The Best Red Dot Sights for Every Occasion and Budget

by Travis Pike

November 16, 2023

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Red dot sights can help you take your shooting to the next level but finding the one that’s right for you can be like searching for a needle in a haystack—there are just so many options out there and it’s natural to feel lost. That’s why I put together a list of the best red dot sights on the market and we are going to discuss what makes them stand out.

From speedy target acquisition to reliable performance in various conditions, we’ll dive into the features that matter most. Whether you’re a seasoned marksman or a weekend warrior, finding the perfect red dot sight can be a game of trial and error. But fear not – I’ve done the legwork for you, testing and tweaking until I found the cream of the crop.

This wasn’t an easy list to make by any means. There are an absolute ton of good red dot sights out there and there’s no one red dot that will fit everyone’s needs. Instead of just giving you a list of the best, I broke the list down by category to address the needs of a wide variety of shooters. Different types of shooters, different types of weapons, and different budgets all require different answers.

But what can you do with a red dot sight? Why do you need one? Let me take you through the variety of use cases for a red dot sight.

a line up of all the red dot sights we've reviewed in the article

Using A Red Dot Sight

Red dots excel in environments where the ranges are moderate and speed rules. The generous, often unlimited eye relief makes them fast to get behind and fast to get on target. Picture this: you’re at the range, lining up your shot, and BAM – your target is right in your crosshairs without a second thought. That’s the magic of a great red dot sight. It removes the time it takes to align sights properly and makes shooting fast and accurate.

Obviously, the use of defensive and duty weapons makes them faster and easier to react with. Red dots rock out to 200 yards and outperform iron sights to a crazy degree. A smaller dot reticle makes it easier to see targets at a distance, and the fast the reticle glows makes it easy to use in any environment. Ofcourse, they are great for range shooting but here are some other things you can do with your red dot;

  • Home defense: If I was outfitting a rifle or shotgun for home defense, I don’t see any reason to use anything other than a red dot. LPVOs rule in terms of versatility, but that means nothing when the farthest shot in your home is 15 yards.
  • Concealed carry: Red dots come in all sizes, and I mean all sizes. Shooters of all types have adopted red dots on their handguns, from the gunslingers of SOCOM to your average concealed carrier. A mini red dot sight drastically increases the capability of your pistol. They make it easier to shoot faster, with a greater degree of accuracy, and increase your effective range. With something as small as a SIG P365, I’ve found myself capable of engaging gongs out to 50 yards or so. These optics add some height to your gun, but the little extra weight and size are well worth the capabilities they offer.
  • Piggy backing: LPVOs (low power variable optics) are the bee’s knees for modern rifle shooters. However, they can greatly benefit from a piggy-backed mini red dot sight. Mini red dots are perfect backup optics for magnified rifle optics ranging from LPVOs to Prism sights. They can be offset from the optic at a 45-degree angle or placed on top of the optic at a variety of angles. They offer an immediate close-quarters option for shooters and allow you to transition to bad breath distance instantly.

As you can see, red dot sights are extremely versatile. However, what might be the perfect red dot for someone who uses it primarily for piggybacking won’t be the right fit for someone who is looking to outfit their concealed carry gun. That’s why I spent a lot of time classifying the red dot sights I tested into their best fit category. Here’s how I went about testing these red dots.

How I Set Up to Review the Best Red Dot Sights

As someone who has written hundreds of articles on weapons and equipment, I’ve had the privilege of not only owning many red dots, but also have been sent many by the companies, and even tested some at media events (of which a couple of those lead me to purchase some).

However, before writing this article, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. So, I talked to a couple of colleagues about certain sights I hadn’t gotten my hands on and got their input as well. Because of this, I was able to put together a comprehensive list of the top red dot sights and will try to tailor them based on specific needs and uses like ROI, top quality, caliber, etc – because let’s face it, there isn’t such a thing as the perfect red dot for every person or situation.

Now that you know how I tested them, let’s jump right into my selections.

