Everything You Need To Know About SGLI (Service Member’s Life Insurance)

Service Members Life Insurance (SGLI/VGLI/TSGLI)

If you’ve ever served in the military then you’ve probably heard of SGLI or Service Member’s Life Insurance.  Basically, this an optional life insurance policy offered by the US military to service members which will pay out in the event of death occurs.  However, there are some key things that you should know about SGLI if you are planning relying on it for your next of kin.

Should you enroll for SGLI?

The short answer is yes, yes you should.  If you qualify for SGLI, VGLI or TSGLI then you should absolutely take advantage of the program.  This is one of the least expensive life insurance policies offered you can get.  The military is typically very good about paying out the allotted $400,000 to your next of kin.  This money is can help pay for any unknown expenses that may arise following your death.  In short, you’re essentially getting a life insurance policy that is designed to help your loved ones and not you.  This is a great thing to do for those who you care about.


Who’s Eligible for SGLI?

SGLI is available for a wide number of individuals and isn’t just limited to active duty military personnel. Eligible members include:

  • Active Duty Military, Reserve, National Guard
  • Employees of the US Public Health Service or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Cadets of the US Military Academies
  • ROTC members
  • National Guard/Reserve- In order to be eligible for SGLI you must perform at least 12 periods of inactive training per year.  You can also receive coverage if you’re drilling for points rather than pay.

SGLI Coverage

Most service members opt for a 400,000 dollar coverage.  However, anyone can choose any amount between $50,000 and $400,000, in increments of $50,000.  If you are separating from the military your SGLI coverage will extend 120 days from the date of separation.

SGLI for Disabled Veterans

If you’re separated from the military with total disability, you can extend your coverage for up to 2 years after the date of your separation under the SGLI disability extension.

2019 SGLI Rates

In general, you’re SGLI rate is $.07 per $1,000 of coverage.  A complete rate table is provided below.

Coverage Amount Monthly premium rate TSGLI Premium Total Monthly Premium Deduction
400,000 $28.00 $1.00 $29.00
350,000 $24.50 $1.00 $25.50
300,000 $21.00 $1.00 $22.00
250,000 $17.50 $1.00 $18.50
200,000 $14.00 $1.00 $15.00
150,000 $10.50 $1.00 $11.50
100,000 $7.00 $1.00 $8.00
50,000 $3.50 $1.00 $4.50


If I die while wearing body armor not provided by the US military does that disqualify me from SGLI?

No, that is a myth.

If I die as a result of a car or airplane accident and am not wearing my seatbelt does that disqualify me from SGLI?

No, that is also a myth

If I die in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, does that disqualify me from SGLI?

No, that too is a myth.

If I am a National Guard Member or Reservist, does my SGLI/TSGLI only cover me while I am drilling or in active duty status?

No, as long as you meet the minimum requirements for SGLI you are covered regardless of whether you’re on drill status or not.

If I die as a result of a terrorist attack, am I covered?


Are there any other GWOT (Global War on Terror) exclusions that apply to SGLI?

No, there are no exclusions

If I die in a specific location will it prevent me from SGLI?

No, there are no location exclusions that could prevent you from qualifying for SGLI.  SGLI claims will be paid regardless of the location of death.

What would keep me from getting SGLI coverage?

From the VA Website:

The coverage provided by the SGLI program will be forfeited only when an insured member is found guilty of mutiny, treason, spying, or desertion, or refuses, because of conscientious objections, to perform service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or refuses to wear the uniform of such force.


No insurance shall be payable for death inflicted as a lawful punishment for crime or for military or naval offense except when inflicted by an enemy of the United States.

Should You Get Life Insurance in Addition to VGLI/SGLI Coverage?

This is a tough on to answer.  As mentioned, SGLI/VGLI will cover a maximum of $400,000 in the event of death.  You should ask yourself if this will provide enough coverage to your next of kin.  Think about it this way, $400,000 spread over 5 years is $80,000/year, over 10 years this reduces to $40,000.  If you have a family, chances are this won’t be enough to cover them for a prolonged period.

It’s not a bad idea to look at additional life insurance companies for additional coverage.  In many cases, a life insurance company will provide additional coverage options such as coverage in the event of an extreme injury that occurs outside the line of duty.

If you are transitioning from the military it is highly recommended you seek additional life insurance coverage.

Veteran’s Group Life Insurance (VGLI)

Veteran’s Group Life Insurance is a program that offers you a low-cost life insurance option after you have separated from the military.  VGLI is more expensive than the traditional SGLI but is still an extremely affordable coverage plan.  In order to enroll in VGLI, you do not need to have a record of good health, something that can keep you from getting affordable life insurance later on in life.

Under VGLI you will also be afforded the maximum coverage amount fo $400,000. The cost of different coverages is listed below.

You have 1 year and 120 days from the date of separation to apply for VGLI.  It’s important to start your paperwork as soon as you are separated from the military to ensure you do not lose your coverage.

You can apply for VGLI through Prudential’s website.  They are the current policyholders, however, this could change in the future.  To ensure you are using the current company you can always visit the VA’s VGLI page that will provide you with the most up to date information.

Learn More

2019 VGLI Rates

Amount of Insurance Age
29 & Below
Age 30-34 Age 35-39 Age 40-44 Age 45-49 Age 50-54 Age 55-59 Age 60-64 Age 65-69 Age 70-74 Age 75 & Over
$400,000 $32.00 $40.00 $52.00 $68.00 $88.00 $144.00 $268.00 $432.00 $600.00 $920.00 $1,840.00
390,000 31.20 39.00 50.70 66.30 85.80 140.40 261.30 421.20 585.00 897.00 1,794.00
380,000 30.40 38.00 49.40 64.60 83.60 136.80 254.60 410.40 570.00 874.00 1,748.00
370,000 29.60 37.00 48.10 62.90 81.40 133.20 247.90 399.60 555.00 851.00 1,702.00
360,000 28.80 36.00 46.80 61.20 79.20 129.60 241.20 388.80 540.00 828.00 1,656.00
350,000 28.00 35.00 45.50 59.50 77.00 126.00 234.50 378.00 525.00 805.00 1,610.00
340,000 27.20 34.00 44.20 57.80 74.80 122.40 227.80 367.20 510.00 782.00 1,564.00
330,000 26.40 33.00 42.90 56.10 72.60 118.80 221.10 356.40 495.00 759.00 1,518.00
320,000 25.60 32.00 41.60 54.40 70.40 115.20 214.40 345.60 480.00 736.00 1,472.00
310,000 24.80 31.00 40.30 52.70 68.20 111.60 207.70 334.80 465.00 713.00 1,426.00
300,000 24.00 30.00 39.00 51.00 66.00 108.00 201.00 324.00 450.00 690.00 1,380.00
290,000 23.20 29.00 37.70 49.30 63.80 104.40 194.30 313.20 435.00 667.00 1,334.00
280,000 22.40 28.00 36.40 47.60 61.60 100.80 187.60 302.40 420.00 644.00 1,288.00
270,000 21.60 27.00 35.10 45.90 59.40 97.20 180.90 291.60 405.00 621.00 1,242.00
260,000 20.80 26.00 33.80 44.20 57.20 93.60 174.20 280.80 390.00 598.00 1,196.00
250,000 20.00 25.00 32.50 42.50 55.00 90.00 167.50 270.00 375.00 575.00 1,150.00
240,000 19.20 24.00 31.20 40.80 52.80 86.40 160.80 259.20 360.00 552.00 1,104.00
230,000 18.40 23.00 29.90 39.10 50.60 82.80 154.10 248.40 345.00 529.00 1,058.00
220,000 17.60 22.00 28.60 37.40 48.40 79.20 147.40 237.60 330.00 506.00 1,012.00
210,000 16.80 21.00 27.30 35.70 46.20 75.60 140.70 226.80 315.00 483.00 966.00
200,000 16.00 20.00 26.00 34.00 44.00 72.00 134.00 216.00 300.00 460.00 920.00
190,000 15.20 19.00 24.70 32.30 41.80 68.40 127.30 205.20 285.00 437.00 874.00
180,000 14.40 18.00 23.40 30.60 39.60 64.80 120.60 194.40 270.00 414.00 828.00
170,000 13.60 17.00 22.10 28.90 37.40 61.20 113.90 183.60 255.00 391.00 782.00
160,000 12.80 16.00 20.80 27.20 35.20 57.60 107.20 172.80 240.00 368.00 736.00
150,000 12.00 15.00 19.50 25.50 33.00 54.00 100.50 162.00 225.00 345.00 690.00
140,000 11.20 14.00 18.20 23.80 30.80 50.40 93.80 151.20 210.00 322.00 644.00
130,000 10.40 13.00 16.90 22.10 28.60 46.80 87.10 140.40 195.00 299.00 598.00
120,000 9.60 12.00 15.60 20.40 26.40 43.20 80.40 129.60 180.00 276.00 552.00
110,000 8.80 11.00 14.30 18.70 24.20 39.60 73.70 118.80 165.00 253.00 506.00
100,000 8.00 10.00 13.00 17.00 22.00 36.00 67.00 108.00 150.00 230.00 460.00
90,000 7.20 9.00 11.70 15.30 19.80 32.40 60.30 97.20 135.00 207.00 414.00
80,000 6.40 8.00 10.40 13.60 17.60 28.80 53.60 86.40 120.00 184.00 368.00
70,000 5.60 7.00 9.10 11.90 15.40 25.20 46.90 75.60 105.00 161.00 322.00
60,000 4.80 6.00 7.80 10.20 13.20 21.60 40.20 64.80 90.00 138.00 276.00
50,000 4.00 5.00 6.50 8.50 11.00 18.00 33.50 54.00 75.00 115.00 230.00
40,000 3.20 4.00 5.20 6.80 8.80 14.40 26.80 43.20 60.00 92.00 184.00
30,000 2.40 3.00 3.90 5.10 6.60 10.80 20.10 32.40 45.00 69.00 138.00
20,000 1.60 2.00 2.60 3.40 4.40 7.20 13.40 21.60 30.00 46.00 92.00
10,000 0.80 1.00 1.30 1.70 2.20 3.60 6.70 10.80 15.00 23.00 46.00

Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI)

Traumatic Injury Protection or TSGLI is designed to offer prolonged care assistance to you and your loved ones following a traumatic event that requires long-term care.

Can I get TSGLI?

You may be able to get TSGLI if you were insured by SGLI when you experienced a traumatic injury. According to the VA website in order to be eligible for TSGLI you must meet the following:

All of these must be true:

  • You have a scheduled loss that is a direct result of the traumatic injury, and
  • You suffered the traumatic injury before midnight on the day that you left the military, and
  • You suffered a scheduled loss within 2 years (730 days) of the traumatic injury, and
  • You have survived for a period of not less than 7 full days from the date of the traumatic injury (the 7-day period begins on the date and time of the traumatic injury and ends 168 full hours later), and
  • You were an active-duty military member, a Reservist, a National Guard member, on funeral-honors duty, or on 1-day muster duty

Are any injuries excluded from TSGLI?

Yes. To qualify for TSGLI, none of the descriptions below can be true of your injury.

Your injury can’t:

  • Be self-inflicted on purpose or the result of an attempt at self-injury, or
  • Involve the use of an illegal drug or a controlled substance that was given or taken without the advice of a medical doctor, or
  • Be the result of medical or surgical treatment of an illness or disease, or
  • Occur while you’re committing or trying to commit a felony, or
  • Be the result of a physical or mental illness or disease (not including illness or disease caused by a wound infection; a chemical, biological, or radiological weapon; or accidentally swallowing a contaminated substance)

How Much Does TSGLI Cover?

TSGLI is paid out in a lump sum as a tax-free payment.  This payment ranges from $25,000 up to $100,000 and is dependent on the service member’s injuries.  You can submit a claim for TSGLI by going to the VA’s TSGLI webpage.

Will TSGLI Be Enough to Cover My Injuries?

This is a personal editorial note so please take it for what it’s worth…  Most people are unaware of how much extreme trauma can cost their family.  Even if you have Tricare or additional healthcare coverage you will almost always find yourself paying out of pocket if you don’t have the proper coverage.  As a kid, my dad was a helicopter pilot.  My family held two levels of life insurance coverage for my dad, one was if he died as a result of a helicopter accident, the other was if he died as a result of something other than a helicopter accident.  My dad ended up getting into a helicopter accident that left him severely disabled for three years.  He eventually died as a result of his injuries.  During his period of recovery, we managed to rack up over $1 million in medical bills.  Had my family not secured the proper life insurance coverage we would still be trying to pay those bills to this day.  In reality, $100,000 is a drop in the bucket when it comes to a traumatic injury or death.  If you want a personal recommendation, get ample coverage.  Most often, a good life insurance policy can be obtained at a very nominal amount but will offer huge dividends in the long run.  The reality is that if you don’t get insured, you won’t be the one that suffers.  If you’re in a traumatic accident, your family will bare the burden of your death or traumatic injuries.  Imagine your family having to care for you full time if you have a massive brain injury.  Would you want them to also have to pay your medical bills or try to work while trying to take care of you?  In short, life insurance is one of the best things you can do to support your loved ones.  Get coverage, they will thank you.

Learn More

An In Depth Look at Geico’s Military Discount

Geico Military

A little while back we did an in-depth look at USAA and their comprehensive insurance policy for Veterans and Service Members.  After some great user feedback, we decided to take another look at Geico’s military programs and discounts.  



Geico Auto Insurance

So before we go to into the weeds with Geico’s military program, let’s take a look at Geico’s track record as a whole.  Oddly enough Geico started in 1936 for Federal Employees and military officers.  Like USAA, the company began as a niche market servicing the military and quickly grew its customer base to the 24 million strong clientele it has today. 

Some of Geico’s key advantages include their exceptionally well-built web platform that’s designed to make up for their smaller agent network than some of their competitors.  All in all, Geico ranks fairly middle of the road for customer satisfaction according to JD Power’s 2018 study.  However, they have made great strides to up their game in the past two years.  One thing we found interesting was how many people commented on our Facebook Post about USAA and their exceptional experience with Geico. 

One place where Geico tends to out-perform the rest is in their cost to value structure. All in all, Geico tends to offer some of the least expensive plans around while still maintaining some quality service.  Bottom line, if you’re after the least expensive insurance option available, this is probably your best bet.    

Geico’s Military Discount

So if you’re looking for the short answer, Geico offers up to 15% off your insurance plan if you’re active duty, reserve, National Guard member or retired.  Given that Geico already has some pretty low rates this has the option of being a pretty solid saver for anyone looking to lower their monthly bills. While money is a great thing to be concerned about we were actually pleasantly surprised when researching Geico’s military program to find out that they actually have an awesome military support system.

First and foremost, Geico offers emergency deployment discounts which are important if you’re constantly being deployed and having to worry about your insurance plan.  Not only that, they have an awesome dedicated military team that is specifically trained to support their military customers.  This to us is incredibly important and something that puts them on par with USAA’s services.

One thing we really wanted to point out and commend Geico on is that their military team is made up of all military retirees. This is impressive since they not only have a team of experts that will be able to help you out when you need it the most, but they are also giving back to the veteran community which we really value.  So no matter what you think of Geico, at least commend them for that!

Another service offered by Geico is their insurance pause that can be applied to vehicles stored on base during your deployment as long as the vehicle is stored 30 days or longer.  As long as you’re deployed and your car is on base Geico can suspend your insurance or pause it until you return.  Again, big kudos to them. 


USAA Vs Geico Military

Chances are you’re comparing USAA to Geico Military and looking at picking up a policy with one of these companies.  While in many ways both offer some great incentives they do have some pretty stark contrasts.

Geico Car Insurance Rates

In general, Geico will be less expensive than USAA when it comes to the overall price.  However, based on the research we did find USAA to have better customer service ratings from various places around the internet. They also don’t fall too far behind Geico when it comes to pricing and in some cases might actually be cheaper.  USAA also specializes in supporting service members as a whole rather than just as a select group.  You could argue this as a positive or a negative attribute in the sense that a company that specializes in the military as a whole might have better service or a company that puts together a select group of people whose only focus is the military might have better service since they have a much better-dedicated core. 

Geico Agents

USAA does have a larger agent network so if you find yourself in an accident you will be more likely to meet an agent face to face to take care of your needs than if you went with Geico.  However, Geico does an exceptional job utilizing their military team that is dedicated to answering your needs alongside their award-winning web platform that will help you process your claims quickly and efficiently.  In short, they make up for their lack of agents in the field with a dedicated team that can support your needs over the phone. 

