When choosing your new optic, it’s important to understand the features that are offered and what you need to look for. So, you’re looking for a red dot scope; great choice! The red dot sight is an advanced optic technology that has evolved over many decades. This is the choice optic for many professionals and is even used by military forces all over the world.
Red dot optics are great for all kinds of gun owners; there’s even some pistol red dot sights that are starting to become more popular. So, whether you’re looking for your trusty rifle, or adventuring into new handgun territory, there’s a red dot optic out there for everyone.
Before we get into the best red dot sight, let’s talk a little bit about what a red dot actually is.
- What is a Red Dot Sight?
- Why Should I Choose a Red Dot?
- Choosing Your Best Red Dot
- The Best Red Dot Sight
- 1. Aimpoint PRO
- 2. Sig Sauer Romeo5
- 3. Trijicon MRO
- 4. Vortex Venom
- 5. Trijicon RMR
- 6. Leupold Delta Point Pro
- 7. Crimson Trace
- 8. Burris Fastfire III Riflescope
- 9. Ozark Armament Rhino Sight
- 10. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25
- 11. Vortex Sparc Solar
- 12. Holosun 507K
- 13. Primary Arms SLX
- 14. EOTech EXPS3 Holographic Sight
- 15. Ade Advanced Optics RD3
- Choosing the Right Red Dot Sight for Your Firearm
- Benefits of Using a Red Dot Sight in Different Scenarios
- What is the difference between a red dot sight and a traditional scope?
- How does the battery life of a red dot scope affect its performance?
- Can red dots be used with magnifiers for long-range shooting?
- Are red dot scopes suitable for astigmatism-prone individuals?
- What are the advantages of a parallax-free red dot sight?
- How do red dots handle recoil from powerful firearms?
- What are the recommended budget-friendly red dot scopes?
- Is it necessary to zero a red dot scope for accurate aiming?
- How does the reticle size affect the precision of a red dot sight?
What is a Red Dot Sight?
A red dot sight is an electronic step away from the traditional old iron sights. A red dot optic is a sight that displays a red dot where the aiming point will be. Instead of crosshairs or iron sights, the red dot is the only thing you’ll use to aim. Because of the design of the optic, the single red dot is very easy to see and is great for fast target acquisition. There’s many different types of this particular optic; red dot is more of a general term.
A red dot scope is just any optic that relies on a red dot in the center to aim your firearm. The red dot is projected as an electronic image to where you can see it when you aim. This dot can be a green dot or even in the shape of a small crosshair. The electronic component is really what distinguishes a red dot.
There’s actually three different kinds of a red dot. The majority of people are probably the most familiar with the reflex sight, but there’s actually so much more than that!
A reflex sight is a type of red dot sight. When it comes to red dot optics, a reflex sight is probably the one you’re going to find a lot of people using since it’s so common. The way this type of red dot works is fairly simple. The reflex sight uses a small LED beam to reflect the red dot onto a lens that’s inside the optic. This is where you’ll see the red dot on your sights when you’re aiming.
The lens essentially acts as a mirror and reflects the LED back to your eyes so you can see it. It might look like the red dot is actually hitting your target, but only you can see it.
If you go for a more expensive red dot, then you’ll find that your parallax will decrease. Parallax is when the red dot on your optic moves when you move. So, if your red dot scope has no parallax, then the red dot will stay centered on your target no matter where or how you move your head. Typically this is accomplished by adding some more lenses to the optic to reduce the parallax effect.
Reflex sights are most well known for their shape. The reflex red dot has just a clear window that the shooter can look through to aim. Rather than other red dots that are known for a tube or cylinder like shape. However, the higher quality reflex sight will have additional lenses and will be in a tube.
Those that use two lenses will reflect the red dot from the rear sight lens to the front sight lens. The LED beam would still be inside of the tube and just passing back and forth between the two lenses.
What Are the Advantages?
Reflex sights, just like any other optic, will have its strengths and flaws. There’s a lot for you to consider when it comes to buying a red dot optic. Here’s some tips to think about when you’re mooring over a reflex sight:
- They’re usually cheaper.
- There is unlimited eye relief.
- You can move your head around and still aim.
- You can aim with both eyes open.
- There’s some that offer battery free operation.
What Are the Flaws?
- They aren’t standardly magnified.
Reflex sights are the most easy to use and affordable red dot optic there is. This type of sight is best for the average shooter and can be used in many applications like defense, tactical, and any other shooting that you’ll be doing.
Prism sights are usually small and tube shaped. These optics are a lot like a normal scope just in red dot form. A prism sight will use a prism to reflect the beam of LED light through the tube and scope. Because the mechanism relies on a prism instead of lenses or other devices, these optics tend to be much smaller and lighter. The prism will focus the dot onto your target clearly and easily.
What Are the Advantages?
Prism sights might not be the most common, but they still have a lot to offer. Before you think about purchasing a red dot optic, you’ll want to make sure you take a lot at prism sights as well:
What Are the Flaws?
- They are more expensive.
- They don’t have good eye relief; you must be very close to the scope in order to see the red dot properly.
Since the prism sight red dot offers a red dot magnifier, this feature can grant you greater accuracy over a longer distance. This makes it a great choice if you do competitive long distance shooting or hunting. If you’re a typical long distance shooter, the prism is a great choice.
If distance accuracy is not your concern, then you might want to think a little more before you buy one. A prism sight won’t offer you the fast target acquisition that red dot sights are famous for. The eye relief is poor which will make finding your target longer than a reflex sight would.
The holographic sight is the least common of the three types of red dot. Holographic sights are actually patented by one company, so they are currently the only manufacturer of this style of red dot. EOTech is the company that produces the holographic sights and they remain the only one on the market.
A holographic sight uses a laser hologram of a reticle style that is pre-recorded. The hologram is recorded at the time of manufacturing onto a holographic film. The reticle hologram is built into the window that you look through when you go to aim. Then, there is a built in laser that lights up the reticle that was recorded onto the film in your scope.
Since a holographic sight is an advanced piece of technology, these things are pretty expensive. Reasonably though. The holographic sight will allow you to shoot without closing an eye, have fast target acquisition, and is extremely accurate.
What Are the Advantages?
Holographic sights may be expensive, but they offer tons of great features for you to consider:
- It’s very accurate.
- You can use it with both eyes open.
