Reasons Why You Should Consider Using a Micro Red Dot Sight

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Micro red dot sights, colloquially dubbed MRDS, epitomize exactly what the label suggests—a miniature variety of the ubiquitous red dot. 

Standard full-sized red dots have long held sway as the go-to optics atop a diverse array of rifles, yet it’s the sprightly MRDSs that are crafted with a petite stance in mind. They’re certainly not strangers to the role of mainstay sights on heftier firearms, albeit such use isn’t particularly widespread.

As for the arena where the MRDS truly dazzles? That’s the realm of handguns.

Their footprint is also notably significant in the context of rifle backup sights, securing their spot either perched atop a primary optic—think a nimble acrobat atop an ACOG—or angled at a swift 45 degrees to complement the sleek profile of many Low Powered Variable Optics (LPVOs).

MRDS: Pandora PB-3

Certainly, the optics market has felt both the boon and the bane of Chinese-produced optics ripe for white-labeling. Such a scenario has worked wonders to shrink expenses for us, the buyers, but regrettably, it hasn’t exactly spurred a wave of innovation within the industry.

A red dot that boasts genuine design origins from the label that introduces it to consumers is becoming a rarity these days. And spotting one from a boutique label that’s not a heavyweight like SIG, Vortex, or Leupold? That’s bordering on the realm of myths.

Yet those odds don’t deter Lead & Steel.

Uniquely, L&S carves their niche as this compact brand that’s done it all: Original design, meticulous prototype vetting, and complete end-product assembly. While they do trust overseas production at this juncture, all the intellectual grunt work rests solidly on Lead & Steel’s shoulders.

After a robust phase of research and development, Lead & Steel is elated to unveil The Pandora’s Box!

The Pandora PB-3 stands as their brainchild, a robust response to the call for a large-window, enclosed-emitter, stout red dot optic. Sharing the innovative spirit and material choice as their trailblazing Promethean LP-1, the Pandora exhibits fresh design elements.


Brand: Lead & Steel

Product Model: Pandora PB-3

Mass: A svelte 2.3 oz

Mounting Standard: ACRO

Measurements: 2” x 1.1” x 1.18” (about 52.5 mm x 28 mm x 30 mm)

Viewing Glass: 21x17mm

Precision Point: 3 MOA

Power Cell Type: CR2032 3V

Operational Lifespan: In excess of 30,000 hours

Suggested Retail Value: $600


As you dive into the nuanced and rather compact realm of Micro Red Dot Sights (MRDS), it becomes apparent that when you’re gearing up to affix these pint-sized powerhouses onto pistol slides or to station them as auxiliary sights alongside more substantial optics, you’re venturing into a bit of a rigmarole to secure the right connection.

Now, for those heftier optics, a 1913 rail might be the go-to, but when it comes to MRDS, that setup can feel like overkill in the majority of scenarios.

The landscape of MRDS mount compatibility sports a sprinkling of prevalent footprints. However, an infuriating lack of uniformity pervades, with no unyielding standards at the helm. To heap on the vexation, you’ll oftentimes find yourself squinting at MRDS manuals that coyly sidestep the mention of footprint specifics. It seems manufacturers have a penchant for avoiding the utterance of a competitor’s moniker associated with the footprint in question… a real tip of the hat to those guys.

If you find yourself in a pinch, where your pistol slide or mounting scheme isn’t keyed to the particular footprint of your selected optic, it’s usually within the realm of possibility to snag a mounting plate that bridges the gap between one style and another. But bear in mind—this is contingent on the specificities of your mounting setup, so exercising some due diligence before you commit to a purchase would be wise.

As for the Pandora, it is attuned to the ACRO mounting pattern, hence my inclination toward the RMR-to-ACRO adapter courtesy of Strike Industries. The RMR, having risen to the de facto criterion for the majority of optic recesses, is arguably overshadowed by the ACRO.

It’s not just robust; it’s simplicity incarnate, with its solitary, beefier screw supplanting the usual pair. That screw endures the brunt of shock and recoil with aplomb, boasting greater resistance against wear and tear.

Consider this a harbinger of change: ACRO configurations are poised to dominate. And as the transition unfolds, intermediary solutions, like the aforementioned plates, shall bridge the divide.

Encased in 7075-T6 Aluminum, the structure melds resilience with a feather-like touch. Contrastingly, sealing plates play a pivotal role, fusing the lens and the framework together — a notch above the mere application of adhesives found in certain optics. It’s the amalgamation of these plates that ensure everything remains steadfastly in place.

Thus far, the emblem of durability has not wavered; the techniques implemented by Lead & Steel seem to be hitting the mark.


Sporting a 21x17mm viewport, what the Pandora lacks in magnitude, it compensates for with one of the most expansive fields in the realm of encased red dots. The boon of facilitating target engagement and maintaining visual on the reticle is unmistakable. Naturally, quicker target reacquisition is synonymous with a more generous window — the Pandora stakes its claim deftly in this domain, despite not being the absolute zenith in size.

Granted, encased red dots afford ample protection and enhance lifespan; however, they come at the cost of added heft and volume, typically with diminished clarity of portals.

Pandora shifts the paradigm by expanding the viewport and alleviating the other two traits, albeit not eliminating them entirely.

Its aperture, measuring in at a substantial 21x17mm, eclipses its siblings in the encased category, like the Aimpoint ACRO’s 15x15mm dimensions. Yet, in the broader vista of possibilities, it aligns with the Trijicon RMR Type 2’s window scale. By contrast, the open-emitter Holosun 507 Comp’s 28x22mm seems vast, though direct comparisons tread into heterogeneous territory. Encased models are engineered for the trenches, and while their open-emitter counterparts withstand the toils of duty, personal defense, and beyond, it’s the enclosed variety that excels with fewer vulnerabilities.

