A red dot sight (RDS) is a form of “reflex sights,” which eliminates the traditional way of aiming and firing a firearm.
While you have to focus on three points when aiming with classic iron sights, the red dot optics employing a simple reticle, dot, or triangle require you only to focus on a red dot overlaid on your target.
As a non-magnified optics, the red dot sights are the most appropriate for shooting at close to moderate ranges.
My Picks for Red Dot Sights
- Sightmark Ultra Shot Reflex Sight
- Holosun HE515GT Micro Red Dot Sight
- Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA
- Burris 300236 Fastfire III Sight
- Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic
- EOTECH EXPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
- Holosun HS403C
- Ade Advanced Optics Huracan RD3-006A
- CVLIFE Tactical Gun Sight Red Green Dot
- Why You Need Red Dot
- What To Look For In Red Dot Sight
- For Shotgun
- For Pistols
- For AK47
- Under 200
- Under 100
Why You Need Red Dot
Firstly, a good reflex / red dot sight will help you improve your shots’ accuracy, make fast shots on target easier, and follow-up shots will also be faster than using the iron sights.
Besides that, the best red dot sights will let you acquire targets faster, shoot better from a distance and threat-focus better, particularly if you’re planning to use red dots for self-defense.
Being a better sighting system than iron sights, the red dots offer you a faster sight acquisition and a better potential for accuracy.
What To Look For In Red Dot Sight
Because of the variety of red dot optics at the market ranging from garbage and playthings to the $400+ serious sights, you need to know what to look for in red dot sight.
Type Of The Red Dots
The first thing you should choose in a red dot sight is its size, and it depends on a heck of a lot on what type of weapon you’re going to use it at. If you want to use red dot sights on shoulder-held firearms such as an AR-rifle or shotgun, you will need a full-size red dot.
Tube Type Sights
Standard rifle red dot sights come in tube-based designs resembling the traditional rifle scopes. Usually, they can be coupled with a magnifier or night vision scope add-on to increase the platform’s range and versatility.
On the opposite side are the miniature red dots designed and fitted for handgun platforms offering a more precise aiming system, longer range, and faster follow up shots.
Unlike tube type sights usually mounted on full-size long guns, these tiny red dot optics comes in the form of an open sight with a slim profiled lens frame that gives you a panoramic view of the target.
Both types of red dots come with their pros and cons. The tube design is bigger, but you can attach tons of accessories to it. The open red dot sights are small, providing you a good view ahead without losing a situational awareness around you. Of course, made of two lenses basically right up against each other, the typical red dot sight can easily get broken.
Another factor you want to look for in red dot sight is the illumination type. Currently, you may select between LED, Tritium, or Dual Tritium/LED illumination.
Tritium & Dual Tritium/LED
The red dot sights using tritium/phosphorescent lamp doesn’t rely on batteries and have a half-life of about 10 years, but they can’t generate the dot in dark light conditions.
Although the novices would opt for the dual dot, as it has both tritium and LED, the experienced shooters recommend plain LED style red dot for most civilian use because the only thing we have to consider with LED red dots is the battery.
MOA Dot Size
The last factor you should look for is the MOA size. While many authors consider the dot with bigger MOA size is the best option, as it will help you aim and engage your target faster, this is not true.
Compared to the 6.5 or even 9 MOA dots that will restrict you to take a precision shot at a distance, the 3 MOA dot or smaller should be quite enough for most of your shooting scenarios.
1. Sightmark Ultra Shot Reflex Sight
The Sightmark’s Ultra Shot line of reflex red dot sights or HUD display sight is designed for shotguns and rifles and it is rated to withstand recoil forces of up to 1,500 G-force. For instance, a .50 BMG bullet will typically subject a scope to 540 G-force.
While robust Ultra Shot can withstand the high-powered rifles’ recoil, this robust red dot is lightweight, weighing only around 5.6 ounces.
The Sightmark model SM13005 is built of plastic reinforced with aircraft-grade aluminum and comes with an integrated mount. Sightmark’s Ultra Shot Reflex Sight is compatible with a traditional Weaver/Picatinny -style rail systems or with a Dove Tail style base.
