I’m not a gun or hunting gear snob.
If what you have works for you, then I’m glad you have it. It’s more critical for you to have an operating gun than an expensive gun.
There are good optics that cost over $1,500 and good optics that cost under $100. And clunkers in every price bracket.
I’m no stranger to cheap optics under $100. You don’t always get consistent quality at this price point. My Sightmark red dot still works, but my NcSTAR doesn’t.
What about the recently-released Newship 1×30 Dot Sight?
Is this a good budget optic, or should you let it pass you by?
I took the scope off my 6.5 Grendel AR-15 and installed a Newship dot sight. Let’s find out!
The short answer is that I like this cheap red dot sight more than I thought I would, though some features could be improved.
Read on for the long answer!
FYI, the manufacturer gave me this optic to try out and review. The links in this article are affiliate links which means if you click on one and end up buying something, we may get a commission. However, this review reflects my own opinions based on actually using and evaluating the red dot sight myself. Nobody paid for my favorable opinion and this article is not sponsored.
Newship Red Dot Sight Overview
The Newship 1x30mm Dot Sight model NSRD00502 is a budget sight. You get some good features but don’t expect any miracles in battery life or nifty add-ons such as solar panels.
What is nifty, though, is how the Newship isn’t just a red dot sight. And not just a green dot sight, either. It also has a blue dot option!
I like this because having more options for visibility is often better.
Green is perceived to be brighter than red, but green may disappear into the brush depending on where you’re hunting or shooting.
Blue is a less common color in nature, so I like having it available.
Every color has three brightness modes. All lean on the brighter side.
A single CR2032 battery powers the sight so, while you’ll only get about 300 hours of run time, finding replacement batteries is easy.
It has a 2 MOA dot. This is a good size for a rifle-mounted red dot. It’s a bit larger than a precise 1 MOA dot but won’t cover nearly as much of the target as a 3 or 5 MOA dot.
The sight itself is made from aluminum and has a thick piece of plastic armor to protect the optic when you’re knocking about in the woods.
The mount is built-in with two detachable side plates and two cross bolts. You can flip the plates around to mount the Newship on a 3/8″ dovetail instead of a Picatinny or Weaver rail.
There’s no built-in riser, so the centerline of this sight is 2.2″ above the bore’s centerline. Contrast this with the 2.6″ scope height from my previously-installed optic.
Newship Dot Sight Features
- Dimensions: 4.3″ x 2.8 ” x 2″
- Magnification: 1x
- Dot Size: 2 MOA
- Dot Colors: Red, Green, Blue
- Brightness Levels: 3
- Height Over Bore (AR-15): 2.2″
- Rail Compatibility: Weaver, Picatinny, Dovetail
- Adjustment Range: 50 MOA
- Adjustment Increments: 1/2 MOA
- Misc: Multi-coated Lenses, Fogproof, Shockproof, Water Resistant
Unboxing the Newship Red Dot Sight
The box came a bit dinged up, but I bet that was from the warehouse.
My initial impression was that this optic is bigger than I expected. It doesn’t sit gingerly on the rail but instead demands attention, unlike some other dot optics.
That said, it’s not a super dense optic, so it affects your gun’s balance less than you’d expect. It is big enough that I had to install it slightly farther forward than I would’ve liked because it was running into my offset backup iron sights.
(I’m already going to have to re-zero the scope when I reinstall it, I don’t want to re-zero the irons, too!)
The package also included a wrench, lens cloth, and instruction manual.
The instructions are printed on a small piece of paper. They are professionally done and relatively comprehensive, not like the rampant errors that plague other cheap Chinese optics.
I always appreciate lens cloths and always seem to need one.
The wrench confuses me, though.
It’s an Allen wrench, but it can’t be used on the sight.
There’s a Phillips-headed screw on the bottom, and the side bolts are slotted.
So, why did they toss in an Allen wrench?
[UPDATE: The manufacturer reached out to us after we published this article to share that the allen wrench is included to tighten the the attachment knobs to the rail. You lay the wrench perpendicular to the screwhead and use the shaft of the wrench to get the leverage required to tighten the knob.]
Let’s leave that mystery behind and get into how I feel about this sight.
What I Liked about the Newship Red Dot Sight
After I got past the optic being so large, I realized that I liked the size.
Small red dots may work perfectly fine, but I find they look goofy on an AR-15. The Newship looks pretty good.
The build quality seems pretty good, too. There are a few minor cosmetic blemishes, but that’s to be expected at this price point. They seem to have paid attention to what matters so that I can overlook a couple of dings in the finish.
Installing the optic onto my rifle was easy but not super intuitive. Once I figured out that I should disassemble the bolts and side plates then reinstall everything, I could appreciate what they were going for:
Without needing an adapter, you can put this optic on many different rails, not just Picatinny rails. Nice!
