There are a lot of great things about November. Football games on the weekends, Thanksgiving, Black Friday (I need a new TV!!!), the beautiful leaves falling and the chill that hasn’t turned to cold just yet. It’s a great time. It’s a time for hunters to get up early and enjoy the crisp air.
Those are all awesome things, but one of the coolest things about November is the Brilliance Awards. I spend the whole year taking a look at some of the coolest gear we sell at OpticsPlanet. GearExpert started shortly before SHOT Show, and that convention was really the first big thing I got to cover here. Since then I’ve seen many of the new products first hand, and I’ve done my best to give you all the details so you can get excited about them. In a way, the Brilliance Awards are a way for you to return the favor! The awards are broken into two parts: the first is the “Customer’s Choice” Awards, and those are determined entirely by your votes. The second part are determined by our very own experts. These guys know their stuff and help me out all the time. They also help you out, as they’re here to answer any questions when you need a rifle scope or binocular for an upcoming hunting trip.
The Customer Choice Awards are my favorite part though. We asked you to vote on the best brands for various categories. Let’s take a closer look at the brands you picked.
First up, we have the Best Night Vision Brand of 2012. There were a few strong contenders here, but you picked ATN. Not a bad choice. I wrote about ATN a few times this year. In September I gave you 5 Ways ATN Night Vision Helps You. Before that I wrote about their co-witness night vision devices. I liked those quite a bit. They’re great for those times when you already have your regular scope sighted in and don’t want to have to re-sight in for a night time mission. We also got to see some of ATN’s awesome Thermal Imagers at SHOT Show, and they were definitely a hit amongst everyone who got to see them. It’s no wonder ATN was picked as the Best Night Vision Brand this year.
For Holster Brand of the Year you picked BLACKHAWK! Another smart choice. I wrote about BLACKHAWK! Rebates, my experience with a BLACKHAWK! Sling Backpack on a Camping Trip, BLACKHAWK! Women’s Clothes and, best of all, BLACKHAWK! SERPA Holsters at SHOT Show! BLACKHAWK! is well known for their SERPA holsters, which have state of the art retention and unbelievable durability. Our product specialists like them so much they picked the BlackHawk CQC Carbon Fiber SERPA Holster as the Best Concealed Holster this year!
Next, the top Red Dot Sight Brand is EOTech. This one is no surprise, as EOTech has long been one of our top brands, and the quality of their holographic weapon sights can not be disputed. Our specialists also named their EXPS3 Red Dot Sight the top Tactical Red Dot this year! I wrote about EOTech a few times this year also, and while I loved seeing the Zombie Stopper at SHOT Show, I think Kate’s Hog Hunt with EOTech was the best post on this top red dot sight brand this year.
Rifle Scopes Do Mean Happiness
Probably the biggest winner this year was Leupold, who was picked for not one category, not two categories but THREE different categories! Rifle Scopes Brand of the Year. That one is certainly well-deserved. It’s no coincidence that when I made the rifle scope picture above I used a photo I took of the Leupold Gold Ring Scopes. But Leupold also won for Rangefinder Brand of the Year. They won this award last year as well, so their quality is as much about lasting performance as it’s about cutting edge technology. Finally, Leupold won this year’s Spotting Scope Brand of the Year Award. They showed a new Gold Ring Spotting Scope at SHOT Show that has proven quite popular. Three Customer’s Choice awards in a single year!
Meade took home this year’s award for Telescopes Brand of the Year. I don’t write a ton about telescopes here on GearExpert, but I love to see a fantastic telescope for a bit of astronomical viewing. Meade brings the stars a bit closer with their award winning telescopes!
Oakley doesn’t really need any introduction. They’re one of the most famous sunglasses brands in the world, and you selected them as the Sunglasses Brand of the Year. Their sunglasses are not only some of the best looking in the world, but they’re also designed to be super high performing. Oakley shades are used by athletes all over the world. It’s not really surprising they proved so popular for this year’s Brilliance Awards.
SOG Knives are great for fighting zombies!
SOG gets a lot of attention around the GearExpert and OpticsPlanet offices. I see these knives featured on Dvor all the time, and I’m always getting to take a look at them. SOG puts a lot of thought into their knife options, and the variety of features you can choose from really makes these knives fantastic for many different activities. They’re especially good for hunting zombies.
No doubt the Steiner Predator Xtremes contributed to their Brilliance Awards win!
Steiner won this year’s Binoculars Brand of the Year Award, and I think that has to do with their incredible durability. I got to take a look at a number of different Steiner Binoculars this year, though I’d say the Predator Xtremes were my favorite. We saw them at SHOT Show, but then I got to go hands on a while later, and they’re quite impressive. Bright, clear glass and tough construction. I loved them, and it appears you all did as well!
SureFire AZ2 on Mt. Rainier
Last but not least, the Flashlight Brand of the Year Award went to SureFire. We saw a TON of cool flashlights by SureFire at SHOT Show, and we took a closer look this summer at a few of their tactical flashlights. Our video producer Devin actually took a SureFire AZ2 on a camping trip to Mt. Rainier in Washington, and it helped him check out some maps and find his way on the trails!
From my experience, it looks like you guys made some great choices for Brands of the Year for the Brilliance Awards, but I haven’t mentioned the most important Customer’s Choice Award yet: The Product of the Year. This is the big one, and we couldn’t be happier to report that you chose our own OPMOD PVS-14 Night Vision Scope was chosen this year! This is a Gen 3 Night Vision device that comes with a head mount and can be used for a ton of different purposes. We are really honored to know that so many of you think highly of our night vision device.
There are many more 2012 Brilliance Awards winners that were picked by our Product Specialists, so be sure to check them all out to see the very best of the best!