Product Review : Strikefire Red Dot Scope

Product Review : Strikefire Red Dot Scope

1x power red-dot scopes have been the red-headed stepchild of the 3 gun world for a while now. They’re not as powerful as an ACOG, but they give a distinct advantage over iron sights. Many matches (including the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun) have resolved this quandry in favour of lumping them in with iron sights as “Tactical Limited”, which kinda sucks for iron sight shooters like myself. 

Rather than carry on with iron sights (and suck), I decided to take the plunge and start shooting with a red dot (and still suck), and Brownell’s was kind enough to supply a Strikefire Vortex Red/Green 1x scope to help me out. 

Strikefire Red Dot Scope

The scope came with an extra-high Picatinny mount that co-witnesses my flip-up sights (more on that later), cleaning cloth, battery, wrench for the mount and a 2x magnifier, a very nice addition that helped with the sighting-in process. 

The stuff

If that looks like a low Picatinny mount in the photo, that’s ’cause it is, but the people at Vortex swapped it out for the extra-high mount at no cost. Nice work, guys!

Installation was quick and easy, and sighting it in took less than a half-mag. Now it was time to test it in a match, so off it was to the monthly rifle/shotgun match at Rio Salado.

Stage 3

This is why I love this scope. Making that 30-yard shot with iron sights would be difficult (at best) with iron sights, but it was MUCH easier with the red-dot, and for once I wasn’t in last place on a rifle stage.

But then disaster struck. The next stage was the long-distance rifle stage, and for once it wasn’t horrid: Four 100 yard MGM’s, a 100 yard MGM Flag target and two 200 yard LaRue’s

“Ah-ha!”, I thought to myself, “This should be EASY! I know I can hit those with my new sight because I’ve done it on the main range while sighting in!” 

But somehow, my new sight was switched into “Night Vision” mode, making the dot invisible in daylight. At the time, I thought the battery had died, so I shot the stage with my iron sights, with predictable (and horrid) results. 

Dot sight on rifle

Bottom line, I like the scope. It needs a more secure mounting method (the nut on the Picatinny mount was loose when I got home) and the on/off switch could be better, but it’s a great starting point for people like me who want a red dot but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars for something they may not like. 

FCC Disclaimer: Brownell’s gave me the scope. I said that already, so buzz off.

Product Review : Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4x20mm Scope

Product Review : Leupold Mark AR 1.5-4x20mm Scope

I like competing in Tac Iron / Tac LImited in 3 Gun. I never served in the military, so it’s important to me to learn to shoot well without optics before I move on to Tac Scope. Also, I like the challenge: A 300 LaRue isn’t a difficult shot with an 8x scope, but with iron sights, it becomes a tough target to hit. Most importantly, though, the field in Tac Iron is smaller, making the trip to the prize table a little bit better. 🙂 


I also want to get started in hunting (more on that later), and I wanted to use my competition AR as a coyote rifle, and that meant adapting it for a scope. 

From this:

To this:

Using this

A few thoughts. 

1. The Leupold scope is *amazing*. 10+ years making a living as a photographer taught me what to look for in a piece of glass, and Leupold has it what it takes. I originally was looking at a Millet DMRS scope, but the Leupold is less money, clearer and brighter and is made in the USA. At 1.5x to 4x power it’s wide enough to use as a primary optic for short-range work and yet powerful enough to reach out and touch distant targets. Brownell’s has them for under $300, and they may be the best value in optics out there right now.

2. The Samson pop-up sights are ok: They’re better than the Magpul BUIS’s I had before but not as good as dedicated fixed iron sights. They’ll do the job, but the countdown has begun until I start shooting Tac Scope from here on out.

3. The Mounting Solutions Fiber Optic Front Post was a bit of a disappointment. The fiber optic is easy to pick up, but installing it was a *nightmare*. The supplied detent wasn’t tall enough to hold the post securely, and some quality time with a lathe and file was required to make it work right. Clearer instructions and a better installation guide would have helped a lot with this process. 

4. The Warne Mounts are fantastic. I sighted in the scope first, then detached it to get a 50 yard zero with the Samson sights, then re-attached the scope to see if it held zero. 
And it did.

Not bad for 100 yards, especially for me. 

5. MGM doesn’t make a throw lever for this model Leupold scope yet, but the lever for the VX-III seems to work just fine with a rubber band providing a little extra snugness.

Bottom line:
If you’re looking for a quality, inexpensive scope for competition or close-range hunting from a name-brand manufacturer, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value than the new Leupold 1.5x-4x AR scope. 

Warne mounts RULE. Easily worth the price

The Samson Flip Up sights work for what they’re meant to do, but they’re not as good as dedicated iron sights. 

