Primary Arms has established a comfortable niche for itself in the optics market. They make affordable optics at varying quality levels. They’ve done a fantastic job popularizing the ACSS reticle design. They sell a little bit of everything in the way of optics, including red dots, prisms, LPVOs and binoculars.
Primary Arms has recently released a series of mini red dots in their Classic Series, and today, we are taking a look at the Classic Mini Reflex Sight and see if this budget mini red dot is worth your dinero.
What’s the Classic Mini?
The Classic Mini is a red dot that uses the Trijicon RMR footprint and is designed for your typical double-stack handgun of the full-size or compact variety. Classic Mini explains it well. You won’t find any solar panels, multiple reticle options, shake awake, or other fancy features we’ve seen become popular in the last few years. Although it shuts off automatically after twelve hours.
The Classic Mini is designed to be a solid, well-made red dot at a good, affordable price point. The body of the optic is aluminum, and the lens is glass. The reticle is a 3 MOA design and is predictably red. The optic’s use of the Trijicon RMR footprint is a smart move since it’s nearly universal these days. The optic is quite small and slim, but that comes at the cost of a bottom-loading battery.
There are two buttons on the side to control the brightness level of the reticle. There is no auto adjust, and the buttons are quite nice for the sight’s low price. They deliver a little tactile feedback and click nicely, so you know the adjustment is made. I like them more than most, and their size is just right. There are ten brightness settings in total.
The optic weighs less than an ounce, which makes it one of the lighter options. The RMR weighs 1.17 ounces, the Holosun 507C weighs 1.5 ounces, and the Leupold DPP weighs a mighty two ounces. Battery life can range as far as 50K hours on medium settings.
Zeroing and Shooting the Classic Mini
The Classic Mini might be designed with handguns in mind, but I went a different route. To see what it can take, I mounted it on my dolled-up Mossberg Shockwave. It’ll pop onto Glock slides, CZ slides, and many more, but a 12 gauge seemed right. The Shockwave is aptly named, and with the right ammo, it can throw quite a bit of recoil at the optic. When I got to the range, I realized I was glad I picked a shotgun because zeroing wouldn’t be the easiest aspect of the Classic Mini.
The adjustment graduations are 1 MOA per ‘click.’ I use the term click for lack of a better term as there are no actual clicks. There is no audible or tactile feedback as you adjust windage of elevation. Luckily, zeroing a Shockwave is pretty easy due to its short-range design.
I zeroed at 20 yards with some good quality buckshot and centered the dot on the center of the buckshot spread. Without clicks, I have a hard time being precise, and on a handgun, it can be a hassle to essentially bracket the target until it pops into place.
With the zeroing done, I went about shooting with various loads. This included some slugs, some reduced recoil loads, lots of birdshot, and of course, lots of full-powered buckshot. I still had some of those Ukrainian mini slugs, and had a blast slapping the target with them over and over again from 25 to 40 yards.
Dots on Shockwaves really make them a lot easier to shoot, and the Classic Mini was a simple slap-on upgrade. The zero maintained throughout my firing of a broad range of ammunition, and I even re-zeroed for those Ukrainian slugs. It occurred to me midway through that checking a buckshot zero wouldn’t require a ton of precision.
The Slug Zero
Admittedly it took me longer to zero the Classic Mini for slugs. The lack of clicks for the graduations were a pain. Luckily I got there in eight rounds. I was happy with every round staying inside the black of a B8 target. I zeroed at 25 yards, and from 50 yards could keep steel ringing over and over again.
After some more swapping back and forth to various full-powered buckshot rounds, I retested the zero, and without issue, the slugs slammed into the black of the B8. I couldn’t stand to drop that pretty furniture from WOOX on the ground for drop-testing, but alas, what’s one to do?
I dropped the gun, optic first, several times on the dirt surface of the range. Then again a few times on each side. After ensuring my precious wood furniture was OK, I checked the optic’s aim. It was still in place, dead-on and ready to go. I checked the zero once more with the light-loaded short slugs and the zero was still true.
The Classic Mini might not offer any fancy features or designs, but the general idea is to produce a well-made, simple optic at an affordable price point. The lack of plastic in the body and lens is very a good start. The red dot is quite bright, but also crisp and clear. A look through the lens shows a nice, bright, clear sight picture.
Primary Arms include a low-mounted Picatinny adapter and a rubber lens cover alongside the wrenches needed to remove and install the Classic Mini and to zero it. It’s a fairly solid package. With red dots becoming the norm on handguns, this offers an entry-level option at a low price. At the same time, it’s not like the crap Pinty puts out that will lose zero if you look at it wrong and fail if dropped a time or two.
The Classic Mini might not be the best option for duty users, but for concealed carry and competition use, it will get your foot in the door. It’s not fancy, but it works, and it’s affordable.
Specifications: Primary Arms Classic Series 24mm Mini Reflex Sight
Window Size: 21x17mm
Weight: .97 Ounce
Battery Life: Up to 50K hours
Battery Type: 2032
Reticle: 3 MOA Red Dot
Ratings (Out of Five Stars)
Clarity * * * *
The lens has a blue tint, but not egregiously so. The dot is surprisingly crisp for such a cheap optic.
Ergonomics * * * * *
Two big buttons make it easy to activate and change brightness settings. Plus, it weighs less than an ounce.
Ease of Use * * *
The Classic Mini has two faults. The first is the bottom-loaded battery, which won’t a big deal for most. The second is the lack of clicks for adjustments.
