Best Red Dot Sights [2018]: Rifle, Pistol, & All Budgets

Still looking for the perfect holiday gift? Check out our Best Gifts for Gun Lovers [All Budgets]!

There’s a lot of red dots out there.  And probably even more GUIDES to finding the perfect red dot.

What sets this guide apart?

We have everything in-hand and tested them across tons of rifles, shotguns, and pistols.

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Scopes & Red Dots

By the end you’ll know the best red dot for your specific firearm AND budget.  Plus some of the great reasons to even use a red dot in the first place.

Best Red Dot Sights For Your Gun

1. Aimpoint PRO

The Aimpoint PRO ($437) is our Editor’s Choice if you want the very best red dot that can handle everything from range plinking to all-out war.

Aimpoint PRO Testing
Aimpoint PRO Testing

Literally bomb-proof with 30K hours of continuous use…you can just leave it on and forget it.  And then change out the batteries every few years.

Aimpoint PRO, 3x Brighter Dot
Aimpoint PRO, 3x Brighter Dot

Plus it has a crisp 2 MOA dot (dot will cover 2 inches at 100 yards), is night vision compatible, waterproof up to 150 feet, and has an operating range of -49 to 160 degrees F.

If you need more than that…then I don’t know what to tell you!

Check out our full-on review of it where we bash it real good with a hammer.  It kept zero and didn’t even hiccup.

Editor's Pick
Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO)

Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO)

2. Bushnell TRS-25 AR Optics

We understand not everyone has $400 to spend on a red dot.  The Bushnell TRS-25 is our go-to for something around $50.

Bush TRS-25 on AK
Bush TRS-25 on AK

It’s served me well on my first AR and now currently lives on my AK pistol…which has even more recoil.

1000 rounds and still going strong…plus some rain here and there.

Not the greatest glass but she’ll work!

If you’re thinking of going even cheaper…don’t!  This is the lowest I would go for something that will stand up to range plinking here and there.

Most Affordable
TRS-25 AR Optics

TRS-25 AR Optics

I also highly recommend getting it with the UTG .83″ Slim Riser ($14) so it’s the perfect height on an AR-15.

3. Holosun HS403A

The Holosun ($140) is our pick for the Best Bang-For-The-Buck after some torture testing with a Vortex and Primary Arms red dot.

Best Budget Red Dots
Best Budget Red Dots

It survived multiple drops, submersion in water, and heat tests.  2 MOA dot, 50K hours (even more than the Aimpoint PRO), 1m water proofness, and night vision compatible.

Budget Red Dots All On
Budget Red Dots All On

Everything the weekend warrior needs.  AND it already comes with a decent riser.

Read all about it in Best Red Dots Under $200.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck
Holosun HS403A

Holosun HS403A

Prices accurate at time of writing

What do you think of the Holosun?

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (185)

Your Rating?

4. Trijicon RMR Type 2

Now we’re entering the realm of micro red dots…or red dots that fit on your pistol.

We’ll start with the Gold Standard…the Trijicon RMR Type 2 ($469).

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

If you’re serious about a red dot enabled fighting/competition pistol…you go with an RMR.

RMR Type 2 with Suppressor Height Irons
RMR Type 2 with Suppressor Height Irons

Trusted by professionals and has the most widespread “cut” for pistol slides so if you’re upgrading your slide it will likely be RMR cut.

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

4 years of battery life (always keep it on) plus night vision compatible.

Find out more about the RMR Type 2 in our Best Pistol Red Dots article.

5. Vortex Venom

Now how about a pistol red dot for the rest of us?  Enter the Vortex Venom ($230).

Vortex Venom Mounted on Buckmark
Vortex Venom Mounted on Buckmark

It’s the lowest and smallest of the bunch that we tested.  Plus it comes with a Picatinny rail mount for other pistols and even rifles.

Tested Pistol Red Dots
Tested Pistol Red Dots

It’s “cut” is not as widespread as the RMR but there’s adapters for out-of-the-box optic-ready slides such as the Glock MOS and M&P Core.

Or you can always get a Outer Impact dovetail mount.

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

Learn more about the Venom and the other pistol red dots in our Best Pistol Red Dots article.

