Walking out onto the line for the first range session of Ridgeline Training’s Combative Pistol class, I take in the lush, green mountain views of the temperate New Hampshire morning. I’m on a mission to shake out the Leupold DeltaPoint Micro over the two-day class.
Leupold DeltaPoint Micro
I figure 1000 rounds should give me a good idea how the funky looking optic performs. For an apples to apples comparison, I put the sight on a pistol I’ve had the most time shooting, my Salient Glock 19. A pistol I carried and shot for years, it boasts more than 8,000 trouble-free rounds fired.
In coming up with the DPM, Leupold looked at what in the crowded MRDS market and found a feature set that didn’t exist. A fully enclosed sights, on the same plane as iron sights, it requires no slide modification. The sight aims squarely at shooters wanting to dip their toes into the MRDS pool. Better still, the slide refrains from requiring machining the slide. And, spoiler, it excels in this area.
DeltaPoint Micro Features
The sight is tiny, and getting past its odd looks is easy when you consider the features that drove it’s offensive form factor. Leupold designed the slide to sit as low as possible. It offers a lower third co-witness with standard iron sights. This meant there was no room for engineers to put the battery or electronics under the sight. So, they went outside of the box. Well, to the rear of the box, to be exact.
In that rear outcropping that covers up the slide plate lies the brains, battery, and controls. The combination power button and brightness control is right on the battery holder. The giant, easily-found button allows users to press and cycle the sight through its eight brightness settings. Hold it down for a few seconds to power the sight off.
The battery is a 1632 coin cell that Leupold says will last for 3.5 years when used at brightness setting 4. The unit has a power saving function that turns the dot off when the sight is stationary for a few minutes and powers back up with movement. When the battery is low, the dot blinks quickly 10 times upon power-up. As with other MRDSs, changing the battery once a year seems like a good way to go with the DPM. Swapping the battery is easy, just unscrew the battery cap from the undersight of the rearward outcropping. No need to mess with the sight body or lose your zero.
We asked Leupold’s John Snodgrass why it doesn’t use a more common 2032 cell. “We managed to reduce the size of the sight and maintain the expected battery life with the smaller cell by maximizing the efficiency of the LED emitter,” he said. Essentially, Leupold designed the sight as small as possible. The 2032 battery size proved too large to fit the desired specifications.
The way the thing hangs off the back of the pistol opens up holster compatibility a bit. I was able to run my pistol with a Custom Carry Concepts Shaggy AIWB holster that predates the recent market move to pistol-mounted optics. Carrying up front, the housing makes the gun a little more noticeable when bending forward, but not so much that I found it uncomfortable. And, sure, it makes the gun an inch taller in the holster, but I didn’t find it creating any crazy printing issues.
The DPM is made for non-optic-ready pistols. At press time, there are two versions, one that fits most non-MOS Glocks, including the skinny 43x and 48, and one version for popular Smith & Wesson M&P/Shield models. The S&W version, which I haven’t used, has an angled battery compartment.
One of the first things I noticed when looking through the optic was how well the optic transmitted light. There’s no hint of the blue tint that I’m used to seeing with other red dot sights. Sondgrass says Leupold uses a very tightly controlled notch filter to prevent the blue cast while still making the red dot pop. And pop it does. The dot is bright as hell and stays round all the way to its max brightness setting. For comparison sake, Snodgrass says the emitter in the DPM is the same one that’s in the DeltaPoint Pro.
The recessed front lens protects the window when using the sight to rack the slide during one-handed manipulations. The front of the sight catches equally well on pockets and cinder block edges… and the 6061 aluminum body is plenty strong enough to take some of this kind of abuse.
The hardest part of installing the DPM is getting the old sight out of the way. With the original rear drifted out, it’s cake. You slip a small, dovetailed plate in place of the original rear sight. Then, slap the DPM sight body on top, line it up so it’s in the center of the slide and screw the two torx screws down to the dovetail plate and you’re done. Leupold gives a torque setting of 25-inch pounds. The dovetail plate and sight body come together to form a reliable press fit that didn’t move over our 1000 round test.
A key design feature of the DPM how it mimics a rear sight. Take away the DPM’s dot and it functions like a ghost ring sight. There are a couple of dots on the sight’s rear that mimic a rear sight. These recessed dots can be filled in with a paint pen, if that’s your jam. I left them unfilled, as they were visible enough that way without being distracting during normal use. On my pistol, the 0.175-inch high shoulders of the DPM’s body line up with the top of the front sight, as well. So, the unpowered sight works as an iron sight without the need for suppressor sights nonsense.
Initial sighting-in means lining up the DPM windage-wise with the power off –as if it’s an iron sight. Then, power it up and turn the elevation and windage adjustment screws ‘til the 3 MOA dot is just above the front sight. This will get you on paper and ready for live-fire zeroing. The DPM’s adjustment screws lack clicks, but we found adjustments were easily tracked in ¼-turn increments, and the sight held its adjustment without issue. Regarding the lack of clicks on the adjustment screws, Snodgrass says, “We don’t need lock screws or clicks since we have a proprietary design on how the adjustment screws operate.”
