23 Best Red Dot Sights for the Money in 2019 (AR-15s, Pistols & Rifles)

Red Dot Sight Reviews and Buying Guide

In the world of optics, there is a lot of confusion surrounding the term red dot sight.

Just know, a “red dot sight” is NOT a specific type of optic. It is a general term that includes several types of optics.

When someone says they’re looking for a red dot sight, it’s important to dig a little deeper to find out what they actually want.

They’re usually looking for a reflex sight, but in some cases, they may be looking for a holographic sight, prism sight, or even an ACOG.

On this page, I hope to clear up a lot of confusion, explain the different technologies, and help you find the best red dot sight within your budget.

Want to Learn More Before You Decide? Keep reading.

Introduction: In the Marine Corps Rifleman Creed it says, “Without me, my rifle is useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will…”

Marine Using a Red Dot Sight
Marine Scanning for Targets in Fallujah Iraq

When it comes to optics for shooting enemies before they shoot you at close to mid ranges, nothing beats a red dot sight.

So, whether you’re looking for an optic for home defense or just something to take out those evil paper targets at the range, a red dot is a great choice.

Optics are one of those accessories you really don’t want to cheap out on. It makes me sick to my stomach when I see a nice rifle with a cheap scope. I wish they would pass a law making it illegal.

On the flip side, if you have a low-end AR-15, it would be stupid to drop $1000 dollars on an optic. The bottom line is you should buy an optic that matches the quality of your rifle.

Types of Red Dot Sights:

Reflex Sights: Are the most common type of red dot sight and is what most people are thinking of when they think of a red dot.

These sights operate using a series of mirrors where the dot or reticle is projected forward onto a lens and is reflected back by a mirror, making the dot visible.

Reflex sights come in two distinct flavors and sometimes you may even find a 2-in-1 package where a small exposed reflex is mounted on top or at a 45-degree angle to a magnified tubed reflex. This offers the shooter multiple magnification options.

Exposed Reflex Sight: This type of optic has one mirror that projects the sight dot back at the user. They have no tube and only consist of a small clear window.

Glock Pistol with Red Dot Exposed Reflex Sight
Glock with Exposed Reflex Sight

These offer the highest eye relief and fastest target acquisition of any type of sight. These are almost never found with any magnification and are highly sought-after for close quarter or close range shooting where fast target acquisition is essential.

Tubed Reflex Sight: These sights have two different lenses where the reticle or dot is projected from the rear lens to the front lens. These sights usually are found with no magnification, however, many of them can be found with small amounts of magnification. Tubed reflex sights typically have the most variable functions and can be found in many different shapes and sizes.

This design is significantly more precise and accurate than the other two optics we are discussing today. EOTech has the sole patent on this technology so they are the only producer of a holographic sight. There are some other optic manufacturers claiming to sell holographic sights, but these are usually just reflex sights dressed to appear as holographic sights.

EOtech Holographic Sight Close Up
Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot Sight on Sig MPX 9mm Carbine

Holographic red dot sights: allow the shooter to acquire targets with both eyes open easily by sporting a clear view of the target through a window. EOTech sights are very similar to reflex sights but offer higher precision and are usually better known for competitive shooting. The floating reticle allows for angle adjustments automatically, making this sight perfect for shooting on the move or moving from target to target quickly. With that said and considering their market dominance via patent, EOTech sights cost significantly more than exposed reflex sights but offer only a little higher quality and functionality.

Prism Sights: Are typically shaped like a traditional scope but are significantly more compact and not as long. Prism sights do sometimes come with small amounts of magnification and allow for either an etched or illuminated reticle.

These optics utilize a prism to focus the light and create the sight picture as opposed to mirrors and lenses like traditional scopes do. That’s how they manage to still offer magnification with a smaller and shorter configuration.

They do have some drawbacks, they typically have the shortest amount of eye relief, which means your eye must be closer to the sight to view the picture. This makes target acquisition not as fast as a reflex or holographic, which is the trade-off you are accepting for magnification.

Another drawback is that they only offer small amounts of magnification and will not come close to a full-blown scope. You’ll typically find these in 1x, 3x, 4x, 5x or 6x. Sometimes prism sights are paired with a reflex sight to offer both small amounts of magnification and a quick non-magnified option for target acquisition.

Why Invest in an Optic?

I’m actually a big fan of iron sights, they’re tried and true, but let’s be honest, it’s 2019 and the days of lining up targets with the front and rear sight are over. I mean, even the Marine Corps has moved on from iron sights… that says a lot.

Attaching a red dot optic to your rifle or pistol is the quickest way to increase target acquisition speed, makes shooting more comfortable, and simplifies the shooting process.

For less experienced shooters, red dot sights are more user friendly than any other type of sight. With a red dot equipped rifle or pistol, you can pass your firearm to say your wife or range buddy who is new to shooting and they will be able to use it very effectively with little training.

My Mission With This Article: In this article, I will explain the differences between reflex, holographic, and prism sights (see above). There are some common misconceptions when it comes to these groups of optics and I want to share some tips to help you find the perfect optic.

I decided to break this review down by price range, so you can quickly find the best red dot sight for the money within your budget. I also share some good retailers, so you know where to get the optic if you decide to pull the trigger.

Before I get into the type of red dot optics, I’d like to clarify what 1x magnification means. Most red dot scopes come standard as 1x, meaning they don’t offer magnification. This can be changed or augmented however with a second piece called a magnifier.

A magnifier is a separate piece of equipment that sits in front of the optic or directly behind the optic and offers magnification for your 1x optics. Usually, these are easily detachable, or they move on a hinge and can be flipped to the side, giving the shooter the ability to use their optic for short range target acquisition and then switch to magnification quickly for long range engagement. Most magnifiers come around the 3x range, but you can find some that offer up to 6x magnification.

Aimpoint Comp M4 and EOtech G33 Magnifier Setup
Aimpoint Comp M4 and EOtech G33 Magnifier Setup

Like I said above most are non-magnified (1x magnification) and are best suited for close and mid-range shooting. If you’re looking an optic to increase the range of your rifle, you might want to look for one on this list that offers magnification or check out my ACOGs and Scopes page here.

