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Gideon Optics Alpha red dot reflex sight mounted on a handgun

How to Clean & Maintain Precision Optics

You have your new red dot sight mounted and zeroed, so the next step is learning how to maintain and clean precision optics to extend their service life. Caring for your optics shouldn’t be an afterthought. Your red dot helps speed up target acquisition, improves accuracy, and makes follow-up shots easier to place in tight groupings. Once installed, you need to be able to depend on your optics at the range or in the field. Properly maintaining your reflex sights not only keeps them working properly but helps you spot issues before they become problems. 

Complex Tools For Easy Accuracy Improvements

Gideon Optics Mediator red dot sight

Your precision optics are designed to make finding and targeting your aim point on a target quick and easy. To do this, they pack a lot of technical engineering into a small package. The basic function, projecting a red dot as an aiming aid for the shooter, relies on a small, powerful LED emitter and precisely ground lenses that reflect the light to give you stable positioning even under the violent forces of your weapon’s recoil. 

When you add in top-tier features like shake-to-awake power-saving modes, variable brightness levels, and adjustable windage and elevation, there’s a lot going on in that small package. Knowing how to clean your optics keeps grit, grime, oil, solvents, and other debris from impacting performance while also making sure you take the time to physically inspect your sight for any signs of damage or excessive wear.

Quick Maintenance Tips

Use Witness Lines to Verify Mount Screw Tightness 

Once your mount is installed on the weapon and the fasteners tightened to the proper torque, draw witness lines from the center of the fastener head out onto the mount a millimeter or two. If you see that these lines are no longer straight from the center to the mount, your fasteners have loosened, so get out the torque wrench.

Replace Your Battery Periodically

While modern batteries can have a long life and our reflex sights are designed with energy-efficient performance in mind, they’ll eventually run low on juice. You don’t want to find out your battery is failing when it’s needed the most. At a brightness setting of 6 (out of 10), you can expect up to 40,000 hours or more under optimal conditions, or about four and a half years. Unfortunately, real life doesn’t always come at you with optimal conditions. Replace your battery every one to two years with a quality replacement to make sure you always have a good charge with a minimal cost.

Inspect the Sight for Damage 

Cracked or bent housings, lens scratches, obvious signs of carry wear, and more can all be indicators that your optic may need repair or that you need to look at your carrying, cleaning, or maintenance regimen. 

Keep Them Covered 

One of the best ways to care for your optics is to keep them properly covered. When not in use, this can keep dust from accumulating while stored. For those who use an optic on a weapon they regularly carry, make sure holsters and cases have enough space to protect your reflex sight as much as they do the gun it’s mounted on. An optic banging against your back truck window as you head to your hunting lease won’t stay zeroed in for long.

How to Clean Your Reflex Sight

Gideon Optics reflex sight mounted on a handgun

Too many people just give their sight a quick wipe with gun cleaner like it’s any other accessory, and that’s not how to clean precision optics. That’s how to damage them. Your optics should be cleaned as needed, which for some users may only be annual if they keep the lenses covered and their gun in the safe. Others who depend on a gun regularly for carrying, in the line of duty, for hunting, or on the ranch, may need to clean them far more often to keep dust and dirt from accumulating. Just like the scopes hunters have used for generations, modern optic types take special care.

Gather Your Materials 

Before you get started, make sure you have a lint-free cloth, some cotton swabs or small sponges, and a bottle of cleaner designed for precision optics like binoculars, telescopes, or even eyeglasses. This should be more than enough to keep your optic clean while preserving the coating on the lenses that allow it to refract the LED dot. 

Spray the Cloth, Not The Optic 

When cleaning, make sure you apply the cleaner to your cleaning cloth or swab, not to the reflex sight itself. Caring for your optics means treating them in accordance with their precision optical properties and the electronics embedded in them to power their features. While your optics are sealed against normal elements, there’s no reason to risk an oversaturation of chemicals on or in the housing.

Clean Inside to Out 

Starting with the functional components of your optics before moving to the mount and housing is how to clean your precision optics without dragging exterior contaminants onto a more sensitive lens and emitter. For closed-emitter sights, clean the front and back lenses first. Open emitter sights need both the front and back of their single-lens cleaned, and a swab should be used to remove dust from the emitter area. 

After that, use a cloth to wipe down the outside of the housing and mount, being careful to stay clear of the optical components you just cleaned. Don’t forget to double-check your mount screws and witness marks. If the mount ever loosens enough to create play that lets the sight lift from the gun, you should remove the sight, de-grease and clean the mating surfaces to prevent corrosion in this normally unseen area of your gun, then reinstall the optic.

High-Quality Precision Optics

We’re proud to make advanced reflex sights that can go toe-to-toe with the big names and come out on top with features and a price that doesn’t break the bank. We back all our optics with a three-year warranty that covers just about everything short of intentional damage. If it stops working, then we’ll replace it. Subscribe to our email list for the latest products and deals delivered to your inbox. Order your precision optics from Gideon Optics today.

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