If you want to improve your accuracy for pistols and rifles dramatically, you know that red dot sights are a must-have and will instantly level up your shooting ability. In addition, attaching a red dot optic to your pistol or rifle might be the simplest way to increase target acquisition speed. This makes shooting extra comfortable and simplifies the shooting process.
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What is a Red Dot for AR?
A red dot is a reflex sight or a non-magnifying reflector for firearms and any other devices that may need aiming and that gives users points of aim in the form of illuminated red dots. Any standard red dot design uses a red light-emitting diode (LED) at collimating optics focus that generates a dot-style illuminated reticle that usually stays in alignment with the weapon attached to the sight regardless of the eye position. These red dots for AR 15 are fast acquisitions and super easy to use gun dot sights for different applications, including hunting, military applications, police, and civilian target shooting and from. Apart from firearm applications, and they are used on telescopes and cameras.
A red dot is a simple term that invokes hundreds of different optics, and some of these optics may not have red dots, but they can still be considered red dot scopes. The red dot scope and the AR-15 are a perfect pair since they have been around since the inception of the red dot. Red dot sights are an upgrade from iron sights, and they are pretty easy to use where they allow you to keep both your eyes open, leaving a lot of leeways where your eyes or head are positioned.
When looking for a red dot sight, it's essential to know precisely what they want because most people are usually looking for a reflex sight, and in some cases, they may also be looking for a prism sight holographic or an ACOG. In this read, we have researched and compiled all the information you may need when choosing the best red dot sight for AR 15, including some of the best red dot sights in the market.
What is the Best Red Dot for AR 15?
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1. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
- ROMEO5 GUN SIGHT - The ROMEO5 1X20mm Red Dot Sight mounts on...
- 2 MOA RED-DOT - For those avid shooters who admire classic...
- MOTAC TECH - The versatile ROMEO5 red dot sight features our...
- VERSATILE MOUNT - This gun sight comes with an integrated...
- WEATHER RESISTANT - The dependable IPX-7 waterproof and...
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 is the best budget red dot sight and is also considered among the best red dot sights today. The budget red dot scope offers a clear sight picture. It has standout features for the price and comes with a motion-activated illumination. Any vibration or movement may cause the sight to wake up and automatically turn on after 15 minutes. This means that you won't have a dead battery when you need the sight the most because you forgot to shut it off.
Sig Sauer Romeo5 optic features ten brightness settings where two of the settings are night-vision compatible, and the red dot sight is quite bright and perfect for sunny days. In addition, it might be the best red dot for AR 15, thanks to the SIG MOTAC technology, meaning you can get an instant optic without having to leave the optic powered up. When it senses motion, it will automatically power itself on.
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 is a durable red dot sight that is meant for use in co-witness and other Sig optics, and it even comes with mounting hardware to help achieve this. Even though the AR 15 red dot is super affordable, it offers two reticle options, a 20 mm objective lens, and is powered with a single battery that may last for 40000 hours.
2. Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight
- The Strikefire II Red/Green Dot is a rugged, reliable red...
- Fully multi-coated lenses provide a clean and bright,...
- The single-piece chasis is compact and lightweight but still...
- An offset cantilever mount is provided; allowing you to move...
- With aesthetics and functionality in mind, the power...
Vortex Optics is the best red dot sight for hunting since it's compact yet 5.6 inches long while weighing about half a pound even though it's not a micro red dot with mini-performance. It has a 30 mm objective lens and a 30 mm tube body to allow 100 MOA in added robustness in adjustment travel. The red or green dot style features ten brightness levels, and they are easy to adjust for different weather and light conditions that you may encounter on the range or in the field.
The Vortex Optics Strikefire AR 15 red dot is built with fully multi-coated lenses. It has unlimited eye relief mounting position chassis where the optic is simple to use and easy to mount. It also comes with an offset cantilever mount that allows the sight to be positioned with extra flexibility than any standard one-point mount found on most AR 15 flattop rails. Additionally, there is power and dot intensity controls on the rear to allow easy access even in stressful situations.
Vortex Optics Strikefire II, Red Dot Sight, is also thoroughly water, fog, and shockproof, and it uses both eyes open and hence has a field that forever goes downrange. In addition, it comes with FMC (fully multi-coated optics) and a 4 MOA daylight bright reticle that is highly visible against any clear and unobstructed wide field of view. The quality red dot uses a CR-2 battery and is designed with backup iron sights or a red dot magnifier.
