Friday, October 24, 2014

LaserLyte TGL Glock 42 UTA-YY Laser Sight Review

LaserLyte TGL Glock 42 UTA-YY Laser Sight Review

Now that the Glock 42 is one of the most popular pistols of 2014 and is literally flying off the shelves in record numbers, LaserLyte decided to offer a version of their extremely popular clamp on trigger guard laser sights for the Glock.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
The LaserLyte TGL UTA-YY Glock 42 laser sight deserves pages of editorial to tell the arduous journey of how hard LaserLyte worked to introduce this sight and how difficult it was to create simple elegance in a user friendly interface. Well unfortunately for LaserLyte, people are more interested in the end result than the development process which due to non-disclosure agreements we cannot talk about anyway. That noted, the Glock 42 LaserLyte is gloriously simple and quality made from 55% Glass Filled Nylon and Aircraft Grade 6061 aluminum.

Installation is simple and only requires users to bolt the sight onto the front of the G42 trigger guard. Once locked onto the handguard there is no perceptible wiggle or movement and from my experience handles all the daily bumps and knocks without fulling out of zero.

The owner of LaserLyte jokingly noted during an editors conference that the sight is FOPS operated - Finger Operated Pressure Switch. Jokes aside, FOPS is the perfect way to describe the operation of the LaserLyte Sight. The user basically clicks the sight on and off as needed via the ambidextrous buttons on each side of the sight - it really could not be more simple or reliable. The buttons are placed intelligently where your finger naturally rests when you finger is not on the trigger. It becomes a simple and natural ergonomic movement to touch either button to turn the laser sight on or off. Programing the LaserLyte laser sight can be done with just simple click and hold operations to cycle through either a "constant on" mode or a battery saving "pulse" mode.

Run time will likely last users a year of use unless they train extensively with the laser. Runtimes are 5 hours with the constant on mode and 10 hours in pulse mode, however there is an auto-off function after 6 minutes. Most Glocks are sights are set to a 25-yard zero, however for the uses of this laser I choose a 10-yard zero. Keeping in mind that the laser beam is approximately 2” lower than the bore line, very close 2-5 yards shots will deliver bullet impact about 1”-2” above the laser dot.  This is just something to train with to assure you know the differences of where the dot vs bullet impact will be and what decisions you might make on zeroing the LaserLyte TGl Glock 42 laser sight.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I mounted the laser on I have seldom seen since my initial review which is the Glock 42. Mrs. Pandemic (the wife) very quickly absconded with the G42 as her every day carry gun. She love the size and functional similarity of the gun to her bigger G19 and G17 Glocks.

One of the most amazing psychological aspects of laser sights are as an effective densive deterrent. In many cases situations where a person is required to use deadly force to defend themselves happens in seconds where drawing and firing seems to happen almost instantaneously. In other situations, the gun is draw and you are either investigating that bump in the night or have drawn and have the luxury of offering verbal commands. In these less later situations where a LaserLyte sight can be a huge psychological advantage for you and a defensive deterrent for attackers. You can see exactly where the bullet will hit and can concentrate on the dynamics of the situation instead of the sights and on the attacker side, no one wants to have a floating red dot on their chest which could easily be followed by a bullet.

The unanimous verdict between the Mrs and I after testing was that the LaserLyte Glock 42 pistol laser is an awesome tool which is worth the  investment to make the G42 even better. I just can’t wait until the release the G26 version hopefully later this year.

SPECS
The LaserLyte® GLOCK® 42 Pistol Laser,
The laser features ambidextrous activation, dual modes and auto-off. When the laser is mounted it matches the gun’s dust cover and trigger guard with perfect fit.