When is it OK to Buy a Cheap Optic?

If you’re looking to buy a red dot sight for a .22 caliber rifle or a sight that will simply get the job done you don’t need to spend a lot of money. There are some really great budget options on the market right now, like the Romeo 5.

Most people really don’t need to step out of the under $100 or under $200 category. That said, if you’re looking for a high-end red dot sight for AR-15s, pistols, or other high caliber rifles and are looking for optimal performance, spend some extra cash and buy the best red dot sight you can afford. You’ll thank me later.

You Shouldn’t Put a Cheap Red Dot Sight on an AR-15 or other High Power Firearm.

Buying an extremely cheap optic might seem quite appealing, especially if you’re on a tight budget. If your main focus is to simply have something sitting on top of the gun to look tacticool and maybe use once or twice a year, a cheap optic may actually do the trick for you. Unfortunately, if you are going to be putting several hundred rounds down range a cheap optic just simply won’t do.

Some of these cheap optic advertisements will claim they have all the same functions and features as high-end optics and while it may seem like this is true, there will be something lacking.

In the world of optics, you generally do get what you pay for, but that necessarily mean you need the latest and greatest optic. There are plenty of great optics in the mid-price range, but don’t plan on getting a quality one for under $50.

Here Are 5 Reasons Why.

1. Cheap optics usually have a wide minute of angle (MOA). MOA is a unit of measure for the accuracy of what a shooter may expect the size of groupings to be. You can read more on MOA here. A large MOA means a low amount of accuracy. A large MOA might not be too noticeable when you’re shooting a .22 at close ranges, but when you’re trying to reach out and hit targets at 500 Meters with an AR-15 MOA matters.

2. Another reason to stray far from low budget optics is the crispness of the reticle.

3. Most of the time, cheap optics will have unusually bright or dim dots that are hard to focus on and use in either high or low light situations. Sometimes they even create their own glare and reflections. High-end optics also typically have night vision compatible lighting. This means the lighting is low enough for night vision accessories and goggles to pick up on without damaging them by being too bright.

4. Many cheap optics are also very difficult to get zeroed in and sometimes lose their zeroing with time and/or recoil from the firearm they’re mounted on. Speaking of recoil, some optics simply cannot handle the recoil from high caliber weapons and thus result in catastrophic failure for your optics. There are even some cool YouTube videos where cheap low-quality optics shatter and explode.

5. A big difference between high-end optics and low-end optics are their power sources and battery life. Some high-end sights like the ACOGs that are Issued to Marines utilize a tritium/fiber optic illuminated reticle that essentially eliminates the need for batteries altogether. Your cheap optics will burn through batteries and lack functions such as auto shut off and power saving modes. Some high-end optics even have etched sights along with powered reticles to ensure that if you ever run out of energy, you can still use them.

What Features Should You Look for in a Red Dot?

First and foremost, you must consider the firearm the optics are going to be placed on. Many popular reflex and holographic sights rely on mounting to a Picatinny or weaver rail. If your firearm doesn’t have one, you are going to have a lot of trouble mounting many of the optics on this list.

Secondly, if you’re shooting a very large caliber weapon, you must make sure the optic is durable enough to withstand the shock. Every firearm has recoil but not all recoil is the same and as stated before, optics not designed for shock absorption can easily become damaged. Some major optic manufactures even have different variations of their products that are specially optimized for specific calibers and platforms. Make sure you are choosing the correct model for the firearm you have!

Range is obviously a huge factor when selecting an optic. If you’re using a large caliber rifle to shoot extremely long distances, a reflex or holographic sight probably won’t do you much good. These sights are for close to medium ranges and will not help you land mile long shots. Some sights may be adjustable for both close range and medium ranges, making them the ideal multi-tool for most small caliber weapons such as the AR 15 platform.

Light levels are important to consider. If you’re shooting in a well light enclosed firing range, you probably won’t need to worry much about brightness adjustments or quality of brightness, but if you’re planning to operate your firearms during the night or in extreme lighting conditions, you must find optics that will allow you to adjust the brightness for these conditions.

Lastly, there is an old saying that goes kind of like this: “The optics on your firearm should cost the same as the firearm they are mounted on”. This means two things. 1. If you have a high-end firearm, you need a high-end optic to match or both will suffer in performance. 2. If your firearm costs a lot of money, chances are you’re operating a firearm that requires special characteristics like the ones mentioned above, which typically result in more expensive optics being required.

As a bonus piece of advice for those of you with less than desirable eyesight, you must beware of a few impending complications when using optics. No matter which optic you are using at any price range, there may be a star bursting effect seen if you have astigmatisms. Many comments online will claim that scopes are awful because they had this terrible sight picture, or the dot was all contorted. What they don’t realize is that the sight is likely functioning correctly but their eyes are having trouble focusing on such a small pinpointed piece of light.

For those who have these issues, etched reticles seem to be easier to use and would be my recommendation overpowered reticles. Many reflex sights have etched reticles alongside the lighted reticle, so purchasing one may give you the option to turn off the dot if your eyes have trouble adjusting.

Here Are the Best Red Dot Sights (listed by price)

Budget Bin: Red Dot Sights Under $100

Welcome to the budget bin. If you’re looking a cheap red dot sight for .22s or other low caliber firearms you can find some pretty decent optics in this price range, just don’t expect much from an optic in the budget bin!

You should purchase the highest quality glass you can afford or the one that best matches the quality of your firearm.

Also, please keep in mind that most optics under $100 are not built to withstand the recoil of high caliber firearms. Over time the shock will likely take it’s toll on these cheaper optics and may crack the glass and cause electronic malfunctions. Just keep that in mind and read customer reviews before you pull the trigger and buy one.

