Editor’s note: Check out the best new optics, crossbows, cameras and more for your hunt below. Need more new gear? Click here for the latest in blinds, boots and other sportsman accessories, and here for knives, shears and more must-have tools.
AIMPOINT MICRO S-1 RED DOT SHOTGUN SIGHT
What: This sight came out about a year ago and we somehow missed it. If you’re looking to put a top-quality optic on your shotgun, this new 6 MOA red dot from Aimpoint is your huckleberry. It’s designed specifically for shotguns, attaching at any point along the ventilated rib (no rail necessary). Interchangeable adapter plates are included to accommodate most popular shotgun rib sizes. The carbon fiber reinforced mounting system positions the optic on the lowest possible optical axis, plus the dot is near the bottom of the visual, like an electronic bead. Aimpoint is touting its uses not only for big game, such as deer and turkey, but also waterfowl, upland birds and sporting clays.
Specs: 12 brightness intensity settings. 3V Lithium battery (type CR2032). Weighs 3.5 ounces.
Price: Suggested retail is $812, but it’s selling for about $100 less.
WILDGAME RIVAL CAM 18 LIGHTSOUT
What: Some of Wildgame Innovations’ 2017 releases included dual onboard cameras optimized for daylight and nighttime image capture; the result was the elimination of a noisy, mechanical infrared filter. This year, the price drops a little for the same basic technology with the Rival Cam 18. The company swears these cameras are undetectable to wildlife in terms of sound or flash. It’s touted as battery friendly, with eight AA batteries providing power for up to a year under average use.
Specs: Still images are 18 megapixels; video at 720p can be programmed for 5-, 15- or 30-second bursts. A 42-piece high-intensity invisible “Lightsout” LED flash allows detection and illumination out to 85 feet, detecting movement and firing in less than a half a second. Handles up to a 32-gigabyte SDHC card (not included).
Upgrade: A slightly higher-end model, the Silent Crush 24 Lightsout, can shoot stills up to 24 megapixels and video to 1080p.
Price: $139.99 for the Rival Cam, $159.99 for the Silent Crush.
NIKON MONARCH 3000 STABILIZED RANGEFINDER
What: This compact, lightweight (6.3 ounces) unit has the same optical image stabilization technology used in Nikon’s best photo lenses, reducing viewfinder vibration by up to 80 percent while aligning the target image with the laser. This can help with fast ranging out to 3,000 yards. The unit displays all measurements in fewer than 0.3 seconds, regardless of distance. Depressing the unit’s power button lets you continuously measure across multiple targets for 8 seconds. You can use the unit on auto or select from variable intensities on the red OLED reticle display. The rangefinder’s 6x monocular features fully multicoated optics, 18mm of eye relief and a wide 7.5-degree field of view for fast target acquisition. The rangefinder also integrates Nikon’s ID (incline/decline) Technology to take the angle out of your shooting equation. Rated as highly water resistant. Five-year warranty.
BARNETT’S WHITETAIL HUNTER PRO STR CROSSBOW
What: This addition to Barnett’s Whitetail Hunter series delivers affordable performance. The STR stands for Step-Through Riser, a design that shifts weight from the fiberglass-reinforced riser to the stock, enhancing stability which often translates into improved accuracy. The bow limbs are a composite laminate, with the shooting deck made from CNC-machined aluminum. It includes string dampeners to cut vibration and sound, Barnett’s self-adjusting Soft-Lok Floating Bristle Arrow Retainer, three Picatinny rails, 4x32mm multireticle scope and crank-cocking capability. It also includes a pair of 22-inch Headhunter arrows, side-mount quiver, rope cocking device and lubrication wax. It’s dressed in TRUBark HD camo.
Specs: Using a 380-grain bolt, the 165-pound draw weight bow delivers 400 feet-per-second speed. Weighs 6.9 pounds. Trigger is set at 3 pounds with zero creep.
Price: $599.99, but you may be able to find it cheaper.
EXCALIBUR ASSASSIN CROSSBOW
What: This crossbow has a revolutionary design with no cams or cables — just recurve limbs and a string. With a 285-pound draw weight, you’ll have to use the built-in, quiet cranking device to cock it. It only takes 12 pounds of force to cock the bow. The stock is easily adjusted from 12 to 15 inches in length. Comb height is also adjustable. It includes a frictionless two-stage match grade trigger, a Tact Zone Scope with 30mm rings, a 10-point sound deadening system, and a four-arrow quiver with four quill arrows and 100-grain field points.
Specs: Weighs 7.7 pounds. The bow is 21 inches when cocked and fires bolts at 360 feet per second.
PLANO AW2 GUN CASE
What: Plano has given its best-selling All Weather line of long-gun cases upgraded looks and functionality. These cases are stout, with thick plastic construction and a continuous rubber gasket that helps keep things watertight and dustproof. They have heavy-duty dual-stage lockable latches, built-in pressure-release valves and multiple molded padlock gates to meet airline-travel security requirements. The interior has pluck foam you can customize to provide snug fits for firearms and accessories.
Specs: Available in 36-, 42- and 52-inch sizes. The 52-inch model, pictured, has partially recessed wheels.
Price: $99.99, $119.99 and $169.99.
REAL AVID BORE BOSS CLEANER
What: Bore-cleaning “snakes” for shotguns have been around for a while. This product improves upon that concept: The 32-inch cable with a 10-inch braided mop and phosphor bronze brush wraps around a circular polycarbonate container with rubber over-molding for storage. The container also has an integrated finger grip. You thread the cable through the shotgun barrel, then attach it to the handle and use that to draw the cleaning snake and brush through the barrel. When you’re done, just wrap it back up.
Specs: Available for a variety of rifles and shotguns. I tried the 12-gauge model, pictured.