Browe Combat Optic: The Force and the Intelligence
Story and photos by Paolo Ortenzi and Gabriele Tansella (A.A.I.)

The BCO by Browe, Inc., an optic for tactical use, is not only robust and able to withstand any kind of abuse on the field, but thanks to the technology designed by the Michigan based company it supports the shooter in any kind of environmental light conditions.

In recent times, laws and rules concerning the importation of military optics with an illuminable reticle by a Tritium source are becoming more and more restrictive; despite the fact that this is a low emittance isotope. In 2009, Brian K. Browe, a former Director of Operations of Trijicon with 16 years of experience in optics production, decided to see these limitations as an opportunity, founding his own company with the goal of designing the ultimate combat optics. Two years of research gave as a result the Browe Combat Optic, or BCO, a fixed magnification 4x32 optic.

The optic arrives to the user in a practical and sturdy military regulation compliant Peli case, equipped with spare battery, Lenspen cleaning kit and user manual.

The lens and optic group are mounted inside two CP-2 Titanium alloy mil-compliant half-shells in order to give strength and lightness at the same time obtained through high precision CNC machining of forged metal. The shells are assembled and joined with flanging just a little behind adjustment turrets. The BCO is watertight up to 42 meters and is filled with pressured nitrogen to avoid moisture inside the optic.

The body has an integral base mount provided with holes: these allow both a further lightening of the total weight and the possibility to mount accessories, like the installation of a small reflex backup sight. To the base is screwed the Picatinny base mount, usually an A.R.M.S. or a LaRue Tactical, so the optic can be used on any rifle with Mil-Std 1913 rail mount.

The front lens has a 42 mm diameter thread to mount a Tenebraex ARD filter (not standard equipment but available only as accessory), that while preventing the light reflection that may reveal the location of the shooter, allows a completely clear field of view.

The two adjustment turrets, one for elevation and the other for windage, are closed by metal knurled caps provided with rubber gaskets to make them watertight. To adjust the optic when zeroing, the turrets should be opened and the drums can be operated with a screwdriver, coin or the rim of a cartridge. Easy to operate, the mechanics of the turret are really accurate with their 1/2 MOA clicks clearly perceptible both in tactile and audible ways.

The lenses are very high quality anti-reflective coated. Visible only when sighting in, on the edge of the visual field there are directions for the weapon and the cartridge for which the BCO has been designed for.

The light, before reaching the eyepiece, travels through two roof prisms and the etched reticle, allowing the use of very sturdy and reliable mechanics.

The standard reticle for the BCO is the classic “red chevron” with graduated lines to estimate distances and allowing hold off shooting from 300 up to 800 meters. On some models, such as the BCO-003-ATACS with Dark Earth finish, the reticle is a cross-hair graduated reticle with the central cross illuminated in blue.

The optic must be chosen according to the ammunition the shooter is going to use as the reticles for the 5.56 or the 7.62 NATO are different. Further, Browe Optics has recently introduced a reticle zeroed for the new .300 AAC Blackout ammunition, with reticle marks that allow the shooter to use the same optic regardless if he/she is using supersonic or subsonic version of this Spec-Ops ammunition for the M4A1.

At approximately half of the body length, on the left side, is visible the big Single Intuitive Control (SIC) membrane button that turns on and adjusts the intensity of reticle illumination, bringing into play the intelligence hidden inside the BCO metal body.

The system, in fact, is controlled by a programmable microprocessor, which turns the disadvantage of using an active mode of illuminations in an advantage that allows total control of reticle illumination. The SIC allows the operator to do everything with the left hand: the first push on the button turns on the reticle in automatic mode thanks to a cadmium sulfide sensor positioned in the optical tube, that detects the brightness on the target, the internal CPU is always able to choose the best illumination in a matter of milliseconds. The subsequent pushes activate the manual brightness adjustment: 10 levels for the visible range and 3 for use with night vision goggles. To turn it off simply press and hold for three seconds the SIC.

On the right side we find the battery compartment, accessible by removing the front cap. As standard equipment, Browe supplies a 3 volt Surefire battery model SF123A, but any equivalent battery can be used. The battery duration is guaranteed for a minimum of 775 hours with the illumination set manually at maximum; but the average battery life in automatic mode is around 2,000 hours. If you forget the illumination is switched on and you put your gun with the BCO in the safe, there is a motion sensor that after two hours puts the system into “Sleep” mode and will automatically switch it back on when the weapon is moved again. In “Sleep” the shelf life of the battery is 10 years.

On the rear battery housing there is a big watertight screw cap, giving you access to a utility port with different functions. With the proper software the CPU, which controls the reticle illumination, can be reprogrammed to comply with the profile required for a mission, or you can use the port, with the proper cable, to transfer the functions of the SIC on a PTT button relocatable as desired, both to give power to the optic from an external source or supply to an external device (laser pointer or mini red dot) electricity.

Separately supplied as accessories, besides the already mentioned ARD, are the Tenebraex spring operated lens cover with the required adapters if the ARD is not used.

