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Article in Polish Magazine
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Redring: shotgun reflex sight
Classical mechanical sights are slowly fading into the past. Having replaced open sights in military and law enforcement forces for a long time now, optical and optoelectronic sights are pushing their way into other shooting domains, including sport and hunting.
This is really nothing new. Optical sights were developed for older, wealthy gentlemen, whose eyes were no longer as sharp as they used to be, but who still wanted to show off at hunting. From there they were adopted by the military during World War I, and their use started to gain real momentum.
Until now, equipment of this type was used mainly with rifles, and a hunter with “such a device” attached to a shotgun for smaller game, such as birds or hare, would cause much amusement on hunting grounds. Shotguns with optoelectronics were usually seen at shooting ranges patronized by practical shooters, who for a long time had followed the American example and used military-type reflex sights with their pump-action shotguns.
On 14 of October, at the Legia shotgun shooting range in Rembertów, Artemix, a company based in Warsaw, organized a presentation for the press and potential co-distributors, which gave guests an opportunity to test shotgun sights from Redring – a Swedish company represented in Poland by Artemix. Over a dozen guests attended the presentation delivered by Joakim Frisk, a representative of the manufacturer. Afterwards, everyone had a chance to try the sights for themselves by shooting double-barrelled shotguns at skeet, trap ranges and a hare silhouette.
Sweden is a country with a long tradition of hunting and shooting for sport, and has maintained a policy of neutrality since the Napoleonic Wars and its adventurous past. Thanks to Aimpoint, Sweden has become one of the leading developers of optoelectronic sights, invented – as is sometimes forgotten – with hunters in mind. Their main customer is the US Army, ensuring plenty of combat experience. It is not surprising that another manufacturer of reflex sights has emerged in such a country. To avoid fighting a losing battle, it has found its own niche market and specializes in reflex sights dedicated for shotguns.
Per-Olof Östergren is a one-man institution in Swedish shooting. An experienced hunter and sport shooter, he has run his own shooting academy for 25 years, awarding its diplomas to over 30,000 graduates. While training thousands of people, P-O (as he is known at work and in print) noticed some problems that most shooters experience. The most important of these are proper position, gripping the weapon and viewing the sights. Beginners have trouble with choosing the right elements when looking through the sights and viewing the target. This is very important for an accurate shot, and correct choice is essential, as the human eye is not capable of keeping the fore sight, the sighting notch and the distant target in focus at the same time. This problem is solved by the design of the reflex sight, which places the reticle in the same plane as the target, relieving the shooter of the necessity of choosing and adjusting focus quickly, which become harder with age. But this is only half the problem; it is also necessary to be able to position the reticle correctly, i.e. to choose the aiming point to suit the conditions of the shot. There is a plethora of optoelectronic sights for rifled firearms, and some of them were tested on shotguns in Östergren’s academy, but none of them really met the requirements set by P-O, so he had to build his own.
First, existing reflex sights were set too high (designed for rifles with a linear butt configuration), which negatively impacted on the balance of an already high weapon (double-barrelled, over/under shotgun). Secondly, the majority of shotguns have rather thin and mechanically not very sturdy sight rails. During intensive shooting, vibrations from heavy and high-mounted sights acting with a long lever arm occasionally caused rail deformation. Thirdly, most of the reflex sights on the market have a reticle suitable for rifle firearms, and not for a swarm of pellets. Last but not least, although many of them offer the choice of up to several dozen levels of brightness for the reticle, most of them require this to be set manually. However, when aiming at a target moving across a background of varying light intensity during positioning, leading and shot (grass, forest, sky and back), a single constant setting is simply inadequate for proper use.
... and solutions
The answer to all these shortcomings lies in the design of the Redring sight. First of all, its name (red ring) reflects the most obvious difference when assuming position for the first time. In this design, the usual red dot reticle is replaced by a wide red circle, which is better suited to pellet shooting. This is divided into four sections (90° each), allowing for easier application of angle corrections. The circle itself corresponds (approximately, because every shell, barrel and gun changes the characteristics of coverage) to the spread of pellets from a distance of 20 metres, and this relates to the first of the three Östergren patents. It makes aiming easier and instinctive, as well as allowing the shooter to see everything within range of pellets, so he can hold the shot if it could hit something that should not be hit. The sight is lightweight (192 g with its base and battery) and is positioned low above the sight rail (lower edge of sight window is only 5 mm above the rail), which was made possible by placing the electronics and battery case at the sides of the sight located below the rail. Low placement minimizes – as far as possible – parallax error, which is always present in the case of double-barrelled guns regardless of their orientation. The ability to mount the sight at the centre of gravity of a weapon also allows the change of balance to be minimized, so the presence of additional weight is almost unnoticeable. In order to prevent damage to the rail, the base is equipped with a special spring mechanism (covered by the second patent), designed to absorb recoil and cancel out vibrations. This allows the sight to be mounted on rails ranging from 5 to 11.5 mm wide. The third patent covers the circuit that measures the intensity of light and adjusts the brightness of the reticle in real time. The performance of this circuit really made an impression when on a sunny, October day at a shooting range in Rembertów, we had a chance to try out the Redring sight, and the reticle was clearly visible regardless of background.
Redring is aimed more at hunters than sportsmen, as ISSF competition regulations exclude the use of this type of sight in competitions. Additionally, the price makes it attractive to owners of higher quality shotguns. The use of advanced electronics and materials (magnesium case) sets the retail price (still the lowest in Europe) at PLN 2,900. The Redring sight will shortly be available in Artemix and other good hunting stores in Poland.