There’s a lot of red dots out there. And probably even more GUIDES to finding the perfect red dot.
What sets this guide apart?
We have everything in-hand and tested them across tons of rifles, shotguns, and pistols.
By the end you’ll know the best red dot for your specific firearm AND budget. Plus some of the great reasons to even use a red dot in the first place.
Summary of Our Top Picks
Editor's Pick Pistol Red Dot
Our favorite reticle with 20K hours and shake-awake.
Best Red Dot Sights For Your Gun
1. Aimpoint PRO
The Aimpoint PRO is our Editor’s Pick if you want the very best red dot that can handle everything from range plinking to all-out war.
Literally bomb-proof with 30K hours of continuous use…you can just leave it on and forget it. And then change out the batteries every few years.
Plus it has a crisp 2 MOA dot (dot will cover 2 inches at 100 yards), is night vision compatible, waterproof up to 150 feet, and has an operating range of -49 to 160 degrees F.
If you need more than that…then I don’t know what to tell you!
We now have a YouTube review of it as well after 3+ years of testing and thousands of rounds.
And check out our full-on written review of it where we bash it real good with a hammer. It kept zero and didn’t even hiccup.
Plus it looks great on almost anything…
2. Sig Sauer Romeo5
The Sig Sauer Romeo5 takes our current Editor’s Pick for Best-Bang-For-the-Buck red dot at under $200. And nowadays we’re setting it for around $120.
We’ve been testing several units for 4+ years and so far none have failed.
Clear and crisp 2 MOA dot, 8 daylight settings and 2 night vision modes, and motion on/off.
The daylight settings are enough for our desert days and you get 40,000+ hours of batter life at the medium setting.
There’s a slight green hue but it doesn’t bother me at all. When indoors you can see how crisp the dot is.
Button adjustment is easy on the top and you can set up shake-awake as well which really helps the battery life.
Once set it will turn off with 2 minutes of inactivity and turn on with any movement. A great feature that was previously only present in higher-end red dots.
Plus it comes with a high riser that is perfect for AR-15 platforms.
We’ve put thousands of rounds through several units and you can check out the full Romeo5 review here.
What do you think of the Sig Romeo5?
3. Sig Sauer Romeo MSR
The Sig Sauer Romeo MSR red dot takes over as our best budget red dot that we’d still put on a defensive gun.
We understand not everyone has $400 (or even $120) to spend on a red dot. If you’re thinking of going even cheaper…don’t!
The MSR is our go-to for something around $80 and it overtakes the older-tech Bushnell TRS-25 that we’ve been recommending for a few years. The TRS-25 is only rated for a few thousand hours and has no night vision settings.
And while the Romeo MSR has a slightly smaller view-through compared to others, the glass and dot are still crisp.
Turrets are exposed but I don’t see them changing zero unless something weird happens.
Brightness adjustment is via a pretty stiff dial at the top and gives you 10 daylight settings and 2 night vision settings. I usually keep mine at 7 for bump-in-the-night use.
Note…the MSR uses a weirder/smaller CR1632 battery and is rated at 20,000 hours. However, I left mine on at the 7 setting for 9 months before it ran out of juice.
So I’d recommend swapping out batteries every 6-months in case (or use a lower setting).
Otherwise build and dot quality is quite good and great at the ~$80 price range. Green dot versions are also only about $10 more.
4. STNGR Axiom II
The Axiom II built upon the initial success of the original as an affordable, durable, and no frills red dot.
It’s our recommendation if you want a reliable optic with a quick-detach mount, the crispest dot in its class, and 50K hours of run time.
The Axiom II is shock tested, IPX7 waterproof rated, and comes with a lifetime warranty.
In addition, the unit has 11 brightness settings and it’s 2 MOA red dot is very visible even in bright daylight.
Running on a single CR2032 battery, the Axiom II provides up to 50,000 hours on an average setting.
Included in the bundle, you even get a 1/3 co-witness riser that’s perfect for AR platforms and a quick detach mount.
Also be sure to use the code PEWPEW-10 to bring it down to around the $105 mark.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
5. Trijicon MRO
Another favorite is the Trijicon MRO which sits in the same price range as the Aimpoint PRO at around $400.
However, it comes in a smaller profile AND a larger field of view.
Beefy and now an often chosen duty optic…the MRO gives you 6 daylight settings and 2 night vision with 5 years of battery life at a medium setting.
It survived a lot of punishment in our High-End Optics Torture Test…from water immersion to drop test, heat/cold cycling, and being shot with a variety of loads.
And it took them like a champ with only a slight shift in POA with the drop test.
Want a place where we sum it ALL UP? Check the full Trijicon MRO review plus video:
6. Aimpoint Micro T-2
How about the gold standard in rifle red dots when price is no object?
Then it’s got to be the Aimpoint Micro T-2.
This lightweight (3 oz) red dot has a 50,000 hour battery life, is fully waterproof, and comes with 8 daytime and 4 night-vision brightness adjustments.
And of course…the incredible pedigree that is Aimpoint.
I like pairing mine with a Unity FAST mount which comes with its own irons.
Plus the height makes it great for reduced neck strain and easier acquisition with night vision goggles.
