Showdown: Low power Variable Optics vs. pink Dots With Magnifiers

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VUDU 1-8X24mm (image courtesy JWT for

EOTech Vudu 1-8x24mm SFP LPVO (JWT for TTAG)

by way of Dave Merrill

[Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in RECOIL #51 and is reprinted here with permission.]

currently, low-power variable optics dominate the CQB optic market, however magnifiers for red-dot sights have graced many a rifle for more than 15 years. To be reasonable, the recognition of magnifiers has waned, however we’re beginning to see more of them on rifles once more.

The intention of this article is to provide you with a transparent professional/con of each and every setup so you can make the decision of what’s most suitable on your wants. remember that considering that we’re discussing these items in normal and never each and every and every SKU accessible, there’ll be some outliers. So if anything doesn’t follow to your favorite pet LPVO or RDS, that’s 100-p.c A-adequate. consider about every use case, and evaluate and distinction together with your own predicted makes use of.

Eye reduction / Off-attitude Viewing


Eye aid varies tremendously amongst LPVOs depending on brand and mannequin, but the eye box in any of them is smaller than that of essentially the most simple RDS. while on the bench or flat latitude it may possibly not seem to be an issue, when you birth getting bizarre and shooting from unconventional positions, the want for eye relief truly rears its head. The maximum viewing attitude of a RDS is consistently bigger simply because of the design of the scope physique itself. The greater the window and shorter the physique, the more desirable the optimum off-axis viewing perspective.

Of course, this handiest applies whereas a RDS doesn’t have a magnifier at the back of it. once you add a magnifier, you’ll run into similar considerations as with LVPOs. but, when both are used at 1x vigor, the change is evident. There are many ways around this with an LPVO, specifically the usage of a piggybacked MRDS or offset irons, at the cost of extra gear hanging on your rifle.



Most modern LPVOs use a standard watch battery for reticle illumination. When an LPVO battery dies, it’s very stressful, however the optic still works high-quality considering that the etched or wire reticle remains. With most RDS, a completely lifeless battery skill a lifeless optic. we say most as a result of there are some older designs that use self-powering tritium or fiber optics to light their reticle. however modern RDS largely rely on a battery-powered LED or laser to mission their reticle. We’ve yet to see an LPVO with the battery lifetime of an Aimpoint Comp M4, although, but auxiliary reticle illumination isn’t imperative for the optic’s fundamental functionality.

daytime Brightness

WINNER: RDS + magazine

while every person’s eyes are diverse, the look for “daylight vivid” LPVOs is coming to an conclusion, nonetheless it nonetheless is still an issue. while an LPVO works without illumination, at lessen magnification settings, a bright reticle brings a significant speed skills, peculiarly on aims without high distinction. second focal plane LPVOs with fastened reticles have an easier time in this recognize compared to first focal aircraft scopes with reticles that trade measurement based on the optic’s magnification degree, but even a $50 RDS beats the pants off of anything else but the most high priced LPVO.

Passive NVG Use


Passive evening vision skill using a viewer that doesn’t assignment lasers or illuminators for aiming or shot spotting. The advent of good value IR cameras and nighttime vision contraptions marked a new chapter of evening fighting. At one time, troopers handiest involved about close-peer forces matching their hour of darkness combat capabilities. however these days, anybody with a $25 mobile phone with the IR filter eliminated can see the place an IR laser is coming from.

as a consequence, we’ve viewed many strategies shift towards the use of passive night vision gadgets. A RDS with a night vision mode is more straightforward to view while donning NODs than an LPVO, and the equal optimum viewing perspective boundaries additionally observe. extra, it’s infrequent to see an LPVO with an evening imaginative and prescient setting, so the use of one dangers critical bloom in your tubes, even at decrease brightness settings.



