Crimson Trace dived into the optics market pretty hardcore. Everything from red dots and prisms to variable optics. I’ve already reviewed one Crimson Trace optic, and they decided to send me another. The CTS-1400 is a fair bit different and is kind of of an odd duck. It’s a big open sight designed for long guns.
When I first got the CTS-1400, I looked around to see what ‘footprint’ the optic uses. I hadn’t even opened the box yet, but wanted to figure what handgun I could mount it to. On the box, it appears to be a pistol-type optic, but as I researched, I came up with nothing. So, I popped the optic opened and found out this is no pistol optic. It’s much too big for that.
The CTS-1400 uses the typical open design of most reflex sights, with an open exposed emitter and a single lens. However, the window is 1.25 inches x .89 inches, and that’s quite wide, especially for a compact optic. Inside the box, you get the tools needed to attach the optic and zero it, along with a Picatinny mount for attachment. The included mount is a low mount, but higher mounts are available.
Not Quite A Pistol Optic
When you say ‘compact red dot,’ I picture something like the Aimpoint Micro series. Some kind of tube design with a 20mm window. Nothing crazy, and certainly nothing larger than the TRS 26 from Bushnell. I don’t picture an open emitter optic, but I do see the benefits.
The CTS-1400 takes compact to a different level. As an open emitter optic, it lacks a second lens and hood, and that drives weight down to only 2.9 ounces, about half as much as the TRS 15 and the Aimpoint Micro.
The Micro only offers an 18mm objective lens, while the CTS-1400 packs a 31.8mm x 22.5mm lens. The difference might not matter to you, but it does show a degree of efficiency with the optic. It’s also very low profile with any kind of extrusions to limit your peripheral vision.
The thin hood over the lens doesn’t exactly block your view. When combined with the width of the lens, you get a very nice field of view that’s wide and accommodating. The 3.25 MOA dot can be fairly called a medium-sized dot. Most sights utilize a 2 MOA dot.
The bigger dot, low profile design, and wide field of view make this a great option for PCCs, subguns, and shotguns. I saw this as a great optic for my CZ Scorpion. It sits low enough to be easily used but sadly not low enough for co-witnessing.
Putting It Through Its Paces
The CTS-1400 features nice-sized buttons that turn the optic on or off, as well as provides you with brightness adjustments. They are large, very tactile, and give great feedback. The battery compartment is mounted to the size and is a shelf design. It’s friction fit and takes a flat head tool to remove. The battery is a single CR2032, and that 2032 provides you with 20K hours of battery at setting five.
The CTS-1400 has auto shut-off technology that puts the optic into sleep mode after 5 minutes of no movement. If you grab it after it shuts down, it will instantly come back to life. After an hour, it completely shuts down and won’t awaken without pressing the on button. This isn’t a true shake awake function.
The “turrets” for elevation and windage adjustment are recessed and require a small Allen key to turn. It’s an odd choice, but it keeps the turrets small and recessed. I prefer a recessed turret with a flat head. In a pinch, I can use a piece of brass to make quick adjustments if necessary.
Adjustment graduations are 1 MOA per click. This further reinforces weapons designed for more close-quarters engagements. Those are relatively big gradations, but they make zeroing quick and easy. Feedback from the adjustment turrets is great and provides a nice ‘click’ that’s audible and tactile. You know when you make adjustments.
Going Bang With the CTS-1400
The CTS-1400 is a red dot and it does red dot things. Clarity is good. The glass appears clear and consistent from edge to edge. There’s a slight blue tinge with a crisp red dot. It’s not as crisp as something like an Aimpoint, but it’s not a big mess like a lot of cheaper optics. For its size, it’s precise enough, and out to 100 yards, I could still easily make out the vital zones of a man-sized target.
As I mentioned, I mounted this to a 9mm Scorpion and zeroed it at 25 yards. I like a 25-yard zero for a 9mm and found it takes me out to 100 yards easily enough, at least as long as the target is a ten-inch gong or larger. I might not hit the gong 100% of the time at 100 yards, but I easily hit a steel IPSC target 100% of the time at this range.
The crisp dot and clarity ensure I can see that shiny metal bastard. The open-top design maximizes the field of view, and at close range, it’s easy to swap targets and hit whatever stands in your way. When quickly switching targets, the dot doesn’t seem to lag or stutter. I can swing it wide and fast, and the dot doesn’t fail.
Recoil with a blowback 9mm is akin to 5.56 (i.e. not much) but it’s worth mentioning that the optic never flickered when the gun fired.
Rain, Rain Go Away
If I wasn’t willing to shoot in the rain, I’d rarely ever get a chance to shoot. I live in Florida. It’s a humid jungle that produces buckets of rain, but it also provides me a good chance to test the CTS-1400 in wet conditions.
I got a decent rainfall for the entire hour while shooting. I was dumping lead with the gun and my Scorpion D-50 drum that’s undergoing its own evaluation. The only reprieve from the rain was when I reloaded the drum in the barn.
As an open emitter device, you risk catching a few drops on the emitter and turning the optic into a red kaleidoscope. This simply didn’t happen, and the dot remained consistent. I credit the emitter being slightly covered and tucked into the optic. The CTS-1400 might not ultimately be as reliable as an enclosed optic, but’s it is impressive enough.
I can see the CTS-1400 being a solid little red dot for home defense use, especially for those using something like a shotgun. It sits nice and low and allows a solid cheek weld. It’s also perfect for ARs for home defense, but you’ll need to spend about $40 for the higher mount.
Overall I think the open optic for a long gun isn’t a bad idea. It works. The CTS-1400 maximizes your field of view on a long gun. The market is crowded with red dots, but it seems like very few are dedicated red dots with an open design. Crimson Trace and SIG seem to be the only serious makers of such optics.
Specifications: CTS-1400 Open Reflex Sight
Height – 1.6 inches
Width – 1.5 inches
Length – 2.3 inches
Weight – 2.9 ounces
Brightness – 10 Daylight settings
MSRP – $564.99 (Street price about $350)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics * * * *
Two big buttons make controlling the optic easy, and they are nicely designed buttons. The adjustment turrets are an unusual choice — I really prefer a flat-headed turret to open up my tools to use option. The sight is quite light in case weight is an issue.
Clarity * * * *
It has good clarity without glaring flaws and the massive field of view is worth noting. The dot isn’t perfect, but it’s not terrible either.
Overall * * * *
The CTS -1400 is a good reflex optic, but I would make some minor changes to it. While it’s oriented for close quarters use, it seems to reduce your ability to use a magnifier via its design. But if you’re kitting out a long gun for home defense, the CTS-1400 is worth your consideration.