The Best Tactical, Hunting, and EDC Flashlights

A tactical light should be a part of your every day carry (EDC)
A flashlight is an essential piece of your EDC.

For those who are self-defense minded and ascribe to Col. Jeff Cooper’s Situational Awareness color codes, a flashlight (or two…or few…) is an essential piece of your everyday carry (EDC) gear. Anyone who spends any time outdoors has a flashlight or two. Even those who don’t want anything to do with firearms or roughing it in the woods should have a flashlight in their emergency kit, on the nightstand and in the car or for those late night/early morning jog or dog walks. We’re vulnerable in the dark and a flashlight not only helps us light our way at night, they help us positively identify hazards in the dark—whether those hazards are stationary and we’re avoiding a nasty bruise or fall or we’re having to identify a life or death threat in our home, in a parking garage or in a dark alley.

There is a seemingly endless amount of the types of flashlights available—spotlights, night vision flashlights, camping and hiking lights, hunting flashlights, hand-held, head-mount, shop, keychain, tactical…the list goes on. In the firearms community, we’re mostly concerned with three types—hunting, tactical and EDC flashlights. EDC and tactical flashlights are very similar, while hunting lights generally offer a few additional features that many EDC and tac lights don’t have.

EDC/Everyday Carry Lights

The best EDC flashlights are compact and lightweight, yet don’t compromise brightness for size.
The best EDC flashlights are compact and lightweight, yet don’t compromise brightness for size.

The best EDC flashlights are compact and lightweight, yet don’t compromise brightness for size. An EDC light still needs to identify threats, aid in changing a tire or looking under the hood or help in a survival situation. Because you carry this light every day, construction must be durable and battery type and life is a serious consideration.

When shopping for an EDC flashlight, pay attention to the bulb type, the lumens (how bright the bulb is), focus adjustments (if it’s an option), brightness levels, and operation, as well as how it can be carried (lanyard loop, belt clip, etc.)

Sightmark’s SS280 tactical flashlight makes the grade from both the National Tactical Officers Association and the North American Hunting Club. With multiple lumen functions, this bright white Cree LED has three settings—100 lumens, 280 lumens and strobe mode. Strobe is preferred by many experts in self-defense situations, as well as a vital signaling tool in a survival or emergency situation. It has an IP67 waterproof rating and is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with a Type II MIL-Spec anodized finish. Included is a red, green and blue lens filter, which means this handheld flashlight works well for tactical purposes, reading a map at night, hunting and preserving night vision.

Click here to pick out your flashlight.

Tactical Flashlights

Tactical flashlights are designed for professional use in law enforcement, military and security. Civilians who own firearms to protect themselves, their families and their homes realize the usefulness of these types of lights and generally buy one for the bedside or to mount on their firearm. In many cases, they own both. Tactical flashlights have a very specific purpose—identify suspects or threats in low-light situations. They need to be bright enough to temporarily blind a person and bigger, heftier ones like MagLite, may be used as a blunt-force weapon if necessary. Like many EDC flashlights, tac lights will have a glass-breaking bezel and some type of strobe function.

The most important features of a tactical flashlight are its ability to be mounted to a firearm, its lumens and battery life. You really don’t want your tactical light to fail when you need it most.

Law enforcement and military use tactical lights every day.
Law enforcement and military use tactical lights every day.

Sightmark’s Q5 Triple Duty Tactical Flashlight is the perfect crossover between tactical and EDC. Tested and recommended by the National Tactical Officers Association and voted Editor’s Choice Award by Outdoor Life magazine, the Q5 is light enough to carry every day at 4.9 ounces and bright enough to serve on your home-defense rifle. It has a 280-lumen CREE LED bulb which casts a clean, bright white beam. LEDs are more efficient, brighter and conserve battery life better than incandescent bulbs. 280 is plenty to identify and stun bad guys. Constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum with a MIL-SPEC Type II anodized finish, the Q5 tactical light can be dropped without incident and is submersible to 1 meter for up to 1 hour. Operation is via a two-stage push button on the tail cap or the included pressure pad. There is a three-prong glass-breaking bezel, as well as on the tail cap. The Q5 takes 2 (CR123A) batteries that last up to 1-1/2 hours continuous use. Included is the pressure pad, offset rifle mount and lanyard.

Hunting Lights

Hunters, especially predator hunters, utilize flashlights to track and spot hog and coyote at night. Hunting lights are often hand-held spotlights, headlamps or weapon-mounted and offer colored lenses or filters to preserve your vision at night and not spook game. Red filters are used to protect your night vision, while green is becoming more popular because we can see green light better than we can red light.

Hunters, especially predator hunters, utilize flashlights to track and spot hog and coyote at night.
Hunters, especially predator hunters, utilize flashlights to track and spot hog and coyote at night.