- It gives you fast target acquisition.
What Are the Flaws
- They’re very expensive.
If you’re okay with shelling out some bucks, then the holographic sight is an amazing device that can improve your shooting experience. If you are a shooter that needs accuracy, whether that’s for hunting or competitions, then the EOTech sights are definitely your best bet. The holographic sight is the most accurate of all the red dots because of the technology that is behind it.
Why Should I Choose a Red Dot?
Now that you know the basics of every type of red dot optic, well, why should you buy it? There’s tons of types of sights out there, whether that’s a traditional rifle scope or an iron sight.
Just think of it this way. Shooting is so much more than just firing. It’s drawing, aiming, sighting, and so much more. In order to get the best experience and the best shot, you’ll want to have the best gear on your side.
If you’re new to rifle shooting, then having and using a red dot optic would greatly benefit you. The optic is very easy to use and takes much less training time and effort to learn. If you’re picking up some competitive shooting, then the red dot sight is also good for that. With the red dot’s fast target acquisition, you’ll be able to aim and shoot, and have a greater chance of landing that critical one shot.
So, let’s dive into the features that will give you the great benefits we just talked about.
Red Dot Optic Features
The red dot optic is one that sits between traditional iron sights and rifle scopes; it combines the advantages of both types of sights to give you an advanced aiming technology. So, why does the red sight offer these benefits over other types of sights?
Let’s talk about the reticle of the red dot first. There’s something called focal planes at work when you use a red dot sight. Focal planes are basically what puts something further away from your eyes’ focus. Just take a look at something that’s next to you. If you focus on something that’s behind it, then that object will go blurry and will no longer be in focus. That means that whatever is behind it is on a different focal plane.
With a red dot, the reticle style is located on the same plane that you’ll see your target on. That way, when you’re aiming, both of the images will be in focus, giving you greater target acquisition, accuracy, and precision. You won’t have to shift your focus. This will also enhance your ability to shoot with both eyes open, which will also give you a greater field of view and precision.
This one is important, so let’s talk about it in some more detail. Parallax, as we talked about before, is when the reticle moves when your head moves. So, if you move your head, the red dot won’t remain centered on the target like it should. This is a challenge with many types of sights, like iron sights, but the red dot has almost no parallax.
The red dot optic is designed in a way that doesn’t rely on the position of your head to aim the laser. So, if you’re a hunter that usually finds yourself shooting from some awkward positions, you won’t have to worry about struggling with the parallax on your sights any longer.
Unlimited Eye Relief
Eye relief is how far your eye is from the rear sight of the scope. If your scope has short eye relief, then you’ll have to be closer to the scope in order to use the sight properly. With red dot sights, you’ll be able to move the sight however far up your rifle that you want without worrying about eye relief. The sight doesn’t rely on magnification so you won’t have any issues with aiming if you move your sight around.
Even if you move your scope far away, it will only give you more benefits. With a further scope, you’ll have a wider field of view and still retain the enhanced accuracy of the red dot optic.
When it comes to red dot sights, there’s something called MOA which relates to the size of the red dot that you’ll see when you use the scope. We’ll talk more about MOA later, but just know that red dot optics come in different sizes.
A larger dot will give you faster target acquisition and will be easier to see. However, it can also be too big and take up a large portion of your field of view. A larger dot will also be less accurate since it will take up more of the target.
A smaller dot will be a little harder to see on your target, but it will give you the best precision. The dot won’t expand over so much of your target like a larger size will.
We’ve talked about a lot of information that might be confusing if you’re new to the optics world. When looking for the best scope, you want to make sure that you’re familiar with how the optic works and what the important concepts are. Now that you’re familiar with how a red dot sight works, let’s talk about some other concepts and terms that you should be aware of in your search for a red dot.
We know how the red dot protects against parallax, but we haven’t discussed the details of parallax itself. Parallax is the displacement of the position of something against your sights that is on another focal plane or line of sight. When using any sort of sights, the reticle or crosshairs will appear to move with you as you move your head or eyes, resulting in an inaccurate reticle picture. This is a common problem with traditional rifle sight scopes and iron sights.
Minute of Angle (MOA)
MOA, or Minute of Angle, is an angular measurement that will measure how big your red dot will appear on the target when you aim. A single MOA is about 1.047 inches for every 100 yards. What this means is that the diameter of the red dot will show up as 1 inch on a target that’s 100 yards away. The MOA dot will show up as 2 inches at 200 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards, so on and so on.
Let’s talk dot sizes now. A dot size that’s a 2 MOA dot will be very small and more accurate when it comes to aiming and firing. But, it will also be much smaller and can be harder to see if you don’t have practice in locating it. The smaller the dot size the better it will be for accuracy, if that’s your main priority.
Now, a dot that’s 6 MOA is going to be much bigger and easier to use. This size will provide a much faster target acquisition will be faster to locate, aim, and shoot than the micro red dot. However, this means that the dot will also cover more of the target, decreasing the accuracy. This dot size is the standard for many professionals including military and police officers.
What actually is eye relief? We know already that eye relief is the distance between your eye and the scope itself. But what does that actually mean?
Eye relief is also a measurement. The eye relief will tell you how far away your eye can be in order to use the sight to its full and correct potential. Being within the eye relief will give you the best field of view and the best accuracy when it comes to the sights. A lot of traditional scopes and magnified sights have very small eye relief, which means that your eye must be close to the scope in order for it to function correctly.
For red dot sights, that’s not the case. Red dot sights have unlimited eye relief, which means that you can place the scope how ever far away you would like. This gives you the advantage of comfort when it comes to your personal shooting style. If you’ve always used something that has a large eye relief, then you’re in luck; red dots will still work just as well with a large eye relief compared to a smaller eye relief.
Field of View
This one might be a little tricky. Field of view is not just an optics term, it’s just a general name for the range of sight that you have when you look around. When it comes to optics, your field of view is what you can see through the scope. Or, in the case of red dots, the lens window.
You shouldn’t even notice any field of view issues when you’re using the red dot scope. As we said before, the red dot allows for a wide look and shooting with both eyes open. And, because they typically don’t have magnification, the field of view should be exactly like it is normally. What you see through the window should be what you see out of your eyes on any given day.
Choosing Your Best Red Dot
You’ve got a great base to build your red dot expertise on. Now, let’s talk about what you should be looking for when you start your search for the best red dot sight.
