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Vortex Crossfire Red Dot: Solid Performance On a Budget

Amid its line of red dot optics, the Crossfire by Vortex brings together a micro-dot design with a skeletonized riser to deliver a robust no-frills optic in a compact, lightweight package.

Released in 2018, the chassis of the Crossfire is made from various aluminum components, resulting in a shock-proof housing. The outer layer of the chassis is then anodized in a matte black anodized finish to provide the shooter with a low-glare surface.

Both lenses in the Crossfire are sealed in multiple anti-reflective coatings that maximize clarity on all air-to-glass surfaces.


The internal space of the Crossfire is purged with nitrogen gas to eliminate fogging at all extreme temperatures. Associated O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust, and debris from penetrating the interior housing.

The Crossfire features a red 2MOA dot (offering a 21 mm lens diameter) that is ideal for reflex target acquisitions, while remaining fine enough to promote pin-point accuracy at extended range. The red dot has 11 intensity settings (with the lowest two compatible for night vision devices).

Power life for a single CR 2032 battery in the Crossfire is approximately 7,000 hours on the brightness setting of 6.

The included picatinny rail mounts for the Vortex Crossfire include a low-mount (flush with the picatinny rail) and a skeletonized high (lower 1/3 co-witness).


  • Magnification 1x
  • Adjustment Graduation 1 MOA
  • Max Elevation Adjustment 100 MOA
  • Max Windage Adjustment 100 MOA
  • Length 2.5 inches

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At an MSRP of $219, the Crossfire definitely falls within the line of budget optics on the market. Secondary and or third-party websites are noted selling the Crossfire for as little as $149 (Amazon). Care should be taken by the consumer in purchasing from such third-party sites as unvetted sources are known to circulate broken or fraudulent versions. The more direct competitors to the Vortex Crossfire would be the Sig Romeo5 ($117) or the Holosun Paralow ($219) which themselves are listed competitively at the lower price range but yield roughly similar performance. Given the price variance, the Crossfire does have the same power source (CR 2032) and includes Vortex’s VIP Warranty that the other competitors do not.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): Looking through the Crossfire’s 21mm objective lens yielded roughly the same field of view as the competitors listed, with a solid 2MOA dot. The intensity levels were clear, and the elevation/windage dials provided a crisp and audible movement with each MOA. One distracting aspect in the Crossfire was the diode emitter is located in the 5-o’clock position near the rear lens, making itself apparent when sighting in the target. Where often red dot optics have a clear field of view, and while this obstruction was minimal—the diode’s presence was apparent. Otherwise the glass was clear with no reflective aspect to the eye or target, and the rubberized protector was easily removed/installed.
  • Durability – Excellent (4/5): The T&E model received came with some slight surface marring (to be expected) and we likely added a few more during testing. None of which penetrated the exterior finish to the underlying base metal (more cosmetic marring than anything). That anodized surface in exposed areas proved more durable than the Romeo5 and resisted abrasion to a good degree. The dot held zero and did not drift despite various stressor and rifle drills. As with all Vortex products, the Crossfire comes with the company’s no-questions, VIP Warranty for the life of the product so should something detrimental happen (aside from deliberate damage) the optic will be repaired or replaced.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): The function of the Crossfire was very simplistic and straightforward, turn the dial for ON, and rotate it to the desired brightness setting. The dial itself was large while providing for sufficient grip, and allowed for clearly tangible clicks between settings. The 11-setting intensity levels were clear with the brightest being the most optimal for outdoor use. The windage and elevation caps had raised tabs that when unscrewed aided in adjusting the windage and elevation clicks. The skeletonized high mount was appropriate for lower 1/3 co-witnessing, but the T&E model did not come with the variable low-profile mount that a new one would have. In some aspects, the field of view and function was similar to the SPARC AR with the diode visible in the 5 o’clock position and was initially distracting, but not glaringly obstructive and likely with time be forgotten.
  • Weight Average (3/5): Weighing in at 5.2 ounces, the Crossfire was light and unobtrusive when mounted on the picatinny rail, thanks in part to the chassis material and weight-saving mount. In all, for the price and function, the Crossfire is on par with other budget optics. The market alternatives for other budget optics include the Sig Romeo5 (5.1 ounces) or the Holosun Paralow (4.8 ounces). Even the Vortex SPARC AR (7.5 ounces), which is the next step up for red dots within the Vortex line, show how light the Crossfire is in comparison to more expensive optics and give it an average weight score.

Overall Rating – Above Average (18/25)

Product Link: https://vortexoptics.com/vortex-crossfire-2-moa-red-dot.html

IMG_2889_TackenbergI am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


T3 Trident Operator Belt: Survive the Surf and Turf

Developed by T3 Gear in close conjunction with Special Operations, the Trident Operator Belt is intended to give the wearer a low profile, adaptable belt by which to hang various holsters or equipment.

