Sightmark Pinnacle Long-Range Scope Review

In all the product review articles that you’ve read, I am willing to bet that you have never finished reading the article and walked away with the ability to provide the Merriam-Webster definition of a word before. To me, that is a problem and just like Sightmark, I am going to provide a solution to that problem.

The Sightmark Pinnacle 3-9x44mm scope with Tactical Mil-Dot Reticle
The Sightmark Pinnacle 3-9x44mm scope with Tactical Mil-Dot Reticle

My solution is this:

pinnacle (noun)

pin·na·cle | \ ˈpi-ni-kəl \

Definition of pinnacle

1: an upright architectural member generally ending in a small spire and used especially in Gothic construction to give weight especially to a buttress

2: a structure or formation suggesting a pinnacle specifically: a lofty peak

3: the highest point of development or achievement: ACME

Now that you have read that, go back up just one line and see the selected part that is in bold and italics.

The Pinnacle has a red or green illuminated reticle
The Pinnacle has a red or green illuminated reticle

That is the focus of this article summed up into just seven words: “the highest point of development or achievement.” And that is exactly what Sightmark brought with the release of their Pinnacle line of magnified riflescopes.

The Pinnacle line of riflescopes was launched by Sightmark in 2016 with various models being introduced since that time. The focus of this article is the Pinnacle 3-18x44TMD. This particular model was designed to fill the gap between the 1-6x (tactical/sport) and 5-30x (long–range) models, with the 3-18x being a versatile scope that can be used for close- to long-range shooting. And for those curious what the TMD stands for, it simply refers to the specially designed reticle, known as the Tactical Mil-Dot.

The key features of the 3-18x44TMD (SM13030TMD) are as follows:

  • Japanese glass with fully multi-coated lenses (Enhanced image brightness, clarity and resolution)
  • Zero stop elevation dial (A true “no look” return to zero without passing below your set zero)
  • First focal plane reticle (Shoot holdovers at any power quickly)
  • 34mm tube (Adds elevation adjustment for long-range shooting)
  • Capped/exposed turret option (Shooter’s choice)
  • Etched and Illuminated reticle (With five brightness settings in each color)

Click here to read the full specifications.

I have to admit, my first impressions upon unboxing the Pinnacle were pure joy but then I remembered I only had 45 days with the Pinnacle before having to box it up and send it back home to Texas, leaving me with sadness. Removing the Pinnacle from its packaging, immediately you could tell that this wasn’t just any scope off the shelf. The 34mm aluminum tube is finished in a matte black coating, and when assembled, is nitrogen-filled and built to be shockproof, fogproof, and built to an IP67 (3 feet/1 hour) waterproof rating.

The Sightmark Pinnacle is a precision, long-range riflescope.
The Sightmark Pinnacle is a precision, long-range riflescope.

The scope is 14.6 inches in length and weighs in at 33.5 ounces. Seeing the scope online Is one thing, but when you are handling the scope in person, you realize instantly that this optic was designed for serious work. Right then I decided to enjoy my time with the scope and put it to work.

The scope was mounted via Sightmark 34mm Medium height Weaver/Picatinny rings (SM34013) on my Savage 110 LA .308.  Seeing the Pinnacle mounted up was impressive, as I am used to seeing a 3-9x riflescope mounted up which was dwarfed by comparison.

Mounting the scope was made easy with the rings from Sightmark and a Wheeler Engineering FAT Wrench. If you’re going to invest in a quality optic like the Pinnacle, a torque wrench is a required tool. The days of simply tightening here and there until it “feels” tight are over unless your nerves are properly calibrated in in/lbs. A precision riflescope on a precision rifle requires precise torque settings in order to evenly mount the scope and avoid crushing the tube (which has happened.)

Several days later, I was able to get out to the range. A quick boresight got me in the ballpark and from there, after several rounds, the scope was zeroed at 100. The turrets on this scope are huge and each click feels like a quality ratchet clicking with each turn. There is no doubt in counting “clicks” as you make your adjustments as they are tactile and just audible enough. The provided turret caps are shipped with the scope but really are up to the user to decide if they want to run them. You aren’t going to accidentally knock your scope out of adjustment with the turret design and construction. They aren’t going anywhere unless you want them to. The ammunition used in my rifle is the Federal Gold Medal Sierra MatchKing 168-grain BTHP which are rated to move along at 2650 FPS with a ballistic coefficient of 0.462. Predictable and repeatable are two words you need to be able to use to describe your target ammo, especially when doing testing. This ammo fits the bill.

After zeroing, I cranked back the magnification down to a little over 4x and sent a round downrange. It hit in the center of the head portion of the standard police silhouette target without much effort, which is a chip shot with magnification at 100 yards. Then, since my job was to literally play with this scope, I cranked it up to 18 power at the same distance. For me, 18 power at 100 yards was overkill, unless you’re scoring a target and want to see the faint lines on the target while lying prone without the effort of getting up. The target was crisp and clear without a doubt, but with that magnification power at 100 yards your own heartbeat becomes an issue. So, I decided to stretch the legs of a Pinnacle just a bit. As the range I use is limited to roughly 250 yards, I decided to test out the holdovers built into the reticle. They made ringing 1/3 sized IPSC.

The battery life is rated at 50-1000 hours with the red illumination and 30-800 hours with the green.
The battery life is rated at 50-1000 hours with the red illumination and 30-800 hours with the green.

That does bring one thing up: Many people forget that, sure, your target is magnified 18 times, but so is any movement that you are introducing to that rifle and scope. Long range shooting, which this scope gets you into the realm of, is truly an art form, a craft which doesn’t come easily without work. Even having been through a basic 40-hour law enforcement sniper/observer school, I do not consider myself a long-range shooter as that wasn’t a main focus of the school. We focused on extreme accuracy at shorter distances, under less than desirable shooting conditions and positions. The longest shot I took in that school was 250 yards. What that school did teach me was that the guys that can “lay bullet on top of bullet” at long distances are truly masters of their craft, whether they are civilian, military or law enforcement. Shooters of that caliber, and shooters who seek to attain that level of ability, seek out equipment that will help them continue to improve and the Pinnacle line does exactly that.

The clarity of the objective lenses, combined with the illumination provided by the etched and illuminated reticle, made low-light shooting less tedious. The illuminated reticle offers both red and green illumination, with the green illumination taking a tad bit more of a toll on the CR2032 battery. The battery life is rated at 50-1000 hours with the red illumination and 30-800 hours with the green illumination, dependent upon the brightness level you select. The illumination knob is housed on the left side of the scope, opposite of the turret. As with the windage and elevation turrets, brightness settings are crisp when moving between brightness levels.

There are other optics in the class of the Pinnacle, of course, but none of them provide the performance AND value of the Pinnacle. Leupold offers the Mark 6 3-18×44 for $2199 and Vortex offers the Razor HDII 3-18x also $2199 as of the time of this writing. They both offer similar capabilities but at a much higher price point.

In a market filled by optics costing over $2000, the Pinnacle from Sightmark is a lifesaver. It offers the clarity and magnification needed to make those long shots but comes in at $1299, approximately 40% less for virtually the same performance. In addition, it is backed by Sightmark’s Lifetime Warranty, which gives you the peace of mind to go out and use your riflescope without worry.

Hopefully, after reading all of this you walk away with two things:

  1. The meaning of the word Pinnacle, and
  2. 40% more cash in your pocket from purchasing the Pinnacle instead of a competitor’s product

Click here to check out the new Pinnacle.


