Vortex Optics Venom 3 MOA Red Dot Sight Setup And Performance Review

This is not an article describing what's in the box of the Vortex Venom Red Dot sight. This will be an actual review of the sight, newly mounted on my GLOCK 23. 

I'm an experienced handgun shooter.

But not a very experienced Red Dot user. And it's the first I've actually mounted on any of my guns. 

Vortex Venom Sight Controls
Vortex Venom Dot

You'll find out here, and in the video, how it works, and what problems I ran into in my intial use. And because I'm new at setting up, and using this Vortex sight, you'll get answers to what you'll likely run into if you're using one for the first time.

As I write this article, I've got 300 rounds of ammo through the gun with the Vortex Venom mounted on it.

Here is the report, complete with challenges the sight brought with it. You can watch the video below, and supplement what you find out there with the written details here. 


Quality of The Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight

The sight is obviously well made. It comes out of a nicely packed box with the basics of what is needed to mount it on a compatible plate. The impression you immediately get from handling it, is one of a quality piece of equipment.

Vortex Venom in the box

With mine, that impression has been verified by two range sessions, setting up, testing, and shooting. 

The controls are shown in the pictures. Up and down arrows, power the Venom Red Dot on and down, and control the brightness. Both work as described. 

The up arrow turns the dot on. Pushing and holding it for a determined number of dot flashes changes it from manual to auto brightness. 

The Vortex Venom Mounted On A Sight Adapter

I didn't have a milled slide, or an optics ready slide on any pistol I own. 

I decided I didn't want to invest in a new gun or have a slide milled, so I decided on an OuterIMPACT sight adapter plate for the Vortex Venom. 

The benefit to it is just that. You can get a solid mount on the slide with no milling or slotted slide.

There are, however, compromises you make.

The two most significant are, you lose your rear sight, which is where the Red Dot sight dovetail bracket installs.

OuterImpact Sight Adapter

And you can't use the front sight to aim with the rear painted notch on the Vortex if the red dot is not working. 

For me, the trade off is worth it for now. 

First Problem Presented:

When I first turned on my sight, I found the dot. Except it wasn't a dot. It was a bright thin line. No matter how many times I turned the sight on and off, it remained a line.

Below is what I was seeing for the first hour I was checking the sight. A line instead of a dot.

But the picture at the top of the page was the reality of how it was actually shaped.

So, I thought I had a defective sight, right out of the gate. But before taking any action, I went to the Vortex Website to see if there was any insight into a dot that's not a dot.

In the troubleshooting section, there it was. Dealing with when the dot is not shaped like a dot. 

The first suggested action was to determine whether something is wrong with the sight or something wrong with your eyes. Kinda hard to wrap your mind around. 

I could see a line in my sight. Not a dot.

So the instructions said to take a picture of the dot with your phone. Then compare it to what you're seeing through the sight. If the phone camera shows a line, something likely wrong with the optic.

But nope. I saw a line, but the phone took a picture of a dot (picture shown).

Finally, knowing I was seeing things, I had a sudden realization. I had been moving around my house, working the sight, examining it up close .....

With my reading glasses on.

First Problem Solved:

Off came the reading glasses. There was the dot. It had been there all along. 

There are multiple effects your eyes can have that may affect the appearance of the dot. The Vortex sight has troubleshooting that will help. 

Time For The Range Test Of The Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight

I got set up at the range, with a bench table, chair, and plenty of ammo. I set up paper splatter targets at consistent distances, working at around 30 feet. 

I set up a bag to prop my shooting hand on, and went to work. Except not to dial in the Red Dot Sight. 

Not yet.

Instead, the first thing I wanted to find out was how to hit a target with the dot turned off.

Firing the Vortex Venom With The Red Dot Turned Off

Second Problem Presented

As you'll see in the video, I was planning to just try a single mag of ammo shooting the center of a silhouette, by lining up the front sight and the painted rear sight slot on the Vortex Venom.

But, that plan turned into a process that started on day one, and was continued on the second day. Because trying to line up the front sight with the rear of the Red Dot Sight, had me shooting a foot high. 

I tried over and over from different distances. It was like I was shooting into a black hole.

Then, knowing there had to be an answer, I finally found the sweet spot on the Vortex to line up on the sight when the Red Dot is out of commission. 

Second Problem Solved:

I had to tilt the gun forward, looking at the rear painted slot. I had to make the front sight disappear. Then I held the pained sight on the vortex just under the target area to shoot. 

Boom! There it was. I found the solution through nothing more than trial and error and plenty of ammo. 

Time to Zero The Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot

Again, I sat down at my table, hand propped on a bag and began to shoot at several targets I had setup at about 25 feet. With consistent, tight, low left groups, I began to use the MOA screws to adjust the sight.

Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight MOA Controls

It adjusts like a scope with each mark on the sight equaling a distance up or sideways for the dot. 

