As anxious as we all are to get out to the range with a new optic for our AR, to eliminate frustration, we must spend time and money sighting it in. No red dot, scope or laser comes with pinpoint accuracy right out of the box. There is just too much variation for that to be possible. So, since we invest in optics to help us be more accurate, it’s important to make sure it works correctly. Whether it be having one chance to hit that monstrous pig, or your life is in imminent danger, you want the confidence knowing your bullet is going to hit where you aim.
That’s why we take the time and waste the ammo to sighting in our optics to get them exact. However, there is a way to cut down your costs, save time and start hitting the bullseye faster. With Sightmark’s improved Accudot laser boresight design, you’ll be punching holes in holes before you know it—all without initially using any ammo or paying for range time!
No one wants to waste ammo (money!) just trying to hit somewhere on the paper, right?
What is Boresighting?
Boresighting is a method of adjustment to a firearm sight or optic to align the firearm barrel and sights. The goal of boresighting is to get on paper. it is a reliable way to align your sights or optic’s reticle with the true center of the barrel (the bore.)
Accudot Laser Boresights
Sightmark’s Accudot laser in-chamber boresights allow you to get to zero faster by projecting a laser onto a target, making it easier to align your reticle, sights or red dot with the rifle’s bore. Even before your first shot, the Accudot boresight gets you sighted in faster with point-of-impact and point-of-aim identification.
The Sightmark Accudot in-chamber laser boresight’s precise design inherently makes it more accurate than boresights on the market. Constructed of thick-walled, precision-machined brass, Accudot caliber-specific laser boresights employ a calibrated Class IIIa laser diode and bullet tip for improved chamber fit, precise centering, as well as easier and smoother chambering and ejection. Multiple set screws secure the laser diode, ensuring it stays straight and centered. To test, just roll the boresight on a flat surface and you’ll notice the laser stays straight along the wall your pointing it at.
Featuring an internal rechargeable battery and automatic on and off function, the Accudot laser boresight only activates when chambered, conserving battery life.
With visibility up to 100 yards, Accudot rifle boresights get you dialed in close to center-mass and at 25 yards, you’ll be close to the mark at a 100 sight-in. In lower light, boresights can reach quite a bit farther at 50 yards to close in on that 200-yard zero—the typical ranges for target shooting with your AR-15.
How to Boresight Your AR-15 Rifle Indoors or Outside
Charge your boresight using the included USB cable and charging station.
Use a benchrest, shooting bags, or another stable platform. Make sure your AR is completely unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
Lock your bolt open to the rear.
Put the laser boresight into the chamber.
Slowly close the bolt. The boresight will automatically turn on when the bolt is closed.
Line the laser beam on to the center of the target.
Look through your optic and using your windage and elevation knobs, adjust the reticle, (dot or crosshairs) until it lines up with the dot of the laser.
To remove the boresight, open the bolt and eject the boresight like you would a live round.
In-chamber boresights have changed the landscape for precision, competition and target shooters, as well as hunters by saving gun owners a ton of cash and precious time. If anything, boresighting keeps your shots productive by getting you on target faster. There is no doubt about it, the Sightmark Accudot helps you achieve first-shot impacts on paper.
With Sightmark’s Accudot AR-15 laser boresight, you can sight in your scope faster at home and without using any ammo! Learn how to save time and money zeroing your riflescope by clicking the link below!
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!
Your Wraith digital day/night vision riflescope will need to be zeroed.
What is zeroing?
Zeroing, or ‘sighting in,’ a scope means aligning your point of aim with the point of impact for the bullet to hit where you want it to. If you don’t sight in your scope, you will likely miss your target. Zeroing is necessary for hunters, long-range precision shooters, competitors and anyone concerned with accuracy.
Sighting in requires a target with bullseye and grid, ammo and plenty of time. To save costs on range fees and ammo, we strongly recommend boresighting your Wraith riflescope with a laser boresight. Boresighting is quick, easy and the most efficient way to get your Wraith digital riflescope close to zero with the ability to get on paper with your first shot.
Once boresighted, you’ll want to head to the range to fire live ammo. (Don’t forget to remove your boresight!) A vise or shooting rest will keep your rifle steady during the sight-in process. This will keep your rifle centered, mitigate recoil and reduce fatigue.
The hole left from a .223 Remington bullet can be small and nearly impossible to see, even from shorter distances—especially if you have poor eyesight. Take a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope with you to identify where you hit on the target. You also may be able to see where you are hitting using the Wraith’s 8x magnification.
