Whether you're an experienced marksman or just purchased your first gun, you will understand that shooting while using just iron sights is difficult and inefficient.
If you were to use a red dot sight or any other optic - it would help you greatly improve target acquisition time, hit your targets more frequently and relieve more stress for eyes.
That's why we recommend you check out this best red dot sight list and choose an optic that best fits your personal shooting needs.
Since there are quite a few red dot sights out there and all of them seem like decent options from the first look, we've gathered this list to help you make the the most researched decision with the selection.
What defines a red dot sight?
Red dot sight is considered to be any non-magnifying reflex sights primarily used on firearms, cameras or telescoped. Specifically for guns, these sights are meant to be equipped as an attachment to the firearm, in most cases creating a red-dot-style reticle by projecting or reflecting LED light in the field of view.
This allows for much faster target acquisition and much better aim in comparison to what you would get with iron sights. Red dot sight used on your gun would look something like this:
Usually they are extremely easy to use and to attach on your firearm, whether it's a rifle, shotgun or handgun.
While it might seem that most of them would visually look the same and provide with nearly the same experience, I wouldn't say that's the case. I've been fortunate enough to use nearly 20 different red dot sights and could tell you that product quality is definitely important when selecting the best red dot sight for ar, shotgun or handgun.
That's why I've decided to share my top 3 red dots for each of the firearm types mentioned earlier.
Best red dot sights for rifles
Aimpoint Comp M4
The 3 optics mentioned above definitely make it into my best red dot sight for rifle list. I couldn't tell you which one is the best, because all 3 of them are unique in their own way and are good choices to use for different circumstances.
Red dot has been one of the most popular types of optics for close to medium range applications and rifles are primarily used within same ranges as well, making it a great fit for any carbine. It's lightweight, easy-to-use, easy-to-attach and helps improve targer acquisition time for user with any firearm experience.
With the use of additional attachments, like magnifiers, you can increase optimal range of red dot sights, up to around 500-600 yards or 450-550 meters, making it a perfect optic for absolutely any situation.
Here's an overview of top 3 red dot optics I've tested:
1. Aimpoint PRO - the best red dot sight
Aimpoint has been one of the leading manufacturers of high quality firearm optics for nearly 45 years and Aimpoint PRO red dot sight is a testament to the highest quality standards.
The sight is definitely not one of the cheapest ones, currently priced at roughly $450, but it's worth every penny.
While you can purchase a red dot sight for under $125, no sight within the same or lower price range will match the features and overall product quality of Aimpoint optics.
The PRO sight is extremely sturdy, tough and hard to break, providing you with excellent capabilities for any type of use, no matter the conditions. The Aimpoint PRO optic has been tested and used by military, police forces, hunters and gun enthusiasts and it continues to be highly effective without failing anyone.
The sight is perfect and most efficient for close to mid range combat, which is how most rifles are used. Adding a magnifier will extend it's capabilities, making it a viable option for long-range combat.
Straight out of the box, Aimpoint PRO is compatible with any rifle that falls into AR-15, M16, M4 and Carbine rifle styles. It works really well with the iron sights of these rifles.
The device also offers extensive battery life (3 years), crispy clear red dot and clear optics, 10 year warranty, great compatibility with other devices (such as magnifiers, kill flash, anti-reflective devices, etc.) and 6 daylight as well as 4 night-vision brightness settings. You're definitely getting the highest quality product without spending a fortune on it, as other red dot sights of similar quality are two times more expensive.
So if you're looking for a highest quality red dot sight without having to sell your hand of leg for it - Aimpoint PRO will be your best choice. It goes for roughly $450 and will provide insane value for years to come.
We've also covered this product in a separate in-depth review of Aimpoint PRO. Feel free to read that for more insights of this awesome optic.
Ease of Use
2. Holosun HS503GU - the best budget red dot sight
Holosun HS503GU optic is the best red dot sight you can buy for under $250. Don't think that because of lower product price. quality of a product is affected in a negative way - that's not the case with this sight. It's built with high quality standards and stood out as a really great sight for the low price range.
