Crimson Trace CTS-1000

A “priced-right” red-dot rifle option

The CTS-1000 aboard a .308 Springfield SOCOM 16 makes for quick target acquisition in a handy, powerful package

I’ve been a fan of Crimson Trace LaserGrips since I first stuck a set on a Smith J-Frame snubbie more than 20 years ago so I was very keen on trying out one of the company’s forays to electronic sights — the CTS-1000 red-dot. It’s designed for rifles and measuring only 2.5″ in height, 22.1″ wide, 2.7″ overall length and 5.9 oz. in weight, it definitely lives up to the description of “compact.” We chose a Springfield Armory SOCOM 16 .308 of proven accuracy as our “test bed” and used Federal’s American Eagle 150-gr. FMJ.

Most any rail-mounted optic on a rifle with defensive/sporting applications should have a QD mount to enable a switch-off to iron sights (or to an appropriate scope) for whatever reason. Naturally, the irons should be pre-zeroed. Yes, we’re belaboring the obvious, but don’t laugh too hard! It’s amazing how many folks don’t do it. The CTS-1000 we used had just such a QD mount.

Initially we had a slight issue with our CTS. The contact bar of the clamp — which grabbed onto the Picatinny rail of our SOCOM 16 — didn’t allow the latch sufficient travel to take up the requisite slack, causing a “wandering zero” on our initial range session. There is an adjustment screw on the left side of the mount designed to tailor the mount to various rail specs but ours didn’t quite give us enough “bite” for a bombproof grab. This problem was solved when my shooting buddy Thomas Mackie employed his machinist’s background and simply milled 0.040 off the contact bar, which put things tight as a tick (and denied me the old “mounts musta moved” alibi for poor shooting).

The windage adjustment and QD mount of the CTS-1000.

Typical 100-yard groups with Federal American Eagle 150-gr. FMJ ammo measured between 1.5 and 2".

Once this was addressed, it was simply a question of getting the red dot down to sufficient intensity to allow for a “100-yard friendly” sight picture discreet enough to allow for the smallest groups we could get. We’re talking a pinprick of red here. Granted, for real-world purposes (at shorter yardages), a bigger, quicker-to-acquire dot would be preferable. Since the CTS-1000 has 10 levels of intensity, you’re certainly free to shop around for the one that suits you but in our “geezer defense,” we came up in a scope era in which teeny-tiny groups are the mark of, well, coolness …

The adjustment range is 100 MOA and the adjustments for both windage and elevation are graduated in one MOA increments. The controls are pretty simple. The forward button turns things “on” and increases the intensity. The rear button turns things “off” and decreases intensity.

At 100 yards, groups averaged 1.5″. The same load with a scope aboard usually prints slightly less but such results are awfully good — as good as we’ve come to expect at that distance with a red dot — even one with the intensity dialed way, way down.

MSRP on the CTS-1000 is $299, a pretty good deal, particularly when you stop to consider your initial cash outlay also includes the QD mount. The sight runs on a single CR2032 battery with a life claim of “up to nine years,” although we’d certainly change it out sooner than that!

There are situations where quick target acquisition and a no-limit field of view trump the high magnification and complex reticles precision shooters need. When paired with the handy, powerful SOCOM 16 (or any other railed long gun), the simple 2 MOA red dot and 1X magnification of the CTS-1000 would work as a great quick-reaction team to keep you safe and potential trouble at bay.

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