As a mid-level red dot optic, the Viper provides all the advantages of a quality co-witness reflex optic for pistols, with a robust housing at an affordable price.
Introduced in 2017, the Viper Red Dot Sight (RDS) by Vortex is designed as a mid-quality, open reflex optic for civilian defensive and tactical shooters. It is intended to be mounted into slide-cut handguns while providing co-witness compatibility to suppressor-height sights. The Viper comes with a 1913 Picatinny rail mount, but an optional riser is available from Vortex to bring it to the correct height for carbine-styled rifles.
The housing of the Viper is made from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum, giving it a high-degree of shock resistance. Overall the exterior is in a hard, matte-black anodized finish. There is an included dual-lockout feature built into the rear of the optic that will prevent slippage to the adjustment dials, and requires a hex key to tighten/loosen.
The diode inside the housing projects a 6MOA dot on XR™ Fully Multi-Coated glass, and sheltered by the optic’s flared shroud. Intensity is adjusted by a two-button rubberized switch on the optic’s left side with 10 levels of brightness, while the ON/OFF function is done by press-holding either of the up triangle (ON) or down (OFF). The glass itself is further protected in an ArmorTek ® coating to fortify scratch resistance.
The CR2032 battery provides approximately 150 hours of life on the brightest intensity (or 30,000 hours at the lowest), and is mounted underneath the RDS body. This necessitates separating the body when replacing the power source. There is a powersave feature that after six hours of inactivity, the Viper will automatically power off and thus conserve battery life.
- Mount Type: 1913 Picatinny
- Magnification: 1x
- Dot Color: Bright Red
- Dot Size: 6 MOA
- Eye Relief: Unlimited
- Adjustment Graduation: 1 MOA
- Max Elevation Adjustment: 120 MOA
- Max Windage Adjustment: 120 MOA
- Parallax Setting: Parallax Free
- Length: 1.8 inches
It should be noted mounting plates are available by Vortex or other retailers to mount the Viper directly to slide-cut handguns, thus negating the need for the included picatinny rail mount. The Viper also includes a rubberized protective cover to use over the optic when not in use.
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Good (4/5): At an MSRP of $329.99, the Viper is less than the Vortex Razor RDS ($499) but the Viper itself is more specific to handguns. In comparison, the Viper costs the least out of the ever-popular Trijicon RMR ($354-$569), Leupold Delta Point Pro ($399) and closer in price point to a Holosun507/508 ($349-$352) although the latter is slightly bulkier due to the use of its backup solar collector.
- Comfort – Average (3/5): As a smaller-bodied optic, the Viper has a 24mm x 18mm field of view and is perfectly sized/weighted for handgun use. It also can be mounted to any picatinny rail based on your desired application. For the purpose of this evaluation, it was attached to a Pistol Carry Carbine. The minimal height-over-bore necessitated some adjustment to accommodate for the natural height of the shooter. As shooting iterations went on, it was more apparent the Viper was be better suited to co-witness on handguns than mounted to rifles given the further presentation distance. A higher riser to the optic could make the Viper more applicable to both handgun and rifle and have given it a higher score in Comfort. The 6MOA reticle was easy to pick up in full daylight, and the side-mounted rubberized intensity switch provided easy, problem-free adjustment.
- Durability – Excellent (5/5): Vortex is known for the durability of its optics, and if anything should ever happen, its VIP Warrantee provides for complete coverage. But a large degree of durability in the Viper is attributed to its high-grade aluminum and tempered glass. During research there was some noted instances of problems with the Viper’s diode not adjusting regardless of how much the elevation or windage was changed. Vortex honored replacement of the optic in all cases where follow-through by the owner was given. During evaluations, the optic did sustain some light superficial scratches to the finish due to contact with hardware or gear, but nothing that penetrated to the base layer of metal. The glass remained clear and unobscured throughout trials, and the 6MOA reticle remained zeroed and clear.
- Functionality – Good (4/5): Much like the Razor, the Vortex Viper RDS has a rather straightforward and simple design. Although the Viper did come with an included picatinny adaptor for rifles, its best application (in our opinion) was for handguns due to its low height-over-bore application. It felt simply too low for use on a carbine unless perhaps a taller riser could be levered. The rubberized switch on the side provided a clear tactile feel when adjusting the optic’s brightness, and the switch’s location on the side made it easy to adjust with/without gloves or when turning the unit ON/OFF. In full sunlight the 6MOA dot was readily tracked with little scattering of the reticle, somewhat akin to a C-More or Aimpoint. The ease at which the Viper was mounted and removed was supported by the included rubberized cover that provided for additional protection when stored or not in use.
- Weight – Excellent (5/5): At approximately 1.03 ounces without rail, or 2.3 ounces with the included picatinny mount, the Viper is lighter than its Trijicon RMR (at 1.2 ounces without a rail adaptor) or Leupold’s Delta Point Pro (1.9 ounces without a rail adaptor) competitors. Even the Holosun507C with its included rail adaptor weighs 2.65 ounces. Thus, in comparison to its functionality as a slide-cut optic, while the Viper is a mid-level optic, its weight makes it one of the best options on the current market.
Overall Rating – Good (21/25)
Product Link: https://vortexoptics.com/vortex-viper-6-moa-red-dot.html
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.