By Norman Gray
Looking for the right shot gun optics, Then you will like my run down of the Best Shotgun Optics & Aiming Devices.
USA – -(Ammoland.com)- Growing up in Delaware, the shotgun was, and for the most part still is the uncontested champion when hunting everything with feathers and fur.
Now imagine telling a fellow shotgunner that you are want to improve your shotgun optics by attempting to mount a scope on your smooth-bore, all while doing so with a straight face.
Mind you at the time there were no shotgun optics, pre-drilled and tapped receivers or Picatinny rails to speak of. Being your friend they would have tried to tell you without breaking out into uncontrolled laughter that this would be a very bad idea.
Your choice, the humble riflescope and after a visit to your gunsmith and the addition of a weaver base, you are now the official laughing stock of the whole state.
And as strange as it sounded then, I recall it being done by a few brave souls, the problem always being proper eye relief.
Eye relief is the distance from your eye to the eye piece to achieve a full 360 degree field of view inside the scope, in simple layman’s terms.
The scope was only useful while firing slugs and if you didn’t get your eye relief correct (and hold that shotgun like it was your long lost love) it would be like taking a baseball to the eye socket. I have seen this on more than a few occasions with new rifle shooters and sometimes I manage to stop them before they open up a gash over their eyebrow.
Fast forward a few dozen years and now if you walk out onto the range or into the field without some type of optic mounted on your shotgun, some people look at you like you just exited the stone age. With that being said, I know not everyone wants an optic on their shotgun. So why the sudden need for shotgun optics and aiming devices on modern shot guns? With modern CNC machining playing its part in shotgun ammunition and rifled barrels they can shoot farther than ever before and do so very accurately.
Lightfield advertises their slugs to be deadly at 150 yards and beyond and hunters have reported kills out to 200 yards. Shooting slugs at this distance requires some type of magnified optic to see the target at a distance and in turn place the slug into the vital area.
But optic and aiming devices are just not specific to slugs anymore, they have been optimized to work specifically with shot loads as well.
REDRING Sights (www.redringsight.com) are designed to work with any shotgun to produce vastly greater hit capability with any shot loads. In Delaware hunting deer with a rifle is against the law “because the state is so flat” (yeah… it makes no sense), so the shotgun slug reigns supreme.
Delaware is also rich in coastal marsh lands and corn fields so duck and goose hunting is a highly anticipated event and lots of steel shot is expended every year.
It is of course up to the individual hunter or shooter on whether they use an electronic aiming device or optic, but some hunters are old fashioned, believing the use of a sighting device is not sporting, and I support that shooter’s choice. Others buy into the guarantee of sorts, if they can see it, they can hit it.
Whatever the view on Shotgun optics may be, they are here and getting better and more popular every year.
Shotgun optics or sighting systems commonly take different forms:
- The first is the powered holographic sight which uses a laser diode to illuminate a reticle pattern etched onto a transparent piece of glass the shooter can impose on the target.
- The second type is the reflex sight which is an optical device that allows the shooter to look through a partially reflecting glass element and see an illuminated projection of the aiming point superimposed on their field of view.
- The third is the red dot sight which uses a red LED at the focus of culminating optics which generates a dot reticle that stays in alignment with the weapon the sight is attached to. Regardless of eye position it makes it nearly parallax free.
- The fourth type is the standard un-magnified or magnified shotgun optics housed inside a metal tube, the shooter places the reticle/cross hairs on the target and pulls the trigger.
With the innovation of enhanced electronic sighting devices the humble scope is, I feel, going the way of the dodo with shooters and hunters.
Long distance shooting will always need magnification to compensate for the limited sight abilities of the shooter, but even here, electronic optics like the TrackingPoint (www.tracking-point.com) is gaining in popularity. It incorporates the same tracking and fire-control capabilities found in advanced fighter jets.
Of course there are both pros and cons to any tech, but for now let’s focus on my top five choices (in no particular order) for shotgun optics and aiming devices for your scatter-gun.
(5.) Nikon SlugHunter 3-9x40mm BDC 200 Scope
The scope made its first appearance around 1835 and up unto a few years ago has had few challengers, but as we all know, change is constant. It too has evolved into its modern equivalent and in some cases uses electronics for its own betterment. Optics specifically designed for the shotgun like the Nikon SlugHunter 3-9x40mm BDC 200 Scope makes for an easier shot using slugs.
The trajectory-compensating reticle uses easy-to-see ballistic circles that provide aiming points that take the guesswork out of holdover at longer ranges. The BDC 200 is optimized for use with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology to provide shooters with exact aiming points at different yardages with varying loads.
All of this convenience will cost you $199.00, about average for what a good shotgun scope runs.
(4.) EOTECH HHS II EXPS 2-2 & G33 Magnifier Combo
The EOTECH – HHS II EXPS2-2 & G33 MAGNIFIER COMBO gives you the best of both worlds when it comes to shooting short and long ranges with your slug gun. You may recognize the name EOTECH or the sight itself from modern war movies video games and documentaries as they provide the U.S. Military with one of their primary rifle sights.
This is great for the hunter because they are built tough for the rigors of combat so they can take whatever you dish out in the field. The primary sight is good for close up work, about 50 yards, but if you need a bit more range you can use the 3x magnifier to easily get you to 100 yards.
The magnifier with the Switch-To-Side mount it can be moved out of the way quickly and without being removed if not needed and best of all, it works with all existing HWS units.
