Anybody have any experience with the red dot from BSA. Only thirty bucks just wondering if it is any good?
Hell I just repost my review, as it's currently in the Archive:
As part of TNRonin's thread about reviews of 'Budget Optics' for those looking for something for fun use only. (Sorry about the spelling errors - I wrote this online in the wee hours with no spell checker).
Optic: BSA RD-30
Weight: 5 oz
Dot Size: 5moa, red with 11 illumination levels
Click Adjustments: 1" @ 100y
Color: Matte Black
Batteries: one CR2032 3v Lithium 'button type' battery
Price Paid: $29.95 + tax (@ Walmart)
Mount: Built in Weaver rail mount with two non-captive thumb screws
Accessories: 2 friction fit lens covers.
Optic as mounted on the test rifle - note the TAPCO mount needed to raise the sight so the iron sights would not block most of the view.
Targets Used: Thompson Targets "Yellow Jacket". Each sheet has 5 yellow 'bulls-eyes' of 4" diameter, with an inner 10 ring 1" in diameter. Targets were set up 50 yards from the firing line.
Test Rifle: A Bushmaster with a 20" A2 profile barrel 1:9 twist. Flattop upper with Fobus M44 handguards, C1 stock, ergo pistol grip, Armalite 2 stage match trigger. I also used a $15 TAPCO 1/2" riser mount (2 thumbscrews) to raise the optic so it would co-witness in the lower 25% of the display.
Total Rounds fired for first day of test: 237 ( 20 PMC 55gr .223, 20 45gr Winchester .223, 197 Winchester Q3131A). All 'testing' was done with Q3131A, other rounds were used for plinking or for other people 'trying out' the optic.
Initial Impression: The sight looked good - no tool marks and the paint job had no chips or drips. It looked like a higher quality unit than it's price would leave you to believe. The dot was a perfect circle (no distortion) if it wasn't set too bright. However, if you moved your head around occasionally you would see reddish 'flashes' near the edge of the lens. In a dim room I could see the dot when I was on the muzzle end looking straight into the optic (not good tactically ). While the adjustment covers were aluminum, the battery cover was plastic (with a 'coin slot' to help you unscrew it - as well as serrations on the edge).
Summary: Do NOT trust you life to this optic. This is an inexpensive red dot type optic with performance better than expected for the price paid. There is a slight 'blue' tint when looking through the optic, but it does not distort colors; greens and blues are recognizable. It holds it's zero 'well enough' but there is some drift (especially when hit). It will take several small shocks with minimal loss of zero and damage to the unit. It will not operate in freezing cold tempertures. The sight is not waterproof, and I suspect its not very water resistant either (see testing for details). The zero did occasionally (every 60 rounds or so) drift a click right/down or both).
Testing: Sight was turned on to setting 11 (max) at 12:37 01 August 2004 for battery testing - at 00:18 02 Aug it is still on. Sight will be run till the battery is dead. Sight was set to 11 as it was the only setting that I would use outdoors. Even then it could be dim when shooting against a light background in the full sunlight. Rifle was fired from the 'bench position' to minimize shooter error, support hand was on the magazine/magazine well to minimize interaction with the barrel.
Right side of optic as mounted.
Individual tests are outlined below, these tests included:
'Cold to Hot/Humid Test' - how does the optic handle going from cool to hot/humid envirnment.
'Box Test' - Test the consistancy of the adjustments.
'Parallax Test' - Test for parallax error, what happens when the dot isn't near the center?
'Drop Test' - Will the optic hold up to a few 'knocks'?
'Removal Test' - Test to see if the optic will hold zero if removed.
'Freezing Test' - How does tempertures below 32 effect the sight?
'Battery Test' - How long will the battery power the sight (at setting 11 - the max).
Cool to Hot/Humid Test
For this I just kept the optic in a cool (70deg F) environment (home then car) till I got to the range. The range was 86deg F with 89% Humidity (BTW that is 114def F for the 'Heat Index'). Once removed the optic nearly immediatly was covered in condensation. It wiped off and there was no leakage/fogging of the optic.
After zeroing the optic at 50y, I found the sight adjustments to the site are discrete and have disticitive 'clicks'; each click moving the bullet roughly 1" at 100y. I then proceded to the 'box test' as outlined by Dave.
I set up a 8.5x11 sheet of paper (landscape orientation) with a target in the lower corner. (each square is 1"x1"). I fired a group of 3 rounds (each round in Group 1 are marked). I then went 10 clicks 'up' and fired another group of 3 rounds. I then move 10 clicks left (group 3) and fired 3 rounds. The sight was then adjusted 10 clicks down and another group of 3 was shot (group 4). The sight was then adjusted right 10 clicks which should bring the group back to the original position.
As you can see by the photo below the 5th and final group was shifted a bit right (about 1/2") but basically on target.
My next test was to check to see if the optic would still be on target even if the dot was near the edge of the lens.
This test was fired with 5 groups. First group (1) was fired with the dot at/near the middle to verify zero. Then the dot was move to the top of the lens (while staying on target) and a group of 3 was fired (group 2). I noted at this point that right near the edge of the lens there is optical distortion - I tried keeping the dot on the edge of this distortion ring. I then moved the dot to the bottom of the optic and fired 3 more rounds (group 3). The dot was then moved to the right for a group of 3 (group 4), and finally to the extream left (group 5).
After group 5 I noted the rear thumbscrew on the TAPCO mount had come loose. (which could explain why the 3rd shot of group 5 was on the edge of the paper - off the photo).
I did reshoot the test with one round at each position (after tightening the TAPCO mount), and instead of at the edge I put the dot halfway between the middle and the edge. (see the target in the upper left corner of the next tests - the rounds not circled were part of the 'half parallax test').
