6 Best Red Dot Sights for AR15 + (Reviews & Guide 2017)

Do you often go out hunting with your friends and when the geese start flying, you can’t hit a single one mid-flight? Are you tired of being picked at for being a weaker shot? There’s no shame in admitting it, you simply don’t have as much time to go target practice as your friends. Luckily for you, the red dot sights for AR15 can solve your problems. They are specially designed to allow you to acquire targets faster and to increase your accuracy when sighting moving targets. If you want to pick the best red dot sights, just read the red dot sight reviews we prepared below and pick one that suits you. Don’t know what to look for in a sight? Just read the buying guide and you’ll find out all there is to know. After you buy one, follow our instructions and you’ll be able to mount it on your own, as well.

Top 6 Red Dot Sights 

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1 – Burris FastFire Red-Dot Reflex Sight with Picatinny Mount

 The Burris FastFire is a small red dot sight that weighs only 1.6 ounces. This sight was developed to increase the speed and accuracy of your shooting. The FastFire will eliminate the need to focus and align the front sight of your weapon. The red dot is always properly aligned with the target, so you won’t have any trouble hitting it. This unit is fully waterproof, so you can use it with confidence in all weather conditions.

The fact that this sight only weighs 1.6 ounces is a big advantage for every competition shooter out there. You all know that after a long day spent shooting at targets, every single ounce you have to lift counts. You will have no such problems with such a sight.

The sight comes with a light sensor that will automatically adjust the dot’s brightness to be visible in that particular condition. On top of that, the sight comes with a sun protection, so you can use and see it even when the sun is high in the sky.

This model can be used with great efficiency as a secondary scope you can mount on your off-set position of your AR – 15. You can have a magnified optic mounted as your primary and it has eye relief, but you’re in a situation you can’t look through it, just tilt the weapon to the side and take aim. If you decide to choose this sight, don’t try to mount it and make the alignment yourself, unless you have a lot of experience mounting red dot sights. Just take it to your local gunsmith and have him do it for you.

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2 – Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight

 The Bushnell Trophy Red Dot sight measures 2.4 inches and weighs 3.7 ounces. The red dot technology allows you to acquire your target and improve your accuracy, no matter the light conditions. This model comes with coated optics, so you’ll be able to distinguish between the brown color of a tree and the brown color of your target. The sight can be used with both eyes open, so you’ll be able to be more aware of the environment, but still acquire your target faster. The red dot follows your eye movement but stays fixed on the target.

This model comes with a control knob for the red dot setting adjustment. The knob is slightly resistant, so you don’t have to worry about turning it by accident. If the intensity is set too high for the light conditions, your dot will appear blurry. You should only use it on high settings when you’re outside on a sunny day. For optimal results, don’t keep the intensity in its highest position. The highest intensity is brighter than you will ever need, no matter the environment. Make a habit of leaving it set at half or two-thirds intensity. That way, your dot will never appear distorted in normal light conditions.

This sight is waterproof, shockproof and fog-proof, so you’ll be able to use it in all kind of conditions. The battery life should be about 3000 hours. You should only remember to turn it off after you use it. You can mount and zero in this model by yourself if you follow the instructions.

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3 – Trijicon RMR 3.25 MOA Adjustable LED Red Dot Sight

The Trijicon RMR red dot sight comes with an automatic brightness mode and eight adjustable settings, including two night-vision and one super bright setting. The sight is made out of aircraft aluminum alloy, so it should be very durable. The coated lenses create a clear image around your target, so you’ll be able to acquire the target and aim quickly. The elevation is easy to adjust with the special tools the sight comes with.

This model is advertised as waterproof. It should be waterproof up to 65 feet, so that should be enough for most shooters. The truth is that once you use the sight in the rain, even moderate rain, and water gets in the back of the viewing window, you’ll be in trouble. It is very difficult to see anything once the lens is wet.

