Not surprisingly, what used to be referred to as specialty optics—things like reflex sights and high-magnification riflescopes with target-style turrets—have become mainstream. Shooters concerned with self-defense and tactical applications are reaping the benefits, with more companies than ever offering optics designed with personal protection and long-range precision in mind. If you're looking for a new optic to put atop your rifle or shotgun—or even your sidearm—there's a good chance you'll find a 2010 model that works. Here's a sampling of the best, and we'll leave the hard part of narrowing down the field to just one up to you.Bushnell Zoom Dot
A fat, glowing red dot may be the fastest reticle to get on target when the distance is measured in single digits, but precision at longer ranges usually mandates a smaller aiming point. The Zoom Dot allows you to tailor the size of its dot reticle to the situation. Turning the knurled knob on the side of the optic adjusts the dot's diameter from 1 to 10 MOA. One 3-volt lithium battery provides 1,000 to 10,000 hours of operation, depending on dot intensity, which is automatically adjusted according to ambient light by a built-in photosensor. The Zoom Dot is waterproof, and there's little need to worry about whether it will hold up on your carbine—the design is currently in use by troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Objective Lens Diameter: 30 mm
Reticle: Illuminated dot, adjustable from 1 to 10 MOA
Tube Diameter: 30 mm
Length: 51⁄2 inches
Weight: 8 ounces
MSRP: $299.99(800) 423-3537www.bushnell.com
Most AR uppers give you only about 6 inches of rail on which to mount an optic. Add a backup rear sight and a magnifer to your setup, and things get crowded pretty quick. The EXPS is designed to fit in tight spaces as well as get you out of them. Its ambidextrous throw-lever mount takes up less than 21⁄2 inches of rail space. Since the battery housing—which holds a single CR123 lithium battery—is designed to ride over the delta ring, there's plenty of room left behind the optic for add-ons. The intensity adjustment and night-vision buttons are located on the side of the EXPS, which means you won't have to cram or contort your fingers in order to take advantage of the optic's 30 settings.
Lens Dimensions: 30 mm wide, 23 mm high
Reticle: 65-MOA ring with 1-MOA dot; 65-MOA ring with two 1-MOA dots; 1-MOA dot; all illuminated
Width: 2.4 inches
Length: 3.5 inches
Weight: 11.2 ounces
MSRP: $649(734) 741-8868www.eotech-inc.com
An optic that weighs less than a set of iron sights? Believe it. The DeltaPoint reflex sight tips the scales at .6 ounce, lighter than a single round of .45 ACP. And speaking of handguns, the DeltaPoint comes with a mounting kit compatible with 40 different models. Yes, it will attach to your AR or shotgun, too, thanks to the included cross-slot mount. The optic's aspheric lens is treated with DiamondCoat to resist scratches and is protected by a lightweight magnesium housing. A brightness sensor continuously samples lighting conditions and automatically adjusts reticle intensity. Windage and elevation adjustments are in 1⁄4-MOA increments over a 120-MOA range. Another sensor detects motion—or lack thereof—and turns the unit on or off to ready it for action or to preserve battery life. That's a double handful of technology packed into a thumb-sized optic.
Lens Dimensions: 26 mm wide, 18 mm high
Reticle: 7.5-MOA Delta; 3.5-MOA Dot; both illuminated
Width: 1.02 inches
Length: 1.62 inches
Weight: .6 ounce
MSRP: $499.99 with handgun and cross-slot mounts, $449.99 with cross-slot mount only(800) 538-7653www.leupold.com
Want to own the latest standard-issue rifle sight of the Israel Defense Force? You can, or at least its civilian equivalent. The Mepro Mor boasts both active and passive illumination in the form of an LED dot backed up by tritium, ensuring the optimal level of brightness in all conditions while continuing to operate even if your batteries fail. A 30 mm lens ensures a bright image and a wide field of view. While the IDF's Mors contain both infrared and visible laser designators, the civilian model has a single, red laser built into the sight's body. It is activated via the included pressure pad, which can be mounted in any position on your rifle or carbine. Basically, you'll have no excuse if you miss your target when there's a Mor aboard your gun.
Lens Diameter: 30 mm
Reticle: 4.3-MOA dot; Open X; both illuminated
Width: 1.97 inches
Length: 5.63 inches
Weight: 12.35 ounces
MSRP: $950(914) 909-1900www.meprolight.com
Spend some time on the 3-gun circuit and you'll see a slew of ARs topped with low-magnification, variable-power riflescopes. The reason: They downright work perfectly for 99 percent of the rifle stages. Designed with a sharp eye on the 3-gunner, the M-223 1-4x20 mm scope has the type of features that high-speed competitors look for in a primary optic. Two big ones include a wide field of view and at least 4 inches of eye relief throughout the magnification range, both of which help you quickly transition from target to target to target while you're on the move against the clock with no time to worry about perfect eye alignment. The Point Blank reticle helps you get fast, precise hits, whether the target is an in-your-face zombie or a 200-yard flasher. Just paint the kill zone with the 3-MOA dot, which is centered between four thick posts, ease the trigger and move on to thenext challenge.
