Zero In: 15 Best Red Dot Sights for AR-15 (2019 Reviews and Buyer’s Guide)

How do you maximize aiming for your AR-15? Is it a matter of “practice makes perfect” or are you not ashamed to add a little technology to your rifle? Red dot sights are a popular and effective method of improving accuracy. Just as it sounds, the sight produces a red LED that aligns with the barrel of your firearm to help you line up a shot on your intended target. Though most red dot sights, including those designed specifically for the AR-15, don’t provide magnification of the target, the precision of the LED light is all that’s necessary for a clean, spot-on shot.

When it comes to picking the best red dot sight for your AR-15, you’re going to find yourself faced with a multitude of options. You may think that a “red dot sight is a red dot sight,” but, as with any market, there are bad and good models. Then, of course, there are these 15, which are the best red dot sights that you’d want to mount on your AR-15 for maximum accuracy.

Take a look at what’s available in this list and then read through the accompanying “buyer’s guide” to make sure, of the 15 you should be choosing from, you land on the best for your needs and wants. Before we begin, here’s our top 3 favorite optics.

EOTech Model 300 Blackout Holographic Sight XPS2-300 for AR15EOTech Model 300 Blackout Red Dot Sight

You’re going to have to pay a pretty penny in order to join the EOTech family, but with the high cost of this Model 300, you get a product that enhances the shooting experience and accuracy of your AR-15. A 1” Weaver or MIL-STD-1913 rail mount keep the Model 300 in place with a sturdy grip, which ensures your sight won’t make any unwanted adjustments while you’re moving.

Powered by one 123 lithium battery, the Model 300 is a reliable and accurate model that can be adjusted to up to 1 MOA and sustain being submerged up to 10’ of water. The build is attractive, adding a flair to your AR-15, though button placement can prove problematic for many hands.

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Pros:

  • Premium Construction: With the EOTech name, the Model 300 is made of the same premium, high-quality materials as other products from the company. The Model 300 can withstand heavy use without showing much wear and tear.
  • Impressive Accuracy: You won’t have issues lining up a great shot with the Model 300 thanks to EOTech’s quality.

Cons:

  • Costly: On the higher end of the price spectrum, the Model 300 is a costly endeavor best suited for avid gun lovers.
  • Best When Paired with G33 Magnifier: The Model 300 is fine on its own, but when paired with the G33 Magnifier, its usability skyrockets. It’s another expense on top of an already expensive purchase.
  • Button Placement: Buttons are placed in such a way that they tend to get in the way during regular use.

Purchase

Sightmark Ultra Dual Shot Pro Spec NV Sight QD red dot for armalite 15Sightmark Ultra Dual Shot Pro Spec NV Sight QD

With a dot measured between 3.5 and 7 MOAs, the Sightmark Ultra is going to provide for an incredibly accurate shot with each pull of the trigger. Built from an aluminum with a metal protective shield, even the roughest handlers will find it difficult to jostle the inner workings of Sightmark, making this one of the more durable models on the market.

Though the larger red dot and great quality are why you’ll start eyeing up the Ultra Dual, the inclusion of night vision winds up being a big selling point. Surprisingly, you’re not going to have to spend a lot to get a rather high-quality dot sight, which has options for both red and green reticles.

The Ultra Dual Shot offers no magnification, but the MOA range and night vision function make it so that you won’t even miss it. Powered by a lithium battery with an auto-off feature after one hour of inactivity, this sight also has options for four reticle patterns.

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Pros:

  • Night Vision: As if the accurate reticle wasn’t enough, this sight also comes with an integrated night vision function to further enhance and assist with accuracy in low-light scenarios.
  • Inexpensive: Compared to other models that may offer the same perks, the Ultra Dual Shot by Sightmark is on the cheaper side.
  • MOA Range: Whether you enjoy a smaller or larger dot, this sight allows for an adjustment between 3.5 to 7 MOAs.

Cons:

  • Integrated Laser is an Afterthought: It sounds like a perk, but the laser doesn’t add much value and winds up just being another setting to have to play with if you even care to try and use it.

Purchase

Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic sightsAimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic

The Aimpoint PRO may seem like a costly endeavor, but just looking at the bulky build, you know you’re going to wind up with a product that offers a lot. The beefy build delivers on quality and durability while offering users with a 2 MOA dot intensity that is visible in low and high-light situations. Should you want to go out on a night hunt, the PRO is equipped with a night vision function that only serves to make the dot sight more effective in low-light scenarios.

