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Kickstarter – IO Cover: One-Handed, Built-in Lens Caps for Micro Optics

Joseph Chen came up with a rather interesting idea. in a nutshell –

IO Cover built-in lens caps – always ready. Open, close & stow with one hand. Rain or sand, see when you need it most.


The name IO was inspired by the way the cap and optic look head on when the cap is stowed. You flip the front and rear caps open, and they lock together so there’s no flapping in the breeze. Additionally, the optic is now armored against minor damage and camouflaged in a variety of colors.

Chen turned to Kickstarter to crowd source his funding, so let’s give him a hand. SSD put their money where their mouth is.



22 Responses to “Kickstarter – IO Cover: One-Handed, Built-in Lens Caps for Micro Optics”

  1. FormerSFMedic says:

    I like the idea and I think that for many shooters it will fill their needs. However, one of the biggest advantages to using the micro is it’s profile. Nothing beats a micro in a tall mount on an AR period. That slim profile affords the shooter the largest field of view of any of the red dots out there while still allowing the proper 1/3 co witness. The IO will decrease that field of view and take away from the slim profile. In other words, it’s not for me. That said, I really like the idea. What I would like to see is a set of lens covers without the full body protection that stows together on the dot intensity dial. You wouldn’t have full tube protection but you could still work the setup with one hand and keep that slimline profile. Call it IO 2.0.

  2. James Beard says:

    Isn’t it one of the famous trainers who throws their T1 mounted rifle on the ground at the beginning of his class to show off how tough the T1’s are?

    So the point of this is exactly what?

  3. Joe Chen says:

    Can’t believe we made Soldier Systems! This is my kickstarter project, and I’ll try to address some of the points brought up here.

    James Beard – I’ve trained with those guys, and seen the demos. The Micro’s are pretty much bombproof, so they don’t really need a protective cover. We’re just using the cover as a base for the lens caps, which are otherwise impossible to mount since the Micro is so small. The primary purpose of IO Cover is to keep the lenses clear of rain and sand when you’re in crap conditions. You can’t shoot what you can’t see!

    FormerSFMedic – Completely understood, and the original concepts opened down to minimize the profile. But then it didn’t work with magnifiers or on low mounts, so we opened them to the side. The latest revision will be available next week and will hold the caps even tighter to the side of the body. When using both eyes, they pretty much disappear. I’ll update with some pictures from behind the optic, and I’ve got a prototype heading to Soldier Systems next week so they can weigh in as well. Opening to the right is interesting, but would require REALLY long living hinges which would affect both usability and durability of the cover. Can you email me at [email protected]?

    One thing I also want to mention is that the tone of the video and website is intentionally vague and humorous in order to blend in with kickstarter. I’ve already gotten the “is this a scope for a sniper rifle” question. I’ll be following up with more “user-friendly” video on the range with the latest prototype.

    Thanks again to Soldier Systems for covering our little project!

  4. Ken says:

    Sorry SF Medic, but I disagree. Having had the opportunity to both own and shoot a wide variety of red dot optics, your theory is without basis, having lost me as soon as you stated “field of view” when discussing red-dots. Sure, it may not work for “you” but the idea has merit and something of this type has been lacking in the market for too long for the Aimpoint Micros.

    James, Carry a rifle in a vertical rifle rack in a cruiser for a while and you’d be both shocked and amazed at the amount of crap that will accumulate on the unprotected objective lens of a red dot optic in just one shift.

    Covers are primarily for storage it is in this usage where this product is useful, keeping the lens covers with the unit, in contrast to the issued bikini cover, which is easily lost.

  5. ncs says:

    what is the difference between this and butler creek scope cap?

  6. Joe Chen says:

    Ken – actually the intention of this product is an “anti-storage” cover. Quick background: The idea came to me while it was pissing rain at an EAG carbine class a few years ago. I ended up covering the optic with my support hand at low ready just to maintain a usable sight picture when on target. I ran into the same situation in Basic last year where I ended up using MRE toilet paper and 100mph tape to make an lens cover for my CCO.

    The concept is to act as a functional cover for when the weapon is in use. As you’ve noticed, the current bikini covers are a no-go as they are a slow two-handed operation with no retention. Just like the Micro is in an “always ready” state, the caps should be open and linked together out of the way in most ideal environments.

    When the conditions turn nasty and most guys go home, the caps can be twisted apart and the lenses covered with one hand. If the opportunity presents itself, the caps can quickly be swiped open with one hand and the threat serviced. Even though they may flap around a little in the open position, they never move enough to impede the sight picture under recoil or movement or weapon orientation. Once there is a lull in the fight, they can be smashed together with one hand into the stowed position instead of hanging out in the breeze for the duration of the fight. Even so, I’ve beefed up the hinges and the underside as well as some other little detail changes. I’ll be posting pictures of the latest prototypes when I get them next week.

