When shooting down your sights, you want to be able to acquire your target quickly and land an accurate shot. A red dot sight enables you to do this without worrying about the fuss of adjusting or going through a long-winded zeroing process.
If you’re looking for the perfect budget red dot sight, you’ll quickly find that there are a couple of different types you need to choose from. Furthermore, you can equip different sights depending on the rifle as well. Therefore, you have many choices when trying to buy the right red dot sight for your gun.
Today, we’ll go into everything you need to know about a red dot sight and how you can pick out the best one for your rifle. Moreover, we’ll walk you through our top 10 picks for red dot sights. Here, we’ll look at the industry leaders for the best budget red dot sights in the market.
We’ll also look into why these sights are the prime choices for US Navy Seals. Finally, we’ll draw a short comparison between holographic sights and red dot sights to make it easier for you to choose between the two.
Our Top Picks
What is a Red Dot Sight?
For shooting targets at close or medium range, a red dot sight is a perfect sight for your rifle.
A red dot sight comes with a simple reticle with a single red dot. Therefore, it’s easy to use for beginners and is the perfect sight for training new hunters and shooters. In addition to this, they’re great for advanced shooters or experienced hunters as well. Some sights will allow you to change the reticle’s color to green for improved visibility.
It’s important to remember that a red dot sight is just a sight - they are not scopes and, therefore, do not come with magnification capabilities. Moreover, red dots are not like laser sights, where the light projects onto your target. But instead, a red dot sight is internal, and only the hunter can see the red dot. Furthermore, compared to traditional laser sights, a red dot sight is entirely eye-safe.
Recent years have seen an overall improvement on the red dot sight. These days, your red dot sight will have improved battery life, excellent durability, immense image clarity, and quality. Moreover, to increase portability, they feature smaller and compact designs. Finally, you can use the smallest variants with handguns.
A red dot sight is the perfect sight if you need fast target acquisition while shooting accurately. Once you’ve zeroed in your sight, you can rely on it to help you fire shots accurately, quickly, and reliably during your hunt. Therefore, a red dot sight is often the go-to sight for experts and beginners alike.
How Does a Red Dot Sight Work?
A red dot sight is a humble sight that has a simple working principle. It utilizes the idea of plates of glass and a beam of light to create the red dot. And so, using a convex mirror, the light from an LED reflects off its surface. From there, due to the reflective material on the spherical mirror, it only reflects red light. Therefore, the reflected light beam, in turn, creates the namesake red dot reticle. Additionally, this design ensures that the red dot stays localized to the sight, and only the hunter can see it. Outside of the sight, there is no red light or red dot.
To control the size of the red dot, you need to adjust the MOA (Minute-of-Angle). With a larger MOA, you widen the hole the LED shines through, thereby creating a larger hole. Therefore, you can adjust the red dot according to your targeting needs.You can use a larger dot to make target acquisition at a close range easier for yourself. On the other hand, when shooting down long distances, you can change the MOA to produce a smaller red dot, thereby reducing your obstruction of a remote target.
There are two main types of red dots -
Best Budget Red Dot Sight Reviews
Now that you know the essentials about red dot sights, it’s time we get into our top ten picks of the best red dot sights you can buy right now. We’ve meticulously considered every aspect for new and experienced hunters alike. Therefore, here’s a comprehensive list of all the red dot sights you need to look at when you’re browsing for the best red dot sight for your rifle.
1. Bushnell Trophy TRS - 25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x25mm, Black
This red dot sight from Bushnell comes with a 3 MOA reticle - you can adjust according to the distance you fire down your sights. Moreover, for better visuals during the darker hours of the day, you have access to up to 11 different brightness settings.
On your rifle’s Picatinny rail, you can easily mount and install the Bushnell Trophy TRS. Moreover, the sight is small enough to fit on your favorite handgun as well. And so, you can quickly start your next hunting trip without fussing with the installation with the Bushnell Trophy TRS - 25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope.
