On Poor Decisions and Defective Rifle Sights

(Photo EOTech)(Photo EOTech)

If you haven’t already, check out my colleague Matthew Cox’s story about how the parent company of optic-maker EOTech agreed to settle a lawsuit that accused the firm of knowingly selling the U.S. military and agencies defective rifle sights.

It’s an incredible story — almost a how-to if you’re a company that wants to lose your share of the U.S. military market and garner ill-will among some of your most important customers.

For nearly a decade, EOTech knew that its holographic weapon sights didn’t work as advertised, especially in cold and humid weather, as Cox reported:

“Specifically, they learned that the sights experienced a condition referred to as ‘thermal drift,’ meaning that the sight’s point of aim differed from its point of impact (or ‘failed to hold zero’) when subjected to hot or cold temperature,” according to court documents.

“Beginning around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the sights’ aiming dot became significantly distorted, affecting the accuracy of the sight and worsening as the temperature approached -40 degrees. At sub-zero temperatures, the distortion of the aiming dot affected the accuracy of the sights by more than 20 inches for every 100 yards.”

Incredibly, the firm didn’t disclose the problem to the military, as required, and only did so after being confronted about it by the FBI, which independently discovered the drift in March. How a decision like this could be made, and likely by senior management, is baffling.

US Special Operations Command issued a “Safety of Use Message” in September warning that EOTech sights could shift their zero in extreme temperatures.

It’s not clear why the Pentagon wasn’t the first to raise red flags about the issue. Surely some of the infantry, special operations and other military forces that fought in Iraq and Afghanistan must have noticed the sights weren’t working properly. Perhaps their complaints were ignored?

Have any of you used defective EOTech sights? If so, we’d be curious to hear your stories.

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Lance

    Its a reminder: Buy Trijicon!!!!!

  • Travis

    “Perhaps their complaints were ignored?”
    Maybe they were so few that they could be chalked up to individual units being defective or simple wear and tear?

    Has it been confirmed that this is a product line defect and not just a bad production run? This is strange to me, because EOTechs have been in use for over a decade now by military and police with few problems, then it just suddenly pops up that they can’t hold zero and now everyone is turning against them? Our troops have been operating in extreme conditions since 2001 and if this was a widespread problem, it seems to me like it would almost certainly have been discovered far sooner than just now.

    It’s not adding up.

  • Airborne_fister

    To all. Yes it was confirmed. That most L3 EOtechs were having a thermal shift. It’s not just a batch. But most of the EO techs that L3 had their hand in and on. If you own one that was built prior to l3 accruing EOtech then you should be good as I am. But I also have ones that once L3 bought EOtech. And I did a test. I stuck it outside in my trunk. Left on my rifle. It got below freezing. I then went to the range the next afternoon. The L3 EOtech did have a shift in impact. The one before L3 was spot on. If L3 hadn’t known about this then they wouldn’t of been putting money aside the exact amount the settlement was for. I believe it was 23 million and some change. But trijicon is not on the SOPMOD platform. Well the ACOG isn’t. They have many just aimpoint products.

    • Travis

      Ah, okay, now the pieces come together. Thanks for clearing it up.

  • S L Haynes

    The Volkswagen of rifle sights! Incredible!

  • Eric B.

    Four years ago a gun store employee told me about some of these problems with EOTech but I discounted them as a disgruntled clerk having a bad day. NOW I see that he was absolutely correct.

    Sooo, as Lance says, Trijicon looks like one of the best battle proven alternatives, along with long time red dot innovator Aimpoint. My PS90 has a low cost Bushnell red dot sight that has withstood a few clumsy bumps and drops and still works fine but I lust after a battery-free Trijicon.

  • JCitizen

    I’ve thought they were grossly over priced for years, and now I feel even more vindicated knowing they are junk as well!

  • John

    I’ve not had any issues with my 2 EoTechs but they were bought circa 2008. (one was repaired free by them for being too dim).

    My favorite site is on my Tavor, a Meprolight M21. No batteries needed.

  • msgingram

    Just a reminder, we all went to war or served with equipment supplied by the lowest bidder.

  • l need to join military,l agenda that could serve the unity of our country.and make our country to be peace,honestly and faithful.l desire to join force in my life &4 ever.