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[Review] Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic): Best Red Dot?

Need a rock solid optic for your go-to rifle?

Aimpoint’s Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) is our favorite pick when you need a bomb-proof red dot that can stay on for 3 years on one battery.

We tested one for almost 3 years and thousands of rounds…plus remounted it a couple of times to see any shift.  And of course you know me…beat it with a hammer about 25 times in all directions.

If you can afford the ~$400 price tag…it’s what we totally recommend for an optic that just won’t quit.  If that’s a little too much for now…check out our Best Red Dots Under $200.

Now…let’s quickly learn about red dots, see some views through the PRO, accuracy testing, torture testing, and comparisons with other red dots.

Why Red Dots Rule

Super quick primer on why red dots are awesome…

  1. Unlimited Eye Relief: There’s no set distance you need to keep your eyeball to see the dot.
  2. Parallax Free: Move your head around…and the dot moves with you so it’s always on the target.
  3. Keep Both Eyes Open: Now you get a full field of view while superimposing the red dot on target.
  4. Cowitness: Got irons?  You can set an absolute cowitness (dot matches with your irons) or lower 1/3 cowitness to see the the dot easier.
Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third
Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third, progunfighter.com

Video Review

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Views Through the Aimpoint PRO

Ok, so red dots are nifty…but how does it look like through the PRO?

It was pretty hard to get a picture to represent what my actual eye was seeing…but in real life I’d say the dot is crisper and the green hue is less noticeable.

How about with a 3x magnifier in front using the Vortex winner from Best 3x Magnifiers?

Aimpoint PRO, 3x Precision Dot
Aimpoint PRO, 3x Precision Dot

I kept the dot small (less bright option) for when I was testing for accuracy.  But here it is amped up a little.

Aimpoint PRO, 3x Brighter Dot
Aimpoint PRO, 3x Brighter Dot

It was a bright day but not SUPER bright…so this was one or two brightness levels from the max setting.  If you were to crank it up to the max without being in direct extreme sunlight you will see a red halo on the sides.

Now…for a more overcast day we have a video of it with the Vortex 3x Magnifier:

Accuracy Testing

It depends on your end goal, but for most red dots are meant for closeup encounters.

I put a target out to 50 yards and zeroed in with my best-bang-for-the-buck pencil Aero Precision Upper (full review) that does about 2-3 MOA (2-3 inches at 100 yards).

Aimpoint 50 Yard Target
Aimpoint 50 Yard Target

Same rig as how I test my uppers and barrels.  Heavy benchrest and nice Hiperfire trigger.

Aimpoint PRO Testing
Aimpoint PRO Testing

How did it do with some of my favorite ammo (Best AR-15 Ammo for Self-Defense & Range Plinking) at 1x and 3x magnification?

Aimpoint: Wolf and PMC, 1x vs 3x at 50 Yards
Aimpoint: Wolf and PMC, 1x vs 3x at 50 Yards

I shot these at reasonable speed (one every 3-5 seconds) and here are my takeaways:

  • PMC is more accurate than Wolf…like my previous review of the upper showed
  • 1x is less accurate than 3x (duh)
  • But still plenty accurate for minute of bad-guy or even clay targets at a competition

Now how about taking the optic on and off a couple times?

The Aimpoint PRO comes with a big although incredibly useful knob that auto-torques…so you only need your hands to take it on and off.

Aimpoint PRO Knob
Aimpoint PRO Knob

I took the optic off and on a couple of times, and made sure to always press the optic forward when I remounted.  That way it’s more the same each time and to prevent recoil movement.

Aimpoint PRO Remounted
Aimpoint PRO Remounted

I shot with the 3x magnifier so it was a little more accurate and we could see the shift.

The optic is rated to 4 MOA shift and I believe the results are well within spec.  And in this case actually made it more on target, lol.

Torture Testing

Aimpoint sent me the PRO to test…but with the caveat that I gotta give it away to a lucky reader in the future.

So I didn’t go full-blown torture testing.

I used a relatively heavy plastic hammer and hit it 5 times from each side (front, back, left, right, top).  I realized I missed some direct hits in the front so I added a few more for good measure.

Wish I panned around to see the faces of the people that watched me bash a $400 optic.

Here are the results of the shift:

Aimpoint PRO, Remounting and Smash
Aimpoint PRO, Remounting and Smash

The hammer testing was after re-mounting so the best comparison is F vs G.  There’s definitely some shift but again this falls within the 4 MOA spec.

And I feel it was a good amount of jostling around…if you drop your gun or bang it into an obstacle…it should be way under what I put the optic through.

Passes in my book.  And is unscathed for a future lucky reader except for some plastic knicks on the lens covers.

Aimpoint PRO vs Others

With a street price of ~$430…what makes the Aimpoint better or worse than other red dots out there?

I compared it to my old faithful Comp ML3…the PRO’s beefier, more expensive (~$600), but discontinued cousin.