The construction of the sight makes it completely waterproof. Even underwater, due to an O-ring sealed optical design, you can expect the sight’s interior to remain dry. Additionally, in terms of construction, the sight is durable, resistant to bumps, and shatterproof. Therefore, you won’t have to take extra care and avoid bumping it during your hunting trips. And so, it’s the perfect companion when you need to rely on a sight that can take rough treatment when you’re out on the field.The sight comes with nitrogen-purged fog proofing to provide clear sights during extreme temperatures. The nitrogen keeps the sight from fogging up due to a rapid drop or rise in temperature. Therefore, you will always have a clear shot on your target.
Benefits of the Bushnell Trophy TRS - 25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope -
With these benefits, the Bushnell Trophy TRS is one of our top picks for a budget-friendly red dot sight.
2. Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight - 2 MOA Dot
You can rely on Vortex Optics to provide the best in class red dot sights, and for beginners, they have delivered the - Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight - 2 MOA Dot. With this sight, you can expect high performance at a great value.
Here’s everything that makes the Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight great -
You can rely on the Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight during your hunt to reliably shoot your targets down. Therefore, if you need a red dot sight, opt for Vortex’s best budget red dot sight.
3. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 MOA Red Dot Sight, Black
The Sig Sauer Romeo 5 is an excellent rifle sight for experienced shooters in need of a compact red dot sight. A vital feature of the Romeo5 is that it comes with MOTAC - Motion Activated Illumination. With this technology in place, you can prolong the battery life by turning it off when it is not in use. However, when you kick into action, the sight will detect the slightest movement or vibration and turn back on. And so, your sight will always be ready to perform when you need it and conserve energy when you put it down.With a solid construction overall and that you can mount it only on almost any Picatinny rail, the Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 MOA Red Dot Sight is an excellent sight to have on your repertoire as a hunter or professional shooter.
Key features of the Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 MOA Red Dot Sight
Altogether, the Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 1x20mm Compact 2 MOA Red Dot Sight is the perfect red dot sight for experienced hunters who want to up their game.
4. HOLOSUN HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight, Black
With the HOLOSUN HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight, you get a military-grade optic at a much lower price. The Holosun is unique in its two-power source configuration. Therefore, you can rely on the sight to power itself for many years without worrying about a battery change.
The Holosun HS403C supports primary power sources -
To facilitate night-time hunting, the Holosun HS403C comes with 12 brightness settings, 10 for daytime hunting and 2 for night vision. Additionally, the lenses are crystal clear and will retain a distinctive red dot. Also, the sight excels in durability as well
To add to the ruggedness of the sight, it’s waterproof. Moreover, it supports high strength aluminum and comes with a lifetime warranty. Overall, if you need a versatile, affordable, and reliable red dot sight, the Holosun HS403C should be your first choice.
5. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight
The Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight is an excellent sight for your rifle, handgun, or shotgun. It makes aiming down sights and target acquisition effortless. The sight supports a 3 MOA dot, thereby allowing you to adjust according to your needs. The construction on the Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight is phenomenal. The people over at Venom have designed it meticulously to ensure that it is easy to use.
Changing the battery on the fly is very easy as it’s top-loaded. Therefore, you do not have to detach the sight from the gun before replacing the batteries. Furthermore, for ease of operation, the sight controls are accessible from the left side of the unit - therefore, you can adjust for MOA elevation and windage very quickly.
The dot produced by sight is visible even under the brightest conditions and comes with ten adjustable brightness levels. Therefore, you can rely on the sight to make a clear and visible dot at the highest setting for about 150 hours. On the other hand, at lower brightness settings, you can extend your sight’s lifetime by up to 30,000 hours. Therefore, adjust to your hunting needs when using the Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight.
Mounting the Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight is a breeze as well. It comes packed with a low mount rail that will clamp onto any basic rail on a rifle. Additionally, for rifles, you can use an optional riser.
If you’re looking for a budget red dot sight, the Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight is a great pick.
