Meprolight M21 dual-illuminated Reflex Sight

With combat experiences from five major wars and concurrent anti-terrorism operations since its founding in 1948, the Israeli Defense Forces or IDF is one of the first military to understood the advantage of reflex sight on small arms for every infantryman. The main reflex sight used by the IDF for the last 20 plus years is the Meprolight M21. It features the always-on dual-illumination by fiber optic collectors during the day and it uses tritium illumination for low light and nighttime.
The Mako Group is the authorized distributor of Meprolight rifle sights in North America. I had a chance to try out a Meprolight M21 reflex sight during an Israeli style carbine course offered by Mako Defense, a sister company of the Mako Group.
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The version that I tried has the “X” reticle. The M21 is also available with the 16 MOA triangle reticle, 4.3 MOA dot, 5.5 MOA dot and the bullseye (a dot inside of a circle). The tritium lamp has a 10-year guarantee by Mako. It typically lasts up to 14 years before the tritium became unusable. The tritium illumination unit is replaceable by factory service for a reasonable cost. The current production model is actually the Mepro M21m. The –m suffix is for modular design and because of that, every component on the M21m is replaceable and upgradeable. When mounted on an AR15 flat-top, the M21 has lower 1/3 co-witness with iron sights.
The M21’s reticle has an amber color and its 30mm objective lens’ coating has a green color tint to it. Under the bright daylight, the green lens coating is hardly noticeable. As the light becomes dimmer, the green color appears greener. Since human eyes are more sensitive to the green color, by using a green lens tint it helps to increase the optical contrast and makes the reticle stands out. On a reflex sight design, using the green color coating is a common technique to compensate for a dim reticle. In the M21’s case is its tritium lamp. The majority of the M21’s fiber optic collectors are located in the front of the sight with some in small windows in a horseshoe like pattern around the sides and the top. All the fiber optics is behind protective translucent panels with a discreet light grey color.
I found the M21’s amber color reticle works fine in daylight in both the desert and foliage environments and it is adequate in the darkness. The reticle is also sharply focused and without blooming. However, like other fiber optic and tritium lit sight, it has some issues in certain light conditions. The illumination is barely visible in the low interior lighting of a house. Where neither the fiber optic collects enough light nor the tritium lamp is bright enough. According to the Israeli technique, if you can see the target through the objective lens tube, you will hit it at close range. Another oddity is that in a very bright sunny day, if the shooter is in the shadow of a building and looking through the M21, sometime a bright background would washout the reticle. Although the M21 is less prone to that than the Trijicon reflex sights because it has some of its fiber optics on the sides. Not that the M21 is bad, in fact it works beautifully in most light conditions. Just remember that the fiber optic light collector technology has its limitation.

 

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