Review of the Lucid HD7
By Gary Graham
In 2010 I just happen to be looking through one of my issues of Shotgun news, and I spotted a new red dot scope. Typically that’s not enough for me to check out a new scope, but I liked the design, features, and price, so I thought I would research this new scope from a new manufacture. Now I’m pretty picky about scopes, so I looked into this new manufacturer called Lucid, and noticed the company was founded the year before by Jason Wilson, who used to work for Brunton Optics, and he asked the same question that so many people ask, and that’s “why do Aimpoint and Eotech scopes sell for so much, when they are made for a fraction of that cost” so he set out to build a high quality red dot scope for much less, which ended up starting Lucid LLC, and designing the HD7.
At this time I was using a red dot scope on my 6.5 Grendel AR15 that I built a couple years before and I just was not happy with the scope I was using. The whole point behind the red dot scope is fast target acquisition, and a quick center mass shot. Because many red dot scopes have a dot size of 2 Minute of Angle (MOA) and greater, they make poor target scopes, because the bigger the dot, the bigger the shot group, but all still within the area of center mass.
But it was not the size of the dot, that bothered me because they both were 2 MOA, and both featured my favorite reticle, the circle with a dot in it, in fact the HD7 has a selection of four to choose from such as the dot, circle w/dot, circle with crosshairs, and crosshairs, with the dots all being 2 MOA, so the selection is a nice surprise. The Circle and Dot (also called the donut with a dot in it) is the one that most people select for fast and natural target acquisition, and the dot is the one I like for precision shooting (as much as you can do with a 2 MOA red dot).
So it was not the Reticle selection, but one of the main reasons for the move towards the Lucid HD7, was its size. It’s far from being “small”, but it’s nearly 3 times smaller than the scope it replaced, so I would call it on par with other red dot scopes of this class, and more compact tends to mean longer battery life, and in the HD7 that’s light years better then the scope the HD7 replaced. The old scope’s battery life is measured with a stop watch, which is one of the reasons I replaced that scope with the HD7. I hate the idea of having to pack extra batteries, and batteries always seem to follow Murphy’s law and die at the time you need them the most, and with the old scope, that meant I had to put in a new battery every time I turned it on, so I could rely on it, yet the HD7’s battery life is measured with a calendar, and while the old scope took a large flat battery, the HD7 takes a single easy to find AAA battery, and the stated battery life is 1,000 hrs, and I have been testing my HD7 for over a year so far of hard use, and on a number of rifles, I’m still on the same original battery. I like that, because not only is it long lasting, it’s a cheap and easy to obtain battery pretty much anyplace.
Now I know there are Eotech and Aimpoint models with much higher battery life, but that brings us to the cost of the Lucid HD7. You see, while there are other scopes out there with longer battery life, you can buy six Lucid HD7’s at the retail price of $249, for the cost of one of the high end Eotech or Aimpoint models, or five HD7’s with enough money left over to keep them in fresh batteries for a couple decades. And it’s the cost of the HD7 that really caught my eye, because the stats were great and very comparable to models selling for a grand more, and that’s why I felt the need to get one. I need to trust my optics as much, if not more so than my weapon, and the scope I had been using just was not up to the task and as such I could not trust it. So I ordered the Lucid, and when I received it, it was well packaged (I bought mine before they came out with the magnifiers) and I was impressed by the design (as a gunsmith I’m always looking at design and function) and the HD7 uses a cast aluminum frame that feels fairly light for its 13oz weight, and the rubberized coating is nice and even and of high quality. The HD7 comes complete with a built in mount designed to fit standard Picatinny rails, using two 13mm nuts, and my Leatherman MUT contains the proper wrench to tighten this down perfectly, but you could also use a quarter to tighten it down if needed. So mounting was quick and easy, as well installing the single AAA battery, and I also liked the feature of using a lanyard for the battery compartment door to prevent loss in the field, just in case you get smacked upside the head by Murphy’s Law. The HD7 is very solid once mounted, and in the year of testing never once came loose on any of the rifles I had attached the HD7 too.
