Notice the little Kraken on the optic. (Travis Pike for TTAG)
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I’ve become quite the fan of red dots on my handguns. My everyday carry handgun has one and I rarely leave home without it. I’ve experimented with a wide variety of dots at a wide variety of price points. The more I shoot and train, the more I’ve become enamored with enclosed red dot optics. I’m less enamored with their prices, though. That’s why the Swampfox Kraken caught my eye. 

Swampfox has made quite the name for themselves recently. They produce quality optics at a solid price point. Swampfox produce quite a few pistol-sized red dots, but the Kraken is their first with an enclosed red dot emitter.

Enclosed emitter optics are more reliable. An open emitter can be nearly disabled by rain, snow, dirt, debris, and all sorts of fun environmental stuff. As a Floridian, rain is my bane with an open emitter optic. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
The Kraken provides an affordable enclosed emitter optic. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Kraken, and optics like it, offer a red dot design that erases the worry of something getting between the emitter and the glass. The enclosed design is more akin to a micro-sized rifle dot, but trimmed down in size to squeeze onto a handgun. Swampfox has does this at a street price of around $310. That’s about $140 less than the Holosun 509T and Steiner MPS and about half the price of an Aimpoint ACRO P2

Is it worth it, though? Three hundred bucks still ain’t small potatoes.

Inside the Swampfox Kraken 

The Swampfox Kraken looks beefy and honestly, it’s not exactly a tiny optic. It’s certainly on the large size for concealed carry, but if you’re already carrying a GLOCK 19-sized compact pistol, it won’t weigh your down. The Kraken fits right in for competition, duty, and home defense use.

At 1.85 inches long, 1.38 inches wide, and 1.27 inches tall, it won’t be mistaken for something to fit on a P365. At 2.5 ounces, it’s a comparatively chunky red dot as well. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
The buttons aren’t recessed much, but do provide tactile and instant adjustments. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

There’s a reason for the weight. The body is made from 7075 aluminum, and the Kraken uses glass lenses. Those lenses sit ever so slightly recessed into the body of the optic. This provides a good level of protection from the outside world and allows you to rack the optic off of walls, belts, boots, and more without the lens being damaged. 

The optic comes with adapter plates for the GLOCK MOS series or for any optic without an RMR cut. Using plates creates tolerance stacking and makes the optic sit higher. However, without a special cut, it’s the only way to do things. Take care to properly install the optic, use some Loctite, and you’ll be as good as gold. 

The Power of the Kraken   

The Kraken uses a 3 MOA red dot as your reticle. Green is also an option. The reticle is powered by a CR2032 battery that’s mounted on the side of the optic and is quick and easy to change. That battery compartment is quite large and adds considerably to the overall width of the optic. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
The battery compartment is huge on the optic. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

There are eight daylight settings and two for night vision. Battery life is somewhat short compared to competitors. A lot of makers exaggerate the battery life of their optics, but Swampfox has been brutally honest in the past. At max brightness, the battery life is 850 hours, and in the medium setting, the Kraken will last 8,100 hours, or just under a year.

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
The dot is nice and clear, and the refresh rate is great. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Luckily the Kraken is equipped with a very aggressive shake-awake feature. After failing to detect movement fora curiously random 225 seconds, it shuts off. As soon as any movement is detected, it springs back to life and back to the original brightness setting. I’ve found it to be very sensitive to any movement at all. When I open my gun safe, that little bit of movement is enough to turn the Kraken on.

Practical Application 

The reticle and glass are surprisingly clear for a budget-priced optic. There is a slight blue tinge that comes from the notch filter. Nothing bad, and it’s only ever so visible in dimmer conditions.

The reticle is quite nice for a budget red dot. It’s mostly clear, with a slight hint of starburst to it. Just a hair. Swmapfox made a wise decision with the inside of the optic. It’s textured and cut to prevent glare, a nice feature that I rarely see. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
There is a slight blue tint, but its not bad by any means. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The reticle’s refresh rate isn’t bad either, especially for a budget optic. The Kraken’s reticle doesn’t lag when you move rapidly from target to target, and when the slide reciprocates, you aren’t looking for a rapidly moving blur. In fact, when it comes to the reticle, the only way to tell this is a budget-friendly optic is if you turn it to max brightness in a dim environment. Do that, and you’ll see a reflection from the emitter. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
Notice how the glass is slightly recessed, which aids in protecting the lens. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

With the Kraken, we get up and down brightness controls, both positioned on the left-hand side of the optic. The buttons are rubberized and quite tactile when pressed. I’d prefer them to be a little recessed to avoid accidental pushes, but they provide immediate adjustments. Shutting the optic off requires a long press of the down button, but turning it on only takes a quick press of the up button. 

