Operation: Protect your Scope. A Complete Guide to Prolonging your Scopes Life In and Off the Field

Refer a friend

Protecting your scope is not hard or rocket science. Let me paint you a vivid picture. So you’ve gone ahead and purchased a brand new Leapers UTG Red Dot Scope w/ a 3x Flip to Side Magnifier combo and brought it to your local airsoft field. And after a well-played first round, you noticed your brand new scope has been shot right through.

Holy Testicle Tuesday Batman. You just cost your self just about $160 depending on the damage it took.

So imagine the scenario I just described and let it sink in, cause it happens daily on airsoft fields across the world. –Shoot, it’s even happened to me a couple of times and it’s costly when it does, however, it can be prevented with a proper solution.

What methods are there to protect my scope?

Fortunately, there are a few solid solutions on the internet that can protect as well as save your expensive scope lens when you’re in the heat of battle. It’s just a matter of what type of scope you’re trying to protect.

This article will try to serve as an updated (2020) overall guide to protect your scope with DIY as well as conventional store-bought methods with a little combination of both whether your scope is in rain or shine, indoors, or out. 

Method 1: Protect your Lens with a Flip up Sight Shield Protector

Sight Shield Protector on rifle
Flip up Sight Shield Protector mounted on rifle.

First on the list, coming out as one of the cheaper store bought solutions for protecting your lens is the Flip up Sight Shield Protector. These flip up shields range anywhere from $4 to $14 and protect your lens by conveniently installing on your Picatinny/weaver rails in front of your precious sight. These flip up shields work very well serving their purpose when it comes to protecting your sights. Especially when being hit at point blank. 

Valken Sight Shield Protector
Valken Flip up Sight Shield Protector

The downside to these shields and coming from personal experiences; the screws that fasten these plastic shields in place regardless of brand are notorious for coming loose. Worse it always happens during peak gaming. It’s quite annoying especially when replacement shields range from $4 to $8, and that does not include their shipping.

Not to mention the tiny hex key that’s needed to tighten them.  It’s a pain to find in a box full of tools and gear, trust me I still can’t find mine. 

Another common issue some players run into with these shields are loose knobs. Simple fix for that: Add a slight drop of thread locker, aka Loctite.

These flip up shields are recommended for players that want to jump into any game and are either not handy, don’t have tools or the time to make a better solution at home for their personal scopes.

These shields also work very well for low profile red dot sights that can’t fit a modified Flash Kill cover. 

You can purchase a Valken Flip Up Site Shield Protector here

Method 2: Protect your Scope with a Flash Kill

Flashkill Lens Cover. Protects from sun glare and lens humidity
20mm Flash Kill

The next method is not quite a lens protector in the sense of preventing a cracked lens, however it’s worth a mention since combining both solutions that we’ll be covering later in this article will increase your lenses safety almost by 10 fold.

The Flash Kill works to reduce the reflection of the objective lenses and is particularly useful in tactical applications where concealment is critical. In simple terms, Flash Kills are used to prevent glare on your lens, and conceal your scopes at distances.

Flash kill installed on front of site
Flash Kill installed in front of site

Player’s have been using this in the WRONG way by assuming that Flash Kills will save their lenses from a high powered BB flying right at their scope. Flash Kills are not designed to protect lenses in that sense and there is no guarantee these will prevent a BB from piercing both your Flash Kill and lens. See image below. 

Worth mentioning; most Red Dot sights that can use a Kill Flash have glass that is not BB sensitive. Also note that Flash Kills are limited to a certain amount of scopes and sights such as EOTech Red Dot, TWOD Green Dot Sight, or NcSTAR SC430B 4X30 Compact Tactical Scope just to list a couple of examples.  

However, when you combine a Flash Kill with a properly sized custom cut Lexan glass in front of your scope. You can almost guarantee that you’re lens will come out of battles truly unscathed. 

Scope with mounted Flash Kill pierced by BB round.
Flash Kill mounted on scope pierced by BB. Image courtesy of Reddit user u/Combataz. Source: https://www.reddit.com/user/Combataz

Method 3: Protect your Scope Lens with a Custom Lexan Glass Cover

From kitchenware, to headlamps, to bullet proof glass. Lexan serves as an essential material for countless modern products that bless us today. First off to note, Lexan is a brand name and not the name of the material itself. So if you go off to Home Depot or your local hardware shop asking for Lexan, you just may get a few odd glares. 

