The magnifier installed on the AR-15, along with the red dot sight, is used to enhance sighting for a long-range, larger image. In general, red dots are good for close-range applications for both hunting and combat. The magnifier, however, changes the game and turns the basic red dot into a far better distance system.
In a Hurry? Here is Our Top Pick
Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier
Any shooter who wants to increase the effectiveness of their basic red dot, VMX-3T should be his first choice.
These range-adapted magnifier units come in a variety of sizes, types, and price ranges. Depending on your needs, a sight can be adapted to accommodate your preferences.
Here are the 9 best red dot magnifiers.
Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier
EOTECH HHS II
Sig Sauer Juliet 4
Burris Gen 2 Sight
UTG With QD Mount
1. Vortex VMX-3T Magnifier
As a combination mount and optic, this flip mount VMX-3T Magnifier from Vortex adds 3X magnification to your standard red dot sight. With simple and fast operation, the optic flips with just the push of a button. This one simple movement engages the magnifier, and you are ready to go.
The fully coated and protected lens increases sensitivity to low-light or bright conditions. This feature makes it effective for field- or range-shooting. The system allows the shooter 3.25 inches of eye relief and produces 38.2 feet in the field of view at 100 yards.
This Vortex VMX-3T optic will not require special sighting-in and can be adjusted to your red dot sight with screws set at the base of the magnifier. For any shooter who wants to increase the effectiveness of their basic red dot, VMX-3T should be the first choice.
2. Aimpoint 3X
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.
The magnifier 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.
In general, the gunfighters are the primary customers when this type of system is installed. It is the shooter's choice when selecting a different sighting system. In my case, I prefer to lock on a bigger rifle scope when greater magnification is required. Overall, there is less carry weight, or at least no additional weight to carry in the field.
Of course, the price also needs to be considered here. Combat target shooters require a system like this for some games. Military applications need not be judged by me.
As a combat-added sighting aid, the Aimpoint 3X allows the soldier or police officer to engage the bad guys with a low power red dot sight. When more range to the system is required, a flip of the switch takes care of it. If you have a sniper at 190 yards on the roof, that is no problem.
This optic gets very high marks among shooters. It is military-grade and often used by professional operators, active service military, and law enforcement agencies.
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.
3. Primary Arms 3X Magnifier
This unit is designed for general use when increasing red dot flexibility at long-range. The system makes use of elevation and windage adjustments so you can center your red dot correctly through this device. This unit will work with standard red dot sights or on reflex systems, and mount with standard rail-type hardware.
An integrated diopter provides fast focus ability that helps keep the image clear. My friend's views were also in favor of this magnifier from Primary Arms in terms of quality and its ability to perform well down-range.
4. EOTech G33
This magnifier for red dot is a shorter, lighter weight than previous models. The unit has a Weaver-style quick-release mount that is also an improvement over previous units.
This red dot magnifier features a tool-free azimuth adjustment system, a larger field of view, and an adjustable diopter.
The magnifier makes use of an increase in light transmission and puts some others to shame in this area. The housing on the unit is very well made. It is rugged for run-and-gun or real-world combat situations.
Operators, military, and police should definitely consider this magnifier.
It is the third generation of the EOTech L3 magnifier. It offers more eye relief and windage, with an increase in elevation. The magnifier aligns perfectly with standard height sights used on AR-15/M-16 rifles.
5. EOTECH HHS II
If you're want to use magnifiers and you're a professional contractor, a security detail private operator, or even a combat target shooter, you may want to consider taking a look at this combined magnifier and hybrid holographic sight.
This setup combines a G33 magnifier and EOTech EXPS2 S holographic sight. I think this is the best deal because you now have the whole ball of wax in one bundle.
All components match under the same brand and are built to work as a unit right out of the box. This makes a quick transition from mid-range to close-quarter shooting situations. The flip mount fits standard Weaver rails.
This system makes use of a side button function for both speed and accuracy during a shooting transition. The Mount Quick detach level fits 1” Weaver and Mil-STD-1913 rails.
This is a professional level sighting system.
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.
This unit is designed to work as a standalone system or in conjunction with a reflex optic. It is adjusted by way of spaces for exact height when aligned to the primary red dot sight. By using the Powercam at 90 degrees, it can be flipped out of the way in an instant.
