I don’t know much about optics, but I tried a red dot optic once. From then on, I’ve been looking for good red dot optics that are budget-friendly and durable. I’ve watched and read a few reviews online and narrowed down my choices to SIG Sauer ROMEO5 and the Vortex Sparc AR.
There are four variations of the ROMEO5, namely: ROMEO5 at $179.99, ROMEO5 TREAD at $139.99, ROMEO5X at $199.99, and ROMEO5XDR at $259.99. All have the same specification as 1x20mm. In contrast to the SIG Romeo 5, there is only one model for the Vortex Sparc AR on the official website. It costs $279.99.
One feature common to all ROMEO5 models is the presence of the Motion Activated Illumination or MOTAC for short. This technology shuts the system down when the scope is not in use and instantly activates with the smallest movement, thus extending the battery life. For this comparison, I’ll be reviewing ROMEO5.
Operated by a CR2032 battery, this optic is side-loading to facilitate faster battery change. It has 40,000 hours of battery life. It also has unlimited eye relief which allows you to quickly and accurately acquire the target no matter the position of your eye. The parallax is ultra-low to render the point-of-aim as point-of-impact.
It is waterproof and fog proof at IPX7. It has a total of 10 illumination settings, controlled with buttons at the top of the optic, with 8 daylight and 2-night vision settings. The reticle is a 2MOA red dot.
ROMEO5 is 62.7mm long, 38.1mm wide, and weighs 5.1 ounces. The website, however, is conflicting when it comes to the mount included in each purchase. In the comparison table, the mount is T10 Torx Low Profile and T10 Torx 1.41-inch rise, while in the Features section, it says that each purchase includes an M1913 Picatinny low mount riser and a co-witness 1.41-inch riser mount.
When I searched for reviews on the ROMEO5, the first result was a link to a Youtube video where the red dot was placed in a “torture” test. The uploader is named Alabama Arsenal and he subjected the ROMEO5 to 6 intense tests. The first was a splash test, followed by a submersion test. The ROMEO5 held up, given its IPX7 waterproof feature. The next test was freezing, and it still worked even though it was encased in ice.
The next three tests were much more intense. He tested the ROMEO5 mounted on a high-powered rifle to test how much recoil it can withstand. The ROMEO5 held up. He then subjected the red dot to an impact test. He threw it up ten feet into the air ten times. As shown in the video, it still worked.
Just when I thought the video was up, I noticed that there was still almost a quarter left to the video. I was shocked when he placed the ROMEO5 in front of a target and shot at it with a shotgun. To my absolute surprise, it still worked. On top of that, the uploader said it still held zero, or if not, it was still close.
It was a thrilling visual review. It proved that ROMEO5 is a top tier product available at an affordable price. If that won’t impress you, I don’t know what will.
Vortex Sparc AR Features
It is an AAA battery operated with 50,000-hour battery life. It has an automatic shut down setting that activates 12 hours from last use. It is multi-height, with unlimited eye relief, and has a parallax-free setting. There is, however, a disclaimer that although it is parallax free, there will still be a small amount of parallax. However, these anomalies are classified in the industry as parallax free.
Every purchase comes with a rubber cover and flips caps. The optic has 10 illumination settings found at the lower part of the optic, with the lowest 2 compatible with night vision. Besides this, the model is equipped with O-rings to prevent dust and moisture from getting into the optic. The reticle is a 2MOA red dot.
Vortex Sparc AR is 2.9 inches long and weighs 7.5 ounces. In addition to the rubber cover, each purchase comes with a T10 Torx wrench, an absolute co-witness mount, and a lower ⅓ co-witness mount. The glass is fully multi-coated to increase light transmission.
Alabama Arsenal also made a review and a “torture” test video for the Sparc AR. What stood out to me at the beginning of the video is that he mentioned that Vortex has a VIP warranty, which he claimed to be perhaps the most comprehensive warranty in the industry. Vortex will replace your Sparc AR with a new one and is fully transferable.
Most importantly, the Sparc AR held up to the same intense tests as the ROMEO5. The uploader even joked that he can’t use the VIP warranty, since his optic was still working.
Incidentally, Alabama Arsenal mentioned the battery life as somewhere between 300 to 5,000 hours. A lot of other recent reviews also said the same thing. So maybe it’s a typographical mistake on the side of Vortex to put such a battery life claim on their website.
I now understand that Vortex prices its optics high because of the VIP warranty. But since they were subjected to the same torture test and held up well, I choose the SIG Sauer ROMEO5 as my pick for this one.