Red dot magnifiers are a great addition to any AR-15 with a red dot or holosight and add a lot of versatility to an already very versatile platform.
If you’ve been scrolling through the dozens of magnifier options on Amazon and find yourself struggling to choose, you’re in the right place.
We’ve tested and reviewed all of the most popular side-mount and flip-to-side red dot magnifiers on the market to find the best of the best, and we’re more than happy to share that info with you.
Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier
Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier
EOTECH HHS II
EOTECH HHS II
Sig Sauer Juliet 4
Sig Sauer Juliet 4
Burris Gen 2 Sight
Burris Gen 2 Sight
UTG 3X Magnifier
UTG 3X Magnifier
We’re also going to walk you through our review criteria so you can choose the best red dot sight magnifier for your specific needs. Everyone’s needs for a magnifier are different, everyone’s rifles are a little bit different, and everyone’s budget is a little bit different.
Our goal here is not to sell you on what we think is the end-all, be-all red dot magnifier out there, but instead to help you find the best one for your rifle.
Let’s dive right in.
What Do The Best Red Dot Magnifiers Do For Us?
The humble red dot (or holosight) is a huge upgrade over standard iron sights, but it doesn’t do anything to help you with longer shots. Granted, you can still reach out to several hundred yards with a red dot, but it’s difficult to do this with any kind of precision.
A good red dot and magnifier combo will allow you to hit those long-distance targets with much greater accuracy and precision.
Also, using a side QD mount or flip-up-style magnifier mount will allow you to keep the wide field of view and low magnification of your red dot for those close-range shots where target acquisition speed is most important, while still making it easy to use the magnifier for the longer shots.
A 3x magnifier scope is the standard here, and that is plenty of magnification to reach out to the upper end of the 5.56x45’s effective range. These tactical magnifiers also help shooting in low light conditions as well, as they will pull in more light than the red dot will alone.
A magnifier also allows you to co-witness your red dot reticle with your iron sights, something an LPVO (low-powered variable optic) just can’t do.
What Should We Look For In The Best Red Dot Magnifiers?
When we’re spending hard-earned money on a tool like a magnifier, something that might be used to defend hearth and home, or put food on the table, it’s important to go with something that is high-quality.
Here are some things any good red dot magnifier should have.
Magnifiers seem relatively simple, but they take a lot of abuse. Getting flipped up and back down puts stress on the optic and the mount (as does smacking the protruding optic on something in tight spaces).
We want something that is well made, with coated lenses to resist scratches (especially on the objective lens), and o-rings to keep water out and keep the magnifier fog proof.
We also want to look at the overall magnification of the scope. Typically, you’re looking at 2x, 3x, or 6x magnification options, with the 3x being the most popular option. This is because 3x is the sweet spot for most rifle shooters.
For that reason, we recommend 3x unless you have a specific need for something else. Good luck finding many options in other magnifications though.
The way your magnifier mounts to your rifle is of paramount importance.
Ahem. Anyway, the best magnifier in the world does you no good if you can’t mount it, so make sure your chosen option has a mount that works with your rifle. Most of these magnifiers come with their own mount so that doesn’t matter.
The other thing to consider is whether you want a quick-detach mount or a flip-up mount. In general, we recommend the flip-up style because you don’t really want to be reaching into a pouch or something every time you want to use your magnifier.
The “quick” in quick detach is relative, and will never be faster than just activating the switch to flip the magnifier up into place, or down and away off to the side. Simple QD mounts are cheaper though.
Size and Weight
Some of these magnifiers are hefty and add a lot of size to your optics setup. Going with a more compact design can help save weight and preserve the balance of your rifle.
You also want to think about how that extra length is going to mess with your eye relief. Speaking of...
Where you can put your head is important when using your magnifier. To mount a magnifier with sufficient eye relief, you’re going to have to mount your red dot fairly far forward, certainly farther than you normally would.
This is just something to keep in mind when you’re mounting everything. Certain magnifiers might require a long eye relief, and that, coupled with the overall length of the magnifier, might mean they would require more real estate on top of your rifle than you’re willing to give up.
Most of these magnifiers have a fairly affordable price tag, certainly compared to other comparable LPVOs, but it’s still important to keep this expense in mind, especially if you’re pricing out a new build. And remember that, as in all things, you get what you pay for here.
Putting a cheapo magnifier on your $2000 home-defense rifle might not be the move. Ditto putting a $400 magnifier on your $400 DPMS rifle. You might also want to consider lifetime warranty options here. Some magnifiers, though expensive, are covered forever.
