4 Best Pistol Red Dot Sights [2018 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.

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

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

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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.

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

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 Picattinny 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

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
Runner Up, Best for Competition
Leupold Deltapoint Pro

Leupold Deltapoint Pro

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.

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’s 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 (145)

Your Rating?

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

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.

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Yuzhe Chen
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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?

Tim
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Tim

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

Bryan
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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.

Craig
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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.

S.J.Robles
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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… Read more »