5 Best Pistol Red Dot Sights [2019 Real-Views]

Want faster target acquisition, easier 100 yard shots, and the upper-hand in low-light situations?

You need a red dot for your pistol.

Tested Pistol Red Dots
Tested Pistol Red Dots (L to R): Trijicon RMR Type 2, Leupold Deltapoint Pro, Burris Fastfire 3, Vortex Venom

We hands-on review four of the most popular and rugged red dots available.

We’ve mounted them on several pistols and rifles through thousands of rounds…and even shot them at night through night vision.

Mounted Pistol Red Dots
Mounted Pistol Red Dots

By the end you’ll know if pistol red dots are for you…and which one to get.

Let’s get started!

Best Red Dots for Pistols

1. Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06

The RMR Type 2 is the gold standard of pistol mounted micro red dots.  Pricey…but super rugged and with extra features not found in others.

RMR Type 2 RM06 3.25 MOA
RMR Type 2 RM06 3.25 MOA

Quick Stats

  • Weight: 1.2 oz
  • Battery Life: 4 Years at Brightness Level 4
  • Night Vision Compatibility: Yes
  • Dot Size: 3.25 MOA
  • Waterproof: 66 feet for 1 hour with plate
  • Price: $469

Super Rugged

The most robust casing of all the pistol red dots out there and battle proven.

Tested Micro Red Dots
Tested Micro Red Dots (L to R): Trijicon RMR Type 2, Leupold Deltapoint Pro, Burris Fastfire 3, Vortex Venom

However, this leads to a smaller viewing window.  But not that big of a deal when you have both eyes open and your brain superimposes the dot onto your target.

Battery Life

The longest lasting as well with 4 years of continuous on at the very usable level 4 brightness level.  However, if you’re using this on duty or using it at higher settings, I’d change the batteries every year.

One con of the battery is that it is on the bottom of the sight…so you have to unmount and re-zero each year.

RMR Type 2 Sealing Plate and Milled Slide
RMR Type 2 Sealing Plate and Milled Slide

Also depending on your slide you might need a sealing plate ($18)to make sure water does not get in.  I got one just in case for my Glock Grey Ghost Precision slide (full review) since the sides were a little exposed.

Look & Feel

Very quality feeling and compact.  Everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Buttons are easy to use (left side is higher brightness while right side is lower brightness; hold a few seconds to turn off).

RMR Type 2 on Polymer80 Glock
RMR Type 2 on Polymer80 Glock

Adjustments are also very tactile feeling.

Glass is the most blue-tinted due to their special reflective coating that enhances battery life.  However like the smaller viewing window…once your brain superimposes the dot it’s not that big of a deal.

RMR Type 2 View
RMR Type 2 View

Compatibility

Another huge plus for the RMR series…there’s the biggest selection of custom slides already milled for them.

Grey Ghost Slide
Grey Ghost Slides, RMR Ready

Otherwise, you will have to get more universal systems such as the Glock MOS, M&P Core, or dovetail attachments.

Night Vision

The only optic on the list that works well with night vision.  All the other ones bloom too much since they are too bright.

RMR Type 2 NVG
RMR Type 2 NVG

On the lowest brightness setting the dot becomes like a laser on target.  Makes NVG shooting pistols a breeze compared to only night sights.

Also…the least output from the front to other night vision devices.  You know who you are if this matters.

Pistol Red Dot NVG Reflection
Pistol Red Dot NVG Reflection (Left is the RMR Type 2)

Difference from RMR Type 1

You’ll see a decent price savings from the Type 1…but the Type 2 has upgraded electronics that combat the semi-common flickering problem seen in Type 1’s.  Definitely go for the newer Type 2.

Recommended Model & Accessories

I recommend the most popular RM06 3.25 MOA model.

Big enough for quick target acquisition but small enough for 100+ yard shots.  Other models have different sized dots, mounts, and even tritium dual illumination.

Best Pistol Red Dot

It’s also the manually adjusted brightness model so you can pick the best for your environment.  I’m not a fan of self-adjusting brightness in my optics…it never really works well.