Follow these steps to sight in your Wraith Digital Riflescope:
Mount your Wraith riflescope with a comfortable eye relief. (Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the eyepiece on the scope. If you mount your riflescope too close to the rear of your rifle, the recoil of the gun can cause the scope to hit you in the forehead, causing what’s called ‘scope bite,’ resulting in a nasty cut or bruise.)
Turn your Wraith on by pushing down the center button until the Sightmark logo appears.
Adjust both the eyepiece diopter and focus adjustment until you get a crisp, clear image of your target. (The diopter is the measurement of the eye’s curvature. Since people’s eyes are all curved differently, the eyepiece diopter adjustment brings everything on the display screen such as your reticle and menu options into focus.)
Choose your preferred reticle pattern and color in the “Reticle Settings” menu.
Place the center of your reticle as seen through the scope at the center of the target, take 1 to 3 shots.
Tap the center button once to bring up the main menu.
Using the arrows on top of the unit, scroll down to “Reticle Settings” and tap the center button to select.
Use the bottom (down) arrow to scroll to “Reticle Zero.” Press the center button to select this option.
An additional red crosshair—called the red adjustment reticle in the manual—will pop up alongside your chosen reticle. Keep your reticle’s crosshairs pointed to the center of the target.
Note: There will be four sets of numbers displayed on the top of the “Reticle Zero” screen. These numbers represent the reticle’s offset from the center. They are not necessary for the zeroing process but may be useful for readjusting to a known zero if you save these numbers.
Using the up, down, left and right arrows, move the red adjustment reticle to the bullet hole (“point of impact”) group of holes you shot in step 5.
Exit out of the “Reticle Zero” setting by pushing the center button to return to the main screen.
Take another 1 to 3 shots.
Repeat steps 5 through 12 until zeroed. The Wraith is properly sighted in when the point of impact is the same as the point of aim.
One of the most popular accessories for the AR (and other MSRs) is the red dot or reflex sight. And for good reason…they help you get on target quickly for accurate shot placement in competition and in self-defense and tactical situations. In fact, I’m betting it’s probably one of the first things you’re considering adding to your new build.
There are a lot of different reflex sights to choose from. But regardless, whether you decide to go with an open reflex sight or closed tube red dot sight, mounting either optic is the same.
Fortunately, reflex sights don’t require much of a learning curve to master. They don’t magnify, so there’s no adjusting for distance. It’s pretty much mount, zero and go.
Unlike traditional riflescopes, reflex sights have an unlimited eye relief, so there is no right or wrong place to mount your sight. Further, your target and your dot stay the same size no matter where you put your sight on your rifle. Technically, you can put it anywhere along the rail your little heart desires. With that being said, most people strongly suggest you keep it mounted on the receiver part of the rail and not the handguard part of the rail. Now, there are placements that might raise a few eyebrows—like as close to the barrel as possible—but don’t worry, you aren’t going to look like a tool even if your sight is in the most extreme-forward position. As Ryan Gresham points out the video below, Scout rifle (without free-float rails) shooters prefer this position.
Even though I say there is no right or wrong answer to this question, you will find that a little further back than center is the most common placement of a reflex sight. Seems like for most, the sweet spot is above the ejection port. Why is this? The further away from the stock, the less balanced the rifle feels and the more likely your sight won’t stay zeroed.
There are advantages to both forward and backward positioning of your reflex sight. Forward is closest to the muzzle, while backward is closest to your face.
The further away from your eye you mount your sight, the smaller the window appears. This might make it more difficult to find the illuminated red dot reticle. (Like everything in the gun industry, though, some will argue the opposite.) However, you will be able to see way more of your surroundings allowing you to retain a high level of situational awareness and see more potential threats. The closer you mount your red dot to your eye, the wider field of view your optic provides but you lose the situational awareness.
Or, if you have a magnifier, you will need to mount your reflex sight forward enough to leave room for the magnifier.
Ryan Gresham from Gun Talk explains red dot mounting in the video below.
At the end of the day, it is what makes you the most comfortable, confident and accurate. Experiment with different placement and you’ll find the best mounting position for you.
Do you already have a reflex sight? Tell us where you have it mounted in the comment section.
Though it may seem a bit overwhelming at first with how many red dot sights there are to choose from, when it comes down to it, there aren’t really that many differences in red dot and reflex sights. Picking a red dot sight is easier than choosing a magnified riflescope—which can feel like the options are endless. After breaking down a few features, buying a reflex sight should be a simple process.
Red dot and reflex sights are relatively simple and after deciding on how much you want to spend (your budget) and the type of reflex sight you want (open or tube,) which features suit your needs—
size, type of illumination, weight, construction, etc.—it will come down to deciding which size dot is best.
