6 Best Pistol Red Dot Sights [Hands-On]: All Budgets

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Today you’re going to find the best pistol red dot sight.

In fact:

I’ve personally tested each pistol red dot sight by hand and fired several rounds through each one.

The best part?

I’ve categorized each sight by use so you could easily find which sight best fits your need.

Let’s dive right in!

Red Dots vs. Iron Sights Pistol

It seems that every operator and trainer worth their salt has a red dot on their defensive handgun.

But are they really worth the upgrade?

Before you jump to invest in one, there are some things you should consider…

Red Dot Sight

A red dot sight is an optic that is engineered to be used for close to mid-range shooting encounters.

If you need more magnification, then I recommend reading my best holographic sights.

How a red dot works is a tiny, red (or green) LED light in the optic platform shines onto a specially coated glass lens that’s housed at an angle.

In other words:

This gives you a reticle that is literally an illuminated red dot that you can then use to sight your target.

SIG SAUER ROMEO 5 RED DOT Lens

The best part?

Red dots increase target acquisition, shot timing, and accuracy. That’s why I have one co-witnessed on my best AR-15 scope.

In fact, shooters who use red dots on their rifles love them so much that they’re putting them on their defensive handguns.

But what about iron sights?

Iron Sights

Iron sights are the tried-and-true method of aiming a firearm.

You’ll be hard pressed to find a firearm where iron sights don’t come standard.

If you aren’t familiar, iron sights are the metal stubs that stand on either end of your pistol slide. While their size (and even color) can vary between handgun makes and models, they function the same across the board:

While iron sights are the “old fashioned” method of aiming a firearm, have advancements in optics rendered them obsolete?

Not exactly. And I’ll tell you why:

The best red dot mountings still depend on iron sights to act as a co-witness. Co-witnessing with iron sights means that your irons are in front of your eyes every single time you aim–regardless of whether or not your red dot is on.

Co-witnessed iron sights aren’t back up sights. They don’t fold down out of the way until you need them. They are always there and you use them as a reference for your red dot.

Using your iron sights as a co-witness will improve your red dot use. Here’s how:

  • Aligned iron sights will help you find your dot if you lose it from poor positioning.
  • You can also still make accurate shots with your iron sights if your red dot fails.
  • You can use your rear iron sights to acquire your sight picture and help guide your eyes to your dot.
  • Keeping your iron sights to co-witness will reduce the amount of retraining you’ll need to be proficient with your red dot.

Adding a red dot should not make your iron sights obsolete. They are still vital to your set-up.

Ideally, your new red dot and your iron sights should work together.

Which leads us to…

Pros/Cons of Red Dots

Advantages:

  1. Shooting with a red dot is more intuitive. When you engage a target, you naturally want to look at your target–especially when under duress. However, to properly aim your firearm with iron sights only, you need to focus on your rear sights. This contradicts our natural tendencies to focus down the barrel at our attacker. When you use a red dot, the reticle appears on your target–almost magically.
  2. Red dots increase accuracy at distance. When I practice from the 25 yd line with my pistol, my iron sights almost completely cover my target, making fine-tuning very difficult to do. With an optic like a red dot, I have an unobstructed view of my target. Again, I just need to line up my dot and fire.
  3. Red dots put your focus on your target. The optic and its reticle let me see what I want to shoot and where. My focus is naturally on my target–making target acquisition easier. I can also easily follow moving targets or effortlessly transition between targets.
  4. Red dots are highly visible in low light. On most red dot models, you can adjust the brightness of your dot to match your environment. You can turn it up in bright daylight, or turn it down in low light. The dot stands out even with night vision goggles when your night sights would be invisible.
  5. Red dots can be easier to see. Adding a red dot can make shooting accurately easier if you struggle to see iron sights clearly. Many people with aging eyes can regain their accuracy with a red dot.

Disadvantages:

  1. Red dots are battery powered. While red dot batteries are efficient and long lasting–eventually they will die. If you aren’t up on maintenance and replacing the battery, it might not work when your life depends on it.
  2. Red dots are not indestructible. Your red dot optic is made from a thin glass lens housed in either a plastic or light metal frame and attached to your pistol. The glass can break. The frame can break. The whole optic can be pulled loose from its mounting. All of this can render your optic useless.
  3. Red dots can lose zero. While most red dots are designed to take a beating, they can lose their zero. When that happens your point of aim and your bullet’s actual point of impact no longer match. Losing zero could cause you to miss your shots when accurate placement really matters.
  4. Red dots can “disappear.” Red dots can have finicky eyebox. If you don’t perfectly present your firearm, you could lose the dot. Red dots don’t give the same visual cues that iron sights do when misaligned. If you can’t find your dot, it can be impossible to find it again under stress.
  5. Red dots are expensive. A quality red dot optic could cost you hundreds of dollars–sometimes more than what you paid for the pistol you are mounting it to. On top of that, you need pay to have it properly mounted.
  6. Red dots simply aren’t as useful at close-range. Most defensive handgun uses happen in under 15 feet. While red dots easily outperform iron sights at a distance, they really suck for up close encounters–making them practically useless for your average self defense situation.
  7. Red dots are not weatherproof. There’s a tiny slit in the base of a red dot optic where the light shines from the LED to the lens to make the reticle. If a drop of water, a grain of sand, or a piece of lint enters that little channel, your optic is done. It will not work for you.
  8. Red dots can be hard to carry. Red dot sights are not a streamlined addition to your concealed carry system. Their bulky size can be hard to fit in a holster. The optic can rub against your skin and chaffe. It can get caught on clothing. These are all factors you need to consider if you plan to carry one.
  9. Red dots require extensive training and time. You will need to rewrite all of the memory your muscles and eyes acquired over years of iron sights training. If you can’t present your red dot equipped handgun perfectly every single time, you won’t be able to see your dot. Without dedicated coaching from a professional trainer, it will be very difficult to make these adjustments effectively on your own.

Final Thoughts

So should you buy a red dot for your pistol?

Absolutely. Red dots are easier to see and puts focus on your target, improving accuracy and target acquisition.

But like anything new, changes are going to take time to adapt and adjust to. You’ll have a lot of muscle and visual memory to retrain.

With all the said, let’s take a look at…

The 6 Best Pistol Red Dot Sight

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best pistol red dot sights:

  1. Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06: Best Pistol Red Dot Sight
  2. Aimpoint Pro: Best Red Dot for AR Pistol
  3. Burris Fastfire 3: Best For the Budget
  4. Vortex Venom: Best Red Dot Sight For The Money
  5. Leupold DeltaPoint: Best for Competition
  6. Holosun Paralow HS503CU: Best for Astigmatism

1. Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06: Best Pistol Red Dot Sight

The Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06 is the best mini red dot sight for a pistol.

In fact,

I bought two: one for my home defense arm and another to play around with at the range.

Want to know more? Keep reading, starting with…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass is clear and incredibly durable.

The true-color multi-coatings help you see your targets and background exactly as they appear without any color distortions. Plus it enhances your battery life.

Trijicon RMR Red Dot Eyebox

The multi-coating does give the glass a blue tint which is an adjustment.

Where this optic shines is in the illumination settings, no pun intended.

The optic allows you to choose between automatic or manual brightness settings, depending on shooter preference.

The automatic adjustments are the most comforting for home defense as the optic auto-adjusts to the ambient settings.

This means it adjusts for me if I run from my well-lit home into nighttime darkness without having to remove my handle from the grip.

There are eight manual brightness setting which include two for NVDs and on that is super-bright.

The lowest brightness settings makes NVG shooting a breeze with a pistol. The dot becomes like a laser on the target.

The red dot is available in three different dot sizes: 1.0 MOA, 3.25 MOA, or 6.5 MOA.

Trijicon RMR Red Dot high brightness

I chose the 3.25 MOA dot size.

The dot is small enough for accurate shooting at range while also being big enough for fast acquisition- it’s the most versatile option.

The fine 1.0 MOA dot is more accurate at greater distances. It’s better for long-range pistols, rifles, and carbine applications.

(Speaking of long range, if you need a scope to reach 1000+ yards, check out my Best Long Range Scopes guide).

On the other end, the biggest 6.5 MOA dot helps the user located the dot quickly for close-quarter engagements and works for long range shots. It also works well for those with poor vision.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

As a red dot sight, eye relief is unlimited.

The glass window is small at only 0.87” x 0.63”, but it’s incredibly durable and the smaller size allows for unlimited field of view.

Trijicon RMR Red Dot reticle

The glass window is small at only 0.87” x 0.63”, but it’s incredibly durable and the smaller size allows for unlimited field of view.


Durability

This battle proven red dot is the pinnacle of durability in its class. It’s compact with a high quality feel.

Sights have to endure a lot of wear and tear when paired with a pistol. The Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06 is prepared to take a beating thanks to the military-grade aluminum alloy and aircraft-grade aluminum construction.

Trijicon RMR Red Dot side view

Both the 7075-T6 aluminum housing and glass window are impact-resistant to withstand the rigors of combat for many years of service.

The water-proof effectiveness is good for up to 66’ of submersion for 1 hour with a plate. For the every day user, this is more than enough to withstand the usual rigor.