1. 360 Tactical 4 MOA Reflex Sight

Tactical Scope with Picatinny Mount

Optic type: Tubed Reflex Sight
Price range: Under $30

My review: If you’re looking for a cheap red dot sight, this is about as cheap as they get. Any cheaper and you’ll really just be looking at decorative pieces. Also, I would not recommend putting this sight on a high power rifle unless you enjoy phone calls with customer support representatives or really want to get practice zeroing your rifle. If you just need something to stick on your AR-15 as a placeholder then go for it, but this is really designed for low caliber rifles, low caliber pistols, airsoft guns, or pellet/bb guns. It is usable, and it’s a good sight for the money, but I wouldn’t expect any special durability or extreme precision with this optic.

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Functions and Features:

  • Red or green dots
  • Dual illumination
  • Cantilever PEPR mount for 20mm picatinny or weaver rail mounting
  • Fog resistant, weatherproof, and shockproof.
  • All metal construction
  • Spring loaded flip lens covers that are removable

The only potential cons I see:

  • Noticeable halo around the dot
  • Glass is highly reflective

Key Features:

  • Cheap and good reflex sight for the money
  • Available on Amazon
  • Much more durable than any other reflex I’ve found in this price range.

2. Feyachi Exposed Reflex Sight

Feyachi Exposed Reflex Sight

Optic type: Exposed Reflex Sight
Price range: Under $50

My review: This sight is actually pretty great at its price point. It’s designed for low caliber firearms, but people do use it on AR-15s without any problems. It won’t deliver any kind of life proofing such as water proofing, shock proofing, etc but so long as you take care of it, this sight should work well for general usage. The exposed reflex design is really simple in general so it doesn’t take much to generate a working product. This is bare bones but it does get the job done.

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Functions and Features:

  • 4 different reticle patterns in either green or red
  • Tubeless design with 40mm reflex lens aperture
  • Integrated 20mm picatinny or weaver mount
  • Comes with a 45-degree mounting kit
  • Unlimited eye relief with adjustable height, brightness, windage, and elevation.
  • High grade aluminum construction
  • This is a general exposed reflex sight for a very cheap price
  • Multiple colors and reticle options

The only con I see:

  • Not water or shock proof

Key Features:

  • This is a general exposed reflex sight for a very cheap price
  • Multiple colors and reticle options

3. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25

Bushnell Trophy TRS 25

Price range: Around $50

My review: You’ve likely seen this optic reviewed on Marine Approved before, but since it’s one of my top choices for economical high performers, here it is again!

First and foremost, if you research this optic outside of this guide, you’ll find a lot of complaints. Since this red dot is a great choice for first timers, it’s no wonder some people report problems with it due to ignorance.

Its common to incur reviews from people who rip this thing right out of the box and crank the brightness setting to the max, then they hop on the web and complain about the sight picture being awful. The proper way to use this optic and many other optics is to match the illumination setting to the available light in your environment. If you experiment and find out which settings work in what types of lighting, you’ll find that the TRS-25 hosts a beautiful sight picture, almost unmatched by other red dots around $50. It’s insanely cheap but the build quality, as always by Bushnell, is top notch.

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I do like the amber lenses from Bushnell and the red dot is very crisp, despite many online reviews stating otherwise. The only issue you might have with the TRS-25 is the dot illuminator hardware. They’ve placed the illuminator inside the tube at the top to maintain a slim design which is fine but it is viewable in the sight picture. This slightly obstructs view by design and it seems a little odd, but after awhile you barely notice it. The scope is able to maintain unlimited eye relief and is usable with both eyes open. Perfect for quickly acquiring furry critters!

Functions and Features:

  • Non-magnified 1x red dot
  • Bushnell trophy red dot reticle
  • Amber ultra bright bushnell exclusive high contrast lens coating
  • Tilted front lens for LED reflectiveness
  • Multiple illumination settings for various light settings
  • 1 piece design dry nitrogen purged
  • Unlimited eye relief and open eyes compatibility
  • Water, fog, and shock proof

The only potential con I see:

  • Red dot illumination hardware being placed inside the tube is a bit awkward.

Key Features:

  • For under $100, this is by far one of the best red dot optics on the market if used properly
  • The Bushnell lenses are clear as always and provide a great sight picture while also maintaining a very slim and lightweight design

4. AT3 Tactical Reflex Red Dot (Best Value Under $100)

AT3 Tactical Red Dot Sight

Price range: Around $75
Note: You can also get this sight on Amazon here with a riser for co-witness with iron sights.

My review: $75? What? Is this thing a toy? Surprisingly, no, it’s not a toy. It’s actually one hell of a little red dot reflex and it certainly does its job well. Water and shock proofing is something I wouldn’t expect to find on bottom dollar optics but here we are. A beautiful metal housing with amber lenses and all the “proofing” you need. This thing feels like a $200-$400 optic! Of course, to offer a optics this cheap there were corners that had to be cut and you’ll notice this in the clarity of the glass. It’s not horrible, but its not great either.

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Functions and Features:

  • 2 MOA red dot
  • 11 red dot brightness settings
  • Both eye operability
  • Amber multicoated scratch resistant lenses
  • Waterproof
  • Shockproof
  • Matte black anodized finished
  • 50,000 hour battery life with an included CR2032 battery
  • Comes with rubber bikini covers

The only potential con I see:

  • I’m not a fan of the adjustment knobs

Key Features:

  • Great value red dot reflex
  • Sharp dot appearance despite low cost glass

Rookie Numbers: Choosing the Best Red Dot Sight Under 200 Dollars

If you’re looking for EOTechs or Aimpoints, you’re in the wrong place. Keep scrolling! At under $200 we’re still talking rookie numbers, but if you’re looking for affordable optics that are respectable, look no further! For under $200 you can get something good but far from fancy.

If you’re looking for a good red dot for an AR-15 and your bank account can handle it, I really recommend bumping up to one of the optics I have listed in the Under 300 category, the quality jump is significant!

5. Sightmark Shot Plus

Good Cheap Red Dot Sight by Sightmark

Price range: Under $100

My review: For all of you who want a fancy little halo look alike for an affordable price, the Sightmark SM26008 is the answer. No, it’s not even close to mil spec and no, its not actually a holographic sight, however, it is cheap and it does work, all while adding a bit of tacticoolness to your rifle. Personally, I do like it. I am fairly against spending over a thousand dollars to get a 1x optic and I think many people share that sentiment. Sightmark capitalized on the market and gave us a super cheap but usable option. All around, it isn’t great, but it’s okay and will likely work well for most people. Just don’t get it too cold, as it will fog up and you’ll be worse off than you would with no sights at all. While I do love this sight, I would say the AT3 Tactical sight listed above is a slightly better sight for the money overall. If you can fork around 40 more dollars you can get one of my favorite red dots, the Romeo 5 by Sig Sauer (listed below).

