Red dot sights are an excellent way to improve your accuracy and allow you to shoot in varying lighting conditions. They’re exceptional modifications to virtually any pistol, but how can you know which one to pick? Our guide can show you what to look for in a good red dot sight and what to avoid in cheaper, lesser-quality models. Let’s get into it.
Best Pistol Red Dot Sights Comparison Chart
Burris Fastfire III
Vortex Optics Venom
Best for the Money
Leupold 119688 Delta Point Pro
Best for .22 Pistols
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
Best for AR Pistols
Tasco .22 Rimfire 1x30mm 5 MOA Red Dot
Best Red Dot for Rimfire Pistols
Ade Advanced Optics Python
Best Mini Red Dot for Pistols
Pinty Reflex Holographic Scope
Best Budget Option
Vortex Optics Crossfire
Best Vortex Pistol Red Dot
Aspects to Consider Before Buying a Red Dot Sight for Your Pistol
Before we get into the details, there a few things to keep in mind when considering the right scope for your firearm.
Reticles come in several different styles and brightness levels. Certain reticles have brightness adjusters that are excellent for use during the day and in lower-light conditions. Consider color, as well; although it's called a "red dot sight", some models come in green. You might consider choosing a green option if you plan on using your firearm in areas without abundant foliage.
The weight of your product affects the balance of your weapon. Most good red dot sights will be light, but make sure that whatever product you’re eyeing isn’t too heavy for the firearm you plan to use with it.
These devices run off small batteries. Consider where you will access and replace the batteries or if the device has certain battery-saving perks, such as automatic dimming or brightness sensors.
Size matters a lot since you'll be using it to aim your weapon. Find one that isn't too large or small for your personal preference and will not add a lot of weight for when you carry your firearm when it's not in use.
MOA (Minute of Angle)
This refers to the shot spread you can expect based on the size of the sight dot. One MOA is about 1/60th of a degree, so if you were to fire a round from 100 yards away you could expect a “spread” of about one-inch. Smaller MOA indicates higher theoretical precision, but larger MOA dots are easier to pick up quickly.
Review of the Best Pistol Red Dot Sights
Let’s dig into the individual reviews. We’ll break each down into its main features and pros and cons to give you the best idea of each product’s value.
Burris Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount
This product is a versatile, lightweight model that offers a red targeting dot at 3 MOA. It’s great for precision work and mounting on larger or smaller handguns. The Burris Fastfire won’t affect balance or weight of the firearm much due to its light weight, as it’s only 0.9 ounces in total, making it an effective addition for small weapons.
This comes with a Picatinny mount but can be purchased without a mount at all, if your firearm has a slot for the sight already. It’s got battery access at its top for easy replacement and a power button that takes some pressure to activate.
Most importantly, it comes with both a low battery warning indicator and an automatic brightness setting. While you can adjust the brightness between its three, pre-set options yourself, the automatic brightness tuner is excellent for shooting outdoors as the day progresses. Wind and elevation adjustments are available via a control on the side to allow you to fine-tune your experience even further.
The product is very sturdy and made in the USA. Each model is tested for quality and reliability. While this does make its price somewhat hefty, the end result is a product that can work for many kinds of weapons thanks to its small size and versatile controls.
Overall, the Burris Fastfire is expensive but worthwhile if you’re in the market for the best red dot sight you can get. It’s versatile, able to fit on small or large pistols, and has customization controls for wind and elevation to make your shooting experience as accurate as possible. The automatic brightness adjuster is extremely convenient and smooth.
Best for the Money:
Vortex Optics Venom
Next, we've got the Vortex Venom. This item also comes with a Picatinny mount. Together they weigh around 1.6 ounces, which is still light enough to work with many common pistols as well as larger firearms such as rifles or shotguns. The device is easy to transfer from weapon to weapon, so you could easily pick up this model for your entire collection.
It comes with ten pre-set brightness settings that work for daytime or nighttime shooting. This makes it excellent for shooting in any lighting conditions and an automatic brightness adjuster lets you focus on target acquisition instead of fiddling with settings.
There are wind and elevation adjusters, as well, and the battery can be changed via the top of the sight. The MOA dot is set to three; this is a good setting for both target practice on a range and use in the field against moving targets.
The battery is long-lasting; at the highest setting, you can expect around 150 hours of use. Lower settings can reach battery lifetimes of up to 30,000 hours in total.
The Vortex Venom Sight is a good choice for larger handguns if you’re in the market for top quality. The price tag might seem steep, but it’s absolutely the best bang for your buck in terms of ease-of-use and versatility.
