6 Best Red Dot Magnifiers [Ultimate Guide]

by David Lane

June 22, 2022

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Ranging from well over $1,000 to under $100, there are a ton of options in the world of red dot magnifiers. But who makes the best, what features matter, and what is right for you is not an easy question to answer.

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

Best Red Dot Magnifiers

Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4

Best Budget Option

  • Inexpensive
  • Huge value
  • Excellent eye relief
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Sig Juliet 3

Editor’s Choice

  • Great glass
  • Included spacers for height adjustment
  • Quick detachment mount
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Holosun 3x HM3X

Best Ingress Protection Rating

  • IP67 rated
  • Clean glass
  • Easy flip
Check Price
Vortex 3x VMX-3T

Best Warranty

  • No questions asked warranty
  • Push button flip to side
  • Good construction
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Aimpoint 3X-C

Most Durable

  • Wide aftermarket support
  • Great glass
  • Super durable
Check Price
EOTech G33

Best Glass

  • USSOCOM approved
  • Best in class glass
  • Ultra-durable
Check Price

Best Red Dot Magnifiers

  1. Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4
  2. Sig Juliet 3
  3. Holosun 3x HM3X
  4. Vortex 3x VMX-3T
  5. Aimpoint 3X-C
  6. EOTech G33

Best Red Dot Magnifier Specifications

Below is a list of our Best Red Dot Magnifiers. So we can compare and line up the specs from each of the products and help you make the best decision possible.

MagnifierMount TypeSwing TypeRatingWeightEye ReliefFoV @ 100 Yards
Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4NoneN/ANone7.9 Oz2.64 Inches37.93 Feet
Sig Juliet 3Quick DetachTensionIPX812.5 Oz2.55 Inches35.6 Feet
Holosun 3x HM3XQuick DetachTensionIP679.5 Oz2.75 Inches37 Feet
Vortex 3x VMX-3TStandardPush ButtonNone11.9 Oz2.2 inches38.2 Feet
Aimpoint 3X-CNoneN/ANone7.8 Oz2.2 Inches31.4 Feet
EOTech G33Quick DetachTensionNone10.6 Oz2.2 Inches38.2 Feet

Best Red Dot Magnifiers Reviews

Now we’ve had an overview and looked at our list, let us take the time to individually review each item. In this section we’ll be revisiting our specs, speaking into the product and looking at the pros and cons.

1. Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4

Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4

Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4

Save money and hit the range more often! Normally, at this price you’re getting something “just as good” but Primary Arms is the real deal, the LER Gen 4 is a high-value piece of kit.

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  • Durability B+
  • Glass B+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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PA 3x LER Gen 4 Specs

  • Mount Type None
  • Weight 7.9oz
  • Eye Relief 2.64 inches
  • FoV @ 100 yards 37.96 feet

Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4 Review

When cost is what really matters, the LER Gen IV from Primary Arms is there for you. If you just need something to get the job done, this fills the role well without going overboard either.

LER stands for Long Eye Relief, with an eye relief of 2.64 inches, Primary Arms is among the top in that department and is a decent improvement over EOTech and Aimpoint’s 2.2 inches.

Do the extra 0.4 inches matter? To me, not really. But more is better than less.

When it comes to a magnifier, glass quality isn’t a huge factor. If you’re trying to shoot long range precision, glass quality is the most important feature. But magnifiers are about extending your effective distance — not sending it into the next zip code.

That said, this is the worst glass of the magnifiers I’ve shot. The blueish hue to it was unwelcome and made everything a little dark to look at.

I can’t say it actually impacted my shooting to a measurable degree, but it was at least annoying.

The LER Gen IV also doesn’t come with a mount, so that’s an extra cost. Primary Arms has flip-to-side mounts for cheap though so if you’re trying to keep the budget down, you have options.

3x LER Gen 4 Pros and Cons

  • Good Price
  • Good Eye Relief
  • Great value for the price
  • No Mount
  • Blue tinted glass

Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4 Deals

2. Sig Juliet 3

Sig Juliet 3

Sig Juliet 3

Finally something from Sig Sauer that is drop safe on the first try! Built well and packing some nice glass, this is one of the easiest and nicest magnifiers to use. 

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  • Durability A
  • Glass A
  • Mount A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Sig Juliet 3 Specs

  • Mount Type Quick Detach
  • Swing Type Tension
  • Rating IPX8
  • Weight 12.5oz
  • Eye Relief 2.55 inches
  • FoV @ 100 yards 35.6 feet

Sig Juliet 3 Review

After a LOT of testing and dozens of hours behind magnifiers, the Sig Sauer Juliet 3 is the magnifier that I chose for my personal rifle.