Another problem we encountered often in other red dot sight reviews was that a lot of people were complaining about the fact that the red dot becomes dimmer and then turns off completely. Sometimes this happens right from the start, with less than 100 bullets fired, sometimes it happens later, but it’s still there. The dot would appear again if you bang the weapon against something. Most people considered the batteries were at fault. We contacted Trijicon and they admitted that this defect is common for this product. They allow you to send it back for repair, but that will take 6-8 weeks and you have to pay for the postage, as well.

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4 – Bushnell Optics TRS-25 HiRise Red Dot Sight

 The Bushell HiRise is a lightweight, 6 ounces 3 MOA red dot sight that comes with a riser block. This positions the sight at the optimum height for your AR – 15. The sight is designed for quick target acquisition and high accuracy in dim conditions. It provides 11 brightness settings you can choose by turning the knob. The highest intensity is very bright, and you might never use it, no matter the environment, so it’s better to keep the intensity about halfway and change it when you need. The sight also has a self-regulating feature that is able to conserve battery life. It dims the brightness in dark places and it powers down the red dot when the storage hood it’s attached.

This model can be used with both eyes open, so you’ll always be aware of your environment. This will prove to help with faster target acquisition. The red dot will follow your eye and still be fixed on the target. The knob is a little resistant at first, but that’s a good thing, as you don’t want the brightness to change accidentally.

This model comes with a riser block that will fit perfectly on your AR-15, at the optimum height. In order to use this riser block, you first have to install the sight on the HiRise block. After that, mount the entire assembly on the weapon. You can do this by yourself, by following the manual instructions, or you can have it done for you at the local gunsmith.

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5 – C-MORE Systems Railway Red Dot Sight

  The C-MORE red dot sight uses a Heads Up Display (or HUD) to allow you to acquire your target fast. This system also allows you to have an unlimited field of view and eliminates obstruction and tunnel vision often common to tube style scopes. The Railway type of mount this sight uses allow you to attach it to your AR – 15 without any problems.

A great feature of this sight is the adjustment system. The C-MORE comes with 2 mounting cross bolts which make the mounting and zeroing very precise. This unit comes with a 12-position intensity switch. Two of the positions are night vision options, one low-light, 8 day-lights and the Off position. The knob allows you to make quick adjustments.

A big plus for this model is the fact that you can keep both eyes open while shooting. This way, you have an enhanced awareness and you’re able to acquire your target faster. Another good thing about this model is the fact that you don’t have to zero it in again after you change the battery. The battery is also easy to change.

A big minus for this model is the fact that it comes without a cover. If you get the optic dirty, you’ll have a tough time seeing through it. Also, if you use this unit in bright light you’ll strain the battery because you’ll have to set it on maximum brightness in order to see the dot. Another minus is the finishes. The polymer casing has rough finishes and doesn’t look very nice.

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6 – Sightmark Ultra Dual Shot Pro Spec NV Sight QD

The Sightmark provides two ways to take aim. Because it comes with a side-mounted red laser, you’ll be able to pinpoint your target quickly in close quarters. If you need to make a medium or long-distance shot, all you need to do is to sight through the optic sight.

A nice feature of this unit is the changeable reticle patterns. You can pick out of four patterns and find the one that suits you best. You can opt between a dot, a circled dot, a cross, and a circled cross.

This unit comes with two night-vision brightness settings and a low-light one. You can also use the laser in low-light or night conditions. You should be able to spot a target up to 75 yards. In bright daylight, the laser will only be able to aim at targets placed at 20 – 25 yards. Mounting this unit on your AR-15 will be easy because it comes with a QD lever. The optic unit will co-witness perfectly with your built-in iron sights.

A small downside of this weapon is sighting from the side with the laser. You can’t zero it in precisely unless you spend some time making minor adjustments through trial and error.

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Red Dot Sight Buying Guide

 If you’re thinking about buying a red dot sight, but you’re not sure what to expect from one, the only thing you need to do is to read the following buying guide and decide what features you want for the best red dot sight.

Tube or Open Design

red dot 3There a two main designs for a red dot sight. The tubular one, which resembles the design of optical sights and the open design. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Picking one may not be as easy as you think.

