The AR-15 is one of the most common rifle platforms available today. It’s widely used for self-defense, competition shooting, and hunting. It also is a widely used rifle used in law enforcement and the military.
The original purpose use was for the military and required to target accurately at close-range and medium-range. Red dot sights became the solution to this problem and are widely used through all those use-cases.
Modern red dots are somewhat the match made in heaven for AR-15’s. There are plentiful choices, and we help you in the following post to find the best red dot sight for AR-15 rifles.
In a Hurry? Here’s the list of the Best AR-15 Red Dot Sights!
If you’re in a rush then here’s the list of the top-rated AR-15 red dots:
- Vortex Optics Sparc II
- AT3 Tactical RD-50 PRO Red Dot Sight
- Aimpoint Micro H-2
- Feyachi RDS-22 2MOA Micro Red Dot Sight
- Sig Sauer Romeo MSR Red Dot Sight
- Bushnell TRS-25 AR
- Trijicon MRO
- Holosun 510C
Depending on your use cases and budget you can safely pick any of these to be a good red dot sight for the AR. Read further to find the reviews for each sight and a buying guide highlighting what you should consider before selecting and buying the best red dot sight for your AR-15!
What are the basics of a red dot sight?
Red dots are battery-powered electronic optics that are designed for reliable and quick target acquisition. They are true 1x optics and can be combined with magnifiers or iron sights for added versatility and increasing their usable range. Without magnification, they are best used for close-quarter and home defense applications.
Red dot sights are designed to easily adjust the red dot’s intensity for better lighting conditions. The varying brightness intensity can be helpful when aiming at different surrounding light conditions. You can increase and decrease the red dot’s intensity to achieve a better acquisition, depending on the target.
One of the most popular lightweight and semi-automatic rifles in the market is the AR-15 rifle. It has an effective range of 600 yards, depending on the bullet. And the red dot sight is highly compatible with AR-15.
AR-15 are mostly used for short-range and mid-range shooting. And you can use a magnifier to help get a good sight of the target.
The good thing about using red dot sights is the size because it is smaller due to the absence of built-in magnification – Are Red Dot Sights Useful In The Dark?
Red dot sights have simple designs. It has a LED light that reflects the reticle on the glass inside the tube. And most red dot sights (like the Tacticon Predator V3) have a simple dot reticle with an average size of 2 or 3 MOA.
Overall, red dot sights are convenient, easy to use, and reliable. So, choosing to use it for your AR-15 is a wise decision.
Red dot sights for AR-15 are used for fast, accurate target acquisition in all types of lighting conditions. It is used for self-defense, military, competitive shooting, and predator hunting.
However, it is essential to choose the right type of sight to acquire the target better.
There are only two red dot sights, but people categorize them into different groups. For example, Trijicon ACOG, EOTech’s holographic optics (e.g. EOTech EXPS2 HWS), and prismatic sights – these sights are not considered red dot because they operate differently.
So, whether you are in a competition, combat, or hunting game, red dot sights enable you to use your rifle skills to the most significant potential.
The red dot is also one of the best tools that you can use if you are a new shooter.
There are also a few things that you need to consider when choosing the type of red dot sight based on range. These include glass quality, light transmission, longer ranges for elevation and windage, the field of view, and eye relief.
Glass quality is vital because the red dot’s spherical lens reflects the lights emitted from the LED of its axis focus. It comes with a reflector that prevents light from disrupting your reticle. High-quality glass means better light transmission helping you aim at the target better.
The field of view is also a factor that influences target acquisition. A red dot and holographic sight has a technically unlimited field of view which allows to keep situational awareness to a maximum. Magnified optics have a limited field of view. While many magnified scopes have a wide field of view at lower magnifications, the size does shrink tremendously when zooming in.
Also, consider the eye relief factor. Non-magnified red dot sights have unlimited eye relief – meaning they can be mounted the way you desire them. It eliminates the possibility of the scope impacting your shoulder and allows for better peripheral vision.
Many consider a compromise between a non-magnified red dot sight and a scope to be a scope with an illuminated reticle. A red dot scope with magnification is not the same as a red dot sight that is not magnified. The illuminated reticle options on scopes can be helpful with target acquisition but are in no way equivalent to using a red dot sight in close-quarter situations.
Let’s find out why a red dot sight is compatible with AR-15!
Why a Red Dot Sight for an AR-15?
The truth is…
Compared to other optical sights for AR-15, red dot sights deliver outstanding performance.
Plus, it is typically lighter, which means that you’ll feel more comfortable while aiming at the target.
Red dot sights are also safer.