The front crossbolt has a 3/4″ adjustment range, so you can fit this optic onto some older rifles and shotguns if you want to modernize them and are on a budget.
I bore-sighted this optic by taking my rifle’s upper off the lower, clamping it, so the bore is facing a key hanging from a string and adjusting the dot to be about 2″ above the key.
The clicks felt like the clicks from a much more expensive optic. They were nice and crisp.
Sometimes you handle a cheap sight and just know it’s going to be a piece of junk.
The Newship didn’t feel like that. I’m looking forward to testing it at the range.
What I Didn’t Like about the Newship Red Dot Sight
The most glaring problem I have with this sight is its height over the bore. Or lack thereof.
I have to smush my face into the stock to get this low.
It’s doable but not intuitive or comfortable.
This means I want to add a riser before I test this sight at the range.
Also, would you believe me if I said the lowest brightness was still too bright? It’s a bit too bright low-light situations, to my eyes.
There’s the blemish on the mount’s side plate, but it doesn’t bother me too much. What does bother me is that the nuts are slotted but have a circular rather than hex cutout in the center.
Turning that into a hex would allow you to cinch the mount with an Allen wrench instead of using a coin or wide screwdriver, which is what I prefer.
Also, the windage and elevation adjustment knobs are very similar to the ones on my Holosun, but the Holosun’s adjustment knob caps have a projection to turn the knob. That’s not the case here.
I used a 6.5 Grendel case to turn the knob for about three clicks before finding a screwdriver.
Overall, these are all minor gripes. Indeed, nothing would make me want to return the sight.
The proof of an optic is in the shooting.
While the Newship has impressed me so far, it doesn’t matter how nice a sight looks and feels if it falls apart under recoil.
So, I grabbed my rifle and loosened up the gas setting (for harsher recoil!) to see if the Newship would hold zero. I made it to the range where I could test the Newship sight.
First, I need to point out that this is not supposed to be a precision optic and I did not treat it as one. I fed my 6.5 Grendel rifle with Wolf Military Classic, which is a steel-cased option known for inconsistent powder loads.
Economic optic, economic ammo.
I didn’t put on a riser because I didn’t have a spare and, though the Newship is low on an AR-15, it wasn’t uncomfortably low.
The target was put at 7 yards for sighting-in then 25 yards for plinking. I’m the type of shooter to conserve and re-use my targets so please excuse the .40 S&W holes littering the target!
A circumstance beyond my control made me return from the range more quickly than I had intended but I’m confident I tested the optic enough for a fair conclusion.
First, the big question:
Were there any catastrophic failures?
Cheap optics are not known for their build quality. Stripped screws, loose emitters, inconsistent windage/elevation adjustments, and flickering batteries plague many sights at the Newship’s price level.
I am pleased to report that the Newship suffered no catastrophic failures.
That’s not to say there were no problems, however.
After I sighted in the optic and put a few magazines through my rifle, I decided to perform a variant of the box test.
If you’re not familiar with this test, it’s a method for testing a scope’s adjustment’s repeatability and accuracy. Details differ but the basic idea is to make a box with four groups, starting in one corner and adjusting one direction at a time until you get back to the start.
All of the groups should be at an equal distance from each other and form a level square. Especially important is the last group overlapping with the first.
When I did this, the final group was off to the right several inches from the first!
Did the sight fail the test?
That was my first thought, but no. The problem was with the attachment knobs.
See, the tightening slots are curved to accept a coin and, with the circular gap in the center, the knobs cannot be tightened with a screwdriver. They had loosened under recoil, shifting the sight.
[UPDATE: The manufacturer reached out to us after we published this article to share that the allen wrench is included to tighten the the attachment knobs to the rail. You lay the wrench perpendicular to the screwhead and use the shaft of the wrench to get the leverage required to tighten the knob. Not exactly intuitive but probably better than using a coin.]
Once I had tightened them it was trivial to re-center the point of impact and I proceeded to shatter clay pigeons scattered across the berm without any more problems.
I even repeated the box test in a figure-8 pattern (without shooting groups at the corners) and it returned to the same point of impact.
The Newship has crisper adjustments than some of my fancier optics and returned to the same point of impact after being adjusted all over the place.
It was bright enough for use in the full sun and the 2-MOA dot was well-sized for short-range target shooting.
My biggest problem with the Newship is the attachment knobs and a dab of Loctite is enough to allay that issue.
My conclusion is that the Newship red/green/blue dot sight is a fine budget optic for a plinking gun at ranges where you don’t need a magnified scope.
Because the Newship lacks waterproofing, I wouldn’t use it as a hunting or survival red dot sight. For that, I recommend a Holosun.