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Best Red Dot Magnifiers in 2023 [Real Views]

Have a red dot or holo and want to reach out? We bought the most popular 3x magnifiers and tested clarity, eye relief, mounts, and bang-for-the-buck.

    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!

    Summary of Our Top Picks

    1. Editor's Pick

      Holosun HM3X

      Clear glass, IP67 rated, and nice mount. Our go-to for red dot magnification.

    2. Also Good

      Vortex VMX-3T 3x Magnifier

      An oldie but a goodie. Decent all around coupled with a lifetime warranty.

    3. Best Bang-For-The-Buck

      Primary Arms 3x Magnifier, Gen 4

      Affordable, great field of view, and light. But you'll need to get a separate mount.

    4. 6x Magnifier

      Primary Arms 6x Magnifier Gen II

      Bigger & heavier version of the 3x if you really need 6x magnification.

    5. Smallest Form Factor

      Sig Sauer Juliet 3-Micro 3X Magnifier

      Micro form factor and huge eye box for easy pickup.

    Table of Contents



    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:

    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 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 3x Red Dot Magnifiers

    1. Holosun 3x HM3X

    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 are also really good — far better than most of the others I tried.

    If you want my recommendation, Holosun wins.

    Best 3x Magnifier
    at Optics Planet

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

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

    Readers' Ratings

    5.00/5 (1812)

    Your Rating?

    2. 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.

    Also Good
    at Optics Planet

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    3. 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 the 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.

    Best Bang-For-The-Buck
    at Primary Arms

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    4. 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.

    6x Magnifier
    at Primary Arms

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    5. 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.

    Smallest Form Factor
    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    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.

    Available Coupons

    Final Thoughts

    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.

    Looking for tried and true combinations? Check out our Best Red Dot & Magnifier Combos…or our standalone Best Red Dots articles.

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    35 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      what didn't you like about the PA 3x micro? was it not included because the eye relief isn't as good?

      July 24, 2023 3:21 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I do not follow your talk about magnifying the red dot. First you say, "red dots DO NOT increase in size with a magnifier". Then you say, "Magnifiers magnify the dot and the target". This sounds contradictory. Perhaps you meant they don't increase is size relative to the target with magnification. Then you say, "If your 2 MOA dot is covering their nipple at 100 yards, it will cover their nipple and no more at 400-yards. " That doesn't sound right either. If you stand far enough away the dot will cover your whole body. Then you say, "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." I don't understand that. A 2 MOA is 2" at 100 yards and 4" at 200 yards. That's just what MOA is. Perhaps you meant if it covers a nipple at 1x it will cover no more than a nipple at 4x magnification??

      January 31, 2023 10:01 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Yesterday at the range I saw a guy using a SightMark T-3 Magnifier with their quick disconnect (LQD) Flip to Side Mount. Yes, I know, people go "Sightmark Ugggghhh no way!"

      I asked him about it, he had it mounted behind a Sig Romeo 5 red dot. He sort of raved about it a bit and said "here, give it a try." and took it off his rifle and handed it to me. I snapped it in place on my rifle behind the red dot I was using (also a Sig Romeo 5), adjusted the focus a bit, and was impressed some for such a budget level price optic.

      Eye box matched that of my Sig Juliet 3 Micro, almost, a little different but not bad at all. Clarity was good. It was a lot better than any of the PA magnifiers I've tried, and view was on par with the Vortex VMX-3T.

      So its $99.00'ish if someone wants another decent budget option.

      October 6, 2022 4:31 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        To add:

        The sightmark is 10.6 ounces which is a little more than some of the magnifiers in this article. I found the advertised eye relief spec to be accurate for me. The glass seemed surprisingly nice, and crystal clear, considering the price. The eye box was not as good as the Sig but still wasn't bad and was better than the PA magnifiers I've tried.

        October 6, 2022 5:31 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bull o' the Woods

      Help me out, David. When you talk about IP ratings, are you referring to the "ingress protection" code as defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) under international standard IEC 60529, which classifies and provides a guideline for the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures against intrusion, dust, accidental contact, and water? It's been so long since I shopped optics I was not aware they came with an IP code.

      October 2, 2022 2:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Holosun seems like it could be great, BUT, they must use a bottle of threadlock on each bolt so if you want to add riser or flip the mount 180, you’ll strip and ruin the bolt. Pretty piss poor

      September 30, 2022 2:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      For a 3x magnifier, the Sig Juliet 3 Micro is probably the best and best bang for the buck and the best way to go for most budget people. I love mine, but I got mine for free as a present.

      I've tried some of the others: The PA magnifiers I absolutely hate, they are still using that basic Chinese design that I-Tac imports from China and its a piece of junk for long term reliability and durability plus the eye box is not good and not forgiving. The Holosun isn't bad at all, its nice, I liked the mount and the clarity. The Vortex, meh .... nothing to crow about, its ok and overall average but still a solid choice if you are inclined towards Vortex.

      But out of all of them I prefer the Sig Juliet 3 Micro. I wish it had a mount like the Holosun though but the push button doesn't really bother me and the color and clarity for me was on par with the Holosun (although the Holosun did seem to have a very slight more depth of color look for me). The Juliet 3 eye box was a little more comfortable for me than the Holosun eyebox.

      September 29, 2022 1:22 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Which of these can be easily converted to flip the other way for a left-hander?

      September 29, 2022 7:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      you should take a look at the new SLx 3x Prism by Primary Arms.

      September 29, 2022 7:28 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I've never used a 3x magnifier before, but I'm thinking about putting one behind my 512. Question to those who have used magnifiers: when engaged, are you closing one eye and lining up behind this like a scope, or are you still keeping both eyes open like on a HWS or red dot?

      January 29, 2022 5:47 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Andy Adams

      The writer needs to have a conversation with the website designer. The writer says that the Vortex 3x, “doesn’t win any prizes”. And then the web designer slapped the “Best 3X Magnifier” badge on the Vortex picture.

      August 29, 2021 5:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

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

      June 28, 2021 8:12 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        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
    • Commenter Avatar

      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
    • Commenter Avatar

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

      June 27, 2021 7:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      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
      • Commenter Avatar

        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
      • Commenter Avatar

        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
    • Commenter Avatar

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

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

        Both are on our list!

        October 5, 2019 4:43 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        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
    • Commenter Avatar

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

      September 21, 2019 2:21 am
    • Commenter Avatar

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

      September 14, 2019 1:04 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      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
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chad w.

      Any thoughts on the sig Juliet?

      April 26, 2019 4:29 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        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
    • Commenter Avatar

      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
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Thanks! And I will try!

        March 1, 2019 11:59 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      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
    • Commenter Avatar

      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
    • Commenter Avatar
      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
    • Commenter Avatar
      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
      • Commenter Avatar

        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
    • Commenter Avatar
      Monte Walsh

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

      December 5, 2017 6:30 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Eric Hung

        Exactly, Monte!

        December 14, 2017 12:49 pm
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