One Sightmark flashlight that really yields itself to multi-purposes is the Triple Duty H840 tactical flashlight kit. Either handheld or weapon-mountable, this light has three Cree LEDs for 840 super-bright lumens. It includes green, red and blue filters, which help with blood tracking. Like the T6, it is constructed of rugged, yet lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum and is Type II MIL-SPEC anodized. The H840 is also submersible to 1 meter for up to 1 hour.

Sightmark also has a super bright spotlight for extreme tactical use or for hunting, camping, hiking and other outdoor adventures with 3,000 lumens.

Sightmark has the best flashlights for any tactical, hunting or self-defense need. Besides the ones listed here, there weapon-mounted laser and light combos, IR illuminators and more handheld/rifle-mount lights online. Check them out here.

What are your good-to flashlights? What type of flashlight is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section.

Hog Hunting 411: Shot Placement

Whether you’re hunting with a bow or rifle, effective shot placement comes down to a hog’s body position at the time of impact—most often the position the pig was standing in at the time of the shot; of course, the flight time of a bullet or arrow may allow for slight point-of-impact changes and usually not for the better. To that end, make sure you’re shooting within your level of confidence.

Tools of the Trade

When bow hunting, shoot behind the ear, back crease of the front shoulder or the armpit (heart.)
When bow hunting, shoot behind the ear, back crease of the front shoulder or the armpit (heart.)

Bowhunting

Equally as important as shot placement is ammo—for bowhunters, this equates to arrow and broadhead setups and honestly, your bow setup as a whole. For bowhunting, I am currently shooting Carbon Express Maxima Red 350 arrows tipped with either 100-grain Zeus Broadheads (fixed/hybrid) or 100-grain Xecutioner Xpandables (mechanicals.) I trust both in terms of razor-sharp blades, function on impact, large cutting diameters and field-point type flight. They have yet to let me down.

Rifle Hunting

I have killed countless hogs with both bolt-action rifles and gas-operated, semi-auto AR-platform modern sporting rifles. I enjoy hunting with each equally but for different reasons, whether I’m after a single monster from far off or enjoy the challenge of manual bolt-cycling for follow up shots, or I’m simply making as much bacon as possible out of any number of corn-thieves I run into. Either way, the caliber of bullets I choose have similarities.

With respect to rifles, I’ll break down my personal favorite caliber choices for hog hunting into three different rifle platforms—bolt-action, AR-10 and AR-15. Caliber choice is also subjective and this shortlist is clearly not all-inclusive. The point being, if you prefer another caliber, use it.

The AR-15, AR-10 and a bolt-action in .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor make excellent hog guns.
The AR-15, AR-10 and a bolt-action in .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor make excellent hog guns.

Bolt-Action

  • .308 Winchester
  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • 6.5 PRC

AR-15

  • 6.5 Grendel
  • 6.8 SPC
  • Sharps Rifle Company .25-45
  • .224 Valkyrie
  • Winchester’s .350 Legend
  • Wilson Combat’s .300 HAM’R

Worth mentioning, .22- and .28-Nosler, .450 BM, .458 SOCOM and .500 Beowulf also are picking up steam here in Texas. As a final note, yes, .223/5.56 are still popular but I prefer cartridges offering some combination of larger case capacity, higher velocity or a larger, heavier bullet.

AR-10

  • .308 Winchester
  • 6.5 Creedmoor

The buzzworthy .375 Raptor is also getting some air-play and Phoenix Weaponry’s rimless .45-70 auto dropped jaws at SHOT Show and NRA Annual Meetings—I personally witnessed Phoenix Weaponry founder, Aaron Cayce, take a hog completely off its hooves using his Christine model rimless .45-70. It’s a nightmare for feral hogs.

Hybrid AR-15/AR-10

A solid hybrid AR-15/AR-10 choice creating buzz is Wilson Combat’s .458 HAM’R. This big-bore cartridge designed for AR systems is another sure-fire nightmare for hogs. The hybrid nature of the .458 HAM’R requires a Wilson Combat receiver set, BCG and barrel.

You Can’t Hit It if You Can’t See It

Optics are essential when hog hunting, whether with a rifle or bow.
Optics are essential when hog hunting, whether with a rifle or bow.

Optics are critically important for proper shot placement. My archery optic setup is great for daytime shooting but specifically designed to facilitate successful shooting when I bow hunt most often—at night.

Rifle-mounted optics also should be purpose-driven based on distance, day or night shooting, etc. For daytime optics at longer ranges, I prefer traditional riflescopes, even first-focal-plane if my environment can accommodate increased magnification. For close- to mid-range shooting, I prefer red dot optics, more traditional second-focal-plane riflescopes (like the Sightmark Core TX MR 4-16x44mm) or I simply jump straight to thermal imaging. For night hunting, I certainly prefer a thermal riflescope, although, depending on weather, sometimes digital night vision is a wiser choice. Either way, let purpose determine your optic.