6. Trijicon RM01 RMR 3.25 MOA LED Red Dot Sight
The RMO1 is an extremely robust and compact sight from industry leaders Trijicon. The sight has everything you need to meet your hunting requirements.
Overall, the Trijicon RM01 RMR 3.25 MOA LED Red Dot Sight is a reliable sight suited for your hunting needs. And Trijicon is a brand you can trust, as you’ll see many Navy Seals sport a Trijicon red dot sight.
7. AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight - 2 MOA Compact Red Dot Scope
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight is one of the most affordable sights you can find on the market to cater to your needs. Moreover, the multi-coated lens gives an excellent image quality and enhanced clarity making the sight scratch resistant.
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight comes with a coated lens, which improves image quality and ensures that the sight is scratch resistant. Moreover, you can adjust the reticle MOA. Additionally, the Pro-Mount Cantilever Mini Riser on the AT3 Tactical RD-50 helps you quickly acquire targets and land brilliant shots. In terms of power, the on-board battery will last you for about 50,000 hours with the lowest settings. When on high settings, the batteries will run the sight for well over 5000 hours.The sight comes with a set of protective lens caps to add a layer of protection to the lens when not in use. Once you’re ready to shoot down some game, you can quickly snap the covers open and get right into the action.
Key features of the AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight -
8. Ozark Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight
Ozard Armament is an American sight manufacturer that backs its sights with a considerable commitment - a lifetime guarantee. Therefore, there’s no doubt about the durability of the rifle.
In terms of installation, you can mount the Ozark Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight onto a weaver mount, cantilever mount, or Picatinny mount without messing about too much with the specifics.
If you want a sight compatible with Ozark Armament iron sights on your rifle, the Ozark Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight comes with co-witness capabilities out of the box. Therefore, you can use both sights in tandem and zero in without issues. Furthermore, the Rhino will hold the zero even after many hunting tips.
The Ozark Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight supports two reticle colors and adjustable brightness. As a result, you can shoot throughout the day, including the brightest and darkest hours.
Ozark Armament seals the Rhine to prevent dust and water from entering the main sight body. Additionally, they’ve nitrogen purged the sight to prevent the lens from fogging. Therefore, you can rely on it during your hunt regardless of the weather or local climate condition.
With the Ozark Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight, you can fire accurate shots quickly and adjust the reticle through 4 MOA to ensure you hit the target squarely on. Therefore, the Ozard Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight is one of our favorite budget red dot sights.
9. Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot Reflex Sight
The Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot Reflex Sight is a standard for compact red dot sights. Furthermore, you’ll find that plenty of Navy Seals rely on the ruggedness and accuracy of Aimpoint.
Other key features of the Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot Reflex Sight includes -
Make your life easier by aiming down sights with the Aimpoint Micro T-2 Red Dot Reflex Sight - a trend-setter among red dot sights.
10. Holosun HS510C 2 MOA Dot
The Holosun HS510C is a rifle for beginners that help you get started with red dot sights. Although it’s limited in terms of customizability and adjustability, it’s an excellent sight for beginners.
They’ve ensured that the sight remains operational for up to 50,000 hours on a single battery with advanced LED technology. Furthermore, as a backup, you can rely on solar power to keep your sight alive.
Furthermore, you can switch the reticle on sight between a 2 MOA dot and a 65 MOA ring. With both options, you can adjust according to your sighting requirements and make it easy for yourself to acquire and shoot down targets.
As a beginner sight, the Holosun HS510C offers a titanium body in the durability department. Therefore, you can abuse it quite a bit before expecting it to give up. Furthermore, it comes with a shock-resistant hood.Overall, if you’re new to red dot sights and don’t want to fuss about too much with settings and adjustments, the Holosun HS510C is a great place to start. It comes with everything you need to hit the ground running and enjoy a good hunting trip.
What is the Best Red Dot Sight for the Money?
