I Tested And Ranked The Best Red Dots For AR-15 In 2023
There are a lot of red dot sights on Amazon to choose from. I've gone through thousands of reviews and rounded up the best options for the money.
FYI, prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.
1. Sig Sauer - Romeo5 1x20mm Red Dot Sight
Top-rated: 11,541 ratings | 726 answered questions
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
Top-rated: 14,660 ratings | 1000+ answered questions
Highlight: Mounts easily on most picatinny rails, and is compatible with rifles, pistols, shotguns and muzzleloaders.
Helpful review: "Buy this optic if you are in the market for an inexpensive, high-quality, and high durability micro dot and aren't terribly concerned with the ability to use a kill-flash on it (which is probably not even necessary for the ranges this sort of optic would be useful in.
I was immediately impressed with the 'authority' of the brightness on/off switch. It feels very solid and positively clicks into each position. The image on Amazon is a bit misleading as it is missing the middle part of the mounting clamp, but I'm sure you can use your imagination to fill in that gap. The included rubber cover is nice and can be left wrapped around the sight while in use.
I mounted this optic on a UTG Medium Profile riser mount and it lower 1/3rd co-witnessed with some low-profile Troy flip sights I had on my KWA Airsoft AEG. The medium profile riser mount absolute co-witnesses with standard height irons that come on the Krytac CRB AEG. I believe these are indicative of the standard height sights on an M4/AR-15 type rifle.
I also have a Primary Arms MD-AD 2 MOA micro dot sight which uses the same mounting system as the Aimpoint T-1 & H-1 products. The brightness/on-off switch on the PA MD-AD is mushy and the brightness goes to max when in-between steps in the switch mechanism. It does, however, have hard stops at 0 and max. The Bushnell TRS-25's switch is superior even without the hard stops. The dot is also clearer in the TRS-25 in most conditions. The MD-AD has the ability to mount flip-caps and an optional kill-flash which is nice, but ultimately not necessary. The TRS-25 has a clearer picture than the MD-AD which adds a blue-ish hue to everything.
- Clear sight picture.
- Solid switch mechanism.
- Bright, clear dot.
- No way to mount a kill-flash
- Would be nice if it was compatible with T-1 & H-1 mounts.
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. 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." — Steve Holsinger
Get it from Amazon now: $110.99 & FREE Returns
3. Vortex Optics - Venom Red Dot Sight
Top-rated: 5,196 ratings | 1000+ answered questions
Highlight: The top load mechanism allows you to easily change the battery (without removing the sight).
Helpful review: "After months of looking for a red dot sight for my rifle, I settled onto this one. I had been debating between Vortex, EOTech, Trijicon and AimPoint, and what sold me on this sight was the design and the price.
First, let's break down the competition. I was originally considering the EOTech 512 Holo, but soon found out that they have a class action lawsuit against them for that optic due to issues with accuracy in areas of high heat or extreme cold. I live in AZ, and right now the average temperature is about 116 F (46 C) and I did not want my optic to become compromised in the desert heat. Onto the Trijicon... unfortunately the MRO was out of my budget but it is still a very good optic (and if I had the money I would definitely consider picking one up). Sadly this was the case for the AimPoint optics as well. I asked a friend who works for the NE State Patrol what optics he preferred, and he said that he and his family only use AimPoint. For a State Patrolman to fully trust a product... it must be good, but unfortunately I do not have $400 to spend on a 1x optic, so I had to pass.
This was where this little guy came in... Vortex has many options for 1x sights like the Strikefire, for example. However, I wanted something different. The Venom is precisely what I was looking for, just in a smaller package than what I expected.
When I was looking at it, people were saying how well it fits their AR-15s and other rifles, and so I bought it. The price was right, the design was right, and the Vortex warranty didn't hurt either.
When I received the sight, I was dismayed because I realized it was a mini red dot. I think it was more designed for AR's with free float barrels, shotguns, and handguns rather than AR's with A2 posts. So I hopped on Amazon to see what a riser would cost me and I was taken aback by the price of the Vortex Quick Release Riser Mount at $100. Needless to say, I found a better option.
Once I got everything squared away and lined up, I took it to the range and sighted it in. The adjustments were quick and easy, and I was able to sight it in for 50 yds. After a few thousand rounds and a few trips in the desert heat, this optic has held up well and looks pretty decent to boot.
If you don't have more than $250 to spend on a sight and don't want a scope, this is a good optic. And you really can't beat the price from Amazon. Vortex will always provide you with their 'No Questions Asked' lifetime warranty. So yes, I'm very pleased. I saved some money, and highly recommend this red dot." — Ryan Grobe
Get it from Amazon now: $249.00 & FREE Returns
4. Burris FastFire III 8 MOA Dot
Top-rated: 2,600 ratings | 854 answered questions
Highlight: Tool-less wind age and elevation adjustments.