  • Tubular Design – Most red dot sights use this kind of design. Because the lenses are housed in an aluminum or polymer casings, the sight tends to be more durable. This type of sights works great in any kind of lighting conditions. It doesn’t matter if the light is very bright. Once you look through the sight, you’ll be able to spot the red dot without any kind of trouble. If you use the sight in low-light conditions, most models offer a special brightness setting especially for it. Using the tubular sights at night will be easy. Just select the night-vision setting and you’ll be able to take aim. The good thing about the tubular design is that it comes with a protective cover. If you want to take it out in harsh conditions, such as fog, rain, or dust, you can just cover the sight to protect it until you have to use it. A disadvantage might be the limited eye relief, which might make you less aware of your surroundings.
  • Open Design – The open design’s main advantage over the tubular is that it offers a clear, open view of your environment at any time. You look through the sight and take aim. The main disadvantage of this design is that in very bright conditions, you can’t spot the dot easily. It’s actually quite difficult to see. Another disadvantage is the fact that once the display gets wet, you’ll barely be able to see anything through it. True, this happens to tubular sights as well, but an open design sight will get wet easier.

Reticle Patterns

Red dot sights nowadays don’t always use dots as their reticle pattern. The correct term to use for them would be electrical sights, but in the mind of the general public, they’ll always be red dot sights. More than one manufacturer offers more than one pattern for your reticle. They all have different advantages.

  • The Crosshair – The crosshair design is a classical design for more types of iron sights. If you’re already used to aiming through crosshair iron sights, you’ll prefer this one over the rest. While the dot might be harder to spot in some lighting conditions, you’ll have no difficulty spotting the cross. Shooters that are used to crosshairs can use them for improved accuracy over longer distances.
  • The Circled Cross – Similar to the classical crosshair, the circled version appeared on iron sights first. It was used with great success on the large caliber weapons aircraft used during the first and second World War. This kind of pattern allows you to acquire your target quickly and to shoot accurately over long distances. Using the cross and the circle, you can adjust your aiming fast, without problems.
  • The Circled Dot – The circled dot comes as a reticle pattern many people choose over the simple dot. The main reason they do that is the fact that it offers a larger aiming point on your display. Even if the sight is set at the same number of MOA, it’s easier to spot a more complex reticle than it is to observe the simple dot, especially in poor light conditions.
  • The Dot – The classic reticle pattern for electrical sights, the red dot is still very common among shooters. Some prefer it because they’re used to it. Some say it allows you to have more eye relief. One thing we know for sure, it will do the job. It’s proven to be effective for years.

Minutes Of Angle – MOA

Best Red Dot Sight for AR-15One of the specifications you’ll find on all types of red dot sights is “MOA”. MOA or “minutes of angle” is an acronym used for describing the size of the red dot or reticle. How does it work? Well, you can divide the distance in yards you’re shooting from by 100, and you’ll find out how big 1 MOA is in inches. So if you’re shooting at 250 yards, 250/100 = 2.5. So, your MOA at 250 yards will be 2.5”. You can try another method. You can divide the number of inches you need to adjust to the number of inches in one MOA at the distance you’re shooting. Like, if you’re shooting at 600 yards and want to adjust the impact of one 18” bullet, you need to calculate the following: 1 MOA at 600 yards is 6”. 18/6 = 3. So, if you adjust 3 MOA, you’ll move the bullet 18”. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not.

  • 3 MOA – A red dot sight that comes with a 3 MOA reticle is good for long distance aiming. When you sight a target at 100 yards, the red dot will be 3”. This is a precision dot.
  • 6 MOA – This sight comes with a dot that takes up 6 minutes of angle. This is still a precision dot for your AR-15.
  • 8 MOA – This is a slightly larger red dot. It might prove difficult to use it precisely when your target is further than 100 yards, so it’s not exactly a precision dot. It will be best used within 75 yards or so.
  • 16 MOA – This is a large dot. Definitely not a precision dot. You should use it for fast target acquisition, given your target is large enough. It should help you for distances up to 50 yards. Above that distance, you need some experience to use it accurately.

