Scopes and Optics

Aimpoint CompM4 — The Pinnacle of Red Dots

woman laughing holding an AR-15 rifle equipped with an The author’s personal LWRC rifle wears an Aimpoint CompM4 red dot sight

Among the most famous, reliable, and easily recognized products in the gun world is the Aimpoint red dot sight. The Aimpoint has been in continuous military and institutional use for over 25 years, and the M4 has been in use for more than 15 years. The Aimpoint has earned a strong reputation and a loyal following.

For casual use, most any red dot will do. A better quality sight should be chosen for hunting or personal defense. For serious on the point duty, the Aimpoint should be at the top of anyone’s shortlist.

Aimpoint CompM4, quartering to
Sturdy, reliable, and capable, the Aimpoint CompM4 is a formidable optic.

Service Life

The Aimpoint will survive long service on heavy caliber rifles and even shotguns. The 2 MOA red dot seems ideal for use in both precision fire and when addressing rapidly moving targets. Lens clarity is excellent. The coated lenses are high quality.

I did not explore the magnifier option, but this option has proven useful for longer ranges. My go-to optics expert, and I don’t use that word lightly, has given the Aimpoint option a clean bill of health and a stirring recommendation — so do I.

There are concerns but they must be taken in context of the Aimpoint’s performance and capability. The Aimpoint CompM4 illustrated is heavier than some red dot sights at 9.5 ounces. There are heavier red dot set ups, and there are also many lighter weight red dot sights.

The Aimpoint doesn’t use a special battery. Instead, it uses a standard AA battery. I double checked and reinforced all information concerning battery life. The battery, at average setting, is rated at more than 75,000 hours. For the highest settings, 50,000 hours is standard.

That is excellent to unparalleled performance and reliability. Just the same, batteries are inexpensive. A firearm intended for front line use is an important tool. I change Aimpoint batteries on my birthday, not a bad program and easily remembered.

The author’s personal LWRC rifle wearing an Aimpoint CompM4 sight
The author’s personal LWRC rifle wears an Aimpoint CompM4 sight.

Another advantage of the Aimpoint, the type is in widespread use globally. If there were any problems, we would have known about them a long time ago. While a $1,000 optic isn’t in everyone’s plan, the quality and reliability of the Aimpoint cannot be dismissed.


Be certain to choose a mount that compliments the Aimpoint sight. The sight must be stable for good performance. This is a shockproof sight. I used the proven Kinetics mounts on my rifle. While the Aimpoint has survived falls and combat use, I don’t push the envelope. I take care not to bang the combination of rifle and scope around, but just the same, the reputation of the Aimpoint is comforting.

The device is rated as waterproof, even when submerged down to 150 feet. Operating temperature has been tested at 50 below zero to a startling 160 degrees Fahrenheit. That is as good as it gets and as good as a human operator may withstand. The Aimpoint features a lifetime warranty. The Aimpoint killFlash filter doesn’t affect aiming but reduces the effect of muzzle flash and glare.

Aimpoint CompM4 mounted on an AR-15 rifle
The Aimpoint CompM4 is the author’s favorite Aimpoint.

While the Aimpoint optic is rugged, it is also simple to use. The Aimpoint is easily mounted. Battery life is excellent. The lenses are high quality. It is fog proof and immersion tested.

The sight has nine daylight brightness settings. More on choosing a good setting later in the article. I did not test the seven night vision settings. I don’t consider the weight a real problem. The price can be daunting, but then, perhaps owning the Aimpoint instead of a number of cheap optics is the better option.

Many of you with military service will recall the M68 Combat Optic, the M2 version. Aimpoint has manufactured over 3 million optics. A huge number of these are in use in military units. A development, that means a great deal in practical use, is the ACET system or low battery consumption feature.

Man in tactical military gear firing an AR-15 offhand topped with an Aimpoint optic
Firing offhand, the Aimpoint offers speed and accuracy.

At one time, battery life was a major concern, and it isn’t exactly ancient history. Today, battery life begins at 10,000 hours and red dot sights such as the Aimpoint extend this life much longer. So, the Aimpoint is a proven design.

But does the red dot do what is needed in an all-around rifle for personal defense and hunting? The Aimpoint rides on a very versatile rifle. It is a defense rifle, a hunting rifle for deer and pigs, and fits the broad term of emergency use well.

For shots up to 200 yards, the rifle works fine. I think that we should have a rifle properly set up not for what may occur, but the actual use the rifle is likely to be put to. For defense use, firing with both eyes open and the advantages in field of view are great.

