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Sightmark Optic Survey: Red Dots

If the premium red dot you are drooling over will have your significant other questioning your sanity, maybe you should consider a Sightmark optic. Sightmark offers a range of red dots that will suit the casual shooter or competitor at an affordable price.

Sightmark Optic Survey: Red Dots
Sightmark offers a wide selection of red-dot optics for firearms that offer value and versatility. (Photo by Alfredo Rico)

"Red dot" has become a categorical term that refers to an optic that uses an emitter to project a red dot, or a reticle, onto a lens to be used as an aiming point. Within that category, the term is often associated with both enclosed optics often used on rifles and carbines, as well as with slide-mounted pistol optics that often have minimal, open housings. It’s worth noting, too, that the term “reflex sight” may also be thrown into the mix, and the term was coined for the ability to quickly — reflexively — bring a firearm to the bear and sight-in on a target with the need for adjustments.

What follows is a survey of Sightmark red-dot optics for rifles, pistols, and even shotguns. The company’s comprehensive catalog is notable for the range of optics available and its extensive use of aluminum and glass in construction. You may not know, but those materials are sometimes considered premium grade enhancements, especially for the types of sights detailed here, and at the price points Sightmark is able to maintain. The company offers a lot of value in its lineup.

It's worth noting, among Sightmark’s wide range of affordable red dots, the naming convention reflects a product’s durability rating and, consequently, the price level. Models with an R-Spec in the name are intended for the recreational shooter and are the entry level model. The mid-tier A-Spec units are for users who hit the range regularly and require a more rugged design. Finally, the M models offer the highest level of durability and are designed to be run hard.

Let’s dive in.

Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro — $170

Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro
Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro (Photo courtesy of Sightmark)

Many entry-level red dots have a polymer housing and polymer lenses. The Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro is not one of them. It is one of the few reflex sights at this price that contains its electronics in an aluminum housing and utilizes a glass lens.

The Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro is available with a 3 MOA dot and an auto-brightness reticle. Its footprint is the Shield RMSc, a common footprint in subcompact and micro-compact pistols. The back of the unit is notched so that a pistol’s standard iron sights can be co-witnessed to the red dot. Being able to view the pistol’s iron sights is important because electronics can fail, regardless of price.

Like many of Sightmark’s optics, the Mini Shot A-Spec M3 Micro is rugged. It’s shockproof and IP55 water resistant. It can withstand the recoil force of a .375 H&H caliber and operate in .22F to 122F temperatures. The battery is a bottom mount and requires removing the optic to change batteries. Battery life is up to 100,000 hours. Although battery life varies upon use, consider that there are 8,760 hours in a year, you shouldn’t have to worry about changing batteries frequently.

Specifications

  • Magnification: 1X
  • Dot Size: 3 MOA
  • Objective: 20mm
  • Length: 1.6 in.
  • Weight: 5.5 oz.
  • Mount: RMSc, Picatinny
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Battery Life: 500 to 100,000 hours

Ultra Shot Reflex Sight w/ Green or Red Laser — $200

Ultra Shot with Laser
Ultra Shot w/ Green or Red Laser (Photo courtesy of Sightmark)

The Ultra Shot Reflex Sight with Laser is like the Swiss Army knife of reflex sights. Not only does it have an integrated laser, but there are also four built-in reticle patterns, and two reticle color options — red or green — for a total of eight possible reticle displays. The Ultra Shot Reflex Sight is available in two models, one with a green laser sight, the other with red.

The advantage of a laser is that it adds an additional aiming point when your head is not in a position to look through the optic. The laser is controlled via an on/off switch on the housing, or by using a pressure pad that can be tethered to the laser. At 4.33-inces long, 1.96-wide, and 2.28-inches tall, it’s not a small optic, but it still fits neatly atop an AR or similar pattern.

The four reticle choices are 5 MOA dot, 3 MOA dot with 50 MOA circle, 3 MOA dot with 50 MOA crosshair, and a 3 MOA dot with 50 MOA circle/crosshair. The reticles have a dedicated, intuitive selection switch.

The unit is beefy and can withstand the wear and tear of training. The housing is 6061-T6 aluminum along with the protective shield that adds an additional layer of protection to the glass. Although the housing is should not be submerged in water, it handles playing in the rain well. It has a recoil rating up to .50 BMG. A Picatinny, quick-release mount allows for a toolless attachment to a rail.

Recommended


Specifications

  • Magnification: 1X
  • Reticles: 5 MOA dot; 3 MOA dot w/ 50 MOA circle; 3 MOA dot w/ 50 MOA crosshair; 3 MOA dot w/ 50 MOA circle/crosshair
  • Laser: Available in green or red
  • Objective: 33x24mm
  • Length: 4.0 in.
  • Weight: 10.7 oz.
  • Mount: Picatinny
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Battery Life: 200 to 20,000 hours

MTS Mini Solar — $200

MTS Mini Solar
MTS Mini Solar (Photo courtesy of Sightmark)

The MTS Mini Solar Powered Red Dot is a versatile red-dot optic for center-fire or rimfire rifles. What makes this a great optic is its size, durability, and its dual power.

