Red dot sights are among the most popular types but that also means there are tons of them on the market. Let’s look at what makes a great sight and how to choose a superior red dot sight for your needs, as well as the best on the market today.
Comparison of the Best Red Dot Sights
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How Does a Red Dot Sight Work?
Compared to other types of sights, red dots are actually quite simple. Basically, a tilted mirror and an LED light superimpose what appears to the human eye as a red dot over your target. In reality, this red dot is a virtual image that is a result of the interaction between these components inside of a tube.
The physics of red dot scopes aside, in practice this means that you have a very precise reticle to focus on, and is quite an upgrade from iron sights while being almost as fast. You can contrast this to other sights that require the eye to be much closer to the sight and thus, require more time to acquire your target.
The dot comes in a variety of sizes, which are measured in units called MOA. Generally, red dots range from 3 MOA to 8 MOA, and three or five tend to be the most common. The smaller the dot, the more precise your aiming; at the same time, large dots are faster for many shooters.
Aspects to Consider When Buying a Red Dot Sight
If you’re considering a red dot sight, you should know that they’re far from equal. Some basic factors to consider should include:
Dot size, measured in MOA, is a matter of preference. Larger dots are easier to use and generally lead to faster target acquisition. However, they can also block your view, especially if they’re very large (such as an 8 or 10 MOA dot). Smaller dots are a bit more difficult to use but offer much better precision.
Red dot sights usually offer brightness settings. The more settings, the dimmer or brighter you can make the dot in granular steps, which increases visibility in adverse lighting situations. Some even have an auto-brightness feature that best matches your environment.
There are so many red dot sights on the market and it is possible to find great values. However, many red dot sights are extremely expensive, leading consumers to believe that a more expensive sight is necessary. Read our guide, and be careful to pick one that’s right for you no matter your budget.
Review of the Best Red Dot Sights
Now that you know a little more about red dot sights, including how they work and what to look for, let’s take a look at the best products on the market. There are quite a lot of red dot sights available, so we’ve compiled a pretty large list. To make things easier, we’ve categorized each so you can quickly find one that’s best for you.
Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot Sight
We love the Sig Sauer Romeo5 for a lot of reasons and while there are many options available, we think it’s a solid pick for many gun owners, not the least of which is the price—yes, there are cheaper units out there, and we’ll get to those, but this is a very high-quality sight for a modest price.
First of all, you get a 2 MOA red dot, which is very precise. While small, it is worth investing the time to learn how to use it to enhance your accuracy.
Additionally, there are ten illumination settings so you can achieve the perfect brightness in any conditions. Plus, two are night-vision appropriate, meaning you can even use it at night with the appropriate gear.
To save battery life, it comes with a motion-activated illumination system which powers down whenever it does not detect movement. Thanks to this system, you can enjoy a 50,000-hour battery life or longer.
Additionally, it is very easy to install using an integrated M1913 Picatinny interface, so you’ll have no problems mounting it quickly and simply on just about any compatible gun.
Lastly, it will survive just about whatever you can throw at it, with an IPX-7 waterproof rating and a fog-proof operation.
There’s very little to criticize about the Sig Sauer Romeo5 red dot sight. While the dot is small, taking the time to learn how to shoot with it will lead to great precision. With night vision compatibility and excellent durability, it is suitable for many users.
Best Red Dot Sight for the Money:
AT3 LEOS Red Dot Sight with Integrated Red or Green Laser Sight
While it’s a slight bit pricier (not by much), the AT3 LEOS Red Dot Sight offers a heck of a lot of features in one tiny package.
As its name suggests, it not only includes a crisp 2 MOA dot with six brightness settings, but also a laser on the side of the unit. Not only that, it is available in red or green. As is often the case, the green is pricier, although the red is quite a bargain. In any event, we suggest green, as it is easier to see in the daytime—red or green are great for darker conditions.
The inclusion of a laser is a great boon for anyone who has considered purchasing one separately. Not only is this a great two-in-one package at a great price, but you also get to free up more space on your gun. No need to worry about where the laser will go—now you can put a light or other useful attachment where it would have gone.
Battery life is also excellent when not using the laser. You’ll enjoy up to 50,000 hours of use, although it drops to only eight hours when using the laser—which is still pretty good for a laser.
Construction is excellent. The unit is housed in aircraft-quality aluminum, with a red dot encased in clear, fog-proof and multi-coated optics, ensuring it is ready to perform in any conditions for a long time.
If you’re interested in acquiring a laser sight, this excellent combo is quite a deal. Even by itself, the red dot component is crisp, functional, and durable.