Battery life is a big deal for a red dot, and the Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06 knocks it out of the park without the need for a fancy battery.

It takes a CR2032 battery that’s easy to find and replace when it eventually dies- and I say eventually because this battery can last for years. Here’s how.

Trijicon RMR Red Dot battery

With the most conservative settings (kept at the level 4 brightness setting), the battery can last for 4 years of continuous use. However, I’d recommend changing the battery every year for heavier usage.

There’s also a battery conservation mode which adjusts the red dot to ambient light conditions after 16.5 hours.

My only complaint with the battery is that it’s on the bottom of the sight.

This means you have to unmount and zero when changing the battery- but you should re-zero every year just in case.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

Windage and elevation adjustments are made with 1.0 MOA clicks over a 150 MOA range for target acquisition beyond CQC (Close Quarters Combat).

With button adjustments on the sides, illumination adjustments are easy.

Trijicon RMR Red Dot Windage

On the left side is the button to increase the illumination setting while the right side lowers brightness. The sight is turned off by holding both buttons.


Parallax & Magnification

There is no magnification through the optic’s glass which makes it best for fast target acquisition when you don’t need to make any adjustments.

For a pistol, this setup works very well.

The red dot itself allows for accuracy over a minimal range of distance while the magnification-free glass means fewer adjustments and fast target acquisition in close combat.

It’s also completely parallax free.


Mounting & Rings

The Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06 comes with mounting screws and a dab of Loctite will keep everything in place.

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Loctite Threadlocker Red 271,0.20 fl. oz(209741)
  • Heavy-duty adhesive permanently locks large metal fasteners
  • Designed for larger metal fasteners 3/8-inch to 1-inch
  • Use on power equipment where secured fasteners are mandatory

The MOS model comes with plates for different brand RMR’s, and if you look on the Trijicon website it shows all of the different mounting options.

A huge plus for this optic is that it’s one of the only red dots that works well with night vision. That’s why I use one with my Best AR-15 Night Vision Scope.

It also offers the biggest selection of custom slides already milled for this specific model.


Is the Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06 worth it?

The Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06 is the best mini red dot sight for pistol users. It’s big enough for fast target acquisition but small enough for 100+ yard shots.

The durability of this optic alone is what sets it apart from other red dots in its class.

Here’s what else sets it apart:

  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • True-color multicoated lens
  • Easily adjustable windage/elevation
  • Compatible with night vision devices

If you’re wondering if the Trijicon RMR Type 2 RM06 is the right optic for you, I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a shot.

Trijicon RM07-C-700679 RMR Type 2 Adjustable LED Sight, 6.5 MOA Red Dot Reticle, Black
  • 6.5 MOA ADJUSTABLE LED RMR: Features an automatic brightness mode and easy push buttons for eight adjustable brightness settings including 2 nv and 1 Super bright
  • DEPENDABLE ELECTRONIC DESIGN: Ruggedized Battery contacts and electronics ensure performance and survivability in harsh environments
  • UNIQUE PATENTED HOUSING SHAPE: Military-grade aluminum alloy forged housing shape diverts force of impact away from the lens, greatly increasing its durability

2. Aimpoint Pro: Best Red Dot for AR Pistol

The Aimpoint Pro is the best red dot sight for your AR Pistol.

It’s a handy red dot optic that’s versatile and useful in a variety of shooting activities.

From hunting to target practice, this red dot sight will surprise you with its power.

In fact, it’s pretty much my go-to red dot sight.

Why?

Keep reading to find out…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity is excellent for this red dot sight.

This is due to its multi-coated lens. Plus, it has a slight blue tint.

Aimpoint Pro Blue tint

Why is this important?

While the multi-coated lenses help with light transmission, the blue tint makes the actual red dot more prominent.

So you’re getting the clearest red dot in the game.

Aimpoint Pro Reticle Front Lens Closed

And this sight has ten brightness settings, so you won’t be left in the dark.

In fact, four of those settings are specifically made for night vision.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is unlimited, so you’ve got plenty of space to work with for adjustments.

Plus, you can keep both eyes open when using this sight – just like if you using the Best Scout Scope.

So you’ll definitely get a great aim on your targets.


Durability

This red dot sight is a great optic.

Especially when it comes to its rugged strength.

In fact, it’s made of hard aluminum alloy.

Aimpoint-Pro-survived-fire

Not only can it take a lot of abuse from any terrain, it’s also got a nice black matte finish.

So it’s built to last for years, just like the battery life.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets have individual caps for windage and elevation.

Aimpoint Pro Windage

So you get smooth adjustment with an audible click.

But does it hold zero?

Yes, and I was able to zero in after about five shots.