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Functions and Features:

  • Red and green reticle options
  • Digital switch controls
  • 35m at 100m field of view
  • One hour shutoff mode
  • Quick detach weaver mount
  • 5 brightness settings
  • 1000 hour battery life with a single CR123a battery (included)
  • IPX4 water resistance
  • Shockproof
  • Cast aluminum alloy housing with protective shroud

Key Features:

  • Extremely good value
  • Very durable for its price

6. Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight

Sightmark Reflex Optic

Optic type: Exposed Reflex Sight
Price range: $175

My review: Sightmark was attempting to make something close to an EOTech at a much lower price point. I think they hit the mark well with this sight (pun intended of course). It’s not a holographic and doesn’t give the same crispness as one, but it also is 1/5 the price and looks just as good. As far as the actual sight goes, it’s easy to see in all light situations and is even night vision compatible. The quick detach function is very helpful, much easier than most other sights. 1 hour shut off is nice as we have all probably left sights on by accident and ran down the batteries, however, you just have to be weary that its possible it’ll shut off while using it.

The video below provides a good overview the optic. Keep in mind in the video they are reviewing the carbon fiber model, which is lighter but also more expensive. Other than weight, there are no major differences.

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Functions and Features:

  • Ip68 waterproofing
  • Digital switch controls
  • Interlok internal locking system
  • Parallax corrected
  • Cast magnesium allow housing with protective shielding
  • 1 hour auto shut off
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Adjustable quick detach weaver mount

The only con I see

  • Bulky in comparison to other similar sights

Key Features:

  • High definition reticle
  • Ip68 waterproofing

7. Primary Arms MD-ADS Red Dot

Primary Arms Micro Red Dot Optic

Optic type: Tubed Reflex Sight
Price range: Under 200

My review: Primary Arms is one of the best budget to mid range optics manufacturers and they really hit this one home. At this price, you can’t possibly expect AimPoint quality and surely you won’t find it on the MD-ADS. Upon first getting this sight, you’ll notice an overall cheap feel of the components but don’t let that discourage you, that’s how Primary Arms managed to deliver such a crisp dot and high-quality glass at such a bargain of a price. They put the money where it matters most. If you can’t afford a top notch brand, this sight will bring you just as much functionality and nearly as much durability for a fraction of the cost.

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Functions and Features:

  • 2 MOA red dot
  • 12 brightness settings
  • 1x magnification compatible with magnifier systems
  • Parallax free
  • Powered b a single CR2032 battery
  • Up to 50,000 hours battery life with a super slim single saucer battery configuration
  • Constructed of aircraft aluminum with hard coated anodized finish
  • IP57 Waterproofing and fog proof
  • Bikini lens covers and MIL-STD 1913 picatinny rail mount included

The only potential cons I see:

  • Made in China
  • Lens caps, turrets, adjustment screws and mounting base all feel a bit cheap

Key Features:

  • Top contender in this price range
  • Extremely crisp dot and glass

8. Sig Sauer Romeo 5 (Best Under $200)

Sig Sauer Romeo 5 Red Dot Sight Close Up View

Price range: Under $150
Note: Recommended optic in this price range and best red dot sight for the money overall.
Note 2: There is also a more expensive Romeo5 XDR compact version available. It has more reticle options, uses a AAA battery opposed to the saucer CR battery, and has some slightly different features. Overall, the standard Romeo 5 is a better value, but if price isn’t a factor for you, check out the Romeo5 XDR here on Amazon.

My review: This is the budget god so to speak, and it’s no surprise that made by Sig Sauer. The Romeo 5 is a fantastic little budget red dot sight. Along with offering a very clear sight picture, this beauty has some standout features for a sight in this price range. It has motion activated illumination, which means any movement or vibration will cause the sight to “wake up” and automatically turn on. This functionality is nice because that means if you accidentally forget to shut the sight off, it will automatically turn off after 15 minutes. That means you won’t have a dead battery when you need the sight most because you forgot to shut it off.

Sig MPX with Sig Sauer Romeo 5 Top View

The Romeo 5 is meant to be used in co-witness with other Sig optics and even comes with the mounting hardware to achieve this. All in all, Sig always delivers a great product for an arguably high price tag. With this price tag, however, comes the Sig Sauer Guarantee warranty and of course, the bragging rights of using a Sig product! As far as red dot sights under $200, you can’t go wrong with this optic or the sight by Primary Arms listed above.

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Functions and Features:

  • 1x20mm
  • 2 MOA red dot
  • Motion Activated Illumination
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Compact reflex design
  • 10 brightness settings including 2 settings for NV compatibility
  • IPX-7 waterproof rated for complete submersion up to 1 meter
  • Fog proof
  • Cr2032 battery included
  • 40000 hour battery life with MOTAC (motion activated illumination)
  • Includes M1913 picatinny low mount riser and co-witness 1.41” riser mount
  • Spectra coating for ultra-wide broadband and anti-reflection lenses

Key Features:

  • Best in class zero maintenance
  • Great co-witness capability

9. Primary Arms Advanced Red Dot

2 MOA Cheap Red Dot Sight

Optic type: Prism Sight
Price range: $130

My review: This optic, like most from Primary Arms, has a great reputation. I can’t say that I’ve ever personally used it, but I stilled added it to the list because it seems like a good budget sight. From reviews I’ve read the dot is very crisp and easy to acquire targets with. The battery life is nearly unbeatable, and the flip caps are of high quality. The design is very light weight but still very durable. It won’t come out of the box with a mount, so you’ll need to purchase one if you don’t already have one. Luckily, this scope is under 150 dollars so purchasing a mount should keep you under $200 still.