They’re incredibly durable and often come with waterproof and shockproof construction. So, you can use it like hell without worrying too much about damage.
There are a few things to consider when buying the red dot for your AR-15. These include co-witnessing capabilities that allow you to use iron sights (How to use Iron Sights?) or another aiming mechanism without removing the sight.
So, look for a red dot that is designed explicitly for AR-15. A bit of research can also help you find the best red dot that suits your needs and firearm.
Here’s the thing…
You’ll come across something called MOA (minute of angle), which relates to the dot’s size. Higher MOA means the dot gets bigger. The average is 4 MOA, and anything higher is typically created for professional race gun shooters.
Bigger dots can be distracting – that’s another thing to consider.
Red dots don’t necessarily come in red; some are designed with a green reticle. Others may allow you to change the pattern and size of the reticle.
If you’re using the AR-15 to shoot in a low-light environment, the red dot is an excellent option because you can always change the brightness to multiple settings.
Also, if you think that you’ll be taking the sight out during bad weather, choose something waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof.
Faster target acquisition, quick-mount, auto shutoff, and night vision are also some of the few things you need to consider when choosing a red dot sight for your AR-15.
Let’s be real! Not all of us are Mark Wahlberg in Shooter, so a magnifier can help a little bit with the much-needed magnification and better aim on the target – Find the Best Red Dot Magnifier – Reviews and Buying Advice
They are helpful in certain situations as they can give you the clarity to decide on the target.
The best time to use the magnifier is when looking to see targets that are farther away. If your eyes are not perfect, the magnifier makes it easier to connect on a target.
It is a viable solution for added magnification when necessary. It also helps make the shooting more versatile, whether it’s three guns, training, or outshooting on different distances and ranges.
It adds weight to your AR-15, which is considered a downside. A magnifier mount adds 10-18 ounces to your rifle, which can be too bulky and uncomfortable.
Plus, the cost of buying it is another story. The price of magnifiers is ranging from $200-$300 depending on the manufacturer.
Still… magnifiers are useful if you’re transitioning between long and short distance shooting. So, give it a go if necessary!
How to Choose your AR-15 Red Dot Sight?
Picking the best red dot sight for your AR-15 is overall pretty straightforward if you know your shooting needs and what features you require. We compiled a basic list of some of the most important features below.
You typically want to use an RDS (red dot sight) for close ranges. These sights do not have built-in magnification. It gets hard to aim for anything even at moderate ranges, without any sort of magnification. This leads us to our first consideration:
Use of a Magnifier
Most red dots will be able to be combined with a magnifier. The notable exception is mini RDS optics that often are not compatible with red dot magnifiers.
Most red dot sight magnifiers deliver a 3x magnification making the RDS usable within a few hundred yards. You can also find magnifiers up to 6x or even higher magnification, allowing you to shoot medium distances without a problem.
Red Dot Body Size
Red dot sights come in various sizes. There hasn’t been a ‘standard’ size for them, and it’s unlikely that specific standards will develop over time.
You do find three typical sized that are listed as
Mini red dots are typically used on pistols. They are small and light enough to be comfortably mounted on a handgun. Technically, you can mount such a mini red dot sight on a rifle, but due to their small size, it’s a rather rare occasion to mount one onto an AR-15.
Compact red dots are probably the most common RDS optics found on the market today. The objective lens diameter is typically between 20 and 25 mm. Even though being relatively small in size, you get great performance for most uses for your AR-15.
The downsides of such a compact red dot sight are that the elevation and windage adjustments are often rather limited. Additionally, battery life is also shorter than on the full-size models, and often the red dot intensity is not as bright, clear, and sharp as on the larger varieties.
Overall, compact red dots are often seen on AR-15’s as they don’t add too much weight and deliver solid performance. They can be mounted for 1/3 or absolute co-witness with iron sights if desired.
Full-size red dots are often quite a bit larger and heavier than compact models. Typically, the objective lens diameter is above 26 mm.
While these sights are larger and heavier, they usually come with better battery life and red dot brightness settings. You also get greater adjustment ranges for windage and elevation in most cases due to the larger lens and tube diameter.
A full-sized red dot sight is a great choice for the AR-15. You can mount the red dot sight at various heights for an easy cowitness setup with backup iron sights.
The size of the red dot itself has quite a bit of impact on the possible uses of the red dot optic. On an AR-15, you will usually go for dot sizes ranging between 1 MOA and 3 MOA. These are also the most common dot sizes to be found. Larger sizes like 6 MOA are usually more useful on shotguns with rather close-range engagements.