Plus, it holds zero well.


Parallax & Magnification

The magnification is at 1x.

So if you want more zooming in power, I’d recommend an addition.

But more on that later in my recommendations.

This sight is also parallax free.


Mounting & Rings

This red dot sight is attached to a rail mount with a spacer.

Plus, it also comes with front and rear flip-up caps.

Aimpoint Pro Flip-up Cap on

But if I were to recommend an addition, it would be the Aimpoint 3X-C Magnifier. It offers 3x magnification, it’s lightweight, and its rubber coating makes it shock resistant.

Aimpoint 3X-C Magnifier - No Mount - 200273
  • 3X magnification
  • Variable (-2 to +2) dioptric setting
  • 3X-C Magnifier only – NO MOUNT INCLUDED

So set that magnifier up with the Aimpoint FlipMount for a secure attachment…

Aimpoint FlipMount - Fits All 3X and 6X Magnifiers - 200251
  • Fits all Aimpoint 3X and 6X magnifiers
  • Total height: 47.5 mm (1.9 Inch)
  • Length: 40 mm (1.6 Inch)

…and you’ll be good to go!


Is the Aimpoint Pro worth it?

If you’re looking for a versatile red dot sight, then the Aimpoint Pro Red Dot Sight is a great choice.

Not only will it work for the casual target shooter, but it also makes a nice hunting red dot for your AR Pistol.

Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight with QRP2 Mount and Spacer - 2 MOA - 12841
  • Designed to deliver premium performance under harsh conditions
  • 2 MOA dot with 4 Night and 6 Daylight brightness settings
  • Up to 3 years of continuous operation using one DL1/3N battery (included)

Here’s its best features:

  • Long battery life
  • Ultra durable sight construction
  • Ten adjustable brightness levels
  • 2 MOA red dot offers high accuracy

It has a 2-year warranty if you’re using it for professional or regular competitions.

And it offers a 10-year warranty for personal use from the purchase date.

So either way, Aimpoint has you covered for all of your shooting and warranty needs.

Whether you’re an avid hunter or just want to spend the weekend shooting targets, this red dot sight will be a reliable optic to use for years to come.


3. Burris Fastfire 3: Best For the Budget

The Burris Fastfire 3 is the perfect compact red dot sight to add to your handgun, rifle, or shotgun.

In fact, I recommended it in my Best Ruger 10/22 Scope review guide.

Why? Because it’s extremely compact.

At only .9oz, it doesn’t interfere with the weight or balance of any firearm you put it on.

Keep reading and I’ll tell you all you need to know about the Burris Fastfire 3.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Burris uses high-grade optical glass on this sight which makes it crystal clear.

That allows the actual red dot to be unmistakably bright.

Burris Fastfire III Red Dot

In addition, there is a side button that allows you to cycle through the 4 brightness settings that is easy to use and responsive.

The 3 MOA reticle dot is on the smaller side, so you’ll want to pair it with another scope (like the Best Rimfire Scope) or magnifier to get the most out of it.

The 8 MOA reticle dot on the other hand is the perfect size for using on a handgun or shotgun.

Plus it powers on quickly to the highest brightness at a touch.

The battery does have an auto-shutoff feature at 8 hours, so if you’re using this for a CCW be aware of that.

One of this sight’s best features is the Hi-Lume multi-coating on its lens.

Burris Fastfire III Sight

Thanks to that, you’ll experience almost no glare and it lets in a ton of light.

That makes it perfect for night time and low light shooting.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

Because of its extremely compact size, the Burris Fastfire 3 offers nearly unlimited eye relief.

Also thanks to that the eye box is as large as you need it to be.

This is a great sight if you need to wear glasses or have poor eyesight, especially with the 8 MOA option.

It’s one of the few sights that I’m able to use with both eyes open without any issues.

It’s also super easy to reposition and adjust thanks to the Picatinny mount it comes with.


Durability

The Burris Fastfire 3 has a stainless steel housing that’s tough as nails.

It’s also waterproof and shockproof, making it a perfect all elements sight.

The shockproof design allows it to be used on firearms with heavy recoil.

Burris Fastfire 3 Red Dot Sight

That makes it the perfect companion to a muzzleloader scope.

This sight has a top-mounted battery which in theory makes for easier battery replacement.

In my experience, it’s actually a beast to get on and off.

If you’re not careful, it’s incredibly easy to strip the screws when removing it

It tends to get stuck and I have to use an excessive amount of force to get it off, and then more to get it put back on.

On the plus side, it touts a five-year battery life, so it won’t be a problem you run into that often.

Also, since the battery is on the top, you don’t have to remove the sight to change it.