Lexan is a polycarbonate resin thermoplastic. In a nutshell, it boast an impact strength 250 times greater than that of glass and 30 times greater than acrylic. 

Lexan protective glass 1/16 thick

Now I’m well aware many may not have the time, tools or skills needed to complete this little project. However, rest assured this isn’t time consuming, does not require a ton of tools or money, and can be completed with a novice skill level. 

To make things a bit easier, I’ve also included a cool YouTube video from w4stedspace that will make protecting your scope lens a breeze. Best part this will only require a pair of scissors or a dremel, a sanding block or sanding paper, some kind of clear sealant. (Hot glue won’t work here) a sheet of 3mm ( 1/16″ ) Lexan glass and about 30 minutes of your time to complete. 

This method will work with a wide range of scopes out on the market. All it takes is a bit of time and a little bit of ingenuity to pull it off. 

Of course I can’t stress enough and highly advise your personal safety before starting any type of project. Use protective eye wear and gloves when using cutting tools. And lastly double check your measurements before cutting into your sheet. Measure twice, cut once ;’) 

You can find sheets of Lexan glass on eBay by doing a quick search or by clicking on this link here

Method 4: Protect your Scope Lens with a Flash Kill and Custom Lexan Glass Cover Combined

This method requires more money, time and a bit more ingenuity, however, your end result will be phenomenal compared to these last methods when it comes to protecting your scopes lens. 

Flashkill on EOD Sight
Flashkill on EOD Sight

I’d love to enlight you with pictures, but sadly not many if any at all were found. Surprisingly no company has stepped up and started producing Lexan / Flash Kills Scope protectors for different scopes. 

This little project will set your wallet back a bit; but like I stated earlier, it’s worth the little extra cash to protect fairly expensive sights that can range upwards passed $300. As well as I must mention that this method will not work on all scopes and sights since Flash Kills are limited to certain brands and sizes. 

What you’ll need to get started is a Flash Kill of course sized to your scopes diameter. A simple search on eBay will query up quite a few results. Check that search out here

Next you’ll need a sheet of 3mm (1/16″) Lexan Glass. Find that here

Lastly you’ll need scissors or a dremel, sanding paper or a sanding block to smooth down its edges. A some type of a clear sealant to bond your two pieces together (Don’t use hot glue). 

Now that you have all your materials set and protective gear in place. It’s as simple as following the previous guide on cutting a custom Lexan glass I posted directly above. 

Once you’ve measured twice and cut once; lay your newly cut Lexan glass on top of your Flash Kill and seal it into place. Let it effectively dry for 24hrs before placing your Flash Kill on your scope. And VIOLA! You have a solid piece of protective gear that will serve your scope for numerous battles to come. 

I Just Want a Scope that's Already "ShootProof"

Helix PRISM RDS Micro Red Dot Sight
Helix PRISM RDS Micro Red Dot Sight

If you just want a sight that’s well protected right out of the box; then look into buying the Helix PRISM RDS Micro Red Dot Site

Like their description states: This optic is built with double-wide and tapered glass making it highly shatter resistant from BB impacts. Specifically designed to withstand the recoil of gas-blowback pistols and rifles, this RDS will hold zero on airsoft platforms even after repeated firing. 

It can take a .28g bb to the glass from a 340 fps GBB at point blank 1″ away with no damage.

G&P also makes some outstanding sights that are resilient to shattering that range from $40 and above.  A simple Google search like THIS will generate some ideas on their line-up if your curious what they have to offer. 

Bonus Tip #1: How to Properly Preform Maintenance on your Scope

Rifle scope mounted and trained down range. image courtesy of Thomas Tucker on Uplash

In most cases scopes and sights cost just as much as your guns, so to think that your scope may not need maintenance every so often is kinda silly don’t you think? Especially if your scope or sight has just recently endured some heavy usage. 

Now I did promise this would be a full guide on how to protect your scope or sight, and no preventive maintenance guide would be complete without mentioning how to store and properly maintain these expensive essentials. 

Meet your New Friends: Dusting and Brushing

Specna Arms with a Thetha Sight Mounted Courtesy of Specna Arms on Unsplash
Specna Arms with Thetha Red Dot Sight Courtesy of Specna Arms on Unsplash

Dusting, it’s not for tables and counters in your home. Dust  gathers easily and quickly on your lenses whether you like to think so or not. For example, leaning your rifle and scope against a tree, a truck. Maybe you hang your rifle and sights mounted on the wall after use or store them in a dusty gun cabinet. That’s just a few examples to make my point. 