Good for rifles, pistols and shotguns, dot sights are a highly effective aiming tool for CQB, close to medium ranges, competition and self-defense. The biggest advantage of a red dot over any other optic or sight is the ability to acquire and hit a target incredibly quick. The size of the dot directly relates to how quickly you can locate the dot in the unit’s head’s up display and how much target area the dot covers. Both these things can significantly affect your accuracy.
What is MOA?
The illuminated red or green dot of a red dot/reflex sight is measured in MOA—minutes of angle, a unit for angular measurement of a circle. 1 MOA is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards, which we round down to 1 inch. Meaning, the circle (red dot) will appear to be 1 inch in diameter on a target 100 yards out. Therefore, the smaller the dot’s MOA, the harder to see. A larger MOA dot will be incredibly easy to see but may cover too much of the target at further distances to get an accurate shot.
Smaller dots—1 to 2.5 MOA—are used for precise shots at longer distances. 5, 6, 6.5 and larger MOA dots will get you on target faster but will be less precise because the dot will cover a broader area on the target.
Red Dot MOA Size Comparison
1 MOA dots are usually found on “tactical” sights and provide a very precise aiming dot. Yet, those with less than perfect eyesight can struggle with locating the dot, not only on the unit itself but the target as well. To compensate, many 1 MOA red dot sights will be encircled by a larger 60 MOA circle, which also helps with close-range targets. 3, 4, and 5 MOA dots are quicker to acquire due to their larger size and are best for close range targets. Big dots are perfect for speed competition, steel shooting and for those with astigmatism. The most common dot size ranges from 3 to 5 MOA.
3 MOA is probably the most popular dot size for both target shooting and self-defense, as the dot is clear, and accuracy is still precise at both close and mid ranges. Still allowing rapid target acquisition in self-defense range, a 3 MOA red dot with an adjustable brightness feature will aid in accuracy when shooting out farther because smaller dots appear larger on brighter settings. Competitors that require speed prefer bigger dots like 6, 6.5 or even a very large 8 MOA dot. People who use red dots for handguns at close distances also prefer bigger dots.
We designed the Ultra Shot and previous red dot sights with the dot size that was available at the time. Since then, there have been significant advances in optic quality. Our newest models, like the M-Spec, incorporate the most innovative technology available in reflex sights. About five years ago, we asked AR15.com and Sightmark Pro Staff members which types of reticles they preferred. Sightmark Product Development Director Jonathan Horton says, “Most of our red dots are 3 or 5 MOA which is easy to acquire and still have on-target accuracy at 50 or 100 yards, even with a magnifier. Going bigger is good for short range but you’re covering a lot of your target anything over 50 yards. If we do a smaller aiming dot than 3, it does provide better accuracy out to 100 but we usually design larger circle (circle-dot) around the dot for better acquisition at close range.”
Most shooters purchase a red dot sight for its original intention—quick target acquisition in a self-defense situation. However, turkey hunters and fast-paced competitive shooters also appreciate the accuracy a reflex sight offers. At the end of the day, choosing the size of the illuminated dot reticle depends on your primary use and firearm you need the red dot for.
What dot size do you like and why? Tell us in the comment section.
Running long-range optics like the Latitude 8-32×60 F-Class doesn’t take rocket science but it does take practice. Long-range reticles come in two focal planes, first and second, and in all manner of design from more complicated layouts with subtensions, reference grids and other etched ballistic data to simple, traditional crosshairs. The Latitude features the latter reticle on a second-focal-plane. While some precision shooters may argue the need for subtensions and/or a first focal plane system, this is not necessarily the case in F-class shooting and honestly, for those who know how to run an optic, the Latitude’s simpler reticle is easier to employ—set your crosshairs on center-mass and squeeze the trigger. Adjustments are made via windage and elevation turrets rather than using holdovers.
What the Latitude’s reticle system does mean, however, is that you must become proficient at making effective turret adjustments and making such
manipulations does require more time; fortunately, F-class is a slow-fire game—you have plenty of time for adjustments before stages, and even during, if you know what you’re doing behind the optic. That is to say, understanding fundamental optic attributes like MOA or MRAD and first- or second-focal-plane, and how they work for or against you in a given shooting environment are vital to your shooting skill set.