Now, a lot of these features can be subjective and based on what the intended use of the scope is. If you’re a competitive shooter, you’ll probably be more looking for a scope that provides the best accuracy. If you just want to try out a new red dot and get a feel for it, there’s plenty of red dots that are recommended for beginners or for casual shooters. A lot of this decision will come from what you think you need and what will be best for you.
A good one you’ll want to read up on is the reticle style. The reticle style is pretty standard for a red dot sight but there are still some variations. Most common is the obvious red dot or green dot. Other shapes might include a hollow circle, triangles, crosshairs, hash marks, or chevrons. There can even be a scope that uses a combination of some of these elements for their reticle picture. All of these types have their advantages and drawbacks, but, if used properly, all can be equipped for maximum shooting performance.
Circular shapes are the easiest to see and will come to the center naturally. It’s a more familiar shape and very easy to aim with. These types of sights make it easier to compensate for bullet drop.
Crosshairs can be used to split your target into fourths which can be a very easy way to find the center of your target.
Hashes will allow you to compensate your aim for bullet drop or other factors that might affect where your shot will land. You can use hash marks to aim at targets that are further than what you zeroed your firearm for.
If you happen to have a reticle that is oddly or unevenly shaped, then you can sight in at the finest point of the reticle. The finest point will give you the accuracy that you’ll need when that is your main priority.
Most red dot sights will come equipped with options to adjust the brightness. This way, you can make the reticle picture easier to see depending on the situation you are in.
If you turn the brightness up high, that will allow you to see the dot much easier and give you that fast target acquisition. However, turning up the brightness will also saturate the reticle picture, which can blur the edges and reduce precision of aiming.
If you reduce the brightness, that’s where you’ll get the better accuracy. A lower brightness setting will allow you to fine tune your aiming to give you more accuracy.
In the daytime is when you’ll want to hike up the brightness, just so you can see the dot easier. If you’re shooting when it’s dark out, you’ll want to turn the brightness down so the reticle doesn’t take over your target.
This is another category where your personal priorities will come in. Think about what you want to have for your weapon. Fast target acquisition is your main priority? Then you’ll probably want to go for something that’s bigger. If you want precision the most, then smaller is the move for you. But there’s also sizes in between that will give you a good balance if both are important to you.
This is also where the MOA comes in. A 2 MOA scope will have a very small red dot and will grant you greater precision. However, that also means that it will be harder to see and aim in quickly. A 5-6 MOA or greater will be very large and easy for fast target acquisition. This comes at the sacrifice of accuracy the bigger you get. A 3-4 MOA is probably the best size range for an average shooter since it will give you a nice balance of both target acquisition speed and accuracy.
Battery or Power Source
A lot of red dot sights can operate without a battery or power source. While this can prove beneficial for some, there’s also some drawbacks you should be aware of. Those kinds of reticles that don’t need a power source will probably be a fiber optic lens. These optics don’t have the brightness toggle, which can be a deal breaker for some shooters. This kind of optic, when in super bright conditions, can over take the target with the reticle. They also don’t function well in low light and will be very hard to see.
If you go for an optic that has a battery or power source, this is what will allow you to adjust the brightness of your reticle and keep it to your needs. You can also purchase one that has a long battery life so you can enjoy these features for your entire hunt without having to worry about it.
Red dot sights don’t come equipped with magnification as a standard feature. However, you can purchase a red dot magnifier that will mount to the back of your scope and allow you to zoom in on your target and see all the details.
While you might be able to see your target very clearly from a distance, the red dot magnifier will also increase the size of your reticle or dot. So, when you blow up the image of your target, your reticle is going to turn into a huge mass.
The Best Red Dot Sight
Now that you’ve got your foundation ready, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of today’s article: what is the best red dot? Well, that’s a tricky one. So, I’ve gathered a list of plenty of products that meet a wide range of needs and perform well. These products are different in terms of what features they offer, but are all highly rated and from trusted brands.
1. Aimpoint PRO
The Aimpoint PRO is a very high quality optic that brings durability, battery life, and accuracy. This is probably the best overall red dot sight that’s on the market when it comes to the combined features that it offers.
The reticle itself on the PRO is a 2 MOA dot, which is a great choice for accuracy when you need it most. The glass lenses are slightly blue tinted which will give you great clarity overall.
Not only that, but the Aimpoint PRO offers 10 different brightness settings. This will allow you to adjust the red dot brightness based on the time of day and any other situations that you might need it. You can adjust it to go from a small dim light, to a nearly blinding dot; whatever you might need. Four of these settings are made for night vision compatibility.
This scope also has the unlimited eye relief that red dots are known for. This way, you can aim at your target with both eyes open. This also grants you a wider field of vision to allow you to be better aware of your surroundings. It is on the bigger side for scopes, but that is what gives you the better field of vision.
The Aimpoint is extremely durable. It’s fogproof, waterproof, and even shockproof. The lenses are sunk into the scope, protecting them from getting scratched or smudged.
The elevation and windage adjustments are very easy to use. They offer distinct clicks that are easy to count the amount of ticks you are moving the sight. This style of adjustment will stay zeroed pretty much forever without much deviation.
This red dot has no parallax either, so that’s not something you’ll have to worry about accounting for.
Unlike a lot of other scopes out there, this one comes with the mounting hardware that will be needed to add it to your rifle. It also comes equipped with front and rear lens covers. The rear one is actually clear, which means you can still see through it even if you forget to flip it up.
The battery life is exceptionally long and will last you for years.
Why We Like It
- Extremely long battery life.
- Very durable.
- 2 MOA dot is extremely accurate.
- Has 10 brightness options.
- Is expensive.
- 2 MOA dot can be harder to get fast target acquisition.
- 4 of the brightness options are only for night vision.
2. Sig Sauer Romeo5
This optic is the real budget option. However, it competes with others that are nearly twice its price and still stands up to the competition.
For the price, the glass is great quality and offers enormous clarity on the target. The lenses are coated in a special coating that reduces glare and reflections, which will better help you see your dot and your target.
The dot size is 2 MOA and also has 10 different brightness settings, 2 of which apply to night vision. You’ll be able to see your target day or night. The dot iself is clear and round, so, while it’s a smaller size, it’ll still be easy to see.
