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Red dots have been a fixture on modern sporting rifles since the early 2000’s, which was about the first time the author fired a service M4 with the M68 optic. Aimpoint and Eotech have led the herd since the early days after securing very lucrative defense contracts, but since then reputable manufacturers have entered the shooting scene to offer affordable, durable, and advanced optics.
Prism sights have presented themselves as a viable hybrid optical system; they provide the rapid acquisition of a red dot with the stability and magnification of a traditional scope, all on a unit which is sturdy and reliable.
Is It Worth Your Money?
VORTEX SPITFIRE 3X PRISM
Prismatic optics are more expensive as a general rule than their cousin, the ubiquitous red dot optic.
The reasons for the added expense are primarily due to the durable design which integrates mount into the optic since it is milled from a single piece of metal stock.
The reticle is etched into the glass in the same way as a traditional magnified optic, alleviating the drift typical to red dots, yet it is lighted for low-light target acquisition much like a red dot.
It runs about $150 over the compact Sparc, but retails for about the same as the variable power Strike Eagle, sans mount. Whether it is worth the money depends on what and how you shoot.
Scope Review & Breakdown
- Ease of use and reliability
- Battery life
The scope is built with a reticle optimized for the standard .55 grain 5.56x45mm cartridge. The reticle, dubbed EBR-556B, has ranging marks for 0-500 yards allowing it to be used efficiently and effectively in CQB environments as well as medium range engagements.
One of the inherent beauties of a prism optic vice a standard dot optic is that if the battery runs out or the illumination was to fail otherwise, the prism optic is not going to be taken out of the fight; the etched reticle is still fully functional without lighting. While there is no magnification adjustment, it does have reticle focus and is designed to do so fast. The reticle color is red and green, giving the shooter the option to use either at any given time.
The item is built with two standard Picatinny rails mounted on the top, each canted at 45° angles to enable mounting of fast action reflective sights such as the Venom, for ultra-fast target acquisition in a CQB.
Who is this scope for?
Type of Shooter
Type of Gun
VORTEX SPITFIRE 3X PRISM
Vortex Optics has not been around for all that long, but they have made serious waves due to their commitment to excellence, outstanding reputation for sales support, and an innovative product line. Prism scopes are a great option to cover a variety of shooting scenarios, which is essential for the average shooter.
Let us be honest: most shooters do not get to shoot often enough to optimize high-end optics. Having an optic that really can pull double- or triple-duty and is built like a tank is a godsend to the average shooter, and the Spitfire is a really good option for this buyer.
When you buy it for your AR-pattern unit, it is ready to mount and shoot. Just put it on, zero it, and put it away, knowing that you can take that 300-yard shot on a coyote and you can take that 10-yard shot when a badger is outside of the chicken coop.
Other Options Worth Looking At
Primary Arms is my new favorite supplier of optics. They are inexpensive, and their reviews are almost universally excellent. Their series of prism optics is quite a bit broader than Vortex’s, having several fixed-magnification options specifically for 5.56×45 items, but they also have models with reticles specifically for .30 caliber including .300 Blackout, 7.62X39 (AK-pattern), and 7.62X51/.308. +
Burris offers a 3X prism scope, the AR-332, which is similar to the Spitfire and has excellent reviews. Any of these would be outstanding options for the shooter who has it in mind to transition to the fixed-power prism optic.