What setup are you running that is as easy as a T2?
I have been beating the passive use drum for a while now as every day more people can see more of the EM spectrum and most people are far too wanton with the amount of energy the put out into the world (of every spectrum). I can run passive NOD drills at day time speed without changing anything about my shooting through a properly setup EoTech and also a T2 on the correct mount, although it certainly not my preference to use the Aimpoint, but I have not found any seamless solution to run an LPVO.
I have found two main methods. The first is running the right eye at a close focus so that it is a focused image looking through a LPVO but that starts to lose you the advantage of having both eyes looking through a NOD, the reticle can be harder to find on some designs like Razors, and I have found that if people don't have enough control over their eye dominance they develop headaches. The advantage to this is being able to effectively use the zoom and is my go to for distance work. This method still has noticeable light loss when looking through the tube but is still manageable.
My current favorite way for FISH is to completely close the right Tarsier which blocks enough light that the lowest power illum doesn't bloom too badly and opens your focal range enough to see the reticle clearly without adjusting your focus before hand. The major downside is you lose a lot of light which is already at a premium in certain passive situations and it ends up being a Bindon Aiming Concept kind of deal because of the light loss in the right eye from the tight aperture.
Both of these methods require the gun to be setup with the LPVO more forward than normal so that you can add enough distance differential between your daytime shooting stock position and your NOD stock shooting position. If you have found a better way to passively do business under NODs with an LPVO I would love to hear it.
I am running 31As. I did not mean the T1/T2 as an example of the easiest way to run passive. My preference for dedicated night gun is an EXPS on a .25” riser or HK upper receiver.
generally speaking I use the lowest illum setting and keep my NODs focused near infinity. You will have bloom to deal with but I am not necessarily looking for a precision shot or low percentage shot with passive and current LVPOs. Quality of your tube and if you are running a phokus style cap can all impact passive stuff.
My Sig Whiskey5 1-5x24 (Hellfire fiber optic reticle) has an IR brightness setting that I guess is designed for this? As you say, I cannot even imagine trying to shoot using NODs with one, and that's a scope that performs well with both eyes open.
There's no downside to more maximum magnification, BUT there's also no free lunches. You want a sub-$500 1-8x scope, it's unlikely that glass quality is going to keep up, nevermind the quality in other bits (looking at you, Strike Eagle 1-8x). Hell, it's only in the past couple years that we've even seen 1-6x/1-8x LPVOs below $1k that are worth buying. The one I'm really looking forward to is the Burris RT-8 DFP, which looks like it might fix the two big issues the XTR II 1.5-8x had (lack of true 1x and not-amazing glass).
This has been a good conversation, and I appreciate the discussion. My opinion is continuing to evolve as I continue to gain experience with LPVO's. Our department has recently finished a T&E of some LPVO's, but I have a personally owned Razor that I have been running for a couple of years now for patrol and SWAT. One of the most interesting things I have found with my own uses was that when I'm on the range I use 1 power all the time. On actual call outs I am very rarely on 1 power unless it's for an entry. We do the majority of our call outs in a rural setting, and often times in wooded areas. I find myself in the 1.5-3 magnification range all the time. That magnification really helps picking out threats that can be investigated further. For wooded movements, I'll run it on 1.5-2 all the time. If I become stationary then it really depends on the distance, but I will use more of the magnification.
In range uses I have really had a hard time with the reticles on these LPVO's. compared to, say an Eotech, with a 1 moa dot, the reticle on an LPVO really covers a lot more of the target. I had some hands on with the Steiner P4XI before, and thought that was the biggest annoyance about it for me, which led me to spring for the Razor. The Razor seemed to be pretty good in this regard, but I always wanted it a little better. If I was shooting a B8 at 100, say in one of Kyle Defoors drills, I could work around it by dialing up the magnification just a little bit to help refine my sight picture, but not too much, so I still have a more forgiving eye box.
I had one issue with my Razor, where the illumination just crapped out after a couple of months of use. Vortex did a good job of remedying it. I called them on a Monday, and I had it back by that same Thursday, good to go. I really appreciate that kind of service, but I was surprised I needed it on that expensive of an optic.
I've really come to llike the Razor, but in the T&E I was pretty confident that the Kahles would be a bit better. It was lighter, with a wider field of view, and the reticle seemed thinner to me. When I played around with it for a few months, I found that for my applications, it really didn't work that well. It was fantastic on 1 power, but I did not prefer the illumination on it when compared to the Razor. The Kahles had a lot of bleeding of the illumination into the rest of the reticle. It also did not seem to get as bright, and seemed like it didn't reflect the light back as well. If you moved your head around behind the glass, the intensity of the illumination would change a lot. The Razor seemed really consistent, and I liked the adjustments. I also just never fell in love with any of the Kahles reticles. We tried the G4B, SM1 and 3gr. In darkness you would lose the reticle almost completely, so you would have to rely on the illumination 100%. With the Razor, at least you had the reticle as a backup. Oh, and on that, the Kahles had an auto-shutoff feature after so many hours. I was nervous about those nighttime callouts, because if you lose your reticle and then your illumination shuts off on its own, you are in trouble.