That means it won’t mess with your zero, which is always nice.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

It’s incredibly easy to make elevation and windage adjustments without using tools.

The dials click audibly when adjusted, and you can feel the click as well.

Burris Fastfire III Glass

I was able to get my sight zeroed in with just 3 shots.

I was surprised that it was fairly accurate out of the box, my shots were landing just about ½ inch off the mark.

Adjusting took no time at all though and by the third shot, I was dead on every time.

I haven’t lost my zero since.


Parallax & Magnification

The Burris Fastfire 3 is a parallax-free 1x magnification red dot scope.

It’s not going to help you see at extreme distances unless you already have fantastic eyes.

If you’re looking to use this for long-range hunting, rather than up close hunting or home defense, you’ll need to add on a magnifier or scope.

These are some of the best rifle scopes to use with your red dot sight.


Mounting & Rings

This sight comes with a low Picatinny rail mount.

That allows it to easily attach directly to your firearm or to your scope.

The stock mount it comes with out of the box was perfect for my needs.


Is the Burris Fastfire 3 worth it?

For the price, the Burris Fastfire 3 is hard to beat.

It’s not the best red dot sight on the market, but for being so compact it packs quite a punch.

Whether you need it for your handgun, shotgun, rifle, or 45-70 scope, it’ll do the job.

To review:

  • 5-year battery life
  • Unlimited eye relief
  • Variable 3 or 8 MOA
  • Durable steel housing
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Waterproof and shockproof
  • Enables quick target acquisition
  • Hi-grade multi-coated optical glass
  • Auto-off battery feature after 8 hours

It’s a handy, user-friendly, super affordable micro-dot option for any firearm.

Plus it’s backed by Burris’ Forever Warranty, so you’ll never have to worry about it breaking down.

Doesn’t matter how, when, why, or who has it when it breaks, they’ve got you covered.

If all of this hasn’t convinced you, then take a look at the Burris Fastfire 3 yourself.


4. Vortex Venom: Best Red Dot Sight For The Money

There are usually two ways to go when it comes to buying an optic:

You can go cheap, or you can go quality.

The Vortex Venom is one of those rare sights that combines both into one sleek package.

In fact, the Vortex Venom is the best red dot sight on the market for the money.

Want to know why? Keep reading to find out.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

First of all, the Venom has some of the clearest glass I’ve seen on a red dot optic.

The lens is fully-multicoated, and you can really tell the difference in the quality of the sight image. Light transmission and color fidelity are fantastic.

Vortex Venom Glass lens

Best of all, the glass doesn’t have that slight colored tint that a lot of other red dot optics have. Using the Venom, I get a clear, crisp sight picture every time I raise my Glock.

Now, on to the reticle.

This optic uses a 3-MOA red dot reticle.

Vortex Venom red dot reticle

I love the reticle size because 3 MOAs is big enough to easily pick out, but not so big that it will cover up any details on your target.

This is extra important on a defense gun because it’s important to be able to clearly identify what you are aiming at before you decide to pull the trigger!

Also, there are ten brightness settings to choose from, so you can get the Venom dialed in to your specific lighting conditions.

Best of all, though, is the auto-brightness mode. Switch that on, and the Venom will detect the ambient lighting around it and adjust its brightness level automatically.

This is my go-to setting because I don’t have to fiddle with the brightness at all.

Just turn it on, point, and shoot. Again, this is a great feature to have on a defense gun!

I do wish it also had some kind of auto-shutoff feature to protect the battery life, but I’m usually pretty good about remembering to turn it off so I haven’t had any battery issues.

And speaking of battery, the Venom uses a single CR1632 battery to power the reticle. Many red dots require that you take the whole optic off in order to change the battery, but not the Vortex Venom.

It has a handy top-loading battery compartment to make battery changes in the field a snap.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

Here’s my favorite thing of all about red dot optics:

Unlimited eye relief and eye box.

Unlike long range scopes like the Best Scope for 6.5 Creedmoor, you don’t have to worry about a proper shooting stance or good cheek weld.

If you can see the red dot, you can put lead on target.

Vortex Venom optic

This is an especially important feature in a defense weapon optic because you never know what position you will end up shooting from in an emergency. Danger won’t stop and wait for you to assume a proper stance!


Durability

The Vortex Venom is inexpensive, but don’t let that fool you into think it’s cheaply made.

The frame of the optic is made from machined aluminum for added strength. And, the lens is o-ring sealed to keep out any moisture, dust, or dirt that might foul up your optic.

So no matter the conditions, you can rest assured that this optic will perform flawlessly.

Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight

And best of all, the whole thing only weighs 1.5 ounces.