Each TGL package comes with two housings per model and will fit two guns for the price of just one laser. Simply use a Philips head screw driver to remove the single screw to swap out the laser housings. A laser swap can easily be made in under a minute. Initial installation onto the gun will take less than five minutes and the laser does not require removal in order to change out batteries. Later this year an additional housing will be offered for the GLOCK®26/27 pistol. The housing (laser not included) will be available free of charge to anyone that purchased a UTA-YY when it starts shipping. Please keep checking the LaserLyte website for shipping details.
BATTERIES INCLUDED.
LaserLyte® UTA-YY Specifications:
- Compatible Firearms: GLOCK® 42, coming soon GLOCK® 26/27
- Power Output: 650NM, 5MW, Class IIIA
- Programmable: Dual mode constant on and pulse, auto-off in 6 minutes
- Batteries: 3 x 392
- Battery Life: Actual usage 5 hours constant on, 10 hours pulse mode
- Weight: .75 ounces/0.0213 kg
- Material: 55% Glass Filled Nylon and Aircraft Grade 6061 aluminum
- Length: 1.52 inches/3.86 cm
- Width: .76 inches/ 1.93 cm
- Height: 1.70 inches/4.32 cm      
- MSRP: $104.95

SOURCES


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ruger LCR-9 9mm Pistol Review

Ruger LCR-9 9mm Pistol Review

NEW HANDGUN OWNER REVOLVER PICK OF THE YEAR - Based on my testing and the testing of other novice shooter how have shot and handled this gun, I would like to declare this my pick for any new shooter entering the market and looking for their first gun. This gun is simple… really simple, it reloads fast, is light, is capable of digesting a huge array of 9mm ammo, and can be made “safe” more easily than most pistols. Bluntly put, this is the best defensive snubby revolver design I have tested - ever.

Yes sir, Ruger is back to offering 9mm revolvers again and this has to be one of my favorite variants yet and get this is is a partially polymer pistol just like the rest of the LCR line. Oh how guns have changed. Back when I was a kid, if someone suggested plastic on a pistol they were looked at strangely, if you would have suggested a polymer based revolver... well you could have been institutionalized. Although H&K and Glock initially broke through the polymer barrier for semi-auto pistols, it is Ruger who has crossed the river of skepticism for Polymer revolvers with their LCR (Lightweight Compact Revolvers) line.  

I am a fan of the LCR design and own a Ruger LCR-22 and KLCR-357, so when Ruger introduced the 9mm version, I could not hit the order button fast enough. Despite the SP101 in 9mm being the single toughest pistols in the world to find while it was available, the pistol in the 9mm chambering only lasted a short time before it was discontinued and I was extremely disappointed that I was not able to buy one.

The challenge with the extremely heavy tank-like SP101 chambered in 9mm was that it was more of a novelty caliber. Almost every who wanted the SP101 wanted it in the standard .357 magnum chambering versus 9mm, however never fear, the LCR 9mm is here and it rocks.

FIT & FEEL
Obviously Ruger does an excellent job on fit and finish however I was a bit disappointed on my first generation LCR 357, however Ruger has clearly sorted out those fitment issues on the newer models. To drop the price a bit Ruger has also forgone the final surface finishing of the respective monolithic aluminum and stainless frames however it provides a nice matte tactical texture for this type of revolver. This 9mm LCR has already seen a beating so honestly I could care less about how pretty the finish looks.

As many know, Ruger has basically tow frame sizes for the LCR line - the larger heavier .357 magnum version and the marginally lighter .38 Special version. The 7000 Series Aluminum Monolithic framed .38 Special LCR versions start in the 13oz range and the heavier 400 Series Stainless Steel monolithic framed LCR-357 and LCR-9 both hover in the 17.1oz range. The LCR 9MM appears to be based on the heavier .357 magnum frame. Regardless of which LCR you have in your hand they all provide perfect cross training analogs in weight, feel, and operation.

Because I was shipped one of the first 9mm LCRs off the line, someone along the way had forgotten to add in the three included full moon clips which hold the 9mm rounds, however Ruger sent them right out to finish up the testing for the article.  It should be noted that the LCR 9 cannot be fired without the full moon clips. Not adhering to this requirement may result in some significant problems for your and the gun.

FEATURES
The LCR pistols are unique from a couple perspectives.  They have hybrid polymer lower sub-frames supported by upper monolithic metal frames, with stainless lined barrels and solid heavily fluted stainless cylinders. The lower polymer sub-frame drops a considerable amount of un-needed weight in the unstressed areas of the revolver while the monolithic upper metal frames take the stress of the recoil.  When you combine that with a stainless barrel and cylinder you still have a incredibly strong reliable revolver, but almost a pound lighter than Ruger’s SP101 line.