Best Red Dot Sights by Category

Best Overall

Aimpoint Compm5b

Aimpoint Compm5b
  • BDC Reticles
  • Rugged Performance
  • Out of the Box Ready
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Best Budget Rifle

Sig Romeo 5

Sig Romeo 5
  • Great value
  • 1x magnification
  • 2 MOA red dot
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Best For Handguns

Aimpoint Acro

Aimpoint Acro
  • Enclosed Emitter Design
  • Very crisp dot
  • Compact and Lightweight
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Best Piggy Back

Trijicon Rmr

Trijicon Rmr
  • Most Proven MRDS
  • Available in Various Reticle Sizes
  • Very Lightweigh
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Best For Shotguns

Holosun 507C

Holosun 507C
  • Multi-Reticle System
  • Rugged and Reliable
  • Solar Panel
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Best For Subcompacts

Holosun 507K

Holosun 507K
  • Multi-Reticle System
  • Built-In Rear Sight
  • Durable and Reliable
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Best Budget Duty Grade

Trijicon MRO

Trijicon MRO
  • Crisp 2 MOA reticle
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
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Best Budget

Bushnell TRS 25

Bushnell TRS 25
  • Cheap
  • Easy to Use
  • Plug and Play Option
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Reviews of Our Best Red Dot Selections

#1 Aimpoint CompM5b : Best Overall Red Dot

Aimpoint CompM5b

As of now, the Aimpoint CompM5b is the premier red dot sight available.

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  • Clarity A+
  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Features A+

Our Grade

A+

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Aimpoint CompM5b Specs

  • Reticle 2 MOA dot
  • Weight 6.3 oz
  • Length 3.3″
  • Height 2.7″
  • Width 2’’

Why Use an Aimpoint CompM5b?

My journey through various red dot sights has brought me to a standout optic that reigns supreme in my arsenal—the Aimpoint Comp M5b. This premium red dot reflex sight has not only met but exceeded my expectations, solidifying its position as the best overall red dot sight in my collection.

The Aimpoint Comp M5b is a testament to Aimpoint’s commitment to innovation. Building upon the foundation of the reliable CompM4 and the military-proven M68 CCO, the M5b introduces groundbreaking features that set it apart from the rest.

What immediately caught my attention is the optic’s bombproof design, a testament to Aimpoint’s reputation for crafting optics rugged enough to endure the harshest conditions. Having seen the durability of Aimpoint optics, including two-decade-old M3 models still in action, I can attest to their longevity and reliability.

The M5b’s turret design is a game-changer, featuring a Ballistic Drop Compensator (BDC) calibrated for specific calibers. On my AR 15, the 5.56 turret allows me to effortlessly adjust the red dot reticle for various ranges. Dialing in for 300 yards or compensating for bullet drop becomes a simple twist, offering a level of precision that enhances both close and long-range capabilities—especially when paired with a magnifier.

Aimpoint’s reputation for crafting high-quality optics at premium prices is well-earned, and the Comp M5b is no exception. The optic’s robust construction, made from 7075 T6 aluminum, ensures it can withstand the rigors of intensive use in the field or on the range.

The 2 MOA red dot reticle provides a clear and crisp aiming point, crucial for fast target acquisition and precise shot placement. The versatility of the Comp M5b shines through, making it suitable for both close-quarters and medium-range engagements. While the field of view felt slightly restricted when co-witnessing with standard iron sights, I’d say it’s a minor gripe in the grand scheme of the optic’s capabilities. The 2 MOA red dot’s versatility, combined with minimal parallax shift and virtually nonexistent thermal drift, makes the Comp M5b incredibly shootable in various scenarios.

I’m also a big fan of the glass clarity, akin to a high-definition lens, ensuring swift target acquisition. The glass provides a clear and crisp view of the target, akin to looking through a high-definition lens. This clarity is essential for making precise shots, whether in the field or at the range.

The Comp M5b’s reliability is a standout feature. It consistently performed across various rifles over several months, instilling confidence in its ability to handle demanding situations. The remarkable 50,000-hour battery life using regular alkaline batteries, and even longer with lithium batteries, ensures readiness without the hassle of frequent battery changes.

While the turret adjustments using the reverse side of plastic caps may be a bit fiddly, it’s a minor inconvenience in comparison to the overall reliability and performance of the optic. The integrated flip-down plastic lens covers are a thoughtful addition, enhancing readiness and eliminating concerns about losing separate lens covers in the field.