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Functions and Features:

  • 2 MOA
  • True 1x field view and crisp red dot
  • 14000 hour battery life using 1 1/3N button battery
  • 6061 aluminum construction with anodized finish
  • Lifetime warranty

The only cons I see:

  • Not waterproof
  • Must purchase the scope rings separate, which are another $30.

Key Features:

  • Great battery life (14000 hours)
  • Lighter than most other prism red dot scopes

10. Burris 300234 FastFire III

Pistol Red Dot Sight

Price range: Under $200
Note: Popular Red Dot Sight for Pistols

My review: This sight is one of the cheaper high-end exposed reflex sights that are mountable on just about any firearm. If you’re looking for a reasonably priced exposed red dot sight for pistols, this and the Vortex sight listed below are awesome. Run a few mags through with your AR and then pop it off, sliding it onto your Glock and finishing off the day with the same sight. Its fast, easy, and extremely reliable. The auto brightness feature really ruins the terribleness of having to adjust the brightness manually almost to the point it will make you lazy with other sights that don’t have auto brightness features. The low-profile design will add a great elegance and tacticool factor to any gun its mounted on. This red dot and Venom sight lied below are both great choices in this price range. I attached a video comparing the two optics below.

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Functions and Features:

  • 3 MOA red dot
  • No tools required to adjust windage and elevation
  • Top sight battery door
  • Three brightness levels and automatic brightness adjuster
  • Low battery indicators
  • Adaptability for several firearm platforms including handguns, rifles, shotguns, etc
  • Sight comes with everything you need to mount it on a picatinny rail system
  • Unlimited eye relief

The only con I see:

  • Battery cover is difficult to remove

Key Features:

  • Auto brightness function is great and really takes the worrying out of choosing a setting
  • This sight is cheap but has the features of more expensive ones

Enthusiast: Red Dot Sights Under $300

You can get a pretty respectable red dot sight for AR-15s under 300 dollars.

11. Holosun HS510C Red Dot Optic

Solar Power Red Dot Sight

Optic type: Exposed Reflex Sight
Price range: Under $300
Note: Recommended optic in this price range

My review: This thing really gives EOTech holographic sights a run for their money and is a great value. It has the ability to toggle the dot and ring which is a huge advantage over the early EOTech models but at a much cheaper price. Most people who buy this optic are very happy and satisfied with their products, but I have read that some people received optics with flaws or that seem to be second hand but sold as “new”. Aside from that, if you do get a brand new one that works well, you will be thrilled to have a very durable and rugged open reflex sight.

It looks like a pretty common complaint with optic manufacturers is bad customer service and Holosun is no innocent angel in this regard. I will link a video review if you want to learn more about this optic!

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Functions and Features:

  • 50,000 hours of continuous usage with a single CR2032 battery
  • 2 MOA dot and 65 MOA dot ring
  • Allows for dot only, ring only, and dot and ring configurations
  • Titanium alloyed shock resistant shielding
  • The optics are powered by both battery and solar power
  • QD mount integration
  • Open frame ultra-wide field integration with unlimited eye relief
  • Shake and wake function

The only cons I see:

  • Locking mechanism is poor quality
  • High brightness equates to red splash on the ocular side of the glass

Key Features:

  • One of the best zero holding optics on the market
  • Insane 50,000 hour battery life

12. Vortex Optics Venom

Vortex Red Dot Sight for Pistol

Price range: Under $250
Optic type: Exposed Reflex Sight
Note: My choice as best red dot sight for pistols (Around this price)

My review: This is my personal choice of reflex sight for a handgun. It is incredibly cheap while still offering auto brightness adjustments and extremely high quality. This has to be one of the best all around reflex sights and you can use it on basically any firearm that has a mounting system. It looks good, it feels good, and it really does help you shoot good.

Here is a video that compares the Venom to the FastFire 3 listed above.

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Functions and Features:

  • 3 MOA dot
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Full aluminum construction
  • Multi-coated lenses that offer a wide view through crystal clear optical glass
  • Vortex auto brightness system auto adjusts the brightness and dot intensity using ambient light sensors
  • 10 user controlled levels of brightness if you don’t want to use the auto function
  • 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustments
  • Change the battery without removing the sight
  • Venom Red Dot is suitable for almost any platform including rifles, shotguns, pistols, air guns, etc.

The only con I see:

  • Battery cover is very difficult to open

Key Features:

  • Auto brightness system will auto dim or auto brighten the dot for maximum visibility in any situation
  • Has a low profile and sleek appearance

13. Vortex Optics Sparc 2

Vortex Sparc 2

Optic Type: Tubed Reflex Sight
Price Range: Under $300

My Review:This optic is basically a high grade “wanna be” with low grade technology. It is definitely usable and isn’t a terrible option for budget seekers, however don’t expect mil spec grade quality. This is probably one the best options for a place holder until you can afford a high-end optic. The reticle is easy to see and the eye relief seems to be really good, however, the illumination settings at the high end are almost unusable as they are too bright.

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Functions and Features:

  • Two MOA daylight bright dots.
  • Ten variable illumination settings
  • Night vision compatible
  • Multi height mounting system
  • 1x magnification
  • Objective lens diameter 22mm

The only cons I see:

  • Minor tube glare resulting from not enough reflective coating .
  • High illumination settings cause a glowing ring inside the optic.

Key Features:

  • Vortex is a well-known budget brand that offers near top quality for low prices. This sight is similar to an Aimpoint Micro.
  • You can use flip up iron sights easily along side this sight.

Tried and True: Finding the Best Red Dot Sight Under $500

Here we start to see EOTechs and Aimpoints surface. In this price range you’re going to find great optics in a realistic price range. You won’t really have a need to go further than this price level unless you are shooting competitively, or you seriously just have more cash than you know what to do with! If that’s the case, please let let me know what you do for a living and where we can meet up in the comments. Of course, in the world of high magnified scopes, this is the basic price level, so you guys shopping for red dots are lucky!

