Top 5 Red Dot Sights for Your Guns – Rifles & Shotguns

U.S.A. –-( For many, red dot sights have fallen in popular use within the recreational shooting realm in favor of low-power variable optics. For defensive, military and law enforcement use, the venerable red dot sights are still seeing widespread use and success. Today I’m going to break down my Top 5 Red Dot Sights.

Let’s delineate our boundaries a little first. I’m covering full-size red dots intended for rifle/shotgun use, not the Mini Red Dot Sights (MRDS) more commonly seen used on handguns. This excludes such optics as the Trijicon RMR and Vortex Venom. Some MRDS’ are excellent performers and certainly have their place in the shooting world, just not in this article.

What criteria did I use? I took a comprehensive approach and compared weight, battery life, Night Vision Device (NVD) compatibility, brightness settings, water resistance, battery type, stock mount option and dot size options. We’ll talk about price, but I’m looking at the top 5 red dot sights out there, not just the best within a certain budget. I eliminated many other options on the market if they couldn’t crack the top 5 in more than a couple categories. Finally, no more than one entry per manufacturer.

Let’s get a brief primer on each red dot sight, then discuss what the final hierarchy of domination looks like and why.


While all these optics are good quality optics, they’re all out of my price range and probably yours as well.
I’ve got two Sig Sauer Romeo 5 and one Holosun, all with a 2 MOA dot and not only do they work great, they’re all in the $125 range, they take a CR2032 battery, and the batteries are rated for hundreds and hundreds of hours.
I don’t buy into that horseshit about how we should spend the equivalent of our rifle’s value on an optic. I’m sorry, but save your money and invest it in a decent trigger instead. A quality trigger will improve your shooting much more than a fancy big name optic.

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9 Responses to Top 5 Red Dot Sights for Your Guns – Rifles & Shotguns

  1. Scruff says:

    I also have a sig romeo 5 and when I take the time to co-witness it with the front sight it is outstanding. I need more practice with it to really get faster, but I’ve been at the reloading bench all winter and now have some ammo to use up.

  2. =TW= says:

    The low-budget Bushnell red dot on my Mini in Ruger factory rings has been working just fine for well over 20 years. Hasn’t failed yet.
    The PA red dot on my AR proved unreliable, mounted a compact Simmonds 4X SKS scope instead, to see how I like it. (I do.)
    Bought a Leupold VX-1 (1-4X) for my CZ 527. Duplex reticle like the Simmonds. Decent scope for the price, only 9″ long so a good fit for the little carbine. I run it at 4X more often than at 1X so maybe the variable feature is unnecessary. I could move it to the AR but the little 4X28 Simmonds is acceptable there for now.

    I cut my teeth on Irons but at my age a little magnification is helpful.
    I have considered the magnified 3 and 4X prism scopes as an alternative but I don’t like fancy CQB, MOA, MilDot reticles. I can figure holdover good enough with a duplex.

  3. the other other Andrew says:

    Angus McThag from has some Russian piece of crap that he says works real well and has unbelievable life. Can’t remember what the brand was, but was rather surprised at it’s performance.

  4. M. Sage says:

    IMO they’re expensive because of the NVD capability. Night-vision compatible means .gov contracts which means more money, when all it is is a far lower setting.

    It’s also pretty much useless unless you’re willing to mount your night vision to your rifle, which makes the stuff basically useless. People don’t seem to realize that you’re not getting behind an optic with night vision; you’re going to have to run a laser.

  5. Bill N. says:

    Think what you want about the difference between cheap and expensive red dot sights. A few years ago I took a carbine course from Pat Rogers (EAG Tactical). He recommended Aimpoint over other brands for durability. At the end of the course the only brand that didn’t have any failures was Aimpoint. Even an EoTech took a shit. If I am betting my life on my equipment only the best is good enough.

  6. ChuckN says:

    In my family you don’t get to play with newer sights unless you’re proficient with iron. Everyone is taught, or learns the hard way, to expect sights to fail or get damaged. For those who want to shoot further everyone generally has either a fixed 4x or 10x scope. Even then if you can’t hit a 6″ gong at 300yds with irons expect to be poked fun at.

    On another note, I picked up one of those Holosuns on your recommendation, Wirecutter, and so far I’m quite happy with it. I’ve got it on a .357 brush gun and can shoot rabbits past 150yds no problem. I still like my Eotech a little better for 2 reasons a) it runs on AA’s which one can find anywhere (except the tv remote) and b) I find it a bit easier to co-witness backup irons.

  7. enn ess says:

    Red dots are easier to acquire than trad sights, especially on pistols, for my eye’s (old) anyway. Biggest bitch I have with the red dots, is very few handgun Mfg. mill their slides for red dot mounting, even though fitted with trad sights, until the last few years. Mine are all older versions, with no qualified gunsmiths even close.

  8. anonymous says:

    I’ve got a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot on a Savage 24 Predator combination rifle. 30-30 Winchester over 12 gauge. Make a great feral hog rifle but it apparentlyl has hog repellent because I’ve never seen one while carrying it.

    Less than a $100 bucks, simple and holds zero, at least for the four years I’ve owned it. In my book – a keeper.

    • Wirecutter says:

      See, there’s no reason to go out and spend $400-$500 bucks on an optic.
      Every one of my rifles has the same repellent on them. All the makers deny spraying that shit on there, but I know better.

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