Sightmark’s Surprisingly Simple F-class reticle
While many precision shooters, especially those running long-ranges on dynamic stages with varying distance targets, including scenarios where rapid distance changes are required, F-class shooting is not that game. Sure, shooting is timed but match-fire is slow. Thus, the Latitude’s basic crosshair reticle is a solid choice. Moreover, without subtensions or a reference grid, there is absolutely no need for a first-focal-plane reticle (FFP optics are generally quite a bit more expensive).
Good D.O.P.E. – The 411 on MOA, Clicks and Adjustments
The Latitude’s turrets adjust your position of impact (POI) ¼-MOA at 100 yards, or ½-MOA at 200, 1-MOA at 400, 2-MOA at 800 and 3-MOA at 1,200 (the farthest target distance you’re likely to see in F-class shooting). To assign values to these movements in easier to understand language, MOA is 1.047 inches at 100 yards. So, at 1,200 yards, MOA would be 12.564 inches. To that end, simply consider an MOA as an inch. Extending elevation and windage math out over distance, based on load data and environmental conditions and recording that information creates your “Data On Previous Engagements,” also known as D.O.P.E. (DOPE)
The term DOPE is used pretty loosely to include real D.O.P.E. info collected over time as well as ballistic calculators; I routinely have gone the way of high-tech-redneck and now use ballistic calculators often—sure I can do the long-hand math to determine adjustments, but why, if I can the get same data from a cell phone app that actually works? Of course, even then, a calculator’s ballistic chart may be called DOPE, it’s not really… but for many of us, it does a decent job. True DOPE would actually be a collection of info from these ballistic charts, but I digress.
By and large, the key to making effective adjustments is to assess distance from Point of aim (POA) to POI. This information tells you how many clicks on the turrets you need to find your mark but since we’re often talking about ¼-MOA clicks, as is the case on the Latitude 8-32×60, it’s easier to think of MOA only, not clicks yet at all; moreover, it’s easier to begin with considering 1 MOA as 1 inch and move on from there.
If 1 MOA is effectively 1 inch at 100 yards, then 1 MOA is 10 inches at 1,000 yards. That means it’s 2 inches at 200 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards and so on. To determine the value of a click simply divide the distance value by 4. For example, at 1,000 yards, we know 1 MOA is 10.47 inches. Dividing this number by 4 tells us each click moves the POI 2.6 inches. To further simplify to say 1 MOA is 10 inches and 1 click then moves us .25 inches. Even at the extreme range of 1,000 yards, considering 1 MOA as simply 1 inch only leaves a deviation of just under 5/8-inch at 1,000 yards—an incredibly minuscule deviation.
Windage: The KISS Method to Wind Calls and Adjustments
Windage, including spindrift and wind drift, is a bit more complicated, especially since there are forces working against bullet flight at varying velocities and equally varied angles. You’re essentially lucky if you’re only dealing with the effects of consistent head, tail or crosswind. For wind, I generally use a ballistic calculator. Absent of somebody, or something, doing the math for me, as a stubborn Jarhead, I revert back to my Marine Corps training with a decent degree of success. While my instruction was 30 years ago, little to nothing, I suspect in terms of Marine Corps marksmanship training, has changed; in fact, a retired Army major, John Plaster, also summarizes this information pretty eloquently in his article at RifleShooterMag.com. The information can also be found in the publicly available Marine Corps coach’s course on wind call, published August 2008.
In a nutshell, we took distance, divided it by 100, multiplied it by the wind speed (determined by range flags or other environmental elements affected by wind) and divided it by wind constant of 15 to determine MOA of adjustment, then made those adjustments based on the same distance-to-target per-click values we already know. Of course, there are two issues, first, this is more specifically accurate (if that’s even an appropriate term when it comes to wind) to 500 yards. Maj. Plaster (and the Marine Corps) asserts that the wind constant (15 up to 500 yards) is decreased (roughly—pay attention to 700-800 yards) by value of one per 100 yards. i.e. 14 at 600, 13 at 700 and 800, 12 at 900 and 11 at 1,000 yards—many long-range shooters simply use a wind constant of 10 with the expectation of at least minute-of-man accuracy in consistent wind.
Here is an example of a 10 MPH wind at 900 yards in MOA, using a reduced constant of 11:
Distance of 900 yards / 100 = 9
Wind speed of 10 mph
9×10 = 90
90 / 11 = 8.2 MOA adjustment
If you were shooting in mils, you would divide 8.2 MOA by 3.4377 (the conversion of MOA to MIL) to arrive at 2.4 mils of adjustment
*Even using a wind constant of 10 would have resulted in 9 MOA or 2.6 mils. When you’re talking about a sub-MOA variance at that distance, which is wrong, the adjustment or the wind call? It’s hard to say.
