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        Canted Red Dots and Why You Should Run Them

        Canted Red Dots and Why You Should Run Them

        Engaging targets at close range when your rifle is zeroed for 100 yards or more is anything but swift. It is usually a matter of knowing your holdovers and holdunders, and if a scope is zeroed for 300 yards, shooting targets at distances of 50 yards requires you to aim significantly lower to hit center mass. 

        For competition shooters who need to shoot at variable distances with the speed of a greased lightning bolt, a single LPVO is not going to cut it. A canted red dot sight, however, allows a shooter to transition from rapid fire targets at 25 yards or less to precision aiming at 100 yards with the flick of a wrist. 

        The idea of an offset sight has been around since World War 2, but back then it was mostly used for weapons with top-loading vertical magazines which blocked the barrel like the Japanese Type 96 and the British Bren gun. The idea did not gain traction again until the 21st century, when shooting trends began to move away from iron sights towards optics, and shooters decided they would need backup sights like small red dots to engage targets at close range. 

        Canted red dots are especially good for cheek weld consistency. Unlike scope-mounted red dots, which require a shooter to raise his head and break his cheek weld, a canted sight only requires the rifle to be slightly tilted at an angle. In a flash, the shooter can go right back to engaging long range targets without spending the additional seconds it would take to reacquire his sight picture. 

        Backup red dots are especially beneficial for those who run sights with a minimum magnification of 3x, but also useful for those who run LPVOs. It is much easier and faster to flick your wrist than taking your finger off your trigger to manipulate your lens magnification. 

        Sightmark’s Mini Shot M Spec Solar combines the compact nature of a pistol red dot sight with the fast target acquisition of a traditional close combat optic. Rather than mounting a full-sized 9oz red dot to your weapon, the M Spec Solars are unobstructive and light. The M Spec M2 Solar comes available for RMR pistol footprints, compatible with 45-degree offset mounts (available on Amazon for as low as $25). Their hooded designs make them perfect for shooting in bright environments while giving them protection from the environment. If a shooter is worried about mounting compatibility, they can also be attached to a Weaver or Picatinny rail directly with their included adapters. 

        With offset sights like the Mini Shot M Spec Solar, a shooter can be deadly accurate at any range, and transitioning between CQB and long-range shooting at the flick of a wrist is a tactical skill with usefulness both at the range and in the field.  

        The evolution of the modern rifle scope

        The evolution of the modern rifle scope

        On a muggy February afternoon in 1969, a US Army landing craft meandered down the Mekong River on a routine patrol mission. The boat was about a thousand yards away from the shore, safe from enemy AK fire – in theory. GIs scanned the treetops and bushes with their binoculars for Viet Cong, enduring the humidity and the quiet anxiety one can only get on patrol.

        The crack of a rifle in the distance broke the afternoon silence. A round pinged the side of the boat, and every soldier on board scrambled to find cover and return fire against the unseen enemy sniper. Another round struck the side of the landing craft. Nobody could find the shooter.

        An American counter-sniper spotted the black-clad VC hiding among the leaves on top of a coconut tree, aimed his M21 and fired, taking out the enemy sniper in a single shot.

        The American sniper was Sergeant Adelbert Waldron, who would go on to win two Distinguished Service Crosses for his outstanding skill and bravery. The legendary shot he made seemed impossible. He fired from a boat moving 2 – 4 knots (about 5mph) at a target 1000 yards away, a little bit over the effective range of the M21.

        The optic he used was a technological wonder for its time: the Leatherwood 3-9x Adjustable Range Telescope (ART). A brainchild of Second Lieutenant James Leatherwood, this optic was attached to a base which raised or lowered the scope according to elevation like an iron sight. All a sniper had to do was insert a target of known dimensions into a bracket on the ART’s reticle and adjust the scope’s cam until the target fit inside the bracket. The scope would raise automatically raise or lower to account for elevation. Magnification on the ART was also made easier and quicker through the thumb nipple on the magnification ring. This meant US snipers would no longer need to perform math on the fly, trying to calculate holdover while the enemy rained down bullets on them. While this was a convenient solution, the problem was the ART would lose zero as it transitioned from target to target and would have to be adjusted every time it acquired a target at a new range.

        Back in those days, etched reticles were a rarity, and even high-tier brands like Leupold used simple cross reticles with small variations. In fact, at the time, the Soviet PSO-1 scopes the Viet Cong were using featured a more advanced reticle than nearly anything in the west. Used by Communist Bloc designated marksman rifles up to this day, the reticle allows snipers to do no-math ballistic calculations thanks to features such as an etched rangefinder. This rangefinder diagram located on the lower left of the reticle allows the shooter to estimate the distance of a man 5’7” tall. It was also one of the first scopes to use a nitrogen filled tube to prevent fog.