The sight comes with 2 different red dot reticles options. One is a 2 MOA dot with 65 MOA circle, while the other is just a simple red dot. Most sights, even at a much larger price range, wouldn't have any similar options to choose from.
The battery life of Holosun HS503GU is what stood out the most. It uses a CR2302 battery located on the right side of the optic, which lasts between 20,000 and 50,000 hours, depending on brightness and reticle settings. It lasts up to 50,000 hours with mid to low brightness settings and a single 2 MOA red dot.
It also comes with lenses that are multi-coated with anti-reflective coating from the inside and outside surfaces, which helps improve the clarity of vision by minimizing reflections. This becomes even more important when using night vision and since the lenses are also scratch-resistant - it makes Holosun HS503GU one of the best red dot sights when used in any condition or type of activity.
You definitely won't regret getting the sight, because it's one of the cheaper red dot sights on the market, while still keeping up high product quality and extensive functionality. Attach it to any AR-15 or carbine rifle, use it with additional extensions, such as magnifiers or kill flashes and enjoy it for years to come.
We've done a more in-depth analysis of the product in our Holosun HS503GU review article. Feel free to check it out and tell us what your experience was with the optic.
Ease of Use
3. Aimpoint Comp M4 - the best high-end red dot sight
Aimpoint Comp M4 is considered to be one of the best red dot sights ever made. Comp product line was started in 1993, making it one of the oldest still available red dot product lines in the world.
That said, the optic called Comp M4 was only started in 2007. There has been several variations of this sight made, but core product always stays the same and provides huge value for anyone who's willing to purchase a more expensive sight.
Currently Aimpoint Comp M4 optics go for up to $900, based on retailer of choice. It's much more expensive that the previous 2 red dot sights we have reviewed on this page, but is worth penny if you're looking for the absolute highest quality product.
US Army and law enforcement officers have been actively using Aimpoint Comp M4 for the last 11 years and most of the sights have lasted up to this day. It is extremely tough in comparison to every other red dot sight we've tested and withstands most external damage sources, making it a perfect fit for any activity - self defense, hunting, gun range use, training or tactical use.
The overall size and weight of this optic is moderately small in comparison to other sights in the same price range, even when comparing to other Aimpoint products. The sight's weight, including a battery, is 9.4 ounces (roughly 266 grams), which would be a lot for a red dot, but compared to other Aimpoint products - it really isn't.
This red dot works well with additional attachments, such as magnifiers. It works perfectly with most magnifiers on the market, but the one that seems to be the best is 3xMag module from Aimpoint. It's specifically built to be compatible with Aimpoint's products and allows you to easily switch from close quarter combat to long-distance modes of operation.
Lenses of Aimpoint Comp M4 have been multi-coated with anti-reflective coating, which allows for the most crisp and clear target acquisition, no matter the conditions or lighting of the area. The optic comes with 9 daylight and 7 night vision brightness settings, which is a great addition to the product.
With medium brightness and when used in normal conditions, the battery should last roughly 80,000 hours, which is more than 9 years of continuous use. So forget about replacing the battery for this device - you won't have to do it within the same decade! It sounds absolutely insane if you ask me.
What's even more insane is that the product uses AA batteries of any voltage, which is uncommon for most red dots these days. This makes battery replacement even easier.
This is just the tip of an iceberg, when talking about an awesome product like Aimpoint Comp M4. It is the absolute best red dot sight money can buy, as long as your budget allows for an expense like this. Get yourself the most awesome optic out there and you won't regret it for a second. I believe this might be the highest rated product we will ever get a chance to review.
Ease of Use
Best red dot sights for a shotgun
Shotgun is a very versatile firearm, that could have a number of applications, from hunting to tactical use by military / police or even personal self-defense. It's one of the most common short-range firearms in US.
We've done extensive research, trying to find the best red dot sight for shotguns and made a list of our top 3 picks:
Aimpoint Micro T-2
All 3 sights are extremely high quality ones and could be purchased without a mount or with one. Make sure you've made the right selection when it comes to the purchase of a mount.
