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Enclosed MRDS Buyer’s Guide [2024]

Sealed reflex sights offer advantages over their open-top brethren. They’re more durable, far less likely to fog up from temperature changes, and the LED emitter itself is better protected from the elements. 

Until relatively recently they’ve remained in the realm of rifles instead of handguns.

But there’s been an explosion of options — some of this is due to R&D, but a larger chunk is due to companies simply paying to laser their logo on a Chinesium dot. 

If you look at two different companies but their sealed sights appear the same, there’s probably a reason. 

Most of the sealed optics shown here use the Aimpoint ACRO footprint with some notable exceptions. 

However, if you don’t have a pistol with a plate system, conversions are available for some common footprints. We’ve seen some optics on pistols with high round counts shear their mounting screws, so the recoil lug on the clamp-style ACRO footprints is a definite advantage.

Are there some diamonds in the rough? Almost certainly. Let’s have a gander at the spectrum.

BEST ENCLOSED RED DOTS

Aimpoint ACRO P-2 

At this point, Aimpoint should be accustomed to starting weapon optic revolutions. They kicked off the enclosed-emitter craze first with the ACRO, which was essentially a commercialized version of the B+T exclusive Aimpoint NANO. There were some warts, mainly in the way of dinky CR1225 batteries and their associated dinky battery life  — and yet, the footprint you’ll see repeated over and over on these pages is “ACRO.” 

The ACRO P-2 is the sleeker, sexier model with a longer lifespan. The ACRO P-2 has a 50,000-hour battery life and eats from a standard, side-mounted CR2032 battery.

Aimpoint has a hard-earned reputation for simple, bombproof sights, and they clearly wanted that to extend to the ACRO. If you expect to find yourself 25 meters underwater with your sidearm, the Aimpoint is definitely for you.

  • Footprint: ACRO
  • Weight: 2.1 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 50,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 1.9 by 1.3 by 1.2 inches
  • MSRP: $599

Atibal E2 / Viridian RFX45 

The Atibal e2 has all the features that are quickly becoming standard, like an easily swappable CR2032 battery with an anticipated lifespan of 50,000 hours (nearly six years) along with a motion-activated “shake awake” function. The e2 is rated as IP67-waterproof, meaning it can handle total immersion but maybe don’t take it SCUBA diving. 

The glass is a squat 24 by 15.5mm rectangle, with a little wider window than the gaggle of rebranded optics at the end of this guide. It’s similar to the Holosun 509T. Speaking of glass, there’s minimal distortion and excellent color rendition — not too blue on this one. The e2 has a memory function, so it turns back on at the same setting as when you last turned it off. 

You’ll notice the Viridian RFX45 has virtually the same specs, except with a green dot instead of red. Viridian recently introduced the RFX44, a smaller version that’s shorter and narrower for a more compact form factor.

  • Footprint: ACRO
  • Weight: 1.73 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 50,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 1.9 by 1.1 by 1.13 inches
  • MSRP: $325 (Atibal e2); $459 (Viridian RFX45)

Holosun EPS Carry

The Holosun EPS Carry is like a 509T left in the dryer all day. It’s shrunk down to fit in the RMSc footprint without overhang for narrow, compact pistols — note Holosun calls it their K footprint because while it’s the same dimensions as RMSc, the recoil lugs are different. The EPS Carry still offers all the flapship features Holosun is known for, except for the solar panels on its larger brethren.

It’s available in red or green with a 6 MOA dot, 2 MOA dot, and Holosun’s multi-reticle system that features user-selectable options for a 2 MOA dot with or without the 32 MOA ring, or the ring by itself. The glass on our sample has a slight tint, similar to other 507 models. The sight has shake awake functionality, and battery life is rated at 50,000 hours. 

The EPS Carry has two good-sized buttons on the left side and a battery drawer on the right; it’s IPX8 rated. There’s a small notch at the aft end to serve as a backup rear sight.

Holosun has quickly become a major player in the electro-optics market, and the EPS Carry is another good example of why that’s the case.

