Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by CTGunner, Sep 18, 2010.
Can anyone recommend a reasonably priced red dot sight for an AR-15 that is used for HD?
A used or surplus Aimpoint would be my first choice. You can usually fish them up for the $100-300 range if you are diligent, and don't mind having one that looks like it has been used and abused in Iraq.
For more affordable option, I am impartial to the Bushnell TRS-25 micro-red dot. At 5/10 power its rated to last 3,000 hours, or about 3 months of constant operation. I have one on my AK for the past 3 months and it hasn't given me any trouble, but it also hasn't seen any hard use either. I generally keep it turned off when I am not home to minimize needless battery drain.
I have a Vortec Strikefire that I have not had any issues with. Checked the reviews at Optics planet and checked around for other reviews; I got the red dot only which is slightly brighter $149.00. Russian red dot 1moa at Kalinka optics for around $200 but I have not seen or used one.
Check out primary arms. primaryarms.com I believe. The sell a line of Aimpoint knockoffs. The difference between primary arms and others is that they won't try to convince you that they are anything more than what they are and they stand behind their products. Lots of guys on ARF use them and there haven't been any complaints.
Of course, this is a response based on your request for an inexpensive red dot. If budget wasn't a concern, I'd be looking at one of the Aimpoint Comps or a Trijicon ACOG TA44S-10. The ones from PA run in the $100 neighborhood. If you start looking at the Vortex red dots, I'd just stretch my budget an start looking for either an Aimpoint Comp C3 (maybe used) or a used M2, M3, ML2 or ML3. This isn't to say that the Vortex isn't good, but at its price point, I'd rather spend a bit more and get a used Aimpoint.
I will say that buying an Aimpoint or ACOG is a long term investment in the sense that once you buy it, you won't have to replace it because it broke, unless it gets run over by a truck and maybe not even then.
Not to be one of "those guys" but I wouldn't recommend an inexpensive red dot.
I agree with oasis. Find a good used aimpoint M2. They are built like tanks.
I own two bushnell trs-25's and am very happy with them. They are lite (~4oz), well built and have a nice sharp 3 moa dot. Cabelas has them on sale for $100 now but the price changes constantly (last week they were $79 and two weeks before that $89!).
If the gun is going to be used for HD, you really should not be looking for an inexpensive RD. If you do go that route, make sure you have back up irons and the ability to ditch the RD if it fails. Inexpensive red dots will eventually fail. Heck, expensive ones will, too, but they might fail on your grandchildren, not you.
I'm not a gear snob in regards to "sporting" or plinking optics, but something used defensively MUST WORK. And, you should be training with it, which means you should be using it pretty often, which will accellerate wear and tear. You'd be much better off saving up for a quality red dot than you would be fiddling around with lesser products.
Ask me how I know.
PS The recommendation of a used Aimpoint M2 is a good one. It is the least expensive of the Aimpoints out there, it is rugged as all heck, and the battery life (while inferior to the current models) is way more than adequate for a defensive role.
Go to primaryarms.com and check out their red dot store. I have a Primary Arms MicroDot on my AR. It's small, light, and holds zero after repeated abuse. I use the rifle in tactical carbine matches.
I'm in the process of building another AR, and am still considering which red dot to get for it - I might even get one of the Vortex sights (StrikeFire or SPARC). I also just picked up a M&P15-22 which will probably get the Primary Arms M3.
Putting optics on three rifles for less than the price of a single Aimpoint is - well - priceless.
Thanks for the suggestions. I understand why some of you are saying not to skimp on the sight but right now I have nothing, just the iron sights. I thought I would be better off with something 'inexpensive' than nothing at all....tell me if/why I'm off base.
You don't have nothing, you have the iron sights!
It's not a gear snob thing to insist on the highest reliability in gun gear. The whole point is that if gear fails, it could directly lead to immediate death. At least that's the standard.
How real that standard is depends on the skill level and redundancy of the user. A lot of military and tactical training is all about backup plans, alternate weapons, transition drills, etc. Then the gun is supposed to support the concept by being absolutely free of any failure, and help the user with faster reloading, backup sights, cowitnessing, and ambidextrous controls.
Note that with insistence on reliability, the market takes opposite view to sell a redundant back up option. They want you to spend for reliability and spend because failure seems guaranteed.
It's all a marketing game pitched to sell gear. The average Home Defense encounter involves a handgun with no optics and less than three shots fired at less than 21 feet.
Any gun in HD is better than no gun, buy an optic that matches the other 99% of what you will use it for. Lucid, Bushnell etc all make good optics in the $200 range, and you get money left over for ammo. Training is more important than brand name or alleged reliability of military optics. They break, too, the light repair company techs see the blinking cracked and dead optics all the time.
Most Americans - well, well over 90% - never have a home invasion. It probably happens less often than the breakdown rate on midrange priced optics. Find a balance point, practice, and be happy you have Customer Service, because the Army doesn't. They have a big inventory of float optics and their own repair department - if it's not declared "disposable." They get around the problem with an issue in kind - because their backup plan is it WILL break, and have spares.
IMHO an inexpensive red dot co-witnessed with the AR irons is adequate.
I don't care how much you spend on the sight, batteries just have a way to be dead at the most inconvenient time so if your life really depends on it working, the Trijicons without batteries (Tritium & fiber optics) are your only real option -- but the Tritium will be dead for your grandchildren and cost as much as most ARs.
