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 red dot sight aiming at a Sightmark package.
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.

A 4 MOA dot is best for close ranges, while a 2 MOA dot is best for longer ranges.
A 4 MOA dot is best for close ranges, while a 2 MOA dot is best for longer ranges.
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.
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.

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!

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.

There are hundreds of different variations of Flat Dark Earth. Sightmark color matches their products to Magpul.
DuraCoat has 17 versions of flat dark earth. This is Magpul’s color.

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.

The Sightmark Wolverine in flat dark earth
This picture shows the variations in flat dark earth from manufacturer to manufacturer.

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?

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 M-Spec matches the Tavor.
Sightmark’s M-Spec matches 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.
A tactical light is an essential piece of self-defense gear.

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.)

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 the be 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.

A light and laser combo like the Sightmark LoPro is the ultimate AR-15 accessory.
A light and laser combo like the Sightmark LoPro is the ultimate AR-15 accessory.

Size

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 day light.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

How to Train for Self-Defense Shooting

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

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.

man at the shooting range
Practice keeps you proficient!

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, 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?

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

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

Kel-Tec SU-16C rifle with integral bipod
The Kel-Tech SU-16C is the perfect truck gun with it’s 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

Black, short pistol-sized 9mm that looks and is based on the AK-47 platform.
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

Short barreled, 14" non-NFA firearm the Mossberg 590 Shockwave with bird's head pistol grip
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

Pink camo Hi-Point carbine chambered in .380 ACP
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

Black synthetic stock Ruger 10/22 semiauto rifle Take Down model.
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

Century AK-47
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.

Boresighting a Pistol

 “When you read about “accuracy” of any given handgun, know that unless machines are involved, what you’re really getting is an indication of that pistol’s ability to be shot accurately. — Tom McHale Shooting Illustrated

When we say a pistol is ‘accurate,’ we mean it consistently hits where we aim. A lot goes into whether a gun is accurate. The barrel, fittings and how precisely-machined all the parts affect accuracy. The sighting system affects accuracy. But we can’t blame all accuracy issues on the pistol. Most accuracy problems originate with you, the shooter. If you have the fundamentals of pistol shooting down—your aim, stance, grip and how you manipulate the trigger—than you should be shooting pretty darn straight. If you are still having problems punching holes into holes from a self-defense distance (10 feet and under), there just might be an issue with the gun.

So, where do you begin?

Inserting a laser boresight into a Ruger pistol
Increase your accuracy with Sightmark’s in-chamber boresights.

Let’s start by inspecting the sighting system you have on your gun—iron sights, night sights, lasers and red dots all need sighting-in to make sure they are aligned properly. Surprisingly, a lot of us just compensate our aim to match that of our gun’s sights from the factory. For example, if your sights are off, which they could very well be, we simply just shoot low left, or high right—whichever way your sights are set—to hit bullseye. It is not good to compensate our aim for offset optics or sights.

Why does accuracy matter?

To stop a threat, you must be able to hit vital organs. Inaccuracy could mean the bad guy wins.

What Happens to Your Body During a Self-Defense Shooting

When we are faced with a threat, our bodies dump adrenaline, norepinephrine and cortisol into our bloodstream, preparing us to either stay and fight or run. Our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase, our pupils dilate and our muscles tense. This dump of hormones can cause memory problems, loss of hearing and create tunnel vision.

In a self-defense situation, you won’t be able to take your time to aim. You won’t focus on the front sight. That is why we put lasers, red dots and high-visibility aftermarket sights on our handguns. Anytime we get a new handgun or a new sighting system, we need to make sure our sights or optic is centered with the bore. This makes your gun more accurate. An in-chamber boresight is a perfect way to do this and saves you time and money.

What is a Laser Boresight?

Zero your pistol from 15-100 yards.

A laser boresight is a preliminary method of getting your sights dialed in without using a lot of ammo at the range. Using a laser diode, it projects a red dot on a target, making it easier for you to center your sights and optics. Sightmark’s pistol boresights are caliber-specific and placed directly in your firearm’s chamber.

How to Boresight a Pistol

Using a pistol boresight is simple.

  1. Unload your firearm and pointing it in a safe direction, stabilize it using a benchrest or shooting bags.
  2. Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
  3. Unscrew the bottom of the boresight and insert the batteries according to the instructions. The boresight automatically turns on when the batteries are inserted correctly.
  4. Put the laser boresight into the chamber.
  5. Close the slide.
  6. Line the laser beam on to the center of the target.
  7. Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the crosshairs or dot until it lines up with the dot of the laser boresight. If you do not have an optic and just want to calibrate your sights, aim as you would regularly and then use a pistol sight adjustment tool to correct for windage and elevation.

