August 07, 2018
To say that red-dot reflex sights have grown in popularity in recent years is an understatement. Part of the recent uptick in demand for these optics can certainly be associated with an increase in the sales of AR rifles, which are a natural platform for reflex sights, but due in part to the level of versatility that red-dot sights offer, it's not uncommon today to see red-dot optics on bolt-action rifles, shotguns and handguns.
One of the newest additions to the growing field of red-dot reflex sights is Sightmark's Mini Shot M-Spec Locking Quick Detach (LQD) unit. Measuring under two inches long and weighing just 3.6 ounces with the riser mount installed (3 ounces with the low mount), the Mini Shot doesn't add much bulk to your firearm and takes up very little space on a rail.
Its durable exterior is made from lightweight aluminum and, as the name suggests, the unit can be rapidly installed and removed. The red 3-minute-of-angle (MOA) dot features 10 different brightness settings and comes with two separate QD bases, a low mount for pistols, bolt-action rifles and shotguns and a riser QD mount that is suited for use with AR rifles. The glass is parallax free. The skeletonized riser mount also allows the shooter to co-witness the reflex sight with traditional iron sights. This unit has a lifetime warranty.
The Mini Shot is so simple to operate that after a single session at the range new shooters will be familiar with the basic functions. Brightness up is controlled by a button on the left side, and a brightness down button is on the right. Pressing either button activates the unit, while holding either button for five seconds turns the sight off. The dual buttons make it easy to toggle through the sight's various brightness settings so that it's simple to find the appropriate level for ambient light conditions.
There's a slotted elevation adjustment screw located on the top of the unit and a windage adjustment screw on the right side that can be operated without any special tools. Each click moves the point of impact 1 MOA.
The Mini Shot is powered by a single CR1632 battery which powers the unit from 300 to 30,000 hours depending upon the brightness setting. Best of all, the battery can be quickly and easily changed out without removing the unit from your firearm thanks to the battery compartment located on the top of the sight and it takes no special tools for removal. A 12-hour automatic shutoff feature also serves to extend battery.
A key feature that sets this unit apart from others in its class is how the LQD base design fits securely on the top rail of your long gun or on a mounting plate for pistols. To loosen the mount, simply press forward on the locking tab located on the right side of the base and swing the lever arm away from the sight. Once the sight is in place on the rail, the lever arm is returned to its original position and the tab locks it in place.
A tension knob on the left side of the unit allows for fine-tuning the fit of the base to your top rail, and the recoil bolt fits securely within the cross slots of the rail to eliminate movement for a zero, should the optic be removed and then reinstalled.
Switching between the high and low mounts is accomplished by loosening the two screws located just behind the battery compartment with the provided Torx key allowing the sight body to be removed from the base. The sight can then be installed on a new base by aligning the four holes on the bottom of the sight with the posts on the base body and the screws tightened. It's a very simple, yet durable design.
The objective lens of the Mini Shot is clear and allows for a crisp sight picture and the unit itself is quite durable thanks to its aluminum construction and additional steel protective shield. The rounded, low-profile design of the objective lens housing reduces the odds of snagging. The Mini Shot stood up well to the various bumps and abuse that came along with extended testing on the range.
The unit comes with an IP67 waterproof rating that signifies the unit is capable of being submersed to one meter (3.3 feet) for up to 30 minutes. It's rating also protects the sight against harmful infiltration.
Field & Range Testing
Since the Mini Shot comes with both low and riser LQD bases, I was able to test it on two separate firearms. A Rise Armament RA-303H S-Series AR-15 received the riser base and the low base was installed on a Mossberg MVP Scout rifle in .308 Winchester.
With the Sightmark mounted on the Mossberg, the pairing makes an ideal moderate-range hunting setup that's perfect for dim light in thick brush. Using Winchester's new Deer Season XP Copper Impact ammo, I fired a series of off-hand shots at targets ranging from 20 to 50 yards, and it's easy to see why so many hunters opt for exactly this type of setup.
Reflex sights allow for both eyes to be open during shooting and target acquisition is faster with the red dot than it is with traditional magnified optics. A great setup for stand hunting deer, black bear and hogs.
Under the shade of a towering stand of hardwoods and with darkness quickly approaching, I was able to get on target instantly and fire accurate, aimed shots. As last light approached, I removed the sight, placed it back on the rifle and fired additional rounds at the targets. As advertised, there was no point of impact shift and no need to re-zero.
The next afternoon I removed the Mini Shot from the Mossberg, replaced the low base with the riser base, and mounted the optic on the RA-303H. Unlike the night before, the light was bright under wide-open summer skies, and I raised the brightness setting to accommodate.
At 25 yards from a fixed rest, the Rise rifle stacked 68-grain Hornady Frontier Match bullets into tight clusters. Groups were low and right but quickly remedied by a few turns of the windage and elevation screws clustering three-shot groups in the center of the target.
At 50 yards, the same ammunition was capable of producing MOA accuracy. Best of all, the versatile reflex design made it possible to quickly and easily transition between bench shooting at moderate ranges and rapid close-range target engagement. The ability to keep both eyes open allowed for maximum field of view — an important consideration for anyone considering using this sight for defensive shooting applications.
MSRP for the Mini Shot M-Spec LDQ is $300, making this an affordable sighting option that's also very versatile and user-friendly.
Sight Mark Mini Shot M-Spec LQD
Type: Red-dot, reflex sight
Dot: 3 MOA
Weight: 3.6 oz. (riser mount installed), 3 oz. (low mount installed)
Height: 2.25 in. (riser), 1.5 in. (low)
Length: 1.75 in.
Housing: Aluminum, steel shield
Color: Matte black
Brightness Settings: 10
Battery: CR1632 (1)
Battery Life: 300 to 30,000 hours
Adjustments: Click-adjustable, 1 MOA
Base: LQD Quick Detach
Contact: Sightmark, sightmark.com
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