A recent episode of the Vortex Nation Podcast covers blood trails and the many variables that can leave you scratching your head after the shot. The appropriate steps needed to recover your game vary on a case-by-case basis, but following general “best practices” can up your odds for filling your freezer when the hit is marginal. If you’re wondering why on earth you’d ever wait before pursuing your quarry, this episode will explain why sometimes choosing to delay your efforts is the best option. Spoiler alert: you’ll also hear some pretty incredible stories about the one that almost got away.
Whether it’s about an incredible tracking job or something entirely unrelated, you probably have a story of your own – and we want to hear it! Feel free to share your stories with us and you just might end up as our next guest on the podcast. As always, shoot straight and we hope to see you on the range and in the field.
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.
Finding the right scope for long range competition isn’t as difficult a process as it seems at first. The internet will give you a huge laundry list of features you “need”, often based on features they see in expensive scopes the most elite-level shooters are using and the assumption that anything less just won’t do. Those elite-level scopes have their place and can be of great benefit to you depending on your skill level and application, but there are many optics on the market that are long-range capable and perfectly suited for competition use in just about every budget range. Below are a few of our favorites, ranging from the affordably priced but extremely capable Diamondback Tactical FFP, to the ultra-high-end and feature-packed Razor HD Gen II.
Diamondback Tactical FFP
The Diamondback Tactical FFP (First Focal Plane) has the basic features shooters should look for in a long-range riflescope like 30mm tubes with plenty of room for adjustment, a side-adjustable parallax and quick-dialing exposed turrets that track consistently accurate. A bonus for competition shooters looking to use their reticle frequently for holdovers, spotting shots or ranging, this scope also features FFP EBR-2C reticles with loads of information and Christmas-tree-style windage dots available in either MOA or MRAD. FFP means the reticle will appear to grow and shrink as the image also grows and shrinks with magnification change. This means you’ll be able to use all that extra information on your reticle regardless of magnification, because the reticle is growing and shrinking at the exact same rate as the image, thus maintaining its proper relationship in size. Carrying the Diamondback nameplate, you can expect solid build quality and more than adequate optical performance for finding and seeing your target at a price that will leave you wondering if you should sprint out of the store before someone realizes how much of a steal you got it for. At less than $400 with 4-16×44 and 6-24×50 options to choose from, it’s time to put away that old hunting scope you’ve been trying to dial out too 1,000 and upgrade to something much more capable!
The only SFP-only (Second Focal Plane) scope on the list, the Viper HS-T otherwise retains all the same long-range-essential features mentioned with the Diamondback Tactical FFP, but with an emphasis on the optical quality rather than the additional feature of FFP. For shooters who are not as concerned with frequently using their reticle’s hashmarks and other features across the entire zoom range, but rather dialing all their shots and shooting off the center crosshair, the HS-T is an extremely attractive option. You can still use the hashmarks on 16x in the 4-16×44 or 18x in the 6-24×50, and the center reticle is good to go on any magnification. For a bit more money, but still relatively affordable, the optical quality is a step up from the Diamondback Tactical FFP, which can make all the difference to shooters who spend lots of time behind the glass and place precedence on image quality over all else. Conveniently, the HS-T is also available in either MOA or MRAD depending on which you are most comfortable.
Viper PST Gen II
Moving up to the $1000 ballpark in price, the PST Gen II really starts to add on the features that can make it or break it for more hardcore long-range shooters looking for gear that can maximize their accuracy, speed and efficiency. Better optics with a wide-angle optical system for a big field of view make finding and engaging targets at distance a breeze. Depending on how much your application requires dialing up and down through the adjustment range in the heat of competition, the PST Gen II’s mechanical RZR zero stop in the elevation turret can be the ultimate deciding factor for some shooters. Being able to dial from your zero for a stage with multiple targets at different distances and accurately dial perfectly back to that zero for the next stage without a second thought is a huge time saver and can avoid some serious frustration when speed is key. The illuminated reticle in the PST Gen II can also be beneficial when a black reticle becomes difficult to pick out from a dark or shadowed target. These features plus large zoom ranges, available SFP or FFP and the choice between MOA or MRAD make the PST Gen II a fantastic option for shooters looking to get more elite-level features while still staying within that $1000 ballpark. The 5-25×50 is certainly the most popular for long-range competitors or range-goers but opt for the 3-15×44 for a bit more available adjustment if high magnification isn’t crucial for your application.