Jamie Trahan is a career law enforcement officer with over 17 years of experience and works for a Sheriff’s Office in southern Louisiana. His full-time assignment is as a Detective in the Crime Scene Investigations Unit where he holds the rank of Lieutenant. He is also the entry team leader for the SWAT team, a member of the department’s Honor Guard and an LA POST Firearms Instructor. He is a member of the National Tactical Police Officer’s Association and the Louisiana Tactical Police Officer’s Association. First and foremost, he is a husband to his wife, Tara, and a father to his two sons, Luke and Liam. He is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights for all law-abiding citizens of this great country. He plans to pass the love of shooting on to his sons in the hopes that after he is gone and they are spending time with their own children, that they will reflect back upon the memories of what Jamie taught them as they are teaching their own, just like Jamie’s father taught him.

Accudot Laser Boresights: How to Sight In With a Laser Boresight

Long-range precision shooting takes accurate tools. Accudot laser boresights makes sighting in your rifle quicker and saves ammo
Precision work takes precision tools like Sightmark Accudot boresights.

I don’t know if I would call myself a big-bore guy; I like ‘em small, too. Perhaps “centerfire guy” is more representative of my affinity for larger cartridges of all shapes and sizes, for a multitude of tasks, from personal defense to precision long-range shooting—admittedly, I don’t even spend much time in the .300 Magnum arena although I’ve built a few and am now madly in love with Hornady’s .300 PRC cartridge.

As a gun writer, running the gamut on centerfire cartridges does not come without challenges. Ammo is expensive when you spend quality time on the trigger, especially with new firearms. Out of the box, I spend quite a bit of time sighting-in, seasoning, gathering ballistic and rifle data, and running rigs through whatever paces I feel they are capable of achieving, near or far; as an example, not long ago I took a Lead Star Arms Barrage 9mm Carbine to task at 300 yards, then 400, achieving a 5-inch group at 300 and scoring impacts with 3/5 shots on a 3-MOA steel gong at 400—certainly not the norm but the type of work I subject firearms to when reviewing.

This type of work doesn’t happen within just a box or two of ammo. To be honest, my work generally requires a couple of hundred testing rounds, sometimes exponentially more if I’m really working to achieve true performance results, pushing limits and yes, battling environmental conditions like high winds. Either way, with a lot of lead heading downrange, I can ill afford to blow ammo on incidental tasks like getting on paper and dialing in optics. For initial shots, I depend on true view-through-the-barrel boresighting and optic adjustment and then move immediately into a laser boresighting device.

To be honest, I do occasionally skip the physical look down the barrel and go straight for the laser boresight, depending on time, whether I’ve used the optic on similar rigs and my environment. What do I mean by environment? Sometimes I try to “jump the gun,” so to speak, on range preparation. I’ve been known to install the optic in my home the night before and use a laser boresight on a target across the house—remember, boresighting (and shooting) at 25 yards generally gets you close at 100 yards—the same can be said for 50 yards and 200. If I can achieve a 25-yard boresight the night before, I’m generally on paper with first shots at 100.

One of Us is Not Like Most

While the juice is generally worth the squeeze as a gun writer, in terms of expenses, every expense definitely cuts into my ability to make a living doing what I love. To that end, using fewer materials to complete a project means greater profit—this is Business 101. Of course, I don’t cut corners either. So, saving on ammo, cleaning and maintenance materials, etc. makes both good sense… and cents!

And although I do write about shooting and firearms, most folks do not. There is no profit to be made, only expenses and shooting, whether testing, plinking, hunting or going extreme distances, can be expensive. Of course, expensive is subjective, too. Some might say .22 LR plinking is expensive while others won’t be deterred by the cost of .338 Lapua (and more expensive ammo—take a gander at .50-cal BMG and what it costs to run Cheytac and Tejas cartridges).

Accudot boresights are an improved design which save you money on ammo, batteries and time at the range sighting in your optics.
New Accudot Boresights help you sight-in faster!

At the end of the day, for the vast majority of hardworking folks, expensive is clearly defined when it comes to one cartridge or another, and volume of shooting and I have yet to meet a fan of simply wasting ammo they paid for with cold hard cash. Yes, pretty much EVERYBODY likes to keep cost low. If for nothing else, boresighting reigns supreme when it comes to keeping your shots productive. After all, it doesn’t matter who you are, taking shots with no calls and no splash is no fun, even downright maddening.

Laser Boresights: A Journey

So, what’s the buzz on laser boresights? Looking back at my earliest experiences, the first boresights I used were barrel mounted and troublesome to say the least, even at the high-end of costs. Back then, you-get-what-you-pay-for was still frustrating. Soon after I dabbled in barrel-inserted laser boresights. With a tapered bore rod, these boresights were effectively universal; however, I also fought poor construction—expecting the laser to be installed straight and at center-mass was too tall an order. On the flip side, I also worked with some inexpensive fly-by-night models that seemed to perform well.

Now, years later, I’ve been using in-chamber boresights with great success. Among my personal boresights are Firefield and Sightmark, with Sightmark being the premium option. While in-chamber boresights are caliber specific, many cases are certainly similar enough to cover more than one cartridge with a single in-chamber boresight model—cases in point are .22-250 and 6.5 Creedmoor, as well as .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester, to list a couple.

In-chamber boresights have certainly changed the sight-in landscape for those who have elected to employ them, and certainly as a total, have saved shooters a jaw-dropping wad of cash—there’s no question. With daytime visibility beyond 25 yards, these boresights are sure to get you dialed in close to center-mass and still close to the mark at a 100 sight-in, as explained earlier.

In lower light, if your optic can take it, boresights can certainly stretch out quite a bit farther, say to 50 yards, to close in on that 200-yard zero—100- or 200-yard zero is more or less subjective and one or the other can certainly be beneficial in terms of precision accuracy, depending on factors like load, target distance, etc.

Although Sightmark in-chamber laser boresights have built a solid reputation for accuracy, as evidenced in first-round impacts countless times for shooters at every experience level, there is always room for improvement. As a point of interest here, in-chamber boresight battery life has been a bone of contention for many a shooter. Batteries die at inopportune times and can be cost prohibitive to an annoying fault. Also worthy of mention, depending on your surroundings, fresh batteries may not be the easiest to find. Of course, there’s a light at the end of the Sightmark tunnel and it’s worth talking about.

Click here to learn how to laser boresight your rifle.


Accudot laser boresights come in popular hunting calibers, 12 gauge and 9mm.
Accudot laser boresights come in popular hunting calibers, 12 gauge and 9mm.

Accudot Boresights: Sight-in and Save More

The Sightmark Accudot Laser Boresight System, unveiled at the 2019 SHOT Show, was introduced with problem-solving in mind. While the Accudot holds fast to Sightmark’s precision-machined brass case and premium internal components, the device’s internal rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery is definitely a buzzworthy game-changer. In a device where battery life is notoriously short (and batteries are always more expensive than they should be), eliminating the need for replacement batteries is sure to amount to significant savings—for many, the savings are certain to result in recapturing the cost the Accudot entirely.

Even better, since battery life is still battery life even in a rechargeable system, the Accudot features an auto-activation, meaning the laser only activates while the boresight is chambered. One last notable feature is the Accudot’s calibrated diode. The diode ensures precise laser accuracy and doubles up on Sightmark’s boresight commitment to helping people achieve first-shot impacts on paper. No matter how the numbers work out—ammo or batteries—the Accudot’s aim is simply to save you time and money; for some of us, those two words are all too often one in the same.

The Sightmark Accudot Laser Boresight System includes a recharging dock, USB cable, wall adapter and carrying case.

Click here to learn more about Sightmark Accudot boresights.




Sightmark Mini Shot M-SPEC FMS Reflex Sight Review

Though far from a traditionalist, I learned to safely shoot guns with—and still usually prefer—iron sights. I began shooting at summer camp with BB guns, moved on to a Marlin .22 when my big brother came of age and even after graduating to the big girl guns—big bore revolvers, 1911s and MIL-SURP rifles, I never shot with anything but irons. At the time, who I was learning from and training with weren’t into anything high-tech (this was before the AR-15 became so popular) and we used most of our money on ammo. The fanciest I ever got when I first started shooting firearms regularly were Meprolight tritium/fiber optic night sights. It was only when I began working in the firearms industry did I get a chance to start experimenting with all sorts of different optics.

