How We Test!

The Target Tamers team knows sports optics.

We’re passionate about them, and you could say that we’re obsessed, and you wouldn’t be wrong.

To earn your trust that we’re real people behind the screens, that we’re skilled and seasoned field-testers handling optics ourselves, we share how we do it all.

Field testing
Image by Chris "The Optics Nut" for Target Tamers

You’ll learn the criteria we consider in choosing an optic, specific features we look for, how we test, and where we do it. We also reveal how we get our optics, how we keep the office lights on, and why you’re right to trust us.

How We Test!

Carson 3D 10x42 Review
Image by Chris "The Optics Nut" (Own Work) for Target Tamers

It’s important to us as expert field testers that we evaluate the optics we acquire in realistic scenarios that you are likely to be using them. This means we head out to the shooting range, woods, mountain brush, lakes, and anywhere we can reasonably travel to get a thorough hands-on experience for our reviews.

However, we do go a little bit further than you would in testing out the overall optical and build integrity. You won’t be submerging your holographic sight into a washing machine, soaking and freezing your binoculars or throwing your red dot across the mountain. We do that – we push the boundaries to test out the optics so that you don’t have to. 

Our Testing Process

What is the criterion we look for when testing? There are multiple considerations our field testers take into account. From manufacturer claims and specs to repeatability and warranties, we do our best to relay as much information gathered from the start of our research to the applied testing methods in the field.

Research & Selection Criteria

Various scopes and red dots with right mounts for AR15
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

More often than not, the research begins long before Target Tamers actually purchases an optic. We observe market trends, contemplate manufacturer specs and claims, and we monitor what the masses have to say about it.

We spend a lot of hours doing our best to keep up to date with the latest optics and how they influence the industry standard.

With that, we look at price points, current rankings, popularity, innovation, and how long it’s been available. For soon-to-be-released products that we can get wind about, we aim to be one of the first to release hands-on experience even though it lacks a tested track record.

As such, we weigh the importance of multiple criteria, a manufacturer’s reputation and more, as we personally select every optic that we can get our hands on.


Adjustment values of the STNGR Axiom II
Listed specs on the box - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

From listed eye relief to battery life and dimensions, we want to see if the specs live up to what the manufacturer claims. Based off anecdotal research and our own hands-on experience, we’ll report what we feel is accurate whether it’s confirmed by the listed specs or not.

Glass Quality

Objective lenses on various priced binoculars
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

The glass source, processing methods, coating formulas and application methods are the most difficult optical features to accurately relay to an audience. Not only is an opinion of optical quality subjective because of one’s own visual acuity, but the entire optical process is customarily a top-secret subject amongst manufacturers.

Relying on what we understand about manufacturer terms, though not universal, our field testers are able to ‘interpret’, in a sense, the expected performance of a particular optic. With that, our testers are proficient in setting a base standard to judge optical quality from years of seasoned experience.

Build Integrity

Nocs 8x25 binoculars submerged in lake water
Binoculars submerged under water - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Though waterproof ratings are one of the fastest ways one would determine good build quality, it’s only part of an optic’s propensity for durability. From the armor to moving parts like focus knobs, diopters, hinges, etc., there is much to be scrutinized.

We look at how an optic will hold up for everyday wear and tear, how it will handle shock and recoil, how the finish handles use and abuse, and of course, if it is indeed waterproof or only water-resistant. Dovetailing with waterproof testing, we want to know if it’s fogproof.

Moving parts can introduce weak points for an optic, so we look to the construction and ease of use. From hands-on testing, we determine if they’ll hold up or if you need to consider a bulletproof warranty along with the optic.


Tina using GLx with glasses
Tina testing eye relief with glasses on - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

An optic’s reliability is largely related to its durability (see Build Integrity). But more than that, we want to know if it’s ready to be used when you need it most.

This means that we look to usable eyeboxes, comfortable eye relief for those who wear glasses, handheld use versus tripod use, referenced features so you don’t need to leave your sight picture and position, zero retention, long battery runtimes, and other similar aspects to see if you can rely on your optic.

Accuracy & Repeatability

22LR groups with MD25
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Most riflescopes and red dot sights perform adequately for range and recreational use. Our field testers determine that a scope or red dot’s accuracy and repeatability include tracking accuracy, reasonable groupings, and zero retention.

We head out to various public, membership only, and private property shooting ranges to confirm optic performance over multiple trips. These optics are subject to some level of shock and vibration either mounted or dismounted while in a vehicle often in rural country with dirt roads and rocky trails.

Though often at the bench with rests, our field testers will use various positions that one would use in the field or in urban environments, e.g., prone, kneeling, standing, bipods, and sometimes some tactical drills especially when we can collaborate with local law enforcement.

Bill shooting targets using Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50 scope mounted on his rifle
Image by Bill Maxwell (Own Work) for Target Tamers

An important fact to consider is that there is a lot of potential for error. Weather, gear used, firearms, mounting process, etc., these can all negatively affect accuracy and repeatability. Our field-tester’s deduction of an optic’s accuracy is but a presumption based off their experience with the optic in question.


Vortex Crossfire HD VIP Warranty
Image of warranty taken from the included user manual - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

A warranty is essential to consider as no optic will last forever. There was a time when only a handful of manufacturers offered unconditional lifetime warranties. Today, it’s almost an industry standard to have a warranty that follows the optic and not the owner.

Since we’ve seen warranties alter drastically over the last decade, we make it a priority to be informed when it comes to coverage. Though it’s usually a brief snippet in our field test reviews, we aim to inform buyers as well.

Testing Updates

Bushnell TRS-25 with internal fogging due to excessive water exposure
Initially reported as waterproof but did not hold up to subsequent (post review) water tests. Consequently, the review was updated - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

The optics that Target Tamers acquires ownership over are rarely laid down to rest. A lot of the time, they’re along for the ride while testing other optics, they’re compared against other optics, and they’re used in our hunts and any training drills we participate in.

