Poor Man’s AimPoint: Primary Arms MD-ADS (50,000+ Hours)

It was just a matter or time; the low-cost overseas manufacturers (read: China, etc.) have been able to replicate the long battery life that has been AimPoint’s claim to fame. Primary Arms, famous (or notorious) for high(er) quality, low-cost, red-dots has released their MD-ADS, or Micro Dot, Advanced Sight to the public.


  • Micro Dot with removable base
  • Ultra sharp 2 MOA dot
  • New advanced technology LED allows up to 50,000 hours battery life
  • Uses 1 CR2032 battery (included)
  • 12 brightness settings
  • Visible in bright sunlight
  • Night vision compatible (the lowest two settings)
  • Absence of parallax shift past 33 yards
  • Black anodized finish
  • Lowest profile emitter on the market
  • Nitrogen purged
  • Waterproof
  • Only weighs 3.9 ounces
  • Fits any industry standard Micro mount and gives stated cowitness
  • Optional AR height absolute cowitness riser and lower 1/3 cowitness riser are sold separately.
  • Three year warranty

The MD-ADS is adjustable by 1/2 MOA clicks and has multiple accessories available including risers, mounts, and caps. The MD-ADS is in-stock and shipping for $169.99 on the Primary Arms website. 

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Ryan

    Primary Arms make great products. I have one of their micro dot and it works great for me. I wouldn’t call their products “Poor Man’s” they’re just for the thrifty shooter who knows his tacticool rifle will only ever engage paper.

    • ClintTorres

      Shall we call it the red dot for “non-combatants”?

    • valorius

      A pa sight is all that 99% of us shooters…including cops and swat….will ever actually need.

  • david

    Primary Arms makes great range sights–I would not hesitate to use them on range guns. I prefer the real deal for defensive rifles that my life relies on. Aimpoint for my home defense gun.

    • AngryBirdman

      Man, you got to live in some tough spot, cause even in contemporary Syria they do not commonly put Aimpoints on their self defensive kalashnikovs, pkm-s and spg-9. Little do they know…

    • kingghidorah

      How often are you guys getting invaded that you need such expensive gear? I mean is it like every other night? Where do you live, Detroit?

      • Cymond

        I think the issue is a matter of confidence. Some people argue “how much is your life worth?” and suggest sparing no expense on gear. Me? I argue “what are the odds you’ll ever need it?”. Sure, I’ll spend thousands of dollars on gun stuff if I believe I need it, but the fact is that I will probably never have to defend myself. Sometimes “good enough” really is good enough.

        But if some guy wants to spend $200 more to get an Aimpoint PRO to make him feel safe, that’s his choice.

  • FWIW

    I post this every time PA comes up but it bears repeating – they really are a great company. Good prices, some of the best “budget” optics and other accessories available, and customer service that would be considered excellent in the “real world,” not just in an industry that is often lacking in it!

    I’ve bought, let’s see, four of their sights over the years (two micros, the full size aimpoint clones, and a 3x ACOGish clone). I’ve run them all extensively and in the one instance of trouble I’ve had (the full size seemed to not be able to hold zero after nearly a year of use), they had it exchanged for a brand new one in under a week.

    Would I pop one of those optics on a true “working” rifle? Ehhh, still probably not. But for anything else, absolutely. And if you get the one-in-a-thousand that fails? You know they’ll make good on it, and in the meantime that’s what BUIS are for.

    • William Johnson

      I am partial to them as well, one of my former unit members works there. They took good care of the team while they were deployed.
      CSM (ret) J.

    • Jeremy Star

      I have one of their sights, and they are good for the money. BUT, there is a reason Aimpoints and such cost more. PA sights can and do fail under circumstances that more expensive sights shrug off. Check out FXHummel on YouTube. His failed at a rifle course after being rained on the day before. And his BUIS were useless as they co-witnessed and the failed dot sight blocked them.

      That’s why my indoor gun has a PA sight, but my outdoor one has an EOTech.

      • Chase Buchanan

        If they were co-witnessed and the red dot sight blocked the iron sights, they weren’t co-witnessed.

        • Jeremy Star

          Maybe you should look up what happened before you make that statement.

          • Tierlieb

            Maybe you should have said it more clearly: “Failing after being rained on” sounds like it shorted out. It didn’t, it fogged up. Which is why I personally think that every additional sight needs a QD system.

            An Aimpoint might not fog up, but mud and snow will block the sight anyway. I only recently remedied that for my own Aimpoints.

            Also note that while the video by Yeager and FX Hummel is very recent (July 2014), I would assume that the PA MD presented here is an even newer version.

