Gear Review: LUCID Variable 2-5x Red Dot Magnifier

Red Dot magnifiers have been around for a few years now. They’re often used with a special mount that allows the shooter to flop the magnifier to the side for a quick switch to a rifle scope or iron sights. With a rifle or shotgun so equipped, a shooter can enjoy all the benefits of an unmagnified red dot and a low-power riflescope. No surprise, then, that red dot magnifiers are gaining popularity in the 3-gun world, which rewards the fastest possible transition between magnified and unmagnified optics. If you can make the switch without using fine motor skills, so much the better. Hence the LUCID 2-5x Red Dot Magnifier . . .

Another major benefit of red dot magnifiers: price. When you’ve already dropped $300 — $500 for a good red dot, dropping another $300 — $500 for a scope as well isn’t financially appetizing—especially when it will have to be re-zeroed every time it’s changed out. With a magnifier, the shooter can fit a relatively low powered scope (usually 2-3x) for around $200. And because red dot magnifier is magnifying a hologram, it doesn’t need any special adjustment or zeroing.

What sets the LUCID magnifier apart from the others: it’s variable. The shooter can choose either a low (2x) or higher (5x) magnification depending on the distance to target. As the company’s press release says, it’s the first variable power red dot magnifier on the market.

The LUCID magnifier is mounted in series with the red dot on the rail. It must be properly positioned to provide the correct eye relief for the shooter. In my case, the magnifier’s placement pushes the red dot itself further forward, almost crowding it off the top rail of my carbine. I usually like to have my red dot just in front of a backup iron sight (which, by the way, doesn’t fit on the gun with the magnifier in place). But I had to move it even further out to fit it correctly.

Finding a mount for the LUCID Variable 2-5x Red Dot Magnifier is another challenge. In the United States, the typical size of a scope tube (the part where the mount grips the scope) is 1 inch. LUCID decided to make their scope fit 30mm tubes. You can find a set of shims for 30mm mounts to use 1 inch scopes, but not the other way around. Not a single gun shop or sporting equipment store for miles around had 30mm rings in stock. That’s when I turned once again to my go-to guys for scopes and related things: Primary Arms.

Once the magnifier was mounted I instantly thought “well damn, this sucks.” The red dot was floating around in the upper left corner of the magnifier, nowhere near the middle. I thought I had done something wrong—until I noticed the adjustment screws. With the included Allen wrench the shooter can center the red dot in the middle of the magnifier, adjusting for any deviation in the position of the mount.

Once properly adjusted the entire reticle of the EOTech is still visible, both at the lowest and highest magnifications. Even at the higher magnification I couldn’t detect any parallax issues. But I wasn’t trying to fire this thing at 600 yards or anything like that. Out to 100 yards everything seems to be in order and properly focused.

But how well does it work? To answer that question I headed off to the range armed with a fistfull of Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C Targets lovingly provided by Birchwood Casey themselves.

First things first, the “control” target. Fired at 25 yards using an unmagnified EOTech red dot from the sitting unsupported position. Not my best work, but good and consistent enough for our purposes.

And now, at low power magnification from the same position. The group is just a little bit tighter, thanks to the increased magnification.

Magnification comes with its drawbacks as well. The small lenses required to get everything to work in such a compact space drastically reduces the light that passes through and makes everything look very, very dark. Even the holographic reticle, usually ridiculously bright at its normal setting, is somewhat muted when viewed through the magnifier.

Another major drawback: the red dot loses its ability to quickly acquire targets and transition between them, one of their primary selling points. However, by using the right mount that ability can be traded back and forth in exchange for the magnification.

Adding magnification to a red dot-based gun works. It increases the range without the need to fiddle with scopes or adjust the zero. The LUCID magnifier’s ability to change the magnification on the fly takes the red dot magnifiers to another level. Better yet, they’re selling it at a price point that makes the process relatively painless. It might not be a bullseye, but it’s close enough for government work.

Specifications: LUCID Variable 2-5x Red Dot Magnifier

Weight: 7.4 oz.
Length: 4.75″
Magnification: 2-5x
Eye Relief: 4″ — 2.5″
Tube: 30mm
MSRP: $229

Ratings (out of five)

Optical Clarity * * *
Not the clearest piece of glass I’ve ever looked through, but damned near close. Especially considering the objective lens is less than 30mm. It lost another point for being so darned dark, which sucks when your test range is underground and poorly lit.