The parallax testing showed there was some issue with parallax with the dots near the edge of the scope - enough to miss a soda can at 50 yards, but good enough for shooting vegetables (guess what we were plinking at when I was not testing). The closer the dot was to the center - the more precise the shots were.
Status: Inconclusive. Between the corruption due to loose TAPCO mount, and the lack of a 'standard' I can claim pass/fail. For a 'good' optic (Aimpoint/EOTech) this test would be 'fail' - but if you're just plinking balloons or large fruit/vegetables the loss in precision wouldn't be noticed.
This was my favorite . I wanted to see how the optic would do if it was subjected to some shock. First I zeroed the optic, then with the optic mounted (on the empty rifle) I held the rifle 24" over a wooden table and dropped it 3 times. The first time the rifle landed on it's side, the next two times the 'system' landed first on the windage adjustment protrusion. I did not have the covers on the adjustments.
On the third test the optic *exploded*. The ring with the markings for windage (tick marks and direction arrow) poped off, the battery cover (which is screwed on) popped off, and the battery flew out. I put the sight back together - and checked the view - the dot was still there!
I then fired a 3 round group at a target (see test results below - the zero prior to the drop test and the test results are in RED) The elevation was not effected - but the rounds shifted 1.5" to the left (in the direction of the impact). Good enough to still hit an apple at 50 yards.
Status: Passed (for a $30 optic), to fail the shift would have to be 2" or more or the sight become non-functional.
This was an easy one. First I had to zero the optic after the 'Drop Test'. Then I removed the optic, reinstalled it (push the optic foward when it's on the rail) and tightened down on the thumbnut.
I always tightened hand tight - then used a coin or other tool to tighten it another 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn (like an EOTech).
I only had enough Q3131 to run this test twice (I fired 4 rounds for the first group as I called one flyer [its just off the target]) - I only had 1 round for the 3rd group (and it's marked). Surprisingly the mount held zero when placed and tightened consistantly. I detected no movement of the zero. (though groups were getting big - my attention was waning).
Status: Passed groups stayed fairly well centered in this limited test. I would expect these results from a stock EOTech mount.
I thought it would be a good idea to check to see how the sight reacts to freezing - particularly if you came from a warm/moist environment (think warm home with a humidfier - as in the winter in our colder states). Upon returning home I popped the RD-30 into my freezer (about 25degF) for just over an hour.
When I removed the sight it had a coating of frost all over it and I could not see the dot.
I then warmed up a spot on the lens (with my thumb) to look inside the unit - I still could not see the dot. After 3 minutes back outside the frost had melted to water (condensation) and the unit was still off. I wiped off the lenses and waited another couple of minutes (driving to the MD AR15.com diner in my air conditioned Jeep). When the sight had warmed up a bit more (and I dryed off the lenses) I could see the dot had returned! However, there was a small bit of fogging in the middle of the lens (about 5mm across), After a few more minutes of warming that bit of fogging had also disappeared.
I showed it to fellow AR15commers at the dinner and they all noted the picture was clear and no fog was present. One had noted he uses the same optic on his 'Group Purchase' .458 SOCOM upper and it's held up with no problems.
Status: Failed - this optic can not be used in cold environments - and the fact that some fog had gotten into the sight indicated it is NOT waterpoof (also note there were not o-ring seals on the covers for the adjustments). This optic can be used in 'nice' envirnments with little to no issues - but when the temp drops pull it off and use the irons.
As indicated I turned on the unit at 12:37 yesterday, and I set it to '11' (the maximum setting). I chose this setting since it was the only one that was 'usable' outside in bright sunlight. I kept the sight powered (well until the freezer test shut it down for a bit) to see how long the battery would last.
At 02:38 last night (02 Aug) I went to bed with the dot still bright, I wake up and chech the optic this morning at 10:00 and I've noticed it's dimmed considerably. It's an overcast day today and outside the dot looks very dim (you don't pick it up quickly) and its not even visible on setting 10. Inside (building with no windows and only florescent lighting) the dot looks 'bright enough' and it's visible (barely) down to setting 4. Also note while checking the settings indoors (at 10:30) teh battery cover popped off (its a screw on plastic top with fine threads). I quickly replaced it and the sight is operating now on my desk.
Status: Failed I would have expected to get more than 24 hours from the sight at it's highest setting. Instead life at the brightest setting is greater than 14 hours and less than 22 hours. Basically it can handle 1 to 2 good outdoor range days. While still usable on indoor ranges, unless you plan on using it on your .22LR or 9mm upper it's battery life is disappointingly short.
Whoops it looks like the photos didn't copy over. If you are a Team member and want to read the original (with thread all the follow up commnets) then check out the archived thread:
Note Thread# 196505
Thanks for reposting your test, very valuable information. I use a Tasco 40mm on my Ruger 22/45 handgun and really like it and was thinking of getting something similar in price and size for my AR.
I recently bought a $150 SPOT from Grant for my son's AR. To tell the truth I like it a WHOLE lot better than the $40 BSA if you go shooting more than a couple times a year.
1) The SPOT is brighter.
2) The SPOT mount puts the sight in the proper place for an AR-15; also it's capable of using standard 30mm mounts (QRP, LaRue, or ARMS).
3) The SPOT's battery cap isn't plastic and won't pop out when you drop it. (BTW I did the SPOT drop test from 3.5' onto concrete accidentally and it didn't hurt anything).
4) I like the control location for the SPOT better.
I would much rather use iron sights. I don't buy cheap kit, because in the past everytime I have done that I ended up buying better stuff when something broke or I found out how big a difference the better it made.
I found that after about 50 rounds through my M4gery, the BSA's dot started fading out under recoil after each shot. It would disappear completely, then fade back in after about five seconds. It went back on my 10/22, where it has performed well, and I bought a EoTech 512 for my AR.