14. Burris AR Prism Sight 300178

Vortex Sparc 2

Optic Type: Prism Scope
Price Range: $400

My Review: This is a pretty great little package for those looking for a mid-priced sight. It offers both a prism 5x and a Freefire reflex which encompasses targeting at both short and long-distance ranges. This scope is the perfect little tool for platforms such as the AR15. It’s tough, its waterproof, and it has great eye relief. Everything you could want in a mid-range optics package.

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Functions and Features:

  • This particular model comes with both an advanced prism scope and a removeable free Fastfire III exposed reflex sight on top
  • 5x36mm optics
  • 3 MOA
  • Picatinny mount included
  • Stainless steel construction
  • 5 brightness settings
  • Red, green and black illumination
  • Burris Ballistic proprietary CQ reticle for a mixture of close quarter targeting and long-range shooting
  • Waterproof

The only potential cons I see:

  • This is a prism and exposed reflex sight in one, giving the operator both short range and long range capability
  • The Burris Ballistic proprietary reticle is really easy to see and use to acquire targets easily with a lot of eye relief

Key Features:

  • This is a prism and exposed reflex sight in one, giving the operator both short range and long range capability
  • The Burris Ballistic proprietary reticle is really easy to see and use to acquire targets easily with a lot of eye relief[/wpsm_cons][/wpsm_column]

15. EOTech 512 Holographic Sight (Great Value)

EOTech Holographic Red Dot Sight that runs on AA Batteries

Optic Type: Holographic
Price Range: Around $375

My Review: EOTech is a legendary brand in the firearms accessory industry, and as stated above EOTech has a patent on holographic sight technology, which is hands down the best. If you buy an EOTech sight most likely you’re going to love it, but I want to let you know a couple things before you purchase one of their optics. After doing a bit of research, I have found that many of their customers, including the US government have had some misfortune in dealing with them. Of course, technical difficulties in new technology are bound to happen and mistakes can be forgiven, but I wanted to give you the facts and let you decide what to do what you want with them. You can read the lawsuit news here.

So long as you are shipped a brand new fully functioning optic, you will be satisfied. There is no other brand out there that offers this technology. Eye relief is unmatched by its competitors and the free-floating reticle is perfect for acquiring targets no matter the angle you are using to peer through the window. My personal usage of EOTech sights have always been positive. I love that this sight runs on two AA batteries that are very easy to replace.

EOtechHolo graphic Red Dot Battery Compartment

EOtech sights are commonly used by law enforcement, SWAT teams, and military personnel. I choose this model because I feel it is the best value of all their sights and seems to have the highest overall reviews. For those of you who want to spend even more on an even higher end optic, EOTech has much more expensive versions of this sight that include a plethora of added features.

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Functions and Features:

  • Legendary EOTech Patented holographic technology
  • x1 magnification
  • Laser light illumination
  • Aluminum shield
  • Tool free mounting and adjustments
  • Mountable on 1 inch picatinny or weaver rails
  • 4-8 hour programmable auto shut off
  • Waterproof and fully submersible to depths of 10 feet
  • Electronics protected by shock absorbing resin
  • Shatter resistant laminate
  • 20 brightness levels
  • Industry leading anti glare coating
  • Fog proof
  • 1.2” By 0.85” window
  • 100% parallax free
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Night vision capable
  • Low battery indicator
  • 1 MOA dot
  • 500 hours of continuous use with one battery
  • AA batteries instead of expensive saucer batteries

The only cons I see:

  • There is drama ensuing EOTech with a lawsuit regarding faulty products that were knowingly shipped to the US military and law enforcement. The lawsuit has been settled but there are some reports that EOTech has since sold these faulty units to customers. These reports are not confirmed by me; however, it is something to watch out for.
  • Some users report thermal drift issues.

Key Features:

  • The holographic site offers a much better level of eye relief than traditional reflex sights
  • EOTech HDS is programmable for auto shut off
  • EOTech has excellent magnifiers for sale alongside their sights that give you unmatched magnification in the world of 1x optics.

16. Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic (Highest Rated)

Aimpoint Pro Tubed Reflex Sight

Optic Type: Tubed Reflex Sight
Price Range: $375-$400

My Review: The Aimpoint Pro Patrol Optic was designed specifically for law enforcement and police use. It’s doesn’t have quite as many features and settings as the CompM4 used by the US Army, but it still features a very crisp 2 MOA red dot and an insanely clear field of view.

The Aimpoint Pro is about half the price of the CompM4 and is overall a better value. That said, CompM4 does have more features, including 3 more night vision settings and 3 more day time settings. If you think you might be interested in the CompM4 you can read more about it in the under $1000 section of this review.

The Aimpoint Pro’s always on function is especially handy for those of you who may need to deploy your firearm at a moment’s notice. This scope was made for Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) and military personnel in mind.

If you’re looking for the best red dot sight for the money to attach to a AR-15 or other rifle I would say it’s a toss up between the Aimpoint Pro and the EOtech red dot optic listed above. The Aimpoint Pro is one of the highest rated optics out there. I have used this optic and the EOTech listed above and you’re going to be happy either way. They both have slightly different features and you need to decide which ones you want.

I always like to talk about the downside of an optic because if you go to Amazon and read reviews it’s almost all praise and people saying how their rifle is shooting like a dream. Just beware that some customers who purchased this optic from certain sellers on amazon received a defective unit or returned unit that was once and may still be defective. So, if you do decide to buy an AimPoint, just be sure that it’s actually the AimPoint company you’re buying it from. So long as you get one that lives up to its name, you are guaranteed to love it.

Here is a video review of the optic. I recommend skipping to 0:45 in the video.

