Six Ways to Sabotage Your Deer Hunt

A guest post written by Sellmark marketing intern Clayton Costolnick.

Many articles share how to have a successful deer hunt but finding one that reminds you of what not to do are few and far between. Busting your hunt can be one of the worst feelings for a hunter. Hunting season is only for a limited time, so make each hunt count.

Tardy to the Party

Arriving fashionably late to the deer stand is a great way to start off a miserable hunt. Beauty sleep isn’t necessarily essential for a successful hunt. So wake up early and have some coffee… but not too much. It’s okay to be early, but never okay to be late. If you are tardy to the party, sneak into your stand as quietly as you can. Try not to startle anything by taking it slow and quiet. Being on time for a morning hunt means slipping in under the cover of darkness. It is one of your best advantages. Once you get situated in the stand, you are ready to go and your prey is none the wiser.

The Munchies

Woman hunter dressed in camo eating a Whataburger meal
Munchin’ down on burgers in the stand is not a great idea.

If the deer are eating, you can eat, right? It depends. Make sure you find quiet snacks to eat in the stand like jerky, sausage or trail mix. Test them out at home before you take them to the stand and see how quietly you can eat. Some loud snack options to refrain from eating are carrots, chips and apples. Smacking is also prohibited in the deer stand. Equally as important, play the wind. Do not bring food that smells, like a sandwich. Deer have keen senses and can zero in on your Whataburger from quite a distance. The two senses deer rely on the most are smelling and hearing. The sandwich you eat might smell good to you, but its an alert to the deer.

Smells

If you cannot go anywhere without bringing your lucky perfume, then hunting may not be for you. The sense of smell is one of the main tools deer use for navigating their habitat. Deer tend to avoid unfamiliar scents. They’re pretty smart animals and are known to maneuver downwind of you in an effort to pick up your scent. Make sure you do not spray any extra scents on yourself and avoid washing your clothes in a detergent that smells like spring cleaning. Suppressing your scent is crucial for bow hunters, as you have to get close to the deer. Rifle hunters have an easier time hiding their scent, typically because of sheer distance. Many companies make an earth scent spray to cover your scent. I recommend using it.

Hibernation

While I said no beauty sleep, you still need rest. Sleep is crucial when hunting; waking up early and going to bed late drains the body of energy. Taking a snooze in the deer stand might seem like it will help solve the problem. I know the stand can get boring, but avoid sleeping at all costs. Many hunters have slept through hunts and missed shooting a deer that they never knew came out. Your chances of seeing a deer dramatically drop when your eyes are closed; If you want to sleep, stay in bed while the rest of us get out and enjoy nature.

Social Media

Everyone gets lonely in the stand waiting for a deer to show. Many hunters use this time to Facebook and update everyone on their adventures. This is a costly mistake because your eyes are on your phone and not on the field. More than one deer has slipped into view and left without Facebooking hunters and you ever noticing. Additionally, always keep watch on the deer to make sure one of them does not sneak up on you and give away your position. The deer aren’t prone to sending Facebook messages to announce their arrival.

Dance Party

Woman dressed in camo bow hunting
You might get bored, but resist being distracted. You don’t want to miss your shot

Moving inside the blind can be noticed by a deer’s keen eyesight. Even the smallest movements can spook a deer and cause them to run off. Keep movements to a minimum and consider stand positions that obscure your silhouette. Deer can see the image of your head and upper body through the stand, especially if you move. Hiding in front of a structure, like a tree or corner of the stand will help break up your image and perhaps some light movement.  Don’t bust a move of any kind while hunting.

Abandon Ship

Being the captain of the ship means you leave whenever you like; however, leaving the stand early can alert deer of your presence. Never leave the field when there are still deer in the area. Scaring deer away is one of the worst ways to ruin a current and future hunt. Having a human emerge from the stand is not natural for the deer to see. Making the environment look as natural as possible is a key to success.

Final Remarks

Sleep is important when hunting but never press snooze. Bring snacks that are quiet in case you get the munchies. Find natural scents around you like cedar to rub on you to help mask your scent. Do not sleep in the stand. Stay off of social media– the deer are not going to message you. Stay still as deer can see even the smallest movements. Never abandon ship early. Show up early, leave late and hunt hard!

Have you ever missed a shot due to something you weren’t paying attention? Tell us about your hunting mishaps in the comment section.

Click here to shop Sightmark.

The Sightmark XT-3 Magnifier: A Game Changer

Written by Jamie Trahan, 18-year Law Enforcement Officer and Sightmark Pro Staff Member

It eventually happens to us all.

One day, your range day just doesn’t go right. One day, you miss the shot on that deer you’ve been seeing on your game cam.

One day………

It may be your life, the life of a loved one, or the life of a stranger you are trying to help that hangs in the balance of the shot you don’t trust yourself to take.

The common denominator? Your eyesight. It may be low-light vision loss, or it may be just a loss of clarity in your vision itself. Vision impairment can present itself in a myriad of ways and is specific to each one of us.

Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD and XT-3 Tactical Magnifier mounted to a patrol rifle
The Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD and new XT-3 Tactical Magnifier are a great combo for aging eyes.

Luckily for us, we live in a time of rapidly advancing technology in the field of firearms and firearm optics—like advanced red dot and reflex sights—and have companies bringing products to the market to help us fight back against our eyes as they betray us.

