What Size MOA Red Dot Should I Buy?

Though it may seem a bit overwhelming at first with how many red dot sights there are to choose from, when it comes down to it, there aren’t really that many differences in red dot and reflex sights. Picking a red dot sight is easier than choosing a magnified riflescope—which can feel like the options are endless. After breaking down a few features, buying a reflex sight should be a simple process.

View through a Sightmark red dot sight sight aiming at a target down range.
Red dot or reflex sights range in dot sizes from 1 to up to 8 or 9 MOA.

Red dot and reflex sights are relatively simple and after deciding on how much you want to spend (your budget) and the type of reflex sight you want (open or tube,) which features suit your needs—

size, type of illumination, weight, construction, etc.—it will come down to deciding which size dot is best.

Good for rifles, pistols and shotguns, dot sights are a highly effective aiming tool for CQB, close to medium ranges, competition and self-defense. The biggest advantage of a red dot over any other optic or sight is the ability to acquire and hit a target incredibly quick. The size of the dot directly relates to how quickly you can locate the dot in the unit’s head’s up display and how much target area the dot covers. Both these things can significantly affect your accuracy.

What is MOA?

The smaller the dot, the harder it is to see. The larger the dot, the easier to see but less precise.
The smaller the dot, the harder it is to see. The larger the dot, the easier to see but less precise.

The illuminated red or green dot of a red dot/reflex sight is measured in MOA—minutes of angle, a unit for angular measurement of a circle. 1 MOA is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards, which we round down to 1 inch. Meaning, the circle (red dot) will appear to be 1 inch in diameter on a target 100 yards out. Therefore, the smaller the dot’s MOA, the harder to see. A larger MOA dot will be incredibly easy to see but may cover too much of the target at further distances to get an accurate shot.

Smaller dots—1 to 2.5 MOA—are used for precise shots at longer distances. 5, 6, 6.5 and larger MOA dots will get you on target faster but will be less precise because the dot will cover a broader area on the target.

Red Dot MOA Size Comparison

1 MOA dots are usually found on “tactical” sights and provide a very precise aiming dot. Yet, those with less than perfect eyesight can struggle with locating the dot, not only on the unit itself but the target as well. To compensate, many 1 MOA red dot sights will be encircled by a larger 60 MOA circle, which also helps with close-range targets. 3, 4, and 5 MOA dots are quicker to acquire due to their larger size and are best for close range targets. Big dots are perfect for speed competition, steel shooting and for those with astigmatism. The most common dot size ranges from 3 to 5 MOA.

The Sightmark M-Spec has multiple reticles, this one is a 2 MOA center dot with a 65 MOA circle dot crosshair
A 4 MOA dot is best for close ranges, while a 2 MOA dot is best for longer ranges.

3 MOA is probably the most popular dot size for both target shooting and self-defense, as the dot is clear, and accuracy is still precise at both close and mid ranges. Still allowing rapid target acquisition in self-defense range, a 3 MOA red dot with an adjustable brightness feature will aid in accuracy when shooting out farther because smaller dots appear larger on brighter settings. Competitors that require speed prefer bigger dots like 6, 6.5 or even a very large 8 MOA dot. People who use red dots for handguns at close distances also prefer bigger dots.

We designed the Ultra Shot and previous red dot sights with the dot size that was available at the time. Since then, there have been significant advances in optic quality. Our newest models, like the M-Spec, incorporate the most innovative technology available in reflex sights. About five years ago, we asked AR15.com and Sightmark Pro Staff members which types of reticles they preferred. Sightmark Product Development Director Jonathan Horton says, “Most of our red dots are 3 or 5 MOA which is easy to acquire and still have on-target accuracy at 50 or 100 yards, even with a magnifier. Going bigger is good for short range but you’re covering a lot of your target anything over 50 yards.  If we do a smaller aiming dot than 3, it does provide better accuracy out to 100 but we usually design larger circle (circle-dot) around the dot for better acquisition at close range.”

Most shooters purchase a red dot sight for its original intention—quick target acquisition in a self-defense situation. However, turkey hunters and fast-paced competitive shooters also appreciate the accuracy a reflex sight offers. At the end of the day, choosing the size of the illuminated dot reticle depends on your primary use and firearm you need the red dot for.

What dot size do you like and why? Tell us in the comment section.

To learn how to use a red dot sight and read more about their benefits, click here.

Click here to shop Red Dot Sights.

