In a rare misstep, Vortex completely misses the mark on the Crossfire. An otherwise great sight is ruined by the fact that a lot of them have manufacturing defects. Money is best spent elsewhere - other Vortex offerings in the same price range offer the same Vortex build quality and warranty while not being as prone to being poorly made.
The Crossfire is a very compact and versatile red dot that can work for any weapon, but perhaps works best on pistols and handguns.
Size (LxWxH in mm)
Submersible, but don't try your luck
Up to 7,000 hours on max brightness
Lens Cover Type
$200 or less
What’s the opposite of “a stopped clock is right twice a day”? I’ve been searching for the answer to that for a while. Perhaps we can just call it “Vortex”. This scope exemplifies that sort of thing pretty perfectly, after all. The Vortex Crossfire is, in and of itself, a pretty solid sight, and this is in line with Vortex’s general trend of creating high-quality optics at affordable prices. But the lack of quality control on the original Crossfire sight, since discontinued, is the real killer for this sight’s potential. How about another idiom - “a few bad apples ruins the whole bunch.”
But I don’t want to condemn this sight unfairly, so let’s do a thorough review of it as we should. If you had your hands on a Crossfire, you’d notice that the glass is fairly high quality, just as one is able to expect from Vortex. It really does seem like it came from a more expensive sight than it is. The optics are bright and clear and you can see quite a lot for how small it is. However, don’t be confused; the Crossfire is a small sight, and the field of view is fairly narrow.
Let’s say you power it on. This is where a lot of people tend to start having more problems and where the quality control at Vortex really started to fall short. Some of these sights - not all, but a significant number - have a problem where the first several brightness settings are very dim, virtually undetectable. You may have to be as high as the sixth brightness setting before you see anything. This is where it’s really worth saying that if your Crossfire doesn’t have this problem, then you just got a fairly great deal. There is a slight problem where at higher brightness settings, the dot starts to starburst a little and lose a bit of crispness, but if you’re one of the lucky ones to get the Crossfire as intended, then you’ll be met with a very bright red dot at any setting. On the highest settings, the battery life of the Crossfire could be better, but changing out the batteries when you need to isn’t too big of as hassle - just be sure that you’re carrying extras on you when the moment calls for it. I do feel like it’s worth mentioning that for all of the problems mentioned so far, the Vortex Crossfire is very accurate, and you’ll have extremely tight grouping with a fairly steady shot.
The adjustments on the sight are fairly nice, as well. Nothing too special, but they do their job effectively. The brightness dial leaves a bit to desired, as you can’t go backwards on it. If you want to go to a bright setting, you have to go through all the dim settings first before you get there. Again, not a fatal flaw but certainly a little annoying.
The overall build quality is pretty much what you may have come to expect from Vortex products if you’re even remotely familiar with their work. It’s lightweight and compact, and will work on a variety of weapons thanks to this. However, it’s also durable and built to last, and it’s far sturdier than you may expect any sight at its price range to be.
Quality of life with this sight is alright. The lens covers that come with it aren’t attached, which means you’re at risk of losing them. Since other sights in the same price range have attached lens covers, one has to ask whether it would have really cost that much to just give the Crossfire flip-up covers so that it’s on the same page as the rest of the competition. It does come with two different mounting height options, which gives you the option to cowitness - and it does cowitness really well. It should generally come with everything you need, including a battery.
Installing the Crossfire is pretty easy, and sighting it in afterward is a breeze. Once zeroed, it should hold zero for hundreds of rounds easily, but some say that after 500 to 700 rounds the dot may start to wander. Still, an easy fix and not a huge problem. The usual Vortex promise of fogproof, shockproof, waterproof holds true here, meaning you can bump this thing around and not worry too much about it losing zero or getting scuffed up. With that said, when a mount is this light, it does make you hope that the sight’s mounting feels secure. That’s a desire that the Crossfire’s mounting doesn’t really meet.
All in all, though, it’s an extraordinarily well priced red dot sight, coming in at $149 or even less depending on where you get it. Considering the competition, this isn’t a terrible investment, especially when you take into account the fact that your $149 also nets you the famous Vortex customer service and warranty offering. The Vortex warranty is a fully transferable lifetime warranty that covers any and all damage or defect to the sight, with a no-questions-asked repair-or-replace promise. Combine this with Vortex’s broad staff of friendly faces and your investment in this sight more than pays off for you.
Although cheap, I’ve got to say that all in all, this red dot is a little underwhelming, especially as a Vortex offering. Vortex normally offers very high quality products, so when one clearly lacks the quality assurance that it deserves, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Even though the sight is fantastic when it’s in fully working order, I’ve got to say that just because of the risk of getting one of the bad ones, it doesn’t make sense to spend your money on the Crossfire - especially when there are other Vortex offerings in the same price range that are available, more modern, and more reliable. No, you shouldn’t buy this sight.
It’s not often that Vortex leaves me disappointed, and maybe it’s not fair to rag on a sight that’s since been discontinued - especially since there were probably reasons that it was discontinued to begin with. However, I can’t measure how disappointed I am in the fact that this is not an explicitly bad sight. If it were, this review would be much easier. But it’s not a bad sight. It, in fact, is a pretty good sight when it works as intended. It just often doesn’t, and that’s enough to make purchasing a Crossfire in this day and age a questionable decision.