by Philip Massaro - Thursday, September 14, 2017
The big Heym .470 double was at port arms, thumb firmly on the safety catch as the distance closed to within 20 yards; Professional Hunter Graham Williams indicated it was all about to happen. We’d used the paperbark trees for cover for the last couple hundred yards, but now it was on. The water buffalo bull was huge, old and his horns were covered in Australian red mud. He spotted us, coming furtively from his downwind side, and as he stood the double spoke, once then twice, and then again twice more. None of the shots were at a clean angle; he did his best to keep all the vitals covered, but he was no match for the Heym. Though the shooting was close, I could call all the shots in spite of the hefty recoil of the cigar-sized Nitro Express cartridges. Two days later, I’d watch my good friend Chris Sells use the same rig to accurately place his first shot precisely on a buffalo’s shoulder at just about 120 yards. We all know that a double rifle is a great choice for close encounters, but past 65 or 70 yards things get tricky. The difference? A Trijicon RMR, a handy little red dot sight that does its job very, very well.
Now, I’m sure you’re much more familiar with seeing a red dot sight on a handgun or AR-15 platform, but there’s a dirty little secret among those who love to pursue dangerous game: the RMR works absolutely perfect on a big bore rifle. Iron sights and low-power scopes are still the standard, with good reason, as they each work in their situation, but with two caveats on a big bore. First, modern scopes are growing in both size and weight, and can drastically affect the balance and handling of your rifle. Mounting heights are growing, cheek weld is lost, and the overall weight becomes a nuisance. Some of the lighter low-power scopes can give a shooter fits, as the mounting space may not work with some of the longer cartridges and their receivers, like the .416 Rigby or .505 Gibbs, or may completely ruin the sweet-handling attributes of a double rifle. Second, our eyes fail as we get older, and trying to focus three objects simultaneously is much more effective, and accurate, when we are younger. In my mid-forties, I feel comfortable with iron sights to a point, but that distance is shrinking fast, especially in a dangerous game situation.
The Trijicon RMR (Rugged Miniaturized Reflex) Sight is a lightweight, user-friendly LED sight with 1x magnification that makes target acquisition a breeze, yet allows for precise shot placement at further ranges. In Australia, as well as in Mozambique, I used the RM09 model on a double rifle, and it allowed me to keep both eyes open and simply superimpose the dot on the target. It features a one-MOA dot (mine is red), of varying intensity, and adjustments for both windage and elevation of one-MOA as well. It’s so light, you’ll hardly notice it on a good double—weighing in at 1.2 ounces, with battery, without the mounting adapter—and with a frame constructed of forged aluminum, it will stand up well to the recoil of even the big Nitro Express cartridges. The RM09’s one-MOA dot is big and bold enough for close work—as it was on my water buffalo bull—yet fine enough to take a double rifle out to 125 and maybe even past that distance, without issue. At 100 yards the dot only covers an inch or so—considerably less than the amount covered up by a 3/32” front bead at that distance. With the Heym base, the RMR attaches to the rib of the double rifle with nothing more than a thumb screw—easy on, easy off—and maintains the smooth lines and balance much better than any scope I’ve ever tried on a double gun.
I’ve tried other red dot sights, and I feel that the RM09 especially maintains a bright dot even in the brightest sunlight, and I prefer the Trijicon sight over all others when it comes to looking into a sunset. Others have a greater tendency to “fuzz out” when looking into direct sunlight, but the Trijicon fares the best in that circumstance. The RMR runs on one CR2032 (hearing aid) battery, and battery life is measured in years. There are rubberized buttons on the sides of the sight window, labeled + and – to change the intensity of the dot; holding the two down simultaneously shots the dot off and save battery life.
Double rifles are not the only application (other than the obvious choices I’ve mentioned before) for this kind of sight; once I used it up close and personal, I had visions of a nice, light deer rifle used for tracking deer in my native Catskill and Adirondack mountains. Or perhaps it could be set up on a good bear gun—this would be perfect for bear over bait or with hounds—where the distances rarely exceed 60 yards; that bright red dot would show up as well on a bear in dappled light as it did on both Cape buffalo and Asiatic water buffalo. With an MSRP of $699, it isn’t exactly cheap, but won’t break the bank either. While I love the traditional, clean lines of a double rifle, I ordered a Trijicon RMR—the one-MOA RM09 model—for the Heym 89B in .470 Nitro Express that is being built for me in Germany; with it, I can extend the range and useful application of the big gun.
Want to read more from Philip Massaro? Check out the stories below:
• Review: Legendary Arms Works Capra Rifle
• Top 5 American-Made Hunting Rifles
• How to Choose a Buffalo Rifle
• Review: Choice Ammunition
• An Ode to the .223 Remington
• Top 5 Coyote Cartridges
• The Ultimate Long-Range Hunting Cartridge
• The Greatest Whitetail Cartridge Ever Designed
• An Ode to the Browning BAR
• Top 5 Bear Bullets
• Do You Really Need a Magnum Cartridge?
• Why the Ruger No. 1 is Not No. 2
• Top 10 Mythical Game Species
• Top 5 Monometal Soft-Point Bullets
• Top 5 Subsonic .22 Long Rifle Loads
• The Most American Rifle Cartridge
• Tips for the Traveling Hunter
• How to Choose a Gun Safe
• Best Gun Cases for the Traveling Hunter
• An Ode to the .30-06 Springfield
• Top 5 Boutique Bullet Companies
• Top 5 .22 Long Rifle Loads
• 5 Reasons Round-Nose Bullets Are Still Cool
• Top 5 Dangerous Game Loads
• Top 5 Turkey Loads
• 5 Rifle Cartridges That Need to Make a Comeback
• Top 5 Safari Calibers
• 5 New Year's Resolutions for Hunters
• What Your Favorite Rifle Cartridge Says About You
• America's Most Wanted Cartridges
• America's Strangest Game Laws
• What Your Favorite Rifle Cartridge Says About You, Part II
• Top 5 Overrated Rifle Cartridges
• Top 5 Underrated Rifle Cartridges
• 5 Cartridges You Might Not Know About
• Top 5 Wildcat Cartridges
• An Ode to the Ruger Mini-14
• Top 5 Hog Loads
• Top 5 Deer Bullets
• Why .30-30 Winchester Will Never Die
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