Posted: 3/6/2009 6:40:02 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/6/2009 6:59:51 PM EDT by firedog55]
The Vortex StrikeFire red dot optic has been available now for about 6 months. Most users are happy with their purchases, and a few have complaints. Vortex has addressed most of the issues found in the first StrikeFire with this new version.
I acquired a sample of the new version for evaluation and review. The following impressions are mine only.
First of all the question needs to be asked, what is the StrikeFire designed to do? It's not direct competition for Aimpoint, Eotech, Trijicon or any other high end MilSpec optic. It's meant for civilian use, plinking, hunting and as a range toy. In this role it meets the designers objective very well. Anyone who expects a $179 MSRP ($149 @SWFA) optic to compete with a $400 plus optic has unreasonable expectations. Not everyone needs or can afford an Aimpoint, but for the user who wants a decent quality red dot optic at a fair price for his range AR this is a bargain.
Vortex has made the following improvements to the StrikeFire:
-Fit and finish on the rubber trim (the first version had a somewhat sloppy fit between the switch module and the optic body, with silicon glue leaking out around the edges)
-Flip up lens caps (the new versions caps are made of a more pliable rubber with a better seal)
-Switch location(power/color selector switch was moved to the side from the top for easier manipulation)
-New anti reflection internal lens coatings(claimed to increase optical clarity)
The StrikeFire arrived in this box with the following:
(1) 2X magnifier (doubler)
(2) Flip up lens covers
(1) Mounting ring, for picatinny or weaver base, (AR height or low height)
(1) CR2 lithium battery
(1) Lens cloth
(1) Torx wrench
(1) Manual, Warranty card
Features and Specification:
-Red/Green 4 MOA dot with 10 illumination settings
-100 MOA adjustment range for windage and elevation, 1/2 MOA clicks
-Night Vision setting (2 dot intensity levels)
-Lenses fully multi-coated
-Unlimited eye relief
-Parallax free beyond 50 yards
-1x (2X doubler)
-Water proof and fog proof (nitrogen purged)
-High resistance to recoil
-2000 hr. battery life with the Lithium CR2 (unit shuts off automatically after 1 hr.)
-Weight 7.2 oz
-Made in China
Notice the on/off, color switch location. Push it once for on, again to change color from red to green, and again for off. The switch needs to be pushed directly in the center to function, I found it hard to manipulate with gloves on.
Switch module on the left, battery housing on the right. A nice feature is the battery pictogram.
Windage/Elevation adjustment screws require a coin or screw driver. 1/2 moa clicks are audible and tactile. Finger adjustable would be preferable.
The coating on the objective lens is very reflective and mirror like. This will definitely give away your position while trying to sneak up on that wily beer can.
Size comparison between the Vortex AR height mount, that gives a lower 1/3 co-witness, and the low mount. Both mounts use Torx screws which I like better than standard hex or slotted screw heads.
AR mount/BUIS co-witness, lower third
Some of the optics I compared the StrikeFire to, from the top down, an old Adco red/green dot, MFI QRS (same price point, although no longer available), and an Aimpoint CompM. Not pictured but also compared was an Aimpoint M3.
The Adco unit is also a red/green combo, powered by a CR2032. The dot appears brighter than the Vortex, but battery run time is much shorter, about 120 hrs. The field of view is also narrower.
The MFI QRS (quick reaction sight) is the closest comparison with the Strikefire. Dot size and sharpness are the same, although it's a red dot only. The MFI mount is a cantilever type with a thumb screw which I prefer. It's to bad this optic is no longer available, as it is a good Aimpoint clone. Also Chinese made.
Both Aimpoints offer better glass clarity, durability, and battery life. About what you'd expect as they cost 3-4x the StrikeFire.
The switch module buttons are arranged with the dot intensity control button on top to increase brightness, on the bottom to decrease brightness, and the middle button controls the NV function.
Notice the darkness of the lens coating in this picture with the sky in the background.
The only real complaint I have about the StrikeFire is the lens coatings don't allow for good light transmission through the optic. Vortex claims they have improved the lens coatings, but I can't tell any difference between the old and new version in this area.
Red Dot, max intensity, mounted on a XCR.
