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On Poor Decisions and Defective Rifle Sights

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.

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