Shooters are always looking to upgrade their rifle platform, searching for changes that lead to better accuracy, tighter shot groupings, and faster target acquisition.
Switching out your iron sights for a dedicated red dot sight helps in all of these ways and where it really counts; getting rounds on target.
With all the different sights on the market today it can be a difficult to find the one that works best for your setup. Our chart and buying guide will help you determine which factors to consider when finding the best red dot sight for you.
|Red Dot Sight||Reticle Type||Weight (oz)||Length (inches)||Optic Diameter (mm)|
|EOTech XPS2 Holographic
||Red Dot – 1 MOA
w/ 65 MOA Ring
|8||2||30.5 x 21.6|
|EOTech 512 Holographic
||Red Dot – 1 MOA
w/ 65 MOA Ring
|10.9||2||30.5 x 21.6|
||Red Dot –
|Truglo Red Dot
||Red/Green Dot –
|Leapers Golden Image
||Red/Green Dot –
||Red Dot –
|BSA Red Dot
||Red Dot –
What Is A Red Dot Sight
A red dot sight mounts on a gun rail and allows the user to look through an optical window to see a reticle superimposed in the field of view. The term ‘red dot sight’ describes any non-magnifying illuminated sight, including both reflex and holographic sights, that can be used on rifles, shotguns, and handguns.
The reticle is created through by either LED or a laser diode light which is reflected or projected through the optics and into the shooters sight line. This provides the aimpoint for which to line up on target for accurate shot placement.
Reticles have the potential to be any combination of shape and size depending on the manufacturer but are typically 1-5 MOA aimpoints or larger 20-60 MOA rings, or a combination of both. Red is the most common color but reticles can also be green.
Red dots provide a huge boost in performance over iron sights, for everyone from novice to expert shooters. Their unlimited eye relief, near-zero parallax, and open sight picture speeds up target acquisition and allows for better shot accuracy and consistency.
The optics of a red dot allow for a minimalist design with all the components housed within a small device. Since there are no heavy lens’s or focal lengths to account for their size and weight are much more compact than telescopic sights. Their illumination makes them versatile in low light conditions as well and some are compatible with night vision and magnifiers.
Because of their clear advantages, dot sights have become almost a standard addition to any reliable rifle system, and are ubiquitous in military and law enforcement issue weapons. Civilian use has also increased as both mil-spec and consumer grade sights have become available.
Characteristics of the Best Red Dot Sight & Scopes
Most red dots have the same basic functionality when it comes down to it, so what makes one better than the next? There are a handful of key metrics to look at when comparing sights. The best red dot sight will have the right combination of factors that meet your specific shooting needs.
As we mentioned earlier we are classifying both ‘holographic’ and ‘reflex’ sights into the same category when talking about red dot sights.
In a reflex sight the objective lens acts as a partial mirror which reflects light from a LED source behind the lens into the shooter’s eye. It only reflects at the wavelength of the LED, allowing all other wavelengths to pass through.
A holographic sight is is illuminated from infront of the lens and shines laser diode light through the square viewing window, illuminating a holographic reticle. These sights are only made by a couple manufacturers and are heavily used by the military and law enforcement.
Tube Vs. Open
There are two common housing configurations for red dot sights which are either tubed or open.
Tubed sights have the same appearance of typical scopes, with a cylindrical casing holding in all the components. In this style a shooter can add interchangeable filters. The tube design also offers good sunshade making the reticle visible in bright light conditions. Protective covers are also usable in this configuration.
Open sights may be called ‘mini red dots’ and operate by stripping out all the elements except the necessary objective window and illumination source. This style has a much smaller profile than a tubed design but does not handle filters or other accessories.
The reticle is the actual aim point pattern that is projected into the objective lens and used to line up the gun with the target.
By nature all red dot sights are illuminated, so they are perfect for low light conditions. Their shape and size, however, can vary. The classic reticle is a single red dot that spans 3-5 MOA in the center of the FOV. But reticles need not be ‘red’ or even ‘dots’, their shape can be a ring pattern or be a secondary color like green.
