Best Pistol Red Dot Sights in 2023
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In this guide, I’m going to give the
I’ve categorized each sight by use so you could easily find which sight best fits your need.
Red Dots vs. Iron Sights Pistol
The choice between using a red dot sight or iron sights on a pistol depends on personal preference, shooting style, and intended use. Here are some factors to consider when comparing red dots and iron sights for pistols:
1. Sight Picture: Red dot sights offer a single-point aiming reference, usually a small dot or reticle, which is superimposed on the target. This allows for quick and precise target acquisition, especially in dynamic shooting situations. Iron sights, on the other hand, require aligning the front and rear sights to form a sight picture, which can take more time and practice to master.
2. Accuracy: Red dot sights can improve accuracy, particularly for shooters with vision issues or those who struggle with sight alignment. The red dot acts as an aiming reference that is projected onto the target, reducing the need to align multiple sight elements. Iron sights require proper sight alignment and consistent trigger control for accurate shooting.
3. Target Focus: With a red dot sight, shooters can maintain focus on the target while superimposing the dot on it. This can help in maintaining situational awareness and fast target transitions. Iron sights, however, require the shooter to shift focus between the front sight, rear sight, and target, which can be more challenging in dynamic shooting scenarios.
4. Shooting Speed: Red dot sights can aid in faster target acquisition and allow for quicker sight alignment compared to iron sights. Once the dot is on target, the shooter can quickly engage, especially in close-quarters or rapid-fire situations. Iron sights may require more time to achieve proper sight alignment for accurate shots.
5. Learning Curve: Red dot sights may have a learning curve, especially for shooters transitioning from iron sights. Becoming proficient with a red dot sight requires practice in understanding the dot’s movement, sight presentation, and maintaining proper zero. Iron sights, being a traditional sighting system, may be more familiar to many shooters.
6. Environmental Factors: Red dot sights can be advantageous in low-light conditions or when shooting with impaired vision. They often feature adjustable brightness settings, making the dot visible in various lighting environments. Iron sights may require additional light sources or may be less effective in low-light situations.
7. Reliability: Both red dot sights and iron sights can be reliable if of high quality and properly maintained. However, red dot sights may have electronic components that can potentially fail or require battery replacement. Iron sights, being purely mechanical, are generally considered more resistant to failure.
Ultimately, the choice between red dot sights and iron sights for a pistol comes down to personal preference and the intended application. Many shooters find red dot sights beneficial for quick target acquisition and increased accuracy, particularly in competitive shooting or self-defense scenarios. However, iron sights remain a trusted and reliable option for shooters who prefer a more traditional sight picture or for firearms that require backup iron sights. It’s recommended to try both sighting systems and consider individual shooting needs and preferences before making a decision.
Pros/Cons of Red Dots
Pros of Red Dot Sights:
1. Quick Target Acquisition: Red dot sights allow for fast and intuitive target acquisition. The single dot or reticle provides a clear aiming point, enabling shooters to quickly align their sight with the target.
2. Improved Accuracy: Red dot sights can enhance accuracy by providing a consistent aiming reference. They eliminate the need to align multiple sight elements, such as front and rear sights, reducing the chances of sight misalignment.
3. Better Sight Picture: With a red dot sight, shooters can maintain focus on the target rather than shifting focus between front and rear sights. This allows for improved situational awareness and faster target transitions.
4. Versatility: Red dot sights are versatile and suitable for various shooting applications. They can be used on handguns, rifles, and shotguns, making them a popular choice among firearm enthusiasts and professionals.
5. Low-Light Performance: Many red dot sights have adjustable brightness settings, allowing for optimal visibility in different lighting conditions, including low-light situations. Some models even have night vision compatibility.
6. Eye Relief: Red dot sights offer unlimited eye relief, meaning the shooter can position their eye at any distance from the sight without experiencing a shift in the sight picture. This provides flexibility and comfort, particularly for shooters with glasses or those requiring specific eye relief.
Cons of Red Dot Sights:
1. Learning Curve: Transitioning from traditional iron sights to a red dot sight may require an adjustment period and practice to become proficient. Shooters need to learn how to acquire the dot quickly and maintain proper sight alignment.
2. Cost: Compared to traditional iron sights, red dot sights tend to be more expensive. Quality red dot sights with durable construction and reliable performance can have a higher price point.