The heavy construction helps protect the inner workings and electronics for up to 150’ underwater. Worried about hunting or target practice in high and low-degree temperatures? The PRO will work in temperatures as low as -50°F and high as 160°F. Powered by a 3V lithium battery, you’ll have up to 30,000 hours of daytime use without worrying about having to replace or recharge.

Aimpoint’s PRO comes with a mouth, spacer housing, and lens cover for instant use and prolonged protection once mounted.

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Pros:

  • Durable: At this price, a sight should be made of high-quality materials and the Aimpoint PRO certainly is. Protected in up to 150’ of water and in temperatures as low as -50°F and high as 160°F, it’s one of the strongest on the market.
  • Night Vision: Aimpoint makes up for no range in dot intensity by including a night vision function for low-light hunting.

Cons:

  • Expensive: While it comes with a lot, the PRO is an expensive option that not all starter or hobbyist AR-15 users will be able to justify purchasing.

Purchase

C-MORE Systems Railway Red Dot Sight with Click Switch for ar15C-MORE Systems Railway Red Dot Sight w/ Click Switch

With an impressive dot intensity of up to 16 MOAs, the C-MORE definitely wants you to improve your accuracy with its moderately priced red dot sight. The 3V lithium battery will last a lifetime of use, ensuring you have fast-target acquisition on all of your hunts, no matter how long you’ve owned the Railway model. Rapid fire or steady your shots over a longer period of time – the target acquisition makes this red dot sight usable for both kinds of shooters.

Not only is the dot intensity adjustable to fit user preference, it’s incredibly vibrant. Whether you’re a new with your AR-15 or have perfected the use of your firearm, the Railway’s customization allows users to adjust the modulation to fit their very specific preferences to fit their shooting abilities.

Considering all it has to offer, the Railway model from C-MORE isn’t that much higher on the price spectrum. In fact, it offers more options and customization than some more expensive models, making it a great value for all kinds of users.

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Pros:

  • Fast Target Acquisition: If you need to fire off multiple shots in succession, the rapid response target acquisition lets you do so without losing the benefit of the red dot sight.
  • High Intensity: Not only can you adjust the dot up to an MOA of 16, it’s also a vibrant display that improves accuracy for all types of shooters.
  • Click Switch: Don’t fuss with buttons when you want to switch between any of the sights 12 positions. Need night vision? It’s just the click of a dial. Want to cycle through the eight daylight settings? That same dial makes things easy to switch between.

Cons:

  • Best Used on Rifles: Some sights can be mounted in pistols and revolvers, but this Railway model is designed more for AR-15 use. Competitive shooters may find the C-MORE Railway hinders their ability to use multiple firearms.

Purchase

Aimpoint 200018 Micro H-1 2 MOA with Standard Mount for ar 15 red dot rifle accessoryAimpoint Micro H-1 2 MOA

Despite its smaller size, the Aimpoint is higher in price than some bulkier models – but that doesn’t mean it can’t stand up to them. The Micro H-1 has been considered the “gold standard” for red dot sights, and right off the bat, you can tell with its more than 50,000 hours of use on one battery and fully waterproof build. Think you’ll be hunting in low and high-temperature settings? The Micro, though it may not look like much, can withstand temperatures as low as -20°F and high as 140°F.

The Micro provides options for two reticle sizes – 2 MOA and 4 MOA. Both work well for whatever purpose, but the smaller intensity has proven to be a better option for AR-15s. The easy-mount installation makes it a cinch to place and remove on your rifle, which comes in handy if you have a collection you like to cycle through.

This lightweight sight works well in low and daylight conditions, as evidenced by the 12 different settings for all types of lighting scenarios.

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Pros:

  • Smaller Size: The Micro is one of the smallest on the market and can achieve its small size without sacrificing quality. The smaller build keeps from weighing your firearm down and make for easy storage when not mounted.
  • Extended Battery Life: With a 50,000-hour lifespan on one battery, the Micro is one of the most resourceful when it comes to energy use.
  • Water and Weatherproof: Don’t hesitate to take the Micro on an extreme adventure. It can withstand a multitude of weather conditions and is completely waterproof, which helps in rainy environments.

Cons:

  • High Cost: It may look small, but the Micro is a costly option. In fact, while it’s one of the smallest on the market, it’s also one of the more expensive options.

