Last Updated on March 29, 2021
We’ve all been there: You see your target and get your rifle ready to shoot. But as soon as you get the sights lined up, the target takes off and you’ve missed your shot. It typically happens when you use a traditional scope or iron sights.
But when you upgrade your optics to a red dot, you get far quicker target acquisition without any trade off — it’s a rare case of a win-win. If you’re looking for a great addition to aid in faster target acquisition, you can’t beat a red dot sight.
That’s why we highlighted seven of the best red dot sights out there and created a comprehensive buyer’s guide covering everything you need to know to pick out your next sight.
|Best Overall||Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight||
|Best Value||Vortex Optics Crossfire Red Dot Sight||
|Premium Choice||Vortex Optics Razor Red Dot Sight||
|Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight||
|Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight||
The Vortex Optics Venom red dot sight edged its way into our top spot with its combination of affordability and performance. There are 10 different brightness levels to choose from, you get unlimited eye relief, and it easily mounts to a wide array of weapons.
More importantly, you get to choose from a 3 MOA red dot reticle and a 6 MOA red dot reticle. While there’s no wrong choice, if you’re looking to shoot at smaller targets or at farther distances, you’ll need the smaller MOA reticle. If you’re looking for the fastest possible target acquisition on closer targets, the 6 MOA red dot gets the job done. Having the ability to choose between the two is a huge perk all on its own.
If you’re looking for the best Vortex red dot sights for the money, the Crossfire Red Dot Sight is an outstanding choice. Not only is it incredibly affordable, but it also offers top-notch performance. For starters, you get unlimited eye relief and have 11 different brightness settings to choose from.
Even better, the battery can provide up to 50,000 hours of use on the lower power settings, saving you money up front and on future battery replacements. While it’s a great lightweight option, you should know what you’re getting in that it’s a basic, no-frills design. It gets the job done, but it’s not jam-packed with fancier features.
If you’re not worried about the price tag, the Vortex Optics Razor Red Dot Sight is the best choice out there. The Razor has two different reticles to choose from: a 3 MOA red dot and a 6 MOA red dot.
It also offers an anti-reflective XR coating for maximum light transmission and brightness. This is especially important if you’re going to be shooting in low-light conditions. Moreover, there are nine different brightness levels to choose from, which enables you to optimize your reticle to the conditions and your personal preference.
Finally, the Razor red dot is coated with Armortek for additional durability and has an insanely lightweight design. Weighing in at only 1.3 ounces, you won’t find a lighter red dot sight out there.
However, the tradeoff for all this extra performance is the price. The Razor is the most expensive Vortex Optics red dot sight, and while that’s not a bad thing, you got to have the money for it.
A great choice if you want a versatile red dot sight is the Vortex Optics Strikefire II. It enables you to change the color of your dot reticle from red to green so it’s easily visible no matter where your target is. Additionally, it offers 10 different brightness settings to choose from, so it’s always easy to see your red dot, regardless of how bright it is.
Finally, like all decent red dot sights, you get unlimited eye relief, which is part of their appeal in quick target acquisition.
However, while there are plenty of things to love about this red dot sight, it’s not perfect. The 4 MOA red dot size is on the larger side, making it harder to bullseye distant targets. Also, it’s a little on the heavier side at 7.2 ounces, but this isn’t a huge hindrance.
If you’re looking for a basic red dot sight that excels at what it does, then the Vortex Optics Sparc II is an outstanding choice. Not only do you get unlimited eye relief, but there are also 10 different brightness settings to choose from so you can always see your reticle.
Moreover, there are four different mounting heights, which makes this the perfect red dot for handguns, shotguns, rifles, and everything in between. Whether it’s personal preference or being able to fit your weapon better, it’s exceptionally versatile.
However, while it’s a highly functional red dot sight, it doesn’t offer many of the fancier features that some other sights have, and it’s a bit expensive for a basic red dot sight setup.
The Vortex Optics Viper Red Dot Sight is the perfect choice for those looking for a sight to help them shoot closer targets. While the 6 MOA red dot size is larger than what many shooters want, if your primary focus is getting your rifle on target as quickly as possible for close-range encounters, this is perfect.
You get unlimited eye relief, and the sight itself is extremely lightweight at only 1.03 ounces. Finally, the 30,000-hour battery life ensures that when you need your sight, it’s going to power up. It’s the perfect red dot sight — as long as you’re not trying to shoot at distant targets.
A red dot sight’s 1x magnification level gives you unlimited eye relief, which is part of its appeal. But if you want to shoot something a little farther away, you need magnification.
That’s where the Vortex Optics Micro 3X Red Dot Sight comes in. You attach it to any red dot sight, and the 1x magnification jumps to 3x magnification. You lose your unlimited eye relief, but now you can bear down on targets farther away while still utilizing a red dot sight.
Moreover, the anti-reflective coating gives you maximum light transmission and clarity, and the quick-release mount enables you to quickly slide it in and out of place as needed.
