Review: Vortex Defender-ST

Vortex’s newest red-dot optic in its Defender lineup, the Defender-ST, lives up to the hype.

at USPSA posted on March 27, 2024
Vortex Defender 1
The new Vorrtex Defender-ST comes ready to hit the range right from the box with everything you need once you have the right plate for your choice of firearm.
Photo by Jake Martens

We all have waited anxiously for the past year for the release of the rumored new Vortex red-dot optic. Well, the wait is finally over. Vortex has added its second model to the Defender lineup with the release of the Defender-ST.

Defender-ST optic
The Vortex Defender-ST uses the DeltaPoint Pro footprint for mounting.


Last year, Vortex hit the market with a completely redesigned red dot, the Defender-CCW (read my review). The Defender-CCW, packed with features, had those in the competition world wanting something more, and by more I mean glass size. The CCW was obviously targeted to, as the name implies, the Concealed Carry market. With the release of the new Defender-ST, we are getting the best of both worlds.

The Vortex Optics Defender-ST micro red-dot optic is designed to meet the rigorous demands of both the hard use tactical operator, daily defensive handgun use and the abuse of competitive shooters. Its robust construction includes a 7075 aluminum sight housing, which ensures the optic is both lightweight and durable, capable of withstanding the high recoil and rough handling often encountered in vigorous shooting environments. The use of a hard-coated aspherical lens offers a wide, distortion-free sight picture that is significantly larger than the CCW. It is available in three-MOA and six-MOA models.

The Defender-ST's motion activation feature—coupled with the 10-minute auto-shutoff—ensures that the optic is always ready when needed, yet conserves battery life during periods of inactivity. This is particularly beneficial during long days at competitions, where attention might be divided between stages. The Defender-ST also takes the CR2032 battery.

The Advanced Shockshield polymer insert is another standout feature, designed to absorb shocks and impacts, protecting the internal components of the optic and ensuring it maintains zero even after rough use. The new Defender-ST also features the same Fast-Rack textured front face as the CCW. This is an innovative addition that provides extra grip, facilitating the racking of the slide under stress, or if necessary, off other objects.

Vortex Defender-ST
The use of a hard-coated aspherical lens provides wide and, distortion-free sight picture. (Manufacturer photo)


The Defender-ST uses a different mounting footprint than the Defender-CCW. The new red dot uses the DeltaPoint Pro footprint for mounting. which offers more compatibility with a wide range of firearms, including pistols, ARs and shotguns, making this optic versatile across different shooting disciplines. This is essential for competitors in disciplines such as three-gun, where multiple firearms are used, as well as having the same optic on backup guns. There are more plate options available for the DPP footprint.

Other features included are parallax-free optics, unlimited eye relief and night-vision compatibility, which broadens the scope of this optic's usability, making it adaptable to a wide range of shooting conditions, from bright daylight to low-light or nighttime scenarios. The waterproof and fogproof capabilities ensure that the optic performs reliably in all weather conditions, which is critical for outdoor shooting competitions.


  • Large hard-coated aspherical lens. Large distortion-free sight picture.
  • Motion activation with 10-minute auto-shutoff. Automatically activates with motion while 10 minute auto-shutoff saves battery life.
  • ShockShield. Polymer insert absorbs shock to the 7075 aluminum body, protecting it for everyday abuse.
  • Fast-rack texturing. Aggressive texturing on face of optic for racking slide off any surface.
  • Top-mount battery. Easy battery change without having to re-zero your optic.
  • 10 daylight brightness settings. Daylight bright, illuminated center dot aids in faster centerpoint acquisition in bright daylight conditions.
  • Parallax-free. All red-dot and holographic sights will exhibit some small amount of parallax. Matching current industry practice, this small amount would be considered "parallax free" and will make a negligible difference in performance.
  • Unlimited eye relief. Non-critical eye relief for rapid target acquisition.
  • Night-vision compatibility. The lowest two settings are night-vision compatible.
  • Waterproof. O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust and debris from penetrating for reliable performance in all environments.
  • Fogproof. Designed to withstand a wide range of temperatures.
  • Shockproof. Rugged construction withstands recoil and impact.
  • Low-glare matte black anodized. Corrosion and wear resistant anodization provides low-glare matte surface and helps camouflage the shooter's position.
  • Single-piece chassis. Compact and lightweight.


  • Glock MOS adapter plate
  • Picatinny mount
  • Rubber cover
  • Lens cloth
  • CR2032 battery
  • Custom tool
  • Most common mounting screw set

Similar to all Vortex optics, the Defender-ST is covered by the VIP Vortex Warranty, “If you ever have a problem, no matter the cause, we promise to take care of you.”

MSRP for the Defender-ST is $469.99. Go check out all the Vortex products, including the new Vortex Golf range finders, as well as all the optics and apparel, at Don’t forget to follow the Vortex Nation podcast while you’re at it.


Vortex Optics has again stepped up as one of the biggest supporting companies of shooting sports. Vortex sponsors hundreds of matches a year. For 2024, the company is returning as a sponsor for USPSA and Steel Challenge events. Vortex is the presenting sponsor for the World Speed Shooting Championship, USPSA Carry Optics, Multigun and Handgun Nationals, as well as the title sponsor for the Open/Pistol-Caliber Carbine Nationals. In addition, Vortex is sponsoring the Area 1, Area 2, Area 3, Area 4, Area 5, Area 7 and Area 8 USPSA and Steel Challenge Championships, plus the Area 6 Steel Challenge Championship. Make sure you are thanking the folks from Vortex for the continued support.

Article from the March/April 2024 issue of USPSA’s magazine.


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