Not too long ago, if you wanted optics for your “Modern Sporting Rifle”….it was all about the Benjamins. A little over 10 years ago, a startup company called Sightmark came to market. Their products were budget priced and aimed at the civilian sporting community. In recent years, Sightmark has set their sights on more hard-core shooters and the Law Enforcement community—in this case, we are pretty much one and the same. The optics must be rock solid reliable and able to take a beating. Now, Sightmark doesn’t want you to go out and destroy your sight through abuse, but they do want their most durable sights, their M-Spec line, to take everything you throw at it and ask for more. In short, there are a couple of sights of different designs bearing the M-Spec name and you can rest assured that if it says M-Spec on the side….it’s tough.
Enter the newest iteration of the flagship of the M-Spec line, the Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex sight, available with either a direct bolt or locking quick-detach base (LQD.) The particular sight that I tested was the LQD model (SM26034) which was available directly from sightmark.com and numerous Sightmark dealers including Amazon that had it listed for $249.97 as of the time of this writing.
Now, for the official description from Sightmark.com:
Specially designed to handle your hardcore shooting needs, the Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD Reflex Sight promises repeatable accuracy, ultra-fast target acquisition and rugged mil-spec reliability in virtually any environment.
Ultra Shot M-Spec features:
- Wide-angle lens with scratch-resistant and anti-reflective red coating
- Patented integrated sunshade
- Illuminated red 65-MOA circle dot reticle with 10 brightness settings
- Night-vision brightness modes
- Parallax correction beyond 10 yards
- Unlimited eye relief
- Shockproof, dustproof and IP68 waterproof
- Recoil rated up to .50 BMG
- Rugged, lightweight 6061-T6 aluminum hood and protective shield
- Interlock internal locking adjustment system
- CR123A battery with 200 to 2,000 hours of battery life
- 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustment
- Up to 120 MOA of travel
The Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight also features a low battery indicator, motion-sensing auto on/off activation, digital switch controls, 12-hour auto shut-off, locking quick-detach Picatinny mount and Sightmark’s lifetime warranty. The Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD Reflex Sight is also perfectly compatible with the Sightmark XT-3 Tactical Magnifier (SM19062). It includes adjustment tools, CR123A battery, operation manual and Neoprene cover.
Notice that .50 BMG recoil rating? Impressive to say the least. The M-Spec will provide you the quickest target acquisition available via its 65 MOA circle-dot reticle (with 2 MOA center dot) and will withstand some of the harshest recoil of just about every hunting or self defense-chambered weapon in North America—unless you’re hunting cloned dinosaurs…in that case go with the .577 Tyrannosaur and just use iron sights.
At one point in time, if you wanted a ruggedized sight for your rifle you ended up with two names on the list, EOTech and Aimpoint, depending on the reticle and sight design you preferred. For years, thanks to advances in concept and design, Sightmark has opened that market up wide and brought red dot sights to the public at several price points with many models of their red dot sights that allow you to switch between a single red dot or the circle dot reticle.
The ruggedized M-Spec, tested and reviewed in this article, reigns supreme. For sheer ruggedness, the selectable reticles along with their associated rear facing switch were eliminated and the circle dot reticle was chosen. People are curious by nature, and always want to know how one thing compares to another. That brings us back to the EOTech, as that is what everyone is going to want to compare the Ultra Shot M-Spec to. Looking at the various models, I found the XPS2 to be the closest competitor.
Let’s compare a few details:
|Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD||EOTech XPS2-0|
|MSRP: $299.99 (sightmark.com)||MSRP: $555 (EOTech.com)|
|65 MOA Circle-dot Reticle with 2 MOA dot||68 MOA Circle-dot Reticle with 1 MOA dot|
|4.01in x 2.24 in x 2.32 in||3.8in x 2.1in x 2.5 in|
|10.2 ounces||9 ounces|
|IP68 waterproofing (up to 40ft)||Submersible up to 10ft|
|Construction: Magnesium alloy body||Construction: Aluminum body|
|Elevation/Windage adjustment:120MOA/120MO||Elevation/Windage adjustment: 40MOA/40MOA|
|Battery: 1 – CR123A||Battery: 1 – CR123A|
|Brightness levels: Off, 1-10, NV||Brightness levels: 20|
|NVG compatible||NOT NVG compatible|
|Battery life: 200-2000 hours depending on setting||Battery life: 600 hours continuous at level 12|
|Operating temperature: -22 to 160 degrees||Operating temperature: -40 to 150|
|Recoil rating: .50 BMG||Recoil rating: .50 BMG|
|Retractable, built-in sunshade||None|
If you look at that chart, you can see that the two products are pretty close to one another. A couple of variances that swing one way and a couple more that swing the other. That said, the Ultra Shot M-Spec LQD is a much bigger bargain being between $150-220 cheaper, depending upon who you choose to purchase it from.
In real-world use, the sight performed without any issues whatsoever. My team uses a 36-yard zero, so once the M-Spec was mounted, it was brought to the range to zero and testing. I ran several hundred rounds in various shooting drills. Many done with the use of a VTAC-type barricade, and neither my rifle nor the sight were treated with kid gloves. The sight absorbed every single thing thrown at it and wanted more. One feature that I really prefer on this sight is the fact that you only have the choice of the 65 MOA/2 MOA circle-dot reticle. The R-Spec and A-Spec models have a switch on the rear of the sight that allows the shooter to select multiple reticles. I don’t see a need to keep switching back and forth between reticles and I am glad that was dropped on the M-Spec model.
After getting home from the range, I decided to run a little test. The sight was removed via the LQD and tossed into the freezer. According to the freezer’s display, it overs around 20 degrees or so, provided Samsung uses accurate temperature sensors. I left the sight in there overnight and removed it the following morning. I mounted it up and allowed the sight to thaw out on the ride out to the range. A half hour later, the sight was ready to go. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the zero had not shifted. You can’t ask for much more than that.
If you prefer a bolt-on mount, as opposed to the LQD on this model, Sightmark offers the same sight built just the way you want it. Select the Ultra Shot M-Spec FMS Reflex Sight (SM26035) instead and they’ve got you covered.
In looking back at some of Sightmark’s initial offerings years ago, to seeing what they’ve brought to the market in current times, I am eagerly awaiting to see what else is in store in the next couple of years. If the current model Ultra Shot M-Spec is any indication, the future is going to be bright as there are no indications that the wizards behind the scenes at Sightmark have any plans on slowing down.
Author’s Note: M-Spec, M-Spec, M-Spec. You are probably tired of hearing that but that is something earned by this sight, so I chose to refer to it that way. In the new line of Ultra Shots last year, it was announced by Sightmark HQ that there would be three new product lines, R-Spec, A-Spec and the M-Spec. The R-Spec (Range Spec) is primarily directed towards target shooting and hunting. The A-Spec (Advanced Spec) retains many R-Spec features but adds 6 NVG settings. The M-Spec (Military Spec) was designed for law enforcement, hunting and competition shooters. Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
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