          • Alan Hodges

            A lotta emo armchair QBs on this board.

          • Jeremy Star

            Yup, always pass the buck.

      • valorius

        Swedish socialism is why aimpoints cost so much more.

        • Nicks87

          Yeah that evil socialism. That’s the problem, I’m sure.

          • valorius

            Are you a socialist?

          • DonDrapersAcidTrip

            Are you a dumbass?

          • valorius

            Was that a yes?

          • Nicks87

            That’s kind of a loaded question isnt it? I dont need to be a socialist to see that it does work in some countries and it has nothing to do with the price of aimpoints.

          • valorius

            It does in fact have to do with the price of aimpoints, as products made there, and wages, are taxed out the wazoo.

            Sweden has a 25% vat tax. 25% of the price youre paying for your aimpoint is vat.

            It is you, the $$ spending end user, who pays the price for that.

            Aimpoints used to be far more reasonably priced back in the 80’s and 90’s.

            My first aimpoint 1000 was $99 dollars in 88….amd it was brand new technology then.

          • E Wolfe

            Outrageous taxes, under any political system, have everything to do with exorbitant prices. My daughter lived in Oulu Finland for many years. People there take the ferry over to Sweden, several times a month, to purchase some dairy products because they are so expensive in Finland. Finland actually pays families a monthly stipend for each child in the family. Just because a country has had a socialist system for many years does not mean that it works well, it just means that a majority like getting free stuff, which has to be paid for by some other poor sucker’s toil.

          • James in Australia

            VAT is not applied to exports outside the EU. My work involves a lot of Swedish imports. But I dont expect you to take my word for it- From KPMGs website-

            “If a company exports goods to a customer (business or private) outside
            of the EU, it does not need to charge VAT. However, it should make sure
            that in all cases it keeps proof of dispatch/delivery to support the
            zero rating.”

            If you dont want to take their word for it feel free to google away.

        • Michel_T

          And nice glossy advertisements are not cheap either… throw in a few sponsorships of events and shoothers… then the price goes up…

          • valorius

            A good leupold scope with magnified optics costs less than an aimpoint magnifier alone.

            As they say in hip hop circles- nigga please.

      • John

        Aimpoints are so over-rated and I own like 8 or 9 of them. Yes, 3 modern ones (comp m4, pro, 9000 2x) and 6 of the vintage ones (mark iii, 3000, 1000, etc).

        Mepro, Trijicon, and Hensoldt for the win. Worth every penny. Aimpoints are about 100% overpriced for what you get.

        • valorius

          Agreed….the reason? Insanely high swedish and eu taxes to pay for euro socialism.

          Sweden has among the highest tax rates in the entire world.

  • hking

    Going to have to pick up a few of these. PA makes great stuff for the price and having ~4ish years of runtime in great. This will be perfect for my truck guns.

  • Gwolf

    I like mine. They are tougher than most will ever need too.

    Here’s a kid who tried to break his. Fun read.


    • valorius

      He shot it with 2rds of 12ga bird shot and it still works….for about 1/6th the price of an aimpoint.

  • stimr2

    Holosun is the OEM for the MD-ADS and PA removed the auto/off feature found on other Holosun RDS. I ordered one soon as I found out their version was available.

    I was really looking forward to playing with mine yesterday. However, I still haven’t received mine. UPS tracking said it was delivered yesterday at my front door. I went to check and it wasn’t there. I contacted UPS and they’re doing a investigation. Also contacted PA, they informed me to wait couple days and to see if UPS finds it. I hope no one stole it from my front door. Couple months ago my home association informed the neighborhood that mail was stolen from mailboxes.

    Hopefully, UPS can find it or approve a claim. I know PA will take care of me if they don’t. They’ve always been super friendly with any questions and concerns I have had.

    • Phil Hsueh

      That sucks about your package being potentially stolen, I have package thief where I live so I know what it’s like to have stolen off your front porch. Hopefully it just got lost, but if it doesn’t you should put a dummy package with one of those bank dye packets in it for the next package thief. I’ve always wanted to do that but with the way laws in this country, esp. in CA, work I’d probably the one that get sin all sorts of trouble for it and not the stupid package thief.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Phil, I can fully understand how you feel. Although I live in a place where this sort of thing doesn’t happen and is socially unthinkable ( and we also have a great Police Department to back it up, God bless them ), I have all too often witnessed such occurrences first-hand in other places to which I have traveled for work purposes. You are also correct about the so-called criminal justice system in these areas — which is anything but. Police departments and officials in positions of responsibility who don’t give a damn, but who are ever willing to nail your hide to the wall for the slightest perceived civil infractions — all as long as it doesn’t upset THEIR precious status quo. The sheer hypocrisy and half-baked attitudes of these individuals is breath-taking, to say the least.

