The Vortex Venom is a mini red dot in the style of the Burris Fastfire and Docter Optic. It is a tiny reflex sight that comes in either 6 or 3 MOA dot reticles. The one that Vortex provided to me is 3 MOA. The base mount pattern is of the Docter Optic style. In general appearance, it’s quite similar to other mini red dot sights but it does have a few features that set it apart. One is that the battery compartment is on the top of the sight. Of course, that allows the battery to be changed without removing the sight from the mount and possibly disturbing your zero. The cover for the battery compartment has a slot that can accommodate a case rim.
It has an auto brightness adjusting feature, which is normally something I’m not very fond of. Auto brightness features usually have two significant flaws. One is when you aim from a dark area such as inside a house or under a shaded firing line out into a brightly sunlit area. The other is in near total darkness using a bright weapon light. In both those circumstances, the reticle can be washed out because the light sensors are seeing a low level of light and accordingly adjust the brightness of the reticle down, but the area you are looking at is bright. The Venom handles auto adjustment well, though. While using the auto brightness feature, I found the reticle to be visible and useful in both situations. In other, more normal light conditions, the reticle adjusted quickly and was always an appropriate level of brightness. In auto mode, the sight will shut off automatically after 14 hours.
But the Venom also allows you to adjust brightness manually. If you hold the UP arrow for a few seconds, the reticle will flash and you can manually set brightness. Another feature that I’m fond of is that, if you turn the sight off, when you turn it back on it will be at the same brightness.
Vortex claims that the sight is waterproof, though they don’t specify to what depth or how long. I can vouch for the fact that it is perfectly capable of surviving a few minutes at the bottom of a 55 gallon drum full of muddy rainwater, though.
The manufacturer also claims a battery life of 30,000 which is a little under 3.4 years so I wasn’t quite able to test for this review. But I did leave it on a lot and did not notice any change in brightness. The reticle is crisp and round without any flaring. At full brightness, and while aiming against a white wall lit by direct sunlight, the reticle is clearly visible, though not quite as bright as an Aimpoint Comp ML2 in the same conditions.
Vortex claims that it is “parallax free” but that is a relative statement, since no sight is entirely parallax free. With the sight sitting motionless on my kitchen counter, I could move my head around and the reticle did not move relative to a sign 50 yards away, until it got near the edge of the lens. By rough estimate, I’d say that an area equivalent to about 2/3 the diameter of the sight is the area without any noticeable parallax. With the dot at the very edge of the lens, though, the down range shift was probably about 10″ – 12″.
Please note that the negatives noted here are fairly minor. I work hard to find something positive to say about products I review, no matter how bad, as well as something negative, no matter how good the product is. I feel that helps maintain my objectivity. The bottom line is that the sight is reasonably priced ($230 on Optics Planet), assembled with care, lives up to claims, and has some nice features which distinguish it from its peers.