Red hot dot – ZeroTech optic one to savour

Daniel O’Dea

Although a relatively new entry as a brand name in the Australian optics market, the principals behind ZeroTech have a long history of providing shooters with good quality, well supported and affordable riflescopes. With more than 50 years’ experience in the industry, they’ve delivered literally thousands of rifle optics over that time to Aussie shooters and the introduction of the ZeroTech bracket came with the prime ambition of providing rifle optics with unique features and benefits tailored to our market, understanding the harsh and diverse conditions.

Among the ZeroTech Thrive options is a compact red dot sight. With zero magnification and parallax-free sighting, red dot optics have become ever more popular while pretty much making the primary use of iron sights obsolete for military and tactical operators – and the benefits of such platforms have also been readily adopted by recreational sports target shooters and hunters. With the ability to shoot with both eyes open providing a full field of view, unlimited eye relief and quick target acquisition, these sights prove their worth in a variety of applications.

The ZeroTech Thrive Red Dot arrived smartly packaged in a padded boxed containing the sight, battery, rubberised lens covers, Neoprene soft cover, lens cleaning cloth and T15 Torx key. It features a 25mm objective lens displaying a 3 MOA red dot which, for those new to the game, simply means the visible red dot covers an area of 3” at 100yds or 76mm at 90m when viewed through the lens.

A single CR2032 battery supplies the power source providing 11 brightness settings across its span, battery life stated as up to 5000 hours which would depend what setting the unit is used on. The mount interface is compatible with either Weaver or Picatinny-type rails or bases and is held in place by a single cross-bolt with a T15 Torx drive as per the key provided. Lenses have an anti-reflective coating with a yellow-to-orange tinge when viewed on an angle.

Dimensionally the sight is reasonably compact, measuring 65mm x 45mm x 48mm and weighing 145 grams with battery installed. Both windage and elevation turrets offer 100 MOA of adjustment top to bottom and turret values for alterations are made in 1 MOA per click increments, meaning the value for each click is the equivalent of 1” at 100 yards. The turrets are capped by neat little screw-on covers which double as an adjustment tool by incorporating a square-blade drive head on top. To tweak the turrets you screw the caps off, flip one over and use it to make the required incremental changes.

A 12-position rotatory dial marked 0-11 (0 being off and 1-11 the brightness levels) is on the left of the optics body and a large screw cap on this dial covers the battery compartment and can be unscrewed using a coin for battery replacement. I was reviewing a Chiappa 1886 Wildlands in 45-70 at the time and thought this hard-kicking hand cannon would provide a good test base for the Thrive Red Dot. Fitting was as simple as sitting it on the rifle’s Weaver-type rail and tightening up the cross-bolt (recommended torque for this bolt is 25in-lb).

One of the benefits of a red dot optic like the ZeroTech Thrive is with unlimited eye relief it doesn’t matter that the design of a firearm requires fitment forward of the action. With top ejecting lever-action firearms such as the 1886, Winchester 1892 or 1894 a conventional scope can’t be mounted unless it’s one with long eye relief. With a red dot it doesn’t matter how far forward the optic is mounted ‑ once sighted in you’re good to go, perfect for any firearm format which would otherwise make fitment of an optical sight difficult due to action design.

In the case of the Chiappa, which is no lightweight, it was great to be able to add an optic without the addition of any undue extra heft. I carried the big 45-70 around the hills on my property hoping to bump a pig or two but to no avail, yet previous experience with red dot sights convinced me they’re great on hard-hitting scrub rifles when the action comes fast and furious at close range.

When gullies and hillsides are choked with blackberry or thistle and targets are fleeting, placing a red dot on your subject with both eyes open and a full field of view can become somewhat instinctive with practice and the same is true when out west in the lignum or chasing pigs on a bike or quad. But what if a longer shot’s required? In some respects a lot of shooters these days, being used to magnified optics, don’t seem to have much confidence as to just how far you can shoot with a zero-magnification red dot sight, in the same way they might have little confidence in using iron sights at distance.

I often surprise myself when shooting older rifles with peep or blade and post iron sights, in that despite finding it hard to focus with my middle-aged eyes, once the basics are applied I have little issue swinging the 300mm plates on my 200m chain rack. In the US several years ago working with an AR-15 fitted with a zero-magnification red dot optic, once I’d worked out the Data on Previous Engagements (DOPE) I’d no problem making hits on torso-sized targets out to 600m. The lesson with red dot optics is you mustn’t feel completely handicapped in the field should a longer shot be required. As with any sighting method, so long as you can clearly see your intended target, have a safe backdrop and understand your rifle’s ballistics and ability you should be fine.

Although the local pig population escaped undiminished I still gave the 45-70 quite a workout on the range with Barnes VOR-TX 45-70 300gr hollow-points and several boxes of PMC 350gr flat-nose soft-point factory ammo, along with a generous amount of reloads of both 400gr Speer flat-nose and 300gr Sierra hollow-points. The thumping recoil energy produced had no effect on the Thrive which held tight on its mount and retained its zero. When I’d finished with the Chiappa I removed the Thrive and fitted it to a Remington 7615 and again, on a fast-handling rifle the Thrive Red Dot worked well, transitioning from target-to-target on the range and ringing steel easily out to 200m.

In summary the ZeroTech Thrive Red Dot presents as a well-featured compact red dot optic for those in the market and is also competitively priced at around $249. Lastly, if you still had any apprehensions the ZeroTech Thrive comes with their definitive lifetime ‘AAA’ warranty boasting: ‘Any owner, Any problem, Always covered’. That’s hard to beat.

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