Flat Dark Earth vs. Black

When it comes to the way a gun looks, it is truly a case of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There aren’t cultural beauty standards for this type of stuff, so the curves on the Smith & Wesson Model 60 revolver aren’t perceived by most gun folks to be any more attractive than the boxy GLOCK. Apart from the Liberator and Hi-Point, the way a gun looks is pretty much subjective. Traditionally, guns were blued, steel and wood but since polymer started reigning supreme, most guns now come in a wide variety of finishes—if you decide to send in your gun for Duracoating, you can have your gun look like whatever you want it to. Light, dark, patterned—you name it, you can get it!

There are hundreds of different variations of Flat Dark Earth. DuraCoat has 17 versions of flat dark earth alone. This picture shows the variations in flat dark earth from manufacturer to manufacturer.
There are hundreds of different variations of Flat Dark Earth. DuraCoat has 17 versions of flat dark earth alone. This picture shows the variations in flat dark earth from manufacturer to manufacturer.

I think the popularity of Duracoat comes from each of our desire to personalize or individualize our firearms, especially black rifles. Most popular semiauto concealed carry guns only come in one finish from the factory—black. Duracoating, colored accessories and furniture is a way to make it ours.

Some colors are more popular, or at least more marketed than others—there hasn’t been a shortage of pink, purple, or Tiffany Blue firearms marketed toward women and there are plenty of OD green, FDE and some urban gray to choose from if black gets boring. The most popular of these alternative colors is the Flat Dark Earth (FDE) which has remained an in-demand color for firearms and firearm accessories for years.

Proof is in the pudding—GLOCK’s anticipated 2018 release of the 19X is GLOCK’s first time to release a factory gun in a different color other than black. Because there are no standard specifications for FDE color matching, you’ll find it called different things. GLOCK calls its finish Coyote Brown. You’ll also find it called Desert Tan and Coyote Tan with lighter and darker variants. You can see and discuss the differences on this AR15.com thread.

What is Flat Dark Earth?

FDE is an earth-toned color resembling the soil and sand found in the desert, most often in the Middle East. Militaries around the world have incorporated this muted, khaki color in their uniforms forever. In fact, “khaki” is the Persian word for the soil’s color in what is now Pakistan. Tan-based camo was officially adopted by the United States military in 1977. It looked like cookie dough and was nicknamed “chocolate chip.” It wasn’t very successful in real life desert climates, though, so in the 1990s, the military introduced the Desert Camo Uniform (DCU) when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

What are the Advantages of FDE vs. Black?

Sightmark’s M-Spec matches the Tavor
Sightmark’s M-Spec matches the Tavor

There are a few advantages to FDE vs. black. This earth-toned tan or sand color is practical and subdued and less easier to spot than black. Scratches and marring are less obvious. It doesn’t get as hot in the summertime cooking under the sun at the gun range. It is aesthetically pleasing to many and most of its popularity is due to it being a color SOCOM and Special Forces utilize. And, like some FDE fans like to say, “just like red sports cars, FDE firearms are more accurate.” 😉

Sightmark introduced Flat Dark Earth products in 2014 to meet customer demands. Many AR-15 owners like to match the furniture to the optic for cohesion. Unlike some manufacturers, Sightmark meticulously color-matched the Ultra Shot M-Spec line of reflex sights and the LoPro laser light combo to the extremely popular Magpul’s FDE. It also matches the FDE factory finish on the Tavor.

Sightmark’s Executive Vice President of Sales Jeff Murray says, “There have been many different colors of ‘tan’ called everything from Coyote Brown, Military Tan and the more popular FDE. Magpul really made this movement commercial some years ago when they started offering all their aftermarket parts in this color. Tens of thousands of AR-type rifles are sold every year and I think people just got tired of matte black, so with the U.S. Government starting to source some rifles in this color and Magpul making their furniture in FDE, it was a natural step for optics companies to start offering other color options. Sightmark has been very pleased with the sales of our flat dark earth finishes and is always looking at new functional and fun colors to adapt to our optics.”

What is your favorite alternative firearms finish? What other Sightmark products would you like to see in flat dark earth…or another color? Talk to us in the comment section!

 

Do You Need a Laser Light Combo for Your AR-15?

Scan any gun forum or blog about weapon-mounted tactical lights and you’ll quickly find two schools of thought—handheld vs. weapon-mounted. Like the .45 v. 9mm debate, those on either side strongly oppose the other. The handheld light folks believe that a weapon-mounted light means you’ll sweep your loved ones and possibly shoot them. The weapon-mounted fans tell those guys that they just don’t know how to handle their weapon properly. Though the handheld folks do have a valid argument against the safe use of a weapon-mounted tactical light, the pros of its use outweigh the cons. With the right light, you can even defeat the one thing weapon-mounted lights have going against them. Like many debates based on opinion, a happy middle ground can be reached between both parties.

