Red dot magnifiers are a great addition to any AR-15 with 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
UTG 3X Magnifier
Monstrum Ghost Magnifier
UTG 3X Magnifier
Tacticon Falcon Magnifier
UTG 3X Magnifier
HOLOSUN HM3X Magnifier
UTG 3X Magnifier
Bushnell Optics 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
If you are looking for an Eotech alternative that suits your budget? Check out our guide on best Eotech replicas.
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
Monstrum really nails the basics here with their Ghost magnifier. It’s 4 inches long and set at 1.55 inches high to maintain absolute co-witness with standard AR front sights. You can get it in black or tan, and it’s a prism sight instead of standard lenses. What that means is that the sight picture will be sharper and crisper than with other magnifiers, all other things being equal.
It’s rated IPX7 for waterproofing and is nitrogen purged for fog resistance. The housing is 6061 aluminum, and overall, it’s designed to handle normal bumps and jostles without any problem. It’s designed to be paired with the Ghost red dot that Monstrum also makes, but it can be used with any red dot in the 1x20 form factor.
The Ghost comes with a flip-to-side mount that should make it quick and simple to go from just the red dot for close-range action to 3x for going out further. The mount that it comes with is Picatinny, so you’ll most likely be fine, but just know that if you have something less standard then you’ll have to get creative while mounting.
However, one of the most interesting things about the Ghost is that the product listing claims that it has between 5.5 and 6 inches of eye relief, which, if true, would be a lot. This doesn’t seem to be the case in reality, however, and the actual eye relief seems to be about 3 inches, which is significantly less than 5.5 to 6 inches.
This could either be a good or a bad thing depending on your situation, but my main concern with more is that you already have to mount your red dot further up on the rifle to accommodate a magnifier, but then you might have to move it all, even more, to make up for the 2+ inches of extra eye relief.
You might end up putting your dot so far forward that it’s uncomfortable to use by itself. This is something to consider when looking at the Monstrum.
Monstrum Ghost 3x Red Dot Magnifier
The price of Monstrum Ghost 3x Red Dot Magnifier varies, so check the latest price at
10. Tacticon Falcon V1 3x Red Dot Magnifier
When Tacticon was designing the Falcon, they predicted the problem I just brought up with the Monstrum, so they designed it with only 2.5 inches of eye relief. 2.5 inches may not feel like much, but again, generally, with a magnifier, you want to mount it as far back on your rifle as you can so you can keep your dot close to where you would prefer it when it’s by itself.
If you’re putting this on something with more kick, like an AR-10, you may want to consider one of the other magnifiers with a little more eye relief. Of course, a good shooting form will stop the rifle from traveling back that far, but if you’re buying this in preparation for a defensive situation, you may want to give yourself a little slack in case your form isn’t top-notch in the most terrifying situation of your life.
If you’re law enforcement and considering these for duty weapons, the Falcons should work great, and any concerns about getting kissed by the scope can be resolved through proper training. The eye relief will be a bit long for NTCH shooting but can still work.
Tacticon offers a lifetime warranty, the housing is fully aluminum that is waterproof up to 10 meters of submersion, and the flip-to-side mount can be tightened down to completely eliminate wobble. All-in-all, it’s a great magnifier and worth considering for your setup.
Tacticon Falcon V1 3x Red Dot Magnifier
The price of Tacticon Falcon V1 3x Red Dot Magnifier varies, so check the latest price at
11. Holosun HM3X Flip To Side 3x Red Dot Magnifier
The Holosun may be pricier than some, but it’s feature-filled and multi-coated to ensure maximum light transmission. You can use the included spacer to get the optic high enough for ⅓ co-witness or absolute as you prefer, and you can use the QD mount to swap the magnifier from one rifle to another very quickly.
All of the other features will be familiar to you by now: adjustable focus, windage, and elevation dials to get the dot in the exact center of the sight picture, waterproofing, fog proofing, etc. Overall it’s a great ar magnifier to pair with your red dot.
My main gripe with the HM3X is the need for a coin or other tool to adjust the windage and elevation, but since that should (theoretically) only need to be done once, that’s not a big deal.
Conversely, the best thing about the HM3X is the image quality. The clarity and brightness you get from the Holosun should be coming from a much more expensive optic. It does a great job and is nearly universally compatible with red dots. The flip-to-side mount is even ambidextrous, so you can have it flip to whichever side you want.
Eye relief here is 2.75 inches, which will feel nearly identical to the Tacticon. However, the Holosun is more than a quarter of an inch shorter, which might actually be a big deal for you. Depending on the red dot you’re using, you may be taking up an awful lot of space on the top of your rifle so that extra quarter-inch might make the difference.
Holosun HM3X Flip To Side 3x Red Dot Magnifier
The price of Holosun HM3X Flip To Side 3x Red Dot Magnifier varies, so check the latest price at
12. Bushnell Optics 3x Magnifier
If you have a TRS-25 from Bushnell, this magnifier will pair perfectly with it pretty much out of the box, but it will also work as intended with most red dots from other brands as well. It also features an ambidextrous flip mount and clear image quality, which is probably not a surprise to anyone familiar with Bushnell.
This magnifier gets a lot of its image quality from the Fully Multi-coated optics on board. If you’re unaware, “fully” multi-coated is different from just “multi-coated.” Multi-coated means that all of the outward-facing optics have been coated with the manufacturers’ proprietary mixture of chemicals. Fully multi-coated means that the inside of the optics have as well.
Size-wise, the Bushnell is a bit longer than some, coming in at 4.6 inches. It has a fast-focus eyepiece, which works exactly the same as every other eyepiece. Eye relief is a bit close but should work great for most setups. The TRS-25 makes it a great red dot and magnifier for hunting.
The Bushnell is plenty rugged, and you shouldn’t have to worry about it getting damaged through normal use. It will hold up to recoil just fine, whether it’s in the side position or top position. Bushnell has a warranty, but it’s not as all-encompassing as Vortex’s.
Bushnell Optics 3x Magnifier
The price of Bushnell Optics 3x Magnifier varies, so check the latest price at
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Magnifier On a Red Dot Worth It?
Depends. A red dot + magnifier combination is a solution to a specific problem: how do I equip my rifle to be prepared for both short-range and long-range use? There are other solutions to this problem: low-power variable optics or prism scopes with a low, fixed magnification.
If you are facing this problem, then yes, combining a magnifier with a red dot is worth it, especially if you already have a red dot.
Will a Magnifier Work With Any Red Dot?
Not always, but they usually will. As long as you are using a red dot designed to be mounted on a rifle via a Picatinny rail, then a magnifier also designed to mount on a rifle via a Picatinny rail should be compatible. There are plenty of red dots designed primarily for handguns that come with adapter plates to put on a rifle instead, but these can end up sitting too low to use with a magnifier.
Is There a Magnified Red Dot Sight?
The closest to this would be a prism sight, like the Trijicon ACOG or another fixed-magnification optic. The reticle on the ACOG isn’t just a red dot, though, and most alternatives will have some sort of BDC ladder on the reticle.
What Goes First, Magnifier or Red Dot?
Your eye should be looking through the magnifier first, then through the red dot. So if you’re talking from the shooter’s perspective, the magnifier should come first.
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 scopes for more AR optic goodness.