Gear Review: Vortex Sparc AR

By Alexander Castiglione

I’ve been on an optics bender lately. You’ve probably read some of the reviews – from pistol optics to rifle optics. And for the money, the Sparc AR by Vortex is one of the best red dots on the market.

It’s sleek, it’s rugged, it’s simple to use, and it runs on easy to procure batteries. So let’s look at why it’s a pretty kick-ass optic.

First and foremost, is Vortex’s VIP Warranty.

If your Vortex optic breaks for any reason, send it back, no questions asked, and they’ll fix or replace it.

Run it over with your truck, drop it on the pavement, whatever. New one.

Now let’s look at the construction.

The Vortex Optics Sparc AR Red Dot itself is rubberized all over, and nitrogen purged.

The controls are positive, and the unit does come with lens caps. These both clip together to stop from flopping in the breeze, and the edges could be used to adjust your windage and elevation, which is sleekly hidden under twist caps on the top and right of the unit.

In the front, there is a water-resistant compartment which houses your battery — just one AAA. Pretty easy to procure batteries. Speaking of batteries, this unit powers down after 12 hours — with 300 hours at max brightness (which you will never use) and 5000 hours at the lowest setting when it comes to battery life.

One thing I wish this had was an auto-on feature like the SIG Romeo has with MOTAC -where the red dot senses motion and powers on and off accordingly.

The user has 10 adjustment settings for the 2 MOA dot, with the 2 bottom-most settings being night vision capable.

This is in case you wanted to put this on a hog rifle or are using it for HD or defensive ops.

I personally like the middle setting for all around use, but you can crack the dot up very bright for direct sunlight, and very low for low light loadouts. The dot is crisp, and “parallax free.”

I only quote this because all optics have a parallax, but for all intents and purposes, yes it is parallax free. The lenses are multi-coated and transmit light extremely well. Moreover, the unit is rated for -4 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit.

You have multiple mounting options and risers.

I have mine installed out of the box on a small riser, and have no need to co-witness on a flat top AR, but there are different shims to accommodate this. With a dab of Locktite — this thing hasn’t moved in roughly 250 rounds put down range on my APOC Armory Carbine.

As you can see in the photo above, this is a highly accurate rifle, but also an accurate red dot. There is a quarter in the shot for scale. These are supported shots at 25 yards with 62 grain Aguila 5.56 into a 2 inch circle.

A total of 7 rounds were fired, and they’re all pretty much touching. The reticle is crisp, and eager to get back on target.

Update December 2017: I’ve put about another 500 or so rounds through this optic, mounted to my Apoc Armory carbine length AR, with a Timney Trigger in it. This optic is a tack driver, and still is holding zero.

I really like the intuitive controls, and auto shutoff — not that it’s a huge deal, as it takes easy to find AAA’s. Also, the dot brightness settings are aplenty, and great for any environment, be it low light or direct sun. I can still pick up the dot easy, and place my shots where they need to go.

PROS, what we like:

Rubberized, rugged, backed by a solid lifetime warranty, holds zero, crisp dot, and fairly priced. Overall, a great optic.

CONS, what we don’t like:

Just wish it had an auto on feature, other than that – aces across the board. I’d snag one, especially for at or around $200.


Alex Castiglione lives in Atlanta, and is an avid outdoorsman and competitive shooter. Wher-abouts include getting after it in his garage gym, practicing martial arts, hitting the trails, or running CrossFit and Strongman competitions for his non-profit, Barbells for Bullies, which holds fundraiser fitness competitions dedicated to aiding Bully breed rescues, dog rescues, or other non-profits with similar missions.

QUESTION: What do you think of the Vortex sparc red dot vs Eotech?

ANSWER: Check out the SGPT review for the Eotech.

QUESTION: Do you have any AR 15 scopes you can recommend?

ANSWER: We review our favorites in this article.

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