Protect What You Love: Sight-in on Home Defense

By Kevin Reese  February 17, 2020​​

Protect What You Love: Sight-in on Home Defense

it’s a function of prevention, avoidance & The Subconscious 

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” Sun Tzu’s ageless adage, adopted by Marine Corps drill instructors everywhere, still rings true today and not just amidst ranks of uniformed troops; substitute “war” with “defensive situations” and you’re left with similar common-sense ideology in the civilian world. While practice doesn’t necessarily “make perfect” when operating in survival mode, it certainly offers a calming of the storm, so to speak, while trapped in its vortex.

In this context, training isn’t a function of simply educating; it’s a function of prevention, avoidance or, ultimately, committing survivor tactics to our subconscious—not processing what needs to be done but doing it automatically and without hesitation. Training also means incorporating the right
tools — the ones you are likely to use when chaos kicks in your door.

Personal defense expert, Rob Pincus, coined a phrase I have adopted, “Protect what you love.” This simple phrase embodies the reason we should take self-defense seriously and to what measure we are willing to commit ourselves to it, both in dynamic training and doing it with the right equipment. To that end, your defense weapons, whatever they may be, must be there when you need them and be the right tools for the job. 

Latest And Greatest Personal Defense Go-To's

AR-style pistol-cartridge carbines have become exceptionally popular for home defense over the past couple of years and rightly so. My latest, greatest in-home go-to is a new Lead Star Arms PCC9 carbine designed to use standard double-stack Glock magazines and 9mm ammo. Atop the PCC9, you’ll find a Sightmark RAM Series Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight. The Ultra Shot M-Spec delivers a crisp, parallax-corrected field of view, even in low light, an adjustable circle-dot reticle, easy-to-use digital controls and long battery life. The Ultra Shot’s rugged M-Spec durability lets me know that if necessary, I can beat the offender senseless with my carbine and it will still hold zero for some Saturday morning trigger time.

For me, a carbine like Lead Star’s PCC9 9mm and the Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight, or another quality red dot sight, are a perfect combo for personal defense in the home, especially at longer distances; of course, my current concealed-carry gun, a Glock 17 9mm (same ammo and magazines) is also close at hand. With respect to red dot sights, as well as reflex sights like the Ultra Shot M-Spec, these types of optics are perfect for self-defense firearms in the home because they facilitate rapid target acquisition, often even in low light.

For my personal home defense, the Lead Star Arms Barrage PCC9, Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight and a road-hard-hung-up-wet Glock 17C, combined with dynamic training, deliver big on the confidence I need to achieve an effective balance of speed and precision if and when a threat darkens our doorway—balance and speed being a focus foundational to the Intuitive Defensive Training I received from Mr. Pincus himself (www.icetraining.us). 

The Solution:

The Liberty Pole had it right when it asked readers, “How many times have you read, 'An unidentified woman, heavily armed with a semi-automatic weapon was raped by a man wielding a knife?’” The question itself carries a lot of weight unless you qualify it with a lack of training and the right tools for the job. Let’s face it, lack of defensive knowledge manifested in ineffective subconscious responses have resulted in hundreds of thousands of victimized firearm owners. Be ready and equipped to—as Pincus puts it—protect what you love.

Learn more about Sightmark’s RAM Series Ultra Shot Reflex Sights and other red dot optics at www.sightmark.com.


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Kevin Reese is an award-winning outdoor writer, photographer, videographer, Marine Corps veteran, avid long-range shooter and passionate bowhunter. He continues to work actively as an industry voice for our shooting sports, personal defense and outdoor heritage, and contributes to numerous magazines, published nationally and internationally, and high-traffic digital platforms. Kevin resides in Texas with his wife, Kelly, and son, Jacob, a highly competitive swimmer. He spends most weekends hunting, at his local shooting range or poolside cheering for his son.


Kevin Reese blogger


WHAT OPTIC IS BEST FOR HOME DEFENSE?

the best sights for home defense


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.

 

Dark Earth is Coming to the Ultra Shot Series!

(Mansfield, Texas 2019/02/06) – Introducing Sightmark’s new Ultra Shot RAM Series in Dark Earth finish. Inspired by the military, the RAM series is ideal for close-range target shooting and law enforcement, perfect for both the AR platform and shotgun. Sightmark will offer three different models with the new Dark Earth finish with the R-, A- and M-Spec.

