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Vortex SPARC AR Review – Budget Red Dot Sight!

Looking for a new red dot sight? Maybe the Vortex SPARC AR should be on your list. Let's take a look and see if it may work for you.
Vortex Sparc AR

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There are so many Vortex red dot sights on the market, trying to choose one can feel a bit overwhelming. Any one of them could be a great fit for your next trip to the range, or next hunting outing, but how do you narrow them down or choose without actually mounting it and sending some lead downrange?

We will take a look at the Vortex SPARC AR and exactly what it offers, both the ups and the downs, and see if it might be a worthwhile addition to your optics assortment.

SPARC AR Summary

The Vortex SPARC AR has 10 illumination settings to fully adapt to virtually any level of ambient light, with the lowest two being compatible with night-vision equipment. The 2 MOA dot reticle is an uncomplicated circular design with a clean and uncluttered picture, free of holdover points.

This sight takes a single AAA battery and depending on the illumination setting, stretches that battery for between 300 and 5000 hours. The internal circuitry even includes an automatic shutoff to further prevent unnecessary battery drain.

The aluminum housing has an anodized coating combined with Vortex’s tried and true weatherproofing to ensure that you will never have an issue with corrosion or stealth-canceling shine. The housing ends in a built-in rail mounting setup that works with either Picatinny or Weaver bases.

Now we will take a look at each feature and function on an individual basis, to see how they stack up.

Features At-A-Glance:

  • Mount: Picatinny or Weaver
  • Brightness: 10 brightness levels, featuring 2 compatible with night-vision
  • Reticle: 2 MOA red dot sight
  • Shut-off: Automatic reticle shut-off
  • Weight: 7.5 oz.
  • Warranty: Unbeatable repair or replace warranty
  • MSRP: $259.99
  • Street Price: $199.99

Magnification And Reticle Type

Due to the physical reticle and lens design, the Vortex SPARC AR does not offer any degree of magnification. The trade-off is that the red dot is easy to immediately acquire, even in full sun.

To save battery, you can lower the illumination through 10 levels of brightness, and once you hit the lowest two settings, you can even incorporate your night-vision gear. Yes, you read that correctly, you can blend your Vortex SPARC AR red dot with your night-vision of choice in order to get the benefits of both pieces of equipment.

The brightness adjustment is actually made from rear-facing digital controls, and since this red dot sight is so intuitive and user-friendly, it will retain your preference even between power cycles. Once you have your favorite setting, chances are you will not need to change it for quite some time.

As for the reticle itself, it is plain and uncomplicated. It is a single, clean, red dot with no hash marks or holdovers. Whether this a pro or a con will largely depend on your preferences. If you like clean reticles with no extra clutter that facilitate super fast target acquisition, then this is likely a bonus. If you prefer a few holdovers, then this might not be an optimal choice for you.

This sight uses a single AAA battery to create the red dot. With only a single battery, this mighty mouse can deliver 300 hours of use on the top level of illumination. If you drop that brightness down a bit, you can achieve up to a massive 5000 hours of service. That is over 200 full days of use. A pack of batteries could feasibly last you the better part of a decade. Now that is certainly an economical use of power.

In addition to this massive battery life, the internal circuitry of the SPARC AR will automatically shut off after 12 continuous hours of illumination. This is a wildly generous time limit and one that you likely will not even reach under normal circumstances. The sight will not turn the dot off if you are still using it.

The auto-shutoff feature is a twofold safety feature that both protects the battery life, but also keeps the sight circuitry from becoming damaged. On top of this, there is a small compartment on the front of the sight, so you do not have to worry about keeping track of a spare battery, the sight will do that for you.

As a red dot sight, it has an unlimited eye relief, so it makes a perfect optic solution for powerful and high-recoil weaponry of nearly any type. The lenses are coated with a multilayer of patented and proprietary Vortex chemicals that are formulated to provide an increased amount of light transmission and to increase overall durability.

Ideal Range

Since it is a red dot sight, the Vortex SPARC AR is really geared towards targets that are 100 yards away or less. Since it does not magnify but provides a clean and clear 2 MOL red dot, you should be well equipped to acquire targets in either tactical or urban environments. However, combining the lowest two brightness settings with night-vision equipment and a still environment may increase the effective range considerably.

Parallax, Windage, & Elevation

Since this is purely a 1x sight with no magnification, a parallax dial is not needed.

There is a pair of adjustment dials for both elevation and windage, located on the top and side of the optic, respectively. Both can be adjusted by up to 90 MOA. Unlike many other windage and elevation dials, the SPARC AR has dials with slightly raised ridges to facilitate fingertip adjustment, which is extremely convenient.

In addition to this, the dials also have the slots for adjustment with a small coin or pocket screwdriver. It might take a little practice and some patience, to get the hang of the fingertip adjustment, but it is definitely easier than digging out a screwdriver, and it makes it extremely simple to adjust your windage and elevation while in the field.

Options For Mounting

The versatility of the SPARC even presents in the mounting variability. It includes a mounting base that is part of the sight’s construction, and it can work at two mounting heights, either 1/3 co-witness, or absolute co-witness. The optic includes a removable shim to allow switching between these two height options and may facilitate mounting your SPARC AR to a much wider variety of weaponry than you may think.

The rail mounts perfectly and effortlessly to either Picatinny and Weaver bases, so no matter what you want to put it on, chances are that it will fit. Mounting does need a T-10 Torx wrench, but one is included in the box, so no worries there.

Size

This powerful and versatile optic is surprisingly small, considering how mighty it is. The sight is a diminutive 2.9 inches long, 1.08 inches tall at the ocular side, and 1.09 inches tall at the objective lens end. The objective lens diameter is 22mm, so there is no wasted space here. This optic is pure function, from lens to lens.

Durability & Weatherproofing

Like all Vortex sights, the SPARC AR is designed for weatherproof usage, in no small part due to fog-proof and waterproof sealing and purging. O-ring seals stop dust, debris, and moisture from entering in any and all shooting environments. You can use this in a rainstorm one day, and blowing dust and scorching heat the next.

Created from a single piece of ultra-lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum, it is then given a hard-anodized coating and durable rubber armor. The anodizing serves a dual purpose on the SPARC, it protects against elemental corrosion and reduces possible glare by imparting a matte finish to the aluminum chassis. This solid construction can withstand enormous amounts of recoil and impact.

Ideal For Long Duration Use

This sight is a clear winner for tactical, urban, or other close-quarter encounters, or for target practice with no magnification. The amazing battery life, operational simplicity, and fast target acquisition make this an absolutely indispensable piece of equipment for those who want something to help boost their speed and accuracy at 100 yards or less.

With the life expectancy of the battery combined with the ease of use and the signature Vortex improvements, this is easily one of the top red dot sights on the market today.

Things We Would Change

One of the only things that we would change with regard to the form and function of these optics, would be adding the ability to change the size of the reticle (I know, I know), which is permanently set to 2 MOA. Some people find 1 MOA to be a more universal baseline and may have wanted the option to get that extra little bit of precision.

This certainly is not a deal-breaker though, as the 2 MOA dot is a negligible increase in size, and certainly makes up for it by being extremely visible, even in bright sunlight.

Conclusion

The Vortex SPARC AR is an amazing red dot optic in nearly every respect. The feature set and visibility of the reticle are worth the price alone. However, when you add in the phenomenal battery life, extra battery storage, and the lens and circuit saving automatic shutoff, what you have is an extraordinary value that would be an invaluable asset to both experienced and novice marksmen alike.

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