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Review: Barska AC11428 Red Dot Scope

This is the second in a series of reviews of red-dot scopes for Bullseye. The review of the Holosun red dot scope is here.

Highlights

  • Low Cost.
  • Similar size and weight to Aimpoint.

Lowlights

  • Sight adjustment ‘clicks’ not well defined.
  • No end stop on sight adjusters.
  • Poor quality o-rings do not bode well for protection against weather.

Conclusion

This is a cheap copy of the Aimpoint, barely suitable for precision pistol use. I am dubious that it will stand up to long term use.

The Konus and Barska scopes are probably made by the same manufacturer. They appear to be identical. The only differences I can see are the coating of the front glass and the Konus has a different style of mounting cross bolt and both red or green dots available. All observations for one are applicable to the other except as noted in the text. See images below, Barska on left and Konus on right.

Barska on left, Konus on Right

Image Quality

Reflections

The anti-reflective coatings are only fair, better than an Ultra-Dot but not nearly as good as the Holosun or Aimpoint. Reflections are visible with a slight blue-purple tint. I tried my best to capture reflections in the images below.

Reflections L to R Holosun, Aimpoint, Barska, Match-Dot

Obstructions

The internal electronics are visible at the bottom of the ring. They stand out more than an Aimpoint, but in a different location. See the images below from left to right Holosun, Aimpoint, Barska, Match-Dot.

Sight Pictures L to R Holosun, Aimpoint, Barska, Match-Dot

Magnification / Distortionbarska-distortion

There is no magnification of the image. There appears to be very slight waviness in places if I look really closely, but I have to really look for it and I doubt it would affect my shooting.

Filtering

The image through the scope is a little darker than an Aimpoint, Holosun or Ultra-Dot with a green tint.

Dot Quality

Brightness

The sight has 11 brightness settings, but there is not a huge difference between the lowest and highest settings. The lowest setting is quite bright, about equal to 7 or 8 on the Aimpoint. The brightest setting is about equal 9 or 10 on the Aimpoint. The lowest setting was a little brighter than I wanted when shooting indoors at a well lit range with flood lights on the targets and fluorescent lights over the firing position, but I prefer a fairly dim dot. The steps between brightness settings are small and appear to be fairly linear, but I can’t always see a difference in brightness between settings. The Konus has about the same min and max brightness, but it only has 5 settings.

Brightness Control

Brightness is controlled by rotating the dial rheostat on the side of the scope. The dial can rotate continuously.

Shape

The dot is round, but I see some flaring off of the dot. It is not as clear and crisp a dot as the Holosun, Aimpoint or most Ultra-Dots.

Size

The dot size is 2MOA and looks about the same, or maybe slightly bigger than the Aimpoint dot.

On/Off Control

The scope is turned on and off using the brightness control dial rheostat. The dial does not stop when it gets to off, it can rotate continuously.

Sight Adjustments

I was disappointed in the group size shooting my old Hammerli 208 International with Aguilla Pistol Match. I was only shooting at 50 feet and expected better. I may take the time to repeat the test using a better gun/ammo combination.

Linearitybarska-sight-box

I am not sure about the sight adjustment linearity. I think it is acceptable, but it was often difficult to feel the clicks so I may have mis-counted. The shots on the left center are out of line with everything else and the final shots are not in the same location as the starting shots. The “sight box” in the image at right is +/-20 clicks plus 10 clicks in the cardinal directions. The shots move the same distance regardless of direction except for the left center and final as mentioned.

Elevation / Windage Independence

I don’t see any significant interaction between elevation and windage adjustments. If this was present the box would lean or not be square.

Click Quality

I really don’t like the feel of the ‘clicks’ especially in the CW direction. I am not sure why it would be different as there is a ball in the screw and slots are machined in the turret wall so it should be the same in either direction, but both the Konus and Barska had acceptable clicks in the CCW direction and terrible clicks in the CW direction. They are definitely worse than Holosun, Aimpoint or any of my Ultra-Dots.

End Stopskonus-with-windage-screw-removed-3

There is no stop at the CCW end, in fact the adjustment screw will fall out of the sight. The picture at right is of the Konus, but the Barska did the same thing. The stop at the CW end of travel is mushy and soft, so finding a solid stop to count clicks from would be approximate at best.