Broadside Head and Body Shots

For broadside shots within your comfort zone, the best shot to stop a feral hog in its tracks is just behind the ear—the earhole also makes a great point of aim. A shot in this area penetrates the brain—lights out, instantly. If you’re not comfortable with ear-shots or your shooting a bow, shooting directly at the back crease of the front shoulder, no more than mid-line of the hog’s body height, preferably one-third up from the bottom edge of the body gives you a great opportunity at lungs. Lower on the same crease, just a couple inches above the lower body line, in what I refer to as the armpit area of the hog, is the heart; of course, heart- and lung-shot hogs can still run. Be prepared to track blood depending on your environment.

For a rifle hunter electing to take a broadside body-shot, shooting through the shoulder is also quite effective. When a hog is standing at true-broadside, not angled toward or away from the shooter, this shot generally results breaking both shoulders and destroying either the lungs or the heart. Broken shoulders obviously make running away tough at best, and blood-tracking a cinch. Seasoned hog hunters often quip, “Pin the shoulders together and they won’t go far.”

Front-Facing Shots

For a rifle hunter electing to take a broadside body-shot, shooting through the shoulder is also quite effective.
For a rifle hunter electing to take a broadside body-shot, shooting through the shoulder is also quite effective.

If you intend to shoot a pig facing you, aim at the center of the forehead just above the centerline of the eyes to penetrate the skull and brain, or at the center of the chest, although this point-of-aim is often obscured by the hog’s snout and jaw. Bowhunters should not attempt either of these shots.

Rifle hunters should wait until the feral hog’s head either exposes the chest or, for a head-shot, is at a natural forward-facing position (looking in your direction), not looking up, down or to the side. These head positions can result in missing the brain or even deflection, especially with respect to large boars and sows.

Quartered-To Shots

For bowhunters, shots on pigs quartered toward the shooter are risky—a fair amount of bone from the sternum, ribs and closest shoulder make the shot difficult; thus, in my opinion, should not be taken. Rifle hunters have an easier time penetrating vitals than bowhunters. For a “quartered-to” shot, aim to the inside of the closest front shoulder, between the shoulder and vertical midline of the chest—the amount of shift for good shot placement can change depending on the hog’s degree of angle toward you; however, determining the angled point-of-entry required to penetrate organs should be easy. If you cannot make such a determination, wait for another shot within your level of confidence.

Quartered-Away Shots

Determining point-of-aim on a feral pig in a quartered-away position is easier and more desirable, especially as it relates to bowhunters and the big boys. Large boars generally have a ridiculously tough, often thick, shield covering the front shoulders and sweeping back over the vitals. A quartered-away shot from a bow allows the bowhunter to slip behind the shield for much deeper penetrating shots. For lower-poundage bowhunters engaging large hogs, this shot may be the only reasonable choice for an effective kill.

The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision scope detects targets out to 200 yards.
The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision scope detects targets out to 200 yards.

Rifle hunters using appropriate hunting ammo should not have issues with penetrating a hog’s shoulder or shield, making quartered-away and broadside shots perfect opportunities for easy shot placement. For quartered-away shots, aim for the front edge of the opposite forward shoulder. As your point of aim relates to broadside shooting, keep shots no higher than mid-way up the hog’s body, preferably at one-third for a solid lung shot or just a couple inches up from the bottom edge of the body profile, in the “armpit” area for a heart-shot—again, expect the hog to run a short distance—even up to 100 yards. The only dead-in-its-tracks, anchoring shots I see are brain and spine shots; however, the latter often requires follow up shots—definitely not ideal.

As a final note on quartered-away animals, the greater the degree the animal is facing away, the more apt a shooter is to lose the aiming reference of the front edge of that forward shoulder. In addition, as the angle increases, the potential for making a double-lung shot decreases, allowing a shot hog to run further.

Do you bow or rifle hunt? Maybe you do both! What do you think about shot placement? Tell us in the comment section.

Scouting the Best Dove Field

According to the 2015 U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service surveys, some 749,000 hunters harvested approximately 13 million doves, from an estimated population of 63 million birds.” —Game & Fish

An essential step to a successful dove hunt is scouting the best fields. Scan for entry and exit point with binoculars in open fields.
An essential step to a successful dove hunt is scouting the best fields.

If you don’t have a good spot on opening weekend, your chances of success exponentially decrease with each day that passes. Doves respond to hunting pressure and because opening weekend is crowded and the bag limit is high comparingly to other wing hunting, it is inevitable that dove hunting becomes increasingly challenging. That is why it is so important to scan your spots a week or two before September 1.

There is no guarantee that last year’s honey hole, especially if it isn’t yours, will still be the sweet spot. Watering holes dry up, farmers switch or don’t plant crops—they may not have cut their field yet, land development and plenty of other factors affect doves’ feeding, watering and roosting grounds.

Typically, dove hunting doesn’t require as much preparation as deer hunting does. Most dove hunters wear drab colors, pack up a chair, ammo and a shotgun and post up in the nearest open field. Even though doves are the most bountiful bird in North America, you still run the risk of not hitting your limit that first day—especially if you haven’t done your homework.

