(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2019/05/16) – Sightmark adds to their premium line of Citadel Riflescopes with the new Citadel 1-10×24 HDR. The newest Citadel offers a second focal plane illuminated hunter dot reticle (crosshairs with center dot) with 11 brightness settings.
The Citadel 1-10×24 HDR Riflescope (SM13138HDR) features an HDR reticle, 10x optical system, capped low-profile turrets and ½-MOA per click windage and elevation adjustability with a total adjustment range on each axis of 100 MOA. The hunter dot reticle (HDR) provides a wider duplex reticle making it easier to acquire targets quickly.
In addition, it offers premium, fully multi-coated glass for crisp clarity and a 30mm, 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum tube. The Citadel 1-10×24 HDR is IP67 waterproof, dustproof, fogproof and shockproof. Sightmark also includes a throw lever for easy magnification adjustments and front and back flip-up caps.
My introduction to digital optics doesn’t seem so long ago… but it was. In fact, it was over 40 years ago. My feet barely touched the floor of the theater and I’m sure I was covered in popcorn crumbs—my lips and teeth rosy from Red Vines and Dr Pepper. My father may not have been excited to see Star Wars IV: The Last Hope (1977) but I sure was and since then I’ve often recalled the moment when Luke Skywalker uses his digital MB450 macrobinocular to observe Tuscan Raiders deep in Tattooine’s Jundlan Wastes.
Just a few years later, laden with popcorn crumbs with Red Vines by my side again, I watched young Skywalker use his Model 1000 macrobinocular to observe AT-AT Walkers on the ice-planet Hoth advancing across an open tundra toward Echo Base in Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back (1983.)
Heck, we even see a feeble attempt at thermal imagery through a riflescope in Navy SEALS (1990,) although it was simply over-exposed, sepia-filtered footage with no signs of heat signatures or a reticle. Of course, I was still in the Marine Corps in the early 90s and had heard of thermal imaging… but I had never seen the technology—it was rare technology for enlisted Jarheads to say the least.
Fast-forwarding to the past decade or so, we saw digital optics in multiple grades and forms leap off Hollywood screens and into the hands of wanting consumers who had more mad-money to blow in a month than I made in a year. Digital optics, more specifically traditional night vision and ridiculously expensive thermal devices were showing up in the hands of more law enforcement officers, predator hunters, contractors and even niche sasquatch and ghost hunting enthusiasts. Before people knew it, Hollywood was in the game again, this time with legitimate products and original footage. Soon after, outdoor television jumped on board and we began seeing isolated night vision footage on hunts.
The trend continued and just five years ago, we began seeing massive drops in price points, stellar production improvements, and more compact product designs—technological advances that not only make digital optics more affordable but much more desirable, too. While traditional night vision seemed to maintain a higher price point than most people wanted to pay, say $5,000 – $10,000, digital night vision snuck in at a fraction of the cost with similar Gen 1 to Gen 2 detection ranges and image resolution performance—in 2015, the Sightmark Photon XT came in at about $600 with Gen 1+ quality while the Pulsar Digisight N550 jumped in with Gen 2 performance and a price point around $1,500. Thermal also became affordable with some thermal monoculars selling for as low as $3,500 with 240 to 384 microbolometer resolution sensors.
Today’s a good day to be in the digital optic game. While law enforcement and consumer use of thermal imaging optics has exploded, so has usage of seriously affordable digital night vision and more recently digital riflescopes offering crisp imaging around the clock. Costs of thermal riflescopes, monoculars and binoculars, Pulsar branded optics as examples, have dropped to between $1,800 and $8,000 while features have continually and dramatically improved, including 640×480 microbolometer sensor resolution, picture-in-picture, built-in video and WiFi, stored rifle and load profiles, rangefinding technology, customizable reticles, multiple color palettes and more. Even devices costing 4 times as much just 5 years ago did not include these features.
