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Consumer Scope Review: Vortex’s Red Dots StrikeFire & SPARC

The StrikeFire – I like this red dot.  I have run EoTechs, Aimpoints, and ACOG’s on various rifles and this held its ground with all of them.  I really like the built-in flip-ups as they came in handy when I put it to the test in the rain.  The red/green option is also nice and gives you the choice with a quick push of the button based on preference. The one downside is the power button is also the toggle button.  A press will turn it on, to red, to green, and another off.  There is no delay and just pushing it will toggle.  I didn’t like this all that much because there were times laying the gun down would cause the StrikeFire to turn off.  This could become an issue if on a stalk or in a law enforcement or combat situation.  

There have been several reviews where people noted the dot would wash out in the sun or the brightness would be t0o intense and not dim down with the controls.  I did not experience any of this.  On the first day of testing it was full sun and shooting in the open I never had the dot washout on red or green.  At night the dot can be toned down to a usable low with the up down toggle switch located beside the eyepiece. 

The night vision toggle switch worked fine to go from a room with good light to a room without and it worked well to dim the dot to a more manageable illumination without sacrificing usage.

All StrikeFires, to my knowledge, come with a “doubler.”  Using the doubler is a double-edged sword in my book.  Everyone views the extra magnification as being able to be more precise but yet it also increases the size of the dot which will normally decrease accuracy.  For my purposes I doubt I will use the doubler that much but I did test with it several times and it works for the intended purpose.

I would highly recommend the StrikeFire to anyone who wants a cheaper alternative to the Aimpoints and EoTechs.  It is a very tough red dot and I now have over 1000 rounds on my unit in both good and foul weather and it has never given me an issue.  In my opinion it is the best value Red Dot on the market for the price.

  

Vortex SPARC

 

When I first talked to Scott at Vortex about doing a review he told me he had one they send out for that very purpose and he would get it off the shelf and send it to me. When it arrived I really liked the size and compactness of it.  It seemed like it would be a lot more versatile than the StrikeFire.  Well before it was mounted the dot quit working.  I thought at first it was the battery so I went and bought two new ones just in case.  Neither got the unit working.  I tweaked the battery holder a bit and it came back on – loose wire? Given that this particular unit was sent out to be abused and not knowing who had it before or what had been done to it before I kept an open mind. 

I first mounted it on the same AR I had run the StrikeFire on.  It comes with several different riser mounts to get the SPARC to the correct eye position for each user.  If you want to co-witness the supplied mounts will work.  I thought the SPARC looked a little odd that high in the air off the flat top of the AR but it worked.  I shot quite a bit with it, probably close to 600 rounds and it held up fine.  I used the doubler it was supplied with and for all intensive purposes the doubler is the same as the StikeFires mechanically.

One thing that separates it from the StrikeFire is the on/off switch.  Instead of a simple press toggling it, you have to hold it for a few seconds to get it to shut down.  I like this much better and if they could incorporate this into the other it would make it a much better option.  The brightness controls and NV switch all seemed identical to the StrikeFire.

I had really wanted to test the SPARC on a Dan Wesson 357 magnum.  It seemed to me it would be a great fit. I got it mounted and took it outside to give it a good ringing.  The dot worked well.  Aiming at targets from holding it down to my side to bringing it up to a quick target acquisition it worked very good.  Now for the shooting part.  The first shot must have loosened up whatever was initially wrong with the SPARC when I got it. The dot faded to what appeared to be the NV mode.  I though maybe I hit it when I lowered the gun to look at the target but toggling the NV button didn’t do anything. I tapped on the battery holder a couple times with the butt end of a screw driver and it came back.  Now I know it was something mechanically inside the unit.  Another shot sent the dot into a blinking frenzy for a few seconds and then it died completely.  I took it off and boxed it up to send back to Vortex.  

We never want an optic to fail.  The fact is that this particular unit may have been doomed from the get go because it had been abused by us gun writers. Who knows.  I do know that while I did have it operational and mounted on the AR I liked it.  Would I recommend it? Yes but the StrikeFire is better.

 

Quick Notes.

The StikeFire looked better on the AR platform IMO.

Both gave the same sight picture to me and both got on target quickly.

The green dot option on the StrikeFire was nice for contrast when needed.

The SPARC’s on/off control was much better than the StrikeFire.

Both come with lifetime transferable warranties.

 

The SPARC that I tested was sent in to Scott, he looked it over, abused it (his words) and could not get it to duplicate the results I had.  I have it back now and under ABNORMAL abuse I haven’t been able to get it to shut off again either.  I am going to run it this weekend to see what happens. 

We are thinking that the reason it went dead at first was a bad battery in conjunction with me not tightening the battery cap down enough.  You really have to crank it down tighter than you’d think.    Then the second time it quit was quite possibly the fact that I had the windage and elevation adjustment caps off in the rain and moisture got into the unit.  By the time it got back to Scott it was dried out and worked fine.  Either way I have it back and it has not given up yet……….even to the rubber malletBig Grin That is right Scott, you said try to get it to do it again…..

By: Graham Davis

2 Responses to Consumer Scope Review: Vortex’s Red Dots StrikeFire & SPARC

  1. Cary Kieffer says:

    I havent had this issue with the Strikefire turning on accidentally. I can see how it would happen though. A possible solution is this, it is prob why its not happening to me. I have my weapon light and 3x magnifier both on the left side of the MP-5. So those 2 accesories stick out further than the Strikefire’s on/off button does. Try moving your light to the left rail and setting up a magnifier (if your using one) to flip to the left side. It provides a buffer between your switch and whatever it was hitting on. When I look past my weapon for more targets to engage I tend to cant the rifle left anyway and look past the right side of it so having the stuff on the left is working out that way too. Just a thought if anyone wants to try that, it works for me.

  2. B Foley says:

    The only thing I do not like about my SPARC is that the optic is so easily turned on, it is good to not have it turn off immediately but if you lightly touch or slide across (like when putting it in a rifle case…) the power switch it instantly comes on and does a great job of killing the battery. I really wish they would have gone with the rotary dial like similar Aimpoint, BSA, and PA optics or at least made it harder to turn on (accidentally).

    As of now I have retired my SPARC for an Aimpoint H-1 and possibly a PA Micro Dot.

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