According to the American Optometric Association, adults between 19 and 40 typically have healthy eyes and vision and only suffer from visual issues due to visual stress and eye injuries. When it comes to vision, 40 is where we tend to hit the wall. The odds aren’t in our favor and eventually, nearly every one of us will need to fight back against our aging eyes. That help is just a few keystrokes away at Sightmark.com.

Let me introduce two products to you that the folks at Sightmark have that may alleviate those problems. First up is the Ultra Shot Pro Spec NVG QD (SM14002.)

Directly from Sightmark.com:

“One of the most feature-rich members in the Sightmark® Reflex Sight line, the Ultra Shot Pro Spec Night Vision QD provides shooters accuracy and durability to enhance any shooting experience. Equipped with a night vision mode, shooters can mount the device in front of a night vision monocular to create a co-witnessed riflescope set up. Its four reticle patterns allow for maximum customization and precision accuracy day or night. The featured double-pane glass lens system eliminates parallax and retains accuracy when fired from the periphery of the lens. Users can quickly and effectively adapt their firearm to the situation at hand with the included quick-detach mount. Its Interlok™ internal locking system holds zero extremely well, so the shooter does not have to continually re-adjust the sight in the field.”

I chose this model for two specific features—night-vision compatibility and the quick-detach mount.  This model has two NVG settings (Gen 1-2 and Gen 3+) in addition to three standard brightness settings. It has four selectable reticles, and I opt for the circle/dot configuration. That’s home sweet home for me. The LQD (locking quick detach) was not yet released when I purchased my Ultra Shot. For my specific use (tactical law enforcement), I would have opted for the ability to physically lock the QD lever. I’ve had over 50 entries (with it mounted) between real-world missions and training and the non-locking QD has not been an issue.

SWAT team member with an AR-15 rifle with a red dot sight and tactical magnifier from Sightmark
The author ran his red dot and magnifier set up at a instructor class and a training day.

For those with weakening eyes, you can rest assured that the bright red circle will enable you to put the bullets where you want them. No more squinting and eye strain to focus on that front sight. The circle/dot reticle that I use is a 50 MOA circle with a 3 MOA dot. It is also parallax-free, so once it’s zeroed, wherever the dot is in the lens, is where bullet impact on the target will be.

Now on to the newest product in this combo—the XT-3 Tactical Magnifier. It is a 3x magnifier with a locking quick-detach mount that flips to the side. Neat, right?

In their own words directly from Sightmark:

“Designed to mount behind a reflex sight or red dot to increase magnification, the Sightmark XT-3 Tactical Magnifier allows shooters to engage targets at further distances with a 23mm objective lens and 3x magnification. Compact and lightweight, the Sightmark XT-3 features a flip-to-side mount, providing rapid transition between your gun’s optic system, and 4-inch eye relief, improving overall comfort for shooters. External adjustments eliminate the need for tools for reticle alignment while fully multi-coated optics and rubber armored housing increase the XT-3 Magnifier’s image clarity and durability. EOTech® and Aimpoint® compatible, the Sightmark XT-3 is quickly mounted and removed via a locking, quick detach mount.”

So, even if I haven’t sold you on the Ultra Shot, Sightmark has designed their magnifier to be compatible with the optics from other manufacturers that you may already own. Sightmark is here to help us, the end user. By bringing down overall costs, enjoying our lifestyle and hobby doesn’t break the bank. Just because something costs more doesn’t necessarily make it better.

Two photos comparing the Ultra Shot red dot sight with the red dot sight combined with the magnifier
See the difference between the Ultra Shot alone and then combined with the Magnifier.

I had the XT-3 mounted on my rifle for roughly three weeks. During that time, it was used on several tactical incidents—an 8-hour range training day, and a 3-day advanced firearms instructor class. During the tactical incidents, the magnifier was mounted and flipped to the side during residential entries as it was not needed. On the range day, the magnifier was used in a limited capacity but at the end of the day, I was able to take a comparison photograph to show you the difference between the standard view through the Ultra Shot and then with the XT-3 flipped down into position. The photograph speaks for itself.

My time during the three-day instructor class is where I was able to push the magnifier, and myself, during training drills. In one drill, we began at the 50-yard line with an empty weapon and 3 magazines. One magazine was loaded with 10 rounds and 2 were loaded with 5 rounds each. On the beep of the shot timer, the shooter loaded the 10-round magazine and then 5 shots were fired standing from the 50-yard line. The shooter then sprinted up to the 25-yard line and fired 5 more rounds while utilizing cover. At that point, the shooter dropped to a kneeling position while reloading and then fired an additional 5 rounds from cover before reloading a second time. The shooter then sprinted back down to the 50-yard line, assumed a prone position behind cover and fired an additional 5 rounds. On my first run, I ran this drill in roughly 30 seconds with a slight miss. I was switching between the magnifier and non-magnified optic during positions. I account my miss to rushing shots for the timer. On my second run, I ran the optic with the magnifier the entire time and ran the drill quicker in just under 28 seconds with zero misses.

I will be the first to admit that a 3x magnifier was not 100% necessary at 25 yards, however, the magnifier didn’t slow me down when acquiring my target and getting hits on paper where they needed to be.

In the end, you will have to decide as to whether the magnifier is for you. This was my first experience running a magnifier on a red dot type sight. It’s definitely a game changer, and for under a pound of added weight to your rifle, it’s hard to beat.

The XT-3 is something to think about. With more time, I think I would’ve been pushing myself to run the XT-3 full time, except for engagements 25 yards and in.

Get out there, make your mark, and enjoy the rights granted to you by our Second Amendment. Stay safe and happy hunting.

Jamie Trahan is a career law enforcement officer with over 17 years of experience and works for a Sheriff’s Office in southern Louisiana. His full-time assignment is as a Detective in the Crime Scene Investigations Unit where he holds the rank of Lieutenant. He is also the entry team leader for the SWAT team, a member of the department’s Honor Guard and a LA POST Firearms Instructor. He is a member of the National Tactical Police Officer’s Association and the Louisiana Tactical Police Officer’s Association. First and foremost, he is a husband to his wife, Tara, and a father to his two sons, Luke and Liam. He is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights for all law-abiding citizens of this great country. He plans to pass the love of shooting on to his sons in the hopes that after he is gone and they are spending time with their own children, that they will reflect back upon the memories of what Jamie taught them as they are teaching their own, just like Jamie’s father taught him.

 

 

 

 

 

Sightmark Introduces Revamped Ultra Shot RAM Series

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/05/18) – Sightmark is proud to announce the release of the latest generation of Ultra Shot reflex sights, ripe with upgrades and a fresh new design. With three available models; R, A and M-Spec, Sightmark has created resilient close-range optics perfect for everything from target shooting to law enforcement and military operations on both AR platform firearms and shotguns. All RAM series sights are now powered by a CR123A battery, which provides superior battery life (200-2,000 hours) over other red dots and reflex sights. A wide lens quickens target acquisition while helping to maintain a wide FOV.  Quick-detach models include an improved QD lever allowing a low profile to keep the sights from snagging on gear or unlatching during the heat of the moment.

Ultra Shot RAM series red dot sights mounted on an IWI Tavor, CZ Scorpion 9mm and AR-15
The new RAM series Ultra Shot red dot sights are upgraded and enhanced with a all-new design.

Ideal for target shooting and hunting, the Ultra Shot R-Spec (SM26031), or Range Spec, features four reticle options with red or green illumination and a new low battery indication which prompts the reticle to blink when the battery is low. The R-Spec boasts 10 brightness levels, from low light to sunny outdoors, and slotted windage and elevation adjustments, able to be changed with a flathead or common tool.

The new aluminum-constructed Ultra Shot A-Spec (SM26032), or Advanced Spec model, retains many of the same updates found in the R-Spec, but adds 6-night vision settings, allowing the sight to be used in conjunction with night vision devices. The R-Spec is shielded by a sturdy aluminum alloy housing and protective aluminum shield.

The most durable and advanced sight in the Ultra Shot line, the new M-Spec LQD (SM26034) and M-Spec FMS (SM26035) were designed for law enforcement, hunting and competition shooting scenarios. Waterproof up to 40′ and able to withstand up to .50 BMG caliber recoil, this fixed mount M-Spec features motion sensing activation (5-minute shutoff with motion activation, 12-hour auto-off) to conserve battery life but still keep the optic ready for when it needs to be. This cutting-edge reflex sight has an integrated retractable sunshade that reduces lens glare and protects the optic during rain or snow.

Sighting in With Sightmark

This article written by Bill Thomas originally appeared in the United Kingdom magazine Airsoft Action. Sightmark products were supplied by U.K. dealer Scott Country International.

In the UK we sometimes seem to be all the way “at the back of the bus” when it comes to firearms and airsoft accessories and although our distributors and retailers do their very best keep us up to date with the very latest developments it can take a while for things to reach us. Bill Thomas looks at Sightmark, an optics brand that has finally reached our shores!

It was back at SHOT 2009 (if memory serves me right) that I first encountered the Sightmark brand of optics and from that day forward I’ve been hoping that someone would give us proper access to a superb range of extremely well-priced optics here in the UK!

I was so impressed with what I saw all those years ago that I invested in an original Sightmark Ultra Shot Reflex Sight straight away. The Sightmark series of reflex sights, even back then, were designed to create a lightweight, yet extremely accurate sight. Not only that but they were very well priced too, under $100 in the USA. The Ultra Shot was Sightmark’s biggest and baddest sight in the reflex line and was incredibly lightweight for its size. It came with a built-in, integrated rail mount, which fitted all standard bases and was able to withstand even heavy recoil from larger calibers; no problems with airsoft then. This, with the ability to choose between four different reticle patterns, made the original Ultra Shot an unusually versatile sight. With a wider field of view than most other reflex sights on the market and a limited lifetime warranty, the Sightmark Ultra Shot was literally in a class by itself!

Sightmark Ultra Shot red dot sight in flat dark earth finish
Sightmark’s Ultra Shot is a very versatile sight.

But time moves on inevitably, and although there were some half-hearted efforts to bring the brand to the UK it was never made particularly available…until now! Luckily for us, Scott Country International has now taken over distributorship of Sightmark in the UK.

Eyes On!

Time and technology continue to move on unabated and luckily enough for us in the airsoft world, faster communication means even faster dissemination of information. Now as regular readers will know, I’ve been following the roll-out of some excellent Cannae Pro tactical gear (also courtesy of Scott Country International), and when Paul there spoke to me about their new brand, Sightmark, he was, of course, preaching to the converted.

What he sent me to try was a “combo platter” of the very latest Wolverine FSR 1×28 red dot sight along with a rather nifty flip to the side 3x magnifier, which makes an incredibly versatile package! Designed for short-range engagements, the Sightmark Wolverine FSR is specifically built for the AR platform. A digital switch controls the brightness of the 2 MOA red dot reticle with a 28mm objective lens that is specifically engineered for rapid target acquisition.

