Crimson Trace 3-gun shoot: AR-15 (Part 1 of 4)

A few weeks ago, Crimson Trace organized and sponsored the first ever night time 3-gun shoot. Featuring headlamps, night vision and IR goggles, and fully automatic weapons, it was a phenomenal experience.

Some of the world’s best shooters were there, including Katie Harris and Jansen Jones from Team Noveske, Jerry Miculek, and Army Marksman Unit shooter Daniel Horner. Honestly, I felt very much out of my league, but thankfully I filled a celebrity spot given to me by Iain Harrison (winner of Top Shot Season 1 who now works for Crimson Trace- thanks for paying it forward, Iain!). Seeing as this was only my second 3-gun match, and since my 3-gun rig wasn’t quite up to snuff, I was severely handicapped. I’ll review my gear in the next parts of this series.

The rifle I ran was a Noveske AR-15 outfitted with a Crimson Trace MVF-515 vertical foregrip with integrated flashlight and red laser system. Shooting with laser/light combo was a lot of fun, and we could rip through stages by simply placing the bright red dot on whatever we wanted to hit. I have a Trijicon ACOG w/ RMR scope which is simply amazing and worked well in a low light situation. I ran Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights as a backup companion, not knowing how well I’d adjust to my ACOG in the dark.

Noveske AR-15

Crimson Trace MVF-515 vertical foregrip. A bright 200 lumen LED light on the left, and a crisp red laser on the right.

A closer look at the Noveske. Sitting on top is a Trijicon ACOG 4×32 w/ RMR scope. Pure awesomeness.

View from the buttstock end of the rifle. The Dueck Defense RTS system allows the operator to quickly pivot the rifle 45 degrees to transition from medium-long range targets, to closer ones.

The match grade trigger is crisp and I feel like the Noveske is a natural extension of my body. I also got a chance to meet John Noveske and tell him how much I like his ARs. If you’ve never fired a Noveske, check it out, they are really great.

Shooting at night was a very different and challenging experience, and I felt like it was an equalizer since many shooters don’t shoot in the dark. I hope to have another opportunity like this again.

In the next post, I’ll chat a little more about what it was like being a total n00b in a new industry meeting all sorts of interesting people. I will also review my Remington 870 shotgun and go into some detail about why it hindered my performance.

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career. He shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community.

Chris Cheng

Chris Cheng is History Channel’s Top Shot Season 4 champion and author of “Shoot to Win,” a book for beginning shooters. A self-taught amateur turned pro through his Top Shot win, Cheng very much still considers himself an amateur who parachuted into this new career.

He is a professional marksman for Bass Pro Shops who shares his thoughts and experiences from the perspective of a newbie to the shooting community. He resides in San Francisco, CA and works in Silicon Valley.


  • Big Daddy

    I wonder how a sighting system like that would work in combat? I know it looks a bit heavy and complex to teach. But in reality on the modern battlefield where you might be fighting at a distance one moment and close the next having sights that are suited to different situations makes sense.

    Any combat veterans out there that have some experience with this or opinions?

    Just curious, no combat, I served in Cav units, 19D. We never trained for it which pissed me off. We where recon and that meant close quarter battle if dismounted.

  • Leonard

    Hi Chris,
    Your rifle certainly looks awesome, and I’m very envious of the ACOG (which is ridiculously expensive for shooters outside the US, such as myself).

    I have a question though: Why did you put the foregrip that far down the barrel? How do you old the rifle then?
    I was never quite sure where to put the foregrip on my AR-15, as nobody I know has any professional experience with foregrips (I am in a rifle club of the German Army Reserves, and none of the guys ever had foregrips on their old G3 service rifles). So I rather instinctively put the foregrip rather close to the magazine housing, maybe 4″ or so down the barrel. I’m not quite sure if that’s the optimal solution…any hints for a foregrip-newbie like me?

    • Roecar

      The best way to setup any firearm is doing so in a comfortable manner for yourself. Whatever devices and techniques work should be your method of setting up your kit.

    • Hi Leonard- good question, I’m still trying out different locations, and the way I shoot in 3-gun I’m often pulling the gun really hard into my shoulder, so having my left arm extended way out helps give me more leverage and doesn’t tire out my bicep as much.

      And as Roecar points out- it really depends on what works for you, and what your purpose is for the firearm+setup. Have fun with it!

      • Leonard

        Thanks for your answers, Roecar and Chris! I guess I’ll just keep experimenting a little and see where it “feels” best.

  • Jeff Z

    The idea is that by placing the grip so far forward, you have better control over the weapon, as you don’t have so much weight hanging out in front of your support hand. It’s all about centralizing the mass of the weapon.

  • matt

    Thats a lot of sights:

    1) ACOG
    2) Red Dot
    3) Iron Sights at 45 degrees
    4) Laser (pseudo-sight)

    Is there really a need for all of that?

    • Roecar

      It more or less seems normal to me. Magnified optic for range, angled iron sights for back-up, and a redot for quick target acquisition. For me personally I’d loose the foregrip and show how mount the RMR co-witnessed with the irons.

    • I purposefully went with more scopes because I had never shot in complete darkness before, and I wanted to be prepared for a scope not having enough light or not being well suited for a stage.

      I didn’t need the iron sights at all and so could have done without them, but I will need them in day shoots since in Tactical Optics I need to take off one scope (which will be the RMR) and so I’ll run the ACOG+iron sights for far+close target acquisition.

  • gunslinger

    nice looking setup. wish i could get gear like that. but seeing as how shooting is more of a thing to do, it’s hard to justify a $1200 scope let alone all the other cool stuff.

    i’d be really interested in hearing more about the 3 gun matches.


  • alden

    Shooting an 870 in open class is def going to hinder you. (assume you were in open since you had an optic and a red dot)

    For me, matches are all about fun, and getting in a little training, since it is usually all the range time I can squeeze in.

  • charles222

    Seems overly complicated to me. Especially with having a red dot sight on top of the ACOG. Not to mention that irons are not going to be faster at close range than an optic can, and you should be looking over your sights whether they’re an optic or iron if we’re talking room distance anyway.

    -Current 11B, 3 to Iraq, 1 to Afghanistan.

    • Does your name imply 2/22 INF? I did a short tour of GTMO and one long tour in Iraq with 1/22.

      I agree that you would need at most two sights. That ACOG does not have enough magification to require “intermediate” sights (the 45 degree irons) and the red-dot.
      I do not have experience with the ACOG mounted red-dot sight, but I do know that the M-68’s (Aimpoint) can be zeroed and shoot accurately out to 200m.

      So why so many sights?

      • charles222

        Matt-Yep to the 2-22 INF. I was in Alpha Company for Afghanistan 2003-2004, Iraq 2005-2006, and Iraq again in 2007-2008.

        There really is no need for that many sights. BUIS is not intended for short range; it’s for when your optic BREAKS.