Red dots come in lots of different shapes and sizes, being used in hundreds of different optics. Some optics don’t even use the color red on their red dot sights but are still regarded as a red dot sight.
If you have shot from both an iron sight and a red dot sight then you probably noticed the immediate benefits that are obtained from using a red dot, they have a faster target acquisition and overall produce a better shooting experience when compared to an iron sight.
Through time the quality that comes with red dot sights has given them a high price tag if you want to purchase something with a durable body with added features such as shock and weatherproofing. While on the market today you are still expected to pay $400 and upwards, the budget manufacturers have come on leaps and bounds when it comes to the quality of the product they are producing.
In this list, we are going to show you some of the best cheap red dot sights that are available on the market today showing that you don’t always need to spend a fortune when it comes to these additional shooting perks.
CHEAPEST PICK: Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight
BEST BUDGET: TRS-25 by Bushnell
PREMIUM PICK: Aimpoint Comp M4
Top 10 Best Budget Red Dot Sights 2020
Here is a list of the top AR Red Dots:
- Best Budget Red Dot Sight: Vortex Optics Crossfire
- Best Under $100: TRS 25
- Best Under $200: SIG Romeo 5
- Best Value: Trijicon MRO
- The Best Overall: Aimpoint Comp M4
1. Vortex Optics Crossfire Gen II
The Vortex optics are well established in the shooting game for their affordable but high-quality series of red dot optics, The Crossfire is amazing value and one of the best affordable red dot sights, it provides a crisp 2-MOA dot in the provided reticle that can be adjusted easily to 11 different intensity levels.
The Vortex Crossfire comes with two different mounts allowing a low mount, or a skeletonized low mount with one-third co-witness. This second mount lets you use iron sights through the optic in case the optic fails due to battery loss. A fully-multi coated lens produces clear and excellent images and increases light transmission.
It is also shockproof, waterproof and fog proof making this crossfire optic simple but effective and most of all reliable. The battery life is really good lasting for up to 50, 000 hours and at the lower 2 of the available 4 settings, a night-vision mode is compatible, but the sight will continue to work in multiple different conditions.
Camouflage-positions are helped with the low-glare matte surface that the optic has been finished with, this surface is a strong anodized hard-coat which is extremely durable. The O-ring seal technology prevents all kinds of dust and debris from penetrating the reliable waterproofing that stops moisture from getting into the lens.
The Vortex Crossfire has been designed for people who want an optic that is ready to use straight away after opening the box, with no need for a mount or a battery. Simply connect this best red dot sight to your weapon of choice and fire away.
Features and Specs:
- 5.2 Oz weight, 2.5 Inch length,
- High and Low Mounting ability
2. Bushnell TRS-25 Highrise Optic
When it comes to optics, if you are seeing prices under $100 then its probably best to stay away, but the TRS-25 by Bushnell is changing people’s minds on this. Bushnell is one of the best companies in producing these low price range optics.
The TRS-25 model is a compact red dot optic purposefully designed for shotguns and rifles. These red dot scopes a compatible with lots of different risers which allow it to co-witness. It is easy to use, and an integral mount comes with the optic that fits onto Picatinny rails. A shockproof optic that can take a fair amount of abuse before it wavers.
A waterproof and shockproof optic, the TRS-25 is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to sustain the reliability and clarity to a high degree. The nitrogen acts against any sudden temperature changes and fog due to humidity. This red dot optic is perfect for rifles, with a 3-MOA dot it allows you to see targets easily but still have a big enough reticle that allows you to see with speed and comfort.
The optic comes with a lens cover to protect the lens and also protects the battery life with a self-regulating brightness based on available light but turns itself off when the protective lens cover is attached.
If you are looking for a lightweight, small optic that is practical and useful then the TRS-25 is the optic for you. It is not at the spec you would need for duty work, but for competition, plinking, and even home defense this unit is one of the best cheap products you can buy.
Features and Specs
- 2.4 inches long, 2.7 Oz weight
- 11 brightness settings
- 3-MOA Reticle
3. SIG Sauer Romeo5 Compact Sight
For a new brand, the SIG optics that have been released have already been taken seriously by the shooting community, the Romeo5 and the Romeo5XDR compact sights are both solid in construction and technical ability, and both come in at a great price around $200.
