Primary Arms Classic Series Reflex Sights

More and more value-priced pistol-mountable red dots are being introduced to the market. As with all value priced optics, they aren’t perfect, but the real question is, “Are they good enough?” Let’s look at the new Primary Arms Classic Series red dots.

Primary Arms introduced a new series of optics to their optics line up today – the Classic Series. I was lucky enough to get early access to two of the optics in this series, the new Classic Series Mini Reflex Sight and the Classic Series Micro Reflex Sight, and I’m pretty excited about both of them for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that they were both designed with the intention to be mounted on pistols and, as many of you know, I’m a big fan of pistol mounted optics. The next reason is that both of these optics have a really low price point and Primary Arms has an excellent track record of producing solid value priced optics. As such, I have high hopes for both of these optics as potential options for folks who have been wanting to get in on the red dot life but haven’t pulled the trigger due to cost associated with existing high quality pistol optics.

Before I get into the details, I want to disclose that both of these optics were provided by Primary Arms at no cost to me. While I am affiliated with Primary Arms and will receive a small commission should a reader decide to purchase an item from Primary Arms after clicking a link on this blog, I was not offered nor will I receive any monetary compensation for writing this review. The opinions in this post are my own and I won’t hold back any punches should they be warranted because my mission continues to be to get good information into the hands of readers like you.

As one would expect, given that these optics hail from the same series of products, there are a lot of similarities between the two optics. The housing on both of them is made from 6061 aluminum alloy. Both have a multi-coated lens. Both have ten brightness settings. Both are powered by a CR2032 battery that is installed under the optic (similar to the Trijicon RMR) and have a battery life of over 40,000 hours when used with medium brightness settings. Both have a 3 MOA red dot. Both have a 60 MOA elevation and windage adjustment range. Both are backed by the same Primary Arms Optics Lifetime Warranty. Both include a lens cloth, manual, thread locker, installation and adjustment tools, a rubber optic cover, and a battery as part of the overall package. And finally both have a MSRP of $149.

The Classic Series Mini Reflex Sight (which I will refer to as the Mini from here on out) was designed with the compact to full size pistol in mind. The mounting footprint adheres to the RMR pattern. As such, it made sense to me to slap on the RMR-ready PSA Dagger which I’ve been using to test and evaluate other optics that use this mounting pattern. I had no problems installing the Mini other than being unable to find the torque specification in the manual which I would normally expect to find in the installation section. I defaulted to torquing the mounting screws down to 15 in-lbs since that’s what most other optics that use this footprint pattern call for. It’s worth mentioning that this optic also includes a Picatinny rail mounting plate.

The first thing I noticed right after installing the Mini was that it appears to have a noticeably low base. I didn’t take any objective measurements to confirm the base height, but it seemed like I was seeing a whole lot more back up iron sights through the 24mm by 17mm sight window. The window size and rounded-dome shape reminds me a lot of the Holosun 507C/407C window. It’s a good window size and shape. It’s not huge, but it’s not small. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it a Goldilocks size, but the window size is reasonable and workable.

The illumination controls are found on the left side of the optic. Either button can be pressed down and held for three (3) seconds to turn the optic on. The button located closest to the business end of the pistol is marked with an up triangle and every push increases the illumination intensity one step. The button closest to the rear of the slide is marked with a down triangle and each push decreases the illumination intensity one step. Pressing and holding both buttons for three (3) seconds powers down the LED. Both buttons provide good tactile feedback with each press. The brightest setting is quite bright and should work in the brightest of daylight conditions (I say it should be because I haven’t had the opportunity to test it myself). The lowest two illumination settings are so dim that they are not visible to my eyes, but should lend themselves well to use under night vision (also something I haven’t tested myself). One thing that I noticed is that the middle of the road settings seemed a little dim to me and these are the settings that should be used to squeeze out the 41K hours of battery life. However, what I perceive to be “a little dim” may very well just be the bias I have developed for larger size dots on pistol mounted optics.

