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.

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

3x Magnifiers
3x Magnifiers

Best 3x Magnifiers (if you can’t wait)

Table of Contents

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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…

1. Vortex 3x Magnifier

Editor's Pick
Vortex 3x Magnifier

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 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

My 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 Best AR-15 Optics.

And with a new Best Holographic Sights article…here’s a view of the Vortex through a EOTech EXPS2-0 indoors.

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

2. Primary Arms 3x Magnifier Gen 4

Runner Up
Primary Arms 3x Magnifier, Gen 4

Primary Arms 3x Magnifier, Gen 4

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 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 middle-priced optic at $100…but without a mount.  I picked up the Ade QD Mount ($27) which was OK.

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

Not Recommended
UTG 3x Magnifier

UTG 3x Magnifier

Prices accurate at time of writing

  • 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.  If you are and want to upgrade…check out Best AR-15 Optics.

Conclusion

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

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

Editor's Pick
Vortex 3x Magnifier

Vortex 3x Magnifier

What’s your take on the Vortex?

Readers' Ratings

5/5 (91)

Your Rating?

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?

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Craig
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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.

Sean Townsend
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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… Read more »

Neville Johnson
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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

Craig
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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.

Monte Walsh
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Monte Walsh

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