Diary

Watercooler 3/29 Open Thread: Gear Review - BUIS Shootout

watercoolerWelcome back to another installment of the Watercooler, RedState’s daily Open Thread! Today, we’ve got another Guns & Gear Review in store–and a rather long one. This was originally planned as a two-parter, but it seemed cruel to leave everybody hanging for an entire month…

Guns & Gear Review: Backup Iron Sights by Matech and Diamondhead

As any grunt among us knows, gear has a way of failing on you at the worst possible time. It doesn’t matter what range of capabilities your All-Seeing Optic with Integrated Rangefinder, Thermal Imaging, Digital Zoom and More, All on a Sesame Seed Bun, has if the battery’s sucked dry or some lucky Jihadi Jerkoff manages to put it out of commission with a lucky shot leaving you unable to return aimed fire… unless you also have a Back-Up Iron Sight mounted, two of which are the subject of this expedition into Arms Locker Nerdvana. We’ll be looking at the Matech 122996812, which is one of the Defense Department’s preferred irons and comes from the factory on many Colt models, along with my favorite bad-eyes-friendly model from Diamondhead.

Useful reference links on the sights in today’s Gear Review: Diamondhead 1401Matech 12996812

SIZE and WEIGHT: The Diamondhead is about 2-5/8″ by 1-1/4″ folded and weighs 1.5oz. The Matech is about 2″ by 2-3/8″ by 1″ over extreme dimensions folded; it takes about 1-13/16″ of rail to mount (specifically, the very last slot on a flat-top AR upper) and weighs 0.2oz.
ADVANTAGE: Matech.
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Comparison of sights mounted on AR15 upper. Diamondhead is to picture left, Matech to right.–Author photo

MATERIALS: The Matech is solid metal, while the Diamondhead is largely polymer. Very durable polymer, but I’ve been starting to see just a little wear on one of my sights from when I haven’t been as careful as I should be stuffing the upper back into its box.
ADVANTAGE: Matech, though Diamondhead does offer a metal version.

MOUNTING: The Diamondhead uses a simple fixed bracket that has to be slid down the mounting rail from an end then have a screw put through a slot in the rail and threaded into a bolt; the screw-head and slot are big enough to use a dime or other expedient object as a screwdriver. The Matech uses a clamp where you can open it wide, hook one side over the rail then rotate it down into position and screw the jaws shut; the bad news is the tightening mechanism is a smooth-sided Allen-head screw, and who carries Allen wrenches or hexdrivers at the range or on the battlefield? If it was up to me, I’d want a knurled set-screw head so you can finger-tighten it without an Allen wrench.
ADVANTAGE: Matech, with reservations. On “Full Metal Milspec” builds I would be okay with a stock Matech, but for builds optimized to best fit me personally where I used this sight I would replace the factory part with a knurled set-screw.

DEPLOYMENT: The Diamondhead uses a push-button release, while the Matech you hook a finger under the sight and flip it up past a friction lock. This takes some getting used to, and weaker hands may not be up to it. Funny story on the Matech… certified genius, potential MENSA candidate (except that most MENSAs I’ve met are snooty douches I wouldn’t want anything to do with anyway), can correctly assemble an AR15 lower from only text instructions on a hotel-room bed with just an armorer’s vise, a screwdriver, a hammer and a few punches… can NOT figure out how to pop-up the Matech sight. So at one point while writing this review I was sitting studying the sight over lunch at my favorite BBQ shack–another regular who’s a crusty old Vietnam SOG vet sees me fumbling, comes over, picks it up and flips up the sight, then sets it down commenting about how it brought back memories, him having done the same his first time using one. (Bear in mind, in his day the sight was fixed as part of the carry handle… flattop AR’s and pop-up sights must have been even more getting used to for him at first than me.) Which led to an interesting hour of war stories–most Vietnam vets I’ve met don’t open up and talk about things easily, but I think in my case I think it was helped by appreciation of my being a History major who wants to tell the story right, “tell both the good and the bad and let the chips fall where they will.”
ADVANTAGE: Dealer’s Choice – this really is a matter of personal preference, though I prefer the pushbutton.

