Choosing a 3-Gun Scope

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

In the world of shooting sports, 3-gun is arguably a fast growing and exciting competition. It consists of a set of stages requiring the use of three guns—a rifle, shotgun, and pistol. At these different stages, shooters engage various close- to mid-range targets, even up to 500 yards, from different positions. Scoring is determined based on time and hits, with penalties for misses, and each stage is assigned a different degree of difficulty. In a nutshell, the shooter who hits the most targets in the shortest amount of time wins. This competition is exciting and challenging, even for the most experienced shooters.

man competing in a 3-gun competition shooting match
3-Gun competitions are fast, exciting and growing in popularity. Photo By Sgt. Ryan Carpenter

Getting started can seem a bit daunting, but the truth is, if you are already an avid shooter, you most likely already have most of what you need to get started. You need a shotgun (pump or semi-auto,) handgun and some sort of modern sporting rifle like the AR-15. You will also need ammo, a holster, gun belt, shell holders, magazine pouches, spare mags, ear and eye protection and gun oil or lube. However, your optics are arguably one of the most important pieces of 3-gun equipment. Deciding on the right optic is crucial for success in this fast-paced shooting sport. Consider the following six elements when choosing a scope.

Magnification Range

Because there is no set course for a 3-gun competition, shooters must be prepared for anything. Many shooters prefer a scope with a base magnification that is 1x to avoid the disorientation that one can get from even the slightest magnification. With the close range targets, it is crucial for the shooter to keep both eyes open. When using a true 1x powered scope the shooter can keep both eyes open, allowing them to shooter quicker and more precise.

Focal Plane

Some optic companies design first-focal-plane scopes specifically for 3-gun shooters—this is a completely subjective choice. Some shooters complain an FFP reticle becomes so big at full magnification power that it covers too much of the target. For them, a true 1x, second-focal-plane reticle works best. Others do prefer first-focal-plane systems because on longer shots the incremental values of their subtensions are consistent throughout the magnification range.

Illuminated Center

When shooting with both eyes open, having an illuminated dot can aid a shooter tremendously. Reflex sights are almost primarily the only optic you will see on an open class handgun. The difference between a reflex handgun sight and an illuminated magnified scope is, most importantly, parallax correction—your point of aim is effective even when perfect sight alignment has not been established. This helps competitors shoot faster and hit more effectively.

Eye Box & Eye Relief

Some scopes are designed so that the shooter must be perfectly aligned with the center of the lens in order to see through—where others provide more latitude. You don’t want to struggle to see through your rifle in the middle of a competition when you’re lying upside down trying to shoot at clay pigeons with your weak-hand. What’s most helpful when shooting while moving is a large eye-box. While traditional hunting riflescopes have long eye relief, most 3-gun shooters (with the exception of Heavy Metal divisions) will be using a .223 so the recoil is not a serious concern. Thus, they prefer 1x or low-magnification optics with shorter eye relief.

Recommended Optics

Sightmark Citadel 1-6×24

 

Woman shooting an AR-15 with a 1-6x24mm Citadel riflescope attached
The Citadel offers 1x magnification for close-range and a second focal plane BDC reticle.

Combining impressive performance with a stealthy appearance, the Citadel offers a wide magnification range for close to mid-range shooting. Sightmark does a good job with keeping real shooters in mind when designing scopes. The Citadel features a second-focal-plane BDC reticle calibrated for 55-grain 5.56/.223 ammo. The single-piece, 30mm tube and aircraft-grade aluminum construction make the Citadel extremely durable.

Sightmark Core 1-4×24

Sightmark Core 1-4x24mm riflescope for 3-gun, competition, target, and tactical operations
The Core is perfect for 3-gun competitions, but also tactical operations, target shooting or hunting.

Specifically calibrated for the .223, this riflescope sets the standard when taking close- to medium-range shots. Not only is this perfect for 3-gun competitions, but also tactical operations, target shooting or hunting. Variable 1-4x magnification and a fine-etched bullet-drop-compensating (BDC) reticle, including adjustable red and green illumination, makes target acquisition faster and easier, even in low-light conditions. Ready for the most extreme environments, the Sightmark Core is nitrogen-filled, waterproof, fogproof, dustproof and shockproof.

Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec

The M-spec weighs in 30% lighter than many popular reflex sights from other manufacturers. It is built to adapt to any shooting environment, with a battery life of up to 1,000 hours and submersible up to 40 ft. This is one of the most robust reflex sights on the market, perfect for 3-gun competitions. The M-Specs cast magnesium alloy housing is lightweight and stronger than aluminum. It is equipped with an advanced, parallax-corrected optical lens system, a necessary component for all 3-gun competitors.

