0 Cart
Added to Cart
      You have items in your cart
      You have 1 item in your cart

        Using a riflescope with an offset red dot

        Since at least the early 2000s, the red dot and riflescope combo has been popular with tactical teams in law enforcement personnel as well as Tier One operators within the United States military. These elite operators favored this system for its versatility, as well as the several advantages it had over the alternatives: LPVOs and magnifier/optic combos. 

        Over the years, however, the red dot/scope combo has been adopted by civilian shooters and hunters for the same reasons it was favored by the military. While a Tier One operator might appreciate this system’s versatility for quickly transitioning from long-range outdoor engagements to close quarters combat, so can an IPSC shooter, who might need to quickly transition from an outdoor range to an interior shoot-house. Hunters who are on the prowl for their prey can utilize the red dot’s quick target acquisition to find their prey while using the scope’s high magnification to zoom in for a precise, ethical shot. 

        Unlike a magnifier/red dot combo or an LPVO, the red dot/riflescope combo is not limited to the short ranges typical of these other systems. While a good magnifier offers magnification at 3x or 4x at maximum and high magnification LPVO typically goes between 1-6x and 1-8x, a shooter can mount a 1x red dot on a riflescope with a magnification as high as they require. It would not be unheard of for a shooter to mount his red dot on top of a 20x or 50x optic simply for the sake of target identification. The only limitations to this would be the red dot’s weight and style as well as the type of rails in use. 

        It’s not advisable to mount a red dot with a hooded sight on top of a scope, since the extra weight would affect the shooter’s fatigue. Instead, shooters who wish to modify their shooting setup should consider mounting mini or micro reflex sights like the Mini Shot A-Spec M2 or using them as offset or canted sights. This is because the weight of a fully enclosed optic might be bad for the rifle’s ergonomics.  

        To put it in perspective, a hooded red dot like the Wolverine CSR weighs 10.3oz, while a Mini Shot M-Spec M2 Solar, one of the latest red dots from Sightmark, weighs in at only 2.5oz. The resulting weight difference of 7.8oz is equivalent to a little less than a box of 5.56x45mm ammunition. Not only is it lighter, but the shooter gets the benefits of both the red dot and the riflescope, negating the disadvantages of both platforms. 

        The Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro is a red dot optic featuring a unique dual dot reticle system. Built for pistols as well as rifles and shotguns, the Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro is designed with an RMS-C® footprint for easy mounting on compatible handguns. Powered by a single CR2032 battery, the Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro boasts a 100,000 hour battery life as well as a reticle that intelligently changes its brightness level depending on the light level of the surrounding environment. Shooters who value rapid target acquisition will find the Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro to be rugged, dependable, and accurate. 

        Since the Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro is so small, it makes the perfect optic for mounting on a canted mount or offset sight.

        For hunters, this means quick target acquisition and unlimited eye relief with the red dot. With the red dot’s close quarters dominance, it’s perfect for turkey or raccoon hunting, but not so much for hunting large game at great distances like deer or boar, in which case a riflescope would be more appropriate. However, with this setup, switching to the right optic would be as simple as raising or lowering your cheek or canting the rifle. 

        Thankfully, no gunsmithing or specialized machine work is needed for this type of optic solution. Affordable options for dual-mounting such as picatinny-ready scope rings or canted/offset optic mounts are readily available everywhere from Amazon to Bass Pro Shop. 


        Don’t Fear Your Weapon: A Guide for New Shooters

        Don’t Fear Your Weapon: A Guide for New Shooters

        According to sales records from gun shops around the United States, 2020 was the busiest year on record for the American gun industry. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, 23 million people chose to exercise their Second Amendment rights and became gun owners for the first time. 

        Anxiety about the pandemic, worries of impending economic collapse as well as fears of complete government takeover made Americans concerned for their safety and liberty. Likewise, the George Floyd protests in May of the same year increased fears of looting and home invasions, which also fueled gun sales. In some cases, entire inventories were wiped out. Ammo became so scarce that some firearms stores refused to sell a single bullet without the purchase of a firearm. 

        Yet in the first months of 2023, many of these 23 million new gun owners have relegated their weapons to dust collectors. Many chose to take their guns to the range once or twice then never touched them again. While it’s a good thing that millions of homes have been turned into “hard targets” to deter criminals, it’s not a good thing that many of those new gun owners don’t know how to use their weapons. 

        Many of these first time gun owners, desperate for some form of protection, simply purchased whatever was available. Shotgun sales went through the roof, and when a gun store ran out of those, pistols and rifles of all makes, models, and calibers flew off the shelves simply because customers wanted “something, anything” to defend themselves with. 

        Of course, it would be hard for anyone to defend anything if they didn’t know how to use their weapons in the first place. Buying a gun is committing to a relationship with that gun, and like a healthy relationship, firearms proficiency requires maintenance. Here is some basic information all gun owners need to know. 