You’re more likely to be successful if you approach your dove hunt like you do deer. An essential step is scouting.

All you need to scout and scan for this year’s dove field is a car, time and some good binoculars.

Finding the Best Dove Field

Doves eat anywhere from 14 to 20 percent of their weight a day. Seeds are their primary diet. They prefer open grain fields, freshly harvested—wheat, barley, corn and sunflower fields are prime feeding grounds. These grain fields edged with tall, sparse dead trees or power lines are where you will find the perch sights doves like. Scan for these entry and exit points because doves use these outlying trees to watch the fields for predators before flying in to feed.

Watering Holes

All you need to scout and scan for this year’s dove field is a car, time and some good binoculars.
All you need to scout and scan for this year’s dove field is a car, time and some good binoculars.

Doves typically fly into a water source at least once a day, usually in the evening right before roosting. Like their feeding ground, doves prefer a flat area with a place nearby to perch and watch before committing to flying in to drink. Cattle ponds should be easy to find, and the vegetation will already be stomped down. Look for ponds with low banks and sandy areas where it is easy for doves to land and keep watch.

Timing

The best time to hunt doves is early morning and right before dusk. However, since this is known to seasoned dove hunters, the fields will empty out from late morning/lunch to mid-afternoon. Though during this time, you probably won’t have flocks flying in, you’ll spot singles and pairs without the competition of other hunters. If the doves are flying slow, don’t be discouraged. Wait it out. They’ll come back—especially if you’ve already scouted the location.

When scouting, go at the same time you plan to hunt. This will ensure you have an adequate understanding of when and where the doves are flying and their different flight patterns.

What Not to Do

Avoid public, popular fields and sneak off to lesser-known, out-of-the-way places. When doves feel pressure from one field, they will push out to other fields. Public hunting land will fill up fast opening weekend. Don’t be afraid to knock on doors, become friendly with farmers and ask for permission to hunt on private land.

There is still plenty of time left to scout out the perfect spots. Don’t forget to clean your shotgun and check to make sure your license is current.

Tell us your dove hunting stories in the comment section.

Looking for a pair of great binoculars? Click here!

Digital Riflescopes for Dummies—Quick Start Guide to the Wraith Digital Riflescope

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 electronic and magnified optics are super accurate, you should also master using your iron sights.
Though electronic and magnified optics are super accurate, you should also master using your iron sights.

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.

Why?

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.

Digital night vision devices use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a micro display to display images at night.
Digital night vision devices use a charge-coupled device (CCD) or complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) and a micro display to display images at night.

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.

The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope
The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope

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.

Brightness

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!

To learn how to boresight a rifle, click here.

If you don’t have a boresight, click here.

After boresighting it, you will be ready to head off to the range and start the real fun. Click here to learn how to zero/sight in your Wraith digital riflescope.

How to Prepare for Deer Season 2019

Is it too early to start preparing for deer season?

Are you as ready as we are for deer season?
Are you as ready as we are for deer season?

Who are we kidding? We were ready for next season as soon as last season closed! Even though it may feel like summer will never end, right now is the perfect opportunity to plan and prep to increase your odds at bagging that buck come fall.

It’s All About That Seed

Have you planted a food plot yet? A food plot is a way to supplement the deer’s natural diet. It will attract deer in the area and give you a scouting location to place your stand or blind and trail camera. Deer like to munch on high-protein crops like peas, soybeans, kale and corn, as well as red clover, chicory and orchard grass.

Monitor and Maintaining Your Food Plots

Now is the time to plow, plant and mow. If you already have a growing food plot, a trick to making it even better hunting ground is to create cover around it, so the deer feel safe to feed there, as well as help hide you while going to and from your deer stand. Plant a food plot screen with tall grasses or crops that deer don’t particularly find that tasty. Sorghum and Egyptian Wheat grasses are popular choices.

Check Out the Latest Gear

Chaplain Capt. Matthew Spencer from the U.S. Air Force checks his trail cams in Little Rock, Arkansas
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kaylee Clark

While you are hard at work on your tan, we’re hard at work cranking out the latest and greatest accessories to make your hunt more efficient. The newest product Sightmark has is the innovative, high-definition Wraith digital riflescope. Useable both day and night, it is the one optic you need for your summertime predator pursuits, as well as fall and winter hunting seasons!

Quality Range Time

Time to dust off the ole rifle. Take this time to get reacquainted. You can sight-in your new scopes, try out the latest ammo and just become a better shot in general with regular trips to the range for practice and training.

Somebody’s Watching Me

Put your game cameras around your hunting area so you can start watching where deer are going, where they feed and bed, and gain insight on the herd’s health. You have plenty of time to move your trail cams around to find the best hunting spots. Consider placing your cameras so you can check memory cards without disturbing your hot spots. Game cameras that stream to your mobile are great options.

Gear Check

Patience pays off when you wait for the right deer.

Old camo with holes in it, sleeping bags with broken zippers, decrepit stands…Since you have a few months to repair or replace, now is the perfect time to make sure everything you use during the hunt is in good working order.