Sightmark M-Spec reflex red dot sight
The M-Spec is one of the best red dot sights on the market.
Do you participate in 3-Gun? What optics do you use? Help others to make a choice by sharing in the comment section.

About the Author

Hey Y’all! My name is Camille and I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I’m currently a senior psychology major at TCU. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the outdoors industry. I grew up hunting, shooting, and fishing whenever I could with my dad and grandpa. Any time I’m not working or studying you can find me in the woods hunting or on a boat fishing.  

Sightmark Introduces Its New Core Shot A-Spec Reflex Sight

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/0814) – Sightmark will be adding two new reflex sights to their already top-of-the-line sights. The Core Shot A-Spec FMS (SM26017) and Core Shot A-Spec LQD (SM26018) bring accuracy and reliability for firearm enthusiasts.

Delivering elite performance, the FMS and LQD reflex sights will enhance your accuracy in recreational, professional and competitive environments. The Core Shot is the perfect reflex sight for anybody looking for a sight sized between a Mini Shot and Ultra Shot, making them a mid-compact sized red dot sight.

Sightmark Core Shot A-Spec FMS red dot sight
The Core Shot A-Spec FMS has a 5 MOA dot and Picatinny mount.
Sightmark Core Shot A-Spec LQD red dot sight with quick-detach mount.
The Core Shot A-Spec LQD comes with a quick-detach mount.

Crafted out of aircraft-grade aluminum, for a dependable, lightweight housing, the Cores are IP55 water resistant, shockproof and feature a scratch-resistant lens coating for a durable product. Featuring slotted windage and elevation adjustments, digital switch controls, reticle brightness levels, and night vision compatibility, the Core Shot includes a protective aluminum shield and a wide lens for quick target acquisition.

Mil-Dash V. MOA Riflescopes

What Happens in a Riflescope… MATTERS

Years ago, I learned (the hard way) just how important the features on your riflescope really are when it comes to long-range shooting. Granted, when you’re shooting just a few hundred yards, you have some leeway when it comes to the reticle plane, the reticle itself, tracking, return to zero, chromatic aberration, etc.; however, there isn’t much room at all for a compromise on any of these features as you extend your distance game.

The author, Kevin Reese shooting a precision rifle long-range with a Sightmark first-focal plane riflescope
My money is on a first-focal-plane system for long range… and for me, the Mil (MRAD) adjustment and reticle system.

I was asked to field-test an optic from 100 to 1,000 yards. The problem was, the optic was completely ill-prepared to handle any long-range work and barely accomplished mid-range shooting at just 600 yards. While the riflescope was touted as a long-range optic on a 6-24×56 and 30mm tube platform, the nuts-and-bolts features included a red/green illuminated mil-dot second-focal-plane reticle and 1/4-MOA per click windage and elevation turret adjustments, as well as adjustable parallax and diopter.

I assure you, it’s easy to create a mess when you begin with messy parts. There was little (actually nothing) to like about an optic that, itself, was a contradiction. Some things should never be mixed—beer and whiskey, water and gasoline… MOA and milliradian. Consider the latter. In our shooting world, while minute-of-angle (MOA) is 1.047 inches at 100 yards and usually adjustable at 1/8- or 1/4-MOA per click, a milliradian (Mil or MRAD) measures 3.6 inches at 100 yards and is most often adjustable at increments of .1 Mil. As examples, we’ll consider the most popular—1/4-MOA and .1 Mil.

Adjusting ¼-MOA per click moves you approximately .26-inch. at 100 yards while .1 Mil shifts your position of impact (POI) about .36-inch. The important takeaway here is obvious, the incremental values of MOA and Mil are not the same. Again, at closer distances, the problem won’t matter much. Unfortunately, at longer distances, reticles, their subtension values and their focal plane really do matter. Make sure, on a fundamental level that your turret adjustment type (Mil or MOA) actually match your reticle (Mil or MOA). Moreover, determine whether you need a first- or second-focal-plane optic.

Green and red illuminated mil-dash reticle by Sightmark
With mil-dash, precisely identifying the center of one line to the next for accurate, reliable and repeatable holdover is quick and easy.

The difference in focal planes is easy to understand in terms of magnification. On a second-focal-plane system, adjusting magnification does not change the size of the reticle. Increasing or decreasing magnification does not change your reticle size. The problem? The incremental measurements of the subtensions are not consistent. Generally, the appropriate MOA increment (1.047-inches) is only true at one magnification, either at the highest setting or at a power annotated by a mark.

Conversely, first-focal-plane reticles do increase and decrease commensurate with the optic’s full range of magnification. As a result, the subtension values on a first-focal-plane reticle are consistent no matter the magnification power setting. The result is reliable adjustability at all known distances, as well as the added benefit of stadiametric-type ranging based on the target size and fact that subtension values never change. For this difference alone, my money is on a first-focal-plane system for long range… and for me, the Mil (MRAD) adjustment and reticle system. To that end, however, there is another critical reticle feature when considering milliradian-based optics—Mil-dot and Mil-dash. So, which is better?

