The Crimson Trace CTS-1400 Open Reflex Sight eliminates a great deal of the bulk of previous red-dot sight designs. Instead of an unwieldy casing holding the batteries and the sight adjustments as part of the optic itself, the CTS-1400 uses a slim “window” frame instead of a tube to hold the “glass.” This gives a heads-up-display-type view of the target and the surrounding area.

The CTS-1400’s sight adjustment screws are located in the base of the sight itself. An Allen wrench (included with purchase) is required for adjustment of windage and elevation. One of the great things about a reflex combat red-dot sight is that parallax effect is greatly reduced. This means the shooter’s eye doesn’t need to be in perfect alignment with the sight to deliver accurate fire. If the shooter can see that red dot on the target, he or she will get a hit.

Key Features

Some of the CTS-1400’s key features include:  

  • 25 MOA red dot
  • Low-profile M1913 Picatinny mount
  • Quick-release rubber protective optic cover
  • Free batteries (CR2032) for life
  • Intelligent electronics that maximize battery life
  • Externally accessible battery compartment
  • Three-year limited warranty

Custom Conversion

I mounted the CTS-1400 on my Brownells BRN-601 Retro AR-15 Rifle. The BRN-601’s Vietnam Era 1×12 barrel twist makes it the most effective AR-15 residing in my safe. But I needed to mount the CTS-1400 in such a way that I wouldn’t ruin the retro character of the BRN-601.

It just so happened that I had a TAPCO AR-15 Picatinny Carry Handle Mount sitting unused in my parts collection. Manufactured in the U.S. and composed of fiberglass, the Tapco mount is secured through the hole in the top of the carry handle by a thumb screw. The mount fits snugly in the carry handle groove. This was an inexpensive part back in the day. Sadly, it is no longer available since Tapco is now defunct. I found a similar aluminum mount by TacFire at for $10.

I put the Tapco mount in place and assembled the CTS-1400. (“Assemble” sounds more complex than it is.) Place the optic on the Picatinny rail adapter and secure it with the included screws and Allen wrench. I mounted the CTS-1400 midway on the carry handle.

Using a carry handle mount positions the CTS-1400 above and out of line with the iron sights. This requires the shooter to raise his or her head off the stock to locate the dot — which also provides a great “heads-up” position to observe his or her surroundings. The Tapco and TacFire mounts feature a tunnel that allows the shooter to use the iron sights.

The rubber protective optics cap features a tab at the rear that helps the shooter rapidly strip it off. To turn the CTS-1400 on, simply push the “up” or “down” power button located on the left side of the sight and set it to the desired brightness level. To turn the optic off, push and hold both buttons together, or wait for it to time out.

At the Range

My objective for the carry handle mount was to sight the optic in for dead-center aim at 25 yards while leaving the 100-yard zero of the iron sights intact. Once again, I used Bret Rogers’ range for testing.

We moved back to 25 yards and went to work. The red dot was vivid even in the bright sunlight. The FOV was incredible due to the large HUD-type optic area and crystal-clear glass. Bret and I zeroed with groups of three shots to conserve our Winchester 55-grain White Box FMJ ammo. As one could guess, the rounds initially landed a foot above the point of aim and about 1 inch to the right. Fortunately, the CTS-1400 had plenty of adjustment range to dial the dot down. With major adjustments down, and a bit of windage adjustment to the left, we were dialed in.

Wrap it Up

The CTS-1400 Open Reflex Sight is solid and easy to operate. Mounted on the carry handle, it provides an excellent unoccluded view of the area of interest. Even though there isn’t a full cheek weld on the stock, it provides jawbone contact — which is enough considering the light recoil of the 5.56mm cartridge in a full-sized rifle. It’s a great setup, and of course the CTS-1400 works fine on any flat-top M4. MSRP is $499.99. The smaller FOV CTS-1300 is available for $299.99.


Crimson Trace:

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner has been a law enforcement officer since 1980, working undercover in liquor and narcotics investigations and as a member, sniper and assistant team leader of a SWAT team. He currently works as a patrol sergeant. He is a police firearms instructor, certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun. Scott also works as a criminal justice professor and police academy commander.