Trijicon’s 300 Blackout Optic Offering: It’s Simple and Fast

While a bit slimmer, Trijicon's 300 AAC Blackout model shares many of the same features that made ACOG's so popular.

While a bit slimmer, Trijicon’s 300 AAC Blackout model shares many of the same features that made ACOG’s so popular.

The 300 AAC Blackout caliber is a nightmare for optics manufacturers.

Why? The range of possible projectiles and associated ballistics are crazy. 300 Blackout can be a flat shooting cartridge using a light bullet at 2,500 feet per second. It can be a thrown-brick projectile weighing 245 grains and traveling at 950 feet per second. It can also be just about anywhere in between those extremes.

Like classic ACOG's, the 300 Blackout model features dual illumination sources: fiber optic and tritium.

Like classic ACOG’s, the 300 Blackout model features dual illumination sources: fiber optic and tritium.

Imagine trying to design an optic with ballistic drop compensation (BDC). In plain English, BDC simply means that the reticle is pre-marked to show the hold point for a given distance. For example, if you’re shooting at a target 200 yards away, you just hold the 200 yard reticle mark on the target, and you should make a hit. That’s great in theory when you have a caliber with fairly standard performance over distance like the .223 Remington 55 grain projectile. When a caliber can fire a range of bullet weights ranging from 90 grains to 245 grains, things get tricky.

To put that in perspective, if you shoot a 300 Blackout cartridge with an 110 grain Barnes TAC-TX projectile, traveling at 2,500 feet per second, it will drop about 64 inches at 400 yards, assuming a zero yard zero. If you do the same thing with a 220 grain Sierra Matchking traveling at 1,050 feet per second, that bullet will drop almost 278 inches over the same distance.

The difference in drop between two difference loads in the exact same caliber is a whopping 214 inches. That’s 17.83 feet. To put that in visual terms that’s equivalent to 3.147 Michael Bloomberg’s stacked on top of each other or 4.13 AMC Gremlins. Sorry for two entirely different, yet equally scary, visuals.

Enter the Trijicon TA33-C 3×30 ACOG 300 AAC Blackout

The 30mm objective lens provides plenty of light.

The 30mm objective lens provides plenty of light.

Trijicon has taken a whack at this ballistic challenge by using a single reticle, but marking it with realistic and common hold points for both extremes of the 300 AAC Blackout performance range. We’ll get more into that in a minute.

Like other Trijicon ACOGs, the 300 Blackout model is a fixed power magnification design. This one offers straight 3x magnification, which is plenty sufficient for realistic subsonic and supersonic ranges.

The fixed magnification means no zoom rings or controls and generous eye relief, so it’s really fast and efficient. Also like most other Trijicon optics, it’s designed to use the Bindon aiming concept. In Trijicon’s words, “Human vision is based upon a binocular (two eyes) presentation of visual evidence to the brain.” In plain English, that means keep both eyes open. Your brain does magic brain stuff and you see your target with reticle superimposed. The reason is that the Trijicon uses a bright reticle, which allows your brain to merge the target image from your outside eye with the aim point visible through your “scope” eye.

Like other siblings in the ACOG family, this model has a dual illuminated reticle. The distinctive fiber optic tube across the top collects light to amplify the aim point when ambient light exists. An internal tritium lamp provides illumination in low light and pure dark conditions. No controls to turn on or adjust, you just use it, regardless of light conditions. My evaluation model came with a green reticle, but you can also choose amber or red if you like. The green reticle shows up plenty in broad daylight. In low light conditions, the visibility is even better.


For initial zeroing, the optic has two removable caps that cover the windage and elevation dials. Using a dime, empty cartridge case or screwdriver blade, move the dials as needed. Each click will adjust the point of impact by ¼ inch at 100 yards.The arrows on the adjustment dials indicate the direction you want the bullet to move on the target. Simple. My unit came pre-centered and only required a couple of clicks of windage and elevation adjustment to match the point of impact of my Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 AAC Blackout rifle.

Windage and elevation adjustment dials are a one-time use affair, or whenever you significantly change your primary supersonic ammo choice.

