Best Red Dot for Shotguns: Wait….You Have to Aim These Things!
Shotguns and red dots go hand in hand. Red dot optics are designed for close-range use, and so are shotguns. Both favor speed and close-range use, but for some reason, we don’t see red dots being a major part of the shotgun discussion. While rifles and handguns are being equipped left and right with red dots, you don’t see red dots on shotguns being a priority.
This often goes back to the mythos of the shotguns. The ‘you don’t need to aim a shotgun’ often gets touted in shotgun optical discussions. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Today we are going to dive into the world of shotgun red dots and give you both what we think are the best red dots for shotguns and a few tips on how to choose your own.
Why Your Shotgun Needs a Red Dot
Shotguns are designed to provide multiple projectiles with one pull of the trigger. They are limited to close-range use with most shot types. Shotguns as weapons excel in close-quarters combat. Red dots also excel in this world. When you toss a red dot on a shotgun, you get a much faster option for aiming and getting that gun on target. Shotguns excel at hitting moving targets, and red dots provide a sighting system that makes tracking moving targets easy.
A red dot reduces the need to align sights, and the dot itself is much easier to find than a bead or front sight, especially when mounting the shotgun and firing rapidly. Red dots are also much easier to track between shots than standard iron sights. A red dot allows you to focus on the target and makes reactive and quick close-quarter shots much easier.
A red dot perfectly complements the strengths of a shotgun, and any defensive or duty shotgun user should consider seeing red. With a little practice and familiarization, you’ll find yourself shooting faster and with greater accuracy due to the red dot.
Authors Best Shotgun Red Dot Sights
Many people think of red dots for rifles and handguns, but less think about them for shotguns. However, they are gaining popularity for both hunting and defensive purposes, and we think they make a ton of sense.
Click the headings to jump to the review section for each red dot or just scroll through the entire article.
Our Best Red Dot for Shotguns
Best Shotgun Red Dot Specs
|Red Dot||Reticle||Weight (oz)||Length (in)||Height (in)||Width (in)||Footprint|
|2 MOA Dot / 32 MOA Circle / Circle and Dot||1.5||1.78||1.15||1.15||Trijicon RMR|
|2 MOA Dot||3.3||3.1||1.9||1.6||Aimpoint Micro|
|3 MOA Dot||2.5||1.89||1.9||1.8||Docter/Noblex|
|3 MOA Dot / 65 MOA Circle and 3 MOA Dot||1||1.8||1||1||Trijicon RMR|
|5 MOA Dot||1.6||2.2||1.4||1.3||Trijicon RMR|
|4 Various||2.25||2||1.4||1.5||Picatinny Mount|
|Cyclops Gen 2 Reticle||5.5||2.48||Variable||N/A||Picatinny Mount|
Here Are The Best Red Dots for Shotguns
Our favorite red dot sights for shotguns are listed below.
- Holosun 507C
- Aimpoint T2
- Steiner MRS
- Swampfox Kingslayer
- Trijicon SRO
- Shield Sights SIS2
- Primary Arms SLX 1X MicroPrism
Reviews For The Best Shotgun Red Dot Sights
Now we will individually review each red do sight and tell you why we think it is a good option for a shotgun.
Holosun 507C Review
- Reticle 2 MOA Dot / 32 MOA Circle / Circle and Dot
- Weight (oz) 1.5
- Length (in) 1.78
- Height (in) 1.15
- Width (in) 1.15
- Footprint Trijicon RMR
The Holosun 507C is my top choice for a shotgun red dot. There are tons of good optics out there, but the Holosun 507C continually stands out as if it was designed for a shotgun. The dot is a mini red dot and uses the standard Trijicon RMR footprint. It covers the basics well, but why do I love it on a shotgun? Why do I own more than one and mount them to my favorite shotguns?
The Holosun 507C packs a multi-reticle system. Reticles include 2 MOA dot, a 32 MOA circle, and a combination of dot and circle. I use the 32 MOA circle, and I’ve patterned my chosen load for home defense into that 32 MOA circle. I know my Federal Flitecontrol will pattern inside of that circle at 15 yards and close. This way, I know where every pellet is going when I take a shot.
The Holosun 507C’s reticles are clear, and the circular options tend to be more friendly for shooters with astigmatism. The reticles come in either red or green, and I prefer red for the longer battery life. Beyond the reticles, the Holosun 507C offers a solar backup panel and a side-loading battery that makes powering the optic convenient.
