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Vortex SPARC Experience?

Discussion in 'Sights, Optics and Lasers' started by RottnJP, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. RottnJP

    RottnJP Lifetime Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Anyone know if these are a decent value? For $200, seems like it might be o.k. Also includes a screw-on 2x magnifier.

    Otherwise I'm spending more like $500 if I go with Burris speed dot and 3x magnifier...

  2. rick458

    rick458 USS Texas BB-35

    Jan 31, 2003
    La Porte Texas
    sorry this is just a tag

  3. Aceman


    Nov 30, 2008
    The Vortex strikefire Aimpoint semi-copies have gotten tons of love. Don't know about the Sparc. I'm optimistic.
  4. RottnJP

    RottnJP Lifetime Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Yeah, crawling the web I do see a number of people talking about getting them, and no one complaining. Not so many positive reviews, either, though... People seem to be pretty quiet on this particular sight.

    I'll tell you, this small red dot plus a flip to side 3x magnifier might be really nice. And with the screw-on 2x option, it gives you a lot of choices for set-up. I finally got a chance to play with a setup like this (aimpoint 1x, though) and I liked it a lot. I always thought the magnifier would magnify the dot as well, and make it too large, but for some reason it doesn't- I was able to use a fixed size target relative to the dot size, and the magnifier just didn't seem to make the dot any bigger at all. So I guess I don't understand optics well enough, but somehow it works... I guess because the target and the dot are both being magnified the same amount?

    Anyway, the other thing I found was that you can move the magnifier really far back from the red dot if you want, and it still works well. You'd think the area *outside* the aimpoint would take up more and more of the visual plane as well, but it doesn't. Even with the magnifier like 12" back from the red dot, you just get a little blur in the outer portion of the magnified view, where the red dot's housing is, but it's not obtrusive at all. So you could even do the red dot in a forward-mounted scout setup if you want, and then just have the magnifier set to the rear. (Which is where it needs to be because of it's eye relief, and so you can flip it without dismounting the rifle.)

    I was thinking about this for my M1A SOCOM, but I don't think I can mount the magnifier at the rear properly because any rear mount on that rifle is going to put the magnifier up too high. But I think the SPARC on the forward mount would work nicely, and I'm thinking about just doing that. I kind of hate to give up having any ability to zoom in if desired for longer-range shots, though, so I'm torn between doing this, and getting a moderate power long eye relief scope. (Like a 2-6x, or 2.5-8x)
  5. RottnJP

    RottnJP Lifetime Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    O.K., here's the result of my research, for the couple o' people watching this thread.

    Reviews of the SPARC range from quite impressive:
    To less so:

    Various things I've read kind of sum up as:
    - Used as a 1x optic, the SPARC seems to be a decent value.
    - Don't count on the 2x doubler to be useful
    - Vortex Strikefire may be a better value, if you don't mind the larger size
    - Vortex customer support is solid- Lots of positive stories here.
    - Definitely o.k. as a back-up optic or for a secondary weapon, but may or may not fit the bill for a primary weapon depending how demanding you are.

    One of the big questions I had was the eye relief when used with the screw-in 2x doubler. A lot of reviews say eye relief goes down to a few inches with it, but a few reviews say its o.k. without quantifying it... So I went to the source, and tried calling Vortex...

    And I have to say, I'm impressed that when I said I had a technical question, I had an engineer on the phone within about 5 minutes. Very straight-forward, no-nonsense, no b.s. Definitely impressed by their communication level and lifetime guarantee- I'd feel pretty good about buying a vortex optic that met my requirements.

    That having been said- He compared the 2x doubler to the prize in a cracker jack box... "It may not be useful to you depending what you like, but it's still sort of nice to get..." I said that the reviews seemed to range from, "'The doubler is really handy, and I like it a lot,' to 'This thing is useless, and was added in just to help marketing sell more of these things...'" The engineer pauses and says, "Well, I'd have to say that depending on your perspective, both of those are correct..." I love this guy.

    Ultimately, he wouldn't give an exact number of inches for eye relief with the doubler, but said it cuts down a lot on the field of view, and the eye relief won't be good enough for a scout installation. (Some reviews put the FOV reduction at 25%-35% if you're looking for a number.)

    So given all that, I'm going to go with a low-mid variable scope in the scout mount I'm doing. (Nikon Monarch EER 2.5-8x) But, if you're looking at a rear-mount and want a red dot, you might give the SPARC a try if you're on a budget. At worst you get a decent enough optic to use on a shotty or something. The price is good enough that you can get a SPARC and vortex magnifier on a flip-to-side mount, and still have money left over compared to the $500+ cost of an aimpoint alone. You won't get aimpoint quality glass and dot sharpness, but if you are getting 75% of the quality for 35% of the cost, that may be a good trade for you.

    Finally, if you're looking at the doubler as a selling point, two other options to consider in this price range:
    Millett DMS-1: A decent 1-4x illuminated scope with a donut-dot reticle. 3"-4" eye relief, I got one of these and am replacing a cheap red dot on a M4gery. It's not premium glass, but it's actually pretty decent for the price ($200 from Nice bright reticle, catches the eye without being intrusive or distracting. Reticle shows up clearly even with the battery off, which is good since the battery life isn't anything to write home about.
    Burris AR-332: Fixed 3x AR-15 optic with CQB reticle. Checked out one of these briefly at Cabela's, and I liked it. It's $300, and I'd consider getting one for an AR. The reticle is not so busy as to be distracting (which was one of my concerns seeing pictures of the reticle.) Nice clear glass- Again, not like Premium German glass clear, but very respectable. Just about on par with my Leupold VX-II's, I'd say. By comparison, the EOtech 65 mil donut-dot reticle is, to me, annoyingly intrusive. It draws the eye too much, and makes you focus on the reticle, vs. a pure premium red dot (Aimpoint 2 MOA dot) which gives a nice level of "high visibility" while not drawing your eye explicity to the dot. The Aimpoint dot is just "there where you want it" without getting "in your way."

    I'd also add, after checking out a fair number of cheaper red dots, I have to admit that there is some extra noticable quality in the Aimpoint RDS... Is it worth paying double or triple the price? That depends on your circumstances. But, they are definately a step above the other RDS's I was able to lay eyeballs on. Sharpness of the dot, and clarity and color of the glass were clear differentiators in Aimpoint's favor. And, based on reviews and appearance, durability is likely to be another differentiator.

    So there you have it- My non-professional, non-hard-core, non-operator's view of entry-level AR optics. I am a dork, and did a bunch of research & looked at a bunch of optics & scopes over the last few weeks, primarily in the $100-$300 price range, so if you have specific questions about anything I didn't mention, feel free to ask or PM.