Can a Bullpup and a Red Dot Hit at 500?

By Beyond Seclusion
Posted in #Guns
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Can a Bullpup and a Red Dot Hit at 500?

February 22nd, 2023

13:21 runtime

If they’re not already, reflex sights are quickly becoming the most popular type of optic found on firearms today. The U.S. military started adopting optics like these in the 1990s, and it just grew from there. I have seen many optics, from the Trijicon ACOG to red dots like the Aimpoints to holographic weapons sights like the EOTech EXPS3 on military and law enforcement firearms. The military discovered the incredible difference that these optics made on the average soldier’s accuracy and shots on target compared to the old technology of iron sights.

500 yards bench
Red dot sights are well known for their capabilities at close range. Can they be useful at 500 yards? Today, we find out.

Don’t get me wrong, you can never go wrong with good old iron sights on the Hellion because they will rarely fail you, and if you “break” them, you probably have other issues with the firearm. They are as KISS (keep it simple stupid) as possible, but they have limitations. Irons take a lot of practice for the average shooter to score well at distance and are particularly challenging to use in low-light situations. From first-hand experience hunting with my M1 Garand at sun up and sun down, I know it is difficult or just about impossible to see the front sight post with a dark background in those conditions.

Editor’s Note: Please read the full Springfield Hellion bullpup review.

Test Your Reflexes

So, why choose a reflex or red dot sight over a traditional scope? Depending on the application, a more traditional scope can be too big and heavy as well as not good for rapid target acquisition. And, there is also the question of durability. The ACOG was a fixed optic with low magnification and was perfect for typical engagement distances normally encountered. But what about urban situations where distances could diminish from less than 100 yards all the way down to CQB (close-quarter battle) distances of 10 feet? Clearly, something else was needed.

500 with 3x magnifier
Even with a 3X magnifier, a red dot can be tough to get on a silhouette-sized target at extreme ranges. With practice, however, it can be done.

This is where “reflex sights” came into their own. A “reflex sight” is any optic that allows the shooter to look through a lens and see an illuminated projection of an aiming point or some image superimposed on the FOV, or field of view. This can be accomplished in several ways, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Most people have their personal preference of which method and reticle or image is projected. The most typical is a simple red dot.

hellion with red dot
Many 3X magnifiers, like the Meprolight shown above, can be mounted on a system that allows you to quickly swing it into position when a longer shot presents itself.

Because the reticle is focused at infinity, it stays in alignment with the optic, regardless of the shooter’s eye position. This is referred to as “parallax free,” which most quality reflex sights offer. This allows the shooter to acquire the target easily and quickly fire accurate shots with reduced practice compared to traditional iron sights or scopes. It also makes taking shots from an unsupported position like standing after moving or even on the move surprisingly accurate and simple.

Pushing It

Many might say the one downside to reflex sights is shooting at distances beyond CQB or beyond 100 yards. Or is it? What if we could consistently hit targets out to 300, 400 or even 500 yards with a red dot?

red dot with 3x magnifier on a springfield hellion rifle
With the 3X magnifier out of the way, a shooter can engage the target with the non-magnifying red dot sight.

One way to easily and quickly extend the range of a red dot is to add an optional magnifier. Just like that name says, it’s nothing more than a magnifier that you can put behind a reflex sight to change it into a 3X-powered or more optic. While 3X is the most common power of magnification for this, you can get all the way up to 6X.

The more magnification you get, the bigger and heavier the magnifier is going to be, and the worse your eye relief (ability to easily see through it) is going to be. I have found the 3X is perfect to effectively extend the range of a red dot well beyond CQB distances.

standing at 300 yards
The author, shown above, was able to hit his target standing at 300 yards using the Hellion and a 3X magnified red dot from Meprolight.

Another term you often hear is “battlesight.” This typically refers to an optic that can withstand the rigors and abuse of what would be encountered on the battlefield. It’s an optic that is tough as nails, will take a beating and keep working. A good example of this is the Meprolight Tru-Vision, from a company that makes optics for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

Going Long with Short

I have been working with the Springfield Armory Hellion “bullpup” for quite some time now and really like it. Chambered in 5.56mm, it gives you 16”-barreled performance in a package about the same length as a short-barreled rifle.

300 yards with 3x magnifier
At 300 yards, the magnifier allowed the author to accurately place rounds on target.

So, what better of a platform to test out the capabilities of an optic designed for close range, but used at long range? So, I kitted up the Hellion with the Meprolight Tru-Vision along with a Meprolight MX3 magnifier unit.

aac 556 fmj ammo
Ammo is another part of the accuracy equation. In this test, the author used AAC-manufactured 5.56 NATO rounds.

Over the course of a range session, I pushed the Hellion out to several hundred yards. During that day, I discovered the gun and the optic made for a very capable combination. After getting it sighted in (and found that it grouped extremely well at 50 yards), I started pushing it out to distance. It quickly proved itself at 300 yards right out of the gate — and all with FMJ range ammo.

1x red dot sight at 500 yards
Without a 3X magnifier, the 500-yard target looks darn near impossible to hit with a standard red dot sight.

Once I proved that the Hellion and the Tru-Vision could consistently hit at 300 yards, I then pushed it out to 500. How did it do? It was dead on. I was able to consistently hit every shot at that distance. For fun, I then shot the combo unsupported and standing at 200 yards, and found I could still hit. So, I pushed it out to 300, and I hit again. At 400? I was able to do it again.


I think it’s safe to say that the Hellion and the Tru-Vision — both with and without the magnifier — make for a very capable combination. In fact, it proved to be even more effective than I would have expected with these demanding requirements. It’s a match made in heaven.

Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Beyond Seclusion

Beyond Seclusion

Drew of “Beyond “Seclusion” earned both his bachelor of science in nursing and his master of science in nursing from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He has always had a love of the outdoors and shooting and has been shooting for 40+ years. He started a YouTube Channel reviewing guns and ammo just for fun and it is now a full-time business for him. He resides in southeast Nebraska with his lovely wife DeeDee and his two children Adree and Wyatt.

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