Turning on the scope is a simple process of taping the on button in the left hand side of the scope to put it into automatic mode. Automatic mode uses a light sensor to sense the amount of light, and compute the required brightness of the LED, and this automatic mode seems to work very well most of the time. The one time it does get faked out is when you are inside in a dark room, and shooting outside on a bright sunny day (most zombies seem to like that kind of weather), so what you end up with is an LED that’s a bit dim for conditions, but by pressing the power button again, it places the scope in manual mode, allowing you to set the LED brightness higher or lower using two buttons on the scope with up and down arrows on them. Pretty easy to figure out, and with little training you are able to use those controls without looking, day or night, so the operation is simple, as is the adjustment or zero, the scope also will automatically turn off to save the battery after 2 hours. It’s a simple matter to tap the button to turn it back on, and this feature will prevent the scope from staying on, and draining the battery once it has been put away for the night.
The HD7 scope has target style turrets to adjust for bullet impact, and they do not have any covers to loose in the field, have both a positive and audible click, and the adjustment is one click equals half an inch, which makes adjustment easy, with two clicks equaling an inch at 100 yards. The HD7 was very easy to zero, and hold its zero, even if the scope is removed from the rifle and returned to the same spot on the rail, but this was the first thing I would like to see changed on future versions of this scope. The version that I have does not appear to have the ability to zero the turrets after the rifle has been zeroed. While I can put up with this oversight, I do hope they correct that in future models so the HD7 has a little bit more adjustability for range, so if you are shooting at 400 yards, you don’t need to use Kentucky windage, you can just dial up the required setting for elevation and have much better chance at hitting your target.
Granted, red dot scopes are designed for close range and quickly engaging multiple targets, and not for long range precision shooting like your conventional scopes, but when it comes to a few hundred yards, it would be nice to be able to dial in the required bullet drop, and then later just zero the turrets for the proper 100 yard engagement distance. It does not change my mind about the HD7, because it’s not a feature you find on all red dots, but I just view the HD7 as much better than most. Selecting the reticle is very easy, and does not shift the point of aim for any of the four you choose.
When the HD7 first came out I contacted Jason Wilson to see if he designed the HD7 for a thread in kill flash, and as it turned out, there is not enough threads in the front of the HD7 to thread on a kill flash (for those whose don’t know what a kill flash is, its typically a lens cap designed to prevent the sun from giving away the position of the shooter). Once again, it’s a close range scope, and not a high power sniper scope, but the point is to not allow a sniper to turn the flash from the sun off the front lens into a really nice target. Not something you would need at your typical shooting range, but it would be a nice upgrade for the next version of the HD7.
This scope is 100% parallax free (it’s a 1X scope), 100% Waterproof, Fog proof and Shockproof and I have heard people having used this scope up to and including .458 SOCOM without any issues, and based on its LED emitter design which is pretty much the same as the Aimpoint, I can believe it. And it’s the LED emitter that has people a bit puzzled, because when looking into the back of the scope, you can see the emitter housing on the inside left of the scope, and this sticks out a bit, and some people find that distracting (I do not), but what you need to know is this HD7 is not an unlimited eye relief scope, and it’s designed to be used like other scopes with a fixed eye relief, and when used like other scopes, you will not see the LED emitter. You see the Aimpoint scopes have the same issue, but at 2x you cannot see the emitter so it’s not an issue, and the same can be said of the HD7 with the 2x screw in magnifier. When used correctly you don’t notice the emitter, and when engaging targets I have never noticed the emitter housing either.
As far as quality, the HD7 is in the same league at the high price red dots, because the components used in the HD7 come from the same place as the others, so the quality should be the same. The lens is also nicely coated to prevent glare, and I have never had a problem with glare when shooting. Overall the scope is very well made, and I’m highly impressed in the quality because you don’t normally see this level of quality at this price point, and in this case they knocked it out of the park.