Also be sure that if it’s going to be on a serious firearm…to get suppressor height sights (preferably night sights too).  Check out Best Glock Sights.

They’ll help if your optic goes down…and also helps guide your eyes to the dot.

RMR Type 2 with Suppressor Height Irons
RMR Type 2 with Night Fision Suppressor Height Irons

RMR Type 2 Summary

  • Most robust and proven pistol red dot on the market
  • Best battery life at 4 years on
  • Night vision compatible and lowest reflection out
  • Most custom slides are milled for it
  • Smaller window and bluer tint than others
  • Battery replacement on bottom
  • Most expensive
Best Pistol Red Dot

2. Leupold Deltapoint Pro

My runner-up overall recommendation is the Deltapoint Pro…but it’s my favorite for competition shooting due to the clearest glass and largest view.

Deltapoint Pro
Deltapoint Pro

Quick Stats

  • Weight: 1.95 oz
  • Battery Life: Not listed, but most are saying less than RMR
  • Night Vision Compatibility: No
  • Dot Size: 2.5 MOA
  • Waterproof: 22 feet
  • Price: $360

Look & Feel

The biggest difference is that it’s slightly bigger than the RMR but has a much better view…both in clearness of glass and size.

Deltapoint Pro View
Deltapoint Pro View

2.5 MOA is perfect for close-up work and longer range shots.

Although plenty rugged with its double hood…I’d still give the overall win to the RMR in that department.

Deltapoint Pro Double-Hood
Deltapoint Pro Double Hood

Battery Life

I couldn’t find exact stats, but most people are saying the battery is not as great as the RMR.

BUT…it’s top loading so you don’t need to remove your sight and re-zero.

Auto-On

Another great thing is that it has a motion-sensing auto-on function.  It’s plenty fast and when I used it…it was always on before I could finish my draw.

I really like the auto-on function so I won’t fault its less-than-stellar button interface.

Deltapoint Pro
Deltapoint Pro Single Button

It’s one big spongy button in the middle where you have to keep pressing to go up and down in brightness.  And hold to turn it off/on if you’re not using auto.

Compatibility

Not a lot of custom slides are milled for the Deltapoint Pro.  But it’s ready for the Glock MOS and M&P Core (with adapter).

Also has a nice Picatinny adapter for pistols with rails.  Or go with a 1/3 cowitness mount for your AR.

Deltapoint Pro Picatinny Mount
Deltapoint Pro Picatinny Mount

And works well with an Outer Impact dovetail mount shown on my Glock but available in other flavors.

Deltapoint Pro on Outer Impact Mount
Deltapoint Pro on Outer Impact Mount

Check out our video for the full install:

If that helped, please subscribe to our YouTube channel since we’re adding new videos every week!

Deltapoint Pro Summary

  • Plenty robust with double hood
  • Largest window and clearest glass
  • Easy battery change and decent life
  • Motion-activated auto-on
  • Larger and taller profile
  • Not night vision compatible

3. Burris Fastfire 3

The Fastfire 3 is the most affordable reliable option for entering the world of micro red dots.

Burris Fastfire 3
Burris Fastfire 3

Quick Stats

  • Weight: .9 oz
  • Battery Life: Up to 5 years
  • Night Vision Compatibility: No
  • Dot Size: 3 MOA
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Price: $180

Look & Feel

It’s less than half the price of the RMR but doesn’t feel cheap (especially in its AR-F3 Mount).

Fastfire 3 in AR Mount
Fastfire 3 in AR Mount

Glass is not as nice as the Deltapoint…but it’s still way less green than the RMR.  View is also slightly larger than the RMR.

Only one button that cycles through 4 settings (off and 3 brightness settings) that are enough for most non-night vision wearers.  Also an auto-adjustment function that you can turn on/off.

Fastfire 3 View
Fastfire 3 View

Battery Life

I couldn’t find exact numbers on it…but it says it can be up to 5 years.

