The Best Red Dot Sights [Updated 2018, December]

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Originally used by the military professionals, the red dot sight has been recently introduced to the civil field, this tactical instrument being used by amateur sports shooters, hunters or simply as a navigational aid.

UPDATE: three of the most requested in-depth reviews are finally here:

Unlike the spotting or rifle scopes, the red dot doesn’t have a magnifying effect nor a classic notch pattern; still, it is considered one of the most useful tactical instruments.

There are different types of red dot systems that vary in shape, sight characteristics and features, and if you’re not a military professional, choosing the best red dot sight can be difficult. To help, we made a thorough selection for you.

Our Recommendation

Red Dot Sight

From the myriad of tactical sight systems available out there, Vortex Optics SPARC II Red Dot is by far the number one among the top red dot sights.

Vortex is a renowned manufacturer of tactical and sports optical instruments, and its SPARC II model is extremely popular among amateurs and professionals alike.

This Speed Point Aiming instrument is really compact, lightweight and compatible for use on both rifles and shotguns. The model is made of a modular three-piece base with four separate mounting heights that allow users to customize the instrument for their specific weapon. The digital rear-facing controls ensure an easy operation and the visual is great.

SPARC II has 2 MOA adjustments and the daylight brightness can be adjusted to ten intensity levels. The instrument remembers the last intensity used and will automatically adjust to it when powered up. The users appreciate the compactness and reliability of the make, the night vision, and the solid warranty, among many other characteristics.

Sale
Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight - 2 MOA Dot
768 Reviews
Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight - 2 MOA Dot
  • The highly compact, daylight bright Sparc II is packed with performance features and lends itself to a variety of platforms.
  • A modular three piece base offers four seperate mounting heights for user and weapon specific customization. A high base and shim plate offer absolute and lower 1/3 co-witness mounting heights. A low...
  • Fully multi-coated lenses offer a clear field of view and the unit is parallax free with unlimited eye relief. Elevation and windage turrets adjust the point of impact up and down or left and right.

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Now, let’s have a look at SPARC II’s competition.




1. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo 5

Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo 5

Romeo5 is probably the most representative model of Sig Sauer’s red dot systems, a robust and compact instrument characterized by a 1X aiming solution that is optimized for the modern MSR/AR platforms.

Optical Performances

Romeo5 has outstanding optical performances, the instrument having a vibrant and crystal clear visual that is parallax free and able to maintain the same point-of-aim and point-of-impact. The instrument boasts unlimited sight relief and it also has 10 illumination settings for clear visibility in all light conditions.

Design

This red dot instrument is compact, lightweight, waterproof and fog proof. A feature we really like is the motion activated illumination (MOTAC) that powers down the instrument when it doesn’t sense any motion to save the battery’s life. The instrument also boasts an integrated Picatinny M1913 interface that allows standard mounting on many firearms.

Accessories

One CR2032 battery and two mount risers, an M1913 Picatinny and a co-witness 1.41” riser, are included in the package.

Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 Moa Red Dot Sight, Black
422 Reviews
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 Moa Red Dot Sight, Black
  • 2 MOA Red-Dot provides 10 illumination settings (8 daylight plus 2 NV) for visibility in all light conditions
  • MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination) powers up when it senses motion and powers down when it does not. Provides for optimum operational safety and enhanced 40,000+ hour battery life
  • Integrated M1913 Picatinny interface provides industry-standard mounting options for a wide range of applications

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


2. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight

A popular red dot sight, Bushnell’s Trophy TRS-25 impresses with its 3 MOA reticle and with the amazing clarity of the view.

2018 update – we have made a fully comprehensive review of this sight. View the full review.

Optical Performances

TRS-25 has a multicoated 25mm lens that provides crystal clear images in almost all light conditions. The lens is engineered with the Amber-Bright technology that provides a high contrast between the various elements and helps you distinguish with ease between similarly colored objects.

Design

This optical instrument has a compact and lightweight construction designed for easy transportation and use. The sight can be used with both eyes open thanks to the unlimited eye relief, and it also is parallax free. This red dot system is really easy to mount on all Weaver or Picatinny rail systems.

Accessories

Except for the CR2032 battery, the instrument doesn’t come with other add-ons or accessories.

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x25mm, Black
3,867 Reviews
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x25mm, Black
  • Trophy red dot, 1x25mm; 3 MOA, Dot-reticle
  • Easy target acquisition; Mounting Length of 1.1"
  • Amber-bright high contrast lens coating (front lens is tinted amber)

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


3. AT3 Tactical RD-50 Red Dot Reflex Sight

AT3 Tactical RD-50 Red Dot Reflex Sight

AT3 is a family-owned business specialized in the production of AR-15 parts and accessories, their red dot optical instruments being intuitive, easy to use, and designed for a fast target acquisition. One of their most representative models is the RD-50 red dot reflex sight.