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Functions and Features:

  • Stays on for three years continuously on a single battery
  • 2 MOA red dot
  • In service date and battery change indicators
  • Compatible with all night vision devices
  • Hard anodized aluminum alloy housing
  • Waterproof to depths of 150 feet
  • Thread front lens opening for anti-reflection addons
  • Transparent flip covers
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Modular QRP2 mount with removable spacers included
  • Compatible with iron sights

The only con I see:

  • Reports of Aimpoint sending out warranty returned items as “new”

Key Features:

  • This is one of the best all around tubed reflex sights with innovative battery saving technology
  • Includes everything you need to get shooting out of the box

17. Meprolight Self-powered Bullseye

Durable Red Dot Sight Used by Israeli Special Forces

Price Range: Under $500
Optic Type: Exposed Reflex Sight

My Review: This optic is built like a tank but lacks the weight of one, while still providing a nice seamless design. It requires no batteries and no on/off buttons, so it’s always on and always ready to rock and roll. It’s no wonder the Israeli Special Forces love to use this reflex sight, it is by far one of the most dependable sights I have ever reviewed. Ultra-brightness or utter darkness are no match for this sight as the brightness of the display and the intensity of the dot will auto adjust. If you have the extra money, throw it at this thing and go to bed at night calmly knowing that this sight will probably outlive you and still be shining like the day it was new.

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Functions and Features:

  • Durability under any weather conditions and in any temperature conditions
  • Designed for use by the Israeli Special Forces
  • Lighted aiming without the need for batteries or switches
  • The optics are self-illuminated using fiber optic technology during the day and tritium during the night
  • Quick release lever design
  • 30mm lens
  • You can order this sight with multiple different reticles
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Designed to work in tandem with magnifiers like the MEPRO MX3

The only con I see:

  • Slight washout when transferring from light to dark or vice versa quickly

Key Features:

  • The ultimate reflex for durability and readiness
  • The optic comes with everything you need to mount it, no extra purchases required

What Do You Do for a Living?: Red Dot Sights Under $1000

If you’re looking in this category, first of all let me know in the comments what you do for a living. This is where we start to see the “best of” categories shine. If you’re willing to pay once cry once, these are the sights for you. Expect these sights to live longer than you will! Many of them have super-secret proprietary technology which makes explaining them a bit of a hassle. There are very little reasons to spend more than $800 on non-magnified or small magnified red dot sights.

18. Sig Sauer Romeo5 and Juliet3 2 MOA Red Dot

Sig Sauer Red Dot with Magnifier

Type: Tubed Reflex and prism magnifier combo

Price range: Under $400

My review: For those of you looking for a budget 1x and 3x set up, look no further. Sig Sauers red dot and prism magnifier system is one of the best systems you’ll find for under $500. The red dot is incredible on its own offering incredible sight pictures with unlimited eye relief. Attach the magnifier behind it and you have a full range of targeting options for any close to medium range engagements.

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Functions:

  • Auto shut off when the sight is not being moved. It will activate on the slightest vibration or movement (MOTAC battery saver technology)
  • Sig Sauer Spectracoat technology which offers proprietary lens coating to create an ultra-wide broadband and anti-reflective lens
  • Anti-deflection features
  • 1x or 3x magnification
  • 90 degree PowerCam quick release mount
  • The magnifier is a prism based scope that encompasses a dielectric coated prism for optimum light transmission
  • This red dot and magnifier combo

Key Features:

  • This setup allows you to quickly swivel the magnifier on a hinge, allowing for quick use of both 1x and 3x magnifications
  • Sig Sauer proprietary lens technology is highly known to be of very good quality

19. EOTech EXPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight

EOTech Holo Sight

Optic type: Holographic red dot sight

Price range: Under $1000

My review: First and foremost, I would like to inform you about buying on Amazon or any other third-party market for EOTechs. EOTechs are one of the most popular branded optics with that comes many knock off products being flooded into these third-party marketplaces. Please, ensure you are buying the real thing by doing your research and choosing trusted sellers. EOTechs are manufactured in the US, so if the seller is shipping from outside of the US, chances are very high that the product you receive will not be a real EOTech.

EOTech sights are by far among the most durable and precise sights you can purchase. Their free-floating reticle design allows for true unlimited eye relief. No matter what angle you are looking through the window with, the reticle will be on target. These sights come in a plethora of different categories that are tailored towards specific calibers. Make sure you choose the right one! If you wish to have magnification, you can always purchase an EOTech magnifier to use with your EOTech optics.

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Functions:

1x magnification with the capabilities of further magnification by using EOTech’s magnifier (not included)

65 MOA Circle and 1 MOA dot

Waterproof and submersible up to 33 feet

Programmable auto shut off at 8 hours or 4 hours

500-600 hour battery life

30 brightness settings

10 night vision settings

Quick detach mount that fits on 1” weaver and Mil-STD – 1912 rails

The only potential cons I see:

There are a lot knock off sellers trying to push their fake EOTechs as the real deal. Buyer beware.

EOTech sights are not the lightest or smallest so do not expect slim and lightweight.

Key Features:

  • EOTech makes a different optic for every caliber, ensuring the sight is optimized and outfitted with the proper technology for the firearm it will be used on
  • This is one of the toughest and most durable optics you can purchase
  • Programmable auto shut off functions ensure your batteries aren’t drained from accidentally leaving the unit on

20. Aimpoint QRP2 CompM4

LWRC M6 with Aimpoint Comp M4 Red Dot Optic

Optic Type: Tubed Reflex
Price Range: Under $1000
Note: Recommended optic in this price range

My Review: The AimPoint  M4s is one of the top reflex sights out there so long as you’re willing to pay top dollar for it. At $850, its not the most expensive option you’ll find but it’s certainly not cheap. What you get, though, is a buy once cry once experience leaving you with optics that will shine bright longer than you’ll likely live! These sights come with incredible battery life and are actually optimized for night vision with special NV settings. The mounts that are included allow this sight to be functionable atop almost any weapons system and mounting this optic is incredibly easy. If you’re looking for optics to shoot at 300m or less, this is probably your best option. AimPoint also gives incredible warranties with each of its products in the off chance something does go wrong, so there really isn’t much to worry about investing in this optic!

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Functions and Features:

  • No magnification but compatible with AimPoints 3xMag magnifier system
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • 16 dot brightness settings
  • 2 MOA
  • Low energy technology – 500,000 hours battery life on AA
  • Unique proprietary AimPoint lens coating
  • QRP2 mount included with standard AR15 spacer
  • KillFlash anti-reflection device included
  • MILSPEC rubber lens covers
  • Night Vision optimized
  • Weighs 335 grams

Key Features:

  • One of the closest optics to parallax free you’ll find
  • Top in class battery life and low power consumption technology

21. Aimpoint Micro T-2 Sight

AimPoint Tubed Reflex Sight

Optic Type: Tubed Reflex
Price Range: $800-$900

My Review: So long as you don’t find yourself with a knock off, you are guaranteed to be satisfied. Your bank account won’t be so thrilled at first, but it’s a buy once cry once kind of deal.