As almost all red dots do, you get unlimited eye relief. So, regardless of how you’re shooting, your field of view will be wide and allow you to be aware of other surroundings.
This sight is made of solid aluminum and can withstand water submersion and any other bumps and knocks it might sustain.
The scope offers a unique motion activation feature. Whenever you move it or the scope detects any sort of vibration, it will turn on, allowing for quick draw and use. It will also turn off by itself if no activity is detected after a few minutes. This greatly conserves the already long battery life. Just keep in mind that if you’re driving with it or taking it on a travel, you’ll want to find a secure place to keep it so it doesn’t keep turning itself on and off because of bumps in the road.
The knobs are easy to adjust and don’t require any tools. They will hold a zero for a long time.
This sight has a little more parallax than others might have, but not enough to affect the aim very much. It will give you a great shot at a target anywhere from 10-100 yards away, but not much further than that. It’s mostly made for self defense or target shooting.
The Romeo5 comes equipped with two different mount options. It also comes with an adjustment tool, a mounting tool, a battery, a lens cloth, and even a lens cover. For the price, that’s an insane amount of products that come with it.
Why We Like It
- It’s affordable.
- It has 10 brightness options.
- It has a motion sensor to activate.
- It has great battery life.
- The 2 MOA can be difficult for fast target acquisition.
- The red dot is not as crisp as other products.
- It’s not as reliable or durable as other products.
- Many consumers have reported issues out of the box.
3. Trijicon MRO
The Trijicon is an optic that is on the smaller side, but that doesn’t mean it sacrifices the quality or features. For its size, this optic is impressive.
The glass on the reticle is clear and allows you to easily see the red dot. No details on your target will be lost when you look through this reticle. Not only that, but there is no visible tint, which may be a feature that is important to some shooters. The style of glass and lenses also cuts glare.
The MRO actually uses a green dot. Some shooters find that the green dot is easier to find on different targets and different light conditions than the red dot.
The MRO offers 8 different red dot brightness settings. It gives a good balance between day shooting and night vision, with 4 of the settings typically working for both.
The reticle and the lenses are clear and won’t distort the target or dot. This tends to be a common problem with a lot of scopes, and can decrease your accuracy. With the MRO, you won’t have to worry about that.
The battery can run continously for up to a year. So if you forget to turn it off a couple of times, you won’t have to worry about having to get a new battery.
This optic also has the unlimited eye relief. The viewing area is huge and gives you a great field of vision when using the scope. It’s also designed to be used with both eyes when shooting. Since it’s a reflex sight, there is no parallax whatsoever.
Even though it’s small, it’s extremely durable. Fogproof, shockproof, waterproof, you name it! This little scope can take it. It can be used under nearly any conditions without obtaining any damage. With a weight of only 4 ounces, it’s pretty incredible that it can stand up to these conditions.
The adjustment knobs are clean and crisp, so you can easily use them and keep track of how many times you adjust it. It doesn’t have any tendency to stray away from the original zero and will hold its accuracy for a long time. The adjustment knobs have a slot that requires a screwdriver or something similar to use them. This might be a disadvantage while using, but it also means that the zero won’t ever be affected, so you won’t likely need to use them anyway.
The MRO is compatible with tons of mounts, so you can attach it anywhere and to whatever firearm you choose. It doesn’t include lens caps, which is something that you’ll want to take into account before purchasing. Trijicon offers a slip on cover for purchase though.
Why We Like It
- Small and lightweight.
- It’s very durable.
- Has 8 brightness settings.
- Up to 5 years of battery life.
- It’s expensive.
- It does not come with a mount.
4. Vortex Venom
This sight is on the cheaper side and will definitely give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to affordability.
Just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’s made cheap. The lens is still a high quality clear glass and won’t distort the target. It offers a wide view as well.
The Venom offers 10 brightness settings for the dot as well. This lets you adjust the dot so that it’s clean and easy to see regardless of light or other conditions. You can either adjust it manually or turn on the auto brightness mode. The auto brightness also reacts when you draw or move the weapon. So if you want conserve some battery and need to draw your weapon in an emergency, the auto brightness will instantly illuminate your reticle without fail.
The dot itself is a 6 MOA. This size gives great consistency over distances and different targets, while still giving that fast target acquisition and ease of use. This makes it ideal for carrying or self defense applications.
The unlimited eye relief allows you to shoot with both eyes as well. The field of view is insane and actually outperforms many other red dot sights on the market.
The sight is also waterproof and scratchproof. The lenses are coated with a special formula that allows them to resist scratching and other damage to the glass. The sight is small and slim, which is great for concealed carry options.
The adjustment options are clean but also small and less distinct clicking when it compares to other sights. They are still easy to use, and the small buttons are what gives the sight its compact construction, so this one is up to your personal preferences. It will hold a zero for a long time as well.
This sight is small and is not compatible with a red dot magnifier. There is very little parallax and it remains accurate when you need it most. The Venom comes out of the box with a mount that’s typically meant for use on a pistol. It also includes a spacer that you can use to mount the sight to a rifle as well. It’s insanely light and won’t add any noticeable weight to your firearm.
The battery will last you up to 30,000 hours, which is impressive for such a small profile. There is a tool provided to help you with battery change to save you the headache in advance.
Why We Like It
- It’s affordable.
- It’s extremely lightweight.
- It will give you fast target acquisition with a size choice.
- It has 10 brightness settings.
- It’s not made for all pistols; some firearms will need additional hardware.
- The adjustment knobs require a screwdriver.
5. Trijicon RMR
The RMR is a great option for those who what a high quality pistol red dot. It’s very lightweight and will add no weight to your pistol.
The red dot is clear but has a black ring around it, which might be difficult for some shooters to use. This might add some fuzz to the red dot, but it’s not enough to add an issue. The glass is extremely clear and won’t distort the target.
The RMR has up to 100 continous hours of battery life; that’s impressive when you consider the small profile and no weight.
There is unlimited eye relief with the optic and you can use both eyes to shoot. This allows you to see the rest of your surroundings, as well as a decent field of view around your target through the optic as well.
The optic is extremely durable and can take a lot of damage with no issues. The lenses don’t have any protective coating like other products might offer, so you’ll want to be careful with fog or dust that can scratch the lens.
The adjustment system for the RMR is clean and easy to use. It sights the weapon to an extremely accurate point and will hold the zero for a long time.