For most hardworking folks with smaller budgets, digital riflescopes have taken their place among the most popular options for affordable, multi-tasking optics with similar user-friendly features as today’s thermal devices. Their recent unveilings capitalize on the advanced technology showcased in recent digital light vision offerings. While thermal and digital night vision can certainly be used during daylight hours, imaging is generally pared down to hues of like tints and colors like blacks, whites and grays. Thermal may offer color palette options but digital night vision has always been the vanilla black and white you see today. Digital riflescopes give you much more than a black and white world. They give you full color.
When it comes to the latest technological advancement of digital riflescopes, color imaging, the Sightmark Wraith goes yet a step further, offering full-color 1080 HD imaging. From dawn to dusk, see the world in your field of view as it was meant to be, clear, crisp and vibrant. When the sunsets, the Wraith makes transitioning to black and white imaging, and even green imaging, as simple and immediate and pushing a single button. If you have ever hunted during the day and had to change optics or rifle systems altogether to continue night hunting, you understand just how valuable and convenient a feature like this can be.
Of course, the Wraith offers more, including features only recently added to today’s higher-priced digital optics like multiple reticle types and colors, built-in video, durable water-resistant construction, manual and distance focusing, a weaver and Picatinny rail mounting system and upgradeable firmware. The Wraith also boasts 4x base magnification, up to 32x, and a detachable infrared illuminator. A third-party illuminator, like stand-alone IR illuminators from Pulsar, can be mounted easily to stretch your night vision detection range out to seriously respectable distances—skilled nighttime predator hunter, Bob Abbott recently shared footage to social media of a clearly visible fox milling around a field in the dark over 420 yards away—not too shabby for a $500 digital riflescope!
And this is where we are in 2019—a great time to be alive and amazing time to jump into digital riflescopes. Are digital riflescopes going to rule the world? Considering the many iterations of digital now at play in the world of optics, I would have to say yes. Digital technology has effectively invaded virtually every optic type available today—this doesn’t mean every model from every manufacturer. This means we see digital reflex sights, prism sights, red dots, low-powered fixed and variable magnification scopes, high-powered precision rifle scopes, rangefinders and spotting scopes, monoculars and binoculars and yes, most obviously, the optics considered in this article.
As these optics relate to more niche use, including low-light, nighttime and 24-hour activities, many of us agree digital optics, in some form including illuminated reticles, most certainly due rule the optic world. And yes, I do believe it won’t be long before enthusiasts willing to jump into the digital fray find out these optics absolutely do rule!
Do you use a digital optic? Do you think digital optics will rule the world? Comment below!
Drop-Camp style hunting is becoming more and more popular and is an excellent choice for the do-it-yourself type hunter. Drop-Hunts can be of many varieties and possible options include hunts where the hunter is dropped off via bush plane, horseback, float trip and even by hiking into a destination and pitching camp. While drop-hunts certainly provide access to land, they often do not include a guide to cater to hunters’ needs. You are on your own once the transportation leaves and everything is up to you. Deciding which animal to shoot, what tactics to use, cleaning, cooking, caping, fleshing, all are responsibilities of the hunters. DIY drop-hunts on public land are incredibly inexpensive for obvious reasons; however, outfitter sponsored drop hunts also are pretty affordable. The common theme here is affordability, perhaps the biggest advantage for hardworking folks looking for true hunting adventures.
Planning for a drop-hunt takes time. Every detail is the responsibility of the hunter and care must be taken to make sure the correct license and tags are purchased, permits have been acquired and the knowledge of how to take care of animals once harvested is an absolute must. The harvested meat and trophy require special preparation, handling and know-how.
Preparation for a recent drop-hunt into Alaska’s Brooks Range began with planning over a year prior to our departure. Once planning began, we gradually began acquiring gear and researching the area, learning all we could about what to expect from remote north-central Alaska at that time of year.
