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Best 3x Magnifiers Under $200 [Real Views]

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.

Vortex 3x Magnifier with Aimpoint H1

The big boys of Aimpoint and EOTech have their own magnifiers…but they are $300+ and sometimes don’t sport a mount.

But if you’re on a budget, we tested out a ton of magnifiers under $200 (and one that is over $500…) so you can get a real look at what you’re paying for.

Let’s get to testing!

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

By the end you’ll know the best one for your budget!

Table of Contents

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Overview

This testing was the result of about two months of hard use and a lot of rounds downrange. We’ve used each of these magnifiers much longer and more than that, but the concentrated effort for this review was within that scope.

Us prepping these magnifiers for what they’re about to face…

First things first, take the pictures with some forgiveness.

It’s very hard to take good pictures using an optical camera looking through an optical device that is looking through an optical device that is pointed downrange at something.

Magnifiers under 200 (3)
Magnifiers under $200 (top left to right) Sig Juliet 6, Primary Arms 6x, Holosun HM3X, Sig Juliet 3 Micro, Vortex VMX-3T

Then do that multiple times on a time limit so that lighting conditions don’t change too much between pictures.

Overall, each magnifier is clearer and easier to see in real life than in the pictures. But the pictures give you a good idea of side-by-side expectations.

Here are the stats though:

NamePriceMountSwingRatingFoVWeight
Sig Juliet 3$199ScrewPush ButtonIPX735.6ft @ 100 YD9.9 ounces
Sig Juliet 6$500QDTensionIPX821ft @ 100 YD14.7 ounces
PA 6x$100ScrewPull/RotateNone31.7ft @ 100 YD9.2 ounces
PA 3x LER$100ScrewPull/RotateNone37.8ft @ 100 YD7.9 ounces
Holosun 3x$200QDTensionIP6737ft @ 100 YD9.5 ounces
Vortex 3x$180ScrewPush ButtonNone38.2 ft @ 100 YD11.9 ounces

Red Dots, Green Dots, Holographics

If you don’t already have a sight to pair your magnifier with, you should view them as a pair. While, on their own, they are good it’s really together that matters.

Also worth mentioning, red dots DO NOT increase in size with a magnifier. This is a piece of lore that just won’t die. The claim is that a 2 MOA dot will cover 2-inches at 100-yards, 4-inches at 200-yards, etc.

But this is totally and completely false.

Aimpoint Comp M5 On Target View
Aimpoint Comp M5 On Target View

Magnifiers magnify the dot and the target. If your 2 MOA dot is covering their nipple at 100-yards, it will cover their nipple and no more at 400-yards.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about red dots versus holographic. Really, there’s not much difference between them. Technically, holographic sights are a little finer since their emitter is smaller…kind of.

It’s science stuff but practically speaking, it’s not a huge difference.

Green dots though…oh my. I’m a HUGE fan of green dots. But they can be a little strange with magnifiers. First off, every single one I’ve tried tear dropped the dot a little. I have no idea why.

Holosun and Holosun 510c (1)
Holosun HM3X and Holosun 510c GR

Second, green magnified is HARSH on your eyes. If you have it turned up all the way and throw a 6x on it, it’s hurts.

That said, it is the easiest to see for me and green has a lot of biological advantages. Just be careful with it.

Side By Side

To help you get a better idea of how the magnifiers we tested stacked up against one another, we took some pictures. Feel free to zoom in or open in a new tab, as the source image is decently large.

Optics used included the Holosun 510C HR, Aimpoint Comp M5, and EOTech 512.

And just for context, we aimed at a tree with a target on it at about 200-yards.

Forest of magnifiers
San Bernardino National Forest, California
Holosun 510c GR Magnifiers
Holosun 510c GR Magnifiers
Comp M5 and Magnifiers
Aimpoint Comp M5 and Magnifiers
EOTech and Magnifiers
EOTech 512 and Magnifiers

And with that, let’s jump into some magnifiers we recommend…all without breaking the bank!

Best Magnifiers Under $200

1. Vortex 3x VMX-3T

I think the part I like best about the Vortex is that the Vortex warranty always has my back. Outside of that, it felt a little dated.

And that’s not surprising since it’s been around quite a while now.

