A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: March 22, 2021
Outdoorsly is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Not all red dot scopes are as good as they are described. That is why you need to consult expert reviews and confirm that the desired scope is the right choice. If you are looking for the best red dot sights, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you will find top-rated products currently available on the market that we’ve carefully picked to help you make an informed decision based on your preference.
Our experts focused on all the critical features of these scopes, starting with the basics like the reticle and objective diameter, as well as the adjustment click value. Other features considered include the specifics of the battery and also physical characteristics like weight and dimensions. We also tried to answer some most common questions related to these products below. Do you want to learn more about what makes the best red dot sights? Read on!
"For those looking for an affordable red dot sight, check this one with 11 brightness settings and shockproof construction.3 MOA dot reticle.25 mm objective diameter.O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged."
"This premium model features a shortened base, side buttons with a single quick detach throw lever and a generous warranty.68 MOA circle with 1 MOA aiming dot reticle.0.85 in. objective diameter.20 brightness settings."
Whether you are looking for the best red dot sight for a tactical shotgun or another use, you will love The Aimpoint PRO. If you want to get a rugged, durable, and reliable red dot scope, this can be a smart choice. Although it is a bit heavy and bulky, it is suitable for hunting, shooting, and tactical purposes.
The product is particularly designed to work in harsh weather conditions, which makes it suitable for expert users. Thanks to the ten brightness settings, you can use it in bright and low-light environments. The icing on the cake is battery life because a single battery secures up to three years of operation. And the best part is that the manufacturer includes the battery with the product!
What makes it special? If you plan on going outside during harsh weather conditions, you can trust this scope completely.
What cons did we find? The sight is somewhat heavy, which some users might not appreciate.
The best Bushnell red dot scope we came across is the Trophy TRS-25. If you ask us why we loved the unit, it is because it is a true bargain deal. Beginners and those looking for a low-cost sight will love this unit.
For starters, it offers a 3MOA dot reticle, which is fairly crisp and visible even in bright environments. You have eleven brightness settings that can be adjusted with a simple dial on the side.
The O-ring ensures that the optics stay dry even if they get in touch with water. The housing can withstand drops and bangs, and the scope works well in rough weather conditions. The product requires a bit of getting used to, but once you figure it out, target acquisition should be easy.
Why are we impressed? Although it is light, the unit is quite solid when mounted on the desired weapon.
What negatives must you be aware of? The brightness dial is a bit stiff and requires effort when turning.
The EOTECH EXPS2 is a viable candidate for the best red dot sight out there. The first thing you notice is that it is a bit heavy, but that contributes to excellent durability. Thanks to the superb materials, it can deliver consistent performance for years. But it seems that quality control could be better because a few customers noticed some glue or small scratches when they received it.
The product is suitable to use in low-light conditions and during the night. It offers 20 brightness adjustments, which is more than any other unit out there. The battery life could be better, but that is a minor downside. Precision shooters will appreciate the fast target acquisition and overall durability of this scope.
What makes it special? You can achieve admirable accuracy with this product, and it doesn’t take long for beginners to get used to it.
What cons did we find? The battery life is a bit limited, especially when compared to other units.
This might be the best red dot sight for a pistol, but due to the Picatinny interface, the mounting system is compatible with a wide range of weapons.
The Sig Sauer Romeo5 is durable and compact-sized. The material quality will surprise you as the unit is resistant to fog and comes with an IPX-7 waterproof rating. That means you can submerge it in water up to three feet.
You can expect up to 40,000 hours of battery life, but the MOTAC feature comes into play here. It is short for motion-activated illumination, which means it only triggers when you acquire a target. Thanks to that, the battery lifespan will be extended as much as possible. As for the 2 MOA red dot, you can look forward to eight standard and two night vision settings. Ultimately, this is an all-around and reliable scope that presents a true long-term investment.
What makes it stand out? You won’t spend much time on adjusting it for the first use, which is convenient.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The dot could be crisper, especially at this price range. Also, the lens caps don’t have a flip-up mechanism.
The Vortex Optics Sparc II 2 MOA red dot sight is an intriguing unit that is suitable for both beginners and advanced users. Newbies will appreciate that the scope is easy to install and use. You will benefit from unlimited eye relief, which secures fast target acquisition when you need it the most.