Our optics are continuously in use behind the scenes to track longevity, zero retention, and most importantly, to provide field test review updates.

If something breaks or fails to perform as expected or as initially relayed in our reviews, we will update the field test to reflect this new information.

Testing Environment

All our optics are taken out into the ‘field’ by our qualified field testers. Though the term ‘field’ is used generally, in our reviews, it typically just means to be outside. We don’t think that an unboxing reveal and tell-all straight from the box without mounting and using it is a review. So, we have multiple outdoor locations to test our products.

This includes:

  • Public property such as federal and state lands
  • Private property
  • Timber (woods and forests)
  • Lakes
  • Mountain terrain (specifically high mountain desert)
  • Membership-only shooting ranges
  • Shooting ranges on private property
  • Public shooting ranges (as confirmed and allowed by Game & Fish and the Forestry Service)
  • Urban environment (small town and suburbs)
Bill using Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50 mounted on rifle
Image by Bill Maxwell (Own Work) for Target Tamers

While testing an optic at the range, targets are set up for multiple distances and the field tester has liberty to use the equipment and gear necessary to sight-in and test for accuracy, repeatability, and zero retention.

Our Safety Procedures

Tina's digiscoping rig for scopes & red dots
Tina's digiscoping rig for scopes & red dots - Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

Safety is the number one priority for Target Tamers field testers. This includes appropriately transporting firearms and gear, wearing eye and ear protection, following firearm safety rules (even when alone!), firearm cleaning and maintenance, and more.

When digiscoping with a sighting system, i.e., red dot sight, holographic sight, riflescope, etc., the optics are mounted to a digiscoping rig. It’s essentially a tripod setup with a clamp and a rail-mounted base for the optics to mount to. Most of the time when digiscoping wildlife, photos are taken freehand, meaning, a camera lines up within the eyebox to quickly snap a photograph of the sight picture through the optic.

Digiscoping freehand or with the digiscoping rig ensures maximum safety procedures are followed. Even with the digiscoping rig, when necessary, we inform law enforcement of our activities to confirm that we are in compliance with city, county, and state ordinances and laws to carry out field testing.

Our Expertise

Target Tamers is more than just a business, it’s a passion for every one of our staff members and field testers. We spend countless hours hand-testing optics from spotting scopes to monoculars in the mountains to the shooting range.

Conjointly, our team contributes years of firearm ownership, range shooting, hunting experience, some military and law enforcement backgrounds, competition shooting, and most importantly, a love for the outdoors and wildlife. With that, our mutual obsession with the gear that makes our groups tighter, prey fall over, and a gorgeous view of wildlife that we can appreciate without disturbing them is what brought us together.

From research and purchasing to mounting, observing, and shooting, we do it all ourselves. We’re professional in our testing methods, and our combined experiences and accomplishments have earned us the right of Expert status in the optics field.

Who do You Trust?

Tina field testing the Vortex Crossfire HD binos
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

In a world full of fake reviews, false claims, and AI technology, it’s important to identify who you can trust that is the real deal. Real, qualified hands handle our optics and real hands relay our field test reviews directly to you.

All our hands-on reviews are provided in written content complete with pictures of the optic, included accessories, “thru-the-optic” photographs, and of the optic in action during testing procedures, for example, water-testing.

YouTube video

The photographs taken by seasoned Target Tamers field testers are our own, and these are identified by our brand watermark. If we need to use other people’s images, we always give them credit by naming the source and providing the link to where it was acquired.

We also provide video reviews of some of the products we’ve field tested where photographs and video clips are provided. Again, it’s watermarked with our brand logo, so you will always know that real hands did the work – our hands!

Where do the Optics Come From?

PA GLx binocular accessories
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

We buy our own optics as much as possible. This is also true of all the gear the field testers use from the optic itself to the mounts, chest harnesses, cases, firearms, ammunition, tripods, adapters, the list goes on.

Though we spend our own coin on a good deal of optics, our field testers are not above begging family and friends to borrow some of their goods to provide you with a review.

We also acquire optics directly from the manufacturer. This allows us to get a hands-on review of the optic and you the chance to get hands-on information before buying it.

Albeit there’s a lot of scrutiny when manufacturers send out gear for testing. The thought is that the review is biased or compromised. With us, you can be assured that this is never the case. The field tester does not have any association and direct contact with the manufacturer. They are simply sent the product and the work continues.

Target Tamers has never been paid, explicitly does not accept monetary compensation for testing any products, and we do not promise a good review. In fact, the manufacturer is informed that we will only accept products if they understand that the optic could receive an unfavorable review from a field tester. Believe it or not, this does weed out a few brands, and that may speak volumes by itself.

How We Make Money

Scopes and a red dot for 270
Image by Tina Fa'apoi (Own Work) for Target Tamers

We write excellent content… right? Basically, you read the content and then turn around and purchase the optic through an affiliate link we have on our review pages. We make a small commission off that which helps us to continue making excellent content.

If you find our content helpful, the best way to support us is by making a purchase via one of the affiliate links. There are no hidden costs, so it doesn’t cost you any extra, but it sure does keep the lights on for us.

Thank You!

Every one of us thanks you personally for trusting us. We work hard and we love what we do. We appreciate it, and it drives us to create the best quality content and reviews that you can depend on.

Photo of author

Simon Cuthbert - Founder

Simon is an avid outdoor enthusiast and the founder of Target Tamers. He is passionate about bringing you the most up to date, accurate & understandable information on sports optics of all kinds and for all applications. Simon has contributed to notable publications online and teaches beginners the technical side of optics through his extensive library of optics guides.

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