Best Red Dot Sight for AR-15:
Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sights
If you’re not looking for a budget solution, we suggest the Vortex Optics Strikefire II, which is still quite affordable and perfect for use with an AR-15. That’s in large part due to a 1/3 co-witness cantilever mount which helps to position the optic bore center at 40mm above its base surface.
Additionally, it features adjustable windage and elevation with the simple usage of a coin or similar tool. Adjustments come in ½ MOA increments.
The dot itself is 4 MOA, which is a bit larger than the other entries on our list, but still on the lower end of the range. Many shooters prefer a 3 or 4 MOA dot. You’ll get ten illumination settings, including two that are compatible with night vision. While there is no auto-brightness function, swapping out the settings is easy, and thanks to multi-coated optics that are up to the usual Vortex Optics standard, you’ll enjoy an excellent picture.
With an objective lens diameter of 30mm, it frames your view very well, especially when used in combination with your co-witness. It also helps that it is a very compact unit, making it a smooth transition from iron sights if you have not used a red dot previously.
Construction, of course, is excellent. It is a single-chassis design made from high-quality aluminum and is nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed for ultimate waterproof and fog-proof performance. Lightweight and nimble, it nonetheless is shockproof and holds zero no matter what.
Installation is simple, straightforward, and fast. If you want a versatile, solid red dot for your AR-15, this is a popular option for a great reason: it does its job impeccably and stays out of your way.
Vortex Optics is always at the top of our lists and with good reason. They know how to make components that do their job impeccably well and stay compatible with many setups. For an AR-15, this is an excellent scope to default to.
Best Red Dot Sight for Pistol:
Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sights
It can be hard to find a great red dot sight for pistols, as the vast popularity of handguns and especially models such as Glocks have made a huge market for cheap junk. Rest assured, companies like Vortex Optics have components that cut through the noise and provide exceptional value.
Their Venom Red Dot Sights are perfect for pistols thanks to a wide, clean view. You’ll enjoy an open picture that makes any co-witness setup truly shine, while crystal-clear glass allows you to see targets perfectly, whether near or far.
When aiming at short range with a pistol, this is all the more important, as you may need to shoot from less than ideal angles, especially in self-defense situations, and the wide view should enhance your performance.
The dot itself is a crisp 3 MOA dot, although you can also opt for a 6 MOA dot for a little cheaper. While we’d normally advise for you to pick the 3 MOA dot, if you’re using your pistol primarily for self-defense, there are virtues to a 6 MOA dot, notably that it’s easier to use if you’re not a regular shooter. It’s nice to at least have the option.
With ten brightness levels, you’ll be able to use the Venom just about anywhere. Thankfully, they’ve also included a much-loved auto-brightness feature so you truly don’t need to fiddle with the settings at all.
We also like that it’s a lightweight option given its width. At a little over a full pound, it is comparable in weight to many similar sights, but here you’re getting extra width, so a smart design and superb construction have kept the heft to a minimum.
Of course, you will enjoy the same fully adjustable windage and elevation, as well as fully weatherproofed and shockproof construction as you get with the Strikefire II, but in a package that’s much more suitable for pistols.
That said, the simple and universal installation is just as at home on nearly any other gun you would want to mount it to, but it fits a pistol like a glove.
With just about every option you could ask for along with excellent delivery of those features, the Vortex Optics Venom is great for any gun and perfect for a pistol.
Best Red Dot Sight Under $100:
Bushnell - Trophy 1X25 TRS-25 3 MOA Red Dot-CR2032
If you’re looking for a close match to the feature set of the Vortex Optics Venom but on a strict budget, you should get great mileage out of the Bushnell Trophy. While it doesn’t boast a wide objective lens (it’s smaller at 25mm), it goes the opposite direction altogether and is very, very compact. While not quite as good in comparison to a wide view, this does help focus the eye more quickly, so it has its merits.
Otherwise, it has all the features you love about the Venom. You get a crisp 3 MOA dot backed by 11 adjustable brightness settings. There isn’t an auto-brightness option, but for the price, it’s hard to complain.
We will say that the knob to adjust brightness is very wide and easy to grasp without getting in the way of your vision. In fact, it is probably the fastest sight to manually adjust, so it does a great job of mitigating this problem.
It's also an excellent option for a pistol thanks to its super-low weight. At 3.7 ounces, it’s one of the lighter red dot sights out there that isn’t made from cheap plastic.