Vortex (2)
Vortex 3x VMX-3T

Don’t get me wrong, the Vortex is still a great unit, but it didn’t stand out. Glass clarity was on par, price is average, weight is a little heavy, eye relief is average, field of view is good but only by a foot, and there was no IP rating.

Vortex and EOTech (2)
Vortex and EOTech 512

Plus, I really dislike the push button style of mount. It’s not the worst, but it’s not great either.

Bottom line, it’s average. It’s a good choice if you’re already a Vortex fan, but I don’t think it wins any prizes either.

Best 3x Magnifier
199
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4

LER stands for Long Eye Relief and it’s true, the PA 3x has a lot of freedom — mostly because it’s very long.

For someone like me with a really long length of pull, I dig it a lot.

PA 3x LER (2)
PA 3x LER

At only $100, Primary Arms comes in cheap. But it doesn’t come with a mount, so I used the Primary Arms Flip to Side priced at $50. Total package is still cheap, but this mount is…okay.

Though it might not seem like it, the lack of a mount is a blessing in disguise. No mount means you save some money on something you don’t want and can, instead, grab one you do want.

PA 3x and EOTech
Primary Arms 3x LER Gen 4 and EOTech

Many of the aftermarket options that fit the Aimpoint will also fit the Primary Arms options. So you get a lot of options depending on what you want to spend.

On top of it all, the PA 3x proves to be a good magnifier. It brings a great field of view and feels pretty light at 7.9-ounces. The only downside is no IP rating. That said, it’s been durable in my use.

Overall, it’s a fantastic budget option (pretty hard to upgrade out of). If you can, spend some money on the mount and get a good one.

Runner-Up (3x Magnifiers)
99
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Primary Arms 6x

Oh man, while I love the 3x from Primary Arms, the 6x from Primary Arms…not so much. I think this is, no I know for sure, this was my least favorite magnifier tested.

PA 6x
Primary Arms 6x

It sees all the gains as the 3x version, except that it’s bigger and heavier. But the real downside to me was trying to look through it. Basically, it feels like looking through a straw.

While the field of view is a full 10-feet larger than the other tested 6x magnifier, the eye box appears much more constrictive and hard to find.

With training, you can do it quickly, but it’s annoying at best. However, if you want 6x magnification and don’t want to break the bank, this is basically the only option.

Is it the best? No. But it’s 1/6th the price of the other option I’ve tried and money talks.

4. Sig Sauer Juliet 3 Micro

One of the best options — and one I strongly recommend for a micro form factor — the Sig Juliet 3 Micro is nice.

Sig Juliet 3 Micro
Sig Sauer Juliet 3 Micro

Though the field of view isn’t amazing, it isn’t bad either at 35-feet at 100-yards. I’m a huge fan of Sig IP testing their magnifiers and the micro clocks a IPX7 rating.

What really set it apart for me though was how easy it was to pick up.

Juliet 3 and EOTech
Juliet 3 and EOTech

The eye relief is average but the eye box is large. Even with a camera, the Micro was almost always just BAM — right there and easy to use.

The push button mount isn’t something I love, but it’s good enough.

If you’re looking for probably the most bang-for-the-buck combo of both magnifier AND red dot…check out the Sig Sauer Juliet 3 + MSR for $269.

5. Holosun 3x HM3X

And now for my favorite…

Holosun basically did everything right with their magnifier. After using all of these a lot, I have to say that this is my go-to.

Holosun 3x HM3X

It features a QD mount and an IP67 rating — the only option we reviewed that was BOTH dust and water-rated. It also boasts a 37-foot field of view at 100-yards and weighs 9.5-ounces.

The flip-to-side mechanism is simple tension, no buttons to push.

Holosun and EOTech (1)
Holosun HM3X and EOTech

Edge-to-edge clarity and color is also really good — far better than most of the others I tried.

If you want my recommendation, Holosun wins.

Have you tested the Holosun? If so, rate it below.

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (1020)

Your Rating?

Honorable Mention

Okay — this is WAY outside the price range, but it was included in all of the testings because Sig Sauer sent it along with the Juliet 3 Micro. And, well, I might as well test everything at once.

Sig Sauer Juliet 6

It’s big and heavy at almost 15-ounces, but the Juliet 6 serves as the big sister of the Juliet 3 Micro.

