Red dots have exploded in popularity over the past ten years or so.
Back in the day, they were difficult to find unless you were in the military or playing a first-person shooter video game.
There are a number of great red dot options out there now, though. So many, in fact, that it can be damn near impossible to pick the best one. Scrolling through all the Amazon listings for red dots can be downright anxiety-inducing.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
We’ve tested just about every red dot on the market to find the ones that are the most worth your hard-earned dollars, and we’ve broken them down into the best ones for rifles, shotguns, and handguns so there should be something here for everyone.
First, let’s talk about what makes red dots so great, and then we’ll talk about how to choose the best one to meet your specific needs. After that, we’ll dive into recommendations and discuss each one in depth.
Or, if you can’t wait, you can just skip straight to the recommendations.
Burris Fastfire 3 SpeedBead
Burris Fastfire 3 SpeedBead
Vortex Strikefire II
Vortex Strikefire II
Still here? Alright, let’s get started with...
What Makes a Red Dot So Great?
Red dots, and their close cousins holosights, are so beloved by shooters because they are easy to use, and much faster than iron sights. Dead Eye Dan you may be, but I promise you’ll be faster with a red dot, and maybe more accurate to boot. They’re also typically parallax-free to about 50 yards.
On top of that, they’re relatively affordable and the lack of magnification and the wide field of view makes them absolutely amazing for close-quarters shooting, Here is guide if you want to checkout the comparsion between reflex sight vs red dot.
Of course, you can also easily reach out to 100 yards and beyond with one, just like you can with iron sights. The big advantage of a red dot for these longer shots is that you can run a red dot magnifier with them as well!
This turns your 1x red dot into a 3x or even a 6x magnification scope, which dramatically improves your ability to reach out and touch a distant target.
They’re also much easier to use than iron sights if your vision is less than stellar, and short of laser surgery that’s something we’ll all have to deal with someday (those of us who aren’t dealing with it already).
So they’re faster and easier to use than iron sights, that’s great. How do we pick the best ones out of the roughly ten billion of them that are out there?
I’m so glad you asked.
What Should I Look For in the Best Red Dots?
There are a few things you red dot really needs to qualify as the “best” option for your particular application.
Optics take a beating, especially on duty guns or hunting weapons that are going to be moved around in adverse conditions. Same goes for competition guns that are getting tossed into barrels at the end of 3Gun stage.
And of course, there’s water and all kinds of other things that can kill a red dot and render a weapon difficult to use at best, so we want to make sure that whatever dot we pick can handle some abuse.
The Right Reticle
Reticle selection is important with a traditional rifle scope, but it’s also something to consider when choosing a red dot.
Red dots don’t use a traditional crosshair and instead use...well, a dot that can range from a small 2 or 3 MOA dot all the way up to a 10+ MOA dot. You want to pick one that works best for your intended use.
A smaller dot size obscures less of the target, but is harder to see in bright light and takes longer to get onto the target.
The larger the dot, the faster it is to put on the target, but the less precise it is. It’ll also obscure more of the target at longer ranges such as when you try to reach out and ring that 100 yard gong in your next 3Gun match.
If you’re going to be hunting with your gun, you want a smaller dot. For tactical, law enforcement, and home defense use, a larger dot is preferable as you’re probably going to be dealing with threats up close.
Long Battery Life
The best red dot in the world becomes instantly 1000 times worse than any iron sights once the batteries die. Make sure the optic you pick has a decent battery life and easily-obtainable batteries, and make sure you stock up on spares.
You can also look for extra features like self-contained rechargeable batteries that you plug a USB cord into (yes, just like your cell phone), or even solar-power systems that keep your optic topped up.
Other features like automatic On/Off and auto-brightness are great for helping your batteries last longer as well.
The Right Mounting System
Great, you’ve got a solid red dot but no way to mount it. Better get to duct taping…
Or better yet, make sure that your red dot has the right mount to go on your gun. This is especially important with handguns as they don’t usually have a picatinny rail and instead require a milled slide or special mounting plates, or both, also check out how to sight in a red dot.
The Best Red Dot Sights We Reviewed
Alright, with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at some of these red dots. These are the ones that not only survived our testing, but stood out from the competition.
