The Benefits of an LPVO on your AR or Carbine

Low Power Variable Optics offer a lot of benefits. Among other things, they’re great for close-quarters work while remaining versatile enough to reach out to longer distances. They’re also compact enough to not add too much bulk to your rifle. But what else can an LPVO do for you? Kyle Defoor of Tactical-Life has some answers as he goes over the pros of using an LPVO on your AR-platform rifle or carbine in the educational video below.

Kyle Defoor discussing the benefits of using an LPVO on AR or carbine
Kyle Defoor talks LPVOs in this educational video. (Photo Credit: Tactical-Life)

The LPVO Low Down

LPVOs aren’t only for close-quarters combat or home defense scenarios. They work from close-range to mid-range distances and can do everything from home defense to hunting to range time. One big plus of using an LPVO instead of only a red dot sight (RDS) is positive target identification. With an LPVO you can see your target clearly enough to know what it is at significantly greater distances than is possible with an RDS. And, as we mentioned before, they tend to be smaller and lighter weight so they aren’t going to weigh down your AR as much as bigger optics do.

SwampFox Arrowhead LPVO
The SwampFox Arrowhead LPVO is an affordably-priced option that outperforms its price point. (Photo Credit: SwampFox)

Why MIL?

MIL stands for milliradian and 1 MIL is equal to 3.6 inches at 100 yards; one click on a MIL turret is typically, but not always, equal to one-tenth of 1 MIL.

Kyle explains in detail why he prefers MIL-based LPVOs:

I am really big on having both a MIL-based reticle and a MIL-based turret. I came into the military in the mid-90s, I went to sniper school in the mid-90s, where at the time we were running a MIL-based reticle but we had an MOA turret and…in the business, we refer to that as ‘staying American’…we like inches and we like…everything to be that imperial system. It is drastically easier to have a MIL reticle and a MIL turret.

In fact, what I did today with these guys is we confirmed zero and I came from the deep South before I get here, so I was at 95 degrees and about 90 percent humidity two days ago when I last shot this gun. So I knew the zero was going to be off, based just on humidity alone and I zeroed my entire gun without going down-range.

I took five shots, I put my crosshairs where I was aiming, I saw where my group hit, and I’d look at my reticle — because it’s a MIL-based reticle — so…if it’s 1 MIL low…all I’ve got to do is dial up 1 MIL on my turret and it’s zeroed.”

Education Central

In the Tactical-Life video below, Kyle Defoor goes into detail about how Second Focal Plane (SFP) optics work versus First Focal Plane (FFP) optics and more:


So what’s the bottom line on LPVO’s?

If you have an AR rifle or carbine you intend to use for up-close work, consider an LPVO. There is a multitude of options on the market from a wide variety of companies with different magnification. Even the housing of the optics can be just about any color.

If you don’t like MIL, you can find them easily with MOA reticles. There’s an Low Power Variable Optic out there that’s perfect for you and your favorite AR. In the meantime, check out the video from Tactical-Life and learn a thing or two about how these optics work. It’s always good to be a well-educated gun owner.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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