The patrol rifle has become an invaluable tool in police departments nationwide. Whether it’s being used on entry to stop the carnage of an active shooter or on the perimeter of an armed barricaded situation, there is no doubt that the patrol rifle is a game changer.
The patrol rifle is constantly evolving, albeit sometimes slowly. When most patrol rifle programs began around the early 2000s, iron sights were the standard. As technology progressed, we began to see smaller red dot sights being used on patrol rifles.
Now some agencies have progressed so far that a properly functioning red dot sight is absolutely necessary to be deployed on the street. The next step in progression is the low power variable optic (LPVO).
The LPVO is a sighting system that ranges in magnification, usually 1-4 power or 1-6 power and has some sort of illuminated reticle. The purpose of this type of optic is to give the operator a sight that can be used at CQB distance to medium ranges around 400-500 yards.
A couple of years ago, Vortex released a LPVO that truly is a CQB to medium range optic with its Viper PST GEN II 1-6×24.
Why the Viper LPVO is a viable option for CQB distances
First and foremost is the daylight bright red dot in the middle of the reticle.
When shooting any type of red dot optic, it is important to keep both eyes open. With both eyes open, the shooter should pick an aiming point where they want the red dot to go. They should then drive the rifle to that point, which in turn will bring the red dot to their eyes.
The Viper LPVO set on the brightest setting and on 1 power is incredibly fast to get on target. I found the key to using this optic is to treat it like a red dot, both eyes open and don’t steer the rifle through the tube of the scope.
It took some time to get used to using this scope at CQB distances. What would be considered a “scope shadow” would lead me to focus into the optic to get that perfect scope clarity and would lead me to be slow on target. Then I remembered a demonstration done at training. The instructor put a piece of tape over the objective lens of a LPVO. He then told me to keep both eyes open and bring the rifle and sight up to my eyes. To my surprise the red dot, although completely blacked out with the tape, was superimposed on the target because I had both eyes open.
Once I realized that as long as I treated the Viper optic like a true red dot and keep both eyes open, I was able to get accurate hits on target at speed.
Glass clarity and engineering
The other advantage the Viper brings to the table is the glass clarity and the engineering of the scope. This optic is bright and true to the magnification levels. The optic offers a true 1 power with no distortion. I’ve had the opportunity to use other more expensive LPVO’s and at 1 power the target actually appears farther away. The other levels of magnification are great for precise shots in the 25 yard to 100 yard range and also to engage out to 400 yard range with a .223 caliber patrol rifle.
Yes, this optic gives the patrol rifle operator the ability to hit a target at 400 yards but the frequency of having to take a shot at this distance is pretty low.
However, think about how far away officers set up from a home or structure on a barricaded subject. That can be anywhere from 10 to 50 yards depending on location (rural, suburban, urban). Having a greater magnification range not only gives the patrol rifle operator the ability to deliver precise shots but also allows them to gather necessary information to take that shot. For example, is the individual coming out of the structure pulling a cell phone or a weapon from their waistband? That extra magnification can assist with identifying possible threats.
When clearing big structures like warehouses, schools, large retail stores, there are distances that can easily be over 100 yards. I was recently in a giant office building that was over 200 yards from one side of the building to the other. Again, having that greater magnification can aid in possible threat identification and allow for a more precise shot at these distances should a lethal threat present itself.
Weight, range of magnification issues
The only drawbacks I have found with LPVOs in general involve weight and the range of magnification. The LPVO is usually heavier than the smaller traditional red dot sight but not to a point where it makes it slower to bring the rifle on target. As far as magnification levels, in a perfect world I would rather see a 1 power, 3 power and 6 power and limit the amount of rotation when dialing magnification. With the Viper in particular, adding a throw lever definitely aids in quick magnification changes and I would highly recommend adding it.
The Vortex Viper Gen II 1-6 is definitely an evolution in technology and also an advantage for patrol rifle operators. In law enforcement, 100% target ID is a must. Officers are accountable for every round fired. The Vortex Viper aids in accuracy and intel gathering for decision-making.
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