Introduced in 2016, the SPARC AR from Vortex is built as a mid-rage, performance red dot optic. From the exterior, the chassis of the SPARC AR is made from a single piece of aluminum, resulting in a shock-proof housing. The outer layer of the chassis is then anodized in a matte black anodized finish to provide the shooter with a low-glare surface.
Both lenses in the SPARC AR are sealed in multiple anti-reflective coatings that maximize clarity. The endcaps to the optic are connected to the rubberized protector and cannot be removed from it in lieu of other aftermarket designs. Instead each endcap can be snapped into each other to keep them off to the side and out-of-the-way.
Finally, the internal space is purged with nitrogen gas to eliminate fogging at all extreme temperatures. Associated O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust, and debris from penetrating the interior housing.
The SPARC AR features a 2MOA dot (offering a 22mm lens diameter) that is ideal for reflex target acquisitions. The reticle has 10 intensity settings (with the lowest two compatible for night vision devices).
Power life for a single AAA battery in the SPARC AR is approximately 65,000 hours on the lowest intensity, or 300 hours on the brightest. After 12 hours of inactivity the SPARC AR will automatically shut down to preserve battery longevity.
The picatinny rail mount for the Vortex SPARC AR is a multi-height, integrated base design built around the battery housing.
Specifications for the Vortex SPARC AR:
- Magnification 1x
- Objective Lens Diameter 22 mm
- Eye Relief Unlimited
- Adjustment Graduation 1 MOA
- Max Elevation Adjustment 90 MOA
- Max Windage Adjustment 90 MOA
- Length 2.9 inches
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): At a list price of $259.99 the SPARC AR is available at lower list prices at secondary retailers like Optics Planet for $159, or as little as $126 at online e-commerce sites like Amazon. Care should be taken by the consumer in purchasing from such third-party sites as unvetted sources are known to circulate broken or fraudulent versions. The more direct competitors to the Vortex SPARC AR would be the Sig Romeo5 ($117) or the Holosun Paralow ($219) which themselves are listed competitively at the lower price range but yield roughly similar performance. Given the price variance, the SPARC AR does have a different power source (AAA battery) and includes Vortex’s VIP Warranty that the other competitors do not.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): Looking through the SPARC AR’s 22mm objective lens yielded roughly the same field of view as the competitors listed, with a solid 2MOA dot. The intensity levels were clear, and the elevation/windage dials provided a crisp and audible movement with each MOA. One distracting aspect in the SPARC AR was the diode emitter is located in the 5-o’clock position near the rear lens, making itself apparent when sighting in the target. Where often red dot optics have a clear field of view, and while this obstruction was minimal—the diode’s presence was apparent. Otherwise the glass was clear with no reflective aspect to the eye or target, and the rubberized protector was easily removed/installed.
- Durability – Excellent (5/5): The T&E model received came with some slight surface marring (to be expected) and we likely added a few more during testing. None of which penetrated the rubberized protector or to the underlying base metal (more cosmetic marring than anything). The anodized surface in exposed areas proved more durable than the Romeo5 and resisted abrasion to a good degree. The dot held zero and did not drift despite various stressor and rifle drills. As with all Vortex products, the SPARC AR comes with the company’s no-questions, VIP Warranty for the life of the product so should something detrimental happen (aside from deliberate damage) the optic will be repaired or replaced.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): The function of the SPARC AR was straightforward, press the up triangle for ON and press-hold for five seconds the down triangle for OFF. The buttons were small, but easily accessible. The 10-setting intensity levels were clear with the higher being the most optimal for outdoor use. The ability of the lens caps to connect to each other was a nice design feature that ensured they didn’t become lost, but then they added to the side profile of the optic. The automatic shutdown was a nice additive that has become more commonplace in newer optics, and avoided waste if the weapon was put up in the safe accidentally on. The mount height was appropriate for co-witnessing, but the T&E model did not come with variable mount that a new one would have. The mount itself had a spring-loaded Picatinny rail key that made mounting/removal easier.
- Weight – Average (3/5): At 7.5 ounces the SPARC was lightweight enough to not be distracting or unbalancing. It is in between the weight of those noted comparison optics, an aspect attributed to integrating its selected AAA power source into the mount and volume of aluminum. Often in other red dot optics the CR2032 battery compartment and mount are separate, thus splitting the weight (lighter battery/heavier mount). While the Romeo5 (12.2 ounces) was the heavier, the Paralow (4.87 ounces) was the lighter and thus the SPARC AR red dot would be a comfortable medium between them.
Overall Rating – Good (20/25)
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.