        The 4 Rules of Firearm Safety 

        1. Always treat every firearm as if it were loaded. 

        People hear this phrase a lot, but not everyone knows what it means. In essence, this rule asks you to treat every gun with the respect it deserves. When being handed a firearm, it is the responsibility of the person receiving the firearm to assume it is loaded for the sake of safety. The magazine should be removed and the chamber should be checked for any loaded ammunition. This rule ties in with the second rule. 

        2. Never point the firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy. 

        Even if you have successfully cleared the firearm of ammunition, pointing it at another person or an animal, even if it’s by accident, is reckless and stupid. The gun is an “off switch” for living things, and this rule exists for the safety of firearms owners and those around them. This rule is routinely broken by practical jokers, who should know that no responsible gun owner finds this funny. 

         3. Always keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 

        Everyone thinks they look cool when they pose with a gun, but the moment they put their finger on the trigger they look like dangerous idiots. Even if someone is following rule 2, a slight itch, a sneeze, or a slip of the trigger finger could result in a hole in the roof, or at worst, a homicide. Unfortunately, for most people who’ve never picked up a gun before, the human hand has a tendency to have all its fingers pointing the same way when people grip an object. New shooters should train to always have their trigger finger extended and placed outside the trigger guard for their own safety and the safety of those around them. 

         4. Know your target and what is beyond it. 

        Do not assume a round will be stopped by its target. A 7.62x39mm can obliterate cinder blocks and keep going while a .308 will go through thin tree trunks at close quarters. At shooting ranges, you will always see dirt berms piled behind targets for safety, and if you’re building a range at home, you would do well to do the same. You don’t want to kill an innocent bystander because you thought there was nothing behind your paper target and the hundred or so yards of grass beyond it. 

        Once you get those four rules in your head and practice them, then and only then can you properly and safely handle a firearm. Violating any of these rules at a public range will have every range officer on you like black on tar. If you violate them too often, you may even be blacklisted from your regular range. 

        If you manage to follow the four firearms rules when shooting at the range, you should also be a responsible firearm owner at home. It’s important to know how to maintain your weapon to make sure you hear a “bang” and not a “click” when you pull the trigger, while also making sure your firearm is stored safely. 


        When bringing your gun home for the first time, it’s a good idea to learn how to take it apart to clean it. This is especially true for military surplus rifles from the World Wars because they’re likely coated in cosmoline to prevent rust and corrosion. 

        Field stripping is the process of taking your weapon apart without tools so it can be cleaned and maintained. You should not need any screwdrivers or hole punches for basic field stripping. As long as all the moving parts of your weapon are exposed for cleaning and lubrication, there should be no need to disassemble the rifle any further. 

        As far as cleaning products, brands like G96, Sta-Bil and Clenzoil are good for all-purpose cleaning and lubrication. Rags can be used to clean surfaces, while cotton swabs are good for hard-to-reach crevasses. Run bore snakes coated with your cleaning products of choice through your barrel five or six times to prevent fouling and to clear out any residue. Motor oil can also work but doesn’t last as long as dedicated gun oil. 


        Once you know your gun inside and out and you’re familiar with your shooting fundamentals, you should think about getting the proper accessories to help you shoot better. Shooting with iron sights alone is very limiting, since your eyes must choose to focus on either the front sight, the rear sight, or the target. 

        Instead, it would be easier to shoot a red dot sight. This simple unmagnified optic displays a red laser on a glass plane  With a red dot sight, a shooter can simply focus on his target and “paint over it” with the red dot. This method of aiming is more natural for the human eye and is also helpful for extending your shooting range.


        Glock with iron sights
        Glock with red dot or reflex sight
        Note how the front sight post on the pistol with iron sights is considerably more blurry than the well-defined point of aim on the pistol with the red dot sight.

        However, with a wide variety of optics to choose from, a new shooter might be overwhelmed with options. Sightmark, for example, offers the Mini Shot M-Spec FMS M1. This compact, durable optic is suitable for both pistols and rifles and has adjustable brightness settings for environments with different lighting. The Mini Shot M-Spec’s rugged frame is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum, which makes it shockproof to three feet. Its CR1632 battery and very low power consumption give it a maximum battery life of 30,000 hours (3.4 years) at its lowest setting. 

        Adding any of Sightmark’s fine red dots or riflescopes to a brand-new rifle can only enhance your shooting experience and upgrade your accuracy. 



        An Argument for Always-On Red Dots

        An Argument for Always-On Red Dots

        Imagine this: 

        You’re sound asleep in your bed, dreaming about how you’re going to bring your brand new shake awake optic back to the range tomorrow. Earlier this afternoon, you mounted it on your EDC pistol and had it zeroed at 25 yards. Every round you fired hit dead center with your new red dot’s reticle. As far as you’re concerned, it’s a great investment. Not only is it deadly accurate but you’ll be saving your battery power with your new shake awake sight. In fact, before you turned off the lights and went to sleep, you gave it a goodnight kiss before turning it off and mounting it on your bedside rack. 

        The sound of a vase crashing onto your downstairs living room floor rouses you from your sleep. You don’t have a cat. Still drowsy, you reach for your bedside pistol and rack the slide. 