Finally, what I found most troubling was that the more magnification you used, the less I liked it. There seemed to be something up with the parallax. It wasn't just one scope either, it was all 3 of them we tested. I really struggled to shoot groups with the Kahles even at 50 yards on 6 power, when I could grab the Razor, and drill the x in a B8 for 5 rounds. Our testing group ended up all concluding that the Kahles was much harder to shoot when using the magnification.
For my uses on callouts, using a little bit of magnification, it seemed that the Razor would be much better. I hadn't really considered first focal plane or 1-8's as I thought they were too expensive, and had too many other issues. We did get a Nightforce NX8 and ATACR 1-8 to test as well, and I just did not like the NX8. The glass was not nearly as good as the Kahles, Razor, or the ATACR. It had a narrow field of view, and the eye box was small. I also thought the illuminated part of the reticle was pretty thick. I used it to clear a structure and found it frustrating compared to my Razor.
The ATACR on the other hand was very nice. I thought that even though it had a smaller field of view, on 1 power, the reticle was so fine and small that it really seemed like you could actually see more around it. If i didn't read it on paper, or actually look for it, I wouldn't have known that the field of view was smaller. I found it very usable, and it also had a very flat image, with little distortion or fish eye. There was some of that with the Razor. As far as how much of the target the reticle covered, I actually preferred the 1st focal plane reticle on the ATACR to the 2nd focal plane scopes. It was so fine that it really made it easy to use, but the illumination was also great on the Nightforce. One other thing about the ATACR was that it had 2 night vision settings. I tried them with my PVS-14's and thought they worked good. That was not an option with the NX8, K16i, or the Razor. At least, not for any kind of refined sight picture.
Then I took Ridgeline Defenses Scoped carbine course and found out how difficult it was to do the things they had us doing with a Razor. I ran the first day with my Razor and ended up running the second day of the class with the ATACR 1-8. That thing blew my mind. I would highly recommend Ridgeline's class and seeing what they have to say about setting up and shooting a carbine.
After taking that class and reflecting on my own uses with an LPVO as a rural patrol cop and on SWAT, I have to say I am saving for an ATACR. I do think that 8 power on the top is better for use at distance, and definitely if you are doing any kind of rapid engagement technique like we were shown at Ridgeline to figure out in your scope if a target is beyond your point blank zero, having 30% more magnification and that much more reticle does help. It really helps to define where that max distance is (is that target 250 yards, or 400). It seems to me that the shortcomings of a good 1-8 LPVO can be overcome with training.
I also think that since on callouts, I'm always using some magnification, that an offset red dot is somewhere in my future. If I'm doing an entry, I can run my magnification on 1 power so I can have everything as I want, for transitioning shoulders, and just having a normal cheek weld and gun handling, but when I'm outside, and I want little magnification, I can use my scope, but if I need to transition suddenly, an offset red dot would be nice. It also would help with a gas mask and passive NOD's use. We do have lasers, so maybe it's a non-issue, but it's worth playing around with.
Moving forward I can't say that the Nightforce ATACR is perfect, or that it's the best, but it is where I'm moving to next from the Razor. I also think that if I did stay with a 1-6, I would definitely want something with a mils based reticle, like Vortex's VMR-2. I may even consider the Leupold Mark 6 1-6. I also have been using a 1.93" height mount on my Razor, and it works good, but I don't think I will stay with it in the future. When using a little magnification I think the head position is important enough to just stick with a standard height mount. Oh, and most of the shootings I've been involved in have been from an improvised position, so that whole building a good shooting position thing has proven to be important for me and having consistent head position is crucial.
I also think that I will be saving for a nice 14.5-16" upper with something like the Mark 5 3.6-18 or an ATACR 4-16 and an offset dot to keep in my pack or in my car. That would round out my carbine capabilities nicely. A 1-8 and offset dot for my patrol rifle, and the ability to drop more magnification and barrel length on for those surveillance missions, or with more standoff.
1: When I talked to a few people from Kahles/Swarovski about it I was told that it was for your holdovers for CQB distances. I couldn't get used to it, nor could the other guys testing it. Maybe I could have with time, but in the limited amount of time I had with it, I didn't like it. It was the parallax issue that was the deal breaker for us though.