Feel & Function * * * * *
The magnifier functions just fine. The construction feels solid, the adjustment screws are smooth, and the magnification ring rotates without any hesitation or much resistance.

Overall Rating * * * *
The image is a tad dark, the thing takes up a lot of real estate on my rail, and forces the red dot uncomfortably far away from my face. But other than that it works as advertised and seems like a solid addition to any red dot based rifle.

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

10 Responses to Gear Review: LUCID Variable 2-5x Red Dot Magnifier

  1. avatarRalph says:

    Thanks, Nick. I’ve been hoping for a trustworthy review of this product. I’d like to see it paired with Lucid’s own red dot. BTW, Lucid also sells a swing-away mount for this magnifier at a very keen price point.

    • avatarthomas jackson says:

      It’s clear from your pictures that the magnifier does not sit high enough to clear the base of the Eotech. Why didn’t you address this in the review. I had the same problem with my Eotech and Vortex magnifier. My Eotech has the built in riser, forgot the name of the model. I had to purchase a Larue mount in order for me to get the proper clearance. Garbage review

  2. So, if I understand you correctly, you had to move your red-dot from where it should ideally be mounted on your gun (to provide correct eye relief and maximum field-of-view) farther forward to accommodate the Lucid Magnifier? That would seem to make the gun less useful when the Magnifier is not in use.

    Another point: variables/zooms always give up brightness & optical quality to fixed power optics (all other factors being equal). I bet you would be a lot happier with their fixed 3x magnifier.

    • avatarBrett Solomon says:

      Some argue that sending the EOTech that far out on the rail actually increases accuracy (albeit slightly) by bringing it closer to the muzzle. But I always thought too far forward looks goofy.

    • avatarBob says:

      This review is junk. First, the is no mention of the eye relief, glass quality, color rendition, etc.- just that it is dark. Aren’t those the things we expect to read in a review of a scope/mag??? Duh, its a 30mm tube mounted right behind an red dot that block a lot of the ambient light!!! Second, this guy likes his red dot as far to the rear as possible???? I understand that everyone has their preferences, but running a red dot like that is partially defeating what they are good for….fast target acquisition!!! The farther forward, the small the housing becomes: blocking less of the target, requiring less eye focus adjustment, more forgiving with check placements, etc. All of the military operators I know run their EO/Aimpoint as far forward but still on the receiver. Some swat users run theirs on the handguard (ideal), but there are issues with handguards rotating slightly). In my experience, guys you run their red dots at the rear haven’t ever seen combat or taking a tactical course where time is life.

  3. avatarTrailblazr says:

    Appreciate the honest review. I think I have the same Eotech as you and have been in the market for a magnifier. I did read about the adjust knobs for this magnifier (thanks). Besides that, did you have any issues about the magnifier not being high enough to accommodate this Eotech? In looking at your last picture (above) with your rifle sitting on the bar stool, it appeared that the magnifier might be sitting about 1/2″ lower than the window of the Eotech. Have you experienced any practical issues in this regard? Also, did you consider the Primary Arms magnfiers and mounts? If so, what is your opinion of those compared to the Lucid? Thanks in advance!

    • Hey there!

      Yep, the mount put the magnifier a little lower than the middle of the red dot sight. I thought it might be a problem, but after using the adjustment screws it worked just fine. If I were to mount this permanently on my rifle I would have probably bought a Primary Arms flip-to-the-side mount instead of the standard 30mm scope ring that I used (which I cannibalized from my 100 ATR). Even with the height difference it still worked fine, and there were no missing spots in the field of view.

      I have not tried the P.A. magnifiers and flip-to-side mounts. Not because I don’t want to, but because they flatly refused all testing and evaluation requests I’ve made. I like Primary Arms, but I’m not going to spend my own cash to review their products when I have no immediate need for them. So, in answer to the last part of your question, “I dunno. Ask me later.”

  4. avatarGarrett Moore says:

    Did you find their reported eye relief (4″-2.5″) to be accurate? That seems to be substantially more than most other magnifiers on the market. Thanks for the review.

  5. avatarBrad says:

    Hey Nick,

    What did you think about the eye relief on this? I’m debating between a combo of this plus a Red Dot, or getting a 1-4x variable scope. Thank you

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