This low weight is fantastic for shooter comfort, but also helps the optic with recoil resistance. Less inertia and few moving parts help keep the Venom going, shot after shot.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The adjustment knobs produce solid clicks, and adjust at a rate of 1 MOA per click.

This makes zeroing both easy and precise because I can clearly hear when I’ve made an adjustment, and the 1 MOA adjustment size lets me really dial in the optic to pinpoint accuracy.

In fact, using the Venom on my Glock, I was zeroed in five shots. Better yet, that zero has held through a few months (and a few hundred rounds) of testing.

I like that the turrets sit completely flush with the body of the optic, meaning they won’t snag on anything in the field or when the weapon is being drawn. They aren’t hand adjustable, but this makes them harder to adjust by accident, so it doesn’t really bother me.

Plus, since the zero holds so well, I haven’t needed to make any adjustments in the field at all. Talk about reliability!


Magnification & Parallax

You don’t get any magnification with the Vortex Venom, but that’s standard with red dot sights.

vortex venom parallax and magnification

Besides, the true 1x of red dots like the Venom allows for quick target acquisition with both eyes open, whether on a pistol or a rifle.

That said, if you want to add some zoom to your red dot, I recommend the Vortex VMX 3T Magnifier. It matches the Venom perfectly, gives you 3x zoom, and has a handy flip mount.

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Vortex Optics VMX-3T Magnifier with Built-in Flip Mount
  • The VMX-3T Magnifier and Flip Mount combo adds a 3x magnification to your rifle's red dot sight. Simple, fast, and effective, the push button design engages and disengages the flip mount allowing the...
  • The lens are fully multi-coated maximizing resolution, light gathering capability, and color fidelity. Eye Relief-2.2 inches. Field of View-38.2 feet/100 yards
  • The VMX-3T does not require any special sight-in. The dot centering screws can be used to help center your red dot image in the VMX-3T's field of view.

Prefer an optic with built-in magnification? Check out my Best Scopes for AR-10 guide.

Plus, like all red dots, the Venom is completely parallax free.


Mounting

The Venom ships with a mount that will allow it to easily attach to any picatinny rail.

This makes putting it on any AR a breeze. To mount it on a pistol, though, you’ll most likely need to remove the rear sight and use a rail adapter.

For my Glock, I used the Strike Industries Rear Sight Rail Adapter. It’s a simple process to install, and it’s worth the effort because the Vortex Venom is the best budget pistol red dot you can get.

Strike Industries Rear Sight Mount for Glock Pistol
  • Affordable alternative for mounting a rear sight/red dot on Glock
  • Aluminum Picatinny rail weighing only 1 oz
  • Back plate with screw for added security

Is the Vortex Venom worth it?

All in all, the Vortex Venom is a high-quality, lightweight optic at an incredible price.

For around $250, you get:

  • 3-MOA Red Dot
  • Crisp, clear glass
  • Included Picatinny mount
  • Rugged, o-ring sealed construction
  • 10 Brightness settings with auto-brightness

And if all that wasn’t enough, the whole thing is covered by Vortex’s Lifetime VIP Warranty.

So if you’re looking for a great red dot that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Vortex Venom. You won’t be disappointed!


5. Leupold DeltaPoint: Best for Competition

The Leupold DeltaPoint is the best red dot sight for competition.

In fact:

I have the sight mounted on my Glock 17 MOS, and I’ve used it in competitive shooting several times.

I’ll be going over its pros and cons so that by the end of this review, you’ll know if the Leupold DeltaPoint is for you.

Let’s get started!


Lens Quality

The Leupold DeltaPoint comes with superb glass quality.

There is a slightly reddish tint, but you really have to look for it to notice that.

Leupold Deltapoint Pro red dot sight

The 2.5 MOA Dot is crisp and clear, perfect for close-up work.

The Leupold Deltapoint comes with a large window, more than the Trijicon RMRs.

Leupold Deltapoint Pro red dot reticle

This may not be a big deal to some people, but it’s crucial if you’re a competitive shooter, especially if you shoot strong hand only or weak hand only.

The DeltaPoint is equipped with eight brightness settings.

The highest setting is clear in the daylight, and the lowest setting is perfect for low light use. It’s also night vision compatible: you can fine-tune the red dot to match your equipment’s sensitivity.

One drawback:

I’d like to see Leupold redesign the spongy, single adjustment button. It’s not a deal-breaker, but I’d rather have separate controls for adjusting the brightness up and down.

Also:

If you have astigmatism in your shooting eye, you may experience seeing a sunburst, flare, or other jagged shapes.

You can quickly fix this problem by wearing corrective lenses or by opting for an astigmatism-friendly optic.

