Last Updated on June 13, 2021
It’s the accessory that you might not even realize that you need. But when your target sneaks up on you and is closer than ever, the last thing that you want to do is let it get away because your traditional scope can’t handle the close-range target.
That’s why we took the time to review eight of the best red dot scopes out there for your AR-15. We also created a comprehensive buyer’s guide that will walk you through everything that you need to know to get the perfect red dot sight for your AR-15.
|Best Overall||Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope||
|Best Value||Pinty 30mm Reflex Red Dot Scope||
|Premium Choice||Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Scope||
|Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 Red Dot Scope||
|Predator V3 Micro Red Dot Scope||
When you’re looking for a red dot scope that expertly combines performance, longevity, and affordability, the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight delivers. It’s not as low-priced as the budget options, but it’s not as high-priced as the premium options, despite delivering similar results.
The Bushnell sight is incredibly durable and comes with a lifetime warranty, so you won’t have to worry about replacing this sight down the road. Moreover, there are 11 different brightness settings that you can cycle through, and the battery lasts an impressive 5,000 hours with typical use.
The only thing that keeps this sight from being a perfect red dot sight is that it doesn’t have a brightness memory feature or an auto on/off feature. It’s not a huge deal when you’re at the range, but in a real-world tactical situation, it can be an issue.
If you’re looking for the best red dot scope for an AR-15 for the money, you’re not going to beat the Pint 30mm Reflex Red Dot Scope. This sight is extremely affordably priced and comes with a few different features that are fun to use.
First, you can cycle through both a green and red dot reticle. Second, the optics are incredibly bright and easy to see. Still, this a budget sight for a reason.
To begin with, there are only five brightness settings to choose from. Also, this sight doesn’t come with a warranty, but at this price point, that’s neither a big deal nor surprising. Finally, this sight can’t keep up with the quality of more expensive sights.
But if you’re on a tight budget, this is a fun sight to use, and you won’t be stressed if anything happens to it.
There’s no doubt that the Aimpoint PRO Red Scope is extremely expensive. However, with the added cost, you also get added performance. This sight has 10 different brightness settings, including night vision settings.
Moreover, the battery lasts an extremely long time, up to 3 years of continuous use, and that’s not even on the lowest brightness setting! This sight comes with an absolute co-witness mount and a 2 MOA reticle that is outstanding for precision shots.
We do wish that this sight came with a brightness memory system, but with a 3-year battery life, it’s not too big a deal. Finally, while this sight might be expensive, it does come with a lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to worry about ever replacing it.
Sig Sauer is a big name in the optical industry for a reason. It makes tons of incredible sights and scopes, and its Romeo5 Red Dot Scope is no exception. This sight is a little expensive, but nothing like the Aimpoint PRO.
Moreover, this sight comes with a lifetime warranty, has up to a 40,000-hour battery life, and has 10 different brightness settings that you can cycle through. But what really sets this sight apart is the motion-activated illumination system.
This system ensures that you’ll never forget to turn off your red dot sight, and it acts as a brightness memory system, so it’s ready to use as soon as you pick up your rifle. It’s a great scope, and while it’s a little expensive, it’s worth every penny.
The Predator V3 Micro Red Dot Scope is an excellent option available for a great price. Not only does it have 11 different brightness settings, but it also comes with both a riser and 45-degree offset mount, which is an excellent feature for an AR-15 rifle.
The 2 MOA dot is great for precision shots, and the lifetime warranty ensures that you won’t ever need to replace it. However, while this scope is a great choice, if you can spend a little more, premium sights are better quality.
Furthermore, making adjustments can be a bit difficult with this sight, which is a big deal if you plan on taking long-range shots with the red dot sight. However, if you’re using the offset mount and have a traditional scope for long-distance shots, this is an outstanding choice.
There are few companies more reliable than Vortex Optics. Like all of its sights, this one comes with a lifetime warranty.
However, what sets this sight apart from the pack is the fact that it has both green and red dots that you can cycle through, and you get 10 different brightness settings for each option. But this sight is a bit expensive, even compared to other premium options.
This sight does come with an offset cantilever mount, though, which means it has everything that you need if you’re looking to pair a traditional scope with a red dot sight on your AR-15.
The CVLIFE Tactical Gun Sight is a budget option through and through. While you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get it, you also don’t get a lifetime warranty, and there are only five brightness settings to choose from.
While CVLIFE advertises the 110- to 220-hour battery life as a perk, that’s about 4,800 hours short of what most other red dot sights offer, so you’ll be flying through batteries with this sight.
However, there is both a red and green dot option that you can cycle through. Also, it has spring-loaded flip lenses that protect the sight when it’s not in use but enable you to get ready to use your sight with the click of a button.
Finally, it’s easy to make both windage and elevation adjustments, which is a big deal if you’re shooting targets at differing ranges.
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 PRO Red Dot Scope is a high-quality choice. It is more expensive than a budget scope, but it comes with a lifetime warranty, so you won’t have to worry about replacing it.