Blowin’ In Then Wind

Once you’ve found your hot spot and established where your stand will be, it’s time to do some maintenance and planning. Map out a few ways to get to your stand. You wouldn’t want to ruin your chances just because the wind is blowing in the wrong direction on opening day. Having multiple routes to your stand depending on wind direction won’t blow your cover. Trimming back limbs and trees and cutting down weeds and grasses might be necessary. In addition, you may set up a backup hunting spot that accommodates for a change in wind direction.

Locate Prime Bedding Spots…

or make your own. You can create a natural bedding spot for deer near your food plots and stand by clearing out a spot surrounded by woods.

Create cover around your food plots so deer feel safe. Photo By: Nathan Hanks
Create cover around your food plots so deer feel safe. Photo By: Nathan Hanks

Line Up Them Ducks

Double-check your licenses, stamps, tags, etc. Your state takes hunting without the proper paperwork very seriously. Make sure you have everything you need to be legal opening weekend.

Psych Yourself Up

Yes, mentally you’re preparing, planning and excited, but take a few minutes to calm down and take a reflective, big-picture look of why you hunt. Remember those who came before you, who taught you and think about who you’ll teach next. At the end of the day, hunting isn’t about bagging the biggest buck or having the most expensive, latest gadget, it is about tradition, conservation, honor and nourishment. To read more about this, click here.

How do you prepare for fall hunting? Tell us in the comment section.

How to Sight in the Wraith Digital Day/Night Riflescope

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.

To learn how to boresight your Wraith scope, click here.

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:

The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope
The Sightmark Wraith digital night vision riflescope
  1. 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.)
  2. Turn your Wraith on by pushing down the center button until the Sightmark logo appears.
  3. 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.)
  4. Choose your preferred reticle pattern and color in the “Reticle Settings” menu.
  5. Place the center of your reticle as seen through the scope at the center of the target, take 1 to 3 shots.
  6. Tap the center button once to bring up the main menu.
  7. Using the arrows on top of the unit, scroll down to “Reticle Settings” and tap the center button to select.
  8. Use the bottom (down) arrow to scroll to “Reticle Zero.” Press the center button to select this option.
  9. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Exit out of the “Reticle Zero” setting by pushing the center button to return to the main screen.
  3. Take another 1 to 3 shots.
  4. 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.

 

 

Marathon Hunting Never Looked So Good

Merriarm-Webster suggests marathons aren’t just for runners; in fact, by the trusted source’s definition, a marathon is “something characterized by great length or concentrated effort.” Always one to box things up with labels, then I had to take up marathon hunting. Of course, I’m also one to stir pots so responses to inquiries were immediate… and effectively repetitive, “What’s marathon hunting?”

The Sightmark Wraith allow you to hunt during the day and at night.
Have you hunted from the day into the night?

In the context of long stalks and even longer sits, marathon is practiced by countless hunters, predominately during deer season and especially during the rut; however, there is another side to marathon hunting most hunters have never considered—hunting daylight into nighttime. Yes, it’s a thing and last I checked (2017), 17 states permitted this transition during deer hunting season. Hunters could legally transition from hunting deer during daylight shooting hours to hogs, predators and varmints, or some combination thereof, at night. To this end, here in Texas, some of us literally turned hunts into 24-hour pursuits—yes, we load up on energy drinks.

While numerous states allow marathon hunting, doing so took some effort, especially in terms of optics. Hunters committed to hunting during the day and continuing into the night often had to change rifles from one topped with a traditional day optic to some type of electro-optic, i.e. traditional or digital night vision, or even thermal. Others literally changed optics, checked accuracy, and then returned to the hunt. Of course, outside of traditional hunting seasons, hunting regulations from state to state are often even more lax when it comes to electro-optics, including using them 24 hours per day and effectively eliminating any need to switch firearms or optics.

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.

Admittedly, optics suitable for handling a 24-hour task have been few, far between and expensive, until now. The Sightmark Wraith solves our 24-hour electro-optic problem once and for all without breaking the bank. At an MSRP of $599, hunters can jump into a digital optic providing true HD, full-color digital imaging by day and with the touch of a button, tried-and-true traditional green or black-white digital night vision for post-sunset pursuits. Even better, the Sightmark Wraith boasts up to 1080 HD photo and video capture with a 1280×720 resolution FLCOS display.

The Sightmark Wraith features 1-8 digital zoom, 4-32x magnification, CMOS sensor, 50mm objective lens, ¼-MOA windage and elevation adjustment values and SD card media storage compatible with up to 64gb cards. Photo and video files are self-contained in easy-to-use .jpg and .mp4 formats. The Wraith’s battery life is up to 4.5 hours and can also be powered with a micro-USB cable. The Wraith also includes up to 10 reticles in 9 colors for a customized display and can detect targets out to 200 yards with the included 850nm LED IR illuminator. All this to close with good news. Marathon hunting is hard work. It’s good to finally see a true 24-hour optic up to the task.