  • Footprint: Holosun K
  • Dimensions: 1.6 by 1.19 by 1.13 inches
  • Weight: 1.4 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR1620
  • Battery Life: 50,000 hours
  • MSRP: $388 to $506

Holosun HE509T-RD

The Holosun 509T has most of its working bits at the bottom of the sight with a wide optical window sitting on top of it, pushed out to the edges. Our sample has a noticeable blue tint throughout the entire window. 

Holosun packed the 509T full of features: selectable reticle in red or green, shake awake, and — notably in this group — solar panels. You can also configure the sleep timer to 10 minutes, 1 hour, 12 hours, or never. You can manually set the brightness or select an auto mode that automatically adjusts based on ambient light. The 509T has two medium-sized buttons on the side with positive tactile feedback and a lockout mode that deactivates them. It’s IP67 rated for submersion.

Overall, it’s a great sight that’s only slightly larger than a standard MRDS. What’s not to like? Well, perhaps the proprietary mounting footprint, though some aftermarket slides are offered with 509T cuts.

  • Footprint: Proprietary
  • Dimensions: 1.6 by 1.16 by 1.13 inches
  • Weight: 1.7 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR1632
  • Battery Life: 50,000 hours
  • MSRP: $506 to $541

Lead & Steel Pandora PB-3 

While the other names on this list are ones you’ve almost undoubtedly heard before, Lead & Steel is a fresh face. There are rarely new players in the red-dot game who aren’t foreign copycats or rebrands. While there are certainly some foreign components in L&S optics, they’re designed, machined, and assembled in the United States.

With a 21 by 16mm window, the Pandora has one of the largest enclosed dot windows and performs like a champion. As first impressions go from a new company, this was a home run.

  • Footprint: ACRO 
  • Weight: 2.3 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032 
  • Battery Life: 30,000-plus hours
  • Dimensions: 2 by 1.1 by 1.18 inches 
  • MSRP: $600 

Shield AMS 

Another sight with a military pedigree, the AMS’s sire and dam are both in service with UKSF, making this offspring the pick of the English litter. Battery life isn’t as long as some of its contemporaries despite using a bigger cell, which can be attributed to the lack of tinted lens coatings — although the sight picture has none of the annoying blue tinge of others, it does require more power to produce a sufficiently bright dot. Deck height is low enough to make suppressor height sights unnecessary, and you can choose between four reticles.

  • Footprint: RMS
  • Weight: 1.3 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2050, CR2032, CR2035
  • Battery Life: 20,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 1.6 by 1.3 by 1.1 inches
  • MSRP: TBD

SIG Sauer ROMEO-M17 

The second most expensive sight on this list, SIG’s red dot is the only one currently issued to U.S. troops, sitting on the slide of the M17 and M18 handguns. As such, it uses a proprietary mounting system, so if you think you’re going to buy one for bragging rights on your MOS-equipped Glock, prepare to be disappointed. That said, it does have some pretty nifty features, such as a side-mounted battery that can be swapped without removing the optic from your slide (the cap is knurled and slotted so you can use the rim of a cartridge for leverage), as well as three night vision brightness levels and 12 for daytime use. In addition to a shake-awake function, there’s also magnetic activation that rouses the sight from its slumber if you have a magnet in your holster. 

  • Footprint: SIG-LOC 
  • Weight: 1.5 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 20,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 2.4 by 0.9 by 1.1 inches
  • MSRP: $800

SIG Sauer ROMEO2

This dot goes both ways — open emitter or sealed off. The hybrid design allows the optic to be mounted on all SIG Pro footprints (which translates to an awful lot of Leupold DeltaPoint Pro mounts, too) but then be enclosed after the fact. The shields cleverly cantilever from the front and are held in place by two small fasteners.

The 25,000-hour battery life isn’t the highest on this list, but the battery is replaced from the side so not a big deal. The Romeo2 can be set to auto-off if you desire, and there’s even a magnetic on/off option for duty holsters. 

Also included is a clever multi-tool wrench with a flathead for windage/elevation adjustment, a small Torx for the shield screws, and a T-10 bit in a 28-in-lb torque limiter.