The durable FSR model weighs only 349g and is built for a lifetime of use. Fogproof and nitrogen purged, the Wolverine family of sights is designed to provide you with the ability to take aim in a variety of conditions and temperatures ranging from -22 to 122 F. The Wolverine FSR also has an IP67 waterproof rating and is submersible to three feet.

Sightmark Wolverine and magnifier mounted on an AR-15
The Wolverine and magnifier together give greater range.

The 3x Tactical Magnifier Pro offers versatility by increasing the magnification of both red dot and reflex sights to give greater range. In one swift motion, the new flip mount design makes it fast and easy for shooters to increase their magnification for accompanying sights creating a greater engagement range in any situation. This durable magnifier has been redesigned to provide increased eye relief, along with an upgraded rubber armor housing to give increased durability, providing 3.5 inches of eye relief. The Sightmark 3x Tactical Magnifier Pro is also EOTech and Aimpoint compatible.

Overall the standard of finish and fit is superb, and the glass itself is absolutely crystal clear on both optics. The feel of both models is one of durability and once rail-mounted they are locked 100% in place. Now personally I like to run a magnifier as close to the sighting optic as possible to avoid light ingress and potential “flare,” and the Sightmark version allows you to run it really close, a big plus. I also like to have my magnifier flip to the left so that it’s protected against my body, and once again this is easily achievable; the flip also means that you can still run and access “irons” should you need to.

Dark Vision

When I need to test optics at a greater distance than my own 30m range allows, I’m lucky to have Darkwater Airsoft just down the road from me and I’ll head on there to use their facilities. Jon (aka “Posh”) has also been testing some of the optics offered by Scott Country International so I asked him if he would like to contribute to this article, and this is what he had to tell me:

“Chatting away with our friends at Scott Country International I was asked if I’d ever heard of Sightmark? “Who?” Was my reply.

Paul there went on to explain that they were a real steel optics company based in Mansfield, Texas and how they produced high-quality optics at very reasonable prices. We were chatting about Darkwater Airsoft’s upcoming MilSim “Grey Slate 2” and how well the thermal imaging units they provided the Heresy Group has been received by the attendees at the first game. Paul said that I should try out the Sightmark Ultra and the Pulsar Challenger Optic combo. With that, the deal was done.

Sightmark Wolverine red dot sight
The Wolverine FSR is specifically built for the AR platform.

Two days later a very well-presented package arrived. The SIghtmark Ultra Shot comes in a very generic looking box with branding. So far, so samey. The charm is found when you get through the security seals and remove the lid. Inside you’ll find a neoprene pouch stitched to the shape of the optic and zips firmly along the bottom. You’ll also find the quick release mechanism, adjustment tools, cleaning cloth and instruction manual. The Pulsar Challenger isn’t quite as exciting, a branded box, the unit and instruction manual.

On first inspection, the Ultra Shot is a weighty but not heavy, solid well-constructed bit of kit. I have the all-black version but there is also a Tactical Tan version. The two simple operational buttons are on the left side of the optic and comprise of “Power and Brightness.” Nice and simple. The rear of the unit has the reticle selector which, unlike Airsoft replicas, has a stiff lever and sturdy “click” feel when swapping. When activated the brightness levels cover all light conditions and are red/green switchable. The reticle is clear and bright with excellent target marking. In night vision (NV) mode, the reticle is clear and crisp with minimal glare when on low and viewed through the Pulsar Challenger NV optic. I thought this was pretty cool; the fact that you can mount it to a J-Arm and make it helmet compatible is just an added bonus!

The real selling point for me though was that whilst chatting with Scott Country, they told me about the “no quibble warranty.” Essentially, if the lens gets shot out during airsoft games, they’ll replace or repair. What more could you ask for?

The Pulsar Challenger NV is a Gen 1 optic so not the best available on the market, but it performed really well when combined with the Sightmark Ultra Shot (mounted to my rifle) and the pricing of the unit is excellent for those wishing to take the plunge but not having to re-mortgage the wife! Once I had figured out the focus, I was able to hit a target 40m out using the inbuilt IR light and using an external IR torch (flashlight), I was hitting 60m targets with a degree of accuracy. A perfect set up for beginners to night vision.

I would strongly recommend the Sightmark Ultra Shot to any airsofter or target shooter. It’s a solidly built bit of kit with a lifetime warranty, all for the cost of a good replica.

Posh Out.”

So, there it is in a nutshell! Scott Country International have shown a great willingness to be involved in the airsoft community and thanks to them we in the UK can now access the entire range of Sightmark products. In addition to some (for “real steel” world) keen prices there’s a whole new brand to explore. Sightmark has proved globally that they are here to stay and with an upgraded lifetime warranty (designed to “keep you in the field with products that are built to perform; in the event of defect in materials or workmanship, Sightmark will repair or replace your product immediately”) choosing one of their optics is a total no-brainer!

UK customers can find out more at www.scottcountry.co.uk/sightmark.

Sightmark Citadel Riflescopes: Making the Performance Mark

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/05/09) – Sightmark’s new Citadel line of premium riflescopes are on-target when it comes to affordable precision performance. Designed as a perfect optic solution for demanding, cost-conscious law enforcement and competitors, Citadel riflescopes are packed with the kind of features traditionally sought after by professional-level shooters. The Citadel riflescope line is comprised of three variable magnification models: 1-6×24 CR1 (SM13038CR1,) 3-18x50LR2 (SM13039LR2,) and 5-30x56LR2 (SM13040LR2.)