Some, especially the cheaper ones, definitely aren’t. But it really all comes down to what is in your price range.
Best Red Dot Magnifiers
Alright, out of all the magnifiers we reviewed, there were a few that were obviously a better value at their price point than their peers. Here are our top picks from our testing.
1. Vortex Optics VMX-3T Magnifier - Best Overall
The Vortex Optics VMX-3T is our pick for the best overall red dot magnifier. It combines great performance and a solid price point, and is one of the best values on this list.
It is a combination mount and optic, and this flip mount magnifier adds 3X magnification to your standard red dot sight. The optic flips with just the push of a button and with this one simple movement you can engage the magnifier and be ready to go.
The fully coated and protected lens increases sensitivity in low-light conditions while cutting the glare when in extra-bright conditions. This feature makes it effective for field or range shooting.
The system allows the shooter 3.25 inches of eye relief and gives you 38.2 feet in the field of view at 100 yards.
Overall, the Vortex VMX-3T is our favorite option for all civilian shooters and works well with most any red dot or reflex sight.
Vortex Optics VMX-3T Magnifier
The price of Vortex Optics VMX-3T Magnifier varies, so check the latest price at
2. Aimpoint 3XMag - Best 3X Magnifier
Aimpoint is one of the premier manufacturers of military optics, and the Aimpoint 3x Magnifier is designed to stand up to the harshest of conditions that nature, warfare, and the United States Marine Corps can throw at it.
This optic is designed to mount directly on a Weaver-style/Picatinny rail mount base. It can be flipped to the side with aftermarket mounts, but it comes with a unique Aimpoint twist mount that is accurate, quick to install, and easy to use.
It can be also mounted with 30mm rings and is NVD-compatible. This unit makes use of a full 3X magnification ability and has been designed for use by military, police, and sport shooters.
The unit features high-quality glass materials and housing construction. Aimpoint engineers would not sleep well at night if they thought their sight aid would let a ground-pounding army ranger down out there in combat operations.
Glass on this one is crystal clear, and the matte finish won’t reflect light and give your position away to an enemy or a game animal.
Overall, while this magnifier is primarily designed for military applications where a red dot/magnifier combo is preferable over a traditional rifle scope, it is also a great option for any law enforcement or civilian shooter, especially if you’re already running an Aimpoint red dot like the Comp M4.
The price of Aimpoint 3XMag varies, so check the latest price at
3. Primary Arms 3X Magnifier
Primary Arms is primarily (alright I’ll stop) known for their affordable optics, and their Primary Arms 3x Magnifier continues with that tradition.
Windage and elevation adjustments are easy and are protected by secure caps on both turrets. The glass is multicoated to prevent damage and to increase light transmission.
An integrated diopter on the eyepiece provides fast focus ability that helps keep the image clear as well, which is great if you’re using your magnifier to shoot at a lot of different distances.
You also have options for two different flip-to-side mounts of varying heights to help this magnifier co-witness easily with most any other red dot, though it works exceptionally well with the Primary Arms SLX 30mm Red Dot.
Primary Arms 3X Magnifier
The price of Primary Arms 3X Magnifier varies, so check the latest price at
4. EOTech G33 - Best Red Dot Magnifier For The Money
EOTech is the number one name in holosights, and a huge military supplier as well, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the EOTech G33 magnifier made this list.
This magnifier is a shorter, lighter-weight option than most previous models. The unit has a Weaver-style quick-release mount that is also an improvement over previous units because it uses EOTech’s extra-rugged Switch-to-Side proprietary mount.
It also features a tool-free azimuth adjustment system, a larger field of view, and an adjustable diopter. It is rugged for run-and-gun shooting sports like 3Gun or real-world combat situations.
Operators, military, and police should definitely consider this magnifier, but it is also perfectly suited for hunters or competition shooters that want to run a magnifier alongside their red dot.
We especially like it because, though it is compact and lightweight, it has one of the best FOVs of any red dot magnifier on this list. This helps when scanning an area for a target and with rapid target acquisition in close quarters.
Finally, the excellent coating on the lenses of this optic helps with light transmission to give you more time in the stand, or a better chance of finding your target in other low-light conditions.
The price of EOTech G33 varies, so check the latest price at
5. EOTech HHS II - Best Magnifier/Red Dot Combo
The EOTech Hybrid Holographic Sight II is another excellent option for the professional tactical shooter. This is actually a red dot and magnifier combo that combines the G33 magnifier above with the EOTech EXPS-2 holosight.