The 5XDR is more advanced offering two reticle options, but the standard model being the SIG Romeo5 red dot with scope, is more affordable, so it really is dependant on your needs or budget. The battery life on the compact Romeo5 red dot sight lasts around 40,000 hours on a single battery which powers the amazing 20 mm objective lens.
There are loads of different settings available in the Romeo5 with night-vision compatibility and 10 different brightness settings. These brightness settings let the Romeo5 become really sharp even in the sunniest of days making it a good choice optic if you are going housing it in varying outside conditions.
SIG uses the MOTAC technology which enables you to have an instant optic with no need to wait for the optic to power up. The MOTAC system turns itself on when it detects any motion and then shuts itself down when it sits still, a really reliable system that does not fail.
If you are looking for the best optic you can buy for under $200 then the Romeo5 is the optic for you. The red dots sight is amazing with a reliable design that is seen in a lot of recent technologies. The Romeo5 puts in amazing performances all at an affordable price.
Features and Specs
- 10 brightness settings
- lPX7 rating for complete water immersion
- Comes with standard-and low-rise mounts
4. Trijicon MRO Miniature Rifle Optic
With a little higher price tag the Trijicon MRO optic may make your bank account take a bigger hit but durability and strength of product make it all worthwhile, if the spec is what you are looking for then this could be life long purchase with each use being as good as the last.
This optic has a circular design on a compact frame, with a 2-MOA red dot and a 25mm objective lens. This optic was specifically designed for weapons such as the AR-15 and it really adheres to this style of gun, it contains lots of different mount compatibility allowing a variety of co-witness levels with AR-height sights. This ability is amazing if you ever get caught short with your battery life but still want use of the iron sight on the weapon itself.
The objective lens as a whole is crisp and clear with a multi-coated glass that provides outstanding results. All of this amazing technology is kept safe with the durable and dependable 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum structural coating.
The durability doesn’t just stop at how strong this optic is, the MRO can be submerged in water up to 100 feet and still work perfectly fine, giving you the assurance of it being completely weatherproof. This optic can be used day or night, with 2 different night-vision settings available and an offering of 8 different brightness settings.
The MRO is an optic with pro-grade standards at a conveniently low price. Just like the rest of the ranges that Trijicon design, the MRO has been specifically designed to take a beating making it one of the best red dots money can buy. The perfect tool for Home defense, competition, hunting, and even duty work.
Features and Specs
- 2.6 inches long, 4.1 ounces, and 25 mm objective lens
- 2-MOA reticle
- 5 daylight settings, 2 night-vision settings, and 1 ultra-bright setting
5. Holosun HS510C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight
The Holosun brand has been seen as a lesser company having imported products such as the optics, but more and more people are beginning to get on board with these sights as they work really well and come in at an amazing price.
A non-traditional approach with the use of a rectangular window design has been featured on the Holosun HS510C micro red dot sight allowing a more natural shooting style having 2 eyes open. The reticle itself has 2 modes with a 65-MOA ring, and a 2-MOA dot placed in the middle of the optic. This gives you more shooting options with both definitive and fast short-range shooting and slower, more accurate medium-range shooting.
The battery is great at 50, 000 hours run time on a medium setting, but this CR2023 battery is only used as a backup with a solar panel incorporated in the design being the main power source gathering light as it is being used making this optic pretty much self-sufficient regarding its power source.
An optic that that is one of the best having aircraft-grade aluminum covering the main body of the unit and titanium alloy providing a strong and durable casing that will last a very long time.
If you are looking for an optic on a budget then the HS510C is going to be the best duty red dot sight at a cheap price. It has a powerful sight with a reasonable price tag that can even hold its own against some of the top-end units on the market.
Features and Specs
- QD mount
- Shake Awake motion detector powers device
- The reticle can be converted from dot to 65-MOA ring
6. Aimpoint CompM4 Red Dot Reflex Sight
Overall the best red dot sight of all time is probably the Aimpoint Comp M4, being the chosen sight by the United States Army serving largely in the global war against terror. Aimpoint is the leading brand when it comes to anything shooting related, inventing the first-ever red dot scope, and constantly breaking barriers in technological development.
On a single battery, the CompM4 sight in red dot is great lasting up to 80,000 hours, with multiple different settings such as 7 night-vision controls great for use in low light scenarios, and a further 9 daylight settings with an added extra-bright setting for good measure. This optic is professionally graded and gives one of the clearest and crisp optical viewings you could desire.