Also, a key thing to note is that there’s an auto-turnoff function at 9 hours.

Great on the surface since you the battery won’t die if you forget to turn it off.  But not the best if you’re carrying.

For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend it for CCW.  But still perfect for a range/competition gun…especially with Burris’ forever warranty.

Compatibility

Not a lot of custom slides but the AR-F3 model is a perfect co-witness on my AR-15 (and has handy slots for extra batteries and tools).

Mounted Fastfire 3
Mounted Fastfire 3

Here’s the co-witness.

Burris Fastfire 3 Co-Witness
Burris Fastfire 3 Co-Witness

If you get the regular version, it comes with a low Picatinny rail mount that should do well with railed pistols.

Fastfire 3 in Outer Impact Mount
Fastfire 3 in Outer Impact Mount

Plus it fits into the Glock MOS (exact width) and M&P Core systems.  And of course the Outer Impact system as well.

Fastfire 3 Summary

  • Lightest on the list
  • Top load battery for easy changing
  • Auto-brightness and 9 hour auto-shutoff
  • Clear glass but smaller viewing window
  • Only 3 brightness settings
  • Most affordable

4. Vortex Venom

Another affordable option is the Vortex Venom that’s just a little more than the Fastfire 3 and what I recommend as the best bang-for-the-buck pistol red dot.

Vortex Venom
Vortex Venom

Quick Stats

  • Weight: 1.1 oz
  • Battery Life: 150 to 30,000 hours
  • Night Vision Compatibility: No
  • Dot Size: 3 MOA
  • Waterproof: Yes
  • Price: $229

Look & Feel

I’ve always liked Vortex products…and I’ve been rocking their scopes in my competition rifles for years.  This one is no different.  Feels quality in hand and still really light.

Glass quality is on par with the Burris.  I like the slightly wider field of view.

Vortex Venom, Rear
Vortex Venom, Rear

It does win in the button department…there’s an up and down button to cycle through the 10 brightness settings.  However, the lowest is still too bright for night vision use.  Also, auto-brightness function that’s activated if you hold a button for 3 seconds.

Also an auto-shutoff function…but it’s at 14 hours so it’s acceptable for CCW use.

Battery Life

150 hours at the highest intensity and up to 30,000 at the lowest.  Real world use is probably somewhere in the middle which is good enough for me if you switch the battery every year or so.

Vortex Venom View
Vortex Venom View

Plus…it’s top mounted for easy swapping.

Difference from Vortex Viper

The Viper has a slightly lower profile and comes in a strictly 6 MOA dot size.

But the Venom is a newer design and has slightly better ratings.  Only con is that it uses CR1632 batteries compared to the more common CR2032 of the Viper.  AND also comes in a 6 MOA flavor too.

Both have Vortex’s famous lifetime warranty.

Again, please subscribe to our YouTube channel since we’re adding new stuff every week!

Compatibility

It comes with an extra-low Picatinny mount that goes the best on railed pistols.  I’ve been shooting it a lot with my Buckmark and it almost feels like I’m cheating!

Vortex Venom Mounted on Buckmark
Vortex Venom Mounted on Buckmark

Not a lot of pre-milled custom slides but works with the Glock MOS and M&P Core.  Plus the Outer Impact system.

Vortex Venom on Outer Impact Mount
Vortex Venom on Outer Impact Mount

Vortex Venom Summary

  • Light and lowest profile with Picatinny rail
  • Clear glass and top-loading battery
  • Good battery life and 14-hour auto-shutoff
  • 10 brightness settings and auto-brightness

What’s your take on our best bang-for-the-buck red dot?

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (440)

Your Rating?

5. Holosun HS507c

The Holosun 507c is a real contender that punches way outside its price point! Massive battery life, RMR footprint, durable, there is a lot to love from this optic.