Click here to check out the Wraith digital day/night scope!

Citadel Riflescopes: Task Oriented Accuracy… Elevated

Picking the right scope can seem pretty daunting, especially when the folks around you offer their “expert” opinions, and downright scary when you see some of the price tags. Sticking to a budget is a no brainer. My Pop always quipped, “I don’t care if it’s 20 bucks. If you can’t afford it, it’s no deal… might as well be $2,000.” He said this more than once, in fact, often. While truth certainly lies in “you get what you pay for,” you can get awfully close to unaffordable with very little difference in performance if you pay attention to features, warranty and, of course, the purpose for your purchase.

A perfect example of affordable riflescopes with all the features of high-end optics and a lifetime warranty is the Sightmark Citadel lineup.
The Sightmark Citadel line of scopes includes many high-end features.

Riflescopes come at quite a range of pricing, reliability and features, the latter being key. Operating from within your financial arena as foundational to your options, the purpose your prospective riflescope should be the paramount concern. Do you need magnification? What distances do you expect to shoot? Do you expect to use holdovers? Do you prefer MOA, MRAD or perhaps IPHY? Will your riflescope be used for up-close-and-personal target engagement, long-range challenges or mid-range fun? Maybe a bit of a mix?

A perfect example of affordable riflescopes with all the features of high-end optics and a lifetime warranty is the Sightmark Citadel lineup. Citadel riflescopes rise above get-what-you-pay-for optic performance like a fortress on a hill; even better, Citadel scopes deliver big on peace-of-mind with Sightmark’s lifetime warranty and are available in five models, 1-6×24 CR1, 1-10x24CR1, 3-18x50LR1, 3-18×50 LR2 and 5-30×56 LR2, that run the gamut of shooting distances for the lion’s share of recreational plinkers, competitive shooters and long-range precision marksmen.

Citadel 1-6×24 CR1 and 1-10×24 CR1 are tactical-inspired scopes with 24mm objective lenses on 30mm tube platforms. As the Citadel name implies, 1-6×24 and 1-10×24 models include a base magnification of 1x and max of 6x or 10x. With 6x, I can get on target out to 500 yards, even a bit more, quite easily and at 10x, close to 1,000 yards—that may be a stretch for others but, to each their own, as they say. Citadel 1-6×24 and 1-10×24 also feature fine-etched, second-focal-plane, red-illuminated CR1 reticles complete with 11 brightness settings and bullet-drop-compensation, calibrated for 55-grain .223 ammunition with a 100-yard zero, out to 600 yards. Adjustments are MOA with ½-MOA per click windage and elevation, up to 120 MOA total range.

Citadel riflescopes come in tactical and long-range models.
The Citadel line ranges from tactical scopes to long-range.

Citadel 3-18×50 LR2 and 5-30×56 LR2 riflescopes are identical, save the magnification ranges and objective lens sizes. Both feature mil-dash first-focal-plane reticles and .1 Mil windage and elevation adjustments. The Citadel 3-18×50 LR1 Riflescope is identical to the 3-18×50 LR2 with one exception, instead of MRAD, the LR1 model is based on MOA, including MOA reticle subtensions and ¼ MOA-per-click windage and elevation turret adjustments.

Citadel LR models are designed to take you long-range, even to extreme distances, while base magnifications of 3x or 5x are still comfortable at closer yardage. Designed, however, with long-range shooters in mind, Citadel 3-18×50 and 5-30×56 LR model riflescopes include enhancements most precision marksmen simply won’t consider going without. Those features include hard-anodized 30mm tubes and fine-etched, red-illuminated, first-focal-plane LR1 or LR2 reticles complete with 11 brightness settings, subtension lines and lower-half “Christmas tree” style reference grids, perfect for elevation and windage holdovers. Glass is exceptionally clear and offers razor-sharp fields of view on all Citadel models. Citadel LR model riflescopes are designed to help you get on target out to 1,000 yards and well beyond. Some of that help also comes from fine-tuning your sight picture with adjustable diopter and parallax.

When it comes down to it, you can’t hit what you can’t see—common sense advice I’ve heard, essentially from day one, from parents, mentors and even drill instructors and primary marksmanship instructors alike. With Sightmark Citadel riflescopes, you won’t have that problem; in fact, you’ll even have some extra cash for ammo. What could be better?

Click here to check out the Citadel line of scopes.

Don’t know what type of riflescope you need? Click here to learn more about MIL-Dash vs. MOA.

What is the farthest distance you’ve shot? Share your long-range experiences below.

 

 

Accudot Laser Boresights: Sight-In on Saving Time and Money

I don’t know if I would call myself a big-bore guy; I like ‘em small, too. Perhaps “centerfire guy” is more representative of my affinity for larger cartridges of all shapes and sizes, for a multitude of tasks, from personal defense to precision long-range shooting—admittedly, I don’t even spend much time in the .300 Magnum arena although I’ve built a few and am now madly in love with Hornady’s .300 PRC cartridge.