Reliability * * * *
The Classic Mini holds its zero, can take a drop, and is made of glass and metal. However, there is one issue worth mentioning. The auto shut-off after twelve hours might be an issue during a long day of concealed carry.
Overall * * * *
Releasing a good, well-made red dot sight at the same price as a set of premium night sights is smart. It’s not perfect and it’s not fancy, but it’s clear, durable, and easy to use. At this price point, it should be very popular and makes for an easy entry into pistol-mounted red dots.
FINALLY , Something in my price range ! Might have to give it a go….
I’d like to try a red dot on an AR style shotgun. Not so much on a pump.
A few weeks ago, I went to the range for a trap competition with my buddy who has a semi-auto with a red dot. The very first thing the supervisor said when my buddy pulled out his shottie to prep for his first shot was “take that dot off…they actually end up hindering you with a shotgun.” My buddy decided to try it anyway and got a 5 (out of 25 clays). Second round was only 7. He ended up removing the dot.
Now, his AR shottie with red dot turned out to be great for standard skeet…
I tried out two of the PA Classic Series 24mm Mini Reflex Sight, didn’t like them at all as both failed on me. Maybe I got a couple from a bad batch that slipped through QC, but my impression of them wasn’t anything I’d want to use.
But if you have your heart set on budget with decent quality… I also recently had a chance to try a Votatu PMD504 Micro Red Dot Sight. I had never heard of this name before my brother showed up with one in a bunch of optics freebies he got along with the PA sights. It has an RMR footprint, and comes with a picatinny mount for rifle use. I didn’t use it on pistol but I did on an AR. Its a decent red dot sight actually. Its got ‘Shake Awake’ and uses a battery tray so it doesn’t need to be removed to change out the battery.
2 MOA Dot and 62 MOA Circle – select-able circle and dot, dot only or circle only, Aluminum Housing, IPX7 Waterproof. Sight its self weighs about 2 ounces.
I didn’t really test it to see if it would stand up to different types of abuse but I did smack it several times with a 4 x 4 block of hard polymer, and it held zero and kept working. I repeated that several times after firing it each time and it held zero.
You previously wrote that you tried 2 of the 21mm versions of this sight and they broke. Which was it, these or the other ones you said broke? Or did you have 4?
I tried out the 21 mm first. After I threw the 21 mm away, I got my hands on two of the 24 mm and both those failed on me. But like I said, maybe I got a couple from a bad batch. It kinda surprised me too that these failed on me, just died, one minute was working and then just died – changed batteries etc…. would not come on again.
I also have two of the Primary Arms SLx RS-10 1x23mm sights, but haven’t tried them out yet but I hear they are good.
My brother gets all this stuff for free. Most of my firearm optics were free. He’s a free lance broker in the firearms industry, he gets lots of free stuff as samples or gifts from many different suppliers marketing products from different companies wanting him to get their products into various sectors. He usually asks if he can get two of something for optics and other things, that how I ended up with two of the 21 mm and two of the 24 mm.
He gets a bunch of stuff this way, everything from optics to hand guards to holsters to parts to barrels to, sometimes, complete firearms, just about anything really. He recently got a Springfield Hellion which he hates and gave it to me, I got my new Sigs that way. Some of the firearms we donate to the police departments in the area if its something they can use especially Glocks which are popular with the departments around here, but most we end up giving away what we don’t keep.
The stuff we give away we do so to people we know in the local area, especially to new gun owners we find out about in the area. Every year I take several big boxes of new holsters asd other stuff from different manufacturers down to a local range and let people have their pick and what they don’t take we destroy or find someone else who wants them but usually the boxes are emptied.
We never sell any of it, but do give it away or keep it for our selves. The stuff that’s junk ends up in the trash, and other stuff we store to give away later and sometimes we have something near or sometimes exactly what someone else needs so it saves them a bunch of $$$.
lol @jwtaylor you can’t tell this was written by a chat AI bot?
I’ll take shit that never happened for $1000 Alex
So you think that influencers and web sites reviewing products always purchase those ‘firearm’ things they review? Seriously?
99% of it it is stuff they got for free from the company in exchange for their ‘review’. Everything from optics to firearms, the company usually writes it off as a business related thing. Its samples and gifts in exchange for their review. My brother does the same thing, he just does it in higher volume without doing reviews but instead trying to get the products into various areas for the marketing company.
Heck, one well known web site that does firearms reviews gets to keep over 90% of the firearms they review as a ‘gift’ for their ‘unbiased review’. One well known influencer I know of on the internet does reviews on holsters and firearms optics, he got so much unsolicited stuff free from the companies last year trying to get him to do favorable reviews he’s had to rent storage space to store it all after it fills up the rented storage space he already has filled over the years. He too takes it all at times and gives it away.
I am doing everything I can to avoid buying China made products.
Why support our enemies?
of you own a red dot optic from any brand, Its got parts in it that originated in China. All of them on the market is like that, no matter the cost or brand, even the ones claimed to be made in USA.
Primary Arms does the design of their optics, but they are made in either China, the Philippines, or Japan. The one in this article was made in China.
so you actually think influencers and web site reviews and articles on products means they actually purchased the product all the time?
no, they get them for free from a company or a marketing company 99% of the time who writes them off as samples or gifts for business.
The right price from a company that has hit repeated home runs (in my personal experience).