As mentioned above, most inaccuracy problems can’t be blamed on the gun. There are a few things we can do besides improving our own technique to help increase accuracy. Accuracy isn’t just for precision shooters or competitors. Accurate is something we must all aim to be. For a small price to pay and a few minutes, a laser boresight might just make all the difference.

Pick your laser boresight out by clicking here.

Do you have any tips on how to improve accuracy? Help other shooters and leave them below in the comment section.

How to Boresight a Rifle

When you purchase a new optic for your rifle, that optic is not going to be accurate right out of the box. Before depending on your optic to help you hit exactly where you mean, you’ll have to zero it. Sighting in your scope can take a long time and waste a lot of ammo. Fortunately, there is a solution.

There is a more efficient and faster way of zeroing in a new optic. By using a laser boresight, you save time and money by making sighting-in much faster without using any ammo!

Sighting In With a Laser Boresight

Bore sighting is a reliable way to align your reticle, sights and scope’s crosshairs with the true center of the gun’s barrel—which is the bore. Boresights use a laser diode to project a dot on a target much like a laser pointer, making it easy to see when your crosshairs align with the laser. Since the two run parallel to each other, they can only truly zero at a given distance. This is typically 25 yards.

You can bore sight any firearm—AR-15 and other MSWs, shotgun, bolt-action, and handguns. Bore sighting also works on any sighting system—red dot, reflex, riflescopes, holograph and even your iron or night sights.

There are two different types of laser boresights—one you put directly into the chamber and one you insert into the barrel.

In-Chamber

In-chamber boresights are inserted directly into your gun’s chamber, so they must be caliber-specific and made to the same dimensions and specs as a cartridge in that caliber. These types of boresights are the most accurate. These can, however, become costly If you have firearms in multiple calibers that you need to sight in, because you must purchase a separate boresight for each caliber.

Man inserting a brass-cased in-chamber Sightmark boresight into his AR-15.
In-chamber boresights are accurate and easy to use.

Laser boresight cartridges are easy to use. You simply turn them on and insert it into the chamber of your firearm like you would a live round or snap cap.

Sightmark in-chamber boresights are superior to competitors, due to the multiple set screws that lock in the laser diode, ensuring the laser stays straight and centered. To test an in-chamber boresight’s accuracy, roll your laser boresight on a flat surface, the laser should stay straight along the wall as you roll it. If the dot rotates, you know the diode is canted and you won’t be able to accurately zero-in your scope.

Made of high-quality brass, the Sightmark boresights are calibrated to make sure the laser is true to center, and measure precisely the same specs as a live round. The extensive offerings include 12- and 20-gauge shotgun, the most popular self-defense handgun calibers, and over 30 different hunting, defense, sporting, and popular rifle calibers—including .223/5.56, .308, .50, .300 BLK and 6.5 Creedmoor.

Using an In-Chamber Boresight

  1. Use a benchrest, shooting bags, or other platform that stabilizes your gun. Make sure the firearm is completely unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
  2. Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
  3. Remove the batteries from the boresight packaging and unscrew the bottom of the boresight. Insert the two batteries according to the instructions. The boresight will automatically turn on when the batteries are inserted correctly.
  4. Lock your bolt open to the rear.
  5. Put the laser boresight into the chamber.
  6. You may close the bolt or leave it open.
  7. Line the laser beam on to the center of the target.
  8. Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the reticle, dot or crosshairs until it lines up with the dot of the laser boresight.

Universal Boresights

Other boresights are either attached or inserted into the barrel. Most boresights that you must insert into the barrel come with a set of arbors that will modify the boresight to fit different barrel sizes. These types of boresights are the most affordable, but they do come with some disadvantages.

  • Arbors are small and can get lost easily. They also wear out and break.
  • The entire boresight itself can play against the barrel, causing inaccuracy.
  • Safety concerns. Forgetting to remove a boresight from the barrel can result in a catastrophic accident.
Image shows a rifle with a barrel blown up in three pieces, split down the center from a forgotten in-barrel boresight
This barrel blew up when a competitor’s boresight was forgotten inside.

Sightmark’s universal boresights provide a much safer way to boresight if you prefer this type of boresight over an in-chamber boresighter. If you have looked at any firearm failure montages or spent any good deal of time on gun blogs and forums, you have probably seen the blown-up barrel caused by an in-barrel boresight. Our universal laser boresights securely stay on your rifle, shotgun, or pistol via a heavy-duty magnet. Only a small portion of the arbor goes inside the barrel. They incorporate a self-centering arbor, so you never have to worry about losing pieces or breaking parts. They will sight in firearms .17 to .50 caliber.