3. Battery Dependency: Red dot sights that use battery-powered illumination rely on battery life. If the battery dies or is not replaced, the sight may become unusable. However, many models have long battery lives and features like auto-off or motion activation to conserve power.
4. Durability: While red dot sights are generally durable, some cheaper or lower-quality models may be prone to damage or may not hold zero as well as higher-end options. It’s important to invest in a reputable brand and model known for its durability.
5. Limited Magnification: Most red dot sights do not offer magnification options. They are designed for close to medium-range shooting and may not be suitable for precision long-range engagements.
6. Parallax: Red dot sights can have some degree of parallax, meaning the dot may appear to shift when the shooter’s eye is not perfectly centered behind the sight. However, the parallax effect is typically minimal and not a significant issue in practical shooting scenarios.
Best Pistol Red Dot Sight
1. Trijicon RMR Type 2 3.25 MOA: Best Pistol Red Dot Sight
The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is a popular red dot sight known for its durability, performance, and versatility. The Trijicon RMR Type 2 with a 3.25 MOA dot is a reliable and high-performing red dot sight. Its durability, accuracy, and versatility make it a popular choice among shooters for a wide range of applications. However, the price and the lack of magnification are factors to consider when deciding if it meets your specific needs and preferences.
Here is a review of the Trijicon RMR Type 2 with a 3.25 MOA dot:
1. Durability: The RMR Type 2 is constructed from rugged aluminum and designed to withstand harsh conditions, including recoil and impacts. It is waterproof and resistant to fog, making it suitable for various environments.
2. Accurate and Clear Dot: The 3.25 MOA dot size offers a good balance between precision and speed. The dot is crisp, clear, and easily visible, allowing for quick target acquisition and precise aiming.
3. Adjustable Brightness: The RMR Type 2 features an automatic brightness adjustment function, which adjusts the dot brightness based on ambient light conditions. It also offers manual brightness settings for customization, including a super bright mode for use in bright daylight.
4. Battery Life: The RMR Type 2 has an extended battery life, lasting several years under typical use conditions. It features an auto-off function to conserve battery power when not in use and has a battery-saving mode for even longer battery life.
5. Mounting Options: The RMR Type 2 offers a variety of mounting options, allowing it to be easily installed on a wide range of firearms, including pistols, rifles, and shotguns. It can be mounted directly to the firearm’s slide or used with various mounting plates and adapters.
6. Versatility: The compact size and lightweight design of the RMR Type 2 make it suitable for a variety of shooting applications, including concealed carry, competition shooting, and tactical use. It can be used as a primary optic or as a backup sight.
1. Price: The Trijicon RMR Type 2 is a premium optic, and its quality and features are reflected in its price. It is more expensive compared to some other red dot sights on the market.
2. Learning Curve: As with any new sighting system, there may be a learning curve when transitioning to the RMR Type 2. Some shooters may need time to adjust to the specific dot size and the way it presents on the target.
3. Limited Magnification: The RMR Type 2 does not offer magnification options. It is a non-magnified red dot sight designed for close to medium-range shooting, which may not suit those requiring magnification for long-range engagements.
2. Aimpoint Pro: Best Red Dot for AR Pistol
The Aimpoint PRO (Patrol Rifle Optic) is a highly regarded red dot reflex sight known for its ruggedness, reliability, and performance. The Aimpoint PRO is highly regarded for its reliability, long battery life, and robust construction. Its ease of use, clear optics, and co-witness capability make it a popular choice among law enforcement, military, and civilian shooters alike. While it may come at a higher price point and have a slightly larger profile, the Aimpoint PRO delivers exceptional performance and is built to withstand the rigors of demanding environments.
Here is a review of the Aimpoint PRO:
1. Durability: The Aimpoint PRO is built to withstand the rigors of professional use. It is constructed from high-quality materials and is shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof. It can handle recoil and harsh environmental conditions without losing zero or functionality.
2. Battery Life: The Aimpoint PRO boasts an impressive battery life of up to 30,000 hours (over three years) on a single CR2032 battery. Its efficient power management system and auto-off feature ensure extended battery life and reliable performance in the field.
3. Clear Optics: The sight window of the Aimpoint PRO provides a wide field of view, allowing for rapid target acquisition and situational awareness. The red dot is clear, crisp, and parallax-free, ensuring precise aiming and consistent performance.