Moving on…

The Leupold DeltaPoint comes with an easy-access battery compartment on top, so you don’t need to remove your sight and re-zero.

The single CR2032 is advertised to last about 300 hours. I’ve used mine for more than a year before I swapped batteries.

How? Leupold’s Motion Sensor Technology.

The red dot illumination shuts off after 5 minutes of inactivity but turns on immediately once it senses movement.

Pretty convenient, right?


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The Leopold DeltaPoint comes with unlimited eye relief.

Leupold DeltaPoint Pro eyebox

The wide field of view makes it easy to shoot with both eyes open.


Durability and Weight

The Leupold Deltapoint is exceptionally durable.

Also, it’s pretty lightweight: less than 2 ounces on the scale.

Leupold Deltapoint Pro mounted

The sight is designed to perform in harsh weather conditions, thanks to its high-grade aluminum housing and steel sheath construction.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The adjustment knobs are audible and tactile, unlike many others on the market.

I do appreciate those positive clicks, especially when wearing earplugs and muffs inside an indoor range.

Leupold Deltapoint Pro windage and elevation

It took me only 12 rounds to zero the sight at 25 yards.

The DeltaPoint held zero even after 600 rounds and drop tests.


Magnification and Parallax

Like most red dots, the Leupold DeltaPoint comes with a 1x fixed magnification.

Plus, you don’t need to worry about parallax as this sight doesn’t have any.


Mounting

Installation was a breeze.

I’ve heard other shooters having difficulty mounting the DeltaPoint to the MOS system on Glock, but mine mounted seamlessly with the supplied hardware.

If you’re looking to mount the DeltaPoint to an AR (or any Picatinny, Weaver, Or Cantilever Rail that doesn’t require a riser), I recommend the Leupold 120056 DeltaPoint Pro Cross Slot Mount.

Sale
Leupold 120056 DeltaPoint Pro Cross, Matte, Cross Slot Mount
  • Can Be Used On Any Picatinny, Weaver, Or Cantilever, Rail Or Base That Does Not Require A Riser
  • Allows For Easy Coupling With A Variety Of Different Style Rails And Bases
  • Great Mounting Option For Your Deltapoint Pro Sight

If you need to raise your sight, you can pair the cross slot mount with the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Cross Slot Mount Riser.

Sale
Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Cross Slot Mount Riser
  • Fits DeltaPoint Pro Cross Slot Mount
  • Durable Anodized Aluminum construction
  • Torx Wrench and Two Torx Screws Included

Is the Leupold DeltaPoint worth it?

If you’re looking for a high-performance sight coupled with robust construction, get the Leupold DeltaPoint.

Why? It’s got…

  • Clear glass
  • Large Field of View
  • Extended battery life
  • Motion Sensor Technology
  • Lightweight aluminum housing
  • Tool-less, easily accessible battery compartment

To top it all off, the sight is covered by the Leupold Golden Ring Full Lifetime Warranty.

All in all, the Leupold Deltapoint is one of the best pistol optics that’ll perform flawlessly in competitive shooting.

Sale
Leupold DeltaPoint Pro 2.5 MOA Dot – Night Vision
  • Model # 179585 - DeltaPoint Pro 2.5 MOA red dot reticle in Matte finish Night Vision Compatible
  • Superior Leupold ruggedness, precise 1 MOA adjustments, and top loading battery compartment put this red dot in a class of its own
  • The huge field of view and crystal clean lens eliminate distortion and provide unmatched target acquisition

6. Holosun Paralow HS503CU: Best for Astigmatism

Holosun has partnered with Primary Arms and together they have developed a red dot that is effective both at a distance and up close.

I was able to buy one and I was quite impressed with it.

Let’s take a look….


Glass Clarity & Reticle

This red dot sight has a multi-coated lens and a pretty clear sight picture.

Holosun HS503CU glass lens

I found it easy to see my target through the lens and the dot really pops.

The reticle is what sets this apart from all the other red dots you’ve probably tried. Holosun designed the HS503CU to have a 2 MOA ACSS chevron shaped dot.

It isn’t the round dot that you are probably used to.

HoloSun HS503CU reticle

What makes using a chevron so special?

Most other red dots look like a smear across the glass and are useless for me. This one I can see just fine and the outline of the chevron is surprisingly sharp for me.

I found I can accurately use the full dot to sight in on my target for close distance shots.

For shots over a hundred yards, I can use the tip of the chevron as my Aimpoint. The reticle even has bullet drop compensation dots (BDC) that are accurate out to 600 yards if I am using 5.56 or 7.62 NATO rounds.

(If you need to reach further than that, then I recommend getting a long range scope like the Best Scope for 308).

