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  • Writer's pictureNoah O. Thompson

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

I review red dot sights for a living, so if you're looking for an option that is both durable and affordable, read on. My picks will never feel like a regretful purchase. Mark my words!

best pistol red dot sights

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

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

Top-rated: 14,660 ratings | 1000+ answered questions

best pistol red dot sights


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

Helpful review: "I first want to say that my family owns a combined 4 Bushnell TRS-25’s. Without a doubt, these are the best red dots you can get for your money in this price range. I currently have one mounted on a Smith and Wesson M&P 22 and it is a ton of fun!
The S&W M&P 22 is a .22 LR on an AR-15 platform. It’s not incredibly accurate, so a scope isn’t really practical. It is the perfect red-dot gun though as most of my shots from 50-100 yards are within a 2 inch group with this Bushnell TRS-25.
Before I get into the comparison, I also would like to note 1 minor annoyance about this red-dot. When looking through the tube, you can actually see back of the red-dot projector. It is a little block that protrudes into the viewing tube. It’s not a huge issue by any means; I just want to make people aware that this isn’t a defect or anything. It is like that on all 4 that we have.
I also own a Burris Fastfire III, which is a great red-dot, but I’m not quite sure it’s worth the money in most applications. Please see the following comparison breakdown.
Cost: You cannot get better quality or design for this price.
Quality/Design: All cost factors aside, the quality and design of this red-dot are great.
Functionality: While it states that it is 3 MOA, I believe it’s more like 2-6 MOA, because the dot gets bigger or smaller with the light setting adjustment. This is actually helpful, because you get an adjustable MOA red-dot which gives you a greater ability to use it in multiple applications.
Rigidity: This goes along with quality and design, but it’s important to note that this thing is solid once you mount it.
Battery life: I still haven’t had to replace any batteries; I’ve had them over 2 years.
Burris Fastfire III.
The size/weight: This is the smallest and lightest red-dot on the market that I know of (Trijicons are close). Way smaller and lighter than EOTechs, and of course, smaller than the Bushnell TRS-25. Because of its small size, it is able to be mounted on pistols. Some pistols are even pre-fitted for it, such as the FN-FNX 45 Tactical.
The battery life: Just like the TRS-25, this has amazing battery life. I am very impressed at how long they are able to extend the battery life now in these.
The design/quality: The design is perfect for me, I love how low-profile and light it is. It really adds so much functionality to a gun without adding weight or bulkiness. It also has a very precise 3 MOA dot.
Cost: As far as I’m concerned, this is still the best red-dot at this price point, but I’m not convinced it is worth its entire cost.
It might be more fragile than other red dots: I wouldn’t call it fragile by any means, but if you dropped your gun directly on top of the red-dot, I’m not confident that it would remain intact (there’s a possibility). But it can surely handle any type of recoil. There was a large imperfection in the glass on my first one, so I had to exchange it for a new one.
All in all, I like both for different reasons, but if you just want a great red-dot for the money, go with the TRS-25. The only time I can recommend the Fastfire, is if you wanted to put a red-dot on a pistol. Otherwise, I’m not convinced it’s worth the price difference. I tried to cover as much as I could, but this is getting rather lengthy, so please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll make sure to answer them!" — Koji Kadet

Get it from Amazon now: $110.99 & FREE Returns


2. Burris FastFire III 8 MOA Dot

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

best pistol red dot sights


Highlight: Tool-less wind age and elevation adjustments.

