15 Things You Need When You Get Lost While Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

How to Avoid Getting Lost While Hunting

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

Always follow the golden rules of wilderness survival:

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

Hunter’s Survival Kit Checklist—15 Survival Essentials

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

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

  1. Signaling device

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

  1. Compass, GPS unit and charged cell phone.

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

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

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

  1. Extra batteries for your electronics.

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

  1. Flashlight or headlamp.

Click here to shop flashlights.

  1. Fire starter and tinder.

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can use your safety orange as a signaling device.

  1. Prescription medication.

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

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

What Optic is Best for Home Defense?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Favorites:

Mini Shot M-Spec

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read a review on the Mini Shot.

LoPro Laser Light Combo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find the right one for you:

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

Element Red Dot Sight

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

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

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

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

ReadyFire LW-R5

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sightmark’s Best Tactical Scopes

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

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

What is a Tactical Scope?

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

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

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

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

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

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

AR Riflescopes

The AR series of riflescopes
The AR series of riflescopes

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

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

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

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

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

Find your AR scope by clicking here.

Pinnacle 5-30×50 TMD Riflescope

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to start becoming a sharpshooter!

Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD Sight

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

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

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

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

Read more about the Ultra Shot here.

Citadel 1-6x24mm CR1

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

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

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

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

Click here to check out the Citadel.

Mini Shot M-SPEC LQD

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


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

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

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

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

Click here to buy the Mini Shot.

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

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


Night Vision Explained

Written by guest contributor Richard Douglas.

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

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

Let’s get started!

Gen 0 Night Vision

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

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

Gen 1 Night Vision

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

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


  • Very cheap
  • Great for light usage


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

Best Use

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

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

Gen 2 Night Vision

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

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

Let’s break it down:


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


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

Best Use

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

Gen 3 Night Vision

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

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

To find out, let’s break it down:


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


  • Very expensive ($1,000+)

Best Use

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

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

Digital Night Vision

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

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

The result?

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


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


  • Not combat-tested yet

How It Looks

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

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


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

Best Use

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

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

Green or White Phosphor Technology

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

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

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

What Night Vision Technology Will You Choose?

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

About Richard

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

The AR-15 for Home Defense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…the weapons of choice for mass murders…”

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

“…weapons of war…”

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

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

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

America’s Rifle

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

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

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

Why is the AR-15 Good for Home Defense?

Let’s Talk Ballistics

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

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

It’s Physics, Man

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

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

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

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

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

Smooth Operator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sightmark M-Spec Mini Red Dot Sight for Pistol Review

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

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Pistol Reflex Sights

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

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

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

Specifications and features:

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

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

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

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

Operation and Controls

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to purchase the M-Spec!

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


How to Boresight and Stop Wasting AR-15 Ammo

Using a laser boresighting is a reliable way to align your sights or optic’s reticle with the bore. The in-chamber Accudot boresight from Sightmark helps you save time and does not waste ammo during the sight-in process.
Boresighting is a reliable way to align your sights or optic’s reticle with the bore.

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.

With Sightmark’s Accudot AR-15 laser boresight, you can sight in your scope faster at home and without using any ammo!
With Sightmark’s Accudot AR-15 laser boresight, you can sight in your scope faster at home and without using any ammo!

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

  1. Charge your boresight using the included USB cable and charging station.
  2. Use a benchrest, shooting bags, or another stable platform. Make sure your AR is completely unloaded and pointed in a safe direction.
  3. Hang a target 15 to 25 yards out.
  4. Lock your bolt open to the rear.
  5. Put the laser boresight into the chamber.
  6. Slowly close the bolt. The boresight will automatically turn on when the bolt is closed.
  7. Line the laser beam on to the center of the target.
  8. 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!

Buy the Accudot .223, 5.56×45 laser boresight here.

All Your Red Dot and Reflex Sight Questions Answered!

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?

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 dot, onto a glass lens and are used for quick target acquisition and work well for low-light situations.
A red dot sight is a generic term for a type of non-magnified optic that uses electronics to display an illuminated reticle.
A red dot sight is a generic term for a type of non-magnified optic that uses electronics to display an illuminated reticle.