Aimpoint Comp ML3
Aimpoint Comp ML3

The green hue is a little less in this picture.  At 3x here is the view:

Aimpoint Comp ML3 3x
Aimpoint Comp ML3 3x

Dot is lower since the mount I have is a little higher than the PRO.  In reality…the green hue isn’t as big a difference as it seems in these pics.

So…what’s the main difference?

From what I could gather…the Aimpoint PRO is more affordable since it has a slightly less battery life (30K hours) compared to the current Aimpoint Comp M4 (80K hours) and its housing is a little less strong (forged vs extruded aluminum).  Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

Here are the specs so you can see if it meets your temperature and water submersion requirements.  See the rest at Aimpoint:

  • Battery: 3v lithium (an odder 2L76 or DL1/3N)
  • Weight: 11.6 oz (with lens covers, mount, spacer)
  • 30K hours of continuous use on position 7 of 10)
  • 2 MOA red dot
  • Night vision compatible
  • -49 to 160 degrees F operating range
  • 150 feet water submersion

But what about vs Under $200 Red Dots?

Best Budget Red Dots
Best Budget Red Dots

You get the name, 10 year warranty, and much better impact/submersion/battery-life.  Plus clearer glass and less distortion.

I’m willing to look past the relatively heavy weight (11.6 oz) and oddball battery.

If you’re looking for a red dot on a plinking rifle or an occasional competition?  You can’t go wrong with budget versions.

But if you’re looking at something where you can’t have it fail (home defense or patrol)…I’d take a serious look at the PRO.


Like I just said above…if you need an optic on a life-saving firearm…I would suggest the Aimpoint PRO.  Unless you are willing to spring for the Comp M4 at $900…it’s one of the best deals for something tested and nearly bomb-proof.

Did you end up going with the PRO…or did you get something else?  Let me know in comments below.  Then check out more of our favorite Optics & Scopes for the AR-15.

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Optics

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33 Leave a Reply

  • Mark Bailey

    Bought the PRO directly from Aimpoint site so no fakes here. Almost wish it was a fake then at least there would be a reason for the awful sight picture. After the lowest visible setting in day light the red dot starts to look like a tomato that has been thrown against a wall. At the brightest setting it looks like a pizza thrown against the same wall. Dug out another rifle with a $75 red dot and the dot is nice and crisp at every setting. What gives Aimpoint? Your $450 sight can't match the quality of an el cheapo dot sight? Looks like now I will have to argue to get my money back. Good thing my card company hates companies that rip off consumers. Too bad Pew Pew was over the top recommending this unit, kind of knocks my respect for them down a few notches.

    May 26, 2021 2:03 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      It sounds like you might have astigmatism or a lemon, none of the Aimpoints we've ever used has had that issue. Aimpoint CS is on the ball and should help you out without argument.

      May 26, 2021 2:08 pm
      • Mark Bailey

        my eyes are fine. checked 5 other guns in the safe and the new pro is the only one that splatters the red dot. I have a 20 year old red dot on a competition pistol and that one is as crisp as the day I put it on. Oh well.

        May 27, 2021 9:53 am
  • Matthew Johnson

    How does it compare to the T2?

    January 7, 2021 11:04 am

    i bought the aim point pro from bass pro. it has a red line in it from 10 o clock to 5 o clock that comes and goes when outside or inside bright or cast over days, mostly when you look at dark objects. also i wish there was a couple more brightness settings because i go from a crisp dot right to a much brighter hazy star. still on the fence about returning it.

    September 13, 2020 6:46 am
  • Brandon

    Having the PRO with a standard size 3x magnifier these days is relatively a heavy and bulky set up. The PRO shows how dated the design is as an optic when compared to
    a micro dot with a micro magnifier, or an lpvo. However the PRO on it’s own is still the standard for the budget duty optic in my opinion.

    July 27, 2020 10:18 am
  • Fyrfytr998

    My astigmatism doesn't let me enjoy regular red dot sights. Too bad they don't make a prism.

    July 1, 2020 7:35 am
  • BGC in Az

    I just bought one (before reading this review). I compared it to the Sig Romeo 5 and a couple others in the store. Hands down, better visibility, easier to use controls, better positioning on the rail so I can get on target more quickly, better warranty, more solid feel (doesn't feel like a cheap Chinese optic). I always have bought high end scopes. Buy once, cry once, enjoy for a lifetime. I really did not expect such a huge difference in red dots. To me, there is more added value in the product than the cost difference, so it was a better bargain.

    November 13, 2019 7:07 pm
  • JDT

    Unfortunately China posers are catching up with Sweden manufacturing with the high accuracy and low cost of CNC these days.

    May 8, 2019 8:02 pm
  • Memorial Rifle Range

    Ultimately I ended up owning 3 of them, one for each rifle, I have tried many of the red dots over the years and the Aimpoints are just such a cut above that going back to a lessor red dot just doesn't cut it and the PRO though a bit pricey, is just low enough for me to equip all my rifles with. 3 of them equate out to the price of one midrange scope. I also like the fact they come with a very serviceable Mount included. That makes it just the one price for a complete sight. Nothing is worse than a pricey optic and then a 200 + mount that may or may not suck. I can't afford a 1000.00-1400.00 scope for each rifle but I can have a Red dot that performs as well and is as rugged as the best of the lot. I really like quality stuff that performs well. The Aimpoint pro fits that bill.