The Comp M5b’s versatility extends to its brightness settings, adapting seamlessly to various lighting conditions, including night vision-compatible options. This adaptability makes it a reliable choice in any shooting environment.

The Aimpoint Comp M5b has proven itself to be a valuable piece of equipment, consistently delivering top-tier performance. Its premium price is justified by the unparalleled features it brings to the table, making it the best choice for premium rifles like my SHTF gun, the IWI x95.

If you’re seeking a red dot sight that can handle extreme conditions, deliver consistent results, and elevate your shooting experience, the Aimpoint Comp M5b should be at the top of your list. Don’t let the price tag deter you; the investment is well worth it for those who demand the best from their optics. So, give it a shot, and you won’t be disappointed.

Jump over to our complete review on the Aimpoint CompM5b and learn more about our favorite red dot sight.

#2 SIG Romeo5 : Best Budget Rifle

Sig Romeo 5 Featured Image

SIG Romeo5

A compact red dot sight with motion activated technology that comes with both a high co witness mount and a low mount.

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  • Clarity A-
  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability B+
  • Features A-

Our Grade

A-

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Sig Romeo 5 Specs

  • Reticle 2 MOA dot
  • Weight 5.1 oz
  • Length 2.46″
  • Height 1.51″
  • Width 1.5’’

Why Use a Sig Romeo5?

The Sig Sauer Romeo5 is my personal favorite as a budget-friendly red dot option, and I can confidently say that from my first-hand experience. Having put it through its paces at the range on multiple occasions, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by its performance, which is why I’ve ranked it as the Best Budget option in my red dot list.  As a matter of fact, when a friend asks which one they should get I always say the Aimpoint, however, I then follow it up with “and if that is too much, then move to the Sig Romeo5.”

Initially, as a user accustomed to higher-end optics like AimPoint, I had reservations about its quality and its durability – since after all, how can a red dot 1/3rd the cost compare. However, the Romeo5 quickly won me over with its user-friendly design.

It’s not as good as the Aimpoint, but unlike other cheap budget-friendly red dots, this one sports legitimately long life battery (about 40,000-hour). Plus, the 2 MOA dot, while not the most refined, adapts well to varying light conditions, and the shake-awake motion activation is a game-changer, conserving battery life and eliminating the need for manual activation.

While the Romeo5 may not be designed for mid to long-range shots, it excels within its intended range of up to 100 yards. During my tests, it held zero flawlessly even after approximately 200 rounds, offering unwavering reliability for a budget-friendly choice.

Now, I’ll admit, I haven’t put hundreds of hours of use on the Romeo5, but from what I can tell, it has worked like a champ and I have had no problem with it over the past couple of years.  Honestly, for a budget red dot, that’s still pretty great (unlike something like a Crimson Trace – smh).

One last thing – a very comparable red dot is the Vortex Sparc.  Look, I love Vortex, and both the Romeo5 and the Sparc are just about equal….except in cost.  The Sparc usually comes in $40+ more than Romeo5.  Because of this, Romeo5 wins in the category.

So, as you can see, the Romeo5’s quality, durability, and capability are above what I think the price is, and therefore makes this a solid budget-friendly pick if you can’t afford the Aimpoint.  To learn more about the Romeo 5, you can check out my full review if in case you are still on the fence.

#3 Aimpoint Acro P-1 : Best for Handguns

Aimpoint Acro P-1

Aimpoint does it again, but this time it’s one that’s perfectly suited for your pistols.

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  • Clarity B
  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Features B

Our Grade

A-

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TBD

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Aimpoint Acro P-1 Specs

  • Reticle 3.5 MOA dot
  • Weight 2.1 oz
  • Length 1.9″
  • Height 1.2″
  • Width 1.2’’

Why Use an Aimpoint Acro P-1?

When it comes to choosing the best red dot sight for handguns, my top pick is undoubtedly the Aimpoint Acro P-1, and here’s why.

First and foremost, the Acro P-1 has set new standards by introducing an enclosed emitter design tailored for handguns. Having experienced its performance firsthand, I can attest to the seamless integration of this optic with a pistol. The Acro doesn’t compromise on reliability, delivering the rock-solid performance expected from an enclosed optic.