Speaking of construction, it is in fact, made from aircraft quality aluminum and features a black anodized finish. You also have full shockproofing, waterproofing, and multi-coated optics that resist water droplets and oils.
Considering it’s a fraction of the cost of the Venom, that’s a pretty solid set of features!
A product that’s very similar to the Venom in terms of excellent features but at a fraction of the price, this Bushnell scope is a great alternative for pistols or any other gun.
Best Red Dot Sight Under $200:
Burris - Fastfire II™ Red Dot Reflex Sights
If your budget can accommodate something in the mid-range price-wise, we’d strongly suggest the Burris Fastfire II. It is designed to be lightweight, have a small footprint, and offer a wide view, and it excels in all these areas.
Sometimes, however, it’s the little things that really make a scope stand out. Such is the case here, where the glass provides a very mild 1.07x magnification. This is barely noticeable, but it makes a distinct difference when shooting more distant targets. If you have an aversion to magnified scopes, this is a great option, as the subtle power won’t change anything about how you shoot but will absolutely improve your accuracy.
You also get an unimpeded, panoramic view, making it perfect for fast movement and target acquisition. This is enhanced by the fact that there are no brightness controls to fiddle with, as the Fastfire II, true to its name, automatically adjusts to your lighting conditions. Combine all this with an unlimited eye relief of view and you’ve got a very fast scope.
It’s even incredibly light, at under two ounces, but has been carefully designed to handle the most intense caliber ammunition and is shockproof, waterproof even under full immersion, and fog proof. The black anodized aluminum resists corrosion and reflection. The battery lasts up to an astonishing five years when in power save mode, which is an auto-off feature.
If you want a scope that’s blazingly fast, thanks to a completely unimpeded view and light footprint, with no need to adjust settings, this scope is a gem.
If you’re limited to $200 or less, the Burris Fastfire II is hands-down the most full-featured red dot sight and is at home on shotguns, pistols or AR’s.
Best Red Dot Sight Under $300:
Burris Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount
Based on our review of the lower-end Fastfire, you can bet we’d find a lot to love about Fastfire III. For the most part, they are built with the same design, so we recommend fully reading the review above to get the full scoop, as we’ll be examining the differences here to save you time.
First of all, it comes in 3 MOA and 8 MOA dot variations, whereas the Fastfire II only came in 4 MOA dot. You’ll probably want to stick to the more precise 3 MOA unless you do a lot of up-close shooting.
The Fastfire III includes hash marks on the sight’s body so that you can easily tweak out your adjustments, just like a traditional turreted scope would have, whereas the Fastfire II does not.
The Fastfire II does not have manual brightness settings, whereas the Fastfire III does. While you will almost always be using the perfect auto-brightness, it is useful to go brighter at times.
Despite an excellent battery life lasting up to five years, the Fastfire III also introduces two great features that still improve functionality. A battery life indicator has been added, which blinks when the battery is low and the battery can be accessed from the top of the unit instead of requiring removal of the scope.
Are these additions worth the extra money? Bear in mind that you can typically get the Fastfire III for very little more than the Fastfire II. In our opinion, it certainly is worth spending a bit more for these quality-of-life features, especially if you expect to adjust windage and elevation often.
For a little extra money, you can add a lot of great features to the Fastfire II. If you can afford it, we certainly recommend springing for the Fastfire III, although you can’t go wrong with either scope.
Best Red Dot Sight for Shotgun:
Trijicon RMR 7 MOA Dual-Illuminated Amber Dot Sight
A number of red dot sights on our list would work out just wonderfully on a shotgun, including the Fastfire series. However, if you’re looking for the best-suited, go with the Trijicon RMR.
It comes with a crisp 7 MOA dot, which stands in contrast to most 8 MOA dots you would find on shotgun-preferable sights. A tritium-phosphorous lamp keeps the reticle illuminated in low-light conditions while fiber optics adjust the brightness as well as contrast for whatever lighting conditions you find yourself in.
You also get a beautiful, wide lens that’s been multicoated for a wide-band transmission of light that’s virtually crystal clear. This is housed in a curved aluminum-alloy base which helps redirect force away from the lens.
Windage and elevation are adjustable to 1 MOA increments without the use of tools. 1 MOA increments area lot more practical for use with a shotgun than finer half or fourth increments.
All of that said, it’s a super-easy installation with Picatinny mounts, with a number of other mounting options, and would work beautifully on any other type of gun, especially for those who stick to close range. It could also be a real workhorse of sight on a pistol, for example. At a lightweight 1.2 ounces, it can certainly aid in maneuverability in any application.