Several factors come into play when planning what to pack for a drop-style hunt. Time of year, length of stay, location of the hunt, game being pursued and the number of people are just of few of the considerations that must be accounted for when planning what to pack for an extended drop style hunt. Remember, you are on your own. All gear, food, etc. must be taken by you.
There are occasions an outfitter may provide tents and other gear for drop-hunts. This is one of the details that need to be figured out at the time of booking. Again, every detail is the responsibility of the hunter. Check your gear, as well as the gear of other hunters in your group; they should do the same for you. Hunting trips like this are generally very remote, so a quick trip to the store to grab something you forgot is often out of the question.
Walk on the rocks I’ve stumbled on. To better help you prepare for your own drop-hunt adventure, I have compiled a gear list based on the research and personal experiences of myself and other drop-hunters in my parties.
First aid kit (Band-Aids, tape, gauze, Tylenol, Benadryl, Neosporin, Moleskin, etc.)
Water purification tablets or filter system
Flashlight with extra batteries
Knife with sharpener (the knives with replaceable blades are great for caping and fleshing)
Lightweight cook set, cooking stove, fuel and utensils
Water bottle (Nalgene is great. I recommend at least two bottles to carry with you.)
Collapsible water storage container for camp (1 or 2 gallon—saves you trips to the fill bottles)
Rope and/or Paracord (Paracord is versatile and can be used for all kinds of things in camp)
Tent (Get at least one size bigger than the number of people, i.e.: 3-man tent for 2 hunters. This gives you extra room for gear. A three-season tent with good rain fly and vestibules is best. Taking a tarp or footprint for your tent is also a good idea.)
Sleeping bag for unpredictable cold weather (You can always sleep outside of the bag if it gets warm. I’d recommend a bag rated for 0 – 15 degrees Fahrenheit)
Lightweight sleeping pad or air mattress
Waterproof matches, lighter or magnesium striker
Fire starter (commercial items are available or you can make your own)
Spotting scope, binoculars, riflescope—we employ Sightmark Pinnacle and Latitude optics.
Instant hot cereal
Mountain House or other freeze-dried food
Instant coffee, hot chocolate
Trail snacks (jerky, dried fruit, Granola)
Foil for cooking fish or other game
Salt/pepper, seasoning and citric acid for meat care
Rain gear (In Alaska, you get what you pay for!)
Base layer and underwear
Hunting pants 2 pairs (Wool or synthetic is better than cotton. Wool is warm and is naturally anti-microbial. Synthetic is lighter and dries faster.)
Socks 4 pair
Gloves 2 pair (One lightweight and one heavy)
Hats (beanie or warm hat and baseball style cap)
Jacket and or vest or parka (Plan for the worst. It is possible to have temperatures in the 20’s in Alaska in August.)
Hunting shirts, multiple (Wool or synthetic is better than cotton.)
This is a condensed list of the essential gear you need to have with you on a drop-style hunt. While some gear may or may not be needed based on the nature and length of your drop hunt, as well as environmental factors, each item should be carefully considered. Of course, don’t be afraid to add items to this list based on your own experiences but always consider what is practical in terms of weight, how your gear is getting to your drop-site and other factors; as examples, we carried pistols for bear protection as well as video equipment to film the hunt. Obviously, our packing list was modified to accommodate for those factors.
When participating in a drop-camp type hunt, multiple small bags are often better to pack than one or two large bags. This makes loading them into the plane or on horseback much easier. Many of the hard-sided gun and bow cases will not fit into the bush planes. Bring soft-sided cases along with you and transfer bows or firearms into the those prior to departing to your hunting location.
Have you ever been on a drop-style hunt? Tell us about it in the comment section.
Brian is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but has spent most of his life in the Oklahoma City area. He achieved a life-long goal of becoming a firefighter in 2003 and is now a part of the Oklahoma City Fire Department as a Lieutenant. His love for the outdoors, hunting and fishing began at a very young age thanks to a family who shared that same interest. He grew up with a fishing pole in hand and began hunting with his dad around the age of 6. At the age of 14, he received his first hunting bow for Christmas and his love for bowhunting was born. He has been bowhunting for over 25 years and has had the privilege of harvesting many animals. While he spends most of his time hunting and fishing, reloading also ranks high on his list of hobbies. He is married to a very understanding wife and enjoys every minute they spend together.