While the size and weight are slightly increased compared to some other compact red dot sight, this actually enhances its suitability for duty use, making it my preferred choice for this category. The robust build and adherence to demanding durability specifications ensure that the Acro is not just suitable for concealed carry but excels in professional applications.

One standout feature is the side-mounted battery compartment, a heavenly convenience for swift and hassle-free battery changes. The Acro’s controls for adjusting brightness are not only massive but also strategically placed, allowing adjustments without compromising the sight picture or grip. This feature, combined with the two-handed grip, facilitates ease of use in various shooting scenarios.

The 3.5 MOA dot offers exceptional clarity at handgun ranges, ensuring a crisp and precise sight picture. What impressed me the most is the versatility of the Acro; it performs exceptionally well on handguns, yet I wouldn’t hesitate to mount it on a rifle or shotgun. Its rugged design and reliability make it a go-to choice for diverse shooting applications.

If you’re seeking a red dot sight that seamlessly combines reliability, versatility, and durability, the Aimpoint Acro P-1 stands out as a professional-grade optic that won’t disappoint, despite its pro-grade price tag.

Check out our full review of the Aimpoint Acro P-1.

#4 Trijicon RMR : Best Piggy Back

Trijicon RMR

Possibly the most popular mini red dot sight available today.

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  • Clarity A+
  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A+
  • Features B

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 7 Reviews

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Trijicon RMR Specs

  • Reticle Various Sizes
  • Weight 1.2 oz
  • Length 1.8″
  • Height 1″
  • Width 1.1″

Why Use a Trijicon RMR?

When it comes to piggybacking optics, the Trijicon RMR stands out as my top choice. Drawing from personal experience as a Marine, I can confidently say that the RMR is not just a red dot; it’s a proven, reliable companion in the field.

Mounted on my machine gun day optic, the RMR showcased its unbeatable durability and simple design, making it a reliable choice for various firearms, from rifles to shotguns and handguns. The reason I’ve ranked it as the best for piggybacking is its dominance in the mount market. Its popularity has led to widespread compatibility, allowing it to seamlessly integrate with LPVOs, ACOGs, and even offset at a 45-degree angle for maximum versatility.

During my time in service, the 9 MOA dot on the RMR proved to be my personal preference. Its eye-catching nature facilitated rapid target acquisition, a crucial factor in dynamic scenarios. The Trijicon RMR’s ability to withstand the recoil of both big and small weapons sets it apart, solidifying its status as one of the best open emitter mini red dot optics available.

Reflecting on the glass clarity, a feature that caught my attention, the RMR’s crystal-clear optics ensure no sight flicker or distortion, enhancing situational awareness in fast-paced situations. The Type 2, with its improvements in target identification and low-light shooting, becomes an even more appealing choice for piggybacking on magnified optics.

The automatic brightness adjustment feature of the RMR is a game-changer. It ensures that the dot’s brightness is always perfectly matched to ambient lighting, crucial for scenarios like concealed carry where an overly bright dot can obscure the target and backup iron sights. This feature, combined with the outstanding shootability and fast target acquisition, adds a “cool factor” to shooting, making it not only efficient but also enjoyable.

Durability is a hallmark of the RMR, extensively tested in real-world situations by military, law enforcement, and concealed carry users. Its Half Moon divot, often referred to as “owl ears,” provides the strength needed to endure harsh conditions while maintaining zero. The adjustments for LED brightness are not only precise but also durable, standing up to sweat, dirt, and everyday wear and tear.

With a variety of dot sizes available, the RMR caters to different shooting scenarios, from precision shooting to rapid target acquisition. The impressive battery life, lasting up to four years at the mid-illumination setting, adds to its appeal, although extreme temperatures may affect battery drain.

The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is a testament to exceptional design, offering unparalleled brightness, rugged durability, and precise shootability. Its versatility, especially when piggybacked on magnified optics, makes it the gold standard in open emitter red dot optics. As someone who demands the best, the Trijicon RMR Type 2 has my full endorsement, making it the go-to choice for those in law enforcement, the military, or civilians seeking a reliable optic for concealed carry.

You can check our full review for the Trijicon RMR here.

#5 Holosun 507C : Best for Shotguns

Holosun 507C

Holosun 507C

This sleek red dot sight has an incredible reticle design that’s a perfect fit for any scattergun.

