The Crimson Trace CTS 1400: The Biggest Littlest Dot

The world of red dot optics is confusingly large. At this point, they are the most dominant optic type out there. Everyone makes them, including Crimson Trace. The company is known for lasers and has gotten involved in the red dot world and even in magnified optics, white lights, and more. Their red dots have been the more popular options out there, and today we are looking at the Crimson Trace CTS 1400.

Crimson Trace makes a fairly wide variety of red dots. These dots come in all manner of sizes, but the CTS 1400 is a bit of an oddball. At first glance, it appears to be like any other mini red dot. It’s an opened emitter optic that seems to be built like any other mini red dot. It’s not until you have one of these dots in your hand that you realize it’s an oddball—it’s absolutely massive.

Well, massive for a pistol optic, which makes sense because it’s not a pistol optic. This is a dedicated long gun optic that uses handgun optic stylings. It’s a big open red dot that’s designed for your Picatinny rail, not your Glock slide. Crimson Trace includes a low-profile Picatinny rail mount. It’s too low for your standard AR-15, so make sure you grab a riser if that’s your bag. It’s low enough to be easily mounted on shotguns and most braced pistols.

Breaking Down the CTS 1400

The CTS 1400 is micro-sized as far as long gun optics go and fairly lightweight. The whole thing weighs a mere 2.9 ounces. The optic is 1.6 inches tall, 1.5 inches wide, and 2.3 inches long. Even though it’s tiny it provides a nice big field of view. The minimalist nature of the optic does make it stand out a bit in the rifle realm.

The design of the CTS 1400 features some serious reinforcement around the window. It’s girthy with enough support that you don’t have to worry about the window or its frame bending backward if it takes a little bump or two.

Crimson Trace CTS 1400 red dot on rifle
That huge window makes it easy to find the dot and get on target.

Speaking of, the optic is shockproof and impact-rated. The optic has an IPX4 rating, which means the optic can be splashed from any direction and not fail. The CTS 1400 certainly isn’t as tough as an Aimpoint T-1, but it’s rugged enough for most hobbyist use. It’s fine for home defense and likely hunting, but I wouldn’t jump out of a plane with it or take it swimming.

At this price point, you aren’t getting a duty optic, but you are still getting a fairly tough option. The included low profile mount attaches via two Allen head bolts. It’s very low profile and attaches easily to your rail of choice.

The Power of Red

Once you’re nice and mounted, it’s time to hit the range and toss some lead. The CTS 1400 has two buttons, an up and a down. Hit either one, and the dot comes to life instantly. To turn the optic off, you have to hold a button down for five seconds, and it flips off. There is also a weird quasi-shake awake feature.

CTS 1400 reticle showing the red dot
The little dot is very crisp and easy to see.

If left alone without movement, it shuts off after five minutes. If you grab it again, it will fire up. However, if it’s left alone for an hour, it will completely shut off, then only come on when you press a button. That’s not my preference for a shake-awake optic, which makes it tough to suggest the optic for home defense with this feature.

The optic packs 10 daylight settings, but don’t expect it to play nice under night vision. It uses a CR2032 battery and will last for 20,000 hours on the medium setting. The battery also sideloads, which is a nice feature.

At the Range With the CTS 1400

As a long gun optic, the dot is fairly precise but still on the larger side of red dots. The dot is 3.25 MOA, so it’s large enough to be eye-catching but still fairly small. The largish dot does orientate the dot toward close-range shooting. The dot itself is nice and crisp and fairly easy to see. It’s bright and catches the eye. At the highest setting, the dot is super bright and easy to see in the brightest parts of the day. Even when pointed toward the sky, you can make it out.

The big window is nice and clear with some blue tint that’s common with most red dots. The tint is part of the coating that reflects the light from the red emitter. The minimalist design of the optic does encourage a heads-up display with minimal interference. It’s a nice view, to say the least.

CZ Scorpion with red dot
The dot is perfect for a variety of weapons.

Zeroing is easy, and the adjustments are 1 MOA clicks. Those are big clicks but do make it quick to zero. The turrets are okay. They are recessed and require an Allen key. A nice flathead turret would be perfectly fine and easier to deal with than having to randomly find the right Allen key to get the optic zeroed.

Once zeroed, it stays zeroed. Even after several hundred rounds and several months of use, the optic remains on target. It’s been bumped and slung here and there and all over the gun safe and has not had a single issue in holding zero. At the range, the reticle remains on and doesn’t flicker or flutter under recoil.

Ringing Steel

The CTS 1400 makes it easy to hit targets out to 100 yards. At that range, your standard eight to 10-inch gongs are still visible and easy to ring steel with. Inside that range, the little dot works wonders. Swinging from target to target is easy, and the dot doesn’t flutter on quick swings. It’s perfect for close-range weapons. This is a great optic to toss on your shotgun or maybe your pistol-caliber carbine. It’s perfect for guns like the SUB-2000 that are designed to remain small and compact.

CTS 1400 on a CZ Scorpion
It’s no micro red dot, that’s for sure.

The CTS 1400 isn’t perfect. I don’t like the shake-awake design, and it’s not the toughest optic. However, at its budget price point, the little optic does deliver a quality performance. It’s lightweight and provides an alternative to tube-style red micro red dots and pistol red dots. It falls into the space in between and is one of the few optics that do.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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