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

All models feature a fine-etched, red-illuminated reticle with 11 brightness settings; premium, fully multi-coated glass for razor-sharp clarity; single-piece, 30mm, 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum tube; throw lever for rapid magnification changes; IP67 waterproof, dustproof, fogproof and shockproof reliability; flip-up lens covers and Sightmark’s lifetime warranty.

Citadel First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Sightmark Citadel 3-18×50 and 5-30×56 riflescopes boast the highly sought after first-focal-plane lens system and illuminated LR2 mil-dash reticles extended-distance competitors desire for consistently precise holdovers at any magnification. Both optics also feature an adjustable, locking diopter, exposed locking turrets, 0.1 mil windage and elevation adjustments, and adjustable parallax. Citadel 3-18×50 and 5-30×56 are great options for long-range recreational plinking, bench rest and F-class competition and PRS matches.

Citadel 1-6×24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope

Perfect for law enforcement, competitive shooters and close- to mid-range hunting, the Sightmark Citadel 1-6×24 Riflescope is built for quick-target-acquisition from up close and personal to hundreds of yards out. The Citadel 1-6×24 features an illuminated CR1 (BDC) reticle calibrated for 55-grain .223 ammunition, capped low-profile turrets and ½-MOA per click windage and elevation adjustability with a total adjustment range on each axis of 120 MOA.

Click here to buy a Citadel riflescope.

Media members interested in learning more about Sightmark products are encouraged to stop by or schedule an appointment by emailing mediarelations@sightmark.com.

Take the High Road with Keith Warren at the NRA Show!

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/04/30) – Iconic hunter and host of The High Road, Keith Warren, will be at the Sightmark booth during the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits. Keith has hosted seven award-winning outdoor shows since 1984, appearing on numerous television networks including Outdoor Channel, Sportsman Channel, Pursuit Channel, ESPN and ESPN2. His latest show, The High Road with Keith Warren, currently airs on Pursuit Channel and is one of the network’s most popular programs. To watch the latest episodes, log on to www.highroadhunting.com.

Host of The High Road, Keith Warren with a deer he hunted.
Keith will be at booth #12146 on Friday and Saturday from 3-5.

Keith will be at the Sightmark booth (#12146) for photos, autographs and to meet attendees, from 3 – 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, May 4 – 5. Stop by, say hi and check out some of the best red dot and reflex sights, spotting scopes, binoculars, riflescopes and digital night vision devices this industry has to offer.

The Annual NRA Meeting & Exhibits is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased on-site and NRA members enjoy free admission.

Thinking Outside the Law Enforcement Budgetary Box—the Case for Value-Priced Digital Night Vision

Written by Jamie Trahan, 18-year Law Enforcement Officer and Sightmark Pro Staff Member

Over the years, we have all heard the same thing. Night vision costs an arm and a leg. Reliable, night vision and economical are three terms rarely, if ever, used in conjunction with one another. Typically, you are forced to pick only two of them since the three attributes simply are not available in one package.

Sightmark heard this and said, “Hold my drink. Watch this!” (Completely in jest, the only drinks that should ever be involved with anything firearms related should be HYDRATING beverages and NEVER alcoholic based.)

That life lesson out-of-the-way, let me introduce the new Sightmark Photon RT series.

Night vision riflescope
Updated features on the Photon RT include a 768×576 CMOS sensor, 40% higher resolution, and integrated built-in video recorder.

Directly from Sightmark.com:

Delivering unmatched performance day or night, the revamped Photon RT 4.5x42s digital night vision riflescope features an upgraded 768×576 CMOS sensor with 40% higher resolution over the Photon XT series, crisp 640×480 LCD display, built-in video/sound recording and integrated WiFi via the Stream Vision App. Available 2x digital zoom and a built-in 850nm LED IR illuminator allow shooters to hone in on targets up to 220 yards away in total darkness. The scope has 6 reticle options with 4 different colors and boasts a one-shot zero function, making zeroing the Photon RT a breeze. Shockproof and IP55 water resistant, the Photon RT also offers an additional weaver rail for accessories and a power input that works with power banks via microUSB. The Photon RT works with most aftermarket 30mm rings and includes carrying case, user manual, USB cable, spare battery container, battery container pouch and lens cloth.

Whew! Now, that you’ve read all of that, let me break it down to you in a cop’s easy-to-understand terms. The Photon RT series is a digital night vision riflescope that, for under $1,000 allows you to observe and report in complete darkness at typical “law enforcement engagement distances” of 100 yards or less.

HANDS ON  

The Photon RT model I received was the 4.5x42s. The optic comes nicely packaged inside a padded box proudly bearing the Sightmark logo. Upon opening the box, you find the scope comes with a soft carrying case for those times you choose to remove it from your rifle. You will be as impressed as I was by the size of the scope when pulling it out of the case. With the flexible eyecup, it is 16.57 inches in length, 3.93 inches in width and 3.62 inches in height. The weight is 30.7 ounces—1.92 pounds for those not good at conversions like myself. Thanks, Siri!

