A few months ago I was asked by a friend of mine to help him outfit a new AR15 that he could use for short/mid distance target shooting and fun in the country. Thanks to my good friend John at Warrior Arms LLC in Valparaiso, Indiana we were able to pick up a very nice custom AR platform to build on. Hopefully I’ll get the review of the rifle itself up shortly also.
My friend, also named John, wanted a decent red/green dot optic but was afraid that he may not be able to shoot at distance very well with one. Luckily, I had also recently had the chance to check out the Vortex Strikefire II Red/Green dot optic which is available with an accompanying 3x Magnifier. At a total price of around $500 for the optic and magnifier my friend was more than happy to trust me on the purchase.
I ordered the optics through Optics Planet and the package arrived in less than a week, even with standard shipping. The items were in their original packaging and plastic, with no visible dings or damage. Opening the packages to inspect them I found that Vortex does an excellent job on their packaging with everything in its own place and nothing able to bounce, shift or otherwise create havok while being tossed around by package delivery services. Removing the optics from the packaging you can instantly tell that the manufacturing on the product is very good. The lines are sharp, the surfaces smooth and the overall feel is very durable. This sight has some weight to it, but it just feels tough.
I popped open the flip caps and peered through the crystal clear glass. It was picture perfect. If you read the literature you will find the single piece construction of the optic makes it waterproof, fog proof and shock proof. Turning on the red/green dot is simple, just hold down the button for a second and it comes to life with little fanfare. A simple button hold and you change from red to green and back again. Each color has 10 available intensity levels and each is still very clearly visible. Built for quick target acquisition and the ability to maintain awareness of your surroundings the Strikefire II has unlimited eye relief and comes with an optional cantilever mount, which places the bore center 40mm above the base, providing lower 1/3 co-witness with iron sights.
Mounting the optic on the AR was simple and quick. Warrior Arms had provided us with a flat top platform so we opted to use the cantilever mount. Since we knew we were opting to use the 3x magnifier we mounted the scope on the forward part of the receiver and left enough room on the rear for the magnifier. Standing back and looking at the rifle with the mounted Strikefire II is a pure moment of zen. The rifle appearance went from dangerous and foreboding to BADASS level 5 instantly. After a few minutes of chest pounding and grunting we decided to mount the 3x magnifier.
Much like the scope itself the 3x magnifier was simple to install, even though we installed it backwards. What? You don’t install things backwards sometimes? Truth be told there was a method to our madness. The shape of the 3x magnifier is a little odd, as you can see from the picture below. Notice the push button on the lower left. This is to be used by depressing with your left thumb while your fingers wrap the top of the magnifier and pull it out of your sight alignment (to the left side) when you are shooting directly through the Strikefire II. However, those of us that learned to properly shoot through a red dot know that you are supposed to keep both eyes open. Thus, having a large object directly in the line of sight of your left eye is a bit distracting as you can imagine.
Not being easily thwarted we removed the magnifier and remounted it on the mounting bracket in reverse, then placed it back on the rifle. Not only did it allow us to clearly co-witness when the magnifier was not in use, it also allowed us to reset the red dot a little further back on the top rail. Due to the height of the cantilever mounts on the optics the rear section of the magnifier now floats very nicely over the rear flip up sights we added. A job well done indeed! The only issue? Now the operation of the magnifier swivel is done with the right hand, thus removing it from the grip and trigger for a moment to maneuver the magnifier. Not a big deal since we aren’t really planning on using the weapon in combat. Wondering if perhaps we had been the only people to realize this issue we went online looking to see if anyone else had done this and found a wonderful picture of our exact setup! (click HERE to see the pic as the scaling does it no justice within the article)
Zeroing the red dot at 50 meters was pretty simple. The scope adjustments are clean and crisp so you won’t spend much time getting your groupings tight. Once zeroed we put about 200 rounds through the rifle with multiple shooters taking turns and even removed and replaced the scope to make sure it kept it’s zero. It was all good all day.
At the range we found that the only drawback with the Strikefire II was the size of the dot. The red/green dot on the Strikefire II is a 4 MOA dot. This means once you get past 50 meters shooting for dead center on a standard 12×12 target gets difficult, although not impossible. Changing the intensity/illumination setting on the dot will help, but you still cover up a lot of real estate with that size of dot. The wide open lens and infinite eye relief however made it a dream moving from target to target. So, although you won’t find the accuracy of a cross hair scope you certainly will find it easy to transition between targets at 50 meters or less.
At the end of the day we were very happy with the Vortex Strikefire II and optional VMX-3T magnifier. You are going to pay more for this setup than you will for some of the cheaper brands on the market, but the quality is exceptional for the price. Vortex has made me a believer and they will be my first choice and recommendation for awesome optics on a smaller budget.