The Mounting Solutions front post works, but it is a struggle to install. 

See you on the range. 

FTC Disclaimer: Brownell’s Inc. provided the scope, but the rest of the items I won fair and square. 


Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose

Reduce, reuse, repurpose

Turns out that the man purse messenger bag that WAS my old bailout bag makes a durn handy range bag for the rifle/shotgun matches at Rio.

Gear bag

I can carry rifle mags and ammo in my rifle case but what I can’t easily carry around a match is boxes of shotgun shells, water and my coupled-together magazines. The messenger bag does this rather well, and it has enough leftover space for a pair of binos for those long range shots, a multitool and a few energy bars to snack on while waiting for my turn to shoot. 

Here Thar Be Treasure

Here thar be treasure

Why do I shoot / RO big matches like the Superstition Mountain Three Gun and the Desert Classic?

First off, they’re FUN, even for a quasi-sucky shooter like me.

Secondly, there’s some great people working on the match, and I always have a great time.

Lastly, the loot!


This is the haul from placing 29th out of 35 in Tactical Limited and what I got from being drawn in the middle of the pack on the Range Officer table.

Some highlights:

– A Samson Manufacturing mid-length rail (MSRP $290)
– A year’s family membership to Caswell’s Shooting Range (MSRP $390)
– A $100 Gift Certificate for a Warne Scope mount
– An ADCO eDot scope ($75)
– A POF roller cam pin for an AR bolt ($25)
– Two (count ’em) two Brownell’s 30 round mags
Oh, and if anyone needs a Safariland hearing protection belt clip, I have a few to spare… 🙂

All in all, I figure I have about $1000 worth of stuff here.

And competitors wonder why the staff at Rio is alway so happy and eager to work the big matches there… 🙂

Military Games

Military games

Once again, an idea that began in competitive shooting bubbles up to the real world

Surefire RTS

Dubbed the Rapid Transition Sight, it was designed by SureFire’s suppressor division head Barry Deuck to be a simple, elegant solution for shooters who use a magnified optic as their primary sight.

-Ultra-Durable: Machined from 7075 aluminum alloy bar stock, light weight and twice the strength of 6061 T6 aluminum -½ MOA elevation and windage adjustments

-Mil-Spec Hard Anodized finish

-Same height above bore as standard M4/M16A4 sights

-Ambidextrous: can be mounted for left or right hand shooters

-45 degree offset

-Low profile over picatinny rail only rising 2/10th of an inch so that it does not interfere with your primary optics

-Mounts directly to the top picatinny rail of your rifle

-No Special Tools Required: only uses a flat head screw and can easily be done in the field 

And it’s perfect for shooting Tac Optics in Three-Gun, too. I still shoot Tac Iron, but I will join the dark side and put glass on my rifle one of these days.

Rio 3 Gun After-action Report

Rio 3 Gun After-action report

The results are in, and I placed 54th out of 70 shooters and 8th out of the 11 Tac Limited shooters in the 3 Gun match yesterday.

A few thoughts… 

– Rio defines “Limited” as iron-sighted rifles and rifles with red dot or 1x optics. Considering my rifle has plain ol’ A2 sights on it, eighth out of eleven ain’t that bad.

– Stage 1 was the long-range stage with pop-up targets from 100 to 230 meters. I really need to spend more time on my long-range shooting, ’cause I blew it, badly. 

– Stage 2 was a shotgun-only stage and my first-ever stage with my new 930 SPX: I pooched reloading it big-time, plus I missed 4 of the 5 flying clay pigeons on the stage. Time to head down to the trap and skeet range…

Even though I sucked with it at first, I am 100% in love with the Mossberg 930, and I’m really pumped for the Mystery Three Gun next month. 

More …

Plastic Fantastic

Plastic Fantastic


Earlier this year, I won a gun (ok, an AR Lower, but it counts, right?) off the prize table at the Superstition Mountain Mystery Three Gun.

And here’s what it turned into.

Cav Arms lower + MagPul

  • CavArms Lower
  • 16″ Dane Armory barrel
  • VM HyTech Upper from my old AR
  • Magpul forend
  • No-name handle and front sight

It’s unbelievably light, shoots very well and will make a great plinker/defense gun for when I don’t want to use the UEBR.



3 Gun Nation is coming to TV at last: The first show is this Monday at 7:30 (!) am. 

Oh well, that’s why they invented TiVo. 

Really looking forward to this show because if it’s done right, it could point the way to greater exposure of practical shooting on the bigger cable networks, and, dare I say it, (“Dare! Dare!”), ESPN or broadcast TV. 

(Yes, I’m the dorky-looking guy at 0:15, lower camera left with the grey hat. This is why I blog and not do a video journal…