Helpful review: "I purchased this sight to mount on my Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Full Size pistol. I do not have the C.O.R.E model so I had to purchase a mounting mechanism separately. I decided to use Sight-Mount to replace my rear sight. Sight-Mount gives you a short picatinny rail section and installs in the rear sight dove tail. It does have the rear iron sight, so if I remove the red-dot, I still have good iron sights to use.
Other mounting mechanisms replace the rear sight and you no longer have iron sights to fall back on. Be advised that Sight-Mount recommends drilling and tapping your slide for a third mounting screw for a solid mount (you'll need a gunsmith for that). The Burris FastFire III with the included Picatinny mount fits on the Sight-Mount rail perfectly. Everything is very tight and secure with this mechanism, and with the gun's recoil and moving slide, it has to be.
I took this to the range and had no problems zeroing the sight at 10 meters. The adjustments are very easy to make (1 MOA per click) and it holds zero very well.
This model has an 8 MOA dot which is quite large (8 inches at 100 yards) and meant for close distances. I have tried this sight out to 25 yards (max at my indoor range) and the sight is very accurate between 5 and 25 yards (you do have to compensate your point of aim at different distances depending on the distance you zeroed the sight). For handguns, 8 MOA is a really good size because you are typically shooting at relatively close distances.
There is a combination on/off and brightness square rubber push button switch on the left side of the sight. The sequence is ON - AUTO Bright - High Bright - Medium Bright - Low Bright - OFF. It does have an auto off feature, and if the sight turns itself off, the next time you push the button it will activate whatever the last mode you were using.
The Auto setting is very good and the light sensor at the front of the sight will adjust the dot intensity pretty well. I have tried looking at the dot from a dark room and into a brightly lit room and the dot is dim but still very good. The opposite, from a brightly lit room into a dark room, the dot is quite bright, but again very good and usable. Even on the brightest setting, the dot is a whole lot less distorted than I've seen on other, even more expensive sights.
This sight has the battery access from the top of the sight, unlike the previous version of this sight where you had to dismount the sight and disturb your zero to replace the battery. The cap is finely threaded aluminum that is easy to cross-thread if you're not careful.
The battery that came with the sight was dead, so I used a replacement battery (CR1632 3 Volt) and had no trouble installing it. The sight is small so finding the dot for the first time took me a bit, but once you get used to the sight, finding the dot is no issue.
The sight is made with an aluminum chassis and appears to be very durable, but I'm not abusing the sight intentionally to test how durable it is.
The sight is really great. With my old eyes not able to focus in on the front sight post of my pistol, this red dot sight allows me to be a lot more accurate than with the iron sights. This allows you to easily shoot with both eyes open and focused on the target. With iron sights, its easy to get tunnel vision. Besides, if you are being attacked, you are focused on your attacker and probably not on your front sight. The red dot sight gives you a real advantage in this regard.
The only complaint I have, is that the sight does not come with a protective cover. It does come with a big sun shade, but I would like a small cover so I can protect the sight when I'm cleaning my gun. You can easily get cleaner on the lens of the sight and it's a pain to get completely clean again. You really don't want to dismount the sight once it's zeroed so this is one drawback. I now use some plastic wrap to cover the sight while I'm cleaning it.
Overall, I'm impressed with the quality of this sight. I have fired a few hundred rounds with this sight and it has held zero perfectly. The mounting is solid and handles the recoil and movement of the slide very well. The 8 MOA dot is easy to pick up, and the sight provides me a more accurate sight picture than with the iron sights. I'm happy with this purchase and can recommend this sight to anyone." — Shawn Nilsen