While some might suggest it depends on your shooting, my take is—not so much. Unless you’re trying to find that sweet spot of balance between speed and precision, or have trouble identifying fine subtension lines, mil-dash is a better option every day of the week and twice on Sundays, especially as you extend your distance game and, depending on the focal plane, increase magnification. When it comes to accuracy, the greatest threat to precision shot placement, as it relates to this topic, is a mil-dot covering more of your target face. At best, your potential accuracy is only as small as the area of your target covered up by the obstructive black dot while a fine mil-dash subtension line essentially leaves your entire target face unobstructed. The area a mil-dash covers is essentially negligible.

three riflescopes
The Citadel line of riflescopes is designed for long-range precision shooting and competition.

Subtensions also are used for holdovers and are measured from the center of one line to the next. With mil-dash, precisely identifying the center of one line to the next for accurate, reliable and repeatable holdover is quick and easy. With mil-dots, the shooter is left with estimating the center of a mil-dot to the center of the next mil-dot, leaving room for error; moreover, even if you’re using a first-focal-plane reticle, the mil-dot increases in size as you increase magnification—a rather annoying reality when you’re trying to keyhole shots at 100 yards or beat up a 10-in. steel plate at 1,000. Good friend, Sightmark Pro Staff shooter and winner of History Channel’s Top Shot, Season 2, Chris Reed, said it best when he quipped, “You can’t hit it if you can’t see it.”

Unfortunately, while many top competitive shooters and snipers alike prefer first-focal-plane riflescopes with premium glass and mil-dash reticles, they often are quite expensive, running from $2,000 – $4,000. Fortunately, in January 2018, Sightmark introduced two first-focal-plane riflescope lines boasting illuminated mil-dash reticles, Latitude and Citadel. While Latitudes turn heads with an average price point of $800, the new Citadel lineup includes two FFP riflescopes–a 3-18×50 and 5-30×56, both with .1 mil adjustments and red-illuminated mil-dash reticles–averaging a jaw-dropping price point of $479-$516.  Citadel riflescopes even include Sightmark’s lifetime warranty.

Are you a mil-dot/mil-dash type of person or MOA? Tell us which one and why in the comment section.

Spot On: My Great South Texas Axis Hunt

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

Before the Hunt

Huntress and Hunter (father/daughter duo) are dressed in camo, prepared for a day of axis deer hunting in Texas.
Camille sharing the hunt of a lifetime with her father at JL Bar Ranch in Texas.

As long as I can recall, I have wanted to hunt exotic game with my father. I grew up watching Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures and my dad and I really bonded when Eva Shockey started appearing on the show. I saw Jim and Eva travel around the world hunting together and I wanted the same for my dad and me. This dream didn’t fade when I moved 1,000 miles south of my childhood home for college. When I came down to Texas I started hunting more than I ever did up north. I showed my dad just how passionate I was about the outdoors and he started to take my hunting endeavors seriously. We decided to go on a daddy-daughter hunt during the summer between my junior and senior year of college. As summer hunting is pretty much limited to hogs and exotics—we decided to go after an exotic deer.

Before any hard plans were made, I did all of the research I could on the different exotics offered at numerous ranches in Texas. I read up about fallow, stag, axis, sika, and blackbuck—where they originated and the time of the rut. I watched numerous shows about hunters pursuing these animals and read reviews about which meat tastes best. At the end of the day, I decided I would be going after an axis deer, also known as a chital in their native India.

There was something about the beautiful spotted coat and big antlers that intrigued me. I learned these animals are similar to cattle, breeding all year round—meaning there is no set time for the rut or fawning. Perhaps one of the most notable characteristics of axis deer is the high quality and succulent flavor of its meat—deemed one of the most delicious of all game animals.

JL Bar Ranch

As I stepped onto the hot southwest Texas tarmac in Sonora, I gazed out into the vast hill country. We were met by our guide Ricky, who was ready to show us around the 13,000-acre ranch. We were chauffeured around to see the 1,500-yard long shooting range, the skinning rack and then the trophy wall. I had seen that wall before, it was where all of the pictures from their website came from and I aspired to be among the hunters who proudly posed with their animal in front of the JL Bar sign.