7. Trijicon RMR Type 2
Now we’re entering the realm of micro red dots…or red dots that fit on your pistol.
We’ll start with the Gold Standard…the Trijicon RMR Type 2.
If you’re serious about a red dot enabled fighting/competition pistol…you go with an RMR.
Trusted by professionals and has the most widespread “cut” for pistol slides so if you’re upgrading your slide it will likely be RMR cut.
4 years of battery life (always keep it on) plus night vision compatible.
Find out more about the RMR Type 2 in our Best Pistol Red Dots article.
8. Vortex Venom
Now how about a pistol red dot for the rest of us? Enter the Vortex Venom.
It’s the lowest and smallest of the bunch that we tested. Plus it comes with a Picatinny rail mount for other pistols and even rifles.
We like the Venom over Vortex’s older Viper because it comes in two dot sizes (3 MOA or 6 MOA) and has slightly better reviews. Check out our video on both:
If that helped, please subscribe to our YouTube channel since we’re adding new videos every week!
It’s “cut” is not as widespread as the RMR but there’s adapters for out-of-the-box optic-ready slides such as the Glock MOS and M&P Core.
Or you can always get a Outer Impact dovetail mount.
Check out the install in our video:
Learn more about the Venom and the other pistol red dots in our Best Pistol Red Dots article.
9. Holosun 507C X2 ACSS Vulcan
Looking for the new hotness in pistol red dots with an innovative reticle? We’re digging the Holosun 507C X2 ACSS Vulcan that’s a collaboration between Holosun and Primary Arms.
It has all the nice things like 20,000 hours battery life with a solar backup, shake awake, night vision compatibility, and extreme durability.
But what really does it for us is its reticle.
A nice crisp chevron that has some built in dropoff indicators…and a large ring on the outside that helps you realize you’re off center and quickly correct.
Super useful especially when you’re learning the switch from irons to red dots and you tend to aim too low in the beginning. And once you get the hang of it…you can choose to turn it off to save some battery life.
We’ve done an in-depth review of the 507C right here.
As well as a video review:
10. EOTech EXPS-2
This one is technically a “holographic” sight. The technology of showing the reticle in front of your eyes may be different…but it still does the same thing as a red dot.
The EOTech EXPS-2 is my go-to for a serious rifle. As it is for a lot of our military.
EOTech pioneered the reticle that has become synonymous with other holographic sights. The large 68 MOA circle and small 1 MOA center that gives you both quick acquisition and precise targeting.
Battery life is less for holographics overall. The EXPS2-0 has 600 hours…but you get a much larger view window and the great reticle.
We took an EXPS model and also subjected it to untold horrors in the High-End Optics Torture Test.
It survived everything (with no POI shift in the cold/heat cycling) until the .22LR Mini-Mag which took down all but one optic.
But due to the holographic technology which doesn’t need the rear glass…it still technically worked.
Learn more in our Best EOTech Holographic Sights.
11. Holosun 510C
And you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging without a more affordable holographic option…
Holosun’s 510C combines the typical holographic reticle with red dot technology. Now you get tons of hours, a great view window, and the ability for quick snap or more precise shots.
Plus…it even has a solar panel to not use up battery power during the day. Not that you have much to worry about…it’s rated for 50K hours.
Check out more pics and videos of the 510C in Best Holographic Sights.
12. Holosun HS507K
Ok…we do kind of love our Holosuns.
And with the extreme popularity of micro compact 9mm handguns that hold 10+ rounds…there’s a whole new category of micro pistol red dots to accompany them.
But our favorite is the Holosun HS507K X2.
A quick comparison of the larger HS507C vs the micro HS507K.
It’s got the same things you expect like its big bro…50,000 hours, night vision compatibility, great build quality, and a nice reticle.
The dot and circle is one of our favorites and makes it almost cheating to shoot with the HS507K. Get the reticle on target and you’ll hit it.
See it in action here:
There’s a lot more micro pistol red dots and we go over all our favorites in our giant Best Pistol Red Dots article. But our go-to for price and performance has to be the HS507K.
Why Do You Want a Red Dot?
Now that we’ve gotten our favorite picks out of the way…why would you even want a red dot? Haven’t iron sights worked for hundreds of years?
Well…there’s always room for improvement!
1. Eye Relief
This means you don’t need to have a set distance of your eyeballs from the sight. More apparent for scopes…but it’s also a thing you deal with on iron sights.
2. Parallax Free
This means when you move your head around…the red dot still stays on target. This combined with eye relief gives you a lot more freedom in position.
You always want a backup since electronics can fail…even if you go with the gold standards.
Red dots let you either absolute co-witness or lower 1/3 co-witness with your existing iron sights.
I prefer the lower 1/3 so you don’t always see the front post in your face until you drop a little lower and WANT to see it.
You can select the specific co-witness height based on models and riser heights. Don’t worry…we cover everything in the in-depth articles!
4. Both Eyes Open
Lastly…you can keep both eyes open with red dots which opens up your entire field of view. No more squinting behind your irons and ignoring potential threats on the side.
There you have it…our picks of the best red dot (and holographic) sights for all types of guns. Here are the specific articles we referenced if you want to see more in-depth reviews.