Quick Stats

  • Weight: 2.65 oz
  • Battery Life: Up to 100,000 hours (over 11 years)
  • Night Vision Compatibility: Yes
  • Dot Size: 2 MOA Dot and/or 32 MOA Ring
  • Waterproof: IPX8 Rated (continuous immersion in at least 1 meter of water)
  • Price: $300

Look & Feel

This is a solid unit. You pick it up and you know that it has some beef on it and that it’s ready to get banged around, much like how an RMR feels. We really like it, like a lot.

For our use, nothing has slowed it down. It is robust and has stood up to the abuse we’ve thrown at it including things like using the optic as a contact point to charge our Glock off of a belt or table.

Holosun HS507c on a Brownells Glock 19 slide.

The glass has also been completely scratch-free thus far.

Battery Life

At over 11 years of battery life, the Holosun 507c is an optic that you will likely never replace the battery on. A wide range of dot settings means that you have a ton of options for extending battery life, but that isn’t the only way that it extends life – a solar panel on top gives another source of power for when the optic is in sunlight.

However, the solar panel does not recharge the battery in any way.

Holosun HS507C, View

The 507c also features “shake-Awake” meaning it has an auto-off feature (you can choose how long it takes for the dot to turn off also!) and will auto-turn on when you move the optic. Very handy for setting and forgetting and for saving battery life.

Reticle: Dot and Ring

A 2 MOA dot and a 65 MOA circle is not common on pistol red dots, but is the kind of thing you’d find in something like an EOTech on a rifle. For a pistol optic, we really dig it.

It can feel busy to start with, but once you get used it to it’s a nice option to have giving you a very fast “donut of death” type sight picture while still giving you the option of a more precision shoot using the 2 MOA dot.

Dot only, ring only, and dot + ring are all options that you can set in the optic. Plus, the light and reticle setting is retained even when the optic turns itself off and on!

Compatibility

Using the same footprint as the Trijicon RMR, the number of slides that can mount the HS507c without the need for adaptor plates is a huge blessing. It also makes it a great option for people that have older-gen RMRs and are looking to modernize.

I mounted mine on an RMR cut Brownells Glock 19 slide and had zero fitting or compatibility issues.

Holosun HS507c Summary

  • Ultra long battery life
  • Multiple reticle settings
  • Shake-Awake
  • Semi solar-powered
  • Ultra Durable

Honorable Mentions

There’s a lot more red dots out there that I haven’t tried.  Here’s some that are popular and I hope to add to this article in the future.

Aimpoint ACRO
Aimpoint ACRO

Pros/Cons of Red Dots

Now you know the best red dots for specific applications…but why even go with one on your pistol?

Pros

  • Sight acquisition: tracking a red dot is easier than rear and front irons…but you have to practice!  The first time you try out a handgun with a red dot is going to feel really weird.  The lower the mount (such as pre-milled slides)…the closer it’s going to be to using irons.
  • Long range shooting: if you’re running a 2-3 MOA dot…it’s going to get MUCH easier to hit farther distances.  If you have your trigger fundamentals down (How to Shoot More Accurately)…100 yard steel gong hits will become the norm.
  • Low light shooting: much easier compared to regular irons or even night sights.  Even more so if you’re using NVGs (night vision goggles).  Just make sure to choose the correct brightness setting with your goggles or your flashlight.
  • Poor eyesight: for many cases if you’re eyes are a little older and focusing on the front sight gets harder…it can be great to use red dots.  Make sure your astigmatism is in check otherwise the dot will look blurry.
  • Situational awareness: since you can have both eyes open easily…you get to see more of your surroundings.
Plus It's Super Cool Looking
Plus It’s Super Cool Looking

Cons

  • Electronics: more likely to fail than iron sights.  Choose the correct ruggedness for your use and make sure to have fresh batteries.  And/or have suppressor height irons as a backup.
  • Training: you have to practice with your exact optic and handgun to make sure you see the dot when you bring up your gun.  It’s an “all or nothing” optic…you either see your dot or you need to fumble around to get it in view.
  • Expense: first the optic which will run at least $200 for a proven reliable red dot…plus custom mounts.
  • Weather: droplets of water or temperature differences can mess up the projecting laser or fog up the glass

Conclusion

Tested Red Dots, Top View
Tested Red Dots, Top View (L to R): Trijicon RMR Type 2, Leupold Deltapoint Pro, Burris Fastfire 3, Vortex Venom

There you have it…the reasons why or why not to get a pistol red dot.  And our favorite picks across some price ranges and applications.

