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Best Enclosed Emitter Pistol Optics of 2023 [All Budgets]

Enclosed emitter optics offer some durability to red dot users who need something they can depend on. But which is best? We cover our top recommendations.

    Red dots on pistols have gone beyond the mainstream.

    Mounts and cuts for red dot pistol optics have become as common as Picatinny rails on handguns. These days if your new handgun isn’t optics-ready, then it feels dated!

    Enclosed Emitters
    Various Enclosed Emitter Optics

    In the pistol optics market, we have several categories of red dots that are defined by the size of the optic, the footprint, the dot color, and the topic of today’s article — open and closed emitter.

    The first wave of handgun red dots used the open emitter design, and there has been a recent trend toward enclosed emitters.

    Apex FN509 Extended Slide with ACRO
    Aimpoint’s ACRO was the first major enclosed pistol optic to market.

    We are looking at the latter today and breaking down the best-enclosed emitter red dots across a spectrum of price points. But first, let’s dive into the pros and cons of enclosed emitter red dot optics.

    Summary of Our Top Picks

    1. Best Budget Pick

      Swampfox Kraken

      The Kraken offers solid features and is the cheapest option on the list.

    2. Best Overall

      Holosun EPS Carry

      Great features, durability, and battery life - all at a reasonable price.

    3. Most Durable

      Steiner MPS Micro Pistol Sight

      Rugged housing, protective hoods, and angled lenses make this optic bomb-proof.

    4. Most Modular

      Sig Sauer Romeo2

      Offers a huge viewing window and the ability to switch between open and closed emitter configurations.

    Table of Contents


    What Is an Enclosed Emitter Optic?

    An enclosed emitter uses a rear and front lens with a housing connecting the two. The emitter sits between the lenses, and the housing fully encloses it.

    Holosun 509T Mini Red Dot
    Holosun 509T

    This prevents any form of debris, like rain, snow, and dirt, from getting between the emitter and the front lens.

    If you’ve ever shot in the rain with an open emitter dot, you know just how fast water can get between the emitter and the lens. Water and debris can distort your dot and makes it close to useless.

    With an enclosed emitter, this isn’t a problem. Nothing can get in the way and make it harder to see; this is the main strength of an enclosed emitter optic.

    (Photo: Freedom Gorilla)

    It’s also typically easier to acquire the dot for beginners with an enclosed emitter.

    Since you can’t see through the optic without the lenses aligned, it’s more instinctive to get a good presentation and to get the dot on the target.

    Downsides to Enclosed Emitters

    There are a few slight downsides to the enclosed emitter design as well. These optics are a little heavier and a little bulkier. They also tend to be considerably more expensive.

    Having a second lens and housing really drives up the price of the optic. That’s why we’ve attempted to find a little something for everyone at most price points.

    I'm Poor

    Mounting also tends to be tricky. Different footprints and designs often require plates, which means stacking tolerances.

    Most enclosed emitter optics do not offer a great mounting solution, and most handgun manufacturers aren’t cutting their slides for enclosed emitter optics.

    Best Enclosed Emitters

    1. Swampfox Kraken

    Swampfox has established itself as one of the premier budget brands in the optics world.

    They’ve taken some cues from Primary Arms and began producing optics at great price points that are often featured filled, but they’ve also implemented their own customer-friendly designs.

    Swampfox Kraken

    They’ve produced a number of competitively priced mini red dots, but the Kraken is the first that uses an enclosed emitter design.

    It’s also one of the most affordable options that won’t fail or flop on you.

    The window is 16mm by 16mm, so it’s comfortably in the middle when it comes to window size. A slight blue tint is detectable but not annoyingly so.

    You get a 3 MOA dot that is surprisingly crisp and circular at its brightest setting, although it does get a little starburst-like at lower brightness. It is never to the point where it’s unusable, and since I’m not putting it through a magnifier, it doesn’t bother me.

    A view-through of the Kraken. (Photo: Gun Digest)

    I’ve used the Kraken in all manner of lighting situations from indoors and out, in the sun and against it, and against weapon lights. The dot is always visible and easy to see.

    Shooters can pick between red or green dots if they’re picky. Ten illumination settings are present, with two being night vision options.

    Two big buttons provide tactile feedback with each press for adjustments. Those buttons are also nicely recessed to avoid accidental adjustments when hit.

    In addition to their Kraken, Swampfox also produces some other great budget optics.

