The use of mini red dot sights has been more popular in recent years, and with the amount of variety available today it can be tough to choose the best optic for you. Do you want a mini red dot for a pistol, as a compact optic on a rifle for quick target acquisition, or do you need one as a backup to a ranged scope? Mini red dots have a world of possible uses.
Vortex makes several high quality, dependable optics in the mini red dot category. Deciding on the brand is the first step, and the quality (and lifetime warranty) of Vortex makes them a smart choice. This article will be taking a look at two popular Vortex optics – the Venom and the Viper – to help you decide which will work best for you.
Scope Description and Features
The Venom is a compact, non-magnified mini-red dot sight. It is available with a 3 MOA red dot, with the precision you need for a rifle, or with a 6 MOA red dot that is a perfect companion for handguns. Both models of the Venom are identical in all other aspects.
The Venom is constructed using a durable aluminum body, and a fully multi-layered coated lens for a clear sight image. The top-load battery lets the sight stay mounted during battery changes, a departure from most mini-red dot sights that must be removed to access the battery compartment. Brightness controls are easily accessible along the optic’s side, and the MOA adjustments are set into the body to protect against inadvertent changes.
The Venom features a 14 hour auto-shutoff. It is powered by a CR1632 battery, and the battery can last from 150 hours on the brightest setting to up to 30,000 hours on the lowest setting.
- Height: 1.02″ at front, 0.41″ at rear
- Width: 1.11″
- Length: 1.9″
- Weight: 1.1 oz
The Viper has a very low profile and is designed for handguns with slide cut-outs to accept mini-red dots. The 6 MOA red dot allows for quick target acquisition at close to medium range. No other dot sizes are available with the Viper.
The Viper’s size allows it to co-witness with suppressor height pistol sights. The multi-coated lens increases light transmission and reduces glare for extreme clarity. It has a low-glare matte finish and is waterproof to protect against the elements.
Like the Venom, the controls are located along the side of the sight. It also has the same battery life as the Venom, although it uses a CR 2032 battery. The sight must be removed from the mount for battery changes.
- Height: 1.02″ at front, 0.33″ at rear
- Width: 1.06″
- Length: 1.81″
- Weight: 1.1 oz
Head to Head Comparison
Both of these sights are extremely similar in size, quality, and performance. Both are durable and waterproof, both are also shockproof for taking the sustained impact from recoil. The Venom is slightly bigger than the Viper, making the Venom a great choice for rifles and the Viper a better option for pistols. The battery changes on the Viper are more difficult, but due to this design it does have a more compact profile.
Both also include the same accessories upon purchase – a Picatinny mount, appropriate sized Torx wrench for adjustments, battery, lens cloth, and protective cover. As with all Vortex optics both are covered by the Vortex VIP Unlimited Lifetime Warranty. This warranty protects the user against failures and defects for the life of the optic.
Vortex Venom Pros
- Available in different dot sizes
- A great choice for handguns or long guns
- Waterproof and Shockproof
- Top load battery access
Vortex Venom Cons
- Slightly larger than the Viper
- CR 1632 battery not as common as the CR 2032
Vortex Viper Pros
- Low profile design
- Great for pistols
- Can co-witness with tall pistol sights
- Very compact
Vortex Viper Cons
- Only one dot choice
- Battery changes are more difficult
Cost and Value Comparison
The Viper and Venom both are available on the market for under $250, making them an extremely affordable mini-red dot option. Many other manufacturers’ mini red dots available today cost hundreds more than these sights. They are virtually identical in form and function.
Both models have the same controls, the same build quality and features, and the same battery life – although they do use different batteries. The main difference between these two is that the Venom is available in two different dot sizes and has a slightly larger size than the Viper.
The Vortex Venom was designed as a do-all mini dot optic. The choice of reticle options mean it can be used on a rifle for more precision shooting by using the smaller dot, or as a backup to a magnified scope when using the larger dot.
The larger dot size is the preferred application for pistols. As pistol red dots have become more popular many manufactures are offering factory models capable of accepting red dots. The Venom is a great option if you need a mini-red dot to fulfill multiple roles.
The Vortex Viper’s primary design is for use on handguns. Its smaller size and low profile were designed specifically for pistols slides that are cut for mini red dots. The larger dot size allows for quick targeting and accuracy.
It can be used as a rifle sight as well, although this was not the intended purpose. If you need a high speed, low mount mini red dot for a pistol application the Viper is a fantastic option.
Both the Venom and Viper are great options if you need a compact mini red dot optic. While the battery life can be short on the brightest setting, the auto shutoff and long battery life on the lower settings helps to make up for this. Both sights are virtually identical in construction, quality, and features, so the choice you must make depends on the intended use for the sight.
If you need a mini red dot that can fill multiple roles the Venom is a superior choice over the Viper. If you need a mini red dot specifically for handgun use the Viper becomes the preferred choice. Either way you are getting a high quality mini red-dot that will last you a lifetime.
There are mini red dot optics on the market today that cost two to three times the price of these Vortex models. However, it is very difficult to stay in the same price range as the Vortex while receiving the same value. Several cheap options are available from both XTS and Firefield for under $100 range if you want to tinker with the idea before purchasing a quality optic.
On the other hand, Trijicon is well known for making some of the best optics available today and they make high end mini optics that start around $350. Several more expensive models are available as well. The combination of quality, features, and lifetime warranty make Vortex the top choice for your next optic.