The Sightmark Mini Shot M-SPEC reflex sight has a 3 MOA dot with 10 brightness settings.
The Sightmark Mini Shot M-SPEC reflex sight has a 3 MOA dot.

Sent to me for T&E or borrowed from a friend for the same reason, from Chinese EOTech knock-offs to high-end thermal imagers, I’ve had the opportunity to try it all! However, it took me years to take the leap and spend my own dollars buying optics. My first was a Smith & Wesson Bodyguard .38 Special revolver with integrated laser—yes, it was 2010 when I made my first optics purchase by own choice. (Like mentioned above, I’m a late adopter.)

The more I got into gun culture, the newer products and the latest technology I was interested in testing. I’m willing to give anything that makes me a better, more accurate shooter a chance. Smoother triggers, adjustable stocks and red dot sights are my favorite accessories that make shooting more pleasurable and make me more confident.

Reflex and red dot sights are a very common accessory to put on your AR-15 but not so much on handguns unless you compete. Yet, in the last few years, most optic manufacturers have been making smaller and lighter weight red dot sights for pistols. A red dot sight on your concealed carry or home defense gun is a considerable alternative to the laser sight.

The Benefits of Pistol Reflex Sights

  • Faster target acquisition
  • Forces you to focus on your target, not your sights
  • Shoot with both eyes open, keeping you more situationally aware with a wider field of view
  • Increased accuracy, better groups

The latest red dot I’ve worked with is the Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec FMS.

Specifications and features:

  • 3 MOA dot
  • 1-10 brightness adjustments
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • 110 MOA windage and elevation adjustment range
  • 25 yards parallax setting
  • 6061-T6 aluminum housing
  • Up to .375 H&H recoilproof
  • IP67-rated, waterproof up to 3’ for 1 hour
  • Nitrogen-filled and fogproof
  • AR red anti-scratch lens coating
  • Weaver/Picatinny quick-detach mount
  • CR1632 batteries with 300 to 30,000-hours battery life
  • -22 to 122 F operating temperature
  • 73” long
  • 14” wide
  • 34” tall
  • 2” tall with riser mount
  • Weighs 3 ounces

The Mini Shot came pre-sighted and mounted on a full-sized Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm. It mounts to Picatinny or Weaver rails with a low-profile locking, quick-detach mount. Also included is an AR-15 riser mount. The reflex sight’s ultra-compact size and lightweight made no difference in the balance and feel of the gun. The 3 MOA dot is perfect for close (CQB) ranges typical of self-defense. As someone with astigmatism, this dot size is easy for me to acquire, especially with the brightness turned up. The brightness does not change the size of the dot, yet makes it appear to cover more of the target and is quicker and easier to acquire for follow-up shots.

I shot at an indoor range from two different distances—5 feet and 8 yards, shooting about 125 rounds.

Shooting with both eyes open keeps you situationally aware, a necessity for self-defense.
Reflex sights allow you to shoot with both eyes open.

Operation and Controls

The Mini Shot is activated by digital controls located on either side of the sight for ambidextrous use. Up and down arrow buttons indicate which way to adjust for brightness. There are 10 brightness levels which seamlessly switch one-handed. To turn the Mini reflex sight off, you must press the down arrow for five seconds. If you accidentally leave the unit on, it automatically shuts off at 12 hours.

For such a compact optic, the display window is wide and offers plenty of field of view. I started with a low brightness setting better for low-light environments at eight yards. I was shooting low left. Turning up the brightness to the mid 7-8 level increased my accuracy. The mid ranges are best for indoor lighting and outside on a cloudy day. I suspect because my poor eyesight on top of my astigmatism, the brighter dot is best for me no matter the circumstances.

After a bit of a shaky start and getting used to how to manipulate the M&P 2.0’s clicky trigger, I was rockin’ and rollin.’ Bringing in my target to a true self-defense five-foot distance, I shot from the low ready, firing as quick as the range allowed and as fast as I could reacquire my dot after firing—a couple of seconds between shots at most. This casual self-defense drill proved my groups excellent—less than 1 MOA, punching holes in holes.

I know I say this repeatedly but anything that empowers you to make you a better and more confident shooter, I encourage and though nothing replaces competently using your iron sights when electronics fail, optics like lasers and red dots truly do help you shoot where you aim…and that’s pretty important when forced to stop a bad guy.

Do you run a red dot sight on your handgun? What do you like best and the least about it? Customer reviews and suggestions is how we improve our products, so talk to us in the comment section!

Click here to check pricing and buy the Sightmark Mini Shot.

Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec Red Dot Sight Review

Not too long ago, if you wanted optics for your “Modern Sporting Rifle”….it was all about the Benjamins. A little over 10 years ago, a startup company called Sightmark came to market. Their products were budget priced and aimed at the civilian sporting community. In recent years, Sightmark has set their sights on more hard-core shooters and the Law Enforcement community—in this case, we are pretty much one and the same. The optics must be rock solid reliable and able to take a beating. Now, Sightmark doesn’t want you to go out and destroy your sight through abuse, but they do want their most durable sights, their M-Spec line, to take everything you throw at it and ask for more.  In short, there are a couple of sights of different designs bearing the M-Spec name and you can rest assured that if it says M-Spec on the side….it’s tough.

Sightmark's Ultra Shot M-Spec reflex sight stays zeroed and shoots accurately, even after rugged testing.
The Ultra Shot M-Spec reflex sight is rated up to .50 BMG. Photo by Jamie Trahan. 

Enter the newest iteration of the flagship of the M-Spec line, the Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex sight, available with either a direct bolt or locking quick-detach base (LQD.) The particular sight that I tested was the LQD model (SM26034) which was available directly from and numerous Sightmark dealers including Amazon that had it listed for $249.97 as of the time of this writing.

Now, for the official description from

Specially designed to handle your hardcore shooting needs, the Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD Reflex Sight promises repeatable accuracy, ultra-fast target acquisition and rugged mil-spec reliability in virtually any environment.

Ultra Shot M-Spec features:

  • Wide-angle lens with scratch-resistant and anti-reflective red coating
  • Patented integrated sunshade
  • Illuminated red 65-MOA circle dot reticle with 10 brightness settings
  • Night-vision brightness modes
  • Parallax correction beyond 10 yards
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Shockproof, dustproof and IP68 waterproof
  • Recoil rated up to .50 BMG
  • Rugged, lightweight 6061-T6 aluminum hood and protective shield
  • Interlock internal locking adjustment system
  • CR123A battery with 200 to 2,000 hours of battery life
  • 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustment
  • Up to 120 MOA of travel

The Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight also features a low battery indicator, motion-sensing auto on/off activation, digital switch controls, 12-hour auto shut-off, locking quick-detach Picatinny mount and Sightmark’s lifetime warranty. The Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD Reflex Sight is also perfectly compatible with the Sightmark XT-3 Tactical Magnifier (SM19062). It includes adjustment tools, CR123A battery, operation manual and Neoprene cover.

Sightmark's M-Spec reflex sight has a .50 BMG recoil rating and offers the quickest target acquisition.
The Sightmark M-Spec has a 65 MOA with 2 MOA circle dot reticle. Photo by Jamie Trahan. 

Notice that .50 BMG recoil rating?  Impressive to say the least. The M-Spec will provide you the quickest target acquisition available via its 65 MOA circle-dot reticle (with 2 MOA center dot) and will withstand some of the harshest recoil of just about every hunting or self defense-chambered weapon in North America—unless you’re hunting cloned dinosaurs…in that case go with the .577 Tyrannosaur and just use iron sights.

