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Barska Red Dot Sight Review

My eyes aren’t what they used to be, and they weren’t much to start out with.  In my younger days, I had a Ruger 10/22 with iron sights and shot more than my share of birds and cans with it, but I didn’t excel with the irons.  My first ‘Big Rifle’ was a Marlin 336 lever gun chambered in .35 Remington, and it was equipped with a Williams peep on the rear of the receiver, and I harvested my first blacktail buck with that setup.  The peep was better than the buckhorns, but when I went on my first Elk hunt and used my dad’s Ruger #1 equipped with a Leupold VX-3 scope, I was SOLD on optics.    I qualified ‘Marksman’ with the M-16 in the Air Force, but the whole time I peered through that peep, I was thinking about how much better that setup would be with some proper glass.

I learned to hate the M-16, as I was on the weapons team and had to clean 200 of the dirty buggers every time we got back from exercises.  I swore I’d never own one of the black POS’s with their hard to clean chamber area as long as I lived, and that resolution lasted 20 years.  I fell off the wagon and started building an AR-15 a while ago.  I built it on the cheap, buying bits and pieces from internet forum message board classifieds and from gun stores when on sale. 

The rifle is done, and I’ll be darned if I’m going to look through a peep sight when I can give my old eyes a break and utilize optics.

The market is flooded with a dizzying array of optic options for the AR platform.  I decided I wanted a red dot sight, as fast target acquisition took precedence over tack driving 300 yard accuracy. 

The Barska 1x30 AC10984 looked good on the screen of my monitor, Matte Black in color and ACOG reminiscent styling.    The $99 price tag made it a lot more inexpensive than many others, yet priced at a point that I was hopeful for a degree of quality and durability.    I ordered one from Webyshops.com, and you can see it here.

The scope arrived quickly, and nestled securely in a cut foam cocoon inside the factory box.  Included was a lens cloth, a spare battery set and a warranty card, detailing the terms of the one year warranty.  Curiously, there was no manual or instructions in the box.  The scope was pretty self explanatory, but I looked up the manual online anyhow, and found it here.

The extra battery set was a pleasant surprise, but so was the battery setup.  The battery in the scope, along with the spare, is a pair of LR44 hearing aid style batteries taped together to form a cylinder.  Referring to the manual above, they make no mention of the tape, so I suppose they are configured that way to aid in assembly, and I assume that the tape is not needed if one was to replace the batteries.

A peculiar feature of this scope is what appears to be a front sight above the objective, but there is no corresponding rear sight.  I’ve looked at the thing a dozen times trying to figure it out, and have just decided it is a hood ornament, like on a 1953 Plymouth.  A 2001 Space Odyssey Monolith hood ornament.

The battery compartment, along with the elevation and windage adjustments, are sealed with O-rings, and the scope is advertized to be waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof, and I encountered nothing in my testing to reveal otherwise.

The reticle in the scope is a red crosshair.  The box calls it a ‘CrossDot Reticle’, but I can see no dot, simply a red crosshair.  Unlike more expensive scopes, there is no green option.  On this scope, you can have a reticle in any color you want, as long as it’s red.  I counted seven different reticle brightness intensities, selected by turning the small knob on the left of the scope, opposite the windage adjustment.  The dimmest setting is dim enough to not be blinding in very dark conditions, and the highest setting is bright enough to see when shooting facing bright sunlight.

I mounted the scope on my flattop AR, and was pleased to see that the mounting base could be mounted forward enough to allow either a fixed or flip up rear sight installation.    The rail mount fit nicely on the rail of my rifle with no tweaking, force, or modifications.  The scope clamps to the rail with two Hex nuts that require a wrench to tighten.  The nuts have slots cut in them so you could theoretically use a big screwdriver, back of a knife blade, or a coin to loosen or tighten them in an emergency, but the studs the nuts go on protrude too far out into the nut, negating this possible feature.    I experienced no loosening of the mount during my testing, and am pleased with the mounting setup.

The AR’s existing fixed front sight and rear sight could still be utilized with the scope in place, with the iron sight picture occurring in the bottom 1/3 of the scope.

I took it to my range and sighted it in, noting the windage and elevation adjustments clicked nice, positive and predictable, and adjustment could be done with a penny. 

I shot several hundred rounds of .22lr through the rifle with this scope on top, and noted it held zero the whole time.  A few magazines of 5.56 revealed no point of impact shift or reticle blink under heavier recoil. I tested for Parallax by firing groups with the reticle at the extreme top, bottom, left and right side of sight picture, and noted that there was a 1” shift in point of impact at 50’.  I had to really work hard to get the reticle that far out of the center, and this shift is on par with much more expensive red dots I’ve tested.

I stuck the scope in the safe overnight with the reticle on to see if it was equipped with an auto shutoff feature, and confirmed that it does not have an auto shutoff, as it was still illuminated the next day.
Shooting at smaller targets at longer ranges made me wish the reticle was smaller.  The red crosshair is great and intuitive snap shooting at short distances, but gets large and in the way when trying to pick out a small target at further ranges.

The reticle is slightly blurry at higher intensities.   I thought it was my eyes, but I handed it to my 15 year old son with great eyes, and he agreed it was a bit blurry, also.  The blurriness is less prevalent at lower intensities.  The emitter that projects the crosshairs protrudes down from the ‘ceiling’ of the tube a bit, and is visible at the top of the sight picture.  The emitter does not have any glare or reflection, but it is a slight blockage of the top of the sight picture.

We all know that you get what you pay for when it comes to optics.   I think that this scope represents the entry level point for an acceptable red dot sight.  For $659 more, you can get an Aimpoint M4  and address any shortcomings this scope has.  However, if your budget for a red dot optic is hovering around $100, I think this one will serve you just fine.

Mark Spreadborough writes from his family homestead in Kalama, Washington, where he lives with his wife, son, daughter, dog and cat. When not writing, shooting, hunting, fishing or working on his property, he goes to his day job as a HVAC repair mechanic.