The Sightmark Ultra Shot open type red dot sight features a large viewing area with a wide field of view (37yds@100yds) and has a choice of four user-selectable illuminated reticle options. Besides the boring old red 5 MOA dot pattern, it offers combinations of circle and crosshair with a 3 MOA dot in the middle. These combinations make it a perfect sight for rapid firing at moving target up to 100 meters.
The Sightmark’s Ultra Shot red dot is powered by a single CR123 battery that retains life for 1,000 hours of continuous use.
Like all Sightmark red dot sights, this item is shipped with an Allen wrench, a cloth, and a neoprene hub to protect the optic.
|Sight Type||Open Type Sight|
|Obj Lens||33 x 24 millimeters (1.30 x 0.95 inches)|
|Reticle||4 Adjustable Patterns (5 MOA dot, crosshair, 10 MOA dot crosshair and 65 MOA circle with 3 MOA dot)|
2. Holosun HE515GT Micro Red Dot Sight
This small tube sight from the Holosun Paralow series is dubbed HE515GT Red Dot Sight. Resembling by design the famous Aimpoint’s Micro red dot sights, this compact 20mm micro-optical sight is packed with innovations and a perfect match for your shotgun.
The Holosun series with the number ‘5’ in its name points out that you can switch between a 2 MOA Dot and a 2 MOA Dot with 65 MOA Circle with a push of a button.
The letter ‘G’ in its name indicates that sight has the battery compartment located on the device’s right side. Another T letter means that HE515GT sight single-piece housing is CNC machined of titanium, light but very durable.
Besides, the 515 boasts the Holosun’s Shake Awake function, an intelligent feature that prevents unnecessary battery drain.
Although this Paralow line doesn’t include solar panels, its highly efficient light-emitting diodes (LED) enable the device to run on a CR2032 battery up to 50.000 hours (or 5-years).
The model marked as HE515GT-GR comes with a green dot as a welcome upgrade for shooters who preferred outdoor use.
Featuring Holosun Super-LED light system, this red dot sight provides you with 12 brightness settings, including 2 for compatibility with night vision devices.
The Holosun 515GT-GR micro-optic combines a multi-reticle system and multi-layer reflective glass for bright, high-contrast images. Furthermore, using the elevation and windage adjustments increments in 0.5 MOA will allow you to enhance comfort during shooting sessions.
|Reticle||2 MOA Green Dot and 65 MOA circle|
3. Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA
The next product comes from the Trijicon, a company with a massive reputation for the most advanced rifles scopes and sights for military, law enforcement, and civilian applications.
The tiny, low profile RMR Type 2 sight weighs only 1.17 ounces as it is built using lightweight 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum alloy.
This versatile aiming system’s main selling point is its unique patented housing shape that diverts force of impact away from the lens, enabling the RM06 sight to withstand repeated recoil stress.
The Trijicon RMR (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex) series encompassed a line of reflex sights with dot sizes ranging from 1.0 MOA to 13 MOA.
The model RM06 comes with 3.25 MOA dot, which is small enough to allow accurate shooting at a distance, but at the same time, it is large enough to engage quickly in CQB scenarios.
The new RMR Type 2 reflex sight features a redesigned and upgraded electronics such as an automatic brightness mode, which adjusts aiming dot to ambient lighting conditions and an adjustable led 3.25 MOA red dot reticle.
The Trijicon RMR sports eight adjustable brightness settings, including 2 NV, compatible with night vision devices.
This lightweight and compact reflex sight offer you 1x magnification, but you can mount this Micro Red Dot Sight to variable and fixed magnification optics.
The RMR Type 2 has multi-coated lenses protected with coatings that provide an exceptional image sharpness and anti-reflective surface.
The windage and adjustments dial has 1 MOA click values.
|Obj Lens||.87 x .63 in.|
|Reticle||3.25 MOA Dot|
4. Burris 300236 Fastfire III Sight
One of the lightest and littlest red dot sights on our list is the Burris Fastfire III sight designed for mounting on your favorite handgun, AR-15, shotgun, or hunting rifle.
Actually, you can choose between the big 8 MOA red dot, like our model 300236, which is ideally sized for use on pistols, and the Burris 300234 Fastfire III sight with a 3 MOA dot, what is a size commonly used on shotguns and rifles.
A version of the Fastfire III with an 8 MOA dot is not only an affordable and amazing addition to optics-ready handguns but also the best option for close-range accuracy. Its miniature size can be used as a primary sight or paired on top of an existing sight.