Get it from Amazon now: $266.99 & FREE Returns


3. Feyachi Absolute Co-Witness Reflex Sight

Top-rated: 8,243 ratings | 437 answered questions

best pistol red dot sights


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

Helpful review: "Let me start off with saying I love testing these budget-friendly options of sights. I've been involved in the firearms community over 17 years now. I worked with training companies and shops. I've handled everything from bottom of the barrel, to the top of the line. I've tested several products from Feyachi, and this sight by far is an the absolute cherry of the Feyachi offerings.
I've had a few units in the past with some reticle issues. I must say Feyachi's customer service is second to none. They've always without hesitation taken care of any issues. That in itself is worth 5 stars. Pan has been an absolute pleasure deal with and their customer service cannot be beat.
This unit is rock solid. With budget optics it's tough to find something of quality. Is this an EOTech? No, not by any stretch. But It also doesn't cost $500.
I love the switch on this unit. It has the 4-way reticle selection at the rear, and a simple on and off button on the left side. I've never been into the rotating dials commonly found on these types of sights. I really like how it has the intensity control built into the button. A quick push and you can manual cycle through 6 different options. 1 is fairly dim, but 6 is super bright even in direct sunlight. You press to turn on, click to adjust brightness and press and hold to shut off. I haven't had a chance to test it, but this unit supposedly turns itself off after an hour of time if it's not moved around. I cannot confirm that as of yet.
The adjustments on the unit have a firm and positive click, and they lock solidly into place. This fit perfect on the rail system on an AR pistol, with little to no wiggle or play. The reticle selector is firm and positive when you switch through the options, but still very easy to engage. The power button is a positive click when pushed.
Overall, a very solid unit. This also cowitnesses perfectly. And the size is just about perfect. This is pretty small and low profile for what it is. I think some people may find it a bit small, but it's just right in my opinion. A lot of value in a compact package!
This unit has a small rear sight built right into the rear part of the unit. It cannot be adjusted. I thought this was just an awesome addition to this sight. It's very rare that on the unit itself there is a way to have a backup. I have not tested accuracy of it yet, but absolutely love the concept. It should help you in a pinch if you have no rear back up option.
The reticle selection. Oh, the reticle selection. Four great options. Each option is super crisp and clear. I had 4 people look at it to tell me what they thought of the clarity. 3 said fantastic, one said fuzzy. It seems very dependent on if you have an eye issues like astigmatism, or corrective lenses. No issues, but something to keep in mind.
They varying intensity is fantastic.
I love that the adjustment Allen wrenches and an extra battery are included. This comes with everything you need to throw it on, tighten it down, power it on, adjust, and clean it. Fantastic value.
I also love the lens coating. It seemed to work really well at keeping down glare, it also makes it look pretty incredible!
The unit arrive safely and well-packaged. My unit had some chipping on some of the edges. Minor for me, but I thought it was noteworthy. A dot of sharpie or black paint would take care of that in short order. My unit also has a small, almost rubbing kind of wear on one spot on the rear. The item I received was all factory sealed and in brand new condition. I could only assume it was maybe from handling in the factory. Very minor.
The hardware to attach was a little gritty. Some oil and running the screws in and out a few times took care of that quickly as well, again, not a problem, but I thought it was noteworthy. I had no issues with soft or stripping screw heads or anything like that.
The reticles, while bright and crisp, have the slightest counterclockwise lean going on. It's not perfectly vertical, just every so slightly tilted to the left. I don't foresee it being an issue, but did notice it.
Also as mentioned above. Four people looking at the reticles. Three said they were crisp, one said they were fuzzy. It seems dependent on if you have any eye issues or wear corrective lenses.
All in all, this sight is a solid purchase. This will be going on an AR chambered in 300 AAC.
If your looking for a budget optic, this is the one to buy in my opinion. With those minor nitpicks aside, this thing is of good quality, it feels solid, and the reticle selection and brightness are really stellar. I would highly recommend this sight, and give this 5 stars. It's a tremendous value, and it has many features found on sights upward of the $90-$100 mark. It's well above its similarly-priced competitors. You won't be disappointed, and in the off chance you are, Feyachi's awesome customer service team will be more than happy to take care of you." — Alex Rowan

Get it from Amazon now: $69.98 & FREE Returns


4. Sig Sauer Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot Sight

Top-rated: 11,541 ratings | 726 answered questions

best pistol red dot sights


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

Helpful review: "Perfect . Amazon prime got it to my house overnight . Ordered at around 9pm and had it by noon the next day . Put on a AR Pistol build and couldn’t be happier with it . Well built . Lens covers are nice and easy to pop on and off so you keep your optic looking new and the motion sensor automatic on and off is defiantly a plus . No buttons , just ready to use when you need it . You can use the red dot with both eyes open for tactical situations or less strain while shooting. Target acquisition is a dream compared to iron sights. Has several brightness settings for day or night. Would recommend to anyone in the market for a optic and probably will be buying another for future builds . I don’t see why anyone would spend several 100 more for an essentially the same optic especially if you have just a basic or mid level AR. . Sig Romeo 5 is where it’s at . Merica 🇺🇸🦅 ." — Bryce
Trending review: "Very pleased with this Sig. motion-activated red dot. Glass is clear and the motion-sensing Auto-on capability is a great feature to avoid having to power on my optic in a dark room or stressful situation. I have it on my Extar EP9 with cowitness to my iron sights and it holds zero after several hundred rounds. I am considering buying a second one to replace the Vortex optic on my BCM AR. I have seen varying reports of battery life, but the fact that it automatically shuts off is a huge plus as I have left other optics on in the past to find a dead or weak battery." — John Brown
Reassuring review: "Absolutely love this red dot! For the money, you cant go wrong. It's clear... unless you have an astigmatism like me, but even so, the 2 MOA dot is small enough that it works great and I was hitting tight, solid groups easily at 100 yards with my AR in no time at all! It is VERY sensitive as far as the MOTAC feature, but it has the option of just holding the brightness button down and doing a "hard shutdown." so, if you've got it riding in the truck all day, it won't waste battery. But if you forget to do that and throw it in the safe, it'll shut off on its own and save you. Overall, great optic and I plan on purchasing another in the future!" — Caleb
Most-discussed review: "Best sub two hundred dollar micro red dot. I have this on an American Defense Micro Aimpoint mount. Clarity is on par with my Aimpoint H-1, its seems durable, and comes with both a lower 1/3 co-witness mount for AR-15's or low mount for an AK Ultimak Rail, etc. This is now my go to red dot when you need to get sights on your other weapons. I believe this red dot is reliable enough to put on your go to home defense rifle, and I would be confident on running it on my Patrol Rifle for duty." — RV Guy