With the 507C, you get an affordable optic as well. It’s mid-tier in its price but top-tier in its performance. The biggest downside I have about the optic is the heavy blue tint that’s present. If that’s the only complaint I can have about it, that’s pretty solid.
The Holosun 507C delivers in a variety of ways. It’s the right size, with the right footprint, and packs a versatile reticle system and multi-pronged approach to powering the optic. Slap it on a Scalarworks Sync mount, and boom, you are good to go. This is an excellent option for shotguns and checks all the boxes I have for a shotgun red dot.
Holosun 507C Pros and Cons
- Awesome Reticles
- Solar Powered Option
- Trijicon RMR Footprint
- Noticeable Blue Tint
Holosun 507C Gun Deals
Aimpoint T2 Review
- Reticle 2 MOA Dot
- Weight (oz) 3.3
- Length (in) 3.1
- Height (in) 1.9
- Width (in) 1.6
- Footprint Aimpoint Micro
The Aimpoint Micro series is immensely popular on rifles and carbines but has earned a spot on your favorite shotgun as well. The T2 and T1 are the gold standards of red dots worldwide. There are some subtle differences between the two. The T2 is built with several improvements, but if you went with the T1, you’d still strike gold.
The T2 optics are micro Aimpoints that use an enclosed emitter and circular optic shape. They differ from micro red dots but still remain small. The Aimpoint footprint is extremely popular, and finding dedicated shotgun mounts from Aridus, Scalarworks, and more is easy. Shotguns are rough, violent guns with lots of recoils. Weak optics won’t survive on one.
The Aimpoint T2 is no weak optic. It will absorb that rough and violent recoil for thousands and thousands of rounds. It eats it up, and the Aimpoint T2 just won’t tap out. This rugged optic and its enclosed emitter resist water, dust, snow, mud, or whatever else the world tosses at it without failure.
The reticle is a two MOA dot that’s crisp, bright, and easy to see. The T2 lasts for 50K hours with 1 CR2032 battery. That’s a ton of juice and time from one little battery. The optic is very small and very light. It’s simple, and simple isn’t bad. Shotguns are simple, and the Aimpoint T2 pairs well with a defensive or hunting shotgun.
My main complaint would be the small reticle. While it’s fine on a rifle, I would love to see a four or six MOA reticle option for shotgunners. Other than that, this is one of the best red dots on the market, period. It’s the choice of numerous Special Operations units for a reason. Aimpoint gave us the modern red dot and continues to innovate and produce versatile options for all weapons.
Aimpoint T2 Pros and Cons
- Ultra Well Made
- Super Clear
- Tons of Mounts available
Aimpoint T2 Gun Deals
Steiner MRS Review
- Reticle 3 MOA Dot
- Weight (oz) 2.5
- Length (in) 1.89
- Height (in) 1.9
- Width (in) 1.8
- Footprint Docter/Noblex
The Steiner MRS occupies an odd spot in the world of optics. It’s small enough to be a pistol-sized red dot in most dimensions, buts it’s made for long guns. The Steiner MRS comes with an integral Picatinny mount to make tossing it on your shotgun easy. The Steiner MRS places the battery on the right side for easy swapping out the battery without needing to dismount.
The Steiner MRS doesn’t require a special mount and still sits ultra-low. The side-mounted battery really allows it to sit low without the need for a specialized mount. If you don’t like the Picatinny rail, the MRS uses a Docter/Noblex mounting plate, so different mounting solutions exist.
The little optic weighs only 2.5 ounces and is 1.89 inches long. At the same time, it has an enclosed emitter to keep the gun running regardless of the weather. The MRS is completely water-tight and well suited for the duck or goose hunter who goes hard.
Shooters get a three MOA red dot reticle that is ultra crisp and easy to see. The view through the lens is remarkably clear and delivers a great view through the lens. The Steiner MRS is a high-end red dot, but the price isn’t terrible. It’s not a budget-friendly optic, but it is still fairly affordable.
My main complaint is the brightness control. It’s one button, and you move from automatic adjustment to the max, then medium, and then low. Sadly you have to cycle through each to find the right setting and can’t go up and down manually.
This is a solid optic for hunters, home defenders, and tactical duty users. It’s a well-built optic from a company that’s often underrated.
