Vortex Red Dot Review: What’s the Best Vortex Red Dot Sight?

We’ve compared Vortex red dot sights to the best of the best, we’ve pitted the AR models against each other, but now’s the time to see which red dot or more broadly non-magnifying sight from their lineup will rise to the top. Vortex red dot sights share a common theme of being well-made, premium sights with an unlimited lifetime warranty and a very competitive price. The eight available models are clearly designed for different applications, so we’ll have to review them thematically before declaring the overall winner.

The Benefits of Red Dot Sight

So why would you need a red dot in the first place? If you’ve never owned or extensively used non-magnified sights, you might assume they’re just an expensive toy to give the weapon a tactical look. But the fact is, these sights far outperform the iron sights, to the point where armies across the world are equipping even their standard infantry rifles with them.

When you’re aiming down iron sights, you need to align the rear and front posts ideally before being able to take an accurate shot. We’ve all done it, and we all know that no matter how much you put it into muscle memory, it still increases the time it takes to fire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had rabbits dart through a narrow clearing with my shots only serving as a send-off because I couldn’t acquire the front bead sight fast enough.

With a red-dot, holographic, or any other type of sight, you’ve only got one point of reference – put the dot on the target, and shoot. There are no eye relief and parallax issues as with a magnified scope, nor any of the delays or misalignment issues with the iron sights. It has been proven time and time again that these sights not only improve your speed but also accuracy, making the investment well worth the money.

Vortex Open Sights Lineup

The open red dot design has become a very popular alternative to the recognizable tube sights we’ve grown used to. The technology allows for open sights to weigh under 1.5 ounces thanks to the very small housing, which for the first time opens a viable option for handgun use. They’re practical on rifles and shotguns as well, and they match the conventional red dots in durability, their only drawback is the higher price and limited battery life.

Vortex Razor

Weight1.3 oz
​Size1.83″ long x 1.16″ tall x 1.21″ wide
​Waterproof Full immersion protection
​Night VisionNot compatible
Battery Life150 – 30,000 hours

Marketed as the Ferrari of red dots, Razor is the first and the most expensive among the open-sight models. It comes with a Picatinny mount, two hex wrenches, one battery, and you can choose between 3 MOA or 6 MOA dot.

As it only weighs 1.3 ounces, Razor won’t hinder your effectiveness no matter which weapon you install it on. Still, the 0.49-inch base height might not appeal to every pistol owner, as it will change the position where you typically hold your handgun. With the added Picattiny mount, you can just as easily attach the Razor to a carbine or 9mm conversion, or even use it as a canted sight.

The 9 available brightness options should prove sufficient, however, there are no dedicated night vision settings. To zero in the dot in 1 MOA increments, you’ll have to use the provided hex wrench, with the maximum windage adjustment of 114 MOA and maximum elevation adjustment of 170. While I’d prefer more convenient adjustment methods, this is a clear compromise to reduce the overall dimension of the sight. The side-mounted battery tray lets you swap batteries without ever removing the sight from the rail.

Since we’re only looking at the Vortex sights, you can expect a lot of similarities in construction, mainly the XR multi-coating and anti-reflective coatings for better light transmission, with ArmorTek and matte-anodized coatings providing durability and camouflage. Unless stated otherwise, all of the models are shockproof, waterproof, and made from a single piece.

Vortex Venom

Weight1.1 oz
​Size1.9″ long x 1.02″ tall x 1.11″ wide
​Waterproof Full immersion protection
​Night VisionNot compatible
Battery Life150 – 30,000 hours

Right from the start, I can already put the Venom into the upper echelon of the Vortex lineup. The price and features are perfectly balanced to outdo not only Vortex models, but also most of the general competition. In the box, you’ll find a Weaver/Picatinny mount, two wrenches, a battery, lens cloth, and a protective cover.

Venom comes in a 3 MOA or 6 MOA dot variant with 10 brightness options that can be manually adjusted or placed in the automatic mode for a hassle-free experience. Windage and elevation are adjusted by a wrench in 1 MOA increments with limits of 100/130 MOA respectively. Cleverly designed, the battery housing can be accessed from the top using a coin or a flat tool, so you won’t have to take off the unit to replace it.

Exceptional edge-to-edge resolution thanks to the premium wide-field lens, and an array of coatings to provide perfect clarity and no reflection are just some of the main benefits of going with a Vortex Venom. The durability is unquestionable, making it an ideal sight for any weapon or situation.

Vortex Viper

Weight1.03 oz
​Size1.8″ long x 1.02″ tall x 1.06″ wide
​Waterproof Full immersion protection
​Night VisionNot compatible
Battery Life150 – 30,000 hours

We’ve talked small and light, but Razor takes it to a new level. It might not be the best of the open red dot sights, but it’s likely the best handgun model. At just 1.03 ounces and the lowest, 0.33″ base height, it’s almost flush with the slider and interferes the least with the instinctual aiming position. The package contains a Weaver/Picatinny mount, two wrenches, a cloth, a cover, and a battery.

