Best Gifts for Hunters 2019

Rifle leaning up against a dead deer
Sightmark has the gear to set you up for success this hunting season!

By the time December 25th rolls around, we’ll be knee-deep in the most wonderful time of the year. No, not Christmas…I’m talking about deer season of course!

If you aren’t a hunter yourself, we completely understand how lost you may feel trying to pick out the perfect gift. Not only do you want to find a good gift for your hunter, but also something they need.

Now, we can’t make that trophy buck walk by the stand at just the perfect time but we can make it easier for the hunter to take the perfect shot so they can bring home the venison…so to speak. Trust us when we say this, your hunter won’t want much more than that.

The following gear will please any hunter, regardless of their preferred game.

Citadel 5-30x56mm LR2 Riflescope

Price: $515.99

The Citadel 5-30x56mm is made for longer-range big game hunts like moose, elk, bear and certain species of deer.
The Citadel 5-30x56mm is made for longer-range big game hunts like moose, elk, bear and certain species of deer.

The Citadel 5-30x56mm is made for longer-range big game hunts like moose, elk, bear and certain species of deer. Because the best deer hunting occurs in lower-light, we’ve added an illuminated range-finding reticle for a clearer, more precise aiming point for a sure shot. When hunting season is over, this scope transitions to a long-range precision shooting optic with up to 30x magnification! The Citadel is designed to work harmoniously with common hunting cartridges and mounts to both bolt-action and semiautomatic hunting rifles.

Core SX 3x32mm Crossbow Scope

It’s on sale!

Sale Price: $63.98

3x32 VXR-L crossbow scope illuminates with 11 brightness settings and is made for hunters.
3×32 VXR-L crossbow scope illuminates with 11 brightness settings and is made for hunters.

For bow-hunting fans, we’ve optimized the Core SX 3x32mm just for crossbow users. With large-sized game such as elk and moose in mind, the Core crossbow scope has an illuminated reticle with 11 brightness adjustments which makes this scope super adaptable to all different types of hunting situations. The VXR-L reticle incorporates arrow drop compensation—meaning hunters are precisely accurate with their shots.  It is tuned for 320 fps crossbow speeds and made to withstand crossbow recoil. The Core scope features fully multi-coated optics, low-profile capped turrets and a fully weatherproof body.

Sightmark Mini Shot Pro Spec with Riser Mount/Green Dot

It’s on sale!

Sale Price: $99.97

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

For budget hunters who don’t require magnification and need an optic to serve more than one purpose, the Mini Shot Pro Spec reflex is perfect. This bright green dot sight is made for outdoor, broad daylight use for quick target acquisition in self-defense, as well as varmint, predator (coyote and hog) and turkey hunting. It will work on shotguns, rifles and pistols and allows users to maintain peripheral vision and depth perception. The Mini Shot comes with CR1632 batteries with up to 10,000 hours’ worth of battery life! It includes a hood to protect the lens and two mounts—one for AR-15s. The Mini Shot Pro Spec is also available in a traditional red dot model for $79.98 ON SALE!

Signal 320RT Digital Night Vision Monocular

It’s on sale!

Sale Price: $319.98

The Sightmark Signal digital night vision monocular is made for scanning, scouting and observing wildlife, the Signal has a detection rage of up to 380 yards at night.
Made for scanning, scouting and observing wildlife, the Signal has a detection rage of up to 380 yards at night.

See game clearly in total darkness with the Signal digital night vision monocular. Unlike traditional night vision, the Signal also works well during the day, too! Made for scanning, scouting and observing wildlife, the Signal has a detection rage of up to 380 yards at night, aided by the built-in 850nm LED IR illuminator. The Signal also records video with sound and will connect to any smartphone to share files, as well as stream live to social media and YouTube. How cool is that?! The digital zoom features up to 9x magnification. The bonus of the Signal is that the whole family will enjoy it. It’s easy to use and offers more features than just successfully scanning for game.

XT-3 Tactical Magnifier with LQD Flip to Side Mount

It’s on sale!

Sale Price: $172.79

Adding the XT-3 Magnifier takes your offensive strategy to extended range
Adding the XT-3 Magnifier takes your offensive strategy to an extended range

If your hunter or shooter owns an AR-15 and is not new to the game, they probably already own a red dot or reflex sight. If you’re not sure, sneak a peek of their rifle and see if they have something that looks like this mounted to it. (See image below.) These types of optics do not increase the magnification of a target and are made specifically for close-quarters and close-up shots. They can be used in certain types of hunting, like hog and turkey, but are mostly used for self-defense, competition and target shooting. The red dot sight can be used for longer range shots when paired with a magnifier. A magnifier mounts behind the reflex sight and adds magnification! This means the target is made bigger like a traditional riflescope! The XT-3 magnifier has 3x magnification. It is also compatible with EOTech and Aimpoint sights.

Latitude 20-60×80 XD Spotting Scope

It’s on sale!

Sale Price: $699.97

The Latitude has a 20-60x magnification and 80mm objective lens, providing users with up to a 43.5’ field of view at 1,000 yards.
The Latitude has a 20-60x magnification and 80mm objective lens, providing users with up to a 43.5’ field of view at 1,000 yards.

Spotting scopes are higher magnified optics used for viewing objects that are far away. Hunters, snipers and long-range precision shooters rely on spotting scopes to make the perfect shot. The Latitude has a 20-60x magnification and 80mm objective lens, providing users up to a whopping 43.5’ field of view at 1,000 yards, plus better details of your target. Ruggedly built, the Latitude spotting scope is waterproof, dustproof and fogproof, so you can be rest assured using it even in the roughest conditions.

Solitude 10×42 LRF Binoculars

It’s on sale!

Sale Price: $599.97

As the most popular range for binoculars, 10x42 helps hunters glass fields and provides a wide field of view and enough light transmission to view game in low light.
As the most popular range for binoculars, 10×42 helps hunters glass fields and provides a wide field of view and enough light transmission to view game in low light.