Steiner MRS Pros and Cons
- Enclosed Emitter
- Sits Very Low
- Tough and Durable
- Bottom Mounted One Button Brightness Controls
Steiner MRS Gun Deals
Swampfox Kingslayer Pro Review
- Reticle 3 MOA Dot / 65 MOA Circle and 3 MOA Dot
- Weight (oz) 1
- Length (in) 1.8
- Height (in) 1
- Width (in) 1
- Footprint Trijicon RMR
So far, the optics I’ve suggested have been fairly expensive. The Swampfox Kingslayer, on the other hand, offers you a shotgun red dot at a fairly low price. The Kingslayer costs less than 200 dollars and offers you a number of features that make it a great shotgun red dot. It does use the famed RMR mount, so finding various shotgun mounts and rail adapters are easy.
The Kinglsyaer comes in various models with different reticles. There is a standard dot and a circle and dot combo. For shotguns, the big circle and dot make a ton of sense. This reticle is a 3 MOA dot and 65 MOA ring. Shooters can pattern various loads inside the 65 MOA ring and know where their load of buckshot lands within that circle. This makes it easy to account for pellets, and with the big 65 MOA circle, you aren’t restricted to expensive Flitecontrol rounds.
The Kingslayer is an affordable optic, but it’s still built to be convenient. The battery is side-loading, so there is no need to remove it to swap power. The optic can withstand 800 g of recoil, so it won’t fall apart on your shotgun. The Kingslayer offers two button controls and ten brightness adjustments. All this, and it weighs only 1 ounce.
The Kingslayer isn’t going to be the best option for duty use. If you are a police officer, security agent, or anyone who gun slings for a living, then the Kingslayer might not fit your rough and tumble lifestyle. For home defenders and hunters, it will more than check your boxes. If you ended a budget option, then the Swampfox Kingslayer is here for you.
Swampfox Kingslayer Pros and Cons
- Good Shotgun Reticle
- Trijicon RMR Design
- Not Duty Durable
Swampfox Kingslayer Gun Deals
Trijicon SRO Review
- Reticle 5 MOA Dot
- Weight (oz) 1.6
- Length (in) 2.2
- Height (in) 1.4
- Width (in) 1.3
- Footprint Trijicon RMR
The Trijicon RMR changed the world. Trijicon created the first true micro red dot, but if I had to pick one Trijicon for shotguns, it would be the SRO. The SRO is a micro red dot that sticks to the RMR-style mount. The Trijicon SRO makes a number of improvements to the RMR style design but isn’t a replacement, merely a secondary option. In my opinion, the SRO fits better on long guns.
The Trijicon SRO’s biggest departure from the RMR is the fact they went with a round window over a square window. One of the claims is that the circular window makes it easier to acquire the dot. The difference is small but noticeable, and you can very easily find that dot and get it on target naturally and quickly. The SRO comes with either a 2.5 MAO dot or a 5 MOA dot, and I think the 5 MOA dot is most certainly the way to go.
Trijicon makes some of the world’s toughest optics. There is a reason that the RMR sits on so many military weapons. The SRO is no different. It’s an optic made to work and work well for a long period of time. It will eat up the recoil a shotgun tosses at it and never give you any lip.
The SRO features a top loading battery which is much more convenient than the RMR’s bottom loading design. The user has two massive buttons for brightness adjustments. The downsides are very small, and some may point to the price, but I don’t see that. I see an optic worth the investment.
This is a great option for a minimalist red dot for those looking for a police and military-worthy red dot. Home defenders and hunters certainly won’t complain about its toughness, either. The SRO isn’t a replacement for the RMR but an advancement of it.
Trijicon SRO Pros and Cons
- Super Durable
- Crisp Red Dot
- Awesome Circular Window
Trijicon SRO Gun Deals
Shield Sights SIS2 Review
Shield Sights SIS2
- Reticle 4 Various
- Weight (oz) 2.25
- Length (in) 2
- Height (in) 1.4
- Width (in) 1.5
- Footprint Picatinny Mount
Shield Sights is painfully underappreciated. They created the first micro-sized footprint to allow small guns to wear red dots. This small British firm also produces an awesome shotgun red dot in the form of the SIS2. SIS2 stands for Switchable Interface Sight 2.0. The name comes for the shooter’s ability to swap between four different reticle options. Three of these reticles can be used for shotguns rather well.
The four reticles include a 1 MOA dot but also an 8 MOA dot, a 1 MOA dot with a 65 MOA ring, and an 8 MOA dot with a 65 MOA ring. Personally, the 1 MOA dot with ring sounds perfect for shotguns, but the 8 MOA options are also viable, depending on your preferences. This must be the third time I’ve suggested a reticle with some form of ring. Being able to pattern your load inside that circle can be quite nice.