The FastFire 3 is simple to operate with one button for power and three levels of brightness adjustment. It also has an automatic brightness setting, a perfect feature when moving from the shade to bright light.
The compact metal body of the Fastfire III features a battery compartment that is conveniently placed on the top of sight to enable battery exchange easier and without re-zeroing.
This Burris red dot is run by one CR1632 battery that will last about 1,000 hours.
While the sight offers unlimited eye relief and shooting with your two eyes open, it is impervious to the elements and heavy recoil.
The Burris FastFire III red dot reflex sight features lightweight aluminum construction and comes complete with Picatinny mounting system.
|Obj Lens||0.8 x 0.6″|
|Reticle||8 MOA Dot|
5. Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic
The Aimpoint started its carrier in the optic business as a brand with an unmatched reputation for reliability and quality. Initially, their high-quality reflex sights were intended for hunters, but soon the benefits of Aimpoint reflex sights were recognized for the fast-action tactical situations.
As its name says, the Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic) is optimized for use with full-sized rifles and it will work best on M4/AR-15-type rifles, but it is a perfect match for your AK47 or any other AK clone.
It is a battle rifle red dot, especially if we consider PROs bulky dimensions. The PRO is 5.1 inches long, 3.2 inches tall, and weighs in at 11.6 ounces with the QRP2 mount.
As you would expect from this price range optics, the Aimpoint PRO has multi-coated glass for excellent viewing experience and special band-pass coating used in the front lens optimized for use with night-vision devices.
The Aimpoint Pro boasts simple but popular 2 MOA dot with 4 nighttime settings and 6 daytime s brightness settings, enabling it to handle real-world combat situations.
Moving beyond the glass, the Sweden red dot is housed in a 30mm main tube machined of the hard-anodized, aluminum-alloy body for protecting the glass and electronics under hard conditions.
The sight body is shipped already attached to a QRP2 mount, which makes installing this optic on the Picatinny rail easy by the auto-torqueing turret.
The PRO comes with 1X magnification and unlimited eye relief enabling you a complete peripheral vision for fast target acquisition. Still, you can screw on an Aimpoint or any other makers magnifier to significantly improved your shooting groups.
The Aimpoint PRO is powered with a lithium DL1/3N battery featuring an impressive battery life of 30,000 hours (3+ years on the 1-7 brightness settings).
|Reticle||2 MOA Dot|
|Weight (oz.)||11.6 (with mount)|
6. EOTECH EXPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
If the red dot is the sight of the most efficient firearm in the world, then the EOTech Holographic Weapon Sight is the best of the best sighting systems for close-quarter engagements.
Although not available in tiny handgun-mountable versions, the EXPS series is much smaller than earlier EOTech models. However, it is ideally suited for installing on the full-size AK47 rifle.
The EOTech with designation EXPS3-0 means the reticle has just the one central 1MOA dot, while the 3-1 mark signifies two 1MOA dots, and so on.
The EXPS3-0 holographic sight is the lightest and most compact EOTech sight that offers pinpoint accuracy preferred not only by hunters and sporting shooters but also by professionals and military operators.
Actually, the EOTech XPS3-0 employs a 1 MOA dot that allows fine shots to be taken. Since the 1 MOA center dot is encircled with 68 MOA reticle rings, this holographic weapon sight enables you to have two eyes open shooting and lightning-fast target acquisition.
Each EOTech XPS3-0 Holographic Sight runs off a single CR123A battery stored in a transverse orientation to get a smaller footprint than the older 512 series and occupy less space on the rifle’s top rail.
The EXPS3-0 sits on 7mm raised base compatible with standard height AR BUIS and night vision devices. The built-in riser also comes with a quick detachable lever.
Whereas all EOTech’s units sport an auto-shutdown feature, the lithium battery has an average life of 500-600 hours and provide the sight with 30 brightness levels (20 daylight settings and 10 settings for NV use).
Though the model EXPS3 HWS is composed mainly of plastic, this operator-grade holographic weapon sight keeps the windage and elevation controls well protected by a sturdy aluminum shroud. It can withstand a shotgun’s or a high-powered magnum caliber rifle’s aggressive recoil.