At one point in time, if you wanted a ruggedized sight for your rifle you ended up with two names on the list, EOTech and Aimpoint, depending on the reticle and sight design you preferred. For years, thanks to advances in concept and design, Sightmark has opened that market up wide and brought red dot sights to the public at several price points with many models of their red dot sights that allow you to switch between a single red dot or the circle dot reticle.

The ruggedized M-Spec, tested and reviewed in this article, reigns supreme. For sheer ruggedness, the selectable reticles along with their associated rear facing switch were eliminated and the circle dot reticle was chosen. People are curious by nature, and always want to know how one thing compares to another. That brings us back to the EOTech, as that is what everyone is going to want to compare the Ultra Shot M-Spec to. Looking at the various models, I found the XPS2 to be the closest competitor.

Let’s compare a few details:


Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD EOTech XPS2-0
MSRP:  $299.99 ( MSRP:  $555 (
65 MOA Circle-dot Reticle with 2 MOA dot 68 MOA Circle-dot Reticle with 1 MOA dot
4.01in x 2.24 in x 2.32 in 3.8in x 2.1in x 2.5 in
10.2 ounces 9 ounces
IP68 waterproofing (up to 40ft) Submersible up to 10ft
Construction: Magnesium alloy body Construction: Aluminum body
Elevation/Windage adjustment:120MOA/120MO Elevation/Windage adjustment: 40MOA/40MOA
Battery: 1 – CR123A Battery: 1 – CR123A
Brightness levels:  Off, 1-10, NV Brightness levels:  20
NVG compatible NOT NVG compatible
Battery life:  200-2000 hours depending on setting Battery life:  600 hours continuous at level 12
Operating temperature: -22 to 160 degrees Operating temperature:  -40 to 150
Recoil rating:  .50 BMG Recoil rating: .50 BMG
Retractable, built-in sunshade None

If you look at that chart, you can see that the two products are pretty close to one another. A couple of variances that swing one way and a couple more that swing the other. That said, the Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD is a much bigger bargain being between $150-220 cheaper, depending upon who you choose to purchase it from.

The Sightmark M-Spec is waterproof and has a built-in protective hood.
The Sightmark M-Spec retails for $299.99. Photo by Jamie Trahan. 

In real-world use, the sight performed without any issues whatsoever. My team uses a 36-yard zero, so once the M-Spec was mounted, it was brought to the range to zero and testing. I ran several hundred rounds in various shooting drills. Many done with the use of a VTAC-type barricade, and neither my rifle nor the sight were treated with kid gloves. The sight absorbed every single thing thrown at it and wanted more. One feature that I really prefer on this sight is the fact that you only have the choice of the 65 MOA/2 MOA circle-dot reticle. The R-Spec and A-Spec models have a switch on the rear of the sight that allows the shooter to select multiple reticles. I don’t see a need to keep switching back and forth between reticles and I am glad that was dropped on the M-Spec model.

After getting home from the range, I decided to run a little test. The sight was removed via the LQD and tossed into the freezer. According to the freezer’s display, it overs around 20 degrees or so, provided Samsung uses accurate temperature sensors. I left the sight in there overnight and removed it the following morning. I mounted it up and allowed the sight to thaw out on the ride out to the range. A half hour later, the sight was ready to go. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the zero had not shifted.  You can’t ask for much more than that.

If you prefer a bolt-on mount, as opposed to the LQD on this model, Sightmark offers the same sight built just the way you want it. Select the Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight (SM26035) instead and they’ve got you covered.

Law Enforcement testing of the Ultra Shot M-Spec proved it is accurate and keeps zero.
Even during the toughest testing, the Ultra Shot M-Spec took everything thrown at it. Photo by Jamie Trahan. 

In looking back at some of Sightmark’s initial offerings years ago, to seeing what they’ve brought to the market in current times, I am eagerly awaiting to see what else is in store in the next couple of years. If the current model Ultra Shot M-Spec is any indication, the future is going to be bright as there are no indications that the wizards behind the scenes at Sightmark have any plans on slowing down.

Author’s Note:  M-Spec, M-Spec, M-Spec. You are probably tired of hearing that but that is something earned by this sight, so I chose to refer to it that way. In the new line of Ultra Shots last year, it was announced by Sightmark HQ that there would be three new product lines, R-Spec, A-Spec and the M-Spec. The R-Spec (Range Spec) is primarily directed towards target shooting and hunting. The A-Spec (Advanced Spec) retains many R-Spec features but adds 6 NVG settings. The M-Spec (Military Spec) was designed for law enforcement, hunting and competition shooters. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Click here to view all Ultra Shot reflex sights. 


Sightmark M-Spec Mini Red Dot Sight Review

At one point in time, people used rocks and spears to hunt. Then, according to historians, way more knowledgeable than I, gunpowder was invented in ancient China. The earliest written reference to a mixture of three powders possibly describing gunpowder was found in the 142 AD Cantong Gi text Book of the Kinship of Three written by alchemist Wei Boyang.

The first firearms, like basic designs such as the fire lance, were developed long after this text was written. The oldest surviving firearm is the Heilongjiang hand cannon dated to 1288, which centuries later developed into the matchlock, and later, the flintlock and eventually cartridge-based firearms.

This hand cannon is thought to date back to 1271, making it older than the Heilongjiang hand cannon. This ancient Yuan dynasty firearm hand cannon is thought to date back to 1271, making it older than the Heilongjiang hand cannon—the oldest know surviving firearm.
This hand cannon is thought to date back to 1271, making it older than the Heilongjiang hand cannon.

Despite many other issues, the Achilles heel of the first firearms were the smooth bore and lack of sighting systems. Eventually, some of these problems were remedied with the invention of the first primitive sights circa 1450 and rifling in 1498 in Germany. Although not commonplace until much later, the ideas were there.

Fast forward to 1975 to the birth of the red dot sight when the first electronic sight was marketed by Aimpoint AB in Sweden. That’s the humble beginnings of the modern red dot sight. It was large, it was bulky, but since then, red dot sights have gone micro.

Now, let me introduce you to one of the smallest red dot sights on the market—the Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec. Don’t let the size fool you, it’s designed to take a beating and keep on going.

Here is what the people at Sightmark have to say about it:

“Built for law enforcement officers and professionals, the compact Mini Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight is the perfect optic for competition shooting, hunting and LE applications on shotguns, pistols and AR’s. The kit includes a low-profile mount for shotguns and pistols along with a riser mount for AR platform rifles. This rugged optic is 100% waterproof and features a durable aluminum housing with a steel protective shield. Doubling the battery life of the competition, the Mini Shot M-Spec’s extremely low-power consumption provides 300 to 30,000 hours of battery life on one CR1632 battery, while its 12-hour auto shutoff prevents the unit from running out of batteries while you’re not using it. Easy windage and elevation click adjustments make zeroing the 3 MOA red dot reticle a breeze, even without any special tools. Ten brightness levels give shooters perfect reticle options from low-light situations to the brightest days. An ambidextrous digital switch allows the M-Spec to be easily turned on and off by both left- and right-handed shooters.”

The primary features are:

  • 100% waterproof and dustproof
  • Up to 30,000-hour battery life on lowest setting
  • Steel protective shield
  • 3 MOA red dot reticle
  • 10 reticle brightness levels
  • 2-night vision brightness settings

I received the Mini Shot as a part of the Wolfhound 6×44 HS-223 Prismatic Sight with Mini Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight combination unit. With the removal of a couple of screws, I was able to remove the Mini Shot M-Spec from the Wolfhound and mount it on my GLOCK 17 within a couple of minutes. The M-Spec mini reflex sight mounts easily, the buttons feel perfect and the red dot is bright and crisp.

