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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sightmark Citadel 1-6×24
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
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.
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.