The RMR comes with mounting rails and hardware and will be very easy to install on your firearm.
Why We Like It
- It has an automatic brightness setting that also conserves power.
- It’s durable.
- It has 8 adjustable brightness settings.
- It’s very expensive.
- The 3.5 MOA dot size can be hard to see.
6. Leupold Delta Point Pro
Another excellent red dot sight that you can rely on is the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro. This red dot is a top-of-the-line optic in terms of the kinds of features and quality that it offers. This Leupold scope sells for a lesser price, and it has some significant advantages over the other red dots we’ve discussed.
The glass on this Leupold is larger and clearer than most others. The unimpeded, broad field of vision will allow you to sight targets quicker. Leupold offers shooters unlimited eye relief with this 2.5 MOA sight.
The dot’s performance is about 90%, and it operates in all lighting circumstances, but it is not night vision compatible. If you’re looking for a night vision-compatible sight, Trijicon might be the way to go. There are eight lighting settings available, as well as an automated option, so you can choose between the manual adjustment and the automated mode.
Motion-sensing activation is another great feature you’ll find on this sight. This feature helps to put your sight in battery-saving mode, and it is not seen in many other red dot sights. When your sight is in this mode, it will remain switched off until you relocate or move the weapon. The motion sensor technology is activated by the smallest movement, making it ideal for responding quickly in an emergency.
The sight comes with a top-changing battery, so you don’t necessarily have to take off your sight to replace the battery. This Leupold sight has a simple to-turn windage and elevation adjustment, and you will be able to hear loud clicks when you move the knobs.
Leupold also provides a lifetime guarantee on this scope. However, keep in mind that the brand will not pay freight expenses while returning the sight for warranty service. The sight is protected by a really beautiful rubberized cover. The sight is highly durable, and it is waterproof to about 10 feet when immersed in water.
This red dot sight does not work well at night. The lenses reflect too much of the dot, making it hard to achieve a proper aim.
DeltaPoint does not include mounting hardware; therefore, you must purchase your mounting devices separately.
The brightness control button is just in front. When you change the brightness, you may not notice the difference straight away since your fingers will be covering the window. This feature is not a terrible flaw, but I like dots that have brightness adjustment buttons on the side.
This laser sight’s battery life should last between 6 and 12 months. Another area where Leupold DeltaPoint excels is battery life.
7. Crimson Trace
The Crimson Trace 1500 is yet another affordable red dot, but it might also be considered as one of the most ultra-compact sights.
This sight has a 3 MOA dot that is ideal for basic defensive use. It is made with a polymer frame which makes it weighs only 0.65 ounces even when the CR2032 battery has been added to the sight.
This red dot lacks all the bells and whistles found in most sights we’ve reviewed, but it performs a good job as a red dot. The auto adjustment dot can adapt to any lighting situation for hassle-free operation. This CTS sight is said to have a long-lasting battery that can stay for about a 20,000-hour operating duration. With this kind of battery, you can go hunting without fear of a dead battery.
The notch drilled onto the back of the casing allows most shooters to be able to co-witness the scope with iron sights. The scope has an RMSC footprint, making it compatible with any gun. Since it is compact, the dot may be more difficult to detect, but that is the price to pay for its great degree of concealability.
8. Burris Fastfire III Riflescope
This Burris Fastfire scope is a very light and compact red dot optic suitable for pistols, AR-15 rifles, shotguns, and hunting rifles.
Actually, you may pick between the large 8 MOA dot and the 3 MOA dot. The larger 8MOA dot is more suitable for pistols, while the smaller 3MOA dot is best suited for rifles and shotguns.
The larger Fastfire III version that has an 8MOA dot is very cost-effective, and it is a great addition to shooters that have optics-ready pistols. This dot is also great for close-range shooting accuracy. The small size of the sight tube allows it to be used by shooters as a primary sight or coupled with another sight.
The Burris scope is easy to use. It has a button that is used for powering the dots, and there are also 3 manual brightness settings. The scope comes with an automatic setting, which is useful when transitioning from very bright light to low light or vice versa.
The Burris metal chassis is small, and it has a top-loading battery compartment that allows for simpler battery changeover without the need to re-zero.
This red dot is powered by a single CR1632 battery and the battery can last around 1,000 hours.
Like every other red dot sight, the Burris scope provides enormous eye relief, and it allows shooters to fire with both eyes open. The scope is also resistant to the weather and high recoil.
This Burris reflex sight is made of high-quality and lightweight aluminum. It also has a Picatinny mount system.
9. Ozark Armament Rhino Sight
Although I’m not suggesting that this was what the Ozark Armament sight was intended for, the sight appears to be a fantastic attempt at creating a low-cost patrol red dot. Though it isn’t as nice and high quality as other, more costly scopes, it is still a really good pick.
The Ozark Armament scope is very durable, and it hardly gives shooters any issues. The manufacturers also claim that it can withstand the recoil of 50 BMG.
I particularly like the Rhino’s mount, which lets you detach and attach a sight with your hands. There are some obvious concerns, like its short battery life. These drawbacks will remind you of the low cost of the sight.
The included mount does not appear to be a great match. The Rhino sight looked unleveled right out of the box. However, this is something you can easily balance. The sight has an objective lens diameter of 28mm, but it does not appear like there are benefits to this big objective lens. Some users have reported issues with reflection.
The Rhino sight is prone to tubing, making it a less user-friendly solution for shooting from unusual angles. The front lens cover of the sight cannot close. Although including lens caps is a wonderful idea, a non-functional lens cap will obstruct your vision when you’re not using the cap.
10. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25
Another great red dot scope is this model of Bushnell that packs a powerful punch for the price. Looking at the price of this scope, you may be wondering how this low-cost scope could have such a quality. Continue reading to know more…
The first noticeable feature of this Bushnell scope is the excellent glass clarity. The lens of the scope is multicoated, and it also features a high-contrast coating that can work in both daytime and night. The coated lenses are most beneficial at night, making it easier to distinguish between a forest creature and a tree trunk.
This Bushnell red dot was built with 11 different brightness levels, so you may adjust it to the ideal setting you want. You can dim the lights of this 3 MOA reticle to make it suitable for any ambient lighting condition.
Since the eye relief of this Bushnell sight is infinite, it is ideal for usage with both eyes opened. However, the sight is somehow large.