Easy windage and elevation click adjustments on the Sightmark Mini Shot M-SPEC mini red dot pistol sight make zeroing the 3 MOA red dot reticle a breeze
The M-Spec mini dot has a 3 MOA dot perfect for close-up to mid-range work.

On the range, the weight of the Mini Shot isn’t noticeable, and the small size mates easily with my issued GLOCK 17. Speaking of mounting—one of the questions that I had when these first came to market was the mounting system. It is the same mounting pattern as the Docter optic, which is Plate 01 on the GLOCK MOS system. 

I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to sighting in a red dot on a pistol. I don’t use a sandbag or a rest to dial it in—which for me is at 10 yards. Shoot, adjust, shoot, adjust…. until the round hits the mark. While it’s not the most technically proficient method, it’s more fun—at least for me with 9mm being as cheap as it is now.

Once the sight was set, and the brightness of the dot was adjusted where I wanted it, it was time for a few drills. One of which a red dot equipped pistol excels at is the infamous Dot Torture originally designed by David Blinder. The version I typically use is the variant designed by Todd Green, which provides the directions below each dot…. much easier for me to follow.

Click here to download your free TDA Dot Torture drill target.

I didn’t run the drill for time, I ran it at 4 yards (12 feet) and ran it clean, which proved the accuracy of the sight for me.

Without a doubt, this sight is a steal at $199 MSRP, and its closest comparison in the market is the Vortex Venom. However, the Mini Shot M-Spec comes in at 13% lower price point and offers double the battery life on the highest setting over the Venom. That’s more ammo for more trigger time and training, which is one of the most important things in the shooting world.

The mini shot M-Spec is the perfect size for the GLOCK 17 and the weight isn't noticeable.
The mini shot M-Spec is the perfect size for the GLOCK 17 and the weight isn’t noticeable.

I have previous experience with the Trijicon RMR, Burris Fastfire 2/3, Vortex Venom and now the Mini Shot M-Spec. What I can tell you after finally getting my hands on the Mini Shot, is that you shouldn’t fall for some of the other companies’ hype. That isn’t Sightmark. Sightmark designs the same products, giving you the same features, if not more features, at a lower price point.

All said and done, the Mini Shot M-Spec will find a permanent home on my duty GLOCK. Unfortunately, just not the one I had for review. After a few days on the GLOCK, it had to get put back on the Wolfhound and sent back home to Texas.

That reminds me, it proudly wears the stars and bars on its left side with “Designed in Texas, USA,” which I think is neat as half of my bloodline hailing from the Lone Star State.

Author’s note:

One thing to emphasize. The Mini Shot M-Spec also has a 12-hour auto-shutoff feature to help with that wonderful battery run time. When you find your optic turned off when you know you’d left it on, don’t panic and start looking for another battery—Sightmark has you covered.

Click here to check out and buy the Mini Shot.

Sightmark Wolfhound and Mini Shot M-Spec Kit Doesn’t Compromise!

The military-inspired Wolfhound and M-Spec Mini Shot kit keeps you on target no matter the situation
The Wolfhound 6xc44 prismatic sight and Mini Shot M-Spec red dot with 3 MOA dot

In this world, there is always a compromise. You can’t have this without giving up that. An item usually does one thing brilliantly and so-so at the others. Thanks to the forward thinkers at Sightmark, they’ve come up with several ways to combat this problem. Sightmark gives you three ways to attack this issue—a fixed red dot sight with a separate magnifier, a 1-4x or 1-6x variable magnification optic, or two fixed optics mated together such as the Wolfhound 6×44 with Mini Shot M-Spec Kit (SM13026LQDK.)

With this kit, you have a CQB sighting system up top with the Mini Shot M-Spec red dot sight and an extended range fixed magnification optic below with holdovers out to 900 yards via its advanced horseshoe reticle and holdovers. Truly, the best of both worlds.

Looking through Mini Shot M-Spec
Looking through Mini Shot M-Spec

Admittedly, this type of setup is not proprietary to Sightmark, as Trijicon has a similar setup with its 6×48 ACOG paired with their own RMR mounted up top. The ACOG is battle-proven from conflicts around the world and comes with a price point to reflect that—being more than double what the Sightmark’s Wolfhound/Mini Shot M-Spec kit. With the consumer in mind, Sightmark designed a combo unit that is rugged and user-customizable. They do this by having the Wolfhound’s reticle being user-adjustable with the shooter’s choice of either a red or green reticle via battery-powered illumination as opposed to the ACOG being fiber optic/tritium based which, in certain lighting conditions, may wash out. The Wolfhound is also submergible to 10 feet which means that unless you are SCUBA diving with your AR-15, the amount of water that the average person comes in contact with is absolutely no problem for this optic combo.

To quote Sightmark:

“Together, the Wolfhound 6×44 prismatic sight and Mini Shot M-Spec reflex sight kit are designed to keep shooters on target no matter the situation. Ballistically matched to .223 (55 and 62 grain ammunition) the Wolfhound 6×44 features an advanced horseshoe reticle with holdovers from 300 to 900 yards while the Mini Shot M-Spec provides an easy to find 3 MOA reticle and parallax correction for effortless transitions between short- and long-range targets. Both optics also boast impressive battery life:  Upwards of 4,000 for the Wolfhound and up to 30,000 hours on the Mini Shot M-Spec. The combination offers quick target acquisition from either sight and is truly a multi-tasking optic setup ideal for professional use, competition shooting, hunting and recreational plinking.”

I can tell you, my first impression upon opening the box was that this thing is rugged and robust as everything it promises. The rubber armor on the Wolfhound offers protection from impact and helps prevent zero loss for the optical prism system. The LQD mount is solid and has zero movement when mounted on my rifle. In addition to the Wolfhound, this was my first time getting my hands on the Mini Shot M-Spec which I have been patiently waiting to test out (that separate review will come later).

the Wolfhound’s etched reticle can remain illuminated upwards to 4,000 hours, the M-Spec Mini Shot features the ability to last up to 30,000 hours.
The Wolfhound’s etched reticle can remain illuminated up to 4,000 hours, the M-Spec Mini Shot features the ability to last up to 30,000 hours.

As mentioned, mounting the setup was a breeze and then it was off to the range. I used a 36-meter zero for the Mini Shot and a standard 100-yard zero on the Wolfhound for the holdovers to be accurate. I used the Sightmark .223/5.56 NATO boresight (SM39001) to get me nearly there and then dialed it in with live fire. Using 62-grain Remington Premier Match (R223R6) ammo, an MOA sized group was easily accomplished from a bench. Due to my range limitations, I was unable to push it past 200 yards. I have absolute confidence in the optic’s ability to do what it says via the holdovers, but remember ammunition and skill have a lot to do in the long-range shots this reticle is designed to accommodate. If you’re going out there and using target/plinking budget ammo, you can’t reasonably expect to make 600-, 700-, 800- or 900-yard shots using a holdover. The glass is nice and clear due to being fully multi-coated to provide the highest light transmission across the visible spectrum. In addition to the quality of the glass itself, the rear diopter is adjustable for the individual shooter’s eye enabling it to be perfect for YOU. The Wolfhound’s center aiming dot is a 0.5 MOA enabling the pinpoint accuracy out to 300 yards. For anything close quarters, the horseshoe also allows quick target acquisition in the event you do not choose to transition to the Mini Shot.

Sightmark looked at the intended use of this combo and, with the consumer in mind, designed a combo unit that is rugged and user-customizable thereby making the optic YOURS.
The Wolfhound 6×44 prismatic sight and Mini Shot M-Spec reflex sight kit are designed to keep shooters on target no matter the situation.

Now, the Mini Shot M-Spec is the business. The dot is crisp even on the highest setting which, for some red dot sights, causes issues, but not on this one. The transition from the bottom-mounted Wolfhound to the top-mounted Mini Shot is about an inch of eye movement. It is nearly seamless moving from one to the other and using the top-mounted Mini Shot, such as in a building clearing type environment, allows a comfortable head position as you’re moving through the structure. It really is the best of both worlds neatly packaged together.