2018 update – we have made a fully comprehensive review of this sight. View the full review.

Optical Performances

The RD-50’s optical element is characterized by a crisp 2 MOA, a parallax-free design that allows using the instrument with both eyes opened and to stay on target regardless of the position of the eyes. The 25mm wide lens is multicoated and scratch resistant. The instrument has 11 brightness settings that provide optimal visibility in almost all light conditions, but unfortunately, it is not compatible with the night vision.

Design

RD-50 is waterproof and fog proof, the instrument having a compact, sturdy design made of aircraft-grade aluminium. Weighing only 6.3 oz. and measuring only 2.4 inches, this reflex sight can be used on a wide variety of guns including hunting rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

Accessories

The RD-50 comes with multiple accessories such as a Renata CR2032 battery, a riser mount, lens cleaning cloth and rubber cover.

AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight - 2 MOA Compact Red Dot Scope
151 Reviews
AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight - 2 MOA Compact Red Dot Scope
  • ACCURATE - Crisp 2 MOA red dot sight allows for accurate, both-eyes-open shooting. 11 red dot brightness settings provide optimal visibility in any light conditions. Multi-coated, scratch resistant...
  • DEPENDABLE - Fully waterproof with sealed housing. Lifetime Warranty. Shockproof circuitry resists damage from rough handling. Matte black anodized finish resists scratches while keeping a stealthy...
  • UNBEATABLE VALUE - Exceptional battery life - up to 50,000 hours at the lowest brightness setting. Genuine Renata CR2032 Lithium battery included. Factory direct pricing - no distributor markup.

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


4. Tasco .22 Rimfire 1x30mm

Tasco .22 Rimfire 1x30mm

If you are looking for a high-quality yet inexpensive red dot sight for sale, the Tasco .22 Rimfire could be the instrument you are looking for.

Optical Performances

Tasco Rimfire’s optical performances are certainly incredible, the instrument impressing with its 30mm optical lens designed to provide stunning HD clarity. The reticle has 5 MOA, 11 illumination settings, and unlimited eye relief.

Design

The Rimfire .22 is an excellent red dot instrument compatible with .22 rails and it also fits standard centerfire Weaver rails. The unit is compact and lightweight and it comes equipped with a CR2032 battery. Some users complained about the battery’s lifespan.

Accessories

The manufacturer doesn’t mention the presence of accessories other than the battery in the purchase package.

Tasco .22 Rimfire 1x30mm 5 MOA Red Dot Riflescope
186 Reviews
Tasco .22 Rimfire 1x30mm 5 MOA Red Dot Riflescope
  • Quality optics with stunning HD clarity
  • 100% quality materials used and tested extensively
  • Beautiful design and durability built to last

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


5. Tactical Reflex Red Green Dot Sight

Tactical Reflex Red Green Dot Sight

WNOSH isn’t a famous tactical optics manufacturer but we decided to dedicate the last red dot sight review to their Tactical Reflex Red Green Dot Sight because of the outstanding characteristics of this optical instrument.

Optical Performances

This red dot instrument has a 22mm wide objective aperture and a 5 MOA reticle with a dual color dot, green and red. The field of view is 50 degrees and the instrument boasts a parallax-free design. To provide clear images in all light conditions, this sight has a 5-level brightness control.

Design

The Tactical Reflex Sight is made of aircraft-grade aluminium alloy and it is fairly compact and lightweight. The make is waterproof and fog-proof and it is designed to fit most types of weapon rails including standard 1913 Picatinny, Weaver and more.

Accessories

The sight comes with a CR2032 battery, one Allen wrench and a low profile rail mount, rubber cover, and a cleaning cloth.

Tactical Reflex Red Green Dot Sight Scope Riflescope Optic Quick Detach Riser Mount Release Lens Covers Rail Mount Holographic Hunting Spotting
36 Reviews
Tactical Reflex Red Green Dot Sight Scope Riflescope Optic Quick Detach Riser Mount Release Lens Covers Rail Mount Holographic Hunting Spotting
  • Newest Update version Red or green dual illuminated dot reticles with 5 level brightness control Multi-coated lens, water proof & fog proof, works great in all weather conditions ,Precision windage...
  • The Micro dot sights are small light and rugged red dot sights developed for hunting ,sport shooting ,military and law enforcement applications, designed for the "two eyes open" method of...
  • The micro sight is desined for installation on most types of weapons,which have MIL- Std 1913 Picatinny Rail or Weaver Rail,if your weapon does not have or support an appropriate bases,please gunsmith...

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. Burris 300234 Fastfire III Red Dot Sight – Best Red Dot Sight for Pistol

If you are looking for the best red dot sight for a pistol, then this Burris model is certainly one that you should not ignore. Being an optics manufacturer for quite a long time – and not just within the firearm industry – it has managed to build a reputable brand that sells dependability and affordability.