The reticle is a 65MOA circle with one 1MOA aiming dot which is powered by a single CR123 battery on a base that requires 2 ¾” of rail. The battery life at brightness level 12 is roughly 600 hours and it uses a QD (Quick Detach) lever for easy attachment and removal.
Unfortunately, greatness comes at a great price as both pieces run about $1,019.00, but here’s the BUT you’ll like, they can be moved to your other rifles, I hope that makes it less painful.
(3.) EOTECH 512 Holographic Weapon Sight
Here is another shotgun optics option for your slug gun that’s more affordable and doesn’t eat as much of your cash, the EOTECH 512 HOLOGRAPHIC WEAPON SIGHT is one I own and I love because it uses two AA lithium, alkaline or rechargeable batteries that are easily found in any store (a plus in that small town where CR123 don’t dare tread).
They provide you with about 600 hours of continuous operation on brightness setting 12. To replace the batteries simple pull up the lever and remove the battery box, dump out the old, insert the new and you’re up and shooting for another 600 hours. The 512 uses a 65 MOA Ring with 1 MOA Dot with 20 brightness settings and provides a field of view 30 yds. at 4″ eye relief and you shoot with both eyes open.
Most features on EOTECH’s are interchangeable, so if you’re familiar with one you have experience on others, a feature I like.
The plus here is you can switch it to another firearm, especially an AR-15 rifle or any firearm with a rail for that matter and at $429.00 it’s a bit easier on your budget. Even though they weren’t designed for this, the EOTECH’s 65 MOA ring can be used with shot loads, just place the ring in front of the bird and fire or for stationary targets, place the 1 MOA dot on the target and fire, crazy I know, but it works!
Comment about EOTECH and the USSOCOM Safety Of Use Message for the sights because of Point of Impact shifts in extreme temperatures. The reported issues were for sights used in extreme hot or cold environments. (-40 Deg F and 122 Deg F) Not what normal shotgun hunters would experience in the field and for that the EOTECH products work great.
(2.) Meprolight – Mepro-21 Reflex Sights
If you love simple and effective, the Israeli manufactured MEPROLIGHT – MEPRO-21REFLEX SIGHTS is the perfect sight to consider for shotgun slugs. This reflex sight is used on the Israeli Tavor and is combat proven, it requires no internal (batteries) power source for day or night illumination of the reticle. The day light illumination is powered by a fiber optic element and by a miniature tritium light source at night.
The M-21 has a 30mm diameter lens opening to allow you to see more of your target and field of view, plus you shoot with both eyes open.
You have the option of picking you own reticle among five types, Bulleye, 4.3 MOA, 5.5 MOA, Triangle and X Reticle. It is always ready, no switches to operate, it’s black and grey and fully armored so there is no need to worry about your sight in the field to include weather and temperature changes. And because it uses a QD mount that retains zero it can be used on other rifles or shotguns, so your $524.25 gets you a flexible, multiuse sight for your money.
(1.) REDRING Shotgun Sight
The last sight in our Best Shotgun Optics lineup is especially designed for the SHOT portion of your shotgun and is manufactured by REDRING of Sweden.
Redring’s design allows for quicker and more precise shots on target resulting in more broken clays and birds in your bag. It comes with all the hardware to mount it directly to the rib of your favorite shotgun and works with rib widths ranging from 5 to 11.5 mm. It is free floating and very light so it does not affect the balance of your shotgun and requires no calibration or zeroing.
The sight uses spot-metering to assure the red ring is visible in any light and can be set manually. The red ring also acts as a range finder letting the shooter know when to fire. It’s set to 20 meters or 65 feet, so when the ring looks normal, just pull the trigger and hit. The Redring is parallax free and you shoot with both eyes open and the sight will automatically shut off after 4 hours. The runtime on a AAA battery is approximately 300 hours so you have plenty of shooting time and carrying a spare or two is stress-free.
What I like about the Redring is waterproof and maintenance is easy, if your sight gets dirty, simply hose off with fresh running water and dry upside down and Redring backs up their sight with a 5 year warranty for peace of mind.
I use mine on a Remington Versa Max and it has delivered on its promise, plus the updated Redring MKII is reasonably priced at about $629.00. http://www.redringsight.com/
Best Shotgun Optics
Your choices for optics dealing with the shot portion of the shotgun are a bit more limited, but much improved if you’re sending slugs down range. Although life is what you make of it and hunters and shooters are innovative to say the least, I have no doubts the evolution of the scattergun will progress and we will see more accessories in the coming years.
For now we have to make do and keep doing what we have always done for shotgun optics, make it work or make it up. Modify, adapt and overcome.
Norman Gray ©2016 (POMA Member)
About Norman Gray:
Norman Gray has been involved in the shooting sports for well over 30 years. He has served in both active duty and reserve component of the United States Army as an Infantryman and was honorably discharged at the end of his service. Moving to Arizona, he began assisting his long time friend and mentor Bob Shell, an accomplished writer and author in his own right. Norman is freelance contributor with Handguns Magazine, Canadian Firearms Journal and Manzano Valley Outdoors. He is also a member of (POMA) The Professional Outdoor Media Association, the (NSSF) National Shooting Sports Foundation and a Life Member of the (NRA) National Rifle Association. Visit: http://www.unleaded-ink.blogspot.com/