Best Red Dot Sights For AR-15 (Definitive Guide & Reviews for 2016)

A red dot sight is an optical scope (sight) used in conjunction with various devices whose main functionality involves aiming, such as telescopes and cameras, but most popularly with firearms. A standard red dot sight design makes use of a red LED lighting system to create a reticle, which is basically an illuminated red dot that is aligned with your firearm and helps you accurately keep your aim on the target — ideally while keeping both your eyes open.

Questions of what the best red dot sight around is will probably lead you to an AR15 red dot sight as the best answer, particularly one which is sold as an improved version of its manufacturer predecessor. While they’re typically non-magnifying, the best red dot sights are light in weight, durable, use battery power very effectively and maintain their calibration with the target (accurate and lasting zeroing).

Red Dot Sight Reviews


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Vortex Optics Sparc II 2 MOA Red Dot Sight

Vortex-Optics-Sparc-II-2-MOA-Red-Dot-Sight-(SPC-402)-and-FREE-Vortex-HatThe Vortex Optics SPARC 2 Red Dot MOA (SPC-402), Black, AR 15 Scope (High Mount) limited Integrated Magnification vs. Extended, Additional Magnification

The magnification capacity is only up to x1 though, but this is considerably more than standard red dot sights which were never really intended to have magnifying capabilities. With this integrated magnification comes the fact that the device is ready for deployment with an AR15 and there’s no need for any additional weight for extra magnification.

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Apart from the integrated 1x magnification, the Vortex Optics SPARC Black AR 15 scope offers:

  • 22 mm of eye relief
  • Very easy MOA adjustment (1 rotation gives you 1 MOA rotation)
  • Parallax Adjustment (90 MOA settings)
  • Warrantee-backed durability

This scope will give you a range of different height mounts and all you have to do is select the correct height. It pretty much comes standard with everything you’ll need to even mount on a handpiece like a 10/22 Ruger. This sight shares a lot of functionality features with the Vortex Optics SF-RG-501 Strikefire II Red Dot Sight from the same manufacturer, but is perhaps a better option if you’re going to interchange between the firearms you’re going to mount.


The SPARC 2 Black AR15 High Mount’s range of features could quite easily make one forget that it’s actually still a budget red dot sight, so some room for a couple of drawbacks should be provisioned for.

  • The sight is not compatible with night vision
  • The coating may have been intended to increase the intensity of the scope’s illumination, but that, unfortunately, reduces brightness
  • There is more than just a slight drop in performance in low light environments

Check out a more detailed Vortex Sparc review – 2MOA Red Dot!


Trijicon RMR 6.5 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot Sight

Trijicon-RMR-6.5-MOA-Adjustable-LED-Red-Dot-SightIf you own handguns such as those from the Smith & Wells M&P range, the most likely reason is most probably for practical purposes, such as defending and protecting yourself in possible real-life situations. Any of the target practicing you dedicate your time to is with the view of beefing up your firearm competency and so you’d naturally look towards sighting gun with something like the Trijicon RMR 6.5 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot.

The Trijicon RMR comes into play very well for practical, self-defense and similar uses because of the practicality its features pack. One only needs to look at the $500+ price to come close to the conclusion that this is indeed a sought-after device, but one which is sold more out of necessity than anything else.

The Trijicon RMR offers…

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  • Sizeable and practical MOA (6.5) which is easily adjustable at 1 MOA to each dial-click
  • Two Night Vision Modes that add to the eight brightness settings (with auto-adjust mode)
  • A special, super-bright light setting
  • Overall true-life practicality (quick target acquisition and deployment)


  • Quite costly
  • A change of battery will require you to re-sight

See more detailed Trijicon RMR review!



HOLOSUN HS403A Micro Red Dot Sight (2MOA)

HOLOSUN-HS403A-Micro-Red-Dot-Sight-(2-MOA)-with-AR-RiserLooking for a sight that’s the perfect size for your AR?

The HOLOSUN won’t frustrate you with any need to replace its mount, since the riser it comes with is the perfect fit for an AR, but you’ll also get a lower mount which gives you the freedom to pair your sight with just about any other hand-piece.

Do I get any value for my money?

