Crimson Trace Unveils 5 New Electronic Sights

We’ve seen over the last several years that optics companies have the know-how and wherewithal to introduce firearm lights and lasers into the firearms market. But now the tables are reversed with Crimson Trace, the leader in lights and laser sights, taking on the optics firms with a line of electronic optics designed for use across all shooting platforms.

With five new electronic options for use on handguns, rifles and shotguns, Crimson Trace hasn’t just entered a new segment of the market, they’ve jumped in with both feet. The company is also introducing three lines of variable power riflescopes, but this article will limit itself to the four new red dots and the one new fixed-power optic. We’ll tell you the specifics of each, but we’ll also delve into why you will want them and how best to use them.


Crimson Trace’s CTS-1000 is the company’s only “closed” red-dot sight. A “closed” or “tube” sight means you look through anenclosed tube to use the sight.

Measuring 2.7 inches by 2.5 inches by 2.1 inches, it weighs 6 ounces including the provided mount according to my scale and is meant for use on an AR-style rifle.

This tube sight features a 2-MOA red dot with 10 levels of brightness, 8 of them daylight visible with 2 meant for use with night vision.

Those of you who are new to firearms won’t remember when simply getting a red dot to function through the entirety of a practical shooting match was an accomplishment — not only were the electrical connections spotty, battery life was barely a handful of hours. How things have changed.

Crimson Trace lists the battery life of this optic up to nine years — that’s longer than a lot of marriages. As for building it with electronic connections tough enough to handle recoil, Crimson Trace has been doing that with their laser sights for years.

The provided mount for the CTS-1000 sets the optic at co-witness height on an AR and has a quick-detach (QD) lever for quick on/off. The body of the sight is aluminum and seems rather robust in its construction. The illumination adjustment is done with two raised buttons on the top of the sight. Windage and elevation are adjusted by noncapped screws, and adjustments are 1 MOA with 100 MOA of adjustment range.

Red dots like the CTS-1000 are all the rage for ARs. They’re light, sturdy, quicker and easier to use than iron sights, no matter your skill level. With iron sights, you have to align the front sight with the rear sight with the target and keep all three points in line. With a red dot, you keep both eyes open, put the dot on the target and pull the trigger. It makes things much simpler and easier.

I prefer all of my red dots in QD mounts, as I’m a firm believer in Murphy’s Law. This means if I need tools to remove an optic from my rifle for whatever reason, I won’t have the right tools when I need them.

The CTS 1000 is waterproof. The optic has multi-coated lenses and comes with one CR2032 battery. Like all of Crimson Trace electro optics, it is covered by a limited three-year warranty and their “Free Batteries for Life™” program, which is exactly what it sounds like.


The CTS-1100 is the only one of the new optics that isn’t a red dot. It is a magnified optic offering 3.5x magnification. Crimson Trace refers to it as an Illuminated 3.5x Battlesight, and it is intended for use on a rifle or carbine. The integral mount puts it at the right height to use on an AR-style rifle.

The illuminated bullet-dropcompensating (BDC) reticle is a bit of a hybrid and is Crimson Trace’s own design.

The reticle consists of a 36-MOA circle which aids in quick aiming. The bottom of the circle is open, and the BDC part of the reticle is a small triangle above a hash-marked post which extends down to the open bottom of the circle.

The crossbars on the post aren’t marked for distance or drop, but are meant to work with popular calibers. The bottom of the triangle is 4.2 MOA down from the point of the triangle at the center of the reticle, and the three crossbars below it are at 7.3, 11 and 15.4 MOA. The crossbars (and the base of the triangle) are 4 MOA in width to assist with range estimation.

Both the post and the circle are fully illuminated, but you don’t have to turn the power on to use the scope. With the illumination off, the reticle is a nice, bold black in your eyepiece. Windage and elevation adjustment are .5-MOA clicks, with 70 MOA of adjustment. The unit features the company’s Intelligent Power Management (IPM) that turns the illumination off after 90 minutes of inactivity to prolong battery life.

The housing for the scope is machined from one solid piece of aluminum that includes an integral M1913 compatible mount. With the integral base, this scope weighs 1 pound and is 5.4 inches long by 2.3 inches wide by 3 inches tall in size. The only things not aluminum on the exterior of the scope are the polymer protective wings just in front of the windage adjustment turret and the control pad for the illumination brightness.