While perfectly viable as a rifle sight, the Razor is more focused on pistol application, which is why it only comes with a 6 MOA dot. Ten dot brightness options have to be manually adjusted using the two buttons on the left side of the sight. Windage and elevation are wrenches adjusted in 1 MOA increments, for a maximum of 120 MOA in either axis.

Durability has not been sacrificed in favor of design, as Razor is not only waterproof, but also shockproof and resistant to scratches, dirt, and debris. Planning, Vortex gave Razor a perfect suppressor-height iron sights co-witnessing ability.

Vortex Tube Sights Lineup

Now that we’ve covered the open sights, it’s time to take a look at the four options in the tube-design segment, where we’ll find not only red dot technology but also prism scopes. In short, the differences between the two come down to the way the reticle is portrayed, and eye relief. Conventional red dot sights have an illuminated dot and unlimited eye relief, while prism sights have etched reticles that can be more complex and more sharply illuminated, but trade it for limited eye relief.

Vortex SPARC AR

Weight7.5 oz
​Size2.9″ long x 1.09″ tall
​Waterproof Full immersion protection
​Night VisionCompatible
Battery LifeUp to 50,000 hours

The rugged and lightweight SPARC has been a favorite among AR users for many years, with the second generation doing a great job of improving the formula and stay ahead of the competition. In the packaging, you’ll get a T-10 Torx wrench for mounting, AAA battery, rubber covers with flip caps, and both an absolute co-witness, and a lower 1/3 co-witness mount.

Through the ten illumination settings, you’ll always be able to clearly acquire the dot, while the two lowest settings are night-vision compatible for added versatility. Zeroing in the 2 MOA dot can easily be achieved without any tools by simply rotating the texturized knobs on the top and right side of the housing. Windage and elevation adjust in 1 MOA increments, up to 90 MOA in either axis.

I’ve always been a fan of simple solutions, and it can’t get simpler than using a triple-A battery as a power source for a red dot. Affordable and widespread, they last longer than the coin-shaped batteries, and in SPARC AR, replacing them is as easy as unscrewing the cap located in front of the sight by hand.

With a single-piece chassis and a range of coatings both to protect the unit and increase the clarity of lenses, you’ll never have to worry about SPARC AR ever failing on you. It will be difficult to find a better AR red dot in this price range, but Vortex does have a few alternatives in its lineup.

Vortex Strikefire II

Weight7.2 oz
​Size5.6″ long x 1.45″ tall
​Waterproof Full immersion protection
​Night VisionCompatible
Battery LifeUp to 80,000 hours on setting 6

Looks are sometimes deceiving, and Strikefire II may at first look like a low-powered scope, but it’s in fact a red dot sight, which despite its size weighs just 7.2 ounces! Included with the purchase of Strikefire II are a Cantilever ring mount, T-15 Torx wrench, a CR2 battery, and flip cap optic covers.

The main reason to go with the Strikefire II is its 30mm objective which provides a larger field of view and more mounting options. The 4 MOA reticle is available in red only, or selectable red/green variant, which I prefer. Just like the SPARC AR, Strikefire II has 10 brightness options, with the lowest two being night-vision compatible. Dials for windage and elevation operate in 1/2 MOA increments for more precise tuning, with a maximum of 100 MOA in either axis and 25 MOA travel per full rotation.

So why would you want the Strikefire II? The main benefit of going with this model over the others, the versatility you’ll gain when mounting it on top of your rifle or shotgun. If you’re outfitting your weapon with a lot of accessories you find necessary, it’s sometimes hard to make them all fit, and that’s where Strikefire II comes in and solves the problem.

Vortex Crossfire

Weight5.2 oz
​Size2.5″ long x 1.1″ tall
​Waterproof Full immersion protection
​Night VisionCompatible
Battery LifeUp to 50,000 hours on setting 6

The most affordable item on the whole list, Vortex Crossfire was made with a no-nonsense approach to maximize effectiveness while keeping the price down. This did not reflect on its packaging, as it includes a durable rubber cover, T-10 Torx wrench, CR 2032 battery, Lower 1/3 co-witness mount, and a low height mount.

Despite being a simple and rugged solution, Crossfire does not sacrifice necessary features, such as 11 illumination settings, two of which are night-vision compatible. Like most other options, windage and elevation are adjusted in 1 MOA increments up to 100 MOA.

We’ve seen some really easy to use dials, but none match those of the Crossfire. Windage and elevation dials protrude from the top and right side of the housing and are really easy to turn precisely. To say that the brightness dial is oversized is an understatement – covering most of the right side of the housing. The reason for its size is two-fold, as it is not only practical but also houses the easy to replace CR 2032 battery.

Vortex Spitfire AR Prism Scope

Weight11.2 oz
​Size3.9″ long x 1.29″ tall
​Waterproof Full immersion protection
​Night VisionNot compatible
Battery Life250 – 3,000 hours

Reimagining old technology is just as important as inventing a new one, and Spitfire AR does exactly that with the prism technology. Fundamentally different from red dot sights, it uses a prism to project a sharper image than that of a conventional red dot. In the packaging, you’ll find one 3A battery, flip caps, a T-10 Torx wrench, and a 556 BDC turret cap.