Why do you Need a Tactical Light?

To positively identify targets in a home defense situation, use a weapon-mounted tactical light like this one from Sightmark
To positively identify targets in a home defense situation, use a weapon-mounted tactical light like this one from Sightmark

Most self-defense situations happen at night or in low-light. It is imperative to positively identify a potential threat before making the decision to raise your gun and fire. After being sure of your target, bright lights, especially on strobe mode, can disorient or distract a threat, buying you time.

The Case for a Handheld Flashlight

A handheld flashlight allows you to search the house, positively identify the potential target as a friend or foe and decide to engage without ever having to point the muzzle of your firearm at an innocent. (Remember, one of the Golden Rules of Firearms Safety is to never point a gun at something you aren’t willing to destroy.)

However, with the right weapon-mounted light, you’ll be able to either keep both hands on your rifle or leave one hand free without ever having the barrel pointed at a family member. The key is picking out a light with enough lumens to light up the room while your rifle is at low-ready (never needing to raise your barrel until you have to.)

A tactical light is an essential piece of self-defense gear.
A tactical light is an essential piece of self-defense gear.

The pros of a weapon-mounted light outweigh the cons. Here’s why:

  1. You have the use of both hands.

Manipulating a firearm while also gripping a handheld flashlight takes extensive training and practice. A weapon-mounted light allows you the use of both hands, which might be the only way you might be able to operate your firearm after the adrenaline dump has seized your dexterity. Further, a free hand could be used to open and close doors, call the police, hold on to the dog, or push children out of harm’s way.

  1. You aren’t wasting time fumbling for multiple things in the dark under stress.

When something goes bump in the night, the last thing I want to be doing is fumbling for multiple things on the nightstand—gun, eyeglasses, light, phone, etc. This just gives the bad guy time to know he’s woken me up. Further, you know you won’t leave it behind because its attached to your firearm.

  1. Your focus remains on the sight picture and your situational awareness.

Trying to manipulate a gun and a flashlight takes some practiced skill. When things get crazy, will you be able to concentrate on your target while also trying to operate the gun and the flashlight at the same time? A weapon-mounted light takes away one less thing you need to worry about and allows you to focus your full attention on your surroundings.

What to Look for in a Weapon Mounted Light

Brightness

Your light needs to be bright enough to stun, or at least disorient someone. For inside the home, that’s at least 100 lumens. You don’t want to burn the retinas out of your eyes in case of reflection, so don’t go too bright or you won’t have any chance of preserving your night vision and then both you and the perp are screwed.

Size

Inspired by military designs, the Sightmark® LoPro Combo delivers optimal precision accuracy and versatility.
Inspired by military designs, the Sightmark® LoPro Combo delivers optimal precision accuracy and versatility.

The last thing you want to do is have a bulky, hard-to-maneuver rifle. A low-profile and lightweight light gives you plenty of room to add reflex sights, scopes and other accessories.

Ease of Use

The weapon light needs to be as easy and as intuitive as possible to operate. In times of duress, you won’t be able to remember complex steps, so easy-access buttons are essential.

Runtime

I forget to turn off my battery-powered optics more than not. A long battery life, automatic shut off and battery-save features are important considerations. The last thing you want during an engagement is for your light to fail because of a short run time.

Best of Both Worlds

I prefer a laser/light combo like the LoPro. I can quickly identify targets and just as quickly place an accurate shot on center mass. It has the perfect amount of light, adjustable from 5 to 300 lumens with 3 modes that operate via a knurled twist knob on the LED’s lamp head—dim, bright and strobe modes. Strobe mode disorients, helping mask your location, as well as act as a signal to others. Ambidextrous buttons on either side of the unit, as well as an included pressure pad,  activate the light and laser. The green Class IIIa laser has a 600-yard range at night and is also visible up to 50 yards in bright daylight.

A light is an essential piece of self-defense gear. The best tactic is to employ both.

See.

There is a happy medium!

Do you utilize a tactical light? Are you handheld or weapon-mounted? Tell us which one and why in the comment section.

Click here to check out the LoPro series of tactical lights and lasers.

