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The Best Red-Dot Sights for Turkey Hunting by Field & Stream's Philip Bourjaily

A friend of minealways brings an Aimpoint-mounted Remington 11-87 to his turkey camp. Whenhunters can't hit gobblers, he lends them "Maggie." No one has evermissed a bird with Maggie.

Beads and ironsights simply aren't precise enough to consistently center the very tightpatterns thrown by good turkey loads through X-Full chokes. You also have toblock out the bottom half of the bird when aiming, increasing the temptation toraise your head for a better view. Do that when you pull the trigger and you'llget a good look at a turkey running away.

Peek through ared-dot sight like an Aimpoint and you'll understand why Maggie is batting athousand. These sights don't project the dot onto the target but onto the frontlens of a 1X scope. You just put the dot on a turkey's neck and shoot. Keepboth eyes open; the dot appears to be floating in space, allowing you to viewthe whole bird. And red dots have unlimited eye relief. As long as you can seethe dot, it doesn't matter where your head is.

Three new modelsrepresent the state of the red-dot art:

BUSHNELLHOLOSIGHT A Holosight projects a hologram of a circle with a dot in its center onto alens. In my opinion, it's the fastest of all the dot sights to use because toaim you simply put the bird's head inside the circle, which can be adjusted to15 levels of brightness. The new low-profile XLP sits half an inch closer tothe bore than did previous Holosights (many of which are currently on activemilitary service), so you don't have to crane your neck off the stock to seethe reticle.

The XLP runs for100 hours on two AAA batteries. If battery strength falls to 20 percent, thereticle blinks for a few seconds after you turn it on. $299; 800-423-3537;bushnell.com

AIMPOINT9000SC The original red dots, Aimpoints were invented in 1975 in Sweden, where they'repractically standard issue on moose rifles. They are the undisputed endurancechamps of the red-dot world, running for literally thousands of hours on asingle battery.

The military usesan Aimpoint designated the M68 Close Combat Optic. For turkey hunters, there'sthe 9000SC. It has a 30mm tube and is available in black with a choice of a twoor a four MOA (minute of angle) dot, or in camo with a four MOA dot only. (Iprefer the larger dot for turkey hunting because it makes for easier sightacquisition). There are 10 brightness settings. My only quibble is the redcoating on the lens. It makes the dot brighter at the expense of showing youthe woods with a faint bluish tinge. $359 in black; $379 in camo; 877-246-7646;aimpoint.com

ZEISS Z-POINT At under 4 ounces, the Z-Point is about half the weight of an Aimpoint orHolosight. It's also the only one of the three with a self-regulating dot thatautomatically brightens on sunny days and dims on dark ones. Although theZ-Point requires a battery to turn on, its solar panel takes over to keep thedot burning without draining any more juice, greatly extending battery life.The Z-Point's sole drawback is its steep price, which is more than what any ofmy turkey guns cost. $489; 800-441-3005; www.zeiss.com

MOUNTING All three sights mount easily on one-piece Weaver-style bases. More and moreshotguns come tapped for a scope mount. For untapped guns, add a B-Square ($62;800-433-2909; b-square.com) or an AimTech ($41–$75; 229-226-4313;aimtech-mounts.com) saddle mount. These fit most popular pumps and autos andinstall without gunsmithing.

CHAMPION X-RAY TURKEY TARGETS

I've shot patterns on a lot of turkey targets, andChampion's X-Ray Target ($7 per pack of six; 800-635-7656; championtarget.com)is my new favorite. It features a life-size drawing of a mature gobbler, withthe vital skull and vertebrae outlined in white. There's a lightened aimingpoint where the wattles meet the neck that actually shows up at 40 yards whenyou're using a bead or open sights. Four concentric rings surround the aimingpoint, so you can check hits in a 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-inch circle as well as countholes in the head and neck. It's big enough to show where your pattern centeredif you were off target, yet not so large as to be unwieldy.

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