The EOTech EXPS3-0 Holographic weapon sight has sighting adjustments of 0.5 MOA (½ inch) with a total adjustment range of 40 MOA.
|Obj Lens||0.85 in|
|Reticle||68 MOA Ring and 1 MOA Dot|
7. Holosun HS403C
One of the most innovative brands in the red dot optics industry is Holosun, a relatively young Chinese company that offers quality red dot sights at about half the well-known Swedish red dot optics price.
Their HS403A Red Dot is one of the three sights from the popular Paralow series with design reminiscing of the famous Aimpoint Micro red dot sight.
When you look at the power source, the Holosun HS403C is actually a hybrid sight using a battery and solar power. Compared to the typical RDS that offers 3,000 to 5,000 hours of battery life, the applied combination of technologies in the HS403A Red Dot allows incredible 50,000 hours of operation on one battery.
As for the Holosun designation system, the C letter in the HS403C means it is a model with a solar panel with a CR2032 battery placed under the mount.
The HS403C Holosun solar-powered sight uses a 2 MOA dot, a common size for modern red dots.
Another convenient feature is brightness settings that include 10 daytime settings and two night-vision settings, Shake Awake technology and an auto-shutoff after 8 hours.
The Holosun HS403C micro red dot sight is placed in a T6061-T6 aluminum housing, making it fully shockproof and unaffected by extreme weather conditions.
Unlike some other RDS, the HS403A is parallax-free with unlimited eye relief enabling you aiming with a red dot anywhere inside the window.
|Reticle||2 MOA Red Dot|
|Power||Solar Panel & CR2032 battery|
8. Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sights
Vortex Optics released in 2019 their upgraded red dot sight StrikeFire II that features a classic tube design with 1x magnification and 30 mm objective lens.
This mid-range priced optic is designed for rifles, carbines and shotguns and is available in two options: a red and green reticle and the second option is a single bright red dot.
The Strikefire 2 is a robust sight featuring a single-piece, 30mm aluminum alloy chassis that adds little bulk to the weapon. Though Vortex red dot comes with an offset cantilever mount, this Strikefire unit is a dainty 7.2 ounces making it light and appropriate sight for most firearms platforms.
StrikeFire II red dot features 4 MOA dot runs off by a single CR2 battery. This battery-powered sight offers up to 80,000 hours of battery life at setting 6.
The StrikeFire II red dot allows users to operate between ten dot intensity levels with the lowest two settings being night vision compatible. You can also use it with a 2x doubler attached.
The Strikefire 2 offers elevation and windage adjustments with ½ MOA clicks and overall travel of a 100 MOA.
As a sleek, rugged and powerful device, the Strikefire II red dot is nitrogen purged for fog proofing, o ring sealed for waterproofness and shockproof.
|Reticle||4 MOA Dot|
9. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight 1x25mm
The Bushnell TRS-25 belongs to the micro red dot category and can be mounted as such on most guns: rifles, pistols, shotguns and even muzzleloaders.
While built around a cylindrical tube, it looks similar to a standard rifle scope sight. The TRS-25 is long 2.4 inches and weighs only 3.7 ounces, making it half as light as the classic red dots.
Like most contemporary red dots, The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is made of durable materials that can take a beating, rough handling and recoil from shotguns or high-powered rifles. This red dot tube is nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed, so it is waterproof and will not fog up.
This low-cost optics from Bushnell comes with 3 MOA red dot projected from an LED mounted inside the tube. The elevation and windage adjustment dials offer 0.5 MOA click adjustments, excellent value for red dot sights.
The red dot has 11 intensity adjustments for shooting in low light and bright sunlight. Suppose you hunt at night or in low-light environments. In that case, the combination of an adequately illuminated dot with Amber-Bright high contrast lens coating will help you to more easily see the difference between a brown tree and a brown critter.
This relatively low-profile red dot sight is powered by one CR2032 battery with advertised 3,000 hours of battery longevity.
The Bushnell TRS-25 features an inbuilt Picatinny/Weaver rail mounting system.
|Reticle||3 MOA Red Dot|
10. Ade Advanced Optics Huracan RD3-006A
Another budget Chinese-made mini reflex sight is designed for use with handguns, but also it can be used as a backup sight with a long-range rifle scope.