The Trident Operator Belt (TOB) integrates the aspects of a flexible inner belt (that can be worn as a regular daily belt), with a rigid, weight-bearing outer belt that can be easily donned or removed. The TOB includes:

The inner 1.5” belt is made from scuba webbing that gives it a tensile strength of approximately 4800 pounds that gives it a tensile strength of approximately 4800 pounds. It has an outward-facing (female) hook-and-loop material that goes through the belt loops of the trouser and secures to a mating panel of (male) hook-and loop on the inside of the belt’s tail. The result is a complete 360-degree exposure of the (female) hook-and-loop around the waist that faces outward.

The outer belt is a resin-impregnated, 2” duty belt made of Type 13 nylon webbing with a tensile strength of approximately 7000 pounds. The outer belt uses a mating (male) hook-and-loop panel along the inside, that when combined with the inner belt, makes for very secure platform. The outer-facing side of the duty belt is stitched with two rows of ½” nylon webbing, folded over and segmented to form 1.75” MOLLE-compatible sections.

To secure the nylon strips, extensive perimeter and bartack stitching is used throughout to ensure whatever accessory is attached will remain secure and in place. The duty belt itself is secured using an AustriAlpin Cobra Hybrid Buckle and an elastic cuff helps control any excess in belt length.

The Trident Operator Belt is only available in Multicam (featured).

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At $159.56 the webbing throughout the TOB was indicative (in terms of weave and rigidity) to Type 13 webbing. The use of additional bands to create MOLLE webbing is somewhat comparable in other belts such as Persec’s Delta Belt ($115.86 USD), or Ronin Tactics’ Task Force Belt ($187). Use of reinforcement stitching, materials, buckle, and design often delineate based on the vendor and intended purpose. In the case of the TOB, while it trends to the upper end of the market (which is fair given the quantity of material utilized), it would rank appropriate (or average) among the listed competitors whom use a similar design.
  • Comfort Good (4/5): The TOB was comfortable, although the nylon took a little time to loosen up (about two weeks) and become a more flexible. The inner belt was comfortable enough to be used as a light or EDC belt, and made donning the outer duty belt easy. The Cobra Buckle provided a clean and crisp lock that ensures the belt remained secure. No lose threads or fraying at the edges were noted, and cuts to the nylon at the ends were appropriately heat-treated. While worn, the belt evenly distributed the overall weight of the load around the circumference of the waist. It proved comfortable for short durations, but extended wear (4+ hours) did fatigue the hip. Possibly the inclusion of optional connections for suspenders, or use of a separate hip pad would serve as a viable accessory in the future, thus allowing some of the load to be transferred to the shoulders as well as pad the hip.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): As stated, the material was Type 13 webbing or parachute webbing, that gave it a likely very high level of abrasion resistance and strength, as well as made the overall outer belt somewhat rigid. The bartack and X-pattern stitching reinforced the overall ability of the belt to withstand the load of pouches and magazines. Perhaps the only negative aspect of the TOB was the choice to fold ribbons of nylon to form the overall ½” MOLLE segments, rather than use a solid band of nylon webbing, such as found in Persec’s belt. This may not necessarily make the material less durable in such small segmented lengths, but the likelihood of that folded material wearing/fraying over the long-term is greater. Throughout stressor drills and evaluation, no aspects of the TOB’s durability were identified and all stitching held without becoming frayed or popped.
  • Functionality Fair (2/5): Functionally, as a stand-alone duty belt the TOB did as expected. The TOB supported the weight of added magazine pouches and a drop leg holster adequately without sagging or flex. Unfortunately, because the outer duty belt is a wide 2”, few weapon holsters could be found with the necessitating hardware (loop, clip, or wing) to mount to the belt (having to have the necessary length to accommodate the width of the belt, and the thickness as well). Even CKK Combat Belt Loops, which are a hinge design that the manufacturer advertises as accommodating belts up to 2” wide, couldn’t fit around the outer duty belt and lock. Ultimately only holsters using a pass-through loop design could accommodate the width and thickness of the TOB. While military applications traditionally don’t account for sidearm holsters amongst the rank-and-file, T3 may want to reexamine the size/width (say to a 1.75” width) of the TOB to make it more compatible to the civilian market of holsters.
  • Weight Good (4/5): As evaluated, the size of the Trident Operator Belt was a Large, and it weighed in at 1.27 pounds. Naturally the weight of the overall belt would change with length/size due to the overall amount of material involved. In the aspect of the overall market with stand-alone battle belts, the TOB was of a good and comparable weight to similar products from Persec’s Delta Belt (1.3 pounds), Ronin’s TF Belt (1.2 pounds), or other quality manufacturers.

Overall Rating – Above Average (17/25)

Product Link: https://www.t3gear.com/t3-triton-operator-belt/

IMG_2889_TackenbergI am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


TRU-SPEC® Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack: Ready to Explore the World

Designed to carry large quantities of equipment while maintaining equal weight distribution, the Pathfinder 2.5 by TRU-SPEC® is an evolution over its predecessor by offering improved compartmentalization of essential items and features for expanded capability.

