Aimpoint H1 vs. Meprolight M21
photos by Jenn Rice
As many of you already know, I'm a big fan of Aimpoint Micro red dot sights, and have used my H1 as a benchmark when reviewing red dot sights.
After posting a recent comparison review with the EOTech XPS ( http://ingunowners.com/forums/access...pics_vids.html ), INGOer Indy Wing Chun sent me an optic he had sitting around his gun room-- a Meprolight M21 reflex sight.
The M21 is manufactured by Meprolight and distributed by The Mako Group. It was designed for and is used by Israeli Special Forces. It has several features that make it stand out from your everyday red dot sights.
From Meprolight, Electro Optical, Optical Sights & Devices
Originally Posted by meprolight.com
Wait, no batteries?
To quickly compare the two optics: Aimpoint H1
- Reflex collimator sight - parallax free
- Battery life: 50,000 hours
- Auto shut-off: No
- Reticle: single 4MOA dot
- Mount: not included, must be purchased separately
- Average street price: $550
- Price as pictured: $600 (includes LaRue mount)
- Fiber optic/tritium sight - parallax free
- Battery life: NA
- Auto shut-off: NA
- Reticle: 4.5MOA dot inside 15MOA circle
- Mount: QD, included
- Average street price: $500
- Price as pictured: $500
The M21 uses two methods to illuminate its reticle-- fiber optics and tritium. In daylight the white light collector around the lens powers the amber-colored reticle. In darkness it is powered by the same radioactive tritium that's found in handgun night sights. These two systems work together immediately and seamlessly, from dark to light, indoors to outdoors. The unit I was testing had the "bullseye" reticle, which is similar to EOTech's standard reticle, but with a 15MOA ring instead of a 65MOA ring.
The upside to such technology is the complete elimination of reliance on battery power. This saves money spent on batteries, time spent procuring batteries, and eliminates the possibility of failure due to batteries. It is "always on" and has no ON/OFF or brightness adjustment switchology to contend with.
But there are some downsides.
Because the reticle's brightness is dependent on the surrounding levels of light, there can be issues when shooting from a dark position into the light, or vice versa.
During my time using the M21 I rarely had any issue while shooting outdoors-- even when shooting from a shaded position to a sunny position. The reticle would lighten up, but I could still see it and make hits with it. When shooting from the light into the dark the reticle was very bright, but didn't hinder my shooting. The problems popped up when I moved indoors.
Inside lovemywoods' house, positioned in a dark room, the reticle would almost completely disappear when looking at a lighted room. It's at such times that there is still some light for the fiber optics to gather, and yet not enough darkness for the tritium to take full effect. Once all the lights went out the reticle was back and bright. Using a weaponlight in total darkness didn't seem to cause any major reticle fading.
While I always prefer a single-dot reticle, I did like the M21's reticle over that of the EOTech for close-in shooting, even though they are similar. I said in my XPS review that I wish the 65MOA ring was smaller, and that is exactly what I got with the M21's "bullseye" reticle. For close up shooting it was very easy to simply superimpose the entire circle on my target as I pulled the trigger. BUT, the 4.5MOA dot and thick 15MOA circle did prove less-than-ideal when I started shooting at 200 yards. The reticle often times would obscure my entire target. So for longer distance shooting I prefer the 1MOA dot and oversized circle of the EOTech, as the dot is precise and the circle is out of my way visually.
This is why, above all, I prefer the simple and clean 4MOA single-dot Aimpoint reticle (2MOA is even better). It's fast when I shoot up close and it's precise when I shoot out at distance. My brain and eyes have just one element to track and I can do so under varying conditions.
At any rate, it did allow me to clean the Bobcat Steel plate rack with little effort.
Giving the optic a once-over and comparing it to the H1 Micro I did find some interesting things-- good, bad, and ugly.
In terms of physical size the M21 is larger than the H1. Here you can see them compared from all angles.
The different colored lens coatings were interesting.
Upon opening the box the M21 came in, my first impression was that it was built like a tank. The outer housing was very tough, and it had some heft to it. Putting it on a scale you'll see that, while it may be tough, it is also substantially heavier. At 14oz it is over twice the weight of the H1. This was certainly noticeable when I mounted it on my SBR.
Of note is the distinct lack of adjustment knobs, buttons, or switches on the body. The only interface on this optic is the elevation knob on the top, and the windage knob on the side. Adjustments can be made with either a flat-head screwdriver or a coin.
I like the factory QD mount for its ease-of-use, but am somewhat skeptical of its ability to continually return to zero. I didn't do any testing to that end, but there are small tension nuts on the opposite side from the levers that could slightly change how the mount clamps on each time.
My biggest concern with the M21 is the fact that it's body isn't a sealed unit. With Aimpoints, for example, all of the electronics, the emitter, wires, and even the beam are all sealed inside the body, protected from bumps, water, mud, and crud. With the M21, however, the tank-like body is simply a hollow shroud, leaving the emitter exposed and vulnerable to having all kinds of nastiness stuck inside, potentially blocking the beam and rendering the optic useless. Not only that, but one can clearly see the exposed fiber optic cable from the underside of the mount. One drop in the mud and this optic would be in all kinds of trouble. At best it would get gunk caked up inside its works, and at worst it would damage critical components and the optic would cease to function.
While I did find the M21 an interesting alternative to the typical Aimpoint/EOTech argument, I don't see it becoming overwhelmingly popular. The no-batteries concept is great in theory, but lacks somewhat in execution. At the $500 pricepoint it's too easy to pick up an Aimpoint instead. If this was priced around $250-300 I could see more people buying it as a less expensive Aimpoint/EOTech alternative for range-only use. The exposed guts is a show-stopper for me. While this is somewhat inherent in the design of reflex-style sights, this example seemed particularly vulnerable to the elements.
So for now, the Aimpoint H1 will stay on my AR. But I do look forward to the day when there exists an even better mousetrap.
Original thread here: http://ingunowners.com/forums/access...pics_vids.html