Best 3x Magnifiers Under $200 [Real Views + Video]

Using a red dot or holographic sight…but sometimes need to reach out and touch something?

A flip-mounted 3x magnifier might just do the trick.

COD MW3 Magnified Sight
COD MW3 Magnified Sight, YT

The big boys of Aimpoint and EOTech have their own magnifiers…but they are $300+ and sometimes without a mount.

But if you’re on a budget…we bought 3 of the most popular 3x magnifier options under $200…

3x Magnifiers
3x Magnifiers

And put them to the test with real view-throughs of red dots and holographic sights.

By the end you’ll know the best one for your budget.  Hint…it’s the Vortex VMX-3T.

Overview

Turns out…it was pretty hard to get good pictures from a camera that showed what I experienced with my eye.  Here’s unedited photos from my phone and scaled the same amount.

3x Magnifiers, No Optic
3x Magnifiers, No Optic

Basically…

  • Vortex was the brightest, had the biggest field of view, and good eye relief (3 inches from eye to optic)
  • Primary Arms had the same quality of glass but a slightly smaller field of view
  • UTG had blurry sides, a smaller eye relief, and was much darker

Pictures through optics were even harder to get right (thanks to my buddy Ryan for these).  Here is viewing the Vortex AMG UH-1 holographic sight ($499).

3x Magnifier Comparison. Holographic
3x Magnifier Comparison, Holographic

And the view through an Aimpoint H-1 ($600).

3x Magnifier Comparison. Red Dot
3x Magnifier Comparison, Red Dot

Now let’s dig into each magnifier individually…

Best 3x Magnifiers

1. Vortex 3x Magnifier

  • Pros: clear glass, good eye relief (3 in), ambidextrous, easy to access mount, slim design, lightest (11.5 oz)
  • Cons: most expensive on the list

The VMX-3T is the highest priced one at $199 but Vortex’s transferable lifetime warranty is pretty sweet.  Plus…it performed the best.

The lightest and slimmest of the bunch which allowed use of Magpul backup iron sights underneath.

Vortex 3x Magnifier
Vortex 3x Magnifier

Mount was the easiest to use…just press the knob with your off hand and move the mount.  Also switchable for lefties.

Vortex 3x Magnifier Swiveled Out
Vortex 3x Magnifier Swiveled Out

Glass was very clear (estimate same as the Primary Arms) but a larger field of view.

3x Magnifiers, No Optic
3x Magnifiers, No Optic

Here’s a view of the Vortex through a EOTech EXPS2-0 indoors (see more in Best Holographic Sights).

EOTech Reticle, 3x Zoom
EOTech Reticle, 3x Zoom

Plus a video of the EOTech outdoors and flipping the VMX-3T.

I couldn’t get it to be a complete circle field of view since my camera was a little too high.  But with regular eyeballs it looks great.

My top choice if you’re looking to actually use your magnifier on/off and have a decent optic already.

If you don’t have one…check out our Best AR-15 Optics.

What’s your take on the Vortex?

Readers' Ratings

5/5 (400)

Your Rating?

2. Primary Arms 3x Magnifier Gen 4

  • Pros: rubberized cover, good eye relief (~3 in), clear glass
  • Cons: heaviest (13 oz), no included mount, field of view slightly less than Vortex, biggest

The PA 3x Gen 4 is the middle-priced optic at $100…but without a mount.  I picked up the Ade QD Mount ($27) which was OK.

I hope Primary Arms’ home-brewed ones are much better.

The mechanism is pulling the optic towards you and pushing it out.  Harder to get right than the Vortex one but I’m sure you can get used to it.

Primary Arms 3x Magnifier with Aimpoint H1
Primary Arms 3x Magnifier with Aimpoint H1

Mates up perfectly to the red dot and holographic we had on hand.

Primary Arms 3x Magnifier with Vortex AMG UH-1
Primary Arms 3x Magnifier with Vortex AMG UH-1

Glass and eye relief is on par with the Vortex but with a slightly smaller field of view.

If it came with a good mount at $100 I’d call it a screaming deal.

But since you have to get your own (I’d say skip the Ade and up it to the Primary Arms ($50) or the Burris ($60) which seems much easier to activate), it brings it up to near the $200 Vortex zone.

Plus it was the chunkiest and heaviest out of the bunch.

