By Brian P.
There is a natural progression to black rifle disease. It starts, naturally enough, with the rifle, and ends – if it ever really ends at all – with many more rifles and accessories than the infected individual thought (s)he needed. When a new shooter obtains their first AR, if they’re unfamiliar with the malady, they may begin to accumulate accessories of dubious quality. As a shooting community, the most important thing we can do is to push new AR owners towards quality options and upgrades. It’s only too easy to yell at the new guy on the forums, telling him to go buy an Aimpoint or Trijicon. After all, what’s a little more credit card debt? You don’t want to run junk accessories do you? . . .
The problem with that approach is not everyone is at the same level in their shooting career. To cultivate passion in a sport, one must first enjoy it. I want to find and recommend products that let new shooters enjoy the upgrade process and at the same time get an optic that falls between the cheap junk and the eye watering $750 -$1000 dollar sighting systems.
Filling the Gap
The LUCID M7 red dot is just such a sight. The M7 is at a price point that’s both reasonable and affordable for a mid-range red dot sight. I found M7’s running online between $160 and about $189. Compared to similarly priced products, the M7 has some unique features and offers a lifetime warranty.
Fit, Finish and Features
The unit has a cast aluminum housing and features a 25 MOA circle with a 2 MOA center dot reticule. The housing and battery compartment are all one piece; overall the main-body of the optic is stout and thick. The battery, windage, and elevation caps are all tethered together with wire so they won’t get lost. The exterior is nicely machined with a flat and smooth finish. The M7 is stout and nothing rattles around, inside or out – always a good sign. It uses a common-as-dirt AAA battery and runs for two hours before auto-shut off.
Located on top of the optic is an “eye” that detects ambient light levels. When turned on, the sight jumps into one of two modes – auto-brightness adjustment and manual. To switch between the two, simply push the power button to toggle between the modes. The M7 always comes up in the same mode you left in in when you powered it down last.
The M7’s maximum brightness is nothing to scoff at. The reticule was as bright as my Aimpoint CompM4 on its highest setting. Two arrows toggle the brightness up or down on manual mode. Holding the power down for 5 seconds turns the unit off. The unit will power back on with the last mode/setting it was in before turning off.
Lucid included their AR riser mount with the review sample. It’s mounted to the rifle with a screw mount and isn’t quick detach. It advertises a lower third co-witness but I found it to be more of a lower fourth; my iron sights are visible at the bottom edge of the optic.
While the mount is functional, I see it like a place-holder. The factory mount is an item just to get the M7 on your AR so you can start shooting. Not everyone is going to be mounting the M7 on an AR so this may not apply to you. I wanted to find a quality quick release mount for the M7, so I searched around and found Alamo Four Star and their DLOC TRS25. It gives you lower third co-witness on a spring-loaded mount that won’t come off the gun unless the mounting nut is depressed to release it from the rail. Pretty ingenious.
On The Range
The first thing to point out about the M7 is that the auto-brightness feature works well. Going from shadow to open sun caused the M7 to instantly adapt. Shooting from a shadowed area into a bright area caused no problems either. As long as some ambient light was spilling into the room, the M7 was bright enough to pick it up and adjust.
If you’re shooting from a location that’s pitch black and the area being target is a bright lit sunny day you’ll experience some washout. Solution? Hit the power button again to activate manual brightness. The M7 remembers the last brightness level it was set to, so if you leave it at maximum there is a handy solution to the washout.
I zeroed the M7 on a cold, wet range day. No fogging and no issues with weather sensitivity noted. I dunked it in water and mud and found it to be as waterproof as advertised. I then rolled it, bowling ball-style, through the gravel and mud and e-mounted it. Still zeroed. No POI shift. No issues noted so far.
I adjusted the M7 five MOA up and five MOA to the left. I then adjusted back to the initial zero point and engaged steel silhouettes at 200-300-400 yards. The internal tracking brought me right back on target. The clicks positive and audible. The M7 adjusts at ½ MOA per click.
The 25 MOA circle dot was fast to pick up on close targets and I used the 2 MOA center dot to hold on precision targets. The range has 200 yard “headshot” sized steel swingers and the center dot was precise enough to make them swing with little effort. I would recommend using some blue Loctite on the M7’s clamp mechanism to make sure the hex-screw doesn’t loosen from vibration. The M7 and the TRS-25 mount are a handsome combo and function well. My initial range test yielded a round count of 500 rounds.
There are very few quality quick release risers available for picatinny-equipped micro dots. The Alamo Four Star DLOC is one of a handful of such units. Comparatively, there are hundreds of manufacturers making mounts compatible for the Aimpoint T1 style system. I would like to see future iterations of the M7 integrate the Aimpoint micro style base to open user options.
Battery life is not directly advertised.
The factory mount is very high. This is due to keep the M7 compatible with Lucid’s other products, namely the 2-5x variable magnifier. This doesn’t affect performance, but back-up iron sights are at the very bottom of this setup. It does not quick detach.
If I had my druthers, I’d like a method to disable the auto-off function.
The Lucid M7 is a great option for someone looking to outfit their first modern sporting rifle on a budget. You can’t do much better at this price point, and you can certainly do worse. Much worse. I’ll continue to test the optic over the long term to see how it holds up. I want novice shooters to get equipment that will keep their interest in their rifle, and will keep up with them as they grow in skill. I also want to find products that can give shooters confidence if they need to use it in a self defense setting. The M7 is a very viable choice for people who need performance but can’t justify spending $650 on a optic…yet.
I hope Lucid continues to update this model; I would like to see a new mounting system for it first and foremost. As it is, it is an excellent value. I will continue to run this optic on my primary rifle that I use for my personal blog at www.thenewrifleman.com. I will follow-up with the optic here at TTAG.
Special thanks to http://www.alamofourstar.com/ who sent me their TRS-25 mount to review at the drop of a hat. It is a quality piece of gear and compliments the LUCID M7 very well.
Weight: 4.6 oz.
Power: 1 AAA battery
Size: 21mm objective and ocular lenses
Field of View: 48 ft.at 100 yds.
Reticle: 2MOA dot, 25MOA circle
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * * *
Excellent electronic features. Intuitive and easy to use. AAA battery means replacements will never be a problem. Integrated mount limits mounting options for AR style rifles to a handful of products.
Reliability: * * * * *
No issues with the reliability of the optic after 500 rounds.
Fit and Finish: * * * *
Overall very good and cleanly made. Some “muck” on the interior walls of the tube but no effect on performance. Positive and audible turret clicks.
Value: * * * * *
A strong package of features for the money with a lifetime warranty.
Overall: * * * *
For those on a budget, check out the M7. If it holds up over the long term, it will prove to be a excellent piece of equipment.
Brian P. writes at www.thenewrifleman.com.