Best Red Dot Sights for Rifles, Carbines, and Shotguns
Red dots are a natural option to put on top of a rifle or carbine, and that’s probably the most natural place for them. These dots will also work on shotguns though, as they will all stand up well to the more intense recoil.
If it's good enough for the United States Army, it’s gotta be good enough for you, right?
The Aimpoint Comp M4 is in fact the choice of the United States Army and it served well throughout its time in the Global War on Terror. It had a reputation to keep, and when Aimpoint literally invented the red dot, it's hard to be anything but perfect.
This is a go-to-war optic, make no mistake about it. Drop it, kick it, toss it in a pool, and it will just keep working. That little red dot seemingly never fails.
The Comp M4 is completely shockproof, and submersible up to 150 feet. Go ahead and take it for a swim. The M4 is at home on any semi-automatic rifle and can easily engage targets out to 200 meters. Add the AP magnifier and you can reach out and touch targets well beyond that.
The Comp M4 is perfect for quick and accurate shooting and excels in close quarters battle. The optic has an easy-to-use brightness adjustment with 7 night vision settings and 9 daylight settings. This is a tactical optic so if it wasn’t NVG-compatible it’d barely be useful.
This is a full-sized optic and the lenses are fully multi-coated for a bright and clear picture. This kind of coating makes a big difference indoors, or in lower light situations. It allows you to pick up on fine details you may miss with a cheaper optic.
If budget isn’t a concern, it's hard to beat the Comp M4.
The price of Aimpoint CompM4 varies, so check the latest price at
2. Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic)
The Aimpoint PRO is another tactically-focused red dot from the oldest name in the game. This one is a little bit less expensive, but not really any lighter on features.
It comes with the Aimpoint QPR2 mount, and is ready to go right out of the box. It attaches to any standard rail, and has a semi-quick detach mount that returns to zero every time...without crushing your rail like some will.
It has 10 brightness settings, including 4 night vision ones, and will last a whopping 3 years on the brighter settings. That’s 30,000 hours of battery life. It will also co-witness with standard-height iron sights, making it a great option for those who want to run backup irons.
The 2 MOA dot is a little on the fine side for close-in work, but it’s perfect for longer-range shooting.
Overall, this is another absolute winner from Aimpoint that will take whatever you throw at it and come back for more.
The price of Aimpoint PRO varies, so check the latest price at
The Holosun HS510C is so close to being a holographic sight that it almost feels like splitting hairs to say it isn’t one. Technically though, it doesn’t use a laser so it’s a red dot.
Either way, it’s a rock-solid optic and a great choice for any rifle.
It has the option of a 2 MOA dot or 65 MOA ring, or combined reticle like a true EoTech holosight, and the LED-powered reticle will run for a staggering 50,000 hours on just one CR2032 battery.
The housing is a titanium alloy with a shock-resistant hood. It also has integrated solar power to help the battery last even longer. Because of the “almost but not quite a holosight” design it has an unlimited eye relief and almost no parallax.
It also comes with a QD mount out of the box so you can swap it around as needed.
The price of Holosun HS510C varies, so check the latest price at
The SIG Romeo7 is a mid-priced optic from SIG’s newest line of optics. This is a full-sized red dot optic designed specifically for the modern sporting rifle. It excels on the AR-15, the AK series, and any other rifle that shoots fast and hits hard.
This is a big optic. Its 30mm objective lens makes it one of the biggest and most affordable full-sized red dot sight on the market. The optic is fully multi-coated, made in the United States, and is IPX-7 rated for I meter submersion.
The Romeo 7 also has one of my favorite features of all time, the MOTAC system. MOTAC is SIG’s system for turning the optic on and off. The optic detects motion and will automatically turn on, and after being set still for a long period of time it will automatically shut off.
When the MOTAC system turns the optic on it brings it right back to the brightness level you last left it at. This is incredibly handy in self-defense or home-defense situations. Something goes bump in the night you grab your gun and the optic is on.
That is all there is to it.
The Romeo7 comes with a QD mount and is made from CNC 6061 aluminum material. The optic utilizes a 2 MOA red dot sight, and low dispersion glass lens for excellent light transmission. The SIG Romeo 7 is an outstanding optic at an impressive price.