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  • Budget price range, but rivals some market leaders in terms of performance-to-price ratio
  • Has a choice between a dozen brightness settings, 2 of which are night vision mode settings (day or night use)
  • Auto-activate feature when you pick it up for quick and easy practical use
  • Versatile: can be used for rifles, revolvers (hunting), bows or even on archery gear
  • Very clear lens of high quality
  • No parallax errors
  • Waterproof

Some very clever designing went into the layout of the battery housing, which is concealed in the sight’s base, leaving more room to see without any unnecessary obstacles, but this means that:


You can’t really use this sight with an Aimpoint HT mount or even on a railed AR handle, which are otherwise commonly used mounts

The verdict

You’ll definitely be getting some great value for your money with the HOLOSUN HS403A Micro Red Dot Sight (2MOA) with AR Riser, particularly if you compare it with the similar but considerably more expensive Aimpoint H-14 MOA Micro Sight and the Aimpoint Micro T-1 Tactical Red Dot Sight. Design-and-style-wise, this Holosun can be compared with the cheaper Bushnell TRS-25 Trophy Red Dot Sight.



C-MORE Systems Railway Red Dot Sight with Click Switch

C-MORE-Systems-Railway-Red-Dot-Sight-with-Click-SwitchThe C-MORE Systems Red Dot Sight with Click Switch fills the gap where most red dot sights find themselves a bit thin.

Surely FAST ACQUISITION cannot be as good as it gets with all red dot sights?

That’s correct — fast target acquisition does indeed seem to be the major selling point for a lot of red dot sights, but most of these neglect to pay more attention to the quality of the dot. If you want more freedom to vary the size of your red dot, this sight offers an extremely bright red dot with intensity levels that are adjustable. Basically, you can change the dot modulation to an orientation you’ll find more comfortable and compatible with your shooting ability

Are you a competitive race gun (performance modified firearm) shooter?

You’ll probably pay about double the amount of a budget red dot sight for this particular sight (between $265 and $370), but you definitely get double the value for your money because this is the sight of choice for many race gun shooters. You get:

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  • Vastly increased shooting accuracy
  • Great shooting speed (the display is designed for very quick target acquisition)
  • Durability offered by the aluminum body
  • Has 2 Night Vision setting, in addition to the 8 bright light settings and even 1 low-light setting


This sight is very job-specific though so you won’t get much by way of extended versatility such as trying to mount it on a revolver. It definitely gets the intended job done and you’ll be very aware of this if you are a competitive shooter. That said, you’ll probably only want to use this for a specific, dedicated race gun, otherwise if you’re willing to spread your budget a bit more you can either get the C-MORE Systems RTS2 6 MOA or the C-MORE Systems RTS2 3 MOA. These possible alternatives will give you the leeway to mount on secondary race gun pistols, such as your revolver, off-setting any need to have to put up with about an inch of elevation (the C-MORE’s height above some handguns is a full inch).

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Sightmark Ultra Dual Shot Pro Spec NV Sight QD

Sightmark-Ultra-Dual-Shot-Pro-Spec-NV-Sight-QDBudget sighting gets a serious shot in the arm with the Sightmark Ultra Dual Shot Pro Spec NV QD, simply because it highlights how game hunting success can be achieved without magnification. The “NV” part of the sight’s production name doesn’t really represent the scope’s inherent night vision function though, but rather champions its suggested pairing with a co-sighting device that does have night vision. The idea is that you hunt deer (or other game) during the day and then if you want to extend the Ultra Dual Shot’s capabilities, it’ll work well with a Night Vision scope.

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The scope’s size tips the balance in favor of the peripheral view over the field of view, but one only realizes this if you have another similar class sight to compare this one with, which is not very likely since you’d be looking at specific sights for game hunting.

This aesthetically advanced sight will give you a choice between four reticle patterns, each of which displays very crisply, a workable field of view and great recoil-resistance.

Don’t hold your breath about the integrated laser though — it’s somewhat of an afterthought that wasn’t really necessary, but it’s a nice side tool to play with (and that’s all). View more detailed Sightmark Reflex Sight review.



EOTech Transverse Red Dot Sight

EOTech-Transverse-Red-Dot-Sight,-Black,-Circle-2-Dot-Reticle,-300-Blackout_Whisper-EOTXPS2300One of the more expensive red dot sights around, the EOTECH Transverse Red Dot Sigh, Black, Circle-2-Dot Reticle is almost a waste of money if you don’t buy it along with the EOTech G33.STS.BLK G33. Magnifier. It kind of makes one wonder they’re not both officially sold as a combination because the reticle doesn’t offer much by of clarity. In fact, you’d find a much crisper reticle in a number of other scopes from the exact same manufacturer so it has to be said that if you are going to buy this sight, get the magnifier (EOTech G33.STS.BLK G33 Magnifier with Switch to Side Mount, Black Finish) too.