    May 8, 2019 7:07 pm
  • Blake

    Great article. I always love watching the videos you guys post. Hilarious and informative. Keep up the good work!

    May 8, 2019 9:08 am
  • Rick Lunsford

    What 3X magnifier are you using? (Like the one shown in the first picture)

    October 22, 2018 11:19 am
      • Aaron

        Did you need a riser with the Vortex?

        January 25, 2020 2:25 pm
        • David, PPT Editor

          The vortex 3x magnifier is mounted in a flip-to-side mount, which gave it the correct height.

          January 25, 2020 3:10 pm
  • Ron

    Just put the AimPoint PRO on my new Daniel Defense M4V11 LW. Love it! Nice tight groups at 50 yards. Will check it at 100 yards today. Can’t go wrong

    May 27, 2018 6:33 am
  • robert

    If you are willing to be patient and put in some time, ebay has used compM4 usually from between $350 and $500 depending on condition. Since most were bought by armchair Rambo's that get buyers remorse, most are in excellent condition. I got one, looks new for $400. Just be sure to know what you are looking at to avoid knock-offs

    February 13, 2018 4:46 pm
  • Christopher R Tune

    I'd echo what so many in comments are saying: The Aimpoint PRO is a very good choice for a Red Dot type sight (fantastic battery life, easy to use, rugged beyond belief, keeps a zero well). One thing to note: You may not see the dot as a smooth small circular dot, but as a fuzzy quasi-dot like object. It turns out that the laser generated dot is very fine (1 MOA or less) and typical adult eyes often have flaws that cause an object like that to have a persistent fuzziness around the exterior. The way to test this is to move the Red Dot sight around it's central axis (horizontally away down the tube), and see if rotating this dot, still appears with the same fuzz pattern. If the pattern is the same regardless of the position, it's YOUR EYES. Most eyes have a very slight amount of astigmatism, which causes the fuzziness. I know mine did. The dot also appears perfectly circular in photos taken where the interior image is rendered well.

    February 12, 2018 11:40 am
    • Eric Hung

      Good info!

      February 13, 2018 9:24 pm
  • KERK

    I also got the Aimpoint PRO after speaking with several people who all know a lot more than I do about this stuff. Good review. Thanks!

    February 12, 2018 3:23 am
    • Eric Hung

      Awesome, let us know what you think about it.

      February 13, 2018 9:24 pm
  • Anglo America

    I have three of the original Aim points and wouldn't trade them for any other sight on the market, other than the Pro illustrated above.

    February 11, 2018 10:30 pm
  • chessiedog1

    I am ready for one. When do we get a chance to win it?

    February 11, 2018 6:36 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Soon! If you're on our email list or Facebook or IG you'll be notified.

      February 13, 2018 9:23 pm
  • Fred Lead

    I picked up a Sig Sauer Romeo 4A for $155 on sale recently. The Sig series of red dots goes on sale pretty regularly and have a warranty as good as Vortex. I had an Aimpoint PRO for a while, but I wanted to cut down on size and weight. The Sigs also have auto-on with motion, a 5-year battery life, and mine fits on all Aimpoint micro mounts, so I have mine on a 1/3 American Defense mount. You can even get spendier and get the Eotech-style reticule and solar powered option.

    The option of different mounts, motion-on, better battery life, and price put the Romeo on top over the SPARC-AR for me.

    February 11, 2018 6:34 pm
  • KenC

    I am colorblind. I cannot see the DOT in any of the looking through the site pictures. Is it just me and my color blindness preventing me from seeing that?

    I admit I have never used one so maybe I should rent one of the ones from my range to see if it is any different.....Well, I guess I have another task this weekend when my son is home from college and we head to the range.

    February 11, 2018 6:19 pm
    • Eric Hung

      The one where I show the dot I used to make the groups is pretty hard to see. Might be the red/green combo making it hard.

      February 13, 2018 9:22 pm
  • Dan Reed

    I'll stick with my Eotech thanks. I've used them for years in all conditions and mine's been bombproof.

    February 11, 2018 6:16 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Both are great...we'll have a holographic sight review coming out soon!

      February 13, 2018 9:21 pm
    • Chad g Wilkins

      ya, the fact they lied to the government, suffer severe poi shift, put thousands of service members at risk, and had to offer to buy ALL of them back is totally irrelevant.

      April 1, 2018 4:29 pm
  • Mike

    I built my first AR and got the Aimpoint Pro, couldn’t be happier, super beefy and solid quality

    February 11, 2018 4:59 pm
  • Slisher

    I bought my first AR in December (BCI Defense Domestic Defense that I built myself at their facility). As my first, I investigated many optics and ended up buying the PRO. Battery life, price, and brand name all played a part in that decision. So far, I'm still happy with the choice.

    February 11, 2018 4:51 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Glad to hear it!

      February 13, 2018 9:21 pm