        It seems to me that the really insulting thing about some petty little jackass stealing your hard-earned property off your own front porch is not so much the material value of that property itself, as it is the intrusive violation of your personal space and the sheer disrespect involved.

    • gggplaya

      u should sign up for ups my choice. u can have all your packages stopped at the local ups depot instead of delivered. or put in a memo to leave it at the back door or shed etccc.

      • stimr2

        I think I’ll have to start doing that from now on. I never had a problem with a missing/stolen package. My UPS driver seems to change very often. The new driver doesn’t even knock or ring the door bell.

        I took the day off waiting for the PA red dot. I went out to check my mail at 12:00pm. I checked the website for a status update at 2:00pm. UPS stated it was delivered at 12:55pm. Didn’t here a door bell or knock.

        I had another package delivered today and again no knock or door bell.

        • Phil Hsueh

          The UPS driver in my neighborhood does the same thing, just leaves the package without knocking or ringing.

          My solution to stolen packages is to just simply have everything that’s not small enough to fit in my mailbox coming from the post office to just be delivered to my work. Best of both worlds solution, no need to drive elsewhere to pick up a package and no worries about package thieves.

          • stimr2

            UPS driver dropped it off at wrong house. My neighbor stopped by this evening and handled it to me.

            Here are some pics.



          • Cymond

            I hope you let UPS know, and mention the no knock/ring too. Hopefully they’ll reprimand the sloppy delivery driver.

          • stimr2

            Yeah, called them right after I checked the package and gave them my complaints about the driver. I also called Primary Arms but they were already closed for the day, so I sent them a email.

  • dan citizen

    There is a cheaper option.

    Last winter I picked up a 19.99 wally world red dot sight and mounted it on my Saiga 12. I sighted it with a chamber insert laser, and scooted off to the range.

    On the car ride there the sight performed great, it sat in the case without incident and caused no malfunctions.

    being mounted on my picatinny QD mount it was out of the way of the action and did not interfere with loading and operation.

    I decided to start hot and began testing with a 12 round drum full of remington 1 oz slugs that have been clocking north of 1,600 FPS.

    On the first shot the sight was very close to POI, and well within range of error for this slug loading.

    On the second shot we could not find the sight as it flew off the mount and sank in the snow during the first shot. We are giving it the benefit of the doubt and presuming it retained zero.

    I have not found it again, but I am going to presume the battery is still working.

    • Raoul Duke

      No shit?
      You mounted a crappy lowest-of-the-low cheap sight on a high-recoil firearm, and it failed? Wow. What a test.
      What bearing does that clown-shoes story have on the suitability of a higher-end, more-rugged sight for use on say, a .22 training double for your primary rifle? That’s the real application for the Primary Arms stuff…and guess what? It works just fine there.

      • Don’t Be This Guy

        This can’t be a real comment.

        There’s no way someone is that dense.

        • Kevin

          Does no one recognize sarcasm!?!

          • dan citizen

            they’re new here, give them time to catch up.

      • Yellow Devil

        Sarcasm is a dying art on comment threads.

      • dan citizen

        The primary arms is a great unit. I love my older PA microdot, cheap, durable. I didn’t think the usefulness of PA products was in doubt here.

        I was thoroughly disappointed at your inference that my test of the wally world red dot was less than professional or comprehensive. As well as a little surprised that you consider the Saiga 12 to be a “high recoil firearm” a little stout, yes, but nothing like a featherweight OU …whatever you do, do not google “Barrett”

        Anyway, I digress.

        So to complete my earlier test I went out behind the barns and paid the neighbor kids to find the red dot sight from last winter. It took them about an hour and I gave them the cigarettes I promised.

        I was unable to tell whether the battery was still working as it turns out the red dot is painted on, and the device had a significant amount of water inside it.

        I remounted it on the Saiga 12. As it happens the mount had not broken, merely flexed sufficiently to allow it to self release. I wrapped duck tape around the receiver and sight to be sure of a more lengthy test.

        Since viewing through the sight was murky I made 2 adjustments, I switched to S&B buckshot and used the sight to occlude the pattern area for that load.

        So merely align the sight to cover the desired target area and BOOM, accuracy.

        So all in all the wally world sight is no PA or Acog, but fills a neglected niche in the shooting sports, though it’s functionality could be matched by any object that is of the correct size and aesthetics.

