Quick reality check: When most of us think red dot sight we think Aimpoint, Trijicon, Leupold, EOTech MRDS… But not SHIELD. Mention the word “shield” to an American and we think of Nick Fury and the Avengers movie series. While the SHIELD CQS isn’t quite as high tech as a Hydra Tesseract powered rifle, it is an impressive optic in its own right and it’s coming to America. I mounted it on a Sig MPX and an IWI Tavor. I’ll tell you what I found.
While the SHIELD CQS sight is a recent development, the company has been around in one form or another for a long time. Their roots go back to 1982 when Jeremy White and a couple of former British Special Forces partners formed Shield International. Since that time they’ve produced a variety of war fighting gear. The lineage of the SHIELD CQS sight includes the Firepoint Mini Sight which was mounted to the Trijicon ACOG for SOCOM. Rebranded as the Shield Minisight, the red dot found its way onto the M203 grenade launcher by way of Knights Armament. JP Rifles marketed that sight as the JPoint. The British Ministry of Defense picked up 10,000 of these, many of which went to the fight in Afghanistan.
It was 2009 when the British Ministry of Defense (MOD) picked up the immediate predecessor to the SHIELD CQS, the CQB. More than 50,000 of these have been delivered to the MOD to date, often mounted to magnified day optics or thermal scopes.
CQS is short for Close Quarters Sportsight. Personally, I wish I’d had the chance to mount the CQS to the IR Patrol thermal sight I recently used on a hog hunt. When the hogs got close and we transitioned to white lights, the CQS would have made fast accurate shots more attainable in the mayhem.
My first look at a SHIELD CQS sight was at the roll out of the Desert Tech MDR prototype in Utah. It was new to me then, but it struck me as solid, simple and had a cool factor knowing it was rare in the US. The sight I now have on hand is owned by a friend of mine who thought I might want a look. Well, of course, and here’s what I’ve found.
The SHIELD CQS is seriously ruggedized. Overbuilt is a good description. “Does this aluminum housing make my red dot look fat?” Yes, or more precisely “armored.” It’s built on the same military grade framework as the SHEILD CQB. Others have done severe torture tests that leave no doubt about the durability of the CQS. It can hang pretty well with the best out there.
Let’s talk about the red dot – or dots. We all have our own preferences and SHIELD is catering to a variety of those. If a single red dot is your preference, pick your favorite size – 1, 2 ,4 or 8 MOA. Prefer a dot inside a ring configuration? The CQS is made with a 65 MOA ring encompassing either a 1 or 2 MOA red dot. Not good enough? How about a BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) reticle? SHIELD makes a CQS for you, too. The CQS I have on hand is the 2 MOA dot version.
Here’s what impresses me about the CQS dot – the auto brightness function is really good. There’s a small forward facing lens on the front of the sight that detects brightness in the direction of the target. In my testing, it proved rapidly responsive going from dark to bright target areas and in aiming from one at a target in the other. Why does this matter?
Given the wide adoption of the AR-15 rifle for hunting and home defense, the auto brightness feature on the CQS could make a multipurpose gun even more versatile. Hunting in thick brush can present constantly changing lighting scenarios and having a red dot that effectively auto adjusts saves you time. Having a dot that auto adjusts as the sky dims or brightens doesn’t hurt in wide open spaces. This function is not as finely tuned as the manual adjustments found on other red dot optics, but it does what it’s designed to do quite well.
Mounted to both my Tavor and the Sig Saur MPX, I have to admit I liked the looks. I used the tallest mount set to get the ergonomics I wanted. I know, looks don’t matter, but then again…
Shipped with a 2032 battery, a polymer sight cover and a variable height mount the 2016 MSRP on the SHIELD CQS sight is $449.99 in US Dollars.
So step aside Avengers, there’s a new SHIELD coming to America and I think it will almost as well received. Just don’t expect your AR-15 to go BANG with a British accent.
Light source – Red light emitting diode (LED) No laser; completely eye safe No radioactive materials
Red dot size options – 1 MOA + 65 MOA ring 4 MOA dot 8 MOA dot
Lens – Reflex x1 (no magnification) Parallax-free
Lens coating – Anti-reflection No coloured coating, minimises visible signature
Battery – One 3V Lithium Battery, CR2032
Battery Life – 1 year – average use 3 years – night vision use
Brightness adjustment – Automatic
Brightness range – Lowest – compatible with Night Vision. Highest – visible against the sky in bright daylight
Housing material – Anodized aluminum
Color – Matte black colored anodizing available on request
Dimensions (sight only) – 52 x 31 x 30 mm 2.0 x 1.2 x 1.2 inches (Length x width x height)
Weight 66 grams / 2.3 ounces
Mount – Picatinny