Purchase

Vortex Optics Sparc 2 Red Dot MOA (SPC-402) Scope in BlackVortex Optics Sparc II 2 MOA Red Dot Sight

Built from an aircraft grade aluminum, the Vortex Optics Sparc II can take a beating without losing quality. The Sparc II comes with magnification capabilities up to 1x, and while that doesn’t sound like much, consider that most red dot sights aren’t even designed to provide magnification. The magnification may not be impressive, but in most scenarios, it’s more-than-enough, especially when coupled with the two-setting MOA dot sight.

The Sparc II is easy to use and swapping between one and two MOAs is just a matter of rotating a dial. With the two MOA settings, however, there are also 90 different MOA settings, including day and low-light adjustments, allowing you to modify the Sparc II to fit your specific needs and wants with ease.

It’s a versatile multi-height mount that works great for different types of uses on a variety of different firearms.

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Pros:

  • Multiple MOA Settings: The dot may only have two intensity settings, but there is a total of 90 MOA settings for maximum customization.
  • Multi-Height Mounts: The Sparc II caters to a range of users thanks to the multiple mounts that offer a range of different heights. This makes it a versatile option that carries over to multiple firearm types.

Cons:

  • No Night Vision: Low-light hunting may be problematic despite the MOA settings as the Sparc II is not compatible with night vision.
  • Hindered Low-Light Performance: The Sparc II simply isn’t made for low-light environments and the coating, which was added to improve illumination, actually hinders brightness

Purchase

Sightmark SM26008 Ultra Shot Plus Red Dot SightsSightmark SM26008 Ultra Shot Plus Red Dot Sights

Right off the bat, you may notice a pitfall as it requires a CR123A battery, which doesn’t deliver the same battery life as most lithium options (up to 10,000 hours), but get past this minor con and you’ll be left looking at a shockproof, durable red dot sight that brings pride to the Sightmark brand.

The attractive design of the Ultra Shot Plus is only part of its appeal as it mounts well on shotguns, handguns, and, of course, AR-15 rifles. Speaking of the shorter battery life than other models and providing a benefit that negates the concern, the CR123A battery is preserved with an auto-off option that prolongs the life of the battery and the reticle.

Choosing between a red or green dot and cycling through the four reticle patterns is easy thanks to the button layout, which was designed for practicality. You won’t have to struggle to get this unit onto your AR-15 as it comes with a quick-release detach weaver mount, which snaps on without putting up a fight.

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Pros:

  • Auto-Off Function: When not using your red dot sight, it will automatically turn off to prolong battery life and reticle quality over time.
  • Quick Detach Mount: Switch between different firearms with ease thanks to the quick-detach mount.
  • Holds Zero with Ease: Once zeroed in, you won’t have to worry about resetting. Even after thousands of shots, you’ll find that it will remain zeroed.

Cons:

  • Shorter Battery Life: You’ll find models with a battery life lasting upwards of 5x what the CR123A initially provides.

Purchase

Burris 300234 Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount 3 MOA SightBurris Fastfire III w/ Picatinny Mount 3 MOA Sight

When you’re concerned about durability over long periods of use, you turn to a model like the Burris Fastfire III, which was crafted from the highest-quality materials to deliver a red dot sight that will last you a lifetime. Helping to prolong its place in your arsenal is the lithium-ion battery, which won’t soon die on you.

Beyond these features, the Fastfire is a 3 MOA dot reticle that’s known for its versatility. Have multiple firearms you need a red dot sight for? The Fastfire and its Picatinny mount can be used on shotguns, hunting rifles, handguns, and revolvers. Along with versatility, Burris designed its 3 MOA sight with accelerated target acquisition, making it possible to fire off multiple rounds without worrying about greatly reduced accuracy.

Built to sustain through low and daylight hunting, the Burris allows users to adjust the brightness through a variety of letters or rely solely on the auto-brightness feature. For shooters that enjoy different heights for their red dot sight, the Fastfire III can be adjusted without needing any tools.

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Pros:

  • Fast Target Acquisition: For shooters that love rapid firing, the Burris Fastfire is designed for accelerated target acquisition, which promises increased accuracy even with quick trigger pulls.
  • Versatile: Great in low light, daylight and compatible with multiple firearm types, the Fastfire II is a versatile option that goes a long way.