Now, you may be thinking “Man, that seems like a lot of weight on the top of my rifle.” Looking at it on paper, you may think so but then consider the power nestled in its compact body. The Photon RT 4.5x42S is a battery-powered digital night vision riflescope that not only allows you to see in the dark but also includes recording capability with audio. The Photon RT allows you to stream video to YouTube, update firmware, download footage and even allows the display to be viewed on a wirelessly connected smartphone or tablet using the device’s integral Wi-Fi along with the Stream Vision App. Doesn’t seem all that heavy now does it? And yes, you read right. It records video and audio and allows you to stream it. Wow! It comes in tactical SWAT black. Get you some of that.

MOUNTING

Sightmark Photon RT digital night vision riflescope mounted to a police officer's rifle
After two weeks of riding inside a case in the trunk, the Photon didn’t shift from zero.

Mounting the scope is no different than other scopes. It mounts quickly and easily with standard 30mm rings. Sightmark offers various types of optic mounts and is more than happy to help you make the right choice. This particular test and evaluation (T&E) model did not include rings, so I rushed out and sourced a high set locally. The rings locked up and once torqued into place with a FAT wrench, kept the scope locked down and set with no issues. That said, just get the suggested mounts from Sightmark—they’re better than what you’ll find at a moment’s notice like I did.

INITIAL ZERO

One thing to remember about the Photon RT is that it is truly a digital riflescope… including the reticle. There are no traditional crosshairs to adjust. Adjustments are done inside the menu settings of the scope’s software. The Photon RT features “One Shot Zero.” Essentially, you lock the rifle into position and eliminate movement while on target, fire a round and then enter the zeroing mode in the menu—a second crosshair appears. Using digital controls, move the second crosshair to your actual position of impact. Once the adjustment has been saved, that’s it. The manual suggests a 100-yard setup; however, I began at 25 yards. Once I confirmed my shot placement, I sighted in again at 100 yards. Honestly, perhaps I should have just gone to 100 yards as the manual suggested and saved some ammo… but Nah! That would be one less reason to stay at the range longer.

Since the Photon RT is a day- and night-compatible digital riflescope, I performed my zero at about 3 p.m. on a slightly cloudy day. With the zero set, the change in light made no difference to my position of impact when I double-checked accuracy that evening, at roughly 8 p.m. (Author’s note:  This was during standard time, so it was actually dark at 8 p.m.).

DAYTIME RANGE SESSION/FIRST SHOOTING IMPRESSIONS

The rifle and Photon RT combo consistently shoots MOA at 100 yards with Federal 168-grain BTHP Match ammo with no performance deviations between day or night shooting. What did take a little getting used to was adjusting to a black and white sight picture on the 640×480 digital display. Moving around with helmet-mounted NODS is completely different than the Photon RT, at least for my eyes. One additional note related to sight picture, the Photon RT features two magnification settings: 4.5x optical zoom and 9x digital zoom—there is no variable zoom; it’s one or the other.

Another feature I appreciate is attention to eye relief. The Photon RT’s eye relief is generous and different from a traditional scope. Remember, when it comes to digital night vision scopes, you aren’t looking through a lens system. You are looking at a digital display manufactured by the information coming in from the objective lens and through multiple light manipulating processes, including converting gathered light into an electrical signal displayed on the device’s digital display. You can imagine how different it might be transitioning from an optical field of view to a digitally manufactured one. But, once you’re on the trigger, you forget about all the fancy processes it takes to make your sight picture happen. To that end, target acquisition is the same—place your crosshair on the target and squeeze the trigger.

Black and white photo of Sightmark Photon RT digital night vision riflescope and Sightmark logo hat
Jamie Trahan, 18-year Law Enforcement Officer and Sightmark Pro Staff Member recommends the Photon RT for hunting and law enforcement.

Nighttime shooting was done under only moonlight conditions and on a standard police silhouette-type target. At 100 yards, IR setting six offered an optimum easy-to-engage target. On higher IR powers, the IT flashback was too bright against the target face. That’s not a knock on the IR, it simply means the IR is pretty good.

A second daytime range visit confirmed that two weeks of riding in the case on my rifle had not caused any shift in zero.

Recordings are easy to produce with a dedicated button. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail here because the videos available online speak volumes about the Photon RT’s content quality. (Editor’s Note: Jamie’s videos are evidence and cannot be published.) What I can tell you is recording is simple and reviewing footage is just as easy. The Photon RT also boasts onboard memory, not an SD card, so there’s no need to worry about video quality or buying SD cards. SD cards have also proven to be pretty unreliable under recoil conditions—another great benefit of the Photon’s integrated storage. Nice feature, Sightmark!

Author’s Note:  Now writing this, I realize I have failed to explain that my rig included a suppressor, effectively eliminating muzzle flash. So, I can’t tell you to what degree muzzle flash may momentarily affect field of view. I can only assume it’s minimal based on the numerous Photon RT shooting videos I have watched online.

ONE FINAL SHOT

The Photon RT I tested was used in a way it is not truly intended. It was used as a spotting scope by a narcotics surveillance unit engaged in true LEO observation in an area believed to be a storefront operated by a “street level pharmaceutical engineer.” I can’t go into further detail, obviously, but I can tell you it has performed admirably. And remember, what it sees, it can record. Even in the dark.

If you are looking for a way to help clear your property of feral hogs, protect your livestock from predators or need a riflescope to assist you in your duties—even limited, cost-conscious law enforcement—give the Sightmark Photon RT line of digital night vision riflescopes a solid look.