For a shotgun—or any other fast and lightweight build—the Trijicon RMR is an excellent option for fast target acquisition and seamless movement.
Best Red Dot Sight for Ruger 10/22:
Holosun Paralow HS503G Micro Red Dot Sight ACSS CQB Reticle
This unique sight comes from a partnership between Holosun and Primary Arms, featuring an ACSS CQB reticle-based “red dot sight.” If you’re not familiar with this reticle, it’s not a dot at all, but rather a chevron with a fine point and bullet compensation drops. You also get a horseshoe shape at the top of this configuration. This makes it an excellent sight for near or far shooting.
Not only does the horseshoe part of the reticle function as a quick focus point for fast acquisition, but it also helps approximate the spread pattern of a typical 00 buckshot at 25 yards. Adjustable windage and elevation are available in ½ positive-click increments.
Additionally, it offers ten brightness settings with an auto-on function as well as an auto-off. The auto-on is highly sensitive and engages with the slightest of movement.
It is forged from 6061-T6 aluminum and is hard-coat black anodized with full proofing against water, fog, and shock, as well as offering corrosion resistance.
Included is a 1913 Picatinny base, but this can easily be removed, allowing you access to an Aimpoint Micro-compatible base under this. You also get an included 1/3rd co-witness mount.
With a unique reticle that assists with long-range and short-range shooting, you’ll enjoy absolute precision in a durable, flexible sight.
Best Mini Red Dot Sight:
Holosun HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight
If you want a crisp red dot, you’ll enjoy the Holosun Solar Powered Red Dot Sight, which is a very precise 2 MOA. Thanks to a super-clear lens with a fully multi-coated finish, you’ll have a clear view at all times.
Additionally, the unit features both battery power and solar power. When in solar power mode, the electronics simply run on the sun, but if insufficient light is available, then you can simply switch to battery mode with a button press.
In solar power mode, the best brightness is automatically chosen, but you can override this at any time by switching to battery, which provides you with ten daytime settings and two night vision settings.
Even without its solar power operation, you can realistically experience over 50,000 hours of continuous use on battery power with the middle setting. Additionally, the unit automatically shuts off after eight hours.
The unit is made from high-strength aluminum and has been rated as fully waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. You’ll also get corrosion resistance thanks to a black anodized finish.
As with any scope from Holosun, you also get a lifetime warranty, which we always welcome.
Not only does this sight offer one of the crispest and most precise reticles on the market, but it also will probably never require a battery change thanks to an exceptionally long life and easy solar-powered operation the majority of the time.
Types of Red Dot Sights: Battery Free vs. Electronic Sights
When it comes to red dot sights, there are two basic classes: battery-free and electronic. Let’s examine each.
A red dot sight that doesn’t use a battery offers some advantages. For example, because it uses a physical material such as tritium and fiber optics, there’s no need to worry about a battery dying. They also are simpler devices without many controls, which makes them quicker to use and typically more lightweight.
Those sights with a battery are generally more robust in terms of features. While you do need to be concerned about your battery lasting, typically they will offer a very long life. Adjustable brightness, auto-brightness, and compatibility with night vision are all possible thanks to an electronically-powered LED reticle.
Which is better for you? It’s a matter of preference. What matters more to you, versatility or absolute reliability under any conditions? Bear in mind that using a co-witness setup can help influence your decision.
Red dot sights are one of the most popular types of sights for any gun. Use our guide to determine what makes a great sight and understand what features to look for. Our reviews round up the best for any shooter, so find your next red dot sight from our list.
People Also Ask
If switching from iron sights to a red dot sight, you might have some questions before you take the plunge. Let’s review some common concerns about red dot sights so you know what you’re getting before you buy.
Are Red Dot Sights Accurate?
Yes! Red dot sights are much more accurate than iron sights because you have a precise reticle which shows you exactly where your shot will land—that is, so long as you’re using a high-quality red dot sight. While they can be a bit slower to use than iron sights, they are a great compromise between speed and precision.
What is the Difference Between a Red Dot and Holographic Sight?
These two types of sights are very similar. Technically, a red dot sight uses an LED light source, whereas a holographic sight is a super-imposed hologram emitted by a laser. Holographic sights often have more complex or even customizable reticles, but the trade-off is a substantially reduced battery life.
How to Sight in a Red Dot Scope?
Sighting with a red dot scope is easy. Once installed, you want to adjust the dot until it is sitting on top of your front iron sight. Red dot sights are designed to focus the reticle on the point of impact, so spend some time practicing with your new sight, and make adjustments to windage and elevation as necessary.