Words and Pics: Rich Norman
Replacing the Sparc II in Vortex’s optic line, the Crossfire is the nearest the company has come to replicating the form factor of Aimpoint’s paradigm shifting Micro T1.
As such the Crossfire is compact, light and shares the same footprint as its Swedish cousin – meaning that there’s a fully developed market of mounts already out there.
I’d never considered buying a Vortex optic until I happened upon the Crossfire. It turns out that the optic is a new model, released in Spring 2018 and I was lucky enough to get one from the first batch sold by Tactical-Kit.
Being late to the Vortex game doesn’t mean I was unaware of the company – far from it. A lot of friends have opted to use Vortex optics and the brand is famous for its no quibble warranty.
Not only that, but Vortex optics have been seen in use with UKSF.
I was reticent, however, because I wasn’t sure of the quality. Just shy of £150 for a real deal optic seems too good to be true, right?
Well, there are a number of ways Vortex makes savings compared to Aimpoint. For a start, Vortex doesn’t manufacture its optic in a country like Sweden, where the cost of living is higher than the UK, USA or Germany – so that’s a big discount right there.
Of course, there are many other factors which contribute to Aimpoint’s price point, including materials, milspec finish, battery efficiency, NV use and robustness. For my purposes I have to say there’s little practical difference between my Aimpoint H2 (my review here) and the Crossfire.
The form factor is proven, it’s nitrogen purged, has a decent dot, decent controls and a decent finish.
The Crossfire is attractively merchandised and bundled with a replaceable lower 1/3 co-witness mount, a low mount, Torx screws, Torx tool, bikini cover, CR2032 battery, lens cleaning cloth, and user manual
Composed of 6060 aluminium, the optic exhibits a hard anodised coating with a satin finish. Unlike the T1, the upper adjustment turret (for elevation) is rendered snag free by a bulwark. Upon this is engraved Vortex’s logo.
The windage and elevation turrets are sealed with o-rings and feature cross-head adjustment; using the turret caps themselves, a coin, or a screwdriver to arrive at zero.
Like the T1, the red dot intensity control also doubles as the battery housing. The intensity control exhibits an aggressive grip profile and very positive click-adjustment. Settings are indexed from zero to eleven (that’s right, it goes up to eleven!)
I don’t know about anyone else, but positive detentes really appeal to me and deliver a feeling of quality. The Crossfire’s intensity control is one of those features which persuades me that a lot of thought has gone into this optic.
The battery housing, again, is o-ring sealed. Helpfully, the battery type is inscribed on the optic’s body.
Like all decent optics, the Crossfire is nitrogen purged. This means that the space inside the optic, between the lenses, is clear and will remain condensation free for the life of the optic (or, you just get a new one using the no quibble warranty).
Suffice to say, Vortex says the optic is waterproof and it’s really worth visiting their website to find out more than I can tell you.
They freely offer a good deal more information than most optics companies and even have a Q&A section for each model; where – incidentally – I learned that the Crossfire isn’t recommended for magnifier use, due to its short focal length and consequent risk of parallax.
It’s worth noting, however, that the optic itself is said to be parallex free (by the industry definition).
As should be the case, the Crossfire’s objective lens is angled so that it is perpendicular to the red dot emitter within the optic. That’s one I’m sure customer service employees at optic companies groan at, “Why is the lens angled funny?”
Another choice complaint must be red dot concentricity…
For full disclosure: because I have an astigmatism I can never see a red dot as fully round. It’s possible to check, though, because cameras don’t suffer from astigmatism. So take a pic of the dot before you complain.
Whereas with my own eyes I saw a tiny spider, my phone sees a perfectly round 2MOA dot (with a bit of a corona here, because it’s really difficult to take a decent pic).
Bundled with the optic are two mounting options: a lower 1/3 co-witness mount and a low mount.
These are both competent offerings, but since I have a load of existing mounts by the likes of LaRue, I only used the lower 1/3 mount for testing. Works fine and good to see the continued use of Torx fittings.
As you may tell from the tone of this piece, the Vortex Crossfire has impressed me.
I have to admit it took until Vortex really pushed the T1 form factor for me to get seriously interested in one of their optics, but now I have I feel like I’ve discovered a real gem.
And, as well as its ample capabilities, it’s a breeze to use and looks great.