4. Quick Target Acquisition: With both eyes open, shooters can acquire the red dot quickly and easily, which is crucial in fast-paced and dynamic shooting scenarios. The unlimited eye relief of the Aimpoint PRO ensures comfortable shooting and reduces eye strain.
5. Simple Operation: The Aimpoint PRO features a simple and intuitive control scheme. It has a rotary dial for adjusting the brightness of the red dot, with easy-to-read settings for different lighting conditions. The sight also has a dedicated off position between each brightness level to quickly return to the desired setting.
6. Value for Money: Compared to other high-end red dot sights on the market, the Aimpoint PRO offers excellent value for its performance and features. It provides professional-grade quality at a relatively affordable price point.
1. Weight and Size: The Aimpoint PRO is a bit larger and heavier compared to some compact red dot sights. While it is still considered lightweight for a rifle optic, it may not be ideal for those seeking the lightest and most streamlined setup.
2. Lack of Advanced Features: The Aimpoint PRO is a straightforward and reliable red dot sight, but it does not have advanced features like motion activation, solar power, or multiple reticle options. It focuses on essential functionality rather than additional bells and whistles.
3. Limited Magnification: Like most red dot sights, the Aimpoint PRO does not offer magnification. It is designed for close to medium-range shooting and may not be suitable for those who require magnified optics for longer distances.
3. Burris Fastfire 3: Best For the Budget
The Burris Fastfire 3 is a compact and lightweight red dot sight designed for handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Burris Fastfire 3 is a compact and reliable red dot sight that offers excellent value for its performance and features. Its lightweight design, clear optics, and ease of use make it a popular choice among shooters looking for a compact red dot sight. While it may have some minor limitations, the Fastfire 3 provides a cost-effective solution for those seeking an affordable and reliable red dot sight for their firearm.
Here is a review of the Burris Fastfire 3:
1. Compact and Lightweight: The Fastfire 3 is incredibly compact and lightweight, making it suitable for firearms with limited rail space or for those who prioritize a minimalistic setup. Its small size also contributes to faster target acquisition and improved maneuverability.
2. Clear Optics: The sight window of the Fastfire 3 provides a clear and unobstructed view of the target. The 3 MOA red dot is sharp and precise, allowing for quick and accurate aiming.
3. Ease of Use: The Fastfire 3 has a simple operation, featuring a top-mounted on/off switch and brightness adjustment settings. It also offers an automatic brightness sensor that adjusts the dot brightness based on ambient lighting conditions.
4. Versatile Mounting Options: The Fastfire 3 can be mounted directly onto a firearm’s picatinny or weaver-style rail, or it can be paired with various mounting plates and adapters to accommodate different firearm models. This versatility allows for easy installation and compatibility with a wide range of firearms.
5. Battery Life: The Fastfire 3 utilizes a CR1632 battery, which provides an extended battery life. With conservative use, the battery can last several months, ensuring reliability during extended shooting sessions or field use.
6. Value for Money: The Fastfire 3 offers a competitive price point compared to other red dot sights in its class. It provides reliable performance and features at an affordable price, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious shooters.
1. Limited Brightness Settings: Some users have reported that the Fastfire 3’s brightness settings may not be sufficient for extremely bright or sunny conditions. While the automatic brightness sensor helps to compensate for this, shooters in very bright environments may find the dot less visible.
2. Durability Concerns: While the Fastfire 3 is generally durable, there have been occasional reports of durability issues, such as battery contact problems or occasional sight failures. However, these instances are relatively rare, and Burris has a reputation for providing good customer support and honoring warranties.
3. Limited Magnification: As a non-magnified red dot sight, the Fastfire 3 is primarily designed for close to medium-range shooting. It may not be suitable for those requiring magnification for longer distances or precision shooting.
4. Vortex Venom: Best Red Dot Sight For The Money
The Vortex Optics Venom is a popular red dot sight known for its affordability, durability, and performance. The Vortex Optics Venom is a reliable and affordable red dot sight that offers excellent performance and durability. Its clear optics, long battery life, and easy-to-use controls make it a popular choice among shooters. While it may have some minor limitations, the Venom provides a solid option for those looking for a budget-friendly red dot sight without compromising on quality and functionality.
Here is a review of the Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight:
1. Clear Optics: The Venom features high-quality optics with a clear and sharp red dot. The 3 or 6 MOA dot options provide a precise aiming point, allowing for quick target acquisition and accurate shots.