That night my dad and I devoured a nice steak dinner as we mentally prepared for the next morning. There is something about the night before a big hunt that makes it hard to sleep. I hardly got any rest that night—lying awake consumed by nerves and jitters about wanting to have the perfect hunt with my dad. The 4:30 wakeup call came early but I was up and ready to go. We sat in the lodge with Ricky and discussed our plan over a cup of coffee. As we loaded up the truck and set off on our adventure I couldn’t help but notice the excitement on my dad’s face. We sat in a blind 100 yards away and admired the axis that came into feed. It was the first time in my life seeing an axis in-person and my dad and I were both mesmerized by its beauty. It was a massive buck, clearly bigger than any whitetail I had ever seen, but Ricky was not impressed—he was confident we could find a much bigger buck.

Most of the time trophy axis don’t come into the feeder, so we climbed down out of the blind and decided to spot and stalk. The grueling sun beat down on us as we stalked these big-antlered beauties. Through thick mesquite, their coats blended almost perfectly. To spot them we watched for the big white patch on the front of their neck. I did not have any idea how difficult axis deer are to stalk. If a doe sees something she doesn’t like, she will bark, triggering the rest of the herd to run off.

Huntress Camille Middleton walks down a hunting path in Texas holding her rifle
Hunting is not about the kill, sometimes viewing beautiful animals from afar is all your going to get.

As the hunt progressed, my legs ached and my arms fatigued from carrying my rifle. I realized I didn’t have a ton of time to get a deer on the ground. I was having such a fun time looking at these beautiful deer from a distance with my binoculars but we just couldn’t get close enough to the big ones. I didn’t want to come home emptyhanded, but my dad reminded me that hunting is not all about killing. Every hunter knows the frustration of putting in hard work and time and coming home with no success, but for some reason, this hunt was such a big deal to me because it was with my dad.

The hunt was winding down and the sun was starting to set when Ricky said the upcoming pond would be the last place we would check before we would have to night hunt. Before I could even gather my thoughts about night hunting deer, Ricky stopped in his tracks. My heart raced as I looked through my binoculars and saw a big axis 300 yards in front of us. Ricky held out the shooting stick and asked if I wanted to shoot from here or try to get closer. We crawled about 25 yards forward while my dad stayed back to capture a video. I rested the gun on the stick and looked through my scope. Buck fever has never hit me as hard as it did in that moment—it felt as though my entire body was shaking. My breathing became heavy, my hands sweaty and I felt weak in my knees. This was the first time during the entire hunt I actually had my rifle on a buck. Adrenaline coursed through my body as I tried to steady my breathing. With every breath, the crosshairs bounced all over the place. The buck began walking away and I felt my stomach drop as I watched. Just as hope was lost, my luck changed and the buck turned broadside. I took two deep breaths, reached a comfortable respiratory pause and then squeezed the trigger.

I lost the deer under recoil—he was nowhere in sight. I felt sick to my stomach thinking about missing such a bruiser. As I was beating myself up, Ricky turned to me with the biggest smile on his face and said, “You got him.” Immediately I felt a rush go through my head. I looked back and saw my dad walking towards us, we embraced and I tried to hold back the tears I could feel welling in my eyes. Ricky led us towards where the deer was when I shot so we could find the blood trail. We couldn’t find a single drop of blood or hair and I instantly felt the pain in my stomach come back. Ricky reassured me that he was positive I hit the deer, but I didn’t understand why there was no blood. As we started walking into the brush I turned to ask my dad something and saw my buck tucked behind a tree.

My head started to spin as I walked up on my trophy axis buck—I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry, laugh or just smile. Ricky dragged my deer out from under the tree and I gave my dad the biggest hug. He told me how impressive of a shot I made and how proud he was of me. When I finally got a closer look I saw the shot entry but there was no exit wound—this explains the lacking blood trail. Seeing that I had made a perfect shot from 275 yards back had me beaming with pride. I was proud because I sighted in my scope, I went to the range by myself to practice and I made a great shot on the back end of my comfort zone. My 143-grain bullet went straight through both lungs and lodged into the opposite shoulder. Words can’t describe the emotions I felt as I stood there looking at my buck. I was happy, relieved, proud and most importantly thankful that I could take such a stunning deer with my dad by my side the entire time. I proudly posed with my beautiful axis and JL Bar even hung my photo on their prized trophy wall.

Father and daughter posing with hunted axis deer
An impressive axis deer taken by Huntress Camille Middleton with the perfect shot.
Have you gone on the hunt of a lifetime? We’d love to hear your stories. Share them in the comment section.

 

Getting to the Heart of Hunting

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Camille Middleton.

Axis deer heart
Eating the heart of your first deer is a tradition that many hunters chose to honor.