Resolution

The sight adjustment is claimed to be 1.18″, which I assume is the movement at 100 yards which means 1 MOA per click. My testing measured about 7 3/4″ for 40 clicks or 0.19″ per click at 50 feet, which is 1.1 MOA for elevation and about 7 3/8″ for 40 clicks or 0.184″ per click at 50 feet, which is 1.05 MOA for windage. There are 40 clicks per revolution.

Range of Travel

My example has about 400 clicks of adjustment from end to end for both windage and elevation, though it is difficult to determine the exact end point as mentioned above.

Sight Adjustment Tool & Caps

barska-sight-adjustments

Barska Sight Adjusters

The sight adjuster has a very wide screwdriver slot. My widest screwdriver bit fits loosely in the slot and wants to ride up out of the slot due to the poor machining and flash in the slot. The slot is the same as the Konus. The caps are unmarked and flat. The direction of adjustment is not marked on the dial, cap or scope, but I found them to be the normal “right-hand-rule” of CW Left and Down.

 

Weatherproof

barska-oring-bulging

Barska O-Ring Bulging Out

I could find no claims for weatherproof or water resistance from Barska. The o-rings around the battery compartment and sight adjusters appear to be put in with no design thought. There is no track or slot for the o-ring. The sight adjuster o-ring appears to be too large and the o-ring around the battery compartment appears to be too small. Both will “squeeze out” if the caps are tightened too much. I tried to capture this in the picture at right. This does not happen on Holosun, Aimpoint of Ultra-Dots.

Mounting

The mount is machined into the housing. It is not removeable like the Aimpoint or Holosun. The mount works the same as an Aimpoint, using the cross-bolt to prevent recoil movement.

Sun Shades

There are no built in sun shades. The front and back glass is barely recessed from the housing, the same as the Aimpoint. The round protrusions at the front and rear of the housing are similar, but a few thousandths smaller than the Aimpoint so aftermarket, press-fit, sun shade tubes would need adjustment to fit.

Disclosure & Attribution

All scopes mentioned in this post were purchased by the author. The Holosun, Konus and Barska scopes were purchased from OpticsPlanet.com in August 2016. Aimpoint and Ultra-Dot scopes were purchased from various sources between 2001 and about 2010.

All pictures taken by the author.

 

 

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Review: Holosun 403GL

This is the first in a series of reviews of red-dot scopes for Bullseye.

Headline pictures from holosun.com

Highlights

  • The mounting system is interchangeable with the Aimpoint.
  • Screwdriver slot for adjusting windage and elevation.
  • Excellent anti-reflective coating on back glass.
  • No magnification or distortion and almost no dimming of the image.

Lowlights

  • Sight adjustment ‘clicks’ could be better defined.

Conclusion

This is a well made scope that is very similar to the Aimpoint Micro. My preliminary opinion is that it is suitable for precision pistol provided the durability lives up to the rest of the build quality. I am not planning to use it only because the dot is smaller than I prefer.

Image Quality

Reflections

The anti-reflective coatings are excellent, a little better than Aimpoint to my eyes and much better than Ultra-Dots, Konus or Barska. Reflections are very dim and have a dark green tint. I tried my best to capture reflections in the images below.

Reflections L to R Holosun, Aimpoint, Konus, Match-Dot

Obstructions

The internal electronics are just barely visible at the lower-right of the ring, in the same location, but less visible than in the Aimpoint. See the images below from left to right Holosun, Aimpoint, Konus, Match-Dot.

Sight Pictures L to R Holosun, Aimpoint, Konus, Match-Dot

Magnification / Distortion

Holosun DIstortion

Holosun Distortion Test

There is no magnification or distortion of the image.

 

Filtering

There is almost no shading or darkening of the image through the scope, similar to Ultra-Dots (without polarizer), less than Aimpoint and considerably less than Konus or Barska. The filtering looks darker in the picture than it does to my eyes.

Dot Quality

Brightness

The sight has 11 brightness settings. The first 3-4 are intended for Night Vision (NV) goggles. The first visible setting is 4. Settings 5 & 6 are pretty dim and would only be useful in dim indoor ranges. The remaining settings are fairly linear in steps, except for a large jump between 10 and 11. The max brightness is slightly less bright than the max Aimpoint setting.

