Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot Review : Should you buy this Affordable Reflex Sight?

Gungoal's Rating

 

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot, also known as MD-ADS, is an affordable, entry level red dot sight under $170. Even though the MD-ADS is not SHTF grade where you depend your family and your life on, but could serve you well on range guns or hunting guns where stakes aren’t as high and budget is more of a focus.

But is MD-ADS the best deal in its class or is there a better red dot? Worry not, I’ll tell you all there is to know about this optics so you can make informed decision whether Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot is the right optic for you.

Quick summary

Compared to Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob (MD-RB-AD), the MD-RB-AD has rotary dial knob instead of push buttons. Not only that, the MD-RB-AD has better glass with less bluish tint, better protection on its emitter, better housing, upgraded springs and stainless steels internal instead of brass. Warranty on the MD-RB-AD is lifetime while the MD-ADS has only 3 years Furthermore, the MD-ADS is more expensive at the time of this writing.

Compared to Vortex Crossfire Red Dot, the MD-ADS has very similar glass and dot performance. The Crossfire has rotary dial instead of push button brightness on the MD-ADS. Longer battery life goes to Primary Arms MD-ADS, but the Crossfire has lifetime warranty. The Crossfire is also cheaper at the time of this writing.

Get the new rotary knob Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot instead, due to better durability and cheaper price.

Due to recent improvements in optics manufacturing technology, firearms optics have become easier and cheaper to produce. Many overseas factories are learning the know-how of making quality optics at reasonable price. It’s very likely that prices for these optics will continue to drop while qualities and capabilities will continue to rise. Such a great time to be gun owners!

Furthermore, optics sold in the US has pretty much the best warranties available. You can see many big brand names offering fully transferable lifetime warranty which even “death won’t do us part”. Very few other industries offer this type of coverage on their products.

What are the PROS and CONS of Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot?

Pros

  • Affordable
  • 50,000 hours battery life
  • Light and compact
  • Quality red dot for the price

Cons

  • Not SHTF rugged
  • 3 years warranty
  • Has a better and cheaper newer version

 

A Newer Rotary Dial Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot has Arrived

According to a Primary Arms rep., Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot (MD-ADS) is manufactured from Holosun factory in China with similar specifications but different features from Holosun HS503GU.

The current MD-ADS version has push brightness buttons design on top of the red dot. But a new model (MD-RB-AD) with rotary dial knob and similar specifications is now available on the market. Both of these Primary Arms red dots have stellar user feedbacks, and I will compare them in this review.

Best for : Shooters who want affordable red dot sight with acceptable proven track record.

Dot & Glass 4/5
Ease of Use 4.2/5
Weight and Size 4.3/5
Durability 4.3/5
Value 4.6/5

 

The Whole Story of Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot

Since no optics nor products exists in isolation. And words such as “crisp” and “great” dot don’t really mean much when you have no benchmarks. I’ll be comparing the MD-ADS with other red dot sights in similar price range, so you know what’s the best option for your money.

Read on to find out why the MD-ADS, even though impressive, isn’t a perfect red dot sight.

Meet the Benchmarks

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot 2 MOA costs about $170 (at the time of this writing). And I’ll be comparing it with :

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob (MD-RB-AD) Vortex Crossfire Red Dot
Crossfire with low mount
  1. Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob – 2 MOA, $130 (at the time of this writing)
  2. Vortex Crossfire Red Dot – 2 MOA, $130 (at the time of this writing)

These are 2 popular options in the market with similar price point and should give you a realistic feel of how good Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot really is.

Primary Arms MD-ADS glass is worse than its n wer version : Primary Arms Rotary Dial

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot (MD-ADS) Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob (MD-RB-AD) Vortex Crossfire Red Dot
Reticle Type 2 MOA red dot 2 MOA red dot 2 MOA red dot
Brightness Settings 12 brightness settings, lowest 2 NV compatible 11 brightness settings, lowest 2 NV compatible 11 brightness settings, Not NV compatible
Brightness Adjustment Type Push button on top Rotary dial on right hand side Rotary dial on right hand side
Top of red dot
For better precision, you can zero with the top of your red dot instead of the center.

Comparing between MD-ADS and MD-RB-AD, I found the MD-RB-AD glass as clearer with less perceivable bluish tint. Dot crispness is pretty much the same between the 2 optics.

On the other hand, Vortex crossfire Red Dot and MD-ADS have similar performance in terms of glass clarity and dot crispness.

