The four S’s of concealment; shape, shine, shadow, and silhouette. I’d like to share a story about how a failure in one category of concealment had bad consequences.
There is a true story about a Special Forces ODA (Operational Detachment Alpha) doing some DEA support work out in the California desert trying to spot drug smugglers coming north in 4×4 pickups. They were using commercial optics, the old “ruby coated” lenses that were popular with low and mid end imports back in the 90s and 2000s.
The purpose of the “ruby coating” was originally marketed by Steiner, one of the top end binocular manufacturers, for hunting binoculars to help hunters spot game by filtering out some of the red spectrum to help spot game better. From there a lot of cheaper Asian manufacturers added red coatings because if Steiner was doing it, it must be good.
One of the unintended side effects of the ruby coating is that if a coyote (the animal, classified as a varmint by the state of California) hunter was using a spotlight to get a reflection off the eyes of coyotes, it looks a lot like the reflection back off the ruby coating of the binoculars.
The coyote hunters in question fired a shot at what looked like to them the eyes of a coyote, and hit an SF team member. It was only due to the professionalism of the team that the hunters weren’t killed when they came to collect the coyote ears for the bounty.
I bring this up because it is a basic soldier skill fail on the part of that team to not properly camouflage their observation point and optics. However it is an understandable mistake because 1, they weren’t at war, and 2, no ethical hunter would take a shot at a target they haven’t positively identified. But bad things happen.
The SF team picked a concealable location, used camouflage to blend in with their environment, and would have been judged “trained” at distorting their shape, shadow, and silhouette. But they didn’t take into account “shine” and that allowed a hunter to make a snap shot at what he thought were coyote eyes in his spot light.
So, to end this post I’d like to share some techniques on mitigating the reflective shine from your optics.
1, get some non-reflective tape (usually OD green 100 mph tape) and cover all but a small horizontal slit on the front of your optic, similar to Eskimo style snow goggles. This works on all optics, and while image quality is generally acceptable the light transmission can suffer a tad, but I think it is prudent to avoid getting shot at. An oval leaf shape also works and can provide a little better light transmission.
2, for optics with sun shades get some cheap open cell craft foam, cut it into a doughnut shape and insert it into the sun shade of your scope or spotting scope. This cuts down on the amount of glass available to reflect light, and you can cut the hole in the donut to an oval shape if you want to avoid an unnatural geometric shape.
3, buy optics that don’t have reflective style coatings. No red, no green, just clear please.
4, make a sun shade out of thin wall PVC, carboard, or other lightweight material. It won’t protect against spotlights directly at you, but can definitely help.
5, make an anti-reflective device (ARD) out of charcoal black screen material. Cut it into a circle a little larger than the objective and tape it in place, or hold it in place with a Butler Creek flip open scope cover. Alternately, pantyhose has been reported to work as well.
Comments are open, what other ways can you think to reduce the reflective shine of your optics?