        As to your carefully thought out question: “suitability of a higher-end, more-rugged sight for use on say, a .22 training double for your primary rifle? ”

        I should point out first off that the Saiga 12 is a shotgun and as such is not considered a “rifle” by people familiar with firearms, even if it has a rifled barrel.

        To adapt the Saiga as a .22 trainer requires the tedious and expensive use of shotgun to rimfire chamber adapters. due to the use of an offset bore in the adapter to align the rimfire primer and the lack of ability to easily clock the bore in the Saiga accuracy would be abysmal. I might add, semi auto functionality would not be possible without extremely expensive modifications, and perhaps not even then.

        I would start by lightening the bolt and carrier extensively, removing at least 70% of the weight. I would weld the bolt into the carrier and machine off the locking lugs. A mirror polish job by Glass Bolt would be a good idea as well.

        Next I would shorten the gas system to 3″ and lighten all parts, enlarge the port/s to a .30 by .50 oval. Machine a barrel insert to sit 3.75 inches into the barrel and occupy it to the 6″ mark. This will form a gas expansion chamber to feed to gas port. The barrel insert should have a hole maybe .25 (do some experimenting, I can’t do this all for you)

        You will be forced to use the chamber adapters that center the rimfire bore and have their own firing pin.

        If the gas operated rimfire adaption does not have sufficient power to recock the hammer you may need to improvise a striker fire system, or just go with a blowback only system.

        Honestly this seems like a lot of work. You might be better off with something more suitable for you.

        Maybe a hipoint carbine?

        • Alan Hodges

          I laughed my ass off Dan. Keep up the good work.

        • DiverEngrSL17K

          Cigarettes? What about the chewing tobacco? :):):)

          On a more serious note (!), thanks very much for the many times you’ve lightened the topic at hand with well-informed and highly-irreverant humor — much appreciated! We all need to laugh a little more in this otherwise ridiculously dead-pan and politically-correct existence.

          • dan citizen

            I switched from chewing tobacco to well browned hamburger.

            Thank you for the kind words.

            I am now honestly wondering about a gas operated .22 I may try one on the bench, just a barrel, gas port, and a weight to measure available power.

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        Raoul, knowing Dan Citizen, I think he is simply being facetious about the topic at hand, that’s all.

  • G-Force

    How does this compare to a Bushnell TRS-25 (only $70, and is a nice optic for the money)

    • USMC03Vet

      Same. I thought the Bushnell was the poor man’s aim point.

    • Rugrash

      The ADS has a removable base (like our previous MD-06) while the TRS-25 has a fixed base. The ADS can be used with any T1/H1 mount on the market while the TRS-25 has to use a picatinny riser. Also the ADS has 50,000 hours of battery life compared to approximately 1000+ for the TRS-25. Finally the ADS has a slightly smaller dot (2MOA). A closer comparison has been made in the past to our discontinued model that I mentioned earlier.

    • My TRS-25 has a sort-of-comma-shaped dot. I suppose that figuring out where the aiming point should be, would get even more interesting with rain drops on the lenses.

      I think I have 4 Primary Arms micros, and the dots are all round in those.


    Now one or some, of the popular youtube channels need to do a torture test. This could only lead to the company making an even better product. I love Aimpoint quality but I can’t put a $600 sight on everything. An affordable, durable 50,000hr red-dot sight is only a good thing in my book.

    • Sam Schifo

      I believe Tim from the Military Arms Channel said they were going to get a few Primary Arms sights and do some tests.

    • Quach

      Hahahaha, making a better product? Please, don’t ever think their products are superior to Aimpoints.

      • Julio

        A mis-reading, I think. It seems more likely that hat was meant in the previous comment was that PA will improve their products so their new ones are “even better” than their old ones (not that the former will be better than Aimpoint’s). Of course, casual scorn is much more fun than careful reading.

        • Cymond

          I agree, I think RICKSHAW meant that torture testing would lead to better products from Primary Arms. However, it is arguable that a successful Primary Arms torture test would lead to “better” products from Aimpoint, or more accurately, more affordable products from Aimpoint.

      • valorius


    • Mingo
  • Laserbait

    I would pay the extra money if they made them in the USA. So, I’m sticking with EOTech, Trijicon and Leupold for now.

    • Phil Hsueh

      But that’s the whole point of the PA products, they’re made overseas in order to bring down the price for those of us who can’t afford or justify a $400+ optic.

    • erwos

      Some of Leupold’s glass comes from overseas. Just a heads-up.