The Bushnell TRS is built to last. It is completely fog proof, shockproof, and waterproof. Also, it is durable enough to withstand any punishment you throw at it. The sight has some issues with the dials because they felt loose after a few days of using the sight.
I don’t really understand why this scope was made like a little tank while the dials are low quality. The turrets are tactical and designed to allow for quick elevation and windage changes. The scope’s knobs are actually tight. When you make adjustments, the knobs should make a nice “click sound.”
You can easily zero the scope. I was able to zero mine after shooting 5-7 rounds. Furthermore, it held zero quite well. Even after hundreds of shots, it held zero.
It has just 1x magnification. The good news about the scope is that it will perform excellently below and beyond 25 yards. You’ll only need to buy a magnifier to increase the magnification level.
The TRS Bushnell scope has a cross-bolt mount type, so you can quickly slip it on and sight. The TRS sight is ideal if you need a dependable and cheap red dot scope. This optic comes with a one-year guarantee from Bushnell. So if something goes wrong with it, the brand will fix and repair the issue.
In a nutshell, you’ll receive a superb piece of equipment at a reasonable price. The Trophy TRS is totally worth it if just for the long battery life.
11. Vortex Sparc Solar
Most red dot sights have a battery life of roughly 50,000 hours, while this Vortex Sparc has a battery that lasts for about 150,000 hours. Even more impressive is the Scope’s ability to produce 3 times that of the majority of excellent scope batteries while operating in a medium setting. Other scopes need to work on low settings to have that 50,000 hours.
Vortex achieves this by running the gadget nearly entirely on solar power. Solar is the scope’s default option. When you expose the panel to sunshine or simply ambient light, it activates and extends the battery life. Because the energy provided by the solar panel is used to power the scope in real-time, this will save the battery because it will only be used when there is no solar energy.
This Vortex Sparc provides more than simply long battery life. The sight has a 2 MOA dot. The 2 MOA dot of this scope is very clear at all other brightness settings except the highest brightness level. The lenses provide excellent clarity with a faint blue tinge. It also works with night vision.
The scope has waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof construction that ensures that it can withstand battering and continue to perform as it should. The sight has a series of large, tactile buttons that allow for quick changes.
The Vortex Sparc is a small optic; as a result, it will only need very little space on the rail for attachment. The scope is 2.6 inches long and weighs about 5.9 ounces. The Vortex Sparc has the same Micro footprint as found in the Aimpoint Micro, and this allows it to be mounted on a variety of platforms.
This includes attaching it to very low shotgun mounts and a variety of other applications. Furthermore, it is compatible with a variety of aftermarket mounting devices of varying sizes and rifle kinds.
The market price is frequently much below $500, therefore we can call it a very affordable scope.
12. Holosun 507K
Miniature weapons require miniature sights. If you have a very small pistol, then you may benefit from the mini red dot sights currently on the market. This Holosun 507K features a small red dot that can be mounted on concealed carry handguns such as Sig P365, Glock 48, Glock 43X MOS, and many more.
This 507K scope model of Holosun is a scaled-down version of the 507C model. It has the same toughness, aluminum build, and shock-proof design. The sight also has a side-loaded battery. You have three reticle options to choose from, and the only feature you will give up by going for this tiny sight is the solar panel. The 507k scope clarity is excellent. It also has a clear and crisp reticle that is easy to use.
This 507K scope has 2 adjustment buttons, however, most rivals just have one to cycle the different brightness levels. Furthermore, this Holosun sight uses the Shield RMSc footprint, which is an industry-standard for compact optics. In my opinion, it is the most feature-rich, ergonomic, and dependable ultra-small red dot.
The scope’s micro-sized design makes it have a very small window, and this does not affect the usability of the scope much. You may pick between the 2 MOA dots, 32 MOA circles, or a mix of the two reticles. The large reticles are ideal for concealed carry weapons.
The optic weighs under one ounce which helps to keep your handgun lightweight. The 507K scope also includes an inbuilt rear pistol sight, allowing for easy co-witnessing. The small optic is composed of 7075 aluminum and is built to withstand the abuse that any concealed carry weapon may dish out. The optic may be immersed completely in water for up to half an hour without getting damaged.
When using a concealed carry weapon, you need a durable and dependable optic that will continue to perform flawlessly after so many rounds. Most red dots are incapable of keeping up with the quality of this 507K. Most scopes are delicate, but the 507K is strong and provides all of the red dot benefits.
13. Primary Arms SLX
Primary Arms transformed the affordable optics industry, and they came to popularity so quickly and so high that firms like Trijicon have copied their ever-awesome reticles. This SLX Microdot from Primary Arms provides a high-quality red dot to shooters at an affordable price.
The reticle has Primary Arms’ fantastic ACSS reticles, which is the ACSS-CQB. As a result, the ACSS-CQB reticle allows shooters to discharge rapid-fire bullets while also slowing down, elevating, and estimating ballistic drop.
It is a fantastic reticle that’s ridiculously simple to use and suitable for a wide range of weapons. With this reticle, you’re ready to handle everything from shotgun slug to 5.56 calibers.
The SLX Micro red dot has an objective lens diameter of 25mm that provides a good, broad field of vision. The picture via the optic is sharp and clear, with excellent reticle clarity.
It might not be totally appropriate to call the sight a microdot. Although it is small, it has a 25mm objective lens and weighs about 6.5-ounce which pushes it well beyond the Micro category. However, it remains small, and the weight is a minor issue. This SLX sight is a fantastic tiny optic with 4 various mounting height choices, allowing it to work with every rifle and scope height.
The ACSS-CQB reticle is useful for both close-range and long-range shooting. Primary Arms presents the holdover spots for nine distinct shotgun and rifle ranges. It’s quite flexible and simple to use. I had a difficult time finding anything that combined quality and creativity with a low price of around $200. This Primary Arms SLX is very new, yet it has already received awards as of 2021.
It is said to have a battery life of about 12,000 hours.
14. EOTech EXPS3 Holographic Sight
We cannot talk about red dots without making mention of a popular Holographic sight. The EOTech sight is one of the most efficient holographic sight you can find on the market. It works magic in close-quarter situations.
The EXPS series is substantially smaller than previous EOTech models, although it is not available in compact handgun-mountable variants. However, it’s best suited for use with the full-sized rifles.
