A Light and Laser Combo For (Almost) Any Gun

The new Crimson Trace CMR-204 (green) light and laser combo.

The new Crimson Trace CMR-204 (green) light and laser combo.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a couple of “problem” guns in my safe at the moment.

Actually, the only “problem” is that they don’t lend themselves to integrated Lasergrip or trigger guard installations. My examples are the Beretta PX4 Storm and the FNS-40. Both are excellent guns and I really like them. The “problem” is putting integrated lasers and lights on them. Right now, I’ve got a Crimson Trace Rail Master light on the Beretta PX4 Storm and the FNS-40 sits naked and unlit.

Fortunately, Crimson Trace just announced a solution. While I’ve heard rumblings about the Crimson Trace CMR-204 and CMR-205 Rail Master Pros for a while, I had not yet seen a formal release. As part of the SHOT Show 2014 product announcement deluge, they’re here.

Both units are rail mounted units that contain both tactical light and laser. The difference between the CMR-204 and CMR-205 models are the color of laser light. The CMR-204 is green while the CMR-205 is red. Both models allow you to set the operating mode to laser and light, laser only, light only or strobe light and laser. Both units also feature a 100 lumen light – like the Crimson Trace Lightguard and operate for about 4 hours in a single CR2 battery.

An aluminum body provides strength and water resistance to one meter, so no worries about rain. Remember, if it ain’t raining’ you ain’t trainin’ right?

More to follow when I get my hands on one of these…

Do You Like It Flat? Your AR-15 That Is…

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES offers a very low profile option for your AR-15. Mount it on the top, side or bottom.

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES offers a very low profile option for your AR-15. Mount it on the top, side or bottom.

Do you like it flat?

Meaning the front of your AR rifle? Perhaps you don’t want a vertical fore grip laser and light assembly up front. If you frequently shoot at longer ranges, from sandbags or perhaps from a prone position, a vertical grip can get in the way. If you still want a laser attachment, there’s a great alternative that won’t get in the way of that nice, clean front hand guard.

The LaserMax Uni-Max ES is technically a multi-purpose product – it can switch teams with only a little bit on tinkering. Through a little rearranging of internal (and included) parts, you can convert this from a rifle laser with a remote activation pad to a pistol rail-mounted laser.

For pistols, you install the toggle switch that enables laser on / laser off from either side. With a rifle installation, you can certainly use the toggle switch if you like, but the momentary activation switch option is even better. This is a remote pressure pad which turns the laser on as long as you squeeze it. With judicious placement of the pad according to your personal preference, it’s a very natural motion to turn the laser on and off as desired. Just to be clear, while you can reconfigure this laser, it’s not something you would want to do daily as it will take you five minutes or so. The purpose is to give you flexibility over time to move between different guns.

Let’s talk about that “flat” configuration. The laser unit itself only extends 1/2 inch from a standard picatinny rail. So even if you mount it on the bottom of your rifle hand guard, as shown here, it hardly extends downward at all. Of course, if you want zero footprint, you can mount it on either side of the barrel and keep the bottom rail completely clean.

Here’s what I prefer. I mounted the laser unit on the bottom rail so that there are no “side to side” issues between the laser dot and point of impact. On the Daniel Defense rifle shown here, the laser and bore are only about 1 1/4 inches apart, so it’s not a big deal either way. I’m just being picky. All I have to worry about is an elevation difference of just over an inch between the laser and the point of impact at short distances. That’s nuthin’ right?

I chose to mount the momentary activation pressure pad on the right side so my natural grip was right on it.

I chose to mount the momentary activation pressure pad on the right side so my natural grip was right on it.

I chose to mount the momentary activation switch pressure pad on the right side of the hand guard. I’m right-handed, so my left hand is up front. Holding the hand guard from underneath, my fingers are used to press the pressure pad. I find it to be a very natural position. Squeeze a little tighter and the laser comes on. Release a bit of pressure and the laser goes off.

LaserMax includes a MantaRail cover with the Uni-Max ES, which is 2 3/4 inch section of textured rubber rail cover with an internal slot for the cord connecting the laser unit and momentary activation switch. So the cord comes out of the laser on the bottom rail, feeds underneath the rubber MantaRail cover and bends up to the side mounted momentary activation pad. All in all, there are only two one-inch sections of cord exposed, so there aren’t loose wires hanging around to get caught up on stuff. A side benefit of the MantaRail placement on the bottom rail is that it provides a grippy and comfortable rail cover where you hand goes. Nice touch.

A view from the bottom. Note the MantaRail cover just behind the laser. It secures the cord and makes a great hand grip.

A view from the bottom. Note the MantaRail cover just behind the laser. It secures the cord and makes a great hand grip.

The laser body itself also has a single-slot picatinny rail section on the bottom, so you can hang something else, like a light, just below the laser if you like. The laser unit is small and light, weighing just 2.5 ounces, so there is virtually no bulk up front on your rifle. It’s powered by two Silver Oxide 357 batteries and will run continuously for about an hour and a half.

I’m digging the LaserMax Uni-Max ES setup on a Daniel Defense DDM4V5 300 AAC Blackout rifle. A traditional optic is up top for longer ranges. I have the laser zeroed for 10 yards, but shorter and longer distances work just fine as the laser is so close to the bore line. So, in one package, you can have it all. A laser for home defense (or perhaps night hog hunting use) that’s preset for shorter distances and optics for reaching out.