With hunting season just around the corner, it’s time to sharpen your knives and dig deep into the heart of controversy. There are a number of long-held—and sometimes odd—rites of passage hunters partake in when killing their first deer. In September 2016, a New Zealand father was ruthlessly attacked by internet haters for letting his daughter take a bite out of a raw deer heart. The dad, Johnny Yuile, posted the pictures on the NZ Woman Hunters Facebook page of his daughter and him over a freshly killed young stag. The young girl had recently taken her first stag after a tricky approach and they commemorated with the age-old practice of eating the raw heart. For many non-hunters, this was a form of barbarism. They criticized the dad for letting the daughter eat the raw heart due to the dangers of uncooked meat—demanding the dad be criminally charged

According to evidence, eating extremely fresh raw meat carries little danger. “There’s risks anytime you eat meat period,” says ER physician Dr. Travis Stork a host on the tv show The Doctors. “That’s just the reality. But there’s also a big difference if that heart had been sitting out for 48 hours. It’s different than coming across roadkill.”

For many non-hunters, it’s difficult to understand the timeless traditions passed down through generations of hunters. For Yuile and his daughter, the pair camped overnight in the woods and made the kill the next morning. When the young girl was asked about it she said, “I saw my uncle bite the heart, so I thought I might bite it too. It tasted quite nice.”

While some hunters take a bite of the raw heart, others have adapted that tradition a bit. In an article published in Peterson’s Hunting Magazine, outdoor writer, Brian McCombie, states,“In Wisconsin, after a hunter makes a kill, they simmer the heart in water with celery, onion and beer, then slice and eat it.” While some hunters eat the heart, others don’t quite take it so far.

Huntress Camille Middleton taking a bite from a fresh, raw axis deer she hunted.
Camille partaking in the rite of “blooding” and takes a bite of the heart of her first axis deer.

After I killed my first axis deer, I decided I wanted to take it further by not only wiping the blood on my face but taking a bite from its heart. I had heard that Native American hunters would eat the heart of the animal to embody the qualities of the animal. Although I did not eat the axis heart to embody the characteristics of the deer, I did take a bite to commemorate my hunt and to symbolize the joining of the small ranks of other axis deer hunters who have come before me.

Did you eat or take a bite of the heart of your first deer? Why or why not? What do you think about this tradition? Tell us in the comment section.

About the Author

Hey, Y’all! My name is Camille and I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I’m currently a senior psychology major at TCU. After graduation, I plan to pursue a career in the outdoors industry. I grew up hunting, shooting, and fishing whenever I could with my dad and grandpa. Any time I’m not working or studying you can find me in the woods hunting or on a boat fishing.  

Summer Hunting Guide 2018

Written by Blake Johnson, Sellmark Marketing/Social Media Specialist

For many hunters, the summer months are used to prepare for fall, like checking feeders and getting stands into place. Some like to work on their accuracy at the range, and many turn to fishing. Still, there are those with the itch to get out and hunt, but with temperatures in the South reaching 100 degrees regularly, what is a hunter to do? Night hunting is becoming increasingly popular due to affordable night vision technology and more bearable temperatures. Below is a quick guide to popular summer hunting game, as well as appropriate gun set-ups. Be sure to check your state and local laws, as hunting laws do vary drastically by state.

What can you hunt in the summer?

Hogs

Wild hog in grasslands.
Hogs cause huge problems for landowners and farmers. You can hunt them all year long and take as many as you want.

It is well known that the U.S. has a widespread hog problem. Found in over 75% of states, the invasive wild hog has an estimated population of over 5 million. There are no natural predators to hogs. Hog hunting is beneficial to farmers and landowners to which the hogs cost millions of dollars each year in damages.

Hogs can’t sweat so they need a way to cool down, which is why they are often found rolling in mud. Where you can find water, you can usually find hogs. The problem is that hogs are smarter than given credit for, and most have become nocturnal from hunting pressure and the hot daytime weather. Purchasing a night vision scope is a great investment to successfully eradicate your local hog population.

Hogs are fast, thus a semi-auto modern sporting rifle (MSR) is favorable to use. Picatinny/Weaver rails allow you to add many attachments useful for night hunting. A night vision riflescope like the Sightmark Photon XT allows for clear nighttime viewing and an accurate, precise shot, something you’ll need with hogs. When using a bolt-action gun, I usually prefer to use something in .30 caliber or above. I would also recommend keeping a larger caliber pistol on you just in case. Hogs are vicious and will sometimes run straight at you. It’s always better to have a back-up in case your gun jams or you don’t have time to reload.

Coyotes

Night vision scope mounted to rifle with a wood stock
Compared to other digital night vision scopes on the market, the Sightmark Photon XT offers incredible value.

For deer hunters and farmers, coyotes are becoming an increasing nuisance. They will kill fawns, chickens, and house pets. It’s important to control coyote populations to ensure the survival of other animals. Though it’s entirely possible to spot one during the day, during hot months coyotes tend to limit their movements to the cool period between dusk and dawn. Yet again, you’re going to need a night vision scope of some kind to help spot them.