A high-quality red dot sight that perfectly suits your need is the best red dot sight for the money. That is, your mileage will vary depending on your experience and skill set as a shooter. Moreover, when you’re on a tight budget, opting for a lesser one to meet your budget constraints with fewer features will usually be your best bet. Therefore, when picking the best red dot sight for the money, ensure it has the following qualities as per your requirements -
Once you find the red dot sight from our top 10 picks that meet all your hunting requirements, you’ll have the best red dot sight for the money.
What Red Dot Sight does The Navy Seals Use?
Each Navy Seal customizes their weapon to their liking. Therefore, when you see photographs or images of Navy Seals holding their rifles, you’ll notice that every Seal has their sight. However, you’ll often find that they’re carrying rifles equipped with EOTech, Trijicon, or Aimpoint sights.
These are the considerations a Navy Seal makes when settling on a red dot sight -
With these in mind, a Navy Seal will go on to pick out the perfect sight that matches their personal requirements and pick accordingly. Furthermore, image clarity and fog proof lenses are the most significant factors in choosing the right red dot sight for Navy Seals. As they have to adapt to rapid temperature changes, their rifle sights need to keep up. Therefore, the best sights on our top budget red dot sight feature nitrogen-purged fog proof lenses.
How Much Should I Spend on a Red Dot Sight?
When out in the market for a new red dot sight, there’s a lot to consider when picking the right one. However, the deciding factor is often your budget. Not everyone needs an expensive red dot sight. A simple sight can get the job done for beginners, whereas experienced hunters need a little extra from their red dot sights. Therefore, if you’re wondering how much you should spend on a red dot sight, consider the following -
From our top 10 sight picks, you’ll find that most are well under $300, with some hovering around the $500 mark. Therefore, if you’re a beginner, look to spend around $100 on your red dot sight. And if you’re an advanced user, opt for the more expensive, durable, and feature-packed sights.
Is Holographic Sight Better than Red Dot?
A red dot sight offers a few key advantages over a holographic sight. However, if you want magnification and a wider field of view from your sight of choice, a holographic sight will suit your use-case better.
The main differences between holographic sights and red dot sights are -
Therefore, although the holographic sight offers superior magnification, wider field of view, and faster target acquisition, when considering budget constraints and your use-case, a red dot sight is often the perfect choice.
Benefits to using a red dot sight
Better aim and accuracy
Let’s start by stating the absolute obvious: the first and best benefit to using a red dot sight is, of course, the added precision and accuracy.
Even the most sharpest of aimers and shooters miss their targets. See, we are not blessed with a hawk’s eye. Sad, but true. And the iron sight on your weapon can only help so much. Red dot sights, on the other hand, are here to do what the naked eyes can’t. These devices, with their advanced reticles and dots, increase the probability that your target is locked and done. Sights are also great for moving targets so you know it’s going to excellent for hunting. On top of that, sights (unlike scopes) allow you to use it by keeping both your eyes open. This gives you a better sense of your surroundings, which is always a plus when playing with guns.
Saves time and effort
Anyone who practices shooting knows that locking a target is a tough affair. Apart from being downright off target, there also a sense of doubt and stress. And having a sight on that shaky and unsure weapon really help. When the target is clear, you feel confident so less sweating and fidgeting around and more action.
Discreet and stealthy
Binoculars and scopes are great, no doubt. They are relatively large and bulky, however. They do need a lot of attention from the user, and also end up catching a lot of attention by your target as well. Advantage for the moose you are trying to shoot for dinner, but doesn’t do you any good. A sight, on the other hand, is as small and compact and it gets. And in the hunting world, stealth and subtlety could mean all the difference.
Lightweight and compact
Speaking of which, because sights are so lightweight and compact, they make for an excellent companion on your job or leisure. They come with mount so you can slap it on your weapon, or use it detached. Either way, they don’t take up much space, and there’s little to no need to carrying them by hand.
Versatile and adaptive
Last but not least, sights are massively versatile. First of all, they come with mounts that allow them to attach to various different types of arms. Who has the type of time and money to buy a separate sight for each arm? We don’t!