Razor HD Gen II
It’s hard to know where to start with the Gen II Razor. If you can imagine a long-range riflescope feature, it probably has it at the ready. The most popular option is the 4.5-27×56 with its extremely versatile magnification range capable of engaging a multitude of targets at varying distances. The 34mm tube means even more available room for adjustment and a large field of view. The turrets are locking, which means you can keep them in their unlocked position to dial a sequence of shots back-to-back or dial your shot and lock them down to prevent any unwanted bumping or adjusting. Optically, you’re getting the best image possible which, as we’ve mentioned before, helps in finding and engaging your target, but also helps greatly in the valuable skill of spotting your own shot after firing or spotting for a shooting partner’s shot through the scope and making accurate corrections. The Razor HD Gen II is indeed the best you can get and the one that the earlier-mentioned internet will tell you that you can’t live without. While we love its premium-level quality and huge list of features, it’s not necessarily the scope we’d recommend for beginners just testing the waters. Learning the fundamentals on a capable scope with less features at a more reasonable price will help you figure out if you even want to pursue the sport of competition long-range shooting further and help improve your basic skills without the aid of any fancy features. You’ll just appreciate them that much more when you graduate to a higher end scope later!
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“As a pilot, seeing the flooding and storm damage of Hurricane Harvey from the air was remarkable. Flying over the huge span of Houston and seeing cars traveling at seemingly normal speeds, gave the impression that all was normal. Sadly, just off of that same highway were houses, businesses, and apartments with floodwater up to the eaves of their roofs. Cars were submerged with lights still on, underpasses of major tollways had water up to their bridges, and feral hogs along with other wildlife sat stranded on the back porches of evacuated, upscale, neighborhood homes. It was straight out of a Hollywood end-of-the-world movie.
This was not my first exposure to a hurricane’s devastation. In the early 90’s, I flew relief efforts in Hawaii on the island of Kauai the days following Iniki. The damage was bad there, and lives were forever impacted by that storm, but the flooding in Houston was much worse. Hurricane Harvey’s damage was so random, insidious, and utterly complete.
The core of our mission in Houston was to provide “eyes from above” for law enforcement seeking information on victims in distress. Providing real-time information to rescue boats was vital to the people still in harm’s way. The second mission was to help distribute medical supplies, food, and water as the storm progressed east. Shouldering this load allowed the Coast Guard and other military aircraft to continue with their own life-saving mission as the storm progressed.
Working with the Red Cross as they used new technology to survey the damage and provide better, more accurate and more rapid information to FEMA proved vital for the victims of Harvey as well. This information helped provide funds to victims faster than ever, getting folks from Corpus Christi to the Louisiana Border out of shelters and into hotels – one step closer to starting their long road to recovery. The outreach of Texans and the entire country was breathtaking. Seeing people’s resilient community spirit and willingness to give, help, support, and most of all – Pray – was, and still is, moving. Food, water, and medical supplies were donated by the ton. Delivering these important resources it to those in need makes a person proud to be, not just an American, but a human being.”
– Richard Potts of Last Shadow
“You lose track of time when you are deployed. You’re not really sure what day it is – Let alone the month. The way I tracked time was by events. Things like holidays and birthdays work out well when you are with a bunch of friends – Someone is always getting ready to celebrate something. “Sherm” was one of the guys in my platoon. He was an awesome guy. Always had a smile on his face, and always had a lighter even though he didn’t smoke.