Why? Because the mount is great, the glass is clear and sharp, it has an IPX8 rating, and the eye relief is decent at 2.55-inches. 

Basically, the Juliet delivers on everything I need it to and doesn’t skimp on anything.

Plus, it comes in FDE and I like that.

A QD mount and tension flip are perfect for me since I like to take the magnifier off when I want to run a lighter set up, Being able to do so without tools and quickly is a nice quality of life benefit.

While mounts that use a push button or a pull to unlock method of flipping the magnifier back and forth are more secure, I never ran into a situation where I needed the extra security.

The tension lock is enough that the magnifier never flopped around or moved without me making it. No button and no pulling on the housing makes there is one less thing for me to remember or do when I want to deploy or fold away the magnifier.

Sig Juliet 3 Pros and Cons

  • Great Mount
  • Best Waterproof Rating
  • Strong Value for the Price
  • A touch heavy

Sig Juliet 3 Deals

3. Holosun 3x HM3X

Holosun 3x HM3X

Holosun 3x HM3X

Holosun has taken the red dot market by storm and produces some of the best that normal people can afford to buy. Their magnifier lives up to the reputation they have built!

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  • Durability A+
  • Glass A
  • Mount B+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Holosun 3x HM3X Specs

  • Mount Type Quick Detach
  • Swing Type Tension
  • Rating IP67
  • Weight 9.5 oz
  • Eye Relief 2.75 inches
  • FoV @ 100 yards 37 feet

Holosun 3x HM3X Review

Holosun makes some outstanding red dots for rifles and pistols, that’s just fact.

Now when a brand makes one thing well, it stands to reason to at least give them a chance on their other products. But when it came to magnifiers, Holosun went above and beyond.

As close as you can get to a “lightweight” option, Holosun’s HM3X is only 9.5 ounces, comes with a QD mount, a tension-based flip, and is the only magnifier that has an IP rating for both dust and water (IP67 if you’re wondering).

To top it off — the glass is pretty good also.

In every way, this is a really solid little magnifier. 

Even the field of view is one of the best at 37 feet at 100 yards.

The only issue I have with it is that my unit’s flip tension was a little low. Not enough that the magnifier was flopping around or got bumped into/out of position accidentally, but it does rattle a little and that’s kind of annoying.

Holosun 3x HM3X Pros and Cons

  • IP67 is the only dust-tested magnifier
  • Lightweight
  • Great eye relief
  • Tension on the flip is a bit light

Holosun 3x HM3X Deals

4. Vortex 3x VMX-3T

Vortex 3x VMX-3T

Vortex 3x VMX-3T

Well known for having the best warranty support in the industry, Vortex delivers a solid little magnifier that doesn’t disappoint and will get you where you need to go.

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  • Durability B+
  • Glass A
  • Mount B
  • Value B+

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

Your Grade

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Vortex 3x VMX-3T Specs

  • Mount Type Standard
  • Swing Type Push Button
  • Weight 11.9oz
  • Eye Relief 2.2 inches
  • FoV @ 100 yards 38.2 feet

Vortex 3x VMX-3T Review

Using the Vortex magnifier I didn’t really have any issues. The glass is clear enough, the system well enough built, and it’s generally fine. Not great, but fine.

The mount is a standard 1913 screw and while it isn’t QD, it isn’t the end of the world either.

While I would rather have a tension flip-to-side, Vortex uses a push button that is I guess better than the pull-to-flip options. 

Eye relief is shorter than some options but on par with most at 2.2 inches.

Two things stand out for the VMX-3T — the field of view is great at 38 feet and the warranty is bulletproof.

If you plan on being really rough and tumble with your gear then having a warranty that won’t let you down is a great safety net.

That said, if you need an option that is bulletproof itself instead of just the warranty, you might want to spend the big money on one of these next two magnifiers.

Vortex 3x VMX-3T Pros and Cons

  • No questions asked warranty
  • Great field of view
  • Clear glass
  • No QD mount
  • Push button to unlock flip

Vortex 3x VMX-3T Deals

5. Aimpoint 3X-C

Aimpoint 3X-C

Aimpoint 3X-C

One of the most trusted and durable brands on the market, Aimpoint is a bombproof option that you can count on. The 3X-C is their civilian version of their legendary magnifier.