For more Sig optical goodness, you can check out the Sig Sauer Romeo5 as well.
Sig Optics Romeo7
The price of Sig Optics Romeo7 varies, so check the latest price at
5. Bushnell TRS-26
The Bushnell TRS-26 is the updated version of the older Bushnell Trophy TRS-25, which was one of the best budget red dot optics on the market. The upgraded Bushnell TRS-26 is a touch more expensive, but also comes with some new high-quality features that justify the price bump.
It’s a little more expensive, but still in line with other red dot scopes at this level of workmanship. It offers the same simple windage and elevation adjustments as the older TRS-25, but it’s a little bit more rugged so you won’t need to do as much re-zeroing.
It has a 3 MOA dot reticle which is fine enough for longer shots, but still large enough to make fast target acquisition at closer ranges a snap like all good reflex sights. It is also tall enough that, with the right riser, it can easily co-witness with standard iron sights.
The price of Bushnell TRS-26 varies, so check the latest price at
The Burris Fastfire III SpeedBead is designed specifically for shotguns and is a perfect companion to any competition, combat, or clay shooting shotgun. This is more than an optic. It's a mounting system and optic combination.
It's designed to mount between the stock and the receiver. This lets it sit low on the gun and give you the same effect and excellent pointability as a shotgun’s traditional bead sight.
It aligns perfectly with the vented rib that sits on a wide variety of shotguns. The SpeedBead is a lightweight mounting option that gives you that instinctive shooting ability.
On top of the optic is a miniature red dot sight, specifically the Burris FastFire III. The FastFire III is perfect red dot for shotgun. It's designed for two-eyes-open shooting and allows the shotgunner to get on target much faster than a traditional bead sight.
The FastFire III has a setting that will automatically adjust the reticle brightness level to compensate for the external light sources. There are also 3 manual settings. The optic is shockproof, fog proof, waterproof, and designed to hold up to the recoil of a 12 gauge.
The FastFire III is a ferocious little optic and it really helps reduce the time it takes to get on target. The illuminated reticle can be tracked by the eye regardless of how low the light is. You can track flying targets, running targets, or simply take precise shots without issue.
This is an ingenious system that really changes the entire dynamic of your shotgun.
Burris Fastfire III
The price of Burris Fastfire III varies, so check the latest price at
The Vortex Strikefire II is a red dot with a large 4 MOA dot, and that means combat-related for the most part. At least that is how I see it based on some of what we have covered here already. This sight makes use of both red and green dots, which can be an advantage in varied lighting conditions.
The system also comes with up to 10 brightness settings, assuming you have time to adjust for them when the dirt hits the fan, so to speak.
The glass is fully multi-coated, which produces a clear, bright image. The sight makes use of unlimited eye relief which means you won’t be fussing with your head positioning when it comes time to shoot. This really helps with fast target acquisition.
Even though the sight is compact in size and light in weight, it is built to take a pounding in the field. The main tube is built from a single piece of metal, and is completely watertight and gas purged with o-ring seals.
The sight makes use of an offset cantilever mount, which allows the sight to be moved forward when paired with backup iron sights or a magnifier, the latter of which when installed makes the sight a long-range operational system as applied to hunting game, police, or military use.
All controls on this unit are toward the rear of the sight housing. This makes it easy for the shooter to build muscle memory and lets you see what your settings are without breaking your line of sight through the dot.
Vortex Strikefire II
The price of Vortex Strikefire II varies, so check the latest price at
Best Red Dot Sights For Handguns
Handgun red dots are a little bit different in that they are usually “mini” or “micro” dots that are, as the name suggests, a little bit smaller. There’s less real estate on a handgun than a rifle, after all.
8. Aimpoint H2 Micro Sight
When it comes to revolvers designed for hunting game both big and small, the Aimpoint H2 is the optic to go for. What’s fascinating is that both large caliber hunting revolvers and small rimfire automatics are almost always optics-ready.
A red dot sight gives you a more precise, faster shooting option for hunting anything from cape buffalo to rabbits.