Of course, remembering that wind values are made up of full, half or zero, if your “clock” observation of wind direction falls into the half value, you simply cut the adjustment in half. You certainly could compensate even further, say ¼ value or ¾ value but doing can make your head explode and isn’t as friendly to work out on the fly when you’re on the range. Considering full value and half value, the half value ranges, as they relate to a clock face, are generally between 12.5 – 2.5, 3.5 – 5.5, 6.5 – 8.5 and 9.5 – 11.5. Using the example, everything equal except wind direction at half-value, the MOA adjustment would be 4 MOA rather than 8 MOA, or 1.2 mils rather than 2.3 mils.
With a grasp on elevation and windage adjustments, the only remaining manipulations to be made are to the Latitude’s variable magnification, fast-focus eyepiece (AKA: diopter), reticle illumination (0-5) and parallax (AKA: side-focus).
Adjust the magnification to your desired level. Adjust the diopter ring until your sight picture is crisp—this is often done at closer range (100-200 yards for me) and lower magnification to minimize mistaking mirage for lack of optic clarity. Thread the locking ring toward the scope tube to lock the diopter in place. Adjust the parallax (side focus) knob to closely match your target distance. Begin rocking your head up and down while continuing to hold your crosshairs on the target. At first, the crosshairs may sweep across the target. As you continue to slowly adjust your parallax, the reticle will lessen its movement over the target center. Adjust the parallax until the reticle rests at center-mass even while continuing to rock your head up and down. Not only is your parallax set, but you should also notice your sight picture is now even crisper. Adjust reticle illumination to off or to the lowest setting comfortable for your sight picture and identification of the reticle against the target.
The legacy of long-range precision competition shooting began in 1903 when a government advisory board called the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and Firearm Safety, Inc. developed the National Matches to encourage national defense preparedness and improve our military’s marksmanship.
Often called CMP/NRA High Power, these shooting competitions have developed substantially over the years. Traditionally, NRA High Power rifle competitions were conducted using only iron sights; however, in 2016, the association started allowing optics. There are also quite a few different divisions so, depending on skill level and devotion, most shooters can find a competition that appeals to them. One of those is F-Class.
F-Class is a long-range rifle shooting competition that measures your marksman’s skills from distances 300 to 1,200 yards. A Full-Bore competition shooter from Canada, George Farquharson started F-Class in the 1990s in his elder years when his eyes aged to where he could not shoot accurately using iron sights. In 2005, it was officially recognized by the NRA.
From the prone position, F-Class shooters fire usually 3 relays in sets of 15 to 20 rounds at a six square foot bullseye target at either various distances or one fixed distance. Divided into two classes, competitors have the choice to shoot Open Class or Target Rifle Class.
Open class allows any rifle .35 caliber and above that weighs less than 22 pounds—including bipod and optic. Open Class participants can use front and rear rests. Target Rifle Class is reserved to unmodified rifles chambered in .223 Remington or .308 Winchester only and aren’t allowed to weigh less than 18.18 pounds including accessories. The only equipment allowed on Target Rifle Class rifles is a bipod or sling and optic. Target Rifle Class competitors can only use a rear rest. Muzzle devices are not allowed in either Class.
F-Class competition shooting doesn’t have many rules, that is why it is such a growing shooting sport. It is easy to learn, fun, challenging and affordable!
Here are the two major things you need to know before joining an F-Class competition.
For both classes, you want an accurate rifle, a clear optic with at least 20x magnification, a rear shooting bag or rest, bipod and high-quality match-grade ammo.
Most successful F-Class shooters use a bolt-action rifle. There are plenty of affordable, good factory rifles that achieve sub-MOA accuracy. Check out the Remington 700, Savage Model 10 or 12, and Ruger M77, just to name a few. Popular F-class calibers include 6.5 Creedmoor, .243 Winchester, and .284 Winchester. Just don’t go too big, because recoil can affect your follow up shots. A 24-inch target barrel is ideal.
Most experienced F-Class competitors reload their own ammo, but for the beginner F-Class shooter, using pre-loaded match-grade ammo is acceptable. You want a bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient of at least .450 to .500 or better with a minimum velocity of 2,650 feet per second. Hollow point boat tail is recommended.
The lack of a quality scope can ruin you in F-Class. However, there is no need to drop thousands on your first long-range scope. All you need is clear, crisp glass, a 30mm or larger tube, at least 40 MOA target turrets, a useable reticle and at least 20x magnification.