The impact of the dot diameter gets obvious when you consider that a 1 MOA dot covers around 1 inch of the target at a range of 100 yards. Using a 6 MOA dot will cover 6 inches in diameter of the target at 100 yards. For most accurate shooting, that’s simply too much! Therefore, you want a smaller diameter of the dot for precision shots.
While everybody always talks about the ‘red’ in a red dot sight, they do come in several dot colors. Most of the models available have a red dot indeed.
However, there are models available with green dots, and you can even sometimes find blue dots. Some of the optics that you can find allow you to switch between the colors. That can be helpful in certain light conditions where a green or even blue dot provides a more precise aiming point than the traditional red dot.
You’ll usually find better battery life with full-size red dot optics as they provide the necessary size to host larger batteries. In some cases, you can find a red dot sight that can reach a battery life of up to 50,000 hours or even more.
Many higher-end manufacturers have added automatic switch-off features and motion detection to switch the sight back on automatically. Features like these help to conserve battery and increase battery life dramatically.
Most modern-day red dot sights are built to last for a long time and withstand daily abuse. A top-of-the-line red dot sight that also the military uses will be more expensive but are also more rugged.
You want to make sure that the optic is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. Realistically, you might have a harder time finding a red dot sight that does not have these features.
When you look for sights that can be submerged for more extended periods in deeper waters, you usually find differences. That’s where you start to have a harder time finding red dot optics that can withstand that. Again, look for the typical sights that the military uses, and you should be safe.
There you have it. As we said above, this is not to be seen as an exhaustive list but more as an initial checklist of features that you might or might not value and need.
Depending on how you want to use your sight, you will have to evaluate what is most important to you. If the intended use is military or law enforcement, then definitely go for one of the most rugged models.
The ruggedness might be less of a priority for home defense and self-defense uses than long battery life. You don’t want to have to pick up your rifle in a critical defense situation and find out that you ran out of battery!
If you want to use the rifle and optic for hunting, you might want to look for a sight compatible with magnifiers and possibly night-vision devices. If your goal is to shoot a few rounds on the range for fun, you usually will not need the highest-end sight. Even one of the cheaper Chinese sights will do and allow you to have fun!
What are the Best Red Dot Sights for AR-15?
Vortex Optics Sparc II
Generally speaking, there are various medium-priced optics in the market. But, the problem is choosing the best quality that suits your needs.
And if you want something with guaranteed quality, Vortex Optics is highly recommended.
They offer a wide range of high-quality optics at an affordable price. And most of their products are positively reviewed by customers.
The Vortex Optics Sparc II is a cheap optic, also one of the most popular optics.
Its controls are found on the left-hand side of the objective lens, which can be accessed and used with a magnifier or night-vision device.
This red dot sight comes with a CR2032 battery rated at 300 hours on the brightest setting and 5000 hours on the lowest brightness setting. It turns itself off after 12 hours to extend the battery.
The 2 MOA dot could be a disadvantage because of the slow refresh rate, which gives a slight trail when transitioning between targets.
The windage and elevation covers can be used to adjust the turrets. It comes with two mounting bases with different heights, which can be mounted on inline designs such as ARs and firearms.
The Sparc II can be mounted for absolute or 1/3 co-witness with backup iron sights. There is an additional spacer for shooters who prefer to use the lower one-third co-witness with iron sights, making the Sparc II more versatile.
- It is easy to use.
- It has multiple MOA settings. There are only two illumination settings, but a total of 90 MOA settings are available for customization.
- It is suitable for a wide range of users. It has multiple mounts that offer a different range of heights.
- Night vision is unavailable. Hunting in low-light could be an issue.
- The coating which was added to improve illumination hinders the brightness.
So, cool packaging, easy controls, lots of brightness levels, and excellent adjustability – that’s what you get if you choose the Vortex Optics Sparc II!
Should you consider the Vortex Strikefire 2 instead of the Sparc II? Check out the review of the Strikefire 2 RDS!
AT3 Tactical RD-50 PRO Red Dot Sight
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 PRO is ideal for modern firearms with a flat-top Picatinny rail.
It is a rugged and reliable optics that features crisp 2 MOA red dot reticle and waterproof housing with shockproof internals. It also comes with a riser mount and rubberized armor.
The RD-50 PRO is ideal for various types of shooting because of its durability and brightness
It comes with a crisp 2 MOA red dot that promises accurate and both-eyes open shooting. The red dot remains on the target following the movement of the shooters’ eyes, resulting in better target acquisition.
The 11 red dot brightness settings are designed for better visibility in any light conditions.
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 PRO also comes with a multicoated, scratch-resistant amber lens for eye comfort and to preserve its beautiful look.
It is also designed with two riser mount heights to match the shooter’s ideal view.
