The “red-dot sight” and separate, add-on magnifier combination has been around for quite some time, with a host of variations: from 1.5x magnification all the way to 7x, fixed or quick release mounting options, side flip mounts and even modular mounts allowing the use of multiple optics, including NVD. Undeniably, this setup offers many advantages, all centered on the unparalleled ease of use, immediate target acquisition and situational awareness offered by the reflex dot sight, adding magnification when needed and “on the fly” with the flip mounts, and in some cases even night time capabilities.
Point is, decent setups are normally quite expensive, sometimes more than top tier variable magnification optics with 1-4 or 1-6x range. Enter Sightmark; we have seen the brand offer such setups in the past four years and heard good things about them. The introduction of the new Ultra Shot RAM reflex line (from the three models offered, called R, A and M Spec) seemed a very good opportunity to request a sample sight complete with a current magnifier to test.
Features of the Ultra Shot R-Spec reflex dot sight and XT-3 Tactical Magnifier
We received an Ultra Shot R-Spec reflex dot sight and XT-3 Tactical Magnifier with LQD Flip to Side Mount. The R-Spec – as in “Range Spec” - is the basic configuration of the sight, offering an excellent price point while providing a full feature set, while the XT-3 Magnifier has the best specs of the whole range of Sightmark add-on magnifiers.
The Ultra Shot R-Spec uses one sideway mounted CR123A battery, with up to 2000 hours life, and the illuminated red or green reticle can be selected from four different patterns with a selector lever. Two buttons on the left side digitally control power/color and brightness, in 10 steps. After one hour, the sight automatically switches off, and the reticle blinks as a battery low indicator. The sight is parallax free from 25 yards to infinity. Entirely built of 6061 alloy, the Ultra Shot R-Spec integrates a Picatinny railgrabber mount with quick-release lever.
The Sightmark XT-3 Magnifier features a 23mm objective lens, fully multicoated optic elements, a +/- 3 diopter eyepiece adjustment, turrets for reticle centering, and a rubber armor leaving out just the 30mm mounting tube. The LQD Flip to Side Mount is included. It uses a quick release lockable lever Picatinny rail interface. Materials of both optics seem of good quality, finish on the R-Spec sight is also good; the magnifier features easily operable anodized turrets and eyepiece diopter ring, and the stiff rubber armor appears really tough.
We mounted the full set on a .223 M4 semiauto sporting rifle equipped with a railed monolithic upper.
The Ultra Shot R-Spec mounts easily, and will work in any position, having infinite eye relief. The magnifier however has to be mounted in a way to offer good eye box – eye relief is a good 90 mm, however – and in our experience it is best to mount the magnifier first and then the reflex sight accordingly. Using low profile BUIS, it is also possible to co-witness a set of folding iron sights with the 3X magnifier flipped to the side. The reflex throw lever is low profile, the same cannot be said the lever of the LQD Mount. Zeroing the sight is simple and straightforward, thanks to the 120 MOA of adjustment range and the crisp and audible 1 MOA clicks.
Test shooting the complete Sightmark reflex sight and magnifier setup
The Ultra Shot R-Spec manual warns that selecting a different reticle after zeroing may cause a shift in point of impact, and that this is not a malfunction. Changing color from red to green and vice-versa has no influence on POI. We are not a fan of selectable reticle in any case, so we chose to go with the circle dot and never look back. Once done, zeroing held whatever we did and after a couple months playing with the setup and going through a rifle class with it, we can honestly say that we’re very happy with how stable it is.
The image of the reticle through the magnifier is excellent, actually the magnifier had us impressed for the image quality and field of view it offers; bright, sharp edge to edge and with extremely limited distortion overall. The “turrets” have no influence on the zero of the reflex sight allowing only to center the sight’s reticle inside the magnifier. They are smooth and easy to adjust, however they are not stiff enough to prevent possible unwanted movement. The eyepiece diopter ring is instead just perfect.
If we really have to find a weak link in the whole setup, it is in our opinion the LQD Flip to Side Mount. Don’t get us wrong: once mounted, it performs as intended, and is also very stable in either position. It returns to battery perfectly centered, every time. Also, it can be mounted so it either flips right or left.
However, it’s larger than most, featuring just a fixed 30mm ring (the available Sightmark PVS14-NVD adapter is an independent standalone mount, so it’s either one or the other), the lever sticks out, is painted black and scratches easily. Removing the magnifier in the field can result in loss of the small springs that operate the lever, although the mount will still be able to be locked on the rail without them. Again, the LQD Flip to Side Mount performs as intended all the way, however we feel there’s still some room for improvement.
Sightmark Ultra Shot R-Spec reflex dot sight: our conclusion
To wrap up, this Sightmark setup is a terrific combo for the suggested retail price of 483.98 Euro, and to answer the question in the title: you will get more than expected. In detail, MSRP for the two products are as following: SM 26031 Ultra Shot R-spec reflex sight, 202.99 euro; SM 19062 XT-3 Magnifier with flip mount, 280.99 euro. Optical and mechanical performance from both the reflex and the magnifier optics is outstanding at this price point; we were favourably impressed by the R-Spec zeroing stability and quality overall.
We also tested the 1-6x24 riflescope on the shooting range: click here to see our video! https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1066808133502551