One thing worth pointing out about the LED is that it doesn’t appear to suffer from “the flicker” that new red dot sights are sometimes plagued with. This is something I’ve found to be more prevalent with value-priced red dots. The flicker is sometimes hard to detect and is most often noticed during rapid fire or fast transitions. It is easier to find the flicker when playing back higher frame rate video. I was very pleasantly surprised to not find any evidence of “the flicker” on the Mini. This is certainly something Primary Arms got absolutely right.

The windage and elevation adjustment dials require the use of a small hex bit (an Allen wrench that fits is supplied with the optic) to make adjustments. I did not notice any tactile feedback when I made adjustments to either dial. Tactile adjustment feedback is something that I appreciate, but can live without. I point it out anyway because it may matter to others.

I do have one lingering concern with the Mini and that is whether or not it will prove itself to be durable enough for defensive pistol use. The drop tests Sage Dynamics puts pistol mounted optics though ends up breaking a lot of dots with a similar shaped window. I consider being able to withstand rough use to be a very desirable characteristic for an optic that is going to live on a defensive pistol. This may not be a show stopper for some folks assuming the optic proves to be otherwise reliable. Nevertheless, it is still too early for me to confirm the Mini’s durability and reliability as I haven’t sent enough rounds down range with it yet.

The Classic Series Micro Reflex Sight (which I will refer to as the Micro from here on out), the smaller of the two optics, was designed with sub-compact and single-stack pistols in mind. The Micro is also quite a bit lighter weighing in at 0.56 oz (compared to the 0.98 oz weight of the Mini). For testing and evaluation purposes, I decided to mount the Micro on the Sig Sauer P365 XL since it uses a RMSc mounting footprint pattern. Like the Mini, I wasn’t able to locate mounting screw torque specifications and ended up defaulting to 15 in-lbs as well. I had a hard time getting the provided screws to thread correctly. At a glance it looked like the thread pitch of the provided screws was different from the pitch on the screws that were securing the Holosun 507K I had mounted to the P365 previously. Unfortunately, I can’t recall if the screws I used previously came with the other optic or not. Regardless, I ended up using the old screws to secure the Micro to the P365. Unlike the Mini, this optic does not include a Picatinny rail mounting plate.

The base on the Micro also seemed to have a low profile. This may have been a feeling that carried over from the impression I got from the Mini. The 21mm by 15mm window on the Micro reminds me a lot of the shape and size of the Holosun 507K/407K optic. It’s a small usable window, but finding the dot may present a problem for folks that haven’t developed a consistent presentation and grip along with familiar indexes.

The function and location of the illumination controls on the Micro are a little different. On the left side we have a small button with a plus sign. This button is used to turn on the LED and to increase the illumination brightness. On the right side we have another small button with a minus sign which is used to decrease the brightness. Pressing and holding both buttons for three (3) seconds turns off the LED. Like the Mini, the buttons provide good tactile feedback. The middle of the road settings on this optic also seemed a little dim, but I continue to think that my personal bias is to blame. The highest settings were just as bright and the lowest settings were just as low. There is also zero evidence of “the flicker” on the Micro.

The windage and elevation adjustment dials on the Micro are identical to the ones found on Mini. I was unable to detect any tactile feedback when making adjustments on this optic as well.

I’m starting to feel like a broken record, but I have to mention that I haven’t sent enough lead downrange using this optic to confirm this optics reliability and durability qualities yet.

As I started out saying, I’m very excited about these new optics and, while I’m not 100% sold on them, I have high hopes for them. I have some concerns and there are a few things that I wasn’t thrilled about like the dot size, the observed middle of the road brightness, and the lack of tactile feedback from elevation and windage adjustments. The price point on these optics is amazingly low and that makes it pretty easy for me to look past the things I didn’t like assuming the reliability and durability of these optics proves to be acceptable. My suspicion, given the track record of Primary Arms and my preliminary findings, is that the reliability and durability will be acceptable and I will certainly follow up with my findings down the road.

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