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optics placement on short barreled rifles

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  • optics placement on short barreled rifles

    Fred, if you can answer I would appreciate it. I saw your YouTube video concerning sports vs combat gear. You stated you have an 11.5" rifle and you have an LPVO mounted to it. I understand that extra magnification gives you greater ability to make a medium range shot as well as better target ID. I run a red dot sight on my 11.5" for the weight reduction. I guess it all comes down to an individual's preference but I believe one's gear should be mission specific.... in other words if I am running an 11.5" rifle knowing that ballistics (as compared to a 16" barrel) is not that great for medium range then isn't it a better idea to run a lighter weight optic for maneuverability? wouldn't an 11.5" rifle be better suited for tight spaces hence the less weight and quickness would be the main concerns?

  • #2
    Fred Ruiz

    Tagging Fred for you.


    • #3
      plrodrig123, that’s a great question that comes up often. I feel that there is this perception that has been spread for years that says a short barreled rifle cannot shoot accurately at distance and are supposed to have a red dot 1x optic. I think some of it comes from shooters not having experience beyond their local shooting range parameters along with marketing photo campaigns along with peer group opinion. Just my opinion and perception. People have been programmed to want a visual balance of what looks visually pleasing. The smaller the rifle the smaller the optic because it looks ‘right’. I see comments on social media all the time about what looks good or cool over what is more functional to serve a specific purpose.

      There is no argument that a 16” barrel will yield a higher velocity than an 11.5” barrel shooting the same round which gives it further range. A quick web search on velocity vs. barrel length will bring up different charts. There is roughly a 250-350fps difference from 16” to 11.5” barrels depending on the round (which has its own set of variables). However, a short barreled rifle shouldn’t be discredited as a platform capable of medium range small arms engagements. I have taken a 10.5” to 500 yards with XM193 and a 10x scope. Not the most accurate round, but it was possible. I’ve also taken my 14.5” to 650 yards with Hornady 55gr. V-MAX and a 6x scope. Not really the most comparable experiences, but it is information uploaded to my brain space that changes the way I think about what is capable by the rifle, round, optic, and my physical ability as a shooter. Also remember that the optic doesn’t limit your rifle’s accuracy— it only limits your ability to see at distance to be more precise in your aiming. If you know your holds with a red dot then you can still achieve the same result as you would with a powered optic.

      If your purpose is to be compact and lightweight then your red dot is definitely lighter than many LVPO options on the market. There are some options out there though that are incredibly lightweight and still offer magnification. Something you can look into if you’re interested.

      When we talk about maneuverability we need to compare a few things: weight, length, and operator skill level. Weight—this is going to affect your start and stop of the platform. There is more weight to get into motion and more that must be stopped onto target. This can be mitigated through proper body positioning around the platform. Length—this is going to affect weight and also taps into your skill level. Longer length platforms will force more extreme or pronounced manipulations in confined space and the extended weight will change the balance and weight distribution. Skill level—this factor is the most significant and if you’ve developed it to a level of confident proficiency then in my opinion it negates all the other factors. Proper body positioning, understanding energy and momentum, and a subconscious awareness of the muzzle in reference to your body and environment are all things that matter in confined space. Less distance means less time so your reaction time and ability to quickly get on target are also very important.

      I’ve covered several points. Some that you mentioned and some you did not. The answer is not as straight forward as it may seem. It’s going to depend on what you prefer and what you’re capable of. First you need to have a base of data to make that determination.


      Are you proficient in high ready, low ready?

      Do you understand compressed manipulation techniques like under the armpit, over the shoulder, or outside arm and when to use it?

      If you have a heavier rifle platform are you able to start and stop it moving high, low, left, and right?

      Did you put it on a shot timer? Red dot vs. LVPO?

      What’s the parallax like?

      Is the glass tinted?

      Does your scope have enough clarity in low light conditions?

      are you running a rifle mounted light?

      How large is the eye box (LVPO)?

      What type of reticle and how does it affect your sight picture and target acquisition?

      Does it have a dot or does an entire crosshair illuminate?

      How much of the body of the optic is seen around the glass as you mount the rifle?

      Does it block your peripheral vision around the scope?

      Does enough light pass through the objective lens?

      Have you shot to distance with your red dot?

      Have you created a DOPE chart for your LVPO?

      Are you running a BDC? Have you tested to see where your holds are?

      What ammunition do you use?

      How accurate is it in your rifle?

      What’s your red dot holds at varying distances?

      Do you train for that?

      What’s your red dot battery life?

      Do you have to turn it on prior to usage?

      Is there auto-shut-off?

      How often do you train?

      Have you ever done confined space training? Movement? Manipulation?



      I could have simply answered your question by saying, “Yes, lighter weight is quicker, red dots are simple to use, and shorter is easier to manipulate in confined space.” No argument there.

      Ask instead, “Are there other configurations that I can achieve the same results while providing other capabilities?” My goal with this response was to provoke deeper thought.

      Hopefully I was still able to answer your questions and create a new perception for you when thinking about how to setup your rifle platform. For some maneuverability technique training, grab a full length broomstick and shoulder it while trying to clear through your house. You’ll learn pretty quickly with it when and how to break it down from your shoulder which will then make even an 18” rifle easy to maneuver.

      Personally, I think red dots are a fantastic tool, but LVPO technology has merged red dot and magnified optic capabilities into a single unit for the best of both worlds. Newer generations of LVPO prroducts are getting better and better. I’d suggest keeping a close eye on that market for new products come next Shot Show.

      (Note: I use the exact same platform you see in the video when training SOF, LE, or civilian.)
      My posts are for general educational and informational purposes only. What you do with this information is your responsibility. I encourage you to seek out professional instruction. Nothing replaces in-person training with a qualified professional to ensure you learn properly and train safely.


      • #4
        Fred has given you a lot to think about, all of which I agree you should consider. I would add that with the adaptability of the AR platform, you don't have to limit yourself to just one "do everything" gun, you can build one with a longer barrel and powered optics for more medium range encounters (I run a mini red dot at 12 o'clock on a fixed low power optic for this) and a light shorty with a red dot for closer work. Just be sure to keep all of your controls for lights and lasers and fore grips as common to both as possible so you can train the same for each. Besides, you need a reason to buy another gun............
        My posts are for general educational and informational purposes only. What you do with this information is your responsibility. I encourage you to seek out professional instruction. Nothing replaces in-person training with a qualified professional to ensure you learn properly and train safely.