The Sightmark Latitude 8-32x60mm F-Class riflescope is quite substantial with its extreme magnification range of 8x up to a staggering 32x; oversized 60mm objective lens; large, tactile, distinct-click turrets; single-piece 32mm tube, perfect ¼ MOA-per-click adjustability and an overall elevation range of 110 MOA—the windage range of adjustability also does not slouch at 70 MOA. For razor-sharp clarity, the nitrogen-purged Latitude boasts premium, fully multi-coated, anti-reflective glass and a fine-etched red/green illuminated, second-focal-plane F-Class reticle with five brightness settings.
An accurate precision rifle and clear scope certainly help increase your scores, but a lot of it comes down to you—the shooter. The key to high scores is knowing how to compensate for bullet drop so you can make your adjustments accordingly. Before competing, you will want to practice using a spotting scope, ballistic calculator, and wind meter. Begin by boresighting and zeroing your rifle and scope. Then, experiment with different types of ammo to find the best one for your rifle. Keep a shooter’s log of all your shots during practice so you can always refer to the proper adjustments. When you practice, focus on breath and trigger control, aim and overall rifle handling.
To get started in F-Class Shooting Competitions, you will need the following equipment:
Comfortable shooting mat
Shooting rest—front and rear or just rear for Target Class
F-Class competition long-range shooting allows you to challenge yourself and push your equipment to its limits. There is a short learning curve and once you understand how to compensate for bullet drop, is a very rewarding sport.
Janet Raab, former manager of the NRA’s High-Power Rifle says, “F-Class is the fastest-growing type of high-power competition because it offers the challenge of long-range shooting in a format that is fun and easy to learn.”
It’s important for all shooters to learn that boresighting and zeroing in your weapon are not the same thing. Some learn the hard way and end up wasting time, money and ammo before they figure it out. But once you understand a little bit about external ballistics, not only will the difference become simple, but in the meantime, you can also become a better shooter.
What is boresighting?
Boresighting is a method of adjustment to a firearm sight to align the firearm barrel and sights.
What is zeroing?
Zeroing is a method of adjustment to the sights so that the point of aim is the point of impact.
Although you can manually sight the bore yourself, the more modern method is with a laser that either attaches to the muzzle or is inserted into the chamber. The laser will emit a strong enough beam to see up to 100 yards away so you can easily align the bore.
While boresighting will get the scope aligned with the bore, it is not 100% aligned with the point of impact from a bullet, as outside factors such as wind and gravity will affect the trajectory of a flying object. The goal of boresighting is to get on paper. The goal of zeroing is to make the correct adjustments to guarantee the bullet hits where you’re looking.
These are both essential steps before you start shooting seriously. Those who don’t boresight their weapon will go out to the field and waste round after round just trying to get on paper because their sights aren’t aligned. Others believe the misconception that boresighting will automatically zero their gun, so they hit a bullseye at 25 yards but are then frustrated that they’re multiple inches off at 100 yards. This happens because they don’t take external ballistics into account.
External ballistics deals with factors affecting the behavior of a projectile in flight.
Once the bullet leaves the barrel, gravity will start to affect its vertical movement, and wind will affect the horizontal movement. The farther your bullet goes, the more it will drop. This is why zeroing your weapon at 100 yards won’t zero it for 200 yards as well. Most firearm optics and sights come with adjustable knobs for elevation and windage for this very reason, and the MOA (Minute of Angle) measurement will tell you how much you need to adjust the scope at a certain yardage.
When you’ve both boresighted and properly zeroed your weapon, you’ll be prepared to shoot any target or game that comes your way.
Deciding to buy a riflescope is a good choice. Scopes make hunting, competition, target and long-range shooting easier and more accurate. However, there is almost an endless amount of choice. How is one supposed to choose? This how-to guide to buying a riflescope will help you narrow your choices.
Written by John Shellenberger
Magnification is one of the most important aspects of a riflescope. Magnification is the range to which you can multiply the naked eye’s vision. In other words, a scope with 2x magnification power is twice the power of your unaided eye. Magnification is referred to in power level increments and is represented by the first numbers in a riflescope’s name. For example, on a variable zoom 1-4x32mm scope, the magnification would be 1-4x what the naked eye sees. On a fixed scope, like a 4x32mm scope, the magnification is fixed at 4x what the human eye can see.
Magnification is largely preferential. If you are a hunter who shoots moving targets under 100 yards, 3-9x would perform well. If you want to hit bullseyes from 750 yards, then a scope with a larger magnification range like 5-30x might suit your style.