The shotgun is used for short-range applications, making speed much more important than accuracy and clear lens, which allows for quick target acquisition. We kept this in mind when selecting the best red dot sights for a shotgun.
All the optics we selected have clear and crisp lens, attach well to the shotgun, are small and lightweight, but durable at the same time. They still work perfectly with additional attachments and are accurate if you aim slightly longer.
Here are my top 3 red dot picks for a shotgun:
1. Aimpoint Micro T-2 - the best red dot for shotguns
Another great product from one of the finest optic manufacturers - Aimpoint. The Micro T-2 sight can be used for shotguns, rifles and even handguns, making it a perfect fit for all gun categories discussed in this article.
It's lightweight, but still rugged and very stable. The sight can be used for quite a few applications - hunting, gun range, practice, self-defense and even tactical use. The hard housing and multi-coated lens protect the optic from any external damages. It's one of those sights you get for life.
The price of Aimpoint Micro T-2 is high in comparison to other optics we will look at, but it's definitely worth it for professional use. You can get the product with a mount included at roughly $830 or save $40 if you already have a mount for it. Honestly it might be a bit too expensive for casual enthusiasts and hobbyists, but with extensive use of firearm, it becomes worth the price.
Aimpoint decided to attach see-through covers for lenses on both ends, which is a major improvement over their previous T-1 model. The primary concern I had with T-1 is that it might not be viable with most applications for a shotgun, where target acquisition and speed is vital. They have fixed the issue, making it much more viable for primary uses of shotguns.
The battery life of Micro T-2 optic is the usual length for most Aimpoint sights - 50,000 hours (or 5 years) when used with medium blightness settings. This is also a great feature specifically for shotguns, because it means you can leave the sight on for many years without it running out and still be able to use it quickly in emergency situations.
Sight comes with a standard 2 MOA dot size and multi-coated anti-reflective coating of lenses, allowing it to exceed under any lighting conditions. T-2 model has 8 daylight brightness settings and 4 night vision settings. One of the settings is created specifically for extra-blight conditions, when you're wearing laser protection glasses or use it in the blightest desert light.
Get yourself an Aimpoint Micro T-2 optic and you won't regret it. It's the best red dot sight for multi-purpose use and could be attached to most types of firearms, including handguns, submachine guns and even carbines. The durable housing will withstand all unintentional external damages and you won't have to replace the batteries for more than every 5 years, making it the best choice for any shotgun use.
Ease of Use
2. Bushnell TRS-25 - the best budget red dot for shotguns
Bushnell is a known manufacturer of quality products that are affordable for everyone. The Bushnell TRS-25 is not different, with a price range of under $50 for just the sight or $90 with a mount included.
While the price might seem low in comparison to other optics we've reviewed here - it doesn't mean the manufacturers have sacrificed quality in order to make it a lot cheaper. I wouldn't recommend using it on carbine or other high caliber firearms, but it does it's job for most shotgun uses, whether it's casual hunting or self-protection.
The overall quality to price ratio on the product is kept really high, making it a perfect choice for most gun enthusiasts and hobbyists. It will handle the repeated punishing from shotgun's recoil with no issues.
Optic comes with variety of different mounting options, low mount setup being the best for shotguns. It does have relatively low profile so a small mount riser might be useful for some people.
Bushnell TRS-25 model uses a well defined and crisp 3 MOA dot size. The overall lens clarity can't be compared to high-end products such as Trijicon, EOTech or Aimpoint, but it definitely surprised me. It's still very clear in comparison to any other optic within the same price range, making it the best red dot sight for someone with a tight budget.
Ease of Use
3. Trijicon MRO - best high-end red dot sight for shotguns
Trijicon is one of the most well known high-end firearm optic manufacturers. They are primarily known for extremely high overall product quality and durability. I would put them on the same level as industry leaders - Aimpoint.
