I've been a HUGE fan of the S&B Short Dot for a very long time. I finally managed to save up enough coin to acquire my first in late 2007/early 2008. Since then, I have had the rare privilege to own/use nearly every model in the Short Dot suite with few exceptions. The only models I have not had are the early Short Dot II w/ #2 post reticle, and the new 1.1-8x24 High Power. I figured I would share a few observations of use and some pro/con comparison between the models.
1.1-4x20mm Short Dot CQB - While this is far from being my favorite, I probably have the most time behind this optic. One of my biggest gripes is that the front focal plane combined with the thin lines of the CQB reticle do not allow for optimum use for dot/reticle on the high and low ends. What I mean by this is that on 1.1x, the reticle is very faint and one requires the use of the flash/short dot feature. This means that one must be mindful of the battery and battery life. On the flip side, the flash dot is very large at 4x and can cover/obscure smaller targets at distance. That said, I have had no difficulties and find I like to run the optic around 1.5-2.5x with the dot for most practical purposes. Personally, I prefer the non-locking turrets as it makes for a lower profile and the dials are easier to zero. Reticle pics: https://imgur.com/a/2qBzw
(B) 1.1x20mm Short Dot #7 - The #7 crosshair variant only comes in the non-locking turrets. Unlike the CQB variant, the duplex crosshair gives visible aiming reference with the absence of the flash dot at 1.1x. However, at 4x the crosshair is VERY pronounced...bordering on too big. The flashdot suffers from the same qualities as the original CQB variant (too big at 4x); however, the #7 is fully usable through its whole magnification without the flashdot in the event of a battery failure. Given the beefy reticle at 4x and lack of ranging/hold stadia, this optic isn't the best for precision and is more of an RDS/magnifier alternative. I feel that this variant is inferior to the Short Dot LE.
1.1-4x24 Zenith LE - The Zenith Short Dot LE is the shorter, updated version of the Short Dot II. Unlike the x20 CQB, the LE has a 2nd focal plane reticle. This means that the reticle remains usable and large through all magnification while the dot remains equally small. The trade-off is the lack of ranging/hold stadia in the reticle. For a fast, easy, short-mid range optic for those that can't or don't want to use RDS w/magnifiers, this is my favorite. Reticle pics: https://imgur.com/a/Ibr56
1.5-6x20mm Short Dot - With a P3 reticle, there is less clutter than the CQB reticle and is a bit more usable. The front focal plane aspect has similar issues as the CQB at high magnification and the flash dot at 6x, but the P3 reticle is more visible at 1.5x for use without the flash dot (in the event of battery failure). With only 50cm of marked elevation adjustment and a super long body, I found it lacking. I found the field of view better than one would expect for such a long, narrow optic, but not nearly as forgiving as its little brothers. My model also had no NV dot settings. The first setting was daylight visible. I swapped this optic from 5.56 SPR's to 308's, but it never really fit anything well.
1-8x24 Short Dot CC - I waited a long time for this bad by. The "CC" or "no (noticeable) parallax" feature is nice, the revamped CQB "light" reticle is a bit disappointing. It's very thin and difficult to pick up in some cases. I feel that this optic shines for close quarter, but lacks for quick work at distance. In other words, I would put this on a gun that mostly does close range work, but with the strong possibility of distance as a secondary....a 13" SCAR heavy or 12.5" 417 for example. 2nd Focal plane means the mildot reticle isn't proportional on magnification other than 8x. Reticle pics: https://imgur.com/a/D8z49
ETA (12/5/17): Short Dot CC is being sent back to S&B...information to follow.
1.5-8x26 PMII Short Dot - I had no intention on getting one of these, but I just sorta fell into one. This one surprised me. My biggest complaint is the size of this monster, but it's no worse than a CQBSS. I am finding this to be a bit better of a do-all than the CC. I was pleasantly surprised that the flash dot isn't huge and unusable at 8x; however, my astigmatism is causing some issues with the dot on 1.5x and I have the "Aimpoint tail" effect on with this dot on low magnification (I don't have this issue with any of the above). The turrets are just the old, PMII single-turn; easy to use, no bullshit. This is the opposite of the "CC"; ideal for an SPR/precision work, but capable fore close up work in a pinch...no need for a piggyback red dot. Reticle pics: https://imgur.com/a/qJ3N6
1.1-8x24 High Power - Much like the above, I had even less interest in this optic. Again, timing and circumstance allowed me to get my hands on one for a price that I was comfortable with. If one thinks the center horseshoe will be bold enough (either with or without illumination) for close quarter use, think again. It's doable on 1.5-2x in a pinch but it pales in comparison to the 2 entries above for reliable up-close use as one has to remember this optic does not have the Short Dot/Aimpoint-ish tech...it's illumination. The BDC reticle...where to begin. BDC's scare me. I want them to be precise enough that they match up to my round reasonably. Yet, I hate being married to one rifle/load/velocity. The jury is still out on this one, but after much debate, I do like having the wind stadia for reference without a bunch of busy Horus-y bullshit. Obviously such an optic is meant for a 16" SR25 style rifle, but I could see it on an SPR/DMR as well or perhaps a compact bolt gun (Q's Fix, GAP Gladius, XM3, etc). Reticle pics: https://imgur.com/a/SmDAR
The biggest complaints on S&B's are always cost and weight. Most of the 4x models can be had well under $2k....sometimes in the 1600+ range from time to time when they come up. Regarding the 8x models, I got lucky, but nothing near MSRP.
Honorable mention: 1.1-4x24 Zenith #7 - I picked one of these up at a ridiculous price in the hopes of running it like a poor man's Short Dot LE. For the price, I feel that it is a worthy substitute considering the LE variants are tough to find and even more so at good prices. For some reason I found the optic a little less "forgiving" than its PMII brothers. It might have been the longer tube, but there seemed to be a smaller eye box than the others. Obviously there would be no NV settings either for the flash dot.