Dec 26, 2015

Samson MFG 3.5x Magnifier w/ Quick Flip Mount

According to Samson MFG, "The Samson 3.5x magnifier and base combination. This system features the rotary actuated mount base and patented push button flip to side action. The Samson 3.5x magnifier features clear crisp high quality glass with excellent color preservation characteristics. The Samson 3.5x magnifier was specifically designed to meet the demands of high level operators and law enforcement professionals. at 35mm the magnifier accommodates a larger range of optics with greater light transmission and reduced edge distortion.If your mission profile calls for rapid transition between CQB and medium distance target engagement look no further than the Samson 3.5x magnifier and combination." I was fortunate enough to get the magnifier via Samson's Operation-X Program, in February of 2015.

Reason for purchase:
I got this magnifier from Samson unexpectedly and though I was looking to purchase a magnifier (Aimpoint specifically) this filled the hole I had in this area.  At the time I had several red dot's (Vortex Sparc II and was getting the Trijicon MRO when it came out) that I was looking to use a magnifier in conjunction with.

First Opinion:
The magnifier came in a full kit box, which contained the magnifier, the mount, screws, spacer, loctite and paperwork.  The magnifier has a hard rubber coating which is really similar to Trijicon's coating they use on their ACOG.  The magnifier came out of the box focused for me at the eye-relief (I believe is about 65mm) I needed and once I mounted it no adjustment was required at that time.

The mount is really robust and easily to configure to work with any rail.  Install was pretty straight forward and the magnifier would snap open when you push the metal tab so there is clearly a good amount tension in the spring.

I went and zeroed a Vortex Sparc II with the magnifier at the range, super easy to do and the magnifier was pretty simple to setup in conjunction with.  I ran the magnifier with the Sparc II for a while and then transferred it to a more compact setup.

I was able to get a Samson RMR mount so I ran the two on a PWS MK107 SBR setup.

In the Field:
The magnifier was run with the Vortex Sparc II for about 1000 rounds and then moved onto the RMR, where it was run for about 500, now it sits behind an MRO which I have about 300 rounds through in that particular setup.

The push button quick flip function has not once failed me and is very sturdy.  It snaps into open position and clicks into a closed/locked position.  

A 2MOA dot (like the MRO) is very clear with the magnifier and easily utilized at distance.  The magnifier allows for a very quick PID and has a very "crisp" focus point through the RDS.  I did have to mess with the eye relief and focus a little bit at this point, more on that below.

In conjunction with a 3.25MOA RMR (an RM06 in this case) the magnifier worked really well, but you have to remember that the objective of the magnifier is larger than the entire RMR assembly so you will see a very faint outline, but the red dot itself is not so big that it is unusable.  I was able to effectively run the setup with little issues that the combination caused, the above setup's issue was the combination of the short barrel, thumping piston system and the unforgiving BattleArms Dev. Sabertube, but that is a totally different review.  

The adjustment range was good and glass was clear during normal use.

Ownership and Usage: 
The biggest and most obvious "issue" I have with the magnifier is that it has very strict eye relief.  Too much off center, like during prone shooting, you will have to start getting your positioning slightly more straight forward to get a good sight picture.  It was totally normal for me to get outer black ring vignetting to occur if I was not in a good position or had a poor cheek position on the stock.  This played into having the rifle properly equipped to function the way you want.  If you could deal with the vignetting like I did, no big deal, if its a huge issue for you then you might want to mess with eye relief distance and adjust for focus, keeping your stock extension position the same each time.  You will find the sweet spot like I did and it worked fine afterward for standard shooting.   

The mount is pretty straight forward, counter-clockwise unscrew the big tab, and then use the toothed wheel to find the right tension for that specific rail.  Push the tab clockwise to hand tight and click in place.

I did not have an issue with getting the tab or the mount snagged on kit or cut my hands up, but that may in part because I wear gloves every time I run a rifle.  

I did, however, get the magnifier itself snagged on kit once or twice.  This could have been due to the situation and what I was doing at that moment.  Not exactly something that I would say is an issue, probably less of an issue with this magnifier setup because its so compact as opposed to some others I see on the market.  

Final Thoughts and Recommendations:
This magnifier offers a good bit of clarity at a reasonable price.  Even though most people will default to the Aimpoint or Eotech magnifiers, which are nearly 2x the price of this Samson and may provide better eye relief, they do not cover every base like the Samson does.  Eotech requires you to push the whole optic over and while there may be spring tension it is not as much as the Samson and the OEM Aimpoint requires you to completely twist the magnifier off, kind of annoying if you are in a dynamic environment.  There are aftermarket mounts available but they are not nearly as good as the mount that comes with the Samson magnifier.  There are cheaper magnifiers available as well, Vortex with a flip mount, Burris with a mount, Primary Arms 3x and a bunch of other sub $100 magnifiers that would work really well on a .22 or airsoft, but do not compare to the Samson magnifier.  

The other biggest consideration is the ability to PID with an RDS that is inherently lacking magnification at distance.  At 3.5x the FOV is about 5ft feet @ 100y, (my estimation, I could not find any documentation on the subject) you get a pretty clear sight picture at whoever is in your dot.  Running an RDS would be a very mission specific setup and probably sub 75y engagement distance due to the PID requirement.  Flipping the Samson magnifier to the side after PID provides for the ability to have the best of both worlds without buying a magnified variable optic.  Which given my experience with both platforms is the biggest competitor to an RDS with this magnifier behind it, nearly the same price range too.  RMR + magnifier, MRO + magnifier, even SPARC II + magnifier will still get you a pretty good entry level 1-4x optic like a Leupold VX-R Patrol or SWFA.  But if you have your heart set on an RDS setup then having a magnifier behind it is a necessity.  


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