Looking for the best magnification binoculars for deer hunting? As the most popular range for binoculars, 10×42 helps hunters glass fields and provides a wide field of view and enough light transmission to view game in low light. As a bonus, the Solitude LRF binoculars have an integrated laser range finder which relays how far away a target is, greatly helping the hunter to prepare for the perfect shot—accounting for angle measurements to calculate the true horizontal distance for uphill and downhill shooting. Dead-on accurate out to 1,200 yards, the Solitude has only two buttons to operate, a clear LCD display and adjustable eyecups to accommodate almost anyone, even those who wear glasses.

T6 Flashlight Kit

It’s on sale!

Sale Price: $63.98

For identifying targets in the dark or in the field, the T6 tactical light has bright Cree LED bulb.
For identifying targets in the dark or in the field, the T6 tactical light has bright Cree LED bulb.

Every hunter needs a light in their pack—to safely walk to and from the deer stand, as well as trailing blood after the shot. The T6 has a super bright LED with 600 lumens. Constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum, Type II MIL-SPEC anodizing makes the T6 extremely durable. Along with its usefulness as a regular flashlight, the T6 also has a tactical glass-breaking bezel in case of vehicle emergencies and a weapon’s mount to mount it to your firearm. The T6 flashlight will not only make its way into the field but it will become a part of your hunter’s everyday carry gear!

All this hunting gear on our holiday savings list this year will help your hunter get what they really want this Christmas—meat in the freezer.

Looking for stocking stuffers? Check out these smaller, economical firearm accessories:

Do you have any questions about picking out the hunter in your life a gift? Leave them in the comment section and we’ll do our best to guide you in the right direction.

Click here to see all our holiday specials!

Sightmark Wraith Digital Night Vision Scope Review

The new Sightmark Wraith digital night vision scope's black and white logo features a an ominous skull-faced figure bearing a scythe standing behind it.
The newly designed Sightmark Wraith logo.

It started with a private email to Sightmark ProStaff notifying us of an upcoming and yet unannounced product simply called “Wraith.” Attached to the message was a newly designed red and black logo with ‘WRAITH’ splashed across the bottom and an ominous skull-faced figure bearing a scythe standing behind it. The description of the logo is what most people would associate with the Grim Reaper…..and for many hunters, the Wraith is exactly what they will become.

The Sightmark Wraith is a digital riflescope designed from the ground up for both day and nighttime use.  This means that in nighttime mode there is black and white or traditional emerald green night vision, and for daytime use images are displayed in full color.

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.
The Sightmark Wraith is a digital riflescope designed from the ground up for both day and nighttime use.

The primary focus of this product is predator and hog hunting. Sightmark has brought numerous products to market prior to the Wraith that were night vision and low-light based, such as the Photon series of scopes I’ve reviewed previously. As good a product as the Photon is every generation of optics released stands on the shoulders of the optics that came before. If a company is to succeed in the industry, they must continuously work to enhance features with each iteration of product AND listen to the wants and needs of its customers. The Wraith is the physical embodiment of Sightmark’s desire to bring the wants and needs of its customers to them at a price point that puts it within the reach of the average consumer in this market.

White phosphor provides great contrast.
The Sightmark Wraith has a removable IR illuminator.

The Wraith digital night vision scope has a 1920×1080 HD sensor for high-resolution imaging and video recording in 1080p with 8x digital zoom, 10 tactical and hunting reticles with 9 color options and a battery life of up to 4.5 hours on 4 easy-to-find AA batteries. For extended-use situations, the Wraith also accepts Micro USB power input. There is also an included detachable 850nm IR illuminator that mounts on the side of the Wraith allowing for target detection in darkness up to 200 yards. The transition from daytime to nighttime mode comes with the push of a single button and if you have more than one weapon, it allows up to five weapon saves in the internal memory so moving from one to another is nothing more than swapping the Wraith from firearm to firearm, selecting the correct weapon profile and confirming zero.

Wraith Digital Night Vision Scope Unboxing

Unboxing the Wraith, as with any of the other Sightmark scopes that I have had the opportunity to review, is impressive. The products are shipped in boxes that are designed to get them into your hands just like you had picked it up at the end of the assembly line. Sightmark takes pride in their work and products, and you can see that from the moment you open your shipping box or pick up your scope from your local Sightmark dealer.

One-Shot Zero

The transition from daytime to nighttime mode comes with the push of a single button. Photo by Brad Korando
The transition from daytime to nighttime mode comes with the push of a single button. Photo by Brad Korando

The battery holder pops right out of the side of the scope and after placing the four AA batteries in the holder and locking it back down in place, you can power up the Wraith and go through the menu to get it set up. Once you do that, mounting is easy via the Picatinny rail mount and then it is off to the range. Zeroing is easy, just like Sightmark’s previous digital night vision riflescopes. Aim the crosshairs at the bullseye, shoot, and then using the zeroing settings, adjust the digital crosshairs to the point of actual impact. Once that is set, shoot again to confirm your settings and then your scope is zeroed. That’s the beauty and simplicity of the One-Shot Zero.

The Wraith digital night vision scope has a 1920x1080 HD sensor for high-resolution imaging and video recording in 1080p with 8x digital zoom
The Wraith digital night vision scope has a 1920×1080 HD sensor for high-resolution imaging and video recording in 1080p with 8x digital zoom

The wonderful thing about the Wraith, in comparison to the previous Photon RT that it improves upon, is that Sightmark took notice of those minor details and improved them. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Photon RT, and had I not been introduced to the Wraith, it would still be my recommended digital night vision scope. The Wraith is just honestly that good.

Now, as good as the Photon is, it’s not in the same category, at least to me, due to its lack of full-color daytime mode. So, to be fair, it is best to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges so you, the consumer, can decide if the juice is worth the squeeze—(it is.)

The scope closest to the Wraith is the ATN X-Sight 2 3-14×50 and is the one compared in the chart below.

Product Name ATN X-Sight 2 3-14×50 Wraith 4-32×50
Magnification 3-14 4-32
Lens Diameter 50mm 50mm
Digital Zoom 4.6x 8x
Field of View at 100 yards 46 21
Eye relief 2.5” 2.4”
Resolution 1920×1080 1920×1080
Number of Reticles 7 10
Reticle Colors 7 9
Range of Detection 100 yards 200 yards
Battery Type 4xAA 4xAA
Battery Life 3 hours 4.5 hours
Material Aluminum Aluminum
Length 11.5” 10.5”
Waterproof Rating Water-Resistant Water-Resistant
Weight (oz) 34.4 36.3
Price $479 $499.97

 

For me, especially after reviewing the chart above, the Sightmark Wraith is the easy choice. The $20.97 price difference is a non-issue for the extra advantages that the Wraith offers.