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  • Clarity B
  • Shootability A+
  • Reliability A
  • Features A+

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 12 Reviews

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Holosun 507c Specs

  • Reticle 2 MOA dot, 32 MOA circle, 2 MOA dot and 32 MOA circle
  • Weight 1.5 oz
  • Length 1.78″
  • Height 1.14″
  • Width 1.24’’

Why Use a Holosun 507C?

Holosun has become well known for producing outstanding optics at excellent price points. That’s not to say the optic is cheap by any means; it just performs above its price tag.

The 507C sits happily on my Benelli M4, and the reason why is the reticle system.

It packs 3, with a 2 MOA dot, a 32 MOA circle, and a 32 MOA circle and dot combo.

I use the 32 MOA circle and pattern my shotgun load into that circle. I know that within 15 yards, not a single pellet leaves the circle.

This makes it perfect for home defense and allows me to maintain pellet accountability.

As I delve into the world of red dot sights, the Holosun 507C has unmistakably etched its place as a powerhouse, earning the title of the “Best for Shotguns” in my arsenal. The reasons behind this prestigious rank are as crystal clear as the sight picture it provides.

First and foremost, Holosun has masterfully blended affordability with top-notch performance, making the 507C a standout choice. Now, let me share my firsthand experience with this optic, mounted securely on my Benelli M4, and why it sits atop the hierarchy for shotguns.

The heart of the 507C’s appeal lies in its versatile reticle system. Featuring a 2 MOA dot, a 32 MOA circle, and a compelling 32 MOA circle and dot combination, it caters to diverse shooting preferences. My personal preference leans towards the 32 MOA circle, a choice that seamlessly aligns with the dynamics of my Benelli M4. Why? It allows me to pattern my shotgun load precisely, ensuring that within a 15-yard radius, every pellet stays within the designated circle. This attribute is a game-changer for home defense, providing unparalleled pellet accountability.

The Holosun 507C doesn’t just stop at its reticle prowess. It’s a feature-packed gem with a side-loading battery, a solar panel backup, and the added advantage of fitting seamlessly into the RMR footprint. Enduring over 1,500 full-powered shotgun loads without a hiccup, this optic stands as a testament to its toughness, ruggedness, reliability, and well-justified pricing.

Now, let’s talk shootability. The 32 MOA circle enhances target acquisition speed, a critical factor in high-stress situations where every millisecond counts. It’s a feature that has become indispensable for me, ensuring swift and precise shot placement whether in competitive shooting or personal defense scenarios.

As for reliability, the Holosun 507C has weathered the storm of durability tests, emerging unscathed from 500-round burn tests and shoulder-height drops. The cracked lens during drops didn’t impede the functionality of the reticle, showcasing its robust design. The controls are simple, the build quality is robust, and it’s tailor-made to withstand the rigors of competition.

One standout attribute contributing to its reliability is the impressive battery life, clocking in at up to 10,000 hours on a medium setting. The addition of solar failsafe and shake-awake technology ensures that this optic is always ready for action, instilling a level of dependability that’s second to none.

Speaking of features, the auto-brightness feature is a personal favorite. Transitioning from bright outdoor environments to dimly lit indoor spaces becomes seamless, and the manual mode provides a customizable touch for those who prefer a bit more brightness. The roomy window size is another highlight, offering a panoramic view that enhances both speed and precision.

Balancing affordability with stellar performance, the 507C rightfully claims the title of the “Best for Shotguns” in my list. For those seeking a red dot sight that delivers on every front without breaking the bank, the Holosun 507C is a stellar choice. It’s a reliable companion that consistently performs, ensuring you’re always on target, no matter the shooting scenario.

You can read our Holosun 507C full review here.

#6 Holosun 507K : Best for Subcompact Handguns

Holosun 507K

Holosun 507K

Good things definitely can come in small packages.

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  • Clarity A
  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A
  • Features B

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

Based on 5 Reviews

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Holosun 507k Specs

  • Reticle 2 MOA Dot, 32 MOA Circle, 2 MOA dot and 32 MOA Circle
  • Weight 1 oz
  • Length 1.6″
  • Height .95″
  • Width .98’’

Why Use a Holosun 507K?