        We caught up with the reds a long time ago, and many modern long range optics feature a first focal plane reticle that simplifies range-finding without having to fiddle with a dial like the ART scope. For example, the Sightmark Presidio’s HDR2 reticle, designed for hunting deer rather than enemy combatants, is designed to determine range on a target of a known size without having to reach for a piece of paper for arithmetic in a similar way to the PSO-1, but with etched subtension lines that aren’t off center.

        At a hundred yards, 1 inch is roughly 1 MOA. Knowing this, if, a target is ten inches tall but only reaches halfway to the lower subtension at max magnification, the target’s range is roughly 200 yards, since the distance from the center aiming point to the lower subtension line is 10 MOA, and the target would fit snugly in between the center aiming point and the lower subtension at a hundred yards.

        In another throwback to technology that was popular in the bygone days, the Presidio mimic’s the ART’s thumb nipple with a throw lever, a trend which recently started to come back into style after years of magnification rings which were dial-only.

        Over the years, the Presidio and other modern optics like it have adapted the PSO-1’s nitrogen-filled tubes and illuminated reticles while simplifying the process of range-finding that doesn’t mess with a rifle’s zero like the Leatherwood ART. These features, in conjunction with the Presidio’s high power magnification, truly make it an optic that builds on the laurels of its predecessors.

        Getting Used to Your New Red Dot

        Getting Used to Your New Red Dot

        A red dot optic enhances a shooter’s precision and speed while allowing him to keep both eyes open, giving him a wider field of vision to engage his next target. This is perfect in competition shooting, where only the fastest and most accurate shooters take home the prize. 

        There is, however, an important caveat. A red dot is not a plug-and-play device. Since these modern optics are so different from traditional iron sights by design, they require their users to make small changes in the way they shoot. While transitioning to red dots on a pistol is not as alien to an iron sights shooter as transitioning to a riflescope, the process still takes some getting used to on the part of the shooter. 

        Getting the most from your optic requires time and practice to familiarize yourself with its fit and features. For example, logic dictates that it is easier to find a single focal point on a sight rather than aligning a front sight with your rear sight posts. However, transitioning from traditional iron-sights to a red dot can be like switching from stick-shift to an automatic. Both are effective for transportation, but the driving experience is drastically different. If you’re a shooter unfamiliar with your new red dot pistol optic, it will take some time to get used to the head and firearm adjustments needed to land your reticle on target. 

        Since adjusting your head can ruin your form, most shooters opt to adjust how their weapon is held and train their muscles accordingly. When you find a position comfortable for you, holster your weapon and draw it again to achieve the same position. Repetition of this exercise will train your body to lock itself into this new “red dot stance.” It may also help to use the thumb of your supporting hand to act as a guide. When you aim with your pistol in the firm grip of both your strong and support hands, point the thumb of your support hand at whatever you intend to shoot and align your weapon accordingly. 

        With a red dot on, the weapon may now need to be held slightly lower to compensate for the sight’s height, which is why a smaller red dot is preferred. An optic like Sightmark’s Mini Shot M Spec M2 Solar would be perfect for any pistol since it doesn't exceed 2 inches in height. As expected of a compact red dot optic, the M Spec Solar series are also very light, with the M2 weighing 3.9 oz, the weight of three AA batteries. Since this mini red dot is so light, it barely affects the weight of your pistol slide, making it perfect for repetitive draw drills.  

        Once you are familiar with your grip, it’s advisable to zero your pistol red dot, just like you would with a rifle optic. While some may have the steady hands and keen eyes to zero their rifles free-handed, using a brace can ensure precision accuracy with consistency.  

        The Solar, true to its name, is powered with both a traditional battery and a solar panel. As long as there is any form of ambient light in an area, whether natural or artificial, the M Spec Solar’s secondary power system can turn it into energy. It also provides automatic brightness compensation for its reticle in the form of a variable dot, which grows to 3MOA from its 1MOA low point according to brightness. With 20,000 hours of brightness through its main power source, there should be little reason for the optic’s display to fizzle out even on multiple-day hunts or long range patrols. 


        Your New Favorite Pistol Red Dot Sight

        Your New Favorite Pistol Red Dot Sight

        Picture this scene: you’re at a pistol shooting competition somewhere in the Nevada desert. The dry heat is bearing down on you, the white targets blend with the sand in the distant blur of the mirage, and you worry the sun is so bright that it’ll outshine your new red dot’s reticle. You don’t remember the last time you charged it.

