Home » Red Dot Sights » HANDS ON: CVLife Red Dot Review & Range Test - Is it Junk?

HANDS ON: CVLife Red Dot Review & Range Test - Is it Junk?


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Without argument, the CVLife red dot is one of the most popular, budget red dot sights in the market to date.

What’s not to like?

CVlife mounted to M&P 15-22

The CVLife 1x22x33 red dot sight is incredulously affordable, has multiple reticles, dual illumination, and comes with two batteries in the box. It’s suited to casual applications such as plinking, target shooting, and limited varmint hunting.

With several thousand reviews under its belt, we couldn’t pass up on the chance to purchase it and see for ourselves if it’s “all that.”

I took it to the range and pounded it with hundreds of rounds. During my hands-on field test, I discovered its advantages and drawbacks for myself.

Quick Overview...

What We Like: Build quality

What We Don’t Like: Turret quality

Best Uses: Plinking, Target Shooting, Varmint Hunting, Close-Range, Small Caliber Rifles, Multi-Reticle, Dual-Illumination

  • Magnification: 1x
  • Coatings: MC (Multi-Coated)
  • Eye Relief: Unlimited
  • Reticle: 4 options
  • Adjustments: 1 MOA
  • Battery: 1x CR2032
  • Dimensions: 3.2” L
  • Mount: Attached bolt on

Our Verdict: Overall, the CVLife red dot sight has value. It’s inexpensive, performs well for close-range work, and it comes with all necessary accessories. There are legitimate drawbacks, but decent quality and performance bring it up to par as a red dot sight worth buying for recreational applications.

Who is the CVLife 1X22X33 Red Dot Sight Best Suited to?

YouTube video

Overall, the CVLife 1x22x33 red dot sight is best suited to shooters of all skill levels who are looking for an incredibly affordable sight for recreational applications. This includes plinking, target shooting, and some varmint hunting.

Though build quality is actually very good, and I only used it on a .22, it has been successfully mounted to shotguns, PCP guns, and shooting with 5.56mm and 9mm rounds. The one thing that seems to be common among complaints is the shattering of the lens with high-powered guns and increased recoil.

I can’t personally comment to the validity of these complaints, but I can recommend it for small caliber rifles after executing hundreds of .22LR rounds. As a sight for casual use at a minimal price point, it has my thumbs up – both of them.

How Does the CVLife 1X22X33 Red Dot Sight Perform?

Overall, the CVLife red dot sight performed to expectations at the range for plinking. As a budget red dot, it offers quality performance for casual and recreational applications in normal to ideal conditions.

CVLife and Sig Sauer Juliet 3x Magnifier
CVlife red dot paired with Sig Sauer Juliet 3x magnifier

I mounted the red dot sight to a Ruger 10/22 and M&P 15/22 shooting .22LR rounds from 15 to 100 yards. On a firearm like this, its performance was ideal for plinking on steel and getting on paper to zero at 25 yards.

The reticle options are nice though I ended up having a favorite one. It paired fantastically with a magnifier. Surprisingly, it had the least amount of dot distortion with a magnifier behind it that I’ve ever experienced with red dot sights.

The open design of the CVLife sight made a nice change from the closed design, and it did feel easy to acquire both the reticle and the target with two eyes open. Additionally, there was very little glare around the edges of the FOV in the open design which was a welcome surprise and added to my growing fondness of the sight.

However, as daylight left, it became harder to clearly see through the FOV as resolution and brightness was lost. The reticle, even on its dimmest setting, started to bloom and interfered with target acquisition.

I managed to get sights on a jack rabbit starting at about 30 feet at night and reticle brightness was adequate to make a successful shot. When he ended up at about 75 feet away, it was harder to make him out in the dimming conditions.

Green dot reticle on rabbit hidden in the weeds in low light
Low Light - Green dot reticle on rabbit hiding in the weeds

From my hands-on field test of the CVLife red dot sight, I can recommend it for some pest hunting and definitely for range use and plinking. But I cannot recommend it for use in typical hunting conditions, self-defense, or for professional applications like law enforcement.

Features & Benefits

Build Quality

2 parts of cvlife includes integrated mount shows two piece red dot sight
Integrated Mount

The CVLife sight is made from aluminum alloy with an anodized finish in either Black or Sand (Apricot according to CVLife). The sight has two parts to it. The lower part is the mount that fits to Picatinny rails and is attached to the upper part that consists of the red dot sight components.