When it comes to micro red dot sights for subcompact handguns, there isn’t a lot of choice but the Holosun 507K has proven time and time again to be the unrivaled champion in this category.

One of the standout features of the Holosun 507K is its remarkable clarity, offering a 2 MOA dot alongside the optional 32 MOA circle. This combination provides a clear and crisp sight picture, a feature I found crucial for quick target acquisition during the draw stroke. The dot size may take a bit of getting used to, especially for those accustomed to larger red dot sights, but with practice, it proves highly effective.

The lens of the optic, with a slight magnification that goes unnoticed during practical shooting, delivers a remarkably clear presentation with just a subtle blue tint. Despite its tiny size, this optic adds negligible bulk to subcompact handguns, making it ideal for weapons intentionally designed to be small.

What sets the Holosun 507K apart in its category is its versatility, especially with the multi-reticle system featuring a 32 MOA circle and a 2 MOA dot. This proves beneficial not only for speed but also for shooters with astigmatism. Additionally, the built-in rear sight facilitates co-witnessing, adding to the optic’s capability and making it my preferred choice for subcompact handguns.

During my extensive testing, the Holosun 507K consistently demonstrated its durability and robustness, outperforming the competition in a rough and tumble environment. The optic held zero even after firing thousands of rounds, a testament to its reliability. The two-button control system, unique among its competitors, allows for quick and easy brightness adjustments.

There are some issues with this one. The red dot is slightly red dot and battery life falls way short of the claimed 50,000 hours. The shake awake feature is also pretty over-sentive, which might have been the reason for the bad battery life but personally, it did not compromise the optic’s performance during rapid movement.

The Holosun 507K’s shootability truly shines, significantly enhancing accuracy, especially on subcompact firearms. Its three different reticle options offer adaptability for various shooting scenarios, with the 32 MOA circle-only reticle excelling in close-distance self-defense situations. The co-witness feature with traditional height sights further aids in dot acquisition, making it an exceptional option for concealed carry.

The Holosun 507K stands out as a top-tier micro red dot sight for subcompact handguns, making it the ultimate choice for concealed carry applications. Its features, durability, and performance earn its well-deserved spot as the “Best for Subcompact Handguns” in my review. If you’re in the market for a reliable and versatile optic for your subcompact, the Holosun 507K is the clear winner.

Read our full review of the Holosun 507K.

#7 Trijicon MRO : Best Duty Grade Budget Optic

Trijicon MRO

Trijicon MRO

Designed for trusted performance for those on a budget.

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  • Clarity A
  • Shootability A
  • Reliability A+
  • Features B

Our Grade

A

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Trijicon MRO Specs

  • Reticle 2 MOA dot
  • Weight 5.8 oz
  • Length 2.6″
  • Height 2″
  • Width 1.7’’

Why Use a Trijicon MRO?

When it comes to duty-grade red dot sights on a budget, the Trijicon MRO stands tall as my top pick in the lineup. Having extensively tested this optic, I can confidently assert that it offers a professional-grade experience without draining your wallet.

Optical clarity is a paramount consideration for any red dot sight, and the MRO doesn’t disappoint. Much like its Trijicon counterparts, the glass clarity is exceptional. However, it’s worth noting a subtle bluish hue on the lens, particularly noticeable indoors when shooting with both eyes open. Personally, I prefer a colorless optic, but this nuance has had negligible impact on my shooting performance.

One standout feature of the MRO is its bombproof construction, a characteristic synonymous with Trijicon. It’s a robust optic, capable of enduring the rigors of a rough and tumble environment, meeting professional-grade standards for submersion, shock, and more. Having taken it through its paces, I can affirm that it’s a sight that can go to war and come back home without missing a beat.

Affordability doesn’t compromise on performance here. The MRO provides a crisp dot that’s tough to beat, even at roughly half the price of comparable optics from Aimpoint and similar brands. It’s a testament to Trijicon’s commitment to delivering quality at a reasonable cost. The lenses are super clear, offering a clear sight picture, and the multiple night vision settings and six daylight settings ensure adaptability to any environment.

While the MRO does exhibit a subtle fish eye effect on the sides, it’s a minor trade-off for the overall performance. It excels in reliability, holding zero through rounds of testing, even on a shotgun. Although some users have reported zero shift problems, I haven’t encountered any such issues in my personal experience.