My time with the scope was limited since quite a few folks are still waiting to get their hands on the small supply of test units. As with any law enforcement product, you may want to test it out for yourself to make sure it meets your needs and performs to your expectations. I accept and respect the opinions of others, but I ALWAYS must do my own testing, and I expect (and hope) you do the same.

If you are in law enforcement, contact Sightmark. Their law enforcement division is always willing to answer questions and discuss night vision options. They also offer courtesy discounts to individual officers, as well as departments.

Stay safe and happy hunting.

To reach Sellmark’s Law Enforcement team with questions about products and ordering, call 817-225-0310 extension 288.

Click here to purchase a Sightmark Photon RT digital night vision riflescope.

Jamie Trahan is a career law enforcement officer with over 17 years of experience and works for a Sheriff’s Office in southern Louisiana. His full-time assignment is as a Detective in the Crime Scene Investigations Unit where he holds the rank of Lieutenant. He is also the entry team leader for the SWAT team, a member of the department’s Honor Guard and a LA POST Firearms Instructor. He is a member of the National Tactical Police Officer’s Association and the Louisiana Tactical Police Officer’s Association. First and foremost, he is a husband to his wife, Tara, and a father to his two sons, Luke and Liam. He is a staunch supporter of Second Amendment rights for all law-abiding citizens of this great country. He plans to pass the love of shooting on to his sons in the hopes that after he is gone and they are spending time with their own children, that they will reflect back upon the memories of what Jamie taught them as they are teaching their own, just like Jamie’s father taught him.

 

Make Your Mark with Sightmark Latitude Long-Range Riflescopes

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/03/17) –Whether you are on the hunt of a lifetime, ringing steel on a Saturday morning or fighting for the top spot in your next precision shooting competition, Sightmark’s new Latitude riflescopes bring your most challenging targets into focus.

Designed with versatility in mind, Sightmark’s Latitude line includes four long-range scopes with robust 4:1 zoom ratio, fully multi-coated scratch-resistant glass, green/red illuminated reticle options, locking fast-focus eyepiece, 34mm tube diameter, external zero-stop ring and oversized turrets. Sightmark Latitude riflescopes are available in the following models: 10-40×60 F-Class (SM13044FTR), 10-40×60 Benchrest (SM13044BR), 6.25-25×56 F-Class (SM13042FTR) and 6.25-25×56 PRS (SM13042PRS).

Sightmark Latitude riflescope
The Sightmark Latitude riflescopes help with precise shot placement and have fine-etched illuminated reticles.
oversized turrets on riflescope
The Latitude riflescopes are designed specifically for fast, accurate target engagements.

Second-focal-plane Latitude F-Class and Benchrest 10-40×60 and F-Class 6.25-25×56 Riflescopes are built for extreme distance shooting. F-Class and Benchrest models feature 1/8-MOA (10-40×60 FTR/BR) or 1/4-MOA (6.25-25×56 FTR) windage and elevation adjustments up to 110E and 70W. While Latitude Benchrest and F-class riflescopes deliver stunning clarity, perfect for reading mirage and other environmental conditions at extended distances, the fine-etched illuminated reticles are designed specifically to obstruct as little of the target face as possible for precise shot placement.

Sightmark is excited to add another first-focal-plane option for next-level marksmen to consider, the Latitude 6.25-25×56 PRS Riflescope. The Latitude PRS riflescope boasts .1 MIL windage and elevation adjustments (up to 31E and 20W), external zero-stop ring and a fine-etched, red/green-illuminated PRS reticle designed specifically for fast, accurate target engagements at varying distances whether employing turret adjustments or holdovers.

Sightmark Latitude Riflescopes include a sunshade, CR2032 battery, manual and a lifetime warranty.

Media members interested in learning more about Sightmark products are encouraged to stop by or schedule an appointment by emailing mediarelations@sightmark.com.

Click here to shop the Latitude series of riflescopes.

 

M-Spec Red Dot Sight is Ready For Duty

The Sightmark M-Spec takes a beating from the Cheyenne, Wyoming police department and proves it’s a durable and reliable piece of essential gear.

Our country’s police forces wouldn’t be able to protect and serve without reliable equipment. They are better prepared to do their duty safely and swiftly when they are equipped with dependable gear they can trust. Sellmark Corporation Senior Law Enforcement Sales Representative Rich Collier who is also a current Deputy Constable of Tarrant County and former Chief of Police says law enforcement need their equipment to be reliable, cost-effective and have a good warranty. It is a tough job evaluating a new product. Getting it wrong can cost innocent lives. How can they be sure it won’t fail when it really matters?  In 2017, Sellmark added a dedicated team to support local, state, national and even international law enforcement personnel. With new GSA-approval, it is now easier for government agencies, including law enforcement, to purchase Puslar, Sightmark, Firefield and 12 Survivors products. Sellmark stands by its products and without hesitation will send them out to police departments for review and testing.

Sighmark Ultra Shot M-Spec reflex sight with black and white background
The Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec passes rigorous testing from the Cheyenne, Wyoming PD.
Black reflex sight with scratch marks
For 18 days, the Ultra Shot M-Spec was pushed to its limits and didn’t fail once.

 

One product that both law enforcement and military find useful is a red dot or reflex sight. These optics provide quick target acquisition and accurate shots, are easy to use, perform well in low-light, and allow the user to aim and shoot with both eyes open, which is important to staying situationally aware.