Dust on the lens is clearly an issue for clarity and light transmission and you don’t want it anywhere on your very expensive scopes or sights.

So what is the solution?

Well for one, the solution isn’t to use a wet or dry rag, and especially not your t-shirt or BDU’s.

Avoid using any kind of moisture and/or rag combo. This is actually the equivalent of running muddy sandpaper over your optic’s lens, causing scratches and scuffs. You shouldn’t even use your fingers to clear away dust, as the moisture and oils from your dirty paws can trap dust into lenses sometimes permanently.

So what I would advise moving forward especially with your expensive scope or sight is to invest in an actual lens brush.

LEUPOLD LENS Red Dot Scope Binoculars Fully Retractable Brush CLEANING PEN
LEUPOLD LENS Red Dot Scope Binoculars Fully Retractable Brush CLEANING PEN

Several companies like Leupold makes $10 brushes specifically for gun scopes. You can also use lens brushes designed for camera lenses since they serve the same common purpose of cleaning lenses.

Nikon for one makes lenses for rifle scopes, binoculars, cameras and nearly anything else that uses a lens. So their lens pens use a typical lens brush that folds into the body of the pen, and on the opposite end is a sponge with a non-liquid lens cleaner like the Leupold Brush pen mentioned above.

Nikon Lens Pen
Nikon Lens Pen

How to use your Brush to Clean your Sights or Scopes Lens

Make sure you dust the entire lens and then uses the lens cleaning sponge. Get up into the edges to avoid dragging dust down during the brushing. If the dust isn’t removed; retract the brush a bit, this will make the bristles shorter, but more coarse and capable of getting through the thick or stubborn dust.

Make sure you inspect your lens brush regularly to make sure there is no dirt clinging to the brush bristles.

Also worth noting and very important: If your brushes ever get wet, toss it and replace it. Brushes cost about 10 bucks for a good one so don’t try to reuse a brush that’s already been compromised to moisture. It may do more harm then good.

Regular Brush for Lenses
Regular Brush for Lenses

If you happen to own a lens brush that doesn’t have the dry sponge end; Use a microfiber cloth designed for lenses. Also while taking note to make sure it has never been used with any solvent or liquid cleaners. 

Gently rub the scope’s lenses down with this type of cloth to remove any smudges after dusting.

You can also dust the body of the optic off, but this doesn’t add to the optics performance. In doing so, you need to avoid using rags that were previously used with solvents. These foreign solvents can damage O-rings that act as a waterproof seal with some optics. 

Nikon Scope displaying scopes turret
Nikon Scope displaying scopes turret

Pay special attention to the turrets, they are mechanical, and can fail. So you should dust them off while maintaining the rest of your scope. You can use a brush, but don’t use the same lens brush you use on your actual scope lenses. 

If Your Optic Uses Batteries…

EOTech 512 Reticle
EOTech 512 Reticle

One last note on optics that utilize an illuminated reticle that is powered by batteries, like an Aimpoint Micro T-1, or EoTech 512 A65, or 99% of illuminated optics. These optics do have terminals that are susceptible to rust, and degradation. 

Take some time to inspect them, and remember to change the batteries. 

And my number # 1 RULE: Store you scopes WITHOUT their batteries in them. 

If notice any issues with the terminals including small bits of rust or a cloudy appearance you can use a pencil eraser to clean them.

Make It A Regular Routine

Protecting your scopes optics and their maintenance should be as routine as your weapon’s maintenance. Take your time and exercise caution when cleaning and attending to your lenses needs. They are the heart of the optic, and should be treated gently. A little routine maintenance can go a long way in preserving your optics overall life expectancy. 

Bonus Tip #2: How to Keep Your Scope Dry in The Rain

Source: Operation Strong Eagle IV [Image 4 of 18] Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

Playing airsoft or paintball outdoors on a rainy day is in it’s own unique kinda of way is very FUN, however, admittingly more challenging than normal days. You need to focus much more intently to play effectively in rain. 

Not to mention that your rifles scope has lots of holes and those holes are MASTERS at holding in moisture.

Also, let’s not forget your gun screws, barrel and lens can hold a lot of moisture which can create fog. Believe it or not.

Ultimately, this DOES impact your game play and reduce the efficiency of shooting players.

So how do you protect your scope and lens during rainy game days if it’s not already water-proof?

To help you learn how to protect your scope in rain, I’m going to list a few last minute handy tips that might help you to keep your scope dry, safe, and free of moisture.

