Our world is dominated by technology. We've come to rely on our phones, laptops, iPads, and other devices for a host of business and personal uses.
That science bled over into the realm of hunting.
We can now shoot more accurately, see better in low light (or no light), and improve our odds of success on a hunt. Here's a look at some of the newest hunting optics that are helping us up our game. You'll definitely want to check game laws to confirm these new cutting-edge products — especially the night-vision gear and TrackingPoint system — are legal to use where you hunt.
Laser-Guided Scopes and Sights
Long-range hunting is gaining popularity, and there are a number of hunters who are extending the ethical range of their hunting rifle thanks to advances in laser-assisted optics. Many of these systems have software that allow them to mate the laser's ranging capabilities to the drop of your personal hunting load, eliminating user error and providing a quick, accurate holdover point for hunting.
Night-vision equipment has improved dramatically in the last few years, and this technology is more affordable than ever for everyone these days. Predator hunters have long used night vision to help them identify their quarry in near total darkness, but this equipment is also quite valuable for other hunting pursuits, particularly for night hog hunting. Night-vision equipment is available from a variety of companies these days, and the quality offered in today's gear far surpasses that found in older models.
Rangefinders were once bulky and simplistic, with dark reticles and line-of-sight ranging capabilities that didn't take elevation into account. Today, however, rangefinders are far more complex and can provide a wide range of information, including holdover points and angle-compensated ranges.
ATN Night Spirit XT-2
American Technologies Network, better known as ATN
, has a full line of high-quality night vision equipment and some of the best viewing capabilities of any night-vision equipment on the market.
Their Night Spirit XT-2 monocular features a high-quality intensifier tube, built-in infrared illumination system, and multi-coated lenses with 3X magnification. The unit is just 8.4 inches long and weighs 1.37 pounds, yet it is durably constructed and functions in temperatures from -40 to 122 degrees.
The 50mm lens offers an 18-degree field of view and the unit is compatible with cameras and camcorders so you can record images. Runs on a single CR123A battery with about 30 hours of run life and automatic shutoff.
Bushnell G-Force DX
This laser rangefinder offers a tremendous amount of technology in a small, affordable package. The G-Force DX
is a 6X zoom and is capable of ranging objects to 1,300 yards. It is also one of the most precise pocket rangefinders on the market, thanks in part to its ESP — Extreme Speed Precision — processor that turns out 1/10th-yard ranges accurate to within 1 yard at 1,300 yards.
Bow mode provides range-compensated 'true range ' values to an angle of 90 degrees, which means you'll get a fast, accurate readout of range when you're in the tree stand. In rifle mode, it provides holdover data in inches, MIL's or MOA.
The G-Force DX comes with eight preset rifle 'groups ' that match the ballistics of a variety of modern cartridges, and the easy-to-read, adjustable red display provides instant feedback when you are in the field.
The large, simple controls and easy-to-use eyecups make this one of the most user-friendly rangefinders on the market. It is available in gun-metal gray or Realtree Xtra.
399 - $
Crimson Trace MVF-515
Crimson Trace is a company with a long history of producing quality laser sights. But the new MVF-515 Vertical Foregrip
with IR adds the versatility of infrared capabilities.
These IR models are invisible to the naked eye, and yet they provide a clear sighting system when wearing night-vision equipment. The vertical foregrip has buttons that allow you to switch between a white light and a red laser, and you can switch to infrared sighting for night varmint, predator, and hog hunting with the IR module.
The unit fits on the accessory rail of AR-15 rifles and provides rapid sighting capabilities even in complete darkness. On a hog hunt, I found the IR system to be reliable, easy-to-use and highly effective.
Runs on two 2032 batteries. It's sighted in at the factory at 50 yards and has windage and elevation adjustments.
Flir Scout PS
One of the leading names in night vision and thermal imaging is Flir. Their new Flir Scout PS
thermal camera is lightweight, easy-to-use and provides a clear image on even the darkest nights.
While many night-vision cameras rely on infrared technology, the Scout PS provides a clear thermal image. This can be a great benefit in many situations, including in thick cover or through fog and smoke. At only 12 ounces, it provides 2X zoom and three different polarity settings that allow you to adjust the view based on the application. Runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The PS24 unit can detect a man-sized target to 350 yards.