For a clear picture, the glass is extremely pure and the multi-coated lenses produce exquisite light transmission. The site as a whole is extremely durable with a high-quality build dealing with submerged water levels of 150feet and still working.
If you are looking for an optic that is simple to use, reliable with a rock-solid design then the Aimpoint M4 is the sight for you, with the capability to handle any kind of objective you need it to complete.
Features and Specs
- Use day and night with 6 different brightness settings
- Multiple mounting possibilities.
- AA battery used
7. Vortex Venom Sights Red Dot
Vortex is setting themselves apart from the rest with the quality control and warranty that they offer, better than most giving you that extra added security with each purchase. With a price tag of around $200, it is the perfect addition to the standard pistol light you will have.
The Vortex Venom has multiple different options when it comes to the red dots sights size having a 3 MOA or 6 MOA size available. While being predominantly used for pistol firearms, this mount also comes with a Picatinny mount that can be attached to rifles, shotguns, and carbines.
The CR 1632 battery that the Venom uses will last for 30,000 hours on its lowest setting and 150 hours on the brightest. Regarding the brightness, there are 10 settings that are available and it also offers an automatic adjustment. As well as this automatic brightness adjustment setting there is an automatic shutoff mode after 14 hours which is great if you happen to forget that you have left the device powered up.
A nice little feature is that the battery can be taken off from the top of the unit, without the optic needed to be removed from the mount. A super low profile for a sleek and practical design, and extremely lightweight of just 1.1 oz.
Features and Specs
- Bright red dot color
- unlimited eye relief
- 1.9-inch length
8. Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight
Under $200 the Sparc II from Vortex is probably going to be the most robust unit you can find, with a strong, sturdy body and a protective lens cover that makes it feel extremely durable. This optic is one of the tallest sized products on our list measuring 3.1-inches long by 1.1 inches tall, this height gives it a little more weight at 5.9 oz.
For an optic of this low price range, the Sparc II has particularly clear glass with an objective lens of 22mm. The battery life isn’t the biggest with it lasting only 300 hours on its highest brightness setting, and 5,000 at the lowest. This best cheap red dot sight also features an automatic shut down capability which stars after 12 hours of no motion detected, but it is a manual on button to get it back in use.
A lifetime warranty comes with the Vortex optics making it a great choice knowing your money is safe with this product.
Features and Specs
- 2 MOA Dot
- 10 Brightness Levels
- 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustments
9. Vortex Crossfire Gen II Red Dot Sight
The Vortex Crossfire offers a good amount of battery life at 50,000 hours on a medium brightness setting. This medium setting is great for indoor use and on cloudy days when being used outside. One of the best cheap budget red dot sights, it offers fast-paced target acquisition and 11 different brightness settings.
There isn’t an automatic shutdown feature but the optic can be switched on by moved the brightness dials which makes for quick and easy start-ups and for acquiring the same settings you used when the optic was last in use. Really cheap red dot scopes that are great for both home defense and competition use.
Features and Specs
- 1 MOA Adjustments
- 2.5″ Long by 1.1″ Tall, 5.2 oz weight
- Clear Glass
- Skeletonized Lower 1/3 Mount
10. Ozark Armament Rhino Red Dot Sight
The Armament Rhino budget red dot is one of the best red dot sights under $100, compared to other optics around this price mark it feels like a sturdy competitor rather than feeling cheap. It is a great budget red green dot sight with 5 brightness settings for each color MOA.
The combination of both red and green is great for color-blind users, and it is said that green dots use less battery than the red sights.
Structurally the Rhino can handle recoil up to 50 BMG which is amazing for an optic of this price range. The sight isn’t the best compared to other options available on this list but for the price, it exceeds its competitors.
Features and Specs
- Both Red and Green dots In the Same Sight.
- 4 MOA Brightness Settings for Each Color Dot.
- Up to 3,000 Hours of Battery Life at Medium Setting (1 CR2032 Lithium Battery).
What Exactly is a Red Dot Sight?
What exactly is a red dot sight? Well, a red dot sight is a non-magnifying reflector sight for firearms or other devices that require aiming, which gives the user an aim point in the form of a red illuminated dot.
Why Do You Need A Red Dot Sight?
A red dot sight is a tool to place a target onto nearly the same optical plane as the reticle, allowing a single point of focus. The use of a red dot makes sights fast and easy to use, enabling the user to fully concentrate on the field of view that is in front of them.