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…without the separately-bought magnifier:

  • Very accurate and consistent (maintains zero well)
  • Fits ARs quite naturally
  • Looks very good
  • Gives you that good old EOTech durability

…paired with the separately-sold magnifier

  • The sight’s illuminated reticle clarity is markedly improved when used with the magnifier


…without the separately-bought magnifier

  • The positioning of the buttons could have been better thought-out. Maybe if they were positioned to the side of the device’s main body they wouldn’t get in the way so much and would offer a bit more comfort when tweaked
  • The illuminated reticle has a blurry halo-like distortion, irrespective of the brightness you set it to

Pretty much all the drawbacks disappear when the scope is paired with the G33 Magnifier, apart from the total price which only extends an already expensive device on its own.



Burris Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount 3 MOA Sight

Burris-300234-Fastfire-III-with-Picatinny-Mount-3-MOA-Sight-(Black)Featuring a 3 MOA dot reticle (as the name suggests), the Burris 300234 Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount (3 MOA) Sight is one you’d very strongly consider if you had wide range of firearms with which you’d want to use it.

How versatile is the Burris 300234 Fastfire III?

Well it’s safe to say it’ll mount on almost all of your hand-pieces, including:

  • Shotguns
  • Handguns
  • Hunting Rifles

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More Pros

Not only is it versatile in this way, but this sight was built for accelerated target acquisition.

Priced at just a tiny fraction above what would be ordinarily considered a budget sight, the Burris is a marvel in action — there’s perfect eye balance and no dominance at all. The sight seems to be perfectly aligned with the target because your bullet hits EXACTLY what your sight is pointing at!

The mounts can be very easily removed and the sight’s recoil tolerance is very impressive, to say the least, as it’s able to withstand the recoil of semi-automatic 0.45 handgun and even that of a 460 XVR pistol.

You can also adjust the device’s elevation without using any tools; you can use the auto-brightness setting or manually fiddle through the brightness levels yourself.


It’s very hard to find fault with this sight — if a “fault” absolutely had to exist, it would be nothing more than the relatively small buttons (both the brightness adjustment buttons and power), which makes them a bit of a challenge to use without compromising your aiming accuracy. Double thumbs up otherwise!!

Guide to Find The Best AR-15 Red Dot Sight

What to look for?

When looking for a good red-dot sight, you want to strike a balance between specific features you want for sighting your firearm, while steering clear of getting tempted by some extra features not usually synonymous with a traditional red-dot sight. There are many different types of red dot sights available on the market, but generally if you come across additional features such as magnification or illuminated reticle (in some cases), these features often take the place of many primary features of a solid red dot sight.

If you have the budget, go for a specific red dot sight that specifically fits and works well with an individual firearm or class of firearms. AR15 red dot sights are a good example of this view because you then get great performance, durability and interchangeable functionality (one red dot sight can usually fit a wide range of AR15s).

Some red dot sights might have a green dot (reticle) as opposed to a red one, but the important thing to remember is that the dot needs to be visible to the eye, representing the firearm’s alignment with the target you intend to hit. Sights also have different reticle patterns and sizes, the best of which allow a good range of variation so that you can adjust the size and pattern to one which you’re personally comfortable with. Too big a dot and it can be very hard to clearly distinguish the target and too small a dot will serve as a distraction, with a lot of your effort going to trying to locate the reticle.

Budget red dot sights can go as low as below $50 in cost, but you’d be strongly advised to stay away from anything below $140 if you don’t want to keep replacing your red dot sights. Anything up to around $200 is still considered budget, but for around that price you can get some really good sights that might need to be paired with a magnifier if you require extended magnification. Some of the best sights cost around $240 right up to over $550, but you’d have to match your specific requirements to a specific sight, otherwise versatility generally takes away from optimal performance.

As far as the dot size goes (MOA), 4MOA sights will generally do a good job across a variety of handpieces, particularly rifles, but these dot sizes can also assist you in estimating the range of your firearm in relation to the red dot sight’s accuracy. The most common sizes for a red dot sight you’re likely to buy as a private consumer range from 2 MOA to about 3.5 MOA, and maybe even up to 4 MOA for more professional race gun shooters and the like.

Types of Red Dot Sights

Choosing between electronic and battery-free sights previously posed a problem that is fast disappearing, since battery operated red dot sights are becoming more and more competent for use in low-light environments or the situations that you have to use tactical flashlights. You might still have to contend with limited low-light functionality, but it’s almost always nothing too unbearable and your accuracy won’t be severely compromised. Batteries are also built to last much longer, with red dot sight prices in the region of $200 and above buying you about 5 000 hours of continuous use, with power-saving features such as auto-brightness adjustments and auto-power off when not in use.