Cons:

  • Moderately Priced: For its price, while durable and versatile, the Fastfire isn’t considerably rich with features. There are only three brightness levels and the dot intensity only goes up to a maximum of 3 MOAs.
  • Small Buttons: Adjusting brightness and turning the unit on is done via buttons that are difficult to find without having to search for them. With the focus on finding the buttons, it can sometimes be taken off actually aiming your AR-15.

Purchase

FieldSport Micro Red Dot Sight, Precision Red Dot Only No GreenFieldsport Micro Red Dot Sight

For the hunter on a budget, this aluminum micro red dot sight is a great option that doesn’t force the user into using a very bare-bones model. The 4 MOA red dot is great for quick target acquisition, especially when compared to standard iron sights. Once zeroed, despite its price, you’ll find that the Fieldsport Micro is as accurate as many higher-priced models.

Cycle through 11 different brightness settings and you’ll find that there isn’t really a lighting scenario you won’t be able to shoot in. Even in the middle of the day, the bright sun won’t wash out the reticle and hinder accuracy. Though it’s a smaller model, the large dial makes it easy to use without interfering with overall accuracy.

Even though the Fieldsport is on the much cheaper end of the spectrum, it’s still a durable option for red dot sights. Its casing holds up against excessive use and won’t falter.

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Pros:

  • Cost Efficient: The Fieldsport Micro isn’t “cheap.” It’s a durable model with plenty of features offered at a lower cost.
  • Multi-Level Brightness: Enjoy 11 levels of brightness settings that help you achieve pinpoint accuracy even in the brightest or lowest levels of lighting.

Cons:

  • No Iron Sight Compatibility: Even if you want to use your iron sights with this red dot sight, you won’t be able to. It requires a raiser, which must be purchased separately.

Purchase

HOLOSUN HS403A Micro Red Dot Sight (2 MOA)Holosun HS403A Micro Red Dot Sight

Looking for an AR-15 sight that is also compatible with other handpieces and larger firearms? The Holosun comes equipped with a riser that works perfectly with AR-15 models, but can also be removed to be used with handguns and revolvers. This model’s versatility extends beyond its ability to be used on multiple firearms (bows, included). It comes with an option for night vision and 10 other brightness sightings for maximum usability and accuracy regardless of the lighting.

Enjoying using this micro red dot sight for over 50,000 hours thanks to its CR2032 battery and eight-hour auto shutoff. Worried about durability or damp weather? The Holosun is equipped to handle up to 100’ of water so you can make use of the 2 MOA red dot without concern for torrential downpours.

The Holosun also accounts for parallax errors, ensuring that every shot you fire off goes exactly where you’ve lined it up to.

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Pros:

  • Budget Pricing, High-Quality End Product: You won’t spend a lot to get a high-quality product from the Holosun sight, including durability and pinpoint accuracy.
  • Versatile: Use it on your AR-15 or remove the riser to mount it to a pistol, hunting revolver, or even a bow.

Cons:

  • Limited Usage: The HS403A is not compatible with Aimpoint HT mounts or AR handles, which are commonly used mounts on the market.
  • Loose Zero Location: While zeroing the sight comes easy, it doesn’t always hold the zero location when the sight is touched or jostled. You may have to re-zero it, especially after adjusting the screws and caps.

Purchase

Dagger Defense DDHB Red Dot Reflex sight, Reflex sight optic and substitute for holographic red dot sightsDagger Defense DDHB Red Dot Reflex Sight

Aircraft grade aluminum construction promises a red dot reflex sight that will stand up to extreme conditions and can take a beating. It may only offer a 1 MOA intensity, but this budgetary model comes with enough features and pros to make up for the minor shortcoming. The sleek design looks and feels modern while retaining the simplicity that some may want from a red dot sight.

The compact size makes it mountable on a Picatinny rail without getting in the way of other mounted accessories. It may be smaller, but it gets the job done thanks to its adjustable reticle, which can be changed between four configurations. Whether you prefer a dot or a crosshair, you can adjust both to appear as either red or green.

Don’t concern yourself with the weather as the solid build is water resistant and can withstand condensation. It’s a simple model that doesn’t try to be more than it needs to be.

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Pros:

  • Durable: Made from aircraft grade aluminum, the Dagger Defense will withstand heavy use over long periods of time.
  • Simplistic: Avoiding being too technologically complicated, the Dagger Defense is simple without sacrificing value. Four reticle configurations and water resistance make this a viable option for many AR-15 owners.
  • Easy Zeroing: The Dagger Defense is incredibly easy to zero as it is close to being zeroed once unpacked.