Best Pistol Red DotCategoryPrice
Trijicon RMR Type 2Gold Standard$469
Leupold Deltapoint ProBest for Competition$360
Burris Fastfire 3Most Affordable$180
Vortex VenomBest Bang-For-The-Buck$229
Holosun HS507cAnother Best Bang-For-The-Buck$299

What are your experiences with shooting red dots on your pistol?  Any tips for the learning curve?  Check out our How to Shoot Pistol More Accurately for more tips that translates to iron sights AND red dots.

31 Leave a Reply

  • CaScotsman

    Good article, I like your analysis and ratings, but you forgot to mention a positive festure of the Burris FF: it has different mounting plates that fit many specific firearm's rear iron sight grooves. If you don't have a rear sight mount/removal tool, a gunsmith can press out your rear iron sight and press in the mounting plate.

    2 weeks ago
  • Steve Greathouse

    What do you think about the Shield RMS or the Noblex Doctor?

    2 weeks ago
    • DD

      The Doctor is one of the better small light weight optics available. It’s more common in Europe than in the U.S. due to marketing and hype. If you buy one, I think you’ll be very happy. The Shield RMS is not a strong optic. It is small, lightweight and compact and that is both the Pro and the Con. Unfortunately it is not a good option unless you are very very careful using it because bit is not rugged or durable. It cannot take a lick and keep on ticking. All of the other optics reviewed are much much better, especially the Acro, Holosun and RMR

      1 week ago
  • Mike M

    I was frustrated with a conventional handgun scope on my 454 Casull, and my aging eyes. Decided to try a Vortex Venom with a small Burris mount. Love the darn little thing. Only have to focus on my target, because the red dot looks like it’s on the target. Have over 500 full power loads through it now without any problems at all. I wonder why it took me so long to go with this type of sight.

    1 month ago
  • Lando Calrissian

    February seems early to come out with a 2019 list. Was the Trijicon SRO out when you made the list? Also, I'm surprised the Holosun 507c was only an honorable mention

    3 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      Feb was when we last did an update, we have another update coming soon though!The SRO was not out at the time, but we JUST published a complete review of it! (literally published it just a few minutes after your comment, haha). I've been running the Holosun 507c on my Glock for a couple of months now, we're going to include it in the next update of this article and not just as an honorable mention :D

      3 months ago
  • Jacques

    I cannot find a pre-milled slide for either my Walther PPQ nor for my SIG 320 Compact. Any suggestion? What do you think of the SIG Romeo 1 on the SIG320 Compact RX? Heard it is not very reliable??

    6 months ago
    • Michael Korpela

      I picked up the P320 XCompact yesterday and it is milled for Sig’s optics. springer precision makes mounts to adapt that slide for a variety of optics. Not sure if you’d be able to find that slide by itself, unfortunately.

      5 months ago
  • GAti

    A British firm, Shield Sights, makes at least 2 red dots, the RMS and the RMSc, that are excellent and smaller than most of the sights you reviewed. They are available at Brownells etc. and are a much better fit for smaller handguns like Glock G26, Glock G43, Sig P365 etc. I had an RMS put on a Glock G26 and the slightly smaller RMSc put on a Glock G43 at Lone Wolf Distributors. You just send your slide and your red det to them and they will have the slide back to you in about a week (or at least they did for me).

    7 months ago
  • Eugene Ray

    What? Holosun 507c isn't in this list??