3. Trijicon MRO 2.0 MOA Adjustable
- 2 MOA green dot reticle/8 reticle brightness levels....
- 1x magnification/25mm objective/1/2 MOA ipc, 70 MOA...
- Low-distortion multi-coated optics/canted objective reduces...
- Nitrogen-filled, Fogproof & submersible/7075-T6 aluminum...
- Parallax-free performance/requires mount.Waterproof to 100Ft
Trijicon MRO (Miniature Rifle Optic) is a sealed reflex sight designed to be used with shotguns, carbines, and rifles to get a fast target acquisition in law military or hunting situations. The reflex sight offers a bigger field view than the average, and it has a minimal tube effect that aids in accuracy and target acquisition.
Trijicon MRO is not micro red dot sight. Instead, it comes with easily adjustable settings that include a bright light control dial with six daytime and two-night vision settings that improve your situational awareness in any environment. In addition, the red dot reflex has been built to withstand beating thanks to a fully sealed construction, forged 7075 housing, and a dry nitrogen protectant.
Trijicon MRO 2 MOA red dot includes bonus features such as superior multi-coated lenses to guarantee clarity and light-gathering capabilities with zero distortion. In addition, the red dot reflex sight has sub-flush adjusters that eliminate the loss of zero or any other hazards, which ensures a constantly reliable shooting. The high and medium mounts can also co-witness with AR 15, making it one o the best choices for dot sights for most AR rifles.
4. EOTECH XPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
- EOTECH XPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
- Night Vision Compatible - Works with all Gen 1-3 night...
- Compact Design - Leaves more rail space for rear iron sights...
- Mount - Compatible with both 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913...
- EOTECH HWS Prestige Warranty - Comes with 10 year limited...
EOTECH XPS3 Holographic Sight is among the best optic accessories one can get for themselves, thanks to solid construction that can be backed up by drop and torture tests. These sights are super durable and precise, and they feature a free-floating reticle design that ensures a user gets unlimited eye relief. No matter the angle they are looking at the window with, the reticle stays on target. Since it's compact, there is a limited rail space ad it's a perfect system that uses a G33 Magnifier mount and has a quick detach mount that fits the one-inch Weaver-style rail and MIL STF 1913 rails.
EOTECH XPS3 Holographic Sight is considered the fastest yet most reliable, quick target acquisition weapon sight in the market. Thanks to the holographic sight technology that delivers clear optics and a 1 MOA/65MOA dot and circle reticle, they have made their name. The green reticles sights usually work together with Gen 1-3 night vision systems and may retain a side button control for an easy operation.
EOTECH XPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight is night vision compatible, and it includes about 30 brightness settings where ten of which are purposely made for use with night vision. The quality red dot is a perfect optic for duty rifles and also home defense setups as it functions well with a magnifier that gives a close, moderate and extended range optic.
5. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
- Matte black featuring a 3 MOA Dot reticle with 11 brightness...
- Waterproof construction: O ring sealed optics stay dry...
- Shockproof construction: Built to withstand bumps, bangs,...
- Nitrogen purged fog proofing: Nitrogen inside the scope...
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot is the best red dot for AR 15, looking for affordability, performance, and longevity. Even though it is not as affordable as budget options and not as pricey as premium options, it fully delivers. It is a compact red dot optic designed with shotguns and rifles and compatible with various risers to match the standard-height AR-15 sights. The AR 15 red dot sight comes with 11 different brightness settings that you can cycle through, and the battery usually lasts for an impressive 5000 hours with regular use.
Bushnell TRS-25 is a crisp red dot that is relatively easy to use, and it includes an integrated mount for the Picatinny rails where the optic is shockproof, and it may take a bit of abuse before it falters. The optic is also waterproof, and it has an O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged that helps maintain a high degree of clarity and reliability.
These durable red dot sights usually pack a lifetime warranty, and this means you won't need to worry about replacing the sight when you are down the road. The major disadvantage of the Bushnell TRS-25 is that it lacks a brightness memory and an auto on/off feature, and this might not be a big deal when you are at the range, but it can be a difficult situation in the real world.
What are the Types of Red Dot Sights?
a). Reflex Sights
This is the most common type of red dot sight, and it's mostly what people think of when they hear of the best red dot sight. These red dot sights operate using mirror series where the reticle or the dot is projected forward onto a lens and reflected by a mirror, making the dot visible.