Objective Lens Diameter: 20 mm
Reticle: Point Blank
Adjustment Range: 120 MOA in 1⁄2-MOA increments
Tube Diameter: 1 inch
Length: 10.35 inches
Weight: 12 ounces
MSRP: $279.95(800) 645-6687www.nikonhunting.com
So you finally got that .338 Lapua Mag., but now there's not much left in your savings account for a new scope to put on the rifle. You could throw an old scope on the new gun and risk your shooting buddies revoking your Man Card, or you could wait until payday and pick up an SIII 10x42 mm. This solidly built fixed-10 costs half as much as other long-range riflescopes, but it comes with plenty of benefits for precision marksmen. The scope features Sightron's ExacTrack adjustment system, which uses an erector tube with an integral ring to maintain consistent contact with the windage and elevation screws throughout the adjustment range. Sightron guarantees the system will eliminate point-of-impact shift. Seven-layer, multicoated optics, along with a rear parallax-adjustment ring, fast-focus ocular bell and target-style knobs make this scope a good buy.
Objective Lens Diameter: 42 mm
Adjustment Range: 150 MOA in 1⁄4-MOA increments
Tube Diameter: 30 mm
Length: 13.19 inches
Weight: 19.4 ounces
MSRP: $714.92(919) 562-3000www.sightron.com
Trijicon, arguably more than any other optics manufacturer, preaches both-eyes-open shooting. After all, the company has hung its self-luminous hat on the concept. The RX34 puts the preaching into practice, providing a dual-illuminated dot so easy to pick up that you'll save winking for your sweetheart. Fiber optics deliver ambient light to the amber-colored dot, backed up by a tritium lamp that keeps the reticle visible in low-light conditions. What makes the RX34 different from the previously introduced RX30 is the size of the dot, which Trijicon reduced from 6 MOA to 4.5 MOA for more precision. Like the rest of the Reflex line, the RX34's lens has 28 layers of coatings to minimize color distortion, and it's protected by an investment-cast, aluminum-alloy housing with a hard-coat anodized finish. Rest assured the RX34 has the same kind of rugged reliability that earned one of its predecessors a spot in USSOCOM's SOPMOD M4 Accessory Kit.
Lens Diameter: 42 mm
Reticle: Illuminated, 4.5-MOA dot
Width: 2.1 inches
Length: 4.9 inches
Weight: 7.6 ounces
MSRP: $638(800) 338-0563www.trijicon.com
By the time you're through digesting the Razor HD's eight-page brochure, you just may be able to accept its $2,500 price tag. As with most high-dollar scopes, much of the cost comes from the quality of glass. The Razor HD uses an apochromatic objective lens to correct for both chromatic and spherical aberration. In other words, the image you see through the tube will have better color and contrast, because the lens brings three wavelengths of light (red, green and blue) into focus as opposed to the conventional two (red and blue). Fully multicoated, extra-low dispersion glass is used throughout the scope, which also helps deliver sharp images. Overbuilt turrets that employ silicon-brass screws with threads machined to tolerances of less than 2 microns work with a single chromium-vanadium erector spring to provide dead-on tracking. Add a zero-stop mechanism, an illumination control knob that has an off setting between each of its 11 intensity levels, a fiber-optic magnification indicator and an etched, milliradian-based reticle, and you'll see that you get what you pay for.
Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Reticle: Illuminated EBR-2 MRAD
Adjustment Range: 36 milliradians (125 MOA) in .1-milliradian increments
Tube Diameter: 35 mm
Length: 15.8 inches
Weight: 35.2 ounces
MSRP: $2,499(800) 426-0048 www.vortexoptics.com
If you were to take every model of scout scope currently manufactured and lay them end-to-end, the line would probably be shorter than a scout rifle itself. But take heart, scout rifle fans, here's another option. The Classic K-Series Scout Scope has 9 inches of eye relief, so put it in front of the receiver with pride. A Dual-X reticle (thick on the outside, thin in the middle) and 4X magnification will help you hit stuff from 4 yards to 400. Fully multicoated optics, a one-piece tube made from aircraft-grade aluminum and clean lines as slick as the rifle style lending its name compose a scope that, if he were with us today, Jeff Cooper would surely want to own.
Objective Lens Diameter: 28 mm
Adjustment Range: 50 inches at 100 yards in 1⁄4-inch increments
Tube Diameter: 1 inch
Length: 9.3 inches
Weight: 14.2 ounces
MSRP: $254.49(800) 635-7656www.weaveroptics.com
Zeiss may be a name more closely associated with big-game hunting than bad-guy thumping, but the company's Compact Point reflex sight would fit nicely on a home-defense carbine or shotgun. The button that controls the intensity of the red dot is located on the front of the Compact Point's aluminum housing, so your weak hand can easily reach it while maintaining a grip on the gun for support and instant reaction. Two CR1632 batteries provide more than 130 hours of operation and can be replaced without removing the Compact Point from the gun. Shooters who don't let a little rain stand in the way of training will appreciate the optic's waterproof construction and LotuTec lens coating, which sheds water quicker than President Obama does public approval points.
Lens Dimensions: 23 mm wide, 16 mm high
Reticle: Illuminated, 3.5-MOA dot
Width: 1.06 inches
Length: 2.28 inches
Weight: 2.64 ounces
MSRP: $499.99(800) 441-3005www.zeiss.com/sports