Guest post by Jonathan Owen, CEO of SHWAT.com For years, the Aimpoint T1 has been the gold standard of red dot sights. So, when I first got wind of a T2 in the works, I was pretty curious. They sure look a lot alike. Both have 2-MOA dots. The T2 costs a little more, so what’s the big deal I wondered? I read some reviews online that were fairly vanilla, leaving my thirst for knowledge unsatisfied. I cover the two optics side by side in the video below, or you can read the rest of the post below the video:
In a unique opportunity, I visited with Lennart Ljungfelt, president of Aimpoint AB in Sweden, and inspected the very first pre-serial-number 0 prototype. The place was Dallas Safari Club, and Ljungfelt was enjoying throwing his sight across the room.
The Aimpoint T-1 was originally introduced in 2007 with a 4-MOA dot. Two years later, the option of a 2-MOA dot was put on the table. At its release, the T-2 is only available with a 2-MOA dot. So there’s the first difference.
The T-2 comes with see-through flip covers attached, extending the length 6mm over the T-1. Most people would never even notice, but if you use a magnifier (and you might after you’re done with this review), you’ll note that to flip those covers open, you’ll need more space between the magnifier and the optic. That said, the flip covers are a nice upgrade to the T-1 bikini cover that I’m always in fear of losing. The covers don’t have a goofy tint as some do, so the sight is quite useful with covers closed.
Both the T-1 and T-2 have their respective elevation adjustments located on the top. Apparently, some users felt as though the cap on the top of the T-1 was vulnerable to impact damage, so the T-2 housing now protects that cap and turret. The only little downside here is that where both of the T-1 caps had the required nubs to adjust the windage and elevation turrets, the T-2 has only one such cap.
Another nice incremental improvement is in the rotary dot-brightness-control knob. The T-1 knob is solid, and I never noticed anything negative about it. But the knob on the T-2 is substantially nicer, buttery smooth with solid detents for each brightness or intensity level.
Let’s talk usability. To test the T-1 vs. T-2, I put both on a quad railed upper receiver, with and without magnification. Indoors and out, I could switch from looking through one to the other with a ninety degree flip of my wrist. Next, I mounted my contraption to an Alamo Four Star DLOC tripod and got the camera behind. I put the camera behind them to capture what I observed. Shooting pictures though a scope is always a trick, but I think you’ll see the differences. I positioned my test rig 40 yards from a 24-inch steel hog silhouette.
The first thing I noticed on my test platform was the difference in optical clarity between the T-1 and T-2. The T-1 has a bluish hue I’d barely noticed before. Next to the T-2, it’s readily apparent. The T-2 also has better contrast, making the overall image quality noticeably better. As a photographer, I know that this kind of performance improvement is usually the result of better lens elements, better engineering and/or lens coatings.
Put an Aimpoint 3x magnifier behind both optics and the differences are striking. Like a spotlight pointed at an angle, the T-1 dot is elongated. Consequently, my 3x Aimpoint magnifier has seen very little use. But behind the T-2, it’s a whole different story. The dot stays crisp and round! I suspect the improvement comes from a change in the angle of the lens that reflects the red dot back to the shooter’s eye.
Aimpoint says it improved the electronics of T-2. What that means appears to be semi-classified. The public specifications are the same for both the T-1 and the T-2. Both have a five-year battery life using a 2032 battery. Both use eye-safe LEDs to create the red dots. Both control dot intensity in 12 steps—four Night Vision and eight visible. In the end, Ljungfelt told me the T-2 is even more durable than the T-1. Honestly, I don’t know just what that means. We previously torture tested a T-1 and it came out unscathed.
So, the T-1 was and remains a terrific choice for a non-magnified red dot sight. While the initially apparent differences individually may seem small on the surface, the T-2 is better in every way. Since you can buy the T-2 online for about $60 more than the T-1, it’s a no-brainer to get the T-2. At the top of the food chain of the compact red dot sight world, it commands $750+, street pricing. But it is the top of the food chain now. Jonathan Owen, CEO of Special Hog Weapons and Tactics, started pulling triggers in the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Soon, he was teaching air-rifle marksmanship and gun safety. His introduction to hunting after college was frozen season of absentee deer, leading him to conclude he was a shooter, not a hunter. That led to a civilian fascination with all things tactical. Later, when introduced to the dynamic world of tactical hog hunting, all that changed and Special Hog Weapons and Tactics was born. Today, Owen is a highly regarded industry professional who loves both the shooting and hunting aspects of the firearms community. A writer, photographer, videographer, storyteller and consultant, he loves bringing new experiences and gear to anyone who’ll pay attention. This material is adapted from Special Hog Weapons And Tactics. Copyright ©2015 SHWAT.com.