This is a great option if you’re looking for a magnifier solution that is ready to go out of the box, without any tinkering or worrying about getting the right height mounts.
The mount system makes use of a side-push button for both speed and accuracy during a shooting transition, which makes for a quick transition between mid-range and close-quarters shooting situations.
All the components are made by EOTech to work together so you can be sure that this optic system will work together and cowitness properly without any fiddling with the center height. It also has a quick detach lever for quickly moving the optic on and off your rifle.
Though this is an expensive option, I think this is the best deal because you have the whole ball of wax in one bundle.
EOTech HHS II
The price of EOTech HHS II varies, so check the latest price at
6. Sig Sauer Juliet 4
Turning to a company that is new to the red dot magnifier-assisted sighting market, Sig Sauer offers the Juliet4 Red Dot Magnifier with PowerCam QR Mount.
Sig hasn’t been making optics for very long, but they’re very familiar with this space and have a reputation to protect in the world of firearms. This optic doesn’t do anything to hurt that hard-won rep for quality products.
Want to take a whitetail in an eastern wood for winter meat? Run-and-gun some coyotes in the dead of a Minnesota winter? This unit can get the job done and still move into action for more aggressive roles in a tactical or home defense situation.
Now, make no mistake, this is not a budget optic. However, when compared to the mil-spec options that are designed for professional applications, it is fairly affordable.
Like the G33, it is designed primarily for military applications, but it also does well in civilian hands though it is a little on the expensive side.
The unit's housing is aircraft-grade aluminum that will give you a lifetime of serviceability. It is also IPX8 rated so it can stand up to water and mud with ease.
The red dot sight is fairly waterproof and can withstand being submerged for up to 1 hour at 20 meters. However, if you are down there with the optic, your troubles are far greater than just a dead optic.
Sig Sauer Juliet 4
The price of Sig Sauer Juliet 4 varies, so check the latest price at
7. Burris Tripler 3x - Best Mid-Range Magnifier
The Burris Tripler 3x is another great mid-range option that works well with most red dots. It has a few upgrades that take it above the level of most of the other middling options out there.
For one, it’s waterproof, which is not something most other magnifiers in this price range can claim. It also has wire tethers that keep your windage and elevation adjustment caps actually attached to your optic if they happen to come off. We’ve all got at least one scope in the safe that’s missing a cap. That won’t be a problem here.
The one failing here is that it doesn’t actually come with a mount by default, but it does work with any 30mm flip-up mount. This makes it a great option if you already have a mount and want a new magnifier to go in it.
It also comes with the Burris Forever Warranty, which means that Burris will repair or replace your optic if it is damaged or defective. There is no repair or replacement charge (assuming you didn’t damage it doing something stupid) and the warranty is transferable to any future owners as well.
Burris Tripler 3x
The price of Burris Tripler 3x varies, so check the latest price at
8. UTG 3X Magnifier - Best Budget Red Dot Magnifier
UTG is...not exactly a byword for bomb-proof optics, but they are one of our favorite brands for ultra-budget builds. The UTG 3x Magnifier in particular is a great example.
It’s not as solid as any of the options above, but it’s also well under $100 so it’s a great option if you want to try out this fancy-shmancy red dot magnifier thing without spending a lot, or if you want a budget optic setup on an entry-level rifle that you don’t want to spend a lot of money on.
Make no mistake, it does work well, and it will absolutely do the job, it’s just not as robust as some of the other options on the list. Some of these other optics are capable of literally taking a bullet and continuing to work.
I wouldn’t try that with this one.
That said, in the budget market, there’s not really a better option in this price point.
UTG 3X Magnifier
The price of UTG 3X Magnifier varies, so check the latest price at
Red dots are excellent tools that are very versatile on their own, but a good red dot magnifier ups their capability significantly without much added expense.
The right magnifier can make hitting targets at medium to longer ranges much easier, especially in stressful situations where you need to make a shot quickly, like when hunting.
They also help you keep open sight picture of your red dot and the fast-handling characteristics of your rifle at close ranges, but of course, with the right mount, you can simply flip up the magnifier and suddenly you have a magnified optic that can help you reach out and touch distant targets at long-range as well.
Which of these magnifiers stood out to you the most? Is there one you like more than the others? Are there any that you think we left off the list? Let us know in the comments below! Also, be sure to check out our list of the best AR-15 red dots and best AR-15 scopes for more AR optic goodness.