The overall length is 2.3 inches shorter and over a 1 pound lighter than its competition and provides more comfortable eye relief. It comes with a separate mount for the Mini Shot, rubber lens covers, a honeycomb filter (kill flash) for the front lens of the optic, a battery and a limited lifetime warranty.

If this type of setup has been something you’ve been looking for, go to and check this kit out. You owe it to yourself to check it out before looking at the competition. There’s a LOT of training ammo available for purchase with that extra cash you will be saving.




Sightmark LoPro Green Rifle Laser Light Combo Review

The distinct sound of glass breaking.

Man breaking into the back door of a house at night. For the best home protection mount a tactical light and green laser combo on your AR-15.
A weapon-mounted tactical light and laser combo is your best defense when things go bump in the night.

The thundering boom of your door getting kicked open.

For a split second, you think you’re dreaming. Then, it hits you—this is real and your body dumps adrenaline into your system.  Before you can fully open your eyes, your feet hit the floor. If you opt to use an AR-15—or any other modern sporting rifle or pistol caliber carbine—you retrieve it and make it ready as you rush out of the bedroom. Your job as the protector of your family is to find the intruder intent on during harm and you want it done as quickly and safely as possible. Your shots must be precise because any stray round poses a danger to your family.

In the pursuit of helping you protect the ones you love, in addition to the myriad of sporting uses, Sightmark released the second generation of its LoPro flashlight and laser combo models. This generation, as with just about every other product on the market, is a modernized model that fixes the shortcomings of the first edition. You owe it to yourself to look at these because the first generation is no comparison to the product out now.

Directly from

The Sightmark LoPro Mini Combo Green Laser and Light replaces SM25004 (LoPro Combo Laser and Light) and features a more compact design, high-output white LED illumination (up to 300 lumens) and Class IIIa laser with a range of up to 600 yards at night (50 yards in daylight). Perfect for close quarters and low-light environments, the lightweight LoPro Mini Combo Laser and Light features IPX5 weather-resistant and shockproof reliability, digital switch operation, push-button or pressure-pad operation, hand-adjustable windage and elevation, and up to 23 hours of operation from a single CR123A battery (38 min. on max light and laser.) The LoPro Mini Combo is recoil rated up to .308 and mounts perfectly to Weaver and Picatinny rails.”

The model I tested was Model SM25012, which combines a 300-lumen LED white light and 520nm Class IIIa compact green aiming laser. The tactical light has three settings for low and full power along with a strobe feature. Lighting adjustments are made by rotating the bezel, which has clearly marked setting. The laser and light can be operated independently or used in conjunction with one another to blind your adversary with the white light, disorient him with the strobe, and provide a distinct aiming point. There are ambidextrous activation switches mounted on both sides of the unit and the pressure pad.

LoPro Mini tactical light and laser combo includes a easy access ambidextrous pressure pad activation close to your finger tips
The LoPro Mini light and laser combo includes a pressure pad.

The advantages of having an aiming laser and light in one compact package are without question. In my residence, due to the floorplan, 35 feet is the farthest shot point to point that I would have to take. No doubt, there are some of you out there that could easily double that inside your home. The point is, in my opinion, while a handgun could be used to make that shot, a carbine is capable of a much more precise shot. With a properly zeroed laser, you can be practically surgical at that range.

I zeroed the LoPro laser within a handful of rounds by cheating a bit. I adjusted it to match the central red dot of my reticle prior to going to the range and then did fine-tuning from there. Several mag dumps later, the laser held zero with no issues.

Now.  There’s a couple of questions I know everyone is asking.

First, 300 lumens?  You’ll see the hashtag #allthelumens mentioned on social media in reference to weapon lights if you follow that type of thing online. There are several pistol lights in the 800, and now the 1000, lumen range on the market. I came up in law enforcement in the days of the old polymer Insight M3. It was a game changer compared to using handheld lights and it only had 90 lumens. This combo has 300 lumens and being LED-based, is a pure white light compared to the yellowish haze of the incandescent 90-lumen light.  Is this a lightsaber?  No.  Does it get the job done?  Without a doubt.

Second, how good is the laser? This was designed to comply with the power restrictions placed upon laser manufacturers in the United States. As with everything else, the government regulates exactly how strong the laser units can be.  In any low-light situation, the green laser, at least for my eyes, dominates the red laser.  Outside at night, the green laser is visible well beyond the range in which one would zero their weapon.  In testing, I found the laser to be visible over a ¼ of a mile away which is well outside my range of usefulness.  As with every other laser that I have used, daylight was its Achilles heel.  In bright daylight, the laser was nearly washed out at approximately 7-8 yards.  In its defense, I don’t think this unit, you know the one with the integrated FLASHLIGHT, was designed to be used in daylight.

All in all, especially in the price range, you cannot go wrong with this tactical light and green laser. The mount issues of the previous generation have been completely eliminated.  Take a look.  I think you’ll like it.

Click here to shop the new LoPro series of lights and lasers. 



Laying Today’s Optic Foundation—A look at Sightmark’s New Tactical Cantilever Mounts

As an outdoor writer often ridiculously busy working with and writing about rifles, I routinely work with more than one rifle at a time. That said, I’m often working with only one or two optics, depending on the content type, distance and other factors. As an example, I may write about long-range shooting but only utilize a single long-range scope. By the same example, I may employ a close- to mid-range scope to rapidly engage targets at shorter distances. Still, I do exponentially more complete optic-with-mount swapping than traditional optic mounting when it’s time to shift gears.

I’m not alone in this practice. The truth is, optics can cost quite a bit, some may cost two or three times what one might pay for the rifle. With a problem like that, who wants to break out the torque driver and optic leveling set every time they need to move a scope from one platform to another? Past experiences have been time-wasters, even a bit frustrating when you realize you don’t have the right tools with you; moreover, who wants to carry tools everywhere? Honestly, as a gun writer, I carry more than I should already. Sometimes, I have so much gear to carry, I look more like I’m headed out on a duck hunt than an afternoon on a shooting range—I need one of those little off-road wagons!

Man shooting a WMD Guns Big Beast rifle long-distance with a Sightmark Pinnacle riflescope and tactical Cantilever mount
Using the Sightmark Tactical Cantilever Mount

Fortunately, in recent years we’ve seen a pretty significant push in the world of single-piece mounts and in the realm of such mounting systems, serious innovation. Cases in point—the new Sightmark 30mm and 34mm Tactical Cantilever Mounts. While single-piece mounts look decidedly similar, they often are not. First and foremost, you have junk and then you have quality mounts. More than cost, a solid indicator of quality and performance is the warranty. Sightmark’s Tactical Cantilever Mounts include a lifetime warranty—not bad for a sub-$100 product. Yes, a willingness to back a product for a lifetime says a lot about the product and the company.

I had the luxury of spending quality time with Sightmark’s latest and greatest prototype Tactical Cantilever Mounts during a long-range shooting demonstration with Green Top in Ashland, Virginia. Event attendance was bursting at the seams with a longer line than I expected of folks hungry for long-range shooting, up to 600 yards—a chip shot for some of us here in Texas but in Virginia, I understand, distance shooting like that is anything but commonplace. Still, we shot steel, starting with a large square plate and ending with what appeared to be a 1-MOA steel gong. Top shot of the day was an elderly woman hitting the 600-yard steel plate no her first shot. She listened to my coaching, squeezed the trigger, I saw the splash and called her hit, and then she smiled wide, saying, “I’m telling my friends I’m never shooting at 200 yards again!”