The product is resistant to shock and water, and it offers 12 illumination settings. Some are suitable for night vision, which increases the unit’s versatility. As for battery life, it should last up to 700 hours when on the highest setting. You can expect seven times more than that when it’s on the lowest setting, but please note that the duration of a single battery tends to drop over time. Despite the minor imperfections, this is still the best Vortex red dot scope you will find out there.
What are its best features? It is easy to see the red dot even in the brightest environment.
What could be improved? The dot isn’t a perfect circle, but it starbursts a bit, which expert users will notice.
Sightmark’s unit deserves a fairly high spot in our red dot sight reviews because of its undeniable quality. The manufacturer used high-quality materials, and the housing is durable and resistant to scratches.
You can use the sight in different temperature ranges, and it is submersible up to three feet. It is only required to insert a single AA battery to power the product. Although that means battery life isn’t that impressive, it will still hold for over 50,000 hours if you use it on medium power.
The sight has ten different brightness settings, which gives you plenty of room to find the one that suits your needs.
What stands out? It is easy to adjust even if you are a newbie and zeroes perfectly.
What cons did we manage to find? The battery life isn’t that impressive when compared to some other units.
The Burris FastFiree III is another red dot scope worth considering. It is easy to install and operate the sight, and the elevation and windage adjustments are useful features.
The power button comes with three different brightness levels, and it can also automatically adjust to the surroundings. Due to its fast target acquisition, this might be the best red dot sight for AR15 in the market. The design is rugged and durable, which suggests it will last for years. Make sure to take good care of the lens since it is easily scratchable.
You need to insert the battery at the top of the unit. The battery cover is a bit difficult to screw on, but at least it will hold the batteries in place well.
Why did it make our list? The sight is slim, which makes it easy to aim.
What is not ideal about it? The lens is prone to scratching, which is why you should be particularly careful.
It’s up to you to decide if this is the best red dot sight for tactical shotgun, but we know for sure that it is incredibly easy to install. The range of adjustments is impressive, from windage and elevation to eight brightness settings. Thanks to that, you will find optimal brightness for almost every environment.
You don’t have to worry about using this red dot scope in rainy weather conditions. It has impressive water resistance, and you can even submerge it up to 60 feet. The glass is clear, and the red dot is distinct, which helps with overall accuracy.
When it comes to the quality of construction, it seems sturdy, and the housing is durable. That is supported by the generous lifetime limited warranty provided by the manufacturer.
Why are we impressed? Multiple brightness settings make it easy to choose an optimal adjustment.
What negatives must you be aware of? The field of view is a bit limited and takes some getting used to when you first install the sight.
It is nice to see when the manufacturer does the basics well with their red dot optics. When it comes to Holosun’s unit, the dot is crisp, which is important for both beginners and veterans. You can enjoy an unlimited field of view and eye relief, which is useful.
The aluminum housing is both light and durable. From this manufacturer, it might be the best red dot sight for the money. The rheostat dial offers 12 different brightness adjustments, and two of them are specifically designed to use during the night. As for the foggy or wet conditions, the product will maintain reliable performance if it starts raining. The parallax-free design is excellent, and it secures that you always find the most comfortable views of your target.
What are our favorite features? It is impressive that you can get up to 100,000 hours of operation with only a single battery.
What could be better? The battery compartment seems of poor quality as it is easy to scratch. Also, you will unlikely want to use the lower brightness levels as they make the reticle hard to see.
Although the manufacturer advertises it for turkey hunting, you can also consider this unit the best red dot sight for AK57. It will also work with other weapons, and it is an excellent pick for those looking for an oversized scope.
The detachable sunshade is its most attractive feature since it helps you to eliminate glare on the lens when it is bright outside. It is worth noting that the lens caps use a flip-up mechanism with a lanyard system, and you also get a spare battery compartment. That ensures you are covered if the battery on the scope dies.
It is interesting to note that this is not only a red dot sight. You can also change the reticle color to green when you feel it fits the background better.
What are our favorite features? The aircraft-grade aluminum used is CNC-machined and of impressive quality.