Click here to get your own Wraith.

Then the next time you’re out in the field on a dark night, silently slipping out of the darkness to take down a hog, you might just become the Baba Yaga to all of the swine are there.

Sightmark Pinnacle 3-18×44 Awarded NTOA Tested and Recommended® Endorsement

Sightmark is proud to share that the National Tactical Officer’s Association (NTOA) has Tested and Recommended the Pinnacle 3-18x44.
Sightmark is proud to share that the National Tactical Officer’s Association (NTOA) has Tested and Recommended the Pinnacle 3-18×44.

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2019/11/06) – Sightmark is proud to share that the National Tactical Officer’s Association (NTOA) has Tested and Recommended yet another Sightmark optic—the Pinnacle 3-18×44. The first focal plane Pinnacle 3-18×44 received an overall rating of 4.44 out of 5 from the NTOA’s reviewers. The organization now recommends the Pinnacle to its law enforcement partners based on the Pinnacle’s performance in their strenuous tests.

A mid-range optic ideal for engaging targets at various distances, the first focal plane Pinnacle 3-18×44 features premium Japanese glass and an illuminated, TMD reticle. One reviewer noted, “This is the first scope I’ve found with the green illuminated option and now I’ll run with nothing else.” With an MSRP of just $1,559.99, the Pinnacle is jam-packed with shooter-friendly features and is less than half the price of many of its competitors. NTOA testers agreed, observing “As a sniper, the first focal plane on the sight is a must and the Japanese glass Sightmark uses is extremely clear and crisp; everything I had hoped for.”

The NTOA and its members have tested more than 2,000 products in real-world situations through the NTOA’s Member Tested and Recommended Program since 2003. There is no guarantee of a particular rating upon submission and the NTOA will not approve products receiving a score of less than 3.0. The results of the program are shared with the law enforcement community in The Tactical Edge magazine, the NTOA’s online database and newsletters and the product manufacturers themselves.

Click here to check out the Pinnacle!

Enhance your Hunting with the new Wraith Bolt-Action Mount

 

Now, bolt-action shooters can get in on the 24/7 hunting action provided by the Wraith too, thanks to the new Wraith Long Mount.
Now, bolt-action shooters can get in on the 24/7 hunting action provided by the Wraith too, thanks to the new Wraith Long Mount.

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2019/10/31) – Up until now, the popular Wraith HD digital scope only had one mounting option and it was for the AR platform. Now, bolt-action shooters can get in on the 24/7 hunting action provided by the Wraith too, thanks to the new Wraith Long Mount, designed specifically for use on bolt-action rifles.

Weighing a mere 4.9 oz. and constructed from durable aluminum, this bolt-action Weaver mount features a cantilever design with multiple mounting positions to make the Wraith comfortable on a wide variety of traditional rifle designs. This mount expands the use of the already versatile Wraith, which includes five weapon profile saves for multiple firearms and calibers.

A true 24-hour scope, the digital Wraith HD optic has a daytime color mode, along with two night-vision mode options. In addition to recording capabilities and 4-32x digital magnification, the Wraith also features a detachable 850nm IR illuminator, 10 reticle options, an additional Weaver rail for accessories, high-definition 1920×1080 CMOS sensor, 1280×720 display and more!

Click here to check out the Sightmark Wraith bolt-action mount!

 

15 Things You Need When You Get Lost While Hunting

A secluded cabin in the woods, no cell phone service, unfamiliar, rugged landscape, bad weather…it sounds like the synopsis of a typical horror movie, or at least the recipe for disaster…and it too often is. Hundreds of hunters get lost every year for these exact reasons. And though a machete-wielding undead psychopath should be the least of your worries, getting lost in the woods is a scary situation.

Hunting with a buddy can increase safety.
Hunting with a buddy can increase safety.

Some of the best hunting occurs right after sunrise and right before sunset, which means you might trail deep into the night and it will most likely be dark by the time you make it back to camp. Because it is easy to lose your way when there are no clear paths or obvious landmarks on land you don’t often walk, there is a chance you could get lost. It happens to even the most experienced hunters.

Most lost hunters are rescued within 24 hours, however, that does mean spending a night in the woods. With the right gear packed and the right mindset, you should do just fine a couple of nights lost in the woods. In the very beginning of the season, hunter Cory Krambule was separated from his hunting party and camp when a snowstorm made it nearly impossible to see. He spent the night in the blizzard and was rescued the next morning. About his experience, Cory says, “Don’t assume anything, take your gear, even if it’s a little bit heavier, even if you think you’re only going to be gone 15 minutes.” (Fox 13 Salt Lake City News)

Though hard statistics are difficult to find on just how many hunters a year find themselves lost, there are numbers revealing how many people get lost in our National Parks and it averages about 11 every day. So, don’t feel foolish if it happens to you. Just know what to do if it does…

How to Avoid Getting Lost While Hunting

Though mistakes and accidents are inevitable, you can better prepare and plan before heading afield to avoid getting lost in the first place.

Always follow the golden rules of wilderness survival:

  • Tell someone where you are going and when to expect you back.
  • Scout your hunting grounds beforehand during the day and take note of trails and landmarks and drop waypoints on your GPS unit.
  • Carry a topo map, compass, a GPS and a fully charged cell phone. The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife suggests, “Before entering the woods—whether at an old logging road, a town or country road, or from camp itself—you should check your compass and bearings. This assures, for one thing, that you have not left the compass in another pair of pants or on the camp table. It also serves to establish the direction in which the road is running and, most important, determines the general direction or course which you must follow to return to the road from anywhere in the general area where you are to hunt.”
  • Use trail markers from camp to your stand and when blood tracking.
  • When you discover you’re lost, S.T.O.P.—stop, think, observe and plan. Search and Rescue says to stay in place once lost—the chances of finding you are greater if you sit tight.
  • Pack the right survival gear for a night spent out in less than ideal conditions.

