The Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) have joined forces to offer youth hunts that are safe, educational and very affordable. We sponsor introductory, instructive youth hunts for deer, turkey, hogs, javelina, exotics, dove, small game, waterfowl, varmints and other species. Normally, we provide mentors, lodging and meals.
Sellmark, Inc. (Sightmark’s parent company) has always been dedicated to participating in a wide variety of charitable youth hunts by providing mentorship, sponsorship and products.
We not only design and make products for shooters and hunters but hunting is also in our blood. It is our lifestyle, too. It is just one way we can help pass down the tradition and heritage of ethical hunting to the next generation.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, from 2011-2016, our community lost 2.2 million hunters. In 2018, less than 5% of the American population hunted. This is a significant amount of loss in hunting licenses that provide money to fund conservation and advocacy…not to mention the economic impact due to loss of jobs.
The bulk of hunters have been Baby Boomers—people born between 1946 to 1964—and naturally, this group is aging out of being able to participate in hunting. By teaching the younger generation the healthy benefits both to wildlife and ourselves of hunting, we can help prevent the potential loss of $3.3 billion in funding toward conservation. All it takes is introducing just one new hunter a year.
Sightmark encourages you to #MakeYourMark and introduce a new hunter this season! Show us how you’ve Made Your Mark by following us on social media, posting a picture of you teaching a new shooter, helping out with a youth hunt or other charitable act or event, tag us and use the hashtag #MakeYourMark for a chance to win a Sightmark Wraith digital night vision scope. Winner will be determined by a random drawing on December 23, 2019, and announced on our social media channels on Christmas Eve 2019, December 24, 2019.
In 1996, the Texas Wildlife Association and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department developed the Texas Youth Hunting Program to encourage youth hunting. Since then, the program has taken over 55,000 Texas youth on guided hunts and other outdoor activities. Children are taught hunter and firearm safety, wildlife management, ethics and sportsmanship.
Partnering with landowners and skilled mentors and volunteers, the TYHP organizes deer, turkey, hog, dove, small game, exotics and waterfowl hunts for Texas youth, providing guns, ammunition, calls and other equipment, lodging and meals. Hunts generally last through the weekend providing ample bonding time between parent and child, mentor and youth and youth and nature.
You can learn more about how to get involved and the youth hunt schedule on the TYHP official website, click here.
Enter to win a Sightmark Wraith Digital Night Vision Riflescope:
Show us how you’ve Made Your Mark by following us on social media, posting a picture of you teaching a new shooter, helping out with a youth hunt or other charitable act or event, tag us and use the hashtag #MakeYourMark for a chance to win a Sightmark Wraith digital night vision scope. Winner will be determined by a random drawing on December 23, 2019, and announced on our social media channels on Christmas Eve 2019, December 24, 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Extra batteries for your electronics.
Take an extra set of batteries for your flashlight, walkie talkie, GPS and firearm optic.
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.
Survival knife or multi-tool.
First aid kit.
Include bandages for sprains, QuikClot, insect repellent, antiseptic wipes and over-the-counter pain medication.
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.
Water and water filter straw.
High-energy protein bars or non-perishable snacks like beef jerky and trail mix.
Chemical hand and feet warmers.
Brightly colored trail marker or tape and your required hunter orange.
You can use your safety orange as a signaling device.
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.
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.
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:
Easy to use
Provide quick target acquisition
No or low magnification
Mini Shot M-Spec
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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…”
“…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.”
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?
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
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.
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.
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 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 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!
A red dot sight is a generic term for a type of non-magnified optic that uses electronics to display an illuminated reticle, typically a dot or a circle with a dot, onto a glass lens. Red dot and reflex sights are used in low-light situations to acquire targets quickly. Sightmark sells both red dot and reflex sights—yes, there’s a difference between the two!
We’ve gathered our most common questions about red dot sights and answered them here, as well as provide in-depth information in other blog posts to help you pick out the right sight for you.
Are Red Dot Sights Better Than Iron Sights?
Highly skilled marksmen are just as fast and accurate with iron sights as they are red dot sights; however, for the regular shooter (non-professional/non-competitor), red dot sights are better than iron sights—especially when speed and precision top priority.
Red dot sights utilize a highly visible illuminated red or green reticle designed to be aimed with both eyes open. The red dot sight aids in point and shoot accuracy because users just focus on the red dot meeting the desired location on the target. Iron sights require users to align them by focusing on the target, as well as front sight and rear sights. It typically takes longer to aim with iron sights than it does with red dot or reflex sights.