Citadel riflescopes come in tactical and long-range models.
Sighting in your scope is necessary for accuracy and precision shooting.

As a gun writer, running the gamut on centerfire cartridges does not come without challenges. Ammo is expensive when you spend quality time on the trigger, especially with new firearms. Out of the box, I spend quite a bit of time sighting-in, seasoning, gathering ballistic and rifle data, and running rigs through whatever paces I feel they are capable achieving, near or far; as an example, not long ago I took a Lead Star Arms Barrage 9mm Carbine to task at 300 yards, then 400, achieving a 5-inch group at 300 and scoring impacts with 3/5 shots on a 3-MOA steel gong at 400—certainly not the norm but the type of work I subject firearms to when reviewing.

This type of work doesn’t happen within just a box or two of ammo. To be honest, my work generally requires a couple hundred testing rounds, sometimes exponentially more if I’m really working to achieve true performance results, pushing limits and yes, battling environmental conditions like high winds. Either way, with a lot of lead heading downrange, I can ill afford to blow ammo on incidental tasks like getting on paper and dialing in optics. For initial shots, I depend on true view-through-the-barrel boresighting and optic adjustment and then move immediately into a laser boresighting device.

To be honest, I do occasionally skip the physical look down the barrel and go straight for the laser boresight, depending on time, whether I’ve used the optic on similar rigs and my environment. What do I mean by environment? Sometimes I try to “jump the gun,” so to speak, on range preparation. I’ve been known to install the optic in my home the night before and use a laser boresight on a target across the house—remember, boresighting (and shooting) at 25 yards generally gets you close at 100 yards—the same can be said for 50 yards and 200. If I can achieve a 25-yard boresight the night before, I’m generally on paper with first shots at 100.

One of Us is Not Like Most

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 laser boresight, you can sight in your scope faster at home and without using any ammo!

While the juice is generally worth the squeeze as a gun writer, in terms of expenses, every expense definitely cuts into my ability to make a living doing what I love. To that end, using less materials to complete a project means greater profit—this is Business 101. Of course, I don’t cut corners either. So, saving on ammo, cleaning and maintenance materials, etc. makes both good sense… and cents!

And although I do write about shooting and firearms, most folks do not. There is no profit to be made, only expenses and shooting, whether testing, plinking, hunting or going extreme distances, can be expensive. Of course, expensive is subjective, too. Some might say .22 LR plinking is expensive while others aren’t deterred by the cost of .338 Lapua (and more expensive ammo—take a gander at .50-cal BMG and what is costs to run Cheytac and Tejas cartridges).

At the end of the day, for the vast majority of hardworking folks, expensive is clearly defined when it comes to one cartridge or another, and volume of shooting and I have yet to meet a fan of simply wasting ammo they paid for with cold hard cash. Yes, pretty much EVERYBODY likes to keep costs low. If for nothing else, boresighting reigns supreme when it comes to keeping your shots productive. After all, it doesn’t matter who you are, taking shots with no calls and no splash is no fun, even downright maddening.

Laser Boresights: A Journey

So, what’s the buzz on laser boresights? Looking back at my earliest experiences, the first boresights I used were barrel mounted and troublesome to say the least, even at the high-end of costs. Back then, you-get-what-you-pay-for was still frustrating. Soon after I dabbled in barrel-inserted laser boresights. With a tapered bore rod, these boresights were effectively universal; however, I also fought poor construction—expecting the laser to be installed straight and at center-mass was too tall an order. On the flip side, I also worked with some inexpensive fly-by-night models that seemed to perform well.

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.

Now, years later, I’ve been using in-chamber boresights with great success. Among my personal boresights are Firefield and Sightmark, with Sightmark being the premium option. While in-chamber boresights are caliber specific, many cases are certainly similar enough to cover more than one cartridge with a single in-chamber boresight model—cases in point are .22-250 and 6.5 Creedmoor, as well as .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester, to list a couple.

In-chamber boresights have certainly changed the sight-in landscape for those who have elected to employ them, and certainly, as a total have saved shooters a jaw-dropping wad of cash—there’s no question. With a daytime visibility beyond 25 yards, these boresights are sure to get you dialed in close to center-mass and still close to the mark at a 100 sight-in, as explained earlier.

In lower light, if your optic can take it, boresights can certainly stretch out quite a bit farther, say to 50 yards, to close in on that 200-yard zero—100- or 200-yard zero is more or less subjective and one or the other can certainly be beneficial in terms of precision accuracy, depending on factors like load, target distance, etc.

Although Sightmark in-chamber laser boresights have built a solid reputation for accuracy, as evidenced in first-round impacts countless times for shooters at every experience level, there is always room for improvement. As a point of interest here, in-chamber boresight battery life has been a bone of contention for many a shooter. Batteries die at inopportune times and can be cost-prohibitive to an annoying fault. Also worthy of mention, depending on your surroundings, fresh batteries may not be the easiest to find. Of course, there’s a light at the end of the Sightmark tunnel and it’s worth talking about.