The Trijicon MRO red dot is very small and lightweight, making it a perfect option for most shotgun applications. When target acquisition speed and low weight added to your firearm is of the essence - this sight exceeds any other optic on the market.
Optic comes with advanced multi-coated lens and a total of 6 daylight brightness settings, 2 night vision settings, but we recommend you also get anti-reflective see-through flip caps to better protect the lenses from outside damage.
While the lenses might need additional protection agains some damage sources, the sight's housing doesn't need any more help. It is made from extra-durable aircraft-grade aluminum, making it extremely well protected against the toughest elements and impacts. It's made to withstand recoil from the highest caliber rifles and any external damage from outside sources.
The lenses are very clear on this opticle, providing a clear picture of your target. We recommend you mount it low on a shotgun to provide the best target-acquisition experience.
The price of Trijicon MRO ranges between $410 and $500, based on retailer and mount choices. It's a price range right in the middle of the other 2 products we've looked at. I would still prefer Aimpoint Micro T-2 if you budget allows for a larger expense like that, but Trijicon MRO is still a perfect choice for any shotgun use.
Get get the Trijicon MRO red dot sight, use it with your shotgun, carbine, AR-15 or handgun and you won't be disappointed, because under normal conditions it's going to last at least a full decade.
Ease of Use
Best red dot sights for a handgun
There have been quite a few companies coming out with micro red dots in the last couple of years. Micro red dot sights are perfect for handguns due to their small size and weight.
After all, red dot sights are most commonly used for rifles, submachine guns and shotguns, but attaching them to a pistol will allow you to be more accurate with the shots and acquire targets quicker. This is perfect for everyday use - self defense or tactical applications.
Our 3 best red dot sights for a handgun are selected based on overall product quality, easy target acquisition and size that best fits a handgun -no bulky or large optics. Here are our top picks:
Burris Fastfire 3
Vortex Optics Venom
Trijicon RMR Type 2
Replace your target acquisition for a pistol by purchasing a red dot sight and you won't regret it for a second. It helps improve overall accuracy and allows you to fire the first shot quicker.
Here's an overview of our best red dots sights for a hangun:
1. Burris Fastfire 3 - best red dot for everyday use
Despite being very small and lightweight, Burris Fastfire 3 will surprise you with rapid target acquisition, while providing precise point of aim.
The small size and weight of this optic makes it perfect for a lightweight firearms like Glock 19, Beretta M9 or SIG P226. The optic doesn't weigh down the gun and you're able to shoot more accurately than ever.
Low optic's design allows it to co-witness iron signs from some of the most popular handguns, like a glock, which will be perfect if you're used to the iron sights, but wanted to increase your accuracy of a firearm.
Advertised battery life of 5 years will be a great when in need of quick access, making Burris Fastfire 3 a perfect option for competitions shooters and home defense use. Mount it once, select an automatic brightness setting and forget all about it until you have to use the sight, at which point it will provide highly improved accuracy.
The sight uses a standard CR1632 battery. One great thing about it - optic doesn't have to be removed to replace it, because it loads from the top, giving you an easy access to it once the sight it attached to a firearm.
Burris Fastfire 3 has a total of 4 brightness settings. One of them is not something you usually see on moderately affordable sights - automatic brightness setting, which sets it up for you, based on light conditions. The other 3 options are essentially high, medium and low, which is a bit limiting when compared to some other sights, but it worked well for me personally. The only downside - you can't turn off the red dot, wasting your battery life when tucked away.
Sight is built to withstand recoil even from heavy-duty shooting with a high caliber firearm, so using it on a pistol won't give you any problems what so ever. The optic is stury, tough and shockproof.
Think no more - get yourself one of the best handgun sights for an affordable price of under $200.
Ease of Use
2. Vortex Venom - best universal red dot sight for handguns
Vortex is one of the highest quality optic manufacturers in the world and Venom product is a real masterpiece. Overall great product quality, it's easy to mount, has a perfect size and weight for a handgun.
The sight comes with either 3 or 6 MOA reticles, both of which are built for smaller firearms like handguns. That said, you can still purchase a mount or raiser and use it on a shotgun or rifle, but it's best suited for pistols.
