Viridian Weapon Technology has a great reputation in the 2A community. Mainly known for its green weapon lasers, in the last couple years it has expanded into the electronic sight market. But Viridian, being Viridian, offers its optics with a twist: In a crowded sea of red dots, Viridian continues to push the virtues of green. Why? Because it may not be easy being green, but it’s easy seeing green.
When it comes to why humans can see the the color green best, our best guess is that our ancestors relied on their vision to navigate and survive in natural environments, which were predominantly green due to vegetation and foliage. From a scientific perspective, we see green colors better because our eyes three types of cone cells that are responsible for color vision: red, green, and blue. The green cones are most so we perceive green colors more vividly.
The RFX45 is Viridian’s first closed emitter electronic sight, and as soon I saw it, I needed a couple for both my pistol and rifle. (Did you really just ask, “What’s a closed emitter sight?” Don’t feel bad, my wife made the same mistake.)
Closed emitters are where IT is at! The sights have taken over in popularity and all of the cool kids have them. A normal red dot is an L shape that has a laser emitter that shoots a red dot on a window. When you look through it, the red dot seems to be floating out in front of the firearm, acting as the aiming point. Closed emitters do the same thing, except instead of having a profile in the shape of an L, they are more like a rectangle.
Since normal sights are open in the back, all the nasties in life like dirt, grime, bad language, and midnight Legos collect in the window. I once winched my Jeep out of some mud; the mud worked its way into the window and blocked the laser. (HOW?) With a closed emitter all of those sensitive areas are protected inside the enclosure.
It’s obviously a superior solution, but right now emitters for pistols are a relatively new product segment with fewer options than I have fingers. Closed emitter sights are also more expensive than a comparable standard open emitter sights. Understand that a closed emitter sight like the RFX45 is machined from a nice piece of aluminum—think of it as a hardened bunker for your delicate electronics.
This was why I was so excited to see Viridian getting into the closed emitter game. When Viridian does something they do it right and you know it will be a quality product. Not only that, but the MSRP was half of what some competitors are and that’s also with the upgraded green dot! As of this writing you can find the RFX45 for under $400.
The RFX45 that I have lives on my Springfield Armory Echelon and Saint rifles. Mounting the optic on the Echelon was a breeze. The RFX45 uses the standard Aimpoint ACRO mount, meaning there are tons of adapters. For the Echelon I used the Viridian ACRO to RMR adaptor and lock up is rock solid. On the saint I used the Viridian picatinny high mount that give a 1/3 co-witness.
The RFX45 is easy to use; just install the battery that’s on the top of the enclosure. Yep, you do not need to lose your zero just to change batteries! Then you have two buttons up and down, use them to choose your brightness level (8 visible and 2 night vision). Once you are happy that’s it, nothing more to do. One 2032 cell battery has an expected life of 50 thousand hours. One of the ways it does this is with an auto on and off function. If you sit your firearm down, the sight goes into a hibernation mode to conserve battery. As soon as you move the gun, the sight turns on and you are back in business.
The auto on is damn near instant—I tried all kinds of ways to try to see if the sight really goes to sleep and if I could catch it off guard. I felt like a little kid trying to see where the fridge light goes. After a ridiculous amount of experimentation, I was able to determine that yes, the RFX45 does go to sleep, as soon as I thought about moving the pistol, the sight was back on. I can’t comment on the 50 thousand hour life just yet, but in the two months that I have had mine I have not had any hesitations with the optic.
I found something interesting about the design of the RFX45. The sight is actually upside down; the battery, electronics, and emitter are on the roof of the optic and inverted like Tom Cruise. Since the guts of the RFX45 are on top, the bottom of the sight sits lower closer to the slide. At least with the Echelon I was able to get a perfect co-witness with the factory sights.
But what if Soul Brother RFX45 is too beaucoup?
I have read that one of the main drawbacks of a closed emitter is that the size of the sight is huge and massive when installed on a pistol, and I did worry about that at first. Not anymore. Yes, the closed emitter does LOOK big, but in reality, it sits in the same footprint as any other traditional optic. I used a standard Henry Holsters Cipher IWB for the Echelon that was sent to me to test and the Viridian RFX45 fits just like any other electronic sight.
Since the RFX45 body has chamfered edges, even carrying the Echelon IWB the sights does not scratch or poke at you. The Henry Cipher has a nice positive retention of the pistol and the holder itself. As with all CCW, I found that a quality holster is the basis for good presentation and can make or break you.
I would say that 99% of the complaints about closed emitter sights come from people who have never even used one in real life. Think of it this way, it is common tacticool practice to carry a light bearing pistol. My Surefire X300 is about twice the size of the Viridian RFX45. If a pistol mounted light is not too bulky for a pistol then you can stop clutching your pearls because a closed emitter is not too damn beaucoup. Always be wary about what you read on the internet, excluding what I say of course. In reality the RFX45 has so many things going for it, that for the price you are getting a solid piece of equipment that should make you a better shooter. While a knowledgeable subset of shooters have made the jump to electronic pistol sights full time, the RFX45 gives you a chance to jump the line and get in on the newest iteration of what electronic sight performance means.
James the “XDMAN” Mr UnPewFessional Himself!
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