    In the durability department, it’s completely waterproof with an IPX7 rating and proofed up to 1,500 Gs of recoil. That means it can take the abuse your handgun slide tosses at it.

    To help with battery life, you get a shake awake feature that I love because I always leave my dots on. The Kraken comes with both an RMR adapter plate and a MOS plate for mounting, as well as numerous screws.

    Best Budget Pick
    at OpticsPlanet

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    When it comes to an affordable option, the Kraken offers you a lot for the money.

    2. Holosun EPS Carry

    The Holosun EPS Carry Red 6 is my current carry red dot on my Sig P365.

    Holosun’s EPS Carry Red 6 is also the most affordable of all of the numerous EPS options. Their most expensive version tips the budget at about $430, whereas the EPS Carry Red 6 costs a hair over $300.

    Holosun EPS Carry left
    Holosun EPS Carry

    With the EPS Carry, we get the simplest mounting solution of all the enclosed emitter optics. There are no plates or adapters needed. It plops right down on a Shield RMSc footprint and secures without a problem at the rear of the optic.

    With the EPS Carry Red 6, we get a 6 MOA red dot reticle that is brilliantly clear and quite nice. The dual lenses are also quite clear, with only a slightly noticeable blue tint.

    EPS Carry Lens-1
    A front view of the glass on the EPS carry.

    The optic sits incredibly low on your gun, and a rear notch can double a rear sight if necessary. A side door battery means you can easily swap batteries without removing the optic from the gun.

    Shake Awake technology keeps things going longer, providing up to 50,000 hours of battery life. Reticle options include 10 daylight settings and two-night vision settings.

    Another P365XL with an EPS Carry carried by one of Pew Pew Tactical’s editors.

    When blasting away in the sunshine state, the dot was always bright enough. It never washed out, even at a range that was mostly white sand. I’ve never had to dial it up past setting eight, so it’s got brightness to spare.

    A big 6 MOA dot is easy to see and fast to acquire, all without obstructing targets out to 50 yards. Holosun also offers an MRS (Multi Reticle System) version that includes a circle and dot combo reticle. Both green and red options are available on all EPS Carry models.

    Best Overall
    at Primary Arms

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    The EPS series might be the future of handgun red dots. It’s small but mighty, with an efficiently sized window and plenty of features. It’s tough to beat at a fair price point.

    3. Holosun 509T

    From one Holosun to another, it’s tough to leave them out of any argument when we start talking dots due to their massive catalog.

    Holosun 509T

    Holosun’s 509T was their first enclosed emitter optic aimed at the handgun world. It comes with all the features we’ve come to know and love from Holosun.

    It has shake awake, a side-loading battery, and a solar panel backup. We get the selectable multi-reticle system with a 2 MOA and 32 MOA circle, making it well-suited for handguns, shotguns, and shooters with astigmatism.

    A view of the solar panel battery failsafe up top.

    An RMR adapter plate is included for attaching the optic to your gun. It’s easy but admittedly sits a bit higher than most handgun red dots.

    Holosun did address the weight complaint by mixing in titanium to provide a rugged optic while only coming in at 1.72 ounces.

    There is a noticeable blue tint to the glass, but the dot is great in terms of crispness and brightness.

    While it is able to be mounted on pistols, the 509T is right at home on other platforms as well.

    Being able to switch between the circle-and-dot, dot-only, and circle-only on the reticle is a huge bonus. You get plenty of brightness settings and brightness, as well as night vision settings.

    Putting the target in the middle of the circle and pulling the trigger is all there is to it. The dot-only setting is terrific on shotguns, and the 509T really shines in that role.

    at Gunmag Warehouse

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    The 509T is an incredibly rugged dot with an IP67 rating against immersion and a vibration rating of 5000 gs. Not bad for one of the more affordable enclosed emitter optics.

    4. Steiner MPS

    I like Steiner, they often make great products, but Steiner’s main problem seems to be a slow-to-market approach.

    Steiner MPS

    Oftentimes their products are solid but seemingly outclassed even at release. This isn’t the case with the Steienr MPS (Micro Pistol Sight).

    This time around, they developed and released an outstanding, professional-grade pistol optic at a rather attractive price point.

    They did a lot right with the MPS, firstly by using an ACRO footprint to ensure aftermarket availability of plates and mounts isn’t an issue. Additionally, the battery loads on the top of the optic for quick and easy access.

    The recessed buttons help prevent accidental presses.