Top 10 Reasons to Own a Gun

There are countless reasons why people choose to own guns. In my book, as long as it’s legal, any reason is a valid reason. Protection, competition and hunting are the top reasons gun owners cite for why they own a firearm, but there are also collectors, people who have them simply because they were inherited or just because they can.

I own my firearms for various reasons, not just one and I can say that all the above reasons are included.

As a woman, knowing how to safely and confidently use my firearms empowers me. In a world where women are often victimized by criminals, because we are seen as weak, knowing my firearm is by my side assures me that anyone who tries to do me harm isn’t getting away without a fight. Guns really are the one true equalizer.

Besides self-defense, I thoroughly enjoy the shooting sports and am proud that I can put fresh, 100% organic meat on the table—now that’s true field-to-fork.

Gun ownership isn’t just about hunting or the right to defend yourself. Gun ownership is a symbol of freedom. And fortunately, we have the Second Amendment to back up that inherent right.

My reasons might be different than yours for owning firearms, but I believe the following ten reasons should be at the top of your list:

  1. Preserve your liberty.

 Patrick Henry quote: “To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms”

The Pew Research Center did a survey in the Spring of 2017 and found that 74% of gun owners associate gun ownership with their personal sense of freedom, stating, “Whether for hunting, sport shooting or personal protection, most gun owners count the right to bear arms as central to their freedom.” America’s founding fathers felt that firearms were so central to our freedom, they made the right to bear arms the second most important thing on the country’s Constitution. If it weren’t for firearms, Americans wouldn’t have won their independence from England. Thomas Jefferson, principal author of the Declaration of Independence and third President of the United States wrote, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

  1. Protect your life and the life of your family.

    One of the main reasons why I own firearms is for self-protection.
    One of the main reasons why I own firearms is for self-protection.

Seconds matter and the police take minutes. Feeling safe is a basic human need. Polls from Rasmussen, Gallup, the Pew Research Center, ABC News and the Washington Post find that 68% of Americans report feeling “safer in a neighborhood where guns are allowed.”

  1. It’s your right.

The right to self-defense is an inherent right and the Second Amendment guarantees that right.

  1. Guns keep America safer.

The Crime Prevention Research Center reports that states with the highest number of concealed-carry permits have the biggest reductions in homicide rates, consistently concluding that “allowing concealed carry leads to a reduction in violent crime.”

  1. More guns equal less crime.

Two million people a year stop crimes with a gun. Guns are used 80 times more to prevent crimes than they are used to commit murder.

  1. Criminals will never give up their guns.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 80% of criminals obtain their firearms from private, illegal sources.

  1. Be a responsible, law-abiding citizen.

Concealed carry permit holders are safer than citizens who don’t have a license to carry. The Crime Prevention Research Center finds that concealed-carry permit holders are the most law-abiding demographic in our country.

  1. Feed your family.

There is no truer organic, "field to fork" meat than wild game.
There is no truer organic, “field to fork” meat than wild game.

Wild game is the only truly organic, grass-fed, and sustainable meat. It is lower in fat, cholesterol, calories and saturated fat, as well as high in protein, iron and vitamin B and contains no antibiotics or growth hormones.

  1. Teach firearm safety and pass on the tradition of firearm ownership to the next generation.

Currently, only five percent of Americans hunt. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicts that number will decline in the next ten years. This is extremely problematic because the money made from hunting licenses and the excise tax on guns, ammunition and fishing equipment provides 60% of the funding for state wildlife agencies and conservation systems.

  1. Guns help increase your sense of responsibility, discipline, concentration, and confidence.

Samir Becic of the Health Fitness Revolution says the shooting sports increases your strength, stamina, focus, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and relieves eye stress.

As you can see, not only are there good reasons to own a firearm, but there are also positive consequences to responsible firearm ownership that benefit our entire country!

Why do you own a gun? List your reasons in the comment section.

The Bill Drill—The Ultimate Defensive Shooting Technique

If you do only one drill at the range…do this one.

Regular training at the gun range keeps you proficient.
Regular training keeps you proficient.

There are plenty of reasons why people chose to own firearms. Many firearm owners, like myself, own firearms for lots of different reasons. But there is one reason I have found that we all have in common—to protect ourselves and our families if we must. Honestly, I don’t know anyone that owns a gun that doesn’t say, “protection” as one of those reasons. I know people who own a firearm solely to defend themselves. In a Pew Research Center poll, 67% of gun owners report the main reason they own a firearm is for self-defense. No matter the reason, choosing to be a firearm owner means responsibly learning how to safely operate your firearm, as well as knowing how to clean and maintain that firearm. Buying a gun for protection and sticking it in a biometric safe next to the bed isn’t enough. Knowing confidently that you will be able to use that gun if you must is what can save your life. And the only way you are going to do that is by regular training and practice.

