The Best Red Dot Sights For AR-15 Are Actually Affordable
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. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight 1x20mm
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: "I always put off buying a TRS-25. I figured it's a pricier "cheap" red dot. I always opted for the red dots in the $25-50 price range (Field Sport, Feyachi, Midten), figuring they're just range red dots. I've owned half a dozen of these red dots in that price range, and even the ones that are "TRS-25 Clones". I always assumed the ones that look just like the TRS-25 are pretty much the exact same thing with different markings on them. 6 years after buying my first cheap red dot for range time, I've finally bought the TRS-25 that I saw then. I just always figured it wasn't worth double or triple the cost of those. Upon closer inspection, they're actually a fair bit different, in small ways. I'm surprised in a good way, and the quality of the TRS-25 is a bit nicer. The dot is actually clear, but it appears like a little star burst in the exact same pattern as all my other red dots. It's a very minor astigmatism I have, and it's not an issue. I noticed the same pattern on Aimpoint PROs, etc...
It comes with the expected items in a nice cardboard box. Little wrench, a bikini cover, and a battery that is not dead inside the unit with a plastic liner keeping it from making contact. The emitter inside the rear seems a little more thoughtfully constructed and built in. Glass has a very light blue tint to it, which I've seen on some. The battery dial is easy enough to turn, but not loose. Again, having owned several of the cheaper red dots, some of them are looser, and some are so tight you can hardly turn the thing. This is a happy medium. I was curious about the adjustment turrets, so I included some pics of that stuff, too. I never really see those without the caps on in reviews, so I added mine. The caps for the turrets do not have any notch or points machined into them to use them to adjust the actual turrets when they're off, but a shell case rim did just fine. They have a concave notch machined into them, so something like that shell case rim or a dime would work perfectly.
My TRS-25 has laser etched dial dot and Bushnell markings, referring to an older review that showed the real vs not real model. Mine seems consistent with a real one, except the laser etchings. Just about everyone is going to laser etchings as they're just cheaper to do. Everything about it feels like it's better finished and machined, and over all a bit nicer than my previous models. I didn't think the difference would be noticeable at all, much less as much as it is. Even the mounting screw and plate catch are better machined, and this mounting plate catch is spring loaded. Most are not. I'm running it on top of a spare UTG 0.83" riser I already had, the medium model. It allows for the lower 1/3 ish co-witness with standard height AR rifle sights. The UTG riser is not included. I'm planning on purchasing another one for another rifle running a cheaper older model. The older model is nice, but costs about 2/3 of this price. It just started flickering on and off after a year. I had to open it up and tighten stuff up and hopefully it'll continue working." — C. Kiehl
Get it from Amazon now: $110.99 & FREE Returns
2. Sig Sauer Romeo5 Compact 2 MOA Red Dot Sight 1x20mm
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, Instruction Sheet. This is a very nice sight, easy to mount, clear optics. A few things that's important to know about the optic!
(1) Read over the instruction sheet, don't just think you've had these types of sights before and you know how this one works and end up leaving bad reviews.
(2) Yes! the sight has an auto off after 120 seconds of "No Motion" and auto motion ON so, yes if it stored in a vehicle the motion of it will keep the red dot illuminated and cause an 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) reports of the sight not working in MOST cases is caused from 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, well due to certain conditions when you peel these off it leaves adhesive (glue) on the battery so its possible to leave enough as to cause a 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!!!!! its momentary CLICKS! That means that the brightness setting isn't a constant veritable, its 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"
Bottom line on the misinformation of this optic, its has some higher level electronics then the standard red dots, its not rocket science to understand, but its cause for a lot of these being returned and the reason for a lot of the low rated reviews. Its 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, its quality enough to deserve that much attention.
Bottom line on the optic sight itself. Let me make this clear! This review is from a 64 year old AR-15 (5.56 NATO) gun owner!! The sight responded well to adjustments! Seems to be holding ZERO very well with what ammo I've fired so far! 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 W.
Get it from Amazon now: $129.19 & FREE Returns
3. Feyachi Reflex Sight with Picatinny Rail Mount
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, 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's also not $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 really like 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, 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 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. 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 is 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 finish isn't the best. The unit arrive safely and packaged well. 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. Well above its similarly priced competitors. You wont 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. 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. 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. Now 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." — Ryan Grobe
Get it from Amazon now: $249.00 & FREE Returns
5. HOLOSUN HS510C Open Reflex Sight
Top-rated: 3,672 ratings | 312 answered questions