For many hunters, the summer months are used to prepare for fall; checking feeders and getting stands into place. Some like to work on their accuracy at the range, and many turn to fishing. Still, there are those with the itch to get out and hunt, but with temperatures in the South reaching 100 degrees regularly, what is a hunter to do? Night hunting is becoming increasingly popular due to affordable night vision technology and more bearable temperatures. Below is a quick guide to popular summer hunting game, as well as appropriate gun set-ups. Be sure to check your state and local laws, as hunting laws do vary by state.
What can you hunt in the summer?
It is well known the U.S. has a widespread hog problem. Found in over 75% of states, the invasive wild hog has an estimated population of over 5 million. There are no natural predators to hogs. Hog hunting is beneficial to farmers and landowners, which the hogs cost millions of dollars each year in damages.
Hogs can’t sweat so they need a way to cool down, which is why they are often found rolling in mud. Where you can find water, you can usually find hogs. The problem is hogs are smarter than usually given credit, and most have become nocturnal from hunting pressure and the hot daytime weather. Purchasing a night vision scope is a great investment to successfully eradicate your local hog population.
Hogs are fast, thus a semi-auto modern sporting rifle (MSR) is favorable to use. Picatinny/Weaver rails allow you to add many attachments useful for night hunting. A digital night vision riflescope like the Sightmark Wraith HD allows for clear nighttime viewing and an accurate, precise shot, something you’ll need with hogs. In addition, the Wraith HD also has a color mode for daytime use. I would also recommend keeping a larger caliber pistol on you just in case. Hogs are vicious and will sometimes run straight at you. It’s always better to have a back-up in case your gun jams or you don’t have time to reload.
For deer hunters and farmers, coyotes are always a nuisance. They will kill fawns, chickens and house pets. It’s important to control coyote populations to ensure the survival of other animals. Though it’s entirely possible to spot one during the day, during hot months coyotes tend to limit their movements to the cool period between dusk and dawn. Yet again you’re going to need a night vision scope of some kind to help spot them.
Using a call is a popular way to hunt coyotes. Electric calls utilizing pup in distress calls tend to work best and will have coyotes running in at a dead sprint. Even more so than hogs, you need to be covert, as ‘yotes are very smart in hiding behind terrain and using their keen sense of smell to detect you.
Bolt-action guns in lower calibers are well-suited for coyotes. My personal favorite caliber for coyotes is a .22-250 with a Wraith HD digital night vision riflescope when on a coyote hunt. I keep mentioning the Wraith because, at the $500 price point, its value cannot be beaten.
Small Game and Varmints
Varmint hunting is another popular endeavor during the hot summer. Raccoons and other varmints are always getting into trouble: stealing corn and other vegetation, getting into trash and preying on ground-nesting birds. Most all raccoon hunting is done at night when they love to cause problems.
A lot of people use hounds to hunt raccoon and other varmints, but it can be easily done without them. A .22 with iron sights is a popular small game gun. With ample stopping power for small game, dirt-cheap ammunition, incredibly lightweight, .22’s are perfect guns to take in the woods. While a night vision scope is not necessary, having a night vision device is still very helpful. The Sightmark Ghost Hunter series offers a variety of night vision monoculars and binoculars at affordable prices and in different magnifications. Use the night vision sight to spot the raccoon then shoot it down with the .22. A powerful flashlight like the Sightmark SS600 Tactical is great for spotlighting coons in trees before you take your shot.
There is no reason to hang up the hunting gear just because it’s summer. Though the days are hot, night vision technology enables you to scratch your hunting itch without having to wait until fall. It also gives you something to look forward to during those long summer days. So, get out there and hunt!
