Vortex Viper VRD Red Dot: Compact Dot for a Compact Gun

In the world of optics, Vortex is a rising star. They found that happy place where quality and price blend into one affordable product that can take a licking and keep on… illuminating. Because of the popularity of handgun optics, we are seeing a ton of compact red dots being released. This is good, but it can also be overwhelming trying to find the right one. Some have a lot of options, some are simple, some have longer battery life, etc. Options are great, but the optic must fit your needs for your gun.

Vortex Viper Red Dot
The Vortex Viper red dot is a 6 MOA micro-optic that can be used on a handgun or rifle.

I like larger optics on AR-15 but that’s just a personal preference. On some of my smaller sub-gun-sized weapons, I like compact optics that keep the gun light and easy to maneuver. The Vortex Viper VRD 6 MOA Red Dot is the perfect size for me, and it is simple to use. The Viper is a handgun/rifle optic that can fit a Glock MOS floor system. It also comes with a medium riser for mounting on a Picatinny rail. I mounted this optic on my B&T and headed to the range to see if it would be a keeper or placed on the chopping block.

The Vortex Viper at a Glance

Like a lot of micro red dots, the Viper red dot comes powered by a 2032 battery. According to Vortex, the Viper can run up to 150 hours on higher settings and 30,000 hours on lower settings. That’s a pretty big difference so I will be curious to see how long the battery will last in my sight. The optic has a total of six holes in the base for different floor systems. The Picatinny mount has four posts that will keep it secure when the gun is being fired. Two screws come with the rail attachment as well.

red dot parts
The Viper comes with a CR2032 battery, wrench, Picatinny mount, and cover.

The Viper is a 6 MOA red dot and has a windage and elevation adjustment of 120 MOA. Vortex says the lens has an ultra-hard scratch-resistant coating. I own a lot of other Vortex optics and I can say from experience the lens does hold up well. Having said that, I wish Vortex would say how the lens has been hardened because every optic company out there claims to use a “hardened coating.” But they are Vortex so when they say something is scratch resistant, I tend to believe them.

Operating the Viper Red Dot

The Vortex Viper has two buttons, one for up and one for down. This is also common on many micro red dots. To turn the optic on, press either button. The red dot will come on to the last setting before it was turned off. The up and down arrow cycles through the brightness settings. The number of settings is not listed in the manual but I counted at least eight brightness settings before I could no longer see the dot. On the highest setting, it would be easy to see, even on the brightest day.

vortex Viper Red Dot on the B&T gun
The Vortex Viper Red Dot is a simple easy micro-dot. Picatinny rail adapter is included.

To turn the optic off, the down arrow must be held for 5 seconds. There is no shake-a-wake or auto-shutoff on the optic. This is why I opted to place it on a sub-gun instead of a handgun. When I’m shooting rifles or PCCs I don’t mind turning the optic on when I’m at the range. But I don’t carry a rifle around with me all the time. I do, however, carry a handgun all the time and in the event that I need to draw it quickly, I want the optic to be on and ready. This doesn’t mean you can’t turn the red dot on before holstering it and turn it off at the end of the day; but with a 150-hour lifespan on the higher setting, the battery may run down quickly this way.

Sighting in the Vortex Viper

I didn’t have to do much to zero the Viper at the range. It was within two inches at 25 yards before I even started. I was able to move it quickly to zero, and then give it some range time. I did some shooting at 25, 50, and 100 yards with my B&T and was happy with its performance. Because it’s a 6 MOA, it is easy to get on target during rapid-fire drills. I have had the Viper at the range several times since the day I zeroed it in, and it has not moved at all.

Red Dot, locking screws
The Vortex Viper has two locking screws on the back that can be tightened once it is zeroed in.

One thing that sets this optic apart from others is the locking feature it has for the windage and elevation settings. Once the sight is zeroed in, there are two small screws on the back of the optic that can be tightened to lock the settings in place. I’m not sure why Vortex added this option to the Viper, but I have not had it move on me. I have other micro-optics that have been zeroed for years and they do not have this locking feature, but I also don’t mind using the lock. It appears to work so I won’t be complaining about it.


This optic has a shorter battery life than some micro-optics and it doesn’t have auto shut-off. But for the price, this thing appears to be built well and it is simple to operate. It would work great on a handgun, PCC, rifle, or shotgun, although I prefer this one on a rifle or PCC. It is easy to turn on and adjust the brightness setting. The Viper comes with a T-10 torques wrench, optic cover, Picatinny rail mount, and screws for mounting it to the adapter or directly to a firearm. This is a great optic for the price, and you also get the Vortex lifetime guarantee with it. Vortex has a great reputation, and I don’t think you will be disappointed if you decide to go with the Vortex Viper VRD-6 red dot.

Sheriff Jason Mosher is a law enforcement generalist instructor as well as a firearms and tactical weapons trainer. Jason graduated from the FBI-LEEDA (Law Enforcement Executive Development Association) and serves as a Sheriff for his day job. When he’s not working, he’s on the range, eating steak, or watching Yellowstone.

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