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Red Dots That Can Take a Tumble

Sightmark's red dots offer quality performance at an attainable price.

Red Dots That Can Take a Tumble
From left to right: Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex, Element Mini Solar, Mini Shot M-Spec LQD. (Photo by Alfredo Rico)

At the forefront of any fad, early adopters have little qualm about paying a premium price to test the waters. As the fad sticks, they will brag about being a trendsetter and ensure that everyone knows how much they paid to get in on the game early. Once the trend sets, other manufacturers will race to get a slice of the market. 

The end result is that we now have a dizzying array of optic choices in the red dot market. Selecting one is difficult since the distinction between brands is narrowing. The best red dots are pricey and rightly so, but many of us will be looking at the lower to middle segment of the market to make a choice. One brand that stands out is Sightmark. Their red dot offerings clearly show they are designed for serious use but won’t set your credit card on fire. 

Sightmark is relatively new to the optics game. They started in 2007 with a mission to provide quality optics at an affordable price. To back up the integrity of their products, they offer a lifetime warranty. Durability is a feature that is evident in these red dots. You don’t need to read the marketing literature to know they can take a beating. Their sturdy build is no surprise considering many law enforcement agencies use their products. 

Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex 

The Ultra Shot is the big boy of the red dot bunch I received for review. This reflex sight is designed for the AR platform and built to take any realistic scenario you may throw at it. Its robustness is evident in its magnesium alloy body surrounded by a 6061-T6 aluminum shield. The unit is shockproof and designed to withstand the recoil of a .50 BMG rifle. To protect the internals from the environment, it is dustproof and waterproof. The lens is multicoated to be anti-reflective and scratch resistant. From a physical standpoint, you might be tempted to use it as a hammer.

The Ultra Shot is 4 inches long, 1.85 inches wide, and 2.32 inches tall and includes a rail compatible base. The glass is surprisingly large at 1.30 inches wide and 1 inch tall, offering a wide field of view for this 1X lens. The reticle is a 60-MOA red circle with a 2-MOA central dot and 5-MOA crosshairs. Its elevation and windage adjustment range is 120 MOA, with each click of the turret moving the reticle 1 MOA. To counter sunlight glare from behind a shooter, the Ultra Shot includes an integrated retractable shade.

Battery life from a single 123A battery is from 200 to 2,000 hours depending on the brightness setting of the reticle. There are 10 daylight settings and six night vision settings. Controls are located on the left side of the unit. The cross pattern buttons are dedicated to power, brightness adjustment, and night vision. If left on, the unit will turn itself off after 12 hours of inactivity and will wake up if moved. 

Mini Shot M-Spec LQD

I’ve reviewed a few reflex sights in this $300 price range, and the Mini Shot M-Spec LQD offers one of the best values for the buck. Like the Ultra Shot, the Mini Shot has an extra layer of protection over its housing, but in this case, the body is made from 6061-T61 aluminum while the shield is made from steel. It is dustproof, waterproof, and the lens is scratch resistant. The maximum recoil of this unit is a .375 H&H, a big-game cartridge that launches a 235-grain bullet at 2,800 fps. The specs make it a no-brainer to use it for competition shooting or personal defense.

The battery is a CR1632 and is top loading, so there’s no need to pull the micro red dot off its base to change the battery. You can expect 300 to 30,000 hours of battery life. Battery life is aided by the 12-hour auto shut-off feature. The 10 brightness settings are adjusted via side controls. Pressing both brightness buttons simultaneously powers down the 3-MOA dot. 

Mounting the Mini Shot on anything from a pistol, AR, rifle, or shotgun is a breeze and won’t cost you extra money since a low profile and riser mount are included in the box. To mount this reflex sight to a pistol, the base uses the Docter footprint. 

MTS Mini Solar 

If you prefer closed sights over open sights, you can’t go wrong with this Mini Solar red dot. This dual-powered sight will keep you in the fight day and night for the next 23 years on a single CR2032 battery. When there is no sunlight shining on the solar cells, the battery will kick in to keep the red dot aglow. Surprisingly, its solar cells are sensitive enough to generate power from bright indoor lighting.

To tame power consumption, the Mini Solar uses its Eclipse Light Management System. The system automatically dims the red dot in low light and increases brightness in well-lit conditions. Brightness settings can be manually controlled with the left side buttons. 

Windage adjustment is 160 MOA and elevation is 120, and one click moves the 3-MOA dot a single MOA. The top of the turreted caps are conveniently slotted, creating a makeshift screw driver for adjusting the turrets. Another nice touch is the flip-down lens caps. They won’t flop around like rubber lens caps and will stay tightly secured to the body. 

Recommended


It should come as no surprise now that the Sightmark optic is shockproof, dustproof, and waterproof. An equally important feature for a closed optic is that it is also fogproof. The anti-reflective coating will keep the red dot sharp in the lens. The maximum recoil is .338 Win. Mag.

To add more bang for the buck, the Mini Solar includes an AR mount for absolute co-witness and a low-profile mount.

Summary

Sightmark red dots have the features many of us look for in products: durability, reliability, and affordability. What’s even better is that they include the mounts a shooter would most likely buy to use the smaller red dots on other platforms. Overall, you can’t go wrong with a Sightmark red dot. 

Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD

  • Dot Color: Red
  • Dot Size: 60 MOA circle w/ 5 MOA subtension and 2 MOA central dot
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Adjustment: 1 MOA (120 MOA elevation, 120 MOA windage)
  • Parallax Setting: Parallax free
  • Length: 5 in.
  • Height: 3 in.
  • Weight: 10.2 oz.
  • MSRP: $300
  • Manufacturer: Sightmark, sightmark.com

MTS Mini Solar

  • Dot Color: Red
  • Dot Size: 3 MOA
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Adjustment: 1 MOA (120 MOA elevation, 120 MOA windage)
  • Parallax Setting: Parallax free
  • Length: 3 in.
  • Height: 3 in.
  • Weight: 5.5 oz.
  • MSRP: $240
  • Manufacturer: Sightmark, sightmark.com

Mini Shot M-Spec LQD

  • Dot Color: Red
  • Dot Size: 60 MOA circle w/ 5 MOA subtension and 2 MOA central dot
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Adjustment: 1 MOA (110 MOA elevation, 110 MOA windage)
  • Parallax Setting: Parallax free
  • Length: 2 in.
  • Height: 2 in.
  • Weight: 3.6 oz.
  • MSRP: $200
  • Manufacturer: Sightmark, sightmark.com



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