Red dot reflex sights are available in two flavors, but sometimes you may find a 2-in-1 package with a slightly exposed reflex mounted on the top or at a 45-degree angle to a magnified tubed reflex. These are the best red dot sights if you want multiple magnification options.
b). Exposed Reflex Sights
This is an optic type with one mirror, and it projects the sight dot back at the user; it has no tube as it only consists of a small transparent window. The exposed reflex sight offers the fastest target acquisition and the highest relief of any sight. This reflex sight is rarely found with magnification, and it's highly sought after for close range or for a close quarter shooting where the fast target acquisition may be essential.
c). Tubed Reflex Sights
These sights feature two different lenses where the reticle or the red dot is projected from the rear lens to the front lens, and these sights are found with no magnification. However, many of them are usually found with small magnification amounts. Tubed reflex sights usually have the most variable functions and are available in different shapes and sizes.
This design is slightly more precise and accurate than the above optics, where EOTech has the sole patent of the technology, and they are the only producer of the holographic sight. However, other optic manufacturers may claim to sell holographic sights, and these are usually reflex sights that have been dressed to look like holographic sights.
d). Holographic Red Dot Sights
These holographic sights usually allow a shooter to acquire targets with both eyes open and allow a user to sport a clear view of the target through a window. EOTech sights are pretty similar to some reflex sights, but they offer high precision, and they are known better for competitive shooting.
The floating reticle allows automatic angle adjustments, making the sight perfect for shooting on the move or moving from one target to another quickly. With that in mind, you should consider the market dominance through a patent, and the EOTech sights may cost significantly more than the exposed reflex sights. However, they only offer a little higher functionality and quality.
e). Prism Sights
Prism sights are usually shaped like a traditional scope, but they are slightly more compact and are not as long. In addition, the prism sights will sometimes come with minor amounts of magnification and will allow for either an illuminated or an etched reticle.
These red dot optics usually utilize a prism that focuses the light, and it will create a sight picture as opposed to the lenses and mirrors such as traditional scopes do. This is how the red dot sight manages to offer magnification with trim and short configuration.
However, these prism sights have some disadvantages, and they may have the shortest amount of eye relief, meaning your eye must be close enough to view the picture. This means that there will not be a fast target acquisition as fast as a holographic or a reflex, which is the trade-off you may be acceptable for magnification.
These sights also have other disadvantages, such as they offer minor magnification amounts and will not come close to a full-blown red dot scope, and you may find them in 1x, 3x, 4x, 5x, or 6x. Sometimes, prism sights usually pair with a reflex sight, and they offer both small amounts of magnification and a quick non-magnified option for the target acquisition.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing the Best Red Dot for AR 15
When starting to shop for a red dot sight, you should look out for things where some features may not be necessary and will add to the over cost of the red dot sight. The market is quite large, and you may have a lot of options from a budget red dot sight to a high-end red sight. There are a ton of factors you should consider when making a purchase, and they include:
1. Red Dot VS LPVO
Another great addition to the MSR platform, an alternative to red dots, is a Low power variable optics (LPVO). It provides low magnification and also allows a higher power to stretch distance in any long-range situations. However, not all LPVOs can achieve the true 1x power that the red dots may allow. Additionally, with two eyes open in the close-quarter work, the red dot usually works as a preferred gun sight, and the red dot price is slightly cheaper than an LPVO, even for the high-end brands.
2. Dot Size
Red dots usually come in different sizes, and the red dot market doesn't have a standard measurement standard even though most red dots fall in three different categories and they include:
a). Mini Red Dots
Mini red dots are usually small enough to fit on a pistol and are often the best red dot sight size for the ultra-small guns, and these may include handguns. These miniature red dots are not the most popular optics to find on ARs, but they are also neither unheard of.
Mini red dots are super lightweight, and they offer an excellent option for close-quarters use and are tougher to use, especially at moderate ranges.
b). Compact Dots
Compact red dots are said to be red dots with an objective lens between 20 and 25 mm, and these compact optics are light yet small, but they offer a real red dot optics experience. However, these sizes are a great compromise since they are between the small size and full power, and they are easy to use at most ranges but may experience intensity and battery problems.
c). Full-Sized Dots
Full-sized red dots are the ones that are mostly 26 mm and above, and these red dots are usually designed for heavy-duty use and may often use a full-sized battery, and this gives a user extended run times. These are the best red dot optics for various mounts and accessories as they are more compatible, heavier, and more significant.