Best for .22 Pistols:
Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Reflex Sight
The DeltaPoint Pro is a sturdy choice that’s excellent for use outside and for home defense. It’s totally waterproof and made from exceptional materials right here in the United States so that you know you’re getting quality where it counts.
The battery is easy to access at the top of the sight and also comes with a battery-saving feature that shuts off illumination after five minutes of inactivity. Once you move the firearm again, the device turns back on. This alone preserves your battery by months or even years.
The lens itself is a DiamondCoat Aspheric model that’s both scratch-resistant and that increases your field of view by about 56%. You won’t have to worry about dropping the sight and ruining it thanks to its tough construction.
The MOA is about 2.5: excellent for sharpshooting and for close-quarters aiming, although the dot might be a little small for quick target acquisition. You can switch it to a true 1 MOA dot with a clickable button on the side.
The DeltaPoint Pro is usable with almost any firearm but fits very well on .22-caliber weapons. This makes it an exceptional addition to common pistols used for home defense and concealed-carry weapons. You can combine it with a rear iron sight if you like or add it to other sights on longer weapons like rifles.
The DeltaPoint Pro is great for .22-caliber pistols thanks to its size, weight, and ease-of-installation. It can be utilized with rear iron sights or used for its fantastic features, like its battery-saving tech or scratch-resistance lens. It’ll be used well either outdoors, where rugged materials are needed, or for home defense.
Best for AR Pistols:
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
The Romeo5 is another great offering that’s focused on long use in variable conditions. It is waterproof up to one meter and thus, can work well in rain or foggy conditions.
The device has ten pre-set illumination settings, eight for daytime use and two for night shooting. The battery can provide power for around 50,000 hours. To extend this, MOTAC, or Motion Activated Illumination, tech powers down the device when it doesn’t sense motion and turns back on as soon as the gun moves. This preserves battery life far beyond what you could normally expect.
The sight is set for 2.5 MOA with a very low parallax; this makes your aim razor-sharp. You can expect that your shots will be right on target with the precision granted by this product.
However, the Romeo5 is a bit heavy, measuring in at just over 12 ounces. This means it’ll be great for heavier pistols or firearms without stocks, like AR pistols, but smaller handguns might find that its weight throws off their aim too much to be effective.
Finally, the Picatinny low-mount riser is great for a variety of firearms and keeps installation easy and flexible.
The Romeo5 is a good choice for larger, heavier pistols, like ARs, that are going to be used in varied conditions such as nighttime or rainy weather. The 2.5 MOA is good for precision targeting and the Picatinny mount can be utilized for all kinds of weapons. The battery life is certain to last for quite a while thanks to the sight’s MOTAC tech.
Best for Rimfire Pistols:
Tasco .22 Rimfire Red Dot Riflescope
The Tasco Rimfire scope is a great choice for any pistol that uses common Rimfire ammunition thanks to its high stability and balanced construction. It’s built to last with very sturdy materials that keep the scope’s weight even and steady on the pistol it’s mounted on. The scope is beautiful and complements many firearms perfectly.
The Rimfire scope is very bright, making it ideal for shooting during the middle of the day or other bright conditions. The scope offers a wide field of view and is made as durable as the rest of the piece; its optics are fully-coated in preserving material to prevent scratching and fading over time and use.
Its built-in dovetail rail fits a lot of weapons that aren't Rimfire, too. You can attach this scope to Weaver-style centerfire weapons if you like this product’s features but use a centerfire weapon.
The reticle is set to 5 MOA by default; this is a wide reticle that’s great for quick target acquisition and shooting over long distances.
The entire piece is a little heavy, but smaller pistols will have greater trouble with its size. Although it’s very balanced, its long shape might overwhelm more compact handguns and should be used with medium-to-large sidearms.
The Tasco Rimfire Scope is great for larger handguns and is an excellent choice if you use common Rimfire ammunition. You can still use this on centerfire weapons thanks to its mount design. It’s very strong and sturdy and the sight is scratch-resistant and offers a wide field of view. The reticle, at 5 MOA, is large and very bright. This is an excellent choice for rapid shooting or daytime target practice.
Best Mini Red Dot Sight for Pistol:
Ade Advanced Optics Python
This is an easy-to-use product that’s great for smaller handguns and pistols, unlike the previous item we reviewed. The Ade Mini Reflex Optics is small and compact, perfect for mounting on pistols with smaller chasses. Thanks to its size, it can be used as a backup scope on rifles, too.
The dot is set to 3 MOA and can be tuned with five different illumination settings. The on/off switch is located at the front and is easy to switch back and forth. The wind and elevation adjusters are located on the side and are lockable wherever you prefer them.