Different technology allows for different benefits – and Spitfire AR prism scope has quite a few. Rather than having a conventional dot, it’s capable of having a Dual Ring Tactical (DRT) reticle for both long-range and CQB prowess. The reticle is etched directly on the prism and is visible even without illumination. You’d still want that reticle to be visible at all times, which is why there are 12 brightness settings with a toggle between green or red color.

Bearing a resemblance to a classic scope, all of the controls are oversized and extremely precise, with adjustment graduation of just 1/2 MOA, and a maximum of 120 MOA in each axis. Compared to red dots, Spitfire AR has a limited battery life when considering the lower brightness settings. However, at the highest settings, they’re pretty much identical.

The main benefit of scope like the Spitfire AR is the long-range accuracy potential. If you’re suffering from common astigmatism, a red dot will cause starburst effects, but this is not the case with a prism sight. The tradeoff is a limited, 3.8 inches eye relief, which is a drawback compared to the unlimited eye relief of the other models.

Vortex Holographic Sights Lineup

That’s right, EOTech isn’t the only company capable of manufacturing holographic sights. While it is just a single model, the Vortex AMG UH-1GEN II isn’t a reflex sight with a marketing scheme and is in fact a proper holographic sight and a great one at that.

Vortex AMG UH-1 GEN II

Weight11.0 oz
​Size 3.9″ long x 2.65″ tall
​WaterproofingFull immersion protection
Brightness Settings15 levels
​Night VisionCompatible
Battery LifeNot specified

Vortex AMG UH-1 GEN II is an odd one in the Vortex lineup and by far the most expensive. EOTech has been the industry leader in holographic sight production, with hardly any successful model made by its competition, until AMG UH-1 arrived. It closely matches the prices of EOTech sights while bringing some new things to the table to make it a proper alternative.

The UH-1 GEN II has 11 standard and 4 night-vision compatible illumination settings. The controls are facing towards the shooter and let you increase or reduce brightness, with a dedicated night vision button with an instant recall to your last daylight setting used. This will extremely prove useful when clearing two areas with contrasted lighting.

On the right side of UH-1 GEN II, you’ll find the windage and elevation dials that will require a coin, flathead screwdriver, or a similar object to adjust in 1/2 MOA increments. One full rotation will change the point of aim by 16.5 MOA, which is approximately 8.25″ at 50 yards, with deviation doubled with distance. An increase in resistance of either dial warns you that you’re approaching the 100 MOA adjustment limit to prevent damage.

Located on the left side of the sight, a single CR123A battery powers the unit and can be swapped by hand. After 14 hours, the auto-shutdown feature kicks in to preserve battery life, but if you’d prefer to do it manually, you can disable this feature. With the integrated quick-release mount, you can attach or remove the UH-1 GEN II from the rail in a matter of seconds.

The XR multi-coatings cover all air-to-glass surfaces to increase light transmission, while the ultra-hard, scratch-resistant ArmorTek coatings prevent exterior damage. On top, a matte anodized further protects against corrosion and wear, while creating a low-matte surface to better conceal the sight, especially in situations where you would use night vision.

The EBR-CQB reticle combines 1 MOA dot with a 65 MOA outer circle and CQB triangle for the ultimate sighting options at any range, but excelling in close quarters. Still, all of the features come at a very high cost, making the Vortex UH-1 Gen II an option only for enthusiasts with really deep pockets, or those that can really push it to its limits.

Conclusion

Picking the best option out of all the available models is going to be a very challenging task. We’ve got sights for different applications, so before I can decide on the overall winner, let’s take a look at the options in relation to their main purpose, as well as their price.

The best pistol red dot will have to be the Venom. I’ve elaborated in more detail in our Vortex Razor Red Dot Review & Comparison on how I’ve reached this decision, but basically, it does just enough more than the Viper, while being considerably cheaper than the Razor, to snag the top spot.

The best rifle red dot goes to the SPARC AR as it offers the most versatility and application among the five options. Sure, the AMG UH-1 GEN II is better in every way, but can any average enthusiast justify a purchase that is three times the price of a premium red dot?

Strikefire II and Spitfire AR are also excellent, but I feel like they’re a bit more specialized than the SPARC AR, while the Crossfire is a slightly cheaper option, but also slightly inferior. Because of these reasons, SPARC AR takes the best rifle red dot competition.

Venom takes the best Vortex red dot sight as well, and this really comes down to versatility. It’s perfectly applicable on any type of weapon, which classic red dots cannot compete with, and AMG UH-1 Gen II suffers from the same budget issue.

Crisp image and fast target acquisition are all you’ll need, and once you’re looking for more, Venom can easily go to the next weapon or serve as the second sight. Because of all the reasons mentioned, I can wholeheartedly recommend Venom as not only the best Vortex model but one of the best premium red dots on the market.