As a young man, when my father was teaching me how to shoot, he instilled a concept that has never left me: You have to see it to hit it.
Firearm optics is certainly a field that is in the running for “most improved player,” considering that just 50 years ago a variable-power riflescope was looked upon skeptically; my father actually abandoned a scope for iron sights as a younger man. But our modern optics are the best they’ve ever been, and contrary to the scopes of a couple decades ago, it’s now almost taken for granted that even the most inexpensive models will give reliable results. Still, a quality optic is well worth the investment. Perusing the products at the 2019 SHOT Show, I found more than a few interesting optics, and some really caught my attention.
Leupold VX-Freedom Red Dot Sight — New for 2019, Leupold has introduced the VX-Freedom Red Dot Sight, a value-priced optic perfect for those who like a single focal plane tub optic and the fast target acquisition a reflex sight offers. With a 34mm main tube and one-MOA dot of varying intensity, the VX-Freedom RDS weighs only seven ounces and is 5½ inches long. The scratch-resistant lenses are very clear, and the unit is completely fog-proof. There are two options for adjustment, a standard, capped ¼-MOA adjustment or a BDC-elevation turret model shipped with measurements calibrated for the trajectory of the .223 Remington with a 55-grain bullet. I had a chance to play with the unit at the Leupold booth with its very own Shawn Skipper, and I confess to being very impressed. “We’re very proud of the unit. It will be equally at home on an MSR as it will be on a turkey gun or hunting rifle,” Skipper told me. I couldn’t agree more.
Bushnell XRS II Riflescope — Bushnell has seriously improved its game in the last couple years, bringing innovative designs to the table at a great price point. For the long-range shooter, its XRS II with the illuminated G3 reticle has everything you need and nothing you don’t. The 4.5-30X magnification covers just about every shooting situation imaginable, and the 34mm main tube and 50mm objective lens gives a bright picture and allows for plenty of elevation adjustment. The G3 reticle provides enough useable reference points to place an accurate shot at any distance, without looking like you’ve got some sort of physics equation in your scope. Now that Bushnell offers the option of the illuminated G3 reticle in the XRS II, it may be one of the best values for the long-range shooter on the market.
Crimson Trace CTS-1200 Red Dot — As a man in my late 40s, my eyes simply don’t focus with iron sights like they used to. While I still train and practice with iron sights, the light, practical, red-dot reflex sights have been a game changer, at least for me. I’ve used varying models on everything from pistols and mid-caliber rifles to the big double-barreled African safari guns, and it’s been a positive experience. For 2019, Crimson Trace throws its hat into the reflex ring with its CTS-1200 Red Dot, and it’s a winner for the pistol crowd. With a 3.25-MOA dot and true 1X magnification, the CTS-1200 runs on a single CR1632 battery — which Crimson Trace will supply, free of charge, for life. The unit mounts with the standard Burris or Docter mounts, and it’s made from rugged aircraft-grade aluminum, coming in at just one ounce. If your eyes just aren’t what they used to be, and you’ve come to the realization that your sights have become just a bit too fuzzy, give the CTS-1200 a whirl. Crimson trace seems to have gotten it right the first time, and I’d be willing to bet your targets will begin to tell a different story rather quickly.