Windage and elevation adjustment dials are a one-time use affair, or whenever you significantly change your primary supersonic ammo choice.

This ACOG includes a handy reference point on the reticle that simplifies zeroing. When installing on a new rifle, set a target at 25 yards. Instead of using the cross intersection as you would for a 100 yard target, use the pointed top of the long distance 300 meter post, which is the same as the top of the 50 yard subsonic diamond, as a hold point. If your shot impact matches that, the 100 yard zero using the cross above will be pretty close. Now move your target to 100 yards and verify that the 100 yard supersonic aim point matches point of impact.

The reticle

The reticle is simple, yet has both hold point (ballistic drop compensation) and basic ranging tools. It’s also parallax free so it works from zero to 600 meters without the need for parallax adjustment.

The ballistic drop compensation features are clever in their simplicity. Rather than cluttering up your view with lots of marks, Trijicon has figured out how to make the few marks that are there multitask. For example, the primary aim point for 100 yards (supersonic ammo) is a free-floating cross. For 200 yards, there is not a separate mark, you simply hold on the bottom of the crosses vertical post. Horizontal hash marks indicate 300, 400, 500 and 600 yard supersonic projectile hold points.

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 Blackout reticle.

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 Blackout reticle.

For subsonic rounds, there are two solid diamonds on top of the vertical bar: one above the 300 yard supersonic hold point and the other resting on the 400 yard hold. These are 50 and 100 yard holds for a standard subsonic round.

I zeroed the Trijicon at 100 yards with 110 grain supersonic ammunition. Then I popped in a subsonic rounds put the 50 yard whole point directly over the bullseye on a 50 yard target. The very first shot hit dead center, so that was encouraging.

The reticle also includes basic ranging indicators. The horizontal BDC marks vary in width to represent a 19 inch wide target. If a known object of 19 inches matches the width of one of the crossbars, there’s your range. If it’s in between two, you can guesstimate.

Closing Thoughts

The Trijicon ACOG TA33 300 Blackout model is a fast no-brainer solution. With fixed 3x magnification, there’s nothing to fiddle with. Raise your rifle, open your eyes and go. The two eyes open concept works great unless you’re cross-eye dominant and establishing aim is fast. The reticle offers enough granularity to hit reasonable sized targets out to a few hundred yards. For a tactical or home defense rifle, I do like the “always” on reticle lighting. In the daytime, the fiber optic tube makes the reticle glow brightly and in low light conditions, a tritium lamp lights it up. No batteries to run down and no switches to operate – it’s just on.


Ever thought about reloading your own ammunition? Then you might want to check out our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Reloading Ammunition. Practical, yet comprehensive advice and tips will get you started in no time!

Premium Optics for the 300 Blackout Rifle

night·mare [nahyt-mair]

The Trijicon 3x30 ACOG for 300 AAC Blackout.

The Trijicon 3×30 ACOG for 300 AAC Blackout.


  1. a terrifying dream in which the dreamer experiences feelings of helplessness, extreme anxiety, sorrow, etc.
  2. a condition, thought, or experience suggestive of a nightmare: the nightmare of his years in prison.
  3. reflective of the process of trying to design an optic for the 300 AAC Blackout.

I got this from Websters, really. OK, maybe not all of it, but you have to admit that the definitions of “extreme anxiety” and “helplessness” fit pretty well, right?

There aren’t many 300 AAC Blackout specific optics on the market and I can guess why. Imagine trying to design a reticle that can accommodate the incredible variety of ballistic performance of that round. As we talked about a few weeks ago in the article about 300 Blackout Ammunition and Reloading, there is no “standard” ballistic performance profile. You can do pretty much whatever you want in a broad range of subsonic to supersonic performance. And therein lies the challenge for the optics gurus. How do you design a ballistic drop compensation reticle to account for… infinity plus one?

Wonky ballistics

The Leupold design is classic AR tactical, with 1.5-5x magnification.

The Leupold design is classic AR tactical, with 1.5-5x magnification.