The Trijicon MRO addresses the need for versatile brightness settings, featuring six levels of adjustable brightness and two levels of night vision compatibility. This adaptability is crucial for effective use in various lighting conditions, further solidifying its position as a top-tier duty-grade red dot sight.

Read our full review for the Trijicon MRO here.

#8 Bushnells TRS-25 : Best Budget Red Dot

Bushnell TRS-25

Bushnells TRS-25

This is easily the best option for red dot sights in the under $100 range.

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  • Clarity C
  • Shootability A
  • Reliability B
  • Features B

Our Grade

B

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Bushnell TRS-25 Specs

  • Reticle 3 MOA dot
  • Weight 4 oz
  • Length 2.8″
  • Height Varies
  • Width 1.8’’

Why Use a Bushnell TRS 25?

Who’d have thought you could get so much quality for less than a hundred bucks? The Bushnell TRS-25 blew me away with the value it brings at such an affordable price. This optic may not be top-tier professional grade, but let me tell you, it’s a solid choice for your beater rifle, shotgun, or even certain handguns.

For a plinking rifle, the TRS-25 is hard to beat. It doesn’t boast the best clarity, and it’s not loaded with features, but it holds its own as a competent red dot. It’s got the basics down pat, providing a straightforward red dot that holds zero and can take a beating – drops, falls, and even a little water.

It doesn’t suffer from that overly green tint that can sometimes affect your shooting experience. The 3 MOA dot is sharp and easy to see, ensuring quick and accurate shots on target, just what you need.

I’ve taken this optic out in various lighting conditions, from bright sunny days to gloomy afternoons, and the red dot remains consistently visible. During my shooting sessions, the TRS-25 proved more than competent. With 11 daylight brightness settings, it caters to a range of shooting scenarios. Although it lacks night vision compatibility, making it less ideal for low-light situations, its performance in well-lit environments is stellar.

Now, let’s talk about its weight – a mere 4.2 ounces with the battery included. This lightweight design makes it a dream for those who value maneuverability and swift target engagements. I’ve had it mounted on my AR-15 for the past six months, subjecting it to tactical drills and even a day out in cold weather conditions, and it hasn’t let me down.

Why did I label it the “Best low budget optic”? Well, the TRS-25 offers a feature set that aligns perfectly with its budget-friendly pricing. The 3 MOA dot reticle is versatile and ideal for close-quarters combat scenarios. Its compatibility with a range of firearms, including AR-15s and shotguns, makes it a versatile choice for those on a budget.

I do have to mention a drawback – it doesn’t come with a riser mount. For some, this might be inconvenient, and the non-detachable mount means you’ll have to make a separate purchase if you need a riser. It’s something to consider in the overall cost, but for its price, the Bushnell TRS-25 remains an unbeatable option for those looking for a reliable, budget-friendly red dot sight. Read the complete Bushnell TRS-25 review.

Best Red Dot Sight Buyers Guide

When it comes to choosing the right red dot sight for you, there are several factors you have to take into consideration. Sure, you’ll need to know what gun you’re actually going to mount it on. And yeah, you’ll need to be able to afford it.

But beyond that, what should you look for?

Let’s take a look at some commonly forgotten factors you’ll need to look at before purchasing your red dot optic. 

Open Or Enclosed Emitters

Throughout the list above and throughout the world of red dots, you’ll see two design types, open and enclosed emitters. An open emitter features an exposed emitter with a single lens. See the Trijicon RMR, the Holosun 510C, and most pistol red dot optics. This system works and is quite reliable 99% of the time.

Open emitters do present the possibility of gunk getting between the emitter and the lens. Be it dirt, dust, snow, or rain. When this occurs, you may not find the dot in the lens or see a distorted dot. Since open emitter optics utilize one piece of glass, distortion tends to be lower, and the optics tend to be smaller and lightweight.

Enclosed emitters represent the majority of long-gun red dots and the minority of pistol red dots. On these optics, the emitter settles in nice and cozy inside the optic. With this setup, you have two lenses with the emitter in front of the lens closest to the eye.

