EOTech G23.FTS 3x Magnifier Review
This EOTech G23.FTS 3x Magnifier Review is actually a joint review to my EOTech XPS2-2 Holographic Weapons Sight Review. Basically the sight and magnifier must work as a system, because the magnifier has no sighting capability. Initially, I had some mixed emotions on the need for a 3x magnifier, but after I mounted it and then flipped it in front of my EOTech XPS2-2, I quickly realized that this is a must have item to go along with any 1x power holographic sight. The magnifier allows you to quickly switch from a close quarters battle situation (or thick brush hunting) to engaging medium range targets with a quick flip of the magnifier.
I still struggle with the suggested retail price of $589 for the EOTech Magnifier because this is more than the actual holographic sight, but hopefully this review will be able to show that features of this magnifier substantiate it's price. As of today (12/24/10), you can get the magnifier at OpticsPlanet.com for $549 which seems to be a standard discounted price. Also, make sure you check the EOTech website to see if they have mail in rebates because they currently have a rebate listed on their website.
At this point, I think it necessary to point out that there are actually three key components to the EOTech G23.FTS Magnifier; the 3x Magnifier, the Samson QuickFlip Adapter, and the A.R.M.S. Throw Lever Mount . It is the combination of all these high quality components that drives the price of this combined product.
When my EOTech Magnifier arrived, it was packages as shown below. Basically it is in a hard case with a card board wrapper to allow it to hang on a display rack at retail stores.
The next two photos show the sides of the packaging not visible above. I have included these because they provide a little more detail on the features of the magnifier (not to mention the cool graphics).
The EOTech Magnifier comes in it's own hard case. Considering the investment you make in the product and that it comes with a quick detachable mount, having a secure place to store the magnifier when not in use is a good idea.
When you open the case, the contents are shown in the next two photos.
Inside the hard case is a User's Manual, Warranty Card, 3x Magnifier, Flip to Side Mount, 7mm Riser, 4 Mounting Screws for with or without the Riser, Loctite for the screws, and an Adjustment Tool.
The following in colored italics are the specifications and features taken directly from the EOTech website on 12/23/10 for the G23.FTS Magnifier. I have added some clarifications and what I believe to be corrections beside some items.
The EOTech Magnifier actually has a 3.25x magnification. In general, manufacturers will either round up or down to a whole number when stating the power of their optics. The magnifier I received measured in at 4.58" in length 1.87" in diameter at the widest point. The magnifier has an aluminum body which is rubber covered starting just past the mount attachment and continues all the way to the end of the eye piece.
The top and right sides contain the elevation and windage adjustment features which are used to center the reticle (hologram or red dot) inside the viewing area of the magnifier. The addition of these features as part of the magnifier add to the complexity of the magnifier, but they decrease the complexity of the mount. I was able to center the hologram of my EOTech XPS2-2 sight without any problem.
The bottom of the magnifier has the two mounting screw locations and a protruding pad that nests inside the mount to help maintain alignment and a secure attachment. The magnifier body can not be mounted to your firearm without the addition of a separate mount.
I'm a little surprised that EOTech didn't state the objective lens diameter. I measured it to be 29.2 mm across the inside of the lens retaining nut. This magnifier has an exit pupil of 9 mm. For low light situations, you need at least an exit pupil of 7 mm to allow the maximum possible light transmission to your eye. The optics are also coated with an anti-reflection material. The optical cavity is purged, nitrogen filled, and sealed to achieve it's fog-proof capability.
The next images try to compare the brightness of the of the magnifier compared to no magnifier at all. This happens to be my .22LR backstop in my basement and the photos were taken at a distance of 12 yards from the backstop. Both photos were taken at 1/8 second, F6.3, and ISO 400 looking through the same Sony 18-70 camera lens. The picture on the left was without the magnifier and the picture on the right was looking through the magnifier. You can see there is a slight change in the tint of the photo taken through the magnifier. This may be partly due to the anti-reflective coatings. Unless you compare these side by side, I was not be able to detect this change in tint just with my eyes only using the magnifier. Overall I'm pleased with the brightness of the magnifier.
The next photo is intended to give you an idea of clarity of the image. I let the camera select the various setting so the color is slightly different than above. Like most of the photos in this review, you can click on the photo to bring up a higher resolution image which will show more detail.
For my preference, I found the eye relief of 1.97" to be shorter than I prefer.