Automatic or Manual Brightness Settings

Some manufacturers develop red dot sights with automatic brightness features. Some don’t and only offer manual brightness settings. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Automatic Brightness – When you set the sight on the automatic brightness feature, the built-in light sensor will determine which intensity is best suited for the job. Most models come with a large variety of intensities. Some have 4 – 6 intensity levels, while others have more than 10. The automatic feature is great for people that use the red dot sight in places with different light conditions, such as a forest. If you’re in a clearing, and the sun is high above you, the unit will automatically set the brightness at a high or even the highest intensity. This way, you’ll be able to spot the dot without problems. But when you get under the cover of branches and leaves, the automatic function will reduce the brightness intensity, so there’s no chance of having a blurry, unclear dot. This function might be a great fit for tactical units, especially those that have breach and entry missions. The automatic feature will change the brightness so you’ll be able to take a clear shot every time. A disadvantage of the automatic setting is the fact that the sensor will sometimes keep the brightness intensity high when you don’t use the sight. This will reduce the battery life.
  • Manual Brightness – This is a feature chosen by most manufacturers. You can change the brightness intensity with a switch of a knob. The unit usually has more intensity levels you can set, including a low-light set and night-vision ones. The main disadvantage of this system is the fact that you have to manually change the brightness every time the lighting conditions change. You’ll encounter difficulties when you go from a bright light environment to a darker one. The dot will appear blurry and unclear so making a clear shot in that moment will be tough.

With or Without Laser?

red dot 5Some models come with a red dot sight and a laser sight as well. But do you really need a laser sight when you have a red dot mounted on your AR-15?

  • With Laser – There are fewer models that come equipped with a laser sight as well. Most manufacturers don’t offer this accessory. But what are the advantages of having a laser mounted next to your red dot sight? When you have a red dot sight that doesn’t come with infinite eye relief, you’re not always aware of your surroundings. If something or someone comes close to you and you need to act quickly and accurately, a laser sight will do the job. The laser is not made for long distance shots, it can only handle short or medium ones, so you can’t use it for more than that. If you have to operate in an environment with a lot of light changes, and your red dot sight doesn’t have an automatic function, a laser might come in handy. If you have to act in close quarters situations, a laser will most definitely come in handy. For close range, it’s the best sight for you.
  • Without Laser – Most models don’t come with a laser option. Why is that? Well, it’s simply because you have infinite eye relief, so you’re always aware of your surroundings. It’s like using your iron sights, but quicker and more accurate. Even if you go in an environment that has a lot of different light intensities and you don’t have an automatic red dot sight, having infinite eye relief allows you to take aim and shoot accurately, even if the dot is slightly blurry. Some of the red dot sights actually line up with your iron sights, so you can use them when needed.

Red Dot Sight Using Guide

What is a Red Dot Sight?

We always A red dot sight is a general term used for a non-magnifying reflector sight used by devices that require aiming. This term applies to electronic aiming units that give the user an aim-point that appears as a reticle. The first models were developed for the American sporting market and the reticle was always a red dot. After they were introduced on the market, they were used and improved by American special forces. Nowadays, the reticle is not always a dot. It can be a cross, a circled cross, a circled dot, or a triangle. Other colors than red can also be used.

The electronic sights can be used instead of the factory iron sights you weapons comes with. They are developed for faster aiming, are easier to use in a wider variety of lighting conditions and you can keep your natural view of your surroundings in the process. Most of them come with special features for low-light conditions and even night-vision. They are usually used for close and mid-range aiming. They are made for high-speed aiming and are superior when engaging a moving target. For long-range aiming, an optical sight is better than an electric one. They usually come without magnification proprieties, but some models have a 2x version.

How Does It Work?

 red dot 1The usual configuration for a red dot sight is a slightly tilted mirror reflector that has an emitting diode, usually a LED light, at its off-axis focus. The mirror usually has a multilayer coating designed to let most of the light to pass through, but not the light emitted by the diode. The LED used for electric sights usually emit a very bright 670-nanometre wavelength light. The size of the reticle generated by the LED is controlled by an aperture hole made from coated glass or metal. Using the LED as a reticle was an innovation that greatly improved the reliability and usefulness of the sight. It eliminated the need for other optical elements that could focus the light behind the reticle. It also needs a little power to run, so a single battery can allow the sight to be used for hundreds or thousands of hours before changing it.