The SIS2 uses a Picatinny rail mount and comes with three heights. On most shotguns, the low mounts work well. If you are using an AR or bullpup-type shotgun, you’ll likely want a higher mount, and that is offered here. The SIS2 has two big buttons to allow for easy brightness control, with settings low enough for night vision and settings high enough to deal with bright sunlight conditions.
The SIS2 is built like a tank and is designed for duty use. This isn’t a weak little sight, and it’s not a budget-friendly one either. The big downside is the bottom loading battery. You have to remove the optic to swap batteries, and that’s annoying. Other than that, those Brits are making solid red dots, and they deserve more attention.
Shield Sights SIS2 Pros and Cons
- Multiple Reticles
- Huge Controls
- Enclosed Emitter
- Bottom Loading Battery
Primary Arms SLX 1X MicroPrism Review
Primary Arms SLX 1X MicroPrism
- Reticle Cyclops Gen 2 Reticle
- Weight (oz) 5.5
- Length (in) 2.48
- Height (in) Variable
- Width (in) N/A
- Footprint Picatinny Mount
For the last pick for shotgun red dots, I’m going wildcard. In fact, this isn’t even technically a red dot, but a 1X prism sight. The Primary Arms SLX 1X MicroPrism is an interesting option for shotguns. Since the optic is a prism, it’s an etched reticle, and etched reticles allow shooters with astigmatism to see the reticle clearly and easily. The reticle is illuminated and easy to see in all lighting conditions.
The stock standard mount is high, but numerous mounts exist to lower the mount to make it more appropriate for a shotgun. The optic is somewhat large, and it’s a little bigger than the Aimpoint T-1, but not crazy big. The reticle is the ACSS Cyclops design, and Primary Arms designed the reticle to be compliant with numerous weapons, including shotguns.
The center chevron can be zeroed for shotgun slugs and be used for calculating drop out to 100 yards with a 25-yard zero. Around that reticle sits a big circle, and as I’ve said numerous times now, you can use that circle to pattern your shotgun’s buckshot loads. It’s set up to be quite versatile and well suited for shotgun hunting and home defense.
The prism design also ensures you always have a reticle. Even if the battery dies or electronics break, the etched reticle is always present. That battery will last 45,000 hours on the medium setting, so you don’t have to turn it off by any means. The optic uses a motion-sensing automatic on and off design to preserve the battery.
The big downside ties back to the prism design. There is an eyebox and required eye relief. They might be generous in both regards but are still present and can be a slight bit slower than a red dot. If you have astigmatism or want something a little different than a red dot, then the Primary Arms Microprism is perfect for you.
Primary Arms SLX 1X MicroPrism Pros and Cons
- Etched Reticle
- Ballistically Compatible With Shotguns
- Long Battery Life
- Eyebox and eye relief present
Primary Arms SLX 1X MicroPrism Gun Deals
Red Dot Sights for Shotguns: Buyers Guide
I’ve given you what I think are the best red dots on the market. Now I want to give you the tools and considerations to choose your own shotgun red dot. A good red dot can take you far, but it’s not always simple with the shotgun as a platform.
A common theme throughout this guide has been rather small optics. You don’t see many full-sized red dots, right? Most full-sized red dots are designed for AR-type rifles and often sit too high to establish a good cheek weld with a shotgun. More than that, these giant red dots can get in the way.
A big red dot can make reloading difficult, depending on your situation and firearm. If you are using your standard shotgun, you likely want the capability to port reload. A port reload is when you go over or under the gun to load a round directly into the chamber. If you want to go over the gun, then a large optic can get in the way.
Additionally, if you are using a side saddle, a large optic might get in the way when you attempt to retrieve a brass up round and pull it from the side saddle. Since shotguns are tied to close-range shooting, the benefits of a full-sized red dot aren’t always apparent or noticeable. Smaller dots are lightweight and typically keep the weapon’s profile smaller as well.
If you do use a full-sized dot, just make sure your tactics and techniques work with the dot present.
Most traditional shotguns require a low mount to ensure you have a proper cheek weld. Guns like the Mossberg 500, Remington 870, Benelli M4, Beretta 1301, and more have a stock that sits somewhat low. To deal with this, you typically want a low-mounted optic. Since shotguns are designed for close-quarters use, you want an optic that sits low. A higher mounted optic introduces height over bore concerns, and who wants to deal with that with a shotgun?
With most shotguns, you want the lowest mount possible. If you have bead sights, don’t worry about cowitnessing. If you are using ghost ring or rifle sights, they are typically mounted at the same height you want your red dot, so keep that in mind.
