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  • Writer's pictureCaleb T. Hayes

I Tested And Ranked The Best Budget Red Dot Sights In 2024

If you're after a red dot sight for your gun, I'm here to help you make the best choice on your next purchase. Read these hands-on reviews.

best red dot sight for the money

FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.


1. Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot Sight


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: 10 illumination settings (8 daylight, 2 NV) for visibility in all light conditions.

Helpful review: "I received this in the factory sealed box, and with the factory tamper proof seal in tact! The sight came boxed with the Mounting Key, Lens Cloth, Battery, 2 Mounts, Lens Cap, and Instruction Sheet. This is a very nice sight, easy to mount, clear red dot.
A few things that's important to know about the optic:
(1) Read over the instruction sheet. Don't just assume that because you've had these types of sights before you'd know how this one would work. You wouldn't!
(2) Yes! The sight has an auto-off after 120 seconds of "No Motion" when auto-motion is ON. So, yes! Remember to use this option in order to avoid unnecessary battery drain. If you've read the instruction sheet it informs you that the sight also has an actual Power Off and Power On option. To use this option you only have to hold down on either the + or - button longer than 1 second, and the same thing to power it back on.
(3) Some reviewers are reporting the sight not working, etc... This is a result of one of couple of things. When you first install the battery, you will not be able to see the red dot until you turn up the brightness, so click the + button (Don't Hold It Down At First, Just Click It) 3 or 4 times. If you still don't see the dot, assume the sight is in its Powered Off Mode and push and hold either the + or the - button for 1-Second to actually turn the sight on, then click the + (plus) button a few times until the dot becomes bright enough to see.
(4) Another possible problem that could happen is with installing the battery. Mine had a safety peel off sticker that HAS to be removed. When you peel these off, it leaves adhesive (glue) on the battery. So it's possible that you'd leave enough of it to cause a certain loss of battery contact. Make sure when you peel the sticker off from the battery that all the adhesive is cleaned off of the battery itself.
Caution! the brightness adjustments in either direction ISN'T A PUSH & HOLD operation!!! It's momentary CLICKS! That means that the brightness setting isn't a constant veritable. It's in CLICKED STEPS! Caution! Holding down for more than one second on either the Plus or the Minus button actually turns the optic sight OFF (totally powering it down) meaning that just clicking the brightness buttons (Plus or Minus) will not do anything until the optic sight is "Turned Back On"!
So what's the bottom line on the misinformation of this optic? All I can say is that it has some higher level electronics then the standard red dots. It's not rocket science, but it's cause for a lot of these being returned and the reason for a lot of the low rated reviews. It's NOT only "Auto Powered Controlled". It can be Turned Off, and it can be done so by accident. PLEASE read over the instruction sheet FIRST before you box this sight up and return it. It's such a great quality that it deserves that much attention.
Now let me make this clear. This review is from a 64 year old AR-15 (5.56 NATO) gun owner! I can say that the sight responded well to adjustments! It seems to be holding ZERO very well with what ammo I've fired so far! And, again, it has very clear optics! Having the turret adjusting bits built onto the turret caps works very well! There is no issues with the quality or function of this sight that I can find, but I'm thinking that the same sight upgraded to the larger tube and lenses might be NICE! but it would be larger and it cost more! Very Nice for the money!" — Mark Watters

Get it from Amazon now: $129.19 & FREE Returns

 

2. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 1x20mm Red Dot Sight


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Mounts easily on most picatinny rails, and is compatible with rifles, pistols, shotguns and muzzleloaders.

Helpful review: "I have quite a bit of experience with red dots and holographic sights. I run an AimPoint micro red dot on an Arsenal SLR-107FR and several different EOTechs on shotguns, AR platform rifles, and an FN SCAR 16S. I believe in quality over being parsimonious and am willing to spend more for higher-quality optics that I trust my life to.
That being said, I was nervous about spending less for a Bushnell red dot - what if the optic mechanically failed when I needed it? What if it lost zero? What if it dissolved into a pile of goo when I looked at it funny?
Anyway, I mounted it on a Frankenstein AR platform that I built. Government-profile 20" FN upper, S&W M&P 15 lower, heavy buffer, BCM charging handle, etc.
After zeroing it, which was extremely simple even for a red dot, I then subjected the optic to several hundreds of rounds of mag dumps. It held zero without any issues. A week later, I took it out again and did the same thing with no issues and no loss of zero.
Never once did the optic flicker or turn itself off from the recoil or from releasing the charging handle (one of my EOTechs started to do that.) It also started raining on that outing and drenched the optic, which caused zero issues. I have not 'extreme vetted' the optic. I do not intend to run over it with my car or throw it into a lake or bury it in the yard. I will not be shooting it or stomping on it or feeding it to a grizzly bear.
However, I would absolutely trust this optic with my life under any reasonable set of circumstances that I might find myself facing. Is it as tough as an AimPoint? Probably not. But it works perfectly as intended. A note on the battery - I left the optic continuously on for about a month (on setting 5, 6, or 7) before it began to dim and the battery needed to be replaced. Replacing the battery is very simple and quick." — Shawn Almeida