Considering the price that you pay for it, it is the best red dot sight for the money.

Optical Performance

This model is a high-quality mini red dot sight that is easy to use and is perfect for all types of shooters – regardless of their shooting experience.

Featuring 3 MOA dot reticle, along with tool-less elevation and windage adjustment, the optical performance is quite superior, and it allows you to reach targets from quite a distance.

Plus, the 21x15mm lens with 1 x magnification provides a clear, unobstructed view. The unlimited eye relief mode is also a great option if you have eyesight problems and you need to wear glasses.

Design

Since this model was made for handguns, it is bound to be quite lightweight. Furthermore, its small size will not affect the performance of the handgun, nor will its stability have to suffer.

The unit in itself is shockproof – and therefore, will not recoil when you pull the trigger. This is a great feature when you are in a competition, for example, and weight along with speed are very important factors.

Accessories

The Burris Fastfire II features a Picatinny mount that allows it to be installed on a standard rail system. You can mount this on any firearm that you want, no matter if it is a revolver, a pistol, or a shotgun. Large or small, there will not be any mounting issues.

Specifications
  • This unit is waterproof, meaning that you can easily use it in conditions of humidity – where the water threatens to damage your accessories. You also have automatic brightness adjustment to match the environment around you.
  • The shockproof design of the unit prevents it from going into recoil – a feature that will last for years. Plus, the unit is parallax-free – a feature that can provide better accuracy.
  • The red dot is bright and allows you to acquire your target really fast – aiming flawlessly without any issues, regardless of your level.
Sale
Burris 300234 Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount 3 MOA Sight (Black)
587 Reviews
Burris 300234 Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount 3 MOA Sight (Black)
  • Made using the highest quality materials
  • Tested for complete quality and reliability
  • 3 MOA Dot Reticle

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


7. AimPoint 200180 Micro T-2 – Best Red Dot Sight for Shotgun

If you are on the lookout for the best red dot for a shotgun, then this model is certainly one that you might want to consider. This product is said to redefine almost everything that you knew about red dot sights – allowing you to find your target at ease.

Optical Performance

Featuring cutting-edge lens coating, the clarity of this red dot sight is drastically improved. The clarity offered by the 2-MOA red dot is also noticeable through bad weather – allowing you to reach your target.

Design

Featuring physical protection for extra ruggedness, this unit is perfect for being taken out on a hunting trip, for example. Plus, the red dot sight in itself is quite lightweight, meaning that it will not pull you down when you are going on a “hunt.”

Accessories

This red dot sight features a flip-up cover that protects your lenses from any type of environmental condition. Furthermore, it comes with a rear transparent flip-up lens for the same kind of protection.

Specifications
  • This model features advanced optical lenses for a more appropriate light transmission – allowing you to set onto your target clearly. 
  • This red dot sight has 1 off position, 8 daylight settings, and 4-night vision compatible settings.
  • You can find this model in 2 MOA dot sizes, which can be installed on any type of shotgun that you want.
  • The red dot sight is waterproof – and is also submersible up to 80 feet. It is usable even if your target is found underwater.
AimPoint 200180 Micro, T-2 2 MOA No Mount
16 Reviews
AimPoint 200180 Micro, T-2 2 MOA No Mount
  • Advanced optical lenses for even better light transmission
  • Front Flip-up lens cover is included
  • Transparent rear Flip-up lens cover is included

Last update on 2018-12-17 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


What Is a Red Dot Sight?

The red dot sight is a type of optic that has been designed to work at a close range up to a moderate range. It is a fairly simple optic type that uses a simple reticle in order to conduct a standard job. As the name implies, this type of optics makes use of red dots as the reticle.

Depending on the brand, the red dot can also be a green dot. However, for simplicity’s sake, even they are referred to as red dots. These units are fairly simple and straightforward – and they are the most useful tools for shooters who are just learning how to handle a gun.

A red dot optic generally features 1x optics – and they do not feature any type of magnification. Nothing that has been built-in, at least. For this reason, they are simply called red dots – and not scopes.

Having their origin somewhere in the mid-1970s, these dots have come a fairly long way in the last 50 years. Not only have they seen advancements in clarity, but their battery life and quality has also improved over time.

Plus, like most technological pieces, these units vary in their size. You can find one big enough to be attached to a rifle – or small enough to be attached to a handgun.

How to Shoot with a Red Dot Sight?

In order to shoot with a red dot sight, you might want to turn on the unit first and ensure that it is working. Depending on the environmental conditions, you might want to adjust the reticle brightness using the knob.