Note: Though red dot sights are an excellent self-defense tool for close quarters, a great optic for turkey and predator hunting in low-light and necessary for competition, you should never solely depend on your electronic optics just in case batteries or other components fail. Learning how to use your iron sights correctly is a skill every shooter should master.
How do I Use a Red Dot Sight?
To use a red dot sight, mount it to your firearm and sight it in using a laser bore sight. Once your point of impact matches your point of aim, you are ready to start using your red dot sight.
While looking at your target, bring your gun up ready to fire. Keeping both eyes open, look through the red dot sight’s objective lens. The reticle will appear on the target as you bring your firearm up to the ready position. When the reticle appears on the area of the target you want to hit, pull the trigger. It is as simple as that!
What is the Difference Between a Reflex Sight vs. Red Dot?
There are two types of reflex sights—an open reflex sight and a tube red dot sight. Open reflex sights are technically not a red dot sight, even though they do have illuminated red reticles. A true red dot sight has a tube-style housing which protects its glass better than open-style reflex sights.
MOA stands for Minute of Angle—a unit used for angular measurement of a circle. 1 MOA equals 1.047 inches at 100 yards. This means an illuminated MOA reticle will appear to be 1 inch in diameter on top of a target 100 yards from you. Small dot or circle reticles, like 1 or 2 MOA are utilized for very precise shots but are more difficult to see. Larger dots are much quicker to acquire but may cover too much of your target to be as accurate. Most people prefer a 3 MOA for close- to mid-range shooting distances.
Because red dot and reflex sights have unlimited eye relief, there isn’t necessarily a wrong or right place to mount your optic. (Note: You shouldn’t mount your sight on the handguard rail.) Also, the dot or circle dot reticle and target stay the same size no matter where you mount your sight, so you can mount it anywhere along the gun’s rail that is most comfortable for you.
The most common place to mount a reflex sight on an AR-15 is a little closer to you than in the center of the rifle’s receiver. A good starting point is mounting it right above the rifle’s ejection port. From there, you can experiment with moving forward and backward to find where the sight works best for you.
What is the Difference Between a Red Dot and Holographic Sight?
Reflex and red dot sights use a reflector system, which 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 use a laser transmission hologram to produce an illuminated reticle or dot. The hologram is illuminated via a laser diode instead of an LED.
Who makes holographic sights?
Very few manufacturers make true holographic sights—the most notable is EOTech. Vortex also makes a holographic sight.
Do you have a question about red dot, reflex or holographic sights? Ask us in the comment section and we will do our very best to answer it!
For those who are self-defense minded and ascribe to Col. Jeff Cooper’s Situational Awareness color codes, a flashlight (or two…or few…) is an essential piece of your everyday carry (EDC) gear. Anyone who spends any time outdoors has a flashlight or two. Even those who don’t want anything to do with firearms or roughing it in the woods should have a flashlight in their emergency kit, on the nightstand and in the car or for those late night/early morning jog or dog walks. We’re vulnerable in the dark and a flashlight not only helps us light our way at night, they help us positively identify hazards in the dark—whether those hazards are stationary and we’re avoiding a nasty bruise or fall or we’re having to identify a life or death threat in our home, in a parking garage or in a dark alley.
There is a seemingly endless amount of the types of flashlights available—spotlights, night vision flashlights, camping and hiking lights, hunting flashlights, hand-held, head-mount, shop, keychain, tactical…the list goes on. In the firearms community, we’re mostly concerned with three types—hunting, tactical and EDC flashlights. EDC and tactical flashlights are very similar, while hunting lights generally offer a few additional features that many EDC and tac lights don’t have.
EDC/Everyday Carry Lights
The best EDC flashlights are compact and lightweight, yet don’t compromise brightness for size. An EDC light still needs to identify threats, aid in changing a tire or looking under the hood or help in a survival situation. Because you carry this light every day, construction must be durable and battery type and life is a serious consideration.
When shopping for an EDC flashlight, pay attention to the bulb type, the lumens (how bright the bulb is), focus adjustments (if it’s an option), brightness levels, and operation, as well as how it can be carried (lanyard loop, belt clip, etc.)
Sightmark’s SS280 tactical flashlight makes the grade from both the National Tactical Officers Association and the North American Hunting Club. With multiple lumen functions, this bright white Cree LED has three settings—100 lumens, 280 lumens and strobe mode. Strobe is preferred by many experts in self-defense situations, as well as a vital signaling tool in a survival or emergency situation. It has an IP67 waterproof rating and is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with a Type II MIL-Spec anodized finish. Included is a red, green and blue lens filter, which means this handheld flashlight works well for tactical purposes, reading a map at night, hunting and preserving night vision.