The best part? Your laser configuration is pretty much out of the way when you want to use the rifle outdoors.

How To Peep Through A Glock: RAPS Rear Aperture Pistol Sights

The RAPS (Rear Aperture Pistol Sight) replaces the rear sight only on your Glock.

The RAPS (Rear Aperture Pistol Sight) replaces the rear sight only on your Glock.

Have you ever shown someone how to shoot a handgun for the very first time?

If so, how did you explain the proper relationship between front and rear sights? Did you use the two fingers on one hand and single finger on the other to illustrate the concept? One of those drawings you see on the wall of shooting range classrooms? Or perhaps a custom Lego structure?

While second nature to experienced shooters, standard notch rear sights are a little tough to explain to someone who’s never handled a gun.

“Hold the gun so the front sight is exactly centered in the notch of the rear sight. Good. Now make sure the top of the front sight is exactly level with the top of the rear sight. OK, now turn back around and face the target. Yes, but now the front sight is not centered sideways anymore. OK good. Now make sure all that lines up with the target. Say what?”

Battle rifles like the M1 Garand, Springfield Armory 1903 A1s, M1 Carbines, M14s, M16s and many more use an aperture sight system. So do long-range iron sighted competition rifles. And those World War II ship-mounted anti-aircraft guns.

Why?

Mainly because aperture sights work half-automatically. When you look at a post or dot on the front through a ring in the back, your brain kicks in to mega-OCD mode and wants to automatically center the front sight in the aperture circle. It’s a biological process called “magic.” It means you don’t really have to think about anything. Look through the hole at your front sight and place it over the target. The rest is auto-magical. Your brain subconsciously makes sure that the front sight is in the center of the rear sight circle.

Note the flat front edge. This allows one-handed slide racking on a belt or table if things really go south.

Note the flat front edge. This allows one-handed slide racking on a belt or table if things really go south.

While I’ve shot lots of rifles with aperture sights, I’ve never shot a pistol with aperture sights. Until now.

I mounted a RAPS (Rear Aperture Front Sight) on a Glock 17 Gen 4 to test it out.The RAPS is a new offering available through White Raven Communications and it sells for about $30.

So how did it shoot?

The RAPS configuration is fast. Scary fast. There is no conscious process of sight alignment. Bring your gun up, look for the front sight and the rest is automatic. One of the unexpected benefits, and reason for the speed, is that there is nothing on which to focus on the rear sight. It’s just a big hole. You simply can’t help but to immediately focus on the front sight and front sight only. With standard rear sights, you may think that both front and rear sights are in focus, but they’re not. That’s just your brain rapidly switching focal points between the front and rear.

I had no problem with precision using the RAPS. My outdoor range is chock full of fun, and small, targets like golf balls, tennis balls and spent shotgun shells. I was easily able to hit any target I’m capable of hitting with any other type of sight. The large rear aperture may look imprecise, but it’s not. Your brain deals with it. In short, the sight didn’t limit my shooting accuracy.

The rear sight unit is slightly higher than a standard Glock sight.

The rear sight unit is slightly higher than a standard Glock sight.

One other thing to note. The forward edge of the RAPS is milled flat. So, in a pinch, you can hook this on to a belt or holster and rack the slide one-handed should you need to.

The manufacturer states that the RAPS sight “This sight should not be used for competitive shooting where finite accuracy is required.” I think that statement needs a big qualifier. If you’re shooting bullseye pistol events where you care about 1/10 of an inch at 50 yards, maybe. If you shoot the “speed” pistol sports like Steel Challenge, IDPA or USPSA, I completely disagree. All of those events have targets inside of 25 yards and I find the RAPS sight noticeably faster to acquire than standard sights. I’m not a bullseye target shooter, but I had no problem hitting golf ball size targets at 25 yards with the RAPS.

Installation is easy once you get the Glock factory rear sight off. If you have a sight pusher tool, or know someone who does, like most any gun store, cool – use that method. If not, you can use a brass punch to drive the factory sight out. Be careful, it’s tight in there. Once you get the Glock rear sight removed, the RAPS will slide right into place. Center it and tighten it to the frame using the small allen screw that is just forward of the aperture ring. If you need to adjust, loosen, move and re-tighten. Piece of cake.

This is a nifty upgrade. Given the price, and that it’s easy to reinstall the factory sight, give it a try. I got spoiled by the speed of these sights and intend to leave it on my Glock 17.

A Look Through The Redfield Battlezone Tactical .22LR Scope

For testing, I mounted the Redfield Battlezone 2-7x34mm on a Ruger 10/22.

For testing, I mounted the Redfield Battlezone Tactical 2-7x34mm on a Ruger 10/22.

I love shooting .22′s.

There’s just something pure and satisfying about blowing away teeny, tiny targets at moderate ranges without the expense, noise and recoil of a full size gun. While iron sights are purist and awesome, just because they’re so darn traditional, you can’t get really precise with itty bitty targets like golf balls, Tootsie Pops, Life Savers and bugs without some type of optic.

Having just picked up a new standard Ruger 10/22 for myself, I needed a fun – key word, FUN – scope for it. Enter the Redfield Battlezone Tactical 2-7x34mm.