Browe BCO is ITAR regulated, and requires international purchasers to sign the DSP83 form.

Technical Data of Browe Combat Optic

Manufacturer: Browe, Inc., 30870 Stephenson Highway, Suite C, Madison Heights, Michigan 48071 USA; Phone: (800) 407-3150; Fax: (248) 284-0915; website: www.browe-inc.com
Magnification: 4x
Objective diameter: 32 mm
Ocular diameter: 8 mm
Eye Relief: 37 mm
Length: 132 mm
Width: 67 mm
Weight: 481 gr.
Field angle: 7 °
Impact shift on the target: 1 click = 1/2 MOA
Mechanics: Internally Adjustable Roof Prisms
Reticles: BCO Chevron 5.56 NATO, BCO Crosshair 5.56 NATO, BCO Chevron 7.62 NATO, BCO .300 AAC Blackout
Bullet drop compensation: 5.56mm NATO, 7.62 NATO, .300 AAC Blackout, from 100 m up to 800 m
Reticle Color: Red, Amber, Blue, or Green
Illumination Source: LED
Automatic illumination adjustment: cadmium sulfide sensor and programmable CPU
Manual illumination adjustment: 10 daylight levels, 3 for NVD use
Battery Life: 2000 h (Minimum granted 775 hrs at max reticle illumination setting)
Body Material: “Military Grade” TiCP-2 Titanium alloy
Impermeability: 42 m
Anti-moisture: Nitrogen filling
Lens coating: Anti-reflective large bandwidth lens coating

Interview with Mr. Brian Browe, CEO of Browe, Inc.

SAW: Could you tell us your background in the field of military optics and could you summarize how Browe, Inc. was born?

Browe: My optics career started in January of 1996 when I was hired as the Production Manager for Trijicon, Inc. It was my first professional position after graduating from Ferris State University (BS Business Administration) in December of 1995. Optics was a fairly new business for Trijicon and I had the fortunate opportunity to be a part of a very special growth period of the company. The size of the business also allowed me to get heavily involved with every aspect of the business from design, purchasing, production, and sales & marketing. In the early years, we were planning production while fielding customers service calls and attending trade shows. It was a busy time, but I seized the opportunity to gather as much optics knowledge and business experience as possible. I was soon promoted to Director of Operations and held that position for nearly 10 years, before setting off to start Browe, Inc. Browe, Inc. was founded in 2009. It was founded on a simple idea of building the ultimate combat optic. Two and half years of extensive research and development resulted in the 4x32 Browe Combat Optic.

SAW: BCO is your main product line. Who are your competitors and which features of BCO, according to your opinion, make the difference?

Browe: The main competitors to the BCO are the Trijicon ACOG & Raytheon Elcan. The birth of BCO started as a list of improvements over the other combat optics in the market. The list ended up being 15 items and we included 100% of them in the final design. Some of the items were as simple as making the optic shorter and including design features to attach accessories. Others items addressed major features such as the illumination systems. The Target Light Sensor Technology is a major feature that separates the BCO from the competition. Unlike the competitors that relay on ambient light or manual dials, the BCO has a sensor in the light path that detects and measures the light transmitting through the optic and automatically adjusts the reticle illumination to the ideal intensity. This technology gives the operator a hands free solution to effectively and efficiently manage the reticle illumination. The BCO also has a multi-function utility port that can be used to update the firmware, power accessories, and import power from a secondary source such as a central power system.

SAW: How much and on which aspects of your previous experience with Trijicon has influenced the BCO design?

Browe: My Trijicon experience had a heavy influence on the design of the BCO. In general, the principal of designing products that are high strength, light weight, and world class quality was the foundation for the BCO. The largest single design feature is the internal adjustable prism, based on Trijicon’s founder Glyn Bindon’s design. It’s been well proved and has an exceptional performance in comparison to external designs.

SAW: Could you mention who are the professional customers that are using BCO and what kind of feedback you get from them?

Browe: In a relatively short time we acquired the confidence of some elite operators. In the U.S. we’ve had many individual operators purchasing the BCO for professional use and have optics in almost every branch of the military. Internationally, we had some action as well. One of our first customers was the British SAS and we’ve recently been award a contract for the Korean Special Warfare Command. We have BCO deployed in MOD units in Australia, Canada, Demark, France, Italy Kuwait, Poland, and Norway. We are also preparing to deliver BCOs to Legion Brigade in Spain and the Israeli IDF MOD.

SAW: Could you tell us what is the next step, what we are going to see in the future made by Browe, Inc.?

Browe: We are continuing to expand the line and build brand awareness. We’ve recently introduced our new AAC .300 Blackout reticle and will be adding additional reticles in the very near future. We have some exciting new products being release at the 2013 SHOT Show, including our new line of Browe Sporting Optics (BSO) that we are really looking forward to launching. We have many new products on the drawing board and continue to expand the line.

SAW: Thank you for sharing your insights with us. We look forward to your continued success.

This article first appeared in SmallArmsReview.com on May 17, 2013


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