RAD Training with Crimson Trace at Gunsite

Packaging lets you see exactly what you are getting

When I heard that Crimson Trace had come out with a new line of red dot sights, their Rapid Aiming Dots (RAD), it made complete sense to me. After all, Crimson Trace has been in the firearm laser and light business for decades, and in more recent years has introduced their scope lines, so adding electronics into optics to get new electronic sights seems to be the natural progression.

As luck would have it, the shooting gods smiled upon me and I got the opportunity to attend the product launch of the RAD line held at the legendary Gunsite Academy in Arizona. Gunsite is the oldest firearms training center in the country and is known for its excellent instructors and diverse training capabilities.

The Crimson Trace Launch Event

CT Picatinny bases are available in 3 heights

I was provided a RAD MAX PRO on a Radian Model 1 AR15 .223, and a RAD PRO for the Gen 5 Glock 19 9mm I would be using for my evaluation work during the launch event. The great thing about Gunsite is that you can do just about anything to put a gun through its paces at their facility.

The outstanding staff directed countless drills on the flat range to ensure complete familiarity with the RAD on both the handgun and the carbine. Then, I put both to the test with shoot house scenarios, Scrambler drills around multiple barricades, shooting scenarios down through the natural terrain gullies, and night fire events.

Range days stretched into the night to allow testing the RADs under all conditions

The night fire events combined the use of the RADs in concert with Crimson Trace flashlights and lasers on both flat ranges and on the Scrambler drills. The night events shined a blinding spotlight on one thing; that with proper training, a quality red dot is far easier to make hits with in low light environments than good old iron sights.

Well, that set the stage for most of the scenarios that were used in testing the RADs while at Gunsite, it was an action-packed event with lots of shooting. The good news is I didn’t have any issues at all with the new CT RAD on either of my firearms, they worked perfectly.

The CT RAD

Crimson Trace has 10 models to choose from in the new RAD line. There are 3 different sizes; a RAD MICRO typically for sub-compact sized pistols, a RAD for mid-sized handguns, and the RAD MAX size designed primarily for carbines and shotguns.

RAD was clearly visible even in bright sunlight

Within each of the 3 sizes, there are additional options. There are 4 RAD MICRO models, 4 RAD models, and 2 RAD MAX offerings. The options differ by dot color and PRO or Standard model features.

The RAD MICRO can be purchased with either red or green dot and in standard or PRO configuration. The MICRO also has a notch in the rear of the housing to function as a backup rear sight.

The dot of the RAD can be acquired as either red or green. However, the red dots all have a longer run time. For the RAD MICRO this is estimated at 20,000 hours compared to 7,000 hours for the green with both running on average brightness. The MICRO and the RAD both utilize 1632 model battery.

That number of hours put the red RAD’s lasting over two years and the green’s just over 9 months.  The larger RAD MAX has an even greater estimated battery life of 50,000 hours due to the use of the 2032 model battery. The red dots are 3 MOA in size, while the green models are a 5 MOA dot.

All the models have an auto-shutdown feature that turns the unit off after 8 hours of continuous use to help conserve battery life.

Simple, easy to operate controls

The on/off and dot brightness of the standard models is conveniently controlled by the + and – buttons located on the left and right sides of the housing. The PRO versions share these controls but also have additional features of a CT Motion on/off sensor and a CT Radiant light sensor.

The CT Motion feature turns off the dot after 2 minutes with no movement, but the motion sensor turns it on the instant it senses movement again. The auto-shutdown feature and the CT Motion activation will also promote greater battery life.

Window size of the RAD made tracking the dot a breeze

The housing is made of 7075 series aluminum which is much stronger than 6061 series used by some other manufacturers in the industry. The fully coated lens is also recessed to better protect it and reduce the chances of scratching or breaking. The housing is covered by CT’s lifetime warranty while the electronics have a 3 year warranty period.

The RAD and RAD MAX battery housing is accessed from the top of the units, allowing for the batteries to be changed without the need to re-zero the firearm as required with bottom mounted battery units. Windage and Elevation adjustment screws are clearly marked and easily adjusted.

