As requested… A list of stuff I have tried and my review of the cheap Chinese red dot knockoffs from AliExpress.
- Purchased most of them well over 1-2 years ago, however, prices are still quite reasonable. I paid around $25, because I expected each one to break.
- I just found the models, links are not necessarily what I bought, just the first instance I found.
- Optics that look the same usually are, just rebranded.
All of the above.
Can take a lot of abuse.
I had them on most guns without an issue.
I did say most… A day on shotguns with a bucket full of slugs and things got a little messy. The top knob (where you see numbers) - brightness and colour control got lose. Still works fine, but something got loosened in there. I could probably take a look, but it works, so whatever.
On 22LR and pump action 223 (Rem. 7615), they work fine.
Applying the same abuse test case. A shotgun and slugs
- Steaming pile of turd.
- Did not hold zero.
- Fell apart. Literally.
Build quality - fine. No complaints.
Usage, I found it to be a little too “tunnelly” so to speak. Like looking down a cardboard you get when you run out of paper towel or foil… Just didn’t do it for me. Felt very restricted and too long to be 0-magnification red dot.
Final thoughts, bad design, not good - don’t like.
In fact I tried a few of similar length and only one did it for me (below). The rest felt restricted and gave me tunnel vision, which seemed pointless considering it’s a red dot.
This one been with me for a while, took all the abuse I could throw at it, lever shotgun, straight-pulls, Remington 7615… Still going strong. An absolute beast of a thing and actually a good looking red dot for ‘tactical’ look.
This one survived all abuse I’ve thrown at it, so definitely a keeper.
These days I am a little wiser and use Vortex Crossfire Red Dot II on all rifles/shotguns that I use red dots on. Not cheap, but very cheap, compared to similar from other brands.
- Same abuse case, a day with slugs and straight-pull. Perfectly fine.
- reticle could be a nicer, but for red dot applications it will do.
- can be mounted with or without high bracket.
Looks and form factor… I like this one a lot, for any tactical looking toy. I have a couple, but the reticle I have to say is not as good as the cheap and cheery one above. But I do like this one over all.
Now! For mounting. I once had to drill out a bolt on a mount and that was a lesson learned… You get what you pay for. Pretty much all of my rings/mounts are quality. You can monkey tighten that shit and you’ll be fine. However, ALL Chinese models come with their own mounts and they are made of cheap aluminium and torque-head bolts feel soft and shit. If you over-tighten it, you will:
- strip the bolt and will need to drill it out (which I have done).
- you can snap the mount itself.
- You can literally pull the bolt through the mount.
Worth knowing about, use Loktite and don’t over do it, if you are going down this route.
Overall opinion on Chinese red dots, not bad. For $20 if you find the look you like for a gun you plink with, I think it’s a pretty good option.