  • hi n2 the right

    Wow, this looks like a significant step up in technology/build, with the 55k hour battery life – and from a company I inherently trust and like to support at all times. PA is one of the best outfits I’ve dealt with hands-down, and I have several of their products already, including their MRD. I’m definitely in for a few of these. These guys earn their repeat customers with their honesty, impeccable customer service and a good solid product at a good price point.

    And they know it. They know where their value is. I think they must be gun nuts just like us, so don’t try to sell you a load of sh*t.

    Notably – It looks like they did a better job with the internal soldering on this one too, as I don’t see a big lump at the 4:00 position.

    • Rugrash

      Yes the emitter is much smaller and streamlined. This is the case with all of the new models that have been released recently.

      • hi n2 the right

        excellent. that was my one minor irritation with budget RD’s before. Now I’m really psyched to get one. I like Leatherwood, but Primary Arms has earned my business, so they are my #1 supplier.

  • MrPotatoHead

    This looks to be same as the Micro-Max-B-Dot from Hi-Lux (http://hi-luxoptics.com/product/riflescopes/micro-max-b-dot/). It also lasts for 50k+ hours and uses the same mounts as the T1. It’s about $30 more expensive than the PA sight, though.

  • big daddy

    I have a few rifles/pistols/SBRs/whatevers these are going on.

  • Jimmy Ray
    • stimr2

      A guy on youtube took his Holosun HS403A snorkeling and it held up well.

      • Jimmy Ray

        Haha that’s different.

        • stimr2

          I was really suprised that the Holosun survived. I’m not a fan of Chinese companies but they make a solid red dot. I see why Primary Arms and now Hi-Lux are using them as a OEM. I wonder if more companies will start to use them.

          • Jimmy Ray

            I think they would. Seeing how many modern sporting rifles have been sold in the last 5 years. I would also love to see how much one of these actually costs to produce, vice versa the Aimpoint offering.

  • Cymond

    It seems like every time Primary Arms has a cool new model, they have an even cooler and newer model 6 months later.
    Unfortunately every improvement comes with a price increase. Their fixed base microdot is $80, but it used to be $60. It’s still a great value, but it makes me wonder if they’ll keep going up.

    • Probably will. . . because inflation.

      • Cymond

        This is more than just inflation, though. This is PA improving their sights, and charging a higher price for the upgraded product. While upgraded products are great, sometimes I worry that they’re going to “catch up” to Aimpoint in a few years.
        Ok, I know they won’t actually let that happen, but it seems that the gap is getting smaller.

  • Mingo

    Torture test found here:


  • Core

    I wouldnt believe a video or testament to something before I had an opportunity to bang it around. I had a discussion with the owner years ago and he has always been clear about his take on his products. He gave me honest feedback regarding a question to the durability of his products. I prefer to stick to equipment used by USMC and NSW because of my past fleet training activity. I know if its issued to operators it may not be perfect but its going to hold up if used and maintained properly. On the other hand I wouldnt be surprised if Primary Arms has some quality optics and continues to evolve the product line to bigger and better things. I have a cheap Tasco ProPoint on a cheap Norinco SKS, I purchased over 20 years ago. Everyone told me the sight was cheap and the rifle was cheap, but they both still hold a zero together and in most cases produce better than average results at 100 meters. I was assisting an aquantance in a departmental weapon swap and their older optics were Tasco ProPoints, he being an expert explained how Tascos Propoint line evolved into high quality optics. So you never know until you use it for a while.

  • Rob

    This new PA sight looks nearly identical to the HOLOSUN model marketed through PA. I recently got the HOLOSUN and it’s an excellent sight, replacing my PA Classic Red Dot. The PA sight was great but it had an auto shutoff that isn’t defeatable, something I can’t stand- fine for range use but for HD/zombie use I don’t want to have to turn on the sight when I need it. The HOLOSUN (and presumably the new PA since they appear to be the same sight) has a 50,000 hour rated battery life and automatically turns via a motion detector.

    So far I’m very happy with the sight.

  • Griz19

    PA branded products I own… extended scope mount, rail-mounted flashlight, quick-detach 3x magnifier, Aimpoint red dot clone with co-witness mount, green dot reflex sight with offset rail mount. I’m sure there’s an item or two I’ve forgotten, I’ve ordered a lot of stuff from PA over the last few years. Aside from exchanging the clone (it did not light up on 1 of the 7 brightness settings), all of my PA branded products have worked flawlessly- cold, hot, snow, rain, hits and bumps. Their customer service and shipping are excellent. I never hesitate to refer PA to others and those others have never been disappointed.