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Primary Arms Classic Series Mini Review: Best Budget Mini Red Dot?

Primary Arms' Classic Series Mini Red Dot promises a budget-friendly mini optic for your pistol, but does it deliver? We hands-on review it to find out.

Can a pistol red dot that costs a mere $150 be worth the investment?

That’s the question we aim to answer today with the Primary Arms Classic Mini reflex sight.

Primary Arms Classic Series Mini Red Dot.

There are plenty of cheap red dot sights aimed at handguns, many even proclaiming them to be defensive-ready. Amazon is littered with listings from companies you’ve never heard of and will likely never hear from again.

Most of these are crap, and that’s why they are cheap. However, Primary Arms set out to make a carry-ready, defensively oriented red dot sight that’s not cheap but affordable.

Bridesmaids Poor

With that in mind, we grabbed the Primary Arms Classic Mini reflex sight and took it for a spin on the Arex Delta Gen 2 Tactical 9mm handgun.

Table of Contents


Primary Arms Classic Mini at a Glance


  • Trijicon RMR Footprint
  • Very bright dot
  • Long battery life
  • Lightweight


  • Bottom battery placement
  • Lack of tactile adjustments
Threaded barrel, suppressor height sights, and a red dot, all for right around $700 total.

Primary Arms Classic Mini Specs & Features


  • Battery Life: 25,000 – 50,000 hours
  • Battery Type: CR2032 3V lithium coin
  • Brightness Settings: 10 settings
  • Reticle: 3 MOA dot
  • Reticle Color: Red
  • Weight: 0.97 ounces


  • Bottom-loading battery slot
  • 6061-T6 aluminum housing
  • Trijicon RMR footprint
  • Comprehensive lifetime warranty

Source: Primary Arms

The Bottom Line

Primary Arms’ Classic Series has long delivered quality value-priced optics, and the Classic Mini reflex is no different. While it isn’t breaking any new ground, it provides a simple, well-made, dependable optic that is affordable.

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

At $150, the Classic Series might be taking the lead for budget-friendly handgun red dots.

A Little History on the Classic Series

The Classic Series from Primary Arms is the bare-bones, budget-grade optics. Previously relegated to red dots and LPVOs, the Classic Series now includes handgun optics…like the Mini and the Micro.

They don’t break the mold and wouldn’t be called innovative, but they have proven to be dependable and well-made optics that perform when called upon.

It’s basic but sometimes that’s good.

We don’t get fancy features like shake-awake or a solar backup. There are no multiple reticles or automatic adjusting brightness. It’s just a red dot that does red-dot things.

Primary Arms clearly invested their money into ensuring the optic would be reliable more than filling it full of features and having it lose zero at the slightest bump.

Who Is It For?

The Primary Arms Classic Mini is oriented at the civilian handgun market. Specifically at concealed carry and home defense tasks. While it’s well made and dependable in that role, it might not be ready for the rigors of extreme duty use.

It may not have the ultra-tough, thick, curved housing of the RMR, but then again, not everyone needs that level of overbuilt-ness.

For the average joe, it’s more than capable when carried concealed. It offers shooters who might not have Trijicon, or even Holosun money, a chance to get into a good red dot on a budget.

Handgun red dots can offer advantages for defensive-oriented shooters. Optics can help you shoot faster, further, and with greater accuracy. That kind of advancement and advantage is better when available to shooters of all budget levels.

Shooters with subcompacts or micro compacts should give the Micro a peek. These optics offer a solid, defensively oriented handgun that’s stripped down and affordable.

Just make sure your weapon has an RMR footprint or compatible upgrade.

Fit and Feel

Primary Arms says no to polymer! Polymer has tons of great applications for firearms, but optics and iron sights tend to work best when they are metal.

The Classic Mini is made from 6061-T6 aluminum with polymer only used for the buttons.

It’s a solid bit of construction that results in a deceptively lightweight red dot. It weighs less than an ounce, making it one of the lightest mini-red dots for full-sized guns. The buttons sit on the side and are fairly large.

The machining is clean, and the setting of the lens looked great. There was no excess glue or tool marks visible.

They feature an up and down arrow that allows you to adjust the intensity of the dot on demand and turn the optic on and off. Tactile feedback is present with each press, and the optic instantly responds to the input and adjusts accordingly.

The button setup is very nice, even better than the Holosun X2 series.

Adjustments range from fairly dim to ultra-bright. A nice clear window gives you a bright sight picture with just a slight bit of tint to it. That blue color is noticeable but not distracting.

Although there is a slight tint, it is actual glass and not a polymer/plastic lens like some competitors at this price point.

One of the downsides is the bottom-mounted battery. Shooters have to remove the optic to replace the battery, requiring you to re-Loctite the setup and zero the optic again.