Hunter’s Survival Kit Checklist—15 Survival Essentials

There is always a chance you could get lost while trailing blood or finding your way back to camp. Pack a survival kit just in case. Search and rescue experts also highly encourage hunters and hikers to plan to spend a rough night outdoors if you get lost.
There is always a chance you could get lost while trailing blood or finding your way back to camp. Pack a survival kit just in case.
  1. Appropriate clothing.

Whichever season it is, it is highly likely to get cold, if not downright freezing, when the sun goes down. Have a wool beanie, gloves and moisture-wicking warm undergarments and waterproof rain gear in your pack.

  1. Signaling device

This can be a mirror or whistle—just something to get the attention of searchers. Equally, you can fire off three shots spaced evenly apart.

  1. Compass, GPS unit and charged cell phone.

It is also very important to learn how to read a topographic map and carry it with you.

  1. Long-range walkie talkies if you are hunting with a group.

Check-in with each other periodically and alert others if you have fallen or have gotten lost.

  1. Extra batteries for your electronics.

Take an extra set of batteries for your flashlight, walkie talkie, GPS and firearm optic.

  1. Flashlight or headlamp.

Click here to shop flashlights.

  1. Fire starter and tinder.

Fire starters are lightweight and take up hardly any space. It is smart to double up or even triple up on these—a magnesium fire rod or equivalent, plus a windproof lighter, a Bic and waterproof matches.

  1. Survival knife or multi-tool.
  2. First aid kit.

Include bandages for sprains, QuikClot, insect repellent, antiseptic wipes and over-the-counter pain medication.

  1. Mylar emergency blanket or winter-rated sleeping bag.

It is important to stay dry to prevent hypothermia. Find or build a shelter if possible. A simple rope and tarp work in this scenario.

  1. Water and water filter straw.
  2. High-energy protein bars or non-perishable snacks like beef jerky and trail mix.
  3. Chemical hand and feet warmers.
  4. Brightly colored trail marker or tape and your required hunter orange.

You can use your safety orange as a signaling device.

  1. Prescription medication.

No one ventures out expecting to get lost and the survival stories of those that do usually made a rookie or foolish mistake, are overconfident in their abilities and/or ill-prepared. Canadian hunter, Brad Lambert survived 23 days lost in the woods. Let his ordeal be a lesson to you, he says, “I don’t plan to hunt alone again. I think about it differently now. I’ll hunt only in familiar woods, and I intend to buy a satellite phone. And I’ll always carry extra fuel and food from now on.”

Have you gotten lost while hunting? If so, tell us your stories and what you learned about the experience in the comment section.

What Optic is Best for Home Defense?

We each have our own unique situation dictating which home defense weapon works best for us. Some gun owners have kids. Some live in apartments. Some have disabilities. Whatever works best for you weapon wise is what I recommend you stick to—be it shotgun, revolver, SBR or whatever. If you can shoot it under duress, then good. However, there are good, better and best tools for the job and the optic or sights on your home protection gun are certainly categorized as such.Fight or Flight Response chart

When identifying the best self-defense optic, we must consider the circumstances in which we’ll be using the optic. This helps rule out optics that aren’t the best for the job.

When experts design a course of fire to train for self-defense, most look to police-involved shooting statistics. This helps give a clearer picture of what the “average” self-defense shooting looks like. For example, what distance do most self-defense shootings occur? We know the answer to be, statistically, within seven yards. We also know that most occur when it’s dark.

Knowing just these two facts means we can eliminate magnified scopes because they are made for longer shooting distances. For home defense, we need the best optic for close-up (CQB) distances. Further, because most crime happens at night, we need an optic that is easy to see in low light. Therefore, we can logically conclude that an illuminated reticle or glow-in-the-dark sight is best.

Now, let’s look at what happens to our bodies when we perceive a threat…

Our bodies respond to potential threats by releasing cortisol and adrenaline in preparation for us to either fight or flee. The result is physiological and beyond our control. Our heart rate increases, we get tunnel vision, lose our hearing and we may shake.

Shooting a gun well is a learned skill. One that takes regular practice. In fight or flight mode, we need hand/eye coordination and dexterity to operate our gun properly. Considering this, we need an optic that is easy to use, with a reticle we can quickly see.

And finally, because our lives depend on it, this optic needs to be reliable and accurate.

Put all together, the best sights for home defense must be:

  • Illuminated
  • Reliable
  • Accurate
  • Easy to use
  • Provide quick target acquisition
  • No or low magnification

Our Favorites:

Mini Shot M-Spec

The Mini red dot sight includes a riser mount for AR-15s and low-profile, quick-detach mount.
The Mini red dot sight includes a riser mount for AR-15s and low-profile, quick-detach mount.

Like all reflex sights, the Mini Shot M-Spec red dot sight allows you to shoot properly with both eyes open. Called the Bindon Aiming Concept, keeping both eyes open while using an optic or firearm sight allows the dominant eye to focus on the illuminated reticle, while the weaker eye remains focused on the target, as well as what’s around it. This is the natural way we see the world. Our brain processes the images, keeping the target of our focus magnified or highlighted.

With a very short learning curve, reflex sights allow you to get on target within seconds of drawing your weapon. As soon as you see the red dot on the target, you can take a precise shot, providing a tactical advantage because red dots are designed for when speed and accuracy both equally matter—like in a self-defense situation.

Sightmark’s mini red dot features the most popular dot size—3 MOA—the perfect size for accuracy for up-close-and-personal to mid-range. There are 10 brightness adjustments for all lighting conditions from broad daylight to darkness, ambidextrous controls and a 12-hour automatic shut-off to get the most of its battery life. With double the battery life of its competitors at 30,000 hours, its built-in steel protective shield and durable aluminum construction make the Sightmark Mini Shot meet all the requirements needed for a good self-defense optic.

The Mini Shot includes mounts for a pistol and AR-15.

The Mini Shot M-Spec is available in four different models:

Click here to read a review on the Mini Shot.

LoPro Laser Light Combo

The Sightmark LoPro AR-15 light and laser combo is now available in Dark Earth
These low-profile laser and light combos work just as well for professionals as they do civilians.