Sightmark’s new Ultra Shot RAM series of reflex sights will soon be available in a dark earth finish
The new Ultra Shot RAM series reflex sights will soon be available in FDE

Suited for fast, accurate action at the range, the R-Spec Dark Earth (SM26031DE) delivers a clear field of view with an advanced, anti-reflective and scratch-resistant lens, along with four red and green reticle options.

The A-Spec Dark Earth (SM26032DE) features the same benefits as the R-Spec with the addition of six-night vision settings, allowing the optic to be used with night vision devices and goggles.

The elite sight of the RAM series, the M-Spec LQD Dark Earth (SM26034DE) and M-Spec FMS (SM26035DE) is designed for law enforcement, hunting and competitive shooting. A retractable sunshade reduces glare and helps protect your optic from inclement weather.

The new RAM series Dark Earth are expected to arrive Q1 2019.

MSRP:

SM26031DE – $155.99

SM26032DE – $179.99

SM26034DE – $299.97

SM26035DE – $239.97

Click here to purchase an Ultra Shot reflex sight.

Open or Tube Reflex Sights—Which Type of Red Dot Sight Should I Buy?

The red dot sight is extremely compatible with AR-15s and other Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR) and is the optic of choice for most MSR owners. These sights are the fastest way to get on target accurately and for AR shooters, this is exactly what we need. Unless you are precision shooting at longer ranges, fast target acquisition and a shot that hits where you aim are all you need in competition shooting, plinking, home defense and even predator and varmint hunting. The reflex or red dot sight is the way to go for close quarters (CQB) to medium ranges, where speed is your top priority.

Before we continue, we need to get something straight—a “red dot sight” has become the term most used when referring to a non-magnified electronic sight that projects an illuminated dot (or other shapes) reticle on a target. However, the term is used incorrectly.

The Core Shot A-Spec is not a red dot sight. It is an open reflex sight.
The Core Shot A-Spec is not a red dot sight. It is an open reflex sight.
After 1,000 rounds, the Wolverine holds zero and didn't malfunction once.
The Wolverine is a tube red dot sight.

Both open and tube sights are reflex sights, but an open reflex sight is technically not a red dot sight.

Now, most people aren’t going to make fun of you if you refer to either as a red dot sight and will know exactly what you’re talking about, but since we (Sightmark) make both reflex and red dot sights, we’re nerdy about them and use the correct terms.

Open and tube reflex sights operate the same way. This is how they are set apart from holographic and prismatic sights—which aren’t actually red dot or reflex sights at all.

Reflex sights are called so because of the way they work. They work by using a reflective glass lens to align light from an LED to project an aiming point on a glass objective lens. Due to a special reflective coating on the lens, the illuminated red dot is visible only to you and does not go through the other side of the lens. The dot is never actually projected on the target, it only appears that way to the viewer.

The internal operation is the same for tube red dot and reflex sights; however, when you put a tube red dot sight and a reflex sight next to each other (as shown above,) they look nothing alike. Both are excellent optics with very few disadvantages, yet they do have slightly different specs and features that might make you prefer one over the other.

Reflex sights, due to their heads-up display (HUD) design allow for a wider field of view.
Reflex sights, due to their heads-up display (HUD) design allow for a wider field of view.

Reflex and tube dot sights are non-magnified (as mentioned above,) have an unlimited eye relief—meaning you can mount it anywhere along your rail without the worry of scope bite—and work on the Bindon Aiming Concept, meaning you shoot using the sight with both eyes open.

What ‘s the difference between a reflex sight and a red dot sight?

One of the biggest differences between a reflex/open sight and a red dot is the field of view. Reflex sights, due to their heads-up display (HUD) design allow for a wider field of view. The field of view is how much of the image you can see in the window or objective lens. Reflex sights let you clearly see the target as well as what’s around it, giving you a tactical advantage by allowing you to retain your situational awareness.

Reflex sights are also just a hair faster at target acquisition because the dot isn’t as confined in the head’s up display as in the tube style. Some might find, especially competitors or those hunting birds, that peripheral vision is obstructed or limited using a tube red dot sight when transitioning targets.