6. EOTech EXPS-2

This one is technically a “holographic” sight.  The technology of showing the reticle in front of your eyes may be different…but it still does the same thing as a red dot.

The EOTech EXPS-2 ($490) is my go-to for a serious rifle.  As it is for a lot of our military.

EOTech EXPS2-0
EOTech EXPS2-0

EOTech pioneered the reticle that has become synonymous with other holographic sights.  The large 68 MOA circle and small 1 MOA center that gives you both quick acquisition and precise targeting.

EOTech EXPS2-0 Reticle
EOTech EXPS2-0 Reticle

Battery life is less for holographics overall.  The EXPS2-0 has 600 hours…but you get a much larger view window and the great reticle.

Learn more in our Best Holographic Sights.

7. Holosun 510C

And you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging without a more affordable holographic option…

Holosun’s 510C ($299) combines the typical holographic reticle with red dot technology.  Now you get tons of hours, a great view window, and the ability for quick snap or more precise shots.

Holosun 510C Reticle
Holosun 510C Reticle

Plus…it even has a solar panel to not use up battery power during the day.  Not that you have much to worry about…it’s rated for 50K hours.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck Holographic
Holosun 510c

Holosun 510c

Check out more pics and videos of the 510C in Best Holographic Sights.

Why Do You Want a Red Dot?

Now that we’ve gotten our favorite picks out of the way…why would you even want a red dot?  Haven’t iron sights worked for hundreds of years?

Well…there’s always room for improvement!

PWS MK116 Mod 2-M with Goodies
PWS MK116 Mod 2-M with Goodies

1. Eye Relief

This means you don’t need to have a set distance of your eyeballs from the sight.  More apparent for scopes…but it’s also a thing you deal with on iron sights.

2. Parallax Free

This means when you move your head around…the red dot still stays on target.  This combined with eye relief gives you a lot more freedom in position.

3. Co-Witness

You always want a backup since electronics can fail…even if you go with the gold standards.

Red dots let you either absolute co-witness or lower 1/3 co-witness with your existing iron sights.

Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third
Co-Witness, Absolute vs Lower Third

I prefer the lower 1/3 so you don’t always see the front post in your face until you drop a little lower and WANT to see it.

You can select the specific co-witness height based on models and riser heights.  Don’t worry…we cover everything in the in-depth articles!

4. Both Eyes Open

Lastly…you can keep both eyes open with red dots which opens up your entire field of view.  No more squinting behind your irons and ignoring potential threats on the side.

Conclusion

There you have it…our picks of the best red dot (and holographic) sights for all types of guns.  Here are the specific articles we referenced if you want to see more in-depth reviews.

How did we do…anything else you’d add to our list?  If you’re looking for something with a little more magnification…check out our Best AR-15 Scopes & Optics post.

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B .

what saith thou… Holosun good to take to battle?

Andrew
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Andrew

I vote for the SPARC-AR from Vortex. First off they have their lifetime warranty and second it is a nice crisp 2moa red dot. I have one on a Ruger 10/22 and one on a SBR.

dennis Bechtel
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dennis Bechtel

a steiner 536 is pretty great also 529 bucks and am Burris 536 is good and has an 6 minute reticle and focuses well its a 5 x good to 200 yards

MarkE
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MarkE

Just picked up an Aimpoint Pro for $378, including expedited shipping, from Sportsman’s Guide.. Discounts included membership (-$43.80) and current code SK1760 (-$40). Current code takes $40 off anything over $250, so this could be used for other products…

Notalima
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Notalima

Aimpoint PROs ‘can’ be picked up as low as $350-$360 if you are patient and get the right sale. They used to happen more often, but not so much lately. Watch for a LAPG discount code; PSA occasionally drops them into the $360 range as well. Get the right coupon at Sportsman’s Guide and you can pick up a XPS2-0 or XPS2-2 for right at $399 after discount (Buyer’s Double Discount code for 20% off) plus about $15 shipping. Sig’s Romeo5 and Primary Arms 50K hour RDS are also both ‘bang for your buck’ solutions, the Romeo5 around $129 shipped… Read more »