Understanding the terms used when describing the specifications and features of the different types of optics made for your firearm will help you decide which optic is best for your needs.
There are many words related to riflescopes, red dot and reflex sights that aren’t commonly used in everyday language but are incredibly important when it comes to describing the features of the optic. Here we describe the basic terms and definitions of optics.
Types of Optics
There are two types of optics you can mount on your firearm—magnified and non-magnified. Red dot tube, reflex, prismatic, holographic, digital and traditional scopes all fall under either of these categories.
These types of scopes are magnified:
Prismatic (can also be 1x magnification)
Magnification is the process of enlarging the appearance of an object through magnified lenses. For example, a 4x riflescope enlarges the image 4 times the size as seen by the normal, unaided eye. Riflescope magnification can be fixed or variable, ranging from 1x up to 40x and over. The magnification of the riflescope is designated by the first number in its optical configuration. For example, 4x32 for fixed and 3-9x40 for variable.
Prismatic scopes consist of various lenses and a prismatic lens set. They provide two benefits—no moving parts in the internal lens structure provide better durability and a higher probability of maintaining zero and prisms provide a folded focal length, reducing the overall length of the housing.
Digital Night Vision
Digital scopes use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a microdisplay. Light projected onto the CCD or CMOS array from the objective lens is converted to an electronic signal. This signal is then processed and sent to the microdisplay to be viewed by the user. Digital night vision units require the addition of artificial light to create bright images but can be used in daylight conditions.
What is a Riflescope?
A riflescope is a telescopic sight that enlarges the image of what you’re looking at to help aim at a target and shoot accurately.
Red dot tube sight
Reflex open sight
What is a Reflex Sight?
Reflex sights fall into two categories—open and tube sights. Open sights are generally referred to as reflex sights while tube sights are referred to as red dots.
Based on a reflector system, a reflex sight utilizes a reflective glass lens to project an illuminated image superimposed on the field of view. A reflective glass lens is used to collimate light from a light emitting diode (LED) to serve as an aiming point while allowing the user to see the field of view simultaneously.
Holographic sights, most notably made by EOTech, use a laser transmission hologram to produce an illuminated reticle or dot. The hologram is illuminated via a laser diode instead of an LED like in red dot sights.
The objective lens is the lens in which light enters the riflescope and is sharply focused. The diameter of the lens is measured in millimeters and designated as the last number in the scope’s optical configuration, 4-16x44. The larger the objective lens, the more light gathers and the result is a brighter image with higher resolution, sharpness and detail. Larger objective lenses deliver better images in low light conditions, but also create a heavier and more costly riflescope.
Field of View
The field of view (FOV) is the observable image visible through the riflescope. Field of view is measured in angular (degrees) or a linear field. Linear field measurements are the width in feet (or meters) of the viewing area at 100 yards (or 100 meters.) The wider the field of view, the greater the area you will see in the image. A wide field of view is helpful for close shooting ranges and moving targets. For variable power magnifications, the increase in power will also decrease the field of view.
Eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece and where the eye sees the full field of view with no dark edges around the image. Long eye relief in riflescopes is important. Recoil from rifles can hit your forehead or eye, causing injury if the eye relief is not great enough. Heavy-recoil rifles need a minimum of 2.5 inches, but 3 inches or greater is preferable. The downside to long eye relief scopes is they generally have a smaller field of view. With variable power riflescopes, eye relief will change. As power increases, eye relief will decrease.
A reticle is a set, or series of fine lines created from thin metal wire, etched glass, collimated light, or a computer-generated image superimposed on a screen. At its simplest form, the crosshair is represented as intersecting lines in the shape of a cross. Reticles are used as an aiming reference, with the crosshair being a representation of the bullet’s point of impact. Reticles are also designed to be used to estimate range to target and quickly designate bullet drop.