Cons:

  • Water Resistant, Not Waterproof: Water resistance will help on a rainy day but don’t let the Dagger Defense fall into a puddle or it may resurface damaged.
  • Dim Sight: It’s not dark by any means, but the sight could use an adjustment for increased brightness as needed.

Purchase

Trijicon RMR 6.5 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot SightTrijicon RMR 6.5 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot Sight

With an MOA of 6.5, this pricey LED red dot sight is a practical option that comes in handy for many situations but is touted as being perfect for firearms used in self-defense. For a model with a very specific purpose, it is a bit expensive, but it’s the quality and demand that drives that price.

Though some may use it for up-close defense, the Trijicon RMR comes equipped with an adjustable MOA that increases at 1 MOA per dial turn up to 6.5. Regardless of the MOA setting, the Trijicon also offers two night vision modes and eight brightness settings, complete with an auto-adjust mode for people that don’t like fidgeting with dials. In really dim lighting, a super-bright light setting will help improve accuracy and aim.

Helping it in the self-defense market, the RMR Adjustable LED Red Dot Sight is quick to deploy and can focus on a target rapidly. Though it is popular for pistols, it will also mount on your AR-15 with the proper mount.

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Pros:

  • Quick Target Acquisition: Don’t worry about losing sight of your target after each shot. The rapid target acquisition will help you reposition your aim quickly.
  • Multiple Brightness Settings: Eight brightness settings, a super-bright light setting, and two night vision modes make this the perfect unit for any kind of lighting.

Cons:

  • Costly: Home protection comes at a cost and the Trijicon is one of the higher costs you could incur for a safe house.
  • No AR-15 Mount: To fit perfectly on your AR-15, you’ll need to purchase a specific mount separately, driving the cost up even more.

Purchase

UTG 3.8 inch ITA Red and Green Circle Dot Sight with Integral QD MountUTG 3.8” ITA Red/Green Circle Dot Sight w/ QD Mount

If you’re worried about your dot sight taking a beating, you may want to consider the very cost-efficient UTG, which is made from a high-tech emerald coating. It can take a beating and while it may be on the cheaper end of the spectrum, it’s still a reliable and versatile sight. Thanks to the detachable mount, the UTG ITA is great for many firearms, from pistols to shotguns to rifles. Detaching the mount comes quick and easy, so you won’t be fussing with screws.

The dot sight, which can be cycled between red and green, maxes out at 4 MOAs but is accompanied with a circle reticle that reaches an MOA of 65. For optimum accuracy, the reticle is vibrant and clear and is ideal for all light conditions. If it’s difficult to see in a certain situation, simply adjust the five levels of brightness intensity to fit your needs.

The height is designed to allow for co-witnessing with your AR-15’s iron sights for maximum accuracy and both can be used in unison without any needed adjustments.

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Pros:

  • Vibrant Reticle: The UTG ITA works great in all lighting conditions thanks to the vibrant reticle and five brightness levels. If you’re having trouble viewing the reticle, simply change it from red to green.
  • Co-Witnessing: Once mounted, the UTG ITA can be used with your AR’s iron sights without any needed adjustments.

Cons:

  • Manual Power: Unlike many models, the UTG ITA doesn’t have an auto-shutoff You’ll need to remember to shut it off after use to prolong the life of the battery.

Purchase

Rhino Tactical Green & Red Dot Sight for Rifles & Shotguns by Ozark Armament Includes Picatinny Cantilever Mount Co-Witness with Iron Sights Coated OpticOzark Armament Rhino Tactical Green & Red Dot Sight

Ozark Armament’s Rhino Tactical sight offers a surprising number of useful features considering its budget-friendly price. Besides its durable material and included CR2032 battery, which is good for years of continuous use, the Rhino can be mounted onto your AR-15 and still allow you to co-witness with the iron sights.

The 4 MOA dot can be changed between red and green and is set within a 35-mm wide objective that increases visibility even in brighter lighting. When the light changes, simply adjust the reticle’s brightness to any of the five brightness levels for optimum use.

When you want to switch back to your iron sight, simply flip the included lens cap to protect the integrity of the glass and inner mechanics. The included Cantilever Mount allows for a quick and seamless mounting.

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Pros:

  • Co-Witnessing: Use your AR’s standard sight even while the Rhino is attached to the rifle. The attached lens cap lets you go back and forth between sights while protecting the lens of the Rhino.
  • Easy Mounting: The Cantilever Mount allows you to mount the sight securely without any hassle.