The best part however, is that most of your modern and latest sights in the market come kissed by technology. You have so much more control starting from choosing the color of your dot, reticle patterns, and brightness and so on. These advanced features make sure you are that much closer to hitting the target!
Frequently Asked Questions
What should a beginner shooter opt for: sight or scope?
That’s a fantastic question. A beginner shooter is always smarter choosing a sight over scope or binoculars. Now, what’s wrong with a scope or binocular, you ask? Nothing! They are amazing! But that’s the thing; they can be a little too amazing for a beginner.
A red dot sight is simply more easy and intuitive to the user. They are lighter, tinier and thanks to modern technology, easier to operate and take control of. Your first stepping stone, if you will. Nonetheless, we recommend also trying your hand with other types of scopes as well. To each his own, after all.
What does the elevation and wind age of a sight do?
There’s one simple trick to remembering the function of each feature. A wind age adjustment on a red dot sight will allow you to shift the aim of your sight along the horizontal plane. And thus, wind age equals horizontal shift. Whereas in an elevation adjustment, you can move the aiming point of the scope vertically up or down. Both elevation and wind age shift in small increments measure in miute of angle or MOA. Some MOA are 1/4 at 100 yards; some are 1/8 at 100 yards. It ultimately varies from sight to sight and model to model. See if this helps:
Elevation adjustment= vertical shift
Wind age adjustment= horizontal shift
Are the ocular lens and objective lens of a scope or sight the same thing?
Good point! To answer to questions right off, no! They are not the same. They are different lenses. The ocular lens is the lens that faces towards you. In other word, this acts as the exit pupil. Whereas the objective lens is where all the magic happens. This lens is responsible giving you the proper vision for aiming. It sends back info back to the ocular lens and that’s how to see things!
Side note: Knowing a few vital parts and anatomy of a red dot sight is a massive help for the user. Check out some basic and comprehensive contents and images online to help you learn.
How exactly does a red dot sight work? (I am a beginner)
First of all, welcome to the club! You will like it here. Secondly, explaining how a red dot sight may BLOW your mind since there is quite a bit of explanation to do here. But let’s get science-ish, anyway.
The operation of the sight you get will vary on the type sight you get. But all in all, every sight utilizes the Pepper’s Ghost concept. What’s that? This concept is an exclusionary technique using lens and lights. The lens will reflect when lights are shining on it and hide what’s behind the lens. You may have in fact already witnessed this technique in action in theaters where they use this technique to disappear or morph characters. Pretty cool, huh? Ultimately, a red dot sight uses this very principle to do what it does.
How can I co-witness better?
Co-witnessing using a red dot sight is hands down one of the most fundamental and basic techniques to master. And it is essential you learn how to do it when using the iron sight in combination with the red dot sight.
To co-witness, you will more or less need to align the red dot with you’re the iron sight of your weapon. In other words, you need to line up the iron sight with the red dot on your reticent. Co-witnessing is a brilliant way to backup your aim, just in case your red dot fails you. It will take some time to master, sure. But, you will get definitely appreciate having that extra backup and cushion. Try it!
How should I mount the red dot sight onto my gun?
A common question among beginners, and a good one at that. You start off by checking whether or not you have everything you need to mount the sight onto your gun. In your check list, you should keep track of all the screws you will need as well as the mounting rails which will hold the red dot sight in place. You should be careful as in some cases, the sight will not come with the mounting rails nor the screws in the box. If this is the case, you will need to procure these from a separate source. Always be sure to check if the ones you find are compatible with your gun and sight.
From there, the procedure is almost the same for every red dot sight, although, there might be some variations if your red dot sight is slightly more advanced. Anyway, you should start off by loosening the clamp and unscrew any bolts holding things in place. From there, place the red dot sight onto the rails and adjust to your preference. From there, especially for beginners, it important to verify if the red dot sight is pointing in the right direction or not. More often than not, especially among beginners, the red dot sight is mounted in reverse. Then, just screw in everything back into place and make sure your red dot sight is tightly secured to your gun.