Objective Lens Size
The objective lens size is the diameter of the lens closest to the barrel of the rifle, and farthest away from the stock of the rifle. The objective lens diameter is the number after the x in the riflescopes title. For example, a 1-4x32mm scope has an objective lens with a diameter of 32mm. The size of your objective lens affects how much light the scope will be able to transmit. A larger objective lens lets in more light, producing a brighter image, but at the expense of being heavier than a scope with a smaller objective lens.
Weight is a factor you want to consider before you make your purchase. Think about where you will be doing most of your shooting. If you are shooting long distances at the range where you’ll have a bipod or sandbags to fire your rifle from, then a heavier scope probably won’t affect you very much. If you are stalking deer in the mountains and have to do a lot of hiking in between shots, it could be beneficial for you to choose a lighter riflescope since constantly raising and holding a heavy rifle takes its toll after some time.
Windage and elevation adjustment turrets are used to adjust the position of the bullet’s impact. Windage adjustments have the ability to move the bullet’s point of impact to the left or right in relation to the reticle. Elevation adjustments are used to move the bullet’s point of impact up or down. Scope adjustments are either made in minute of angle units or milliradians. For the beginner hunter, once you sight in your rifle, the windage and elevation turrets won’t need to be adjusted again. These adjustments are extremely helpful for tactical shooters making long-distance shots.
Next, to the objective lens size, lens coatings are the most important aspect of light transmission. When looking through the scope, you want to see the brightest and clearest image possible. This is affected by the amount of reflected light coming through the lens and the amount of light transmitted through the lenses. The goal of optical coatings is to reduce the glare and the loss of light caused by reflection. More coatings generally result in better light transmission. There are four main categories of optical lens coatings:
Coated– at least one of the lenses has a single layer of anti-reflective coating
Fully Coated– on every air to glass lens (the outer lenses) there is a single layer of anti-reflective coating
Multicoated– at least one of the lenses has multiple layers of anti-reflective coating
Fully Multicoated– multiple layers of coating have been put on all air to glass lenses
Keep in mind that with higher quality comes a higher price; however, spending the extra money to get quality coatings can greatly impact your shooting experience.
Also known as the “crosshair,” the reticle is the part of the riflescope that predicts where the bullet will go. Looking at a reticle through the riflescope is similar to lining up your shot in iron sights. Reticles are a matter of preference and a huge variety is available for shooters to choose from. On a very basic level, the crosshairs’ thickness is going to affect the precision of your shot. Larger reticles are easier to see in low-light situations, but can sometimes dwarf or cover up the target if the target is far away. Thinner crosshairs allow the shooter to be more precise but are more difficult to see in low-light.
Many reticles come with posts or scales on their crosshairs. These small ticks are minute of angle or milliradian measurements used to compensate for the bullet’s drop at greater distances. However, not every tick mark is always accurate at any range, because the reticle can be affected by what focal plane it is set in.
Focal plane can be found in two forms—first or second. In a second focal plane riflescope, the reticle is at the end of the erector tube near the end closest to the butt of the rifle. This means that the magnification is changing behind the reticle in relation to the shooter, so the reticle image maintains its original size. The reticle is not always proportional to the target, only at a certain magnification (often the greatest magnification possible). As you zoom in, the reticle takes up more and more of your vision, appearing larger though it is actually staying the same size it always was.
In a first focal plane riflescope, the reticle is located in the front of the erector tube—meaning when you zoom in with the scope, it also zooms in on the reticle as well. This creates a proportionate changing of size between the target and your reticle. Since everything is proportional, the reticle’s tick marks are accurate at all ranges, not just the most zoomed-in range. First focal plane riflescopes are more expensive in general, but allow the shooter to make adjustments much faster than changing the windage or elevation adjustments.
Tube size is important to know for a beginner because you want to be able to use your scope after you buy it, meaning you need the right size mounting rings for your scope. Tubes can be found generally in two sizes: 30mm and 1 inch. Other than increasing the adjustment range internally, neither offers greater benefits than the other, a larger tube doesn’t mean it lets more light in. However, you will need to know what size tube you have so when you go to use your scope you aren’t stuck trying to put 1-inch mounting rings on a 30mm tube. If you live in the United States, you might want to remember that more riflescopes are built with one-inch tubes than are not. However, once again, tube size is entirely preferential.
Do you have further questions about riflescopes? Leave them in the comment section and we will do our best to answer them.
A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Nate van Noort.
Flying with firearms seems like it would be complicated and nerve-racking for any passenger or airline but truth is that if you follow the fairly simple rules, chances are you’ll never have a problem. All airlines are required to follow TSA rules and regulations, though it is important to know your airline’s rules on flying with firearms because some have additional rules.
