In the past five years, there has been an absolute boom in new micro-compact pistols. What followed was optics-ready models of those micro-compact pistols. With only a sparse amount of “micro-optics” and seldom in supply or at a feasible price point it was only a matter of time before other brands stepped up to the plate with their own offerings. Several footprints and types have made their mark in this timeframe but most are fragile and expensive. I am excited to say that now it is Vortex Optics’ turn in the spotlight. Today I am glad to introduce the Vortex Defender CCW 3 MOA Red Dot. Let’s dive right into my review!
Vortex Optics Coverage on TFB:
Specifications: Vortex Defender CCW Red Dot 3 MOA
The Vortex Defender CCW 3 MOA Red Dot comes in a cool new segmented-style Vortex box. The box contains the Defender CCW, a 1″ shim plate, Picatinny mount, rubber cover, lens cloth, 1X CR1632 battery, custom tool, and most common mounting screw sets. That last one is a big one for me. It is extremely impressive and admirable that they include a whole host of screw sets for different optics-ready handguns.
- Reticle Type & Size: 3 MOA Dot or 6 MOA Dot
- Dot Color: Red
- Eye Relief: Unlimited
- Magnification: 1X
- Length: 1.6″
- Width: 1.1″
- Height: 1″
- Weight: 0.9oz
- Illumination: 10 Settings (8 Daylight, 2 NV)
- Battery: Top Load, CR1632
- Battery Life: 9,500 Hours on Setting 6 (395 Days)
- Lens Coating: Armortek
- Adjustment Graduation: 1 MOA
- Travel Per Rotation: 30 MOA
- Max Elevation: 110 MOA
- Max Windage:105 MOA
- Fully Multicoated Lenses
- 14hr Automatic Shutoff
- Motion Activation: Optional Setting
- Parallax Free
Screw sets include four screws each.
- M3x0.5 (9.8MM) Sig Sauer® P365XL
- M4x0.7 (11MM) Canik® TP9SFX/TP9SC, Sig Sauer® P320 M17/M18/RXP, CZ P10® Series
- M4x0.7 (9.8MM) Glock® MOS, Ruger® 57, Springfield Hellcat® Series, Mossberg MC2SC
- 6-40 (9.8MM) FN-509® Series
- 6-48 (9.03MM) H&K® VP9 Tactical OR, Kimber AEGIX/KHX Custom
- 6-32 (10.8MM) Smith and Wesson® M&P 2.0
The MSRP of the Vortex Defender CCW 3 MOA Red Dot stands pleasantly at $349.99. This is very much the same sort of tone that Vortex is known to stick to and in my personal opinion, it is an admirable one considering the overall quality, care, and warranty that is there just in case.
Arm yourself with the red dot specifically built for modern everyday carry. The micro-sized Defender-CCW™ delivers maximum concealment, reliability, and the first-shot quickness you need when facing a threat with nowhere to run. The slim profile means no extra bulk or width for a smoother, no-snag draw from under clothes and less chance of printing, so the only one on the street who knows you’re packing is you. A large, class-leading sight window and brilliant, illuminated dot help you lock on target faster and defend more accurately, even in low light. Auto-Shutoff to preserve battery life. Motion activated, so it’s instantly ready when you need it. Fits full-size to micro-compacts. Meant for those who prioritize personal protection, the Defender-CCW™ lets you carry more discreetly, defend faster, and more accurately when life is on the line.
First Impressions: Vortex Defender CCW Red Dot 3 MOA
My first impressions started with the box. The pretty typical exterior design of a Vortex Optics box. Tasteful spacing, valuable specs, and questions were quickly answered by a quick skimming of the cardboard. Opening the box was very different from the Vortex red dot boxes that I am used to. This one was not a plastic-wrapped chunk of foam cut to accommodate different pieces. Instead, it was a segmented internal construction. Foam held the dot, Picatinny mount, and rubber cover on one side. The other side was a hollow space with all of the accessories listed above such as the screw sets and tool.
My first impressions of the optic itself were positive. It instantly looked and felt rigid in all the right ways. It was not dense or heavy. It was not bulky or cumbersome. It is a sleek and rigid design. It has a knurled surface on the front face of the optic. This is for “fast rack” operations where the method of pulling the slide to the rear in order to “rack” it. The user would be able to use their hand or in a worst-case scenario the edge or a table for example. More on that soon.