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  • Durability A+
  • Glass A
  • Value B+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Aimpoint 3X-C Specs

  • Mount Type None
  • Weight 7.8 oz
  • Eye Relief 2.2 inches
  • FoV @ 100 yards 31.4 feet

Aimpoint 3X-C Review

Now granted this is the civilian version of Aimpoint’s magnifier — but I think this is an unsung hero of the magnifier world.

Aimpoint’s top-of-the-line option is their 3XMAG-1 and without a mount comes in at over $800. Ouch.

Thankfully, Aimpoint also makes a civilian or commercial version, the 3X-C, that will only run you about $300 (without a mount).

So what does half the price buy you? Basically everything, except some overkill ruggedness. 

Aimpoint glass is outstanding, its durability is legendary, and the mounting options are the best in the market. This really is one of the definitive units you can buy.

However, the 3X-C is only waterproof to 2 feet, so no diving with your magnifier.

The temperature range it is rated for is massive at “only” -31°F to +131°F.

If you really want to spend some money, the 3XMAG-1 is waterproof to 80 feet and has a temperature span of -49°F to +160°F.

Now, unless you’re literally in an SF unit — the 3XMAG-1 is just overkill that none of us will use.

That’s what makes the 3X-C such an outstanding deal. 

Don’t forget to get a mount!

Aimpoint 3X-C Pros and Cons

  • Super durable
  • Great glass
  • Lots of drip
  • No Mount
  • Eye relief is short

Aimpoint 3X-C Deals

6. EOTech G33

EOTech G33

EOTech G33

The only magnifier approved by the United States Special Operations Command, EOTech is debatably the best in the business. The best glass, legendary durability, and a huge range of mounting options. This is the buy once, cry once option.

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  • Durability A+
  • Glass A+
  • Mount A
  • Value B

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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EOTech G33 Specs

  • Mount Type Quick Detach
  • Swing Type Tension
  • Weight 10.6oz
  • Eye Relief 2.2 inches
  • FoV @ 100 yards 38.2 feet

EOTech G33 Review

Using the G33 or Aimpoint magnifiers are the only two that really stand out as better than anything else on the market. And of the two, EOTech is slightly better.

The glass for the G33 is great, the durability is insane, and the mounting is rock solid.

Plus, the mount is a QD system and a tension-based flip-to-side that comes standard.

If you want to upgrade from this already great mount, there are dozens of options made by other manufacturers. 

While the G33 has the best glass, I again come to the issue that I don’t think the better glass really improved my shooting enough to actually make a difference.

I will say that the better glass made PID (positive identification) and finding targets easier/faster, but only marginally.

If that is something that is important to you, such as in a duty role or competitions that require finding unknown targets — then the G33 stands above the rest and will give you something a little extra for your money.

If you have the cash to burn, I strongly recommend the G33. But know that you’ll do 95% as well while spending half or less the money if you pick something else.

EOTech G33 Pros and Cons

  • USSOCOM approved
  • Amazing field of view
  • Great mount & lightweight
  • Outstanding glass
  • Very expensive
  • Short eye relief

EOTech G33 Deals

Red Dot Magnifiers – Buyers Guide

Let me start off by diving into what specs matter the most and discuss whether it’s worth considering or if that particular spec is just nice to know.

Mount & Swing Type – Unless you plan on replacing the mount on your magnifier, the type of mount and the swing method matter a lot. 

Mounts are pretty simple. They either attach via normal screw-based 1913 railing or they have a Quick Detach level for 1913 railing. Personally, I much rather have the QD version.

No matter what I like being able to get my scopes off of my rifle quickly. If they get damaged and you want to drop the weight or replace them with someone working, QD makes a lot of sense.

Swing type is less important, but something that you should try to play with if you can. Fundamentally, all of the swing methods are going to work more or less the same in terms of the time it takes to use them.

Some mounts require a button to be pushed while you move the magnifier from the side to in front of the red dot. Others you physically pull the magnifier toward you before swinging it from point to point.

My favorite type uses none of those active methods of retention and only uses tension to keep the magnifier in place. Just move it from point to point with a firm motion and you’re good to go.

Personally, I’ve never had one move accidentally. So tension is good enough retention for me.

Ingress Protection Rating – This is a rating that you can really count on in life. A group that you’ve likely never heard of called the International Electrotechnical Commission is a not-for-profit trade organization that developed and maintains a lot of industry standards for a lot of things.

One of those standards is Ingress Protection (IP). Basically, a scientific way of measuring and standardizing how water- or dustproof something is.

The testing and rating cannot be done by the company that makes or owns the product, it must be done by a certified third-party testing company. That’s why you can trust the ratings that are given because someone independent did the testing.