Enclosed emitters add a hefty dose of reliability to the optic. Nothing gets in between the emitter and the front lens. Snow, rain, sleet, skittles are all nonissues for enclosed emitter optics. The downsides are increased weight and a greater chance of optical distortion due to two lenses.

Magnifier Compatibility

A magnifier provides anywhere from two to six power of magnification behind the red dot and increases your effective range when using a red dot. Most red dots are compatible with long gun-type red dots. Micro red dot sights are the real non-starter here.

Also, some weird budgetary optics might be incompatible due to their size and mount height. If magnifiers are a big deal, make sure you have a red dot that is the correct height to align with a magnifier. If not, be ready to swap mounts.

Dot Color

Reticles come in a multitude of colors, including red, green, amber, and even some blues. When choosing a specific dot color, there are a few things to consider.

Green reticles draw less power from batteries and last longer than red dot reticles. Red tends to appear less in nature and contrasts against certain backgrounds better than green. Honestly, outside of that, there isn’t much of a reason beyond personal preference.

I tend to stick with red but have found green dots to be quite comfortable. Amber dots tend to wash out in daylight, and blue dots are exceedingly rare.

Reticle Design

Red dot should sound simple enough, but we, the gun industry, like to innovate and improve. Most red dots use a red dot. However, some implement more complicated, often large reticles. Holosun, SIG, and a few more utilize circle and dot combinations.

These tend to be bigger, and bigger can be better when it comes to speed. A dot that’s bigger is easier to see. Also, when you utilize a 65 MOA ring, you can implement some basic range finding at 100 yards and beyond.

Most importantly, these dot and circle combinations tend to help those who have astigmatism. Astigmatism often makes red dots blur and become star-like. A circle and dot will appear clearer and be more usable for those astigmatism sufferers.

Even when you get down to simple red dots, the size matters. Red dots made for rifles are often 2 to 3 MOA and are smaller because rifles tend to be more precise. Handgun red dots are often larger from 3.5 MOA to 9 MOA and provide an easier-to-see dot that’s faster to find and easier to use at closer range.

Shotguns and pistol caliber carbines can often go either way. I tend to prefer bigger dots for these weapons personally. However, there are pros and cons to big and small red dot sizes.

Mounting Considerations

When mounting your typical red dot to your typical long gun, you’ll likely just use a Picatinny mount and call it a day. That’s perfectly suitable for most long guns, but not so much for handguns.

With handgun red dots, you’ll most likely need your slide milled for a specific footprint or to utilize a plate system. Dovetail mounts are a poor way to go. Mini red dots often have a specific footprint because this industry hates to standardize. Keep that in mind.

Shotguns also often benefit from low mounts for co-witness purposes and due to typical shotgun stock design. Tall mounts intended for AR-type rifles are a poor choice for most shotguns.

Final Thoughts

Rarely can an accessory improve actual performance. Red dots break the mold and allow even average shooters drastic increases in speed, accuracy, and overall performance. However, choosing a red dot sight is not just a matter of following the crowd—it’s a strategic decision based on performance, speed, and adaptability. Hopefully, I’ve left you with enough information to find the right red dot for you. Happy shooting.

FAQs

  1. Are Holographic Optics Red Dots?

They are not red dots in the strictest sense. Holographic optics like the Eotech series and the Vortex UH series often get lumped into the world of red dots. They often function like red dots and provide similar performance once lead starts meeting steel; however, they utilize a different method to obtain their reticles.

2. Can I use a red dot sight with magnifiers for longer-range shooting?

Yes, many red dot sights are compatible with magnifiers, allowing for improved accuracy at longer distances. Ensure that the red dot sight you choose is designed to work seamlessly with magnifiers, and consider factors such as eye relief and mounting options for optimal performance in extended-range shooting scenarios.

3. What reticle size is ideal for different shooting scenarios?

The ideal reticle size depends on the shooting scenario. Smaller reticles are suitable for precision shooting, while larger ones excel in fast-paced, close-quarters situations. Consider the intended use of your firearm and choose a red dot sight with a reticle size that aligns with your shooting preferences and requirements.

4. How do I know if a red dot sight is compatible with my firearm?

Check the specifications and product details provided by the manufacturer to ensure compatibility with your firearm. Look for information on mounting systems, co-witnessing options, and any specific requirements. If in doubt, consult with the manufacturer.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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