Benefits of having a Red Dot!

The major benefit of choosing a red dot sight over other types of optical scopes is the good performance it offers at a comparatively lower price. What many people may not know is that red-dot sights are also safer than sights like those that use holographic technology (holographic sights). If a holographic sight’s lens cracks, for example, your eye might come into direct exposure with the laser and this can cause permanent damage.

Red dot sights also enjoy the collective benefit of their ever-decreasing weight, with the best sights optimized for weight via the aluminum or aluminum alloy used in their construction.

The ultimate benefit of having a red dot sight though is that of being able to acquire targets very quickly, using a scope that fits well with a wide range of firearms and ideally viewing your target accurately with both eyes open (the natural way).


How To Position The Red Dot Sight?

A red dot sight is an accessory to your rifle that will help you accurately hit your target. It shoots out a red dot light that will help guide you in hunting. When hunting one shot is important since the sound of a gun will disturb all the animals in the surrounding. If you can’t hit the target once, you will lose the opportunity to kill your target and may need to wait for many hours or even days to be able to see another target because they will scatter and hide. Having a red dot sight will help you not to lose this opportunity because it can accurately pinpoint you your target before shooting. To compare the best long range rifle scope click.


How to Place your Red Dot Sight?

One of the key components of a good performance in shooting is by figuring out the ideal spot to place your sight on the rail of the air rifle. To achieve this the first thing you must do is to find the best location for you that is not too far and too near, somewhere which is best for you for aiming perfectly. A common mistake among some hunters is that they mount their optic almost at the rear end of the rifle which is just too close. Red gives never-ending eye relief, there is no need for you to cramp it too close to the rear in your field of vision because it will remain in focus in whatever distance it will be placed on. As a matter of fact, placing it too close to you will result in a lack of awareness in the surroundings and it minimizes your peripheral vision when looking for a target or prey. Some shooters though prefer to mount their sight as far forward and it worked for them however it is not typically recommended most especially if you are using a nonmonolithic upper receiver. Its disadvantage is that it makes the sight the last thing that you will see when you raise the gun to your sight line

It is recommended to place the sight is the forward portion of the upper receiver. This kind of placement will solve all the issues caused by placing it in the rear or most forward part. This will give you a better field of vision and will be placed in the most secure part of the gun.

Remember having the red dot sight in its best location will help you in accurately hit your target, giving you a clean kill but a mistake in placing it will make you lose your target, therefore careful placement is important.


Battery-Free Red Dot Sight VS Electronic Red Dot Sight

Red dot sight has been a big help to shooters since it was introduced. There are various kinds available today in the market but often times most shooters choose either the battery free red dot sight or the electronic dot sight. In here I will shed light on what makes the other one better and which one will help you decide on what you want for yourself. To check the best scope click here.

Battery Free Red Dot Sight

One advantage of using a reflex style battery free red dot sight is that it has no electronic parts that are subjected to failure. It gives off low light function that is illuminated with tritium.

The disadvantage of opting for this kind of red dot sight is that it becomes a disappointment during low lighting conditions and you cannot manually increase the intensity of the scope. If you plan to use this kind of red dot sight that has no battery be prepared to set up your gun to accommodate its deficiencies.

Electronic Red Dot Sights

As time passes by, the electronic red dot sights are considered to be more reliable and much more efficient than other types of sights. The technology used into this optic is relentlessly improving in longevity and durability. Some brands of electronic red dot sights can run for about an average of 8 years with continued usage. This also depends on the sight model which can either last from 100 to 1000 hrs. The power of this kind of scope depends on two things which are the light source power consumption and the capacity of the battery.

Best Red Dot Sights Comparison Chart

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Wrapping up!

If you’re searching for the best red dot sight, taking a closer look at a solid AR15 red dot sight will give you a good starting point. AR15 red dot sights are emerging as a great benchmark against which other red dot sights are measured since most red dot sights are optimized for AR15s. Since it’s impractical to try out a red dot sight with your weapon before making the purchase and confirming whether it is indeed the best red dot sight for you, general guidelines include choosing a red dot sight that is firstly compatible with your firearm (fits your firearm or has appropriate railings), secondly features a dot size (MOA) that coincides with the range of your firearm, and thirdly one which will naturally add to the functionality of your firearm (allows you to accurately acquire targets while keeping both your eyes open and not buckling under what appears to be a considerably “heavier” firearm).

Comments (2)

  1. G-Man May 10, 2016
  2. joseph jarboe September 22, 2016

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