From “Dennis Talks Guns,” Dennis Santiago’s blog:
In the fall of 2014 at the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Western Games in Phoenix, I attended a dinner with Gary Anderson and the CMP staff where the subject of considering optics for Service Rifle was discussed. It was noted the the U.S. military had long since transitioned to the common use of optical sights both in the form of non-magnifying 1X optics and magnifying optics such as the Trijicon ACOG. Furthermore, the National Rifle Association (NRA) had been experimenting with optical-class rifles for across-the-course high-powered rifle competition for a number of years. Finally it was noted, that there were no currently manufactured optics specifically designed for high-power competition; that the closest optics to this purpose were the 1-4X optics in used for the 3-gun action shooting discipline; but that these were optimized for close in work and may or may not prove workable for full distance across-the-course use.
From that dinner, a number of us began a journey that, though most of 2015, would find us approaching manufacturers and experimenting with configurations including, among other things, what forward cantilever distance and height above Picatinny rail a scope should have. The answer was forward enough and at the same height to have approximately the same head position with respect to the rear aperture of an A2 iron sight rifle. The consensus height after several people experimented with it was 1.300″. I visited with several manufacturers, some at the SHOT Show, some in person, going over my wish list for features; foremost of which, was CMP’s insistence on a maximum 4.5X physical magnification limit for the optic.
The request was not well received. The industry quickly pointed out that military combat optics were rapidly evolving towards maximum magnifications in the ranges of 6X to 8X power; which I knew, because of the increasing importance of rifle engagement envelopes out to 800m in the mountains of Afghanistan. The days of CQB emphasis for urban warfare in Iraq were done and 4X optics hit a practical limit at around 500-600 meters for military use. A similarly dour response was received from the sporting optics industry who were quick to point out that the production economies of scale to bring out a dedicated optic at an affordable price point didn’t pencil given the relatively small market represented by high-power competitors. It was pretty much beg for favors across the board at the time adapting existing scopes as best as could be done. Eventually, the effort began to yield response. This is the story of that from my perspective.