Get it from Amazon now: $129.19 & FREE Returns


5. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight

Top-rated: 5,196 ratings | 1000+ answered questions

best pistol red dot sights


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

Helpful review: "I like Vortex sights/scopes, but I really though this would be bigger. I was not very happy with the large 3-MOA red dot (as this is a pretty big dot - but whatever). I was also not very happy that it sits VERY low to the rail when mounted - so IF you're going to mount on an AR-15, you MUST purchase a riser rail to elevate it. Vortex sells one for $94 (yikes!). You can also get them for $10 on Amazon. Wish I knew all this before ordering, but I'm still happy with the purchase (although I need to wait for the riser to arrive to finish the mounting)." — V.R.
Trending review: "I bought this thinking I could put it on my AR, ha hell no!! This thing is for handguns only, idc what you but to extend or space it. It works great and is quality-made but it is tiny, like the size of a Zippo. But it is even a bit smaller than that. It is so small I should attach it to a 12g round and use a hammer.... Anyway fits perfectly on my Glock without attachments. So just to reiterate, it is tiny and is not for AR's." — Kasey G.
Reassuring review: "Finally had some time to install on my PPQ Q5 and didn't take long to sight in. I took it to my first USPSA match under the Carry Optics and let me say that I would recommend this to anyone. I was hitting Alphas and Betas all day and I just started to learn to shoot on the move. I was highly impressed with using it and there were no hiccups. Put a couple of hundred with it and held zero so I would have to say I like to get another for my AR." — Jay V.
Most-discussed review: "Put this on a TRW ASP 9mm AR style pistol after my range buddy of 46 years said, hey "we" don't have this type of red dot on anything, "lets" try it. It was a great suggestion as it works superbly on a short platform AR. Dropped the dang thing twice, with it's rubberized cover on it before getting it installed - no damage. On a straight AR stock platform, make sure you get a medium height rail riser to enhance eye relief." — Dan A. Walker
Updated review: "Overall a great red dot for my new AR 15. I wish the instructions were a little more concise on how to make the actual adjustments when targeting, such as if your shot is to the right of the dot, which button to press to make the actual adjustment. That would help. It looks real good on my Daniel Defense AR15. I would most diffidently recommend getting the riser. I have MagPul flip up irons. But I still like the red dot to sit up higher." — James M.

Get it from Amazon now: $249.00 & FREE Returns


6. Holosun 510C Open Reflex Sight

Top-rated: 3,672 ratings | 312 answered questions

best pistol red dot sights


Highlight: 2 MOA Dot & 65 MOA Circle.

