From home defense to ducks and wild hogs, shotguns are hands-down the most versatile of all firearms. In much of the firearms world, iron sights have been relegated to backup status at best. Shotguns have been slow to catch up with this trend, but red dot sights for shotguns are starting to change this.
Best Red Dot Sights for Shotguns Comparison Chart
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How to Choose a Red Dot for Your Shotgun
A good red dot sight for a shotgun must be extremely well-built. A standard 12-gauge shotgun can produce enough kick to break your collarbone if you don't hold it firmly to your shoulder. It can certainly also rattle a poorly-made sight off zero or worse, off its mounting point. Sticking with reputable manufacturers is best.
Red dot sights come in various styles. Tube versus window pane is a matter of taste, but more crucial are the tint of the lens and the reticle style. The lens must be clear enough to easily and immediately acquire your target.
Reticle choice depends on taste, purpose, and your usual terrain. Despite the name, red dot sights come in colors like red, green, or amber. The finest reticles cover a surface of about 2 MOA, but for most shotgun applications, even 12 MOA is effective because a larger reticle allows for faster target acquisition.
Brightness adjustment is also crucial. A red dot reticle should be neither blinding in low light conditions nor hard to see in bright daylight.
Review of the Best Shotgun Red Dot Sights
With so many options on the market, it is hard to know which red dot sights work best with a shotgun, especially for a specific desired purpose like shooting clay pigeons, turkeys, or wild hogs. We've done the legwork so you don't have to.
Trijicon RMR 7 MOA Dual-Illuminated Amber Dot Sight
This sight is ingenious in its simplicity, proving that cutting-edge, 21st-century technology need not be overly complex. Dual illumination refers to fiber optics and the naturally-glowing tritium isotope. There is no other power source, no battery or electronics of any kind.
In well-lit conditions, the fiber optic band across the top of the casing collects the light and channels it to create the reticle. In the absence of light, the glow of the tritium serves the same purpose. RMR stands for Ruggedized Miniature Reflex.
The open and 'miniature' design of the sight gives you one of the least obstructed sight pictures on the market. 'Ruggedized' means that Trijicon has used a patented design for the aluminum body to prevent any shock from damaging the lens. This is backed up by a limited lifetime warranty.
The amber reticle is easy to find. It is the finest reticle available in the Dual-Illuminated model, so it is well-suited for use with shotgun slugs. The sight is available with six different mounting options and four housing finish colors.
As the maker of the venerable ACOG, Trijicon is one of the top three most respected names in reflex sights. The dual-illuminated RMR innovates on some of the ACOG's technology to provide a low-profile, robust, and battery-free red dot sight.
Best Red Dot for Turkey Shotgun:
Given that shotguns handle everything from trench warfare to grouse hunting with gusto, it's only natural to find shotgun red dot sights tailor-made for highly specific applications.
One of the most specialized applications for a shotgun is turkey hunting. Texas sighting company, Truglo has developed a red dot sight in the tube design specifically for turkey hunting.
The most unique aspect of this sight is its reticle, which is a 3 MOA dot inside a circle which is 24 inches wide at 30 yards. This allows you to quickly acquire the target and pinpoint the turkey's head. Each Gobble-Stopper has both red and green reticle options to work with.
Truglo thoughtfully includes a detachable extended sunshade, see-through flip-up lens caps, a Weaver-style mounting system, and a compartment on the sight for an extra battery. The CNC-machined, aircraft-grade aluminum construction is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
The Gobble-Stopper's main selling point is its unique turkey reticle with color selection. The design is in many ways, ingenious and most shooters have great luck with this sight. Occasionally a lemon does seem to slip out of the factory, but the limited lifetime warranty should have you covered. Make sure you put the sight through its paces and train yourself on it before going out on a hunt. Make sure you try it both with the sunshade on and off to see which is better for your shooting conditions.
Best Red Dot Sight for Deering Hunting:
Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sights
I'm a pretty big fan of Vortex, they have come out of nowhere to give the big names in optics a run for their money. After all, this is the only company to challenge Eotech in the holographic sight market.
The Vortex Venom is an open design red dot sight, meaning it gives an extremely clean sight picture. This is aided by the multi-coated lenses. The Venom comes in two reticle sizes, 3 MOA and 6 MOA. Keep in mind that on a shotgun you are likely shooting at a moving target, firing a hail of shots, or both. Counter-intuitively, the quick target acquisition of the 6 MOA reticle very well may make it perform better for your shotgunning needs.
The sight has ten reticle brightness settings, but one of its key selling points is that it also has an automatic brightness setting based on an ambient light sensor. The build quality is what you would expect from a reputable company: tough aluminum and O-ring seals to keep everything dry.
The design is exceptionally efficient as well. You can replace the battery without removing the sight from your gun. Windage and elevation are easily adjusted with flush knobs that give 1 MOA change per click.
If you are using buckshot to hunt bucks, go with the 6 MOA reticle, and if you plan to use this strictly on a slug gun, the 3 MOA version is probably best. You will appreciate the unobstructed sight picture and automatic brightness setting.
Best Red Dot Sight for Tactical Shotgun:
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm
In recent years Sig Sauer has risen to the top of the pack in the handgun world. They have a reputation for unsurpassed Swiss-German quality. Although these Sig Sauer-branded red dot sights are actually made by Holosun, which is respectable in its own right, the design and quality specifications still come from Sig.