Leica Geovid HD-B
These bino-LRF's have an onboard ballistic calculator. If you have a specific load that you want to use, the Geovid HD-B
binoculars let you input information with a micro SD card. The resulting readout will provide data regarding angle, temperature, and barometric pressure. Excellent multi-coated glass and Perger porro prism system. The LED display is bright and easy to see. Maximum effective range of almost 2,000 yards.
Leupold RX-1000I TBR
The RX-1000i laser rangefinder
adds ballistic data that helps the shooter make accurate shots. The RX-1000i advanced technology matches your rifle's ballistics and gives holdover point, MOA adjustments and equivalent horizontal range.
At 3.8 inches long and weighing just 7.8 ounces, the RX-1000i is extremely compact. The exterior is coated in durable and easy-to-grip rubber.
499 - $
Night Owl Fixed-Focus NONB2FF
These binos are compact, lightweight, and offer superb night-vision capabilities. With no need for manual focusing, you simply power up the unit and view the object for rapid identification in very low light. This is a great aid for hunters who need to find their target quickly, and with the Night Owl
unit the entire field of view will be in focus.
These binoculars offer a built-in collimated infrared illuminator that allows for a clear view on even the darkest night. 2X magnification binos with 24mm objectives, a 106-foot-wide field of view at 200 feet and a weight of 25.3 ounces.
Nikon M-223 Laser IRT
Nikon's impressive M-223 Laser IRT 2.5-10x40 scope
is another ultra-modern optic that uses lasers to improve shooting performance. The unit combines a laser rangefinder with Nikon's BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) 600 reticle. The result is a laser scope for your .223-caliber rifle that provides rapid feedback on distance, even when the target is moving.
The IRT system provides rapid feedback and compensates for incline and decline up to 89 degrees, so it eliminates the guesswork involved when taking shots at steep angles. Simply touch one button and the unit provides the appropriate data to help make the shot simple and precise.
Sightmark Eclipse Monocular
This monocular is one of the lightest night-vision optics on the market. It weighs in at just 9.8 ounces. Inspired by military technology, the Eclipse Monocular
has a built-in IR illuminator that provides clear images of close objects under the darkest conditions. The 2X magnification model gives a wide field of view (132 feet at 100 yards), so it's easy to scan fields at night for predators and hogs.
It comes ready to mount on a tripod and works in temperatures between -4 and 104 degrees. The unit runs on 2 AAA batteries, which are easy to find and inexpensive.
216 - $
One of the hottest innovations in this field is TrackingPoint's Precision Guided Firearms system
. The best way to describe it is a scope, rifle and special trigger that let's you 'lock ' in on a target, 'tag ' it, and pull the trigger. But the trigger will fire when the reticle and tag are perfectly aligned.
The technology comes from fighter-jet weapon systems. You can view the scope picture from a smart device, record and share each shot.
This system has been in the hunting world since last year. And now the company offers systems in 5.56, 7.62 and .300 Blackout calibers.
'The TrackingPoint AR Series is the first semi-automatic smart-rifle offering, ' said Oren Schauble, director of marketing for TrackingPoint. 'With stabilized target selection, target tracking and guided firing, the AR Series semi-automatic products enable anyone to be an expert marksman out to the effective range of the firearm. '
If you are interested in using a TrackingPoint system for your hunting, check your local regulations carefully, and it's a good idea to call the state wildlife department beforehand.
9,995 (includes rifle)
Zeiss Victory RF LRF Binoculars
This range-finder and bino combo
has a cool scan mode that allows you to continually measure moving targets. An integrated system provides rapid holdover for long-range shooting, and the bright red display provides data clearly in any lighting conditions. The set button lets you quickly deactivate the ballistic programs.
8X or 10X, 45 or 56mm objective lenses. 8x45 weigh 35 ounces. The unit runs on a 3V CR 2 battery and has an accurate range of up to 600 yards.
2,999 - $
Burris Eliminator III
Burris Optics' popular Eliminator III
line of ballistic laserscopes calculates the range and elevation for your particular load, and gives you a point of aim that accounts for distance, angle and bullet drop.
The Eliminator III also offers a simple method for calculating wind hold-off. With your load data installed, the system calculates range using a laser and then illuminates the proper aiming point for an accurate shot out to 1,200 yards.
The new EIII is sleeker than previous models. Multi-coated lenses. 3-12x44mm or 4-16x50mm.
1,199 - $