Reflex sights are more susceptible to the elements, though. Red dots have an enclosed housing protecting the internals. Also, reflex sights have an exposed light path so if anything blocks that path, you lose the reticle. To compensate for this, we’ve added an extendable hood on our new M-Spec reflex sight to help reduce the risk of losing your reticle.

Where the tube red dot has the reflex beat is how bright the reticle is compared with reticles on open sights.

For which one is better, I can’t tell you. Our military uses both tube and open sights, so both have their place. Depending on your usage and firearm, you will find that you prefer one over the other. As a general rule, most people put a tube red dot on their shotguns, a mini reflex sight on their handguns and either on their AR-15.

Which type of sight do you prefer? Tell us which one and why in the comment section.

Click here to shop Sightmark reflex and red dot sights. 

Where Should I Mount my Reflex Sight?

One of the most popular accessories for the AR (and other MSRs) is the red dot or reflex sight. And for good reason…they help you get on target quickly for accurate shot placement in competition and in self-defense and tactical situations. In fact, I’m betting it’s probably one of the first things you’re considering adding to your new build.

There are a lot of different reflex sights to choose from. But regardless, whether you decide to go with an open reflex sight or closed tube red dot sight, mounting either optic is the same.

Fortunately, reflex sights don’t require much of a learning curve to master. They don’t magnify, so there’s no adjusting for distance. It’s pretty much mount, zero and go.

The SIghtmark Wolverine red dot sight and new XT-3 Tactical Magnifier are a great combo.
The SIghtmark Wolverine red dot sight and new XT-3 Tactical Magnifier are a great combo.

Unlike traditional riflescopes, reflex sights have an unlimited eye relief, so there is no right or wrong place to mount your sight. Further, your target and your dot stay the same size no matter where you put your sight on your rifle. Technically, you can put it anywhere along the rail your little heart desires. With that being said, most people strongly suggest you keep it mounted on the receiver part of the rail and not the handguard part of the rail. Now, there are placements that might raise a few eyebrows—like as close to the barrel as possible—but don’t worry, you aren’t going to look like a tool even if your sight is in the most extreme-forward position. As Ryan Gresham points out the video below, Scout rifle (without free-float rails) shooters prefer this position.

Even though I say there is no right or wrong answer to this question, you will find that a little further back than center is the most common placement of a reflex sight. Seems like for most, the sweet spot is above the ejection port. Why is this? The further away from the stock, the less balanced the rifle feels and the more likely your sight won’t stay zeroed.

There are advantages to both forward and backward positioning of your reflex sight. Forward is closest to the muzzle, while backward is closest to your face.

The further away from your eye you mount your sight, the smaller the window appears. This might make it more difficult to find the illuminated red dot reticle. (Like everything in the gun industry, though, some will argue the opposite.) However, you will be able to see way more of your surroundings allowing you to retain a high level of situational awareness and see more potential threats. The closer you mount your red dot to your eye, the wider field of view your optic provides but you lose the situational awareness.

Or, if you have a magnifier, you will need to mount your reflex sight forward enough to leave room for the magnifier.

Ryan Gresham from Gun Talk explains red dot mounting in the video below.

At the end of the day, it is what makes you the most comfortable, confident and accurate. Experiment with different placement and you’ll find the best mounting position for you.

Do you already have a reflex sight? Tell us where you have it mounted in the comment section.

Click here to Shop Sightmark reflex sights.

Sightmark M-Spec Mini Red Dot Sight Review

Written by Jamie Trahan, 18-year Law Enforcement Officer and Sightmark Pro Staff Member

The M-Spec mini dot has 3 MOA dot perfect for close-up to mid-range work.
The M-Spec mini dot has 3 MOA dot perfect for close-up to mid-range work.

At one point in time, people used rocks and spears to hunt. Then, according to historians, way more knowledgeable than I, gunpowder was invented in ancient China. The earliest written reference to a mixture of three powders possibly describing gunpowder was found in the 142 AD Cantong Gi text Book of the Kinship of Three written by alchemist Wei Boyang.