Practice keeps you proficient with the shooting fundamentals and basic handgun techniques. It helps you know the ins and outs of your firearm and how to keep it in tip-top working order. Training reveals your weaknesses. It creates positive muscle memory, so you can operate your gun efficiently in times of duress and hopefully, increase your speed and accuracy.

In Texas, we must take a course from a certified instructor in order to obtain a concealed carry license. Every instructor of that course will tell you at some time during those six hours that we “shoot to stop a threat.” It is highly unlikely that when you must use your gun to save your life, your first shot will put down an attacker. Though we cannot know what our exact reaction would be when faced with the situation in which we have to use our gun, most experts agree—you will not aim properly, nor will one round usually do the trick. When faced with a threat, your eyes will naturally stay on target and not your gun’s sights. That is why the simple Bill Drill is one of my favorite defensive pistol drills. It makes you practice your fundamentals but also prepares you for a self-defense situation and challenges you to increase your speed and accuracy. The Bill Drill focuses on a realistic aspect of a self-defense shooting—dumping your mag at a threat in close quarters.

Before doing the Bill Drill at the range with live ammo (you can easily perform this drill at home with airsoft or dry fire,) check with your range to make sure it is okay to draw from a holster and rapid fire. There are many ranges that ask you to keep 2 to 3 seconds between shots.

To do the Bill Drill you will need:

  • IDPA or IPSC silhouette or another man-sized silhouette target
  • Ammo
  • One full magazine with at least six rounds loaded
  • A 6×11 piece of paper, paper plate, index card, or another way to mark an area in center mass of the target

How to do the Bill Drill:

Put a paper plate in the center mass area of any man-sized target. Focus on speed and accuracy. Empty your magazine into the paper plate. Your goal is to have every round hit somewhere inside that paper plate.

  • Hang a paper plate, index card or a 6×11 sheet of paper in the center mass area of the target. This is your “A Zone.” Send the target out to seven yards (Most self-defense shootings occur between 10 and 5 feet.)
  • Either keep your gun in your holster or if your range restricts holster work, keep it on the bench or at the low ready.
  • Have your shooting buddy tell you when to go and clock your time on a shot timer.
  • Draw your gun from your holster, the bench or from the low ready and fire six rounds or your full magazine into the 6×11 area.
  • Your ultimate goal is to hit every round in the A Zone in under three seconds.

Start out slow with the Bill Drill, eventually working your way up from eight seconds to three Do the drill cold. Meaning, let it be the first drill you do when you arrive at the range. Think about it—you won’t get a warm-up in real life.

 

Modifications and Challenges:

  • Reload quickly and perform the drill with another magazine
  • Switch from a paper plate to an index card
  • Practice reloads while keeping your eyes on the target
  • Practice clearing malfunctions without taking your gun off-target

The Bill Drill is not only a practical self-defense shooting drill, but it also helps you develop faster recovery time for quicker and more accurate follow-up shots and better trigger control and recoil mitigation.

You can dry fire any drill at home. Dry fire gives you the opportunity to practice and train more often and save money, especially if your gun range has restrictive rules.

Note: If you have never drawn from a holster before, please do not attempt the Bill Drill with live ammunition. Accidents happen when people are inexperienced at drawing and reholstering. You must learn how to present your gun from its holster safely. Practice this at home without any ammo, graduating to snap caps before any attempts at drawing at the range with live ammunition.

No amount of training will completely prepare you for real-life self-defense use of your handgun, but regular practice will help you develop the muscle memory needed to function efficiently if you have to. It will help you overcome the adrenaline dump that causes tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills and memory loss when your body experiences fight or flight.

What are your favorite self-defense drills? Share them with other shooters in the comment section.

Truck Guns

Recently, I’ve been considering getting myself a truck gun. Not too long ago, I had an important birthday and bought myself a new expensive carry gun. It’s not one I’m willing to leave unattended in my car, so I feel like I need a beater gun for when I’m on road trips or toolin’ around town going in and out of places where I can’t legally carry. Having a truck gun also allows me the opportunity to have something close at hand that holds more rounds in a bigger caliber than my .380. Plus, what if I have to get out of Dodge ASAP with no time to run home and get the big guns?