3. Open VS Closed System
Red dot sights usually describe a range of gun sights such as holographic, reflex, and prism sights. Reflex sights feature an open system with a small yet rectangular window to look through, and they come in a tube-style yet closed design. The two types of reflex sights do the same thing: getting your dot on target with a 1x magnification. However, keep in mind that the weight, size, and battery life may vary between the two styles.
Prism sights usually look like tube-style optics, and they use a prism, which provides an upright and right-way image, and they are often the best for extended shots after a bit of magnification. Also, you may need to be conscious of the eye box or relief measurements when mounting prism sights.
4. Battery Life
Battery life usually varies between the red dot scopes and the manufacturers, where the red dots that draw more power will need extensive and heavy batteries, and the smaller red dots may not need that much. The most common battery that powers most red dots today is the small CR2032 battery. Still, you might see battery life being advertised as 30,000-50,000 hours for setting the dot illumination at a specific manufacturer setting.
Some features may draw more battery life, such as maximum brightness settings and auto shut downtimes and the motion-activated features, which will help conserve it. In addition, how you intend to use your optic will be another consideration that may affect battery life.
For duty use or self-defense, you will need a durable and robust optic with excellent battery life, and you may need night vision compatibility. In addition, there will undoubtedly be different dot intensity levels and compatibility with a magnifier.
5. Optics Compatibility
Not all red dot sights are compatible with other gears because of their size, design, and limitations, so if you are planning on pairing your red dot with an NVD (night vision device) or a magnifier. Ensure your receiver rails have enough room for it, and the illumination settings in the red dot sight should be compatible with NVD.
6. Reticle Size
When the reticle for a red dot is a simple dot, they usually vary in size where the reticle size is measured in MOA or minutes of angle, and this is a term you will see a lot when it comes to rifles. For example, 1-MOA equals 1.047 inches at one hundred yards, and we can round the 1.047" down to 1' for simplicity.
An MOA dot reticle will appear to cover an inch of the target at 100 yards, where red dot particles will range from 1-MOA to 9-MOA. The smaller the reticle, the easier it will be to place precise shots at longer ranges, and you may be able to see more of the targets with a smaller dot. Bigger dots may make it harder to see targets at longer ranges, and they may be fast to find and quick to get on target. These dots cover more of the target, and it can be challenging to see the actual targets at longer ranges.
7. Magnifier Compatibility
The total size and compact red dots are super compatible with magnifiers, and the magnifiers run between three to six power. They allow you to see further away with more precision than a standard red dot optic. These magnifiers make it in such a way that red dots are used with extended ranges of ease, and if you want to extend beyond the typical red dot ranges, you can consider a red dot's ability to use a magnifier.
8. Reticle Design and Color
Most red dot reticles are red dot reticles hence the name, and the simple red dot usually helps with aiming. However, some companies feature additional dots, crosshairs, and larger rings, and when purchasing a red dot optic, you may need to check out the offered reticle.
In addition, color plays a role because as much as they are called red dots, they usually come in different colors and the two most popular colors used are amber and green. Some people may see these colors are easier to see, and also, the green light is said to use less battery power.
Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Red Dot for AR
1. What distance is a red dot sight good for?
If you use a red dot sight with no magnification, you can easily aim targets as far as 100 yards away or even more.
2. What’s better between red dot or holographic sight?
Red dot sights will need your eye to move back and between an optimal plan and a target plane, whereas the holo sights usually allow you to focus on both the reticle patterns and target simultaneously. This makes the holo sights less susceptible to parallax distortion, which is why most operators may prefer it.
On the other hand, iron sights need you to align the front and rear sight and then aim the front iron sight on the target, where the red dot sights usually involve putting the dot on the trigger and then pulling it.
3. Should I put a scope or red dot on my AR?
Yes, go for a red dot, but only if you shoot at a close range of between 0 to 50 yards or use your gun in home defense. This is because it's easier and faster to use, but choose a magnified scope designed for longer-range shots if you are shooting close to long-range of over 100 plus yards.
4. Are vortex red dots suitable?
Yes, the company makes an excellent product for the price, and it's supported well from the start, with the most common electronic sights being red dots.
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