Field of view is not that great, running only 21-feet at 100-yards.

Sig Juliet 6
Sig Juliet 6

But…it’s IPX8 rated and offers a QD mount. The unit feels great and is easy to flip over, a really nice magnifier in general.

I would argue that if you’re looking at spending this money on a 6x you might be better off with an LPVO, but you do you.

Juliet 6 and EOTech
Juliet 6 and EOTech

Worth mentioning that the eye box is also much more forgiving than the PA 6x.

If this is what you’re looking at, it’s a good pick. All in all, I like it.

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, though, there aren’t a LOT of differences between the Primary Arms, Holosun, Vortex, and Sig magnifiers.

But, if you need a quick and dirty cheat sheet…

If you find one you like at a good price, get it. You won’t shoot yourself in the foot by picking X over Y.

There is a lot to unpack in this review, but I hope we’ve given you the tools you’ll need to pick the magnifier right for you.

Are there any other magnifiers we missed in this price range? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out our Best AR-15 Optics.

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24 Leave a Reply

  • ElPastor

    Thanks for a good review. What I’d like to know is, what is an IP rating?

    June 28, 2021 8:12 pm
    • Bento

      What is an IP rating? IP (or "Ingress Protection") ratings are defined in international standard EN 60529 (British BS EN 60529:1992, European IEC 60509:1989). They are used to define levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies (tools, dirt etc) and moisture.

      July 15, 2021 10:00 am
  • Gary

    For me, the Sig Juliet 3 ( non micro ) with the flip to side quick release mount hits the sweet spot. I agree hat 3x is probably perfect for a flip to side magnifier, and I got mine at $269.00 delivered, so it is not too far over the limit price wise. I use it behind my Sig Romeo 5XDR red dots, though it also works behind the Primary Arms SLx ACSS CQB 25mm Microdot very well. I love the fact that many of the newer sights and magnifiers include the adjustment plates for 1/3 and absolute co-witness, which really helps to get the magnifier and sight aligned perfectly.

    June 27, 2021 7:06 pm
  • Mark

    Sight Mark T-3 Magnifier is a good durable flip magnifier paired with a Holosun HS403B

    June 27, 2021 7:02 pm
  • Mike

    I want to get the Vortex but flipping to the left just seems backward -- both for vision impairment and resting position - sticking into your abdomen. You can switch it but then the release is front right instead of left back. I'm newer so I might be missing something.

    February 10, 2021 7:31 pm
    • Robert

      I was thinking the same thing. As a right hander, I would want it on the opposite side of where my cheek rests.

      May 16, 2021 9:13 am
    • Jessica

      I have the Vortex 3x Micro and you can make it flip to the left or the right. You just take the magnifier off the mount and flip it.

      June 27, 2021 6:02 pm
  • KY

    Please update with thought on the Holosun 3x magnifier and the newly released Vortex Micro 3x

    October 5, 2019 3:48 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      Both are on our list!

      October 5, 2019 4:43 pm
    • Greg B

      Holosun has really fantastic glass and lines up perfectly (not surprising) with the Holosun 510c. The flip is pretty stiff at first. Still breaking that in.

      July 20, 2021 5:17 am
  • TX_M

    Do you have a suggestion for QD mount that'll work with the Vortex magnifier?

    September 21, 2019 2:21 am
  • Rwin

    I’ll stick with my EOTech. On a budget definitely the vortex though.

    September 14, 2019 1:04 pm
  • 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.

    April 28, 2019 7:27 pm
  • Chad w.

    Any thoughts on the sig Juliet?

    April 26, 2019 4:29 am
    • David, PPT Editor

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

      April 26, 2019 8:31 am
  • 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?

    March 1, 2019 4:11 am
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks! And I will try!

      March 1, 2019 11:59 am
  • 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).

    October 21, 2018 6:58 pm
  • 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.

    July 16, 2018 5:05 pm
  • 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.

    May 15, 2018 12:51 pm
  • 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

    May 3, 2018 11:12 am
    • 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.

      July 16, 2018 5:07 pm
  • Monte Walsh

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

    December 5, 2017 6:30 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Exactly, Monte!

      December 14, 2017 12:49 pm
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