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 PRO is fully waterproof, with rubber gaskets on turrets and a battery cover that makes it safe to carry around.
Its aluminum body is nitrogen-filled, which resists fogging and moisture. Plus, the shockproof circuitry can resist any damage. The housing is also protected with rubberized armor to protect the lenses when not in use.
It has a remarkable battery life of up to 50,000 hours at the lowest brightness setting. It also includes a Genuine Renata CR2032 Lithium battery.
- It is durable and lightweight.
- Rugged and reliable optic
- Adjustable riser mounts to match with the shooter’s view
- Not compatible with NVD’s.
All in all, if you want something with incredible value, choose the RD-50 PRO!
Aimpoint Micro H-2
If you’re the type of shooter that requires exceptionally rugged, lightweight, and compact red dot optic without the need to use the sight with the night vision equipment, the Aimpoint Micro H-2 is for you!
The Micro H-2 can withstand any environmental condition because of the reinforced house body and flip-up covers that protect the lens.
It also comes with different alternative configurations such as the Aimpoint Micro H-2 Blaser Saddle Mount, Aimpoint Micro H-2 Leupold QR Mount, Aimpoint Micro H-2 TIKKA T3 Mount, Aimpoint Micro H-2 Sauer SUM-mount, Aimpoint Micro H-2 Mount for Semi-Automatic Rifles, and Aimpoint Micro H-2 Mount for Semi-Automatic Shotguns.
The Micro H-2 red dot sight weighs 93g without the mount and 136g with mount and flip-up lens covers.
The Integral Weaver and Picatinny-style allows easy attachment, enhancing user experience and a better view of the target.
With the Micro H-2, the red dot is more distinct and clear due to increased light transmission.
It’s also available in 3 dot sizes (2, 4, and 6 MOA). It comes with settings for use in daylight conditions and low-light conditions.
The see-through flip-up lens covers protect the optical lenses and make sure that it is dry and clean all the time.
And the battery life?
ACET technology allows for up to 50,000 hours of battery life with medium brightness setting. Sounds good, eh?
The Aimpoint Micro H-2 is fully waterproof and comes with “Helicoil” threads to prevent damage to the mount.
The top of the protective caps fits into holes on adjustment screws for windage and elevation adjustment.
So, give the Micro H-2 from Aimpoint a go!
- Extreme weather capabilities (around 20 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit)
- It is a durable unit.
- High accuracy
- It’s a little bit expensive.
Looking for Aimpoint alternatives? Our evaluation of the Aimpoint clones will show you some of the best!
How do Aimpoint sights stack up against EOTech? Have a look at the Aimpoint vs EOTech comparison!
Feyachi RDS-22 2MOA Micro Red Dot Sight
The Feyachi RDS-22 is perfect for hunting, tactical scenario, and precision shooting and definitely to be seen as one of the candidates for the budget red dot sight.
It has a 2 MOA dot, which is sufficient enough to engage the target at a distance precisely.
The red dot at daylight settings is easy to see, and it paints the target regardless of lighting conditions or background.
With the Feyachi RDS-22, you can keep both eyes open when shooting to get on the target quickly.
As long as you see the dot, you’ll hit the target!
It comes with 11 intensity levels of darkness, allowing the shooter to cater the dot intensity to the situation at hand. It provides high visibility in any lighting conditions for a better view of the target.
It also comes with a 22mm objective lens featuring unlimited eye relief for quick target acquisition.
The Feyachi RDS-22 is also parallax corrected – it follows the movement of the shooter’s eye while it remains fixed on the target.
It also comes with a .83″ riser mount, perfect for co-witness with an iron sight.
What about windage and elevation adjustments?
The RDS-22 incorporates elevation and windage dials with audible clicks, and each click moves the point-of-impact one minute of angle. So, to give you an idea, 1MOA is equal to one inch at 50 yards.
- High accuracy
- It has a fully multicoated lens better light transmission on any lighting condition or background.
- Unlimited eye relief
- Some people feel reluctant to buy from Feyachi because it is imported from China. But, don’t let it discourage you because Feyachi products are backed with guarantees.
Sig Sauer Romeo MSR Red Dot Sight
Sig Sauer is known for developing optics suited for all types of shooters: military, law enforcement, hunters, and competitive shooters.
Sig Sauer integrates an advanced optical system that comprises both High Definition (HD) and High Transmittance (HT) glass for ultra-high resolution, light transmission, and optical performance.
The Sig Sauer Romeo MSR features precision-molded aspheric lens technology that eliminates aberration, reduces weight, and also helps you focus on the image through the lenses.