On top of that, I can select to use a 65 MOA circle around the dot to really help my eye focus on the chevron pattern.

I can run the HS503CU as just the chevron, the chevron and a circle, or neither–and turn off all illumination.

I did notice that the reticle dot and the BDC dots are hard to see. I threw a magnifier behind the sight just for kicks and it was a game changer.

This made the reticle markings even more crisp and much, much easier to see. While the Holosun Paralow HS503CU is functional on its own, adding a magnifier really improved the usability for me.

Sale
Vortex Optics SPARC Red Dot Sight Gen II - 2 MOA Dot
  • The updated SPARC features rugged construction that’s still compact, with a lightweight form-factor. The 2 MOA dot is as easy as point and shoot - it’s quick to acquire in close-quarters, but fine...
  • With up to 700 hours of battery life on the highest setting, 50, 000 hour on its lowest, and night-vision compatibility at the lowest two settings, the SPARC red dot will keep working in a variety of...
  • Increased light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces. Unlimited eye relief for rapid target acquisition. 12 illumination settings allows shooters to change...

During my use with this particular optic, I did find that it was compatible with my night vision equipment which was also really nice for me.

This optic’s dot is created by a very energy efficient red LED. Its supposed to last 50,000 off of one CR2032 button battery.

The “shake awake” feature turns the reticle on when you move your rifle. So you’ll always have the red dot present when you need it.

You won’t need to fumble for a button to turn it on.

You also don’t have to be dependent on a battery either. This optic is equipped with a solar panel. The panel creates energy to run the LED. If your battery dies, no worries.

Holosun HS503CU red dot sight

This optic also features an auto-brightness for the reticle.

When I selected this setting, the reticle auto adjusted to be effective in the lighting I was using it in. My dot was brighter when I was in the sunlight, and dimmer when I was in low light.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

As with most red dot sights, the Holosun Paralow HS503CU has unlimited eye relief.

This means there is no specific distance I need to be from the optic to get an optimal view through the sight.

Holosun HS503CU

The eye box was also fairly forgiving, but it will take some time for first time red dot users to be able to sight their weapon without losing the dot.

And that takes some practice.


Durability

I found the Holosun Paralow HS503CU red dot to be durable.

It has an aluminum housing and is shock and recoil resistant.

I have this on my battle rifle and I have used it in my tactical training exercises. I’ve dragged it through the mud. Its was banged up when I dove for cover. I’ve thrown it around in the back of my truck. I haven’t handled it lightly at all.

Its a tool, and I use it as such. It still works like a champ.

The hardcoat anodize covering has held up to the abuse fairly well. There are a few scuffs on it, but nothing terrible.

I think I’ve gotten my money’s worth with this optic and then some.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets are shrouded on two sides by the optic housing to add durability and protect the turrets.

Holosun HS503CU illumination settings

The turrets were firm to adjust and effective.

It adjusts with 0.5 MOA clicks.

I found this optic easy to sight in and did so in under 5 rounds.


Parallax & Magnification

This is a fixed magnification scope. It seems to be as true 1x as you can get.

There is no parallax whatsoever with this optic. The sight picture doesn’t jump around as I move my head.


Mounting & Rings

Holoson included high and low mounting bases with the optic. This red dot is also equipped with a quick release.

It did fully co-witness with my iron sights.

The optic itself is compatible with both weaver or picatinny rails. Whichever you have on your rifle will work just fine.


Is the Holosun Paralow HS503CU worth it?

If you have astigmatism or struggle to see regular dots, I highly recommend checking out the Holosun Paralow HS503CU:

HOLOSUN - HS503CU Paralow Solar Micro Red Dot Sight with 1X Magnification, 2 MOA Dot, and 65 MOA Circle (Matte Black)
  • MICRO RED DOT SIGHT: The HS503CU is a 20mm micro optical sight with a durable T6061-T6 aluminum housing designed to be made compatible for rifle and carbine applications.
  • SUPER LED: High capacity CR2032 lithium ion battery with up to 100,000 hours of battery life powers the optic; Holosun Super LEDs provide a versatile range of intensity for the brightest environments...
  • MULTI-COATED LENS: Holosun’s optics are manufactured using optical glass with multilayer coatings applied to facilitate maximum light transmission and wear resistance while reducing glare.

It has several awesome features

  • Durable build
  • Enginuative dot design
  • BDC hashed reticle
  • Shake awake reticle
  • Night Vision compatible
  • LED powered by solar power or CR2032 battery

In short: If you need a red dot you can depend on, the Holosun Paralow HS503CU will not disappoint.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best pistol red dot sight guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which red dot sight will you pick for your pistol?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

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