One thing we should point out is that in general, Geico does tend to have higher costs for drivers with an at-fault accident on their record as well as individuals with a low credit score.  If you fit into either of those categories ensure you really shop around before making your final decision.

Reporting a Claim to Geico

The process for submitting a claim to Geico is a matter of only a few steps.

  1. Review your claim
  2. Contact parties involved
  3. Take statements and gather information
  4. Evaluate and report

Reporting a Claim to USAA

Like Geico, the process of a claim isn’t very long.

  1. Report a claim
  2. Review your policy coverage
  3. Inspect or approve any damages associated with the claim
  4. Determine a resolution

Geico’s Military Programs

One thing we did want to point out is Geico’s dedication to service members.  Again, after doing some research we found Geico does a phenomenal job of supporting the troops as well as the veteran community. In addition to only hiring veterans to their military team, they have also offered jobs to service members in other areas of their company. 

In addition, Geico helps give back to the military through a number of donation programs such as their Military Service Awards Program that offers $2500 and recognition to one member of each branch of service who has excelled by giving back to the military community. 

Geico’s Federal Employee Discount

In addition to their military discount, Geico also offers a discount for Federal Employees.  This discount is offered to employees who are GS-7 or above as well as employees who are the equivalent for GS-11 or above who are not on the GS pay scale.  For more information on the GS employee program, we recommend reaching out to them directly.

Geico’s Veteran Discount

So we found that Geico does offer some Veteran discounts, however, they aren’t consistent.  While they guarantee an Active Duty/Reserve/National Guard/retiree discount, they do not state anything on their website about honorably discharged Veterans.  However, we did find a few resources that say they will divvy out some veteran discounts based on the state you’re living in.  Your best bet is to contact them directly to see if they offer any Veteran discounts in your local area.


Geico: The Best Option if you’re Retired or State Side

Geico offers a pretty good discount for our service members. And if you’re retired and belong to one of the organizations below, you qualify for an extra 25% discount on your premium.

  • Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA)
  • Fleet Reserve Association (FRA)
  • National Infantry Association (NIA)

However, if you are deployed, you might want to look at staying with USAA, if your decision comes down to who offers the best discounts. If you want a deployment discount through Geico, you have to be deployed to an area where you receive imminent danger pay. If you’re anywhere else, you won’t get the discount.

Because you only get a 25% discount (which is lower than USAA’s premium discount) while you’re deployed to an area receiving imminent danger pay, this means you won’t get a discount for your PCS to Germany—unless Germany becomes a combat zone while you’re there.

Geico vs. USAA Car Insurance for Veterans

While Geico beats out USAA on the overall price comparison, there are cases in which you won’t get the 15% military discount. For example, while Geico offers a discount to our veterans, it is not a discount available in every state. According to some residents, they were told their state does not qualify for the discount.

When it comes to customer service, USAA also takes the lead over Geico. This could be due to the fact that most of Geico’s interactions are handled online. According to J.D. Powers, USAA received a 5/5 on customer satisfaction and in handling claims. Geico, however, only received a 4/5 in customer satisfaction and a 3/5 when it came to handling claims.

Again, other than the few things listed above, Geico and USAA come pretty close when it comes to offering great deals to our military members and veterans. However, make sure you speak with a local representative before you make your selection. You may get better deals based on your state of residence, due to a deployment, or based on your association to various organizations. Make sure you discuss this with your agent and see who will offer you what you need at the best price.

Disclaimer: Cheaper doesn’t always mean better, keep this in mind when comparing car insurance companies. As we pointed out, Geico is a great option because of the potential overall cost. However, USAA continuously wins at customer services against Geico. They also made it to number one when it came to handling claims. And trust us, if you’ve never filed a claim, you want that to be easy. It’s enough of a headache dealing with that fact that you were in a wreck or that your car was stolen. If the representative helping you isn’t doing their best or doesn’t know their job like they should, it only makes it that much more frustrating and you might end up missing out on something as a result. Unfortunately, this means you might end up paying more than you have to in a claim, or you may not get all the benefits you deserve.

Geico Military Number

If you’re a Geico Military customer you can reach their team of dedicated experts by dialing 1-800-MILITARY (645-4827) or by reaching out to your local agent.


5 Pistol Drills to try next time you’re at the Range

If you aren’t getting some good quality trigger time in at the range, then what are you doing with your life? Seriously though, what are you doing? If you’re looking to improve your range day, look at these five pistol drills to try next time you’re ready to send some brass flying.

Weapon Safety

Before we get into the fun stuff, know that in all firing scenarios, safety is absolutely paramount. So, adhere to these safety standards at all times:

1. Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction—don’t aim at your cat, dog, sibling, anything that might have a person behind it, your pet turtle—only point at the things you intend to shoot, and nothing more.

2. Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot—you will not look cooler by having your finger in the trigger guard, even if there aren’t any rounds in the chamber. So always practice like you play, and don’t be an idiot.

3. Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use—if you aren’t planning to use the gun, don’t load the gun. Too many people get excited and the next thing you know, there’s a nice .45 caliber sized hole in the ceiling of the shooting range, which goes back to always keeping your gun pointed in a safe direction.

4. Always. Always. Always know what’s behind your target and beyond it. If you’re shooting at a target and don’t know what’s behind it, your chances of going to jail have increased drastically. For all you know, there’s a playground full of small children behind your target, so again, don’t be an idiot.

5 Pistol Drills

Again, with each of these drills, don’t be stupid and mind your weapon’s safety. Also, keep in mind, some of these drills can’t be done at every range. Make sure you speak with your range’s safety/range officer beforehand.

Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck Drills

These decks come in two forms, one for the rifle and one for the pistol. For the purpose of this particular post, we’re going to stick strictly to the pistol version—don’t get upset, we’ll give you some good rifle drills later on too—this is just the first step in making you an intelligent shooter, at least with the pistol.

What you need:

IQ Target (Pistol)

Dead Man’s Hand Shooting Deck (Pistol)

As many rounds as you can stand to shoot in one day

A few magazines (for reloads)

Between 3 and 25 yards of range

How it works:

Picture this, you’re at the range, it’s a beautiful sunny day, great for absolutely destroying some targets. But wait, you’re bored and think to yourself, “wouldn’t it be nice if I could be more creative with my range time?” Well lucky for you, we’ve created an awesome drill that brings creativity to an entirely new level.

First, go set up your IQ target, then take out your deck of cards—no, not the ones you played poker with last night— and either at random or based on your current skill level you’ll draw a card.

Be advised, this card game comes with every shooter’s skill level in mind. If you are in need of a warm-up or need to work on the fundamentals, only draw from the cards with a 2-7 on it. If you’re wanting to work on performance and speed, draw from the cards with 8s and 9s on them. If however, you’re ready to work on advanced marksmanship fundamentals, select the 10s. Now let’s say you want to get fancy, the Jacks are your cup of tea. With safety in mind—as always—jacks are facing movements combined with shooting. Finally, you have the cards meant for the more advanced shooters. Queens and Kinds are complex drills, Aces are complex drills incorporating movement. So, depending on what skill level you’re at, draw from that particular stack—or complete randomness—and do what the card says.

For example, if your card says, shoot at all the shapes with a number in it one time, that’s what you’ll do. You’ll be thinking, attempting to find your next shape with a number in it, and you’ll also be working on your precision—because you’re nothing if you’re hitting the triangle with a “1” in it when you’re supposed to be hitting the circle with a “2” in it.

General Marksmanship Drill

We’ve talked about targets to help increase your marksmanship in previous posts, now it’s time to start practicing with marksmanship drills.

What you’ll need:

Essentials Target

At least 6 rounds, more if you don’t’ completely suck

Between 3 and 7-yards of range

How it works:

This particular drill is to make you focus on the fundamentals, so in this case, the drill is not timed. Your goal is to make well-aimed hits with each and every shot. You’ll start by firing one round each at the circles labeled with a 1-6 from the 3-yard line. If you do that successfully—meaning you hit inside each circle—you’ll do it again, only this time with two rounds to each circle. You’ll continue this process until you finally miss. If however, this is too easy for you, you can move back to the 5 or 7-yard line and perform the same steps.

X’s and O’s

What you’ll need:

Essentials Target

45 rounds

5-yards of range


How it works:

From the 5-yard line, in the gun ready position, at the sound of the buzzer, you will fire one round each into target #13, followed by #8, #13, #9, #13, #10, #13, #11 and #13, in that order 5 times. The point of this drill is to help you work on your target transition skills by making you move to a different position between each shot.