The first firearms, like basic designs such as the fire lance, were developed long after this text was written. The oldest surviving firearm is the Heilongjiang hand cannon dated to 1288, which centuries later developed into the matchlock, and later, the flintlock and eventually cartridge-based firearms.

Despite many other issues, the Achilles heel of the first firearms was the smooth bore and lack of sighting systems. Eventually, some of these problems were remedied with the invention of the first primitive sights circa 1450 and rifling in 1498 in Germany. Although not commonplace until much later, the ideas were there.

Fast forward to 1975 to the birth of the red dot sight when the first electronic sight was marketed by Aimpoint AB in Sweden. That’s the humble beginnings of the modern red dot sight. It was large, it was bulky, but since then, red dot sights have gone micro.

Now, let me introduce you to one of the smallest red dot sights on the market—the Sightmark Mini Shot M-Spec. Don’t let the size fool you, it’s designed to take a beating and keep on going.

Here is what the people at Sightmark have to say about it:

“Built for law enforcement officers and professionals, the compact Mini Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight is the perfect optic for competition shooting, hunting and LE applications on shotguns, pistols and AR’s. The kit includes a low-profile mount for shotguns and pistols along with a riser mount for AR platform rifles. This rugged optic is 100% waterproof and features a durable aluminum housing with a steel protective shield. Doubling the battery life of the competition, the Mini Shot M-Spec’s extremely low-power consumption provides 300 to 30,000 hours of battery life on one CR1632 battery, while its 12-hour auto shutoff prevents the unit from running out of batteries while you’re not using it. Easy windage and elevation click adjustments make zeroing the 3 MOA red dot reticle a breeze, even without any special tools. Ten brightness levels give shooters perfect reticle options from low-light situations to the brightest days. An ambidextrous digital switch allows the M-Spec to be easily turned on and off by both left- and right-handed shooters.”

The primary features are:

  • 100% waterproof and dustproof
  • Up to 30,000-hour battery life on the lowest setting
  • Steel protective shield
  • 3 MOA red dot reticle
  • 10 reticle brightness levels
  • 2-night vision brightness settings

I received the Mini Shot as a part of the Wolfhound 6×44 HS-223 Prismatic Sight with Mini Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight combination unit. With the removal of a couple of screws, I was able to remove the Mini Shot M-Spec from the Wolfhound and mount it on my GLOCK 17 within a couple of minutes. The M-Spec mini reflex sight mounts easily, the buttons feel perfect and the red dot is bright and crisp.

The Mini Shot M-Spec is the perfect size for the GLOCK 17 and the weight isn’t noticeable.
The Mini Shot M-Spec is the perfect size for the GLOCK 17 and the weight isn’t noticeable.

On the range, the weight of the Mini Shot isn’t noticeable, and the small size mates easily with my issued GLOCK 17. Speaking of mounting—one of the questions that I had when these first came to market was the mounting system. It is the same mounting pattern as the Docter optic, which is Plate 01 on the GLOCK MOS system. 

I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to sighting in a red dot on a pistol. I don’t use a sandbag or a rest to dial it in—which for me is at 10 yards. Shoot, adjust, shoot, adjust…. until the round hits the mark. While it’s not the most technically proficient method, it’s more fun—at least for me with 9mm being as cheap as it is now.

Once the sight was set, and the brightness of the dot was adjusted where I wanted it, it was time for a few drills. One of which a red dot equipped pistol excels at is the infamous Dot Torture originally designed by David Blinder. The version I typically use is the variant designed by Todd Green, which provides the directions below each dot…. much easier for me to follow.

Click here to download your free TDA Dot Torture drill target.

I didn’t run the drill for time, I ran it at 4 yards (12 feet) and ran it clean, which proved the accuracy of the sight for me.

All said and done, the Mini Shot M-Spec will find a permanent home on my duty GLOCK.
All said and done, the Mini Shot M-Spec will find a permanent home on my duty GLOCK.

Without a doubt, this sight is a steal at $199 MSRP, and its closest comparison in the market is the Vortex Venom. However, the Mini Shot M-Spec comes in at 13% lower price point and offers double the battery life on the highest setting over the Venom. That’s more ammo for more trigger time and training, which is one of the most important things in the shooting world.