The reticle on this sight is as fine as they come at 2 MOA. This works for a tactical shotgun usage, firing slugs, or for buckshot at short-range. The top selling point of the Romeo5 is the Motion Activated Illumination (MOTAC). This turns the reticle on when the sight detects that you have picked up your shotgun and turns it off automatically when inactive. Sig Sauer claims that the battery will last over 50,000 hours.
There are ten reticle brightness settings adjustable with a tactile side knob. Windage and elevation adjustments are finer than average at 0.5 MOA per click. The robustness of the sight is impeccable. There are no extraneous components and the unit is rated for submersion in water up to one atmosphere of pressure. It comes with a couple of Picatinny mounting options though, for a shotgun, you'll want to mount it as low as possible.
Not only is it great for tactical work, but the Romeo5 also offers unbeatable value for the money. Besides, with the extra Picatinny mount, you can switch it between your shotgun and AR if you so desire.
Best Red Dot Sight for Duck Hunting:
Sightmark SM26008 Ultra Shot Plus
Sightmark is another company that punches above its weight with red dot sights that offer great value for money. When hunting ducks, you need to be able to acquire a small moving target quickly and predict how your shot pattern will arrive at that target.
To achieve this, the Ultra Shot Plus includes four different reticle patterns in either red or green. These include a 5 MOA dot, 3 MOA dot in a 50 MOA circle, 3 MOA dot with 50 MOA crosshair, and a 3 MOA dot in a 30 MOA circle with 50 MOA crosshair ends.
The other unique feature of this red dot sight is the quick-detach weaver mount. This is ideal if your sight gets wet or if you feel the need to point with your bead for any reason. The sight has five reticle brightness settings, fewer than average, and an automatic power-saving shutoff after one hour.
The open design leaves an unobstructed sight picture, vital for duck hunting. The weatherproof aluminum construction is good and backed up by a limited lifetime warranty. It is tested to withstand recoil up to that of a .50 caliber, more than enough for any shotgun.
This red dot sight offers great value for the money. The top feature is the ability to choose the reticle which works best for you in either red or green. The quick detach feature is also very handy if your shotgun happens to have a weaver rail.
Best Camo Red Dot Scope for Shotgun:
Sightmark Sure Shot Reflex Sight
Sightmark's Sure Shot camo sight is another great value, open design, red dot sight. If you feel the need for a camo finish for hunting turkey or waterfowl or for tactical applications, this is a great option.
It is lighter weight than Sightmark's Ultra Shot Plus, and lacks the aluminum shroud, giving it an even less obstructed sight picture. It also lacks the Ultra Shot Plus's quick detach rail mount. The benefit of this is greater resistance to recoil and firmer mount on your dovetail rail.
The Sure Shot has the same selectable reticle options as the Ultra Shot Plus, a 5 MOA dot, 3 MOA dot in a 50 MOA circle, 3 MOA dot with 50 MOA crosshair, and a 3 MOA dot in a 30 MOA circle with 50 MOA crosshair ends. However, these are offered only in red. The Sure Shot has seven brightness settings for varying light conditions. It also weighs about half what the Ultra Shot Plus does at 4.76 ounces.
This sight is a good value for money option if you feel you require camo on a good knock-around red dot sight. The best feature of the Sure Shot is the selection of reticles. These give you great versatility, whether you are shooting turkey, ducks, or malign trespassers. The battery life and rail leave something to be desired, but the warranty does something to make up for this.
Best Red Dot Sight for 12 Gauge Shotgun:
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x25mm
Bushnell is always a safe bet for quality sighting options at reasonable prices. On a 12-gauge shotgun, you need a sight which will be robust enough to resist the recoil, while offering fast target acquisition. As almost all shotguns used today are 12-gauge, finding the best red dot sight for them is an important question.
The greatest features of this sight are its shockproof and waterproof construction. If you plan to hunt waterfowl or hunt in a wet climate, moisture can be a major issue. The scope is nitrogen-purged to prevent fogging, which can disable lesser red dots in a humid environment. The shockproof construction is important, not only for recoil, but for the bumps and scrapes a firearm and sight face in normal use.
The Trophy comes with a 3 MOA reticle. This is quite standard among red dot sights, but perhaps a bit fine for anything but firing slugs. However, it has 11 brightness settings to help ensure visibility in different light conditions. As is necessary given the 12-gauge recoil, the build quality of this sight is exceptional. This is backed up by a full lifetime warranty. The Trophy comes with a weaver-style mounting option and weighs in at a nice, light four ounces.
The Bushnell trophy is a robust red dot sight from a great company. It is best for a 12-gauge shotgun thanks to its shockproof and waterproof design.
Types of Shotgun Red Dot Sights
The two main types of shotgun red dot sights are those of a tube design or those of an open design. Tube design sights look like a small scope but don't offer any magnification. This is the original design of red dot and is generally more robust than the open design. Tube design red dots give you a round sight picture which is usually cluttered with some control knobs.
Open design red dot sights put the controls low and out of the way. You get a much less cluttered sight picture, more like a little rectangular window. Generally speaking, open design red dot sights are less resistant to breakage than tube designs.
One major option among red dot sights, despite the name, is the color of the dot, or reticle. Red is the most common, but green and amber are also available. Red stands out well, but depending on your environment, you may find that another color works better for you. Although most reticles are simple dots, other shapes are available, mainly a dot inside a larger circle.
Red dots are a simple, yet modern sighting solution allowing you to acquire a target quickly. This can be a great asset on a shotgun, especially one meant for tactical purposes. No matter what kind of shooting you're doing, you can find the best red dot for your shotgun on our list.