Moreover, the battery can last up to 50,000 hours on the lowest setting, although it has a 5,000-hour battery life with typical use. This sight has 11 different brightness settings and two different mounting options, although you have to choose one when placing your order.
But while this is a quality sight, it doesn’t come with anything special to set it apart or justify the higher cost. It’s a no-frills sight, and maybe that’s just what you’re looking for.
Whether you’re purchasing your first red dot sight or you’ve been using them for years, you’re bound to have a few questions. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide that will walk you through everything that you need to know.
Traditional scopes are great for a litany of applications, but there’s no doubt that they have a few drawbacks. For starters, you have to worry about eye relief and parallax, neither of which are concerns with red dot sights.
More important, high-powered scopes struggle to hit close-range targets due to distortion, and that’s where red dot sights excel.
Even better, if you choose an offset mount, you don’t need to worry about picking one or the other — you can have both. Compared to iron sights, red dot sights are a clear upgrade.
Red dot sights are far easier to use and speed up target acquisition time, and they don’t have any drawbacks compared to iron sights.
Offset mounts sit at a 45-degree angle, which enables you to mount them in conjunction with a traditional mount. The mount that sits directly on top of your weapon is a straight-up mount. These are a little easier to use, which is why we recommend mounting a traditional scope straight up and offsetting the red dot scope.
With a bit of practice, you’ll have no problem using both scopes. You can get the best of both worlds with a red dot sight that excels at close range and a traditional scope that lets you hit mid- and long-range targets!
It doesn’t matter which scope you choose or how you mount it. If you don’t take the time to sight it in, you won’t hit a thing. The good news is that zeroing your new red dot scope is easy, and it gives you an excuse to head out to the range and fire a few rounds.
The biggest decision that you’ll have to make is the distance in which you’re going to sight your scope. If you’re using an offset mount and traditional scope, we recommend sighting in your scope at 50 yards because you’ll be exclusively using it for close-range situations.
However, if you’ll using a straight-up mount without a traditional scope, the conventional 100-yard distance is the way to go.
Before you order your new red dot scope, you need to ensure that you have a way to mount it. There are two different factors that you need to consider for this. First, you need to look at the mounting system itself.
The most common rifle mounts are Picatinny and Weaver rails, although Dovetail rails are relatively common too. If you get a scope that doesn’t utilize the same mounting system as your rifle, you’ll need an adapter to make it work. While this isn’t a huge deal, if you don’t have the adapter, you’ll never get your new scope on your rifle.
Next, you need to ensure that the scope has enough clearance over the front of the rifle to see your target clearly. This is usually a problem with straight-up sights and rifles with raised iron sights. If the red dot sight optics don’t clear the iron sights, all you’ll see in the sight is the iron sights.
Luckily, there are plenty of riser mounts out there that will let you mount your new optic well over the sight.
One of the most important decisions that you need to make when picking out a red dot sight is the reticle’s size. Larger reticles improve target acquisition time, but they can blot out entire targets. So, if you need extra precision, a smaller MOA dot is better.
To determine what size MOA reticle you want, it’s best to break down what the different sizes mean. A 1 MOA reticle will blot out 1″ of a target at 100 yards. Meanwhile, a 5 MOA reticle will blot out 5″ of a target at 100 yards.
While this isn’t too big of a deal when shooting distant targets, when those targets move closer, the reticle blots them out even more.
For instance, a 1 MOA reticle will blot out 5″ of a target at 20 yards, while a 5 MOA reticle will blot out 25″ of a target at the same distance! For many applications, this isn’t too significant, but going with a smaller MOA size is better if you need precision.
You might think that as long as you can see the reticle in the scope, you’re good to go. There are two problems with this train of thought. First, the brighter the reticle is, the shorter the battery life will last. While the former can be a big deal, the latter is even more important.
If you’re using a brightness setting that is too bright for the conditions, it will blur when you’re looking at it. This drastically decreases accuracy and usability, which is why getting the proper brightness is so essential.
Having more brightness settings enables you to better match the surrounding conditions, which gives you a better experience.
Every company promises that it’s selling you a high-quality product that will last year after year. But only those brands that offer you a warranty are giving you any guarantee. The crown jewel of warranties is the lifetime warranty. This guarantees that your sight will last as long as you want it to, which means you won’t have to spend any more money on new sights. Since companies don’t want to deal with the warranty process any more than you do, this greatly increases the chances that they’re sending you quality products the first time.
So, while a product with a lifetime warranty might be a little more expensive up front, you get a better quality product, and it almost always saves you money in the long run.
Hopefully, after reading through the reviews and the buyer’s guide, you have a better idea of what you want in a red dot scope for your AR-15.
But the truth is that no matter what option you go with, you’re going to be getting a top-notch red dot sight. So, if you’re still confused about which red dot sight is best for your AR-15, you can’t go wrong with the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight. It’s an incredible sight at a great price, so it’s not hard to see why it’s our top choice. However, if you’re looking to save more money, the Pinty 30mm Reflex Red Dot Scope is a fun scope at a low price.
Featured Image Credit: CVLIFE, Amazon
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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