Tactical flashlights are designed for professional use in law enforcement, military and security. Civilians who own firearms to protect themselves, their families and their homes realize the usefulness of these types of lights and generally buy one for the bedside or to mount on their firearm. In many cases, they own both. Tactical flashlights have a very specific purpose—identify suspects or threats in low-light situations. They need to be bright enough to temporarily blind a person and bigger, heftier ones like MagLite, may be used as a blunt-force weapon if necessary. Like many EDC flashlights, tac lights will have a glass-breaking bezel and some type of strobe function.
The most important features of a tactical flashlight are its ability to be mounted to a firearm, its lumens and battery life. You really don’t want your tactical light to fail when you need it most.
Sightmark’s Q5 Triple Duty Tactical Flashlight is the perfect crossover between tactical and EDC. Tested and recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association and voted Editor’s Choice Award by Outdoor Life magazine, the Q5 is light enough to carry every day at 4.9 ounces and bright enough to serve on your home-defense rifle. It has a 280-lumen CREE LED bulb which casts a clean, bright white beam. LEDs are more efficient, brighter and conserve battery life better than incandescent bulbs. 280 is plenty to identify and stun bad guys. Constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum with a MIL-SPEC Type II anodized finish, the Q5 tactical light can be dropped without incident and is submersible to 1 meter for up to 1 hour. Operation is via a two-stage push button on the tail cap or the included pressure pad. There is a three-prong glass-breaking bezel, as well as on the tail cap. The Q5 takes 2 (CR123A) batteries that last up to 1-1/2 hours continuous use. Included is the pressure pad, offset rifle mount and lanyard.
Hunters, especially predator hunters, utilize flashlights to track and spot hog and coyote at night. Hunting lights are often hand-held spotlights, headlamps or weapon-mounted and offer colored lenses or filters to preserve your vision at night and not spook game. Red filters are used to protect your night vision, while green is becoming more popular because we can see green light better than we can red light.
One Sightmark flashlight that really yields itself to multi-purposes is the Triple Duty H840 tactical flashlight kit. Either handheld or weapon-mountable, this light has three Cree LEDs for 840 super-bright lumens. It includes green, red and blue filters, which help with blood tracking. Like the T6, it is constructed of rugged, yet lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum and is Type II MIL-SPEC anodized. The H840 is also submersible to 1 meter for up to 1 hour.
Sightmark also has a super bright spotlight for extreme tactical use or for hunting, camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures with 3,000 lumens.
Sightmark has the best flashlights for any tactical, hunting or self-defense need. Besides the ones listed here, there weapon-mounted laser and light combos, IR illuminators and more handheld/rifle-mount lights online. Check them out here.
What are your good-to flashlights? What type of flashlight is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section.
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 its 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 micro display. 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 micro display 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 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 (middle) 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!
Is it too early to start preparing for deer season?
Who are we kidding? We were ready for next season as soon as last season closed! Even though it may feel like summer will never end, right now is the perfect opportunity to plan and prep to increase your odds at bagging that buck come fall.
It’s All About That Seed
Have you planted a food plot yet? A food plot is a way to supplement the deer’s natural diet. It will attract deer in the area and give you a scouting location to place your stand or blind and trail camera. Deer like to munch on high-protein crops like peas, soybeans, kale and corn, as well as red clover, chicory and orchard grass.
Monitor and Maintaining Your Food Plots
Now is the time to plow, plant and mow. If you already have a growing food plot, a trick to making it even better hunting ground is to create cover around it, so the deer feel safe to feed there, as well as help hide you while going to and from your deer stand. Plant a food plot screen with tall grasses or crops that deer don’t particularly find that tasty. Sorghum and Egyptian Wheat grasses are popular choices.
Check Out the Latest Gear
While you are hard at work on your tan, we’re hard at work cranking out the latest and greatest accessories to make your hunt more efficient. The newest product Sightmark has is the innovative, high-definition Wraith digital riflescope. Useable both day and night, it is the one optic you need for your summertime predator pursuits, as well as fall and winter hunting seasons!
Quality Range Time
Time to dust off the ole rifle. Take this time to get reacquainted. You can sight-in your new scopes, try out the latest ammo and just become a better shot in general with regular trips to the range for practice and training.
Somebody’s Watching Me
Put your game cameras around your hunting area so you can start watching where deer are going, where they feed and bed, and gain insight on the herd’s health. You have plenty of time to move your trail cams around to find the best hunting spots. Consider placing your cameras so you can check memory cards without disturbing your hot spots. Game cameras that stream to your mobile are great options.