If you are someone who is reliant on spectacles and have gotten yourself a sight with unlimited eye relief, try and mount the red dot sight a couple of more inches more than you generally would have. This allows for recoil room and protects both your eyes and eye wear. One more thing, you should always check whether or not you gun is unloaded before you get on with any of the mounting procedure. Accidents may happen and so you do not wan the gun to misfire and cause unforeseen damage due to carelessness.
I just got myself a good red dot sight but I do not know how to adjust the zero?
Adjusting the sight is a lot harder than it seems. This problem is made worse if you have a cheap red dot sight or a poorly mounted one. Therefore, to avoid potential inaccuracies ensure that the red dot sight is securely mounted on your gun. From there, you just have to carry out the following steps carefully.
First, if you sight is equipped with numerous reticle options, fixate on one before moving on to the next step as it will be important to stay consistent throughout the zeroing in procedure to ensure accurate results. Next, set up a relatively small target between 20 and 25 meters from where you will be shooting. This must also be kept constant throughout your test shots as it will yield a better result.
Next, ensure that your gun is securely placed on a gun support, if you are using that. Finally, line up the shot and take it. Take a couple of more shots to pinpoint where the gun is shooting and what changes need to be made. From there, grab a screw and get ready to make the necessary adjustments. You need to take care of two things to properly adjust the red dot sight to get the aim down to a tee, they are wind age and elevation adjustments. Based on the direction of the test shots, you should be able to judge for yourself how you should make the changes and to what degree to get the best shots. Once done, fire a few more test shots and keep repeating the process until you end up with the perfect zeroed in shot. Once done, tighten up all screws and get ready to head out on a hunt.
How do I know when I should change the batteries in my red dot sight?
This is where the advantage of red dot sights with rechargeable batteries truly shine. If you are lucky enough to own one of those, just pop the batteries out of the holder and fire up the charger. If however you do not have that luxury, simply, head out to the shop to get a fresh batch. A clear sign that you need to change or recharge your batteries is the brightness of the sight and quality of the dot. Once you notice that the dot is fuzzy or dim, it is time for a battery replacement.
Maintenance and Care
1. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Most red dot sight comes tested under various conditions to offer a shock, fog, waterproof barrier. But that doesn’t give you the power to abuse it. It WILL go bad.
2. If your device does not come with a case or lens cover, then use a makeshift one. A sunglass case, cupcake box and other small box-like cases offer great protection.
3. Clean your red dot sight using a dry towel and brush to wipe and brush away any dust, gunk, etc. Blowing away the dirt using your mouth or a hair dryer also gets the job done. Do not clean too regularly. They aren’t supposed to get so dirty anyway.
4. Do not use wet wipes, soapy cleaners, etc to clean the device.
5. Clean the lenses using a super soft microfiber cloth. Harsh and abrasive cleaning fabrics will cost you a good aim. And never clean using your fingers! Clouds the lenses and blurs the visions. Not what you want.
6. Keep the lens cover on whenever you take the device under windy, dusty and dry conditions.
7. Dormant batteries tend to leak. If you don’t have to use the device for a long period of time, then take out the battery before storing the device.
8. Always turn off your device when not use, even if it is for a few minutes. This will save power and prolong battery life.
Now that you know everything to look out for when choosing the perfect red dot sight. Before buying a sight, you should always consider how you intend to use it. Therefore, lens clarity, reticle brightness adjustments, eye relief, and overall durability play crucial roles when choosing excellent budget red dot sights.
A red dot sight offers some distinctive advantages over a holographic sight. Namely, they’re cheaper, smaller, and have longer battery lives. Furthermore, they’re great for beginners and experienced hunters alike.
Hello and welcome to my blog. I am Shien, founder of topreddotsights.com. Here at topreddotsights, I provide guides on how to shoot effectively, answer reader’s questions, and review the latest hunting or shooting Optics or Sights. I review what I think is best for most people, not what people think best? Your satisfaction is my priority.