In the end, record your time and attempt to improve your speed each time you conduct this drill.

Abbate Drill

What you’ll need:

Essentials Target

At least 18 rounds, more if you want more running-range fun

Between 3 and 25-yards of range 


How it works:

For this drill, you will start at the 3-yard line with your pistol holstered. When the buzzer goes off, you’ll fire one round each into targets 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, in that exact order. After, you’ll run—yes, you’re going to have to do a little exercise with this one—to the 25-yard line, do the same, and then run back to the 3-yard line and repeat. Continue this process, and reload as necessary. If you miss the target, do not move on to the next target until you are able to hit the same target with two rounds in a row.

The intention of this drill is to add a little physical stress to your shooting experience. As always, especially with a drill that requires movement, make sure you are practicing weapon’s safety. Also, ensure you talk with the range official about the drills you intend on running and make sure they’re okay with it. The last thing you want to do is start running up and downrange with a loaded pistol and freak someone out.

In the end, your time is your score. The lower your score (time), the better you did.

The 1-2-3 Drill

What you’ll need:

Hitman Target

At least 6 rounds, 54 if you want to take full advantage of this drill

3-yards of range


How it works:

For this drill, you’ll want to stand at the 3-yard line, at pistol ready. When the buzzer goes off you’ll place one round into the 1” square, 2 rounds into the 2” square and 3 rounds into the 3” square. Repeat until you’re out of target or rounds, in which case, you can work on your reloads.

The intention of this drill is to have you work on speed and accuracy. Continue this drill until you are able to hit every square without missing.

Importance of Pistol Drills

If you’re not sure, you might be asking what the importance of running pistol drills is. Well, the overarching answer here is clearly accuracy. What’s the point of owning a gun if you can’t actually hit your target? Let’s say you’re in a self-defense situation. You don’t want to be that guy or gal who shoots his or her own foot—that’s a real thing by the way. You also don’t want to be the one to try and save the day during an active shooter and end up missing and hitting the mom holding her crying baby in the background. That’s why practicing these drills are important. Because becoming a better shooter means becoming more accurate.

Proper Pistol Draw

One of the things most overlooked when it comes to weapons/range day is drawing from your holster. Now imagine, you’re out and about and someone pulls a gun on the gas station attendant. You, being the prepared citizen that you are, have a sidearm on, and thankfully you know how to use that sidearm because you’re at the range every Saturday—0800 sharp. However, there’s one thing standing in your way. It’s winter; you have on a big coat, a sweatshirt, and then your pistol. This might not be an issue, but you haven’t practiced, not even once, drawing your pistol from under all your garments inside the holster; the pistol gets caught up, the armed suspect notices you, and you’re the first person he ends up shooting.

This scenario could have gone much differently if you had practice. Unfortunately, not a lot of people practice, and when they do, it’s rarely from concealed carry. Next time you’re at the range, practice drawing your pistol at least 10 times, without a coat on and then 10 times with a coat on, or from concealed carry—do this unloaded—and make it a habit each time you’re at the range. Some of our drills, which you can find in the Essential Shooting Guide will help to improve your pistol draw

When it comes to actually drawing your pistol from its holster, do so with a firm grip. Place the webbing up as high on the grip as possible and pull directly up along your side. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t be looking at your holster—it’s not the one shooting at you—instead, look at your target, it will increase your speed to target, and hopefully that means you can get the first shot off.

If you’re looking to speed up your pistol draw, check out this article here for a few tips.

Off-Hand Shooting

When it comes to actually shooting your pistol, there are several different techniques you can use. There’s the average shooter’s technique, where you use your strong shooting hand to pull the trigger and your weak hand as support, but then there’s also offhand shooting. Offhand shooting simply means you shoot without your support hand. This might be a little odd for some folks, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of it. It’s good to practice shooting like this in case your support hand is ever out of commission, which doesn’t necessarily mean someone shot your hand off, it could just be occupied with a flashlight.

Weak Hand Shooting

Weak hand shooting can be a lot of fun, especially if you’ve never done it. Practice this by placing your strong hand behind your back or on your chest to help with the temptation. But, only use your weak hand when you make the shot. It’s a good idea to practice shooting this way in case your primary shooting hand is out of commission.

Rapid Reload

Most likely, if you’re in need of a rapid reload, you’re in the middle of a firefight and your pistol slide locks to the rear revealing you’re out of ammo. You need to reload because bullets are still flying, only not from your pistol. Therefore your goal is to reload as quickly as possible without the target figuring it out.

It’s important in this situation to stay on target. 1. It makes sure you’re able to get in back in the fight much quicker without having to reset everything again and 2. It prevents the target from realizing you’re out of ammo until you’re reloaded and sending bullet their way again.

Step 1: Release magazine with your firing hand—at the same time you’re reaching for a fresh magazine with your non-firing hand.

Step 2: Insert fresh magazine—no need to grab the empty mag off the ground when you’re in the heat of the battle.

Step 3: Release slide forward.

Step 4: Fire!

Tactical Reload

Unlike with a rapid reload, a tactical reload happens when you have rounds in the magazine, but you want to reload with a fresh magazine. This typically happens because there’s a lull in the action. You need to be prepared for something else to kick off, but not having a full mag isn’t exactly a smart idea. It’s also not smart to throw what rounds you have away either, so you’ll conduct a tactical reload.

Step 1: Remove your trigger finger from the trigger guard.

Step 2: Grasp your fresh magazine with your support/non-firing hand—between the thumb, index and middle finger.

Step 3: Bring the new magazine up to your pistol.

Step 4: Press—with your shooting hand—the magazine release button. The magazine should be dropped into your palm, between your pinky/ring finger and the meaty part of your hand beneath your thumb. *Steps 2 and 3 should be happening at the same time as step 4.

Step 5: While holding the old magazine—your magazines will look like they’re in the shape of a “V”—tilt your wrist toward your chest so that the new magazine is under the magazine well and insert (it might look like a backward “L” or “V” turned on its side).

Step 6: Place the old magazine into your pocket or waistband, this way it doesn’t get mixed up with any full mags you have in your magazine pouches.

*Yes, there are different ways of grabbing the old and replacing the new magazine—so before you get your panties in a bunch, we know that—the above is just one example.

Extra Pistol Drills

If you’re interested in our Human Resources target, why not try out this pistol shooting drill.

Once you feel confident about your drills, try the Small Big Small Drill, and see if you can beat our times. Just remember, if there’s no video, it didn’t happen.

You can find more drills to help improve your range day in our Essential Shooting Guide.

Best Red Dot Sights | The 2019 Buyer’s Guide

With the market being flooded with Red Dot Optics it’s hard to know which ones are actually decent anymore.  We set out to try and find the best red dot sights on the market to help make your job a bit easier.

So what makes a good red rot optic?  Well, for starters durability plays a huge factor when looking for something that you might potentially depend your life on at some point.  At first glance, durability seems pretty straight forward but when it comes to optics, there are a lot of measured factors.  The first measure of durability for any rifle/pistol sight is the housing.  You’re pretty much guaranteed that any red dot optic or reflex sight that isn’t made from a metal body will have a shorter shelf life than one made from aluminum.  The second piece of durability comes in the actual waterproofing of the housing unit.  Many of the cheaper red dot optics will come with a slight weather sealing but will accumulate moisture in the rain or wet conditions.  Conversely, some of the top of the line red dot sights are designed to be submersible for naval operations and waterborne infiltration.   Another piece of durability comes in the overall quality of the glass used in the optic itself.  It’s safe to say that not all glass is created equal and in many cases, the biggest driver of an optic’s cost comes from the quality of glass used.  Good glass is considered scratch-resistant, crisp with low distortion meaning the image you see through the lens is true to what you would see in real life.  Finally, you want to ensure the red dot inside the optic won’t move in the event of extreme weather change.  This is a hot topic at the moment due to some companies in the past who had that issue causing people to lose their zero if the weather went from one extreme to another.

Next to durability comes cost.  The bottom line is that any red dot scope, reflex sight, holographic sight or whatever else you want to call it will be priced pretty much according to their quality.  If an optic is priced ridiculously cheap, it’s probably because it’s pretty garbage.  However, most optics that come in at a higher price point tend to offer better quality.  In short, with this product line, you do tend to get what you pay for.

