October 17, 2022
By Ben LaLonde
For the last 48 years, Aimpoint has been the gold standard for red-dot sights. From their very first model, the Aimpoint Electronic released in 1974, they’ve proven again and again why they are an industry leader in the optics market.
The all-new Duty RDS from Aimpoint is designed with the primary objective of meeting the demands placed on today’s law enforcement officers with the same quality and reliability at a more accessible price point. With a retail price just below $500, this feature-rich optic lives up to the reputation that precedes the brand. I’ve been running Aimpoint optics — PRO and CompM5 — on my rifles for a few years now. From time to time, I’ll put a low-power variable optic (LPVO) on an AR and run that for a while, but I almost always come back to a simple, clean red dot for fast target acquisition.
When I first held the Duty RDS, a few things stood out. The exterior of the sight has more of a matte finish than the previous models I’ve owned and used. The actual sight housing is constructed of forged EN AW-6082 aluminum. In non-manufacturer speak, that means “built to last.” Duty rifles need optics that can withstand anything that is thrown at them.
A first look at the sight reveals a snag-free design with flush-mounted elevation and windage turrets, and the brightness adjustments are made with digital buttons rather than the dial found in other models. They are simple and user-friendly, and once a CR2032 battery was installed into the recessed compartment, pressing the “up” button once was all it took to illuminate the dot.
When it comes to rifle optics and accessories, bigger isn’t always better. The Duty RDS sight alone comes in at a cool 3.9 ounces. Aimpoint has had the Micro series of red-dot sights in production for quite a few years now. The ability to have an optic that adds minimal weight and size to your firearm allows for faster maneuvering and target acquisition while minimizing overall bulk. The Duty RDS does seem to follow the example set by the Micro series, streamlining everything you need into a narrow 1.5-inch width and a relatively short overall length of 2.7 inches, all on an optic that still features a generous sight window.
However, the Duty RDS is a slightly different design than the Micro series. The Duty RDS features a clean, 2-MOA dot with 10 illumination settings; 1-4 are compatible with night vision and 5-10 are for use in daylight scenarios. This is contrasted by the Micro’s 12 brightness settings.
The Duty RDS, like other Aimpoint sights, are “operationally parallax-free.” Optics with parallax require the user to center their line of sight and reticle in the same spot every time. The advantage of parallax-free optics is multi-faceted. Once you zero your optic, the dot just needs to be on the target for your impact to be as well. Another facet of having the dot remain in line with the bore is the ability to not stress eye relief when mounting your optic. It can be mounted wherever you prefer. I personally like mine further down the rail of my upper receiver, but you can move it closer if you like.
The battery life of the Duty RDS is rated at 30,000 hours or over three years of constant use on setting 7 of 10. With the source of power being a simple CR2032 lithium-ion battery, you can find a replacement at just about any grocery or department store. If I wanted to run the Duty RDS the full three years to test the longevity, I absolutely could, and I can keep spares handy in my pistol grip or rifle bag. The same battery is used on the Micro series. However, again, we have a few differences. The cap has a slightly different design and is not compatible with the Micro series. Another difference between the two is that the Duty RDS is again rated for 30,000 hours of constant on, while the Micro series is rated for 50,000 hours of constant-on at setting 8 of 12.
The Duty RDS comes AR-ready with a one-piece torsion-nut mount that easily locks on to a 1913 Picatinny rail, and it’s solid once mounted. The sight can also be mounted to any other Micro or CompM5 mount offered on the market. Be aware, however, there will be some discrepancies in sight height, as the center of the optic to the bottom of the sight is 10mm taller than would be found on the Micro series sights.
When it comes to the zeroing process, you’ll quickly find there are no caps over the turrets. Not to worry; the newly designed windage and elevation turrets are flush-mounted and completely waterproof, which eliminates any need for caps. Adjustments can be made using the same star bit driver you used to mount the sight to the rail.
Remember the price we mentioned before? With an MSRP of $499, the features packed into this sight make it the perfect option to bridge the gap from the $445 Aimpoint PRO to the $910 AR-ready Aimpoint Micro T-2. Are there uses for both? Of course! I’ve used both and have been very pleased with their performance. Having a proven company release a compact, lightweight sight featuring three years of battery life, 10 illumination settings, night-vision compatibility, shock and vibration resistance, and a completely waterproof housing, all for under $500? The Aimpoint Duty RDS is a product I can stand behind.