From February 8 to February 26, 2018, the police department of Cheyenne, Wyoming ran the Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS (SM26010) through the gauntlet. In fact, they performed more rigorous testing on a product than any other department. Officer Young of Cheyenne, Wy PD pushed the M-Spec to its limits and it exceeded expectations.

The Ultra Shot M-Spec is a night-vision compatible reflex sight with an illuminated red 65 MOA circle dot crosshair reticle with 6 brightness settings.

Features:

  • 65 MOA red Circle Dot Crosshair (60 MOA circle w/ 5 MOA sub tension, 2 MOA central dot)
  • 8 brightness settings, 6 night-vision compatible settings
  • 33×24 window
  • 105’ field of view at 100 yards
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • 120 MOA elevation adjustment
  • Up to .50 caliber recoil-resistant
  • IP68 IP Rating, submersible to 40’
  • Weaver/Picatinny mount
  • CR2 battery with up to 1,000 battery life
  • Parallax-corrected lens system from 10 yards to infinity
  • -22 to 160 F operating temperature
  • 103mm long x 49mm wide x 61mm tall
  • Weighs 7.5 ounces
  • Cast magnesium housing with protective shield
  • Automatic shut off after 5 minutes of no motion

Here is the detailed account of the test:

Cheyenne, Wyoming PD received the unit along with a magnifier on February 8, 2018. It mounted quickly without issue to a DPMS AR-15 and was easily zeroed at the range. The leaver on the magnifier got in the way of the rifle’s charging handle but changing the lever to pull closed to the front made it fit better. Shooting several drills at steel targets at 100 to 25 yards, the M-Spec’s dot was easy to see and got on target quickly. After 180 rounds, the optic was still holding zero.

Drop Testing

Banged up reflex sight
This unit was dropped and thrown repeatedly and never lost zero.

The DMPS rifle was tipped over on its side 20 times and the Ultra Shot M-Spec still held zero. The magnifier was removed, and the rifle was tipped over again on top of the sight and it still held zero. The rifle was dropped from a height of 3 feet onto its side an additional 20 more times. Zero was still held. Then it was dropped from 4 feet directly onto the optic 5 times and removed from a vehicle 20 times. It was after this round of testing that zero moved three inches high.

On 2/26/18, the rifle was dropped directly on top of the optic from three feet and again, it kept zero. To test the durability of the optic by itself, it was removed from the rifle and thrown 10 feet into the air, allowing it to hit the gravel 5 times. It still held zero. Additionally, the M-Spec alone was thrown about 20 feet into the air 5 times and still held zero. The sight by itself was thrown down range 30 yards and it still stayed zero. Thrown 30 yards again—it still held zero. Thrown 45 yards down range and it stayed zero. While taking the optic on and off the rifle, Officer Young accidentally over-tightened the rear mounting screw, stripping the screw. The M-Spec had not been turned off since the department received it on February 8 and was still fully operational.

Extreme Temperatures

Two days after getting the Sightmark M-Spec, Officer Young froze the rifle with the red dot attached in sub-zero temperatures and poured water over the optic and magnifier.

After freezing, on February 13, 2018, the M-Spec was still functioning at full power, despite having been turned on since the 8th. The magnifier needed slight adjustments to bring the reticle back to center. Despite this, the M-Spec was still holding zero.

Officer Young put the rifle with the optic attached in a hot shower and then froze it in a sub-zero temperature for three hours. It was frozen multiple times and tested for fogging.

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Click here to check out the M-Spec.

Conclusion

After finishing the drop and extreme temperature tests, Officer Young drove around with the rifle and M-Spec in his trunk for two days. He slid it down a flight of carpeted stairs. After all of this, he fired 60 rounds and found that zero was still held.

After test and evaluation were finished, the Cheyenne, Wyoming PD ordered 10 units for law enforcement use.

To reach Sellmark’s Law Enforcement team with questions about products and ordering, call 817-225-0310 extension 288.

Does your department conduct field testing of products before purchasing? If so, we’d love to hear what types of tests you perform. Leave your comments below.

Extend Your Range with New Sightmark T-3 and T-5 Magnifiers

(MANSFIELD, TEXAS 2018/03/15) – Helping shooters accurately extend the range of their reflex or red dot sight, new T-3 (SM19063) and T-5 (SM19064) Magnifiers provide 3x or 5x magnification in a straight tube optic system 0.7-0.8” shorter than their predecessor. Perfect for AR-platform firearms and specifically target shooting, 3-gun competitions and hunting applications, T-3 and T-5 Magnifiers feature a locking quick detach and flip-to-side mount, allowing rapid transition between the magnifier and accompanying sight.

Side view of Sightmark T3 3x magnifier
Magnifiers feature a locking quick detach and flip-to-side mount.

An advanced, streamlined, low-drag design prevents the magnifier from snagging on vests and equipment. External windage and elevation adjustments make aligning the center of the magnifier’s point-of-view to the reticle extremely easy. Fully multi-coated optics improve brightness and resolution, increasing target and POI recognition. Both weighing less than 11 oz., T-3 and T-5 Magnifiers provide an effortless and effective way to increase optical magnification without sacrificing the advantages of a close quarters reflex/red dot sight.

Front view of a magnifier from Sightmark
Compatible with most red dot sights.

These magnifiers are compatible with most reflex and red dot sights on the market, including Sightmark Element, Wolverine and Ultra Shot models. IP55 water resistant and recoil rated up to .308, Sightmark T-3 and T-5 Magnifiers include flip-to-side LQD mount, adjustment tools and a manual.

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