 

Using the Universal Boresight and Universal Boresight Pro

  1. Use a benchrest, shooting bags, or other platform that stabilizes your gun. Make sure the firearm is completely unloaded and point it in a safe direction.
  2. Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
  3. Remove the Universal Boresight from the package. Turn the unit on. To preserve battery life, the Universal Boresight Pro will only activate when the arbor is pressed in when it is attached to the barrel.
  4. Remove any suppressor or muzzle device you have on your firearm.
  5. Simply attach the boresight to the end of the barrel.
  6. Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the reticle, dot or crosshairs until it lines up with the dot of the laser boresight.

It’s as easy as that!

Now, you are ready to head to the range to make precise adjustments to your riflescope. It shouldn’t take but a few rounds to zero it in.

You will want to bore sight your firearm any time you get a new optic, upgrade factory sights, for a competition, before hunting, and on a firearm that has been in storage.

Click here to buy boresights from Sightmark.

Do you have questions about boresights? Leave them below and we will do our best to answer them.

How to Shoot with a Red Dot Sight

Once upon a time, a red dot sight meant exactly that—a sight that projects an illuminated red dot as an aiming point onto an objective lens. It is now a generic term most shooters use to describe a type of weapon sight that uses any illuminated color aiming dot or another shape for the reticle. Many red dot sights will illuminate green and offer different reticle choices other than just a dot with an outer ring. The appeal of the red dot sight is its simplistic operation and accuracy. Beginners to professional competitors thoroughly appreciate all the benefits illuminated dot sights give them.

Black open-style reflex sight mounted to a GLOCK with a Coyote tan frame
Red dot or reflex sights project an illuminated red or green dot or another shaped reticle for super quick target acquisition.

There are a few different types of red dot sights—reflex, tube, prismatic, and holographic. The difference in the types is how the sight works to project the reticle. Reflex and tube sights use a reflective glass lens and an LED, prismatic sights use prisms and holographic sights use a laser. Sightmark makes three of these sights—reflective, prismatic, and tube.

Dot sights offer shooters a great advantage—speed! Target acquisition with these types of optics is quicker and far easier than with iron sights or magnified scopes. That is because they can reflect the reticle’s projection in parallel with the sight’s optical axis, ensuring the point of aim and point of impact always coincide. They are designed so the reticle is always in focus when pointed at your target. There is no aligning of sights and no adjusting for different distances. The dot stays in focus no matter the distance of the target.

Using Your Red Dot for the First Time

Turn on the unit and check to make sure it is working. Depending on the environment, adjust the brightness of the reticle using the knob or brightness adjustment buttons. If you are shooting indoors or in low-light situations, your reticle will appear fuzzy or have a halo effect if it is too bright. Alternatively, if you don’t have the brightness up high enough outdoors or in bright light, your reticle will disappear.

Mounting

Sightmark reflex, red dot and prismatic sights offer unlimited eye relief. Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and what your eyes see in the field of view. Red dots can be placed anywhere on your that gun that is most comfortable for you and reduces your line of the sight the most. For many, this is centered above the AR-15’s ejection port.

Man looking through a red dot sight mounted on an AR-15.
Red dot sights allow you to hit exactly where you need to, exactly when you need to.

When you have mounted, checked and corrected the brightness, you’re ready to shoot. (Always know your target and what’s behind it!)

  1. Look at your target.
  2. While remaining focused on your target, bring your gun up to the shooting position.
  3. Keep both eyes open.
  4. You will see the reticle move onto your target as you are bringing up your gun to shoot.
  5. Fire when the reticle meets the point you want to hit.

Once you have used your red dot for the first time, you will be able to quickly engage a target every time after.

Aiming a red dot is simple and fast. The reticle corrects itself and they are virtually parallax-free. Parallax is the visual movement of the reticle in relation to the target. When you move your head, the reticle will appear to move. Parallax is caused by the reticle not focusing at the same distance as the target. Sightmark’s dot sights are parallax-free anywhere from 10 to 25 yards to infinity. No sight is 100% parallax-free, as parallax will occur at closer distances.

Open-style reflex sight mounted a GLOCK pistol
Dot sights will fit on any gun with a rail. Mounted on a self-defense gun, a reflex sight gives you the tactical advantage.

Dot, reflex and prismatic sights are made for close quarters, close range, and for self-defense. They allow you to keep focused on the most important part—the target. With fast target acquisition and an accurate point of aim and shot placement, you hit exactly where you need to, exactly when you need to.