Hunting Poncho

US Army Hooded Ripstop Camo Waterproof Poncho
US Army Hooded Ripstop Camo Waterproof Poncho

A hunting poncho can help you keep you and your scope dry in rain and it’s both affordable and compact enough to keep in your outdoor kits. This is a special type of hunting jacket comes with multi-functional features. You can quickly unfold and wear the hunting poncho effectively anytime, anyplace.

Hunting ponchos are popular for its versatile configurations and space. You can keep the scope and yourself under the poncho to ensure optimal dry conditions.

And as I mentioned they are affordable and worth investing in especially if you’re an outdoorsy player. 

Rifle Scope Sunshades

Rifle Scope Sunshades
Rifle Scope Sunshades

Sunshades are scope extensions that protect you from the sun and also serves as another great way to keep rain away from your lens. 

Rifle Sunshades come in a multitude of flavors and sizes however, they do require you to own a scope with the ability to attach them to. 

If you’re a sniper or long-range player then chances are you’ll already have the scopes necessary to mount one of these bad-boys. Combined with a decent poncho; you’ll ensure that both you and your scope stays dry no matter how long it’s raining or pouring out. 

Other Handy Ways to Keep the Scope Dry

This guide wouldnt be complete unless I listed some cheap and fast ways of keeping your scopes safe and dry.

Rifle scope experts also suggest these handy techniques to keep your scope safe from water.

  • Use Chapstick
  • Use Electric Tape
  • Use Oil Soaked Rags
  • Use Cotton Clothes

Chapstick

Most of us carry chapstick or lip balm to protect our skin and lips from moisture. But, did you know that you can also use Chapstick to close the screw holes on your scope and rifle?

Now this is not a long-time solution but this method will help you to keep the screws from moisture for a short period of time before having to reapply it.

And if you already didn’t know, all screws are prone to rust. And moisture is its # 1 enemy.

Hence why some experts and pros use Chapstick to protect their scopes in the rain. However, once your scope and rifle are out of the rain, make sure to remove any existing residue using a clean, dry cotton cloth.

Electrical Tape

Electrical tape is extremely versitile and is also a great tool in preventing water from coming inside the barrel and scopes openings. You can also use the tape on screw holes if you’re fresh out of Chapstick.

Of course like Chapstick, electrical tape is only a temporary solution since rain and the tapes adhesive don’t quite mix. 

You can cover all the holes using the electric tape and remove it when the rain stops.

Also, don’t use electrical tape for a long time as it will leave nasty adhesive residue that’s usually hard to rub off without chemicals.

Oil Soaked Rags

We all know oil and water do not mix. Thus, the oil-soaked rag method is in my opinion, a last ditch effort to prevent moisture from over coming your equipment. You can polish oil on your scope to keep it waterproof for a short time.

Cosmoline or gun lubes are recommended to be used in these cases. 

Using oil rags in my opinion is not recommended but worth mentioning again as a last minute effort if you have no other resources available and are determined to push it through the rainy weather.

The reasoning behind my opinion is simple. Clean up after is a PAIN IN THE ASS! Keep that in mind. 

Cotton Clothes

Cotton clothes are very effective to wipe water and fog away from you scopes lens. However, just make sure it’s stored in a dry place and you have multiple clothes to keep up the preventive maintenance. Since cotton clothes are only effective if they’re dry. 

Protecting your Scope Final Thoughts
Scope trained and ready. Image courtsey of Maxim Potkin on Unsplash

Purchasing and owning a scope is just as big of a responsibility and expense as buying a brand new gun. Not to mention, can be just as costly, if preventive measures aren’t taken. Now there are quite a few DIY and store bought solutions as well as a combination of both to help prevent having to re-buy for example: a Leapers UTG Red Dot Scope with 3x Magnifier Flip up. Trust me, I’ve already replaced a couple before wising up myself.

So in short, hopefully I have accomplished my mission of making this a complete guide on protecting your scopes. Just know that a “Can Do” attitude, a little bit of time and a tiny bit of ingenuity can go a long way in saving you hundreds of dollars vs not doing anything at all. 

Special thanks goes out to Guges MK from Airsoft Society for the final edits and for suggesting some killer Shootproof scopes to add to this article.

If we happened to have missed any information, have any solutions to add or you just simply want to open up a discussion on scope maintenance. Drop you comments below. As always, folks stay frosty out there, keep each other safe, and subscribe to out mailer to stay tuned on APX’s next blog post. 

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