In the following video, I take some time to flesh out some of the major pros and cons of mounting a red dot to a pistol. Mounting red dots on pistols is nothing new, however, in the last 10 or so years, they have begun to find themselves on duty guns. As this trend increases it’s important that as a professional, conceal carry and competition shooter that you take a hard look at whether or not it would benefit your particular needs.
Optics and Sights
If you’re like me, you want your AR-style carbine to be capable of engaging targets from right in front of you, all the way out to its limits (500 meters give or take). I’ve always wanted to maintain the capability of being able to shoot out to 500 meters reliably. Having qualified with iron sights out to this range with an M4, I want my personal carbine to be easily capable of doing so. Some AR carbine owners desire to have a Trijicon ACOG, which is a great optic to help the shooter reach those far-out ranges quickly. However, most of us don’t have $1,000-$1,200 to drop on such an optic. This is what makes the Vortex Spitfire 3x stand out so well; the price! With an MSRP of about $450, it makes a hard price to beat for what you’re getting. Previously, my setup had an Aimpoint H-1 with the 3x magnifier behind it. This worked, but was heavy and didn’t have the BDC reticle I found so useful in using an ACOG during my time in service. So let’s talk about what you’re getting when you purchase the Spitfire 3x…
Before we dive into the details, statistics on the Spitfire 3x can be found on the Vortex website.
We’ll discuss some of those statistics in a bit. For now, let’s discuss what you’re getting in the box:
- Vortex Spitfire 3x Prism optic
- Objective and Ocular lens covers
- Torx and Allen keys
- Short mount screws (for use when mounting optic without the riser)
- Picattiny rails and screws for mounting rear iron sights or Micro red dot (come attached to the optic)
- Lens cleaning cloth
The optic itself comes with the riser already attached, providing a lower 1/3 co-witness height with your iron sights. Because this is a prism riflescope with magnification, it is almost pointless to demand a co-witness as the front sight will be extremely blurry. The reticle is also etched onto the glass, so if your batteries die or if the illuminated reticle stops working, you still at least have the reticle etched in black. If in a situation where I needed to detach the optic quickly, I could detach the optic by cranking on the mounting screws by hand. This is not ideal, but there is a company (ADM manufacturing) that makes quick detach lever mounts for the Spitfire 3x that I will likely end up purchasing. Due to the required eye relief of 2.8 inches, I needed to mount the optic in a position where I would not be able to flip the rear BUIS without detaching the optic, which negates the idea of having a co-witness even if the front sight weren’t theoretically blurry.
Even with the optic and rear BUIS mounted as far back as possible, I still have to collapse my stock 1 position in from its fully extended position. This is not ideal for me, but it’s a compromise I’m ok with living with.
So, up to now, we’ve only discussed the unboxing, and mounting. So let’s get to the functionality of the optic itself, and my opinion of it.
After mounting, you can adjust the focus of the reticle by popping the ocular lens scope cap off and tuning it to your eye. Once this is done, you can pretty much set it and forget it. Great feature! Zeroing the optic was very easy, and the windage/elevation caps attached by wires to the optic’s body are a good feature for those who tend to lose track of smaller parts. Vortex recommends your zeroing to be done at 100 yards for optimal use of the BDC reticle.
The illuminated reticle works great. I’ve found that shooting outdoors in the sun, an optimal brightness is set at 3 for red, and 5 for the green settings. If we’re comparing the Spitfire 3x to the ACOG (and we kind of are), the ability to adjust the illumination on the fly is a big win for the Spitfire in my opinion. It’s not necessary to shoot with the illumination on all the time, but I’ve found it to be a more enjoyable experience for quicker target acquisition at longer ranges.
Now, let’s discuss using the optic at mid/long-range vs close-range. We’ll call close range 25 yards and in for our purposes here. The ring around the main stadia lines provides decent target acquisition for anything approximately center mass at closer ranges. With any precision shots at close range, I would use the tip of the vertical stadia line as an aiming point. If you’re a stickler for precision shots at these ranges, this optic may not be for you. I imagine you could work with it and fine-tune your training and competency, but that’s obviously really not what this optic is made for.
The farthest I was able to shoot with this optic was about 315 yards. On an 11”x13” steel target, I was ringing steel with pretty much every shot taken, and even managed to get a few hits on the smaller steel popper target we took out. The BDC reticle was right on the money using the 300-yard stadia line.
After 3 separate weekends of shooting with this optic, the zero held just fine, and the mounting screws did not walk out even though they just had some good ole hand-tightening applied.
