There are three different types of red dots; first is for your gun, second is for your drawer, and third is the one you most likely cannot afford.
Joking aside, the red dot is fairly a niche market, but not as clearly defined and categorized as the riflescopes space. And in this article, we compare two of the most popular names in the industry–Aimpoint and Vortex.
At this early point, you should note that optics from China isn't going to provide the same quality as Aimpoint’s (or Leica’s), but it will definitely save your pocket.
TL;DR: Aimpoint vs Vortex
Aimpoint vs Vortex
Aimpoint was the first to develop red dot sights for use on rifles and handguns—providing high quality and high-performance sights to the military, law enforcement professionals, as well as civilians since 1975.
To this date, the Swedish company continues to lead the innovation of the said technology, hence the label “leader and originator of red dot sight.”
Throughout the years, Aimpoint has strived to be known for manufacturing sights with extremely robust housing design, excellent battery life, and light transmission. This has successfully gained the recognition and appreciation of the police and military circles.
Compared to Vortex, Aimpoint makes more precise, heavy-duty, and battle-ready reflex sights that satisfy even the most demanding operators, hunters, and shooters worldwide.
Vortex is owned by the Hamilton family from Wisconsin, USA, who started their optics business with the innovation of lightweight roof prism binoculars in the 1980s. After years of continuously evolving and growing, the company later on established Vortex Optics.
Although involved in the optics business since the 1980s, Vortex Optics has not been in the industry all that long, unlike Leupold or some European scope manufacturers. From focusing on binoculars, the company only started producing spotting scopes and riflescopes in 2004.
Since expanding their optic production, Vortex has become one of the industry’s highly trusted companies—offering products at a reasonable price point and with a fabulous VIP (Very Important Promise) warranty.
While the Vortex's durable and precise optics is based on technology and consumers’ demands, the major downside is their outsourced production facilities. Almost all of the Vortex scopes are manufactured outside the United States, turning off some prospective US customers.
Today, Vortex’s portfolio composes red dots, binoculars, spotting scopes, and riflescopes that are divided into four distinct product lines. Along with the Chinese-made Crossfire scope line, Vortex offers Philippine-made Diamondback, Viper series of riflescopes and world-class Razor HD riflescopes manufactured in Japan.
Before diving deeper, here's a quick comparison between Aimpoint–a highly reputed company for 45 years, and the game-changer in the market–Vortex Optics.
Where Are Their Products Made?
China, Japan, Philippines
Who Manufactures Their Products?
China and other overseas OEM
Sandberg Development AB
Who Owns These Companies?
The owners are their founders, the Hamilton family.
Aimpoint AB was founded in 1974
How Long Have They Been Around?
Vortex was founded in 2004
2-year warranty for professional use and a 10-year warranty for personal use
What’s their Warranty Like?
Vortex company offers a lifetime VIP warranty.
What Aimpoint Does Better Than Vortex
Aimpoint, without a doubt, is an experienced and trusted brand known for its high-quality and premium-priced optics widely used by military and police forces across the world.
The Aimpoint manufacturing process is certified according to ISO 9001:2015. Each of their red dot sights undergoes testing and quality control checks to guarantee that the products they offer can withstand the test of time, even when used in the harshest weather conditions.
Apart from reflex sights designed for small arms use, Aimpoint also produces electronic fire control systems built for a larger caliber, crew-served weapons. Overall, the company’s red dots are geared towards both professionals and hunting and sport shooters.
Although Aimpoint does not offer a transferable lifetime warranty as Vortex does, their 10-year warranty for civilian users and 2 years for law enforcers is fair enough, considering the quality and reliability of their products.
What Vortex Does Better Than Aimpoint
When it comes to this question, the first thing that strikes the mind is Vortex Optics’ extensive coverage of sights. Certainly, Aimpoint pioneered the red dot sight, but the Swedish company, until now, has stayed within a specific niche of red dot sighting systems.
On the other hand, Vortex, who is relatively new in the market, has grown the brand’s catalog over time from binoculars only to a wide array of optics—spotting scopes, rangefinders, and riflescopes—intended for almost every type of consumer and designed for any situation.
The brand later emerged as a cost-effective route for gun enthusiasts on a tight budget as they produce modestly priced, yet exceptionally rugged and long-lasting optics. In addition, Vortex products come with, take note, a fully transferable lifetime warranty.
Vortex, in other words, is a practical option for some hunters and shooters.
Aimpoint vs Vortex: Similarities
Despite having a big difference in the price tags, both Aimpoint and Vortex have gained a reputation for robust optics, built to be reliable in a variety of conditions.
However, as a worldwide forerunner in red dot sighting technology, Aimpoint sights are undeniably brighter, have much clearer glass, and better illumination than Vortex’s, hence the reason it is trusted by the military and police community. While Vortex focuses on meeting the needs of target shooting, hunting, plinking, and sports competitions.