At the Range 

I zeroed first at 10 yards and then at 25. The adjustments require a flat-head tool or the rim of a cartridge. Adjustments are both tactile and audible and provide you .5 MOA of adjustment per click. Adjustments were dead-on. I fired a group, measured, applied the calculation, and boom was right where I needed to be. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
After confirming my zero at 25 yards I dialed it to the right and then the left and the measurements were consistent. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

After zeroing in at 25 yards and getting a confirmation group, I messed with the turrets a bit. I pushed the reticle a little to the right, shot a group, then moved them a little to the left and shot another group. It was easy to see that the measurements were consistent. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
It’s a big optic, but it works. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Kraken held on and remained zeroed as I blasted round after round downrange. I fired enough ammo to blacken the front of my WML. The Little Kraken never lost zero or needed to be readjusted. Reticle brightness was at seven and easily visible at high noon in Florida. 

Worth the Squeeze 

I’ve come to love red dots on handguns and have recently tested quite a few inexpensive models for better or worse. The Kraken isn’t exactly cheap, but it is affordable for an enclosed emitter optic.

Affordable doesn’t always mean durable, but in this case, the Kraken is quite strong. We can sink it to a meter for half an hour, and it can take a beating. I racked it off of walls and tables and dropped it over and over from chest height at multiple angles. 

Swampfox Kraken enclosed emitter red dot sight
I slammed this thing around quite a bit and received no problematic feedback. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Nothing came loose, and nothing fell off, and the Kraken retained that 25-yard zero without issue. It’s well designed and well built.

The Kraken might not be ready to be parachuted into Fallujah for the third battle in that hellhole, but for daily carry and competition, it seems right on the money. Sure, it has a few imperfections, but overall, for the price, it’s surprisingly nice and very capable. 

Specifications: Swampfox Kraken Red Dot Sight

Length – 1.85 inches
Width – 1.38 inches
Height – 1.27 inches
Weight – 2.5 ounces
Lens Diameter – 16x16mms
Reticle – 3 MOA Red Dot
Battery Life – 850 to 9100 hours
MSRP – $349

Ratings (out of five stars) 

Ergonomics * * * ½
Great adjustments and controls make the optic easy to use. Although size doesn’t always matter, this is a big optic. If they could refine the battery compartment, they could shave the width a bit. Also, the plate system makes the optic a little taller than normal. 

Clarity * * * *
The Kraken scores high in the optical clarity department. A slight blue tint isn’t a problem, and the red dot is fairly nice for its price point. It’s crisp and clear, with a good refresh rate and no lag. It starbursts a bit and has a slight reflection problem in certain situations, but overall it’s impressive for the price. 

Reliability * * * * *
The Kraken doesn’t tap out. It can take an impressive beating, and for an optic that will likely live its life in a holster, it impressed me. For a budget optic, the Kraken really holds up.

Overall * * * *
The Swampfox Kraken delivers a $300+ enclosed emitter optic that doesn’t just not suck, it forms well all around and gives you a viable closed emitter option at an affordable price.



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  1. the swampfox optic im waiting to get my hands on is their new Raider 1x prism. should have one in about a week to 10 days. my brother is suppose to pick up a ‘sample’ from them. hasn’t been released yet for order, maybe in a few weeks.

    supposed to have solved the eye relief issue present in prism scopes, giving a more generous eye relief approximating what you get with 1x regular red dots with their ‘unlimited’ eye relief. I wanna see how well they did compared to my other prism optics.

    and yes, before anyone asks Swampfox is the brand name for an OEM company in China, yes the optics are made in China. The company is an OEM that makes firearms optics for Burris, vortex, and many others (either now or in the past). they decided to launch their own brand, and its called Swampfox.

    Mike from Primary Arms (used to be with them until he got hired away) heads up their marketing. Swampfox has a design and headquarters facility here in the US.

    • Just got the Primary Arms Gen II 1X prism in for review. Haven’t shot it yet, only played with it, but so far, it’s pretty impressive. Good amount of eye relief range. Green illumination (red available too) but the etched ACSS reticle is fine by itself in most light conditions. Full review to come….

      • I have a ‘personal purchase boycot’ on Primary Arms because of how they screwed me on a magnifier and lied to me about it. I still do from time to time get my hands on some of their optics for free and I give them a look and try them out and run them through some testing but end up giving them away or storing them for the day that I will give it away. Other than giving them a look and trying them out and testing when I get my hands on one I do not keep them on my firearms and do not use them.

    • Ahh, thank you for detailing where the product is made. I searched their site, and several others, and that fact was quietly omitted. I try not to support the Communists that are trying to destroy our country.