WINDAGE ADJUSTMENT: The Diamondhead uses a flathead screw–a dime or penny might barely engage, but for positive contact you really need a screwdriver. There are indexing marks on back of both sight and base, but it’s not really convenient to adjust on-the-fly, like a range with shifting winds or out hunting. The Matech, on the other hand, has a windage knob at right rear where each click moves it a given distance left or right–I have not been able to find technical data on how many Minutes of Angle adjustment you get per click, but it’s a lot more field-friendly than the bench-only arrangements of the Diamondhead.
ADVANTAGE: Matech, bigtime.

RANGING and ELEVATION: The Diamondhead is completely dependent on front-sight-post height and manual hold-over to adjust for elevation and range. Once zeroed, the Matech has a lever on its left front where you can dial in range-to-target in 50-yard increments from 300 to 600 yards, along with a 200-yard setting for closer-in work.
ADVANTAGE: Diamondhead up close, Matech at distance. “Horses For Courses.”

RETICLE and VIEW: The Diamondhead has two separate apertures of different sizes, each in diamond shape and at the center of a diamond-plus-crosshair. In turn this reticle is in the middle of a diamond-shaped frame which gives you even more points to index front-sight centering from, even more if you’re using a Diamondhead front sight. (On my AR, which while shorter overall has the same 20″ sight radius as a full-length M16 rifle, the diamond frame of the front sight lines up just inside the inner diamond of the reticle.) The Matech uses a tiny “peep” aperture, but at 3/8″ across the framing around it shouldn’t block a lot of the average user’s field of view. I would personally like an outer ring around it, but given that the Matech was designed to be used with combat optics where the “glass’s” frame provides the same effect I can understand its absence and think they made the right choice for the intended application.
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View through the sights. Diamondhead above, Matech below. Same Diamondhead 1451 front sight is used in both for comparison. Note that the Diamondhead is set for “large aperture,” while its “small” option is comparable to the Matech–Author photos
ADVANTAGE: Again, it’s a Horses For Courses situation. If you have horrible 20/400 all-but-blind eyes like mine the Diamondhead may be more agreeable to you than most others. The Diamondhead also has glow-in-the-dark night-vision markings the Matech does not.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: Both solidly-engineered and -built pieces of hardware. The Matech’s place in the National Stock Number system is well earned, and both it and the Diamondhead have earned their places on my Standard Parts Lists–on a rifle sufficiently lightweight but expected to need rapid transitions between one’s area of advantage and the other’s I could even see myself mounting both sights on the same rail, though given an engineer’s free hand without patent issues in the way I would want to adapt a hybrid sight combining the Diamondhead dual-reticle and frame with the Matech base. Will be buying both again!

The author was not compensated for this review, and paid for his review samples out-of-pocket. If you have something you’d like to see in a future Gear Review, please feel free to make suggestions in the Comment Thread or to my dead-drop email, Diamondback_at_RedState (at) yahoo.com–I cannot promise I’ll make your request happen, but I’ll definitely put it on the  Suggestion List and you’ll get a shout-out if it does.

Archive of previous Watercooler Guns & Gear Reviews

This Week In History is on hiatus this week, but we’ll take a double-length stroll down old Memory Lane next Wednesday.

Gratuitous Gun Giveaways

*Note: FMG Publishing giveaways require you to provide an FFL dealer’s info at entry. Aero Precision and Primary Arms giveaways give me one entry each per person who uses my referral link.

Quote of the Day

Every step we take towards making the State our Caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our Master.–Dwight D. Eisenhower

As always, the Watercooler is an Open Thread, so it’s time for me to turn the Comment Thread over to y’all and get back to my frozen orange-juice on a stick before it melts…

#NoQuarter #TheParty’sOver

By WarX, edited by Manuel Strehl (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
(Image by WarX, edited by Manuel Strehl at Wikimedia; used under Creative Commons Attribution license)