For instance, if you are shooting in conditions with low light, the reticle will look fuzzy. Similarly, if it’s too bright, the reticle will have a halo effect. This is why you need to adjust the brightness properly, to ensure that the reticle is actually visible.

If the red dot has not already been mounted, you may proceed to place it anywhere on the gun that is most comfortable for you – particularly if you need some eye relief. Now that everything has been set, you are ready to shoot – and here are the steps that you have to follow:

  • Set on your target.
  • While being focused on your target, bring your gun in shooting point.
  • Ensure that both your eyes are open for better clarity.
  • As you are bringing up the gun to shoot your target, you will notice that your reticle moves as you are aiming.
  • When the red dot reaches the point that you want to shoot, just fire.

Shooting with a red dot sight is fast and simple. The reticle is usually self-correcting – and they are also generally parallax-free (they can easily self-focus).

Red Dot Sight vs. Holographic Sight

Technologically-speaking, both red sights, and holographic sights might look the same – but in fact, they are quite different. Red dot features a LED emitter that will shoot the beam towards the front glass – one that has been coated so that the light does not go straight into your eyes.

A holographic sight, on the other hand, will use lasers and mirrors to send holograms back to you – all this without using the front glass. The image appears to be in the front, even though what you see is just a hologram.

With complications comes a fairly heightened price. For example, the best red dot sight under $100 can also be found at around $50, whereas the standard holographic sight is found at around $200.

Also, because of the less complex technology, red dots are smaller in size than holographic sights. They are the more appropriate options if you wish to install them on a handgun.

The Difference between a Red Dot and Reflex Sight

If you do not have the proper knowledge, it is quite difficult to detect the difference. Red dots, reflex and holographic sights all result in a red dot that allows you to lock into your target – but it’s the process that makes things different.

Reflex sight projects a low-power LED beam into the lens ahead. This dot will thereon hit the lens – and then be reflected back into your eyes. Providing unlimited eye relief, they are a great option for shooters who wear glasses.

Plus, they tend to have fairly long battery life, making them a perfect choice for long hunting trips.

If you want to find out more about reflex sights, we have made a whole in-depth reflex sight buying guide.

Are Red Dot Sights Accurate?

A red dot sight functions like any other type of optic. It zeroes in on a target found at a specific distance – and for other distances, the shooter will have to compensate.

Generally speaking, red dots are made to have quick target acquisition while at a close range, with your eyes open. They are not laser beans – so they will not function for precision or long-range optics.

However, they are not perfect. A red dot has a fairly simple mechanism – one that does not magnify the target. As a result, a red dot has a higher chance to a circular error compared to a scope.

Factors to Consider When Buying a Red Dot Sight

Some red dots are more accurate and appropriate than others – or they may simply be more up your style. This is why you may want to consider the following factors before purchasing a red dot sight.

1. Housing Configuration

Depending on the model that you wish to purchase, a red dot can have an open or a tube style. The tube model is the closest to the traditional model, and it also permits for a variety of filters and protective covers for the lens.
Open sights, on the other hand, are bare and only have the basic system. These types are generally more affordable – but, at the same time, they have less space for filters. The absence of these filters can reduce the viewing experience of the shooter.

2. Projection Type

Do you want to go for reflex sight, or is a holographic sight more up your alley. Before purchasing a red dot sight, you might want to learn about which one suits your preferences the most. Some of them may be fairly expensive, depending on their type – but the best red dot sight under $200 will certainly be worth every penny.

3. Reticle Style

Every reticle is supposed to light your way and make it easier for you to lock onto your target. However, each light can look different in its own way. The red dot, for instance, can actually be green – and instead of a single dot, it can be crosshair or bullseye. Deciding on the style may not be a matter of functionality, but more a matter of personal preference.

4. Battery Life

It is crucial that you choose a red dot sight with an appropriate battery life. Granted, units with a smaller battery life tend to be less expensive – but if you plan to go on the shooting range for an extended time, it can be quite inconvenient for the dot to disappear when you need it the most.

Reflex sight options generally use less battery than a holographic sight one – and a good model can last for thousands of hours before the batteries have to be changed. To preserve the battery life, you might want to turn the unit off whenever it’s not in use.

Furthermore, cold-weather shooting can also affect the efficiency of the battery – so, if the weather is particularly cold outside, you might want to carry some spares with you.

5. Mounting Type

Not every sight can be installed on any kind of gun – so, ensure that the mounting type is compatible with your gun. Some sights are universal, whereas others work better with a particular kind of gun.

Concluding Remarks

It is certainly not easy to pick a good red dot sight, considering the multitude of options out there. However, if you are a beginner when it comes to shooting, this might be a good option for you to get used to your target.

Each model comes at a different price, with different features – so make sure to choose something that suits your own preferences and budget.

Interested in rifle scopes? We have a complete Buyer’s Guide with top 5 scopes


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