Gear Review: Sightmark Wolverine and XT-3 Magnifier

My name is Jon Wayne Taylor and I’m a glass snob. But I can change. The Sightmark Wolverine Red Dot and XT-3 Magnifier may help me on my journey to budget optic acceptance.

Prior to my experience in the Army, I was never big on red dot sights. It was iron sights or scopes for me. Then I found out how fast I could mount and fire accurately with one. I could shoot behind cover in ways I never could with irons or long-range glass.

The huge advantage is that the sight works with any eye relief, and doesn’t require a solid head position. If the sight is built right, as long as you can see the dot you can hit your target  In combat, that’s a huge advantage.

Outside of combat, red dots are pretty handy too, especially for pig hunting or anywhere you need to make a fast sight acquisition.

But, alas, I’ve been burned buying cheap red dots before, specifically sights where the reticle moved under recoil. So when I got a T&E sample red dot from Sightmark, I decided to put it through the ringer.

First things first. Do the turrets track?

I’ve always felt that the box test was a little silly with a red dot optic, but I conducted it anyway, just to make sure the turrets moved the way they should.

Mounting the Wolverine on top of my Colt Competition AR in 5.56NATO, I put a round down range at 50 yards. Then I dialed-up what should have been 5 inches fired, right 5 inches, fired, down five inches fired, and left five inches, and fired.

None of my shots were more than 1″ away from where they should have been, and my last shot was almost touching my first shot. The optic provides a 2MOA dot, so 1″ at 50 yards is right where it should have been.

I used 50 yards instead of a longer distance since this was a zero magnification optic and I wanted to reduce any error on my part. If this were long-range glass I’d do that in groups of three to five, but this little test well proved the point.The scope tracks.

I’ve had a few low-priced red dots in the past. Typically I mount them on my .22LR rifles because they often fail in heavy recoil. I’ve been through a lot of scopes like that. Since these were review optics, I put them through a bit more of a test.

Running the Wolverine just on that Colt Competition AR wouldn’t have proven much, as it has very little recoil. So I mounted the Wolverine and the XT-3 magnifier on top of another rifle I’m reviewing: a Stag Arms AR10 in .308Win.

I put 300 rounds through the gun with the red dot and the magnifier, with no ill effect.  So on they went on top of my .458SOCOM light weight SBR. Loaded to its fullest potential, it’s a bit of a thumper.

I put 50 rounds through the little thumper and then put the sights back on the Colt Competition AR and repeated the box test, with the same results. Conclusion: not recoil sensitive.

The owner’s manuals say that the units can be submerged in a meter of water without harm. I don’t have a three-foot deep bucket, but I do have a sink. Both the sight and the magnifier survived a five-minute dunk with no other effects than a tedious wipe down of the glass to remove water spots.

Although I never got to shoot this rifle in the full cold, but I did take it from sitting in the freezer to the 104 degree temps outside on the range. There was no fogging or change in the point of impact.

Adjusting the on-off and brightness level of the Wolverine red dot is pretty simple. Just keep pushing the up button to make it brighter, down to make it dimmer. They’re easy to manipulate, but too small to actuate with a work-gloved hand.

On some red dots the adjustment sensitivity is so fine as to make it annoying. Not so with the Wolverine; just a few pushes changes dramatically enough to get the dot where I wanted in bright light or low light.

Unfortunately, I did not find it particularly good for night vision. Sitting in front of my ANPVS-14, turned to its lowest NV setting, the dot was still too bright and blurry for precise work past 35 yards or so.

Of course, at this price, I wouldn’t expect an exceptional NV set up, as I have quite literally spent more in batteries for my NV devices in a year than the entire cost of this red dot optic.

The adjustments for the Wolverine are simple and familiar enough.

Two caps unscrew to reveal windage and elevation adjustments. You can use a screwdriver, coin or spent shell casing for turning the knobs themselves. The adjustments are very tactical and audible, which is much appreciated.

Oddly enough, the magnifier doesn’t have caps, but large, knurled knobs. For the magnifier, you only need to position the magnifier behind the red dot optic once to get the targeting dot centered into the magnifier

Placed right back behind the optic in the same place on the same rifle, I saw no discernible change in point of impact. That would change if you altered either the position of the red dot or the rifle they’re sitting upon. Given that, it makes no sense for the adjustment knobs on the magnifier to be large and exposed. As they are, they could be moved in handling or transport, and you might not notice unless they were dramatically changed. Not until you missed your shot anyway.

