When using a red dot sight, the primary issue you're going to face is with efficient shooting distance. The red dot optic excels at close range combat, while you might want to use it at medium or long distance applications.
This is where red dot magnifiers are going to help you. You can attach a magnifier right next to your existing red dot sight and benefit from magnification that it provides you.
The magnification will let you hit shots more accurately and acquire targets quicker at further distances.
It's time for us to go through our top red dot magnifier picks. These are selected based on overall product quality, quality and price ratio, ease of use, flip-to-side mounting compatibility and magnification.
Aimpoint 3xMag Module
EOTech G33 Magnifier
Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier
Knowing our top 3 picks, now it's up to you to select one that fits your needs the best. Based on your optic manufacturers, you're going to choose the most compatible magnifiers made by the same manufacturers. Vortex VMX-3T is more compatible than other magnifiers we reviewe and could be used with most manufacturer optics.
Here's a more thorough review for each of our top picks:
Aimpoint is one of the most reputable manufacturers for high quality optics and their attachments. Their products are known as the most rugged, durable and accurate within the entire industry.
3xMag Magnifying Module is no different, being the best red dot magnifier and the most dependable as well as durable magnification device out there. Aimpoint has developed it in 2005 and since then it's been used by US military and law enforcement as one of the primary mid-range attachments.
3xMag Module can be mounted behind any Aimpoint non-magnifying optic, preferably a red dot sight. Note that this is developed only to work with other Aimpoint products, not ones developed by other manufacturers, so if you already have a red dot sight that isn't an Aimpoint product - we recommend you look at the next recommended product - Eotech G33.
The eye relief for this magnifying module should be kept at roughly 2.35 - 2.55 inches (or 60-65mm). This is the most optimal range. Module is also compatible with night vision or killswitch devices as long as you have enough space on your rail, so keep that in mind when choosing a location for your optic.
The recommended mount for this magnifying module is Aimpoint's TwistMount, but it is also compatible with a standard 30mm diameter ring. TwistMount will fit perfectly on Picatinny rail and will provide faster than normal mounting opportunity.
In 2016, Aimpoint came out with direct replacement for the standard 3xMag module and called it 3xMag-1. It's slightly more durable and lenses are more crisp, but the weight also went up by 1 oz due to larger size. We have reviewed both products and found that paying nearly $200 extra for slightly more crisp lenses isn't worth the price, so we recommend you get the older model - 3xMag.
Aimpoint 3xMag Magnifying Module is the best 3x red dot magnifier on the market. If you're looking for 6x magnification - check out their 6xMag Magnifying Module. If you have an Aimpoint red dot - these will be the best magnifiers to get, because of high quality, durability and overall product quality. You're also getting 2 year warranty for competitive or professional use as well as 10 year warranty for recreational or personal use. Unfortunately you don't get the same lifetime warranty that covers all their red dot sights.
Easy of Use
EOTech is another great manufacturer that is known for high product quality standards, while G33 magnifier is one of their better known products.
G33 is an improved model for their previous magnifiers, which puts it on our best red dot magnifier list. It's EOTech's most advanced and most durable magnifier as well.
The product integrates perfectly with other non-magnifying EOTech optics and helps you hit targets at medium range you wouldn't be able to hit otherwise. It extends EOTech holographic sight effectiveness up to 350 yards, where you will be able to hit man-sized targets or most animals without major issues.
The device installs easily and could be set up within a couple of minutes. When attached behind EOTech optic, you will need to rezero it and adjust diopter on the back of magnifier, which alters focus of the device. You also have vertical and horizontal adjustment freedom, which allows you to center reticle location on the magnifier. Make sure you also allow for 2.2 inch (55mm) eye relief distance for the most efficient use.
The magnifier comes with a flip-to-side mount and 7mm riser, which means you won't have to worry about getting the correct mount for it. The device is also compatible with other attachments, such as night vision products.
Overall, EOTech G33 Magnifier is a high quality product - durable, easy to use and with clear lenses. It's the magnifier you should get for any EOTech holographic sight if you wish to extend their effective range for either professional or personal use.
Easy of Use
Vortex VMX-3T is made by one of the industry leaders - Vortex Optics. It first stands out of the other optics for high quality for price ratio. The product costs few times less than previous products we have reviewed, but the overall product quality is great, which puts it on our best red dot magnifier list.
While EOTech G33 and Aimpoint 3xMag are only compatible with their own manufacturer products, this magnifier can be used for many other manufacturer products, other than Vortex Optics. It works well with EOTech, Aimpoint, Burris and Trijicon, just from what we've tested ourselves. I'm sure you would be able to find more optics it is compatible with.
When mounting - consider the fact that it has slightly higher than usual eye relief distance at 3.25" (82mm). It is perfect for higher caliber firearms, but is slightly too lengthy for most common uses.
