If you’re running an AR15 or tactical carbine, you’re already utilizing one of the most versatile weapon platforms out there. The .556/.223 and the 7.62/.308 are extremely dynamic calibers optimized for mid to longer ranges. AR15’s specifically are so modular they can be configured for almost any type of shooting, whether that be defense or competition. But what if you want to set up your AR to fit almost any operation?
Enter the LPVO, or Low Powered Variable Optic. You’ve probably seen a ton of content referring to these types of optics, but what exactly are they? As their name implies, LPVO’s are riflescopes with a lower magnification range than a traditional hunting scope. They usually start at 1x and with high-end magnification of 4x, 6x, 8x, or even 10x. The 1-6x has become standard for LPVOs and is the most popular magnification range.
So why 1x? Doesn’t that feel silly in a scope? Don't underestimate the power and versatility of true 1x performance. While 1x might seem under-gunned when compared to your grandpa's traditional hunting scope, LPVOs are designed to give you a super wide field of view on 1x for quick acquisition shooting like a red dot. However, unlike the more “traditional” optical setups for tactical carbines (red dots, holographic sights red dots with a magnifier) an LPVO offers a much more versatile aiming solution. LPVO’s have more comprehensive reticles and the advantage of a magnification range. Combining this all into one lightweight optical system provides unmatched versatility for engaging up close shooting to more precision work which has made them such a popular choice for most professional end users. From door-kicking to engaging targets out to hundreds of yards, the LPVO has you covered.
LPVOs are extending far beyond their tactical niche as advanced reticle and optical designs have entered the market. Some people have adopted them for hunting especially in areas with thick cover where shots are somewhat limited, and quick target acquisition for fast shots is critical. The true 1x allows hunters to find their quarry fast and features like a first focal plane reticle ensure accurate holdovers at any range. Whether your hunting style calls for a fast-acting optic, or you want to level up the versatility of your favorite carbine, an LPVO might be exactly what you need. Heck, these optics just might replace some of granddad’s deer scopes!
What are the trade-offs?
There are a few trade-offs to be mindful of. It's unlikely LPVO's will ever truly match the feel of shooting with a red dot or holographic sight, because they must use a full optical system to deliver their true 1x image compared to the image being projected onto a plane of glass right in front of your eye. However, one advantage LPVO’s have over red dots are their reticle systems. An LPVO usually has a much more comprehensive reticle system for ranging targets and accurate hold overs. Conversely, red dots and holographic sights usually have very simple single dots, or reticles for close quarters shooting. LPVO’s can add more weight to your weapon system compared to a red dot or holographic sight and require a precision mount which can take up valuable rail space. In some cases, LPVO’s can be a little more difficult to use passively under night vision compared to a holographic sight or red dot sights. LPVO’s are truly the most versatile aiming system on a carbine. While you do sacrifice a bit of weight and feel, nothing can match the versatility and precision of an LPVO, which is many shooters and agencies are making them their standard optic.