Using a call is a popular way to hunt coyotes. Electric calls utilizing pup in distress calls tend to work best and will have coyotes running in at a dead sprint. Even more so than hogs, you need to be covert, as ‘yotes are very smart in hiding behind terrain.

Bolt-action guns in lower calibers are well-suited for coyotes. My personal favorite caliber for coyotes is a .22-250 with a Photon XT 4.6x42S night vision riflescope when on a coyote hunt. I keep mentioning the Photon because, at the $500 price point, its value cannot be beaten. You can test Gen I scopes, but if you’re anything like me you will be disappointed until you try out the digital Photon XT’s.

Small Game and Varmints

Varmint hunting is another popular endeavor during the hot summer. Raccoons and other varmints are always getting into trouble: eating corn and other vegetation, getting into trash and preying on ground-nesting birds. Most all raccoon hunting is done at night when they love to cause problems.

Thermal image of a hot gun, hog is down
Night time hog hunts are even more thrilling with digital night vision and thermal imaging.

A lot of people use hounds to hunt raccoon and other varmints, but it can be easily done without them. A .22 with iron sights or red dot sight is a popular small game gun. With ample stopping power for small game, dirt-cheap ammunition, and an incredibly lightweight, .22’s are perfect guns to take in the woods. While a night vision scope is not necessary, having a night vision device is very helpful. The Sightmark Ghost Hunter series offers a variety of night vision monoculars and binoculars at affordable prices and in different magnifications. Use the night vision sight to spot raccoons then shoot ‘em down with the .22. A powerful flashlight like the Sightmark SS600 Tactical is great for spotlighting coons in trees before you take your shot.

There is no reason to hang up the hunting gear just because it’s summer. Though the days are hot, a night vision device enables you to scratch your hunting itch without having to wait until fall.  It also gives you something to look forward to during those long summer days. So, get out there and hunt!

Click here to shop Sightmark’s night vision products.

 

First Focal Plane vs. Second Focal Plane

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

There are many factors you need to consider when purchasing a new variable-power riflescope. Many shooters only focus on the magnification range and price. A potentially but overlooked factor is the placement of the reticles on the first and second plane. What’s the difference?

First Focal Plane

Pinnacle TMD tactical mil-dash reticle illustration
The Pinnacle’s tactical mil-dash first focal plane TMD reticle gets you on target and keeps you there.

First focal plane scopes have the reticle placed towards the front of the optic. When the magnification of the scope is increased, the reticle’s size increases with it. In doing so, the reticle remains the same perspective on the target’s size as you increase or decrease magnification. These scopes allow for long-range and tactical shooters more accuracy due to the constant MIL/MOA values. Sightmark’s Citadel and Pinnacle riflescopes have first focal plane reticles.

Second Focal Plane

Picture of the Sightmark Latitude F-Class competition second focal plane reticle
The Sightmark Latitude has a second focal plane reticle.

Second focal plane reticles are placed towards the back of the scope. When the magnification of the scope is adjusted, the reticle’s size does not increase. The MIL/MOA values are only correct at one magnification. When the scope is adjusted to a different magnification, the spacing changes and is not consistent. A shooter would have to do some math to calculate the actual values of the subtension. Second focal plane scopes are most useful when using the same magnification. Sightmark’s Latitude riflescopes have a second focal plane reticle.

Hunting

First focal plane scopes are increasing in popularity with hunters because they are more versatile than second focal plane systems. Whenever you are hunting, you cannot predict the outcome before the hunt. The animal could walk out at 25 yards or 500 yards. Using a first focal plane scope allows hunters to make accurate adjustments, again, because they know the subtension values are consistent throughout the magnification range. Additionally, having a larger reticle means more precise holdover adjustments. Many Europeans prefer to a first plane scope because they are legally able to hunt later into the evening than in America. A first focal plane scope is generally more expensive than a second focal plane scope, however it is worth the money. Many hunters have switched to a first focal plane scope without looking back. Many long-range shots can be easily adjusted by using a first focal plane scope at any magnification. Furthermore, if you miss your first shot but see your point of impact, you can place your second shot more accurately.

Final Thoughts

A first focal plane scope might be more expensive than a second plane scope, but it is well worth the price difference. Being able to adjust your magnification without second-guessing your subtensions is beneficial when shooting. Additionally, if you happen to miss, this will allow for you to place an accurate follow-up shot.

Which scope do you prefer—first or second? Tell us in the comment section.

About the Author

Clayton was born and raised in Cypress, Texas just outside of Houston and is currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Corporate Communications. Clayton hopes to pursue a career with Sellmark, or continue his education after graduation. Clayton is an avid deer, waterfowl, dove, turkey and exotics hunter. Growing up around guns, Clayton’s dad and grandfather are hunters as well. When Clayton isn’t in the office, at school or in the field, he’s on the water pursuing another favorite hobby—fishing. Clayton says, “Whenever an animal is not in season, I occupy my time with fishing while I wait for the next season to start hunting again.”