2: That's harder for me to judge. I haven't used the ATACR on 1 power at 100 on smaller targets, like a B8 bull to get a great opinion for that (only shot these targets with magnification). We've got snow up here now, so maybe I'll have to take it out and try that when I get my range cleared out and can get out to shoot. I do like the Vortex reticle, but I also don't mind the ATACR's either. For inside of 35 I'm holding over some, so I use the illuminated area as more of a reference than the point of aim, and I find it to be fine. The 1st focal plane seems to make the reticle slightly easier to make precise shots when holding over, but still gives you the vertical line as a reference. I have found, in simmunitions and real world, that having the vertical lines in the reticle are great for hostage type shots in close, or at least limited exposure type targets. You can hold over with the illuminated dot and use the lines to cut right up to the non-shoot target if needed. helps too if you have to cant the gun for any reason. So, yes, I do like the ATACR for that, it is a finer aiming point, but the Razor wasn't bad either.
I'm not sure if the ATACR reticle will play out to be my favorite or not. I can see that the illuminated area of the ATACR being kind of coarse as well, but you also don't have the coarse horizontal lines intersecting in the middle like you do with the Vortex, which increases the perceived thickness. I also wonder if on 8 power, if the ATACR is too busy. It's such an interesting design because it is JUST usable for milling targets and I want all of the reticle, but having a more precise reticle with more magnification and better subtensions would make it easier for that. For observation there is a lot of reticle there to get in the way. It's usable, but not perfect. I guess that's why, for something to grab and go into a situation on patrol, the 1-8 really seems to fit the bill for all around use, but if I have time, and can tailor my gear to fit the mission better, than I may throw that other upper on with more magnification and a better reticle for certain situations. I guess my opinion is that I'm still searching for the perfect solution.
3: As far as the offset dot. I don't have much actual hands on experience with one, but our operations are a lot of barricades, so we are stationary in an observation type role. We've had several shootings where the operator was glassing the house and the dude charged the perimeter, or was never in the house to begin with, and tried to sneak up on the perimeter dudes to ambush them. If that type of ambush happened, trying to dial back to 1 power while possibly changing positions, before shooting may be harder and slower than picking him up in your red dot and going that route. Plus shooting in a gas mask is a pain. The laser works good, but it would be nice to have a red dot mounted on the scope tube, so you could get behind it with something between your cheek and your stock. I would still use 1 power on the scope for lots of things, but as mentioned above, if I'm not using the scope on 1 power, and I need 1 power, it may be easier to leave the scope and go to the dot. For CQB type stuff, and unorthodox shooting positions, the 1 power on the scope is going to be preferable. Worst case scenario, I'll just take the offset dot off I don't like it.
This is part of the reason I don't like throw levers either. They work great on the range, but with kit on, on calls, I have found it to rub on gear and knock my scope off of the magnification I had it set on occasionally. Usually more of a problem when I'm doing CQB and want 1 power. I have found I prefer to leave it slick, so that when I get behind my rifle, it is where I left it. If I need magnification, usually I have enough time to crank it on, and even without a throw lever, I can put it on pretty quick. It's when I don't want it, and the problem is in your face that I don't have time to take it off, and more fumbling happens trying to get it off.
Obviously your mileage may vary, and I know there are differing opinions. This is just the direction I am going based on my own experiences and mission and I thought it could be helpful. I used to fully subscribe to no offset dot when you have a 1 power scope, but training at Ridgeline and some personal mission reflections have led me to consider it again. Same with the 1-8. I thought that there wasn't enough of an advantage of a 1-8 to warrant the cost over a 1-6, but then I had my eyes opened. In the same vein as some of the other posters have stated, a 1-24 (or whatever) with a good reticle would definitely have some value when it gets here in the distant future.
@Mr Hardy yeah parallax is fixed distance on LVPOs and the distance they fix it at will determine where or if you have issues. The Vortex is an optic optimized for 1x use that can occasionally go up to 6x. Kahles scopes, I believe have a fixed parallax at 100yds or so, so they have a bit of a handy cap on the close range precision game. Both use different technology to illuminate the reticle so that is what it is.
Given your limited job description I would say that a ffp 1-8x is probably a better choice for what you do. And that a PD officer may be better with the vortex. LVPO magnification ranges cover 2 different types of optics, a precision optic that can do close range and close range optic that can do distance. And what you do, or what your instructors did, will bias what they prefer, need, or recommend.
my heavy gas gun gets a FFP 1-8x, my rural ops gun gets a SFP 1-5/6x, and my entry rifle gets an aimpoint or EOTech. And how I run each depends on the terrain.
For cattails I use them as an index point for measured half magnification so that in the event I need to I can drop to half mag and still have usable mils in the reticle.doing that also keeps the cat tail off my kit in most cases (I am a lefty).
You may also look at 1.7” mount height, it is solid for good cheek welds, easy in the prone, and still clears most of the viewing area on 1x of lasers and such. I will probably end up dumping my 1.93 mount for a 1.7 over the winter.