Luckily the battery life is long, so this won’t be a constant issue.

Overall, it’s a good optic that made a solid first impression but has a few flaws associated with the low price.

Zeroing at the Range

After attaching any optic to your gun, the first thing you have to do is zero the thing. I set up at 10 yards with a chair, table, and a positive mental outlook.

Primary Arms includes an Allen key to make the adjustments.

I prefer a flathead to the Allen key, but it’s far from a deal breaker. The adjustment graduations are 1 MOA, which is perfectly acceptable for a handgun red dot sight.

You can see the Allen screw adjustments on the top and right ride.

Where I ran into a problem was with the adjustments themselves.

There is absolutely zero tactile or audible feedback per graduation. I typically call these clicks, but there is no click here. It’s not that these are necessary, but they make zeroing a bit quicker, and if you’re like me, help to be exact.

I did get the gun and optic zeroed without too much fuss, but it wasn’t the easiest pistol optic I’d ever zeroed.

Range Performance

With the sight on my Arex Delta Tactical, I began tossing lead downrange and letting the recoil and slide movement do its thing.

I primarily used 115-grain ammunition but mixed in some 124-grain NATO loads and a few +P JHPs to add some extra recoil.

9mm Ammo in Stock

Cost Per Round
Free shipping

I fired north of 250 rounds through the gun and optic at ranges from 10 to 50 yards. I returned to the exact ammunition I used to zero, set it up at the same distance, and tested the zero.

The Classic Mini retained zero without issue.

Mounting was solid, and the zero retention reflected that.

As part of my testing, I fired a pair of double taps on two targets as fast as I could. The targets were nine feet apart, and I practiced moving between the two targets.

I watched for any lag or refresh rate issues as I moved rapidly between targets and found no noticeable lag or problems as I ran the dot from target to target.

As mentioned, there is a slight blue tint, but it is not at all offensive or overly distracting.

Next, I used the bright light of the rising sun to see how the optic reacted to bright light at various angles. This included facing towards and away from the rising sun and the sun to the optics left and right.

There was no noticeable haloing or dispersion, and the dot remained bright and easy to see.

By the Numbers

Durability: 4/5

With an entirely aluminum design, the Classic mini is quite nicely made. It shrugs off recoil and maintains zero. I am unsure if it would last through hundreds of hours of hard-duty use, but it’s a solid choice for concealed carry or home defense.

Ergonomics: 5/5

The Classic Mini is a very useable optic at less than an ounce in weight and has a nice set of buttons.

Clarity: 4/5

Is it the clearest lens or the crispest dot? No, but it’s perfectly useable and suitable. It’s clear enough for picky shooters but might not reach the high clarity levels exhibited by Leupold’s DPP.

Ease of Use: 4/5

This score could have been higher if the battery wasn’t bottom-mounted and the adjustment dials provided some form of tactile and audible feedback. Mounting is easy, shooting with it is easy, and controlling it is easy, but it’s not perfect.

Overall: 4/5

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Final Thoughts

After a bit of ammo through the gun and optic, I walked away fairly impressed by the overall results.

It seems to be a budget-friendly red dot ready for defensive use, competition, or just learning how to use a red dot.

Primary Arms is continuing to bring great products to the masses by lowering the bar for entry for everyone.

The Classic Mini isn’t treading new ground tech-wise, but it’s breaking the price barrier that keeps most shooters away from red dots.

What are your thoughts on the Classic Mini? Let us know in the comments below! Still considering other options? Check out our article, the 11 Best Pistol Red Dot Sights [Real-Views + Video].

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2 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar

    I purchased this about a month ago after seeing it on PA. I wanted a red dot that wouldn’t break the bank for a Glock 19 that is using an Outer Impact mount. Zeroing it wasn’t terrible but with the no clicks it does take longer than I would like. I have put over 300 rounds through it with no issues. I carry this gun with my job so it stays in my waist for 8 hours average during the week and have had zero issues with it on that front as well. For the money it’s good and PA backs their product and they ship fast. Ordered it on a Sunday night, it was at my door Thurs morning just in time to mount it and take it to the range that evening. Pretty happy with to say the least.

    March 22, 2023 5:51 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Its junk. I tried one. Several magazines later the dot started shifting every shot and it would no longer hold zero. I threw it in the garbage.

    Its an introductory optic. It might be a one off defective unit I got, but even considering that possibility although its 'looks' ok and seems to work ok it is definitely not defensive carry worthy I would consider using on my carry. Maybe a range toy if it keeps working but not self/home defense. There are better introductory level options out there that are suitable for defensive use.

    "However, Primary Arms set out to make a carry-ready, defensively oriented red dot sight that’s not cheap but affordable."

    PA didn't make it. Its a made in China and imported.

    March 21, 2023 5:57 pm
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