May 11, 2021
I live in an area where a variety of game animals are abundant within 20 minutes from my house. The best hunting here, though, is for Eastern turkeys; they are plentiful. Whether they are brilliant or merely paranoid, hunting these bids can be quite a challenge. A successful turkey hunter needs the right gear and, for me, a red dot – such as the Aimpoint Micro S-1 – has become a shotgun must-have addon.
Aimpoint has been a leader of red dot optics since the Swedish company originated the very first product way back in 1974. In the more than four decades since Aimpoint’s founding, the shooting world has embraced the speed, simplicity and effectiveness of red dot sights and the company continues to be the market leader. Special operations forces, law enforcement agencies, hunters and competitive shooters from around the world rely on Aimpoint products due to their performance, durability and unbelievable battery life.
My favorite Aimpoint products are the Micro series, due to their compact dimensions, light weight and unparalleled performance. I use various products from the Micro line on home defense rifles, rimfires for teaching my children to shoot and, yes, my turkey shotgun. A red dot on a shotgun? Let me explain.
Like many aspects of hunting, turkey hunting has been transformed by technology. The introduction of Tungsten alloy or Tungsten Super Shot (TSS) ammunition has likely been the single most significant boost in capability in decades. Tungsten alloy is harder and more dense than steel, lead or even Bismuth shot, which gives it an ability to penetrate deeply. This penetration translates to effectiveness on birds both in lethality and range. Reliable reports of toms being taken at more than 70 yards are common.
Like many hunters, I have traded my 12-gauge turkey gun for a 20. The 20-gauge patterns better than the 12 and generates far less recoil. With TSS rounds onboard, a 20-gauge can easily exceed the effective range of larger bores. To maximize its effectiveness, I use an extra-full extended choke that produces a dense pattern. It is the density of that pattern that drove me to adopt an Aimpoint Micro S-1 for turkey hunting.
Some years ago, I was hunting Osceola turkeys in a Florida swamp. I carried a borrowed shotgun, one that I had not patterned because we’d arrived late the previous evening. A friend called in a large tom and he came in so fast that we didn’t have time to set up properly. I saw his red and blue periscope of a head pop up at 10 yards, put the bead on the neck and pulled the trigger. To my surprise, the pattern blew a 2-inch hole in the palmetto fan just above and behind the bird. He flew away unscathed. Sure, I could have aimed lower, but the moral of the story is that at such ranges, turkey loads don’t spread very much at all. Because of this tight pattern, a precise aiming point is a necessity and that is where the Aimpoint comes in.
Aimpoint offers two Micro sights for shotgun use: the Micro H-2 and Micro S-1. The Micro H-2 comes equipped with an integrated mount that secures the sight to any firearm with a rail or Weaver-style base. This is a great solution for guns equipped with scope mounts, but my turkey gun has no such feature. Instead of taking the time and expense of drilling and tapping the receiver for a mount, Aimpoint offers a simpler solution with their Micro S-1. The S-1 is designed to mount directly to a shotgun’s vented sight rib, making it a nearly universal accessory. The S-1 comes with a series of carbon-fiber reinforced adaptors which allow the user to mount the sight anywhere along the rib. A simple instructional guide aids in the process of matching the correct adaptors to your shotgun. The entire exercise took me less than five minutes.
The Micro S-1 sits very low on the rib meaning that the shooter’s head is aligned with the sight without making alterations to the stock’s comb height. With my S-1 mounted, I zeroed the crisp 6 MOA red dot to the shotgun’s point-of-impact using a painted steel target. I simply fired inexpensive upland bird shot and made adjustments until the pattern was centered. For good measure, I fired at some clay birds on the wing and watched them turn to dust. I confirmed the zero on the steel target with two of my TSS hunting loads and headed for the woods.
Carrying the light and handy shotgun through thick spring vegetation, I never noticed the Micro S-1. The sight weighs a mere 3.5 ounces and is less than two inches high or wide. The battery life is an amazing five years so there’s no need to turn the unit off when you’re not hunting. There is no parallax on the S-1 which means you simply put the dot on the target and pull the trigger, regardless of distance.
I was chasing a bird that had been educated by many hunting seasons, and he wasn’t falling for any of the usual tricks. One afternoon I set up at the edge of a wide-open field and waited, calling sparingly. After strutting and gobbling out of my sight for over an hour, the gobbler finally came in search of the coy hen. His head broke just above the knee-high grass, scanning for any sign of a mate or a threat. Something didn’t seem kosher to him and, at 65 yards, he came to a dead stop. I held the red dot on the base of his neck, confident that I could take him at this range. Then I lowered my gun and watched as he walked away. I wanted him at close range or not at all but with the Aimpoint Micro S-1 red dot on my shotgun, I could have had it either way.