I was chatting last week with a friend of mine about AR optics (Yes, I do talk about them. No, they are not my primary focus*). The discussion was around the utility of the low-power, variable power scopes on a defensive rifle. After all, I reasoned, the 1-4x and 1-6x variable power scope rules the roost in 3 Gun, a sport that requires quick transitions from targets that are right in front of you to shots that are 300 yards and beyond.
Sounds like something that would be useful to combat, doesn’t it? So why is the conventional wisdom still get either a 1x red dot/holographic like an Aimpoint or EO Tech, or a fixed-power 4x like an ACOG for a “fighting gun”? Why? Because you should use what the cops and the military uses, not what gamers use, that ‘s what they say. I mean, yes, gamers have used red optics on pistols for decades but red dot optics don’t belong on a fighting pistol, right? RIGHT?
Or you know, not.
The conversation turned interesting, though, when the subject of making self-defense shots at distance came up. Yes, having an optic on your gun that helps you reach out and touch someone at 300 yards might be useful, but will it get you into legal trouble if you do so?
He has a point. As I learned earlier this year, one of the principles behind a successful use of “self defense” in a legal situation is imminence: Is the threat I’m facing one that is happening right now, or is it a threat for sometime in the future? I can’t shoot someone because they say they’re going to shoot me a week from Tuesday, but that situation changes if that person is ten yards away from me and clearing leather.
So what, then, is the actual useful range of your long gun?
I’d say it depends: If you’re unlucky enough to have the Leprechaun Liberation Army marching down your street, Molotov cocktails in hand and shouting about how it’s time for the little people to rise up and overthrow the humans, then yeah, 50 yards might be a little close for your safety. If they take it one step further and those pesky little buggers have rifles to go with their flaming bottles of gasoline and are pointing said rifles at the general populace, then it might get rather sporty in my neighborhood for a moment or two **.
* Focus. Optics. Get it? Get it?
** As always, remember that I am an okapi in the Bronx Zoo, not a lawyer. I can give you advice on feeding schedules and where to poop in your compound, but not on when it’s ok to shoot someone.