Introduced in 2015, the Pathfinder 2.5 is made from 1050D nylon that offers mid- or high-end abrasion resistance. At approximately 19” (H) x 13” (W) x 7” (D) its overall carrying capacity is approximately 39 liters of cubic space.


The adjustable, contoured, dual shoulder straps featurean over-the-shoulder design with sternum strap and padded air mesh for increased comfort when the pack is fully loaded. The air mesh padding is extended throughout the pack’s back panel and weapon concealment pouch as well. On either side is an 8” (H) x 6” (W) accessory pocket secured via drawstring zipper for immediate access to essential items.

On the exterior of the main compartment, is a 10” (H) x 12” (W) admin pocket that includes; a retention lanyard for keys, one 7” (H) x 10” (W) zippered pocket behind a 6” (H) x 10” (W) sleeve, a small hook-and-loop secured accessory pocket, two card sleeves, and two pen sleeves. Above the admin pocket is a 5” (H) x 7” (W) accessory pocket with mesh lining/pocket on the interior side of the access flap. On the external side of the access flap is a 3” (H) x 5” (W) hook-and-loop field for identification patches.

The kidney pad of the pack’s back panel doubles a weapon concealment pocket and is secured via a curved pull-string zipper. On the bottom of the pack are two drainage grommets and four MOLLE panels.

On the pack’s right side is a concealed laptop pouch designed to accommodate most 15” laptops that is protected by the air mesh padding on the back panel and interior compartment, then secured via pull-string zipper.


Throughout the exterior of the Pathfinder 2.5 are multiple MOLLE straps for added compatibility

At the top of the pack is a padded drag handle that is reinforced via bartac stitching, and on either side are hook-and-loop access panels to the interior storage compartment for headphones or hydration tubes. Between the drag handle and shoulder straps is a 4” (H) x 6” (W) fleece-lined sunglasses pouch secured with another pull-string zipper.


The internal storage compartment to the Pathfinder 2.5 is reinforced on either side of the exterior with side cinch straps and slide-release buckles to ensure the stored items remain secure. The main storage space includes a rigid backboard for stability and support, a hydration sleeve with MOLLE straps on the exterior, and two mesh lining/pockets on the interior side of the access flap.

The Pathfinder 2.5 Backpack comes in Black (featured) and is made of 1050D nylon. While the website still lists Coyote and Multicam as alternatives, those options have been discontinued.

Product Evaluation Scores:

  • CostAverage (3/5): At the time of this writing, the cost of the Pathfinder 2.5 is $119.95 and comparatively priced within the market for similar-sized (approx. 39 cubic liters of storage space), dual-strap backpacks. This is due mainly to the amount of nylon used that ensures long-lasting abrasion resistance.
  • Comfort Excellent (5/5): With regards to comfort in packs, really it comes down to how the design in the shoulder straps mitigate the weight and strain of the pack on/against the body. In the case of the Pathfinder 2.5, the padded air mesh carrying straps have a unique over-the-shoulder design that ensures the weight of the pack remains close and high to the shoulders. Furthermore, the carrying straps have offset seams so to avoid pressing that up against the neck/spine. Add in the thickness of the overall shoulder strap pads and the padded panels on the back of the pack, the end result is an almost pillow-like feel that helps mitigate carrying a large amount of weight for extended time/distance. By design, there is no waist strap to help further balance the weight of the pack, so the entire load will be on the upper torso.
  • Durability – Good (4/5): The Pathfinder 2.5 comes in 1050D nylon that will be stiffer and have a tighter weave than lesser denier rated packs and play into the overall increased abrasion resistance. With reinforced stitching and bartac at all key stress points and MOLLE straps, it will have a significant amount of durability regardless of how the user employs it. Likely the hardware will wear out long before the pack does.
  • Functionality Good (4/5): A significant amount of functionality went into the design of the Pathfinder 2.5. The side accessory and eyeglass pockets give you immediate-ready access to essential items, while the MOLLE straps throughout give you added capability for expansion to other accessories with similar mounting devices. Even the side cinch straps have hook-and-loop retainers to keep the excess under control (though it would have been nice if such feature had been extended to the shoulder and sternum straps). The hidden compartment for a laptop is an added bonus for any field researcher or traveler. The firearm pocket is somewhat awkward to access unless you have the pack off, so there is no immediate-access while wearing it (somewhat defeating the purpose of it as a concealed carry pocket). One noted design aspect was when accessing the main compartment, and placed on the straps, the zipper to the main compartment is at the top—thus negating the risk of smaller items spilling out.
  • Weight Average (3/5): At approximately 3.35 pounds (empty) the Pathfinder 2.5 is comparable in weight to other packs of similar size, this is due to the amount of nylon and other materials that go into making it.

Overall Rating – Above Average (19/25)

Product Link: https://www.truspec.com/backpacks/double-strap/pathfinder-25-backpack

IMG_2889I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via STL Shooting Enthusiasts, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.

The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. The views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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