While it would have been nice to have a nice quick detach (QD) mount, I really like the idea that the scope has a built in mount, and the reason is that the scope is setup to automatically co-witness on the lower 1/3 of the scope, and in my case I use the GG&G MAD BUIS With Ranging Aperture, and this Back Up Iron Sight (BUIS), there is more than enough room on my rail with the HD7 mounted, and when I flip the BUIS up, I can clearly see the front sight for proper sight alignment through the bottom 1/3 of the scope, so the HD7 does co-witness as stated using this built in mount which is a nice surprise, and I have also verified that the HD7 is solid when mounted, by using our high speed camera and reviewing the footage at 1200 frames per second (FPS). In fact the scope had no flex, and was as solid as a rock, yet when viewing the same footage I noticed that my BUIS was a bit loose and bouncing around like the main object of attention at hooters.
In all the reviews I have read in the past on the HD7, everyone is shooting the HD7 at the target range, and while red dots don’t excel on the target range, they do excel at shoots where you need to shoot quickly, so after a year of testing, I took the HD7 and removed it from my 6.5 Grendel, and mounted it to one of my 5.56mm M4 uppers (to save a bit of money in this economy), and headed to the Outbreak:Omega 4 DPMS Hosted Zombie shoot held in MN the first part of July to see how the scope could handle hoards of zombies, and I’m impressed with the results. I was able to shoot very fast and accurately with the HD7, and able to hit steel plates (or zombie heads) at will, in fact it was such a solid performer all day, that it made me look good, and allowed me to retain my reputation. I had zero problems with the HD7, and anyone that saw the HD7 was impressed. It’s a great scope especially at the retail price of $249. I do not currently have any of the magnifiers for testing, but they currently sell three models for the HD7. The 2X screw in model, the 3X Model and the 2x – 5x variable model. They also sell a cantilever mount for the 3x and a swing off mount for the variable.
So what do I think of the Lucid HD7? It’s a very low cost, high quality red dot scope, that due to its quality and design it will be compared to red dot scopes costing a grand or more. Is it as good as a $1500 scope? Not yet, but frankly I have not seen too many $1500 Red Dot Scopes I felt were really worth the high cost, and it was the high cost, that caused the HD7 to be built in the first place. You don’t need to spend $1000 to $1500 for a good red dot scope anymore, and if you have the money to burn on a top of the line Aimpoint or Eotech then by all means, spend the money, but if you are looking for a high quality red dot scope, that’s heavy duty, with coated lenses, and allows a 1/3 co-witness than take a good look at the HD7.I can equip my rifles with high quality red dot scopes for the price of one of the high end units, with very little advantage for everyday shooting. I did test the HD7 using one of my older Night Vision Scopes (NVS) and it seemed to work well, but my NVS mounted higher than my HD7, so I was not able to give a field review of the HD7 when used with an NVS.
There are things I would like to see added to future HD7 Models, and that’s the ability to zero the target turrets, the ability to mount a kill flash to the front of the HD7. Those are not high priority items and they don’t really get in the way of the HD7’s performance, but one other thing I really would like is an option to purchase the HD7 with tan rubber armor rather than the current black. That would be a really nice feature if it was possible to purchase black, tan or green to blend a bit better, because so many rifles these days can be ordered in a number of colors (without the need to use Duracoat), so I guess the only things I can think of after a year of testing are product enhancements rather than problems, but for other users (depending on your level of training) the Aimpoint style LED emitter on the left side of the scope might take a little getting used to (it’s not an issue when a Magnifier is mounted), but I really cannot say anything bad about this type of emitter, because it’s common, just not seen often because other manufactures hide the emitter using a 2X built in magnification. If you know it’s there and understand why, and that by using proper eye relief it’s not a problem, I think you will love this very capable red dot scope at a killer price. It’s very much worth the price, and I personally would love to buy several more to mount on other rifles, because I believe in the design, and trust the red dot accuracy this scope has, and as a veteran I trust this scopes ability to engage a target quickly.
In the future I hope to test some of the magnifiers made for the HD7 to stretch the legs of red dot scopes, in particular the HD7 to see if they are as good with magnification as they are unmagnified, but as an unmagnified red dot scope, I’m very impressed with it because it’s everything I need in a red dot tactical scope, and at a price I can afford, allowing me to save money for extra ammunition, as well as practice.
Copyright Aug 2011, all rights reserved.