All 3 optics have bright dots which can be used outdoors on sunny days.

Push button design is slightly better for left-handed people as the brightness buttons can be easily operated with either hands.

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot has Very Good Battery Life

One major advantage of the MD-ADS is its 50,000 hours battery life (on Medium settings). I have mine on 7 brightness setting for a whole 2 years and the red dot is still going strong. This energy conservation is comparable to Aimpoint red dots.

With this ample battery life, you have no need for motion activated, solar panels and auto-shutoff features as they can be another failure point on your optics.

Summary of Batteries for each Mentioned Optics

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot (MD-ADS) Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob (MD-RB-AD) Vortex Crossfire Red Dot
Battery type CR2032 CR2032 CR1632
Battery Life 50,000 hours (Medium brightness) 50,000 hours (Medium brightness) 7,000 hours (Medium brightness)

The Crossfire has significantly less battery life and should be turned off when not in use.

Parallax Error is Minimal

red Notice sign
No optic is truly parallax free. Industry standard for “parallax free” is in the 30 yards to infinity range.

Reflex sights are known for their ability to mitigate parallax errors, making it ideal for shots with of angle or very fast draw and target acquisition.

MD-ADS parallax error is larger than high quality models such as the Aimpoint Pro. But for the price, it’s a fine optic where you can fire relatively accurate without a perfect cheek weld.

If you’re serious about parallax error, a holographic sight will do you good as it uses different underlying technology than reflex sights and give less parallax error.

Primary Arms red dot MD-ADS is lighter compared to peers

All 3 red dots are light and compact.

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot (MD-ADS) Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob (MD-RB-AD) Vortex Crossfire Red Dot
Weight (oz) 4.2 5.4 5.2
Length (Inch) 2.4 2.5 2.5
Objective lens (mm) 20 20 21

Moderate Durability, Superb warranty

Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot is durable enough for non home-defense or occupational applications. Again, if you’re into serious use, consider getting a higher end red dot.

The newer MD-RB-AD is more durable compared to the MD-ADS. Even though they have very similar specifications, they are from another manufacturer, according to a Primary Arms representative.

The upgrades are fully potted emitter, fully supported pivot tube, upgraded springs, and turrets internals are stainless steel instead of brass.

With these upgrades, Primary Arms offer lifetime warranty on the MD-RB-AD, as opposed to 3 years warranty on the MD-ADS.

Vortex Crossfire red dot durability should be on par with Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot. Plus Vortex offers lifetime warranty and on this optic.

coin pile
Good transferable warranty increases reselling value.

I personally have a great run with all 3 optics and have experienced no durability issue. Furthermore, Vortex and Primary Arms are probably the best in the industry in terms of warranty and customer service.

Admittedly, the best warranties are the ones that you *don’t* ever have to use them. But at least you get a peace of mind that your optics will be taken care of for years to come.

 

Hear What Others have to say about Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot


 

My Verdict of Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot

Compared to Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob (MD-RB-AD), the MD-RB-AD has rotary dial knob instead of push buttons. Not only that, the MD-RB-AD has better glass with less bluish tint, better protection on its emitter, better housing, upgraded springs and stainless steels internal instead of brass. Warranty on the MD-RB-AD is lifetime while the MD-ADS has only 3 years Furthermore, the MD-ADS is more expensive at the time of this writing.

Compared to Vortex Crossfire Red Dot, the MD-ADS has very similar glass and dot performance. The Crossfire has rotary dial instead of push button brightness on the MD-ADS. Longer battery life goes to Primary Arms MD-ADS, but the Crossfire has lifetime warranty. The Crossfire is also cheaper at the time of this writing.

Get the new rotary knob Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot instead, due to better durability and cheaper price.

Gungoal's Rating
Pros Cons
✓ Affordable ✗ Not SHTF rugged
✓ 50,000 hours battery life ✗ 3 years warranty
✓ Light and compact ✗ Has a better and cheaper newer version
✓ Quality red dot for the price
✓ Light and compact

 

Alternative options

1. Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot – Rotary Knob (MD-RB-AD)

  • More durable
  • Glass has less tint
  • Rotary knob brightness design
  • Better warranty
  • Cheaper
  • Heavier

 

2. Vortex Crossfire Red Dot

Crossfire with low mount
  • Less battery life
  • Not night vision compatible
  • Rotary knob brightness design
  • Better warranty
  • Cheaper
  • Heavier
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