Windage and Elevation Adjustments
Windage and elevation adjustments allow the reticle to be zeroed to the point of impact of the rifle. Elevation controls the vertical (up/down) adjustment of point of impact and allows for compensation of bullet drop. Windage controls the horizontal (left/right) adjustment of point of impact and allows for compensation of wind deflection.
Parallax is the visual movement of the reticle in relation to the target. This movement is visible when the user moves their head and the reticle appears to swim over the target. Parallax is caused by the reticle not focusing at the same distance as the target.
Measured in millimeters, the exit pupil is the beam of light formed by the objective lens that exits the eyepiece and enters the user’s eye. The larger the exit pupil, the brighter the image; however, it is only applicable if the eye’s pupil is large enough to accommodate it. Large exit pupils are advantageous when viewing in low light. Exit pupil is found by the diameter of the objective lens divided by the magnification.
Reticles may be located on the First Focal Plane (FFP) or Second Focal Plane (SFP) of variable magnification riflescopes. In FFP configuration, the reticle remains at a constant size compared to the target. In low magnification, FFP reticles will appear small but grow with the increase of magnification. Second focal plane reticles remain the same size to the user while the target size changes.
Diopter Adjustment or Focus Ring
Diopter is the optical power of a lens and is a reciprocal length of focal length. Since everyone’s eyes are different, diopter adjustment compensates for variances between users. In riflescopes, the image is already focused by the objective lens, focus lens, and erector lenses, but diopter adjustment affects how the user’s eye sees the reticle. Typically, riflescope diopter adjustment ranges from +3 to -3, 0 being nominal 20/20 vision.
Milliradian (Mils) and Minute of Angle (MOA)
What Does MOA Mean?
Mils and MOA are understood as the graduation of a riflescope’s windage and elevation adjustment.
MOA is short for minute of angle and is also a unit for angular measurement. MOA is a smaller, finer measurement than one mil. 1 MOA is equal to 1.047” at 100 yards but rounded to 1.” A riflescope with 0.25MOA (1/4MOA) click adjustment means that each click will move the point of impact 0.25” at 100 yards.
Mil is short for milliradian, a trigonometric unit for angular measurement. Mils are a finer, more precise measurement than degrees. A single mil is equal to 3.6” at 100 yards or 10cm at 100 meters. A riflescope with 0.1mrad click adjustment means that each click will move the point of impact 0.36” at 100 yards or 1cm at 100 meters.
What Does Boresighting Mean?
Boresighting is the preliminary alignment of the optic’s reticle (sight line) to the trajectory line of a rifle.
Your Wraith digital day/night vision riflescope will need to be zeroed.
What is Zeroing?
Zeroing, or ‘sighting in,’ a scope means aligning your point of aim with the point of impact for the bullet to hit where you want it to. If you don’t sight in your scope, you will likely miss your target. Zeroing is necessary for hunters, long-range precision shooters, competitors and anyone concerned with accuracy.
Sighting in requires a target with bullseye and grid, ammo and plenty of time. To save costs on range fees and ammo, we strongly recommend boresighting your Wraith riflescope with a laser boresight. Boresighting is quick, easy and the most efficient way to get your Wraith digital riflescope close to zero with the ability to get on paper with your first shot.
Once boresighted, you’ll want to head to the range to fire live ammo. (Don’t forget to remove your boresight!) A vise or shooting rest will keep your rifle steady during the sight-in process. This will keep your rifle centered, mitigate recoil and reduce fatigue.
The hole left from a .223 Remington bullet can be small and nearly impossible to see, even from shorter distances—especially if you have poor eyesight. Take a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope with you to identify where you hit on the target. You also may be able to see where you are hitting using the Wraith’s 8x magnification.
Follow these steps to sight in your Wraith Digital Riflescope:
Mount your Wraith riflescope with a comfortable eye relief. (Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece on the scope. If you mount your riflescope too close to the rear of your rifle, the recoil of the gun can cause the scope to hit you in the forehead, causing what’s called ‘scope bite,’ resulting in a nasty cut or bruise.)