Lightweight secure mounting system for the RAD MAX

The actual sensor for the CT Radiant light sensor is on the front of the unit just below the lens facing forward. This location permits the sensor to see the ambient lighting conditions you are looking into and adjust the dot intensity accordingly.

In some cases, you may be standing in a lighted area, such as outside in sunlight, and facing into a dark room or building, with the sensor facing forward into the darkened area it would reduce the intensity to keep the dot from overpowering the darkened target area.

The CT RAD’s design and manufacturing have been durability tested on the company’s shock tower for thousands of impacts and then tested to 5000 rounds of 40 S&W in live fire.

Specifications

Dot Size-         3 moa red/ 5 moa green

Dot Color-       Red or Green

Housing-         7075 series aluminum

Mounting-       Varied depending on model (plate or picatinny)

                                    -RAD MICRO-  Shield RMS compatible footprint

                                    -RAD-              Doter sight compatible footprint

                                    -MAX-              Picatinny rail mounting                      

MSRP- $200 to $449 depending on model

Performance

Having shot open division in USPSA competition and working with slide mounted red dots over the last few years I’ve had quite a bit of experience firing red dots. I shot about 500 rounds with both the RAD PRO and the MAX RAD PRO and both performed flawlessly.

The training provided by the Gunsite instructors was outstanding, resulting in everyone being able to rapidly acquire the red dot and engage the designated targets. The RAD was great on the Glock 19 allowing accurate firing at distances beyond what the short sight radius would typically allow. The size of the RAD window on the Glock allowed for tracking the dot during extended fire strings and rapid target acquisition when engaging multiple targets.

I really liked the size of the lens on the RAD MAX PRO. It was large enough to rapidly find the dot without being too big. I was able to quickly find the dot when mounting the carbine from all positions, low ready, port arms, high ready, even when transitioning to support shoulder. The housing frame is also thin enough so that it doesn’t obscure the downrange view.

Top mounted battery is easy to get to for that yearly maintenance

I shot the RADs on targets out to about 50 yards on the Glock and 200 yards on the Radian Model 1 AR. I never had any issues with parallax or not being able to see the dots in the bright Arizona sun. During the house clearing events, they were quick to get on target and allowed precise shot placement on the targets.

I only got to evaluate 2 of the 10 models, but they both worked outstanding. Everything about the RADs seemed to be well thought out and done with a precise purpose in mind. Crimson Trace has obviously done its homework and put together a top-shelf line of products.

Summary

The Crimson Trace staff and engineers at the RAD Launch event were extremely knowledgeable about the products and their development, and genuinely excited about the new products. That enthusiasm carried through to the Gunsite instructors and the attendees.

Gunsite did a great job during all the training scenarios, and if you have never been there for training, I highly encourage you to make a visit.

The Crimson Trace PRO Rapid Aiming Dots are outstanding. They present a clean sharp dot, easy to manage controls, long battery life, secure mounting, strong housings, auto-off and motion on activation, and auto ambient light intensity adjust capabilities, all at a reasonable price.

I’m not sure what else a shooter can ask for, but you can probably find it in one of the 10 models offered. 

I’m not sure what else a shooter can ask for, but you can probably find it in one of the 10 models offered.  For more information about the CT RAD products click Here.

About the author: Jeff Cramblit is a world-class competitive shooter having won medals at both the 2012 IPSC World Shotgun Championship in Hungary and more recently the 2017 IPSC World Rifle Championship in Russia. He is passionate about shooting sports and the outdoors. He has followed that passion for over 30 years, hunting and competing in practical pistol, 3gun, precision rifle and sporting clays matches. Jeff is intimately familiar with the shooting industry – competitor, instructor, RO, range master, match director. Among his training credits include NRA Instructor, AR-15 armorer, FBI Rifle Instructor, and Officer Low Light Survival Instructor. As a sponsored shooter, Jeff has represented notable industry names such as: Benelli, 5.11 Tactical, Bushnell, Blackhawk, DoubleStar, and Hornady. He has been featured on several of Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery episodes and on a Downrange TV series. Jeff’s current endeavors cover a broad spectrum and he can be found anywhere from local matches helping and encouraging new shooters as they develop their own love of the sport, to the dove field with his friends, a charity sporting clays shoot, backpack hunting public land in Montana, or the winners podium of a major championship.

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