Using a dot reticle simplifies the sight even more since the small diameter of the image doesn’t need a special optical reflector to focus it. Complex reticle patterns, such as a cross-hair, concentric circles, or circled crosses need more complex optics.

Some manufacturers modify the LED’s collimator combination to make models which focus the dot at a finite distance. This way, the dot moves along with your eye, but only when the target is within the desired range, up to 50 yards or so.

Some manufacturers use a more sophisticated optical system that compensates for any off-axis aberration. This means that the dot’s position will diverge off the sight’s optical axis when you change eye positions. This optic system uses a type of margin mirror, consisting of a lens corrector combined with a semi-reflective mirror. You can find it advertised as a “two lens” or “double lens” system. This lens system allows the dot to follow your eye when you take aim through the sight.

There are two main designs for red dot sights. Tube and open designs. Tube sights look similar with optical sight units, with a cylindrical tube that contains the lenses. These sights have the advantage of fitted covers and the ability to add filters, like sunshades or polarizing lenses. They are better at taking aim in tough environments, like fog or mist. The open sights consist of a flat base and a loop of material that supports the reflective optics. These are all the working components of a sight. These sights offer the advantage of a clear view of your environment at any time.

How To Use it?

If you want to properly use your red dot sight, you need to know about how they should be mounted, how they should be cared for, and how to ensure they are accurate for a long time after purchasing them.

  • Co-witness Mounting

If you want, you can use your red dot sight along with your stock iron sights. Even though we found a lot of definitions for co-witnessing on the internet, as well as in other red dot sight reviews, the easiest way to explain is this. Co-witnessing is the ability to coordinate your red dot sight with your iron sights. The main reason for doing this is that it will allow you to have buck up iron sights. Every time you mount an electronic aiming device on your weapon, you assume the risk of them falling, breaking or running out of battery. Remaining without a sight in combat, in a competition, or even when you’re hunting can prove to be devastating.

It’s critical to have a proper co-witness sight, so you can change from the electrical one to the other without losing even a second. But in order to do that, you need to know how to co-witness a non-magnified unit. Another advantage is that you can easily switch to your iron sights when you’re in a hurry or in close quarters situations when red dot sights aren’t the best for you.

  • How to Properly Co-witness Sights

red dot sights for ar 15 reviewsThe first think you have to do is to check if your weapon has iron sights. Many dealers sell the AR-15 with a sight free configuration. So buy some iron sights. Most of the units we presented in our red dot sight reviews are designed to co-witness your AR-15 sights. If you use non-standard iron sights or an optic that’s not able to co-witness you’ll need to use a riser or a spacer as well. A riser is a platform you can attach on your rail to slightly raise the device, so it will fit perfectly. The spacer is a platform that’s able to push your optical unit a little further on your rail, so it will align better.

Once you have your electronic sight, the iron sights, and the spacer or riser (if necessary) you’ll need to zero in your iron sights first. Once you have done that, go to the range and make sure you’re comfortable with their zero. If you are, you can mount your optic unit.

Once you mount your optic unit, make sure you adjust the reticle until it’s in line with your iron sights. Once they’re aligned, you need to be sure the zero of the optic is correct. Shoot some more rounds to test it. You need to make sure you test it in the exact same position, style, range and ammunition as you tested the iron sights. That’s why is better to test them both on a bipod. This way you can be sure it’s the same thing. For the AR-15, a well aligned red dot sight should display the dot on the tip of your front sight.

Now that you have your optical and iron sights mounted and aligned, remember to use the iron sights as well, from time to time. You need to be able to shoot accurately with them too, not only with the electrical unit.

How Can You Take Care of Your Red Dot Sight?