This rating is given as IPXX where X is replaced by a number, that number corresponds to how well in the testing process the item got. 

The first X is for dust and the second is for water.

So IP11 is pretty bad for both dust and water. IPX5 means dust wasn’t tested for, but it made it to level 5 for waterproofing. IP69K is the best rating something can get and very few items get it.

Because the testing must be done by someone else, not a lot of brands spring for getting the testing done. But the ones that do earn a lot of points in my book for proving that their product can actually stand up to what they claim it can.

Weight – Weight is… weight. You know what weight is, right?

Lighter is better for every reason there is. Heavier is worse.

However, when we’re talking a couple of ounces difference between these models, weight isn’t a huge deal.

The big deal should be to note what magnifiers come with mounts and what do not. The ones that do weigh more, so don’t get fooled into thinking you’re getting a super lightweight magnifier when really you’re just not getting a mount.

Eye Relief – This is how far away your eye can be from the magnifier to use it properly. More is better since it gives you more room to work with and more is good.

A half inch between the best and worse might not sound like much, but it actually makes a lot of difference in how you position your head and cheek on the rifle. 

If you’re shorter or have a shorter neck, I strongly recommend going for the longest eye relief you can find.

That said — you can make do even with the short ones, it just might not be as comfortable to use. 

Field of View @ 100 Yards – Put simply, this is how far side to side you can see at 100 yards.

For scopes and LPVOs, this number is more important since the FoV can vary greatly, but for magnifiers, it’s more or less the same.

From the best to worse is only about 8 feet max, so that isn’t a huge concern.

More is better, of course, but I wouldn’t make this the feature that decides what you get.

Normal Magnifiers Vs. Micro Magnifiers

Something that just about all of the major brands have released lately is a “micro” version of their magnifiers.

For EOTech, that’s the G43. For Vortex, the Micro3X. Sig Sauer’s is the Juliet 3 Micro and Holosun has the HM3XT.

All of these are effectively the same idea, a 3x magnifier but smaller. 

Smaller means lighter. It also means that things like BUIS are easier to mount. 

But eye relief is made a little worse since the magnifier doesn’t hang as far out from the rifle and almost universally the eye box on all of these micro models are far worse than their standard-sized brethren.

That’s the short version of the story. More or less, that’s really the only important difference.

I strongly recommend a full-sized magnifier, but if you really want to save some room and weight — the micro version of whatever strikes your fancy is what you should look at.

Everything Is Different, Everything Is The Same

I’ve tested a lot of magnifiers in a lot of situations on a lot of rifles and I’ve come to a bit of a conclusion that I think I should share with you.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter too much what magnifier you get.

Sure, some models are “better” than others. Some have better glass, some better mounts, some just look better. But honestly, I never had a circumstance where X was better than Y to enough of a degree that it actually helped or harmed my shooting.

Even when looking at the best glass Vs. the worst glass, it just didn’t matter that much.

A general rule for scopes is that you want at least 1x magnification per 100 yards you’ll be shooting. So for 500 yards, at least 5x. For 1,000 yards, at least 10x.

Going with that rule — 3x magnifiers are really only designed for about 300 yards. And putting them into practice… ya, that’s about right. 

I’d say the max range for a magnifier is about 350 yards on a good day. Past that and you’ll have a lot of issues.

With that in mind, the quality of the glass doesn’t matter that much. The trueness of the colors doesn’t matter very much. 

If anything matters between these models I would say that durability and value are what you should consider most.

Durability is clearly won by EOTech and Aimpoint, but Sig Sauer, Holosun, and Vortex aren’t far behind.

For value, I would say the sweet spot is between Sig Sauer, Holosun, and Vortex. For my money, I would recommend one of those all day.

The exact one is up to you, but I think you’re splitting hairs trying to choose between them. Whatever you find cheapest with the fastest shipping would be what I get.

Wrapping It All Up

The best of the best options is really nice to use. Both Aimpoint and EOTech make great magnifiers that will serve you a long, long time.

That said, a mid-tier choice like Sig Sauer, Holosun, or Vortex won’t do you badly and will save a ton of money.

Personally, I wouldn’t get the Primary Arms magnifier unless you’re really going for budget over anything else.

All in all, I love magnifiers and a red dot/mag combo is my go-to choice for my rifles.

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About David Lane

Learning how to shoot at a young age in the Boy Scouts, David now spends most of his time working on or with firearms. Be it shooting, upgrading, building, tinkering, or writing about them -- sharing his passion and knowledge of firearms with others is an everyday occurrence.

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