There are certain guns you want to leave in your car, even in a secured safe, like this special edition Kimber micro Bel Air .380 pistol with faux ivory grips, Tiffany blue finish and shiny stainless steel slide
Some guns you don’t want to leave in your car.

Some of you are probably already shaking their heads saying, “why doesn’t she just carry a bigger gun?” Well, it gets hot—and I mean really hot—in North Texas. Work- and weather-appropriate clothing prevents me from comfortably carrying a full-sized 9mm, .40 or .45 that holds 9 rounds or more. Also, what’s the actual probability I will EVER need more than 14 rounds in a self-defense situation? So, no, I’m not thinking about getting a car gun in anticipation of a firefight. I want it because…reasons. And sometimes you need a “valid” excuse to give your significant other when you buy a new gun. Amiright?

I don’t know, maybe it’s my upbringing, but truck guns just make sense to me. My desire for one is threefold—for self-defense when I don’t have my EDC, as backup to my EDC and as my SHTF gun.

What is a Truck Gun?

A truck gun is a gun you designate as the one you keep in your vehicle.

Typically, truck guns are:

  1. A rifle or shotgun
  2. Affordable to cheap in price
  3. Chambered for a caliber that takes down game
  4. Incredibly rugged
  5. Simple
  6. Easy to store
  7. Reliable
Carrying your gun on a rack in your truck used to be common.
How many of you were used to seeing this growing up?

I grew up in small-town Arkansas. Back then, truck guns were literally just that—a shotgun or hunting rifle hung on a rack in plain view in your truck. Truck guns weren’t just commonplace, they were almost religion. It was never a threatening gesture and it never scared anyone. I mean, you never know when you’ll happen upon a trophy buck or gobbler.

You don’t have to have a truck to have a truck gun. You can keep a gun in your SUV, minivan, Tesla, Smart Car or whatever it is you drive on the reg. It just means a gun you specifically designate as the one you keep in your vehicle. Typically, a truck gun, or beater gun, is an affordable to down-right cheap rifle or shotgun. It needs to be tough, reliable and easy to shoot. Unless you take it to the range often, a get-home gun won’t see a lot of action, so you want to pick something that doesn’t need a lot of maintenance and if the off chance it was stolen, you aren’t losing too much if you never get it back.

A truck gun needs to be easy to store, as well—under the seat or tucked away in the trunk—so bad guys who peep in windows won’t know it’s there.

Another requirement is that its handy and easy to use in a caliber that stops varmints and predators—four-legged, two-legged and ones that slither—and can also bring meat to the campfire in a survival situation. It’s gotta be fairly lightweight, so if I had to ditch the car and hike it on foot, I can sling it over my shoulder without it being a burden. It needs to be simple to clean, field strip and operate. And it especially needs to shoot straight enough to hit what I’m pointing at. I’m also going to need to like this gun. With any gun, you need to remain proficient with it—which means practice and training. Trust me, there’s no point in holding onto a firearm you dread shooting.

It’s a lot to ask of one gun. Fortunately, there are plenty of guns that meet my criteria to choose from.

These are my top choices:

Before you start to argue, remember that what is best for me is not necessarily best for you. You might want to consider a lever-action or a bolt-action rifle. I know plenty of shooters who prefer an old military surplus truck gun like the SKS, others pick a big-bore revolver.

I can’t tell you which one would be “best,” because “best” is all relative. If you drive around in the desert all day, you probably want something geared more toward rattlers. If you are in the mountains, you’ll probably want to consider a bigger caliber than I need for bears and such. It all just depends on your situation, where you live and what’s comfortable for you. I narrowed my list down to these six.

Kel-Tec SU-16C

The Kel-Tech SU-16C is the perfect truck gun with its integral bipod and folding stock.
The Kel-Tech SU-16C is the perfect truck gun with its integral bipod and folding stock.

The Kel-Tec SU-16C is chambered in 5.56/.223, folds up to 25.5 inches and weighs 4.7 pounds.

Pros:

  • I already have plenty of .223 ammo.
  • It accepts standard AR-15 magazines, which again, I have plenty of.
  • Simple design with few parts.
  • It’s accurate.
  • I thoroughly enjoy shooting it.

Cons:

The average price of $650 is more than I want to pay.

Chiappa PAK-9

The new Chiappa is based on the AK-47 and chambered for 9mm.
The new Chiappa is based on the AK-47 and chambered for 9mm.