So what are the different terms you should know?

Red Dot Optics tend to be a fairly large and broad category. So let’s break down what a few of the key terms mean

Reflex Sight vs Prism Sight vs Holographic Sight

A red dot sight is not an actual sight, it just refers to an optic that uses a red dot as an aiming point.  There are several types of red dot sights to include a reflex sight, a prism sight, and a holographic sight.

What is a Reflex sight?

A reflex sight is an optic that uses a lens that functions as a mirror.   Basically, a red dot (in the form of an LED) is projected onto a semi reflecting lens that you can see through.  The biggest advantage of a reflex sight is that the point of aim of the red dot will not move as you move your eye’s location making it parallax free.  In other optics, if you move your head/eye side to side you can actually change the aiming point of the optic.  In a flex sight, the red dot shows the point of impact of the round (obviously not accounting for bullet drop).  This makes reflex sights an excellent CQB  optic.  Reflex sights can be battery-powered or powered by light through a tritium tube.  Another advantage of the optic is that very little power is required to show the red dot so the optic’s batteries can last a lot longer than other types of red dot sights.

What is a Prism Sight?

Prism sights are a red dot optic contained in a tube that uses a prism to show the image you’re looking at.  Prism sights are often used with a slight magnification (usually up to 3 x power). Prism sights are great for both CQB and mid-range engagements, however, in order to properly acquire a proper sight picture you need to have a closer eye relief than say a reflex sight.  In general, prism sights are more expensive than reflex sights but they are becoming more popular thus causing a more competitive price point.

What is a Holographic Sight?

A holographic sight is a sight that features a holographic image between two lenses.  Chances are you are most familiar with Eotech holographic sights, probably because Eotech has the patent on holographic sights so they are the only ones making them.  The biggest advantage of a holographic sight is like a reflex sight the sight picture doesn’t change based on the location of your head.  In general, holographic sights are very precise and accurate.  However, they do tend to be a lot more expensive. In addition, Eotech had a few issues over the years with the quality of their sights and reporting those issues to their end-users.

Reflex Sight Vs Red Dot Sight

As mentioned, a reflex sight is pretty much a red dot sight.  A red dot sight can be a reflex sight in the sense that the reflex sight uses a red dot as an aiming point.  All the reflex sights we recommend in this article feature a red dot as an aiming point.  It’s important to point out that with all of this terminology there are lots of grey areas and people tend to get wrapped up in the specifics.  But don’t worry, by the end you should have a decent idea of what a reflex sight offers and what to look for if you want to pick one up.

First focal plane vs second plane

In this red dot review, we also take a look at low variable powered optics that have a red dot aiming point.  You could argue that these aren’t technically red dot optics but we figured we’d include them since they are starting to replace red dot sights in a lot of different areas. In any optic with two focal planes, the reticle will be placed on either the first focal plane (FFP) or second focal plane (SFP).  The biggest difference between the two is how the reticle appears to the user as you zoom in or out.  With a first focal plane reticle, the reticle will change in size as you zoom in or out.  On a second focal plane, the reticle stays the same size no matter how the optic is zoomed in or out.  AmericanHunter.org offers an excellent article on the difference between FFP vs SFP along with the image below.

This is an excellent visual explanation for FFP vs SFP by AmericanHunter.org

In general, SFP has been popular among hunters and more traditional rifle scopes while FFP optics are becoming increasingly more popular with long-range shooters and snipers.  The biggest reason FFP is becoming more popular for long-range shooters is the fact that FFP is better for accuracy when calculating shots.  More specifically, your hold over and hold unders are going to remain the same no matter what the magnification setting of the optic while an SFP is only accurate for a holdover/under at one magnification.  In short, if you’re looking to get a red dot optic for long-range shooting you will most likely want an FFP optic.

Now that we have a good idea of the particulars of a red dot optic, let’s take a look at our 2019 buyers guide of the best red dot optics.

Best Red Dot Sight

Here we are reviewing Red Dot Sights that offer no magnification.  These have been traditionally used by SWAT and military units operating within close quarters like cities.  These offer the user the ability to quickly engage close targets because you don’t need to have a specific eye relief or head placement.  These optics are typically lighter and less expensive than a variable powered red dot sight.  In addition, they tend to have less moving parts making them less prone to have mechanical issues.

Disadvantages of Red Dot Sights

Because these optics have no magnification they are not ideal for mid to long-range engagements.  As such, many units are moving away from these types of sights for use on standard service rifles because it keeps personnel from having the upper hand in longer-range engagements.  If you’re looking for a basic optic to take to the range that won’t break the bank, this is probably your best bet.  But if you’re looking for something more versatile consider a variable power red dot optic.

Our Top Rated Red Dot Sights

  1. Aimpoint Micro T2– $730+ (Price increases with options)

The Aimpoint T2 is a long standing champion when it comes to red dot sights.  They’ve spent the past 10 years perfecting the sight to be a durable, accurate and reasonably priced product.  The T2 is arguably the most common red dot optic used by Special Operations and police SWAT alike.

AimPoint T2 Features:

The Aimpoint T2 features an enhanced light absorbing glass making it easier to use in low light conditions.  The optic includes a rear flip up cap that you can actually see through allowing you some added lens protection if needed.  The T2 is also one of the lightest optics on the market weighing in at just 3.7oz.  However, probably the best feature of the T2 is its zero parallax glass that allows you to not have to worry about eye relief when using the optic.  The T2 is also a great optic to use if you’re looking for something to use with night vision or in low light conditions.  Aimpoint created the T2 Micro to have 4 NVG settings and 8 daytime settings allowing you to have a wide variety of options for any condition.  The Aimpoint is also highly water resistant and can be submerged to depths up to 80 feet, making it a preferred optic of many naval/marine units.

Why you would buy the AimPoint T2 Micro

You should consider purchasing the T2 if you are looking for an extremely rugged optic that can be used for CQB, waterborne operations/heavy weather, with NVGs or in low light conditions.

Why you shouldn’t buy the AimPoint T2

If budget is a major factor in your decision you should consider something else.  This optic is designed and used for intense military operations and might not be ideal for hunting, basic marksmanship or in home protection.  As such, the T2 is priced a lot higher than its competitors.  The T2 starts at around $730 and can cost upwards of $970 for additional mounting solutions and colors.

Editorial note- We have personally run the Aimpoint T2 on our rifles in combat operations since 2009.  It’s an extremely well tested and well trusted optic.  It is not ideal if you are looking for something with magnification, however, if you purchase this optic you can be rest assured you are purchasing something that is of the highest quality on the market. 

2. Leupold LCO- $910

The Leupold LCO is a newer contender to the red dot market but is making big waves.  This red dot sight offers some incredible features that is getting the attention of SOCOM and a number of other well respected units and police departments.

Leupold LCO Features:

Leupold did an excellent job creating an optic with an incredibly large viewing area that isn’t also bulk or heavy.  They opted to place the dial settings on the back of the optic, rather than on the side.  This allows the optic to have a slim housing and a much larger viewing area… pretty genius.  They also include 16 red dot power settings allowing the user to see the red dot in all situations, to include NVGs.  We had a chance to use the LCO when it first came out and we were very impressed.  Our guess is this red dot optic will be a big contender moving forward. 

Why You Should Buy The Leupold LCO

If you’re looking for something that offers a wide viewing area for CQB operations, consider the LCO.  Leupold has been building high quality scopes for years and they know what they are doing when it comes to making optics.  

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Leupold LCO

Like the Aimpoint, the LCO is not cheap.  At $900+ it’s one of the more expensive red dot sights you can buy, but you will be getting what you pay for.  

3. Crimson Trace CTS-1000 – $299

Crimson Trace was brand new to the optics game in 2018 and we recently had a chance to get a first look.  CT did a great job of putting together an optic at a very competitive price point.  We are excited to see where these go in 2019.  We want to make this recommendation with the notion that this sight still has a lot of field testing needed, however it’s off to a great start.

CTS 1000 Features:

The Crimson Trace CTS 1000 is a simple yet reliable design. The optic comes with a 2.0 MOA red dot housed in a sturdy aluminum housing.  CT did a great job of making the red dot require a minimal amount of energy and the battery only needs to be recharged every 9 years.  If that doesn’t impress you the fact that CT will replace all your batteries for free, for life, should.  In addition, the CTS 1000 is built out of a durable aluminum housing with a robust water resistant design that ensures your sight can withstand wet conditions.