As the concealed hammer would portray, the LCR is primarily a lean and mean personal defense revolver, however Ruger wanted to assure the trigger pull did not suffer and developed a friction reducing cam which resulting in a incredibly smooth non-stacking trigger pull.  All the neat-o polymer and monolithic frame stuff aside, it is the trigger that steals the show for the LCR and makes it exceptionally accurate for a snub nosed revolver.

Ruger thankfully has started to integrate safety gun locks into their firearms, however I think they missed the functional mark on the LCR line.  The LCR has a lock however you need to inconveniently remove the grip and use the key to unlock the action then presumably replace the grip and grip screw. A hole through the grip to use the key to unlock the action would been a more user friendly option which I may remedy with a drill bit. I like the integrated lock however the supplied Ruger padlock’s shackle placed behind the trigger or through the frame will render a loaded LCR safe and prove a faster more useful lock.

FUNCTIONS
Functionally the LCR-9 performed flawlessly and shot everything I stuffed into the cylinders.  With the very wide variety of 9mm ammo these days, from low recoil to very hot +P ammo, the shooter has a lot to choose from. One point many may miss is the the LCR-9 can pay for itself quickly for those who want to practice and shoot a lot with the gun. There for a while 9mm ammo was around the same price as .22LR ammo. Currently 9mm ammo is still about 20% less than .357 or .38 special rounds. This savings could add up quick for shooters.

The LCR need to have the triggers heavily stroked.  As with any revolver you cannot let your finger feel for the trigger reset like you do on any semi-auto or you will just spin the cylinder at the first trigger reset or lock the trigger until you reset your finger.  Because of the cam this usually unnoticed reset cycle seemed a little more noticeable to me on the .357 version but better on this LCR-9, however most folks probably will not notice it.  This little annoyance only reared its head when I was shooting groups from the bench and carefully controlling the trigger.

The sights are simply on the LCR line wiht a front pinned replaceable sight and a rear notch. Grips and recoil reduction are handled by the super comfortable Hogue/Ruger designed Sorbothane inserts which tame even the heaviest 9mm rounds to tolerable levels that allow you to shoot through a box of ammo quickly without swearing.

Where some may see the requirement to use full moon clips to feed the revolver a problem, I see this as the holy grail of defensive snubbies. The best speed loader in the world for a revolver remains the full moon clip. Full moon clips are essence thin steel wafer bodies which the rounds clip into and function in this case as an extension of the cartridge to hold the 9mm round for loading, firing, and unloading. All five rounds go in and out of the gun as a unit at once. Of course the full moon clips do not need to be full to use them, you can load as many or as few rounds as you want into the clips.

The full moon clips hold the ammo securely and allows the smallest, most efficient, and most consistent reloading system available for a revolver. Even fumbling a bit in the dark, you start to feel like a competition revolver shooter doing speed loads. The reload sequence is fast… very fast. Thank you Ruger, this is the CCW snubby I have been wanting all my life. Now I can just drop a full moon clip or two in my support hand pocket and I am ready to roll out the door. Due to my love of the ClipDraw system on my LCR-357, this gun will definitely have the Universal ClipDraw attached ASAP. Range cleanup is also easy - just reach down and pick up your full moon clips with all the casings still attached. Ruger’s full moon clip allows unfired ammo or empty casings to be removed with just fingernail pressure against the top of the case rim.