I have previous experience with the Trijicon RMR, Burris Fastfire 2/3, Vortex Venom and now the Mini Shot M-Spec. What I can tell you after finally getting my hands on the Mini Shot, is that you shouldn’t fall for some of the other companies’ hype. That isn’t Sightmark. Sightmark designs the same products, giving you the same features, if not more features, at a lower price point.

All said and done, the Mini Shot M-Spec will find a permanent home on my duty GLOCK. Unfortunately, just not the one I had for review. After a few days on the GLOCK, it had to get put back on the Wolfhound and sent back home to Texas.

That reminds me, it proudly wears the stars and bars on its left side with “Designed in Texas, USA,” which I think is neat as half of my bloodline hailing from the Lone Star State.

Author’s note:

One thing to emphasize. The Mini Shot M-Spec also has a 12-hour auto-shutoff feature to help with that wonderful battery run time. When you find your optic turned off when you know you’d left it on, don’t panic and start looking for another battery—Sightmark has you covered.

Click here to check out and buy the Mini Shot.

What Size MOA Red Dot Should I Buy?

Though it may seem a bit overwhelming at first with how many red dot sights there are to choose from, when it comes down to it, there aren’t really that many differences in red dot and reflex sights. Picking a red dot sight is easier than choosing a magnified riflescope—which can feel like the options are endless. After breaking down a few features, buying a reflex sight should be a simple process.

View through a Sightmark red dot sight sight aiming at a target down range.
Red dot or reflex sights range in dot sizes from 1 to up to 8 or 9 MOA.

Red dot and reflex sights are relatively simple and after deciding on how much you want to spend (your budget) and the type of reflex sight you want (open or tube,) which features suit your needs—

size, type of illumination, weight, construction, etc.—it will come down to deciding which size dot is best.

Good for rifles, pistols and shotguns, dot sights are a highly effective aiming tool for CQB, close to medium ranges, competition and self-defense. The biggest advantage of a red dot over any other optic or sight is the ability to acquire and hit a target incredibly quick. The size of the dot directly relates to how quickly you can locate the dot in the unit’s head’s up display and how much target area the dot covers. Both these things can significantly affect your accuracy.

What is MOA?

The smaller the dot, the harder it is to see. The larger the dot, the easier to see but less precise.
The smaller the dot, the harder it is to see. The larger the dot, the easier to see but less precise.

The illuminated red or green dot of a red dot/reflex sight is measured in MOA—minutes of angle, a unit for angular measurement of a circle. 1 MOA is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards, which we round down to 1 inch. Meaning, the circle (red dot) will appear to be 1 inch in diameter on a target 100 yards out. Therefore, the smaller the dot’s MOA, the harder to see. A larger MOA dot will be incredibly easy to see but may cover too much of the target at further distances to get an accurate shot.

Smaller dots—1 to 2.5 MOA—are used for precise shots at longer distances. 5, 6, 6.5 and larger MOA dots will get you on target faster but will be less precise because the dot will cover a broader area on the target.

Red Dot MOA Size Comparison

1 MOA dots are usually found on “tactical” sights and provide a very precise aiming dot. Yet, those with less than perfect eyesight can struggle with locating the dot, not only on the unit itself but the target as well. To compensate, many 1 MOA red dot sights will be encircled by a larger 60 MOA circle, which also helps with close-range targets. 3, 4, and 5 MOA dots are quicker to acquire due to their larger size and are best for close range targets. Big dots are perfect for speed competition, steel shooting and for those with astigmatism. The most common dot size ranges from 3 to 5 MOA.

The Sightmark M-Spec has multiple reticles, this one is a 2 MOA center dot with a 65 MOA circle dot crosshair
A 4 MOA dot is best for close ranges, while a 2 MOA dot is best for longer ranges.

3 MOA is probably the most popular dot size for both target shooting and self-defense, as the dot is clear, and accuracy is still precise at both close and mid ranges. Still allowing rapid target acquisition in self-defense range, a 3 MOA red dot with an adjustable brightness feature will aid in accuracy when shooting out farther because smaller dots appear larger on brighter settings. Competitors that require speed prefer bigger dots like 6, 6.5 or even a very large 8 MOA dot. People who use red dots for handguns at close distances also prefer bigger dots.