Laying Today’s Optic Foundation—A look at Sightmark’s New Tactical Cantilever Mounts

As an outdoor writer often ridiculously busy working with and writing about rifles, I routinely work with more than one rifle at a time. That said, I’m often working with only one or two optics, depending on the content type, distance and other factors. As an example, I may write about long-range shooting but only utilize a single long-range scope. By the same example, I may employ a close- to mid-range scope to rapidly engage targets at shorter distances. Still, I do exponentially more complete optic-with-mount swapping than traditional optic mounting when it’s time to shift gears.

I’m not alone in this practice. The truth is, optics can cost quite a bit, some may cost two or three times what one might pay for the rifle. With a problem like that, who wants to break out the torque driver and optic leveling set every time they need to move a scope from one platform to another? Past experiences have been time-wasters, even a bit frustrating when you realize you don’t have the right tools with you; moreover, who wants to carry tools everywhere? Honestly, as a gun writer, I carry more than I should already. Sometimes, I have so much gear to carry, I look more like I’m headed out on a duck hunt than an afternoon on a shooting range—I need one of those little off-road wagons!

Man shooting a WMD Guns Big Beast rifle long-distance with a Sightmark Pinnacle riflescope and tactical Cantilever mount
Using the Sightmark Tactical Cantilever Mount

Fortunately, in recent years we’ve seen a pretty significant push in the world of single-piece mounts and in the realm of such mounting systems, serious innovation. Cases in point—the new Sightmark 30mm and 34mm Tactical Cantilever Mounts. While single-piece mounts look decidedly similar, they often are not. First and foremost, you have junk and then you have quality mounts. More than cost, a solid indicator of quality and performance is the warranty. Sightmark’s Tactical Cantilever Mounts include a lifetime warranty—not bad for a sub-$100 product. Yes, a willingness to back a product for a lifetime says a lot about the product and the company.

I had the luxury of spending quality time with Sightmark’s latest and greatest prototype Tactical Cantilever Mounts during a long-range shooting demonstration with Green Top in Ashland, Virginia. Event attendance was bursting at the seams with a longer line than I expected of folks hungry for long-range shooting, up to 600 yards—a chip shot for some of us here in Texas but in Virginia, I understand, distance shooting like that is anything but commonplace. Still, we shot steel, starting with a large square plate and ending with what appeared to be a 1-MOA steel gong. Top shot of the day was an elderly woman hitting the 600-yard steel plate no her first shot. She listened to my coaching, squeezed the trigger, I saw the splash and called her hit, and then she smiled wide, saying, “I’m telling my friends I’m never shooting at 200 yards again!”

Experiences like hers, or for that matter, the similar experiences of hundreds of shooters that day on two amazing rifle systems, a McRees Precision BR-10 and a WMD Guns Big Beast, both world-class match rifles in their own rights and both chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, generally don’t happen with shoddy rigs, mounts and optics. The shooters and rifles did their parts, the optics—for these rifles, Sightmark Pinnacle 3-18×44 TMD and Sightmark Latitude 6.25-25×56 PRS first-focal-plane riflescopes—delivered razor-sharp sight pictures and the precision-machined Sightmark Tactical Cantilever Mounts ensured the optics were rock-solid throughout the shooting experience. After a full day of long-range shooting, the optics still held zero—a testament to the scopes and the mounts.

Sightmark’s new Tactical Cantilever Mounts feature vertically-split rings with four retention screws each, aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum construction, a durable matte black finish and, as mentioned previously, a lifetime warranty. Sightmark Tactical Cantilever Mounts are available in both 0 and 20 MOA platforms, for 30mm and 34mm optics, with fixed or locking quick-detach mounting systems perfectly compatible with Picatinny rails.

Click here to check out the 34mm Cantilever Mounts.

Sightmark Sets Sights on TTHA Fort Worth Extravaganza

A woman and man hunting
Stop by the Sightmark booth to check out the Pinnacle and Citadel riflescopes.

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/07/16) – Sightmark is happy to announce participation at the upcoming Texas Trophy Hunters Extravaganza, August 10-12, 2018 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The event is comprised of hundreds of vendors, numerous hunting and shooting clinics, contests, celebrities and some of the most passionate and dedicated hunters from around the world.

Sightmark plans to display optics and firearm accessories geared toward hunters, including the new Citadel and Pinnacle riflescopes, Ultra Shot RAM series red dots and Photon RT digital night vision riflescopes. If you’re planning to attend the Ft. Worth TTHA Show, be sure to stop by booths F877 and F879 to visit with Sightmark’s knowledgeable staff about their first-class product lines.