We know how important it is to pick out the right red dot sight the first time, and we know that you’re bound to have questions about what you need. That’s why we developed this comprehensive buyer’s guide to walk you through everything you need to know.
From magnification settings to eye relief and MOA sizes, we answer all your questions here and help you pick out the perfect red dot sight.
One of the most critical questions that you need to answer when selecting a red dot sight is what company is making it. If you choose the wrong manufacturer, you’re going to end up with a red dot sight that doesn’t perform the way that it’s supposed to.
With Vortex Optics, you don’t have to worry about that. Yes, you’re going to spend a little more up front. But you’re going to get quite a bit for that investment. First, every Vortex Optics sight comes with a lifetime warranty. That means you don’t ever have to worry about spending another dime on a red dot sight.
While some other sights might be a little cheaper, after a few replacements, you’re going to end up spending more. But that’s only the factoring in the durability, and the truth is that Vortex Optics sights outperform discount options.
First, all these red dot sights are parallax-free. You won’t get any distortion, even if you pair them with a red dot magnifier. Second, you’ll get pinpoint precision with every shot. If you miss a shot with a Vortex Optics sight, you simply missed the shot.
When you’re firing a weapon, it’s crucial that you have equipment that you can rely on, so don’t skimp on the sight.
There are tons of advantages to red dot sights. First, they’re far easier to use. While you have to learn how to line up and take shots from an iron sight, all you need to do for a red dot is aim and shoot (of course, there are still techniques that you need to follow, but it’s far simpler).
But the most significant advantage is the ability to lock down and quickly aim down the sight. Because a red dot sight offers unlimited eye relief, you can quickly lock onto a target and line up your shot. Whether you’re hunting, shooting for sport, or keeping a weapon for home defense, faster target acquisition is a big deal.
Once you’ve decided to purchase a red dot sight, one of the first decisions that you need to make is what MOA size you need. The MOA on a red dot refers to the actual dot size that appears in the sight.
Larger dots are easier to locate and place on a target, which speeds up target acquisition. However, the tradeoff is precision, especially with distant targets. If the dot you’re using is too large, it can blot out the entire target, making it difficult to line up your shot.
However, this is usually only a problem with small targets at a distance, which isn’t where red dots excel. Still, small MOA dots exist, so if you need a more precise shot, you should opt for a smaller red dot. While it can be a little harder to find, if you know what you’re looking for and can properly adjust the brightness settings, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Every 1x magnification red dot sight on this list has unlimited eye relief. While that’s a huge advantage, it’s essential that you know why. Eye relief refers to the distance that you need to be from the sight to get a clear picture.
Having unlimited eye relief means that it doesn’t matter how close or how far you are from the sight — when you look through it, you’re going to get an accurate picture. This is huge because with some weapons, like shotguns, you need more eye relief than you do with others.
Having a sight with unlimited eye relief makes it extremely versatile and enables you to track down and line up a target quickly.
Most scopes offer reticles that maximize brightness so you can clearly see through them and line up your target. While the same is true for red dot sights, it puts you in a bit of a conundrum. If you bring in too much brightness, you won’t be able to see the red dot. That’s why most red dot sights have brightness levels that you can control.
During the middle of the day, you’re going to need a brighter red dot than you would at dawn or dusk. Too much brightness on your red dot reticle does two things. First, it blurs the dot, which can make it hard to get off a precision shot. Second, it kills your sight’s battery life. While certain red dot sights can last for 30,000 or even 50,000 hours, that’s at the lowest brightness settings. At maximum brightness, the battery life is closer to 150 and 200 hours.
You might think that you don’t need to worry about mounting your red dot sight until after purchasing it. While that’s technically true, it’s a big mistake that many beginners make. Not every red dot sight will fit every weapon.
Red dot sights that fit shotguns and handguns usually mount lower than those that fit rifles. The good news is that with Vortex Optics red dot sights, they’re quite versatile, and many options have multiple mounting heights for you to choose from.
That means it doesn’t matter what you’re mounting it to, because you can adjust the height to get a perfect fitment.
But even once you’ve narrowed down the height level, you need to determine the exact fitment method. Not every weapon can mount a red dot sight, so you need to double-check. See if your weapon has anywhere to mount a sight, and then verify that the sight you’re purchasing uses the same method.
If it does, you’re good to go, and you won’t have any problem getting it in. If it doesn’t, you just dodged a bullet, and you won’t end up purchasing a sight that doesn’t fit your weapon.
Few things simplify shooting as effectively as a red dot sight. When you get the right sight, all you need to do is line up the reticle and pull the trigger. But getting the right sight the first time is a huge part of the equation.
Hopefully, after reading this guide, you know everything that you need to about red dot sights and have the confidence to make a purchase. The next time you line up your shot, do it with confidence with a Vortex Optics red dot sight.
Featured image credit: Sambulov Yevgeniy, Shutterstock
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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