Retical shape can vary between crosshairs, to dots, to ‘donuts’, each best for a different shooting situation. Good sights will be adjustable between a number of different color and pattern combinations.
The battery is key to any red dot sight. Without any power to generate the light there will be no reticle, meaning you’re back to using iron sights.
Luckily the LEDs typically used to illuminate the the reticle consumers a very low amount of power. This means that sights usually get in the range of ~1000 hours of use before needing a battery swap.
There is a slight difference in consumption rates between holographic and reflex, with holographic sights drawing more power and needing replacement sooner. You may find some sights which ditch the battery in favor of fiber optics or tritium capsuls for energy, like ACOGs.
Our Best Red Dot Sight Reviews – Top Picks
There is a wide range of electronic sights to choose from, each with different features and qualities. We’ve selected the 3 that we think stand out among the crowd and are ones that we recommend to shooters.
If you’re looking to get the same quality and performance out of a sight that is good enough for our soldiers then the EOTech XPS2 is the way to go. This sight is built to Mil-Spec standards and is used every day in combat actions around the world. The US military continues to invest in these sights because they have proven to be reliable and capable when it counts. EOTech sights are always rated as the best red dot sight.
EOTech is one of the few manufacturers of true holographic sights. Using an internal laser diode, the sight illuminates a holographic reticle composed of a 1 MOA dot centered in a 65 MOA ring within the viewing window. Its optical design allows for unlimited eye relief and the ability to keep both eyes open when shooting.
The sights are fog proof, water proof, and have a sturdy build that holds its zero through repeated use. EOTech sights are geared towards military and law enforcement but are now available for civilians. Upgrading to an EOTech is an investment in your rifle setup.
Made by Bushnell, the TRS25 has received mush acclaim from online reviews for its quality of materials, performance, and reliability. Bushnell has made its name in the optics industry with high quality products and this sight falls right in line.
The sight is attachable to any Weaver style or Picitinny rail and features a 3 MOA red dot point, a good size that doesn’t cover up too much field of view. The objective lens is 25mm which is great for a low profile sight like this.
The lens’ also feature Amber-Bright coating which provides high contrast viewing to discriminate target from background. At a weight of 3.7oz and 2.4 inches this is sight is compact enough for any type of usage. This is a solid mid-range priced red dot. We’ve included it on our list of best inexpensive red dots because it still delivers quality results without the high price tag.
TruGlo is a US manufacturer of illuminated optics and other accessories for firearms, bows, and crossbows. This particular red dot from them is a baseline consumer model that can get the job done for the price.
The Truglo Red Dot is built durable to be shock-resistant, water- and fog-proof, and will hold its zero through round after round at the range. It is built with an integrated Weaver-style mount so it should be compatible with most modern rifles. With a front objective diameter of 30mm shooters will experience a wider field of view compared to other sights. It is powered by a 3V lithium battery which should keep it running for up to 6,000 hours.
It’s tube length is 4 inches and weighs 4.5 ounces which means that it will leave room on the rail for other accessories and not effect the gun’s balance that much. A 5 MOA reticle is great for close range shots from 25-50 yards, and will deliver decent groupings at 100 yards.
Leapers/UTG is a firearm accessories manufacturer who creates everything from scopes and dot sights, to mounting systems, bipods, gun cases, even body armor. The Leapers Golden Image 38mm is one of their more consumer grade entries into the sight market, economical and works great for most non-tactical applications.
Its size is a little on the larger side as far as reflex sights go; a tube length of 4.7 inches paired with 7.4 ounces in weight, and a 30mm objective lens. This is a great sight for any AR stye rifle or used in close-mid range combat. Its reticle is 4 MOA can can be adjusted from red to green illumination using the top control knob. The Golden Image has flip-open covers that protect the optics when not in use.
The reticle is a standard dot style; red or green illumination and brightness are adjustable using the top-mounted control knob. Powered by a 3V battery it can last up to 6000 hours. Leapers/UTG offer a great warranty this item that replaces it if broken within 2 years.