ACCURACY
First I will say is that like the LCR-357, the LCR-9 is exceptionally accurate form a defensive perspective.  Using LIberty Critical Defense 50gr and Hornady 9MM LUGER+P 135 GR FLEXLOCK CRITICAL DUTY 9MM LUGER +P 124 GR TAP FPD I saw consistent 3”-4” groups at 25 yards from sandbags and could easily keep the 50 yard silhouette swinger ringing as well off hand.  My best group of the day was 2.5” at 25 yards from the 124Gr Hornadys which I was thrilled with.  I repeated my 7 yards one ragged hole 15-round test with the LCR-9.   Verdict of the LCR-357 is that it is a great shooting revolver for defense… now I wouldn’t probably use it for hunting squirrels and it certainly does not match what my 4” and 6” GP100 revolvers deliver.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The LCR-9 is an accurate concealed carry and personal defense revolver which is light and Crayon easy to operate.  The LCR-9 would be my first recommendations for someone wanting a handgun for defense even over the other pistol LCR lineup.  Revolvers are really simple, easy to figure out, easy to reload especially with the full moon clips exclusively used for this 9mm revolver. Revolvers also require far less training to use competently than a semi-auto pistol. There are no clearing or Condition 1 failure (failure to ignite) maneuvers other than to pull the trigger again.

In my opinion revolvers can be a bit safer, because in most cases you can see the bullets in the chamber and quickly secure the revolver to an inoperable state with just a padlock. This is a key safety feature for new shooters. The LCR-9 is a bit heavier that the regular LCR-38 line however it everything from light 9mm rounds to the heavy +P rounds which provides a huge amount of versatility.

Polymer is here to stay and Ruger has utilized it in the right way with the LCR line up to deliver light, solid, reliable and accurate revolvers. Hundreds of rounds later and I am confident in the LCR-9 as a defensive revolver. In fact, with the full moon clip capabilities of dramatically increasing speed loading, the LCR-9 is on the top of my list for recommended defensive handguns. The full moon clips overcome one of the major stumbling blocks to getting ammo reliably in and out of a revolver.

I think Ruger hit a home run on the design of the LCR-9

SPECS
Ruger KLCR-357
Model Number: 5450
Caliber: 9mm
Finish: Blackened Stainless
Grip: Hogue® Tamer™
Front Sight: Replaceable, Pinned Ramp
Rear Sight: U-Notch Integral
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Monolithic Frame: Blackened 400 Series Stainless Steel
Cylinder Finish: Advanced Target Grey®
Barrel Length: 1.875"
Overall Length: 6.50"
Height: 4.50"
Width: 1.28"
Weight: 17.10 oz.
Capacity: 5
Twist: 1:16" RH
Grooves: 6
MA Approved & Certified: Yes
CA Approved: Yes
Suggested Retail: $599.00

SOURCES
Sturm Ruger - http://www.ruger.com

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No Guts No Glory AR15 Pistol Build

No Guts No Glory AR15 Pistol Build


For those who have built a few AR15s here and there you are bound to have extra parts laying around; sometimes you have a few, sometimes a lot. All it takes is a tipping point of that one extra part to start off a new AR15 build, because after all you have most of the parts - right? In this case, I had just received a 7.5" AR15 pistol barrel from MicroMOA Artisan Arms to test out and wanted to pull together a build to start testing.


In reality I knew that at some point I would feel the drive to take the great guts of this pistol and drop it into something fancier and less of a home brew looking rat rod AR15 pistol. This was more of a test of the top end guts versus a build to look pretty.


The glut of AR15 parts now on the market has regular forged uppers and lowers selling for well under $100 and blemished units for around half that.  I reached into my pile of blemished Anderson Manufacturing $40 uppers and selected one, unpackaged a new complete Sharps Reliabolt Bolt Carrier groups they had provided for review, some random charging handle I had laying around, a used set of YHM fold-up sights I picked up at the last gun show, and a Bushnell TRS-32 which had I scored six of for $69 each. As a side note the TRS-32 is a phenomenally durable red dot for the price, though it usually runs around $80. I also had a Mission First Tactical Tac Light which is perfect for this type of pistol CQB build.


For a complete upper, I was short a few components including a muzzle device and handguard. PWS was nice enough to provide one of their PWS CQB compensators which after testing is the one and only brake/compensator I will recommend for and CQB or home defense rifle/pistol which is intended be shot indoors. Without it, you will likely suffer hearing damage after the first shot of a 5.56 round going off indoors, with the PWS CQB compensator, it still is not particularly quiet, but leagues quieter than any other brake I have ever tested. The design redirects the sound directly forward, so the shooter and shooter's eardrums do not get hammered with the concussion of each shot.


