Gear, Guns, and Fun, Part 1


Eve Flanigan 10.06.22

September 2022 marked the Lucid Optics Ballistic Summit annual gathering of manufacturers, influencers, and producer content at a unique, three-day conference hosted by Lucid Optics, a small but growing optics company based in Wyoming. The event occurs at NRA Whittington Center, a sprawling facility in northwest New Mexico and home to nearly every kind of outdoor shooting range one can imagine.

Jason and Jamie Wilson, Lucid Optics founders/owners, hosted the Ballistic Summit. Attendees stay in Whittington’s dorm-style competitor housing, where Jamie provides three delicious hot meals per day. When range time is done for the day, the bourbon, cigars, and conversation flow into the night. This beer girl even learned about various bourbons from fellow attendees this year, who it turns out are as eager to share knowledge about adult beverages as they are rangecraft. The hours spent sharing industry experiences, insights, and catching up with new and old acquaintances is one of the reasons this event and others like it are so valuable for the gun industry. SHOT Show is colossal in every way, offering a broad look at the latest products but little opportunity for in-depth sharing. The Ballistic Summit goes in-depth with a focus on small manufacturers, and gives members of the media a chance to handle the products in the presence of their creators. The format gives rise to conversations that are simply not possible in other formats, while reminding freelancers such as myself that we are part of a strong, patriotic, national community.

Ballistic Summit
A few optics on the Lucid display table. The HD7, in the background, will be on sale late 2022.

Here is an overview of two companies represented at this unique and memorable event, and the products they brought to show.

Lucid Optics

The headline company used the months in which materials were in very short supply to go back to the drawing board with a couple of products. Their biggest news is the impending, early winter 2022 release of a new optic, plus upgrades to their popular L5 and L7 riflescopes.

It was a Ballistic Summit treat to be among the first people to shoot using the P8, the new 4x magnification, red dot optic from Lucid. Jason and crew have outdone themselves with this. Shooting a carbine topped by the P8 on a 100-yard range, I anticipated I’d lose perspective on the many targets when peering through the lens. To my surprise, I was easily able to transition between the optic versus looking downrange with the naked eye,* without struggling to re-locate my target of choice. Wilson explained that the P8 is designed to operate with both eyes open, allowing the brain to hold perspectives of both the overall and target areas at once. As someone who often struggles with the “grayout” phenomenon as soon as I get focused on a target with a magnifying scope, it was quite a pleasant surprise to not experience that, and to be able to maintain visual cognizance of the wider environment as well.

Looking through the P8 reticle onto another product displayed at the event, Firebird Detonating Targets, I found it easy to locate and stay on the target. The reticle draws the eye to the center but doesn’t impede visibility of small targets like the mini-snuff can size Firebird. It’s illuminated too, and when rain clouds darkened the range, the reticle was still clearly visible against the black Firebirds. One AAA battery powers the P8 reticle. Wilson said 3,500 hours is a reasonable expectation of battery life.

It’s my opinion, based on this test, that the P8 will shine as a rural defense/varmint gun and tactical optic. Inside of about 12 yards, the magnification was too strong to maintain perspective. But at the distances we shot that day, which are typical for tactical and property defense work as well as deer and hog hunting, the P8 seems ideal.

Ballistic Summit
The author uses the P8. The ability to maintain a downrange view, both eyes open, on its fixed 4x magnification was surprising.

This nice little optic will ship with the buyer’s choice of a tall mount, appropriate for AR platforms, or a short one suited for shotguns and AKs. At a price of around $400 once it’s released, I think this one will be on lots of people’s wish lists.

Lucid Optics has also upgraded the lenses on their L5 and L7 scopes, now providing greater light transmission. The L7, a tactical scope, also benefits from a sharper-edge reticle and shorter throw lever.

Ballistic Summit
Eve on Rob Pincus’s AR with a Lucid Optics L7 on top, and Bilson Arms Pivotal Buttstock on back, amazed the Lil’ Mo still works with cracked glass! See the crack? Photo by Rob Pincus

An existing Lucid product, seen in a new way, really got me enthused. The Li’l Mo is the company’s low-mount red dot suitable for long guns and handguns. Well-known trainer and Second Amendment advocate Rob Pincus mounted a L’il Mo and no less than three other conference products on his Nemo AR, and generously allowed attendees to shoot it. I was quite surprised to see that the well-used Li’l Mo he’d mounted at the 45-degree position had a solid crack across the lens, dividing the view into a lower 2/3 versus upper third, more or less. The optic still had a very clear view, and the dot still worked perfectly—enough so that I made a hit or two at 75 yards from standing position without struggle. This unintended test of an old product made me an even bigger fan of the Lucid brand.

Bilson Arms Pivotal Buttstock

Conference attendees got to see first-hand a brand new invention from Bilson Arms, a company owned by Louisianan Billy Angers, who comes from a background of inventing time-and money-saving upgrades for the oil and gas extraction industry. Like any good inventor, he’s made improvements to an old design, in this case the AR15 buttstock. His Pivotoal Buttstock slips over a standard buffer tube, replacing a traditional buttstock that only telescopes to one that both telescopes and rotates with the user’s or rifle’s position.

Ballistuc Summit
Bilson Arms Pivotal Buttstock, in gift-worthy packaging.

The butt part of the aluminum stock is set on a socket joint that allows the shooter to maintain a good cheek and shoulder weld while moving the rifle about. This was well-demonstrated with Pincus’s rifle, which bore a magnifying Lucid L7 scope on top and the Li’l Mo at 45 degrees. It was unusual, and efficient, to be able to rapidly switch between optics without resetting cheek and shoulder contact points. Users can easily adjust tension to allow the butt to rotate more or less freely.

I can see this stock being superb for obstacle courses, hunting afield, or any situation requiring odd positioning. It offers the chance to maintain shoulder contact and reduce recoil for quicker follow-up shots at times when breaking shoulder contact with a traditional stock would be the only answer. The stock also has a nice recoil pad. A spare ball is included in case the original is lost.

Clear as mud? Billy has a good video showing installation and adjustment of the Pivotal Buttstock on the Bilson Arms website.

Ballistic Summit
The Pivotal Buttstock gives a cushioned, custom feel, but really shines when transitioning between top- and 45 degree-mounted optics.

The Pivotal Buttstock is offered online in black Cerakote. At the Summit we saw it in an array of Cerakote colors, presented in a gift-worthy box. I’m sure Bilson Arms can set buyers up with their preferred color. Direct order for $279.00.

In addition to the Ballistic Summit products named here, I previously featured Firebird detonating targets and APF Armory rifles. Watch for more installments featuring even more brands from the event.

*My eyes weren’t exactly naked, thanks to the Gatorz light- and laser-sensitive, ballistic-grade specs I get to wear.

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Eve Flanigan

Eve Flanigan is a defensive shooting and armed security practitioner/instructor who lives in the American Southwest. She is the author of “Ready to Defend: Tips for Living the Armed Lifestyle,” and is a contributor to numerous gun-related blogs and print publications.



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