Ideally you want to attach the magnifying device as close to red dot as possible. It is easy to do for most Vortex products, but could prove to be more difficult for other optics. You also might notice an issue with red dots that have controls on the back of it, because reaching them will prove to be more difficult with a magnifying module attached right behind the controls.
The device comes with built-in flip-to-side mount, allowing you to flip it to the side very easily if you need to use just a standard red dot and then return it to original position if you're using it in medium or long distances. The mount could be easily attached to the standard Picatinny rail.
Magnifying module is moderately heavy, coming in at 11.9 oz, including the built-in mount. This is roughly 3-4 oz heavier than previous devices we've reviewed on this page. It uses thick coated aluminum as the primary housing material, which makes it sturdy and tough.
It also has very similar diopter that is used to adjust sharpness and focus of the device. Once a magnifying module is attached - make sure you rezero red dot sight, then fix the focus and location of magnifier until you find the sweet spot with crisp targets at further distances. Also don't forget to center the magnifier with red dot of an optic used in front.
Overall, Vortex Optics VMX-3T magnifier is a great product, that is built with high quality standards and is compatible with other brand devices. It also isn't nearly as expensive as previous products we have reviewed, being priced only at $200.
Easy of Use
There are many different magnification choices when purchasing an attachment you can use next to a red dot optic. The most common will be 3x magnifier, which is what we recommend getting.
Some manufacturers also have 5x or 6x magnifiers on the market, but if you wish to use it at really long range like that, we would recommend you get a scope instead of a red dot and a magnifier, because the combination of 2 won't be as efficient or accurate.
Without a magnifying device, the most efficient distance for average red dots would be up to 100 yards (90 meters), which 3x magnification attachment increases to 300-350 yards (275-320 meters).
The primary reason you should use a combination of red dot and magnifier instead of an ACOG sight (which also provides magnification), is because it allows for an easy switch if you're using a flip-to-side mount, plus it isn't as expensive as most ACOG optics.
This is something I've seen people forget - where they buy a red dot made by one manufacturer and magnifier made by another, sometimes it is not compatible. While there are universal magnifiers, we recommend you use magnifiers made by the same manufacturers.
Since we believe Vortex, EOTech and Aimpoint to be the best optic manufacturers - these are the manufacturer products we're going to review.
When using a flip-to-side mount for magnification device, you are able to switch between normal red dot and magnifying mid range combat applications in less than a second. Just flip the magnifier to the side or put it back, right behind your red dot and enjoy the ease of target acquisition at different distances.
We wouldn't recoomend you use a fixed mount for magnification attachment under any circumstance, especially not for tactical use or hunting. Losing the ability to switch between close quarter combat and mid range combat could have severe consequences.
Attach any higher quality flip-to-side mount that fits the diameter of magnifying device and you will be good. Just like with quality of magnifiers - higher priced products will usually result in more rugged mount, that is able to withstand more stress.
Setting up eye relief distance properly will be one of the most important things to take care of, when first attaching your magnifier.
If set up at incorrect distances, it could impact your ability to see the targets with the red dot device. In most cases you should have at least several inches of eye relief for the highest efficiency, but we recommed you try several different positions and distances, seeing which one works the best for you personally.
Price of a magnification attachment also plays a big role when selecting the best red dot magnifier for yourself or others.
More expensive devices will work better and allow for faster as well as clearer target acquisition. They will also be built much better, overall quality and rugeddness of the device will be better and it will be designed to withstand more impact sources.
If your aim is to occassionally use the device in a gun range, then more expensive devices aren't necessary, but if you're using a red dot more often - it's recommended you start looking at some of the higher quality magnifiers out there.
They will provide you with much better experience over a long period of time and for tactical or hunting use, a quality magnifier is almost necessary. You want to ensure the highest chances of hitting your target, especially while it's on a move and could run away from you if shots are missed. This is why you need a device that will provice you with the most crisp and clear target acquisition opportunities at any distance.
Once you understand what primary goals you're looking to accomplish, what the device will be used for and have the right expectations when it comes to product's price - it's time to select the best red dot magnifier for your personal needs.
The magnifiers are primarily used on red dots to increase effective distance. Red dots are most effective at close range combat, up to 100 yards or so. 3x magnifier helps increase effective distance to 300-350 yards, where you're able to hit most animals or human-sized products at that range, even if they're moving.
Instead of purchasing an ACOG sight like one of the expensive Trijicon ones, which usually go for roughly $1.100 - you can get a high quality red dot and 3x magnifier for less than half of that. It will be just as efficient, without you having to spend a fortune on it.
The best red dot magnifiers that we've reviewed are Aimpoint 3xMag, EOTech G33 and Vortex Optics VMX-3T. First two are compatible only with sights made by the same manufacturer, while VMX-3T is universal, being compatible with most sights out there. All of them are high quality products, tough and built with protection against most elements.
If you wish to purchase a great red dot sight next to one of these magnifiers - feel free to check out our In-depth Red Dot Buying Guide.