The magnifier alone weighed it at 0.566 pounds (9.06 ounces). Even if you include the weight if the riser (0.35 ounces), the total weight is significantly less (2.5 ounces) than the 11.9 ounces advertised by EOTech. Even though EOTech listed the Magnifier and Mount specifications separately, they must have combined some of the data because 11.9 ounces is the combined weight of both items.
The other significant part of the EOTech G23.FTS Magnifier is the Flip-To-Side (FTS) Mount. This mount is a combination of a Samson Manufacturing Company QuickFlip Mount (this link actually shows a different configuration but is still a good reference) and an A.R.M.S #17S Throw Lever Base Mount. You can mount the magnifier such that it can flip to either side just by rotating which side the throw lever is located on the rail and then mounting the magnifier to the QuickFlip interface.
The height of the mount from the bottom most portion of the mount to the top when flipped open measured 1.63".
When in the closed position, the height of the mount from top of the Picatinny rail area to the bottom groove of the interface area for the magnifier measured 0.51".
You can see that the screws holding the QuickFlip mount to the ARMS base are installed with a thread locking compound due to the pinkish color on the end of the screws.
The combined mount weighed in at 0.178 pounds (2.85 ounces) which is significantly less than the 4.5 ounces advertised.
The photo below shows the 7mm Riser. This allows you to configure the mount to any of the EOTech height sights.
Since some of the weights have been off from the EOTech specifications, the two photos below show the weights of the two possible installed configuration (with and without the riser). The minimum weight would be without the riser and would be 0.750 pounds (12 ounces). The maximum weight would be with the riser and would be 0.776 pounds (12.4 ounces).
Attaching the magnifier to the mount is achieved by installing the two screws through the mount and into the magnifier. Loctite (thread locking compound) is provided so that these screws don't work loose. The photo below shows the installation without the 7mm riser. To add the riser, you place the riser block between the magnifier and mount and use the longer screws provided. Also note that the next several photos show the EOTech G23.FTS installed on a Ruger SR-556 Rifle and although stamped Ruger, the rear BUIS is a Troy Industries Folding Battle Sight.
When in the closed position, the magnifier fits perfectly above the rear BUIS. There is just enough free-play in the QuickFlip mechanism to allow the body of the magnifier to slightly touch the BUIS but not bind the QuickFlip feature.
I'm pleased with the clean compact look of the installation of the magnifier on the rail and above the rear BUIS.
I'm sure that each person will have to initially mount the magnifier to flip in both directions to get a feel for what seems more natural and then finally decide on which side is preferable for the final installation. The User's Manual states, "Typically, right handed shooters prefer the mount to flip to the left, and left handed shooters to the right." I have mine shown below flipping to the right and I'm right handed. So far, I decided on this configuration because I have a loss of vision in my left eye and this seems to give me a better field of view.
The magnifier rotates slightly less than 90 degrees when opened. This is plenty of rotation to allow use of the BUIS.
I started out my range testing with the EOTech G23.FTS 3x Magnifier installed on my Ruger SR-22 Rifle along with the EOTech XPS2-2 Holographic Weapons Site shown below. I shot a several hundred rounds of ammo .22LR ammo (cheap) and was very pleased with the addition of the magnifier to the holographic sight when shooting targets at farther distances such as 30 to 100 yards. The magnifier provides a crisp clear image of the target and also seems to make the hologram appear more crisp. I feel that the fidelity of aiming improves with this increased magnification. This is alluded to in the Owner's Manual as follows.
Once the magnifier is installed properly behind the HWS, it may be necessary to re-zero the sight. This may be due to the shooter's ability to see the target and Point of Impact more accurately than without the magnifier.
The EOTech G23.FTS 3x Magnifier is clearly a quality product. The combination of the ARMS quick release mount base, Samson QuickFlip mount, clear bright optics, and the ability to center the hologram or red dot in the magnifier field of view, makes this a full featured product that combines some of the best features from various quality manufacturers. When I started this review, I struggled with the price of this product. Having now looked closely at all the components, I can understand that this is probably an accurate price with a fair amount of profit for the quality of the components. You can compare this magnifier against others on the market that do not have these same features and you will probably find that others have a better price, but you wouldn't be comparing like items (apples to apples). The quick release mount and QuickFlip features are clearly premium features to have on a magnifier and you should consider your real intended use before you consider a less expensive fixed mount magnifier that does not have these features.