The Cheap Red Dot Sight Buying Guide

You’re in the market for a red dot sight but don’t want to break the bank. It makes sense, some of the top dot sights are well into the hundreds of dollars, causing a bit of sticker shock.

These high-end sights are marketed to military and law enforcement who usually aren’t personally footing the bill for such a pricey piece of hardware.

The good thing is the average shooter doesn’t require all the bells and whistles that come on the more expensive sights. Often times we just need a simple upgrade over our iron sights, a simple cheap red dot sight.

Inexpesive Does Not Mean Low Quality

trijicon-srs-reflex-sightCheap is a little bit of a misnomer, I like to say inexpensive. Cheap refers to quality of build, while inexpensive refers to price, and as you’ll see these inexpensive sights are far from low quality.

Many of the top optics manufacturers that produce those high end sights have seen that there is a market for the more price-wise shooter. And like any good business their filling these needs with red dot sights that fall in this price point but are made to the same build standards and with the same processes. The result is a lot of great options available for the shooter on a budget.

Red Dot Advantages

A lot of shooters will agree that even a low end red dot as a lot of advantages over a rifles stock iron sights. Here’s just a few of them:

  • Faster Target Acquisition – Its always going to be quicker lining up a single dot on target than a rear and front sights pair. The optic provides a more open sight picture that gives users a better down range view of targets.
  • Unlimited Eye Relief – The optical design makes the reticle appear in focus out to infinity. This means you’re eyes don’t have to adjust between three focal planes as with iron sight. Shooters can actually keep both eyes open when viewing down a red dot for more situational awareness.
  • Easier For Novice Shooters – Take any beginner shooter out and they’ll immediately pick up how to aim with a red dot. The concept is simple, overlay the reticle on the target and shoot. Zero parallax means the point is always superimposed on where the bullet will go.
  • Low Light Conditions – By nature all dot sights are illuminated meaning they’ll be visible at night or low light conditions. Try lining up your iron sights at dusk and see how it goes.
  • Versatility – Dot sights can be utilized on rifles, shotguns, and pistols. And in any type of shooting scenario: hunting, target practice,  or military/home defense.

The main takeaway is that red dots take a lot of the complexity out of aiming compared to iron sights.

So why go for a cheap red dot sight? There are plenty of reasons. Its something we can pop on a secondary rifle. One we don’t hesitate to beat it up a little at the range. Something we see if we like before investing too much of our gun fund. We want what all shooters want, a sight that just works for the right price.

Our Cheap Red Dot Sight Top Picks

The amount of affordable sights is growing daily, but there are a handful for under 100$ that we’re particularly fond of. Check them out below.

BSA 30mm Red Dot Scope w/ 5 MOA: ~30$

bsa_reddot_mainBSA Optics is known for making quality sights and has built its reputation with rifle scopes, binoculars, archery scopes and more. If you want to see better downrange BSA has your solution.

Their low end red dot sports a 5 MOA reticle, a good size for quick target acquisition covering about a 2″ spread at 25 yards, plenty accurate for a distance like that. Even at a medium setting the dot is still visible against a bright outdoor background; no getting washed out in brightness here.

Its tube design has a 4.2″ length that houses a 30mm diameter objective lens, and a weight of 5 ounces. This lens size is typical for red dots and provides a solid field of view to see downrange. There is also a sunshade on the front end which reduces glare from occurring which helps on those sunny range days.

The mounting hardware includes clamps for both 3/8 and 5/8 rails so it can fit on most rifle systems. Windage and elevation knobs are found on the top and allow for 1/2″ MOA adjustments to get the zero in just the right spot. At a price of ~30$ you can’t go wrong with this sight, if you’re looking for a weekly shooter that will stand the punishment, this is way to go.

Tasco 30mm Red Dot w/ 5 MOA: ~30$

tasco red dot 30 mmThis choice come to us from Tasco, an optics company based out of Kansas. They’re bargain optics are great for anyone looking for a cheap red dot sight.

Its basic specs are comparable other sights at the same price point. A Rubicon layered, 30 mm obective lens is housed within a 6 ounce, 3.75 inch tube. The tube itself is finished in matte black with All Weather protection, great for those who are  planning on taking out in less than optimal conditions.

The 5 MOA dot is controlled by an 11 step Rhostate dial found on the top of the tube, along with windage and elevation knobs. The parallax is set at 50 yards so you shouldn’t see any sight drift shooting at that distance.  And if you’re shooting at that distance a 5 MOA reticle is a great size, large enough to get on target quick and small enough for tight groupings at that distance.

NcStar Tactical Dot Sight w/ Cantilever Weaver Mount: ~30$

ncstar tactical red dotRegular shooters should be familiar with the NcStar brand, they’ve been known as a quality scope and sight builder in the community for a significant time. From short to long range sighting systems NcStar puts out a variety of products.

The 3 MOA reticle is great for distances as close as 25 yards and out to 100 yards, depending oh how tight you want your shot groupings. The reticle is adjustable between green and red, giving the shooter options depending on the situation at hand. Red tends to be better for outdoors while green should be utilized in dimmer conditions.

At a weight of 11.3 ounces and length of 4.3″ it is on the larger size of red dots, its 30 mm objective lens, however, is a typical size. It is constructed of anodized aluminium which can take a beating on the range.

The NcStar Tactical has a cantilever mounting system, meaning it is elevated off the rail system, which some shooters prefer on flat top style rifles. As a cheap red dot sight, you can’t go wrong here.

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight: ~80$

bushnell_trs25_mainMade by , the TRS25 has recieved 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.

This sight is a little higher in price but below our 100$ threshold for being ‘cheap’. The TRS-25 is manufactured by Bushnell who are well know for their quality build and materials. This red dot will mount to Picitinny or Weaver style rails with a solid fit. With a 3 MOA dot it gives good group sizes out to 100 yards.

The objective lens diameter is 25 mm, which is a little on the smaller side but makes for a sight with a lower profile than the rest of the ones we’ve looked at. Its highlight is its Amber-Bright coated lens which helps in increasing contrast between targets and background.

The TRS-25 weighs in at 3.7 ounces with a 2.4 inch tube length, keeping everything compact into one small package. This is a great mid-range red dot that you’re going to get a lot of use out of.

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