This EOTech model with the notation EXPS3-0 indicates that the reticle has a single center 1MOA dot, whereas the 3-1 mark indicates two 1MOA dots.
This EXPS3-0 sight is one of the lightest and smallest EOTech sights, with pinpoint accuracy loved by hunters and recreational shooters. It is also used by military personnel and others professionals.
Interestingly, this XPS3-0 model has a 1MOA red dot that enables precise shooting. The 1MOA dot is surrounded by a 68MOA reticle circle that allows you to shoot with both eyes open and acquire targets quickly.
Each XPS3-0 Sight is powered by a single CR123A battery that is kept in a transverse configuration, resulting in a lower footprint than the earlier 512 series.
The sight is supported by a 7mm elevated base, making it compatible with a night vision device. A fast removable lever is also included.
The battery life is an average of 500 – 600 hours, however, all EOTech machines have an automatic-shutdown option. The sight has a total of 30 brightness settings (20 daytime and 10 night vision).
Despite the fact that the model EXPS3 is mostly made of plastic, the elevation and windage controls are adequately shielded by a robust aluminum shroud. The sight can resist the violent recoil of a shotgun or any high-powered caliber rifle.
15. Ade Advanced Optics RD3
This is a low-cost Chinese-made small reflex sight intended for pistol use.
Given that Ade Advanced Optics produced optic parts for a number of prominent manufacturers and dealers, it’s not unexpected that their red dots share a footprint with certain well-known optics like Vortex. This RD3 model, on the other hand, costs a fraction of the cost of these well-known optics.
The Ade sight has 3MOA green dot, which is useful since our eyes are sensitive to green light and hence see green color better, especially outside in strong daylight.
Although the dot is green, we shall refer to it as a red dot for simplicity. This red dot by ADE is powered by a CR2032 battery, and the battery can last for about 3 months. The Ade Optics has 5 illumination levels and turns down automatically after one hour to preserve battery life.
Some users complain about the somewhat deformed dot when compared to more costly optics; however, this dot is meant for close-range shooting.
Red dot sight accessories are like a toolkit for optimizing your shooting experience. These add-ons are designed to bolster the performance and functionality of your red dot sight, ensuring you have the edge you need in various shooting scenarios. Let’s look at some of these essential accessories:
Red Dot Magnifiers are akin to adding a zoom feature to your red dot sight. They attach seamlessly and offer a magnified view of distant targets. Having a magnifier is like attaching a pair of binoculars to your firearm – magnifiers make distant objects appear closer, enabling you to accurately engage targets at extended ranges. This accessory is particularly beneficial when you need precision shots or when engaging multiple targets at varying distances.
Just as sunglasses shield your eyes from bright sunlight, anti-reflective devices protect your red dot sight from glare. These devices minimize reflections caused by ambient light sources, ensuring a clear and unobstructed view of your target. By mitigating glare, you can maintain focus on your aiming point even in challenging lighting conditions, such as direct sunlight or artificial light sources.
Lens covers act as the first line of defense for your red dot sight’s delicate glass surface. They shield the lens from dirt, debris, and potential scratches, preserving its optical clarity. Whether you’re navigating through dense vegetation or shooting in adverse weather, lens covers prevent external elements from compromising your sight’s performance. Think of them as armor for your optic, ensuring it remains pristine and ready for action.
Protective cases or rifle cases provide a secure haven for your red dot sight during transport and storage. These rugged cases shield your sight from physical impacts, bumps, and accidental drops. By safeguarding your optic from potential damage, protective cases contribute to its longevity and reliability. Whether you’re on the range or in the field, a sturdy case ensures that your red dot sight remains operational and undamaged.
Quick-release mounts are great red dot sight accessories. They offer the convenience of effortless attachment and detachment from your firearm. If you frequently switch between different guns or optics, these mounts are your go-to solution. Just like snapping a clasp shut, quick-release mounts enable you to swiftly change your setup without the fuss, ensuring you’re always ready for action.
Riser mounts provide a boost to your red dot sight’s elevation. If you find that your sight is positioned too low, especially when co-witnessing with iron sights or other accessories, riser mounts come to the rescue. These mounts lift your sight higher above the firearm’s rail, granting you a more comfortable shooting position and accommodating other attachments you may have. They’re the perfect solution for achieving optimal sight alignment and a clear field of view.
Lens Cleaning Kits
Just as you clean your glasses or camera lens, your red dot sight’s glass needs tender loving care too. Lens cleaning kits are like your sight’s personal spa treatment. They include specialized tools and cleaning solutions to keep your sight’s glass spotless and free from dirt, smudges, and debris. A clean lens ensures a crisp and unobstructed view, allowing you to maintain pinpoint accuracy no matter the shooting conditions.
Extended Battery Life Kits
For red dot sights that rely on batteries, extended battery life kits are a game-changer. These kits are like energy boosters, providing you with prolonged power for your optic. Whether you’re engaged in an extended shooting session or embarking on a long hunting expedition, the last thing you want is for your sight’s battery to die at a critical moment. Extended battery life kits keep you in the game for longer, eliminating battery-related worries. These accessories could come in the form of an external power bank or attachable batteries.
Choosing the Right Red Dot Sight for Your Firearm
Picking the perfect red dot sight for your firearm is like finding the right shoes for different activities – you need the right fit for the best performance. Let’s break down how to match red dot sights with specific types of firearms:
When you’re packing a handgun red dot for self-defense or close-quarters shooting, you want a red dot sight that’s quick and precise. Look for a compact sight with a small, crisp dot – around 2 to 4 MOA (Minute of Angle). This small dot helps you pinpoint your target accurately, even at short distances. Also, consider a sight with low profile and snag-free edges, so it doesn’t interfere with your draw from an IWB holster. And if your handgun is for concealed carry, choose a sight that’s durable and can handle the bumps and scrapes of daily life.
Rifles are usually long-range firearms, and your red dot sight should match that accuracy. Opt for a sight with a dot ranging from 2 to 6 MOA. This size balances quick target acquisition with the ability to hit targets at medium to longer ranges. For extra precision, you might also consider a red dot sight with a magnifier attachment, giving you the versatility to zoom in when needed.
