December 19, 2023
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After spending some time behind the new Swampfox Raider 1X Micro Prism Sight, I’m thinking about selling all my rifle red-dot sights. I’m kidding, of course, as I have a lot of great red-dots that I love, but the Raider offers a ton of advantages over a red dot for a close-quarters fighting rifle to the point that it’s taken full-time position on my primary home-defense gun. Red-dot sights aren’t going anywhere, especially for pistols, but a 1X prism sight with a good reticle has a lot of potential to push red dots out of the close-quarters fighting rifle space.
Red Dots vs. Prism Sights
Let’s break down the main differences between a red dot and a prism sight. A red-dot sight works by emitting a laser from the main housing onto a usually glass, but sometimes polymer, objective lens. Like a traditional riflescope, the laser can be adjusted vertically and horizontally to match your bullet impact, and the red dot becomes your aiming point. A big advantage to red dots is that they come in many different shapes and sizes, from micro sights for subcompact pistols to large dots optimized for use on rifles or shotguns. Red dots are awesome, and I use them on many of my personal firearms, but they have a few drawbacks. Red dots are, of course, entirely dependent on battery life, and many people will perceive a “starburst” effect due to an astigmatism in their eye.
When one thinks of prism sights, the Trijicon ACOG is probably one of the first models to come to mind. Unlike a traditional riflescope that uses a series of moveable relay lenses, a prism sight uses fixed, reflective prisms, often found in binoculars, to create an image for the user. Most prism sights are a fixed 3X, 5X or 6X optic, but they have a unique advantage over red dots in a 1X setting. A 1X prism sight like the Raider has an etched reticle, which doesn’t require power to operate, and you won’t get the starburst effect, either. Like a red dot, though, it can be illuminated, at which point it operates exactly like red-dot sight. Red dots are often hard to see during bright daylight, but a reticle like the one found in the Raider is perfectly visible. A prism sight like the Raider combines the best advantages of a red-dot sight with the advantages of a traditional optic.
Swampfox Raider Breakdown
The Swampfox Raider has a nice, compact design, and it weighs in at less than eight ounces. On the top, you’ll find the brightness adjustments along with the elevation adjustment, and the windage adjustment is on the right side. Typical of optics of this nature, the Raider is powered by a standard 2032 battery, which provides a respectable 35,000 battery life. I was glad to see Swampfox went with a common mounting interface, using the Aimpoint T-2 design. Swampfox offers an optional Outlaw mount to raise the sight, but there are tons of T-2 mounts on the market if you have a specific preference.
The 20mm objective lens is comparable to most of the closed-tube, rifle-optimized red dots on the market, and the Raider does rate IPX7 for water and debris resistance, which is to be expected on a “battle” optic. The objective lens is fully multi-coated, which you can just see a faint, green tint when looking directly at the objective. Looking through the Raider is nice and clear, though, and I detected only the faintest of distortion around the edges. To be clear, pun intended, there are few, if any, 1X optics of any nature that have absolutely zero distortion. I found the Raider’s to be as minimal as anything else I’ve seen.
Out of the box, the Swampfox Raider has some nice value-add accessories. It comes with durable lens covers that attach to the battery housing, as you’d expect, but it also includes a honeycomb-style anti-reflection device (ARD). Since the objective is only 20mm, and since the optic is designed for close quarters use, odds are there are other factors to being detected at close range more than lens reflection. If you’re a sniper with a 50mm or greater objective on your scope, lens reflection is a serious matter, but I question an ARD’s utility for extreme-close-range engagements. With that being said, I do think it’s a unique value-add to the package.
Raider BRC Reticle
You’ve probably heard of a bullet drop compensation (BDC) reticle, which accounts for bullet drop from where you zero the rifle. However, the Swampfox Raider uses a bullet rise compensating reticle (BRC). This is what sets the Raider apart as a close-quarters optic. Let’s say you zero a red dot or scope at 50 or 100 yards. It’s easy to hold on targets at farther distances, but everyone’s brain seems to fall apart when asked to switch from 50 yards to 15 yards. Every first-time shooter will hold their reticle where they want to shoot, but then they are surprised when the bullet impact is substantially lower.
The BRC reticle accounts for bullet rise due to the offset of the optic from the bore. The reticle design features a primary chevron/arrow design made for a 50/200-yard zero. The top of the chevron is set for the 50/200-yard zero, but the bottom of the chevron is your hold for a 15-yard target. Beneath that is a 6-MOA aiming dot compensated for a 10-yard target, and beneath that is another 6-MOA aiming dot compensated for a five-yard target. There is also a 102-MOA horseshoe above and surrounding the primary chevron.
I like this design much more than a simple aiming dot like in a red-dot sight. Yes, with a little practice you can hold accordingly with a simple dot, but the BRC reticle offers a surer aiming point for close-range targets. A huge advantage to the etched reticle found in the Raider is that the entire reticle illuminates. Other 1X prism optics I’ve seen will have a nice reticle, but only a center aiming dot will illuminate. If you find yourself using this optic at night, odds are you’ll be needing the close-range aiming points, in which case you’ll definitely want those to be illuminated. As stated previously, if you see a “starburst” a lot when looking through a red dot, you won’t see that at all with a prism sight like the Raider, which is another benefit of the etched reticle.
The Raider’s BRC reticle has 10 brightness settings. I found the illumination is just barely visible in bright daylight, but unlike with a red dot, that is not an important factor. Again, with an etched reticle, it’s always visible in even the brightest daylight. As you’d expect in low light and darkness, the illumination is just right. The bottom two brightness settings are rated for night vision, but unfortunately, I do not own any night vision devices, so I cannot 100 percent confirm this. One final feature I’m glad to see on the Raider’s reticle is a Shake N’ Wake function. After a period of time without any movement, the illumination will turn off, but it turns back on to the previous illumination setting once it detects any movement.
There are many firearms that would be appropriate for the Swampfox Raider, but AR-15s, especially short-barreled rifles (SBRs), are clearly the optimal choice. I decided to put mine on a Brownells BRN-180 that I SBR’d not too long ago. Mine has a 10.5-inch .223 Wylde upper with a folding brace and Geissele trigger. With my Silencer Central Banish 223 can on the end, this is one sweet-shooting gun. The Raider is the perfect optic to go with it, as it is by nature a rifle optimized for close-range shooting. I think many will agree with me that preparedness is becoming a much more relevant topic in the minds of many Americans due to world events. As I said, I love my red dots, but the batteries that power them have only so much juice and, more importantly, a shelf life. Even if I hoard a bunch of 2032 batteries, they can only last so long. The etched reticle on my Raider won’t ever go dead, even when the batteries that power its illumination do.
Swampfox Raider Specs
- Type: Prism Sight
- Magnification: 1X
- Objective Diameter: 20mm
- Weight: 7.69 oz.
- Reticle: Swampfox BRC reticle
- Illumination: Red or Green, 10 settings, 2 Night Vision
- Battery: 2032, 35,000-hour rated
- MSRP: $279, $319 with option Outlaw riser
- Manufacturer: Swampfox Optics
About the Author
Jack Oller is a U.S. Army veteran, having served in the Military Police with one deployment to the Camp VI Detention Facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has extensive firearms training from military and civilian schools and is a passionate shotgun shooter and hunter. Jack has an English degree from Illinois State University, and he started his career in the outdoor industry as Associate Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. After Gun & Ammo, he worked as Brand Manager for Crimson Trace and now is the Digital Editor for Firearms News.
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