BSA Tactical Weapon Red Dot Sight
With Laser Reviews
Recently I finished a review of the Smith & Wesson M&P15-22 Rifle and I wanted to find a value minded red dot sight to use on the rifle as my primary sight. Since I have always enjoyed putting lasers on my rimfire rifles and since every firearm needs a light for night adventures, I was looking for some type of sight that wouldn't break the bank, but at the same time offered some extra features. Earlier this year, BSA Optics came out with their new Tactical Weapon Red Dot Sight With Laser and after a quick look at the specifications and price, I knew this would be the perfect sight for me to match up with the M&P15-22. The photo below shows the two together and you can view a high resolution photo of nearly any of my photos by clicking on the image.
BSA makes two versions of the Tactical Weapon Red Dot Sight With Laser. One version is the TW30RDLL and includes a 140 lumens light. The other version is the TW30RDL with no light. The model number breaks down like "TW" - Tactical Weapon, "30" - 30mm Objective lens diameter, "RD" - Red Dot, first "L" - Laser and second "L" - Light. Since the main difference between the two sights is the addition of the light, this review will actually cover both models of the sights. After doing a quick search on the web I found a press release that stated a suggested retail price of $129.95 for the TW30RDLL and $99.85 for the TW30RDL. I was able to find the TW30RDLL for $109 and the TW30RDL in the $80s at some online stores.
During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the BSA Optics website on 8/24/11 and gives an Overview, Key Features, and Specifications for the Tactical Weapon Sights. The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both. I may also add commentary after these marks as necessary to explain some items if needed.
The Box and What's In It
The BSA Tactical Weapon Red Dot with Laser Sights comes boxed as shown below.
Because the boxes contain additional information about the sights, I have included a series of photos showing the different sides of the boxes. Click on the photos to see the detail.
The BSA Tactical Weapon Sights came packaged as shown below. Since I was able to get some of the first sights to hit the market, I'm not sure if this is how they will come packaged when mass production hits, but the products I received did come in good condition.
The next two photos show all the contents in each box. One thing I want to point out is that the TW30RDL rubber eye guard was covered with a white colored film/stain. By taking a wet cloth, I was able to wipe some of this white film off, but I was never able to make it look like the eye guard on the other sight. For me, I don't see this as a problem because I would not use this type of large rubber eye guard. Instead I would use the normal rubber ring eye guard that also comes with the sight. The total contents of the boxes were as follows:
For some reason I believe the TW30RDLL came with an extra battery which I don't think is standard.
Obviously the key difference between the two sights is the addition of the light on the TW30RDLL. In the photo below I have removed the light and in this review I show in detail each of these components below. When looking at the sight, you should consider these photos and features to be the same as that for the TW30RDL (no light) sight. You will also notice that I removed the large rubber eye guard and show the small rubber eye guard installed.
There was one slight difference between these two sights. The difference is their unique model number is printed on the top of the eyepiece.
Tactical Weapon Red Dot With Laser Sight
Overall I feel the sight has an attractive look and finish. There appears to be some type of thin rubber coating over the sight. The sight shown in the configuration below (small rubber eye guard) measured about 6.80" in length.
The top of the sight includes a short rail that is 2.44" in length. I did a check with some other rail mounted accessories and they all mounted without an issue. Also on the top of the sight is the elevation adjustment turret for the red dot.
You can see that the front of the sight has a slant that provides some sunshade capability and the laser is tucked underneath the sight between the sight and the mount. This is a great location for the laser because it does not add any bulk to your rifle. On the left side of the sight is the battery compartment and the laser windage adjustment screw.
On the right side of the sight is the windage adjustment turret for the red dot and the thumb nuts on the mount for installing the sight.
On the bottom of the sight, you can see that the mount is attached to the sight with two screws. I tried loosening these screws to see if they were installed with some type of thread locking compound and it appears they were since I was not able to loosen them with normal force. You can also see the elevation adjustment knob below the laser on the bottom of the sight.
In the front of the sight you can see that there appears to be some type of coating on the internal front lens which I believe is referred to as the objective lens in the specifications since it appears to be 30mm in diameter. The very front lens just inside the slanted sunshade portion of the sight measures about 38mm. In the photo below, the laser elevation was not zeroed first so it shows the laser in a lower position of the adjustment range.
The battery compartment also functions as the red dot and laser switch just like many sights of this type. In the green "0" positions, neither the red dot or laser is on. There are two "0" positions to allow you to turn the switch one click to laser on or red dot on at minimum intensity, or turn one click to laser on or red dot on at maximum intensity. The "ON" position turns on the laser only. The other positions "1" through "9" represent the rheostat switch positions in increasing intensity of the red dot. Note that you can never have the red dot and laser on at the same time. I found the intensity of the sigh at "1" to be good for indoors and low light situations and at "9" to be good for outdoors in full sun.
The red dot and laser is powered by a single CR2032 battery. The battery cap includes an O-ring to seal the compartment when the cap is reinstalled. I performed a battery life test on the sight with the red dot set at the minimum intensity level. The battery lasted 210 hours before I was able to detect any significant difference in intensity. At his point, there was not enough power in the battery to run the laser. The red dot lasted another two days before it was no longer visible.
The red dot elevation and windage turrets have aluminum caps that are attached to the sight by a rubber strap. The ring around the rubber strap which goes around the turret acts like an O-ring to seal the turret from dust and moisture. The rubber strap also helps to keep up with the caps when sighting in your rifle. The elevation and windage adjustment knobs are clearly marked with the direction you should turn the knob to move your point of impact. One click of the knobs is equal to ¼" at 100 yards. Each knob had a very distinctive click when making the adjustments and I was able to zero the sight mounted on my M&P15-22 Rifle without any issues.