        The range officer’s buzzer goes off in your ear, and through muscle memory you draw and aim your weapon in one quick motion. You look through your red dot optic and see its bright red reticle: a crisp 3 MOA dot, marking a clear point of aim in the center of your first target. With both eyes open, you fire three shots with your .45 caliber pistol and all of them make their marks. As you engage more targets, your faithful red dot moves along with your eyes, never flickering or wavering despite the violent kick of your .45. Attached to your pistol is the newest member of Sightmark’s long line of red dot sights, the Mini Shot M-Spec M2 Solar

        Named for its solar panel, which gives it potentially unlimited energy independent of its battery, the Solar is perfect for any high intensity situations in the blistering heat, especially because its Eclipse Light Management System automatically adjusts the brightness of its reticle to correspond with the light level of the environment around it. Whether it’s the light of the sun or artificial light in a photo studio, the environment will never be too bright for the Solar. 

        Because of its nature as a red dot sight, the Solar makes it easy to engage targets from different stances and from a wide variety of shooting positions. Thanks to the clarity of the Solar’s 3 MOA reticle, you’ll never need to worry about lining up your iron sights again. As every competition shooter knows, speed and accuracy are king, and with Sightmark’s Mini Shot M-Spec M2 Solar you get both, in addition to an extremely long battery life and an adaptive reticle. Along with its price point of only $299.97, this makes the Solar one of the best red dot optic options on the market today.

        Longer hunts with the Mini QD External Battery

        Longer Hunts with mini QD External Battery

        Sightmark’s Wraith 4k is a cutting edge digital rifle optic, capable of operating in both daytime and nighttime conditions. Boasting sharp visuals with the ruggedness expected of a quality hunting scope, the Wraith is one of the best scopes for 24 hour hunting. While Wraith’s battery life lasts a good 8 hours, enough for any single day trip, a hunter on a three day expedition wants his optic to last as long as his adventure.

        The Mini QD External Battery is the solution. Compatible with both USB A and C ports, this 6,000mAh battery is designed with a quick detach battery system which snaps to any picatinny rail without the need to fiddle with screws or Allen keys. Weighing at only 5.4 ounces, the Mini QD is so light it’s barely noticeable when it’s attached to a firearm, making it unobtrusive as well as practical. Adding approximately 8 hours to the Wraith’s battery life, the Mini QD external battery makes the Wraith a true dawn to dusk optic.

        The Mini QD External Battery isn’t just limited to the Wraith. Its USB C connector makes it extremely versatile in the field. Here are a few other things a hunter could use it for:


        1. Hand warmers

        If you hunt in a particularly cold part of the world, you won’t want your hands to be shivering when you take that all-important kill shot. The OCOOPA hand warmer is a long-lasting battery powered device which lasts 8 hours on high power, but could last much longer when attached to the Mini QD External Battery.

        Mini QD External Battery

        2. Phone charging

        No one in the 21st century would dare to venture into the wilderness without a cell phone. In an emergency, your phone is your best chance at getting help, and a multiple-day long hunting expedition could see your phone battery dwindle. The Mini QD’s capacity and cable compatibility makes it a great option for keeping your phone going, especially in emergency situations.

        Power Bank

        3. GoPro

        While the Wraith is capable of recording hunting footage through the lens of a riflescope, some outdoorsmen enjoy recording point-of-view video of them trekking through the beauty of nature. The GoPro Hero11 is capable of recording for 80 minutes when the camera is set to capture footage at 5.3k/30fps, which could be extended for hours more with the addition of the Mini QD Battery Pack.

        GoPro Hero11

        4. Thermal Binoculars

        The Wraith shines at night vision, but hunters who want the best of both night vision and thermal can also use Pulsar’s excellent binoculars like the Merger LRF XP50 which offer crystal clear thermal vision with multiple color palettes. These have a typical battery life of about ten hours, which could be doubled with the help of the Mini QD Battery Pack.

        Merger LRF XP50 – Third Coast Thermal

        5. Thermacell (using its own cable)

        Nobody likes mosquitoes. These disease-carrying bloodsuckers are especially annoying when you’re trying to take a shot and the little pests are buzzing around your ear. Maybe one of them is feeding on your hand, making it so itchy that you jerk your trigger. To keep mosquitoes away in your deer blind, consider the Thermacell EX90. With nine hours of battery life on its own, you can extend its life for multiple days of hunting with the Mini QD battery. Even though the Thermacell uses a USB A cable to charge, the Mini QD is still compatible.

        Thermacell mosquito killer


        How would you apply the Micro QD’s 6,000mAh battery capacity? Tell us in the comments below!



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