We designed the Ultra Shot and previous red dot sights with the dot size that was available at the time. Since then, there have been significant advances in optic quality. Our newest models, like the M-Spec, incorporate the most innovative technology available in reflex sights. About five years ago, we asked AR15.com and Sightmark Pro Staff members which types of reticles they preferred. Sightmark Product Development Director Jonathan Horton says, “Most of our red dots are 3 or 5 MOA which is easy to acquire and still have on-target accuracy at 50 or 100 yards, even with a magnifier. Going bigger is good for short range but you’re covering a lot of your target anything over 50 yards.  If we do a smaller aiming dot than 3, it does provide better accuracy out to 100 but we usually design larger circle (circle-dot) around the dot for better acquisition at close range.”

Most shooters purchase a red dot sight for its original intention—quick target acquisition in a self-defense situation. However, turkey hunters and fast-paced competitive shooters also appreciate the accuracy a reflex sight offers. At the end of the day, choosing the size of the illuminated dot reticle depends on your primary use and firearm you need the red dot for.

What dot size do you like and why? Tell us in the comment section.

To learn how to use a red dot sight and read more about their benefits, click here.

Click here to shop Red Dot Sights.

Flat Dark Earth vs. Black

When it comes to the way a gun looks, it is truly a case of beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There aren’t cultural beauty standards for this type of stuff, so the curves on the Smith & Wesson Model 60 revolver aren’t perceived by most gun folks to be any more attractive than the boxy GLOCK. Apart from the Liberator and Hi-Point, the way a gun looks is pretty much subjective. Traditionally, guns were blued, steel and wood but since polymer started reigning supreme, most guns now come in a wide variety of finishes—if you decide to send in your gun for Duracoating, you can have your gun look like whatever you want it to. Light, dark, patterned—you name it, you can get it!

There are hundreds of different variations of Flat Dark Earth. DuraCoat has 17 versions of flat dark earth alone. This picture shows the variations in flat dark earth from manufacturer to manufacturer.
There are hundreds of different variations of Flat Dark Earth. DuraCoat has 17 versions of flat dark earth alone. This picture shows the variations in flat dark earth from manufacturer to manufacturer.

I think the popularity of Duracoat comes from each of our desire to personalize or individualize our firearms, especially black rifles. Most popular semiauto concealed carry guns only come in one finish from the factory—black. Duracoating, colored accessories and furniture is a way to make it ours.

Some colors are more popular, or at least more marketed than others—there hasn’t been a shortage of pink, purple, or Tiffany Blue firearms marketed toward women and there are plenty of OD green, FDE and some urban gray to choose from if black gets boring. The most popular of these alternative colors is the Flat Dark Earth (FDE) which has remained an in-demand color for firearms and firearm accessories for years.

Proof is in the pudding—GLOCK’s anticipated 2018 release of the 19X is GLOCK’s first time to release a factory gun in a different color other than black. Because there are no standard specifications for FDE color matching, you’ll find it called different things. GLOCK calls its finish Coyote Brown. You’ll also find it called Desert Tan and Coyote Tan with lighter and darker variants. You can see and discuss the differences on this AR15.com thread.

What is Flat Dark Earth?

FDE is an earth-toned color resembling the soil and sand found in the desert, most often in the Middle East. Militaries around the world have incorporated this muted, khaki color in their uniforms forever. In fact, “khaki” is the Persian word for the soil’s color in what is now Pakistan. Tan-based camo was officially adopted by the United States military in 1977. It looked like cookie dough and was nicknamed “chocolate chip.” It wasn’t very successful in real life desert climates, though, so in the 1990s, the military introduced the Desert Camo Uniform (DCU) when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

What are the Advantages of FDE vs. Black?

Sightmark’s M-Spec matches the Tavor
Sightmark’s M-Spec matches the Tavor

There are a few advantages to FDE vs. black. This earth-toned tan or sand color is practical and subdued and less easier to spot than black. Scratches and marring are less obvious. It doesn’t get as hot in the summertime cooking under the sun at the gun range. It is aesthetically pleasing to many and most of its popularity is due to it being a color SOCOM and Special Forces utilize. And, like some FDE fans like to say, “just like red sports cars, FDE firearms are more accurate.” 😉

Sightmark introduced Flat Dark Earth products in 2014 to meet customer demands. Many AR-15 owners like to match the furniture to the optic for cohesion. Unlike some manufacturers, Sightmark meticulously color-matched the Ultra Shot M-Spec line of reflex sights and the LoPro laser light combo to the extremely popular Magpul’s FDE. It also matches the FDE factory finish on the Tavor.

