From the land of Daewoo machine guns, Hyundai tanks and kimchi, we welcome DI Optical to our shores. This company has been making military-only machine gun sights in South Korea since 1990 and supplies them to worldwide entities. Two of these sights have NSNs (NATO stock numbers) and are recognized by all NATO countries. They are also recognized by the U. S. Department of Defense (DOD).
One of DI Optical’s sights is the only machine gun-specific sight in the world that has passed the FCT (Foreign Comparative Testing) program of the DOD. Passing this rating test means that the United States trusts the particular product to satisfy U.S. military requirements; and, in many cases, it eliminates unnecessary duplication of research and development. This can greatly reduce spending. It also promotes competition by qualifying alternate sources to U.S.-made products.
DI Optical has started offering a line of civilian small-arms sighting solutions for your modern sporting rifle. The company offers reflex and prism red-dot sights and a 3x magnifier to mate with them, along with a mini red-dot sight for your pistol. Development of these sighting solutions began about four years ago, and after some improvements, they slowly became available a couple of years later. They’re still relatively unknown.
THE RAVEN 1
This is the issued sight to South Korea’s special forces. In civilian speak, it’s called the DI Optical Raven 1 (RV1) reflex sight. This sight has passed the stringent MIL-STD-810 standard trial, which tries to wreck stuff by exposing things to a concentrated life cycle of environmental stresses. (In other words, the military tries to beat it to death and determine any deficiencies.)
At first heft, you are certain this is not just another offshore poseur . It has heft and feels built as if you could whack it with a bat. It is very solid and pretty good looking; it looks a lot like an Aimpoint Comp M4 but more utilitarian.
The mount is very sturdy and has the same hole pattern as an A.R.M.S. #17 single-throw lever mount if you feel the need to change it from the perfectly adequate knurled and slotted knob it comes with. The included mount is excellent quality, and the recoil lug under the mount measures .1945 inch, so it’s a good fit to the rail on your MIL-SPEC AR upper. Minimal slop.
The ocular lens measured just under 30mm, and the eyepiece was noticeably smaller, although it didn’t seem to make any difference in my field of view. The optical center is about 1.5 inches high and puts the 1.5 MOA dot just on the front sight on my Colt Comp II H-Bar.
It uses a rotary intensity dial with four night vision settings and seven daytime settings. The dot is remarkably tight and uniform, and the red coating on the ocular lens reduced glare noticeably, as did the fully multicoated lenses.
The new sheet from the engineers at DI Optical stated that the run time with the single AA battery is 20,000 hours on intensity level 9 out of 11. That’s about 833 days. The manual states differently, but the manuals need to be revised in several areas and are holdovers from the first generation of products that were delivered about two years ago. DI Optical said it is working on its website update, as well.
The dot intensity is excellent on “low”—very useful when your eyes are acclimated to the dark. The max level is bright enough to see in sunlight. There was remarkably little bloom, or bleeding, of the dot at the highest setting. The silent rotary dial is out of the way but convenient to manipulate. However, I wish it had an “off” setting next to “high bright.”
Each click is a full inch at 100 yards, which is not uncommon and shouldn’t be much of an issue for most. I counted more than 150 elevation clicks total. In testing, the adjustments were fairly crisp and moved the dot appropriately during a test, for which I adjusted 20 clicks to each corner of a box target and back to the original aiming point.
Recoil from my .223 had zero effect. The turret strap connected to the windage and elevation caps worked better than most other optics keepers I’ve used, because the coated cable or rubber strap holding the turret covers often binds and prevents them from turning easily. Not in this case. And not a big deal, but nice.
The Raven had just about the most unique flip-up covers I’ve seen on a sight. They’re a hard rubber/plastic composition that hugs the ocular and objective and feature caps that easily press-fit into the scope. They appear to be waterproof, but my submersion test proved otherwise. What’s unique is that the hinge has no moving parts and gives constant pressure upward like a spring. There is a tab on the top of the surrounding band that prevents the top from closing until you manually pull it closed.
When testing with my third-gen PVS-14 night vision monocular and a standard mount, the ocular cap worked well. However, when using DI Optical’s 3XP magnifier with the A.R.M.S. #78 T.I.T.S. (tangent integrated tilt sight) mount, the caps interfered, so I removed them.
My third-gen PVS-14 did, indeed, show four eminently useable night vision settings, and both the NV and various 3x magnifiers mated well to the height of the Raven. The aiming dot is noticeable from the front.
I mentioned the heft. It’s not a lightweight, with its beefy, 6061 aircraft aluminum body coming in at just under 15 ounces. As a comparison, the superb Aimpoint Comp M4 weighs in at 9.3 ounces and an Aimpoint Pro at 11.6 ounces. That’s a fairly substantial difference.
Another disparity is the run time, which is listed for the Aimpoints at an incredible 80,000 hours for the Comp M4 and at 30,000 hours for the Pro—versus 20,000 for the RV1. But the most significant distinction for the Raven is the MSRP of $255. It’s unfair to compare the Raven to a couple of the finest electronic sights in existence, but you can buy around three and a half Ravens for the cost of one Comp M4 or two Ravens for the price of a Pro. For most shooters, either recreationally or for duty, the Raven will do anything you ask of it and free up substantial dollars you can spend on ammo, another gun … or a gift for your significant other for being so understanding about your hobby.
MODEL NUMBER: RV1
OPTIC TYPE: Collimator
LED red dot
LENS DIMENSIONS: 30mm objective/26mm ocular
EYE RELIEF: Unlimited
OVERALL DIMENSIONS: 4.9×2.2×2.8 inches (LxWxH)
WEIGHT: 14.9 ounces with battery
DOT SIZE: 1.5 MOA
SWITCH: Manual rotary dial
BRIGHTNESS SETTINGS: 11 (4 night vision, 7 daylight)
OPERATING TEMPERATURE: -42°–160°F (-32°–71°C)
MIL-SPEC CONFORMITY: MIL-STD 810G
ADJUSTMENT RANGE: ±75 clicks from center
ADJUSTMENT PER CLICK: 1 MOA at 100 yards
BATTERY TYPE: 1 AA battery
BATTERY LIFE: 20,000 hours on setting 9
WATERPROOF: Submersible up to 30 feet
DI OPTICAL, USA
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the May 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.