It's a variable power optic with 2 to 7x zoom - plenty for .22 rifles.

It’s a variable power optic with 2 to 7x zoom – plenty for .22 rifles.

The Redfield Battlezone Tactical scope is built around a 1 inch tube, so finding compatible scope rings is easy. That one inch tube is nitrogen-filled, so I didn’t have any fogging issues with rapid temperature changes. Normally when I take any kind of camera or optic from my comfy air-conditioned home out into the blast furnace otherwise known as South Carolina, I get a good ten minutes of fog. Not so with the Redfield Battlezone.

It’s variable power ranges from 2 to 7x, which is plenty given the maximum practical range of the .22LR cartridge. If you can’t see your target at 7x magnification, it’s time to take up a new hobby, like maybe the Yeti ring toss. Magnification is adjusted via a ring mounted just in front of the eyepiece.

The Redfield Battlezone Tactical scope also features an easy to adjust eyepiece focus ring. I say easy as some scopes require so much torque to turn the eyepiece focus ring that the crosshairs come out of vertical alignment. Speaking of crosshairs, the reticle is a standard hash mark pattern, for both windage and elevation, with 2 MOA mark separation.

Ballistic Drop Compensation

This scope is pre-calibrated for a standard, high-velocity .22LR round. More specifically, it’s designed to be spot on at distances from 50 to 150 yards if you use 36 grain .22LR bullets traveling at 1,260 feet per second. There’s plenty of .22 ammo right in that range, or close enough for government work.

Turrets are fairly standard ¼ MOA per click adjustable for windage and elevation.

Turrets are fairly standard ¼ MOA per click adjustable for windage and elevation.

The Redfield Battlezone Tactical 2-7x34mm scope comes with two different elevation turrets. The one pre-installed at the factory is the standard minute of angle (MOA) version. It’s calibrated for ¼ MOA per click, or ¼ inch of vertical adjustment per click at 100 yards. Where the .22 plinking fun comes into play is with the other included elevation turret. About 30 seconds with a small screwdriver and you can install that one instead of the factory default MOA version. Instead of being marked in minute of angle, it’s pre-graduated to show yardage for that standard high-velocity .22LR round.

The alternate (included) elevation turret is pre-marked for ranges from 50 to 150 yards.

The alternate (included) elevation turret is pre-marked for ranges from 50 to 150 yards.

Simply zero your rifle, with appropriate ammunition, using a 50 yard target. From that point on, you spin the wheel of fortune to the yardage desired. The turret is clearly marked with 50, 75, 90,100, 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 yard settings. Each click still represents ¼ inch adjustment at 100 yards, the turret simply allows you to dial in yardage instead of doing all that complex math between shots.

This just screams for a test doesn’t it? Between you and me, it was really more of a great excuse to do a whole ton of plinking with a hot scope on a Ruger 10/22, but at least I plinked (plunked?) somewhat scientifically. To take my wobbly hands out of the equation, I set up on one of the new Blackhawk! Sportster Titan III two-part rests. I’ll cover that gear separately, but for now it’s not only portable, but infinitely adjustable and stable.

Although I have collected a wide variety of premium .22LR ammo, I found that my Wal-Mart special Winchester bulk pack had the closest ballistic match. This is the 555 round box filled with 36 grain copper plated hollow point ammo clocked at 1,280 feet per second. Not dead nuts on for velocity, but darn close. And remember, the rifle here is a standard Ruger 10/22 and not an Anschutz 1913 Super Match, so close is good enough. Hey if we can build a national healthcare website for a half billion plus or minus a hundred million, that’s close enough right?

First, I zeroed the Ruger 10/22 and Redfield Battlezone Tactical scope at 50 yards. Although I had the scope zeroed properly by the third shot, I fired an additional 50 rounds or so just to be sure. Also because it was fun dialing up the Battlezone zoom to 7x and trying to hit spent shotgun shells out near the 50 yard mark on my range.

By the way, zeroing is easy and requires no tools. Just shoot and click away til you’re happy. Then lift the turret cap straight out until it spins freely, move it to the 50 yard mark, and drop it back down into place. Piece of cake. I didn’t even have any parts left over.

Next, I wanted to verify the pre-calibrated turret markings at different ranges. My range is marked pretty well out to 120 yards so I was able to plink away at targets 75, 100, 110 and 120 yards away. With this ammo, the scope was dead on.

The last test was a return to 50 yards to make sure there was some repeatability. Not a problem. 50 rounds later at 50 yards, I was still on target with the same point of impact.

Just for kicks, I switched to CCI Mini-Mag .22LR 40 grain rounds at 1,235 feet per second – heavier and slower than that specified for the BDR markings. No worries. While I did not shoot targets, I did plenty of dirt clod plinking at various ranges and found no significant difference once I re-zeroed this ammo at a 50 yard target first. So don’t get too stressed out about your specific ammo ballistics. Find one you like that’s close to specification, zero it and you’re off to the races.

Closing Arguments

This is a fun plinking scope. And it’s affordable. You can find it at Cabelas for about $190.

