Blame it on my education at the Camp Lejeune School for Wayward boys, but I love prism optics. I cut my teeth with an ACOG on an M16A4 and have always appreciated the simplicity and design of a good prism optic. As such, when Vortex released the latest Spitfire HD Gen 2 models, my ears perked up. Emails were sent, and Vortex happily sent me a Spitfire HD Gen 2 5X optic. A 3X also exists, but today is all about the 5X model.
Vortex Spitfire – Basic Breakdown
The Vortex Spitfire HD Gen 2 series might be the most advanced prism sights currently on the market. Maybe the phrase prism seems off to you, so let’s explain prism optics. Prism optics are fixed power rifle optics that often offer a fixed low powered level of magnification. Some prisms are just 1X optics, but the majority offer some magnification.
These fixed power optics are a cross between an LPVO and red dot. They offer a degree of magnification along with a relatively small size. The most famous example comes from Trijicon in the form of an ACOG.
The Spitfire HD Gen 2 series stand out for a few reasons. One of the biggest reasons is the size and weight of these new optics. The Spitfire 5X variant weighs only 10.3 ounces and is only 3.6 inches long. That’s so freaking lightweight! In fact, it’s lighter than most full-sized red dots. It’s super light, and it’s tough to beat when you factor in the 5X magnification.
The objective lens is 25mms, and you get a decent field of view of 23.3 feet at 100 yards. Not a bad setup for a five-power optic. Like most prisms, you will have a restrictive eye box and a strict eye relief of 2.7 inches.
Setting Up Success
The Vortex Spitfire 5X mounts easily enough. In the box, you get both a low mount and an AR height mount. I like the inclusion of both mounts so the weapon can be used with whatever gun you want it to be used with. You can also use Aimpoint T-2 mounts, so you have aftermarket support from day one.
The included tool features a Torx driver and a flat head driver. Swapping mounts and mounting the optic doesn’t require an engineering degree. That same Torx driver allows you to remove a plate from the top of the optic and mount a mini red dot. The footprint is the Noblex/Docter standard that also coincides with the Vortex Venom and Viper mini red dots. I didn’t have either on hand, but my Fastfire 3 from Burris fit.
We get uncapped, recessed turrets for adjustments, and that flathead driver comes into play. Adjustments are made in 1 MOA adjustment graduations. That’s rather sweeping for a 5X optic a bit much, to be honest. Half MOA adjustments or even quarter MOA adjustments seem much more precise for a magnified optic.
Even so, I pulled off a 50/200-yard zero on my go-to AR 15. The big adjustments made zeroing broadly easy but getting super precise difficult. I got myself into a 1-inch bull’s eye and felt the zero was rather solid.
Through the Lens
What sucks the most about prism scopes is that strict eye relief. 2.7 inches is fairly generous for a prism optic. My old USMC-issued ACOG had an eye relief of 1.5 inches. The main problem with the eye relief on the Vortex Spitfire is that the mount doesn’t sweep it rearward, and it really would help with comfortably using the optic. Even when pushed back to the furthest point, almost on top of my AR 15 charging handle, and I still have to choke up on the stock to get a full sight picture.
Vortex built in a BDC-type reticle called the AR-BDC4. It’s composed of an illuminated three-quarter circle, a 1 MOA dot in the center, and then a ladder-style BDC that goes out to 650 yards. There are also 5 MPH wind holdovers for each yardage.
The reticle appears very clear and is very easy to see. The illumination is very bright. In the brightest part of the day, I could easily see the illuminated portions with ease. The reticle design allows for both rapid engagements using the three-quarter circle as your reticle and longer range shots with the dot and ladder.
The sight picture is incredibly bright and clear with little to no aberration. From side to side, the image is clear, and the colors appear vividly. My steel rack uses orange, green, and yellow targets, and the gongs range from 4 to 10 inches in size. I can easily see the colors of each and identify the targets.
Hitting said steel wasn’t difficult. 5X is a lot of magnification for moderate range shooting. It absolutely dominates at the 300-yard mark—targets big and (relatively) small present no problems at this range. Out to 500 yards, shooter skill will lead the way, but the Vortex Spitfire provides you the tools necessary to make the shot.
Seeing targets at these ranges becomes trickier depending on the size of the target. Obviously, the shiny steel IPSC target is pretty easy to see. A dark-colored paper target in my shaded range hides a fair bit.
The addition of a mini red dot on top is almost necessary. The tighter eye box and eye relief make it tricky to use the old occluded shooting method. I’m accustomed to occluded shooting, but I could see prism newbies feeling frustrated with it. It takes practice, and as magnification ratchets up on prism optics, it becomes harder to use for close-quarters shooting.
Yay or Nay?
Overall I think Vortex produced a great optic in the new Spitfire 5X prism. Like all prisms, it packs the disadvantages of short eye relief and a tight eye box. However, it’s tough to get this much magnification in a package the size of a red dot in any other way. It provides a crystal clear sight picture, a very usable reticle, and the fact it’s so small and light makes it extremely appealing to me.
The price point is also pretty killer for the quality. While the MSRP is 649.99, you can shop around and find it a good bit cheaper online. If I could make one change, it would be the inclusion of a slanted mount that presses the optic rearward. Other than that, the Vortex Spitfire 5X is an outstanding out-of-the-box optic that’s perfect for your average carbine.