Even though IWA 2020 did not take place, there have been a few interesting new red dot sight releases in the last year. With Shot Show 2021 and IWA 2021 cancelled, we can expect more red dot sight manufacturers to present their novelties online. While it is nowhere as thrilling as checking them out live, it is much safer and crucial in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Read on to find out who and what stirred the world of red dot sights in 2020.
There is no doubt that Holosun is company with a bright future. The brand has existed since 2013. Before that, the employees worked as an OEM manufacturer for other companies that sell optics. They created their own brand with a clearly set goal – to become one of the key players in the red dot sight industry. No other red dot sight manufacturer introduces upgrades in this field as rapidly as Holosun. With features such as solar cells, illumination of various colours, and titanium housings, their devices epitomize modernity.
This year, they have not left their fans indifferent. 509T-RD, their first-ever compact enclosed reflex red dot sight, was already presented at the beginning of last year as a prototype but was not released until late 2020. It boasts plenty of advanced features, including a titanium chassis and solar panels. As the optical part is enclosed, you will not have trouble using it in the rain. The dot is incredibly compact for an enclosed type. It is meant for mounting on pistols but mounting them on a rifle with a Picatinny adapter is just as sensible. Same as all other Holosun red dot sights, it comes with 12 illumination settings, the lowest two of which are night vision device compatible.
The biggest news in the field of red dot sights last year has to do with the release of 407K and 507K models. These were shown at Shot Show 2020 in Las Vegas, where they garnered plenty of attention. They are the smallest Holosun red dot sights yet, perfect for pistol use. The 407 model has a 6 MOA dot reticle, whereas the 507 model comes with a switchable reticle (2 MOA dot, 2 MOA dot and 32 MOA circle, circle only). Both feature a modification of the Shield footprint, 12 illumination intensity settings, a side CR1632 battery compartment, and CNC-milled 7075 Aluminium body. In the second half of 2020, Holosun launched the second generation of these models called ‘X2’. They introduced smaller buttons and placed them horizontally instead of vertically. Button lock mode was added.
Holosun made quite a few changes to their 507C and 407C series. At the beginning of 2020, they launched the upgraded V2 models, moving the battery compartment to the side and changing the battery standard from CR2032 to CR1632. Furthermore, they made the buttons bigger and placed them vertically instead of horizontally. Somewhere in September 2020, they presented the third generation of these red dot sights called ‘X2’. They added the button lock mode, preventing inadvertent setting changes. The bigger buttons were replaced with the smaller ones, placed horizontally – visually, these are the same as the ones on Gen I models.
Blaser launched the RD20 red dot sight, an improved version of the RD17. The window size has been increased from 20 to 36 mm, providing a wider field of view. A frame surrounding the lens measures 3.5 mm only, providing minimal obstruction. It comes with an integrated mount for the Blaser platform. Even though we have hoped for a Picatinny version, there have been no news of its release yet. Blaser redesigned the elevation and windage compartment, replacing the capped turrets with screws that are flush with the housing. It weighs 195 grams and comes with 30 illumination intensity settings.
In mid-2020, Vortex launched an upgraded version of their popular holographic red dot sight AMG UH-1. The second-generation model is lighter than its predecessor. It has a bigger window, and the illumination can now be used in combination with night vision devices. The battery compartment can be accessed without a tool. Optically, the red dot sight is great, there is no tint nor distortion.
GPO, a young company with headquarters in Germany, unveiled their first-ever red dot sight in the beginning of 2020. It is of the small tube type. 11 illumination settings make it useful in all lighting conditions – at the lowest settings, the device can even be paired with night vision. It features a side battery compartment, designed for the CR2032 standard. The turrets produce crisp clicks; they are capped but not shrouded. It comes with a low Picatinny mount. The footprint is similar to the one on Aimpoint Micro devices but not completely the same, which is why an adapter designed for Aimpoint Micro will not fit. The image is clear and without tint.
Burris is famous for their Fastfire series of red dot sights. They decided that 2020 was a perfect year for the refreshment of the series – at Shot Show 2020, the presentation of Burris Fastfire 4 took place. They appear to have some problems with the supply as we have not received any of these yet. Nevertheless, they look promising. Fastfire 4 red dot sights are uniquely shaped with modern, daring lines. This is the first Fastfire model to feature a switchable reticle (3 MOA dot, 11 MOA dot, 3 MOA circle dot, 11 MOA circle dot), which makes it incredibly universal. It is mainly designed for pistols, but we are sure that rifle users will love it as well. It operates on a CR1632 battery which is installed just behind the lens.
Aimpoint is an old hand at manufacturing red dot sights, and we are always eager to check out their new products. Last year, they astonished us with ACRO, a unique, enclosed compact red dot sight designed for pistols. Even though they have been somewhat reserved this year, they introduced CompM5B at the beginning of 2020, a variation of the CompM5 model. Aimpoint made changes to battery compartment, moving it to the left side (on the original model, it is on the right), where it appears to be least in the way. The most notable upgrade has to do with the turrets. The letter ‘B’ stands for ballistic; several caliber-specific turrets are enclosed in the box when you purchase this sight. It is perfect for someone who uses rifles of different calibers.
Delta Optical is known for its affordable, quality optics. Their red dot sight selection is getting bigger by the year. Delta’s newest red dot release goes by the name Stryker. We appreciate the modern look of this open reflex red dot sight, and above all, its huge window. The optics are clear, with minimal tint. The CR2032 battery compartment is on the side, and the footprint is the same as on C-more RTS and STS devices. Three dot sizes are available – 4 MOA, 6 MOA, and 8 MOA, meaning that it is aimed at both pistol and rifle users.
Minox introduced plenty of new products in 2020. They have not forgotten about the red dot sight category, introducing a small tube sight called RV1. It seems that many optics manufacturers are starting to recognize the potential in this field. The form factor is similar to the Aimpoint Micro, and the footprint is the same as on the famous Swedish red dot. The user can choose from 11 illumination intensity levels. With a price tag of 300 €, this red dot competes against Holosun Paralow, GPO Spectra, and some others.
Sig Sauer red dot sights are, without a doubt, something special. They pack modern, daring looks, combined with great optical quality. The new Romeo 3 MAX 1x30 is named after the IPSC World Champion Max Mitchel (he helped design the dot), but the name 'MAX' also refers to the big window of the new device. This is an ideal red dot for someone who competes in IPSC with a handgun. The big window allows for quick target acquisition, and twelve illumination settings make it perfect for all lighting conditions.
Based on what we have seen in the field of red dot sights this year, we can conclude that there are two form factors where the competition is the fiercest – compact open reflex sights and small tube sights. The enclosed compact type appears to be on the rise. The battery compartment at the bottom of the device is a thing of the past – most devices have it someplace else to facilitate the battery replacement procedure and avoid the re-zeroing process. Switchable reticles are becoming popular as they add to the versatility of the device. We cannot wait what 2021 has in store for us.