In a sport with seemingly endless options as far as what optic you can run and what division to choose, picking the right 3 Gun or multi-gun optic can be a bit of a daunting task. As always, watching the pro’s at events or on social media will give you a great understanding of what gear they are running, how they are using it, and why they feel it is the best. Below are a few of the various optic or optic combinations that stand out to us in 3 Gun across the range of different divisions.
Let’s start out in the most limited division of the bunch. The aptly named Limited Division in 3 Gun keeps us to just one optic on our rifle limited to 1x in magnification. Your options range across the wide variety of red dots, holographics and prismatic scopes on the market, most of which seem very similar in their features and application, but some of which have just a few extra feats of engineering to make them better suited for Limited Division competitors. Most notably, the Spitfire AR 1x prismatic scope. Using a 1x prism scope feels very similar to a red dot – the field of view is huge and the image quality is excellent being that we aren’t taxing our optical system with the job of producing big magnification. The Spitfire AR is also lightweight and compact like a red dot, making for a faster handling platform. Where this particular optic stands out is its reticle and its turrets. Reticle-wise, the Spitfire AR has an etched reticle like a riflescope which gives it the ability to have a more involved reticle pattern than a simple dot. In this case, the DRT reticle features a center dot surrounded by two circles which help quickly bring your eye to the center reticle for quick target acquisition in close quarters. When it comes to the turrets, rather than incorporating a cluttered BDC system into the reticle for quick holdovers at different distances, the Spitfire AR comes with a custom BDC turret that allows competitors to actually dial their shots at distances out to 700 yards for quick transitions at distance and better holdovers, even with a 1x optic. You can find these in most retailers for right around $250.
Tac Ops Division
Arguably the most popular division, Tac Ops opens up the possibilities for the optic on your AR by allowing magnified optics over 1x to be used. If you’ve so much as swiped by a 3 Gun video or photo on social media, surely you’ve seen that the low power variable (LPV) is the most popular type of optic for use in divisions like this. LPV optics are basically any variable powered riflescope whose magnification starts on 1x and then goes from there. Its maximum magnification could be 4x, 6x, 8x or even higher depending on the scope. Vortex offers a wide variety of LPV’s that are perfectly suited to 3 Gun competition and you can find a rundown of all those scopes here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47KHi5sJArI. Arguably the most popular in terms of sheer numbers in use at 3 Gun competitions around the country would be the Strike Eagle 1-6×24. 1x on the low end still allows shooters to dial back their magnification and make quick shots at close ranges very easily. From there, the ability to now zoom into your targets on long range stages up to 6x makes for much greater accuracy. On 6x, shooters can now take advantage of the BDC reticle, custom for the 5.56 round and capable out to 600 yards for accurate holdovers. Less time spent doing math and calculating ballistics and more time simply holding over using ballistics that have already been done for you is always a good thing when time is of the essence. The reticle is illuminated and its all house in a 30mm tube which means mount options are endless as just about every mount on the market is 30mm or comes with a 30mm option. Go with a cantilever style mount whichever mount you choose rather than a two-piece ring set. Lastly, for just $300, it’s a no brainer for beginners or folks looking to keep a tighter budget on their build.
Open division really opens the flood gates as far as gear goes. Now, you can put an optic on all three of your firearms, and even do more than one if you want. Heck – plaster those pic rails if you’re feeling it! We’ll focus on the rifle’s optic here, which won’t be a lot different than the Tac Ops to be perfectly honest. Being that someone looking to get into Open class is probably aware of the fact that it has a profound effect on your bank account, we will recommend that maybe you look at one of the more high-quality offerings available for LPV’s. The Razor HD Gen II E 1-6×24 with the JM-1 BDC reticle is the most popular optic amongst pro shooters in 3 Gun for its incredible optical quality and extreme robustness for surviving dump barrel after dump barrel. The daylight bright center dot also makes for quicker reticle acquisition in close quarters as the bright red dot really grabs your eye. Similar to the AR-BDC in the aforementioned Strike Eagle 1-6×24, the JM-1 BDC gives accurate holdovers out to 600 yards for the 5.56 cartridge. Being that you are able to use more than one optic on your rifle in Open Division, consider also mounting a small open-top red dot, like the Razor Red Dot, on a 45-degree angle to your rifle in addition to the Razor 1-6×24. This might seem strange at first, but right-handed shooters leaning to the left to engage targets behind a barrier will find it easier to aim down a small red dot sight at 45 degrees to the right. In addition, being able to quickly transition from long range targets you might be engaging on 6x to targets extremely close with just the flick of the gun rather than turning the whole magnification ring is a huge time saver. Altogether, this is the most expensive option at $1400 for the Razor Gen II E 1-6×24 and another $400 for the red dot, but that tends to be the nature of the game in Open Division where it’s all about speed. Sometimes the best gear can help you squeeze out that extra few tenths of a second to beat out another competitor.