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The Hi-Lux TD-3C Affordable Pistol Red Dot Sight: Review

The Hi-Lux TD-3C is one of the most underrated red-dot sights on the market today. It's durable, feature-rich, and it won't break the bank.

The Hi-Lux TD-3C Affordable Pistol Red Dot Sight: Review
Looking for a quality red dot sight for your pistol? You may want to consider Hi-Lux’s TD-3C.

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I hate to admit it, but I’ve developed some expensive tastes when it comes to firearms and optics. However, my wallet has yet to comfortably catch up with my palate. That’s why I greatly appreciate companies that know how to make a quality product at a friendly price. Hi-Lux Optics is one such company. While they do make plenty of pricey optics, I’ve been more than pleased with the performance of the Hi-Lux TD-3C pistol red-dot sight, which comes in with a price tag at just $219. The TD-3C red-dot sight from Hi-Lux is my first experience with the company, but they do already have a cult-like following amongst vintage firearms enthusiasts. They’re probably best-known for their replicas of early military scopes like the Malcolm scope and Vietnam-era M40 sniper scope. For the modern age, they do offer a nice lineup of long-range optics, LPVOs, and red dots for rifles and handguns.

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The TD-3C has a common RMR footprint, so mounting is straightforward. The TD-3C has an oval-shaped window, which worked well during testing.

Out of the box, the TD-3C checks a lot of boxes I look for in a pistol dot. Battery life for the TD-3C hits a remarkable 50,000 hours off a side-mounted CR2032 battery, which is basically as high as it gets for a pistol dot. Now, that number is usually based on the medium setting, so expect that number to drop if you leave it on the high setting exclusively. That is still an impressive battery life, though, and it’s more likely the shelf life of the battery will go bad before the sight actually uses the entire charge. The TD-3C also has a sleep mode that turns the dot off after three minutes of inactivity, but movement, including walking with a holstered pistol, will keep it activated. The TD-3C does have an auto-shutoff after four hours, too, so no worries if it’s left on when it goes back inside the gunsafe. Both functions help conserve battery life.

The housing is an all-metal construction, built from the industry-standard 7075-series aluminum, and the base is cut for the RMR mounting interface. RMR is quite common out of the gate for many pistols, and most offer adapter plates, too. The TD-3C also comes with a Picatinny rail adapter plate for mounting to rifles or shotguns. It’s a lightweight optic at just 2 ounces, and its compact design keeps it low on a pistol slide. I mounted the TD-3C to a Shadow Systems DR920 pistol to try it out. The compact design combined with the unique Shadow Systems low-profile mounting interface, which doesn’t require a plate adapter, keeps the dot nice and low on the pistol. Most pistol dots have a square or circular objective, but I would call the TD-3C’s objective more oval-shaped. At first glance, it looks like the objective is on the small side compared to other pistol dots, but never judge a book by its cover. When it comes to field of view through a pistol dot, perception plays a bigger role than actual size. In fact, if you take a caliper to the objectives of most pistol dots, they’re all pretty close to one another in size. The design and shape play a big role in field of view perception, and I quickly became a fan of the oval shape of the TD-3C.

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The battery is accessed through the side, so you do not have to remove the optical sight to change it. The control buttons are placed on the left side and are easy to manipulate.

Target acquisition is quick with the TD-3C, but transitions are even quicker. To me, the design is fantastic for moving quickly between targets because it was easy to pick up the next target inside the field of view. Running some simple shooting drills on my home range was a blast, but the TD-3C performed above my expectations when I had the chance to do some room-clearing training at Gunsite Academy. Working my way through the shoot house a few times showed me that it has great potential for a home-defense, bedside pistol. When it comes to pistol optics, I like simple and easy-to-use. The illumination buttons are located on the lower, left side of the unit housing, and they have nice, tactile feel when pressed. There are two reticle options for the TD-3C. There is a standard 3-MOA dot, or it can be cycled to a combination segmented circle dot. I prefer a standard dot, but it’s a nice option for anyone who likes a circle/dot reticle.

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The Hi-Lux performed very well when mounted to a shotgun and would be ideal for turkey hunting.

One thing to always look for in a pistol dot is how visible the dot is in full sunlight. The TD-3C was plenty bright in the noon Arizona sun at Gunsite, so we’re all set on that front. Adjusting down to a dimmer setting for inside a home or low-light situation is quick, and the TD-3C’s aiming dot is clean and crisp across all its settings. The lowest two settings are supposed to be night-vision compatible, but I do not have a way to confirm this on my end. As a final note on the aiming dot, the TD-3C does not have an auto-brightness sensor, but as I’ve yet to see a dot that has one that truly works well, it’s not that important a feature to me. The TD-3C performed well-above my expectations on a pistol, but there is a ton of potential for use on a shotgun, too. I often see the question come up about red dots on shotguns regarding durability to withstand the force of the recoil. Once again, perception plays a big role here. Just because you experience more recoil on a 12 gauge shotgun than shooting a pistol, that doesn’t mean the optic is experiencing the same thing. The moving slide on a compact .40 S&W pistol can hit 9,000 Gs of force. Compared to that, a shotgun doesn’t even come close. With the included Picatinny rail, the TD-3C would prove to be an awesome turkey dot, and the modern turkey shotshells won’t faze it. It’s an open dot, but it’s rated fully submersible to one meter for a few minutes. I wouldn’t go swimming with it, but if a thunderstorm comes out of nowhere on a turkey hunt, you’ll be fine. Waterproof also means debris proof, so the TD-3C can be wiped down easily if it winds up in the dirt.

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New from Hi-Lux Optics is their TD-3C red-dot sight which is perfect for use on pistols, rifles or shotguns.

All-in-all, the Hi-Lux TD-3C proved to be an excellent red dot. It may not have some of the bells and whistles of the expensive pistol dots, but it checks all of the important boxes. Not every pistol you own needs the most-expensive dot, and I struggle with the logic of putting a $500 dot on a $500 pistol. At only $219, the Hi-Lux TD-3C is an incredibly affordable pistol dot that can still get the job done. It’s a great option for people looking to try out a dot for the first time, and it will serve experience shooters well, too. If you’re looking for a great training and general purpose dot, I’d take a hard look at the TD-3C.

Hi-Lux TD-3C Specs

  • Magnification: 1X
  • Window Size: 28mm x 19mm
  • Length: 1.78 in. 
  • Width: 1.31 in. 
  • Height: 1.1 in. 
  • Weight: 2 oz. 
  • MSRP: $219
  • Manufacturer: Hi-Lux Optics



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