Red Alert: Philip Bourjaily Reviews Three Dot Sights for Turkeys

These state-of-the-art accessories mean never having to say "I missed."

Field & Stream Online Editors

A friend of mine always brings an Aimpoint-mounted Remington 11-87 to his turkey camp. When hunters can't hit gobblers, he lends them "Maggie." No one has ever missed a bird with Maggie.

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

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

Three new models represent the state of the red-dot art:

Bushnell Holosight A Holosight projects a hologram of a circle with a dot in its center onto a lens. In my opinion, it's the fastest of all the dot sights to use because to aim you simply put the bird's head inside the circle, which can be adjusted to 15 levels of brightness. The new low-profile XLP sits half an inch closer to the bore than did previous Holosights (many of which are currently on active military service), so you don't have to crane your neck off the stock to see the reticle.

The XLP runs for 100 hours on two AAA batteries. If battery strength falls to 20 percent, the reticle blinks for a few seconds after you turn it on. $299; 800-423-3537; bushnell.com

Aimpoint 9000SC The original red dots, Aimpoints were invented in 1975 in Sweden, where they're practically standard issue on moose rifles. They are the undisputed endurance champs of the red-dot world, running for literally thousands of hours on a single battery.

The military uses an Aimpoint designated the M68 Close Combat Optic. For turkey hunters, there's the 9000SC. It has a 30mm tube and is available in black with a choice of a two or a four MOA (minute of angle) dot, or in camo with a four MOA dot only. (I prefer the larger dot for turkey hunting because it makes for easier sight acquisition). There are 10 brightness settings. My only quibble is the red coating on the lens. It makes the dot brighter at the expense of showing you the 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 or Holosight. It's also the only one of the three with a self-regulating dot that automatically brightens on sunny days and dims on dark ones. Although the Z-Point requires a battery to turn on, its solar panel takes over to keep the dot 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 of my turkey guns cost. $489; 800-441-3005; www.zeiss.com

Mounting All three sights mount easily on one-piece Weaver-style bases. More and more shotguns 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 and install without gunnsmithing.