Size Of The Body
The body of each red dot can vary as there are a few different sized products that you can buy. There still hasn’t been a measurement standard set by the red dot market but they mostly follow these 3 categories: Miniature, compact, and full size.
Mini Red Dots
The mini red dot is small enough to fit onto pistols and is often the first choice when it comes to smaller guns such as any handguns. usually, they are not seen on ARs but it is not completely unheard of. These red dot sights are extremely lightweight and while they are more difficult to use at a moderate range, in close quarters the ability of the mini red dot is better than anything else in its range.
With the compact red dots, you will usually have an objective lens within 20 and 25mm. Small and light, these compact optics can produce a true red dot optics experience.
Regarding the small size and full power, the compact red dots are a good compromise between the two, finding themselves the most popular choice as they are a bit of a jack of all trades. Easy to use at most ranges but they do experience from some problems with intensity and the small battery.
For weapons 26mm and above a full-sized red dot is the typical choice. These red dots last a long time usually attached to a full-size battery and are normally designed for duty use.
These optics are larger and noticeably heavier, but they are compatible with a lot more mount-varieties and accessories.
Reticles for dot sights are a simple dot, but they do in fact come in different sizes which are not always known. Measured in MOA, or minutes of angle a term that is commonly used when it comes to rifles.
1-MOA is equivalent to 1.047 inches at a one hundred yard range, for simplicity the measurement is brought down to 1 inch. Red dot reticles usually range from 1-MOA to 9-MOA, with 1-MOA covering one inch of the target at 100 yards, and 9-MOA covering 9 inches.
The smaller the MOA the more precise your shot is going to be at longer ranges as you will be able to see more of the target, but bigger dots make it harder to see targets at long range although they do provide a quicker target lock. These dots cover more of the target so can make it difficult to see your target at a longer distance.
Reticle Design and Color
When it comes to red dot design it is usually just a red dot reticle, hence the name. The simple dot is a great way to help to aim precision, find a target, hover the red dot over the target, and pull the trigger. It’s as simple as that, but some companies and people are trying to make things a little more difficult.
Eotech, SIG, Holosun, and other companies like these have introduced extra dots, crosshairs, larger rings, and more so when purchasing you should always check the reticle you are provided with.
Color is another concern, something with the name red dot shouldn’t have this problem but they do come in varying colors. The two most common colors you are going to expect are amber and green, some people can see these colors easier than the color red, and green lights apparently use less battery power.
When using full-size red dots and compact they are often compatible with the use of a magnifier. Magnifiers normally have a zoom between three to six power that allows you to see further away but with more precision than using a standard red dot sight.
The use of a magnifier is an amazing way to use your red dot at an extended range, and if you do want to go further than what red dot ranges typically are you should consider your red dot’s ability, to begin with then you can employ the best magnifier for you.
When looking at red dot sights that you are going to purchase it is a good idea to consider things such as if they’re waterproof, shockproof, nitrogen purged, and submersible. The cheaper Chinese red dot optics will not handle the pressure of standard working games such as bruises, bumps, heavy recoil, or even little water damage that can compromise these cheaper optics.
It is worth paying that little extra when it comes to these optics so that you don’t end up paying twice for something that was a little cheaper. The stronger the optic the higher the price, but the longer it will last.
Next t your budget the biggest consideration you are going to make is the actual use of your optic. If you are a hobbyist and looking to just have some fun in the backyard then you won’t be spending as much compared to if you are a police officer looking to equip your AR as a patrol rifle you are naturally going to spend a little more due to the nature of the job.
This kind of duty and self-defense kind of use is going to require a durable and strong red dot optic with long battery life. Other features such as night-vision could come in handy and a change of dot intensities is a must-have feature. The use of a magnifier should also be compatible with the optic you choose in this line of work so a micro style is probably not best suited.
If you are interested in competition shooting as your main focus then night-vision compatibility is probably not going to be needed, but the use of a magnifier is probably desired. This is going to be the same for hunters too.
People who have shooting as a hobby can basically do what they want when it comes to specification as it is shooting at a target rather than a specific job.
Best Red Dot Sight Brands
Aimpoint is the company that started it all for the red dot, producing the first red dot scope model in the 1970s and still today are developing and pushing these concepts to new heights. Designed for serious use and are even used within the United States Airforce and Army, showing that they really are a top-quality red dot scope.
