Steiner MPS, the fully enclosed red dot sight for tough operations – Practical use and advantages

Doubts about fully enclosed systems in pistol sights are often based on purely visual impressions: the box looks larger than open designs, therefore it is arguably heavier, and could be more likely to malfunction on handguns. But today about 60 grams of mass for enclosed sights are planned into OR (Optics Ready) models from the leading handguns manufacturers – the cover plates of OR millings are mostly made of steel and already weigh around 40 grams or more. Even slightly heavier red dot sights thus increase the slide weight only between 15 and 20 grams net. This is an uncritical weight increase for the functional aspects. The enclosed design therefore falsely suggests a higher weight than the actual difference to single-lens devices.

The red dot of the Steiner MPS appears somewhat larger in real life than shown here. If you want to shoot immediately using the iron sights under time pressure, you need a significantly higher OR rear sight and the appropriate front sight.

A starting premise: why do enclosed sights like the Steiner MPS exist?

Military/law enforcement missions are very hard on technology. Dirt, mud, even snow or frost quickly "blind" single-lens, i.e. open sights. You can experiment this: even a crumb covering the laser beam passage (pulse generator) of a single-lens system makes the red dot disappear. Mom's ironing water spray, on the other hand, once sprayed vigorously on the open sight, causes many dots to appear. Rain has exactly the same effect: each drop multiplies the beam effect on the lens.

As for the history of their development, red dot sights for hunting and sporting rifles were first developed by Aimpoint almost 50 years ago and launched on the market in 1975. Incidentally, the first device was also an enclosed system – a tube. Neither tubes nor single-lens open sights were initially of interest to Law enforcement agencies or the military. One was too large, the other too susceptible to environmental influences. In addition, for a long time neither of them liked pressurized water or drop tests, and they certainly didn't like the vibrating plate that was so popular for military certifications. That only changed in recent years.

The advantages: the MPS Micro Pistol Sight from Steiner in practice

In addition to shrunken dimensions and insensitivity to dirt or rain, modern, enclosed sights can now take a lot. The present Steiner MPS (which stands for "Micro Pistol Sight") with a 3.3 MOA dot offers waterproofing up to ten meters in addition to sihock resistance. Operating temperatures can range from -40 to +60 degrees Celsius. These are, for hunting or sporting use, probably more extreme environmental conditions than hunters or sport shooters will ever experience. The battery life of the Steiner MPS is said to be about 13,000 hours at medium brightness. There are a total of eight settings, by the way. They break down into six settings for daytime use and two settings for nighttime use. The user switches through the brightness settings using the buttons on the left side of the housing. To save power, the Steiner MPS offers a switchable, automatic deactivation when inactive. Battery replacement is easy with the top-mounted compartment. Neatly clicking adjustment screws also allow simple flat bladed screwdrivers to be used in the ample adjustment range if the included tool is not at hand.

They keep tight: both switches of the Steiner MPS are encased in waterproof covers made of rubber. The device withstands pressure up to ten meters of water depth. Visible on the top, the cover of the battery compartment.

Despite the theoretical considerations mentioned at the beginning, we subjected the Steiner MPS to a practical test on the shooting range. After all, reliable function is one of the most important criteria – especially for devices intended for law enforcement and military use. However, as expected, there were no surprises here: the rather weak 9mm Magtech load (115 grains full metal jacket) caused no troubles.

Steiner MPS technical specifications and price

Steiner MPS
Dimensions (LxWxH): 
45x31.5x30.5 mm
Weight (without Plate): 
2.05 oz/58 g
Red Dot: 
3.3 MOA, approx. 14 mm above the mounting base
Power Source, Lifetime: 
CR 1632, approx. 13,000 h at average brightness
Windage, Elevation Click Value: 
1 click = 1 MOA at 100 m
Adjustment Range: 
90 MOA windage/elevation
Objective Lens: 
20x16 mm
Dimensions are deceiving: enclosed red dot sights appear heavier than they are. Top devices like the Steiner MPS even weigh less than 60 grams.

Conclusion: areas of use for the Steiner MPS

If you are looking for "environmentally independent" red dot sights for tough use, you can't get around enclosed designs. The Steiner MPS offers innovative technology and high user-friendliness. Its robustness even qualifies it for law enforcement and military uses. 

In this respect, the Steiner MPS is a universal handgun sight that can take a lot of punishment in the civilian sector. Because not only the soldier or police officer benefits from the advantages: even for sporting or hunting, the new sight cuts a good figure in hard outdoor use. The price of less than €500 is fully justified.

More about the new MPS and other optics from the manufacturer can be found on the Steiner Optik website.

This article is also available in this language: