With so many choices, it’s really hard to decide which reflex sight to buy.
Looking for a durable optic with quick target acquisition and quality glass out to the edges?
Our reflex sight buying guide will make sure you miss the duds and find the best reflex sight.
The Housing Structure
Reflex sights are basically two types. One is the traditional-type open style Reflex sight and the other is the tube or pipe style.
Open and tube style reflex sights are both red dot sights.
Open-styled reflex sights have a basic or traditional type of design. You can see the reticle through its open window.
Open sights are exposed to the elements and can be prone to scratches and glare in poor sunlight conditions. But, their field of view is great and the small size helps you focus on your target while maintaining good awareness of your surroundings.
Tube style reflex sights are similar to scopes let you run filters as well as protective covers. They benefit from the closed housing protecting the light generation and will be more robust in environments with debris. They can also have magnification as an option. For those with an astigmatism, go for a tube style prismatic sight.
Along with with a sturdy housing, it’s also important to look at the glass transparency. Cheap reflex sights have cheap glasses.
These cheap ones do not transmit light as well as you would expect. And, the type of coatings to cut down on unwanted reflections can really improve the quality of the sight picture.
Otherwise, there’s no use using a reflex sight in the first place.
So make sure the reflex sight that you are buying has a clear projection of light, regardless of the time you are hunting or the location.
Size Of The Reticle
When it comes to dot size, your ranges and application are the deciding factors
The sizes of dots are measured in Minutes of Angle or MOA. For pistols and close quarters combat, 3 MOA dots are most common and some sights offer up to 6 MOA.
Remember you can always crank the brightness up and get a bigger dot, but you can’t make one smaller! You will be faster with a bigger dot, but they can be pretty lousy for precise shots. In general, home defense and pistol use can use larger dots comfortably.
For precision shooting at near to medium ranges, I’d choose a 2 MOA dot.
The Color Of The Reticle
The color of the reticle may also be an important factor in your search for the best reflex sight for the money.
The primary characteristic of the color of the dot that you should look at is – its visibility in low light conditions.
But, you may want to think about the backdrop where you do most of your shooting. You’ll want a color with a lot of contrast! Using a green dot when shooting turkeys in a hay field would not work very well.
Despite the name Red Dot, it is not necessary that the color of dot be Red only. There are other colors of dot available for the Red Dot Category.
In advanced and new red dot sights, green dots and sometimes even blue dots are available. Check our our Best Red Dot Sights (Reviews) for some of the best options.
The Pattern Of The Reticle
Along with color and size, the reflex sights also differ in patterns that are all around the dot.
Some sights offer multiple reticle types, which you may prefer to a dot depending on your preference. But personally, I find a larger glowing reticle a bit distracting.
If you want more details about how rifle scope reticles work, we have a great article “Rifle Scopes Reticles Explained”.
Easy Adjustments For Elevation & Windage
While every sight you look at will have point of aim adjustments, it’s important to pick out a reflex sight with elevation and windage adjustment controls that offer tactile feedback and crisp adjustments. If you pick a high-quality sight, it will hold zero no matter what once it’s set. But, some sights force you to remove the entire optic to replace batteries, so you may be sighting in your reflex sight more often than you think!
If that sounds challenging, be sure to read up on how we adjust red dot sights to save some time and ammo!
You wouldn’t like if the battery runs out in the middle of a trip to check a sound that wakes you up in the middle of the night. That’s why it’s an important factor to consider.
Make sure you check the time that the reflex sight can last with continuous use. This depends on the energy consumption rate of sight. Most manufacturers specify a number of hours at a particular illumination level.
Usually, reflex sights use LEDs. That’s why a reflex sight battery can last up to 10,000 hours.
However, depending on the model and price range, the battery lasting can differ vastly. And, some sights have features that automatically turn the light on when the gun is picked up, allowing it to always stay on and ready for use while still conserving battery life.
In the end, more hours is always better! Shooting in bright sun with the intensity cranked up will really shorten your battery life.
Last but not least, you must consider the durability of the reflex sight unit before you make your decision.
In this case, you need to carefully evaluate its construction and material. If it’s not strong and robust enough, it won’t survive the recoil of your gun, much less an accidental bump or drop while you’re running it.
Think you’re ready?
Jump over to see our recommendations for red dot sights.