All I had laying around for handguards were a couple longer handguards over 12", so I was faced with a decision to impatiently wait for a couple weeks for a handguard or create my own unique work of handguard rat rod art using my Little Machine Shop Mill. I elected for the later and grabbed a rather beat up and well used Black Rain Ordnance quadrail and started the transformation into an extended pistol length 9" handguard.


Though a big task to cut and mill down all the picatinny rails off the billet Black Rain quadrail to create the handguard features and weight I wanted, it was a fitting project since when paired with my completed 80% Billet Matthews Carbine Company. The MCC lower receiver I also completed using my Little Machine Shop mill. The MCC lower build was completed with a PWS billet buffer tube and ALG trigger group. With a bare semi-polished aluminum forend, I thought the build might look pretty cool.


CUSTOM MILLED BLACK RAIN ORDNANCE
The first step was removing as much of the anodizing as possible. This was certainly not required, but would generate the look I wanted to match the naked Matthews Carbine lower. Four of five coats of Heavy Duty Easy Off oven cleaner removed the anodizing, with a rinse and a little scrubbing between coats. Any little problem spots were hit with a stainless brush bit with my Dremel tool.


I cut the handguard with a hacksaw roughly to length and then milled each side to remove the extra Picatinny rails I didn't want and also squared up my hacksaw cut at the front end.


To get that been there and done that look, all edges were radiused with a file, I polished the entire handguard with with a scotch brite pad, applied one final coat of oven cleaner, rinsed, and then hand and lightly Dremel polished the entire handguard with Flitz. I think it turned out pretty cool and it is really very comfortable to hold after all that polishing.



MICROMOA ARTISAN ARMS BARREL
MicroMoa exclusively uses Fedderson barrels profiled and chambered by Artisan Arms. The big deal about Feddersen blanks are that they feature the hair splitting SIPR - Single Edged Polygonal Rifling and a trade secret lapping process which on their 10/22 .22LR barrels will deliver sub-1/8" 50-yard groups. I love them so much that I have three of their 10/22 barrels. The barrels are extraordinarily consistent and all the barrels will delivering 50-yard playing card splitting accuracy. You can imagine that I was a bit excited to test out a 5.56 Nato chambered AR15 pistol barrel featuring the same rifling.


One of the keys to accuracy according to Artisan Arms and Feddersen is to break in the barrel with around 300 rounds. After that point the accuracy starts to drastically increase. With this build, those first 300 rounds seemed to fly by quickly. Initial accuracy was tested with my 8x-32x Nikon Monarch at 100-yards at around 2" with Hornady Match 72gr Custom rounds. PMC bronze ammo delivered 3" 100-yard groups. But wait, that accuracy was substantially better after a couple hundred rounds were sent down the barrel. With the same 8-32x Nikon Monarch scope attached after barrel break-in, groups with the same box of Hornady Match Custom 72gr ammo, the barrel  actually delivered a 1.13" and a 1.25" groups and almost all my PMC Bronze .223 ammo was delivering sub-2" groups. Most people will yawn a bit at 1 MOA accuracy, however the accuracy starts to look really impressive when you consider that even high quality A15 pistol barrels will usually only deliver around 3" 100-yard groups and that this 7.5" barrel matches most standard AR15 16"+ barreled rifles; all out of a pistol format under 25" long.


What is more impressive is when I start banging away on the 12" steel at 300 yards with just the non-magnified Bushnell TRS-32 red dot as an optic with a 7.5" barreled AR15 pistol. So I guess in this case, I can't help but to ask myself why I would believe I would sacrifice accuracy by opting for a shorter format AR15 pistol vs rifle format. Shooting of the bench is a bit more challenging due to the shorter format, however once you get locked in with a standing position, the pistol is simple to shoot in the shouldered shooting position just as easily as any rifle. A bit more cramped? Yes, but this little bastardized concoction of a build has drastically changed my mind about the frat boy image of the AR15 pistol.