As for the illumination controls, they’re just three raised buttons. The forward button is the on/off. The two rear buttons are to adjust the brightness up and down. One push of the activation button turns the illumination on, and holding the button for three seconds shuts it off. The illumination is powered by one CR2032 battery.

The CTS offers 10 brightness settings, nine for daylight visibility and one for night vision. The eye relief on this scope is about 1.75 inches and is designed to be the right height off the rail to use on an AR-15.

Crimson Trace advertises the scope as being shock, impact, fog and vibration resistant as well as being waterproof. The black reticle is always there, which means if you’ve got light enough to see the reticle, you’ll be able to use the scope no matter what the temperature.

Why call it a “Battlesight?” Low-power magnified scopes have been chosen by militaries for use on rifles for decades. Currently, the Canadian military uses the 3.4x C79 made by ELCAN, and you can find the 4x SUSAT atop British military bullpups. The 3.5x magnification allows you to see targets at all distances more clearly while CTS 1100 still providing a good field of view.

CTS - 1200/1300/1400

I am grouping Crimson Trace’s three new open red-dot sights together. If you study photos of these three sights, they honestly look similar except for their mounts. It’s only when you’ve got all three together that you see that while there is a family resemblance, they are three separate sights and three completely different sizes.

Unlike many competing mini red dots, which offer you just one size, both the bodies and the windows of the Crimson Trace sights vary. For example, the window on the larger CTS 1400 is about 50 percent larger than the window on the CTS 1200, which is meant to be mounted on a pistol.

Featuring an aluminum housing, the most compact, the CTS-1200, is meant to be mounted directly to the slide of a pistol and utilizes the Docter mount pattern. The oval window of the CTS-1200 is 1.1 inches by .75 inch. Overall, the sight is 1.8 inches long by 1.2 inches wide by 1.1 inches tall, and it weighs 1 ounce. The sight offers a 3.25-MOA red dot with seven brightness settings. There are two rubber buttons on the left side of the body to control brightness. Holding both shuts off the sight. It is powered by one CR1632 battery. The battery tray is on the right side of the unit, accessed via two small Phillips-head screws.

Adjustment is done in 1-MOA clicks. Once you’ve got the windage and elevation adjustment set, there are adjustment lock screws at the rear of the unit to keep everything from shifting under recoil – always a consideration with a pistol-mounted red dot.

Like all three of these sights, the CTS-1200 comes with a rubber cover that fits over the lens and body of the sight.

The CTS-1300 is the mid-size member of this family and offers a 3.5-MOA dot with seven brightness settings. It has 1-MOA adjustments and a 100-MOA adjustment range. The body of the sight is larger at 2 inches long, 1.3 inches wide and 1.2 inches tall (1.7 inches with the included mount). With the provided mount, it weighs just 2.7 ounces.

Like all the Crimson Trace electro optics, the CTS-1300 has an aluminum body for durability. It is sold with an aluminum rail mount for use atop rifles or shotguns. This mount is low and puts the dot about .9 inch above the rail, making it great for use atop a shotgun as is, but for use on an AR, you’ll need a taller mount.

The CTS-1300 is powered by one CR2032 battery. The polymer battery tray is on the right side of the unit and secured with a rubber grommet that provides a tight friction fit.

The CTS-1400 is the big boy of this trio. The window has the same oval proportions, but it is bigger at 1.25 inches wide by almost an inch tall. It provides 36 percent more window space than the 1200 or 1300. The CTS-1400 has a 3.25-MOA dot with 10 brightness settings and Crimson Trace’s intelligent electronics to maximize battery life. The dot shuts off when the sight hasn’t sensed motion for 90 minutes. At its brightest setting, it is more than bright enough to use on a sunny day in the desert while wearing sunglasses.

This little optic isn’t so little and is specifically intended for use atop rifles and shotguns. Overall, it is 2.3 inches long and 1½ inches wide and 1.35 inches tall (1.6 inches with the provided mount). This sight comes with a low M1913 compatible mount that puts the dot an inch above the rail. This height will work fine with a shotgun and a number of long guns, but for an AR-style rifle, you’ll need a taller mount. With the provided mount, it weighs almost 3 ounces.

The CTS-1400’s battery door is held shut by friction using a rubber seal. The fit is tight enough that I doubt anyone will be able to open the battery compartment with a fingernail, you’ll need the tip of a knife or screwdriver.

Crimson Trace is jumping into an already crowded marketplace with their new optics line. With that said, since Crimson Trace is considered the market leader in firearm-mounted lasers, I expect their new electro-optics line to be a great success as well.