The only mistake I made with testing (so far) was not mounting it on something like a Colt / Umarex M4 Carbine .22LR rifle. It’s called a Redfield Battlezone TACTICAL after all. That’s next…

Why Green Lasers Aren’t Green – New Native Green Technology from LaserMax

While at a LaserMax media event, I learned a lot about lasers. Like most everything else with a battery or plug, the technology is evolving at a dizzying rate. One of the things I learned was that green lasers aren’t green. Actually, they’re invisible (to the human eye) as they are derived from infrared light.

The LaserMax Native Green UNI-MAX (top) is noticeably brighter than traditional DPSS green laser light (bottom)

The LaserMax Native Green UNI-MAX (top) is noticeably brighter than traditional DPSS green laser light (bottom)

Allow me to explain. To produce green laser light, you need to shoot an infrared laser beam through some seriously mysterious conversion crystals. It’s a process called diode pumped solid-state technology or DPSS for short. The invisible infrared light goes in one end of the crystals and comes out the other side green. It’s a process called “magic.” Make sense?

While DPSS works, and does produce bright and easy-to-see green light, there are some drawbacks.

The Native Green Laser dot (left) and traditional green laser (right)

The Native Green Laser dot (left) and traditional green laser (right)

First, those magic crystals add bulk and weight. Not much, but when you’re trying to build a laser device small enough to work on a gun, every little bit counts. Think about those Ghostbusters Proton Packs. While not technically lasers, they generated some awesome light shows, but required a full-sized backpack particle accelerator. That would never be practical on a carry pistol as concealment would require a cover garment the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

The other consideration is efficiency of the DPSS system itself. At high and low temperature extremes, the conversion process starts to break down and the light becomes less effective. For example, standard DPSS lasers (which use the crystal conversion process) operate beautifully at temperatures between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Those temperatures don’t cover the full range or normal field environments. Any area north of the Florida border is likely to experience near freezing temperatures for a large part of the year. And while 100 degrees sounds like a reasonable top end, think of our men and women deployed in sandboxes around the world, where temperatures reach 120 degrees. Or, consider interior environments like those spooky shipping containers and warehouses prevalent on TV crime dramas. Those non-air-conditioned places get insanely hot in the summer, right?

Native Green lasers generate green light right off the bat using a green laser diode. With a native green light source, there is no need for the extra bulk of crystals to convert the light beam to green. Additionally, the effective temperature operating boundaries are extended. For example, a Native Green laser retains operating efficiency all the way down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. At the high-end, they continue to generate bright green light up to about 150 degrees.

Read the rest at Outdoorhub.com!

LaserMax Ends The Rodent Chronicles Arms Race?

If you’ve been around here a while, you might remember a little incident involving wetlands, a raised home and a rat.

It all started when a hot-shot realtor, wearing capri pants, sold us a home surrounded by “wetlands.” You see, “wetlands” is realtor-code for “swamp.” And where there’s swamp, there’s rodents. Some, like deer and the occasional fox are fun to have around. Others, like rats, just need to be shot.

It’s not as bad as it sounds though. Many “wetlands” homes are raised, meaning the first floor is actually one level up. This leaves a big open area underneath that most folks would consider a garage. We, who are in the know, call it a flood facilitation zone, as the next big tsunami will wash a few shrimp boats and mobile homes through there. Anyway, one of the benefits of raised homes is that the swamp critters don’t have direct access to your living quarters, but they do on occasion invite themselves into your garage area.

The problem is this. Normal Ruger 10/22 aiming is just fine with the standard iron sights, or maybe a low power optic. But as varmint squatters only appear in dark conditions, you can’t really see sight or optics. I’ve tried other strategies with mixed success. One plan was to flip on the lights and rely on a snap shot before that little beast of my burden could scurry back into his hole like the coward he is. That was great fun until I snap shot the gas line. $75, and a lame explanation to the gas repairman later, I decided to try something different. In my defense, the gas fixit guy did say he had seen weirder things, but he declined to specify.

The best solution seemed to be application of advanced technology, because even though I think rats might just have opposable thumbs, I’m pretty sure they can’t read instructions. That means advantage me in the arms race. As the rat extermination gun of choice is a Ruger 10/22, I ruled out a night vision scope as that would just look silly.

The LaserMax Ruger 10/22 Laser turns your rifle into the equivalent of an Abrams tank ballistic fire control system. Well, almost.

The LaserMax Ruger 10/22 Laser turns your rifle into the equivalent of an Abrams tank ballistic fire control system. Well, almost.

Enter the new LaserMax Ruger 10/22 laser.

This little rodent illumination gem changes the whole ball game. I can now lurk in the shadows and dot that little garage squatter at leisure.

Here’s how it works.

Installation is a snap. Just remove the barrel band and slide it on.

Installation is a snap. Just remove the barrel band and slide it on.

The LaserMax Ruger 10/22 Laser is designed to replace the existing barrel band on the 10/22. After removal of the factory barrel band, the LaserMax 10/22 assembly slides right on to the the stock fore end. Kind of like a tactical beanie. Insert the included battery and tighten a couple of screws and you’re good to go.

To activate the laser, simply press the side lever right to left, or left to right if you’re feeling particularly rebellious, and it will stay on until you un-depress the lever. The switch is perfectly placed for your support hand to activate and deactivate easily.