  • Footprint: DeltaPoint Pro / PRO RX
  • Weight: 2.1 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 25,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 1.84 by 1.32 by 1.12 inches
  • MSRP: $699

Steiner MPS 

The Steiner MPS has a crystal-clear window and provides an almost flawless view of the target. Combined with the short overall body of the MPS, you have practically zero “tunneling” that most other enclosed optics tend to give you. The end result is a natural-feeling dot that almost makes you forget you’re using one.

The bad news is almost everything else. Out of the box, the MPS has a battery life of only 13,000 hours on a “medium” setting. With eight brightness settings (two NV, six daylight), dialing in your desired dot brightness isn’t too hard. The MPS has an optional 13-hour auto-off but no auto-on/shake-awake mode; this is a major missing feature for a premium red dot. You can disable the auto-off, but doing so locks you out of the max brightness setting “to optimize battery life.”

  • Footprint: ACRO
  • Weight: 2.05 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR1632
  • Battery Life: 13,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 2.17 by 1.2 by 1.3 inches
  • MSRP: $633

Trijicon RCR

The RCR delivers many of the same features of the industry-standard RMR in a sealed package tested to Trijicon’s aggressive durability standards. The RCR touts a whopping six years of battery life at midrange settings at room temperature. It features 10 individual brightness settings that include three night vision options as well as a super bright one.

The RCR is standardized with a 3.25 MOA dot and, perhaps most surprising, also uses the RMR footprint. The issue with making closed-emitter optics compatible with RMR footprints has always been the screws, since passing screws downward through a sealed box poses a sizeable engineering challenge. Trijicon was able to overcome this through the use of capstan screws, featuring holes through the head that enable them to be turned from the side instead of the top. 

It should also be noted that the RCR has the same deck height as the RMR and RMR HD, so the same commonality applies to back-up irons.

  • Footprint: RMR
  • Weight: 1.98 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 52,000-plus hours
  • Dimensions: 1.8 by 1.2 by 1 inches
  • MSRP: $849

ZeroTech Optics H.A.L.O. TRAE28

Just released at SHOT Show 2024, we have the first example of ZeroTech Optics’ new H.A.L.O. TRAE28 reflex sight with enclosed emitter.

Amongst all those letters is the number 28, referencing its extra wide 28mm by 20mm lens. With an RMSc footprint, the housing overhangs horizontally quite a bit. The housing also extends further above the glass, like mom’s attic in a U-Haul — making room for the battery, thus keeping the window low on the slide and allowing for battery changes without dismounting the optic. 

The ZeroTech has a 3 MOA red dot with 10 brightness settings, including two night-vision compatible ones. It has a motion sensor for auto-on and -off, as well as a notch for a backup rear sight. 

While the ZeroTech is somewhat bulbous on a pistol, that window sure is large and roomy. It’s a joy to shoot, and large buttons on either side of the sight make it really easy to use.

  • Footprint: RMSc
  • Weight: 2.8 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 50,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 1.7 by 1.4 by 1.3 inches
  • MSRP: $399

Swampfox Kraken / Gideon Mediator / CHPWS Duty / Warner & Swasy / Atibal SRD-E / ETC. …

If you ever went to a gun show in the aughts, you definitely heard the words “made on the same line as …!” from some unscrupulous dealer shilling cheap Chinese optics. Since then, Chinese optics have come a long way from merely copying the aesthetics of others. Indeed now there are many options that are literally “from the same line.”

There’s no better demonstration of this than the latest glut of enclosed emitter optics — all of which have the same internals but with different logos and slightly different body designs. Some have rear sights built-in; others have little lightening cuts in different places. The anodizing is universally dry and easy to scratch. Most are offered with red or green reticles. 

The plus side is that these products are far more durable than they used to be, which is why there are so many re-brands, but you’re really mainly paying for a name or warranty here. If you want one, you could get the cheapest one possible and give it a rattle can job. Note that some boast an additional feature that you might consider, such as a selectable circle-dot reticle in the SwampFox and C&H Precision, an ambient light sensor to auto-adjust brightness in the LaserMax, or the blue reticle in the Lucid Optics.

  • Footprint: ACRO
  • Weight: 2.5 ounces
  • Battery Type: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 50,000 hours
  • Dimensions: 1.87 by 1.38 by 1.27 inches

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