The laser windage and elevation adjustments are made by a large knob below the sight for elevation and by turning a screw in the side of the sight for windage. The elevation knob had firm resistance to turning and did not have any defined click locations so it could be positioned at any location. The elevation of the laser adjusted easily. The screw in the side of the sight for adjusting windage was extremely sensitive. I was able to adjust the windage but I wish there had been more resistance in the windage adjustment screw. I recommend checking the laser zero against the red on a regular basis. The output of the laser is rated at 5mW (milliwatts) which is generally safe to use. The wavelength of the laser is 650 nm (nanometers) which basically means it is a red laser.
This next photo was added to show an isometric view of the bottom of the sight which gives you a little more understanding of the sight.
In these next two photos I show photos looking through the sight with the red dot intensity set to "1" (left) and "9" (right). For these two photos I decided to leave some areas outside the field of view of the sight so you can get an idea on the change in brightness of the optics. It is hard to tell in the photos, but there is some light reduction through the sight. Considering the price of the sight, I would say this reduction in light is acceptable.
In these next two photos I show the red dot at low and high intensity again, but I'm trying to also show overall clarity of the sight (click on the photos for high resolution). Considering the price of the sight, I would be happy with the clarity of this sight on my M&P15-22. As a note, the bush/tree that the red dot is sighted on is 87 yards away and the tree line is 146 yards. The red dot on this sight is a 5 MOA dot which is basically about 5" in diameter at 100 yards.
In this next photo I'm trying to show that there is no magnification for this sight which can be seen by the sizes of the bricks in and outside of the field of view of the sight. In this photo, the red dot is on maximum intensity "9".
The flashlight and mounts are shown below. The mount is actually two assemblies. The first is attached to the body of the flashlight and the other is the 3/8" to 5/8" mount adapter. The majority of these metallic components for the light and mounts are made from aluminum and the screws from steel. The front lens on the light has a very pronounced bulb shape as seen in the photo below.
These next two photos show top views of the flashlight. The first photo is with the lens screwed all the way inward which adjusts the beam to a wide flood light. The second photo is with the lens screwed all the way out which adjusts the beam to a tight spot light.
These next two photos show the light set to the largest flood setting and smallest spot setting. For these photos, I put the camera in manual mode to maintain the same exposure settings. This gives you an idea on how much brighter the spot will be. The light was positioned 4 feet from the wall and the diameter of the flood beam was 3.5 feet and the diameter of the spot beam was 1 foot.
With the lens adjusted to the flood configuration, the light measures about 4.5" in length.
When you look into the lens area, you will see a large LED grid. The tail cap includes a rubber on/off push button for use without the tail cap pressure switch.
The tail cap includes a rubber O-ring to seal the battery compartment against moisture.
These Powerizer CR-123A batteries came with the flashlight. During my battery life check of the flashlight, I swapped out these batteries below with a fresh set of Rayovac Lithium Photo 123A batteries. This way I had a new set of batteries and I will be able to give you the life of the flashlight with batteries that you could actually find in the US.
I checked the battery life of the flashlight by setting up the light and camera in a dark room in my basement. I shined the flashlight on the wall with the lights off and set my camera in manual mode so that it kept the same exposure setting. I started taking photos at various intervals so I could show how the light decreased with time. At the 2.28 hours, you can see there was a significant decrease in brightness.
After 3.25 hours the light had made a significant change in brightness and I had to readjust my exposure time to give a more realistic photo of the available light from the flashlight. The photo below on the left gives you an idea of the decrease in brightness, but the photo on the right is more realistic on how this brightness looked on the wall.
After approximately the 4.5 hours you could still use the flashlight reasonably well. I ended the test at the 5.72 hours because the light level was getting so dim that you would clearly change the batteries before it got to the level unless you were out of fresh batteries.
To sum up this battery test, I believe the flashlight will give you about two hours of a bright beam and is usable up to about 4.5 hours. You may be able to squeeze another hour or two out of the batteries, but the light would be limited to seeing objects at very close ranges (less than 10 feet).
The light also comes with a pressure switch. At the shortest length, it measures about 12.5" and at the longest length it measures abut 30". The pressure switch comes with a Velcro adhesive strip for attaching to your rifle. The pressure switch has 4 pressure points for turning on the light and each has a very distinctive button click/feel. The addition of the pressure switch only adds 0.65 ounces to the weight of your rifle.
3/8" to 5/8" Mount Adapter
The side portions of the mound adapter are made from aluminum and the screws & thumb nut are made from steel.
The sight weighed in at 12.95 ounces and the light at 4.50 ounces which is a total weight of 17.45 ounces. This is considerably less than that listed on their website (22 ounces).
As you read these Pros and Cons below, keep in mind that it is hard to keep my particular preferences from creeping in the equation. Therefore, it is important that you take the time to look at the other parts of this review so you can decide yourself on items which may be more of a personal preference.
The BSA Tactical Weapon Red Dot With Laser Sight is something you should consider if you are looking for a great value in this style of sight. Considering you get a 1x red dot, red laser and 140 lumens flashlight for about $110, it is hard to dispute the value of the TW30RDLL sight. At this point I have put hundreds of rounds through my M&P15-22 rifle using this sight and I'm pleased with the performance and features.
Feel free to post comments about this review or your experiences with these sights on my Reader's Comments page.