The lens is precision-ground and polished. This takes away almost all parallax you might expect to encounter and gives your sight picture clarity and crispness that’s almost unrivaled by other products. With the 3 MOA reticle, you’ll be able to hit targets with acute accuracy.
This does come with a minor downside in that the lens is a bit fragile. If the sight is dropped, there’s a good chance it will break. The rest is also a little weaker than some of the others we reviewed.
The battery is decent and will last for about three months of constant use, but there is no battery-saving tech included.
The Ade Mini Reflex Sight is a superb choice for smaller handguns or as a backup for rifles. The lens is phenomenal and provides a great sighting experience thanks to its polished design. However, it can be fragile due to its lightweight construction and precision-ground lens.
Best Budget Option:
Pinty Red and Green Reflex Holographic Rifle Scope
The Pinty Holographic Scope is an ideal all-terrain, all-weather addition to your firearm. It's water, fog, and shock-proof so you can use it no matter what the weather is outside. It's also relatively lightweight, as it's made from a high-grade aluminum alloy to keep it tough and functioning even after heavy use. Smaller pistols will still have a harder time with its weight, though.
The tubeless design of the scope affords a very wide field of view and keeps your picture wide and clear as you sight in. The windage and elevation are adjustable and the Picatinny mount is built into the device. You can remove this with tools later if you like, but it’s nice that it’s all installed right out of the box.
The reticles can be switched between four different types and two colors: red or green. This allows you to adjust the reticle based on what you’re looking at. Switching the reticles is as easy as turning a dial back and forth, allowing for quick-adaptation during a tense moment or a quick targeting exercise.
The types of reticles included in this product are a dot, a crosshair, a bullseye dot inside a circle, and a crosshair/bullseye combination.
The Pinty Red and Green Sight is a great choice for rifles or heavier pistols that will take advantage of its rotating reticles and weatherproof construction. It’ll last for a long time thanks to its aluminum frame and the scope affords an excellent field of view since there’s no tube covering the sides of the scope.
Best Vortex Pistol Red Dot Sight:
Vortex Optics Crossfire Red Dot Sight
This Vortex Crossfire is a great pick for larger sidearms and rifles thanks to its sturdy aluminum frame that prevents it from becoming too heavy, despite its overall bulk. Its knobs are all over the sides and top and can make the entire thing a little bulky, but that’s a minor flaw overall.
The scope has 11 different brightness settings, more than any other product on our list. The lens itself is multi-coated to improve light transmission when the light level around you is low, making this an exceptional pick for shooting during the evening or night
The aluminum body is also sealed, so you can use this scope in rain without worry. The mount that comes with the scope has two height options, allowing for use on pistols as well as larger firearms like rifles or shotguns.
The 2 MOA dot is perfect for fast target acquisition without sacrificing any overall accuracy.
The Vortex Crossfire was made for bigger pistols that are going to be used in a variety of lighting conditions. This is a good choice for outside use and for quick target acquisition thanks to the reticle’s MOA setting. There are 11 brightness settings in total, promoting use during the day or night.
Benefits of Investing in a Great Red Dot Sight for a Pistol
It’s important to get your money’s worth when you buy a red dot sight for your pistol. You could go the cheap route and get something quick and fast, but you’ll eventually end up spending more money over time because cheaply-made devices tend to break down quickly. Their shells will break or their electronics will go down and you’ll have to get a new one all over again.
Instead, investing in a great product gives you increased accuracy and confidence when you’re shooting in light conditions that aren’t perfect. Many have modifiers to help you aim and shoot accurately with differences in wind or elevation, allowing you to perfect your sharpshooting technique in all kinds of settings.
Furthermore, high-quality products will last a long time and have batteries or battery-saving features that require fewer fresh batteries than poor-quality ones.
How to Mount a Red Dot Sight on a Pistol
We’ll explain how to use your red dot sight on your pistol correctly. There are two primary ways of doing this: dovetail installation or machine installation.
Dovetail Installation-Installing via dovetail is great if you’re just beginning. You can add an additional slide that hooks onto your weapon’s dovetail at the end of the barrel and mount your sight on that slide. This is relatively easy and inexpensive, but it adds some height to your weapon, which may throw off your aim.
Machine Installation- Machine installation is more intensive and a little more expensive and involves securing the device to the actual main slide of your firearm’s barrel via a gunsmith. You’ll need to be a smith yourself or find a reputable one in your area to perform this modification. This type of mount is permanent, but it does allow it to mesh more fully with your weapon’s natural shape and preserve accuracy.
Check out this video for more information about proper sighting.
Red dot sights are one of the best additions you can get for your pistol. When it comes time to choose, buy something worth having that adds to your accuracy and user experience. We hope this guide has helped you find the best sight for your pistol!