I also tested out the repeatability of the quick detach on the Wolverine and the XT-3. It takes a bit of trial and error to get the adjustment tension on the QD mount just right.  As little as half a turn on the adjustment bolt and it’s either so loose that it moves in the rails or so tight you can’t latch it on.

Once latched on, the small, plastic release is difficult to engage. I had to use a spent casing to push it each time. I put it on and off a dozen times. If you mount and remove the optic often, the release could be a point of failure over the long-term,

Over the dozen times I put it on and off, I didn’t see a greater than 1″ movement of the impact of my round at 50 yards. The QD repeatability falls in line within the margin of error of the reticle.

Although I am a big fan or red dot/reflex style optics, I’m not a big fan of magnifiers for them. If you want that flexibility, I recommend just going to a 1-4X or similar scope.  Combo’s like this one are just more things to go wrong, they’re typically heavier when put together than a traditional scope, and most of the time you will need to stick with the zero magnification dot anyway.

Especially for a combat optic, the magnifier makes little sense. You should keep it swung away for quick contact, leaving it always hanging off the side of your rifle. I’ve deployed with guys using a 3X magnifier on their Aimpoint sight. To a man, their first shots in combat were with however the gun was set up at that moment, magnifier on or off, regardless of distance to the target.

That said, if you find magnifiers valuable, this one works well as intended.

Once mounted, it has about 4″ of eye relief, and is pretty generous on parallax. At 100 yards, if I could see the dot on the target, that’s where the round was going to hit. There’s no button or lever to move the magnifier off-line from the red dot. Just push it over.

The mechanism is strong enough that it didn’t move in rough handling or during recoil; it stayed put in either the in-line or away position. The magnifier also doesn’t darken the image or add additional tint.  In that respect, it’s every bit as good, if not better, than other magnifiers that cost twice as much.

What really sets red dot optics apart is their ability to disappear. Just shoulder the rifle, keep both eyes open, and see a red dot superimposed over your target. That’s what the best of them do, and that where I would put the Trijcon MRO.

The worst of them act like a zero magnification rifle scope. Those are the ones that you have to mount your head to get the proper eye relief, and then look through the scope to get the dot.

The Wolverine isn’t quite as good as the MRO, but better than most I’ve found. I did have to look through the optic, and the AA battery housing on the left side of the optic was a distraction. But I found the 1X red dot completely parallax free at 50 yards. As long as I could see the dot, that’s where my bullet was going, regardless of head position.

With some practice, quickly shouldering the rifle and firing became instinctive, and scanning through the optic without being distracted by the rest of the scope wasn’t much of a challenge — once I got used to it

As far as dimensions, the Wolverine is almost identical to the Aimpoint red dot I was issued for my first Afghanistan deployment. Its length and width are just a few millimeters in difference, the weight within an ounce.

The battery life is pretty amazing, running more than a year on its highest setting. Of course, I didn’t test it for that long, but I did keep it on its highest setting for the full month I had it, with no discernible change in brightness.

All in all, the Sightmark Wolverine and the XT-3 Magnifier are an exceptional value. I would’ve expected to pay at least twice this cost for this level of quality, and just a few years ago, a whole lot more.

Specifications: Wolverine 1×28 FSR Red Dot Sight 

Reticle, Type 2 MOA Dot, Red
Setting, Brightness  Off, NV1, NV2, 3-10
Dimension, Window  28 mm
Windage Range of Adjustment 120 MOA
Elevation Range of Adjustment 120 MOA
MOA Adjustment 1/2 MOA
Finish/Color Matte black
Body Material Aluminum 6061-T6 / Rubber
Maximum Recoil  800 g’s
IP Standard IP67 (submersible to 1m / 3ft)
Mount Type Picatinny
Battery Type AA
Battery Life (high) 900 – (low) 1,000,000 / 50,000 (setting 6) hours
Battery Voltage 1.5 V
Operating Temp, F/C -22 to 122 / -30 to 50 F/C
Length 4.4 / 113.5 in/mm
Width 2.9 / 75.1 in/mm
Height 2.6 / 65.3 in/mm
Weight 12.3
MSRP $179.99

Specifications: XT-3 Tactical Magnifier with LQD Flip to Side Mount

Body Material Aluminum
Diameter, Exit Pupil  7.6mm
Diameter, Eyepiece  33.8mm
Diameter, Objective Lens  23mm
Diameter, Tube 30/1.18
Diopter Adjustment +3 to -3
Eye relief (in/mm) 3.5/88.9
Field of View, degree 7.5
Field of view, ft@100yd 39.6
Field of view, m@100m 13.2
Height (in/mm) 2.1/54
IP Rating (waterproof) IP67-submersible to 1m/3ft
Length (in/mm) 4.1/103
Lens Coating AR green
Magnification 3x
Material, Lens  Glass
Maximum Recoil  800G’s
Mount Type Weaver/Picatinny
Weight, (without batteries/without mount), oz/g 12.7oz
Width (in/mm) 2/51.5
MSRP $215.99