One of the biggest “wow” moments for me was the neatly packaged screw sets. Each set is a set of four screws (so this is basically giving the owner two extra). All have a blue thread lock on them. The included Vortex “custom tool” is a little different. It resembles an old-school skeleton key. To me, this felt like something that had a lot of thought put into it but somehow came out feeling a little cheap. It definitely feels like something would warp or break if you were too rough with it. That last bit being said, I doubt Vortex themselves make it. At the very least their customer service is rock solid and will take care of you no questions asked.
This comes with a one-degree shim plate to be mounted with your optic if it is planned to be zeroed at less than 15 yards. Since the range I go to has the pistol bay set vaguely at 10-15 yards I used the plate. I also planned on carrying with it on one of my carry guns for a few weeks so I felt that under 15 yards were realistic. Everything was mounted without fanfare or issues.
Range Time: Vortex Defender CCW Red Dot 3 MOA
A range day with a new optic is always enjoyable. I only own a few pistol red dots but I think they cover each end of the spectrum. Just going off of looks, I assumed that this optic, despite its price point, was more equivalent to the higher-end ones I have. I was pleasantly surprised.
Kicking things off with the dot itself, being a 3 MOA dot it is pretty small even when the brightness is cranked up. I personally recommend 6 MOA to most people looking to carry and double as a range dot. 3 MOA is better suited for more accurate shots further away because the smaller dot covers less of the target. My dot by all accounts is crisp but may have some fuzz around the edges. This can be expected for most dots and given my astigmatism it was pretty tame.
I would call the window size perfect. It was not too big or too small, although if it leaned toward one of those it would probably be on the larger side but like I said, it is just right. Vortex claims it is the largest in comparison to its completion which I believe because most micro red dots are well…very micro in their window. Talking about the window, I should mention that it lies recessed behind the front portion of the red dot body. This is especially nice if the user decides to do one of those table rack maneuvers so there are no worries about scratching, chipping, or shattering the glass.
Going off of that durability talking point, I should bring up the construction of the red dot body. It is a rigid setup as I already mentioned. Very square features but is rounded in the right spots for comfort and with anti-snag in mind. The front portion has a sort of knurling texture to it for better grip when the optic is used to rack the slide. This sort of operation is done by hand. I doubt Vortex outright endorses this but the optic could also be used in extreme situations to rack the gun against an edge such as a table or post if your offhand is out of commission. A lot of much more expensive competing designs would be turned into a convertible in seconds. The really expensive stuff can handle this with no problem. What about the Defender CCW?
I racked the crap out of this dot against the table at the range. Honestly, I did it almost every time because of this dot’s look of rigidity. I wanted to know if it was just looks. I think I would sooner bend or snap the screws than harm the dot in a way that would knock it out of commission. It passed my light version of a torture test I guess. I am sure the Shocksheild Polymer Insert visible at the top of the red dot body is at least partially to thank. It is made to absorb the brunt of everyday shocks and vibrations.
As far as putting holes in the paper goes, I had a little trouble at first only to come to the conclusion that I was a little light on my torque when mounting so it had come loose. Once things were tightened down and sighted in, I grouped just fine. I am not dead eye with a handgun so any piece of paper I show you will rarely be a representation of the gun or the optic. In this case, I will say finding the dot and hitting close to a bullseye is all I could ask for and the Defender CCW delivered fabulously.
Final Thoughts: Vortex Defender CCW Red Dot 3 MOA
Oh man, what can I say? I love almost everything Vortex has brought to the table in the past few years and the Defender CCW is no different. I believe the only gripes I have with it is I wish the clicks in adjustment were a little more audible and feelable. Besides that, I am in love and will definitely pick one up when I get the chance. It is lightweight, slim, has a great window size, has good dot quality, has a top load battery, is durable as heck, and above all for most of us, it is affordable. The Defender CCW has my seal of approval and I recommend it to anyone out there looking at micro red dots and do not want to break the bank!
In closing, I want to say thank you to Vortex Optics for allowing TFB and myself the opportunity to try out one of their Defender CCW Red Dots! That is greatly appreciated. Also, we would like to know what all of you guys and gals think? Do you believe that this micro red dot is something worth spending your money on? Would you run to the range with this lovable yet durable red dot? Would this be on your go-to fun gun at the range? Let us know all of your thoughts in the comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.
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