I found the jump between settings to be a little bigger than I wanted when shooting indoors at a well lit range with flood lights on the targets and fluorescent lights over the firing position. I would have liked something in-between. The very small dot size required a brighter setting to stand out and be visible against the white paper. The very small point of light is kind of dazzling to my eyes.

Brightness Control

There are two buttons on top of the scope to increase (+) or decrease (-) brightness. The scope remembers the last setting when it powers up again.

Shape

The dot shape is very good, round with crisp edges. I don’t see any distortions or flare in the dot. It is similar to Aimpoint, better than many Ultra-Dots, definitely better than Konus or Barska.

Size

The dot size is 2MOA, but looks smaller than the dot on the Aimpoint. It is definitely smaller than I like. I use a 4 MOA dot when using the Match-Dot.

On/Off Control

Pushing any button turns the scope on. Pressing both the + and – buttons at the same time turns the scope off immediately. The scope has automatic shutoff. The default auto-shutoff is 8 hours, but the delay can be adjusted from 1 to 12 hours in one hour increments.

I decided to try the Holosun because the auto-shutoff delay is long enough that I won’t have to worry about it during a bullseye match.

Sight Adjustments

I was disappointed in the group size shooting my old Hammerli 208 International with Aguilla Pistol Match. I was only shooting at 50 feet and expected better. I may take the time to repeat the test using a better gun/ammo combination and/or print some targets with a cross to make aiming easier and more repeatable.

Linearityholosun-sight-box

Sight adjustment linearity looks very good. I shot a “sight box” of +/-20 clicks in the image at right. The shots move the same distance regardless of direction. Windage and elevation adjust the POI (point of impact) the same amount.

Elevation / Windage Independence

I don’t see any significant interaction between elevation and windage adjustments. If this was present the box would lean or not be square.

Click Quality

The feel of the ‘click’ is OK, but not great. It feels a little bit mushy and not as clear as an Aimpoint, better than some of my Ultra-Dots, not as good as good as others. At the range I had to concentrate on feeling the clicks as I made adjustments. I don’t think I missed any clicks, like I did testing the Barska.

End Stops

The stop at the CCW end of travel is solid, like tightening a bolt against a metal face. The stop at the CW end of travel is soft, like tightening a bolt against a soft gasket that gets harder the further you go, but never hits a solid stop. If you count clicks, use the CCW end stop.

Resolution

The sight adjustment is claimed to be 0.5 MOA per click. My testing measured almost exactly 4″ across 40 clicks or 0.1″ per click at 50 feet, which is 0.57 MOA. There are 40 clicks per revolution.

Range of Travel

My example had 372 clicks of elevation and 358 clicks of windage total from end to end.

Sight Adjustment Tool & Caps

Holosun and Aimpoint Cap Markings

Holosun (Left) and Aimpoint (Right)

Holosun Adjustment PedestalsSight adjusters have a screwdriver slot, unlike the two-prong tool needed to adjust the Aimpoint Micro. The Caps have a perfectly matching tab molded in. Sight change directions are printed on the inside of the cap similar to the Aimpoint. The printing looks the same and the arrows are so small that it is hard to see which direction they are pointing, just like the Aimpoint caps. Note that the picture shows more difference between the Holosun (Left) and the Aimpoint (Right) than I can see with my eyes.

Weatherproof

Holosun says the scope is water resistant to 1 m. The o-rings around the battery cover and sight adjustment pedestals appear to be good quality, similar to the Aimpoint.

Mounting

Holosun and Aimpoint Mounts

Holosun (Left) and Aimpoint (Right)

The mounting base is identical to and interchangeable with the Aimpoint. The bottom of the scope housing has 4 mounting screws and a tapered recoil lug. See the picture at right for an image of the Holosun (Right) and Aimpoint (Left). They are identical except for the head of the screws that hold the mount to the scope are Torx on the Holosun and hex (Allen) on the Aimpoint. The threads, length and all critical dimensions are the same.

Sun Shades

Holosun and Aimpoint Side by Side

Holosun (Left) and Aimpoint (Right)

There are no built in sun shades. The front and back glass is barely recessed from the housing, identical to the Aimpoint. The round protrusions at the front and rear of the housing are the same size as the Aimpoint so aftermarket, press-fit, sun shade tubes should fit the Holosun as well.

