Prismatic sights aren’t the most popular option for shooters. Should you give one a try over a red dot? Well, it depends on your circumstances.
What’s the point?
Red dots are fast, durable, and easy on the budget. Why should anyone abandon the red dot for a niche optic? The prismatics have a few surprising advantages:
- “Always On”: For people wary of electronics, the low mag prisms will always have an reticle available even with no power.
- The reticle will not distort: A red dot can bloom on higher settings, but a prismatics etched reticle will remain precise. When I pushed my red dots to 400 yards, I had to lower the brightness to reduce the bloom. A prismatic wouldn’t have this problem.
- A solution for astigmatism: If you avoid red dots due to the apostrophe or grape cluster effect, a prismatic will solve that problem for you. One of the reasons I sold my Aimpoint was due to astigmatism. The dot was beginning to turn into a smear. My vision will only worsen from here out, so I ditched it.
- Low light: Some reports form users who have adopted prismatics are also noting that they can shoot a bit better in low light conditions. Not surprising since prismatics are set-up similar to a 1-4x variable stuck on 1x power. They gather a bit of light and funnel it into the eyebox.
- Some models have adjustable focus: They can be adjusted for focus as necessary which is a good feature.
As nice as those points are, they do have their tradeoffs: They are more critical of eye placement, are heavier than a RDS, and have a shorter battery life (though this is somewhat negated by having a black reticule all the time). You also need to ditch them to utilize a buis. Being that I sold my Aimpoint because of astigmatism, I think I can live with the trade-offs of a low magnification variable.
So for my future 1x purchases, I will be trying out prismatics. I’m not saying everyone should abandon red dots; keep one if it works for you… But if you find that your vision hates the RDS, prismatics can be your low magnification solution that is relevant to fast and accurate shooting. I hope manufacturers continue to evolve the design so we can see the bugs worked out of the few prismatics available.