I purchased my first Aimpoint M2 after some less than stellar experiences with other red dot sights (RDS). That M2 turned out to be the gateway Aimpoint for me and I have owned just about every RDS that they have come out with since including the M2, ML2, M3, ML3, M4S, T1, R1, and H1. They have basically become my default carbine optic thanks to their versatility, durability, and reliability.
A cursory look at any internet forum will show that the Aimpoint Micros are the hotness right now. They are great sights but the older Aimpoints, like the M2 and M3, are better… for me, at least. That’s right. I liked Aimpoints before they were cool, the Micros are too mainstream, and the older ones are better.
Throat punch me because I sound like some kind of Aimpoint Hipster.
Aimpoints are Like Pizza…
Even when they are bad; they are really, really good.
I own 5 Aimpoint Micros and I think they have the best form factor of any Aimpoint. However, when I look through an Aimpoint Micro, I see an aiming point that looks more like a multi-pointed star than a dot. The dot appears even worse when using a 3X magnifier. This is due to my eyes, not a defect with the sight. I am sure I have some slight astigmatism or something like that and for whatever reason the Aimpoint Micros are not very forgiving of this. I can still use them to get hits on full size silhouettes out to 300 yards by turning the intensity down and just dealing with it as long as I don’t try to use them with the 3X Magnifier.
I want to like the M4 and M4S as well. They are probably the most durable Aimpoint to date (that is really saying something) and they run on AA batteries which is nice. I see the dot on the M4 and M4S better than I do on the Micros, but it is still less than ideal. These are also the largest and heaviest of the Aimpoints that I have tried. Their size and weight seems monstrous when compared to the Micro Aimpoints.
Oldies but Goodies…
The M3 and ML3 just work for me. I can see the dots on these models more clearly than those on the Micro or M4 series. The 4MOA versions seem especially crisp to me. They work extremely well with the Aimpoint 3X Magnifier. I know this is due to my eyes but I am not the only person that I know who has found this to be true.
I am not sure what it is about this type of Aimpoint but I have always found them to be crisper than newer models or at least more forgiving of vision deficiencies. This holds true for the Comp C3, M2 and ML2 as well so perhaps it has something to do with the similar body and lens styles of these models. I suspect that the PRO is the same way but I have never tried one with a 3X Magnifier to be sure.
It is not like you give up much when you go with one of the slightly older models. The M3 and ML3 have very good battery life. Aimpoint claims 50,000 hours on setting 7 but I wouldn’t know because I usually swap the batteries once every 2 or 3 years. The battery is a bit of an odd duck but I stack them deep and their lithium chemistry ensures a long shelf life.
They split the difference in terms of size and weight between the M4/M4S and the Micros. They weigh around 10-12 ounces depending on the mount that you choose. While that is roughly twice what an Aimpoint Micro weighs, it still represents a relatively lightweight sighting option compared to non-Aimpoint sighting options.
Best of all, they are still Aimpoints which means they will shrug off abuse, handle temperature and atmospheric changes with ease, adapt to changing lighting conditions, forgive just about any break in technique due to hasty or improvised shooting positions, and generally just endear themselves to you for the reliability.
Be an Aimpoint Hipster
The Aimpoint Micros are definitely the hotness right now and they are great sights, especially in low mount applications but that doesn’t mean they are right for you. You don’t have to make due with a sight (or any gear for that matter) that doesn’t work for you just because it is the current trend. Make your gear choices based on your needs, experience, and intended uses, not picture threads on a forum.