Next, making sure your rifle is really and truly unloaded (chamber too!) aim it at a safe backstop and see how that newly-minted laser dot lines up with your iron sights. Windage and elevation adjustments are sensitive and you won’t need to use more than 1/2 turn total. If you do, something’s wrong with your mounting job. Once at the range, you can tweak the laser alignment to your preference , but lining up at home with your iron sights will get you really, really close.

Battery is included and note the accessory rail - they're on both sides.

Battery is included and note the accessory rail – they’re on both sides.

One of the neat things about the mount is that the laser is positioned directly under the bore and not offset to one side or the other. Using a sophisticated measuring device known in engineering circles as a ruler, I estimate the laser is just about 5/8 of an inch below the bore. So you can align the laser parallel with the bore, knowing that your shot will hit 5/8″ above at closer distances, or you can zero point of impact at a desired distance. Your choice.

One other note about the mount. Short rails are on both sides so you can mount a sling swivel, light, or any other rail mounted accessory you like.

The LaserMax Ruger 10/22 Laser is available in a couple of ways. If you already have a Ruger 10/22 rifle, you can order one as an add-on accessory. Or, if you’re in the market for the world’s most useful .22 rifle, order one ready to go from a Ruger dealer.

All in all this is one nifty add-on for a Ruger 10/22. It adds virtually no weight or bulk, and won’t get in the way of daytime shooting with iron sights or a scope. But it sure adds a lot of fun.

Keeping the garage rodent free is no longer a challenge.

Boom.

 

Scope Review: Hawke Panorama EV 3-9×40 AO

The Hawke Panorama EV 3-9×40 AO is the third Hawke Optic we’ve tested over the past couple of years. A while back, we shot some cocks with the Hawke Sidewinder Tactical IR and more recently, we tinkered with the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose for crossbows and AR platforms. In both previous cases we found the Hawke offerings to be great values. Not only because of features for the dollar, but performance approaching that of much pricier optics.

The Hawke Optics Panorama EV 6-9x40 AO mounted on a Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC

The Hawke Optics Panorama EV 6-9×40 AO mounted on a Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC

Last January we got a bug up our butts to acquire a 6.8 Remington SPC AR. After waiting nearly 17 years to have it delivered from Rock River Arms, it finally arrived. And yes, it was worth the wait, although we would suggest that Rock River Arms spend a little more time communicating with customers on long wait lists. Even the occasional “we still have no idea when parts will arrive, but we wanted to let you know we are working diligently on your order” message would go a long way when wait times approach a year or more. When the situation stinks, communicate. A lot. But that’s a separate discussion.

Finger adjustable turrets are resettable and have 1/4 MOA increments.

Finger adjustable turrets are resettable and have 1/4 MOA increments.

Anyway, given the interesting performance window of the 6.8 SPC cartridge and its heavier (115 grain for these tests) projectiles, we felt that a mid-range variable scope would be a great fit. After a little consultation with the optics gurus at Hawke, we settled on the Panorama EV 3-9×40 with a mil-dot reticle. While the Panorama is available with three different reticles at last count, we’ve just got a thing for mil-dot scopes. Always moving them from rifle to rifle and endlessly tinkering with different ammo loads, you simply can’t beat the flexibility.

Click ‘n giggles

We found this to be a really versatile optic. One of the reasons for its versatility is range of adjustment. Just internal to the scope, you’ve got about 400 clicks of windage and elevation. At ¼ MOA (¼” at 100 yards) per click, that’s about 100 inches of adjustment at that range. That’s a lot. Of course you always want to line the scope up as closely as possible physically, without relying on internal adjustment to establish zero, but having the option provides some flexibility in your choice of mount and the effective range of the scope.

Turrets

A front parallax ring adjusts from 15 meters to infinity.

A front parallax ring adjusts from 15 meters to infinity.

The turrets on this optic feature screw caps to keep things where you set them. When adjustments need to be made, unscrew the caps and you’ll see finger-adjustable turrets with ¼ MOA click adjustments. The turrets are resettable, so when you establish the desired zero for your rifle, just loosen the two small phillips-head screws on each turret This will allow the turret ring to spin freely and you can align your zero and the indicated zero mark on each turret.

Shooting this sucker

We mounted the Hawke Panorama EV 3-9×40 AO on a Rock River Arms 6.8 SPC AR. For those not versed in this chambering, it’s a .270 projectile stuffed into an AR platform. Bolt, barrel and magazine are a tad different, but the lower is a standard AR configuration. In fact, the lower shown in the pictures here is a Rock River Arms LAR-15 (.223 / 5.56mm) model.

Check out this 64 click box! Especially the return to zero on the sixth shot.

Check out this 64 click box! Especially the return to zero on the sixth shot.

The first project, after getting it approximately zeroed was to shoot a six shot box. We set this up at 50 yards so we could do some fairly extreme scope adjustment and still keep all the shots on paper. Using the aim point show in the photo here, we shot a center target, then proceeded to make click adjustments to create a box 64 clicks on each side. For the sixth shot, the scope was returned to zero to make sure the impact point was the same as the initial shot. All six shots were fired using the same aim point, so we were simply moving impact points around using the scope’s internal adjustment.

Wow! The photo here speaks for itself. The corner shots impacted exactly where expected and even more impressively, the final shot ended up touching the hole from the first. Very nice.

The next thing we wanted to test was possible impact shift at different zoom levels. Using the same point of aim, a shot was fired using the lowest 3x setting. A second shot was fired using 6x zoom and a final shot fully zoomed at 9x. Again, as you can see, all shots impacted within the expected area.