Get it from Amazon now: $110.99 & FREE Returns

 

3. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: The top load mechanism allows you to easily change the battery (without removing the sight).

Helpful review: "My first firearm was a Glock 17 MOS and I took it multiple times to plate shoot competitions (at 15 yards). But I was shooting horribly with it, so I put it away for a few months and used a Tangfolio Witness Elite Match. I decided to take advantage of the MOS feature of my Glock 17 and I purchased this Vortex Venom red dot (though the photo shows the Venom on one of my other firearms).
I never shot using a red dot before so I took it to the range and used about 100 rounds to zero it first at 7 then 15 and finally at 25 yards. During the range session, I noticed that the groups were very tight at 15 yards so I decided to take it to the next plate shoot night, which happened to be "Low light shooting" night.
I was amazed my self at the accuracy and consistency of this targeting system. Not only I won the competition but did it undefeated and I owe it all to this red dot. I shot about 100 rounds during the competition and the zero held perfectly. Needless to say that the Glock 17 MOS with the Vortex Venom is my favorite firearm for plate shoot competition and I am going to try it for USPSA next time.
Features include auto shut off (after many hours) and auto brightness of the red dot depending on the ambient light but you can also adjust the brightness from the Up/Down arrows on the side. The total height of the sight feels very low compared to some other red dots I have seen. Yet, during targeting it is very easy to see the target through the glass.
Only drawback is that when I first bring the firearm up to firing position, sometimes I struggle to find the dot. Perhaps a co-witness front sight would guide me as to if I am aiming to high, too low, left or right, while I am looking for the dot. But when you shoot with a dot, the focus should be on the target and I am afraid that a co-witness front sight would bring my focus to it out of a habit so I am planning to use it as is for a while to see if I can start finding the dot easier.
To obtain the correct screws for the Glock 17 MOS, I called Vortex at eight hundred 426-0048 x4 and I got to speak with a person immediately. I told her that I ordered the Vortex Venom and I need the screws to mount it on the Glock. She asked for my name and address and 2 days later the screws arrived in an envelope free of charge.
Overall, with great service, lifetime warranty and the same quality with red dots that cost twice as much, I believe that I got the most value from this purchase than any other accessory I have purchased so far. I highly recommend this red dot sight." — John Vale

Get it from Amazon now: $249.00 & FREE Returns

 

4. Burris FastFire III 8 MOA Dot


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Tool-less wind age and elevation adjustments.