What could be better? It is not that easy to open lens caps, especially when compared to some other units.
Things to Consider
If you would like to learn more about red dot scopes, you’ve come to the right place. We created a detailed buying guide about these optics that will help you to find the most suitable unit. Our guide starts with the reasons why these scopes can be useful, and we proceed to factors worth considering when choosing a sight. Finally, we wrap up with an FAQ section. It offers answers to the most common questions users have about these optics, such as how to clean it. If you are ready, start reading right away to learn more about red dot scopes!
Reasons to use red dot optics
Red dot scopes are specific and suitable for both beginners and advanced users.
Check out their main benefits below:
Excellent for novice shooters – if you are a beginner, red dot sights can decrease the learning curve of using your weapon.
Improve overall accuracy – the entire point of a red dot is to enhance your accuracy while shooting at the target.
Suitable for aged shooters – eyesight might start deteriorating after age 35, which is where red dot sights can be a helpful targeting tool.
Great for both short and long ranges – it depends on the unit you choose, but these optics can be a fine choice for both close shots and long distances.
Versatile – are you a passionate turkey or deer hunter, or you plan on using the sight for tactical purposes? Perhaps you just want to use the dot at the shooting range? Either way, you will love how versatile these optics are.
Suitable for different weather conditions – most red dot scopes are fog and waterproof, which makes them great for rainy, foggy, and other harsh weather conditions.
How to pick the best red dot sight?
Is it your first time purchasing a red dot scope? If that is the case, you could use learning more about the factors to consider during the selection process. And even if you are an expert, you will appreciate a detailed overview of relevant factors to help you in choosing the right unit. We tried to cover all important areas ranging from the reticle itself to scope details like battery life and brightness settings. Keep reading to discover the most important features of red dot optics, and how to pick a unit that best meets your expectations.
The initial thing you want to consider is the reticle. Your goal is to pick the perfect size of your red dot scope for AR15 or another weapon. The manufacturers measure the size in MOA, which is short for minutes of angle. That is an official unit for measuring a circle. A single MOA equals 1/60th of a single degree.
If that is confusing, you should know that you can choose from the following:
2 MOA – the target should be easy and clear to see, even if you use it at large distances. A great example of a red dot sight with 2 MOA reticle is the Aimpoint PRO.
4 MOA – it is the most suitable option for those who want to use their weapon for both close and long distances.
6 MOA – the most convenient choice for fast-moving targets that aren’t that far away.
The next factor on our list of the best red dot sights is an objective diameter. This should be pretty clear if you know a thing or two about cameras or binoculars. The primary rule is that the larger diameter, the more you can see through it, especially at large distances. Some users prefer a small objective diameter that is 16mm, such as in the Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot Sight.
You can also go with a large objective diameter, but when it comes to a red dot scope, there is no need to go over 30mm. That should be enough for all your expectations, regardless of how you plan to use the optics.
Brightness settings can play a crucial role in how satisfied you are with your red dot scope. It is usual for these products to offer multiple brightness adjustments. That number can go anywhere from two to twenty different settings. The lowest ones are suitable for the dark and low-light environments, while the highest adjustments are convenient when it is bright outside.
Most manufacturers will also include several night-vision compatible settings, such as seen with the Sig Sauer Romeo5. If you like hunting at night, you want to look for scopes with these adjustments.
The most common way of changing adjustment settings is through a dial that is located on the side of the unit. By turning the dial, you switch the brightness level, which makes it easy to adjust settings on the go.
The optical coating is important to deliver a clear and crisp image. That is where the coating quality implemented in the desired product plays a critical role. Most units, such as the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight, will use a multi-coated approach to ensure the best product’s performance.
Anti-reflective coating can be important to resist the glare you might face in bright conditions.
That can be crucial if it is sunny outside, and the sunlight is a problem. You can also go with units that have a detachable sunshade, like the TRUGLO GOBBLE-STOPPER 30mm Turkey Hunting Dual-Color Dot Sight. These serve to protect you from the glare and ensure optimal visibility. While we are talking about lenses, don’t forget the importance of lens covers since they will protect it from scratches and other types of damage.