SHARPS BALANCED CARRIER & RELIABOLT

Early this year, I reviewed the Sharps Reliabolt and was impressed with the design and engineering thought which was put into the bolt. Beyond Chrome and NiBo coatings, the AR15/M4 bolt has not changed at all since it was initially designed until the Sharps Reliabolt. Sharps engineers looked at all the potential bolt and carrier failure points and redesigned their Reliabolt to improve reliability in extreme wear, impacted weapon, and alignment situations. I personally have never had any issues with even standard phosphated bolts with proper lube, however I can understand how the Sharps design would greatly enhance reliability and continue operation in near catastrophic weapon conditions.


This year Sharps also released their Balanced Carrier.  The design was created to prevent carrier tip, assure proper cycling alignment, reduce receiver and carrier wear, and smooth operation even in harsh conditions without the need for lubrication. Sharps is using the same NP3 Nickel Teflon coating for its lubricity and easy cleaning properties. The carrier and bolt can literally be cleaned with just soap and water. Coat the carrier with any of the newer lubes such as Frog Lube and a soft cloth is all that is needed for cleaning.



SIGHTS & OPTICS
The YHM flip up sight set and Bushnell TRS-32 performed perfectly and reliably. I do not anticipate a need to ever use the YHM pop up billet sights as I have never had an issue with any of my four TRS-32  Red Dot sights. That noted, the TRS-32 is battery operated and I am fairly absent minded, so there may be a situation where a nice set of backup sights could come in handy after the battery has run down from being left on. The sights are made by YHM - Yankee Hill Machine, so you know they will be brutally bulletproof.


The Bushnell TRS-32 delivers 11 brightness settings. Setting 11 is bright enough for sunny days outside, however I would like to see a few much lower illumination settings below the lowest setting for night work - maybe a night vision setting. For the price, quality and included lower 1,3 co-witness ring, the Bushnell TRS-32 is hands down one of the best red dot buys on the market along with its more compact TRS-25 smaller sibling.


OTHER TIDBITS
Instead of having a single point sling setup to continually whack me in the balls, I elected for a two point sling mount. which mounted on the PWS Billet Buffer Tube and a Fortis Single Point Picatinny mount just forward of the upper receiver on the handguard. This setup delivers an awesome controllable and carryable pistol package which does not bang me in the nuts every time I drop it from my shoulder or run from point A to point B.


FINAL THOUGHTS
This was a really fun build initially put together with some spare parts and some great top end parts to form the guts. I will likely move the great guts of this gun over to a new build those new parts instead of this scratch and dent rat rod build of random parts.


The parts worked beautifully together. I am sold on the PWS CQB brake and the performance of the MicroMoa barrels. The Sharps Reliabolt and Balanced carrier works great and from a looks perspective the brake is crazy cool though I have certainly not challenged this BCG with anything that would employ the design features in the first 600 rounds. I will also carry over the YHM sights and TRS-32 onto the new build.


This build was more a less a quick prototype to see if the whole AR15 pistol concept was worth my time and I can say it absolutely is. The challenge is that I really like this forend I created, so I will need to work up another build to use this handguard again.  Look for more AR15 pistol builds and reviews coming. Most will likely feature Fedderson profiled barrels from Artisan Arms and MicroMOA.


SOURCES
Black Rain Ordnance - http://www.blackrainordnance.com/
Primary Weapons Systems - PWS - http://primaryweapons.com/
MicroMOA - Artisan Arms - http://micromoa.com/
Bushnell Optics - http://www.bushnell.com/
Sharps Rifle Reliabolt - http://srcarms.com/
Matthews Carbine Company - http://shop.mccfirearms.com/

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Vortex Optics Strikefire II Redot Dot & Tripler Magnifier Review

Vortex Optics Strikefire II Redot Dot & Tripler Magnifier Review


Over the last 4 years, Vortex optics has jumped in and taken market share from the big brands so suddenly it shocked the industry. Vortex has been around since 2004, however within the last 3-4 years was when everyone really started taking note of Vortex.  After notable success with the uber picky three gun and precision shooting crowd, the Vortex name became synonymous with very high quality and prices on entry to premium optics which retail 20%-30% less than those from the big names like Bushnell, Burris, Streiner, Nikon, and Leupold. At this year's 2014 Shot Show, nearly every major optics manufacturer had specific offerings designed to go head to head with Vortex's price/value leading models and more than a few manufacturers released offerings the noted to specifically go for the throat of Vortex. I noticed that Vortex was not just sitting around waiting for the giants to crush them and introduced many new products and updated models this year.


