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.