The shooter may use both eyes to identify the target, without then having to move to a sight set or optical sight that magnifies the target. You hang on the target and your eyes need never leave the target with the Aimpoint red dot.

I simply don’t need magnification. If I did, a magnifier would be added. Small targets may be a challenge. The answer is technique and familiarity with the rifle. The red dot may be set for its smallest dot setting, and surprisingly small and distant targets may be addressed.

While my Aimpoint is mounted on an AR-15 rifle, the long eye relief of a red dot is a blessing when the long gun generates a great deal of recoil. If there is any danger involved in brush hunting dangerous animals, the unlimited eye relief of a red dot sight is an advantage. And if you need a good red dot, why not the Aimpoint?

Tactical unit advancing with guns equipped with the Aimpoint CompM4 optic
In dim light or fog, the Aimpoint offers an advantage.

In firing the Aimpoint and sighting the rifle in, I always use the smallest or nearly smallest dot setting. A brighter dot is good for daylight combat shooting but ‘flares’ in the eyes at times. A clearly visible point of aim without irregular edges is needed to fire small groups.

Try this at a modest distance of 50 yards. Firing with a bright, red dot setting, and then firing with a more modest red dot setting, you will find that the groups fired at the lower setting are better than those fired with the larger dot — perhaps half as small.

Aimpoint Comp M4 Specifications

  • Device dimensions: 5.3 × 4.7 × 2.8 inches (135mm x 120mm x 72mm).
  • Weight of sight and battery: 9.4 ounces
  • Magnification: 1x
  • Dot size: Standard 2 MOA
  • Dot color: Red
  • Eye relief: Unlimited
  • Brightness settings: 9 Daylight (1 extra bright), 7 Night Vision
  • Battery: Standard AA size battery, either alkaline or lithium of any voltage
  • Battery life: Up to 80,000 on medium daylight settings and up to 500,000 with night vision
  • Surface color: Matte black
  • Material used for tube, spacer, mount: High strength aluminum
  • Anti-shock and anti-vibration: Yes
  • Flip covers: Both front and rear to protect lens from damage
  • Compatibility with accessories: Yes. Anti-reflective devices, killFlash, Aimpoint 3X Mag magnifier, Concealed engagement unit

When properly sighting the Aimpoint in, windage and elevation adjustments are simple enough. Aimpoint offers a downloadable grid type target for sighting the Aimpoint. This makes adjustment simple enough with a minimal amount of ammunition.

Do you shoot a red dot? How does the Aimpoint CompM4 compare to your optic? How do you use red dot optics: hunting, personal defense, competition? Share your answers in the comment section.

  • woman laughing holding an AR-15 rifle equipped with an The author’s personal LWRC rifle wears an Aimpoint CompM4 red dot sight
  • Woman firing an AR-15 equipped with an Aimpoint CompM4 from the door of a tent
  • Aimpoint CompM4 mounted on an AR-15 rifle
  • The author’s personal LWRC rifle wearing an Aimpoint CompM4 sight
  • Man in tactical military gear firing an AR-15 offhand topped with an Aimpoint optic
  • Tactical unit advancing with guns equipped with the Aimpoint CompM4 optic
  • Man wearing shooting gloves golding an AR-15 across his chest that is outfitted with an The author’s personal LWRC rifle wears an Aimpoint CompM4 sight
  • LWRC SSP lower receiver with magazine inserted
  • Aimpoint CompM4, quartering to

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (2)

  1. I don’t use red dots. Personally I find them annoying to use. Not that Aimpoint doesn’t make a good sight, they certainly do but I have no need for one. Especially one that cost $350 more than I spent putting my AR together. My A2 carry handle sights served me well over 20 years ago in service and they continue to do so now. Fist size groups at out to 200 yds with just the A2 carry handle even using crappy steel Tula .223 or Federal M193 5.56 both in 55gr is plenty good enough for my needs.

  2. Red dots sights are probably one of the best inventions ever for a firearm, especially as ones eyes get older. If not sure it is for you, there are some really good ones at just over the $100 price mark too, and whatever the price, for just a little more most can be used with a Quick Disconnect picatinny rail mount, allowing the irons to be used for backup, and in most cases when the red dot is taken off, and put back on using the QD system, they maintain your zero setting, I even mounted a red dot on an old Ruger Blackhawk, and what a tack driver it is, and doesn’t look anymore out of place than some of the new lever actions. I always heard rule of thumb, your optic should cost as much as your rifle, so that said; buy the most expensive optic you can find, and then tell your spouse you need a more expensive rifle to put it on. :-). Happy Fathers day. :-()

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