You might want to consider a pistol-caliber carbine that shares ammo and mag compatibility with your regular handgun.  The Chiappa PAK-9 is based on the AK-platform, chambered for 9mm and accepts Glock and Beretta mags. It is 14.47 inches long and weighs 6 pounds.

Pros:

  • It chews up and spits out cheap ammo fed outta cheap mags.
  • It accepts standard AK furniture.
  • All I have to do is add a cheap red dot and I’m good to go.
  • At the time of publication, there was one listed on Gun Broker for less than $400. Other online gun shops had them priced at $430.

Cons:

Reliability. It was introduced just a year ago, so I’m not sure how well the Chiappa PAK-9 is made.

Mossberg 590 Shockwave

The Mossberg 590 Shockwave with 14" barrel is a Non-NFA firearm.
The Mossberg 590 Shockwave with 14″ barrel is a Non-NFA firearm.

The Shockwave rocked the shooting world at SHOT Show 2017 due to its 14-inch barrel. It’s a Non-NFA firearm according to the BATFE. It has a bird’s head pistol grip, available in 12 or 20 gauge, holds 6 rounds, is 26.37 inches long, and weighs only 5.3 pounds.

Pros:

  • It is based on the trustworthy and reliable Mossberg 590 action.
  • A shotgun has a lot of versatility.
  • I found the Shockwave currently going for $360.

Cons:

It takes practice getting comfortable shooting it reliably and accurately.

Hi-Point Carbine

The Hi-Point works and is super affordable.
The Hi-Point works and is super affordable.

The Hi-Point is 31 inches long, weighs 6.25 pounds and is 100% made in America.

Pros:

  • I found a .380 ACP Hi-Point Carbine listed as low as $264—the cheapest on my list.
  • It shares ammo with my EDC.
  • It works.
  • I don’t mind if it gets dinged up and scratched.

Cons:

It’s big, so finding a place to store it would be challenging.

Ruger 10/22 Takedown

An old stand-by—the Ruger 10/22.
An old stand-by—the Ruger 10/22.

Offered in quite a variety of models, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown is chambered for .22 Long Rifle and breaks down into two pieces.

Pros:

  • It is simple to operate and virtually has no recoil.
  • The Ruger 10/22 is undoubtedly accurate and reliable.
  • Its shares caliber capability with another one of my rifles.

Cons:

You must put the thing together for it to work, so this isn’t a grab- and go-ready rifle. Even though you can get mags that hold 25 rounds, you still have a gun chambered for only .22 LR and ammo isn’t as cheap or as readily available as it used to be.

AK-47

Ahhhh...the AK-47. Is any gun collection complete without one?
Ahhhh…the AK-47. Is any gun collection complete without one?

I’ve had an AK-47 on my list of guns to own for a very long time now and this provides the perfect opportunity to finally pull the trigger on getting one.

Pros:

  • The AKs a beast.
  • Ammo is cheap.

Cons:

AK-47. Cool. Okay, but what model? Which one do I pick? I don’t know because AKs aren’t so cheap anymore.

Safety First

You don’t ever want to ‘set it and forget’ your truck gun. Not only for safety reasons but because of temperature extremes, coastal environments and maintenance. There are some environments where guns are more susceptible to corrosion than others. A well-taken care of firearm is a functioning firearm.

As part of the Project Child Safe initiative, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reminds us that responsible gun ownership includes making sure our firearms don’t fall into the wrong hands. If you are going to keep a gun in the car, lock it up and keep it out of sight. There are plenty of reputable companies that make gun safes specifically for your car—GunVault, Bulldog Cases, Titan Security Products and TruckVault. God forbid your gun ever gets stolen and is used in a crime.

You should always remove your gun from your car overnight and keep it secure inside the house.

Truck guns are about function and utility. It is all about the work they can do. It doesn’t have to be pretty—in fact, it will probably get dinged and scratched riding around in the car. It doesn’t have to have the latest and greatest handguards or accessory. Old-school Weaver and Picatinny rails will do just fine to attach affordable optics. It doesn’t even have to be brand new. A used gun in good condition will more than suffice for this purpose. Now, it just about which one I can find for the best price.

Do you have a truck gun? What is it and why did you choose it? If not, which truck guns would you consider? Tell us in the comment section.

Are Red Dot Sights Accurate?

What is a red dot sight?

Reflex or red dot sights use a reflective glass lens to gather light from an LED to project an illuminated red dot on the field of view. They are used for quick and accurate aiming.
Red dot sights make aiming faster and more accurate.