In addition to the premium quality they provide users, both brands offer optics suitable for basic home defense. The two companies manufacture sights that can be used for "both eyes open" shooting, allowing the user to maintain peripheral vision.
Furthermore, since both optics offer unlimited eye relief, the user is safe from any injury caused by the recoil. As you would expect, red dots from both brands can withstand powerful recoil from heavy-duty elephant calibers and guns.
Aimpoint Products vs Vortex Products
Vortex and Aimpoint are both very well-known names in the optics industry. And although there are always some debates on Vortex red dots vs Aimpoint, the choice results always end up with a view at a price tag.
Following the renowned European sports optics manufacturers' tradition, the Aimpoint products are premium sights intended for use by law enforcement forces, military operators, and well-to-do marksmen worldwide.
On the contrary, the larger part of the Vortex production line is adapted to the new generations of price-conscious hunters and shooters who are more on the practical side with a somewhat limited budget and looking for optics that just won't break the bank.
To further help you decide on which brand to go for, we review both Aimpoint’s and Vortex’s flagship line, pistol sights, and entry-level red dot sights.
Flagship Products: Aimpoint vs Vortex
Practically, every Aimpoint series of sights can be considered as “flagship models” without any exaggeration.
With a couple of top-selling product lines, Vortex flagship models are the combination of price points and features aimed at customers' broadest diapason.
The Aimpoint CompM5s reflex sight is the smallest and most compact model offered in the Aimpoint Compline of red-dots. A relatively new Aimpoint addition in 2019, CompM5S is a hybrid between the popular Micro T-2 and CompM4.
This flagship model features new lenses with reflective coatings that improve the shape of its 2 MOA dot. The battery life is marketed to last up to five years (50,000 hours) of continuous operation. Powered by a single AAA battery, Comp5S has 4-night vision compatible settings and 6 for daylight.
Relatively small in size, the sight includes an LRP (lever release Picatinny) that allows you to mount it on any AR-15 or even smaller SBR/SMG-style firearms.
Applying the tube design to this model, Aimpoint follows the trend of enclosed reflex sights: almost impervious drop tests, weather conditions, and military-style handling.
The CompM5s is designed for military and law enforcement applications; hence its high price tag and all tactical features, it can be a bit overkill for casual shooters or hunters.
Vortex: AMG UH-1 Gen II
The Vortex AMG UH-1 Gen II or “Huey” is a holographic sight that uses a more powerful laser instead of a low-power LED to produce the reticle. The acronym AMG stands for Advanced Manufacturing Group, and it denotes an American-made optics line.
The UH-1 features an all-metal design and unlike traditional tube style red dots, this Vortex holographic sight sports somewhat futuristic rounded square housing which is waterproof, shockproof, fog proof.
The Vortex AMG UH-1 comes with an XR Plus fully multi-coated window made of polycarbonate and protected with a highly scratch-resistant coating.
The AMG UH-1 Gen II features an EBR-CQB reticle which consists of a 1 MOA center dot and a 65-MOA broken circle with a 6:00 chevron.
The holographic reticle has 15 brightness levels including 4-night vision compatible options. The sight comes with an auto-shutoff feature after 14 hours and an integrated QD mount.
Pistol Sights: Aimpoint vs Vortex
Handguns red dot sights promote rapid target acquisition paired with a precise point of aim. Usually, pistol reflex sights come as open-style sights with exposed HUD design, such as these two devices from Vortex and Aimpoint.
Both low-profile red dot optics provide fast target acquisition, a wide angle of view, and unlimited eye relief.
Currently, pistol red dot sights dominate speed-based shooting competitions, but you should expect to pay $400+ for professional reflex optics.
Aimpoint: ACRO C-1
Unlike other Aimpoint tube-style sights, the Acro C-1 (Advanced Compact Reflex Optic) is a hybrid between an open reflex sight and a small tube sight.
Besides C-1, a civilian version, Aimpoint released a P-1 red for professional use with features closer to the military standards. Except that C-1 offers only two illumination levels suitable for night vision.
These enclosed reflex sights' main feature is the small footprint that will enable them to stand relatively unobtrusively on a slide. However, this lightweight, low-profile optic isn't limited to be used only on handguns, but various mounting solutions can be used on several firearms platforms.
The Aimpoint Acro C-1 is introduced as the 3.5 MOA dot-version, which is an excellent choice of the reticle for a pistol red dot sight.
Obviously, the Vortex Viper red dot sight is not the same league as the Aimpoint ACRO. However, at a twice lower price, you get low-profile red dot optics with a very large 6 MOA dot that will get you fast on target.
