Ray Garner extols the virtues of the Aimpoint Micro H-2 – a mini red-dot sight that helps him shoot accurately, despite offering no magnification
Just a short way north of the 55th parallel, in the province of Scania, sits the Swedish town of Malmo. From this quiet land comes a story of quality and invention beginning more than 40 years ago, with the making of a sighting system for firearms.
It was in this place, in 1975, that Aimpoint let loose the Electronic: a small-arms sight that would seed a long line of red-dot sights, which to date totals more than two million in sales across the world.
Red-dot reflex sights are not so new, however. They originated at the turn of the last century, and were used extensively in the Second World War in weapons systems on fighter and bomber aircraft. What Aimpoint did was to work the idea of an internally projected dot to provide an aiming mark within an enclosed, compact, rugged and waterproof casing in the form of a Micro Reflex Sight (MRS). The Electronic was discontinued in 1979, to be replaced by others in the Aimpoint range, culminating in the current H and T series of MRS sights. Aimpoints increasingly found their way onto sporting rifles, and especially those of shooters engaged in hunting wild boar, elk and the like, who required an all-weather optical sight lying somewhere between a full-on scope and open sights. But as we shall see, they can be put to good use on airguns too.
My own interest in MRS sights began a few years back when I needed an optic to fit onto a lightweight sporting air rifle. Initially I had intended to fit a high-quality, low-magnification telescopic sight, so as not to spoil the fine lines of my rifle. As the rifle would be carried in the field, I also required that the sight was lightweight. As any infantryman will tell you, when you have to carry everything, everything is heavy! Not too long ago many of the world’s best in the field of optics made very elegant and compact telescopic sights. Schmidt and Bender offered a 2.5×22, built on a 26mm steel tube; Hertel and Rheus (Nickel) had its Supra models, and Pecar of Berlin made excellent small scopes. Pecar went out of business a few years back, and unfortunately S+B and Nickel no longer make truly small telescopic sights.
For this particular project I had no interest in a large, heavy sight, and my rifle did not come fitted with open sights. Still, I wasn’t completely sure about an MRS as I come from a generation with a mistrust of anything with a battery in it; rarely did my Christmas toys last much past New Year. My own criteria, then, had nicely backed me into a corner regarding my options, and my fear of batteries was about to be cured. My H-2 arrived through the post in a small cardboard box, together with flip-up lens covers, instructions and a lens cloth. It is not until the sight is removed from the box that the compactness and trifling weight are fully appreciated: it is a jewel of a sight, no bigger than most match dioptres, and weighing only 3.3oz (94g), a true micro wonderment. The casing is beautifully machined from aluminium, and has a non-glare black finish of very fine quality. If you don’t like the matt black finish or, if you like it so much that you want to preserve it, US company Tango Down makes an excellent rubber cover for the T and H series Aimpoints. I had one shipped from the States for about £40.
Just A Minute
The H-2 may be ordered with either a two minute of angle (MOA) dot, or a four MOA dot; mine is two MOA. For those not familiar with MOA, one minute of angle covers roughly one inch of the target at a range of 100 yards. At 30 yards, a two minute dot covers 0.6 inches of the target. At just over half an inch, this dot provides enough aiming fidelity for sensible mid-range air rifle use, and when attached to any accurate rifle, will reliably enable sub-half-inch groups at 30 yards distance.
Mounting The H-2
Being primarily a military sight, out of the box it comes with a base for the increasingly ubiquitous Picatinny rail. This is very easily changed however, and where 11mm dovetail mounting is required, Aimpoint can supply the correct base. Ernst Apel also makes an 11mm base for the H-2. Both manufacturers’ bases attach to the rifle with a single screw. Aimpoint’s base uses a Torx screw, and a Torx driver is supplied with the sight. German company Recknagel also makes an 11mm base for the H-2 of outstanding quality. This attaches in the same way, but has a very neat built-in lever which is used to tighten the single clamping screw onto the dovetail rail.
Eye relief is not an issue with an MRS, which means it can be mounted just about anywhere fore and aft. I prefer to mount mine well to the rear of the rifle, but it really doesn’t matter. Nor is parallax a problem – the H-2 is free of parallax error at all ranges. Point of impact adjustment with the H-2 is performed in the usual way, with elevation and windage screws on the top and side of the sight body.
Aimpoint provides a simple, pocket-sized tool for this purpose, featuring two tiny metal pins which engage with the adjusters. Alternatively, if you don’t want to carry Aimpoint’s tool into the field, the elevation adjuster cap can be removed and used to turn the adjusters. All very neat and cleverly thought out.
Also on the side is the dot intensity dial, by which the brightness of the dot is set according to the lighting environment. This control has 12 positions in addition to ‘off’. For aimed shooting at static targets on a dull day for example, it is best to select a lower brightness setting; too bright a dot will be distracting and will work against good accuracy. Equally, on a bright day a brighter setting is required if the dot is not to be lost from view. This might sound a bit fiddly, but once you’re familiar with the sight, dialling up brightness becomes second nature and takes only a second or two to get just right.
Many years ago an accomplished American long-range target shooter named T.K. Lee fitted dot reticles into rifle scopes, the dot being suspended on spider silk. He became known as ‘Tackhole Lee’ on account of the tiny group sizes he shot in competition!
Unlike a rifle scope, the H-2 does not magnify the target; it is a true unit power sight. The sight picture, therefore, is one of a tiny dot which appears to float onto the target; totally steady, without any of the magnified wobble that is always evident with telescopic sights. This aiming experience is almost uncanny, and quite unique in rifle sighting systems. Connecting with an unmagnified target at 30 or 40 yards is very satisfying, and akin to shooting with the very fine open sights
of our fathers’ rifles.
One Eye Or Two?
Aimpoint recommends shooting with both eyes open when using the dot sight. This, the company says, gives a wider field of view and assists faster target acquisition, especially when shooting at moving targets. All of this is true, but I find that for static target shooting, closing the non-sighting eye improves concentration and reduces the distraction of the two-eyes-open method. This is a matter of personal preference, and individual shooters will decide which suits them best, which should always be the case.
You will need a big paper round or a very generous partner to buy an H-2: expect to pay in the region of £550 to £600 for a new one. This is perhaps a lot to pay out for a sight which does not provide a magnified image, but if light weight and compactness are favoured, do take a close look both at and through an Aimpoint Micro. It weighs next to nothing, is a shining example of industrial design and is a joy to use.