top of page

Every product we recommend is handpicked by our editors. When you buy something, we may earn a commission. Why trust us?

booking ad 28.jpg
  • Writer's pictureCaleb T. Hayes

I Tested And Ranked The Best Budget Red Dot Sights In 2023

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. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 1x20mm Red Dot Sight

Top-rated: 14,672 ratings | 1000+ answered questions

best red dot sight for the money


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


2. Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot Sight

Top-rated: 11,554 ratings | 728 answered questions

best red dot sight for the money


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

3. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight

Top-rated: 5,201 ratings | 1000+ answered questions

best red dot sight for the money


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

Top-rated: 2,600 ratings | 854 answered questions

best red dot sight for the money


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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

Top-rated: 3,681 ratings | 318 answered questions

best red dot sight for the money


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. Feyachi Absolute Co-Witness Reflex Sight

Top-rated: 8,253 ratings | 442 answered questions

best red dot sight for the money


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

Helpful review: "I recently purchased the Feyachi RS-30 Reflex sight for my new AR. The sight is very sturdy and it mounted very easily. I love the 4 different reticles, and the 6 different light intensities are great from low light to very bright. I had a slight tilt to the crosshair reticle that was a problem for me. I contacted Feyachi by email and explained my problem. I received a response in less than 24 hours. After understanding the situation they offered to send me a new replacement sight which I received in 4 days. The new sight is perfect. I will definitely buy from Feyachi again. They have great products for the money and even better customer service. I highly recommend buying from them. Thanks Feyachi." — Dean Rove
Trending review: "I finally got it installed and bore sighted. I have a few minor tweaks to do but I'm impressed with the sight for sure! I bore sighted this by looking down the bore of my AR at a target 35ish yards away and kept moving the crosshairs till it lined up with where my role was pointing to. Put it all together and I was right on target! I emptied several magazines as far as I could to try and jar it off target but it held very well. With current ammo prices I didn't do much else. But initial reports: this sight is underpriced for the quality and ease. It's got great sight picture with crisp, sharp, clear images. It adjusts easily and mounds painlessly. Another quality product from Feyachi. This is why I use their stuff!" — Reed Brown
Reassuring review: "I bought this 2.5 years ago and I think it was worth every penny! The first one had the rubber button fall off (which may have been my fault,) but Feyachi responded quickly and sent me a brand new one. It has been on my AR-9 ever since. I definitely haven't put it through any rigorous testing or any sort of torture, but it has held zero the whole time and the battery just died for the first time. To switch reticles you rotate a wheel, which made me nervous that the zero wouldn't line up right, but it didn't seem to cause any issues. You can see the circuit board under the rail mount, so I didn't think it would be waterproof at all, but I dunked it underwater and it seems to work just fine still! Overall I'm extremely happy with the optic, especially for the price. I don't know that I would trust my life to it in a war zone, but for plinking you couldn't ask for anything better." — Zash M.
Most-discussed review: "I purchased this Feyachi RS 30 red dot for my new AR 450 Bushmaster. Upon receiving the product I was able to quickly install it onto the rail and start to sight it in. There were tools provided to lock the product down and an extra battery was even included. The power button has easy access. The product has the ability to adjust for elevation and wind. I was pleasantly surprised to see there are 4 styles to choose from with the reticle selector - a standard red dot and 3 other cross hair style options. When you've chosen the option that is best for you, hit the power button up to 4 times to brighten/dim that option. This process will cycle through as many times as needed. Just hold the power button in to turn the product off. Last - a 3 year warranty is hard to beat. So far this seems like a solid product for a great price." — Cory Wright

Get it from Amazon now: $69.98 & FREE Returns


7. Holosun HM3X Flip to Side 3x Magnifier

Top-rated: 1,939 ratings | 182 answered questions

best red dot sight for the money


Highlight: Seamlessly transition from unmagnified to 3x magnification for improved sight downrange.

Helpful review: "first I’ll preface this by saying my preferred setup is red dot with a magnifier behind it. I have both the Eotech G23 and the G33. One of them is behind and aimpoint micro while the other is behind an eotech exps3. On another rifle I’ve been using it has the MRO. I have a very slight astigmatism, it’s completely fine when using the red dot alone however, behind a magnifier it can definitely present some problems. With the MRO both the G23 and G33 magnifiers interacted with the dot terribly. Not only was it that typical smudge that you would see, one of them (G23) would smudge so bad there would almost be two dots visible in the glass. I’ve heard from a small handful of people that the holosun was eliminating the astigmatism problem. Now, while I know that simply shouldn’t be able to work like that, I decided to give it a try for myself. To my surprise the 2moa dot in my MRO is crystal clear with the holosun, no smudge, no comet, nothing, it’s a perfect dot. I can’t explain to much as to why this is working like this but I’ll take it. For $200 it’s crystal clear glass, the body feels solid and the dot is actually a dot. The flip to side isn’t the best but it’ll do just fine. I’d definitely recommend this magnifier" — Gunner Tim
Trending review: "This is a magnifier for use behind a red dot optic and I suspect a holographic type as well but I didn’t have one available. I wanted a magnifier for use behind a trijicon MRO optic. I find that target precision is difficult with my aging eyes beyond 100 yards. The magnifier had to be at least 3x , have a good mount included and be weatherproof. This was not to be in place all the time so a quick release mount would be preferable. Glass clarity was important as it was the main reason for getting one. Eye relief had to be around 3 inches for my setup. The unit seems well made. It’s about average in weight compared to the others I had seen (vortex, primary arms). The mount was usable and flips to the right which I prefer. Several hard wiggles did not flip it which is nice as I don’t want it flopping around. The glass was clear and I did not notice any odd color casting. I was able to adjust the focus ring easily with glasses and with them off so the range of adjustment was good for my eyes. The magnifier set up well behind my red dot and I did not have to do any adjustments with the vertical or horizontal adjustment. The one drawback with it is when the red dot and magnifier are in place there is no room to mount it if you wish to keep all in the receiver and have a rear backup sight. It was not an issue in my case as I use offset back up sights so it was not an issue. Overall I believe the price was reasonable, and it was well-made and suitable for its intended usage. If your need is similar to mine, I can recommend this unit." — Sunset Sam

Get it from Amazon now: $199.99 & FREE Returns

bottom of page