One day, we were getting ready to roll out of the compound for a mission and Sherm walked to the vehicles with me even though he wasn’t rolling with us that night. He reminded me that it was almost Thanksgiving and said I’d better make sure I didn’t do anything stupid, because he didn’t want to set my place for me at the table in the chow hall. See, when deployed, we set a place at the table for our fallen brothers as a way to honor their memory. We geared up and headed out. That night, my vehicle was hit by an IED. A big one. I ended up breaking my leg and got evacuated to the CSH. As soon as I could sneak out of my hospital room, I hobbled outside for a smoke. Just as I started to get frustrated because I couldn’t find a lighter, I heard a familiar North-eastern accent in the dark say “What the hell did I tell you?”. I looked up and saw Sherm’s face in the dim flicker of his lighter’s flame. He’d jumped on a convoy that was headed to the base I was at, to make sure I was alright. He was a good dude like that.
Thanksgiving came and went and we checked that marker off of our mental calendar… That much closer to going home. A few weeks and a few missions later, Sherm and I found ourselves headed up to the main base, escorting the command element of our company to a meeting. This was great news for us because it meant hot showers, soft beds, shopping at the PX and best of all, we were picking up mail. Christmas was getting close, so the packages were coming from home, full of good food and memories of loved ones. When it was time to head back to the company, we ended up swapping places in the convoy. His vehicle was full of mail and packages, so he couldn’t bring up the rear of the convoy. That meant my vehicle was pushed to the rear position and Sherm was in front of me. We did our checks and staged to roll. As we were driving through the dark, I remember thinking that this place wasn’t so bad. I was full, rested, and bringing a Stryker full of Christmas presents back to my friends. Looking at the glow of Sherm’s vehicle in my thermals – it was that moment that I saw the flash. The deafening blast sucked the wind out of my chest. Sherm’s vehicle was hit. When we stopped, I could see the burning letters floating through the sky like giant fireflies.
That Christmas, I set Sherm’s place at the table for the fallen.
Every holiday, deployed or at home, I set an extra space. There is always a plate and a drink for my friends that can’t make it. They are warmly remembered for the small things, and they will never be forgotten.”
– Steve M.
US Army Retired
“In June 2017, my team was called to assist in locating and capturing three escaped inmates in a very rural part of the state. One of the inmates was awaiting trial for murder – All were believed to be violent. I was given information that at least two of them were possibly camping along a river just outside a small rural community, so I drove to near their rumored location and continued on foot.
Immediately after reaching the riverbank, I observed one of the escapees drinking from the river, and notified air and ground assets to converge on my location to set up a perimeter. After several of my partners arrived, we began to move closer to the subject while the helo approached and confronted the escapee across the river. I had shouldered my AR and my partner began giving commands. The escapee turned and rushed up the embankment to disappear into the thick woods, evading the eyes of our aircraft overhead.
I remember looking at my partner, asking him if he could swim as we both darted for the river. We made our way through the water just fine until a channel in the middle had us completely submerged, including our gear.
As a young infantry soldier, it was instilled in me to keep my weapon operational at all cost. I could only think about how disappointed my TL would be if he were watching…
After several hours and a 1.5-mile foot pursuit to test our endurance, we took the accused murderer into custody, along with his fellow escapees.
Fortunately, these extreme events don’t occur every day, but they are happening more frequently. I continue to learn from every event I find myself in – Good and bad. Looking back as a kid, growing up bow hunting, learning to track in the woods, and getting the most important firearms lessons from my Grandfather, a WWII Vet, one could say I’ve been training for this my whole life. Certainly, being polished by the US ARMY and all the LE Training I’ve taken along the way have honed my abilities as well. We never know when our life experiences will come together and give us the tools necessary to navigate an extreme scenario like that night on the riverbank, but when they happen, we must be ready to use them without hesitation, at a moment’s notice.