    7 months ago
  • oldfatcrab

    Can we add Holosun once updated? Thanks

    9 months ago
  • Herman Kantz

    I have had a Trijicon RMR RM07 on my S&W M&P40 PC Ported for about three years. You DO NOT have to resight after changing the battery. Otherwise good info on the Trijicon RMRs. H K

    11 months ago
  • Yuzhe Chen

    could you guys write an article about pistol red dot mounting solutions? And some affordable solutions to actually have one mounted on the slide?

    1 year ago
  • Tim

    Anyone tried the Truglo TRU•TEC MICRO SUB–COMPACT OPEN RED DOT SIGHT?

    1 year ago
  • Bryan

    What a great goddamm article. Love the content, exactly what I needed to read to know what's what in the current crop of red dot sights. Looking to add a red dot to my Glock 29 hiking/woods/campin gun and I've got some soul searching to do, as far as what to go with.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks so much, Bryan! Let us know what you end up doing with your G29!

      1 year ago
  • Craig

    I chose the Vortex Viper over the Venom. The sides don't bulge out and it will fit a single stack pistol better because it is narrower.

    1 year ago
  • S.J.Robles

    Thanks for the review, I really had a hard time deciding between the RMR, Delta Point Pro & Dr. Optic (surprised Dr. Optic wasn’t included in review as they are in my opinion better than Burris & Vortex and have would b better priced with the RMR & DPP). I decided to go with the Delta Point Pro for many of the pros you detailed but also needed to be mentioned is the optional rear sight mount on the DPP that allows more esthetic look and provide co-witness. One other important feature that was failed to be mentioned is Leupold Gold Ring Lifetime Warrany on this product, this is what really sealed the deal as other red dots of similar quality and price only had a limited warranty that lasted a few years.

    1 year ago
  • Jake

    Sig Romeo 1 needs to be added to the list.

    1 year ago
    • CJF

      Agreed. A great optic, well priced, and in my opinion better than at least a couple of these.

      9 months ago
  • Albert

    The Burris FF3 is GREAT; I have three on different pistols and they work great on my Tuesday nite shoots; I use the 8-min dot for pistol. Really improved my score.

    1 year ago
  • Maggot4lyf

    You need to move the "pros/cons of red dots" to the top of the article. Got all excited to spend money, only to see the dreaded fogging problem at the very end! I'm running in and out of VERY different environments at work, from a humid 95 outside, to AC, to a reefer (35 degrees), and back out. Tried wearing my glasses at work, can't see after the 1st trip in (same results in the winter as well). Even tried anti fog spray, and while that helps initially, after the 3rd trip, I can't see, lol. Red dots won't work on my CC, dang it!

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Trying a slightly different format since I was seeing readers leaving unless the list is at the way top.

      1 year ago
  • OKH

    As always, thanks for the great information. Actually something I was looking for a long time. I got the Romeo1 on my Sig and love that one too. Did you have the chance to look at the Nikon Spur? I got that one for my WC EDC X9 - still waiting for it to come back from the Gunsmith.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      You're so welcome! Haven't heard about the Nikon Spur yet...let me know how you like it.

      1 year ago
  • jeff

    Your review was useful and well written I noted, however, that you omitted tube sights like the Accupoint and UltraDot. While the reviewed sights might work well for action shooting, they be unlikely to be seen on a bullseye conventional pistol line. It should also be mentioned that those with astigmatism will see more flare than dot. Interestingly, many illuminated rifle scopes also under-serve those with older or astigmatic eyes. Such shooters often do better with etched glass reticles. Why pistol scope makers don't use this approach remains a mystery.

    1 year ago
  • Mott

    Question, Do you know of a Red Dot that uses the rear sight dovetail on a Ruger Security 9?

    1 year ago
  • wwolfe

    I purchased a Vortex Venom for my Buckmark, for Bullseye Competition, mainly for the 3 MOA dot, and battery placement. Does really well, have not had battery replacement as of yet.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Good to hear!

      1 year ago
  • Ben

    The Amazon link for the FastFire III points to the Vortex Venom.

    1 year ago
    • MapleHillGang

      perhaps they must have fixed it ? I found the Burris on Amazon via that link.

      1 year ago
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