One of those updates was to the Vortex Strikefire II, the company's extremely popular market dominating red dot. According to Vortex, they wanted to stay ahead of the competition with updates requested most by customers. From a distance anyway, the older and newer models look nearly identical, however the updated Strikefire II includes updated controls, settings, and body.


The main updates were simplified more streamlined controls, 1/2" shorter overall size, and two extra low night vision settings. Features and model variants carried over are models with both red or green dots or the less expensive single color red dot model. Retail on the red dot model is $229, however street price is down around the $180 price which is extremely competitive with similar otics on the market. Other features are the inclusion of a lower third co-witness height  cantilever mount which is always an appreciated addition to the box versus having to spend another $40 on the appropriate mount.


Many people ask why use a larger format red dot versus one of the smaller micro-dot red dots. The main reason is FOV (field of view). You can see more stuff within the optic and the Strikefire II offers a very large FOV. Generally a larger FOV equals faster target acquisition. For instance in a zombie apocalypse, I would want a maximum field of view and the same goes for hunting dangerous game. The Strikefire II is far from bulky, and Vortex shaved the profile down from last year's model just to assure a trim profile as possible to maximize FOV inside and outside the optic as well as driving the footprint down a bit in the process.


My one gripe is that the Strikefire II uses the CR2 battery as a power source versus everyone else on the planet using CR2032 wafer batteries for small red dots. I remember Vortex using a really nonstandard long running battery on my SPARC red dot which thankfully could be hacked to use CR2032 batteries by using a dime as a spacer, however this a bit better. The CR2 is in essence just a smaller CR123 battery and is available at most stores. You probably are not going to pick it up a Lowes, however Walgreens should have a good supply. The advantage with this battery is that it has a much longer running than wafer CR2032 batteries. With an average battery life of around 3000 hours (6000 hrs tops and 300 worse) and an auto 12-hour shut-off, even in extreme situations, you should see at least a year of life out of each battery. I just wish they would have gone the same route as Lucid powered by a widely available AAA battery or full sized CR123, however the CR2 power source works and delivers a long run time in an inexpensive and very light lithium battery format - stick six CR2 in the AR15’s grip and call it good for a minimum of 5-6 years.


The Strikefire II is a quality optic fully fog, water and shock proof with a nitrogen purged heavy duty 30mm body. The optic can take some serious punishment and keep working. To make the Strikefire II even more useful, Vortex introduced the VMX-3T Flip over magnifier aka "tripler" in 2013 to complement any of their own or competitors red dots.


The idea of the tripler was popularized in the military to add a instant magnification option to existing optics for larger shots and target identification.  Vortex’s flip over multiplier is similar to other top quality multipliers on the market. The Vortex VMX-3T is the a standard 3x magnification used across most of the industry, focusable eyepiece, and zero-able windage and elevation so you can use the Vortex tripler with any red dot.  


The included flip over mount on the VMX-3T is a bit different in that the flip mechanism is button operated from the front.  The front mounted button allows the shooter to either reach over with the primary hand or with with support hand. Rearward mounted buttons can be harder to work for the support hand to reach. I like this setup, however I am still more fond of the Eotech spring detent non-locking style flip over mount, however I could buy two of these triplers for the price of the Eotech model. I have witnessed some flip over mounts get a little wobbly, however I found the Vortex to be pretty tight and a bit more than competitors in its class. The mount can make or break a flip over tripler optic and in this case the mount does what it is supposed to.


The Vortex tripler works extremely well, is crystal clear, and solidly durable. If I put the unit side-by-side with Sub-$300 tripler competitors like Burris, I like the Vortex VMX-3T a bit better even if you don’t own a Vortex optic… but you, know, you probably should considering their quality.


