Best Red Dot Sights [2019]: Rifle, Pistol, & 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!

We now have a YouTube review of it as well after 3+ years of testing and thousands of rounds.

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

The "Goldilocks" Red Dot
435
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

Bushnell TRS-25
Bushnell TRS-25

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

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

3000 rounds total (with 1000 on the harsher recoiling AK 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 Red Dot
53
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Don’t get the TRS-25 with a riser…it’s terrible!  I highly recommend getting it with the UTG 1″ Slim Riser ($14) so it’s the perfect height (1/3 cowitness) on an AR-15.

UTG Slim Riser
UTG Slim Riser

Check it out more in our Best Under $100 Red Dots article and video.

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 Red Dot Under $200
170
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What do you think of the Holosun?

Readers' Ratings

4.98/5 (354)

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

We like the Venom over Vortex’s older Viper because it comes in two dot sizes (3 MOA or 6 MOA) and has slightly better reviews.  Check out our video on both:

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

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

Check out the install in our video:

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.

Best Holographic Sight

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.

Most Worth It Holographic Sight
299
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

30 Leave a Reply

  • Frank T Mayes

    What would you recommend to put on a Ruger Super Redhawk 44 magnum for hunting?

    1 second ago
  • Chiff

    Clueless noob here - What warrants the MASSIVE price difference between these and airsoft replicas when both seem to do the same thing? Is it just sheer ruggedness?

    1 week ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      More or less, yes. Airsoft optics will not survive on a real firearm. The recoil and shock will ruin their electronics very quickly, depending on the gun and the optic - 10 shots or less isn't surprising. The outside housing is also much more robust on real firearm optics since many of these are used for self-defense where your life literally depends on them working. Lastly, real firearm optics need to hold zero. Airsoft can walk a little and it doesn't matter too much since they aren't very accurate to start with. A real firearm optic needs to hold a zero at fairly long ranges while also enduring much more force and shock.

      1 week ago
  • ninja95

    Where is the sig romeo5?

    1 month ago
  • Marcelino

    I went red dot on a G-19 RMR Trijicon (holding up) Type 1. Slow at IDPA but accurate. On the PCC went with reflex Sighmark Ultra 79.99 at Midway; because of red/green choice. I favor green. Fast and accurate with PCC on steel. Learning curve is huge but I like them. And thanks for article Eric very enlightening. P.S. Be careful with the clones.

    6 months ago
  • B .

    what saith thou... Holosun good to take to battle?

    1 year ago
  • 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.

    1 year ago
  • 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

    1 year ago
  • 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...

    1 year ago
  • 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 at a few places right now, and the Primary Arms ~$150 every day. The PA dot is Holosun sourced and the Sig is believed to be Holosun sourced.

    1 year ago
  • dennis Bechtel

    just got a Burris 536 a 5 power 36mm objective and a focusable eye piece ,took 3 rounds to shoot in absolute Co witness on a sig 716 .7.62 x 51 dmr ,shoots about an inch at two hundred yards bi pod and butt rest ,I have 4 acogs for some pretty nice fn heavy and light sca r rifles the Burris was a present from my gf who shoots with me .this Burris 536 is just as clear an my acogs and its reticle is pretty well set up for up to 600 yard hold overs .im surprised at the build quality I think this was manufactured in Japan because the glass is excellent ,came with non reflector filter and a sun shade ,I have seen them go for 499 ,mine came with a leupold delta point on the top rail ,I really like this set up ass its as nice as an acog and my gf who works at Amazon got it for me cause she loves me and I give her a magic injection almost every night .

    1 year ago
  • Charlie

    How does the Romeo1 show up if the weapon light is on in a nighttime condition?

    1 year ago
  • Kbdizzke

    Do you recommend co-witnessing on a pistol with Red dot?

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      I personally don't since my red dot pistols are more for competition or fun. If you're using one for duty it might make sense.

      1 year ago
  • Todd

    What is easier to aquire with, a smaller red dot sight or larger one, I use on a 10/22 for speed steel shooting?

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hey Todd, a larger red dot (in terms of the size of the dot) will be easier to acquire. You can check out 6 MOA sizes.

      1 year ago
  • William

    I'm new to the AR "scene" and just finished building my 3rd. My first 2 have flip up "open" sights but, my 3rd, I put a Vortex Sparc AR on it and plan to install a set of back-up open sights. I have two questions; 1) In "zeroing" in my Red Dot, does the dot have to be centered when setting it up? I've zeroed in scopes but Red Dots are new to me. 2) When co-witnessing open sights with a Red Dot, is there a simple process for setting it up at 1/3? Sorry for the dumb questions, I've been a handgun guy most of my life.

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      The dot does not have to be centered when you are zeroing. And for having absolute or 1/3 cowitness will depend on your red dot height. When setting it up you have either the optic or the irons zeroed, and then move the other to match it up.

      2 years ago
      • dennis Bechtel

        or a bore laser/

        1 year ago
  • Robert OBrien

    Eric I have a sig 320 9mm with a romeo1 red dot. when looking at red dot I see a clustered group of red all around the dot which is hard to find the single red dot. its like red clouds all around the window ,

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      Not sure if its the sight or your own eyesight...do you have astigmatism?

      2 years ago
      • Larry

        The red dot is round, astigmatism causes this. Sight through your glasses.

        1 year ago
  • Rick

    Great help, good article - thanks for the info! I think I'll get me an ACOG

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      You're welcome Rick!

      2 years ago
  • Peter

    Loved the article! I enjoy using these sights on a few of my rifles and handguns, but I learned some new info. Thanks!

    2 years ago
    • Eric Hung

      You're so welcome, Peter!

      2 years ago
  • dave

    Great background, thanks. I would like to know more about trajectory and distance using a red dot. Can't seem to find much about that.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Hi Dave, thanks for the suggestion! I'll be adding in that soon. I would personally use it up to 100 yards but I've seen people in competitions outshoot me easily up to 400 yards with a red dot while I'm using a 6x scope. Just depends on your eyes and if you know your holdovers.

      3 years ago
  • P.Shields

    Thanks for commenting on the different types. I'm (now) a civilian shooter, and this technology is new to me. I am researching to understand, and your explanations help.

    3 years ago
    • ehung

      Thanks so much...glad I could help!

      3 years ago
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