Packing to Keep Your Gun Safe and Legal
In a world where pocket knives, snow globes, and even gel insoles can’t be stored in carry-on bags, it should come as no surprise that you can’t take a gun in your carry on. They must be unloaded and stored in a locked hard-sided container that can’t be easily opened. Cases with two or more locking points are recommended. This case can then be placed inside your checked baggage or, as a checked bag itself. Multiple guns can be placed in the same hard-sided case. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t use a regular TSA lock used for regular baggage, which is actually illegal to use for firearm storage because they can be opened by anyone that has a TSA master key. You should have the key on your person and not in your checked baggage. Otherwise, what’s the point of the lock? You should invest in a really good protective case for both your peace of mind and for the TSA’s. After all, your case is the primary protector from the less than careful baggage handlers. In addition to being sturdy and durable, many gun owners also like to travel with gun cases that don’t obviously look like a gun case. In that situation look for a hard-style case used to transport golf clubs and other equipment, just cut foam inserts to keep everything protected and in place during transport.
Picking Up Your Gun from Baggage Claim
Once you land, large gun cases that are checked as an individual piece of luggage rather than stored in a checked bag may have to be picked up with large or unusual items, like skis, instead of with other checked baggage. Usually, they’ll just come down the carousel with everything else though. Ammunition also has to be checked and must be stored in containers specifically designed for carrying small amounts of ammunition. Shotgun shells and ammunition .75 caliber or less can be stored in the same hard case as a firearm. Loaded or empty magazines and clips must be stored the same way as guns, but firearm parts like bolts and firing pins can just be stored in checked bags. Even though TSA says boxes made of cardboard, like the box the ammo comes in, are alright for storage, you may want to go with a more solid container to avoid the risk of your ammunition being scattered in your bag.
Breeze Through Declaring Your Firearm
When checking your baggage, you need to declare any guns or ammo to the airline. You must do this every time you travel, so don’t forget to declare your guns and ammo again if you switch airlines during the same trip. What does it mean to declare your gun, though? Declaring a firearm is not a big deal and it won’t get you funny looks or suspicious treatment. Just go to the ticketing desk inside the airport (you can’t declare a gun curbside) and tell them you need to declare a firearm. They’ll give you a card to fill out with your primary contact info, verifying that you’ve properly stored your gun. The agent will check that the case is locked. After a few questions to make sure any accessories or ammunition are stored properly, you’re usually good to go, but the agent may want to look inside the case. TSA and airline agents also shouldn’t handle your firearms. If they feel it needs an inspection, they are supposed to call over a law enforcement officer. Once you’ve finished declaring your firearm, stick around the desk for 20 or so minutes in case they need to call you back for an inspection. Declaring is usually a quick and easy process, but you want to allow yourself at least an extra hour in the case of one of the rare occasion where it does take longer.
Other People’s Rules
The TSA isn’t the only person who makes rules about flying with a firearm, and you need to know which ones will affect you. Most airlines have rules for flying with guns on top of the TSA’s, and exactly what these rules are varies from airline to airline, so you’ll need to check what your airline of choice requires. For example, Delta requires that guns be stored in a manufacturer’s case and puts a weight limit of 11 pounds of ammunition, among other limitations. You’ll also need to know the laws for wherever you’re flying to. Airport staff is only checking to make sure you’re following the airline and the TSA’s rules, so even if your gun is legally checked, you may be in violation of local laws once you reach your destination. For international travel, booking a direct flight as much as possible minimizes the countries you pass through, and cuts down significantly on the number of customs requirements that you have to deal with.
Final Thoughts on Flying with a Firearm
To sum up:
Guns and ammunition both need to be in checked baggage.
Store your gun unloaded in a hard case with a non-TSA approved lock.
Using a solid container to store your ammunition is safer and easier.
Be sure to declare your firearm.
Know your airline’s rules.
Know the laws of wherever you’re going.
Using this guide, you should be able to fly with your gun with relative ease, but when in doubt, contact your airline or the TSA directly. For international travel, refer questions to the local consulate or embassy of the country or countries you’re visiting.
Have you flown with your firearm? Leave your tips in the comment section.
About the Author
Aspiring pilot Nate van Noort is currently a senior at the University of Texas at Arlington majoring in Marketing with a minor in Finance. His family are big pheasant hunters, sharing hunting land in the Texas Panhandle near the city of Perryton. Nate enjoys sporting clays and shooting his Glock. When he’s not studying, working or out at the lease, he’s playing disc golf, reading or wakeboarding.