Magnified optic vs. red dot for AR pistol?

Yesterday we had a wee bit of Christmas come early at the Gun Nuts office. My 11 inch AR pistol upper showed up, along with my pistol buffer tube and SB15 Arm Brace. Here’s the result:

new ar pistol

Here’s a quick look at what’s in the gun:

  • Aero Precision Lower
  • DPMS lower parts kit
  • DPMS 11.5 inch upper with AAC Blackout from Brownells
  • Burris 332 3x prismatic scope

I’m going to be running Troy Battlemags in the gun, which have all been laser engraved with the Gun Nuts logo for the test. Ever wonder how tough a Battlemag is? We’re going to find out. However, the question of this post is about the optic we’re using. The Burris 3x is pretty awesome, it has a bullet drop comp and a bunch of other cool features in it. There’s a part of me that thinks it would be better off on a full size rifle like Shelley’s 3-Gun AR. Sitting in the office I also have three different red dot options: a Burris Fastfire III, several different RMRs, and of course the Redfield Counterstrike. I’ll admit there is something deeply giggle inducing about putting an optic called “Counterstrike” on this gun.

Pros for the red dots: infinite eye relief, parallax free, the ability to mount them further forward on the gun to accommodate a rear sight. Pro for the magnified optics (I also have a variable Leupold scope): It’s easier to hit stuff with a magnified optic. Honestly, it’s a toss up in my head. If I had to pick one based on my gut, I’d go with the magnified optic. But something feels a little silly about putting a 3x scope on a gun this small, because realistically, what kind of engagements am I planning for an AR pistol? I’m not shooting hadji at 400 yards with this gun, it’s just a range toy.

What do you guys think? Counterstrike or 332 for this gun? If I go with the C-Strike, the 332 will get put on the eventual ARX-100 headed this way.


  1. 1x red dot is going to be more usefull and quicker in my opinion. I would look for something small and open. Think C-More or something small along the lines of the Doctor/JP/Fastfire/Leupold or even Trijicon/Meprolight if you intend on really abusing it.

  2. I say 1x red dot. Couldn’t tell you why. The 3x just seems wrong.

  3. Magnified optics are slower. The point of an AR Pistol/PDW-style weapon is for close-in stuff, where the conventional rifle/carbine is too long.

    IMO, light, bright and fast. Irons are good to go, like big dots.

  4. I have a Trijicon Reflex on my pistol AR (with a Sig brace and KAK deluxe brace tube, makes it about position 2-3). I like the no batteries since it is my home defense gun and bigger dot for close in.

    I really like the Burris AR-1X I just got. Fell I love with it at NRA. It has a drop etched illimuated reticle like your 3x, but no magnification. If I want that then I pop on a magnifier, but otherwise is great. Might even a good in between for you. But all of the BBC stuff is going to be a little off anyway due to the shorter barrel…

  5. Go for the counterstrike. Have the laser zeroed at 10 yards, and the dot zeroed at 50. SBRs and pistols are great CQB guns with the capability to engage at longer ranges- might as well set it up that way.

  6. Actually, if it was a “serious’ gun rather than a range toy, I would have to respectfully disagree with That Guy’s suggestion and suggest that when you have multiple sighting apparatuses, they be zeroed for the same range, with an offset POA zero to reflect the offset from the primary sights.

    That way the delta between primary sight and any alternate ones remains consistant at all ranges, and you only have to remember one set of holdovers.

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