It’s hard not to love something purpose-built like the Vortex Viper. It’s a simple optic that will make your old handgun fun again.
The Vortex Viper is an exciting design development from Vortex. Vortex already made the Venom, a mini red dot that’s roughly pistol-sized which we had reviewed here.
That begs the question, why does the Viper exist then? The Viper was designed from the ground up as a pistol red dot. Although the Venom is a standard mini red dot sight, the Viper is all about the pistol.
The Vortex Viper is superbly small. It’s 1.81 inches long, 1.06 inches wide, and 1.02 inches tall. It only weighs a light 1.03 ounces. This little fella also incorporates the same Docter-style footprint used by the Vortex Venom. This common mounting platform makes it very easy to find pistol slides cut for it. The Glock MOS series comes complete with a plate to mount the Viper.
The Viper and a Purpose Built Difference
The Vortex Viper features beefed-up sides that support the viewing window. This beefed-up design provides a much more durable construction.
A handgun is designed to be used at close ranges where physical encounters also occur. Therefore, a beefed-up window protects the optic if things go to the ground.
Another big difference is the button design. The button design requires an affirmative and purposeful press to make adjustments. At first, that might make you frustrated, but hear me out. If you are carrying a gun concealed with the Viper, it’s going to bump into your body, clothing, and possibly the environment, which may accidentally turn off or dim an optic. And the last thing you want when you draw your piece is a red dot that’s too dim to see.
The Viper’s button design is smart, even if it’s not as tactile or sensitive as you’d like. What’s even better than that is that it takes a full five-second button press to turn the optic off. A five-second press makes it nearly impossible to turn the optic off accidentally.
The Viper also has a nice fat 6 MOA red dot. A big red dot like this is perfectly suited for a handgun. It makes the dot quick and easy to see and fast to get on target. This makes a big difference.
At the Range
The Viper does exactly what a pistol red dot should do. It extends your effective range, makes you a faster shooter, and allows you to consistently place accurate lead on target. As far back as 50 yards, I was ringing a 10-inch gong with a S&W 22A 22LR handgun.
The Viper’s dot is super clear and crisp and only experiences a hair of washout at the highest brightness settings. The dot comes with a Picatinny rail mount. Between the mount and the common footprint, it’s hard to find an optic-ready pistol that’s not Vortex Viper-ready as well.
The Viper is also priced affordably. If you aren’t necessarily sold on handgun red dots, then the Viper might be an affordable way to dip your toe in the pool.
In conclusion, it’s a simple optic that will considerably increase your handgun’s performance. Red dots rule, and it’s hard not to love something purpose-built like the Vortex Viper, especially at this price point.