Battery type and life
Red dot optics use different types of batteries, and the lifespan can significantly vary. For example, the Sightmark Wolverine FSR Red Dot Sight and similar units might use AA or AAA batteries. That is why their lifespan can be anywhere from 5 to 500 hours.
You also have manufacturers who choose to implement batteries that work well in the long run. Those are DL1/3N or CR2032, which are both capable of operating up to 100,000 hours. Some brands provide batteries with their products, which can help you to save money on the initial investment in the scope.
The exact lifespan depends on the unit, but also the settings you use. The same unit might last less than 1,000 hours on the highest brightness adjustment but go up to 100,000 hours on the lowest settings.
Dimensions and weight
The next thing you want to consider is the physical characteristics of the desired red dot scope. When it comes to dimensions, it depends on the weapon you plan to use with the optics. For example, the best red dot sight for a shotgun can be bigger. But a pistol will require a smaller scope since there is limited room for mounting it.
As for the weight, you will find that most units are between three and twelve ounces. Many users don’t mind the additional weight because they receive stability and ruggedness. The best example of that is the reliability of the Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight. On the other hand, you can also go for a light sight, but make sure that it is solid enough once mounted.
When buying the best red dot sight for shotgun deer hunting or any other purpose, you should stick to the same formula as when purchasing other products. It is crucial to look for reliable brands that have a premium reputation in the industry.
Red dot scope users are blessed that many reputable companies design these optics. If you are a hunter or birdwatcher, you probably heard of Bushnell’s products. Other reputable brands are Aimpoint, EOTECH, Vortex, and Sig Sauer.
The reason why you should stick to premium brands is that they deliver what’s promised. You are guaranteed to receive the components mentioned in the description. These companies often offer a generous warranty, but it is more important that they will honor that warranty.
Durability and weather resistance
You will encounter harsh weather conditions, such as fog or rain, sooner or later. That is why you need red dot optics that are suitable for severe weather. For starters, you want to consider water resistance rating as that can be critical to keeping your unit safe when it’s raining. The red dot sight might also be submersible in water up to three or more feet.
Fog can complicate things because the condensation might appear on the lens. Reliable optics are fog-proof and maintain the highest performance level in these conditions.
Red dot optics shouldn’t be difficult to mount, but things might get tricky for beginners. The good news is that most scopes come with an integrated mounting system that simplifies the process. You will need a Picatinny or another rail to mount the sight to a long gun. The usual position is in front of your cheek weld, and it is up to you to pick the spot that best suits you. It is possible to install the scope on a handgun, but make sure to find a suitable place for it. Wherever you mount it, make sure that the scope is tight.
Even the best sight needs to be maintained regularly. That includes placing the cover on the lens whenever you are not using it since that is a way to avoid scratches. You can wipe the lens with some alcohol pads and a microfiber cloth. If possible, place a dust cover on the scope whenever not using it. Scopes that have mud or any other stains can also be wiped with a damp cloth. When it comes to how often you should clean them, the answer is as many times as necessary. But there is no need to do it frequently if there is no obvious reason for it.
Scopes are a long-term investment, which means you are buying a product that will last for months or years. If you are looking for a bargain deal, you can find decent units under $200. An example from that category is the Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 MOA Red Dot Sight, which offers plenty of bang for the buck. Those who want to splash the cash should consider a unit like the EOTECH EXPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight. Its price can go up to $400 and more, but such units come with several advanced features. Experienced shooters often go for a premium unit, while beginners settle for a low-cost scope.
Let us remind you that our top choice is the Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight. It is suitable for low-light and bright environments, and it will perform well in harsh weather conditions. On top of that, a single battery is enough to power the product for years.
You also can’t go wrong with the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight. This brand designs many low-cost units that are true long-term investments. The scope is light, durable, and ensures rapid target acquisition.
Finally, the EOTECH EXPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight is a premium pick for those who don’t mind spending a bit more to have one of the best red dot sights out there. It offers 20 brightness adjustments, and it is easy to install, which makes it suitable for beginners.
The best recommendation we can give you is to look for a product that suits your needs. Your first step is to determine which features you need to make it easier to find the perfect scope!