“This is a great patrol rifle optic.”
Redfield CounterStrike Patrol Optic
By: Tactical Response Staff
The CounterStrike™ is the latest patrol optic from Redfield. The CounterStrike optic uses two different sighting systems. First, it uses a 4 MOA (minute of angle) green or red dot aiming reticle. Second, it uses a Class 3A 5mw red laser. The term 4 MOA means the size of the dot reticle appears to be 4 inches in diameter at 100 yards. That is a nice, big dot—easy to quickly find during dynamic rifle employment.
The use of green color in optics is the latest trend—and for good reason. Green is easier to see than red, for the same illumination intensity. In fact, with equal power, green is six times easier to see. The reticle color is as easy to change as pushing and releasing the main illumination power (on/off) button. The reticle will toggle between red and green. Of course, the red laser makes the choice of a green slot reticle tactically obvious.
The CounterStrike mounts directly to the Mil-Std 1913 Picatinny rail and is as easy as tightening a nut. The eye relief, a bit different than a typical riflescope, can be adjusted by moving the optic forward or backward on the rail.
Heads-up! The red laser comes from the lower part of the CounterStrike, just 1 inch above the rail. As a result, the laser may be blocked by the front backup iron sights. This is definitely an issue for flat-top rifles, i.e., those without a carrying handle. The options are to install off-center backup iron sights, remove the front iron sight, and store it someplace handy, mount the CounterStrike higher, or install flip-up sights. The Rock River LAR-15 Coyote Rifle is a flat-top rifle, so we opted to remove the front backup iron sight that blocked the laser.
We sighted-in the front backup iron sight, removed it, and stored it in the gun case with the spare magazines. With the CounterStrike, the front iron sight is really Plan C. The built-in red laser serves as the primary backup sighting system if the dot reticle fails.
All of the power and illumination selection controls are on the left side of optic. The illumination dot reticle is turned on by pressing and releasing the button with the on/off universal icon. The laser is turned on by pressing and holding the button with the asterisk icon. The illuminated dot has 11 intensity settings. Two of these are night vision compatible. The (+) and (-) buttons increase or decrease the brightness.
Windage and elevation adjustments to the dot reticle are exactly the same as with a riflescope: top and right-side adjustment dials with tethered screw-on covers. Both the windage and adjustment dials are marked in ½ MOA increments. One click will move the point of impact by ½-inch. We had the dot reticle on CounterStrike mounted on a Rock River LAR-15 fully dialed in with about 12 rounds of ammo.
After the dot reticle is sighted-in, the laser can be sighted-in without firing a shot. Simply turn both the dot reticle and laser on and look through the sight. Thumb wheel adjust the laser until it is super-imposed (co-witnessed) on the dot reticle. Then tighten the lock screws. The windage elevation is changed by an Allen screw-locking thumb wheel on top of the laser module. The windage is adjusted by a similar locking wheel on the left side of the laser.
The CounterStrike is powered by a single CR123A 3-volt battery. The battery life varies by the intensity of the red/green dot reticle and the amount of time the reticle, the laser or both are in use. To preserve battery life, the red/green dot reticle automatically shuts off after two hours.
The CounterStrike dot reticle runs up to 500 hours on the highest setting and up to 5000 hours on the lowest setting. The use of the laser reduces these runtimes/battery life a bit. The red/green dot reticle, set on green, was kept on maximum illumination the entire time. When turned on, the CounterStrike keeps the same illumination level it had when it was turned off.
Even though the optic automatically shuts off, and even though the optic after two hours lasts 500 hours on max brightness, battery powered devices are always dependent on batteries. Batteries run down, period. Using the “one is none; two is one” tactical reality, keep a spare CR-123A handy. Always.
In terms of battery life, green lasers require more power and have a narrower operating range of temperatures. The same is true with a red dot reticle versus a green dot reticle. Since green dots appear brighter to the human eye, Redfield uses somewhat lower power with the green reticle to produce the same apparent brightness as the red dot. Redfield designs optics around the worst-case scenario. They do not want the operator to have to use the red dot rather than the green dot to get some level of performance.
The standard for the operating temperature range is 14 deg F to 104 deg F. Of course, Redfield builds in a significant (proprietary) safety factor so the CounterStrike can operate in more extreme conditions. As a clue, the storage specification ranges from to (-) 5 deg F to 125 deg F.
The 500-hour/5,000-hour specification was measured in worst-case scenarios. Operators can expect that performance regardless of the color dot they are using. While the red dot and green dot do not have the same battery life, in the CounterStrike, green is actually better than red. Since the run times were measured using red, and there is also a significant safety factor here, someone using the green dot rather than red would expect to see times well in excess of the 500/5,000.
The other tactical concern with any patrol rifle-mounted optic (dot reticle, laser, riflescope) is durability. Redfield tests the Counterstrike to 1000g of force for a minimum of 1,000 impacts.
We did not do any impromptu drop tests, or try to abuse the optic. On the other hand, the rifle was not handled with more than ordinary care. The CounterStrike performed flawlessly during the entire, rather active, patrol rifle course. The Rock River/CounterStrike combo was kept in a soft-side, padded case and stored in the cargo bay of the Ford Police Interceptor Utility. After four weeks of rural patrol, the Counter Strike had exactly the same zero as its original sighting-in.
On The Range
We took advantage of a day-long Patrol Rifle Qualifying course to put the CounterStrike through its paces. The course involves 300 rounds fired prone, kneeling, standing and moving at ranges from 5 yards to 100 yards. Qualification concludes with a formal, scored course of fire.
Even beginning rifle shooters easily got sub-1-inch, 50-yard prone, 5-shot groups. The real question was whether the green dot would be as fast on the target as AR-15 iron sights in patrol-type shooting scenarios. Such drills were high-ready shots in under 1.5 seconds, standing to kneeling shots in under 2.5 seconds and standing to prone shots in under 4.5 seconds.
Competition handgunners and riflemen already know the answer: putting a dot on the target is faster than getting the sight picture (front sight inside rear peep) and sight alignment (sights on target) with an iron sighted rifle. “The Redfield dot optic was fast to get on the target. The brightness of the green dot reticle is a big plus. This is a great patrol rifle sight,” said Butch Pritchett, Sheriff of Benton County, Ind. The CounterStrike worked well the entire time; in fact, the Sheriff was the envy of the entire class.
The accuracy potential of the CounterStrike was never in question. The final qualification took place in the pouring rain—the optic did not fog or otherwise present any problems. The Sheriff ended up qualifying 2nd overall, using the CounterStrike for all of the rifle employment drills and final qualification.
Overall, the Redfield CounterStrike appears durable and rugged enough for patrol rifle use. It is certainly faster on target than iron sights. The runtime of the common CR-123A seems perfectly adequate. The built-in laser offers other tactical advantages such as pointing and back-up sights. The Redfield CounterStrike has an MSRP of $225.