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Vortex Red Dot Sight Guide

The world of red dot sights continues to grow more and more diverse, with more players on the field and more names to sift through. A long time has passed since the days where the list of acceptable non-magnified optics was short enough to count on two hands, and even though the base technology hasn't changed, what comes along with it continues to expand. Vortex red dot sights are one example of this, where small shifts here and there have come together to produce a diverse line-up of capable optics, each directed towards a specific objective. From MRDS choices for a handgun, to night-vision capable dots built for extreme conditions, Vortex Optics goes the distance with their products and beyond with outstanding respect for their customers.

vortex optics mrds

Sparc Solar

The Vortex Sparc Solar debuted early 2021, and improved on previous designs to produce a compact, rugged, and lightweight red dot sight that has nearly 2 decades in battery life. This Vortex Red Dot utilizes solar technology, automatic shutoff, and motion activation to accomplish this. A cleaner profile and deeper tucked emitter obscure less of the shooter's vision, and it ships with two different mounts: one at lower 1/3 co-witness for AR-15's and another option that suite euro-style pistol caliber carbines. The mount pattern is compatible with the Unity Fast riser.

vortex sparc solar angles vortex red dot
Vortex Sparc Solar shown with the short base.

The Night Vision settings produce a crisp and clean dot with little bloom, but with only 2 levels it can wash out in brighter situations. The brightness is adjusted via side buttons, with the NV options at the bottom of the scale. The switch from IR to daylight bright must be deliberate.

Refinement aside, the Sparc Solar pairs well with the Vortex Micro 3x Magnifier on a carbine, and can be used for hunting, competition, and a home defense gun. On a scale of Elmer Fudd to super-secret Black Ops Operator, this Vortex red dot punches higher than its cost.

Vortex Sparc Solar
Dot Size: 2 MOA
Brightness Levels: 12 Daylight, 2 Night Vision
Length: 2.6 inches
Weight: 3.8 ounces
Lens Diameter: 22mm
Approximate Battery Life: 150,000 + hours (At Brightness level 6)
Battery: CR2032
MSRP: $400


AMG HU-1 Gen II

While technically a holographic sight, the second generation of the “Huey” deserves a special mention. On the outside, the difference between a reflex sight and holographic sight are rather small: the shooter looks through a lens and see a reticle. On the inside, however, the technology is quite different.

vortex amg uh-1 gen ii vortex red dot

The AMG UH-1 Gen II is completely self-contained, with an integral quick detach mounting system as well as height and windage adjustments that can (albeit difficultly) be adjusted by hand. The rather spacious sight box obscures less of the shooter's vision from the top and sides, as all components comprise the base. the reticle, a modified dot-and-circle includes a built-in height-over-bore reference point for closer engagements, and has four night-vision brightness levels.

Where the Huey shows its advantage over other Vortex red dot sights is in the little details. The reticle brings more to the table than a single dot, and the holographic technology translates into no glass tint. The durability of the Huey is only enhanced by Vortex's Warranty, so if anything should ever go wrong, there's something to back it up. The battery life on the AMG UH-1 Gen II has improved from the first-gen, but still doesn't compare with the literal years a Sparc Solar can run. The Huey is for active users who maintain their gear, and is tuned for aggression.

vortex amg uh-1 gen ii holographic sight

Vortex AMG UH-1 Gen II
Dot and Ring Size: 1 MOA Dot with 65 MOA Ring
Brightness Levels: 15 Daylight, 4 Night Vision
Length: 3.9 inches
Weight: 11 ounces
Approximate Battery Life: Estimated 1500 hours
Battery: CR123
MSRP: $800

Here's a look at the AMG UH-1 Gen 1.


Spitfire AR

Another “technically not a Vortex red dot” to consider, the Spitfire AR meets the needs of more than just those with astigmatism. For some, a reflex sight's dot will have an unusual bloom to it, caused by the viewer's eyes. Because the reticle of a prism scope is etched into a lense, and illumination by bouncing light off that, this phenomena does not occur.

vortex spitfire ar vortex red dot prism

Prism Sights have their own advantages as well. The etching of the reticle cannot run out of batteries, as the black reticle will remain visible in daylight hours. The illumination toggles between red or green, for different environments or preferences. As 1x scope, the rather forgiving eye relief makes the optic feel more like a reflex sight, and the use of lenses creates an optical illusion that “disappears” much of the housing body.