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?

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

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!

For more detailed instructions on using a red dot or reflex sight for the first time, click here. 

What is the Difference Between a Reflex Sight vs. Red Dot?

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.
The red dot sight aids in point and shoot accuracy.
A reflex sight is a non-magnified optic that uses reflective glass to align light from an LED to project an illuminated aiming point on the lens. A reflective lens coating displays the illuminated dot only to you. It is not visible on the other side of the objective lens.

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.

Is it a red dot or a reflex sight? Learn more and test your knowledge by clicking here. 

What Does MOA Mean on a Red Dot Sight?

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.
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. 3 MOA is the most popular.
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. 3 MOA is the most popular.

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.

We walk you through the best dot sizes for you in the article “What Size MOA Red Dot Should I Buy?” Click here to read it. 

Where do you Mount a Reflex Sight on an AR-15?

The best place to mount a reflex or red dot sight on your AR is above the ejection port.
The best place to mount a reflex or red dot sight on your AR is above the ejection port.

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.

To read more about where to mount your reflex or red dot sight on your AR-15 or other Modern Sporting Rifle, click here. 

Are Red Dot Sights Accurate?

Sightmark M-Spec reflex red dot sight
A red dot sight uses a reflective glass lens to gather light from an LED which projects an illuminated reticle.

When sighted-in properly and used correctly, red dot sights are incredibly accurate. They help with quick target acquisition and increased accuracy in low-light situations.

To learn how to use red dot and reflex sights accurately, click here. 

EOTech is one of very few companies that makes a true holographic sight. The model 512 is a classic and one of the company’s most popular.
The classic model 512 EOTech HWS sight.

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!

Click here to shop red dot and reflex sights!

Riflescope Glossary: What is MOA, FOV and POI?

Have you ever found yourself sitting around the campfire, at the gun range, or out in the field confused about the conversation? Then you probably need to read this. This is scope verbiage for dummies.

I can certainly understand why someone would be lost when hearing acronyms like FOV, POI, and MOA. Even someone who has been around firearms and the outdoors their whole life can find themselves tongue-tied when these riflescope terms come up. I have simplified some of the most common terms any hunter, long-range shooter and firearm owner should recognize and comprehend.

Let’s start with what’s already been mentioned: FOV, POI and MOA.

Field of View (FOV)

The field of view (FOV) is the area visible inside your scope.
The field of view (FOV) is the area visible inside your scope.

The field of view is the observable area that a human can view through an optic device. For example, when you look through a scope, any kind of scope, the area that is confined to what you are actually observing through the end of that scope is your field of view or FOV. The FOV can be measured in degrees or linear field.

Point of Impact (POI)

Woman adjusting a Sightmark riflescope
The POI shows a relationship between where you are aiming and where the bullet is going to hit.

The point of impact is where the bullet or laser hits the target. This is where the most impact will be had by pulling the trigger to fire or by aiming the laser downrange. This is especially useful for shotgun operators since a shotgun is designed to project a scattered pattern rather than a single shot. Your POI also shows a relationship between where you are aiming and where the bullet is going to hit. This can tell a rifle operator how far off their gun is from accurately being sighted in.

Minute of Angle (MOA)

A woman and man hunting
Minute-of-angle (MOA) is 1.047 inches at 100 yards and usually adjustable at 1/8- or 1/4-MOA per click,

You will hear this term most in long-range shooting. Minute of angle is often used to describe the size of the target. 1 MOA on a target that is 500 yards away is 5.” But let’s say the MOA on this target is actually 2. This means the target is 10″ in diameter. However, how much 1 MOA affects your POI, depends on the distance of the target. For example, there is a target sitting at 100 yards. An adjustment of 1 MOA on that target will move your POI 1.” This directly correlates in much higher distances as well. Let’s say there is a target at 1,000 yards. 1 MOA adjustment will now move this POI 10.” This helps shooters to more accurately hit their mark when shooting long-range because the bullet drops after firing due to factors such as wind, upwards or downwards angles, and gravity.

