Concealed Carry & Home Defense

HOOBER: Guns And Bullets Are Over – The Future Is Lights And Optics

ShutterStock/Ambrosia Studios

Guns and Gear Contributor
Font Size:

By Sam Hoober

At a certain point, the limits of a mechanical system are reached and there is no more improving them. The goal then becomes enhancing the capability of the user to employ them.

The Formula One cars of the 1950s aren’t radically different than the Formula One cars of today in certain ways. They’re still powered by internal combustion engines, they’re still lightweight single-seaters, they still have brakes and an open cockpit.

But today’s Formula One cars have kinetic energy recovery systems, advanced aerodynamics, and more electronic aids, monitors and regulatory systems than NASA used to send man to the moon.

Drivers still need to be capable of driving the car at its limits, but what a skilled driver can do in a modern F1 car is beyond what was physically possible for all but a few of the drivers of yesteryear.

The modern firearm is old tech.

The first magazine-fed semi-auto rifles hit the consumer market in 1905 (the Winchester Model 1905 and Remington Model 8 were the earliest examples) and little has changed about the AR-15 except barrel length and furniture compared to the original M16 and civilian Colt SP-1. It’s still the same gun; it just looks different.

The first striker-fired pistols were the FN/Colt Vest Pocket models, and those were on gun store shelves by 1908. HK had the bright notion of inventing a polymer frame, and Gaston Glock just had the bright idea of bringing the two things together.

Bullets, well, at a certain point there’s nothing left to do. The bonded rifle bullet was invented in the 40s (Bitterroot Bonded, CoreLokt and Nosler Partition being among the first) and eventually the pistol bullet makers eventually got the same idea.

There’s no improvements to be made in caliber or projectiles; it’s all been done. Maybe there’s some room left for propellants. More efficient powders that produce more pressure with fewer grains, but realistically that already exists. There might also be some sort of alloy that could supplant lead, but that’s about it.

The future, then, belongs to capability enhancements rather than the hardware itself. Guns, ammo and so on matter a whole lot less. Optics and lights are where the future belongs.

This year’s SHOT Show should be an indicator.

While there were new guns, there was nothing ground-breaking. Nothing more than new versions of the same old thing, minor improvements on already existing designs and mechanical systems.

The new Smith and Wesson CSX is interesting, but it’s just a double-stack version of a 9mm micro 1911. FN resurrected the Hi Power, kind of, and that’s something. Federal has announced .30 Super Carry, which does have some potential.

But one of the biggest news items was Holosun’s new pistol optics, which can be mounted directly to the Glock MOS slides. The two new optics, which will be available soon, includes a micro sight with an enclosed emitter which will mean enhanced durability.

Between Holosun’s 509 and EPS optics, as well as the Aimpoint ACRO, the issue of red dot fragility seems to be all but a moot point. Compatibility, since the Holosun EPS optics use the RMSc Shield footprint, is no longer a problem.

Red dots for rifles arguably were perfected with the Aimpoint CompM4 according to many people; the only thing left is for someone to come up with an optic just as rugged and long-lasting (in terms of battery life) for a lower price point.

The last frontier with rifle optics is for someone to produce a first focal plane 1-6X, 1-8X, or 1-10X optic that lacks egregious scope shadow at high magnification for $500 or less. At that point, the LVPO will be all but perfected.

Add shake-awake capability to an LVPO and we can call those done and dusted in terms of room for improvement, and frankly, those things are not far off.

And right now, the Primary Arms SFx 1-6X LVPO with an ACSS reticle goes for less than $300 without a mount. It has a Silver rating from the NTOA. It’s a second focal plane reticle (meaning the reticle gets larger as you zoom, so your holdovers change) but add shake-awake to the illumination and you’re practically there.

As far as lights; candela and lumen output seems to climb with every new higher-end light that’s released from the weapon light and flashlight manufacturers like Modlite and Cloud Defensive. Eventually that’s going to filter down to the lower-end of light makers, so we are soon to reach the days where the lower-end weapon lights are equivalent to the Streamlight TLR-1, already considered the budget duty light for a pistol.

Guns and bullets are over. Optics and lights are the future.

Are there any optics or lights or other gadgets that came out this year (or recently) that you think make a huge difference in capability? What are they? Anyone out there still rocking an old Weaver K4? Let us know in the comments.

Sam Hoober is a hunter and shooter based in the Inland Northwest.