Sightmark’s Executive Vice President of Sales Jeff Murray says, “There have been many different colors of ‘tan’ called everything from Coyote Brown, Military Tan and the more popular FDE. Magpul really made this movement commercial some years ago when they started offering all their aftermarket parts in this color. Tens of thousands of AR-type rifles are sold every year and I think people just got tired of matte black, so with the U.S. Government starting to source some rifles in this color and Magpul making their furniture in FDE, it was a natural step for optics companies to start offering other color options. Sightmark has been very pleased with the sales of our flat dark earth finishes and is always looking at new functional and fun colors to adapt to our optics.”

What is your favorite alternative firearms finish? What other Sightmark products would you like to see in flat dark earth…or another color? Talk to us in the comment section!

 

New Arrival: Sightmark’s Core Shot A-Spec Reflex Sight

The Core Shot A-Spec is not a red dot sight. It is an open reflex sight.
The Core Shot A-Spec has a 5 MOA dot.

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/10/10) – Sightmark’s Core Shot A-Spec is arriving during the fourth quarter of 2018 bringing precision, accuracy and reliability for avid shooters. The Core Shot A-Spec bridges the gap between a full-sized and mini red dot sight, making them a mid-compact sized red dot perfect for AR pistols and SBRs.

Sightmark’s Core Shot A-Spec is crafted from dependable and lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum. The FMS features two separate mounts, AR riser mount and a low-profile mount, while the LQD features a quick detach mount.

These are shockproof, IP55 water-resistant, have a scratch-resistant lens coating and feature a wide lens for quick target acquisition. Other features include slotted windage and elevation adjustments, digital switch controls, eight reticle brightness levels and night vision compatibility.

For more information, please visit www.sightmark.com or email us at mediarelations@sightmark.net.

Sightmark Introduces Revamped Ultra Shot RAM Series

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/05/18) – Sightmark is proud to announce the release of the latest generation of Ultra Shot reflex sights, ripe with upgrades and a fresh new design. With three available models; R, A and M-Spec, Sightmark has created resilient close-range optics perfect for everything from target shooting to law enforcement and military operations on both AR platform firearms and shotguns. All RAM series sights are now powered by a CR123A battery, which provides superior battery life (200-2,000 hours) over other red dots and reflex sights. A wide lens quickens target acquisition while helping to maintain a wide FOV.  Quick-detach models include an improved QD lever allowing a low profile to keep the sights from snagging on gear or unlatching during the heat of the moment.

The new Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight is built for adaptation to any shooting environment
The new Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight is built for adaptation to any shooting environment

Ideal for target shooting and hunting, the Ultra Shot R-Spec (SM26031), or Range Spec, features four reticle options with red or green illumination and a new low battery indication which prompts the reticle to blink when the battery is low. The R-Spec boasts 10 brightness levels, from low light to sunny outdoors, and slotted windage and elevation adjustments, able to be changed with a flathead or common tool.

The new aluminum-constructed Ultra Shot A-Spec (SM26032), or Advanced Spec model, retains many of the same updates found in the R-Spec, but adds 6-night vision settings, allowing the sight to be used in conjunction with night vision devices. The R-Spec is shielded by a sturdy aluminum alloy housing and protective aluminum shield.

The most durable and advanced sight in the Ultra Shot line, the new M-Spec LQD (SM26034) and M-Spec FMS (SM26035) were designed for law enforcement, hunting and competition shooting scenarios. Waterproof up to 40′ and able to withstand up to .50 BMG caliber recoil, this fixed mount M-Spec features motion sensing activation (5-minute shutoff with motion activation, 12-hour auto-off) to conserve battery life but still keep the optic ready for when it needs to be. This cutting-edge reflex sight has an integrated retractable sunshade that reduces lens glare and protects the optic during rain or snow.