Objective Lens

The objective lens is the lens at the end of the scope.
The objective lens is the lens at the end of the scope.

This is the lens at the end of the scope. Not the lens that you look through, but the lens on the other end of the optic. For example, anytime you see 1-9×30, this means that scope can magnify from 1 to 9 and the diameter of the objective lens is 30 millimeters.


Sighmark Pinnacle scope reticle example.
Sightmark Pinnacle scope reticle example.

A reticle is anything in the scope that helps you aim. In its simplest form, a crosshair is a reticle. A reticle can be etched onto the glass. This allows for the reticle to change in size as the scope magnifies (something also known as first focal plane) or to change color based on user preference. A reticle can also be fixed by being made from wire. You can tell whether a reticle is fixed or not by looking through the scope—if the crosshair is fixed at each edge of the scope, it is most likely not etched onto the glass lens.

Eye Relief

The eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and your eye where you can see the full field of view.
The eye relief is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and your eye where you can see the full field of view.

This is the distance between the eyepiece of the scope and where the eye sees the full FOV with no dark edge around the image. If you are looking through a scope and there is a dark circle around the image, scoot your head closer to the sight. If you look through a scope and can’t see any dark edges, move your head back a little. Find that sweet spot where you can rest your cheek comfortably against the stock of the gun and see through the scope without any dark edges, but if you moved even a centimeter forwards, you would see a black circle distorting your FOV. If you take anything away from this article, I would suggest this be it. The repercussions of not allowing yourself enough eye relief can lead to something called “scope eye” or “scope bite.” This is when a shooter is too close to the end of a scope and the gun’s recoil causes the scope to hit the shooter and slices their eyebrow open and/or gives them a black eye.

Second Focal Plane

The Sightmark Citadel LR2 riflescope's reticle is a good example of a first focal plane reticle.
The Citadel LR2’s first focal plane reticle.

As mentioned earlier, the first focal plane is when the reticle gets bigger as the operator zooms in, and gets smaller as the operator zooms out. The reticle adjusts in size as the scope magnifies. A second focal plane is the opposite of this—the reticle is fixed in size no matter how magnified the scope can be.

I hope the understanding of these common terms help you get involved in the conversation and also helps you understand how your firearm can work better for you!

What riflescope or optics terms do you not fully understand? Leave your questions in the comment section and we will do our best to answer them!

About Faith

Faith was born and raised in Ennis, Texas, a rural town just south of Dallas. Faith was a Marketing Intern with Sellmark Corporation and currently a senior at Baylor University, graduating soon with a degree in Marketing, with a focus on Data Analytics. Faith grew up hunting mostly deer, dove, and hog. Faith still spends her free time outdoors, as well as reading and coaching Crossfit.

A Child’s First Deer

With Summer on the downhill slide, most people start to get excited about Fall and all the things that come with it, like cooler temperatures, drinking seasonal beverages, and being able to curl up by a fire. While all those activities are nice, there’s another thing that happens in the fall that gets me excited—deer season.

A child will never forget their first hunting trip.
Do you remember your first hunting trip?

I was nine when I killed my first deer. He was a little four-pointer with a body not much bigger than our yellow lab. Big or not, I was smiling from ear to ear when my dad took a picture of me holding the deer’s head up by the antlers. After taking the picture and loading up the deer on the back of the four-wheeler, we headed back to camp to clean it and so I could tell the story of my first kill to anyone that would listen.

That evening’s hunt also happened to be the very first time I was allowed to hunt by myself. I had gone out to the stand with my dad that morning, but upon returning to camp for lunch, my dad told me (I didn’t get a choice in the matter) that I would be hunting by myself later. Excitement overtook me. He trusted me to sit out there all by myself. How cool! Then the fear hit. How could he leave me out there all by myself? I kept thinking that I would be fine, my dad would come get me as soon as it started to get dark, and that if I did see anything, I could finally be the decision-maker.