Cons:

  • Unclear Dot: You may have great visibility through this sight, but in low-light conditions, the dot’s clarity can take a hit. Even with the five settings, it works best in brighter environments.

Purchase

Bushnell Trophy Sight RiflescopeBushnell TRS-25 AR Optics

If affordability is high on your list of priorities, then the TRS-25 from Bushnell should be in your sights. It may be budget priced, but you’ll get everything you need for your AR-15. Even with rapid fire and greater recoil, the TRS-25 holds its zero location steady. You’ll also enjoy easy target acquisition and a 3 MOA dot sight from this affordable model.

There aren’t many bells and whistles available in the TRS-25, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get the best accuracy you could ask for. The construction is 100% waterproof and shockproof, so no matter the conditions, you’ll be able to see clearly through the amber lens. Multiple brightness settings make this model usable in a variety of lighting situations.

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Pros:

  • Affordable: One of the cheapest sights on the market, the TRS-25 is affordable without delivering cheap construction and a flimsy product.
  • Steady Zero Location: No matter what you do, Bushnell’s sturdy sight will hold the zero location.

Cons:

  • Largely Featureless: If it’s a lot of features you’re looking for, you won’t really find them on the TRS-25. This sight focuses strictly on the red dot and doesn’t include night vision and is not designed for co-witnessing.

Purchase

AR-15 Red Dot Sight Buyer’s Guide

As you can see, it’s not just a matter of picking the sight that looks the fanciest. Each of these 15 AR-15 red dot sights come with their own unique pros and cons, making the process of selecting one out of all of them near impossible.

But that’s what this buyer’s guide is for. When you’re truly stumped or just don’t know what you’re looking for in a sight beyond the obvious, we’ve compiled this comprehensive look into the components of a sight, the things you should consider, and a variety of other topics that will, in the end, turn you into an expert on them.

Before you even get into the nitty-gritty and technology of these sights, you need to understand why you want to mount a sight on your rifle.

Benefits of Having a Red Dot Sight

Compared to optical sights for your AR-15, red dot sights deliver on performance without generally dipping too deep into your pocket. Unlike other sights, red dot sights are also typically lighter and won’t add extra bulk to your rifle.

Users looking for fast target acquisition will get the maximum benefit out of a red dot sight, as it helps line up targets rapidly in a variety of lighting situations. As many dot sights come with multiple brightness settings, whether shooting in dim or bright light scenarios, the red dot will come in handy.

When looking at the different sights that are available for your AR-15, you’ll also find that red dot sights are safer. Consider what happens when the lens of a sight that uses holographic technology cracks. The laser that is the heart of holographic sights can come into direct contact with your eye, causing permanent damage that may lead to blindness.

Red dot sights are easy to zero and are typically incredibly durable, often coming with waterproof or shockproof construction.

What Am I Looking For in a Red Dot Sight

When you start shopping for a red dot sight, there are many things you want to look out for. Some sights are bare-bones but can still get the job done while others may offer features that simply aren’t necessary and add on to the overall cost of the sight.

First and foremost, when shopping for your AR-15, look for red dot sights that are designed specifically for the AR-15. This generally cuts down on the need to purchase separate mounts. AR-15 red dot sights may also come with co-witnessing capabilities, which allows you to use your iron sights or another aiming mechanism without having to remove the sight. Most sights made for AR-15s will fit a multitude of AR-15s.

As you scour the market for the right sight, you’ll come across something called an MOA, or minutes of angle. This relates directly to the size of the dot, with higher numbers meaning the dot gets bigger. The average is around an MOA of four. Sights with an added circular reticle will also show MOAs as high as 60, which would be a larger circle. Anything higher than a four is typically created for professional race gun shooters. Larger dots can actually be too distracting and block your target while smaller reticles can shift your focus from the target to trying to find the dot.

Red dots don’t necessarily just come in red. Some are designed with an option for a green reticle and may also allow you to change the pattern and size of the reticle. Decide whether these customizable options are important to you and if you think any of them will help you better see the reticle on your intended target. If not, they’re an erroneous and not necessary for your sight.

Will you be shooting in low-light environments? Do you only plan on acquiring targets in daylight or brightly lit scenarios? Chances are both of these options are accurate and you’ll be using your rifle in a variety of different lighting. If that’s the case, you’ll want a sight with multiple brightness settings to ensure you can always see what you’re aiming at.