FINAL THOUGHTS
For testing, I mounted the Vortex Strikefire Ii and the VMX-3T to my WMD NiBx coated Beast AR15 rifle chambered in 5.56 Nato. The WMD Beast chassis is an awesome rifle and the perfect “standard AR15” configuration platform to test what the Vortex setup delivers. The WMD Ultimate Chassis was completed with an ALG Defense Forend and Mission First Tactical grip and stock, and PWS Brake. 

The Vortex Strikefire II and VMX-3T setup mounted perfectly without problems. Like almost every red dot optic in the sub-$500 price range, the Strikefire II dot is a bit splashy and looked something like a teeny tiny squashed Nike logo identifiable when using the VMX-3T magnifier. I have come to expect that crisp totally uniform dot size is something you have to pony up big bucks for in a red dot and you just are not going to get that feature and level of quality in a sub-$500 red dot.  That noted the Vortex dot uniformity is still far above average and still better than some higher dollar red dots.


The Vortex Strikefire II remains one of the best deals when it comes to a robust military grade quality in something affordably priced in the sub-$300. The features are solid, the design is well thought out and the final performance and value is well above the price. On the WMD AR15 Beast, the Vortex combo delivered everything I could ask for from a defensive focused short range AR15 with the option to still accurately place dinner plate shots at the 300 yard mark.


My last and final observation on this Vortex Strikefire II and VMX-3T magnifier is that Vortex has not yet released a combo of what could be an awesome optic combo. These are sold separately as separate units, however I really…. really encourage Vortex to consider packaging these together as a kit for just a bit of a discount. I think it would be yet another great way for Vortex to continue it’s competitive strategy.
STRIKEFIRE II & VMX-3T SPECS
Cantilever Mount
Red/Green Dot or Red Dot Options
4 MOA DOT
Lower 1/3 Co-Witness Cantilever Mount
Eye Relief - Unlimited
Magnification 1x
Length 5.6"
Weight 7.2 oz


OPTICAL FEATURES
Fully Multi-Coated Multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces increase light transmission.
Red/Green Dot Option Allows shooters a choice of dot color.


CONSTRUCTION FEATURES
Single-Piece Chassis Compact and lightweight.
Waterproof O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust and debris from penetrating for reliable performance in all environments.
Fogproof Nitrogen gas purging delivers fogproof, waterproof performance.
Shockproof Rugged construction withstands recoil and impact.
Hard Anodized Finish Highly durable low-glare matte finish.
Operating Temperature Rated from -22 degrees to +140 degrees Fahrenheit.


CONVENIENCE FEATURES
Cantilever Ring Mount Puts the optic bore center 40 mm above the base, providing lower 1/3 co-witness with iron sights on flat top AR-15 rifles.
Unlimited Eye Relief Non-critical eye relief for rapid target acquisition.
Adjustable Dot Intensity Provides ten variable illumination settings—the lowest two settings are night-vision compatible.
Battery Life 12-hour auto-shutdown feature maximizes battery life. CR-2 Battery. Typical battery life is 300 hours at maximum brightness and 6,000 hours at minimum brightness setting.


VMX-3T MAGNIFIER
$299.99
Simple, fast, effective—the push-button design of the VMX-3T engages and disengages the flip-mount, allowing the magnifier to lock in place. The result, 3x magnified or unmagnified views at will. Optics are fully multi-coated for optimal light transmission. Lightweight and tough; hard-coat-anodized machined-aluminum construction ensures durability. Internally nitrogen purged for reliable waterproof/fogproof performance. Ultimate magnified versatility for virtually any AR-height red dot sight.

Allows for lower 1/3 or absolute co-witness mounting heights and is ideal for shooters who want to increase the effective range of their red dot sight.
VIP Warranty Nitrogen Purged Waterproof
Magnification 3 x
Eye Relief 2.2 inches
Field of View 38.2 feet/100 yards
Tube Size 30 mm
Length 4.3 inches
Weight 11.9 oz
Product Manual (PDF) Download


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