After you buy your first red dot sight and zero it in properly, you’ll probably want to test it as fast as you can. Nobody’s blaming you for that. Besides being super accurate, an electric sight is super fun. They are built to make you able to shoot multiple bullets at a single target in very quick succession. Of course, they’re fun. But if you want your red dot sight to last for a long time, you have to take care of it.

  • Water Damage – All of the models we presented in our review are waterproof, and most of the units on the market are. But that doesn’t protect the display when it’s raining. Once the display gets wet, you won’t be able to see anything through it, no matter if the unit comes in with a tubular, or an open design.
  • Dust Damage – Of course dust will be a problem for your display. Sometimes you can’t help it and go through the nastiest environments possible with your weapon. When the dust accumulated on your display combines with water, it may create a film on the surface. You’ll notice your reticle is blurry. Just clean and wipe the reticle with a rag and make any adjustments if you disturbed its zero.
  • Shock Damage – All the models we presented are made to withstand the recoil of an AR-15, but that doesn’t mean they’re indestructible. You should avoid dropping them on hard surfaces of hitting them in corners. Some models can modify their zero if you hit them hard enough, so be careful.

One more thing to take into your consideration; you need a unit which will be able to keep your guns and valuable accessories safe. Scopes, red dot sights, tactical flashlight are not less important than the gun itself. That’s why finding the best gun safe is not an easy job. We can show you which are the best gun safes under $500. Also, we can provide you with full background about the best gun safes under $1000.

How to Mount a Red Dot Sight on Your AR-15?

This usually is not a hard task and you will be able to mount most models by yourself like you do for AR-15 scopes. If you don’t have any experience with mounting and zeroing in red dot, night vision scopes or reflex sights, follow the instructions below or the instruction manual the sight came with.

If you want to mount the unit on your own, you must be familiar with two components. The rail and the locking system. Your AR -15 comes with a Picatinny or tactical rail. The rail acts as an anchor point you can use to attach different accessories. It consists of repeating ridges and slots on which the accessories’ locking system is able to securely catch on for a connection. Keep in mind that most accessories that are designed for a Weaver rail will fit your Picatinny rail as well. But if you don’t want to take any risks, buy a sight that was built especially for the AR – 15.

The location you choose for mounting the sight is of great importance. The trick of it is to pick a spot that’s not too forward or too much to the rear, so you’ll have an optimal aim. Many people make the mistake of placing the red dot sight too close to the rear of the gun. This is good for any type of magnified optic that has eye relief, but when you’re mounting a red dot keep in mind it has infinite eye relief. That means that no matter how far from your eye you place it, it will still focus. That’s why you don’t need to cramp up your field of view and limit your peripheral vision by placing it on the rear.

Other shooters place the sight too forward, as forward on the rail as possible. This might work for some, but it’s not recommended because the sight will lose its zero faster due to the constant shifting that happens while shooting. Another downside of this position is that you see the sight late when you raise the gun.

The best position for mounting is on the forward portion of the upper receiver. After choosing the right spot all you need to do is to mount the sight. There are two main mounting options. Some sights come with an integrated rail system. All you need to do is to place the rail in the right position and tighten the 2 or 3 screws it comes with to secure it in place. Other models come with a separate rail. Firstly, attach the rail to the weapon. Secure it with the screws provided. After it’s mounted, fit the sight on it. Tighten the screws to fit it in place. Be careful and don’t overtighten the sights’ screws. You might damage the sight.

Best Red Dot Sight for AR-15 Comparison Chart


Wrapping Up!

Buying the best red dot sight for your AR15 is not that hard now that you know what to look for, right? All you need to do is to read the red dot sight reviews that Tacticals.org Editors prepared for you to decide what you want to get out of your unit. There might be a lot of red dot sights for AR15, but usually, there’s only one or two perfect for your specific needs. Don’t rush into buying a model just because it looks good. Make sure you follow the instructions in our buying guide so you know what to look for. When it comes down to prices, you shouldn’t be picky. You want to use this accessory a long time, so it’s better to make a good investment once than multiple bad ones. A slightly expensive sight might actually save you money in the long run.

Here you can see our new posts about air rifles and pellet pistols that may excite your attention.

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