Old camo with holes in it, sleeping bags with broken zippers, decrepit stands…Since you have a few months to repair or replace, now is the perfect time to make sure everything you use during the hunt is in good working order.
Blowin’ In Then Wind
Once you’ve found your hot spot and established where your stand will be, it’s time to do some maintenance and planning. Map out a few ways to get to your stand. You wouldn’t want to ruin your chances just because the wind is blowing in the wrong direction on opening day. Having multiple routes to your stand depending on wind direction won’t blow your cover. Trimming back limbs and trees and cutting down weeds and grasses might be necessary. In addition, you may set up a backup hunting spot that accommodates for a change in wind direction.
Locate Prime Bedding Spots…
or make your own. You can create a natural bedding spot for deer near your food plots and stand by clearing out a spot surrounded by woods.
Line Up Them Ducks
Double-check your licenses, stamps, tags, etc. Your state takes hunting without the proper paperwork very seriously. Make sure you have everything you need to be legal opening weekend.
Psych Yourself Up
Yes, mentally you’re preparing, planning and excited, but take a few minutes to calm down and take a reflective, big-picture look of why you hunt. Remember those who came before you, who taught you and think about who you’ll teach next. At the end of the day, hunting isn’t about bagging the biggest buck or having the most expensive, latest gadget, it is about tradition, conservation, honor and nourishment. To read more about this, click here.
How do you prepare for fall hunting? Tell us in the comment section.
The red dot sight is extremely compatible with AR-15s and other Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR) and is the optic of choice for most MSR owners. These sights are the fastest way to get on target accurately and for AR shooters, this is exactly what we need. Unless you are precision shooting at longer ranges, fast target acquisition and a shot that hits where you aim are all you need in competition shooting, plinking, home defense and even predator and varmint hunting. The reflex or red dot sight is the way to go for close quarters (CQB) to medium ranges, where speed is your top priority.
Before we continue, we need to get something straight—a “red dot sight” has become the term most used when referring to a non-magnified electronic sight that projects an illuminated dot (or other shapes) reticle on a target. However, the term is used incorrectly.
Both open and tube sights are reflex sights, but an open reflex sight is technically not a red dot sight.
Now, most people aren’t going to make fun of you if you refer to either as a red dot sight and will know exactly what you’re talking about, but since we (Sightmark) make both reflex and red dot sights, we’re nerdy about them and use the correct terms.
Open and tube reflex sights operate the same way. This is how they are set apart from holographic and prismatic sights—which aren’t actually red dot or reflex sights at all.
Reflex sights are called so because of the way they work. They work by using a reflective glass lens to align light from an LED to project an aiming point on a glass objective lens. Due to a special reflective coating on the lens, the illuminated red dot is visible only to you and does not go through the other side of the lens. The dot is never actually projected on the target, it only appears that way to the viewer.
The internal operation is the same for tube red dot and reflex sights; however, when you put a tube red dot sight and a reflex sight next to each other (as shown above,) they look nothing alike. Both are excellent optics with very few disadvantages, yet they do have slightly different specs and features that might make you prefer one over the other.
Reflex and tube dot sights are non-magnified (as mentioned above,) have an unlimited eye relief—meaning you can mount it anywhere along your rail without the worry of scope bite—and work on the Bindon Aiming Concept, meaning you shoot using the sight with both eyes open.
What ‘s the difference between a reflex sight and a red dot sight?
One of the biggest differences between a reflex/open sight and a red dot is the field of view. Reflex sights, due to their heads-up display (HUD) design allow for a wider field of view. The field of view is how much of the image you can see in the window or objective lens. Reflex sights let you clearly see the target as well as what’s around it, giving you a tactical advantage by allowing you to retain your situational awareness.
Reflex sights are also just a hair faster at target acquisition because the dot isn’t as confined in the head’s up display as in the tube style. Some might find, especially competitors or those hunting birds, that peripheral vision is obstructed or limited using a tube red dot sight when transitioning targets.
Reflex sights are more susceptible to the elements, though. Red dots have an enclosed housing protecting the internals. Also, reflex sights have an exposed light path so if anything blocks that path, you lose the reticle. To compensate for this, we’ve added an extendable hood on our new M-Spec reflex sight to help reduce the risk of losing your reticle.
Where the tube red dot has the reflex beat is how bright the reticle is compared with reticles on open sights.
For which one is better, I can’t tell you. Our military uses both tube and open sights, so both have their place. Depending on your usage and firearm, you will find that you prefer one over the other. As a general rule, most people put a tube red dot on their shotguns, a mini reflex sight on their handguns and either on their AR-15.
Which type of sight do you prefer? Tell us which one and why in the comment section.