The clear winner in this class is the LPVO effortlessly as a result of a wire or etched reticle can be made infinitely extra complex than an LED-reflected or hologram-projected purple-dot sight. Some groups like EOtech made some models with bullet drop compensating reticles constructed-in, but they’re tough-coded for a narrow latitude of rifle and ammunition combinations … and the aiming point seems like a big mess devoid of the magnifier at 1x.

moreover, some individuals, specifically with astigmatism, will see smearing or artifacts in an RDS’ reticle, making them much less actual than LPVO etchings. Many will locate magnifiers help mitigate this. also, besides the fact that you don’t have a Christmas Tree Tremor3 reticle, LPVOs usually have toolless windage and elevation adjustments allowing one to dial on the fly, if want be.



The LPVO wins the ranging battle for a similar cause it cleanly rules the precision category: the reticle design. both MIL and MOA reticles can effortlessly latitude objects of widely used sizes, along with a bit math, but ranging becomes an awful lot tougher with a purple dot. The EOtech and identical reticles have a bit of of an area right here compared to a plain dot because the 65MOA circle within the reticle can also be used as a rudimentary ranging device to calculate distance and holdovers, but it surely can’t offer the precision that a committed LPVO ranging reticle is in a position to.



both the LPVO and RDS + magazine have superb features in their favor related to pace. The average talents is that at 1x a RDS has the edge, however three-gun shooters have with no trouble tested that with practising there’s no large difference between the two when it comes to shots on target unless you’re in a circumstance the place you cannot achieve a good cheekweld.

in terms of velocity of changing magnification, engaging a modern magnifier in a flip mount, such because the EOtech G43 and G45, takes simplest a smack and a split 2d. Even with a cattail installed on an LPVO, the character of gas-purged optics makes them slower to rotate and modify.



LPVOs have the edge on the bigger ends of magnification, notwithstanding it’s less big for older 1-4x or more recent 1-6x LPVOs. At 6x-and-beneath you’ll typically dial your magnification all of the means up or all of the means down, but at 8x and above, you might also find yourself the use of mid-energy stages; twist a little for target identification and ranging and then back down, if favored or required.

can charge

WINNER: RDS + magazine

The middle market of optics has come a long means in the ultimate five years, however you nonetheless come to be paying significantly more for a one of the best LPVO when compared to a RDS and magnifier. And that can charge cuts in much more ways. With an LPVO in addition to a mount for the optic itself, you need to eat all of that cost unexpectedly to be able to have anything usable. A RDS may also be bought separately than a magnifier, and they both customarily come with mounts. supplied they’ve the equal top mounts, a given RDS or magnifier has go-company compatibility and both or both can also be up-to-date at your amusement.


WINNER: RDS + magazine

regardless of what advertising departments will tell you, there’s no such element as a parallax-free optic — it’s just that with a RDS, parallax is always too small to make tons of a difference in lots of cases. Variable vigor optics usually gained’t have a parallax adjustment or a so-known as “aspect focal point” knob except they’re above 10x, because the effect exacerbates with magnification. As Alex Hartmann discusses here, taller mounts on an LPVO may cause greater shooter-prompted parallax.


WINNER: RDS + magazine

Even good value red dots are more and more durable. Hell, we set a Vortex Sparc II on fire in RECOIL difficulty 19, and it nevertheless labored. The variety of glass aspects that deserve to be held in location in an LPVO makes it inherently less long lasting, but groups have made big strides in recent years with new materials. Some have even been experimenting with things like artificial polymer lenses and optic our bodies product of unique substances. because the U.S. defense force more and more implements the use of LPVOs, it’s inevitable they’ll bridge the hole.



while anything else lower than a COMBLOC RDS will definitely weigh below an LPVO, when you add on a magnifier and mount you start to see diminishing returns. each new technology of LPVO appears to weigh lower than the closing, but we haven’t seen a generational discount in weight in RDS magnifiers.

unfastened Rounds

If we easily evaluate the number of wins for each class, you may get the impression we’re larger fanatics of the RDS + magnifier than the LPVO. but that’s no longer the case; each are stunning tools when used appropriately. The LPVO allows for engagement at improved distances with more desirable precision, whereas the RDS is better for close range, humorous angles, and NVG use. As manufacturing know-how raises, gaps between these methods will continue to lower — and that’s an excellent thing.

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