    While this is intended as more of a patrol cover for inclement conditions, it could also do a decent job of keeping the lenses clear in a vehicle rack as you’ve noticed.

    ncs – Butler Creek scope caps won’t fit on an Aimpoint Micro. Not enough room, especially on the back. Unless you go with something like a GG&G mount.

  7. Terry says:

    It looks like a pretty awesome and well thought out product to me. I’ve never had much love for the Butler Creek covers that Leupold tend to throw in with their scopes; they never seem to fit properly or remain closed, particularly on the ocular lens for some reason.

    If I used any of the Aimpoint Micros, I’d grab a few of these covers without a second thought – especially at only $25!

    My colour suggestions would be black, FDE and khaki green.

  8. Ben says:

    Just putting it out there, but…

    When using a dot sight, if you are aiming correctly, you can still use it with the front cap on can’t you? Of course, yeah, you are a little obscured, but it’s not a game over scenario.

    Not to poo-poo the project, but it seems a little over engineered to fix a problem that isn’t really that much of a problem.

  9. Joe Chen says:

    Terry – Thanks! But wtf is khaki green? 🙂

    Ben – Appreciate the honest input. It’s not about the front cap at all. When you’re at low ready, you expose the rear lens to rain (and sand for that matter). The rear lens fills with water drops which the red dot refracts off of and becomes completely unusable. You can’t shoot what you can’t see. That IS a game over scenario until you can get it cleaned off. You can try to blow the water out, but then you fog the lens. You can try to wipe the water off, but then you smudge the lens. And all you’ll see are red Christmas lights in the back of your optic the whole time you and your buddies are taking fire.

    This cover offers a quick way to keep the rear lens (and front lens) clean in crap conditions that most people will never be in, much less have to take a critical shot in. Does that make sense? It seems like folks are missing the primary purpose of this product. Maybe my earlier posts don’t do a very good job at explaining it?

  10. CapnTroy says:

    Joe – I’m tracking and your explanations have been spot on. I’ve had similar experiences with the T-1 except snow was the culprit.

    I wish I’d had one of your covers back then to ward off the slush while the AR was hanging on the sling.

    Great idea and I’m in at the team level!

  11. Well done Joe – when I filmed TacTV at Aimpoint this year I urged them to consider different color options- your setup with the colors and the lens caps looks like a great answer

    I’ll email you as I would love to try some of these out

    • SSD says:

      LAV, that is the first thing I thought about, the ability to change the color without paint or Cerakote.

    • FormerSFMedic says:

      I agree LAV. I had a Micro finished in Cerakote recently. If this product had been on the market,I probably would have bought it. That is a significant price savings.

  12. Haji says:

    Now, really, what would LAV know about the Micro. I mean, he just had one on a rifle that got thrown out of a helicopter, shot with a shotgun and blown up. LOL!

  13. Roecar says:

    My friends and I are happy to be supporting this project on the ‘Team Level’

  14. ODG says:

    Joe, my hat is off to you. You saw a problem, and a product gap, and you came up with a good solution and design to fix it. I admire, and respect that. Since you are new to the Soldier Systems neighborhood, allow me to give you some friendly advice. You will find a very wide spectrum of experience here, everyone from LAV who is one of the most respected and knowledgable professionals in the industry all the way to Jack Sh**t the 17 year old airsoft kid who doesn’t even own a real carbine. My point is, you came up with a great product and a video I thought was well edited and funny you explained your product fine, so don’t feel obligated to defend your design to every idiot who has something negative to say or you’ll be be writing 6 six paragraph responses all day long. Great work I look forward to picking up one of your covers when you get them in production.

  15. Joe Chen says:

    CapnTroy, Roecar – Thanks for the support! Looking forward to your hands-on thoughts!

    Larry Vickers – Wow! Thanks for the interest! We’ll get a prototype out to you asap! Looking forward to your feedback!

    SSD, FormerSFMedic – Color changing is a secondary benefit, but a valid one. I might experiment with some hydro-dipping for fun. Maybe a limited edition MultiCam reward on Kickstarter? 🙂

    Haji – Yeah, who is this LAV guy anyways? 😉 I feel like the cool kid in school. Looking forward to your feedback as well!

    Batman – Interesting idea. I’ll play around with it, but it will probably complicate the closer of the caps. I’ve seen some foldable eyecups that might do the trick…

    ODG – Haha thanks! I’ll get back to work! 🙂

  16. Greg Allison says:

    Me like this idea….I’m in for $25.00 hope u make a cover in O.D. Green

  17. Joe Chen says:

    Hi Greg – Thanks for the support! I posted pics of the latest prototype I picked up this week to the Kickstarter page, twitter and facebook. I don’t think I can post it here, but Soldier Systems will be getting one this week to play with!

  18. Kirk says:

    The weather often sucks up here in the Pacific Northwest, and I have had the same problem as Joe many times over. I cannot see a down side for me having them on all of my T-1’s.

    I’m in at the Buddy Level (But they will all be for me… Buddy is only my first name).

    Good work Joe.