For home defense, it’s imperative to have a flashlight at the ready—either handheld or weapon-mounted, you need light to identify targets in the dark.

The LoPro AR-15 green laser light combo frees up your hands, so you have better control over your rifle, as well frees up rail space by pairing both a laser and bright tactical light in one compact unit.

Click here to read a review on the LoPro AR-15 laser light combo. 

Utilizing a bright green Class IIIa laser, the 1.5” dot is visible up to 50 yards during the day and up to 600 yards at night. The white LED light has three modes—50 lumens on low, 150 lumens on medium and a maximum of 300 lumens on high. Operation is via easy-to-reach digital controls or a pressure pad switch. Each LoPro allows use of your iron sights and does not impede a red dot sight. Two different size models are available—compact and sub-compact.

The LoPro standard is 4.49 inches long, 2.83 inches wide, 1.53 inches tall and weighs 13.2 ounces. The LoPro Mini is 3.5 inches long, 2.1 inches wide, 1.4 inches tall and weighs only 7 ounces.

Find the right one for you:

For more about the LoPro and benefits of a laser, click here. 

Element Red Dot Sight

Sightmark meets customers' demands with the new, upgraded Element red dot sight
Sightmark meets customers’ demands with the new, upgraded Element red dot sight

The 1x magnification of the Element is good for those who have astigmatism or other eye problems which make acquiring an illuminated red dot more difficult. A tube-style red dot sight, the Element is night-vision compatible and features a 2 MOA dot with 9 brightness settings for very precise shooting at distances further than close quarters.

Made for shotguns and MSRs, the Element is as tough as it is lightweight. It is nitrogen-filled, fogproof, shockproof and waterproof up to 3 feet for 1 hour. It is 4.4 inches long and weighs only 9.8 ounces.

To read more about the benefits of low magnification scopes, click here. 

ReadyFire LW-R5

For full-sized pistols, this red handgun laser is compact and mounts on a Weaver or Picatinny rail between the trigger guard and muzzle for perfect placement and has a 300-yard range at night.
Made for full-sized pistols, the laser is compact with a 300-yard beam throw at night.

Though the use of handgun lasers is personal preference, there is no denying proper use helps owners aim faster in low-light, high-stress situations.

The ReadyFire LW-R5 full-size pistol laser fits any railed full-sized semiautomatic pistol. It features a red Class IIIa laser with a 20-yard effective range during the day and a 300-yard effective range at night. An easy slide switch actives the laser. Mount it between the trigger guard and muzzle for quick target acquisition. It weighs only 2.3 ounces and measures 2.4 inches long with a 1.1-inch height and weight.

Click here to read more about the benefits of laser sights. 

Whether or not you decide between a reflex, red dot or laser sight, there are plenty of options to choose from for your AR, SBR, pistol or shotgun.

Which optic do you run on your self-defense gun? Tell us which ones and why in the comment section.

Sightmark’s Best Tactical Scopes

At Sightmark, we design each optic to meet a specific need in the shooting world—whether that be for plinking, 3-Gun competition, hunting or high-stakes professional work. Each scope or red dot sight incorporates meticulously thought-out features specific to that optic’s purpose.

Some use the word “tactical” as a meaningless buzz word to sell products. With many military veterans on our team, as well as retired and active law enforcement, we don’t throw words like “tactical” and “MIL-SPEC” around. When we market something as such, we mean it. When we use the word “tactical,” we’re referring to any feature inspired by a military design. From precision sniper accuracy to quick target acquisition in CQB, Sightmark makes purpose-driven reflex sights, as well as long-range magnified riflescopes for true tactical use.

What is a Tactical Scope?

From CQB to extreme long-range, Sightmark makes a tactical scope, red dot sight or long-range optic for that.
From CQB to extreme long-range, Sightmark makes an optic for that.

It used to be easier to distinguish between a hunting scope and a tactical scope, yet recently, the lines are blurring. A traditional hunting scope used to be characterized by being simpler than a tactical scope, with moderate magnification range, a simple crosshair reticle, low-profile turrets and construction that withstands recoil and bad weather but not necessarily rated for the type of abuse a tactical scope endures.

A close- to mid-range tactical scope typically has a second focal plane, range-finding (milliradian) reticles, large target turrets with audible click adjustments, and must be durable for rough use in harsh environments.

Hunters are beginning to see the benefits of tactical-style features and demanding superb low-light performance, range-estimating reticles and large windage and elevation turrets.

You really can’t distinguish between a tactical and non-tactical scope just by looking at it. You can though, deduce use when looking at the scope’s specifications. Because the most effective shots for hunting are at a limited range, most hunting scopes will not go past 10x magnification but tactical scopes, especially those designed for long-range shooting can have powerful magnifications.

As noted above, Sightmark makes tactical optics for CQB to long-range. Here are the top five tactical scopes:

AR Riflescopes

The AR series of riflescopes
The AR series of riflescopes

The AR and M1 series of riflescopes are specifically designed for AR-15s and other Modern Sporting Rifles with a rugged hard-anodized 6061-T6 aluminum tube that is shockproof, (nitrogen-filled) fogproof and IP67 waterproof-rated and feature illuminated reticles.

The AR scopes are available in varying magnifications from 1-4x to 5-10x with 20mm, 32mm and 40mm objectives. You can choose between a.300 Blackout, .223, or .308 Winchester second focal plane reticle, all of which compensate for bullet drop.

Unique to this series of tactical scopes is the rapid power rotation eyepiece for quick target acquisition, especially when there are fast-moving targets. Ten brightness adjustments transition this scope smoothly from low-light to bright-light environments.

Large, exposed pop-up locking turrets keep your scope zeroed.

Perfect for close to mid-ranges, the AR scopes provide tactical shooters with precision accuracy and fast, positive target acquisition.

Find your AR scope by clicking here.

Pinnacle 5-30×50 TMD Riflescope

For extreme long-range distances, the 5-30x50mm Pinnacle riflescope will make your shot count out to 1,000 yards and further.
For extreme long-range distances, the 5-30x50mm Pinnacle riflescope will make your shot count out to 1,000 yards and further.