Sig MPX with Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot Sight
Sig MPX 9mm Carbine with Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot Sight

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You can cast aside the financial agony of spending over $700+ on a sight with the peace of mind in knowing you have one of the most durable and highest quality optics on the market. No need to worry about eye relief, optic washing, star bursting, optical rings, etc. This sight is optimized to be used on any of its several brightness settings and is compatible with all night vision gear. These are sights that are trusted by our men and women on the front lines.

Functions and Features:

  • Transparent flip up lens covers for emergency deployment
  • Ultra-lightweight design (only 3.7 ounces)
  • Night vision compatibility
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Over 50,000 hours of constant operation with one battery
  • Waterproof and submersible to depths of 80 feet
  • Advanced proprietary Aimpoint optical lenses
  • 2 MOA red dot

The only con I see:

  • The only con I have here is that there are many fraudulent sellers distributing fake Aimpoint T-2s. Buyer beware.

Key Features:

  • This is the industry standard. You will see several other manufacturers review their products based on this one. This is the gold standard of reflex red dot sights.
  • Aimpoint has proprietary lenses so I can’t dive too much into detail, however, they are well known and well respected by the US military and firearm enthusiasts all over the world.

22. Trijicon RMR/LED Type 2 Sight

Trijicon RMR

Optic Type: Exposed Reflex Sight
Price Range: $450 – $600
Note: Popular High End Red Dot for Pistols

My Review: This is the industry leader in exposed reflex sights. No other reflex is as small, light, durable, and has an automatic light adjusting lens. This almost fit in the under $450 category but unfortunately the prices you’ll find it at do not include mounts. Mounts for this sight can be very expensive depending on whether or not you are mounting this to a pistol or rifle. This sight is ultra-low profile and is one of the best exposed reflex sights to use in tandem with a high magnified sight.

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Functions and Features:

  • 6.5 MOA LED RMR
  • Auto illumination adjustments to light conditions
  • Two year battery life
  • Unique and patented housing shape
  • Military grade forged aluminum alloy shielding that is impact resistant
  • Multi colored lens that creates a wide band light transmission for minimal changes
  • Adjustable windage and elevation without the need for tools
  • Only weighs 1.2 ounces

The only con I see:

  • Just like all of the other major brands, Trijicon is suffering from the market being flooded with knock offs. Please ensure you are purchasing a real Trijicon reflex sight.

Key Features:

  • Automatic light adjustments provide for excellent shooting conditions in any lighting
  • One of the smallest and lightest exposed reflex sights in the world
  • Although one of the smallest, it is also the most rugged and durable

23. EOtech HHS 1 G33 3x Magnifier Package

Eotech Red Dot Sight with Magnifier

I’ve spoken a lot about red dot sights that do not have magnification but may be used in tandem with a magnifier attachment. These attachments allow you to use your red dot sight with high levels of magnification and usually consist of a flip out design. These designs allow you to harness the quickness of 1x magnification and also higher levels of magnification with the ease of flipping the attachment into place. Here are a few examples of these. You may find package deals like what EOTech has to offer in their HHS 1 package (first one reviewed) or you may find standalone options that can be used with many different types of optics.

Optic Type: 3x Holographic EOTech magnifier package
Price Range: $1000

My Review: This is the same setup used by the special forces. This setup is incredibly small and lightweight for what it offers. Utilizing only 1 battery for both pieces is truly genius and allows for a much smaller and compact design. Being able to flip the magnifier easily allows for extremely fast magnification transitioning. This truly is one of the best close quarter combat optical systems you can use. Period.

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Functions and Features:

  • True holographic hybrid sight allowing for 1x or 3x magnifications
  • Single traverse 123 battery
  • Ballistic reticle specific to .223 caliber
  • Compatible with Gen 1-3 night vision systems
  • Only requires 2.75” rail space for both the magnifier and the optics
  • Quick slide transitioning
  • Unlimited eye relief in both modes
  • 600 hour continuous battery life

The only con I see:

  • The only con is how expensive it is, but honestly if you can afford it, it is worth it!

Key Features:

  • This is the industry leader in EOTech magnifiers
  • Offers incredibly easy and quick magnification switching between 1x and 3x
  • Both the magnifier and the optics use a single battery

Good Reference Articles:

Here is a good article by EOTech: How to Spot a Fake EOTech Holographic Sight
Here is a good article by AimPoint: How to Spot a Fake AimPoint Red Dot Sight

BUYER BEWARE!

You may have noticed that I have mentioned some of the major brands in optics have stark rivals with counterfeiting and resellers. You absolutely must take caution when purchasing optics online. On Amazon you will almost always have a choice to purchase optics from multiple sellers. Please ensure the seller is trusted and is shipping the optics from somewhere that makes sense. For many optics on this list, they are manufactured in the US. If optics are being shipped from another country, you should be extremely weary of its legitimacy. Further, many of the name brand optic manufacturers like Aimpoint, Trijicon, Vortex, and EOTech have extensive instructions and product data bases located on their websites. They are aware of counterfeits in their midst and offer you tools to identify these counterfeiters. Here are some of the pages you can resort to:

This list is not conclusive of all red dot sights available but is more so a great place to get a feel for what this market has to offer. There are so many different firearms and situations that it would be impossible to review each and every optic for each and every situation. As always, research the optic completely to ensure you are capable of using it on the firearms you own and that there won’t be any issue with eye sight blurring the reticle.

2 thoughts on “23 Best Red Dot Sights for the Money in 2019 (AR-15s, Pistols & Rifles)”

  1. Good info Marine! As a old school GySgt that never used anything but Iron Sights and trying to wade through the confusion on buying my first Red Dot for my AR this was great information Semper Fi Brother!

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