Now that kind of makes for a good bit of guesswork when sighting in a defensive handgun at these distances.

Adjustment Challenges On A Handgun With The Vortex Venom

What you find on the Vortex website, and in documentation about these sights is what each adjustment means at 25,50,100 yards. Obviously not taking handgun adjustments into account. 

I just started turning each screw several marks at a time, until the sight was reasonably accurate as long as I did my part. 

And this is where it's all supposed to land. Getting it set up and then getting to do some shooting with it. 

Gets enjoyable here. 

But wait .......

Something was still not quite right. 


Different Eyesight Focus On Red Dot Sights

Using a red dot sight requires a transition from steel sights. It means from all the years we've had it drilled into us to "focus on the front sight", that all changes.

You go from focusing on the front sight to not having a front sight.

You have a red dot ..... only. And you don't focus on it.

You bring the red dot up, put it over the target, and focus on the target. Not the red dot. 

And your vision determines how you will see that dot. 

Unlike the front sight, that many people have to close one eye to focus on (like me), no matter what your vision is like, it's both eyes open, dot, target, fire.

For the last few years I've had to close one eye to effectively shoot precision scenarios. Not ideal. But more ideal than not seeing a clear sight picture.

Well, naturally, I sat down working on the Venom Vortex Red Dot, and just habitually closed one eye to go to work on it. I knew something was not quite right, but didn't catch it until I got going, trying to shoot fast, and stay on target.

Closing One Eye Shooting with Red Dot

When I got it, that was a turning point. It was the final point where I could shoot a few more magazines, knowing I had the basics of the Vortex  Optics Red Dot. 

And knowing I'd now be able to make regular trips to the range, improving with practice.

The target to the left progressing from bottom right to top right got the dot on target progressively.

The last target that let me know the dot was dialed in is below. I shot it first, the second day, before my hand got fatigued. 

Set at 45 feet, firing 6 rounds, it let me know the Vortex Venom Red Dot was ready.

The dialed in red dot was finally confirmed and it was time to settle down and shoot.

Vortex Red Dot Sight Confirmed

Bottom line is:

I like the Red Dot Sight. 

I like being able to look down the slide and see the dot clearly with both eyes open.

I like being able to focus on the target without a bunch of ocular acrobatics. 

I like the fact that the sight stays in one piece and stays adjusted with the onslaught of the slide movement. 

I like the fast target acquisition. 

If you are considering going to a Red Dot sight, here are a few considerations:

*Your vision may affect the appearance of the red dot.

*Your use of the sight will require some practice with the angle of your hands when shooting.

*If mounting the sight on an adapter that fits in a regular slide dovetail it will likely be too high to use the back of the sight with the front sight to target if the dot is turned off.

*The sight is a both-eyes-open, focus on the target shooting system.

It takes a transition. But what you can be sure of, especially if you have any kind of vision challenges, is you can find that dot with both eyes open, even in the brightest sunlight.

How you do with it will be up to you, your determination, and your practice.

For me, lots of practice ahead. But from what I've experienced with it so far, I plan on making it work, for real world use.

Update on the Vortex Venom Red Dot sight: (3 Weeks Later). 

Since the initial review, I have added another 700 rounds of ammo through the gun with the Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight. 

At the point the video, just above, was produced, I was ready to take the red dot sight off my gun and pitch it in a box with lots of other accessories from years past in what is now the "closet grave yard."

That because I couldn't find the answer to one question about the setup for a sight mounted like mine is. On an adapter platform that goes in the sight dovetail of a non-milled handgun slide. 

In the ways every "expert" demanded was the "right' way, none produced an acceptable red dot sight shot group for confident use or carry. 

So, I threw out the advice. Took the gun to the range with different ammo. All with one thing in mind.

Lock in the location of the dot in the screen/frame of the sight. 


Here's The (Simulated) Red Dot Sight Picture That Put Me On Target

High Red Dot PLacement In Vortex Sight

Here's The Video On The Vortex Venom That Shows What Worked

With all of that, I can't tell you that will be the exact solution for you if you have to use a platform for an un-milled slide to mount your sight.

But I can say, if you have that kind of rig, and you don't pick a reference point for your red dot, you'll spend endless time, ammo, energy, and frustration, never getting your sight confidently on target.

For some things there are plenty of answers.

For others, there are plenty of answers, but not the one you need. In those cases you have to make your own rule.

This is one of those. 

New Bottom Line: I can now say definably, that the Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight is a capable, high quality electronic sight that will benefit many people. Benefit them in easier sight visibility, greater speed in sight acquisition, greater speed, or any combination of those.

Or it won't.

But not because it's not good. It's just that like so many other things having to do with guns, it may not fit everybody for every gun.

What about me and mine? It's good, but how or if it will be used in the future remains to be seen.

Stay tuned.