For extreme long-range distances, the 5-30x50mm Pinnacle riflescope will make your shot count out to 1,000 yards and further. Zero stop elevation easily helps you set a stopping point at a certain range, meaning a return to zero every single time you use your scope.

The combination of the 34mm tube and 50mm objective lens increases elevation adjustment range, light transmission and field of view for a clear image, as well as more accurate long-range shot placement.

An advanced TMD-HW first focal plane illuminated (red or green) tactical MIL reticle helps estimate range and holdovers for bullet drop, crosswind and moving targets.

The Pinnacle boasts a tested and recommended rating from the National Tactical Officers Association.

Click here to start becoming a sharpshooter!

Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD Sight

The Ultra Shot reflex sight has a 2 MOA dot and 2,000-hour battery life.
The Ultra Shot reflex sight has a 2 MOA dot and 2,000-hour battery life.

With a tactical 2 MOA dot, the Ultra Shot M-Spec (MIL-SPEC) reflex red dot sight is made for the AR-15 and other Modern Sporting Rifles and has 10 brightness settings, is night-vision compatible and has a patented integrated sunshade.

Guaranteed with a lifetime warranty, the Ultra Shot is shockproof, dustproof, IP68 waterproof-rated, recoil-rated up to .338 Winchester Magnum and constructed of lightweight yet rugged 6061-T6 aluminum.

Specialized features include up to 2,000-hour battery life, a battery-saving automatic on and off activation, digital controls and a locking quick-detach Picatinny mount.

Read more about the Ultra Shot here.

Citadel 1-6x24mm CR1

The 1-6x magnification range makes the Citadel CR1 ideal for close quarters one-shot accuracy, as well as quick acquisition of targets at mid-range distances.
The 1-6x magnification range makes the Citadel CR1 ideal for both CQB and mid-range.

The 1-6x magnification range makes the Citadel CR1 ideal for close-quarters one-shot accuracy, as well as quick acquisition of targets at mid-range distances. It features a second focal plane BDC reticle calibrated for 55-grain .223 ammo with red illumination to aid in low-light situations and ½ MOA click adjustments.

Built for rough use, the Citadel is constructed of aluminum and is IP67 waterproof—submersible to 1 meter for 1 hour, plus shockproof and fogproof.

Included are a throw lever and flip-up lens caps.

Click here to check out the Citadel.

Mini Shot M-SPEC LQD

The Mini red dot sight includes a riser mount for AR-15s and low-profile, quick-detach mount.
The Mini red dot sight includes a riser mount for AR-15s and low-profile, quick-detach mount.

 

For a versatile reflex sight, the Mini Shot M-SPEC transitions smoothly from pistols to your tactical shotgun or rifle. Included is a low-profile quick-detach mount, as well as a riser mount for your AR-15.

The most popular dot size, the 3 MOA dot is the sweet spot between CQB and mid-range, making the Mini Shot accurate for any tactical situation you encounter. It has double the battery life of the competition with up to an impressive 30,000 hours battery life. The 12-hour automatic shutoff means you don’t have to worry about failure when you need speed and precision the most.

The Mini red dot features 1 MOA windage and elevation click adjustments for easy zeroing, 10 brightness adjustments for both indoor and outdoor environments and ambidextrous digital controls.

The Sightmark Mini Shot M-SPEC LQD red dot sight has been field-tested through the National Tactical Officers Association and comes recommended for law enforcement and professional use.

Click here to buy the Mini Shot.

From CQB to extreme long-range, Sightmark has an optic for when failure isn’t an option.

What type of tactical features do you look for in an optic? Tell us in the comment section.

 

Night Vision Explained

Written by guest contributor Richard Douglas.

Night vision is very old tech. Most night vision optics use analog image intensifier tubes — technology that existed ever since the 1930s. In fact, this is the same fundamental technology that the marines used in the Battle of Okinawa (1945). That said, technology has come a long way since then. And now, it’s gotten so good (and affordable) that it can even be used as an AR-10 scope

Which night vision device should you choose? By the end of this guide, you’ll find the right generation of night vision for you.

Let’s get started!

Gen 0 Night Vision

The German "Vampir" or Zielgerät 1229 was a very big infrared illuminator and is considered the first night vision optic.
A German soldier with a Zielgerät 1229 night vision scope.

This generation is the ‘father’ of modern night vision. It is what soldiers used in World War II—basically, a big infrared searchlight to see in the dark. This huge searchlight was too heavy and impractical for common deployment. That’s why you can’t buy it. Instead, they developed…

Gen 1 Night Vision

A Gen 1 AN/PVS-2 night vision device mounted to an M16.
A Gen 1 AN/PVS-2 night vision device mounted to an M16.

In Vietnam, the military started using Gen 1 night vision optics. It was lighter, the light sensitivity was better, and it worked in very close-range applications. The result? It was the first usable night vision on the market. But is it the right night Gen for you? To find out, let’s break down its pros, cons, and how it looks:

Pros

  • Very cheap
  • Great for light usage

Cons

  • Not very clear
  • ‘Fish-eye’ lens effect
  • Blooming or ‘halo effect’ around visible light sources
  • Shorter lifespan (1,500 hours)
  • Short distance—100 yards maximum range
  • IR illuminator gives off position to others

Best Use

If you’re just getting started or a hobbyist, then Gen 1 night vision is for you. It’s cheap and helps you see in the dark in very close-range applications (up to 50 yards).

That said, if you are a little more serious, then go for…

Gen 2 Night Vision

The AN/PVS-4 night vision scope
The AN/PVS-4 night vision scope

Gen 2 arrived in the late 70s. An added microchannel plate allows the night vision optic to be used without extra infrared illumination. This made Gen 2 night vision the first ‘lightweight’ tactical night vision solution. It changed nighttime warfare forever and it’ll probably change your nighttime hunts, too.