Helpful review: "In general, this is a good value red dot sight. I chose the 8 MOA for my Keltec KSG 12ga shotgun. I figured the practical range would be no more than 100 yards but more likely 25 yards. At 25 yards, the dot covers approximately 2 inches on the target, which I feel is very appropriate for a shotgun.
As other reviewers have noted, you will probably want a riser if you are putting this on a weapon with a flat top receiver: I chose the "UTG Medium Profile Riser Mount with 3 slots" on Amazon for about $8.50 and have been happy.
COMPARATIVE SHOPPING:
I wanted the "heads up display" type of red dot (aka Trijicon RMR) over the "scope" type (e.g. Bushnell TRS-25). This Burris system is very similar in look and feel to the Trijicon RMR, but for less than half the price of the Trijicon.
The biggest functional advantage the RMR has over the Fastfire III is the RMR has a motion detection system: the site will automatically turn on when it detects motion, and shutoff later. I see that as a clear advantage when something goes bump in the night and you reach for a gun with the RMR - the sight system is ready to go.
With the Burris, you have to remember to turn on the sight when you grab your gun - which you may not do in a high stress situation. I find that an acceptable tradeoff, with the understanding that it shall be incumbent upon me to train switching on the site system when I reach for the shotgun. Training, training, training.
FIRST IMPRESSION:
The sight system is tiny: the lense is smaller than a quarter. It seems too small. However, once you have it mounted and you shoot with it, you will realize it is the right size after all. I took care with the battery cap, and I did not have a problem unscrewing or re-screwing it as some other reviewers have observed.
The description says "tool-less windage and elevation adjustments" which I don't agree with. The kit comes with a tiny screw driver, and you will need that or some other screw driver to twist the dials to make adjustments.
SECOND IMPRESSION:
I was able to quickly sight in the system at 25 yards by shooting a few slugs and making windage and elevation adjustments, then repeating the process.
After about 5 tweaks, I was hitting bullseye or close each round and I was a happy camper. I found the auto-brightness setting worked fine indoors. It always seems dimmer than you would expect, but it works and you forget about it.
The manual (hi-med-low) settings can also be used but tend to be either too high or too low; I will probably stick to the auto setting for all future use. After about 40 rounds of mixed slug and buck, and I was very happy. Then I checked the UTG Riser and was shocked to find it was very loose - I tightened it with several turns on the set screw.
Likewise, I then checked the Burris Fastfire III and found it was loose. After tightening it firmly with its set screw, I resumed firing the KSG and was frustrated to find that I was not even hitting the target at 25 yards. Suffice it to say, I will consider using Locktite or something similar after zeroing it in again.
Note:
I have a pair of Magpul MBUS (Magpul Backup Sites) installed in tandem, just in case of the Burris's battery or system failure. They did not loosen from 40 shotgun blasts, and were still on zero.
A FINAL OBSERVATION:
At full brightness, the user can see that the red dot is not in fact a single red dot. It is more like 6 or 8 tiny red dots arranged in a star type of pattern. I noted right away the star in my system is not even, that is to say, not symmetric. It seems a little deformed, or smaller on one side. I was worried when I first noticed that after powering the system on. I worried that it was a sign of poor quality control at Burris and perhaps there would be usage problems.
In fact I found that isn't the case. In both outdoor and indoor range usage, I found when staring through the sight at a distant target, the red dots become a red dot, and the human eye is no longer distracted by the sight system itself a few inches away.
I like this sight system enough that I will probably buy another 8 MOA for a handgun if I ever buy a handgun with a rail system on the top. I recommend a 3 MOA for anybody with a rifle." — Frank Miner

Get it from Amazon now: $266.99 & FREE Returns

 

5. Holosun 510C Open Reflex Sight


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: 2 MOA Dot & 65 MOA Circle.

Helpful review: "I've had an RMR and a few Vortex red dots. The RMR had the dimming issue I resolved with an antiflicker plate and I loved it. The Vortex dots aren't sexy but they just work. I could punch a penny at 25 yards with both. This new Holosun however beats them all. The features, construction, and options put it above the competition at almost half the price.
Perfect cowitness with the BUIS that came with my B&T GHM9. Took a considerable amount of left to right adjustment, but the up down was dead on. The shake to wake feature gives it true "Go Gun" status. No fiddling with buttons to turn it on. In a bad situation you don't want to have to try to turn one on when you really need it. Pulling it out of your bag will bring it to life and you're ready to rock.
Auto-dimming is also a great feature my RMR and Vortex dots didn't have. Once enabled you will see a noticeable and immediate difference going from dark/dim to brighter areas. Works excellent outside. The feature is disabled by holding the + button for 3 seconds. This would be ideal if you're in a shaded environment and your target is outside in a brightly illuminated area.
In the higher brightness settings you can still see the reticle when you point it towards the sun. You won't lose your dot in bright areas.
The reticle options are also very hand. 2moa dot will help you plink pretty far down range and the larger 65moa reticle will give you fast acquisition at closer range. They defiantly both have their place. And neither the RMR or Vortex dots offered multiple options. The battery life is supposed to be incredible. I haven't had it long to know, but all testing has shown you'll have years between battery changes. Keep in mind it does come with a spare battery tray so you if your grip has storage you can keep the included torx tool and spare battery with you when it becomes an issue.
The solar feature is reassuring. Worst case scenario you're in the field or fight and the battery dies. If you are outside in the sun, or have enough ambient light the dot will still work. If SHTF and batteries are no longer available, you'll still be able to use it.
The value, man.. It is just a no brainer. Half the price of an MRO or RMR. More features. More rugged design. The Alabama Arsenal torture test includes, pouring water on it, throwing it 20ft into the air and letting it hit the ground, freezing it in ice, beating on it, and SHOOTING it with a shotgun, and it still held zero.
The quick release mount also saves you an extra $150 if you were running other dots and allows for a perfect BUIS cowitness. Mine fit a little loose when I first installed it. I used the included tool and tightened the mount one turn and it clamped down with the force of an Amazonians thighs during Snoo Snoo. Absolutely solid now and still easy to release with the convenient latch keeper.
The picture is incredible. The thinner profile sides and large viewing window give a natural feel and you're not chasing the dot around. No toilet paper tube EFFECT or black glob in the corner like with the Vortex Sparc AR. With boys eyes open you hardly notice the frame. You just see everything as well as a dot in your FOV.
I will probably buy another one for my next Scorpion build. Can't imagine anyone coming out with a better optic for the money." — Marco Chavanne