        You hear footsteps coming up the stairs and stand in the corner of the room closest to the door, you hold your weapon at the low ready, psyching yourself up to ambush whatever comes through the door. Your head is throbbing, your heart is pounding through your chest. 

        The door swings open and a figure in a dark hoodie bursts through your door. You have the drop on him. You raise your weapon– the dot isn’t there. For a split second, you remember that you manually turned off your red dot, rendering the shake awake useless. Before you know it, it’s game over. 


        Complacency is one of the problems with shake awake optics. Most modern variants with this system require that they be left on to naturally “go to sleep” after a period of motionlessness, and some new shake awake users forget that the power button is there for a reason. These people make the dangerous assumption that the optic will wake up every time they pick up their weapon. Even if a user follows the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter, the complexity of the shake awake system is just another thing that can go wrong. The shake awake can also activate on a bumpy road or if you walk down the street with your weapon in your holster, so for EDC situations, there’s little difference between it and a traditional always-on red dot. 

        A shooter serious about self defense knows that every second he spends fiddling with components is another second he’s wasting on not reacting to the threat. A good optic should be grab-and-go, and the simplicity and long battery life of always-on optic will ensure that your optic will be ready when you are. 

        Shooters looking for a red dot will invariably be concerned about their optic’s battery life. Some skeptical users might judge a red dot billed as having 500 – 100,000 hours of battery life to only be reliable for a week. This would be an accurate assumption if they always kept their red dots on their highest power. 

        A high-intensity red dot in a dark room becomes hard to aim because of the reticle’s “splash.” A red dot on lower settings not only uses less battery power but also provides a clearer reticle. Those with astigmatism or poor eyesight may complain of blooming or split reticles on their red dot optics, but on low power the dot becomes a clear and well-defined circle.  

        A shooter can turn his weapon’s red dot on, adjust it to a lower setting, and leave it ready to go in his car on by his bedside for a year or more. This is especially true if the optic in question is a Mini Shot M-Spec Solar. It combines a CR1620 battery with its integrated solar panels to get 20,000 continuous hours of battery life on middle brightness. A shooter is more likely to spend more on gun oil than he would changing out his optic’s $1 battery every two years. Even in optics without solar power, the Sightmark Wolverine has a battery life of one million hours on low. In 114 years, this optic may still have battery power even after the soul of its owner has long departed the earth. 

        Having an always-on red dot becomes one less thing to fumble with when you have to engage targets at a moment’s notice. If battery consumption is still an issue, Sightmark’s red dots with adaptive reticles such as the Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro as well as the M-Spec M2 and M3 Solar models intensify or lower the brightness of their reticles based on exterior lighting. This means its high settings will only be used on the brightest of days while in the majority of cases, shooters will be using medium and low power reticles, which use less energy and provide optimal sight pictures. 

        Which camp do you support? Always-on or shake awake? Tell us in the comments below. 

        Finding the Dot on your Red Dot

        Finding the Dot on your Red Dot

        Many first time red dot users bemoan the fact that they lose their red dot sight when they draw. What might seem like a drawback to an otherwise efficient single-focal-plane aiming system can be corrected by proper drawing technique and repetition. 

        Scott Jedlinski, founder of the Modern Samurai Project, teaches a class specifically on pistol red dots and how to use them in a practical self-defense scenario. His principle is defined by what he calls “the four P’s: Present, Prep, Pinky, and Press.” 

        That is, present the pistol at the compressed ready position tilted slightly upwards (near your chest – at hand clapping distance, not touching your chest), prep the trigger by placing your finger on your trigger safety as you extend your hand forward to aim, then once the pistol is in position, guide the pistol downward with the pinky finger of your support hand to find the red dot, and finally press on your trigger. 

        These four P’s should be accomplished in a single swift motion, which should take less than five seconds. To further help with your aim, it’s a good thing to remember to manipulate the gun around your body and not your body around the gun. If you draw your weapon and move your head, for example, then your grip will have to readjust for your new head location, wasting precious seconds. Instead, move your weapon to where your head actually is. 

        Now, the Mini Shot M Spec Solar M3 from Sightmark has an advantage to “red dot tracking” that many other sights on the market do not. The long hood which houses the sight’s solar panels and protects the unit from weather damage have a few advantages over the reflex sights used by other brands. 

         The Solar M3’s hood prevents glare and thus offers a clearer reticle with a more precise dot. Mistakes in alignment are also easier to correct thanks to the tube’s design, and the dot can be found simply by eliminating any minute traces of “scope shadow” which may appear. 

        At the same time, the Mini Spec M3 Solar’s variable reticle is dictated by the brightness of whatever environment one is shooting in, with the reticle growing to a large 3 MOA dot for extreme brightness and shrinking to a 1 MOA dot for encounters at night. 

        Armed with the adaptability and ease of use of the M3 Solar as well as proper red dot shooting techniques, there should be no reason why you’d be unwilling to put a red dot on your everyday carry. 

        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.  



        Sold Out