Now, let’s review the pros and cons, and review who might benefit from the Spitfire 3x.
- Price compared to other similar optics
- Ability to use from shorter to longer ranges
- Illuminated reticle with adjustable brightness for both red and green
- Two different mounting height options
- BDC reticle makes longer range shooting simple
- Ability to mount rear BUIS or Micro RDS to optic (if that’s your thing)
- Did I mention the price?
- Lifetime warranty
- Eye relief may require you to adjust your setup
- Co-witness with irons not really feasible (if you like co-witnessing)
Now, with all this being said, if you’re looking for a “one-size-fits-most optic” that can do dang near anything you’d want an AR-style carbine’s optic to do, then the Vortex Spitfire 3x might be the one you’re looking for. If you’re the type of shooter that finds precision shot placement with fast target acquisition at CQB ranges to be of the utmost importance, then this optic is probably not for you.
With the adjustable illuminated reticle, the ability to shoot from 1-500 yards with it, the price tag, and Vortex’s lifetime warranty, it’s going to be a hard optic for most other companies to beat.
Author – Brian Patterson is a current Army Medic and former Marine. In his off-time he enjoys shooting guns, modifying them, and learning new skills.
Meopta USA is now offering ground breaking new dichroic reticle technology in its MeoStar 3-12×56 riflescopes. Meopta’s patent-pending dichroic DichroTech coating enables reticles in multiple color configurations to automatically adjust color tone and intensity in varying light conditions without the use of a battery. DichroTech provides maximum contrast and visibility, enhancing target acquisition while speeding and improving shot placement.
Meopta’s first DichroTech reticle with battery-free, color-contrast enhancement, the 4D DichroTech, features a 4 MOA red dot in the center of the reticle. The dot and crosshairs are activated by ambient light for enhanced target acquisition. The proprietary patent-pending, light-sensitive dichroic coating appears bright red in daylight conditions but in lower light, depending on the background, the red may change to a light green color for better contrast. The reticle color adapts for optimal visibility depending on the amount of available ambient light while the dot in the center draws the eye to the point of aim. In addition, unlike the standard black reticle, the colored reticle is mostly transparent, which allows for a more complete field of view, particularly at higher magnifications.
“We are excited to bring this exceptional reticle technology to the hunting and shooting communities,” said Randy Garrison, Director of Meopta USA Sport Optics. “Meopta DichroTech reticles feature a leading-edge coating that enhances contrast and improves aiming ability in varying light conditions. This reticle technology offers hunters and shooters a convenient alternative to battery-powered illuminated riflescopes.”
The Meopta DichroTech 4D reticle is designed for maximum visibility in varying light conditions; with ambient light it provides significant target contrast at dawn, dusk, and throughout the day.
Initially, the Meopta DichroTech 4D reticle will be offered in the 30mm MeoStar R1 3-12×56 with a first focal plane reticle, and MeoStar R1r 3-12×56 with a second focal plane reticle. Meopta will offer many more DichroTech reticle options in a variety of riflescopes in 2019.
For a limited time, Meopta will be offering these riflescopes with 4D DichroTech reticle at the same price as its non-dichroic # 4 reticle.
Retail Pricing through 3/31/19:
- MeoStar R1 3-12×56 with DichroTech 4D Reticle $999.95
- MeoStar R1r 3-12×56 with DichroTech 4D Reticle $999.95
Retail Pricing after 3/31/19:
- MeoStar R1 3-12×56 with DichroTech 4D Reticle $1,199.95
- MeoStar R1r 3-12×56 with DichroTech 4D Reticle $1,199.95
Meopta has been producing high-end European optics for over 85 years. Meopta is a leading manufacturer & partner to many of the world’s finest optical brands. Meopta conceives, develops and manufactures precision optical and electro/optical systems for semiconductor, medical, aerospace and military industries as well as for consumer markets.
For more information regarding Meopta, please visit www.meoptasportsoptics.com
*Editors note: Photos and article have been shared with the permission of AMTAC Shooting.
I don’t normally get very excited about new gear. This thermal weapons sight changed that, not because it is better than anything else out there but because it brings a useful thermal sight into working man’s prices.
It is still not cheap ($2,199.00 on the www.usnightvision.com web page), but it puts it at a price point that is cheaper than good glass for a precision rifle.