When handling a scope that is functioning like a red dot sight, we engage in a give-and-take. The fixed height of the Spitfire AR is set at the standard lower 1/3 co-witness, and requires an additional riser to follow the current trend of taller optics mounts. Much of this is driven by the increased interest in Night Vision, and while Spitfire AR's lens does not distort what is seen through NVG's, the illumination must be on, even at the lowest setting, which does produce some light of its own. Being a scope itself, this optic is incompatible with a 3x flip-to-side magnifier.

vortex spitfire ar prism

Vortex Spitfire AR
Dot and Ring Size: 3 MOA Dot, 44 MOA Inner Ring, 140 MOA Outer Ring
Brightness Levels: 10 Daylight
Length: 4.3 inches
Weight: 11.2 ounces
Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
Approximate Battery Life: Up to 250 Hours at Brightest Setting, Up to 3,000 Hours at Lowest Setting
Battery: AAA
MSRP: $350


Viper Red Dot

As it stands, red dot sights have been riding on the slides of handguns long enough to influence their design. The Vortex Viper is distinctly built for this purpose, as the MRDS and ensuing dot ride lower, closer to the bore axis, taking up less of the shooter's sight picture. This shape gives the Viper a taller window without increasing the overall height of the optic. In order to accomplish this, it must be removed to replace the battery, but this isn't anything new for red dot sights.

vortex viper red dot vortex red dot sight mrds

In the lineup or Vortex red dot sights, this one represents a “duty” style the most, although the differences are rather slim. It can be mounted on Picatinny rails, but leans towards a handgun in shape and format. In comparison to a Trijicon RMR, the window on the Viper is larger, the tint: less noticeable, and the displacement of the RMR more distinct.

The larger window and thinner shroud exchange some durability for optical performance. Lacking an additional sacrificial layer, what you see is what you get, and that's the point. The Viper has sturdier sidewalls than the Vortex Venom, and will take a beating for longer. In the event something goes wrong, the attached unconditional Warranty resides in the background. The Viper is night vision compatible and has locking set screws to secure windage and elevation adjustments.

vortex viper mrds

Vortex Viper Red Dot
Dot Size: 6 MOA
Brightness Levels: 10 Daylight
Length: 1.8 inches
Weight: 1.1 ounce optic + 1 ounce mount
Approximate Battery Life: Up to 150 Hours at Brightest Setting, Up to 30,000 Hours at Lower Settings
Battery: CR2032
MSRP: $350


Venom Red Dot

This vortex red dot sight differs from the others in the type of battery used, how it is loaded into the optic, and it features a light-adaptive mode. In flavors, the Venom smacks of competitive handguns with a wider field of view. If used as an offset or piggyback red dot paired with an LPVO or other scope, the Venom has a top-loading tray, so its zero is retained when changing batteries.

vortex venom red dot sight vortex red dot

Just short of built-in backup irons, two white lines represent a rear sight on the back of the Venom. Capable of putting out enough light to paint a bright dot on a white target in broad daylight, if the user holds down the “up” arrow for a few seconds, it will flash three times, engaging an automatic brightness setting. The dot itself will adjust to its environment, and can be shut off by holding the “down” arrow. This is increasingly helpful on a tactical rifle and can serve competition shooters by taking one more thing off their mind.

vortex venom Mrds

Vortex Venom Red Dot
Dot Size: 3 MOA or 6 MOA Models
Brightness Levels: 10 Manual with an Engageable Automatic Mode
Length: 1.9 inches
Weight: 1.1 ounce optic + .5 ounce mount
Approximate Battery Life: Up to 150 Hours at Brightest Setting, Up to 30,000 Hours at Lower Settings
Battery: CR1632
MSRP: $350


Razor Red Dot

This final Vortex red dot is the cream of the crop in regards to their MRDS options. Premium glass keeps distortion down, and a side-loading battery tray allows for replacement without having to remove the sight. With the widest field of view, and a robust housing, it brings a bit more refinement to the table with tactile clicking windage and elevation adjustments.

vortex razor red dot sight votex red dot sight mrds

Out of the box, the Razor is configured for a carbine or similar firearm, but mounts are available for various handguns to mount into the read dovetail. For optics-cut slides, the Razor follows the C-More footprint, which the Glock 19 M.O.S. Gen 5 includes a floorplate for.

At its lowest setting the Razor Red Dot functions in low light scenarios, but produces too much of bloom when seen while wearing Night Vision. Instead, its rugged construction belongs on PCC's, shotguns, and would complement an AK very well. With the highest asking price of Vortex's three MRDS optics, it delivers in daytime crisp glass, solid construction, and creature comforts, without trying to be the jack of all possible trades.

vortex razor mrds

Vortex Razor Red Dot
Dot Size: 3 MOA, 6 MOA
Brightness Levels: 9 Daylight
Length: 1.83 inches
Weight: 1.3 ounce optic + 1.2 ounce Picatinny mount
Approximate Battery Life: Up to 150 Hours at Brightest Setting, Up to 30,000 Hours at Lower Settings
Battery: CR2032
MSRP: $500


Vortex Optics can be found at: vortexoptics.com


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