These sights offer an advantage over others because they allow you to remain situationally aware. You still can see your surroundings with their wide field of view and while aiming with both eyes open. When using a reflex sight with both eyes open, your dominant eye views the reticle and the target while the non-dominant eye is only viewing the target.  If the reflex sight’s line of sight to the target becomes blocked by debris, the dominant eye still sees the reticle.  The brain will continue to overlay the images of both eyes, and in this case, the reticle image of the dominant eye will be overlaid with the target image of the non-dominant eye.

Undoubtedly, red dot and reflex sights help you be a better shooter. They fit on any gun with a rail—handguns, shotguns, rifles…even bolt-action. Even though most reflex sights, apart from Sightmark’s prismatic sights, do not magnify, there are many units that are magnifier-compatible, as well as night vision-compatible. This versatility allows you to engage targets at further distances over 50 yards, as well as getting a close-range night vision scope for a very affordable price.

Unless you are long-distance precision shooting, there is no reason not to have one. With a red dot, you’ll spend more time hitting targets and less time wasting ammo.

Reflex, tube, prismatic, holographic? Which one did you choose and why? Tell us what you like and don’t like about it below in the comments.

 

 

 

Sightmark Rapid AR Riflescopes Get You on Target… FAST!

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2016/11/18) – Sightmark Rapid AR Series Riflescopes target the leading edge of premium, tactical operation optics. Whether your work, competition or passion keeps you going with a modern sporting rifle at the ready, you can depend on the same demanding quality you have come to expect from Sightmark in their Rapid AR Series scopes. Rapid AR Riflescopes are specifically designed to complement your AR platforms, bolt-action MSRs and scout rifles. Built as tough as the professionals who trust Sightmark performance to get them back home to their families after a long, high-stakes day, Rapid AR Series Riflescopes boast rugged yet lightweight, compact, 30mm hard-anodized 6061-T6 aluminum tubes; premium, fully multi-coated lenses; digital reticle illumination; generous eye relief; rapid power rotation eyepiece; ultra-reliable shockproof, fogproof and IP67 waterproof performance; and a rock-solid lifetime warranty. Sightmark’s Rapid AR Riflescopes are available in five models.

Rapid AR 1-4×20 SHR-223 (SM13050) and 1-4×20 SCR-300 (SM13051) Riflescopes

Black riflescope for AR-15
This model features a BDC reticle, 1/2 MOA, and locking pop-up turrets.

Rapid AR 1-4×20 Riflescopes combine a highly adjustable illuminated BDC reticle, precision ½-MOA windage and elevation adjustments, locking pop-up turrets, generous 4.5-in. eye relief, robust field of view and an advanced fully multi-coated, scratch resistant lens system to deliver razor-sharp clarity and lightning quick target acquisition without bulking up or weighing down your rifle. The SHR-223 (SM13050) features a BDC reticle with calibrated 55-grain and 62-grain .223 subtension lines while SCR-300 includes subtension lines calibrated for 110-grain and 120-grain .300 AAC Blackout.

 

Rapid AR 3-12×21 SHR-223 (SM13052) and 3-12×32 SCR-300 (SM13053) Riflescopes

Black riflescope
These particular models offer 4.2″ eye relief

Near or far, Rapid AR 3-12×32 SHR-223 and SCR-300 Riflescopes get you on target faster with an advanced, fully multi-coated lens system; generous 4.2-in. eye relief; robust field of view; finely etched BDC reticle with adjustable red illumination; subtension lines calibrated for 55gr and 62gr .223 (SM13052) or 110gr and 120gr .300 AAC Blackout (SM13053); pop-up locking turrets; and lightning-quick ¼ MOA windage and elevation adjustability with 90 MOA of travel.

 

Rapid AR 5-20×40 SCR-308 Riflescope (SM13054)

308 Rapid AR riflescope
All Rapid AR riflescopes are shockproof, fogproof and waterproof.

Built specifically for modern sporting rifles chambered in .308 ammunition and perfect for fast-action professional and competition shooting, the Rapid AR 5-20×40 SCR-308 Riflescope gets you on target with precision optical quality packed in an elite, compact body. This Rapid AR Riflescope boasts an SCR-308 finely etched reticle, complete with adjustable red-illumination and subtension lines calibrated for 150gr .308 Winchester bullet drop compensation. The Rapid AR’s power rotation eyepiece, generous 4-in. eye relief, robust field of view, ¼-MOA windage and elevation adjustability, superb tracking and advanced, fully multi-coated, scratch resistant lens system work together with 5-20x variable magnification to provide razor-sharp clarity and ultra-fast close- to long-range target acquisition.

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