Vortex Venom is slightly more expensive than Burris Fastfire 3, but it's worth the additional $40-50, just for additional brightness settings.
This Venom model has a total of 10 brightness settings, including the same auto mode that Burris has. What's superior for this product on top of number of brightness settings is that the red dot will authomatically shut down after 14 hours if it's not being used, while red dot of Burris Fastfire 3 can't be turned off.
The battery will last 150 hours of use at the highest brightness setting, but using it on a much lower setting will allow up to 30,000 hours, which is a little over 3 years. The auto-shutdown feature helps maintain a perfect battery efficiency, but we still recommend you turn down the brightness from top levels if those were used. Brightness levels can be adjusted easily using up and down arrow buttons on the left side of the optic.
Just like the latest Borris product we have reviewed - the battery of Vortex Venom can be replaced from the top, so the sight doesn't have to be taken off of the firearm, potentially disturbing current zero position.
The lenses of Vortex Venom are clear, crisp and multi-coated, protecting it from outside elements. The overall sturdiness and toughtness of this product is definitely a great feature, but to be expected knowing how well Vortex Optics develops their products.
As with all Vortex products, this one is covered by Vortex's VIP warranty. This warranty lasts forever and can even be trasfered if you ever decide to pass it on to someone else. Vortex offers to repair all damaged products and if repairs can't be done - they will replace it with ones in perfect condition.
So if you were looking for a sight that can be dropped or damaged without being too worried - this will be the one to get. Currently the sight goes for $230, but if you wish to purchase it with additional mounts or raisers - it will end up being slightly higher.
Ease of Use
3. Trijicon RMR - the best high-end red dot sight for handgun
Trijicon RMR comes in several different red dot sizes - 3.25 MOA, 6 MOA and 9 MOA being the most common ones, but it can range anywhere from 1 MOA to 13 MOA. The large choice of red dot sized allows for a personal touch, where you get to choose your own preference when it comes to sizing.
When used on handguns though, we recommend 3.25 MOA or 6 MOA. These will allow you to acquire targets quickly at low or medium range, which are the ranges that most handguns are most efficient in.
The RMR in product's name stand for Ruggedized Miniature Reflex, because it is considered as the most durable miniature red dot currently on the market. The sight is made out of the highest quality military grade aluminum and designed in a way that absorbs most impact sources, reflecting stress caused by impact away from the weakest area - lenses.
When you buy a sight like this - you know it won't break under any conditions or elements. It was specifically built to be practically unbreakable, so forget all your stresses of dropping this sight or recoil damaging it, because this will never happen with Trijicon RMR.
Sight has a total of 8 brightness options, 2 of them being night vision, plus an additional automatic brightness selection, which we've seen with previous optics analyzed in best red dot sights for handgun list - Burris Fastfire 3 and Vortex Venom.
Optic uses a single CR2032 battery, which will provide up to 4 year battery life, which can be reached with low to medium brightness settings being used.
Recently Trijicon came out with a new and redesigned RMR model, called RMR Type 2. The primary changes were upgraded electronics and a battery-saving mode, that starts working after not using the sight for 16.5 hours.
If you wish to get the highest quality, most durable optic for a handgun - choose Trijicon RMR. Their overall product quality and clear, crisp sights are unmatched. The otpic will continue bringing great joy for years to come.
Ease of Use
When it comes to perfect red dot sight selection - it comes down to primary uses of red dot sight and budget you have. We have decided to include cheaper and more expensive products in the lists of best red dot sights, to better fit different budgets.
In most cases lower product price will also mean lower product quality and a decent red dot optic will cost you close to $200 without the mount price included. If you wish to purchase a more sturdy and durable product that can withstand more stress - it will become more expensive, usually pushing price to double that number.
Let us know what you think of this list. We do appreciate all comments and would like to get your feedback. Have you tried any of the models we've talked about or maybe have your own suggestions for models that should end up on this list? Feel free to share your comments below.