With my limited experience with optics. I have learned a few things.
You usually get what you pay for.
Buy once and cry once.
FWIW I saved and bought a Aimpoint............and very happy I did. Don't hesitate to look at used.
Because you already have reliable sights (Irons) that won't fail. A cheap red Dot could fail at a critical time and the transitions to Irons could lead to a delay that makes you dead.
Then buy a better one later. But buying cheap now will just delay your ability to buy quality. Also a cheap RDS will run you 100-150. A good used Aimpoint will run you about 250. I don't make a lot of money anymore, but that isn't really much difference even to me.
I have never seen an aimpoint fail, except when used on a SCAR. They are about as reliable as you can get. I always use either Aimpoint or Trijicon for this very reason. Yes you could buy a cheap RDS right now.
Where are you guys seeing used serviceable Aim Points for $150-$250? If they had a life time guarantee that would be the way to go.
Cheap optics guarantee death.
I suppose it's equally plausible to say all those who bought them can't post because that is what happened. They're dead.
It's a wonder these companies stay in business with all the lawsuits from the survivors.
I'll say it again, the odds of actually having an Home Defense incident are pretty low. And having an optic fail doesn't happen, most people use handguns. IF an AR is used, it will likely fail because of a bad magazine, bad ammo, or operator incompetence.
The scare mongers will tell you otherwise, but they don't look at the big picture and balance all the factors.
Like not living in a high incidence neighborhood. Most move out - they spend the optic money on a U-haul van. That's the real world answer.
Not the fantasy internet Home Defense BS that sells more gear.
The Aimpoints are night and day better than the others. I have a Vortex Strikefire and a S.P.O.T red dot sight as well as an Aimpoint purchased new and an old one purchased used. If you are picky about clarity and sight picture, find a good used Aimpoint or suck it up and buy a new one. You will be glad you did in the long run. On the other hand, if those two things are not all that important to you, the kinock offs may be OK, but as Coronach posted, for SD I would buy an Aimpoint, or at least some other top notch sight.
If you are on a budget...
... the Vortex SPARC is a great buy.
... the Primary Arms Aimpoint clones are a good buy.
An other thing to consider is at most typical SD ranges, you are almost guaranteed hits on the BG without using sights at ALL. Do this practice drill: Hang up a standard man-sized silhouette target, step back 21 feet (7 yards - the MAXIMUM distance that HD encounters usually happen at), shoulder your AR, and blast away at the silhouette without even glancing at the sight. See how many hits you get. You will be surprised. At the 10 yards and below, you should be point shooting, not taking the time to line up the shot.
Its the same reason that a shotgun is so effective. People don't have the mentality of lining up the sights, instead they rely on point shooting. Spread at 7 yards is only a 2-3 inches, no where big enough to guarantee a hit without any aiming.
+1000000 on "don't buy cheap!"
I put a cheap red dot on my Sig Sauer 556. It died the first shot I took with it!
Learned my lesson at the range.
NOT a good thing to "learn" when you NEED to hit the "moment of bad guy."
Depends on what your goal is.
Is your goal to end up with a high-quality defensive RD on your rifle? If yes, you're off-base. $150 for an Aimpoint knock-off followed by $400 for an Aimpoint is $550. If you're saving up $25 per month for this goal, you'll reach it six months later of you detour into knockoff land.
OTOH, if you're willing to wait to buy the Aimpoint and you have a use for the cheap RD when you do finally get there (the better ones are perfectly good enough for plinkers), it's not necessarily a bad route to go, PROVIDED you are able to use your irons if the optic goes down in the interim.
And it's not just durability. It is also battery life. The cheapest Aimpoint has a battery life measured in thousands of hours. The same is NOT true of the rest of the bunch. If you pull out the gun in an emergency and the red dot is dead, it doesn't matter if it is dead because the dot fell apart or if it is because the battery died. One way or the other, the dot isn't working.
Yes, before you ask, I have pulled out a gun (not in an emergency) with a cheaper RD on it and found it dead. Happened three times (twice on the same dot/gun combo). So yes, it does happen.
So could the battery in an expensive one. If its properly co-witnessed with the irons there is no transition.
Darn, Wally beat me to it again!
Anyway I certainly agree, a 1/2" rail riser normally allows you to properly cowitness a cheap RDS with your iron sights (in my case a chopped milspec carry handle). If the dot fails you can still use the RDS as a ghost ring to get on target quick and if you have more time you can use the iron sights. Not a big problem at close range at all.
Of course it's best to have the best gear but in a pinch a cheap RDS will do. I have a real cheap Barska properly cowitnessed on my dedicated .22LR "AR" and can't see any need to upgrade. Now for more recoil in 5.56 it might not last. For that I'm waiting on a backordered Bushnell TRS-25 from the Cabela's $79 sale. I'm going to cut off another carry handle and expect it to cowitness with the YHM-9595 4x1/2" rail riser and TRS-25.
I've been struggling with the optics decision for a while, wanting to be cheap and stay within a reasonable budget...
However, I've made up my mind to follow the ABC purchase principle... Anywhere But China.
Therefore, I will save up for a RD optic made anywhere in the world, except a place that funds the chinese military.
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