Experiences like hers, or for that matter, the similar experiences of hundreds of shooters that day on two amazing rifle systems, a McRees Precision BR-10 and a WMD Guns Big Beast, both world-class match rifles in their own rights and both chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, generally don’t happen with shoddy rigs, mounts and optics. The shooters and rifles did their parts, the optics—for these rifles, Sightmark Pinnacle 3-18×44 TMD and Sightmark Latitude 6.25-25×56 PRS first-focal-plane riflescopes—delivered razor-sharp sight pictures and the precision-machined Sightmark Tactical Cantilever Mounts ensured the optics were rock-solid throughout the shooting experience. After a full day of long-range shooting, the optics still held zero—a testament to the scopes and the mounts.

Sightmark’s new Tactical Cantilever Mounts feature vertically-split rings with four retention screws each, aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum construction, a durable matte black finish and, as mentioned previously, a lifetime warranty. Sightmark Tactical Cantilever Mounts are available in both 0 and 20 MOA platforms, for 30mm and 34mm optics, with fixed or locking quick-detach mounting systems perfectly compatible with Picatinny rails.

Click here to check out the 34mm Cantilever Mounts.

The Sightmark XT-3 Magnifier: A Game Changer

It eventually happens to us all.

One day, your range day just doesn’t go right. One day, you miss the shot on that deer you’ve been seeing on your game cam.

One day………

It may be your life, the life of a loved one, or the life of a stranger you are trying to help that hangs in the balance of the shot you don’t trust yourself to take.

The common denominator? Your eyesight. It may be low-light vision loss, or it may be just a loss of clarity in your vision itself. Vision impairment can present itself in a myriad of ways and is specific to each one of us.

Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD and XT-3 Tactical Magnifier mounted to a patrol rifle
The Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD and new XT-3 Tactical Magnifier are a great combo for aging eyes.

Luckily for us, we live in a time of rapidly advancing technology in the field of firearms and firearm optics—like advanced red dot and reflex sights—and have companies bringing products to the market to help us fight back against our eyes as they betray us.

According to the American Optometric Association, adults between 19 and 40 typically have healthy eyes and vision and only suffer from visual issues due to visual stress and eye injuries. When it comes to vision, 40 is where we tend to hit the wall. The odds aren’t in our favor and eventually, nearly every one of us will need to fight back against our aging eyes. That help is just a few keystrokes away at

Let me introduce two products to you that the folks at Sightmark have that may alleviate those problems. First up is the Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD (SM14002.)

Directly from

“One of the most feature-rich members in the Sightmark® Reflex Sight line, the Ultra Shot Pro Spec Night Vision QD provides shooters accuracy and durability to enhance any shooting experience. Equipped with a night vision mode, shooters can mount the device in front of a night vision monocular to create a co-witnessed riflescope set up. Its four reticle patterns allow for maximum customization and precision accuracy day or night. The featured double-pane glass lens system eliminates parallax and retains accuracy when fired from the periphery of the lens. Users can quickly and effectively adapt their firearm to the situation at hand with the included quick-detach mount. Its Interlok™ internal locking system holds zero extremely well, so the shooter does not have to continually re-adjust the sight in the field.”

I chose this model for two specific features—night-vision compatibility and the quick-detach mount.  This model has two NVG settings (Gen 1-2 and Gen 3+) in addition to three standard brightness settings. It has four selectable reticles, and I opt for the circle/dot configuration. That’s home sweet home for me. The LQD (locking quick detach) was not yet released when I purchased my Ultra Shot. For my specific use (tactical law enforcement), I would have opted for the ability to physically lock the QD lever. I’ve had over 50 entries (with it mounted) between real-world missions and training and the non-locking QD has not been an issue.

SWAT team member with an AR-15 rifle with a red dot sight and tactical magnifier from Sightmark
The author ran his red dot and magnifier set up at a instructor class and a training day.

For those with weakening eyes, you can rest assured that the bright red circle will enable you to put the bullets where you want them. No more squinting and eye strain to focus on that front sight. The circle/dot reticle that I use is a 50 MOA circle with a 3 MOA dot. It is also parallax-free, so once it’s zeroed, wherever the dot is in the lens, is where bullet impact on the target will be.

Now on to the newest product in this combo—the XT-3 Tactical Magnifier. It is a 3x magnifier with a locking quick-detach mount that flips to the side. Neat, right?

In their own words directly from Sightmark:

“Designed to mount behind a reflex sight or red dot to increase magnification, the Sightmark XT-3 Tactical Magnifier allows shooters to engage targets at further distances with a 23mm objective lens and 3x magnification. Compact and lightweight, the Sightmark XT-3 features a flip-to-side mount, providing rapid transition between your gun’s optic system, and 4-inch eye relief, improving overall comfort for shooters. External adjustments eliminate the need for tools for reticle alignment while fully multi-coated optics and rubber armored housing increase the XT-3 Magnifier’s image clarity and durability. EOTech® and Aimpoint® compatible, the Sightmark XT-3 is quickly mounted and removed via a locking, quick detach mount.”

So, even if I haven’t sold you on the Ultra Shot, Sightmark has designed their magnifier to be compatible with the optics from other manufacturers that you may already own. Sightmark is here to help us, the end user. By bringing down overall costs, enjoying our lifestyle and hobby doesn’t break the bank. Just because something costs more doesn’t necessarily make it better.

Two photos comparing the Ultra Shot red dot sight with the red dot sight combined with the magnifier
See the difference between the Ultra Shot alone and then combined with the Magnifier.

I had the XT-3 mounted on my rifle for roughly three weeks. During that time, it was used on several tactical incidents—an 8-hour range training day, and a 3-day advanced firearms instructor class. During the tactical incidents, the magnifier was mounted and flipped to the side during residential entries as it was not needed. On the range day, the magnifier was used in a limited capacity but at the end of the day, I was able to take a comparison photograph to show you the difference between the standard view through the Ultra Shot and then with the XT-3 flipped down into position. The photograph speaks for itself.

My time during the three-day instructor class is where I was able to push the magnifier, and myself, during training drills. In one drill, we began at the 50-yard line with an empty weapon and 3 magazines. One magazine was loaded with 10 rounds and 2 were loaded with 5 rounds each. On the beep of the shot timer, the shooter loaded the 10-round magazine and then 5 shots were fired standing from the 50-yard line. The shooter then sprinted up to the 25-yard line and fired 5 more rounds while utilizing cover. At that point, the shooter dropped to a kneeling position while reloading and then fired an additional 5 rounds from cover before reloading a second time. The shooter then sprinted back down to the 50-yard line, assumed a prone position behind cover and fired an additional 5 rounds. On my first run, I ran this drill in roughly 30 seconds with a slight miss. I was switching between the magnifier and non-magnified optic during positions. I account my miss to rushing shots for the timer. On my second run, I ran the optic with the magnifier the entire time and ran the drill quicker in just under 28 seconds with zero misses.

I will be the first to admit that a 3x magnifier was not 100% necessary at 25 yards, however, the magnifier didn’t slow me down when acquiring my target and getting hits on paper where they needed to be.

In the end, you will have to decide as to whether the magnifier is for you. This was my first experience running a magnifier on a red dot type sight. It’s definitely a game changer, and for under a pound of added weight to your rifle, it’s hard to beat.

The XT-3 is something to think about. With more time, I think I would’ve been pushing myself to run the XT-3 full time, except for engagements 25 yards and in.

Get out there, make your mark, and enjoy the rights granted to you by our Second Amendment. Stay safe and happy hunting.