Before going into the specifics of these two optics, let’s take a look at the ballistic challenges they have to overcome – all in the same reticle. For purposes of the trajectories shown here, let’s assume a zero yard zero, and we’ll use two common and “representative” projectiles and “standard” velocities. For the supersonic load, we’ll show the flight path of a Barnes TAC-TX 110-grain bullet. As a side note, Barnes just released a 120-grain version of this bullet – I can’t wait to try it. I’ll assume a velocity of 2,500 feet per second. For the subsonic load, we’ll use the classic 220 grain Sierra Matchking and assume a traveling speed of 1,050 feet per second.

The purpose of the “zero yard zero” is to compare the absolute, unadjusted flight paths of the two rounds. Basically, we’re looking at shooting each round exactly parallel to the ground to see how it falls over distance.

Yards Barnes
110 grain TAC-TX, 2,500 fps
MatchKing 220 grain, 1,050 fps
0 0.00 0.00
50 -0.72 -3.98
100 -3.00 -16.14
150 -7.05 -36.78
200 -13.13 -66.20
250 -21.52 -104.71
300 -32.57 -152.59
350 -46.68 -210.13
400 -64.31 -277.63
450 -86.02 -355.36
500 -112.41 -443.63

As you can see, the brick, I mean subsonic round, falls at about four times the rate of the supersonic. That’s a lot to account for. The idea behind a common reticle is to design it for the supersonic round and figure out a couple of realistic hold points for a short range trajectories of the subsonic round.

As we’ll look at in more detail this week, two premium optics companies have done just that. Trijicon and Leupold have each developed outstanding 300 AAC Blackout solutions. In my words, not theirs, the two options are not really comparable. They’re more like apples and oranges. Do you want applesauce or orange juice? More specifically, do you want adjustable precision or simplicity and speed?

The Trijicon offering borrows from the company’s ACOG line. It’s a fixed power optic that you adjust once, then shoot. And shoot. And shoot.

The Leupold offering is more of a scope tinkerer’s dream. With variable magnification and lots of fine lines in the reticle, you can get it to do whatever you want, out to very long ranges.

Let’s take a closer look at what each has to offer. One thing that both have in common is that they have boiled the ballistic ocean to two options at the extreme ends of 300 Blackout performance. The idea behind both the Trijicon and Leupold optics is that they design a dual reticle, with one-half mapped to supersonic projectiles in the 110-grain vicinity and the other mapped to subsonics in the 220-grain vicinity. If you want to use stuff in the middle ranges, it’s up to you to do some trial and error to map the reticle marks to specific ranges. On the plus side, at shorter and more reasonable ranges, it won’t really matter if you’re shooting 110, 125 or even 135-grain projectiles. That will only become significant past a couple hundred yards or so, so don’t get too concerned.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!


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Weaver Kaspa-Z Scope Review

The Weaver Kaspa-Z Scope is a swingin' deal at a street price of $199

The Weaver Kaspa-Z Scope is a swingin’ deal at a street price of $199

Lots of folks are skeptical about the whole Zombie thing. Unrealistic they say. Will never happen. I say just look to Washington, DC or The Maury Show live studio audience. It’s obviously real.

Even if you choose to remain in a blissful state of denial about the Kardashians Zombies, you ought to check out the Weaver Kaspa-Z Zombie rifle scope.

Why? Zombie label or not, it falls in the heckuva deal category. With an MSRP of $299.95, you can actually find one on the street for about $199.

Just the specs

If you don't want zombification on your scope, leave off the stickers. All that remains is the turret fonts and a hazmat logo that's kind of cool.

If you don’t want zombification on your scope, leave off the stickers. All that remains is the turret fonts and a hazmat logo that’s kind of cool.

Here’s what you need to know about the Weaver Kaspa-Z scope:

It’s got a 30mm tube, so make sure you get appropriate rings.

Zoom range is from 1.5x to 6x.

The turrets offer ¼ MOA adjustments and total adjustment range at 100 yards is 80 inches.

It’s got multi-coated lenses to increase light transmission and prevent zombie-attracting glare.

It features a nitrogen-filled tube to prevent fogging.

Weight is a hair over 16 ounces, so it’s got some meat on the bones. I was impressed by its construction – especially for the price point. It’s a solid beast that could probably be used as an impact weapon against the undead.