CVlife mount base
Mount Base

Build quality is usually the sore point for a cheap optic. In this case, it’s one of its strongest features. The CVLife red dot has a solid and tight feel to its build even though the LED emitter housing and reticle knob are made of plastic.

Overall, it has compact height, width, and a 3.2” length that is a great benefit, but it does mean that it requires about 2.5” of mounting length on the rail.

After putting hundreds of rounds through the CVLife dot sight, it has held up well. Screws are just as tight and there is no wiggle or movement between the two parts of the build.

One downside to its build quality is that it’s not what I would call waterproof. Water-resistant is accurate as it can handle rain, but you don’t want to get water into the LED emitter housing.

Red dot sight in rain
Testing in Light Rain

I observed that raindrops on the lens did not bead or shed off the glass. The drops interfere with your ability to see through the sight and drying off the glass is not convenient in any shooting situation.

cvlife red dot with rain drops on glass
Rain did not bead off the glass

The way I see it, if it’s a heavy downpour if I’m in the field or at the range, I’m probably not going to sit in it or will at least cover my gear. Water-resistant is okay in my books from a budget red dot sight.

Illumination

In general, the CVLife red dot is an incredibly bright sight with five illumination settings for each red and green LED light. It is powered by a single CR2032 battery that is likely to last more than six months when it is powered off during non-use.

CVlife CR2032 battery and compartment
Battery compartment with included CR2032 battery

My favorite feature of the illumination is the knob’s easy-to-use interface. Though it sits on top of the body and your fingers can get in the way of the sight picture, it’s smooth and has tactile clicks.

CVlife green dot illumination off position
Green Illumination Off Position

It rotates both forwards and backwards past “off” which is a very important convenience feature for me. Deactivating the illumination is done with turning the knob to the “R” or “G” positions.

The illumination is daylight bright and is highly visible against all targets in various terrains.

Daylight bright illumination of the CVLife red dot
Daylight Bright Illumination

The only downside to this is that even at its dimmest setting, though there was minimal blooming and washout, it was too bright for my personal preferences in lowlight conditions. However, many may find setting 1 to be adequate as preferences vary. As brightness is increased, you can see the LED emitter box and the FOV is washed out.

All in all, the illumination is fantastic for daylight use but not so great for lowlight and darker conditions.

Included Accessories

CVlife Included Accessories
Included Accessories

Included accessories in the box with the CVLife red dot sight include an instructional paper, lens cloth, two Allen wrenches, and two CR2032 batteries. The red dot sight also came with a rubber lens cover.

The lens cover is a nice touch to protect the glass, but I honestly don’t think it will last long. It fits snugly to the lens housing so that it won’t accidentally come off. Taking it off is where the wear-and-tear will happen as I foresee the longer flap ripping in the near future.

CVlife red dot scope cover
Lens Cover

The larger Allen wrench mounts the red dot sight to the rail but is also needed to make turret adjustments. I’m not so hot on the fact that you need it for adjustments as well, but I suppose most red dots require a tool. I just don’t like that it must be this exact size wrench which limits a rigged solution if you lose it or forget it.

You can count it as a win to get an included power source with a cheap optic, but not only does CVLife include one battery, they throw in a packet of two.

Optical Quality

The optical quality of the CVLife red dot sight is reasonable. It has a multi-coated lens, and it performs on par with the expectations of a budget sight. Considerations such as having a sharp reticle, neutral color fidelity, and minimal LED light emitter glare increases its optical value.

The reticles are decently sharp with minimal distortion. Though shooters with astigmatism and refractive error vision problems may see the reticles a little differently, I was pleasantly surprised by reticle quality without my glasses.

The other bonus of a HUD open design is that doesn’t reflect LED light emitter glare around the edges of the FOV like what can be seen with the closed design.

However, you are getting a highly visible reflection of the actual LED emitter housing. Most of the time, my reticle was centered inside it, so it wasn’t bad, but the reflection is there and obvious.

The exterior of the lens is also highly reflective. If you’re in a covert situation, the glare is a dead giveaway of your position. You can also see the LED downrange at least from 15-20 yards away if it’s angled right.

Zero Retention & Application

The CVLife red dot sight held zero through 200 rounds plus some in the same range session. However, when dismounting the sight and then remounting, it’s best to be fastidious about your settings and torque to ensure it holds zero.