My dad dropped me off on the main road. I had to hike further into the woods to get to my stand. I had walked that path a million times before, but it seemed to take longer this time walking it alone. I finally reached the stand. My stand was a wooden box stand with about eight inches cut out on the sides in a rectangle shape, starting right at my shoulder when sitting. This makeshift window was also covered by mesh. I got comfortable in my chair, put a bullet in the chamber of my bolt-action Marlin .308, leaned it against the corner of the stand, and started to scan. The feeder was set up about 100 yards down a path right in front of me. To my left, there was a clearing where I had seen deer before. It was all I had to look at for a while. It was only 3:00 in the afternoon. The sun wouldn’t start setting until 6:30.

Patience pays off when you wait for the right deer.

At 5:00 pm, I still hadn’t seen any deer, just some squirrels and the occasional raccoon. Suddenly, I heard something to my left, in that clearing. The rustling of leaves, like something walking by made my ears perk up. I sat straight up in my chair, eyes scanning the tree line surrounding the clearing. After what seemed like forever, I finally saw a good-sized doe make her appearance. I turned my body in the chair, slowly reaching for the rifle, and quietly sat the gun on the ledge of the window with the barrel just poking out. I didn’t take the safety off just yet because I knew that sometimes seeing a doe pass through means there is a buck following close behind. My patience would eventually pay off.

Not but a few minutes after I saw that doe come through the clearing, I heard the rustling of leaves again and a deep grunting sound. I knew exactly what that meant. My heart started to pound, I shouldered the rifle and got into shooting position. I finally saw him slowly making his way into the clearing. Only being nine years old, that buck looked huge to me. I decided to shoot. I got my cheek set against the stock and started to breathe in and out through my mouth, very slowly, to make my heart stop beating so fast. The deer could’ve taken off at any second, so I had to take the shot soon. I got him in my crosshairs, took a big breath in and out, and flipped off the safety. He started to move through the clearing faster, so I did a quick whistle. He stopped and looked right in my direction. I pulled the trigger. He dropped but got back up and ran to the left. I quickly listened for him to fall any second, but I never heard anything. I prayed that we could find him later.

My dad told me, “Do not get out of this stand for any reason. I’ll walk in and get you when it gets dark. You’ll know it’s me because I’ll flash my light twice.” I thought there was a deer laying out there somewhere and my heart had finally slowed down, all I had to do then was wait. It was almost 6:00 in the evening and I could tell the light was starting to fade. I hoped my dad would get there soon. I didn’t want to be sitting in the middle of the pitch-black woods by myself. But of course, the sun set, and my dad hadn’t come yet.

We found my first deer by trailing it.
We found my first deer by trailing it.

I remember having a flashlight with me but being too scared to shine it out of the stand because there could be something terrifying staring back at me. After what seemed like forever, I finally heard a four-wheeler getting closer. I saw my dad pull up and park beside the feeder downrange from my stand. He got out and walked to get me, flashing his light twice in my direction. He got to the stand and I almost knocked him down, jumping with excitement while telling him that I definitely shot a deer. I took him to where I think the deer was when I shot. We immediately see blood—my dad told me that it was probably a heart/lung shot from how much blood we saw on the ground.

We followed the trail for about 20 yards and laying there, behind a tree, was my very first deer. I laid the rifle against the back end of the body, grabbed those horns and inspected my “trophy.” Before my dad took the picture, he informed me of a tradition. Apparently, you have to wear the blood of your first kill. My dad stuck his finger in the bullet hole and rubbed it on both sides of my cheeks, right under my eyes like war paint. I was then picture ready. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled that hard for a picture in my life up until that point. My dad brought the four-wheeler around and by himself, he loaded the deer on the backend. I wasn’t kidding when I said it wasn’t much bigger than our dog. We headed into camp and there I learned how to properly clean a deer. I’ve killed a couple of deer, pigs, and dove since then, but my very first deer will always be my favorite hunt!

Tell us about your first deer, dog, hog, duck or other game in the comment section below.