Fate recently decided that I’d get the chance to shoot the gun that makes experienced shooters obsolete. Allegedly. I was at The Best of the West Range during off-hours helping lay the groundwork for the 2014 Texas International Firearms Festival. The TrackingPoint technical team rolled-up in their blacked-out SUV. RF made contact. The next thing I knew I was behind the trigger of the TrackingPoint’s Precision Guided Firearm, the .300 Win Mag XS-2. [Click here to read Nick Leghorn’s review.] Well it works as well as they say it works . . .
You adjust for wind, locate the target and “tag” it. Once the target’s tagged, the crosshairs dip down automatically. You hold down the trigger and bring the crosshairs back up to the tagged point. Once the crosshairs and the tag point intersect the gun fires itself. It truly is a surprise break. But there’s a trick to it . . .
Once you tag the target and the crosshairs drop, you have to move the rifle up smoothly. You’re trying to get the reticle to the tag point within a specified time—before the reticle settles for too long in the bottom of your sight picture. If you don’t “dance” with the system smoothly and quickly, it “de-tags.” You have to start the process all over again. If you adjust the rifle—for example to get a better shoulder position—you may move the reticle too far out of the kill zone (their words not mine). Again, you have to start over.
The TrackingPoint system feels awkward for the experienced marksman; with a standard rifle, you never fully squeeze the trigger before the reticle’s exactly where you want it to be. Also, when you line up the reticle with the tag point, you expect the TrackingPoint gun to fire. It doesn’t. It fires when it’s ready. You kind of have to jiggle it around and let it go off when it darn well pleases. That’s completely counter to traditional rifle skills where you want to be as still as humanly possible.
This is not a gun for a newbie looking to learn how to fire a rifle without a TrackingPoint system. By the same token, a more experienced marksman could pick-up bad habits from using the XS-2. That said, a mission-critical human element remains: judging the wind. If you input the wrong wind speed or direction into the system the bullet isn’t going to go where you want it to. As they used to say back in the day, garbage in, garbage out.
The TrackingPoint system is excellent for people who can’t stand ballistic calculations, prefer to play videogames and aren’t that interested in mastering traditional rifle skills. I’m impressed with the technological achievement but there’s no substitute for the fun, challenge and joy of old school marksmanship.
Kirsten Joy Weiss was the 2012 National Rifle Association Women’s National Champion.
Click here to visit her website.