    You get crystal clear lenses with seemingly no hint or a notch filter and a perfectly shaped 3.3 MOA dot that is big enough to pick up quickly. With a huge 21x16mm window, you get an amazing view through the MPS.

    Controls are recessed for maximum protection and provide good tactile feedback when pressed.

    Steiner made the optic to duty standards, and its submersible up to 10 meters. The front lens is recessed extensively and protected by an aggressive hood to protect the lens from any damage. Feel free to rack it off a wall if you so choose.

    A view of the top mount battery compartment.

    Steiner also put the emitter at the top of the optic. This reduces the bulk on the bottom and allows it to sit a little lower than the competition. It’s clever and very functional all around.

    With the MPS, you get a rock-solid optic with some quirky design features. For example, the auto shut-off is after 13 hours…which is weird. Plus, it does not shake awake. Luckily, you can program this out of the optic.

    Battery life also caps out at 13,000 hours, which is quite short for this day and age.

    Most Durable
    at OpticsPlanet

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    If Steiner releases a Gen 2 MPS with some of the kinks ironed out, it might become my favorite option for an enclosed emitter optic.

    5. Sig Sauer Romeo2

    Sig’s Romeo2 is one of the most fascinating red dots ever created.

    Sig Romeo2

    It’s not only an enclosed emitted optic; it’s a modular, customizable sight. Users can install a big metal shroud and polycarbonate lens to convert it from an open emitter optic to an enclosed emitter.

    You think, hey, that’s subject to fogging, right? I thought so too, but if you follow Sig’s instructions and ensure no moisture in the optic when sealed, you won’t have an issue.

    The Romeo2 in its various configurations.

    I live in Florida, with plenty of temperature changes and humidity, and I have never experienced any fogging.

    Beyond the modular option, we get a solid and well-made optic. The metal shrouds protect the optic and the lenses since they sit recessed inside. I sprayed it with water, dunked it, and got zero water entry.

    The lenses are incredibly clear, and the dot is a perfect circle. It’s on par with the MPS dot, which is a favorite of mine. The 6 MOA dot is perfect, and it’s backed by 25,000 hours of battery life.

    The viewing window is generously sized.

    Sig’s MOTAC shake awake technology is present here. It also uses a spring-loaded battery door that is fantastic. I’m not sure why they included such a fancy door, but I’ll take it.

    You get 12 daylight settings and three-night vision options; the brights are bright. Two buttons control the sight, and they are recessed and difficult to press, which is good for preventing adjustments when the gun is holstered.

    Most Modular
    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    Overall, the Romeo2 is a fantastic option. It’s my go-to competition optic, even though I’m likely not a good enough shot to fully appreciate it. Inside and out, you get a very high-quality modular and modern optic.

    Final Thoughts

    Enclosed red dots are likely the future of handgun red dots, and hopefully, we’ve helped you find a model that fits your budget and needs.

    EPS Carry 1-1

    They offer a much higher level of reliability and durability than the red dot design. As gun owners, we really harp on reliability, and for a good reason.

    Do you have any experience with any of these? Are there any that we missed? Let us know in the comments below! Not fully sold on just enclosed emitters? Check out our article on the 12 Best Pistol Red Dot Sights!

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    5 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      The Holosun EPS Carry does not utilize the Shield RMSc footprint. It does require an adapter plate to mount to a pistol with a RMSc cut slide.

      September 10, 2023 12:40 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Dot sights are a no brainer for older shooters and/or completion shooters. It’s gonna follow the same trajectory that happened with AR’s.
      I used a Holosun at a 3 day pistol class(about 1300 rounds) and the dot died at the end of the 3rd day. I will say that their customer service was good, replaced it no problem, although it took a couple of weeks to receive it.

      July 9, 2023 8:18 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jelke Symon Terpstra

      I came to the conclusion that I shoot good enough with iron sights.

      July 7, 2023 3:13 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Gary E Taylor

        Thankyou Travis Pike for you’re continued service and willingness to help others learn how to use a firearm safely.. I regardless of their ability or firearms knowledge. I too was an firearms instructor for several years with the NC Department of what is now “Public Safety “ starting after several years of service, as a Raleigh LEO and Instructor at various “community colleges “ that we supported.

        July 10, 2023 11:25 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      R. Lawrence

      It's hard enough to enjoy my hobby without the constant arms race. I'll keep a "cheaper and it works" approach and spend the rest on ammo.

      July 7, 2023 4:01 am
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