The scope comes with a hard case with a QD mount, a USB cable, two battery sleeves and instructions. Mounting the thermal is easy with the included QD mount. I mounted the scope on a 16 in carbine. Just aft of the scope I mounted an Aimpoint T1 on a Larue 45 degree offset mount.
Zeroing was simple and is pretty intuitive on the menu. A cool side note is that you can pick multiple guns out a sub-menu and zero for each individual rifle.
When I started zeroing I used a can of spray paint to make a dot over my target, this was enough of a temperature differential to have an aiming point and get on paper at 25 yards. A few days later I had time to do a proper zero at 100 yards by pouring water on a normal paper target and then shooting at the top of the temperature differential.
Other ways to get a temperature differential include stapling hand warmers to the bulls eye of your target or heating a piece of steel up with a torch.
For the test, I had access to a little over 500 yards. At that distance, I was able to tell the pick up movement and distinguish between a person and a dog. Closer in I was able to identify a rifle at 100 yards and identify gear/ clothing at 25 yards. I had no problem hitting B/C steel at 250 yards with Blackhills 77 Gr. OTM.
Pros and Cons
- Price point. I always say that logistics are important and this scope allows for more people to own a serious piece of equipment.
- Ease of use. The menus are very intuitive and it is simple to scroll through the different reticle and color options.
- It uses 3v lithium batteries. This is a very common battery that also does well in the cold.
- Everything you need is in the box, no need to buy separate mounts or cables.
- Size. I would not call it small, but it is manageable.
- Picture and video ability with internal memory.
- Price point. At a little over $2k it is still expensive.
- 30 Hz refresh rate. This means there is a slight lag time as you are panning.
- No focus ring.
- No drop down reticle.
This FLIR Thermosight Pro PTS233 thermal is a game changer. Way to many “gun guys” have a safe full of rifle and pistols and have zero night vision or thermal capability. Sell a couple of those “safe queens” that are just collecting dust and improve your capability with NVG’s/ Thermals and quality training!
At 50 Yards
At 100 Yards
Around 200 Yards
And 250 Yards
XS® Sights is pleased to introduce its newest Big Dot® Shotgun Beads for home defense in tritium and non-tritium models. These next generation sights for shotguns incorporate the company’s leading-edge glow technology to make them the brightest sights in any lighting conditions.
XS Big Dot Tritium shotgun sights are available in two versions – on a pedestal mount for Remington shotguns or in a plain-barrel model that fits Mossberg shotguns. Both are available in Optic Yellow™ or Optic Orange™. The patent-pending glow dot on this front sight absorbs light and glows in low light levels before it is dark enough to see the tritium. A true advantage for any home-defense shotgun.
The new non-tritium Ember™ Big Dot Shotgun Beads are also available in both Remington and plain barrel models in Optic Yellow or Optic Orange. XS Sights’ proprietary glow technology gives the non-tritium Ember Big Dot a significant performance advantage over fiber optic sights or brass beads in low light conditions, and its large size helps with faster target acquisition.
“The size and brightness of our new XS Big Dot Shotgun Beads allow the user to index the muzzle much faster, and this is critical in high-stress home defense situations when every second counts,” said Zack Kinsley, Marketing Manager for XS Sights. “We incorporated our proprietary glow technology into these Big Dot Shotgun Beads to transform them into the brightest sights in any lighting condition.”
Optic Yellow is the best option for low light and has the brightest glow intensity. Optic Orange is the best for bright light settings and offers high glow intensity.
- Big Dot Tritium Remington Shotgun, Bead on Pedestal (Optic Yellow or Orange) $66.00
- Big Dot Tritium Shotgun, Bead on Plain Barrel (Optic Yellow or Orange) $66.00
- Big Dot Ember Remington Shotgun, Bead on Pedestal (Optic Yellow or Orange) $39.00
- Big Dot Ember, Bead on Plain Barrel (Optic Yellow or Orange) $39.00
The new XS Big Dot Shotgun Beads are backed by a 10-year, No-Questions-Asked Warranty.
About XS Sights
XS Sights is known for making the fastest sights in any light. For more than 20 years, the XS team has created some of the most innovative sights on the market today for pistols, rifles and shotguns. Whether used for personal defense or hunting, these sights are designed and built to be the absolute best for their specific purpose.
For more information, visit www.xssights.com
There are few optics that have the battle-proven reliability of the Trijicon ACOG 4×32 optic. The venerable ACOG has been given a breath of new life with the ACSS reticle from Primary Arms, which allows this optics to expand its capabilities. Watch the video below to learn more.
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