The body is constructed from 6061-T6 aluminum, and it carries glass lenses with a scratch resistant anti-reflective coating. The 22mm front lens is plenty large for an unobstructed view of your target. The dot is 3 MOA which is fine enough that at 500 yards the reticle will not obscure an E-style silhouette target.

With a 3-inch length, height of 2.7-inches, and 1.6-inch width, it takes up little space. At 5.5 ounces it is also very light. The unit comes with two bases. One is a low-profile base that allows the unit to sit very low. The other is a high-profile mount which is ideal for co-witnessing back-up sights on an AR.

The internals are fog proof, so you won’t have to worry about the lenses whiting out when the temperature turns cold. It is also shockproof and can take the recoil forces up to a .338 Win Mag. It has a wide operating range with regard to temperature, too, from -22 F to 122 F.

The advantage of a solar-powered red dot is that when there is plenty of light hitting the solar cells, it doesn’t use battery energy. This helps it achieve its whopping 200,000 hours of battery life. The long life is on low power mode, though it still offers 400 hours on high power. When running without a battery the illumination is auto adjusting. With a battery, there are 11 brightness settings. The red dot can be turned off by pressing the up and down illumination buttons. The cool thing is that even with the unit powered off, if there is enough light hitting the solar panel, the red dot will be on.

When the light is too dim, the electronics pass the power duties to a single CR2032 battery. The battery is a side-loading battery and is found on the right side of the unit’s base.

The optic is zeroed via the capped turrets, each click equates to 1 MOA of adjustment.

Specifications

  • Magnification: 1X
  • Dot Size: 3 MOA Dot
  • Objective: 22mm
  • Length: 2.96 in.
  • Weight: 5.5 oz.
  • Mount: Picatinny
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Battery Life: 400 to 200,000 hours

XTM-3 Magnifier — $250

XTM-3 Magnifier
XTM-3 Magnifier (Photo courtesy of Sightmark)

A simple way to extend the shooting range of the MTS Mini Solar Powered Red Dot is by mounting the XTM-3 magnifier behind it. What differentiates the XTM-3 among many other magnifiers is that it is one of the most compact and lightest magnifiers on the market. It is 2.72-inches long and a scant 8 ounces.

 As you would expect from a Sightmark optical device, the housing is constructed of 6061-T6 aluminum and incorporates fully multi-coated, scratch-resistant lenses. It has a high waterproof rating of IPX7 and is shockproof. The magnifier has a Picatinny compatible, locking quick-detach flip mount. There is no lever to push to get it in or out of your view, just flip it.

It is compatible with most red dots, even beyond Sightmark’s offerings.

Specifications

  • Magnification: 3X
  • Objective: 18mm
  • Length: 2.72 in.
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Mount: Picatinny
  • Eye Relief: 2.32 in.

Wolverine CSR 1x23 — $130

Wolverine CSR 1x23
Wolverine CSR 1x23, Dark Earth (Photo courtesy of Sightmark)

The Wolverine CSR fits is designed specifically for shotguns and short-barreled rifles. At 3.4 inches long, it is slightly larger than the MTS Mini Solar Powered Red Dot. At 10.3 ounces you will still barely feel its weight on your firearm.

The housing is made from 6061-T6 aluminum and has a rubber overmold. It will operate in temps from -22 F to 122 F and is waterproof, dustproof, fog proof, and shockproof.

The glass lenses have a scratch resistant, anti-reflective coating. Like other Sightmark products, they know how to wring out long battery life. Its single AA battery will get you 5.7 years of continuous use on setting 6. The unit has 10 brightness settings, including two night-vision-compatible levels.

The Wolverine is also available with a Dark Earth tan overmold for a slight upcharge (Price is $140).

Specifications

  • Magnification: 1X
  • Dot Size: 4 MOA Dot
  • Objective: 28mm
  • Length: 4.4 in.
  • Weight: 10.3 oz.
  • Mount: Picatinny
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Battery Life: 900 to 1,000,000 hours

Mini Shot M-Spec M3 Solar — $300

Mini Shot M-Spec M3 Solar
Mini Shot M-Spec M3 Solar (Photo courtesy of Sightmark)

Reflex sights (red dots with an open housing) have dominated the slide-mounted optics category due to their smaller size and weight. Completely enclosed red dots have only recently been scaled down for use on pistols. For those looking to prevent dust, debris, or water from gunking up the emitter, the Mini Shot M-Spec M3 is the way to go.

Like the Mini MTS Solar, the Mini Shot M-Spec M3 is powered by a battery and solar energy. With a CR1620 battery, battery life is up to 20,000 hours. It has an IP67 rating making it waterproof and dust proof. It is recoil rated up to a .45 ACP.

The Mini Shot M-Spec M3 uses the popular Shield RMSc footprint and includes a Picatinny/Weaver compatible mount. The model is available with a 3 MOA red-dot reticle.

Specifications

  • Magnification: 1X
  • Dot Size: 3 MOA
  • Objective: 20 mm
  • Length: 1.61 in.
  • Weight: 3 oz.
  • Mount: Shield RMSc, Picatinny/Weaver
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Battery Life: 900 to 1,000,000 hours



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