This Aimpoint H2 is designed specifically for hunting, but there is no reason it couldn’t be used for target practice, competition, and general plinking. The H2 is a miniaturized red dot sight, but it uses a traditional circular tube over a square shaped lens.
The H2’s lenses are coated with an advanced optical coating that allows the shooter to see a crystal-clear sight picture.
The optic is somewhat large for a handgun, but it’s made for large revolvers. The H2 gives you a broad and wide sight picture that’s crystal-clear and perfect for hunting in lower light conditions. The H2 is only 4.79 ounces with mount and lens cover.
Speaking of mounts, the H2 has a nice integral Weaver/Picatinny base. This gives shooters an integral mount system for attaching to the most common form of scope rail in the world. This allows it to be easily mounted on most hunting handguns.
The H2 runs off a single CR2032 battery and can last through 5 years of continuous use on the moderate setting. Speaking of settings, the H2 has a total of 12 brightness settings that are adjustable via the user. From squirrels to hogs, the H2 can take ‘em all.
Aimpoint H2 Micro Sight
The price of Aimpoint H2 Micro Sight varies, so check the latest price at
9. Trijicon MRO
The Trijicon MRO is one of Trijicon's newest optics, coming out only a few years ago. The MRO is a compact red dot sight designed for combat use. Like everything else made by them, this is another go-to-war optic.
It's designed to take all the abuse you can toss at it. The MRO is waterproof up to 30 meters, is made from aircraft grade aluminum, and is completely shockproof. It will laugh at the recoil of any shotgun.
The MRO sports ambidextrous brightness controls, which are a blessing for those left-handers out there. Oh, and don’t worry about your battery.
The whole system runs on a single lithium battery that will last 5 years of continuous use.
The MRO also comes in a variety of different mounting options and, for a shotgun, a solid low mount setup is best. The MRO’s small size also makes it lightweight. The optic delivers a crystal-clear sight picture and the 2 MOA dot is perfect for rifles as well.
The dot doesn’t wash out as it gets brighter and stays nice and crisp. It's easy to see and precise enough to be unobtrusive. The reticle has 8 different brightness settings, with 2 of them being night vision settings.
The brightness adapter even features a mid-position off-switch that’s handy. This means you don’t have to cycle through every setting to find that perfect one, and you’ll be able to turn the optic off or back on to your preferred setting with just a single click.
The price of Trijicon MRO varies, so check the latest price at
10. Trijicon RMR Type 2
The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is one of the Best Pistol Red Dot Sight for combat and duty use. The RMR is by far the strongest and most dependable miniature red dot optic on the market. The dual-illuminated model even allows the user to mix both batteries and solar power.
The RMR dual illuminated is my choice for a combat and duty handgun red dot sight. During the day, or when you are exposed to illumination, the optic will not use battery power. In a dark or low light situation, there is a battery backup.
This extends the life of the unit and ensures it's always running when you need it. It's also made for combat and made to last through exposure to the fiercest of elements. This includes water resistance up to 66 feet, and it's completely shockproof.
The RMR is built from forged aircraft grade aluminum, but weighs only 1.2 ounces. This miniature optic is also crystal-clear, and users have options for red, green, or amber reticles. I tend to prefer the green since your eye catches it 66% faster than red.
You also have numerous reticle size options. This includes MOA sizes from 1 MOA to 13 MOA. On a handgun, bigger is often better because you want speed over long-range precision.
Another major benefit is the RMR’s inherent popularity. Due to this, it has commonality with holsters and gunsmiths. Companies like Glock and Smith and Wesson cut their weapons to be compatible with the RMR due to its popularity.
Trijicon RMR Type 2
The price of Trijicon RMR Type 2 varies, so check the latest price at
There are a huge number of red dot sights out there, but choosing between all the various options doesn’t have to be a hassle.
You should now be armed with all the info you need to pick the best red dot for your own rifle, handgun, or shotgun. Any of the options on this list will serve you as well as they have us, all you have to do is decide which one you like the best.
Which of these red dots is your favorite? Do you already own any of them? Are there some that you think we left off our list? Let us know in the comments! Also, if you're ooking for some good red dot sights for AR-15s, then check out our guide.