This sight is not a budget optic. However, when compared to the mil-spec options that are designed for professional applications, it is affordable.
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.
The unit's housing is aircraft-grade aluminum that will give you a lifetime of serviceability. This waterproof scope receives a rating of IPX 8.
The red dot sight 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 those of a leaky sighting system.
I spent some time with Sig Arms at the biggest gun show on earth, SHOT SHOW. I saw the advantage to these systems, but in most cases, the units presented were designed for police or military combat operations. “Mall Ninjas” that like shooting games or target events take note here.
7. Burris 300213 Tripler 3X Gen 2 Sight
This sight requires a secondary mount in that it stands alone as a priced item. The sight is workable with any red dot or HUD display that is 1X or less. In other words, zero magnification. The unit retains a pivot ring assembly that is a push-button controlled sight in place, or sight rotated off-center for standard red dot use.
The 3X has full elevation and windage adjustment levels, so it can be adjusted to dead-center on a collated system with the primary red dot sight. The unit is flat black to keep a low light signature when applied to game or during police field use.
Center-line height is exactly 4 inches. I suggest you buy it in conjunction with a Burris red dot or HUD display primary sight. However, that is not mandatory if a check is made for proper alignment with both units on a tie down rail.
8. UTG 3X Magnifier With Flip To Side QD Mount
This unit sells as a total package under one price. The system houses a pivot system and a quick detach lever that makes installation and operation of the unit very easy. Care needs to be taken to get a red dot primary sight that aligns with this unit. Check this out before buying.
The magnifier retains a broad band lens that will retain good control over available light and return a clear image to the shooter. The sighted image will appear up to 30% larger than those observed in other systems.
The unit retains a 42MM center-to-center height that can be pre-measured against your current primary red dot sight. The field of view diameter is 25mm and 45 feet at 100 yards. The eye piece on the unit is fully adjustable in order to give a good fit to any individual shooter.
The housing is machined out of solid stock, anodized for surface protection, and completely water-sealed and fog-proofed.
9. Sightmark 3X Tactical Magnifier
The word tactical bothers me on this sight. Police or military tactical sights are priced to the point that if you need to ask you can’t afford them. Nice idea here, but only an advertising phrase to be sure.
The Sightmark magnifier is a unit designed for the novice shooter who wants something he or she can mount on a standard red dot system and gain added power settings for some longer-range shooting. Will it work? Yes to be sure, and well enough for most general shooting activities.
The sight has improved rubber housing to protect it from rain, ice and mud. The sight is designed at 3X to produce better target recognition and a clean sight picture when taking long-range shots. The Weaver rail system is easy to work with and just about standard among almost all AR and many turn-bolt rifles today.
The unit has windage and elevation adjustment capabilities and will standalone with primary sights using these adjustments. Sightmark sells magnifiers that run from 3X to a larger 5X or 7X to meet the needs of most individual shooters. If you're interested, be sure and check alignment height with your primary sight.
I would consider this magnifier if you're a slug hunter with a shotgun, or a crossbow hunter where those glass sights are legal, or a recreational three gun shooter who is shooting combat-based courses of fire with the AR-15, etc.
With all the variables in shooting sports in place today I'm not the one to say who should or should not be shooting these types of sights. In my part of the country, everything is a long way off, and they are very small targets in most cases. Best Red dots just don’t cut it here unless you're shooting target events or games.
This review covers the choices for some current magnifiers. These are the units that are tacked on to your red dot or HUD display sights in order to increase magnification on targets at a distance. I have tested the red dots in the field on deer, for example, and found them to be less than effective when the target range exceeds 100 yards.
At that point, it is exceedingly difficult to maintain a correct hold on the vitals of an animal versus just hitting it. That second effect just won’t fly in my book of hunting rules and, as such, systems like magnifiers start to come into play if the hunter is going afield with red dot or HUD style sights.
Three of the units listed are examples of what is out there in the area of the secondary sight magnifier systems. You can pay a great deal more when compared to those I have selected here.
Also be advised that when selecting a system, it is a good idea to consider buying a brand that is the same as your primary sight system. For example, if the red dot sight is a Sig, it is wise to stay with the Sig brand as the two are manufactured for each other and will work well as a single unit.