  2. I’m sure everything the author said is true. Especially the part about rain, etc. causing a problem. As a fellow Flo Grown I had to go to the tax collectors office this morning. It was raining. I then went to lunch. In the rain. I’m under a NWS severe thunder storm warning as I type. None of that precipitation can diminish the effetiveness of the sights on the handguns I’m carrying. In case anyone is wondering. Yes, the tax collectors office is a government building. Firearms are prohibited. I was in violation. No one cared. The tax collector walked through the clerk’s working area. We made eye contact. I know that he knew I was armed. Just as sure as he saw me standing on my hind feet and breathing free air. He called me by my Christian name asked after my mother. Why do people live in the wrong place?

    • I can’t answer why other people live in the wrong place, but the reason that I MYSELF do is that my 93 year old mother and my 89 year old mother-in-law do. When that situation changes, or one or more of my wife’s or my siblings step up to the plate for a turn at playing grown-up (the youngest of them all is 46) I’ll be pounding in a for sale sign and heading at least 650 miles west of the Twin Cities area. Hopefully there will still be an “out west” worth living in by that time.

      • Still have kin folks in Minnesota. Some down near the Iowa border, some up near the Red River. 1 cousin just outside minnehopeless. She’s looking to sell and exit the area.
        I got out of the snowdrift in ’96 and can’t say I miss it.
        Sure, Alabama has it’s issues. Anyplace does. But, Governor Granny seems to be doing a decent job of keeping the worst of the leftist crap at bay.

      • My mother turned 94 last April. Even though my sister lives with her, I check on her daily. So yeah, I can empathize.

    • A possums home range is about 50 acres. On a good day I can push 150.
      I’ve already traveled 50miles to get where I’m and and I hate this place too. I’m not walking another two hundred to find the same.
      Theres no place like home if its humanless

  3. the real question is, does it share the acro footprint or not? no one ever compares the two undersides side by side. come on.

  4. I’m glad to see that green is an option.
    Some of us have older eyes with astigmatism that makes red dots seem blurry, but green dots stay surprisingly sharp.

    I’ve had to switch from red dots to green dots due to my astigmatism, but that costs more, because green is usually available in only the more expensive optics (Eotech, Trijicon, Holosun) and some companies (Eotech and Holosun) charge as much as $100 extra for green, above and beyond their regular high prices!
    Does Swampfox charge extra for green?

  5. That’s real nice however it’s easy to see the Sea Eye A’s spy camera.
    Red dots transmit data to spy satellites I see flying around at night.

    • I can’t figure out if you believe this or not. Do you really think that tech has advanced to a point that this is possible? I have disassembled many cheap and several expensive red dots, and haven’t found anything resembling this idea.

  6. Travis, for the 30 plus percent of us that have astigmatism would it be possible for you to post which micro red/green dots don’t blur, flare or turn into squiggly lines? The only one that I’ve looked through that doesn’t do those things is the Holosun 507K with the ACSS reticle. I’d like a more budget friendly option if there are any out there. Thanks!

    • Travis telling you that would not do you any good unless he has the same flavor of astigmatism you do, if he does have an astigmatism. There is a reason the dot appears as it does differently to different people with astigmatism, its because not everyone’s astigmatism is the same. it might appear ok to one person with their flavor of astigmatism but still ‘distorted’ to another.

      • but that being said… sometimes a green dot appears ok to people with astigmatism but red will be distorted. but to some people with astigmatism green dots look distorted and red looks ok.

        • I take reviews on dot type sights, as to the dot appearance, with a healthy skepticism. the reason is that I have come across many reviewers that say the dot is crisp and very visible but later in comments in response to questions they will say they have an astigmatism and have trouble seeing crisp round dots in dot sights. This raises a question as to why they said in the review that the dot appeared crisp and round and easy to see to them but later say in response to questions or other comments they have an astigmatism and dots in dot sights don’t appear crisp and round to them and they have trouble seeing what ever color the dot is (e.g. red or green).

  7. I have red dots on a couple rifles and 1 scatter gun. Don’t have optics on any autoloader handgun. I do have a scope on 1 large bore handgun. Used to have a TC Contender with a scope. Just never considered an optic was something I needed on a pistol. Guess I’m a bit more old school. Iron doesn’t need batteries that die when you need them most.

  8. but that being said… sometimes a green dot appears ok to people with astigmatism but red will be distorted. but to some people with astigmatism green dots look distorted and red looks ok.

  9. If Sage Dynamics on Youtube passes it, then I may consider it. Until then, I’ll stick with Holosun.

  10. I wouldn’t want that big goofy looking thing on my Glock 19x. Just learn how to shoot, people.

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