimpoint 3XMag on Sampson Manufacturing Quick Flip mount shown flipped to the side allowing for use of the Aimpoint red dot sight without magnification.
The 3XMag feel strong and durable in the hand. There are internal optic adjustments used to align the sighing through red dots sights of different heights, but other than that there are no user adjustments as the 3Xmag is just that, a magnifier. No moving parts means there is less chance of breakage.
Using it on the range I found that adding the magnification did not introduce any bothersome distortion. While the magnified image required sighting with one eye rather than both, the transition was easy and fast. The magnification does increase the perceived dot size but the target size is also increased so there is no visual change in the relationship of dot size to target size. The sharpness of the image through the 3XMag is certainly not as sharp as from a good quality scope, but the softer view does not hinder aiming at all. Aimpoint offers a quick-release twist mount for fast mounting and unmounting however, I don't like having to store and retrieve the magnifier. Not only is it time consuming, but requires you to have it stored on your person and reachable at all times. A far better alternative is a mount that allows the magnifer to remain on the rifle both during use and in stow. See below for information on the Sampson 3Xmag mount.
The ability to switch between 1X and 3X magnification dramatically increases the versatility and operational capabilities of any rifle while adding no operational disadvantages. If you use a red dot sight, the Aimpoint 3XMag is an essential ane welcome add-on.
Aimpoint Inc. www.aimpoint.com (877)-246-76468
Sampson 3XMag Quick Flip mount
Aimpoint's quick release twist mount for the 3XMag releases the optic entirely which means you need to carry it separately and mount it when needed. Sampson Manufacturing offers what I consider to be the best mounting system for the 3XMag — the Quick Flip mount. As the name implies, the mount holds the 3XMag on a hinged mechanism that quickly flips the optic 90 degrees off to the side when not needed. The spring powered design is actuated by a simple, easy to manipulate lever. To reset, simply rotate the 3XMag back down to the base and it snaps in to place just as easily as it was released. The Quick Flip is easily functioned with one hand and is available for both right-handed and left-handed operation. It works so well and so dramatically increases the operational usefulness of the 3XMag, it is hard to believe it that is not offered by Aimpoint as the standard mount.
Sampson Manufacturing Corp. www.samson-mfg.com (888) 665-4370
SureFire M900A light/foregrip
The SureFire M900A Vertical Foregrip integrates an illumination source, vertical grip, and remote switch all in a single, one-piece unit. The M900A attaches to the Picatinny rail interface under the handguard with a quick release ARMS throw-lever mount. Three 123A lithium batteries provide 125 lumens of output for 60 minutes with the MN10 xenon/halogen head assembly (included), or 225 lumens for 20 minutes with the MN11 ultra-high output lamp assembly(also included.) Two secondary low-output LEDs are also provided to offer a very small amount of light, useful for stealth navigation, nighttime breaching operations, etc.
There are five separate switches on the M900A: (1) two pressure-sensitive, momentary activation pads to control the main battle light — one on each side of the vertical grip for ambidextrous operation. (2) a constant-on switch behind the main lamp housing. (3) a system disable switch on the base of the vertical grip to lock the light in the off position for covert operations or to eliminate accidental light activation during storage, and (4) a third, smaller momentary switch at the rear top of the assembly to control the two low-output LEDs.
Two advantages set this light apart; 1. The integrated design eliminates external remote cables that can get snagged or broken. 2. It feels like it is very strong and build to last. Before you rush out and buy, there are a few caveats to be concerned with; The M900 is tall. The foregrip houses the batteries internally and the main control switch is located on it's bottom making the total height of the grip xxx. If you need the ability to lie flat on the ground in a sniper position, the height needs to be considered. On the other hand, the ARMS mount allows you to unmount the light very quickly.
Secondly, the pressure switches are very sensitive meaning that it does not take much pressure to activate them. To reduce accidental activation, it is essential that you to block the pressure pads with the supplied plates. I found that I needed to order additional blocking plates to cover additional areas of the pad to even further reduce the chance of unintended activation. If the height is not an issue, and it the pressure pads are properly fitted with blocking plates, the Surefire M900A makes an excellent illumination tool.
Surefire LLC. www.surefire.com (800)828-8809