Jamie Trahan is a career law enforcement officer with over 17 years of experience and works for a Sheriff’s Office in southern Louisiana. His full-time assignment is as a Detective in the Crime Scene Investigations Unit where he holds the rank of Lieutenant. He is also the entry team leader for the SWAT team, a member of the department’s Honor Guard and a LA POST Firearms Instructor. He is a member of the National Tactical Police Officer’s Association and the Louisiana Tactical Police Officer’s Association. First and foremost, he is a husband to his wife, Tara, and a father to his two sons, Luke and Liam. He is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights for all law-abiding citizens of this great country. He plans to pass the love of shooting on to his sons in the hopes that after he is gone and they are spending time with their own children, that they will reflect back upon the memories of what Jamie taught them as they are teaching their own, just like Jamie’s father taught him.






Sighting in With Sightmark

This article written by Bill Thomas originally appeared in the United Kingdom magazine Airsoft Action. Sightmark products were supplied by U.K. dealer Scott Country International.

In the UK we sometimes seem to be all the way “at the back of the bus” when it comes to firearms and airsoft accessories and although our distributors and retailers do their very best keep us up to date with the very latest developments it can take a while for things to reach us. Bill Thomas looks at Sightmark, an optics brand that has finally reached our shores!

It was back at SHOT 2009 (if memory serves me right) that I first encountered the Sightmark brand of optics and from that day forward I’ve been hoping that someone would give us proper access to a superb range of extremely well-priced optics here in the UK!

I was so impressed with what I saw all those years ago that I invested in an original Sightmark Ultra Shot Reflex Sight straight away. The Sightmark series of reflex sights, even back then, were designed to create a lightweight, yet extremely accurate sight. Not only that but they were very well priced too, under $100 in the USA. The Ultra Shot was Sightmark’s biggest and baddest sight in the reflex line and was incredibly lightweight for its size. It came with a built-in, integrated rail mount, which fitted all standard bases and was able to withstand even heavy recoil from larger calibers; no problems with airsoft then. This, with the ability to choose between four different reticle patterns, made the original Ultra Shot an unusually versatile sight. With a wider field of view than most other reflex sights on the market and a limited lifetime warranty, the Sightmark Ultra Shot was literally in a class by itself!

Sightmark Ultra Shot red dot sight in flat dark earth finish
Sightmark’s Ultra Shot is a very versatile sight.

But time moves on inevitably, and although there were some half-hearted efforts to bring the brand to the UK it was never made particularly available…until now! Luckily for us, Scott Country International has now taken over distributorship of Sightmark in the UK.

Eyes On!

Time and technology continue to move on unabated and luckily enough for us in the airsoft world, faster communication means even faster dissemination of information. Now as regular readers will know, I’ve been following the roll-out of some excellent Cannae Pro tactical gear (also courtesy of Scott Country International), and when Paul there spoke to me about their new brand, Sightmark, he was, of course, preaching to the converted.

What he sent me to try was a “combo platter” of the very latest Wolverine FSR 1×28 red dot sight along with a rather nifty flip to the side 3x magnifier, which makes an incredibly versatile package! Designed for short-range engagements, the Sightmark Wolverine FSR is specifically built for the AR platform. A digital switch controls the brightness of the 2 MOA red dot reticle with a 28mm objective lens that is specifically engineered for rapid target acquisition.

The durable FSR model weighs only 349g and is built for a lifetime of use. Fogproof and nitrogen purged, the Wolverine family of sights is designed to provide you with the ability to take aim in a variety of conditions and temperatures ranging from -22 to 122 F. The Wolverine FSR also has an IP67 waterproof rating and is submersible to three feet.

Sightmark Wolverine and magnifier mounted on an AR-15
The Wolverine and magnifier together give greater range.

The 3x Tactical Magnifier Pro offers versatility by increasing the magnification of both red dot and reflex sights to give greater range. In one swift motion, the new flip mount design makes it fast and easy for shooters to increase their magnification for accompanying sights creating a greater engagement range in any situation. This durable magnifier has been redesigned to provide increased eye relief, along with an upgraded rubber armor housing to give increased durability, providing 3.5 inches of eye relief. The Sightmark 3x Tactical Magnifier Pro is also EOTech and Aimpoint compatible.

Overall the standard of finish and fit is superb, and the glass itself is absolutely crystal clear on both optics. The feel of both models is one of durability and once rail-mounted they are locked 100% in place. Now personally I like to run a magnifier as close to the sighting optic as possible to avoid light ingress and potential “flare,” and the Sightmark version allows you to run it really close, a big plus. I also like to have my magnifier flip to the left so that it’s protected against my body, and once again this is easily achievable; the flip also means that you can still run and access “irons” should you need to.

Dark Vision

When I need to test optics at a greater distance than my own 30m range allows, I’m lucky to have Darkwater Airsoft just down the road from me and I’ll head on there to use their facilities. Jon (aka “Posh”) has also been testing some of the optics offered by Scott Country International so I asked him if he would like to contribute to this article, and this is what he had to tell me:

“Chatting away with our friends at Scott Country International I was asked if I’d ever heard of Sightmark? “Who?” Was my reply.

Paul there went on to explain that they were a real steel optics company based in Mansfield, Texas and how they produced high-quality optics at very reasonable prices. We were chatting about Darkwater Airsoft’s upcoming MilSim “Grey Slate 2” and how well the thermal imaging units they provided the Heresy Group has been received by the attendees at the first game. Paul said that I should try out the Sightmark Ultra and the Pulsar Challenger Optic combo. With that, the deal was done.

Sightmark Wolverine red dot sight
The Wolverine FSR is specifically built for the AR platform.

Two days later a very well-presented package arrived. The SIghtmark Ultra Shot comes in a very generic looking box with branding. So far, so samey. The charm is found when you get through the security seals and remove the lid. Inside you’ll find a neoprene pouch stitched to the shape of the optic and zips firmly along the bottom. You’ll also find the quick release mechanism, adjustment tools, cleaning cloth and instruction manual. The Pulsar Challenger isn’t quite as exciting, a branded box, the unit and instruction manual.

On first inspection, the Ultra Shot is a weighty but not heavy, solid well-constructed bit of kit. I have the all-black version but there is also a Tactical Tan version. The two simple operational buttons are on the left side of the optic and comprise of “Power and Brightness.” Nice and simple. The rear of the unit has the reticle selector which, unlike Airsoft replicas, has a stiff lever and sturdy “click” feel when swapping. When activated the brightness levels cover all light conditions and are red/green switchable. The reticle is clear and bright with excellent target marking. In night vision (NV) mode, the reticle is clear and crisp with minimal glare when on low and viewed through the Pulsar Challenger NV optic. I thought this was pretty cool; the fact that you can mount it to a J-Arm and make it helmet compatible is just an added bonus!

The real selling point for me though was that whilst chatting with Scott Country, they told me about the “no quibble warranty.” Essentially, if the lens gets shot out during airsoft games, they’ll replace or repair. What more could you ask for?

The Pulsar Challenger NV is a Gen 1 optic so not the best available on the market, but it performed really well when combined with the Sightmark Ultra Shot (mounted to my rifle) and the pricing of the unit is excellent for those wishing to take the plunge but not having to re-mortgage the wife! Once I had figured out the focus, I was able to hit a target 40m out using the inbuilt IR light and using an external IR torch (flashlight), I was hitting 60m targets with a degree of accuracy. A perfect set up for beginners to night vision.

I would strongly recommend the Sightmark Ultra Shot to any airsofter or target shooter. It’s a solidly built bit of kit with a lifetime warranty, all for the cost of a good replica.

Posh Out.”

So, there it is in a nutshell! Scott Country International have shown a great willingness to be involved in the airsoft community and thanks to them we in the UK can now access the entire range of Sightmark products. In addition to some (for “real steel” world) keen prices there’s a whole new brand to explore. Sightmark has proved globally that they are here to stay and with an upgraded lifetime warranty (designed to “keep you in the field with products that are built to perform; in the event of defect in materials or workmanship, Sightmark will repair or replace your product immediately”) choosing one of their optics is a total no-brainer!

UK customers can find out more at