Pandora’s generous dimensions hone the art of promptly discerning both dot and target. The lens nears optical excellence, marred only by an imperceptible hue shift and a hint of filtering. Coupled with this is an astounding battery tenure, exceeding 30,000 hours.

Luminosity is fine-tuned, scaling from night vision-compatible to blisteringly vivid. Within the sweltering rays of my desert abode, the zenith setting of the Pandora is searing. For live fire, moderation prevails, as I dial it back a notch or two from the summit.

The robustness is nothing short of extraordinary. From accidental tumbles to its application in single-handed magazine change exercises, the optic bears the scars of utility. Yet the lens remains unsullied, accuracy unswerving, and the inner workings persistent in their performance.


Adjusting the Pandora’s settings is a walk in the park, thanks to straightforward hex key tweaking. The labels clearly indicate what each adjustment does, leaving no room for any head-scratching about their function.

The intensity of the sight’s illumination is managed by two chunky buttons positioned atop the unit. Each press is met with a satisfying click. The buttons, albeit somewhat in the open because of their placement, are not prone to accidental engagement. I’m actually quite fond of the location; it allows for ambidextrous reach and convenience when checking for ideal luminosity prior to engaging in competitive shooting.

Positioned on the left flank of the device, the battery compartment nestles against the user’s torso when holstered on the right hip. The housing’s anterior end tapers elegantly, a design that facilitates smooth holstering and diminishes the risks of catching on the draw.

For example, my Dara holster welcomes the contoured housing with ease, and securing my Bul Armory double-stack 1911 is accomplished without fuss.

Although satisfactory, I opted to shave off a bit of the Kydex for that extra wiggle room—a trivial modification given that it’s part of my match-day arsenal. It’s not a novel experience for me; customizing this particular holster has been a bit of a project.

Pairing the Pandora with my SIG P320 required no such alterations, greeting my Dara holster like an old friend—snug and perfect.

However, let’s chat about the inherent challenges you might face with chunkier optics. They’re par for the course, and in comparison, the Pandora has been more accommodating than many of its peers.

Now, let’s hash out the advantages and disadvantages. 

These enclosed micro red dots aren’t without their shortcomings—they tip the scales more, contribute to a heavier profile, and might tweak the way your gun kicks back at you.

Open emitter red dots? They’ve got their own set of bugs to iron out. They’re susceptible to the elements, with things like dirt and mud or even a snowflake obscuring the emitter; their resilience under duress might falter, and their street cred has dwindled a bit.

From my perspective, the robust design of enclosed dots lends itself well to duty firearms, where the emphasis is on resilience rather than sleekness.

For concealed carry, my preference leans towards more petite dots.

Sure, the Pandora PB-3 isn’t the silver bullet for every complication. It’s packable, but it asks you to embrace the bulk, which is far from my notion of a comfortable concealed carry companion.

That said, as far as enclosed emitters go, this one has climbed to the top of my list. It’s ironed out kinks I’ve stumbled upon with others, has to date showcased commendable ruggedness, and it doesn’t break the bank.

The Pandora shall remain my sidearm’s comrade-in-arms for the foreseeable future, and with any luck, I’ll circle back with an update after it’s gone the distance—say, a year’s worth of rounds downrange.


The concept of dot size is, in essence, a reflection of how hefty those little aiming points show up when scoped out in MOA, or minutes of angle, if you will. Numerous Micro Red Dot Sights, those delightful aiming helpers, present a range of dot size choices. It’s wise to weigh the pluses and minuses tethered to each before you commit.

Here’s the lowdown: your decision sways the game, but pushing towards the smallest visible option could be a savvy move.

Now, beefier dot sizes, something like 4 MOA or above, are a cinch to snag with your eyes, especially for those just getting their feet wet with a Micro Red Dot Sight (MRDS). But there’s a hitch—it’s like throwing a small blanket over your target; fine details get a bit obscured, dinging your shot’s precision.

In my own quest for tactical supremacy, I slapped a SureFire Mini Scout Light on the M-LOK real estate crowning the barrel clamp. A smart play, yet it tossed us into a sling mount conundrum. Mulling over the prospect of carving out a nook in the forend, I’ve got a hunch that it might just be 550 paracord swooping in for the save.

Let me be clear, the situation’s not dire, at least when I’m chatting about handguns. A dot of 2 MOA, which earns my personal accolades, sprinkles over a half-inch plate of your target at the quarter-century yard mark. Amp it up to a 6 MOA dot, and you’re shading a full 1.5 inches of the same distance.

Hook an MRDS on your rifle, now we’re talking prime or plan B for sighting, and dot dimensions take center stage.

Picture this: A 2 MOA dot gives you just a 2-inch veil over whatever you’re aiming at 100 yards downrange, while a 6 MOA dot throws a 6-inch shroud over it.

Double the distance to 200 yards, and you’ve got the 2 MOA dot masking 4 inches, whereas the 6 MOA is cloaking an astonishing 12 inches of potential bullseye real estate.

It morphs into a scenario where your dot could frankly be sabotaging your effort instead of bolstering it.

The best bet? Get hands-on with an array of dot sizes when you can, assess the fit for your shooting style, and store this knowledge for when it counts.

Also Read: Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your AR15 Upper Today



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