Let’s break it down:

Pros

  • Affordable, quality night vision
  • Doesn’t need an IR illuminator to work (although it has one)
  • Improved image quality
  • Longer lifespan (2,500 – 5000 hours)

Cons

  • Lacks image clarity
  • Medium range applications (up to 200 yards)
  • Can cost as much as Gen 3

Best Use

Either nighttime hunting or medium-range application (up to 200 yards) is best for Gen 2. It’s decent for the price. However, if you’re looking to step it up to the very best, then go for…

Gen 3 Night Vision

A look through the Gen 3 Pulsar Phantom night vision riflescope
A look through the Gen 3 Pulsar Phantom night vision riflescope

This is the latest Gen night vision on the market. It originally arrived in the 80s. For Gen 3, a gallium arsenide photocathode (or an upgraded tube) was added. As a result, you can now see almost everything in the dark. But is it worth the extra money?

To find out, let’s break it down:

Pros

  • Highest quality night vision
  • Great low-light performance
  • Doesn’t need an IR illuminator
  • Longest lifespan (10,000+ hours)
  • Goes to 300 yards and beyond
  • Can be used day or night

Cons

  • Very expensive ($1,000+)

Best Use

It’s best used for serious tactical and long-range applications (up to 300+ yards). To put it simply, Gen 3 is the very best, but it does cost a pretty penny. Sometimes going well above the $2,000 price range!

If Gen 2 or 3 are still too expensive for your budget but you don’t want to sacrifice quality or clarity, you’ll probably love…

Digital Night Vision

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.
The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, and 50mm objective lens.

Digital utilizes the fundamental technology of night vision (photocathode tubes) and improves it by using modern silicon chips to display the image—similar to a digital camera.

The result?

An affordable optic that performs between Gen 1 to Gen 2 in night vision functionality, which is also completely safe to use during the day. Here’s the breakdown:

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Can be used day or night without breaking the unit
  • Reliable (as it doesn’t burn out easily)
  • Can record video

Cons

  • Not combat-tested yet

How It Looks

Sightmark’s Wraith high-quality digital scope (MSRP $599.99) mixes expensive night vision tech and a magnified riflescope all in one. It is also affordable and reliable.

Here’s a video of Sightmark’s Wraith HD Digital Riflescope in-action:

 

Impressive, isn’t it? With that said, here’s the…

Best Use

Digital day/night vision scopes are for the smart hunter that hunts day and night and shoots up to 200 yards.

So now that we’ve got the night vision generations out of the way, it’s time to address the final question on many people’s minds…

Green or White Phosphor Technology

White phosphor provides great contrast.
White phosphor provides great contrast.

Here’s the truth—both do the same job. There’s no scientific evidence showing one is better than the other. It honestly just boils down to preference. If you like how green phosphor looks, then go for it. Likewise, if you like white phosphor (which looks a bit more natural) go with that. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the resolution of the night optic. So, make sure you spend money on a quality, high-resolution optic rather than going for some fancy phosphor color.

And that’s all there is to night vision. With what you’ve just learned so far…

What Night Vision Technology Will You Choose?

Maybe Gen 2 or the more affordable digital night vision? Either way, let me know in the comments below.

About Richard

Richard Douglas is the founder of Scopes Field, a blog where he reviews the best scopes and guns on the market. He’s been featured on various magazines and publications like Daily Caller, Burris Optics, SOFREP, Boyds Gun Stocks, Talon Grips, American Shooting Journal and so much more.

The AR-15 for Home Defense

Sightmark 's Social Media Manager's ARs with a Photon XT digital night vision scope and Wolverine red dot.
Sightmark ‘s Social Media Manager’s ARs with a Photon XT and Wolverine red dot.

On June 14, 2019, Time Magazine published an op-ed piece written by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chris Murphy (D.-Conn.) encouraging Congress to “act” on “gun violence,” stating, “Guns like the AR-15 aren’t used for hunting and they’re not viable for home protection. They have only one purpose, and that’s to fire as many rounds as possible, as quickly as possible. Outlawing these weapons, an action supported by 60 percent of Americans, will bring down the number of mass shootings and reduce the number of casualties, just as it did when the ban first passed in 1994.”

Both Senators, along with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced a bill to ban MSRs on January 9, 2019.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is one of the largest supporters of gun bans and was a major player in orchestrating the 1994 “assault weapons" ban has said, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in,’ I would have done it.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is one of the largest supporters of gun bans and was a major player in orchestrating the 1994 “assault weapons” ban.

Sen. Feinstein has never been secretive about her wish to ban what she calls “assault weapons.” In fact, she has introduced an assault weapons ban (AWB) legislation numerous times. In 2013, her reasoning was because, “Military-style assault weapons have but one purpose, and in my view that’s a military purpose, to hold at the hip, possibly, to spray fire to be able to kill large numbers.” When she introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, she said, “This bill won’t stop every mass shooting, but it will begin removing these weapons of war from our streets. The first Assault Weapons Ban was just starting to show an effect when the NRA stymied its reauthorization in 2004. Yes, it will be a long process to reduce the massive supply of these assault weapons in our country, but we’ve got to start somewhere.”

When introducing the newest AWB, Sen. Feinstein said, “If we’re going to put a stop to mass shootings and protect our children, we need to get these weapons of war off our streets.” Sen. Murphy said, “Military-style assault rifles are the weapons of choice for mass murderers. There’s just no reason why these guns, which were designed to kill as many people as quickly as possible, are sold to the public” and Sen. Blumenthal said, “Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are deadly and dangerous weapons of war that belong on battlefields—not our streets. They have no purpose for self-defense or hunting…”

Sightmark Marketing Manager's AR-15 finished in flat dark earth
Sightmark Marketing Manager’s AR-15

“…the weapons of choice for mass murders…”

“…no purpose for self-defense or hunting…”

“…weapons of war…”

This language is particularly harmful to the population of Americans that sit on the fence about gun control—those who support the Second Amendment but also strongly believe in restricting it. These Americans aren’t hunters, shooters or gun owners, yet aren’t necessarily anti-gun either. Unfortunately, when a politician says something with authority, those uneducated about the topic tend to believe what they are being told sold. Without citing sources, Feinstein and Murphy claim over half of the citizens in the United States support a ban on AR-15s, hunters don’t use the AR-15 and they aren’t “viable” for home defense. Despite what anti-gun politicians and media tell the public, there is irrefutable evidence that the AR-15 is not the weapon of choice of most mass shooters and that banning it will virtually have no impact on the number of Americans who die from gunshots.