The second focal plane reticle is black and easy to see in daylight conditions, but has illumination powered by a CR2032 battery. Just twist off the illumination turret cap to replace the battery.

The Z-CIRT Reticle

I really like the Z-CIRT reticle. It's a mil-dot geek fantasy.

I really like the Z-CIRT reticle. It’s a mil-dot geek fantasy.

I’ve had some quality time behind Weaver’s CIRT reticle. A while back, I took a close look at the Weaver Tactical 1-5×24 scope which also uses the CIRT reticle. Besides being a cool looking pattern, the CIRT is insanely useful for both targeting and distance estimation.

It’s clearly designed for AR platform rifles and Weaver conveniently includes pre-mapped ballistic information for a variety of .223 Remington / 5.56mm rounds.

  • Shooting M855 ammo? Then you know that the top of the vertical post is your hold point at 325 yards.
  • How about M193 ammo? Then you know the second horizontal bar is your hold point for a 585 yard shot.

I could go on with pre-mapped firing points all day as the CIRT is carefully calibrated to give you near infinite hold points. Oh, and it’s a swell ranging tool too.

  • The solid center dot corresponds to the size of a zombie head, assuming it’s still in one piece, at 200 yards.
  • At 100 yards, that zombie head will fill the area between the parentheses around the solid dot.
  • Assuming your zombie still has both arms, the top horizontal hash mark represents 20 inch shoulder with at 400 yards.

If you’re a mil dot freak, you can go crazy. Weaver gives you elevation indicators ranging from .25 mils to 10 mils and everything in between. Windage is also marked out the wazoo. Get a phone or tablet program like Ballistic and go crazy mapping out aim points for any load you want.

Performance Against the Undead

I had hopes of using this against hordes of undead at long range, but they’re all on hiatus until the next season of The Walking Dead. Instead, I mounted the Weaver Kaspa-Z scope on a Daniel Defense DDM4V5 300 AAC Blackout rifle. That was particularly fun with the Z-CIRT reticle as there are plenty of aim points to help me cover the wide range or trajectories available with 300 Blackout ammo. When you’re ballistic performance ranges from 110 grain bullets cursing at 2,500 feet per second to 240 grain subsonic bricks lumbering along at 950 feet per second, you need some flexibility.

After doing a little basic mapping, and zeroing the supersonic rounds at 50 yards, I started doing some semi-serious tests.

I tested the Weaver Kaspa-Z on a Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout rifle. Suppressed of course.

I tested the Weaver Kaspa-Z on a Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout rifle. Suppressed of course.

The Scope Olympics

I usually like to “shoot a box” with a new optic, like I did with the Weaver Tactical 1-5×24, but I was bored. So knowing the measurements of my 5 target sheet, I started doing some predictive shots. Using one target as the hold point, I did some clicks to inches math and started trying to hit other points on my target backer. Like the Weaver Tactical, the Kaspa-Z had no issues with impacting within 1 MOA of where it was supposed to, even with large windage and elevation adjustments.

One of the other things I always verify in a new scope is whether the point of impact stays constant when you change magnification levels. With a scope that starts at or near 1x magnification, this can be a little tricky as you’re relying more on your eyesight to properly sight in a distant target. For the Kaspa, which starts at 1.5x, I set up a target at 100 yards and fired a carefully aimed shot at the lowest magnification level. I then cranked up the zoom to about 3.5x and fired another at the exact same point. Last, I enjoyed the luxury of actually getting a clear view of that 100 yard target with the full 6x magnification. All three shots were within about an inch and a half of each other, which was darn lucky as I could hardly see the target at the 1.5 zoom level. Old eyes and all that.

Closing Arguments

The Weaver Kaspa-Z scope is a deal. Even though it has a Zombie name, the Zombie gear is optional as most of the zombification is accomplished by a pile of stickers in the box. You don’t have to put them on if you don’t want to. Construction is solid and performance was great. I really dig the CIRT reticle. It’s fast at closer ranges and infinitely flexible if you want to establish pre-determined hold points at all sorts of distances.

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.


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!

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.



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.


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.

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