This last weekend, I taught a Handgun Speed, Accuracy & Movement class in Mesa, AZ. I shouldn't have; I was recovering from a recent surgical procedure so tried to take it easy throughout but well…I paid for it during and later.
Anyway, during that class, it started raining. It wasn't a tropical torrent, but it was enough that we were all soaked in a rather short period from the almost freezing rain and the puddles were accumulating.
I demonstrate often in my classes, so I was curious at my own performance in front of students since I'd not dry fired or live fired in multiple weeks due to sickness and surgery.
The rain started around 0930 hrs. and didn't let up till almost lunch time (go figure), so even with a rain jacket, I was soaked. Several students hadn't brought any wet weather gear, and their shivering was so bad that I sincerely offered my rain jacket (he refused, and I disciplined my expression to not show my relief).
At some point, I was trying to demonstrate extreme precision on a ridiculously hard target we use when I suddenly realized my optic was going nuts with my green dot jumping around like a cat convulsing on a mouse that was still alive and a bit too big to be swallowed in one gulp. I guess mice don't want to be eaten.
There was water running down my optic lens, both inside and on the exterior glass. Streams of water were causing the reflection of the dot on the glass to dance around or to intermittently disappear, and refracting around so quickly that there was no way to actually rely on it for precise aiming. The glass was also so fogged up that the front sight post was only slightly visible on occasion, and usually was completely obscured.
One of the students in the class, a SWAT guy, was having the same issue with his open emitter optic, while another SWAT dog had a closed emitter, a Holosun 509, and had no problems at all.
Darn SWAT dogs.
My optic is a Holosun 507C, Version II, Green Dot, and it's been on my H&K VP9 handgun for about five years. The optic – and the gun – have been bomb-proof, enduring the harshness of being owned and used daily by a rather gruff, knuckle-dragging user who heel-stomps through life, with at least 80K-100K rounds shot and probably about the same in dry fire with that set-up. That poor optic (and VP9) is abused like a redheaded stepchild and yet has never hiccupped.
BUT…this rain was somehow different. That particular optic isn't “closed” so the water, unlike other times I've used it in the rain, was suddenly not able to be used for precision with reliability. The water streaking down the interior glass and on the outside lens shifted the reflexed dot like a gyrating “barfly” on the dance floor working to snare their next customer.
Closed optics, such as the Holosun 509, are slightly too boxy for me to carry AWIB (appendix in the waist band), making it hard to conceal well compared to the rounded 507 or the smaller boxy 508 type.
BUT on this occasion, the open 507 – which has never failed me – clearly didn't work on this one occasion. The beauty of the closed emitter of the 509 suddenly made sense when in a deluge of water or other such circumstances.
So much water is also the anomaly, especially as a now resident of the deserts of Arizona, and was the first time I've encountered this problem on a range in 5+ years of carrying an optic on a handgun. To be noted, I spend A LOT of time on the range, in all weather conditions.
I grew up on Africa, 3 degrees off the equator and the monsoon seasons there are insane, with rain coming down in sheets and sideways. If I lived in such environments, or if I was a Navy SEAL often locking out of a submarine and swimming underwater with a backup handgun, I'd likely move to a closed-emitter optic, such as the Holosun 509.
For now, I'll live with my open-emitter optic that conceals better and has worked flawlessly for years…until this last heavy rain in a class, which is easily my currently preferred excuse for missing a few tiny targets in front of my students.
Founder, Defenders USA