Turn your Wraith on by pushing down the center button until the Sightmark logo appears.
Adjust both the eyepiece diopter and focus adjustment until you get a crisp, clear image of your target. (The diopter is the measurement of the eye’s curvature. Since people’s eyes are all curved differently, the eyepiece diopter adjustment brings everything on the display screen such as your reticle and menu options into focus.)
Choose your preferred reticle pattern and color in the “Reticle Settings” menu.
Place the center of your reticle as seen through the scope at the center of the target, take 1 to 3 shots.
Tap the center button once to bring up the main menu.
Using the arrows on top of the unit, scroll down to “Reticle Settings” and tap the center button to select.
Use the bottom (down) arrow to scroll to “Reticle Zero.” Press the center button to select this option.
An additional red crosshair—called the red adjustment reticle in the manual—will pop up alongside your chosen reticle. Keep your reticle’s crosshairs pointed to the center of the target.
Note: There will be four sets of numbers displayed on the top of the “Reticle Zero” screen. These numbers represent the reticle’s offset from the center. They are not necessary for the zeroing process but may be useful for readjusting to a known zero if you save these numbers.
Using the up, down, left and right arrows, move the red adjustment reticle to the bullet hole (“point of impact”) group of holes you shot in step 5.
Exit out of the “Reticle Zero” setting by pushing the center button to return to the main screen.
Take another 1 to 3 shots.
Repeat steps 5 through 12 until zeroed. The Wraith is properly sighted in when the point of impact is the same as the point of aim.
I admit it. I’m pretty old school. The latest in technology doesn’t interest me. The biggest, baddest TV/phone/computer, etc. is never on my “must-have” list. In fact, I get upset every time I have to upgrade my phone because I worry it’s going to be different and more complicated to operate. Though I do enjoy a few advances—Bluetooth wireless and handsfree, faster internet and the iPhone, I’m slow at adapting and always have been. In college, I almost returned my DVD player because I couldn’t figure out how to hook it up to the TV. I’m that electronically-lame! I’m like that with my firearms, too.
Though I’ll try anything for testing and evaluation, on my personal guns, I prefer iron/fixed sights. I’m not sure why. I just do. Yes, it makes shooting more challenging. And yes, I can acquire targets quicker with optics. I have run lasers on my handguns and do currently run a red dot on my AR; however, with each new optic comes a learning curve.
I am not a regular hunter and use my firearms mostly for fun and self-defense. Though I have shot long-range before, none of the guns I own are set up for precision shooting. I’ve never mounted a traditional magnified riflescope on any of my firearms. I’ve never had a reason to, but after getting my hands on the new Wraith digital day/night scope, I felt it was high time I get it together and adopt some new technology.
I mean, I know I’m a writer and should have better words than this, but seriously, this thing is really cool.
The Wraith is a 4-32x50mm digital riflescope with detachable IR illuminator. It provides digital images of your target during the day and black and white or traditional green night vision at night. It features a 1920×1080 high definition CMOS sensor and a 1280×720 FLCOS display. During the day, images appear crisp and clear in full color. Transitioning to low-light situations is a simple touch of the digital controls on top of the unit—power and left, right and up and down arrows for navigating through the menu and settings. Nighttime target acquisition is up to 200 yards. There are 10 different reticle patterns in 9 different colors. It will also record video and still images with 4 to 5 hours of battery life on common 4 AA batteries.
What is Digital Night Vision?
Traditional night vision devices use an image intensifier tube (IIT.) Digital scopes (DNV,) on the other hand, use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a microdisplay. Light that projected onto the CCD or CMOS array from the objective lens is converted to an electronic signal. This signal is then processed and sent to the microdisplay to be viewed by the user.