Robust and quality made the Aimpoint optics are designed to last for an extremely long time. They need to pass a harsh quality control ensuring that they are reaching the standards of tactical units that police forces worldwide and the United States military are setting on a daily basis.
When it comes to budget, Aimpoint offers a lot of varying levels in all the different styles they produce with full-size, compact, and miniature models available. These optics are never considered cheap with some costing around $800 and others around $400 but due to the quality, this is not an unreasonable price tag.
Tactical optics are the main products that Aimpoint produce but recently they have stepped into the hunting side of shooting with the release of the H-1 optic. This optic is specifically designed to fit onto shotguns, bows, and other hunting styled shooting products.
Aswell as optics, Aimpoint has also been producing magnifiers and mounts for their optics, giving a full optic experience, overall it really is hard to beat an Aimpoint product.
Eotech is a company with a difference, they incorporate a much more complicated holographic system in their red dot reticle that opens up lots of new possibilities for a more complicated red dot system.
This use of a holographic system with the red dot lets Eotech design different framed rings such as the 68-MOA and the 1-MO Acircle reticle, their most popular and famous system to date.
As well as the original reticles that Eotech produces, they have also designed a two-dot system that compensates for bullet drop from the 5.56 rounds. Other optic reticles that are available provide options for machine guns, launchers, and .308 caliber rifles.
Holographic sights are made even better with the use of a magnifier, the magnifier zooms in on the target but not the dot itself making it easier to see your target when the magnifier is being fully utilized.
In recent years Eotech have delved into the more civilian market but are still widely known for their military and law enforcement product roles. Hunters and competition shooters can be a part of the Eotech action as well now with different products being produced at a cheaper price but with equal quality.
SIG has a reputation of being a great manufacturer of creating everything from guns to optics, to silencers giving them an all-round knowledge and range of everything you would need. They have been continuously trying to create and develop new styles in all of these products with the red dot coming in loads of different models.
The budget and sizes of their red dots vary from miniature, compact, and full-sized with prices varying from $100 to $400 to $700. As well as red dots they also produce thermal optics, magnifiers, and more. SIG as a company is hard to really pinpoint what they specialize in as they produce such a wide range of shooting related products.
The. cheaper products that SIG produce are ideal for home-defense, competition, and even some close-range hunting, but companies such as the SAS and FBI use the Romeo 4 and Romeo 4M for their agents and employees.
With a desire to conquer both the professional and the civilian market, SIG is without a doubt making a name for themself on the shooting scene offering lots of different products varying from budget prices all the way up to high-quality pieces costing that little extra in price.
Regarding innovation and creativity, SIG is not really developing something brand new that is wowing people of the shooting world, but the great quality and durable products that work well are doing all the talking for them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How exactly do red dot sights work?
There are a few different types of red dot sights hat all work in different ways, but we shall cover the most common rd dot sight that you are going to come across. This system projects a laser onto a cut of tinted glass, this glass is invisible to the naked eye and allows a reflection creating a certain color. This particular color is red.
What you are actually seeing when you look at a red dot is the reflection o a red light. This system does involve the light being aimed upwards and the glass being on an angle, all fixated around some difficult construction, but overall that is the best way to explain the operation.
Which red dot sight does the military use?
So you’re looking to find out which red dot sight the military uses? Well, the military uses the Aimpoint Comp M4 which is an optic that is provided to most soldiers in the US Army, although some more specialized units use products from Etech such as the EXPS3 series as well as the Elcan series and the Trijicon RMR in a variety of different roles.
Are red dot sights lasers?
Are red dot sights lasers? No, they are not, this is a common misunderstanding for people who have just started using guns. Laser sights are red dots that you can aim with that project a beam of colored light offering better aim for more hip fire shooting. the red dot itself is a reference to the reticle that these optics often use.
What Is MOA Red Dot?
What is MOA red dot? It is the way that the red dot optics are measured, ‘minutes of angle’. This is a unit of angular measurement within a circle referring to the overall size of the dot and how much it covers in a specific distance. 1 MOA equals 1/60th of 1 degree.
What is the difference between a red dot and reflex sight?
The difference between a reflex sight and a red dot is very simple. A red dot is a device to generalize all devices and sights that incorporate a red dot in its operation when aiming at different targets, whereas a reflex sight contains a red dot but allows the user to look through a partially reflecting glass that lights up the projection of an aiming point.