We also verified that point of impact doesn't change with level of magnification.

We also verified that point of impact doesn’t change with level of magnification.

The reticle is etched and is perfectly visible in daylight without using the illumination features. However, for early morning, and of day, or other low-light conditions, you can turn on red or blue illumination.

Closing Arguments

We were really pleased with the performance of this scope. The only thing lacking with this optic is the enclosed flip-up covers, which did not stay on as solidly as I would have liked. Scope covers are a matter of preference however. Folks like the rubber band “bras” and others like flip-up caps. I don’t mind adding my choice of covers to this optic – it’s well worth the money regardless.

Available direct from Hawke for about $240, you simply cannot beat the value of this scope. While we tested it on an AR platform, it would make a great addition to a hunting rifle as well.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Crimson Trace Master Series Lasergrips: Lifesaving Technology Made from…Wood?

Wood is an amazing construction material. It’s renewable, looks great, feels even better, and makes a handgun look really dapper, dandy, and dashing.

Does anything complement a sweet 1911 like wood grips? Better yet, wood Lasergrips?

Does anything complement a sweet 1911 like wood grips? Better yet, wood Lasergrips?

Did you know that…

  • Redwood bark can be up to 24 inches thick.
  • Each year, the average American “consumes” enough wood to fill the cargo area of 4.11 AMC Gremlins, assuming you fold down the seats.
  • Wood, when converted to paper at the Mead-Westvaco paper plant in Charleston, South Carolina, is really, really smelly.

The only visible parts not made of rosewood are the laser housing and activation button.

With all these nifty qualities, why is the industry steadily moving towards more plastic, and fewer wood offerings? Yeah, I know. Plastic is inexpensive, easy to manufacture and durable. But, but, but…wood!

Enter the Crimson Trace Master Series Lasergrips.

Available in G10 composite, walnut, and rosewood, the Master Series Lasergrips are the Cadillacs of the Crimson Trace offerings.

Read the rest at OutdoorHub.com!

Scope Review: Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-6.5×24 with BTR-2 Reticle

The Bushnell SMRS 1-6.5×24 Rifle Scope

Let’s start with a pop quiz. What does SMRS stand for?

A. Southern Midget Racing Series

B. Southampton Model Railway Society

C. Scottish Military Re-enactment Society

D. Short to Mid-Range Rifle Scope

If you answered A or B, you’re reading the wrong website. While C might fit here, D is the correct answer.

I was first introduced to the new Bushnell Elite Tactical product line at a Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) conference earlier this year. There, I was blown away by a brand spanking new Bushnell Elite Tactical LMSS 8-40x 60mm spotting scope. The clarity was outstanding and the unit appeared to be capable of absorbing a few dozen RPG hits. It might even survive a night on the town in South Beach with actress Lindsay Lohan. Yes, it’s built that tough.

Anyway, one of the new Elite Tactical products that caught my eye was the Bushnell SMRS 1-6.5×24 Scope. Offering 1 to 6.5x zoom, it appeared to be a perfect solution for the AR-15 platform.

Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS 1-6.5x24 Rifle Scope

Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS 1-6.5×24 Rifle Scope

Let’s take a closer look.

A Quick Tour of the Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS 1-6.5×24 Scope

To make sure the optic and gun were equal partners, I put the Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS on a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 VTAC Model. This is one heck of an AR-15, complete with 1:7″ twist barrel to handle heavier bullets, a Viking Tactics free-floated hand guard, Surefire Flash suppressor and JP single-stage match trigger. Oh, and shhhhh – it can accept a 30 round magazine. So if you live in New York, California or Colorado you might have to deny reading this later. Anyway, this rifle can shoot up to the capabilities of this scope, so there is harmony at the range.

The Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS is constructed from milled aluminum and features a 30mm tube. I suspect it goes without saying that lenses are multi-coated and treated to resist water accumulation. The tube interior is purged with Argon. Don’t know what Argon is? Me either, but it keeps condensation from forming inside the scope. The 1-6.5×24 model I tested includes the Bushnell BTR-2 reticle in the first focal plane. Having the reticle in the first focal plane means that the reticle itself will grow and shrink in size as you zoom in and out. This is handy for ranging using the mil-dot system as it does not matter at what power level the zoom is set. The BTR-2 reticle seems to be optimized for a first focal plane scenario as the horseshoe ring shrinks down to what appears to be a single red dot at 1x zoom. At higher zoom levels, the stadia lines become clear and easy to see. Bushnell also offers this scope with a second focal plane option, which allows for more precise aiming at lower zoom levels. However, to use the ranging feature, you need to be at a set zoom level. First focal plane versus second focal plane decisions are strictly usage-based and user-preference. There is no right or wrong way to go and that’s why Bushnell offers both with this optic.

The Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS has great clarity that extends to the edge of the visible area. We inspected targets at the edges at all levels of zoom and found no issues with distortion or focus. Objects at the edge of the viewable circle were just as clear as those in the middle.

Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS zoom ring The Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS 1-6.5×24 is a variable power scope that ranges from true 1x (no magnification) to 6.5x magnification. Zoom level is adjusted by a power change ring that is clearly marked. There are raised “nubs” on the ring that help achieve a positive grip.
Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS turret caps Aluminum caps cover the completely hand-adjustable windage and elevation dials so you don’t knock anything out of whack inadvertently. The Bushnell logo was only present on the side cap – the top cap was simple matte black. Perhaps this is intentional to keep the view over the barrel clean and distraction free?
Bushnell Elite Tactical turret Both windage and elevation knobs make 1/10 of a mil adjustment per click, so there is plenty of granularity to get your point of aim and point of impact aligned with your specific load. To put that in english, each click shifts point of impact just about .34 inches at 100 yards. Once you have figured out your zero, you can raise the caps to escape the ratchet mechanism, rotate the knob so “0″ is indicated at the appropriate hash mark, then press the knob back down. Couldn’t be easier.
Bushnell Elite Tactical turret indicators Notice the visual indicators under the turret. For extreme adjustments, you can see how many complete turns have been made from zero. Each complete turn on the windage or elevation turrets represents a 10 mil adjustment.
Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS night vision See the dots between the two night vision compatible settings? Those “stops” are present between every two settings throughout the dial. if you need to turn illumination on in a hurry, you’re not spinning a dial from an off position. Simply move it one click in either direction and you’re in business.
Bushnell Elite Tactical 1 6 5x24  1 The eyepiece features a fast-focus ring that allows you to adjust the reticle into sharp focus based on your particular eyesight.
Bushnell Elite Tactical 1 6 5x24 23 battery The illuminated reticle is powered by a single CR2032 battery. To access, just use a coin to unscrew the illumination adjustment turret cap.
Bushnell Tactical Elite BTR 2 reticle The vertical bar is graduated in mils and displays a 10 mil elevation range for holdovers. As this illustration shows, only the center dot and the horseshoe ring are illuminated. As you can see, elevation is graduated in .5 mil increments. The center red dot measures .3 mils.
Bushnell Tactical Elite reticle ranging As this is a first focal plane scope (it’s available in first or second), zooming in to 6.5x is handy for rough and quick ranging. The horizontal bar has vertical hashmarks of different lengths that indicate the relative height of a 10 inch target at various distances. Of course, you can do this without zooming in if you’ve got really, really good eyes. A normal-ish human is about 20″ wide at the chest, so the 10″ range conversions are easy. Please keep in mind that the 20″ width rule does not apply to certain un-named and outspoken Hollywood celebrities. In those cases, just measure the length of 14,300 Fahrenheit 9/11 DVD’s lined up end-to-end, and multiply by the diameter of the moon.
Bushnell Elite Tactical 1 6 5x24 This is the Bushnell BTR-2 Reticle. Zoom is set all the way to 6.5x and the target stand is placed at 100 yards. The orange circles are just under 4 inches in diameter. In this photo, the reticle is unlit. When lit, the thick-bordered horseshoe / circle shows up in red and is very visible in bright daylight conditions. The neat thing about the first focal plane option of the BTR-2 reticle is that at 1x (no zoom) the reticle acts like a single point red dot sight. Hit the illumination and the now small horseshoe appears to be a single dot. So the same reticle serves both fast, short-range shots and longer, more precise shots.

Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS 1-6.5×24 Scope Range Performance

Bushnell Elite Tactical SMRS 1-6.5x24 shoot the box

We shot a 6 round box and the Bushnell Elite Tactical hit where expected and returned to zero.

I completed a 6 shot box to test out the scope adjustment consistency and repeatability. As I wanted to do some fairly extreme windage and elevation adjustment, I set up a target at 50 yards so I could replicate about a 2 foot adjustment at 100 yards, yet still keep rounds on paper. The first shot was center of target. As I was testing multiple scopes that day, I did not invest the time in getting point of impact to coincide exactly with point of aim at this distance, but as you’ll see it’s close. Using the same aiming point, I then moved 32 clicks down and 32 clicks right to get the lower right corner of the box. Then 64 clicks up, 64 clicks left, 64 clicks down and finally a return to zero. As you can see, the scope did an excellent job of coming right back to the original point of impact after all that adjustment.

Bushnell Elite Tactical 1 6 5x24 zoom zero shift

The Bushnell SMRS Elite Tactical displayed no change in point of impact when zoom settings changed.

Since this is a variable power scope, I also wanted to make sure that the point of impact remained constant at different power levels. In this test, I shot the upper target at full 6.5x magnification. The center target was fired at 3x magnification and the lower at 1x or no magnification. The group size only grew because I’m half blind. But I wasn’t concerned with group size. I only wanted to verify that the point of impact relative to point of aim was constant at different zoom settings. As you can see, it was. All groups fell into a 7 o’clock position relative to the aiming point.


Closing Arguments

This ain’t your daddy’s Bushnell. While Bushnell has made solid stuff at a mid-range price point, the Elite Tactical line enters the premium segment, although still at an attractive price point for what you get. It compares favorably to similar premium scopes that cost 2 – 3 times as much. Want a quality variable optic and don’t have a Seal Team 6 equipment budget? Take a look at this one. And check out the Bushnell Elite Tactical Spotting Scope. That was super impressive at first look and we hope to do a complete evaluation soon.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Available at Brownells

Bushnell Outdoor Products Smrs 1-6.5x24mm Elite Tactical Scope
Loading…

Scope Review: Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose Scope

The Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi Purpose Scope plays well with others

Somewhat like Captain Jack Sparrow, the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope easily adapts to all sorts of situations. Originally designed as a crossbow optic, people quickly realized that it was fit for more combustible applications. As I’ll show in more detail, it has 3 easy-to acquire aiming points which you can use to identify both near and far zeros for your particular rifle, crossbow or shotgun.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope  3

The Hawke 1×32 Multi Purpose Scope plays well with others. Crossbows, AR-15′s and shotguns to name a few.