A red dot sight uses a reflective glass lens to gather light from an LED which projects an illuminated reticle—typically a dot or a circle with center dot—superimposed on the field of view. The greatest benefit of using a red dot sight is increased speed of acquiring a target without loss of accuracy.

A red dot sight makes a highly visible aiming point for the user. Unlike traditional magnified scopes, you can aim with a red dot sight with both eyes open and it has unlimited eye relief. Iron sights require users to align both the front and back sights to aim at a target, while red dot sights are designed to get the shooter on target very quickly.

To answer the question, “are red dot sights accurate?” and get the most out of your red dot sight, you must use the sight correctly.

Bindon Aiming Concept

As noted above, red dot sights are designed specifically to be used with both eyes open. This is called the Bindon Aiming Concept. When we keep both eyes open, we get the benefit of focusing both on the target and the reticle. Your dominant eye sees the reticle and the target, while your non-dominant eye sees only the target, resulting in what is called a stereopsis image. The image from the dominant eye is overlaid with the image from the non-dominant eye. This process happens subconsciously and nearly instantaneously. This not only naturally leads to faster target acquisition and the probability of an accurate shot; stereopsis also allows a failsafe method of target acquisition in case your red dot’s line of sight is blocked.

Red dot sights have 1x or a true zero magnification. Instead of concentrating on getting the reticle centered on your target, the illuminated reticle of a red dot sight happens as fast you can raise your firearm and see the dot. Remaining focused on the target, as soon as the dot is at your aiming point, you can fire an accurate shot.

Reflex and red dot sights operate using the Bindon Aiming Concept, meaning shooting with both eyes open. This gives you an advantage because you focus on both the target and reticle.
You can shoot with both eyes open using a reflex sight.

Using the Bindon Aiming Concept also allows shooters to remain situationally aware with a wide field of view. This is particularly useful in self-defense, law enforcement and military situations, as you can still see your surroundings and identify further threats.

Parallax

To a certain degree, red dot sights are nearly parallax-free. Parallax is what you experience when using magnified riflescopes. When you move your head, the reticle seems to move around the target. This is caused by the reticle not focusing at the same distance as the target. With a red dot sight, your head position will not affect the red dot sight’s accuracy.

No optical sight, though, is 100% parallax-free as parallax will occur at some point at closer ranges. This can be clearly seen when a red dot is mounted in an absolute co-witness setup. In this setup, the reticle will “swim” all around the front iron sight. The typical red dot sight will be parallax-free from 25 to 50 yards to infinity.

MOA Dot Sizes

Another important factor affecting the accuracy of the red dot sight is the size of the dot.

The illuminated reticle, whether it be a single red or green dot or a circle with subtensions and center dot, is measured in minutes of angle (MOA.) The minute of angle is a unit for angular measurement of a circle. 1 MOA is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards, rounded down to 1 inch. For example, a 1 MOA dot will appear to be 1 inch big on at target 100 yards out. A small MOA dot will be harder to see, especially at longer distances. A large MOA dot, especially at the highest brightness level, will be very easy to see but may cover too much of your target to precisely hit where you’ve aimed.

The Sightmark M-Spec has multiple reticles, this one is a 2 MOA center dot with a 65 MOA circle dot crosshair
A 2 MOA dot with 65 MOA circle dot crosshair illuminated reticle.

3 to 5 MOA dots—with 3 being the most popular—lay in between the middle of small and bigger dot sizes. Since most red dot sights have adjustable brightness, the 3 to 5 MOA dot is the most accurate in most shooting situations from home defense in tight quarters to medium range steel target shooting or hog hunting.

Picking out the right reticle size will help or hinder your accuracy with a red dot.

For more about how to chose which dot size, click here.

Though magnified riflescopes and iron sights with extensive training and practice are extremely accurate, the red dot sight’s design is inherently more so with the addition of speed. The illuminated dot stays parallel with the sight’s optical axis, so the point of aim is always in line with the point of impact, as well as the red dot always remaining in focus no matter how far away the target.

The only area in which the red dot’s accuracy does not excel is longer distances. CQB and medium-range target shooting, competition, self-defense, and predator and varmint hunting, some even use a red dot sight while turkey hunting, are all where the red dot sight is most useful.

For more on red dot sights, read the following helpful articles:

How to Shoot with a Red Dot Sight

M-Spec Red Dot Sight is Ready For Duty

Click here to check out all of Sightmark’s reflex and red dot sights.

What do you like about using a red dot sight? Leave your thoughts in the comment section.