2. Durability: The Venom is built to withstand rugged use. It is shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof, ensuring reliable performance in various weather conditions. The sight is also constructed from durable materials that can withstand recoil and impacts.
3. Battery Life: The Venom boasts an impressive battery life, lasting up to 150 hours at the highest brightness setting and up to 30,000 hours at the lowest brightness setting. This long battery life ensures extended use without needing frequent battery changes.
4. Easy-to-Use Controls: The Venom has intuitive controls, including a top-mounted power and brightness adjustment button. The sight also features an automatic brightness mode that adjusts the dot brightness based on ambient lighting conditions.
5. Mounting Options: The Venom comes with a Picatinny mount, making it compatible with a wide range of firearms. Additionally, Vortex offers various mounting solutions, including pistol-specific mounts, for seamless integration with different platforms.
6. Warranty: Vortex Optics is known for its exceptional warranty and customer service. The Venom is covered by Vortex’s VIP Warranty, which provides a lifetime warranty, regardless of the owner, offering peace of mind and support.
1. Limited Brightness Settings: Some users have reported that the brightness settings on the Venom may not be bright enough for use in very bright or sunny conditions. However, the automatic brightness mode helps adjust the dot brightness in response to ambient lighting.
2. Slight Blue Tint: A few users have noticed a slight blue tint when looking through the Venom’s lens. While this doesn’t affect the overall performance, it can be a subjective observation for some individuals.
3. Limited Magnification: Like most red dot sights, the Venom is a non-magnified optic designed for close to medium-range shooting. It may not be suitable for those requiring magnification for longer distances or precision shooting.
5. Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Reflex Sight: Best for Competition
The Leupold DeltaPoint Pro is a high-quality reflex sight known for its durability, clear optics, and versatility. The Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Reflex Sight is a durable and versatile optic suitable for a wide range of firearms and shooting applications. Its clear optics, motion sensor activation, and compact design make it a popular choice among shooters. Although it has some minor limitations such as limited brightness settings and battery life, the DeltaPoint Pro delivers reliable performance and is backed by Leupold’s renowned warranty and customer service.
Here is a review of the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Reflex Sight:
1. Exceptional Durability: The DeltaPoint Pro is built to withstand harsh conditions and recoil. It is constructed from durable materials and is both shockproof and waterproof, ensuring reliable performance in demanding environments. The sight can handle the rigors of intense shooting sessions without losing zero or functionality.
2. Clear Optics: The sight window of the DeltaPoint Pro provides a clear and unobstructed view of the target. The red dot is sharp and precise, offering rapid target acquisition and accurate aiming. The sight also has a wide field of view, allowing for enhanced situational awareness.
3. Versatile Mounting Options: The DeltaPoint Pro comes with a variety of mounting options, including a picatinny rail mount and a cross-slot mount for compatibility with different firearms. It can be easily installed on handguns, rifles, or shotguns, making it a versatile choice for various shooting applications.
4. Motion Sensor Activation: The DeltaPoint Pro features a motion sensor that detects movement and automatically activates the sight when it senses motion. This helps to conserve battery life by turning off the sight when not in use and instantly powering it on when needed.
5. Lightweight and Compact Design: The DeltaPoint Pro is designed to be compact and lightweight, making it suitable for firearms with limited rail space or for those who prefer a streamlined setup. Its small size adds minimal weight to the firearm and contributes to improved maneuverability.
6. Warranty and Customer Service: Leupold is known for its exceptional warranty and customer service. The DeltaPoint Pro is backed by Leupold’s Full Lifetime Guarantee, ensuring peace of mind and support for the product.
1. Limited Brightness Settings: Some users have reported that the brightness settings of the DeltaPoint Pro may not be ideal for extremely bright or sunny conditions. However, the automatic brightness sensor helps to adjust the dot brightness based on ambient lighting conditions.
2. Limited Battery Life: The DeltaPoint Pro has a relatively shorter battery life compared to some other red dot sights on the market. While it can last for a significant amount of time, users may need to replace the battery more frequently, especially during extended shooting sessions.
3. Higher Price Point: The DeltaPoint Pro is positioned at a higher price point compared to some other reflex sights. While it offers excellent quality and performance, the higher cost may be a consideration for budget-conscious buyers.