Get it from Amazon now: $309.99 & FREE Returns

 

6. Sig Sauer Romeo-MSR Red Dot Sight + FREE Magnifier


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Ultra-compact combo kit.

Helpful review: "Obviously not a holographic, it's a reflex. I knew that ahead of time, just clarifying for anyone wondering. Either bad Chinese translation or false advertising.
When viewing indoors, at first I thought it was bunk, there was a red halo all over the edge of the sight. Must have been the indoor lighting though. I have it on ar15, once it was mounted and outside it was very clear and almost spot on accurate before any adjustments. Barely adjusted a couple clicks. I didn't quite shoot 100 rds (pricy right now), but it appears to be holding zero. Plenty bright for day use.
The magnifier eye relief is a bit close at 65mm as advertised, it is clear and works like a short 3x scope. I think overall it is a decent quality product from China and good for the price.
A FEW WORDS FROM MY NEIGHBOR, DAVID:
Everything about this is badass. I zeroed it to my already zeroed iron sights. Went out into the woods, gave the KOD to 1 Deer, and 4 squirrels without really having to adjust it at all. Set up some paper targets about 100 yards away and had a perfect grouping with the magnification. This optic is well worth the buy. Never stray away from SIG my fellow red dot users.
ON TO A REVIEW FROM A RANGE BUDDY:
The Romeo MSR is an awesome budget friendly tool good out to 100yds by itself. I have verified! The Juliet magnifier makes far objects more identifiable and acts like a mini low power scope. Flipped to the side for closer shots it's out of the way. I like mine to flip LEFT so I reversed it and the mount. I can use the Juliet magnifier as a separate spotter with the left eye when needed or just flip it in combo with Romeo and Bang! Only issue I ran into was running out of rail at the rear to reduce eye relief. I have to collapse the stock 2 notches. An adapter would solve that but I'm good with it as is." — Aaron Birch

Get it from Amazon now: $258.85 & FREE Returns

 

7. AT3 Tactical ARO Low Mount 3 MOA


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Tactile “click” adjustments for easy sight-in.