Why You Should Buy the Crimson Trace CTS 1000

This is a great sight to look at if you are on a tight budget.  It comes in at a very affordable price and for what you get it’s actually a great deal.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Crimson Trace CTS 1000

The CTS 1000 is a brand new optic and as such, it’s going to have some kinks.  Crimson Trace did a great job designing the optic but now they need some time to test it out.  Still, given the price point, you will have a hard time finding a better ratio of quality to cost on the market.

Best Variable Power Red Dot Sight

Ok, so before you go to the comment section and tell us a variable power scope isn’t technically a red dot sight let us say, yeah we know.  This section covers a list of variable power scopes that also happen to have a red dot as part of the aiming system.  We are including these because there are some excellent variable power scopes that could act as a replacement for a traditional red dot optic.  A variable powered red dot sight is any sight that offers a variable zoom, that has a red dot aiming feature.

You will want to use a variable powered optic if you believe you might be using the optic in a wide variety of environments.  A variable power zoom allows you to engage in close quarters battle situations as well as mid-length engagements.  Most variable power optics for ARs and CQB will have a zoom range 1 – 5 with some going up to 1-8.  Many units are switching to variable power optics to operate in environments like Afghanistan where users engage in CQB as well as longer open engagements.   Because this type of optic is becoming so popular there are some great new options hitting the market.  These mini rifle scopes are becoming lighter, shorter and offering levels of optical clarity that’s never been produced before.

Disadvantages of using a variable power red dot sight

While there are some great advantages to using a variable power sight there are some key disadvantages as well.  First, variable power optics are more complex and consequently are more expensive.  In addition, they are longer than traditional reflex sights so if you are operating a shorter rifle with limited real estate the scope could become an issue.  Variable power scopes are also traditionally heavier (although they are becoming lighter) so if you’re concerned about weight this might not be the best options for you. Finally, a variable powered scope can be difficult to acquire quickly, which is very important during fast, close up engagements like CQB.

Our Top Rated Variable Powered Red Dot Sights

1. Sig Sauer Tango6 1-6 x 24mm– $1,199

Let’s be honest, Sig’s optics up to this point haven’t been the best, however, this year they upped their optics quality… by a lot.  So much so that the US Army announced that they had awarded Sig with a contract to outfit the Designated Marksman program with the Tango 6 and they aren’t the only ones choosing the Tango 6 as a duty optic.  

Tango 6 Features:

The Tango 6 1 -6 is a variable powered optic with a 24mm objective lens.  One of Sig’s key features in the Tango6 is the HDX Optics extra low dispersion glass which allows for incredible optical clarity, especially in low light situations.  They also coat the lenses in LensArmor abrasion resistant film to help keep the optic from scratching.  One of the other key features is the optic’s Lockdown Zero System which ensures the user can rapidly return to zero and that the turret will stop at zero without moving past, something that is a common issue in other optics on the market.  One of the other cool features of the Tango 6 is the MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination) which powers up when it senses motion and powers down during times of inactivity, allowing for an increased battery life.   

Why You Should Buy The Tango 6

If you’re looking for a durable variable powered optic with incredible lens quality and all the bells and whistles.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy The Tango 6

If price is a variable this might not be the optic for you.  In addition, the optic can be submerged up to 1 meter but if you think you want to use for any sort of naval/marine operations it might not hold up.  

2. Night Force NX8 1-8 x 24mm F1– $1715

Night Force is a longtime contender in the optics market and has recently started making a bit of a comeback.  The NX8 is rapidly becoming a favorite for many units and is being looked at for use in several military contracts.  

Night Force NX8 Features:

The Night Force NX8 has some impressive features, most notably an overall length of 8.75″ while weighing in at only 17 ounces.  This makes the NX8 an excellent optics for AR-15 style SBRs.  The NX8 utilizes a first focal plane which is coupled with an 8 powered zoom making it more suitable for long range engagements than some of the competitors on the market.  We are also fans of NF’s proprietary reticles that are designed to give the user rapid engagement capabilities along with the ability to dial in more precise shots if needed.  

Why You Should Buy the NX8

If space and weight are an issue, consider the NX8.  

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the NX8

The NX8 does use a proprietary reticle that may not jive with your sighting techniques.  If you have specific training on engaging using a different type of reticle this one could be tough to get used to. 

3. Steiner Optics M5Xi- $2200

Steiner Optics has been making optics since the early 1900s and they have some of the best glass around.  They are one of the only companies that actually make their own glass.  That paired with German engineering makes Steiner an incredibly elite optics company. 

Steiner M5Xi Features:

The Steiner M5Xi  is a great option for any duty rifle due to its compact and lightweight design.  The optic features a true 1 power setting meaning that when the optic is used at a 1 power or lowest zoom it accurately depicts what you’re looking at.  Several other variable power optics often have a slight distortion even when set to a 1 power setting.  Steiner’s M5Xi is part of Steiner’s M series which is specifically built to meet and exceed all military standards.  The M5Xi is no exception to quality and it’s about as durable as they come.  Steiner is also well known for their optic’s low light gathering capabilities so this is a great option for anyone wanting to use it during night operations.

Why You Should Buy The Steiner M5Xi

If money is of no concern, consider the M5Xi.  This thing is built like a tank and has some of the most amazing glass you can find.  It also comes with Steiner’s award-winning customer service.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Steiner M5Xi

If you’re not going to use it for military/duty operations this scope might be a little too good.  It’s built to the highest standards but it’s also priced accordingly and is one of the most expensive optics we could recommend.

The Best RMR Sights

RMRs sights are becoming increasingly more popular among both shooting enthusiasts, police and military personnel for use on pistols.  An RMR sight is essentially a reflex sight that mounts on a pistol and acts as a rapid aiming device.  In short, these are pistol red dot sights.

Advantages of an RMR Sight

Using an RMR sight can help you acquire your target quickly and accurately.  After some training, you will most likely find it a lot easier to find than a traditional pistol sight.  The bright red dot is easy to find in the bright daylight and especially helps people with vision issues or if they have a hard time focusing on the front sight post.

Disadvantages of an RMR Sight

First and foremost, RMRs are not cheap.  A good RMR will run you around $400+ and the costs can go up from there if you have to change your holster for the updated optic.  In addition, RMRs can be hard to use if you haven’t trained on them.  You should not use an RMR as a duty optic until you’ve spent plenty of time at the range.  Finally, RMRs require a battery that can go out over time.  If your battery goes out while on a mission there’s no backup sight available.

Our Top Rated RMR Sights:

1. Trijicon RMR RMO6 Type 2– $699

While RMRs are fairly new to the market, Trijicon probably has the most experience making them.  They also have some incredible quality and recently won a SOCOM solicitation.

Trijicon RMO6 Features:

The Trijicon RMO6 comes with a dependable electronic design with an adjustable LED.  Their battery conservation mode ensures a long battery life and a less likely chance that the optic will go out when you need it the most.  The optic also comes with easy use windage/elevation adjustments which is a common issue in other types of RMRs.  The RMR is naturally parallax-free which is extremely important when being used on a pistol.  Finally, it’s waterproof up to 20 meters and features a very strong housing that ensures it can withstand any element you throw at it.

Why you should buy the Trijicon RMR RMO6

If you want the best RMR that money can buy, this is it.  This is a durable, long-lasting optic that has been tested and approved by SOCOM for use in the field.

Why you shouldn’t buy the Trijicon RMR RMO6

If money is an issue, this isn’t the optic for you.  You can get less robust versions of the optic for around $400 but it’s still a lot more expensive than other options on the market.

2. Leupold DeltaPoint (DP) Pro- $519

The Leupold DP Pro is a very close second to the Trijicon RMO6 in just about every way.  Leupold is newer to the RMR market but put a lot of time and effort into ensuring the DP Pro offers top of the line quality.

Leupold DP Pro Features:

The DP Pro comes with some awesome features such as their proprietary MST (Motion Sensor Technology) that automatically turns off the optic after 5 min of inactivity and turns it back on as soon as movement is detected.  The DP features a 7.5 MOA red dot with over 120 MOA of windage and elevation travel adjustment which ensures you will be able to dial it to zero no matter what platform you place it on.  Once dialed in you can lock your adjustments to ensure the optic doesn’t wander during use.  If you have the cash to spend, this is an awesome option as an RMR.