Disclosure & Attribution

All scopes mentioned in this post were purchased by the author. The Holosun, Konus and Barska scopes were purchased from OpticsPlanet.com in August 2016. Aimpoint and Ultra-Dot scopes were purchased from various sources between 2001 and about 2010.

The headline pictures at the top of the page are from holosun.com. All other pictures taken by the author.

 

The Search For a Cheap Alternative to the Aimpoint Micro

I love the Aimpoint Micro. I bought 2 several years ago. At the time $400 seemed like an exorbitant price for a red-dot scope, but I expected they would be high quality and last a very long time. I have not been disapointed. I’d like to get a couple more, but now they are $650, so I decided to look around and see what I could find.

Options

I started my search at OpticsPlanet.com. They have always had reasonable prices and first rate customer service and the website is not blocked at work like most of the shooting related sites.

I started by clicking on any scopes that looked small like the Aimpoint Micro. I came up with 14 candidates, plus Aimpoint and Ultra-Dot for comparison and collected info about each, resulting in this Excel spreadsheet.

table snapshot

Click to Download Spreadsheet

I am intrigued by the Sig Sauer and Styrka brand scopes, however there are two things that make me hesitant, no options for sun-shades and they both have automatic shutoff.

Sun-Shades I don’t have extension tubes on my Aimpoints, but I like that some people are offering them (if anyone has a link I’ll be glad to add it here) and I may try them at some point.

Auto-Shutoff I don’t want auto-shutoff. Bullseye matches last all day. The last thing I want is the dot turning off in the middle of a string. I could get in the habit of pushing a button before each string, but that seems unproductive; I want to be thinking about the shot, not the dot. The Sig scopes have a feature that detects movement and turns back on. I may try one eventually, but if raising the gun doesn’t turn it on, it will go back to the seller. The Styrka scope list 1 hour as the shutoff time. If this is adjustable to longer delay time it might be acceptable, but I decided to try some of the others first.

Results

After reviewing all the options I placed the order for Holosun 403GL, Konus Sight-Pro Atomic 2.0 and Barska AC11428. I will post reviews of each of them over the next few weeks or months as time allows.


Holosun 403GL

hs403gl_1-500x500

$235 List Price, $200 from Optics Planet and many online shops (as of August, 2016)

The Holosun looks like a good copy of the Aimpoint. At $170-250 they cost more than the cheap Chinese copies but still cost a lot less than an Aimpoint. At first I was put-off by the automatic shutoff, but it is listed as 8 hours, so it might be OK.

See my initial review of the Holosun here.


Konus Sight-Pro Atomic 2.0

7200

$100 from Optics Planet and other online shops (as of August, 2016)

The Konus can display either a red dot or a green dot. I thought this might be interesting. I don’t have any problems with a red dot, I’ve used them for years, but it will be interesting to see if I light a green dot. I have a Konus Rifle scope and I’ve seen a few Konus spotting scopes. They are cheap, but useable. Definitely lower quality in terms of machining and fit-and-finish, but they haven’t fallen apart. The optics are OK, not great, but not terrible. I figured it was worth a try. We’ll see if it turns out to be a Hyundai or a Yugo. Plus, how cool will it be to tell my friends I have a “Sight-Pro Atomic 2.0!”

Unfortunately I was unable to mount the Konus scope on a Weaver rail, so I have not published a review of it, but just about everything I say about the Barska scope is true of the Konus as well.


Barska AC11428

opplanet-barska-ac11428

$88 List Price, $80 from Optics Planet and other online shops (as of August, 2016)

Everything I said about Konus is also true about Barska, except I don’t own one, this is only a red dot and I am not going to brag about my cool new “AC11428!”.

See my initial review of the Barska scope here.

Unnecessary Complexity

I admire simple solutions. Sending men to the Moon and designing a skyscraper are all great, but I am amazed by the zip-tie and the binder clip. Simple and useful in so many ways. Unfortunately I tend to over design things. I am primarily an electronic circuit designer and my first pass designs usually have many more parts than needed. When I write code, my programs are usually much longer than other’s solutions. After years of struggling with my lack of simplification I have decided to embrace complexity just go with it.

This blog is my way of giving back. I have learned so much from others online, I feel the need to pay it forward. I hope to share a small fraction of what I have gained from others.

I expect my posts to be infrequent and sporadic, but I hope the blog will help to keep me focused on my projects.