The Viper Red Dot's low mounting makes it an ideal choice for use in conjunction with suppressor height irons or other sights.
Vortex Viper red dot comes with fully multi-coated glass, but with a bit blue of the distracting blue tint on the lens.
Anyway, this extraordinarily lightweight sight is the perfect solution for pistols with cutout slides and a go-to choice for shooters on a limited budget.
Entry-Level: Aimpoint vs Vortex
The Aimpoint and Vortex sights are known for being extremely tough, and both red dots will fit small weapons admirably.
Actually, the Aimpoint Micro T-2 is hardly an entry-level red dot. The only similarity with Vortex Crossfire is their tube-style built and compact size that works with handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Crossfire red dot is much cheaper and is mostly aimed at beginners in hunters and shooting sports.
Aimpoint: Micro T-2
As a successor of the tried-and-true Micro T-1, a new updated Aimpoint Micro 2 series is offered in the Micro T2 and H2 versions. The T2 is the Tactical unit that is night vision compatible, whereas the H2 is the hunting unit with only 12 daylight settings.
Both Aimpoint micro red dot sights feature 2 MOA dots and they are designed to be used on subgun SBRs and for hunting in thick brush or as a backup optic on the rifles dedicated for long range shooting. While the Micros can easily handle the recoil from high-powered rifles, their small size makes them a great choice for mounting on both hunting handguns and tactical handguns.
The Crossfire II series from the Vortex family of scopes belongs to the entry-level products. Compared to the next up in the hierarchy, the Diamondback series, you'll notice only the glass is slightly better in the Diamondback riflescope.
The Crossfire II comes in many configurations with 3 or 4 times zoom factor and a 1-inch and 30mm main tube.
This budget-oriented scope series is available with an illuminated reticle set in a second focal plane, making it well optimized for close-to-midrange applications. Still, with a suitable model, you can also take a bite on a more distant target.
Vortex Crossfire series of scopes is an ideal starter optics for newbies in a world of gunpowder and crossbow hunters.
Vortex Scope Problems
As you know, Vortex launched throughout its short history four production lines of scopes with tens of models and configurations. According to the price range, each of these lines differs in lens quality, construction and materials included.
Generally, Vortex is known for sophisticated and durable constructions, polished glass, and one of the industry's best lifetime warranties. However, the best warranty is the one you won't ever have to use.
Besides occasional lemons in their production process that skipped quality control, the biggest issue for the Vortex lay in the information that these products aren't made on American land. Among many American shooters, this fact still plays a role in optics perceived value and quality, no matter how significantly overseas manufacturers have improved the quality and clarity of their optical products recently.
While the only issue of the most Aimpoint products is higher price tags, some of them, especially those made for the civilian shooters on a budget, come with limited features. These Aimpoints usually come with a less than impressive battery life (for Aimpoint standards) or non-existence of compatibility with night vision.
Anyway, you shouldn’t forget that these entry-level red dots from Aimpoint are developed for users who indulge in casual shooting and competitions where night vision unlikely will be needed. Additionally, Aimpoint provides in accessories kit the spare battery holders for safe battery storage.
Obviously, both brands' products gained a lot of popularity in the market due to the excellent quality and exceptional durability.
Although Aimpoint offers few starter optics, you will get some of the best red dots that the shooting industry has to offer with their reflex sights.
In our opinion, with much lower price tags, the Vortex reflex sights are designed almost exclusively for shooters on budget or beginners.
People Also Ask
Currently, Vortex Optics is one of the few companies in the industry covering the widest span of riflescopes ranging from the very affordable “me too” products to the most expensive premium scopes with every feature under the sun.
Without a doubt, Vortex makes quality products offering a very good value for money. Nonetheless, people are often wondering about Vortex optics' origins since more folks in the US favor the brands because, primarily, they are made in the US of A.
Does Leupold Own Vortex?
No, Leupold doesn't own Vortex. Leupold and Vortex are both American owned optics manufacturers. These US-based companies have a lifetime guarantee and excellent reviews.
Except for the similarly priced offerings and roughly close in features series, Leupold and Vortex are independent firms.
Is Vortex American Made?
Vortex Optics is an American company with almost all its models being manufactured outside of the United States. However, Vortex's top tier, Razor HD AMG, is assembled by Vortex in the US.
Where Are Vortex Scopes Made?
All Vortex riflescopes are manufactured overseas. Depending on the series, the Vortex's least expensive scopes are made in China, the next step up is Philippine-made, and the scopes at the top of the line-up are manufactured in Japan.
Are There Fake Vortex Optics?
Yes, of course, like any successful western design, you may encounter fake Vortex products. Usually, the optics from the Vortex lower-end series is targeted by counterfeiters, but recently there are reports of high-class Razor AMG fake scopes on the market.