Helpful review: "I spent a half day sighting in and plinking at golf balls at the range and I am VERY happy with this red dot reflex. I'll provide a more complete review when I've spent more time testing it with a sand bag rest at longer ranges. Right now, the variations in shot placement definitely reflect the quality of the shooter and not the sight!
This package includes the rail mount base plate with thumbscrew and hardened alignment pins (perfectly tight fit between my flat top AR and the Fastfire III); Torx mounting screws with captive external tooth lock washers (no Loctite needed, with 1 spare screw/lockwasher thoughtfully included in case you lose one); Torx wrench to install the 2 semi-permanent screws; jeweler's screwdriver (nonslip matte finish tip, swivel top plastic handle, much better than needed for adjusting windage and elevation); battery; dust cover/sun shield (not pictured, nice bonus); soft fabric storage pouch for the sight + base + cover; and very minimal mouse-print instructions that experienced shooters won't read anyway. Get your reading glasses and take 1 minute. Before you tear up the battery cover like I did.
Things I'd do differently next time:
1. Don't bother with a bore sight. I suspect the factory settings were just fine. I spent most of the day undoing the elevation and windage adjustments I'd made at home based on an admittedly cheap bore sight. Ammo is too expensive and rare to waste like I did.
2. Buy a Flat Top Riser Scope Mount. This sight is SO low profile I couldn't get a good cheek weld with muffs on, the red dot seemed to be at the very top of the lens. At times I thought I'd accidentally turned it off, or maybe the battery had died. No, just shooter error. Use plugs alone, or raise the sight about ½” -3/4" with a riser rail.
3. Do NOT use the tiny jeweler's screwdriver to reinstall the battery cover. Yeah, it comes off with one... Use a big fat tip screwdriver that fills the slot. Or maybe a penny or nickel. The body of the sight is hardened aluminum; the battery cover may or may not be hardened, but you will definitely tear up the screwdriver slot on the battery cover if you get so excited about your new toy that you just can't bother making a trip to the garage for the correct size screwdriver. Buddy, listen to me, there is NO SENSE reading this review then repeating my mistake. You just spent $250, now treat it like a quality optic worth at least that much. Thank you.
The soft rubbery black rectangular pushbutton on the left side is nearly flush with the sight and rotates through 5 settings: Automatic brightness, Hi, Medium, Lo, and Off. The pushbutton does not give any audible and only minimal tactile feedback, so watch the dot. I was shooting on a bright sunny day, standing in both shade and full sun, shooting in the afternoon toward the Sun and was able to find the dot even on the lowest setting. The Automatic brightness setting seemed to provide an even wider range of brightness than the manual settings, if that's possible.
The bonus dust cover/glare shield cut the dot brightness just a bit (as expected) so you might experiment leaving it on if you find the dot still too bright for dim light as other reviewers on other websites have claimed. The dust cover has a generous relief cut to fit around the pushbutton but my fat fingers couldn't always press the button far enough with the cover on. I may take a Dremel to the relief cut to make the opening bigger, I suspect most of you won't need to.
The elevation and windage screws seem to have a very wide range of adjustment. They do not have audible or tactile clicks, which should be unnecessary anyway. You cannot adjust these with bare hands (i.e., without a small screwdriver like the excellent one enclosed) but I cannot imagine needing to make frequent adjustments.
NOTE that if you max out one adjustment screw all the way up or down, you cannot move the other. Don't force the second adjustment screw, just back off the first adjustment screw a tiny bit. Then use plugs not muffs. Or buy a sight riser. Because you didn't need to max out the elevation screw in the first place.
I've owned a cheap (<$150) red dot reflex sight before, with plastic body and cheap mount. Don't waste your money on a lesser sight. This is a very high quality optic designed to withstand 1000 Gs, with hardened aluminum body and mount. If you need something even tougher, buy the optional Burris mount that surrounds and protects the entire Fastfire III." — Jim Cox
Get it from Amazon now: $266.99 & FREE Returns
5. Holosun - 510C Open Reflex Sight
Top-rated: 3,672 ratings | 312 answered questions
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. I want to share my insights with you, so let's break it down:
- 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 handy. 2moa dot will help you plink pretty far down range and the larger 65moa reticle will give you fast acquisition at closer range. They definitely 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. But it does come with a spare battery tray.
- 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 quick release mount 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.
So to sum things up, all I can say is think about the value, man... It is just a no brainer. Half the price of an MRO or RMR. More features. More rugged design. The Alamaba 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. 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: 8,243 ratings | 437 answered questions
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