Primary Arms 3x Magnifier Gen 4 with Ade Flip Mount
Primary Arms 3x Magnifier Gen 4 with Ade Flip Mount

My recommendation is get a better mount and save $50 if you’re ok with a slightly smaller field of view and bigger package (heh).  Otherwise…step up!

3. UTG 3x Magnifier

  • Pros: most affordable
  • Cons: flip mount sucks, worst at gathering light, body design issues

Cheap at $60 AND comes with a mount.  I really wanted to like it…but I just couldn’t.

UTG Side Warp
UTG Side Warp

Glass wasn’t great…you can see the side warp.  Plus the eye relief was much shorter than the others…you had to get pretty close to it.

It also didn’t let in as much light so if you ever anticipate shooting in lower light conditions…good luck.

UTG 3x Magnifierwith Vortex AMG UH-1
UTG 3x Magnifier with Vortex AMG UH-1

Mount was also the worst of the bunch.  And the body design doesn’t clear an ambidextrous charging handle in the offset position.

UTG 3x Magnifier with Aimpoint H1
UTG 3x Magnifier with Aimpoint H1

I’d recommend only getting it if you really want a 3x magnifier to try out or for the looks.  Or if you’re running some really cheap optics already.

Not Recommended
48 at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

3x Magnifiers
3x Magnifiers (L to R: UTG, Primary Arms, Vortex)

If you want the best under $200, get the Vortex.

If you want to save a little, get the Primary Arms and a better mount.

Avoid the UTG 3x unless you’re really scrimping or don’t have a decent optic to begin with.

3x Magnifiers Open
3x Magnifiers Open

Let us know what you think!  Any other ones we missed that are in the price range and worth adding in our future update?  And be sure to check out our Best AR-15 Optics.

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Optics

12 Leave a Reply

  • Bob

    How could you leave out the $170 Samson 3X magnifier which is a better magnifier than even the $450 Aimpoint 3X? Also, Holosun has a $200 3X magnifier out although reviews of it are nonexistent.

    3 weeks ago
  • Chad w.

    Any thoughts on the sig Juliet?

    3 weeks ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Great magnifier, very pricey though. Personally, I didn't see much difference between it and the offerings from PA.

      3 weeks ago
  • TexAg

    Another great data and information filled review. Your perspective is appreciated. Any chance we will see an update review to include some of the competitors, up and down the price scale?

    2 months ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks! And I will try!

      2 months ago
  • Joseph Flowers

    Since this article was published, PA has come out with the "Primary Arms Advanced 3X Long Eye Relief Magnifier"....it's better than the vortex (glass, eye relief, FOV, and weight), and is cheaper at $169. I think it's even better than the original Aimpoint 3X. I still think the Eotech flip-mount is the best one made (easier than any of the others to use).

    7 months ago
  • Craig

    Concerning the UTG you didn't explain why you think the mount suck or what the body design issues were. Out of the box the mount works like one of the others but you don't mention why it sucks more, AND it actually flips the correct way for a right handed shooter that uses both eyes as one should with a red dot sight.

    10 months ago
  • Sean Townsend

    Vortex made a huge design flaw in choosing the Eotech mount pattern instead of just making it a 30mm tube. The only quick detach mounts available for the Eotech pattern are from Larue Tactical and Eotech themselves. Both are very expensive and from what I read the Larue doesn't line up well. With the Primary Arms option you have a wider selection of quick detach mounts, including ADM's excellent swing off mount. Also, the newest Primary Arms magnifier increases the field of view, eye relief, and has a much smaller footprint. For me, the ability to remove the magnifier quickly and run just the red dot optic is extremely important for this setup. Otherwise, might as well go with a 1-6 optic if you are willing to deal with the added weight and footprint 100% of the time.

    1 year ago
  • Neville Johnson

    If you dont wish to spend the money on a vortex or even the pa + mount check out the AT3 3x magnifer Their red dots are pretty darn good as well

    1 year ago
    • Craig

      True it is pretty darn good, but their mount flips the wrong way for a right handed both eye open shooter. You can flip it around but then it gets a little awkward.

      10 months ago
  • Monte Walsh

    Really can’t go wrong with any Vortex item. Good for working weapons also.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Exactly, Monte!

      1 year ago
New to Guns ? Check out our beginners guns video course. Start Now