Helpful review: "I bought the AT3 ARO red dot sight because I wanted to try a red dot sight on a handgun. I've never used a red dot sight on a pistol before and wasn't sure if I would like the bulk or the additional weight so I didn't want to spend a lot of money on an item I might not ever use. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I first learned to fire with iron sights and usually try to keep self defense items as low tech as possible, batteries fail iron doesn't.
That being said I chose the ARO because of the features like the battery being on top and the footprint as well as the low price point.
When I got the item I was immediately impressed by the look and the sturdy feel of it.
When I put it on the firearm I was disappointed to find that the dot was stuck in the upper left corner of the window and no amount of adjustment would move it to center. I uninstalled it, put it in the box and prepared for a fight to try and get my money back.
The next morning I checked my email and found a follow up email from AT3's customer service department asking if I was satisfied with the device. I responded with the problem I was having and went about my day. About 10 minutes later I got a reply from AT3 saying they were sending me a replacement unit. Returning the one I had wasn't even mentioned in the response and wasn't even an issue until I asked how I could return it. How great is it that a company is more concerned with ensuring that their customer is happy rather than requiring a defective item to be returned before they consider making the issue right.
Sure enough, about a half hour after I sent my initial email I got an email from AT3 with a tracking number showing a replacement was sent. Two days later I had the replacement, mounted it on my gun and it worked perfectly. At 25 yards the dot was almost spot on. After two full mags the sight is still zero'd in. I got this thinking it would be a low budget testing device until I could afford a more expensive Trijicon or Burris, Docter, etc…
However, after using it and the experience I've had with AT3 Tactical I think I will make this my primary sight. I would strongly recommend this company and device to anyone looking to get a high quality red dot sight and not need to take out a second mortgage to buy one. In the future when I need any optics or accessories AT3 will be my first search.
ON TO A FEW WORDS FROM A FRIEND:
I used this in conjunction with the Burris micro red dot protector housing which works great. Had the RD mounted on an AKM and then onto a pump action 12 ga. Where it continues to live.
PROS:
- Handles abuse, with the housing, to an extreme degree. I'm a simple guy, but having bought about half a dozen AT3 red dots, I'm not surprised that I could run this unit hard.
- Very small footprint
CONS:
- In bright sunlight, the dot is hard to make out at the highest setting.
- The buttons and brightness settings are not intuitive. You have to cycle through brightness settings instead of being able to go back and forth.
SUMMARY:
AT3 makes great value optics, and I'm happy with what I got for the price. Again, durability with this company is not even a question. After 500+ rounds of 00 buck, and 200+ high brass buckshot loads, the dot held zero and has not fallen apart. I run my guns hard, tossing them onto the ground, slamming into barricades, etc. They work. But... Due to the very nature of how these micro red dots are constructed, I highly recommend a protective metal housing like the one from Burris." — Mike Benjamine

Get it from Amazon now: $149.99 & FREE Returns

 

8. Feyachi Absolute Co-Witness Reflex Sight


best red dot sight for the money

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Fully adjustable height, brightness, windage and elevation. "Where the dot goes, so does the bullet!"

Helpful review: "First of all, I like this reflex sight. It’s size, weight, stout construction, functionality, and price is hard to beat. The field of view is more than adequate for fast target acquisition, plus various reticle brightness settings allow preferences in different light conditions. Combined with a variety of reticle choices and the fore mentioned features, it’s very hard to outclass this sight given its price range. And it looks cool on an AR-15 or variant rifle. Has to look cool.
As rifle owners and builders add components, functionality and gadgets to their builds, rifle weight increases. Personally, I’m concerned with weight. However, weight aside, besides the rifle itself, the sighting system is critical in the build. The sight must function according to the shooters requirements and provide accurate placement at various ranges. The RS-30 in my opinion provides excellent sighting in a compact, lightweight, easy to use package that doesn’t add unnecessary functionality and weight, such as lasers. Sighting in the reticle is accomplished using the provided wrenches. Reticle lock down is provided. Regardless of eye position, the reticle holds target adequately. Iron backup sights work exceptional well through the lens.
Construction is robust. The hood is stout providing a glare shield and should protect the lens area quite well. Rail attachment is good given the overall weight and profile of the sight. This is all accomplished by not creating a huge lump on top of a rifle keeping the overall profile of an AR-15 quite low and attractive. Looks cool. My opinion’ a good job Feyachi.
Electronics provide the on-off button location for a right-hand shooter’s support hand operation. Strong side left hand shooters should be able to adapt to this location with practice. The reticle selection lever is located in a protected position however easy to reach and adjust. Battery storage is good plus provides a coin operated cover for easy removal. Batteries are readily available at local stores I’ve not tested the one-hour auto-power shut-off feature. Battery removal may need to be revisited.
To my Feyachi friends, a couple of suggestions to improve on an already good sight. My suggestions would no-doubt add price to the optic however would significantly increase the reliability, desirability and overall functionality of the optic. This optic can compete with much more expensive optics.
First, a positive ‘click’ positioning lever on the reticle selection feature would insert the reticle precisely in the lens eliminating minor adjustments to center the reticle. Second, windage and elevation adjustments would be more convenient with coin operated adjustment screw; currently the operator must always have the adjustment wrench available. Watch out for painted directions on the optic as some builders paint their rifles. Third, add a quick rail attach or detach feature protected from unintended release. Lastly, and no-doubt the most costly improvement is providing some degree of waterproofing to the electronics and lens.
Given the existing sight and with these improvements, I would not have an issue paying more. Plus this sight could complete with optics costing hundreds of dollars more. Thank you for the opportunity to provide you my personal feedback to your RS-30 Reflex sight." — Richard Harrold

Get it from Amazon now: $69.98 & FREE Returns

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