Rating (out of five stars):

Overall * * * * 1/2
Both optics shine far outside of their price range. There’s very little tint and no darkening of the target through either the red dot or the magnifier. The simple push/pull set up of the magnifier is ideal. Both the Wolverine and the XT-3 did well during the durability testing and the simplified box test. Points off for little things, like the plastic release knob on the QD lever, the needlessly large controls of the magnifier, and the red dot’s overly small controls.

comments

  1. avatar Ironhead says:

    Ive tried sightmark red dots before. In fact i have one that i literally cant give away.
    I was less than impressed with the one i have. Even in the price range they were cheaply built. Couldnt even get it to zero on the rifle. It would run out of adjustment before it was even close to zeroed.
    It was about 5 inches high and 4 inches left of poi at 25 yards.
    Their customer service told me it was my rifle. So to humor them i tried it on a different one. Same problem.
    They refused to do anything about it.

    1. avatar Anonymous says:

      Your barrel must be bent. Or maybe you have a damaged crown on your muzzle. Can’t be the optic. Not possible. 🙂

      Which Sightmark did you have?

      On a side note, I was looking at the wolverine for a budget build. I checked it out prior but hadn’t made a decision on it.

    2. avatar TXhoghunter says:

      I work for Sightmark and you should not have been treated that way. We would be happy to get your sight fixed or replaced. You can call customer service at 817-225-0310 or my direct line 817-225-1624.

      1. avatar Ironhead says:

        2 different rifles, one of which was a friends, would not be bent in exactly the same way.
        I have an aimpoint on it now and i am happy with it.
        I appreciate the offer to have it fixed, but i no longer have any use for it.
        As for which model, i am at work so i will check on it later and get back to you.

        1. avatar TXhoghunter says:

          I understand. Never hurts to have another sight though and you may end up liking it. Offer still stands if you ever change your mind!

  2. avatar Pete says:

    As I approach my 62nd birthday, I appreciate a magnifier because it makes zeroing my red dot scopes a little easier, just move it between rifles as needed then remove. Easy Peasy.

    1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      ^That.

      And it cuts down on the age-related astigmatism, sharpening up the dot from comet, to dot. Once it is sighted, remove the magnifier and you’re set.

      1. avatar jwtaylor says:

        I never thought about using a magnifier that way but it’s really smart. Thanks.

      2. avatar frosty45 says:

        With my astigmatism, I find that viewing the dot through the small apeture on the rear sight sharpens it up. Great for longer or more precision shots.

  3. avatar TommyJay says:

    Red dots are amazing. I put a Bushnell TRS-25 on a Ruger 10/22 CS2 and I can flip a 4″ reactive steel disk at 50 yds. back and forth with some speed.

    The turrets are disappointing though. If you rotate it 20 clicks clockwise them 20 clicks counterclockwise, it doesn’t even return to the starting point. So I zero it at 50 yds. and leave it alone.

  4. avatar Capt_Destro says:

    Sightmark stepped ip their game with these. Their older red dots do not compare.

    The newer wolverines are t1 mount compatable. A VLTOR/CASV mount by ADM was the perfect height for cowitness.

    Also their CS is nice too. They upgraded my old model to the new t1 mount compatable version. I only paid 1 way shipping.

    Its a great red dot and it lasted me unril I found an aimpoint pro on sale.

  5. avatar Joe R. says:

    Good review, thank you. Thanks for the outdoor and look-thru pics. Did you request the combo or was it sent to you by Sightmark for your review (only asking because I wouldn’t have expected the former, but it would be [also] nice to see some [even thumbs down] reviews on lower-end-market gear).

    I’ve purchased Sightmark products before (mostly to just have some kind of optic over BUIS) I think they are much heartier than NCstar or others I’ve tried. It’s nice to see there’s still some quality being made.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      They contacted me directly through Instagram.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Ok, again, thanks for the review.

  6. avatar neiowa says:

    What is the country of origin?

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      I don’t really know. All of the addresses on the material point to a Texas location. But the sticker on the QD base of the magnifier said “made in China”. That is the only part that said made in China. So I don’t really know if all of the products come from China or some of them or what combination.

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