In fact, research shows that the AR-15 is one of the most widely owned firearms, used not only for target shooting and recreation but for hunting and self-defense, as well.

According to Fee.org, with data complied from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the FBI, “it would take almost one-hundred years of mass shootings with AR-15s to produce the same number of homicide victims that knives and sharp objects produce in one year.”

America’s Rifle

Since the Assault Weapons Ban lifted in 2004, there have been 16 million AR-15s circulating in our country. It is overwhelmingly the most popular centerfire rifle in the U.S. Its traditional 5.56mm chambering has been our military’s primary caliber since the early 1960s because its lighter weight means soldiers can carry more rounds, it has relatively low recoil, it flies fast with a flat trajectory and is just effective as stopping the bad guy as 7.62.

Merriam -Webster defines “viable” as “capable of working, functioning, or developing adequately.” If the 5.56 isn’t capable of working or functioning, then how has it been our military’s primary caliber for over 50 years?

A Triarc Systems AR-15 with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope
A Triarc Systems AR-15 with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope

Why is the AR-15 Good for Home Defense?

Let’s Talk Ballistics

When discussing the “right” gun to defend the home, the two biggest concerns have always been what is commonly referred to as “stopping power” and over-penetration. Over penetration is a serious safety issue and the ammo you choose for your home defense gun needs to be designed specifically for this purpose—penetrate deep enough to stop an attack yet won’t travel any further through than its intended target. This is why many believe the shotgun is the best home defense gun…but all rounds have the potential to over-penetrate. Fortunately, ammo technology is so far advanced now that we have a wide variety of self-defense bullets to choose from in many different calibers. Many .223 bullets will fragment when they meet soft targets, while still transferring energy into the target—this is exactly what you want in a home-defense round. (Guns and Ammo)

The AR-15 is commonly issued to many SWAT teams that must engage in close quarters. Expanding .223 bullets have proven safe and highly effective in the field.

It’s Physics, Man

Quality Assurance Specialist's AR with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope.
Quality Assurance Specialist’s AR with Pulsar Thermion thermal riflescope.

Though to be a great marksman/woman, you must practice no matter the type of firearm, many shooters find certain guns to be easier to operate than others. This is especially true when comparing semiautomatic pistols with semiautomatic rifles. The AR-15’s overall heavier weight helps users recover from recoil quicker. Further, the longer barrel makes aiming easier because of the longer sight radius. (The sight radius is the distance between the front and rear sights.) These two fundamentals of shooting often cause people to be inaccurate.

Expert firearms writer Tom McHale explains the AR’s sight radius superiority: “On a pistol with just a 2-inch sight radius, if the front and rear sights are out of alignment by just 1 millimeter, you can miss a target 25 yards downrange by up to 17.7 inches. Using a rifle with a 16-inch sight radius, that same miss will be limited to just 2.2 inches.”

One of the main reasons why the AR-15 is so popular is due to its versatility and adaptability. There are seemingly endless ways to customize it. Longer barrels, shorter barrels, caliber variations, furniture and optics—every AR owner will find the exact right set-up for them. By building and customizing an AR with accessories and different optics, many beginners, women, youth and those with disabilities find the AR-15 to be the best firearm for them. A confident and empowered shooter will shoot more accurately and determinately.

Sightmark's Creative Director's AR-15 with special edition Ultra Shot red dot sight carbon fiber finish
Sightmark’s Creative Director’s AR-15 with special edition Ultra Shot red dot sight.

Smooth Operator

The semiautomatic AR-15 is based on the select-fire AR-10 designed by Eugene Stoner. It is traditionally a gas-operated (there are now piston-operated ARs) firearm which uses the gases expelled from gunpowder when the gun is fired to cycle the rifle.

Operating the AR is simple, you insert a loaded mag into the magwell and make sure it is securely seated. If the bolt is open, push the bolt catch to chamber a round. If the bolt is closed, pull back on and release the charging handle to chamber a round. Switch the safety from safe to fire and boom—you’re ready to rock and roll. All these controls are ergonomically placed and easily manipulated for all hand sizes. This is a huge part of the AR’s appeal.

Malfunctions are just as easy to clear, and maintenance is minimal with regular cleaning and application of gun lube. If an 11-year old girl can field strip her AR in 53 seconds, then you will be able to disassemble and assemble your AR in no time as well.

Don’t let Sen. Feinstein’s misguided information dissuade you. The AR-15 is one of the most…if not the most…versatile firearms on the market.

Oh, and as far as her other claims? Here are a few facts you can share whenever someone tries to argue that the AR should be banned:

  • You are four times more likely to be murdered with a knife or other sharp object than a rifle
  • An AR-15 is involved in only 2 to 8% of all gun crimes
  • Only 3.4% of gunshot deaths are from a rifle
  • Mass shooting rose during AWB
  • Production of AR-15s and AR-15-style rifles increased 120% during AWB
  • Gun murders of any kind increased 20% during AWB

In a National Shooting Sports Foundation survey conducted in 2010, the number two reason people chose to purchase an AR-15 was for home protection. With an estimated 8 to 10 million ARs owned in America, there is no doubt that is it a “common use” firearm.

What do you think about the AR-15 for home defense? Tell us if you think it is a “viable” gun for home protection and why or why not in the comment section.

Click here to read about who wants to take your AR-15.

Sightmark M-Spec Mini Red Dot Sight for Pistol 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.

Mini red dot sights are becoming increasingly popular for self-defense handguns.
Mini red dot sights are becoming increasingly popular for self-defense handguns.

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 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.

Sightmark's M-Spec mini red dot sight has a 3 MOA dot and 10 brightness adjustments
The M-Spec mini red dot has a 3 MOA dot and 10 brightness adjustments.

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 recoil proof
  • 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.

The compact size of the Sightmark M-Spec mini red dot sight does not disrupt the pistol's balance, nor add noticeable weight.
Sightmark’s M-Spec mini red dot sight is compact and efficient.

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 midranges are best for indoor lighting and outside on a cloudy day. I suspect due to 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 quickly 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 are how we improve our products, so talk to us in the comment section!

Click here to purchase the M-Spec!

The Mini Shot is also available in Dark Earth, with a quick-detach lever and riser mount. Click here to pick the right one for you.