 Just the facts about the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope…

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope illumination

The left side-wheel operates the illuminated reticle. Both red and green illumination is available and each color offers five levels of brightness. The “crosses” illuminate – see the reticle image below for detail. The illumination feature is powered by a single CR2032 battery – available most anywhere. Just unscrew the reticle brightness control knob cap to replace the battery.

 Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope windage and elevation

As this is a 1x optic, you’re probably not going to use the windage and elevation controls while shooting. They’re more for adjusting your zero as you change rifles and ammunition types. You might even move this to a crossbow! Each click adjusts the point of impact by 1/2 MOA, or just a hair over a half an inch at 100 yards. I found this to be plenty of granularity to get my favorite .223 load on target. The turrets are finger adjustable, and once you get your settings right, just screw the protective caps back on.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose Scope reticle

Clarity of the scope was really good, with no discernible loss of focus or brightness as you look to the edges of the scope. The photo here shows a view at a berm about 110 yards away. The long horizontal and vertical bars made targeting fast and easy. Also as this photo shows, the cross aiming points show as black when illumination is not turned on. There’s really no need to use the illumination feature unless you’re in early or end of day low light conditions. One more thing – the top of the vertical bar is another aiming point – we’ll talk more about that below.

Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose Scope coated lens

Lenses are multi-coated and I found visibility to be good. While the objective is 32mm, the tube is 1 inch in diameter.

Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose Scope mount

Keeping this an all Hawke Optics solution, I used the Hawke 1″ 2-Piece, Reach Forward mounts. As you can see in the photo, this left quite a bit of remaining adjustment play both on the rail and in the scope rings. The eye relief in the Hawke Optics 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope is very generous so you can put this scope pretty much anywhere on the receiver rail. The specs indicate that eye relief is 8 inches. It’s not intended to be a scout scope so you’ll get some shadowing if you try to put it on the front rail. While testing, I placed the scope so the rear lens was about an inch forward of the rear of the receiver. This provided great visibility and unhindered access to the charging handle.

Hawke 1x32 Multi Purpose BRC reticle

Hawke Optics offers free ballistics software for Mac, PC, iPhones and iPads and Android devices. The BRC software has the Hawke reticles and a bunch of cartridge profiles built-in, so you can quickly tell it you’re using the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope with an AR-15. As I was using practice hand loads, I adjusted the actual velocity to 2,700 feet per second instead of the default 3,250. As this is a 1x optic, and I’m half blind, I chose a 200 yard zero. not to actually shoot at 200 yards, but because the “near” zero point for the primary aiming cross works out to 42.2 yards. You can see on the image here that the left columns shows near zero distances while the column on the right shows far zero distances. Using my specially calibrated tennis shoes, I paced off 42 yards and added a bit more. Sure enough, I was right on target with the primary (top) aiming point in the reticle.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Hawke BRC software tells me, that for this reticle, with my specific load and velocity, what the aiming points are for the lower cross and the top of the vertical post – 6.3 and 4.3 yards respectively. So I moved my target in to 6.3 yards, again using my Imperial system calibrated shoes and paced off 6.3 yards. Again, right on target. same with the top of the vertical post aim point at 4.3 yards. Depending on where you set your primary zero, and which load you use, you can develop a useful scenario where you know point of impact for both very short and very long-range. This is particularly handy with AR-15 applications. As the center of AR-15 optics is generally about 2.5 inches above the bore, you normally have to compensate for short-range shots. With the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope, you simply use one of the lower two aiming points to put you right on target at “inside the home” distances.
Hawke 1x32 Multi-Purpose BRC software

The Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose BRC software comes preloaded with all of the Hawke Optics reticles so you can easily work out point of aim and impact solutions. Here’s the data we used for AR-15 testing with a 2,700 foot per second .223 Remington load.

 

Closing Arguments

The practical flexibility of this optic is just plain cool. I’ve been using it on an AR-15 with great success. My daughter just got a Barnett Jackal crossbow, so the weekend project will be to equip it with the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope and see how that works. Our first step will be to configure the Hawke BRC software with the Jackal’s ballistic data. Here’s the initial report based on the bolt velocity of the Jackal. By the way, crossbow data is preloaded into Hawke BRC software and you can tweak variables like velocity.

Hawke BRC Crossbow data

The Hawke BRC Software give us this projected aim point and range data for the Barnett Jackal crossbow.

So, looking at the right column of far aim point data, we see that the three default aim points correspond to ranges of 20, 40 and 50 yards.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the value of this one. Retailing at $129.99, the Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose scope is a great option to consider if you’re on a tight budget. Add the benefit of moving it around from rifle to crossbow to shotgun and you’ve got a winner.

Available Here Hawke 1×32 Multi-Purpose Scope

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Legal Disclosures about articles on My Gun Culture