About TTHA

The Texas Trophy Hunters Association is the “Voice of Texas Hunting” and will continue to promote, protect and preserve Texas’ wildlife resources and hunting heritage for future generations. For over 40 years, the Texas Trophy Hunters Association has promoted the sport, science and heritage of hunting in the great state of Texas.

Trailing Blood: 7 Steps to Find Your Deer

Dead deer
If your shot isn’t perfect, you will have to trail your deer.

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

Following a blood trail is one of the last things a hunter wants to do. Knowing that you wounded a deer is not a pleasant feeling to have. It takes a lot of blood trails and experience to become a talented tracker. Helping other people locate their deer is a great way to gain experience. Check out these seven tips to help you become a more experienced and successful blood tracker.

Point of Impact

One of the most important things you can do when you shoot is to watch your arrow or bullet hit the deer. Slow down your breathing and focus when you take the shot. Knowing the point of impact can help you establish if it was a good shot or not. An alternative option is to record your hunts and watch where the impact is. Additionally, watch how the deer reacts when they are hit. If the deer kicks like a bronco, it is sometimes a lung or heart shot. However, if the deer hunches over like it is sick, it is usually a gut shot.

Stay Put

Many hunters rush out of their stand filled with excitement after they shoot. Deer are strong animals and sometimes take multiple hours to die. The length of time it takes for a deer to die depends on your shot placement. Make sure you give the deer enough time in case you made a bad shot. As a rifle hunter, I like to wait 30 minutes after I shoot to let the deer die. If you are too quick to approach the deer, you risk spooking the deer and causing them to run further. This results in more work for the hunter.

Starting Point

To save time and effort, always start blood trailing where the deer was standing when you shot. Use a physical marker to help you remember that location. Starting from the beginning allows you to get a feel for what the blood trail is like. It is much easier to start there because when you climb down from the stand your perception of everything is changed.

Blood Analysis

The color of the blood is the dead giveaway to your shot placement. Seeing red or pink blood is a positive sign that you placed a good shot on the deer. Dark red blood indicates you hit the heart or liver. Pink blood can mean you hit the lungs and you will also see bubbles within the blood. Green matter indicates you have a gut shot. Obviously, the more blood the better. Sometimes high lung shots will not bleed as much because it takes longer for the body cavity to fill up. When looking for blood, do not look for a definite trail, sometimes the smallest droplets can help you locate the deer.

Tracking

Getting low to the ground can help you see small blood droplets easier. It might be painful on your knees, but you will forget about that when you find your deer. The most important thing to do when tracking for blood is to mark the last spot of blood. As you are trailing and looking down at the ground, it is easy to get turned around with directions. Flagging tape is a great way to mark last blood. You will slowly establish a general idea of the direction the deer is traveling in with the flagging tape. Do not move forward until you have located more blood. Walking aimlessly through the woods will ware you down and cause you to become hopeless. When walking pointlessly through the woods, you have the chance to smear blood or cover blood up with vegetation. If you lose the blood trail, continue in the same direction walking in small half circles looking for the next drop of blood. Many times you will find blood on the side of vegetation, not just on the ground. Getting down at the deer’s level is a great way to locate additional blood

Habits

Many hunters have noticed that deer have circle backed, or double backed on themselves. If a deer does a hard double back, it adds difficulty to the tracker. If the blood trail suddenly stops, turn around and see if the trail continues in a different direction.

Help

Having multiple sets of eyes looking for blood greatly increases the chances of finding more blood. Make sure you do not have too many helpers or you will all be walking on top of each other. I have found that one or two additional people is a good compromise on extra eyes verses too many people. If needed, you can use a dog to find your deer. This is not legal in some states, so double check with your local hunting laws before using a dog.

Final Remarks

Make sure to use all the legal tools you can to help you find the deer. Watching your point of impact will help you understand the situation that the deer is in. Make sure to give the deer enough time to lay down before you pursue the deer. Always stat trailing where the deer was standing when you shot. Identifying the color of the blood will help you know where your shot placement was, and possibly the state of health that the deer is in. Make sure to grab an extra pair of eyes, so you do not overlook any blood. Make sure you find your deer before the predators do!

About the Author

Clayton was born and raised in Cypress, Texas just outside of Houston and is currently a senior at Baylor University majoring in Marketing with a minor in Corporate Communications. Clayton hopes to pursue a career with Sellmark, or continue his education after graduation. Clayton is an avid deer, waterfowl, dove, turkey and exotics hunter. Growing up around guns, Clayton’s dad and grandfather are hunters as well. When Clayton isn’t in the office, at school or in the field, he’s on the water pursuing another favorite hobby—fishing. Clayton says, “Whenever an animal is not in season, I occupy my time with fishing while I wait for the next season to start hunting again.”

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