With the optic basically boresighted at home, I used the first couple of strings of fire at Ridgeline to sight-in with gross adjustments at five yards. Then the instructor had the whole class move back to 25 yards.
With irons, 25 yards is a decent pistol poke. But, with the DPM’s 3 MOA dot, it’s pretty easy to center the pistol on the bull of a B-8 target and drop rounds into 3- to 5-inch, 10-shot groups. With two more 10-shot strings the sight was zeroed and averaging 94-point slow fire strings with two or three B-8 bulls per string. I zeroed with the sight at setting 5, which produced a clean, round, artifact-free dot for maximum accuracy.
After zeroing, I cranked the dot up to setting 6 and left it there for use throughout the day. At 6, the dot was easily bright enough to use under the sunny and cloudless conditions. I found the brighter dot bloomed a bit without starbursting, but with the DPM’s smaller window, the bloom made the dot a bit faster to pick up on presentation.
Getting on the gas with the DPM for me meant reverting back to iron sight presentations. It felt a lot like coming home. While DPM’s window is small, about three-tenths of an inch across, it’s so close to the plane of iron sights that anyone with a decent presentation will pick up the dot naturally. And, if that isn’t enough, the sight’s small diameter and long body give a great tube effect, making gross adjustments on push-out easy.
The small window isn’t without its drawbacks, though. While it’s easy to pick up the dot using the same mechanics used to pick up the front sight on the draw, it’s also a lot easier to lose under recoil. Iron sight shooters with good recoil management won’t have an issue bringing the sight back down and getting back on for follow up shots. But, people looking for the speed offered by a large, traditional MRDS window will find the DPM much more unforgiving.
Backup Sights Not Needed
Plugging away at paper and steel that ranged contact distance to 25 yards, the DPM performed. It boosted my confidence in making low percentage hits and became a transparent part of my pistol shooting equation… even after it failed.
At about 650 rounds, in the middle of a speed-focused drill that had the class shooting increasingly faster at decreasingly sized targets, the DPM’s dot disappeared. Well, that sucked, but the cool part is how seamlessly I was able to carry on and complete not just that string of fire, but the entire drill using the sight as a ghost ring. The hits were still there, even at speed, as I ran the gun as an iron sighted platform.
After completing the drill with the rest of the class, I stepped off the line to diagnose the problem. The battery was new, so that wasn’t it. I unscrewed the battery cap, reseated the battery and checked the threads. Still nothing. Recalling my days with an early Trijicon RMR, I stuck a fingernail under the arms of the star-shaped battery contact and bent them upward to put more pressure on them. Bingo, the sight came back to life and ran for the rest of the class.
I brought the issue up with Snodgrass who said he was aware that this could happen on early, pre-production samples (which I had) and the problem was resolved in production models by using a stronger “pogo” switch in the battery cap. While it’s not uncommon for companies to continue development while samples are still in the field, a failure like this casts a shadow on the DPM’s perceived reliability. Leupold replaced the sight, and I’ve got a few hundred rounds through it without an issue. But, time and rounds will tell. By the time you read this, tens of thousands of DPMs will be in the wild, and I suspect that if the production version of the sight has a reliability issue, it will be all over social media.
The Walk Back
To sum up the experience of getting behind the DPM, anyone used to irons will take to the DPM in a heartbeat. There’s almost nothing new to learn, which is not the case with larger-windowed MRDS systems that force you to retrain your pistol presentation.
Once your muscle memory of iron sight presentation is at the set-and-forget level there’s no hunting for the DPM’s dot at all. 12 yard A-zone hits from AIWB concealment during my class were all in the 1.25- to 1.5 second range, which is about as good as I can do with any pistol. So, there’s no doubt the DPM’s small window isn’t slowing my draws.
As predicted, though, I could outrun the dot on rapid fire drills and had to concentrate a little more on recoil management fundamentals than I do when running larger-windowed sights to keep pace with sportier par times. But, the DPM isn’t pitched as a competition sight. It’s billed as and fits the self-defense niche well as a sight that’s easy to install, fast to employ, and maintains a small, mostly concealable footprint.
Anyone looking for an easy way to put a red dot on their non-optic-ready Glock or Smith & Wesson should consider the DeltaPoint Micro. For $400, you’re getting an American-made, weatherproof MRDS sight that installs without any slide modification. Further, it’s so small and sits so low, on the same sight plane as irons, that there’s virtually no learning curve when switching from irons to the DeltaPoint Micro.
Lastly, Leupold wasn’t shy about its plans for the DeltaPoint Micro. Snodgrass says the DPM is the first product to take advantage of the technology that lead to the small, fully enclosed sight. We expect to see DPM sights for other popular pistols, while we also think the Micro sight will be adapted for other uses. With some tweaks, we can see DPM-like sights used as offset irons on carbines and as ring-mounted secondary sights on long range precision setups.
The Leupold DeltaPoint Micro retails for $399.99. For even more info, please visit leupold.com.