The dot appears much brighter in person. My poor photography skills are to blame here, although this picture accurately shows the darkness of the sight picture against the white back ground.
Green Dot, max intensity, mounted on a Benelli Super Nova Tactical
Once again my photo skills suck.
I wasn't very impressed with the doubler attached to the StrikeFire, it decreased the field view and eye relief, requiring you to use one eye. I felt like I was looking through a straw.
I mounted the StrikeFire in an MFI mount which I much prefer. It makes more rail space available, and has a wing nut type thumb screw which allows for tool less removal.
At this point I mounted the StrikeFire on several different weapons with 3 different mounts to check for usability. The unit was laser bore sighted on each weapon and fired for function.
AR15 with Vortex AR mount.
With MFI cantilever mount.
Vortex AR mount.
This is a pretty good set up. Probably the type rifle most guys will mount this optic on. The Vortex mount provides for a lower third co-witness. Eye relief is unlimited, and optic height allows for a good cheek weld.
Robinson XCR / Vortex AR mount.
This set up provides a co-witness with AR type BUIS, but the cheek weld is poor due to the height of the sights and the mount. Also note that the XCR has plenty of rail space due to it's full length rail.
XCR with Vortex low mount.
This combination is usable with a tight cheek weld. There are no buis that I know of that will work with this set up.
Notice how close to the rail the optic is when mounted on the XCR in the vortex low mount.
Sig556/Vortex AR mount
This set up is the same as the XCR, all the XCR comments apply to the 556 as well.
V93/Vortex low mount/ on a MFI rail.
Good cheek weld, once again the front sight is in the sight picture.
KTR 03V/low mount.
Once again same story as the other weapons using the low mount.
I really like this combination. This is the weapon that I'm leaving the StrikeFire on. The cheek weld is good, and the optic held zero while shooting 3.5" 00 buck loads (although my shoulder didn't). 2.75" 00 buck tactical loads are a breeze, my wife has no problem with this combination as this is her home defense weapon. The lack of optical clarity is not as much of a problem with a short range weapon.
In conclusion I think the StrikeFire is a good deal for the price. It never lost zero, was easy to mount and sight in, and the dot never flickered or lost brightness. Do I want my son to use it in Afghanistan? No, that's why the 82nd gave him an M68 CCO. But for the average recreational shooter it's fine. I have enough confidence in it to leave it on our home defense shotgun.
The 2X doubler didn't impress me much, although I can see it's value for some purchasers. I'd rather see Vortex dump the doubler and put the money into better glass.
Everyone knows that if you want really clear glass you have to spend the big $$$. IMHO
Posted: 3/6/2009 7:49:47 PM EDT
Nice post. Your impressions matched mine when I stopped by Eagle Optics/Vortex a few months ago.
One thing I would emphasize is that the optic is waterproof but not submersible. Dunk it and it would most likely have issues. For the money on a say a turkey gun or short range shotgun the way you liked it the best, appears to be great use.
I also like the Nikon VSD as well.
Thanks for the unbias write-up.
Posted: 3/6/2009 11:21:28 PM EDT
i just received mine in the mail yesterday for my s&w m&p 15 overall it seems pretty good and sturdy
not all that bright in outdoor sun conditions
battery compartment and cover seems kinda cheapo and reminds me of an engraver i got at the dollar store
i removed flip up covers because they are a pain to fasten and make it feel and look cheap i will just use something else to cover lenses
haven't fired with it yet but so far i am satisfied and i actually kind of like the doubler, ill get back after i test it out
Posted: 3/13/2009 5:24:31 PM EDT
You really like the doubler? Why?
Posted: 3/14/2009 4:07:17 AM EDT
Thanks Firedog. Excellent write up. I have a few questions about the switch.
When the unit it turned on is there a default brightness setting or does it return to the last used setting?
Does the one hour shut off extend with manupulation of the brightness level or do you have to turn it off and back on to ensure it doesn't turn off right when you finally sneak up on a sounder of hogs?
Posted: 3/22/2009 11:28:56 AM EDT
When the unit is turned on it defaults to the last brightness setting level selected. I don't know the answer to your question about the one hour automatic shutoff. Call Vortex, they would know.