As the Ade Advanced Optics made optic parts and products for several major manufacturers and retailers, it is not surprising their red dot sights have a footprint of some widespread optics such as Doctor/Vortex Venom.
However, the ADE RD3-006 model comes for a quarter of the price of these renowned optics. The Ade Advanced Optics Huracan RD3-006A Green Dot is bigger and heavier than Burris or Vortex similar models. Though it offers the bare necessities, it is just as durable as the $200/$400 red dot sights.
The Ade Huracan is equipped with 3 MOA green dot and this is a good thing because our eyes are more sensitive to green light and thus tend to perceive green color better, especially outdoors in bright daylight.
Though this dot is green, we will call it a red dot just for simplicity’s sake. The ADE red dot is powered by a lithium CR2032 battery, with a very long battery life advertise up to three months on all the time.
Ade Advanced Optics Huracan RD3-006A features 5 Illumination settings and it shuts off automatically after an hour to save battery.
Some shooters complain about slightly distorted dot compared to more expensive optics, but this red dot is primarily intended for shooting at close distances where some dot distortion isn’t critical.
As for the mounting, a model RD3-006A has a Picatinny mounting plate pre-assembled so that it will fit directly to “Optics Ready” pistols such as IWI Masada, FNX 45 Tactical, or the famous Glock MOS.
|Obj Lens||Sight window 22x25mm|
|Reticle||3 MOA Red Dot|
11. Pinty Red Green Dot Sight
If you are looking for the budget reflex sights, the Pinty red-green reflex sight is one of the top choices of low-cost red dots that you can find nowadays.
This tubeless design comes with a 33mm reflex lens that provides a surpassingly crystal-clear view for various lighting situations. However, since the Pinty doesn’t feature the amber lens, it is better suited for indoor range use then for the hunting grounds.
As one of the best cheap red dot sights, the Pinty red-green reflex sight has four different patterns and 4 variable dot reticles.
A combination of the multi-coated lens and red or green illuminated 5 MOA dot reticles will improve performance in all weather and light conditions. Additionally, the four interchanging reticle patterns have five levels of brightness to toggle between.
The Pinty Tactical Dot Sight is powered by a single CR2032 battery and comes to an integrated Picatinny scope mount for standard 20mm rails.
This 1x fixed magnification optic is built of aerospace-grade aluminum alloy construction, making it the number one seller in the handgun scope category.
|Reticle||5 MOA Red/Green Dot|
13. CVLIFE Tactical Gun Sight Red Green Dot
If you are a beginner to the shooting world and plan to equip your AR-15 carbine with an efficient, reliable yet affordable red dot, the CVLIFE Tactical Gun Sight Red/Green dot sight might be perfect for you.
The CVLIFE 1X35mm Red/Green Dot Gun Sight is shipped with a cantilever mount, which fits all 20mm Picatinny and Weaver sections rail.
As its name says, this CVLIFE sight includes the green and red dot reticles with four different reticle patterns for a more customizable shooting experience. The red dot has 5 illumination intensity settings. Though brightness levels are incredibly bright for both red and green, the brightness level in full sunshine might not be sufficient.
As a reliable entry-class gun, CVLIFE red dot comes equipped with windage/elevation dials with a click value of 1MOA per click. A knob for brightness adjusting has a very quiet but tactile bump.
This red dot is powered with a single CR2032 battery included in a package. With declared 110-220 hours, the battery life is relatively short.
Optics are not an EOTech or Trijicon, but since it features an anti-glare reflective coated lens, the sight is very clear, providing dependable shooter optics for any environmental situation.
Like other more expensive red dots, the CVLIFE red dot sight is relatively well made using the high-grade aluminum alloy material.
Whether you want it for your A2 carry, handle top mount, or on top of your AR pistol, the CVLIFE 1X35mm Red/Green Dot Gun Sight will be easy to install, and it will hold zero.
|Reticle||4 MOA Dot|
Whatever you choose, you should be aware that the red dots are handy for close-quarters target engagement or hunts, no matter you mount them on handguns, shotguns, or full-size combat rifles.
The red dots will provide you good contrast in low-light situations and crisply show you your reference point.
With the advancement in technology, there is no significant difference in quality for the varying price ranges of the red dot sights, so without a doubt, these devices are the best ways to make your life simple and successful.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM. You can find more info on me here.