In recent years, Vortex optics have been popping up everywhere. Most recently you can see them starting to have a significant following in 3-gun events. That is where I first saw the Vortex SPARC II. For both duty and competition I have used the Meprolight M21 for years, almost two decades, when a reflex style sight was needed. So if something works why change it? The truth is, as much as I like the M21 it has several draw backs. Shooting from indoor to outside sunlight can be very hard with the M21 or any passively lit optic for that matter. I have tried and long term reviewed countless sights, but always ended up back with the Meprolight for my go to reflex sight. The Vortex SPARC II may have changed that with a few caveats. With that primer this will be a short review, and the yardstick of comparison will be the Meprolight M21.
Before this review even started, this sight went through the paces. Several runs in three gun, more hours in the rain than I can count, actually submerged a few times on accident, all to eventually find a home on a 12 gauge shotgun where it has spent the last thousand rounds or so. In all that time, I cannot recall a single issue. While we do not purposely abuse hardware during testing, we do believe in real world trial by fire. The only modification we eventually did was to the lens covers. Pretty much any caliber larger than .22 would cause the covers to pop off. We fixed this with a dab of rubber cement on the inside of the cover. If you are not using this sight for duty, the better option is probably to invest in some cheap bikini style covers.
Above you can see the sight picture of the Meprolight and The SPARC II. This image was taken assuming a length of pull of 12.5 inches where most peoples eye would be. The blue tint on the Meprolight is from a contrast filter adapter that was installed for NVGs. It has been on there so long that even with a lens wrench it was not coming off with reasonable force. The M21 sight allows more awareness due to its larger lens and smaller frame. Despite that, three reviewers all shot the same shotgun course faster on the first run than they did with the M21 on the second. On several occasions these results have been repeated. From personal experience the only thing I can say is with the brightness cranked up, you never loose the dot. With the M21 on a moving target, after the shot there is a moment we all felt we lost the dot for a fraction of a second and had to readjust. We repeated the same test with a RMR and had the same results. For us here the SPARC II goes amazingly well with a shotgun if you are shooting dynamic. What was interesting however, is the results could not be repeated on a carbine. We all shot, as would be expected, faster with the sight we normal trained on.
Right off the shelf, you can see the SPARC II has the usual professional Vortex packaging. Inside the box, you get not only the tools you need to install it, but also the riser bases you will need to install this sight on pretty much anything. This may not sound like a big deal, but it is a time and frustration saver. Other sights almost all require some odd combination of spacers to bring it up high enough to use with both eyes open (BEO) with head upright in a good position. The SPARC II out of the box with the 40mm setup is almost perfect. If you need more fine tuning, there is also the option for 18mm, 21mm, and 37mm mount heights all right in the box. Below you can see the brightness buttons, the only buttons you will regularly need to access for use. While easy to use, they can be more difficult to activate with heavier gloves but this is true of any sight control system barring maybe turrets. That said, the Vortex Spitfire nails it in that category.
So after almost a year where do we stand on the Vortex SPARC II? Several of us here are using it in 3 gun on our shotguns myself included. For carbine however, I still prefer my old tried and true M21 at less than 100m. In the event of longer engagement ranges, Vortex has a solution. The 3x Spitfire. We will be comparing that in an upcoming review. No matter what you decide, you need to gets your hands on a selection of equipment and decide what works best for you. All we can say here is that the Vortex SPARC II is an incredible reliable scope that fills specific roles better than anything else we have tested to date.
Didn't get something right? Let us know in the discussion topic: Vortex SPARC II Discussion.
Edited by VS762