Why You Should Buy The Leupold DP Pro RMR

Like the Aimpoint, you should consider this optic if you have the money to spend and if you’re after extreme quality.  Leupold’s over-engineering of this optic will ensure it can withstand the elements and any other abuse you throw at it.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Leupold DP Pro RMR

Again, if budget is an issue, maybe look elsewhere.

3. Vortex Viper RMR- $329

The Vortex Viper is about as inexpensive as you can get with an RMR while still maintaining quality.  Because RMRs take a ton of abuse, you won’t be able to get away with a really low-end optic.  The Viper is produced overseas to help keep the costs down but as such, they are not able to be procured for government use.

Vortex Viper Features:

The Vortex Viper comes with 6 MOA red dot housed in a durable housing.  We like the easy touch illumination buttons on the side that help control the optic’s brightness levels.  Like the Leupold DP there’s 120 MOA of elevation/windage travel to ensure you can get your sight dialed to zero.

Why You Should Buy the Vortex Viper RMR

If you’re looking for something that is of decent quality and won’t break the bank, this is your optic.

Why You Shouldn’t Buy the Vortex Viper RMR

If you’re a government customer you won’t be able to buy this optic since it’s not Trade Act Compliant.

So What’s The Best Red Dot Sight For The Money?

This is a tough one to answer.  As mentioned there are a ton of different options on the market and the term red dot sight encompasses a lot of different optics.  At the end of the day, you will first want to identify the kind of optic you need and then start looking at which of the optics above are going to best fit your needs.  So here are a few options to look at based on different budgets.

Under $500- Vortex Red Dot Sight

The Vortex Crossfire is an option if you’re really trying to keep your budget down.  Vortex has really upped their game in the past few years and is making some pretty nice optics. For $219 you’re not going to get a super high-quality optic, but if you’re going for something low budget this is a good option.

Under $1000- AimPoint T2

We’d say the Aimpoint T2 is probably your best option under $1000.  It has a long-standing history of success and a very safe bet.

Under $2000- Steiner or Vortex

If you’re willing to spend some cash, look at getting either the Vortex Razor, $1999, or the Steiner M5Xi.  Both of these are incredible optics that won’t let you down.

Is USAA Actually The Best Car Insurance for Veterans?

USAA Car Insurance Review

So here’s the thing, USAA has always been considered, in the military community at least, the best car insurance for Veterans.  However, we set out to see if USAA was, in fact, the best car insurance for veterans, service members and their families.

Car Insurance for Vets?

The first thing we wanted to look at when answering this question was whether or not USAA was actually a champion of service members, veterans and their families.  We’d hope so, considering their entire business model is based on serving that exact client base.  So we decided to look at how USAA came about and why they focus their efforts on the military community.

USAA stands for the United Services Automobile Association and began in 1922 by 25 US Army officers who were having difficulty finding insurance because they were considered a high-risk group at the time.  The officers wanted to create a group that offered mutual self-insurance to its members who had to be an active duty service member in order to apply.  This soon included both active duty and veteran service members and the company grew to the Fortune 500 company that it is today.  Over the years USAA has continually let in more groups of military and veteran associated groups however one thing remains the same…. you must be affiliated with the military in some way to join the club.  Something we like!

Who Can Apply to USAA?

USAA tries to keep it in the family and has done a great job of offering their insurance to the military, veterans and their families.  While membership isn’t super exclusive they do their best to keep the club going.

Who should get USAA car insurance?

Anyone who qualifies for USAA car insurance should at least look into using them. Ask for a quote and then ask about any discounts they have to offer. What’s nice about USAA is, you don’t have to beg for discounts, they offer them to you without asking, at least this is the typical experience most people have with USAA.

USAA Eligibility Requirements

  • Active Duty Service Members
  • Active, retired, separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military
  • Officer candidates in commissioning programs (Academy, ROTC, OCS/OTS)
  • Adult children of USAA members who have established membership
  • Widows and widowers of USAA members who have or had a USAA auto or property insurance policy
  • Former USAA Property & Casualty members

Ok so they do a great job of trying to tailor their services to the military industry, but lets take a look at some hard facts and numbers.  We wanted to find out about USAA’s actual hard facts and we found some pretty decent results.

USAA’s Company at a Glance

USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group

A.M Best Company- A.M. Best company is basically an independent review company that reports on the insurance company’s financial stability.  This matters because it shows if an insurance company can actually pay their claims if and when they arise.  Through this company, USAA has an A++ Superior Rating which is the highest rating an insurance company can get.  In short, it means USAA is financially stable enough to pay what they claim they will pay.

Moody’s Investor Service- Like AM Best Company, Moody’s tracks a company’s debt and ensures that it doesn’t have too much debt to pay any payments that may arise… like an insurance claim.  Once again, USAA received the highest rating they have to offer of Aaa.

Standard and Poors- This is an American Financials Service Company that reports stocks and bonds and is more formally known as the S&P 500.  Their biggest contribution is offering credit ratings to different companies, like USAA, who received an AA+ service rating, the second highest rating that can be given to a company.

So what does that all mean?  It means no matter what USAA is able to pay their debts.  This may not matter much when USAA is paying out individual claims here and there but it does matter in the event of a major natural disaster where they are required to pay out millions or even billions in claims to their customers.  This would be especially important if a natural disaster hit near a base where a high concentration of their customers might live.

USAA Car Insurance Cost

Car insurance prices vary based on several factors; age, gender, driving record, and even your credit score all determine how much your premium will be. However, not all car insurance companies are the same. One of the common complaints you might hear about USAA is in regards to their car insurance prices. However, overall, they are still cheaper than Geico, Allstate, and State Farm. Again, the price you pay will depend on a lot of things, so there’s a chance you’ll pay better prices with the other companies, but from the grand scheme of things, USAA is cheaper.

On top of being cheaper, they still offer discounts. As far as discounts for military, comparing USAA vs Geico, both have the best records, because they both offer discounts for storing your vehicle on base, but also discounted rates while you’re deployed. Other companies might offer these things as well, but USAA and Geico make it a little easier since USAA only works with people affiliated with the military and Geico has its own team of military specialists—all veterans.

Editorial note: I have USAA for my Home Insurance.  Two years ago my house and town were hit with a massive hail storm that caused millions of dollars in damage to the residents.  My house alone suffered over $50,000 in damage to the roof, gutters, windows and more.  I submitted a claim within a day of receiving the damage and within 3 days of the damage, I had a USAA agent at my house inspecting my house.  Within 10 days I had work being done on the house and within 14 days I had a check in hand to pay the contractors.  Now, what’s super impressive about this is that USAA has thousands of customers in that area and was able to take care of me that quickly.  At no point did I battle for more money, or not have someone call me back.  It just worked… like it’s supposed to.  A few months ago I found additional damage to the house that I had missed. I called USAA and told them about the damage.  They didn’t blink an eye and they sent someone out to check it out and submitted a claim within a day.  No matter what, that one experience alone made me a USAA member for life.  This experience also told me that USAA isn’t afraid to pay out when it’s time to pay out.  They clearly had thousands of customers in the same boat and didn’t try to withhold money for claims. 

Learn More About USAA

USAA’s Customer Satisfaction

Ok so we know USAA is financially stable enough to do what they say, but what about their customer satisfaction?  Well JD Power did a huge study on the Best Auto Insurance Companies of 2018 and USAA took the cake by far.  This is important because JD Power bases their entire business around their ability to do in-depth, detailed, non-biased reviews of companies and industries.  So to get a rating of that magnitude from them is a big deal.

Another independent review company, Temkin Group, put USAA at the top of their list for insurer ratings.  In addition, they have an A+ accreditation with the BBB.

Now, we did do some research and found a lot of complaints about USAA on a number of different platforms and we aren’t here to say they are perfect.  In fact, our guess is there are plenty of readers pulling their hair out because we are giving them accolades.  However, keep in mind that all insurance companies come with negative reviews, it’s impossible for them not to.  In the end, we are looking for the insurance company that offers the best overall average and without a doubt, USAA holds the highest ratings across the board.  This isn’t just us talking, this is hard facts pulled from the internet.

Does USAA Offer the Least Expensive Car Insurance?

We did some heavy research and found that pretty much across the board USAA comes in as the cheapest car insurance, although there are some cases in which some will pay more than others based on location, age, gender, driving record and credit score.

