Primary Arms Micro Dot Gen 3
Some people need the most rugged and reliable product they can find.
Other people want the most rugged and reliable product they can afford.
Still more people just want a product that looks cool and functions fairly well.
I can’t tell you what your needs are, or where you fall on this scale, but I can tell you what this product does, and what it might be good for. As always, in the interests of full disclosure, I was given this “Micro Dot” by Primary Arms for the specific purpose of abusing it. In the past, I was given a Bobro Aimpoint mount for T&E by this same vendor (Marshall at Primary Arms – and he hasn’t asked for me to return it yet…I’m not going to give it up easily).
The first thing you need to know about this optic is that it is a semi-clone of the Aimpoint T-1Â – or maybe I should say H-1, since this has no NV-specific settings and is not waterproof to the same depth. This particular model has a threaded “killflash” that is of surprising quality and effectiveness. Thus, the optic looks a little longer than a regular H-1.
The original price for the optic was $109 plus $29 for a riser, but because the factory messed up and the units aren’t purged with nitrogen, the price has been dropped $30. If you want the model without the killflash, the adjusted price is $59 plus $29 for the riser.
I’ll start with my negative comments.
- The “QD” lever included with the riser, which is a copy of the American Defense lever, is not very well constructed. It’s small and difficult to manipulate. It’s not constructed of the best materials. It is, however, a good enough copy of the ADM lever that real ADM components will drop in and offer a functional level of fit. Frankly, I’d just buy a Daniel Defense mount for $70 or so, instead of the included riser – although it has been hollowed out and if you happen to have spare ADM components, it’ll work very well. I’m told that the next iteration of these red dots will have a thumbscrew mount.
- The LED inside the optic is a little high and blocks a small portion of the field of view. This also precludes proper cowitness when using aftermarket mounts.
- Battery life seems to be about a week, maybe 8 days, of continuous use. This isn’t really bad, per se, it’s just something to be aware of. The unit takes commonly available CR 2032 batteries. For a training rifle, this should not be an issue.
- As I said before, the factory messed up – they drilled the mounting screw holes too deep and the units may have fogging problems if the standard “low” mount is swapped for a different mount. Several people, including myself, have attempted to induce fogging. I put it in a bathtub under running, scalding water, then into a freezer, then back into the tub. I noticed no fogging on the inside of the optic. The front glass under the killflash did fog, but that was on the outside, and I had no problems wiping that clear after removing the killflash.
- The dot does not stay on between brightness settings. Also, it rotates continuously. There is no “stop” at 0.
- Yes, it’s made in China.
- This optic is quite durable. You can see this here.
- It maintained zero after the above abuse. I don’t know if my “custom fit” ADM throw lever has anything to do with it (yes, the nut is sticking out of the mount, it works fine). Standard Aimpoint Micro mounts should work for this optic.
- Adjusting the brightness takes a good grasp of the knob. An errant blow to the knob will most likely not change the brightness. Clicks are tactile and barely audible.
- The killflash, battery cover, and adjustment caps have good threads and were easy to install and remove, even after big dents were put in them. The adjustment and battery caps/covers have O rings. The unit seems water-resistant as far as my bathtub was concerned. I may take it on a dive trip later this week.
- The dot is clear and crisp. On setting 11, it is definitely bright enough to use when the sun is out.
For those who have an Aimpoint Micro on a work gun, this may be a cost-effective alternative to spending another $500-600 to put one on a .22 or 5.45 training rifle. Alternately, you could use a .22 conversion in your work rifle and swap between an Aimpoint Micro zeroed for 5.56 and a Primary Arms micro zeroed for .22. It’s definitely durable enough that you won’t have to worry about it being damaged from a minor impact. I have had similar good luck with a Primary Arms M3 clone, which I compared with the Vortex Strikefire here.
I firmly believe, and so does the man who runs Primary Arms, that duty/deployment use calls for a real Aimpoint. Primary Arms does sell real Aimpoints. If your needs call for the most rugged red dot available, buy an Aimpoint. If you need an affordable duplicate for training or other purposes, consider the PA Micro Dot.