A couple of months ago, the fine folks at Viridian Weapon Systems reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in testing out and reviewing one of their new reflex sights they are getting ready to bring to the market. Now this isn’t the first time I’ve had a manufacturer send me a product to review, but this was a milestone for this blog as it’s the first time I’ve been asked to review a product that has yet to be released. Not only was I flattered. I was also very much intrigued in particular by one of the reflex sights which shared similar dimensions and mounting footprint to the pistol mounted red dots y’all have seen me go on and on about, but with a green dot instead. What else could a fellow gun nerd do in this situation other than agree to slap the dot on a pistol and spend some time perforating targets with it? And that’s exactly what I did.
Now before getting into my first impressions and taking a detailed look at this optic, I want to disclose my relationship with Viridian. I am affiliated with Viridian which means that I will receive a small percentage of any sale that results from a reader making a purchase directly from Viridian using a special link I provide either on this blog, the blog’s email newsletter, social media, or other communications at no extra cost to the reader. Additionally, Viridian provided the optic I tested and is reviewed in this post at no cost to me. Other than that, there is no compensation that will be provided nor are there any conditions for the opinions and findings I share in this review or other communication channels. As long time readers know, I do my best in providing a fair and honest review. Hence, I share this for the sake of transparency and trust.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the dot. Enter the RFX35.
Some details regarding this dot are being finalized as I’m writing this. I will share what I know, but remember that some of these details might change between when this post is published and the time the dot hits the market.
As of writing, the MSRP of this dot is set at $289. This is an attractive price that I find to be competitive with other value-priced entry-level pistol-mountable open-emitter reflex sights like the Sig Sauer Romeo Zero, Holosun 407-series, and Vortex Venom. Unfortunately, I have next to no experience with any of those optics so I can’t offer a comparison. However, if I was considering picking up a Viridian RFX35, then I would be doing my research on those other dots since they are in a similar price range.
So what can one expect to get with the RFX35? Again, some of this may change, but from the marketing materials I’ve read and what I received I think it’s fair to say that one will receive:
- A lens cleaning cloth,
- a CR2032 battery,
- a few Torx and Hex tools (more on this later),
- a Picatinny mount (which is a pretty sweet included addition),
- and the reflex sight itself.
When I unboxed the optic the first thing I thought to myself is that the dot looked and felt like the wild child green-eyed offspring of a Trijicon SRO and a Trijicon RMR. Let me unpack that a bit. The physical shape reminds me quite a bit of the SRO in terms of the lens housing and lens shape which offers a relatively large field of view. In terms of overall size and weight, it’s closer to the RMR. The RFX35 uses the RMR mounting footprint. Additionally, the location of the battery compartment and the adjustment controls which are found in similar locations. There are several differences which I’ll cover in a bit, but overall the dot felt familiar given the SRO and RMR are the two pistol-mounted dots I’ve spent most time with.
Walking this 1 ounce dot from front to rear, we first find the objective lens housing which is manufactured from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. The housing, like the SRO, hangs over the front of the mounting footprint base, but it’s not nearly as pronounced as the SRO. As such, I suspect the possibility exists that it could interfere with ejection since the housing happens to hang over the barrel hood, but much less likely given the overhang of the RFX35 housing is much shorter than the overhang of the SRO housing. Nevertheless, it’s something to keep in mind if one intends to mount this optic on a small subcompact pistol or intends to install rear sights in front of the optic (which is something that is growing in popularity).
The lens housing houses a fairly round 22x26mm non-magnified objective lens which provides a noticeably large viewing window and reflects the crisp 3 MOA green dot back at the user. The clarity of the lens is good. I did notice a bit of image distortion likely due to parallax found on the outer edge of the lens when the optic is not well aligned with the target. However, the dot is outside of the view port when that happens and I didn’t notice the image distortion when the dot was present in the viewport.
The dot reflected off the objective lens is crisp and easy to see. One of Viridian’s differentiators is the usage of a green aiming reference which they claim to be easier to see. There is probably some science here to backup that claim that is beyond my understanding that I didn’t research. For what it’s worth, I did find the green dot easy to pick up when presenting the pistol and easy to track during recoil. I didn’t have any noticeable problems with transitions to report. Was it easier to pick up than a common red dot? The truth is I didn’t notice much of a difference. I’ve also heard that some folks with astigmatism may experience less burst with green dots than red dots, however, I have no way of adequately testing that claim. At the end of the day, the green dot worked well and was functional.
On the sides of the housing, we find the brightness controls. Just like the Trijicon reflex sights I’ve been comparing the RFX35 to, we find a control on the left side that increases the brightness and a control on the right side that decreases the brightness. Unlike the Trijicons, the controls are smaller and offer a very crisp tactile click when using them. The RFX35 offers ten (10) different brightness settings – two of which are compatible with and intended for use with night vision devices. The RFX35 doesn’t offer an auto setting. As such, there are no lockout or lock-in modes to address.
Just behind the housing, we find the CR2032 battery compartment under the unit itself. This is reminiscent of the RMR where the battery compartment is found. Several folks have expressed this to be a pain point since one must dismount the optic in order to change the battery. I don’t personally see this as a problem since I personally, and encourage others to, change optic batteries and reconfirm optic zeros annually anyway. I suspect folks who do the same will find the 30K hour battery life combined with the built in auto-off and instant-on features mean the battery won’t have to be changed more frequently.
Just beyond the battery compartment and back on the top side we find the green emitter which I’ve found no issues with yet.
Behind the emitter we find the elevation adjustment dial on the top of the dot and the windage adjustment dial on the right side of the dot. The adjustment dials require the use of an included small Hex wrench. When I was zeroing the optic on the PSA Dagger I slapped it on, I didn’t notice any tactile feedback. Generally speaking on a dot this size, I expect tactile feedback to be present indicating each 1 MOA adjustment, but it wasn’t there. This made zeroing the optic a bit frustrating and required a bit more ammo expenditure to get it dialed in. The frustration was two-fold, starting with the lack of tactile feedback and followed by having to use a small hex tool that I wouldn’t normally otherwise take with me to the range or keep in a pack. This wasn’t a make it or break it deal to me because at the end of the day I was able to zero the optic and the optic functioned well.
So that’s the optic from front to rear and I’ve mentioned it functioned well more than once. Let me expand on that. After zeroing the dot, I sent a couple hundred rounds down range at Bentley’s Firearms and Indoor Range. This included several rapid fire drills, some slow fire, and transitions. Overall, the green dot worked well and maintained zero throughout the process. The thing I was most impressed with was the crisp dot combined with the large window. This made the dot very easy to track and provided a ton of feedback during the drills.
I definitely need to send a lot more rounds downrange with this dot before I start making suggestions to folks, but I have formed some initial impressions that I think are worth sharing. Given its target MSRP, the RFX35 offers a lot of value. I can’t think of another reflex sight with a comparable view port and lens clarity that is in the same price bracket. It also appears to be functioning well and withstanding light use. As such, I think this is a good entry level optic for folks who are looking to put a dot on a pistol that is shot for recreational purposes and are developing an interest in shooting a local competitive match with said pistol.
I am curious to see how this reflex sight holds up to more use and the accidental bump or drop. Assuming it continues to do well in those areas then this optic might be a good budget-friendly option for everyday defensive carry. Since I’ve enjoyed it so far, I will continue to allocate and send more rounds downrange with it and see how it holds up and will share my opinions as they evolve.
Anyone interested in getting their hands on one of these should start checking with their favorite online and brick-and-mortar retailers since the RFX35 is slated to hit the shelves in April.