CCD and CMOS sensors are more sensitive to near-IR than IITs and can see light up into 1,000nm. Unlike IIT’s, digital night vision units require the addition of artificial light to create bright images, but digital night vision can be used in daylight conditions. They can also record images directly to an internal memory card or be sent through a video output to a DVR. DNV has now become a viable replacement for Gen 2 night vision as digital offers similar performance and resolution but at a comparable or lesser cost than Gen 2.
Digital night vision devices, like the Wraith, require an outside light source to detect clear images in low and no light. An infrared illuminator creates enough light while going undetected to animals and other people so that targets are clearly identified in the dark.
There are two types of resolution listed on the specifications of digital night vision. Sensor resolution—also capture resolution—is the resolution of the imaging sensor. Display resolution is the resolution of the display or image seen by the user and is not to be confused with the sensor resolution. Resolution refers to the number of pixels in the sensor array or in the display. These numbers refer to the total number of pixels along the width and height of the sensor or display. A resolution of 800×600 means the display or sensor has 800 pixels across its width and 600 pixels high. Generally, the higher the number, the more details the image will provide. For imaging sensors, the more pixels on a sensor array the more light that will be captured which usually increases image brightness, resolution and viewing distance.
Those with a traditional riflescope, digital night vision or thermal imaging experience will have no problems setting up their Wraith riflescope, but those of us who need a little extra help in the electronics department may have issues without specific instructions.
Before shooting with the Wraith, I highly recommend getting familiar with its menu and settings. After becoming familiar with its operation, boresight at home before heading out to the range to sight it in. This will save you a lot of money on ammo, time and frustration.
How to Use the Wraith Digital Night Vision Menu and Settings
To begin, push the power (center) button. This is also your “select” or “enter” button. You will see the “Sightmark” logo and then when fully powered, you will be on your shooting screen. You’ll see the field of view and a reticle. To access the menu, push the power button again.
To adjust the brightness of the image, click on the brightness button, push the power button to select, then the up and down arrows to adjust the brightness. When it is set, push the power button again.
To go back at any time, push the left arrow.
Choosing a Reticle
Push down arrow to “reticle settings.” Push power. Reticle color will be highlighted first. Push the power button. Use the down arrow to scroll through the different colors. Once you’ve selected a color, push power. Give the unit a second and it will then return to the main reticle settings navigation menu. Push power on “reticle style” and use the up and down arrows to change reticles.
Taking Video and Pictures
To take pictures or video, you must have an SD card inserted. Go to: Menu, settings, record mode. Chose ‘video’ or ‘picture’ and push the power button, then the left arrow to return to your shooting screen. To start and stop recording, push the right arrow once. To take a picture, also push the right arrow once. In this mode, if you push the left arrow, it will change your view from day to night vision. To playback, go to “playback” on the menu options and push the power button.
After getting to know the menu and options and how to navigate your Wraith, you’re ready to bore sight it!
(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 04/09/19) – Sightmark’s Mini M-Spec is receiving a facelift with the addition of the Dark Earth model. Designed for law enforcement, the Mini M-Spec is a great optic for competition shooting, hunting and home defense applications.
The Mini features an aluminum housing with a steel protective shield, making it one of the most reliable sights on the market. The user-friendly sight features ambidextrous digital switch controls to benefit both left- and right-handed users.
This reflex sight features 10 brightness levels, allowing the sight to be used in any environment, from day hours to extreme low-light situations. The Mini M-Spec windage and elevation adjustments can be made with just a click of a button without the need of extra tools. It will be available in two different models, fixed mount system (FMS) and locking quick detach (LQD), perfect for your pistols, shotguns, ARs and AKs. Both models come with a low-profile mount and AR riser mount along with a rubber cover, battery and manual.
If you are a dealer and to speak to someone about pre-orders or becoming a new authorized Sightmark dealer please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or if you are a media member and would like to test and evaluate please contact email@example.com.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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
CR1632 batteries with 300 to 30,000-hours battery life
-22 to 122 F operating temperature
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.
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!