Nerd Wallet’s Cost Analysis of the National Average Auto Insurance Cost

  1. USAA- $870
  2. Geico- $1177
  3. State Farm- $1366
  4. Progressive- $1726
  5. Allstate- $1812

Value Penguin Cost Analysis of the National Average Auto Insurance Cost

  1. USAA- $635
  2. Geico- $731
  3. State Farm- $1207
  4. Allstate- $1341

What Insurance companies offer discounts to Service Members and Veterans?

While USAA does offer a cheaper rate, there are some companies that are offering military/veteran discounts.  This is important when comparing rates.  The biggest competitor of USAA that we found was with  Geico discounts, who offer service members up to 15% off their rate.  USAA offers a 15% discount if your car is garaged on a military base.  However, it’s really important to note that USAA offers up to 90%, yes you read that right, 90%, off your bill if your car is stored in a secure location while you’re deployed.  In fact, that’s probably USAAs biggest advantage is that they offer programs and incentives that are specifically designed to help out service members and veterans.

USAA Car Insurance Discounts

USAA offers a lot of discounts, just like most insurance companies. They offer a safe driver discount, a defensive driver’s course discount, and a good student discount—for those of you with students still living at home. They also offer something known as a new vehicle discount. So, if you have a late-model vehicle with safety features or anything that would help police recover your vehicle more easily if stolen, you’ll get a discount. If you’re wondering, these features are typically things like anti-lock breaks, passive restraints, and even VIN etching.

What to learn how USAA can help your good student save for college, read our USAA Student Loan blog.

Why Should You Consider USAA Over Someone Else?

Well, the biggest answer would be that USAA was designed by service members for service members.  So if you’re actively serving in the military, reserves or National Guard, USAA is going to be the most accommodating of your specific situation and more likely to work with you to ensure you’re covered when you deploy.  That alone has some huge benefits.

In reality, there are most likely cheaper insurance carriers and if you’re extremely budget conscious USAA might be more expensive than what you’re looking for.  However, with the extra cost comes a company that won’t fight you in the event of an accident and will actually try to take care of you if you’re injured and for us, that’s worth a lot.

Other USAA Policy Options

While USAA started out as a car insurance company, they’ve grown into so much more. Today—alongside auto insurance—they offer life insurance, financial advice, financial transition assistance, banking, savings, credit cards, investment options, retirement accounts, high-interest rate accounts, home insurance, renters insurance, car buying services, health insurance, Medicare, disaster recovery insurance and even business services. USAA is more than just an insurance company. So, if you have any affiliation to the military, there’s plenty to take advantage of if you choose USAA as your provider—it doesn’t just have to be car insurance.

USAA Roadside Assistance

One additional thing we like is USAA’s Roadside assistance.  Again, like the insurance, USAA offers one of the cheaper roadside assistance programs.  USAA’s roadside assistance is a 24-hour service and offers several services such as:

  • Jumpstart
  • Fuel Delivery
  • Lockout
  • Tire Change
  • Towing

The best part of this is that you can add on roadside assistance for around $15-20/month whereas similar roadside assistance through AAA would require you to pay monthly and yearly memberships.

USAA Contact Information

  • Customer Service Hours- Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT
  • USAA Auto Insurance Number- 1-800-531-USAA
  • USAA Auto Insurance Claims Number- 210-531-8722

Our Conclusion

So here’s the reality… There are a lot of car insurance companies that all tend to offer pretty competitive pricing and a few of them even offer some incentives for military/veteran personnel. It’s hard to say if USAA is 100% the right company for you.  However, pretty unanimously across the web people will agree that USAA is a great car insurance company to use, especially if you are a veteran or service member.  We can say confidently that a lot of the RE Factor staff do carry USAA car insurance and absolutely love it.  In addition, some use other carriers and also have great experiences.  At the end of the day, it comes down to what you feel most comfortable with!


The Beneficial Elements in Using Service Dogs to Treat PTSD

Purdue University, in conjunction with the National Institute of Health (NIH), Indiana University, and K9s For Warriors, recently collaborated on a study testing the performance of service dogs as a treatment for veterans who suffer from PTSD and TBI. Dr. Maggie O’Haire, Purdue’s asst. professor of human-animal interaction, teamed with 141 veterans awaiting admission to the K9s For Warriors program. Half the veterans were given service dogs, the other half were not. O’Haire discovered that the veterans paired with service dogs had “lower depression, lower PTSD symptoms, lower levels of anxiety, and lower absenteeism from work due to health issues.”

Dr. Hsiao, a Program Director at the NIH, awarded the Clinical and Translational Science Award to Dr. O’Haire to further fund the study. “The study found that PTSD symptoms were significantly lower in veterans with service dogs,” said Dr. Hsiao. “This is an innovative approach to a serious medical issue.” When commenting on the study, Dr. Anantha Shekhar, a professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, says “Service dogs are a great resource for veterans to modulate their own reactions and to cope better with symptoms of PTSD.”

Read the full article at ConsumersAdvocate.org.

The Best Veteran Owned Coffee Company

Choosing the best veteran owned coffee company can be a difficult task and of course it’s extremely subjective.  However, we did some research to try and find the best Veteran Owned Coffee companies currently out today.

Coffee is one of those things that just about everyone drinks.  This is a daily spend that if you like, can support the veteran community.  When looking for the best veteran owned coffee company we decided to look for a few key items.  The first is how does that coffee company support the veteran community and give back?  This is based on the company giving veteran jobs, donating to veteran charities and representing the veteran community in a positive light.  Second, we looked at the quality of the coffee.  Are these companies simply re-bagging someone else’s coffee with their label or are they actually pushing for a quality product.  Finally we looked at price.  At the end of the day this is a daily spend that can break the bank if you’re not careful.  So you of course want your go to Veteran Coffee Company to be a good price.  So without further adieu, here are our top rated veteran owned coffee companies.

  1. Black Riffle Coffee

This probably wont come as a surprise, but Black Rifle Coffee is our top rated veteran owned coffee company.  Now, we know we may seem like we are just drinking the kool-aid because they are the cool kids on the block right now, but hear us out.  First, we know BRCC’s owner Evan Hafer on a personal level after working with him long before he started the company.  Evan is one of those guys that people always seem to like and he is as honest as the day is long.  Also, as Special Forces Veteran, he’s done more his country than most and has sacrificed himself time and time again for the good of our nation.  Evan has built the company with a strong dedication to the Veteran community.  Evan and BRCC seek out vets when hiring and they have an incredibly strong staff of veterans from all walks of life.  One thing Black Rifle also excels on is their quality.  BRCC roasts all of their beans in house, overseen by master roasters.   These guys have a serious dedication to coffee and taste and are constantly seeking new ways to make their coffee better.  Finally, BRCC offers their coffee at a very reasonable price.  In fact, they are priced almost the same as most major brands on the market.  If you’re looking to spend money on coffee, consider BRCC, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

2. De Esspresso Liber

De Esspresso Liber is a Special Forces Owned coffee with a strong dedication to donating back to the veteran community.  They have partnered with one of our favorite charities, the Green Beret Foundation, to offer a full range of products that help give back to the Special Forces community.  They also have their Gold Star Blends which represent individuals who have been killed in combat.  Any Gold Start Blend purchase donates 10% to the charity of choice of the that product’s Gold Star family.  In short, these guys do a great job of giving back.  Like Black Rifle Coffee, De Esspresso Liber roasts their coffee in house which allows for a much better product.  We’ve personally ordered and drank this coffee while deployed and can say they make some amazing coffee.  Finally De Esspresso Liber coffee prices out very competitively and will definitely not break the bank.  These guys are certainly an awesome option when considering who to go with when choosing your go-to coffee company.

3. Military Java Group

Why do we like the military Java Group?  Well for starters they “donate 50% of all profits to the Semper Fi Fund”.  For any business to donate 50% of their profits to anything is actually a big deal.  So the fact that these guys are willing to donate 50% of their profits to a charity is a big deal to us.  This long standing coffee company was started by Matt Phillips in 1979 which means they’ve had plenty of time to develop their brew.  Matt, the son of a WWII veteran, decided to focus his brand on giving back to the veteran community.  In addition the military java group has some very competitive pricing, especially if you’re willing to buy in bulk.  They sell a case (12 bags of coffee) for $91 which comes out to around $7.60/bag.  That’s a lot less than what you can find a bag of coffee for in most stores.  We will admit we haven’t personally tried their coffee but they do get some great reviews.  All in all, a great company to consider!