At the range, I had no issues with it holding zero for the first 200 or so rounds. I decided to play with a different sight for a little bit before coming back to the CVLife. I did a couple things differently when I remounted. I didn’t check my torque specs, I changed the reticle, and I changed the illumination color. I did not have zero when I shot again.

User error? Yes.

All four reticles use the same turret system, so on paper, there shouldn’t be a POI shift. However, with two LEDS (red and green), you can have a significant change in POI when switching to the other color. It’s recommended to see how much change is experienced while at the range and switching between settings.

CVlife red dot sight

For plinking and target shooting, I had the time to correct or to figure out how much to hold over. On days like this, zeroing in and figuring it out can be part of the fun. You may just have to pick one reticle and one color to ensure zero retention. This isn’t a big deal if you’re casually shooting, so I grade it at a solid three out of five.

Knowing its limitations and the unforgiving room for user error will be a vital part of your overall satisfaction with the CVLife red dot sight. It’ll take using it to become familiar with it.

Limitations

Turret Quality

Overall, the turrets performed as expected by making adjustments to get groups and zero in. However, they are mushy and do not positively click. They provide 1 MOA adjustments, and CVLife recommends a zeroing distance in the range of 50-100 yards.

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CVLIFE 1X22X33 Red Green Dot Gun Sight Riflescope Reflex Sight for 20mm Rail
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CVLIFE 1X22X33 Red Green Dot Gun Sight Riflescope Reflex Sight for 20mm Rail
  • Tubeless design with 33mm reflex lens aperture provides a wide field of view, suitable for rapid-firing or shooting of moving targets besides normal shooting
  • Dual illuminated ( red and green);4 reticle shapes in one reflex sight, provide various choices in different occasions, like sunshine, cloudy day.

The spring system of the CVLife red dot can be commended because it actually works. However, only positive clicks can be felt in one direction – clockwise. This equates to only getting positive clicks when making right adjustments to windage and down adjustments to elevation.

In counterclockwise adjustments, it’s a fast mess of making 2-3 clicks at a time if you can distinguish between them. This made it difficult to be precise and they’re the worst turrets I’ve ever dealt with, but it can be done. A featherweight touch is all that is needed here.

YouTube video
See how the CVLife compares to 6 other budget red dot sights in the video above!

Popular Questions

Will the CVLife Red Dot Sight Handle Recoil?

The CVLife 1x22x33 red dot sight has been successfully mounted to various types of firearms and success stories indicate that it can handle recoil from 12ga shotguns, ARs in 7.62mm and 5.56, handguns in 9mm, and more.

The most common problem associated with heavier recoil is the lens falling out or cracking. Though its build quality is commendable, I would recommend it for small caliber rifles for longer-lasting accurate performance.

Will the CVLife 1X22X33 Fit on my Rifle/Gun?

The CVLife 1x22x33 red dot sight will fit to any firearm that has a Picatinny rail. The integrated mount on the sight fits to a mil-spec 1913 rail. It’s not recommended to remove the mount on the CVLife optic, so if you don’t have a Pic rail, opt for a different red dot sight.

Will the CVLife Sight Co-Witness with BUIS?

The CVLife red dot sight can be ran with BUIS. It really depends on the sights you’re using, but the height of the CVLife with MBUS provides a absolute 1/3 co-witness out of the box.
CVlife lower third cowitness with front sight

Does the CVLife Automatically Turn Off?

On average, most red dot sights under $100 will not have an auto-off feature. The CVLife red dot sight does not have auto-off. It must be manually placed into the “R” or “G” position on the illumination knob to deactivate it.

Is the CVLife 1x22x33 Red Dot Sight Waterproof?

Overall, the CVLife red dot sight is not waterproof. It is water-resistant and can handle exposure to light rain. Though the battery compartment has a rubber O-ring seal, the LED housing may allow for water to get inside.

Conclusion

There was part of me that was sure I was going to hate it. It’s a red dot sight for under $50 and from many reviews, I didn’t think it would hold up.

However, after testing the CVLife red dot sight for myself in the field, it grew on me.

Tina range testing the CVlife red dot sight

It worked. The illumination is super bright. I got on target, and best of all, it cost close to nothing considering what you can pay for a red dot sight.

For all casual applications and for the money, I can hands-down recommend it.

Will I use it for my Fall hunt in a unit where most shots are taken under 100 yards? No. But, if I’m pulling out my Ruger 10/22 to hear the pings of steel at the range, you can bet the CVLife will get its turn.

Further Reading

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