When we get to AR-style shotguns, to the recent spate of bullpup designs from KelTec, S&W, IWI, and more, you have an inline stock. This requires a slightly higher mount to even see the dot. Typically, absolute co-witness height is about as low as you can go.
With those aforementioned inline stocks and higher mounts, you’ll likely just use an AR height mount. That’s easy. Let’s talk more about the standard shotguns we all know and love. The most common and often simplest mounting system will be a Picatinny rail and low Picatinny mount.
This works well but does often sit a little higher than most would like. It’s not terrible, but there are a few options I really like available for the most popular shotguns. They won’t work well with everyone and every shotgun, but these three options get the dot very low.
Aridus CROM – The Aridus CROM mounting system is probably the highest quality mount on the market. The CROM fits the Remington 870, the Mossberg 500, and Beretta 1301 and accommodates the Trijicon RMR footprint and the Aimpoint Micro series.
This mounts the optics as low as possible and utilizes a rear sight for total cowitness. The rear sight can be a standard ghost ring or the Rob Haught open-sight style design.
Scalarworks Sync Mount – The Scalarworks Sync mounts work with the Mossberg, Remington, and Benelli semi-auto shotguns and provide a super low mount design that is absolutely rock solid. These mounts bring the red dot down very low, and with guns like the Benelli M4, you can co-witness.
The Sync mounts work with the RMR and Aimpoint Micro footprint. It’s simple and is my personal favorite.
KE Arms – KE Arms makes some very affordable shotgun red dot mounts for the Remington and Mossberg series shotguns. These are very simple, all-metal mounts that cost less than a hundred bucks. They are very well made and completely functional.
Best Shotgun Red Dot Mounts
These aren’t the only acceptable mounts by any means, but these are the three I’ve found work best for my use. Plus, all three are respected American companies that are willing to lean into the shotgun and produce high-quality gear for the shotgun.
Red dots at their core are very simple, and a simple red dot is all you really need to land accurate and fast shots. That is the minimum reticle, and they can be better, especially on shotguns. There are some serious benefits to using a larger reticle. Larger reticles are easier to see, faster to pick up, and easier to track through the recoil impulse.
Larger red reticles are faster and easier to see. With that in mind, reticles that combine both a ring and dot or just a ring can be very valuable for shotgun shooters. When using buckshot, you can pattern and use the ring to observe how your shot spreads.
As you pattern the gun at various ranges, observe and note the ranges where pellets fall outside of the circle reticle. I know that inside my home, with my shotgun and chosen defensive load that, the pellets will not escape the circle at even the longest range possible shot I can take inside my home. This way, I have total accountability of the pellets.
It’s not necessary, but my preferred option. At the end of the day, the reticle should be bright and easy to see in all lighting conditions. That’s the minimum requirement, and if your dot meets that requirement, you’ll be good to go.
Strength and Durability
When it comes to shotguns, you want something strong and rugged. Shotguns are violent weapons with plenty of recoil, and you can’t go cheap with a shotgun red dot. Shotguns will break cheaper red dots with ease.
Make sure you choose a quality model from a known company. There are lots of red dots out there from overseas that are more appropriate for airsoft guns and would certainly not do well on real guns, much less shotguns.
Look for optics with aluminum housings, IP ratings, and from known companies like Aimpoint, Trijicon, etc. This is especially true if you are looking to utilize your shotgun for duty, home defense, or hunting purposes.
Loc-Tite It / Witness Marks
Speaking of shotguns being violent, let me leave you with a little piece of advice. After you mount an optic, make sure you use Loc-Tite to secure the optic to the gun. With a Picatinny rail mount, I suggest adding a witness mark to whatever you use to secure the optic to the rail. This way, you can identify if it ever begins to move, and you can tighten it back down.
Shotguns will notoriously cause parts and pieces to loosen up and fall off. It happens with all manner of accessories, including optics, so make sure it’s locked down and witness marked if possible.
Shotguns and red dots go together like peanut butter and chocolate. They are a natural fit for each other a red dot-equipped shotgun tends to be faster, easier to use, and more accurate than iron sights. The trick is choosing a red dot that works with shotguns and won’t be beaten to pieces by one. Shotguns are a thinking man’s weapon, and you should put some thought into your red dot selection.
Hopefully, we’ve made it a little easier. If you have questions, feel free to ask below, and we’ll try our best to get the question answered.
May 30, 2023
May 30, 2023