Review of Tango Down's new cover for the Aimpoint Micro series of optics
It appears to be very certain that the Aimpoint Micro series of red dot optics are second to none when it comes to rugged reliability, battery life, diminutive size and weight, and performance under almost any condition. I'm sure most have even seen the torture test videos that include the Aimpoint Micro and they are very impressive. One thing that has always seemed lacking is the availability of lens protection or even a decent aftermarket option for solving this problem, until recently. In steps the IO Cover. Almost immediately it appears that most of the real world problems that one might encounter regarding lens protection and ease of use have been either eliminated or drastically reduced.
Pictured above is what Aimpoint includes in their packaging when you receive what is touted to be the current 'gold standard' of red dot optics. Due to the placement of the knobs, you will notice that the straps connecting the lens caps are offset, which is a nice touch, and when placed on the lenses offers great protection. It is difficult, however, to quickly put the bikini style lens cover on with one hand and when the optic is in use, the best option that I found was to simply let them 'dangle', which enabled them to flop all around. I wouldn't be surprised if most end-users shucked the bikini style caps all together or lost/broke them shortly after fumbling with them a few times.
The IO Cover is definitely a ‘slap yourself on the forehead’ product, and one thing that you can appreciate about the IO Cover is how it came to life. A gentleman by the name of Joe Chen came to the same conclusion that everyone likely had (even if they didn’t know it), that there needed to be something better, so he designed it. The ability to protect the optic from rain, snow, sand, etc, along with the ease of opening, closing, and stowing the lens covers with one hand was the end goal. Joe came up with a prototype and decided to give his project some life by promoting it through the Kickstarter website where individuals can pledge money to help see a product through to production. The funding goal was quickly met (I was one of the backers who was excited about what I was seeing), and toward the end of the project, Tango Down picked up the idea and is now helping to get these to market.
The mold that they are using for this product was made very precisely, as the cover fits snugly to the body of the optic. This offers the body protection from damage along with both the ocular and objective lenses. During product development, Joseph and his team came up with a very elegant solution for lens cap storage for when the caps are open. The objective lens cap nests inside of the ocular lens cap, neatly stowing them out of the way, securing with an audible 'snap' (another clue to the precise molding process). This brings us to why it is called the 'IO Cover', and its very simple. When you view the cover while in use, you see the nested/stowed covers which resemble an 'I', along with the round shape of the optic, resembling an 'O'...the IO Cover! This cover will work with all Aimpoint Micro models (R1, H1, and T1).
It's apparent that the product not only looks nice and appears to be well made, but how does it perform? I know many AR-15 owners up here in Alaska use their rifles for a myriad of reasons, one of them being predator hunting or use while on a trapline. When riding a snowmachine, trekking through the woods, or any other wintertime activity performed with your rifle, its bound to get covered in snow, so I thought that would be a great test to perform in the backyard. Keep in mind that a taped muzzle, inserted magazine, and closed ejection port cover would likely enable you to fire the rifle even if it was externally covered in snow, but for this purpose I just used an unloaded rifle and didn't care about getting snow pretty much everywhere.
The first test I did was to resemble the rifle leaning against a tree and flopping down into the snow...a likely scenario that has happened to all of us. This sufficiently coated the IO Cover in snow and I wasn't sure if it was going to keep all the moisture out...I was wrong. The cover performed flawlessly and did a great job of keeping the lenses dry and snow free! Its apparent that the IO cover is living up to its intended duty of keeping the lenses clear. "You can't shoot what you can't see!" is a common phrase that the folks who came up with the cover often use.
OK, so that was pretty good. Complete protection from snow after a small mishap. A buddy of mine recently had his rifle fly off his snowmachine in deep snow while riding at high speeds. Knowing that, why dont we try to resemble something a bit more violent? While I couldn't replicate this exact scenario in my backyard, I decided to just throw the rifle and give it at bit of a jarring. I dont recommend you do this, per say, but I did for this write up...its only snow.
Again, the caps did not pop open, come loose, or otherwise allow snow to penetrate the seal that the covers create when snapped on correctly. Everything was still bone dry and ready to go! Like I said before, my bore and magazine well was packed with snow, so this rifle needed some attention before use, but a rifle with the correct prevention measures taken place to ensure safety could still use the optic after a quick once-over. Anything you see in the photo on the ocular lens was from me opening the cover and not adequately brushing the snow off of the body of the optic prior to doing so.
This cover is a great example of American ingenuity, coming up with a simple and elegant solution to a real problem and producing an inexpensive cover to meet the needs of thousands of Aimpoint Micro users in pretty much any environment imaginable. Keep up to date with what Joseph and his team are up to by joining them on facebook!
A few glamour shots for your enjoyment: