By Trevor Busch
A flaw discovered by the manufacturer in the sighting systems utilized on the Taber Police Service’s carbine rifles has prompted the service to remove those sights until a replacement can be identified.
“The sighting systems that we use on current carbines, the manufacturer actually identified a flaw that we weren’t aware of in law enforcement. They immediately sent out notification to law enforcement agencies that use the sighting system,” said Chief Graham Abela, speaking at the June 9 regular meeting of the Taber Municipal Police Commission (TMPC).
“What’s happening is, in cold weather the sighting picture is morphing and not returning to the centre, you’re losing about seven inches at 100 yards. As soon as we were notified, we removed those sighting systems from the rifles, and we’re using iron sights only.”
TPS officers currently train and use Heckler & Koch HK416 M4 carbines, which until recently were fitted with an Eotech sighting system. Abela noted the service is investigating its options with regard to replacement sighting systems, and may not choose to utilize corrected versions of the identical sights.
“The company has offered to replace — at no cost to us — these sighting systems. We’re a little bit concerned about that, we’re doing a little bit of research in relation to preventing the same situation from happening again. So we’re investigating whether or not there’s a different sighting system that we may use. For example, the RCMP just did a carbine study across Canada. They’ve gone to a different optic sight, similar, but just a different brand name and a little different. That might be the option that we go with. They’ll also refund the money. So if they refund the money, that will go to directly, and we’ll have to expend it.”
Officers train on both iron sights and optic sights, according to Abela, so the weapons are still technically operational at this time.
“We always train on both sighting systems. We train on the iron sight, and we train on the optic sight. You can use the iron sight, even though the optic is present, but we’ve actually physically removed the optic sights.”
Coun. Andrew Prokop, one of two representatives of town council on the TMPC, commented on the temporary use of iron sights.
“So it’s not the end of the world just to have the iron sights. They’re still functional.”
While essentially correct, Abela did add a caveat to Prokop’s statement suggesting not all officers may be able to utilize the weapons due to varying degrees of proficiency in marksmenship.
“Correct, but it is a little bit. The reason why is we know that the optic sights are much more accurate, especially at long range. Shooting with open sights at 100 yards takes excellent marksmenship. The optic sight definitely enhances that. We may have officers that may not qualify at 100 yards with iron sights — as does every other agency — and may not be able to use the carbine until that optics system comes in. So it does have some operational issues.”
Abela was unsure if the service’s carbine sights are models that would be affected by the flaw, but ordered their removal.
“We don’t know if we have that model, but out of an abundance of caution we’ve removed that.”