It comes with the most advanced display on the market – an organic light-emitting diode (OLED). This technology provides high brightness level in sunlight and snow conditions and dims down to night vision levels at dusk and dawn.
It also comes with a stabilizer system that cancels out unwanted vibrations and shaking, blurring the image.
Also, it has a durable Electro-optics design inspired by legendary firearms.
- It features ten daytime and two-night vision settings for quick target acquisition.
- It has a high-performance lens coating for better light transmission.
- Unlimited eye relief
- Durable and inexpensive
- Waterproof and fog-proof resistance
- Easy to use
- The battery has 20,000 hours runtime, which is relatively low compared to other optics that provided 50,000 hours of battery life.
Bushnell TRS-25 AR
If the price is your main concern, the TRS-25 from Bushnell is worth considering. It comes with an affordable price that can surely give your AR-15 a good fire.
With the TRS-25, you’ll enjoy easy target acquisition and 3 MOA dot size from this unit.
The truth is…
There aren’t many bells and whistles available in the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25, but don’t let it put you off. It is still capable of giving you the best accuracy.
Again, you’ll get the target as long as you see the dot!
The TRS-25 is 100% waterproof and shockproof. So, whatever the weather condition is, you’ll see clearly through the lens.
The multiple brightness settings make the model suitable for a variety of lighting situations. And no worries, even if you’re hunting or shooting during inclement weather, you’ll get a good view of the target!
- It is one of the cheapest sights on the market.
- The sight holds the zero location.
- Some shooters think that the model is featureless. The focus of the sight is strictly on the red dot.
- It does not include night vision, and it is not designed for co-witnessing.
Nevertheless, you’ll get what you pay for if you choose the Bushnell TRS-25.
Here’s the thing…
The Trijicon MRO is a bit expensive, but it’s one of the game’s best optics.
It is a circular optic on a compact frame with 25mm objective lenses with a 2 MOA red dot.
And the Trijicon MRO is built and designed to fit the AR-15. It comes with various mounts for different levels of co-witnesses with AR-heights sights.
It is made from 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum with extremely clear and fully multicoated glass. It is incredibly durable and can be submerged in water, and still work.
The optic comes with eight brightness settings, two of which are compatible with night vision.
- It has 5-year battery life.
- It is easy to co-witness with.
- It has a crisp and clear red dot.
- Built for AR-15
- Slight blue around the edges
The MRO is designed for heavy use. You can have it tossed around, submerge it in water, or use it like hell. It will still work.
It is also perfect for home defense, hunting, and competition.
Indeed, the Trijicon MRO is a good value for the money!
See our comparison of the Trijicon MRO and the Aimpoint PRO! Which is better?
The Holosun 510C is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and titanium alloy. Although it gets a bad reputation because it is imported from China, people are starting to go for it because it works, and it comes at a fantastic price.
It comes with a non-traditional rectangular window design that allows for a more natural both-eyes-open shooting style.
It has a 65-MOA ring with a 2-MOA dot placed in the center, an advantage for quick and decisive short-range shooting and slow, more precise moderate-range shooting.
The Holosun 510C comes with a solar panel as the power source. It also includes a CR2032 battery as a backup. The battery can last up to 50,000 hours if you put it on a medium setting.
It comes with a QD mount and the shake awake motion sensing tech to turn on the unit.
- The solar panel is a significant advantage. It extends the battery life tremendously.
- It is quick and easy to use.
- It is durable.
- It weighs 9.3 ounces, which is quite heavy.
So, the Holosun 510C is the perfect fit if you need a high-performing optic at an affordable price. Surely it can give you the best shooting experience without breaking the bank.
Which is the Best AR-15 Red Dot Sight?
Finding the best sight for your AR-15 is not a straightforward answer. If you have no budget limitations, then the Aimpoint Micro H-2 is the best choice.
The Bushnell TRS-25 AR is the workhorse of all the optics reviewed. It might be the most often sold sight and is one of the cheapest options available. The optic has a pretty large 25mm objective lens for excellent visibility even in low-light conditions.
A step up is the Sig Sauer Romeo MSR. It is a sight that is of the highest quality and a fantastic match for your AR-15. It has a relatively small lens with only 20mm diameter.
The best AR-15 red dot in the middle-of-the-road space is the Vortex Optics Sparc II. It’s a great optic and is very compact with a 22mm objective lens.
The overall best reflex sight for AR-15 rifles is the Holosun 510C. It features a large 30mm window and provides rapid target acquisition. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but if you use it for home-defense, then it’s, in our opinion, the optic to beat. Another reflex sight you might want to consider is the Dagger Defense DDHB red dot reflex sight (review).