Helpful review: "I have a horrible time with optics due to my astigmatism and this is the most crisp by far! I have two now, one on a 12 gauge and one on my AR with a magnifier behind it. It has a good picture with no magnification but with the magnifier engaged it's crystal clear and crisp even without my RX glasses on. By no means have I tried all optics but the ones I have tried this one BY FAR has the best reticle I've seen. Add to that solar back up and I don't see how you'd pick anything else if this is the style optic you're looking for." — Mike M.
Trending review: "I was on the fence for a little while due to it being $300 but when I finally bought one, I was certainly happy with it. I've used it on both my 9mm PCC and my 556 AR and it works like a dream. My go to sight was the Sig Romeo 5 which I have two of (still a fantastic optic). I have to say I like this one a little more even though it's basically twice as expensive. Can't go wrong with this optic though. I have nothing negative to say about it." — Rob in NV
Reassuring review: "For an intermediate price point HOLOsun makes one of the best red dot optics with great features. This one has a QD lever so it can but removed in a hurry. I appreciate the ability to choose between the 65 MOA circle, a red dot alone, or both together. The solar feature is awesome for saving battery life when shooting in daylight, and it regulates brightness to match conditions. One minor drawback is that if you are shooting from a covered area into brightly lit areas the reticle will be a little dim, but it can be switched to ON mode and have the brightness set to your favorite level. In ON mode it has a time out and shake awake feature, so you can leave it on all the time and it wakes up instantly when you pick up your gun. This feature works REALLY WELL, so you can trust it to be there when you need it without wasting battery when you don’t. I’ve used this in front of a standard height 3x magnifier on an AR and also on my 12 gauge shotgun with just the ring, because it is pretty close to the spread pattern of buckshot loads." — Chris Kilo
Most-discussed review: "Bought both Sightmark and this one. The Holosun blows it away. No joke! Crisp reticle. Solid feel!!! Returned Sightmark reflex sight immediately. Trust me. You won't regret this Holosun for the price. I will buy it again for another rifle. I had a smile on my face as soon as I turned it on. My buddy has an Eotech xps3 and I honestly like this better. Reticle isn't as fuzzy. Perfect size. Doesn't look like a TV sitting on your AR. Window size is just right for FOV. So I must say, A+ for Holosun. Glad I jumped on this one. Sightmark is good for 100 bucks or less. But for the 250-300 range, this one is definitely a winner." — Nick G.

Get it from Amazon now: $309.99 & FREE Returns


7. Vortex Optics Crossfire Gen-II Red Dot Sight

Top-rated: 2,537 ratings | 164 answered questions

best pistol red dot sights


Highlight: Up to 50,000-hour battery life; night-vision compatibility.

Helpful review: "Sleek design, works well on all settings. Water proof caps cover windage and elevation adjustments. Fog proof lenses. Seems to be durable (not that I threw it at a wall or anything) but it is a rugged design. Overall a very nice optic. I can not speak to how well it holds zero as I have only had it on my .45 caliber AR style pistol and on top of that have only shot a few magazines worth of ammo with it on. I am sure there are other reviews on Amazon or another website that speak about that." — Jay P. T.
Trending review: "Great red dot sight! Bought as a replacement for the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25. Easy to setup and found the Low mount was more suitable than the High mount. Easy to change mounts. Easy to change brightness settings during the daytime, but haven't tried the night vision settings yet. Would recommend to anyone wanting a high quality red dot sight." — Edward T.
Reassuring review: "Great glass, solid mount. Bought for my AR, swapped it for an LPVO, but keeping it to put on an AR pistol. I highly recommend it to anybody looking for a superb red dot sight." — Triana Clan

Get it from Amazon now: $149.00 & FREE Returns


8. Holosun HM3X Flip to Side 3x Magnifier

Top-rated: 1,938 ratings | 181 answered questions

best pistol red dot sights


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

Helpful review: "I got this scope to place behind my Holosun HS510C red dot sight to increase the distance I could see for longer shots with my AR. The scope is very good quality. I like the quick release lever for install and removal. And... it fits perfectly on my rail. Sight glass is very clear and the magnification is adjustable. When you flip the scope to the side it does not wobble nor is it loose. Same as when in the upright position. Waiting for a bit of good weather to zero in my new gun and try it out. Based on what I have seen I would strongly recommend adding this to your gun." — Mark Gerstlauer
Trending review: "I coupled this magnifier on my AR-15 with my Holosun 510c. The unit mounts easily, locks firmly in place, is secure and really helps target acquisition out past 100 yards. I’d definitely recommend this magnifier." — Rich Smith
Reassuring review: "I have it on a 9mm AR pistol and it will help me with the 50 yard plus shots." — Tyler McCray

Get it from Amazon now: $199.99 & FREE Returns

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