Accudot Boresights: Sight-in and Save More

The Sightmark Accudot Laser Boresight System, unveiled at the 2019 SHOT Show, was introduced with problem-solving in mind. While the Accudot holds fast to Sightmark’s precision-machined brass case and premium internal components, the device’s internal rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery is definitely a buzzworthy game-changer. In a device where battery life is notoriously short (and batteries are always more expensive than they should be), eliminating the need for replacement batteries is sure to amount to significant savings—for many, the savings are certain to result in recapturing the cost the Accudot entirely.

Even better, since battery life is still battery life even in a rechargeable system, the Accudot features an auto-activation, meaning the laser only activates while the boresight is chambered. One last notable feature is the Accudot’s calibrated diode. The diode ensures precise laser accuracy and doubles up on Sightmark’s boresight commitment to helping people achieve first-shot impacts on paper. No matter how the numbers work out—ammo or batteries—the Accudot’s aim is simply to save you time and money; for some of us, those two words are all too often one in the same.

The Sightmark Accudot Laser Boresight System includes a recharging dock, USB cable, wall adapter and carrying case. Click here to learn more about Sightmark Accudot boresights at www.sightmark.com.

To learn more about the differences between boresighting and sighting in, click here.

Click here for instructions on how to use your boresight.

 

Best AR-15 Scope for Coyote Hunting

(Always check your local laws before hunting any animal!)

Many predator hunters use thermal imaging or night vision.
Many predator hunters use thermal imaging or night vision.

Coyote hunting is fun and challenging. Coyotes are fast with keen senses, so they spook easily. A successful coyote hunt consists of pre-scouting, sitting still and then being able to shoot quickly but also accurately. Many states consider the coyote a predator and therefore open to hunting all year long, without bag limits and very few restrictions. This makes setting up your predator rifle with coyote hunting accessories that much more fun! Think night vision, thermal imaging and suppressors!

Like hunting any other animal, you need the right gun and the right optics. You’ll be shooting coyotes mostly from mid-range—200-300 yards. Sometimes, you’ll luck out by getting a good shot at dogs at 50 to 75 yards. A lot of coyote hunters prefer a lower magnification scope.

The best time to hunt coyotes is when they are most active. Coyote wander from the den looking for food right after sunset and at dawn when its dark. Because of this, you need an optic or riflescope with an objective large enough to allow in plenty of light, so you get a clear picture in low-light situations—a 40mm or 50mm objective is best. Many coyote hunters, especially those who hunt at night, will choose red dot or reflex sights, thermal scopes, night vision or scopes with illuminated reticles.

Though the type of optic preferred is personal preference, these are our personal favorites for coyote hunting:

Wraith

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.

The Wraith is Sightmark’s newest and most technologically advanced digital riflescope useable both day and night. With 10 illuminated reticles and 9 colors to choose from, the versatile Wraith goes from long-range shooting to plinking and every type of hunt from deer to hog. The 4-32x50mm scope has a removable 850nm IR illuminator with up to a 200-yard range at night. The Wraith comes with on-board video recording and SD card slot. It will save five shooter profiles, so rezeroing isn’t an issue when you transfer the scope to another firearm. The 50mm objective and 1920×1080 HD sensor helps produce a clear, full-color day time image. At night, switch over to classic green or black and white night vision.

Photon RT

 

The Photon RT 6x50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness.
The Photon RT 6×50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness.

The Photon RT 6×50 digital night vision scope detects targets up to 200 yards in total darkness. Also useable during the day, the Photon RT has a 768×576 CMOS sensor, an invisible 940nm built-in IR illuminator and a high-resolution 640×480 LCD display to produce crisp clear images. A 2x digital zoom details far away game so you can be assured of a precise shot. You have a choice of 6 illuminated reticles with 4 different colors to suit whatever environment, weather conditions and targets you’re aiming at.

Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight with 3x Magnifier

 

This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly.
This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly.

This reflex sight transitions from close quarters to longer-ranges when paired with a magnifier and acquires targets quickly. For red dot sights, the Ultra Shot M-Spec offers the best reticle for coyote hunting—a 2 MOA dot with 65 MOA ring. The wide-angle lens and anti-reflective lens coating provide a clear field of view. It has 10 brightness settings and is night-vision compatible. Offering 3x magnification to any of your reflex or red dot sights, the tactical magnifier has a flip to side mount easily deployed when you need it.

Citadel 3-18x50mm

With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop.
With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop.

With a red illuminated milliradian reticle, you can estimate range and determine shot holdovers for windage and compensate for bullet drop. The Citadel 3-18x50mm is a comprehensive riflescope with a first focal plane etched glass reticle. This scope’s LR2 ballistic reticle and magnification range are optimized for longer range shooting.

Do you hunt coyote? What optics do you run? Tell us in the comment section.