For a shotgun scope, you need a red dot sight with a larger dot – around 4 to 6 MOA – works well. This dot size lets you quickly acquire close-range targets. A wider field of view is also beneficial, so choose a sight with a larger window. Consider a sight with multiple brightness settings to adapt to different lighting conditions, and make sure it’s built tough to handle the recoil of shotgun blasts.
Crossbows are like a blend of firearms and archery, and your red dot sight should offer pinpoint accuracy. Look for a sight with multiple aiming points or reticle styles – like dots, lines, or circles – that are designed for crossbow trajectories. Some sights even have specific crossbow reticles. Make sure the sight is easy to adjust for windage and elevation to fine-tune your shots. Since crossbows can have unique mounting requirements, ensure the sight is compatible with crossbow rails.
Remember, each type of firearm has its own unique characteristics and purposes. When selecting a red dot sight, think about the distances you’ll be shooting, the speed of target acquisition you need, and the specific challenges of your chosen activity. It’s like finding the perfect tool for a specific job – the right red dot sight will help you hit your mark every time, no matter the firearm you’re using.
Benefits of Using a Red Dot Sight in Different Scenarios
In close-quarter combat, speed and accuracy can mean the difference between success and uncertainty. This is where a red dot sight shines. The illuminated red dot provides a clear aiming point without the need to align traditional iron sights. When milliseconds count, you can acquire your target with both eyes open and simply place the dot on the threat. This intuitive aiming reduces the time it takes to line up your shot, allowing you to react swiftly and hit your mark accurately.
Whether you’re in a competitive shooting match or engaging multiple targets, a red dot sight enhances your target acquisition speed and shooting accuracy. The red dot serves as a precise guide for your aim, eliminating the need to align front and rear sights. This is especially advantageous when transitioning between targets quickly. The dot remains consistently centered, enabling rapid follow-up shots with minimal adjustment. Red dot sights excel in dynamic shooting scenarios where split-second timing and accurate hits are essential, giving you a significant edge over traditional sights.
Low-Light and Night-Time Shooting
When the sun goes down, or visibility is reduced, a red dot can be a game-changer. Traditional iron sights can be challenging to see in low-light conditions, but the illuminated red dot stands out clearly. This allows you to maintain accurate aim even when ambient light is limited. Some red dots offer adjustable brightness levels, ensuring optimal visibility without overwhelming your vision.
In each of these scenarios, a red dot offers unique advantages that cater to specific challenges.
What is the difference between a red dot sight and a traditional scope?
A red dot sight and a traditional scope serve distinct purposes in aiming and target acquisition. A red dot projects a single illuminated dot onto a lens, acting as an aiming point. It offers fast target acquisition and allows for both eyes to remain open, enhancing situational awareness. In contrast, a traditional scope provides magnification and crosshairs or reticles, which aid in precise aiming over longer distances. While a red dot sight excels in quick shots and close-quarters, a traditional scope is more suited for precise long-range shooting.
How does the battery life of a red dot scope affect its performance?
The battery life of a red dot directly impacts its reliability and convenience. Longer battery life ensures extended usage without the worry of sudden power loss during critical moments. A scope with good battery life maintains consistent brightness levels, ensuring a clear and visible dot in various lighting conditions.
Can red dots be used with magnifiers for long-range shooting?
A red dot can be used with magnifiers to extend its effective range, which makes it capable of medium-range targets. However, magnifiers have a limited magnification which mostly does not exceed 5x magnification. As a result, a red dot with a magnifier may not be able to handle long-distance shooting.
Are red dot scopes suitable for astigmatism-prone individuals?
Yes, there are red dot sights made for people with astigmatism. Unlike traditional reticles that can appear distorted to those with astigmatism, the simple and single red dots in Holographic red dots remain clear and unaffected. Individuals with astigmatism often find red dot sights more comfortable to use, as the dot appears sharp and well-defined, aiding in accurate aiming.
What are the advantages of a parallax-free red dot sight?
A parallax-free red dot sight offers several advantages, especially in fast-paced shooting scenarios. Parallax-free means that the reticle remains on the target regardless of the shooter’s head or eye position. This eliminates the need for precise alignment between the shooter’s eye and the sight. As a result, shooters can quickly engage targets from various positions without the worry of parallax errors.
How do red dots handle recoil from powerful firearms?
Most red dot scopes are designed to withstand recoil from powerful firearms. They are built with durable materials and construction techniques that absorb and distribute recoil energy. Additionally, red dot sights often have shock-resistant components and are rigorously tested to ensure they maintain their zero (point of aim) even after repeated shots. Many reputable manufacturers subject their scopes to recoil testing to guarantee their durability and reliability under various firearm calibers.
What are the recommended budget-friendly red dot scopes?
There are several budget-friendly red dot scopes available on the market that offer good performance for their price. Some popular options include the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25, Vortex Crossfire, and Sig Sauer Romeo5. These models provide reliable durability, clear optics, and features commonly found in higher-end scopes, making them suitable choices for shooters on a budget.
Is it necessary to zero a red dot scope for accurate aiming?
Yes, zeroing a red dot scope is essential for accurate aiming. Zeroing ensures that the point of impact aligns with the red dot’s aiming point at a specific distance.
How does the reticle size affect the precision of a red dot sight?
The reticle size of a red dot can impact both speed and precision. A smaller reticle size, like 2 MOA, offers finer aiming and higher precision at longer distances. It allows you to make precise shots on smaller targets. On the other hand, a larger reticle, like 4 or 6 MOA, provides quicker target acquisition at close distances but may cover a larger portion of the target at longer ranges.
Mike Hardesty is a published freelance gun writer. He also possesses specialized expertise in rifle scopes With dozens of articles and reviews published in Pew Pew Tactical, Snipercountry.com, and TTAG (The Truth About Guns), Mike is considered a firearms expert. His special area of expertise is handguns.
Mike is a long-time shooter. He has been punching paper targets, taking deer and other game and shooting at competitions since about 1975. Other related pursuits include reloading and bullet casting. He currently reloads for over 10 calibers, both handgun and rifle. His reloads, particularly for 9mm, were in great demand during the height of the ammo shortage among family and friends. He donated hundreds of rounds to informal shooting sessions. He was quoted as saying “I do not sell my reloads but I sure will help my guys shoot ’em for free!”. He has a few cherished firearms that he has inherited or otherwise procured — those are his favorites.
He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Indiana State University in 1974-1975.
He’s a firearm experts and is the founder of mhardesty.com.