My credo for operational success; “Always testing myself and my equipment”
20 Year LEO/SWAT Team Ldr/FA Instructor/Federal Fugitive Task Force Officer/11B!!
“I was pregnant, gave birth, and spent 6 months with our baby while my husband was deployed.
The life of a military wife is often overlooked – often under-appreciated by the outside world. We do our jobs, raise our families, and support a hero at war in good times and bad. The life of a military wife is not a glamorous one, but it’s my life.
The moment I realized how different my pregnancy would be was at my 20 week ultrasound. This appointment is arguably one of the most significant milestones in any pregnancy, especially in anticipation of learning the sex of the baby. My husband and I coordinated a call at 11 PM (Iraq time) so he could be as much a part of the event as possible. My mom and cousin had also accompanied me, so I wouldn’t be alone.
As they set me up for my ultrasound, we got my husband on the phone. Right away, the technician rudely told us we needed to hang up. Assuming she didn’t understand, we explained the situation, but she wouldn’t budge, insisting we could not use cell phones in the room. Claiming it was “Policy” (true) and that cell phones “Mess with the equipment” (untrue), the technician adamantly opposed our arguments to keep my husband on the phone.
At this point, after many failed attempts, we had to hang up. I was upset and wanted to leave. I remember thinking to myself “These two women in the room with me have taken time out of their schedule and traveled to this appointment – I must carry on.”
It’s unfortunate that this is my memory of one of the most treasured moments in my life, and one that I am not able to “redo”, as we have been unable to have more children. Despite hard times, loneliness, anger and frustration, military wives must stay strong for our families and loved ones. Delivering a baby, four more nerve-racking hospital visits after the birth, and my father being diagnosed with prostate cancer during the experience tested every last bit of my physical and emotional strength – But I had a mission of my own, and there was no giving up.
Our husbands put their lives in danger every single day, yet the world at home continues – mostly as if nothing is happening. When following up with my OBGYN, the health care facility sent someone to talk about policy and how the technician was correct in her actions. I expressed my disappointment in their stance and pleaded to make exceptions when there are extenuating circumstances such as this, and that I hoped no one else had to experience this.
Perhaps some silver lining to our story – I’ve heard hospitals have become more accepting of calls like mine in recent years. Most importantly for me – I came out on the other side with my little buddy, and we’ve since had many happy, healthy years together as a family.”
Strength, courage, determination and a heart for service toward the greater good. You are a protector, a caretaker, compassionate and brave. When most instinctively run away from danger, you instinctively run towards it to help. These traits are in your blood. May is Military Appreciation Month, as well as houses Law enforcement Week, Armed Forced Day, Military Spouse Appreciation Day and Memorial Day. For these reasons, and countless others, we pause to recognize our greatest Heroes – and their unwavering resolve to defend and preserve our great nation. Whether fighting for our freedom, defending justice, providing for a quality life back home, or standing up for our constitutional rights, we honor all who Hold the Line.
This month, we’ll be sharing a few “Stories from the Line”.
From military wives, to hurricane relief. A police chase, to remembering a fallen brother-in-arms. The events recounted had an impact on their authors, and all of us in some way, directly or indirectly.
We’d love to honor, recognize and share your stories too, Vortex Nation. You can respond to this e-mail or submit your story at email@example.com
You made the shot, your adrenaline was pumping, and through the excitement, you forgot your rangefinder. Thankfully, one year later when you miraculously find it, trampled by cows in the brush, we’ve still got you covered 100%.
Check out the full video on YouTube
Better, brighter, sharper, more compact. Wherever your adventures take you, the new Viper HD Binoculars are one of the lightest, most-compact, full-sized binos on the market – Ready to handle whatever elements you throw at it.
You can check out the product video here on YouTube!
You’ve got the product, the experience, and most importantly – You’ve got the chance to help other hunters and shooters find the perfect optic for their needs. Review your Vortex optic(s) on the website and give us your honest feedback. Any reviews submitted during March will be automatically entered to win this Diamondback prize pack and some killer swag at the end of the month!