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2024 - Budget Competition Optics <$300

So it's 2024 - we've got a bunch of options in play that cost all the money - but what about those just wanting to dabble and dip their toes in the water? Here are a couple optics I've been messing with that I'm pretty fond of - and now we're starting to see 6 MOA dots make their way onto affordable offerings as well - which is pretty exciting. A couple things to run through on these optic choices - most of these companies are specifying their optics they'd like built while sourcing the manufacturing from China. All of them have US presences but I won't pretend to know any political connections to the CCP - if that's something important to you. Pretty much all of these have mangin lenses - which means that there will be some fish eye effect and slight magnification around the edges. All of the dots on this list are "day light bright" - I won't recommend dots that do not get bright enough for the Texas sun for a sporting purpose. All of these dots - with the exception of perhaps the Cyelee Bull are not intended to be bashed on fence posts. While I am not in love with the Chinese import model - in 2024 - it's undeniable that the importers are evolving faster than the big name brand military contract optics who remain pretty stagnant. None of these are intended to be duty rated and the price doesn't reflect it. None of the optics shown have heavy notch filters - or tint - that would be distracting - all are somewhere less than an SRO - though every dot will have a notch filter. All of the Optics Planet links - I have a discount code of HUMB that can save you 7% - but it may not work on all brands.

Cyelee Bull - Buy on Amazon - Price 2Q24 - $250

The Cyelee Bull is really interesting because it's hands down the biggest optic from a field of view standpoint - it's WAY bigger than an SRO or Holosun 507 Comp. It also is more durable than most big window optics due to the huge thick rails on each side of the shroud. It mounts on an RMR footprint so will work on many pistols - but the lens does cantilever forward quite a bit - so make sure your lens doesn't overhang the breech face on whatever pistol you're looking at. The window - while obnoxiously large - is nearly perfect for a practical shooting gun - but it comes with downsides. First - it's really heavy - at 2.5 ounces. This may change how your gun behaves in recoil - I have some testing scheduled to play with different weight optics to understand this more deeply. Most practically - it's wider than the IDPA box so is illegal for IDPA. It is legal on the USPSA side of the house - but - most kydex style holsters will need to be modified to accommodate the absolutely massive window.

It's made from 7075 aluminum (ideal) and takes a CR1632 battery - which isn't my favorite - but it boasts a 50,000 hour battery life. I haven't had it on a gun long enough to know whether that's the case or not. The battery is secured with a side mount battery tray - you will need to put a dab of blue loctite on this screw. I have lost this screw before - I reached out to Cyelee via instagram and they shipped me new screws - their customer service is off the charts good. Windage and elevation turrets adjust via a fine tip flat head screw driver. There are very quiet audible clicks with each adjustment - but they're so faint you likely won't be able to hear them with hearing protection on.

As a brand - Cyelee seems very hungry to innovate in the space and the handful of optics I've looked at have all been good quality. Usually the optics are available in red and green I enjoyed the matches I shot with this optic on the gun - but it's a big boy for sure and probably isn't for everybody. It'd be killer on a 22LR rifle. Cyelee is currently directly sold through their website or Amazon.

Swampfox Justice II - Buy on Optics Planet - Buy on Brownells - 2Q24 price $207

The Swampfox Justice II is probably one of my favorites going right now. The window size/shape is larger than a Holosun 507 COMP - but the emitter can be picked up in a simple 6 MOA dot or multi-reticle option. The lens doesn't have too much distortion - which is nice - but it does have around the same - maybe less distortion than an SRO. The window does cantilever forward over it's RMR footprint - just like an SRO - but doesn't extend forward quite as much. The housing is similarly 7075 aluminum - but based on the geometry of the shroud I'd expect similar durability to an SRO - which is to say - not made for duty.

The battery is a CR1632 installed via top mount and requires a torx bit to open - not my favorite design - I prefer side trays - but it's not so bad. The optic weighs 1.79 ounces - slightly heavier than an SRO at 1.6 ounces - I guess that's what happen when you use the same alloy and make the window bigger. The turrets adjust with a fine tip screw driver - same as the Bull - but do have tactile as well as audible clicks - which is nice. The buttons on either side of the optic adjust nicely and have a quality feel to them. I have looked at both the multi reticle and the 6 MOA optic - I found the ring on the multi reticle optic kind of cuts out in the lower like 1/10th of the window - which doesn't distract from performance but does aggravate my OCD. Obviously - I'm a fan of the 6 MOA dot and it would be my recommendation. It's available in red and green reticles.

I'm a pretty big fan of this form factor, price, and options available.

Gideon Optics Omega - Buy on Amazon - 2Q24 Price - $199

Gideon Optics is a new kid on the block but they have a pedigree from some of the other import optic shops but their headquarters is based in the Houston area. They have a very strong warranty for returns so it makes taking the risk of trying a new brand pretty low.

The Omega - basically - is an SRO without the heavy price tag. If you wanted a dot for a back up to your SRO but don't want to spend $500-$550 to support it - this one makes a lot of sense. It is nearly identical to the SRO in dimension - from the RMR footprint with the cantilever forward to the window size and how the sight presents. The caveat is that it's available with either a 3MOA/45 MOA circle or 3MOA only in both red and green options. At one point they were going to offer these in 6 MOA and they still might in the future - but as I write this it's just 3 MOA. The battery is again a CR1632 and the turrets are again adjusted by a fine tip flat head screw driver. The turrets are ringed with visual ticks as well as audible/tactile clicks. The battery door requires a Torx bit to open similar to the Swampfox. If you really like the circular look of an optic window - this one does well. ONE DOT I DO NOT RECOMMEND Zulisy Oak Plus. I picked up a couple of these on Amazon as the price was incredible at just over $100. It's a huge window forward cantilever optic - gets plenty bright - where I start to lose interest in the optic is the turrets don't have much in the way of tick marks on the turret and there are no clicks at all when you adjust it. I wasted a ton of time and ammo trying to get this dot sighted in. So buyer beware - if you're OK with a longer sight in time - then have at it - but I'd rather spend more and save the time and ammo on the range and get something that is easier to zero. So those are three awesome options for competition dots that don't break. links above are affiliate links and generate a small commission with no additional cost to you.

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