If you think you’ll be taking your sight out in inclement weather, you’ll want to find a sight that stands up to extreme weather conditions. Red dot sights can be waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof. Be mindful of the difference between waterproof and water-resistant, as resistance will not protect your sight if it gets submerged in water.

Other things to consider may be luxuries that you don’t necessarily need but absolutely may want. When looking at sights, ask yourself whether you care about:

  • Fast Target Acquisition: This allows you to reset the reticle quickly after taking a shot and comes in handy when firing in quick succession.
  • Quick Mount: Some sights don’t require tools and can be mounted and removed in seconds.
  • Auto Shutoff: The batteries on most sights are good for anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 hours. Auto shutoff prolongs that by turning the sight off during periods of inactivity.
  • Night Vision: Plan on shooting in extremely low light environments? You may want to consider night vision as an option for your future sight.

Types of Red Dot Sights

As with everything, there isn’t just one kind of red dot sight. In general, there are two different types of red dot sights, though one is starting to be phased out in favor of the other. Battery-free or “Reflex” sights are exactly as they sound and don’t run off of electricity. Electronic sights typically run off of lithium batteries that can last through years of continuous use.

Battery Free vs Electronic Sights

So why choose one over the other? Reflex style sights stand out for several reasons, but the most predominant is that there are no electronics to fail or malfunction. If a battery dies or any component on the battery-operated sight decides to cease, that unit is essentially non-functional until replaced or repaired.

Reflex sights can be well-suited in low light conditions due to the tritium that illuminates them. Electronic sights have started to counter this with night vision and a range of brightness settings. Battery-free sights, on the other hand, cannot be adjusted when lighting conditions change. Dot intensity remains a constant regardless of the lighting. When using battery-free sights, using the rifles included sight can become more of a constant when lighting becomes an issue.

Electronic sights often come feature-rich, providing a variety of reticle styles and sizes, brightness levels, and even night vision. Batteries in electronic red dot sights can last for years, some even as many as eight years. Electronic sights also tend to come with auto-brightness adjustments and an “auto shutoff” feature that turns the sight off when it’s not in use.

Working Your Red Dot Sight

Mounting the LED light on your rifle is only worth something if you know how to work it. In most cases, it’s not a matter of just attaching it to your rifle’s railing. There’s a setup process to go through that ensures the dot is lined up with where you want the bullet to go.

Firing off one accurate shot can be mean the difference between a successful hit and a missed opportunity. Especially while hunting, inaccurate firing can lead to a very bad day in the wilderness. You want to guarantee that the sight is placed properly so that the one-shot you take is the only shot you’ll need to.

The red dot of these mounted sights is accurate, but only if you know how to properly place them in the first place.

Where Do I Place the Sight?

To get the most out of your red dot sight, you don’t want to mount it near the butt of the rifle. On top of being entirely too uncomfortable when it comes to looking through the sight, placing it too close can reduce your ability to pay attention to your surroundings. While hunting, this can severely limit your peripheral and give your prey the opportunity to slip away unnoticed. Placing it too far forward on the rifle makes it so that your eyes focus on everything but the sight when you first raise your firearm.

Red dot sights are designed to provide a clear and focused viewfinder regardless of distance. For optimal use, it’s recommended that the sight be placed in the forward portion of the upper receiver. This distance provides the best field of vision, makes the sight easy to focus on when you ready your gun, and it is considered the most secure part of the rifle.

Setting Up Your Sight

When most sights are first mounted, they aren’t typically immediately ready for use. Setting the zero location is a prime step in guaranteeing an accurate lineup and a clean shot exactly where you’re aiming. Many red dot sights are close to being zeroed and lined up with the rifle, but you will want to check to ensure it is zeroed.

To zero your red dot sight:

  • Set a target up 82’ (25 meters) away
  • With your firearm in solid rest, center the dot on the target
  • Fire a round and inspect where the point of impact is
  • Adjust the sight accordingly based on which direction from the center of the target the bullet was
  • Fire a second shot to determine accuracy and repeat until the target is struck in the center

Ready to Purchase?

After reading through this buyer’s guide and looking at the 15 best options listed above, you should be ready to take the dive and purchase your first red dot sight for your AR-15. Just remember to ensure you’re either purchasing a model designed specifically for an AR-15 or comes with a mount that makes it compatible for your rifle.