Mounting a red dot sight onto a shotgun can vastly increase the usage of the gun. But can you mount just any sight or do you need a special shotgun red dot sight when you consider recoil, etc.?
Some red dots simply are not built to withstand the forces of the relatively heavy recoil you experience with a shotgun. Let’s have a look at what the best red dot and reflex sights for shotguns are.
Why use a Shotgun Red Dot?
A high-quality red dot sight can transform a run-of-the-mill shotgun into a premium choice. Picking a RDS that is not a good match can ruin the usability of the best shotgun. With this being the most important accessory you have, it’s essential to get the right one the first time.
Shotgun red dot sight systems are becoming more prevalent in the hunting community. Shotguns with a red dot sight are popular among turkey hunters because they can get on target faster.
It is also more effective for hunting in brush country where the slug’s trajectory is erratic.
A shotgun with a red dot sight system has been becoming very popular among turkey and varmint hunters – and for good reason. The shooter can get on target faster, which improves their accuracy and success rates when hunting small game, varmint, and turkeys.
But it’s not just those types of hunting that are a fit for a shotgun with a red dot sight system. Brush country slug hunters also find these sights very useful when trying to hit their mark when the trajectory of the slug is erratic – as is often the case when they’re shooting at long range in high cover or heavy brush.
What Are the Basics of a Red Dot Sight?
A red dot sight (RDS) (as you can read about in our Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 RDS review), also called a reflex sight, helps increase accuracy and speed at close to moderate range, making it a popular choice for situations that require fast target acquisition. This includes speed shooting competitions, tactical situations, and various hunting scenarios.
Reflex compared to Red Dot Sight – What is what?
Most red dot sights (have a look at the Firefield RDS) are reflex sights. These optical devices include an objective lens and an LED light. The LED light is reflected onto the objective lens, superimposing a red dot in the middle of the reticle of the shotgun reflex sight.
The red dot is not projected, meaning that the target cannot see the LED light. It is only visible to the shooter when looking through the glass.
What’s needed for a Shotgun?
As shotguns tend to have more recoil compared to a pistol or low-caliber rifle, it is important to look for durable red dots. The best shotgun red dot sights and reflex optics for shotguns are designed to absorb more of the recoil, protecting the internal electronic components from damage.
Along with durability, it helps to compare other features including mounting options, brightness settings, lens size, color settings, and dot size.
How big should the dot be?
Manufacturers list the dot size of a red dot sight or reflex sight in MOA measurements with most modern options measuring 2 to 5 MOA. Smaller dots are often used for longer distances. The smaller dot covers less of the intended target, increasing speed and accuracy.
Red dots for pistols typically measure 5 MOA while a rifle red dot sight may measure 2 to 3 MOA. Shotgunners often look for red dots in the 3 to 5 MOA range. – Have a look at our review of the Vortex Crossfire red dot sight!
Brightness and Lens Size
Most red dot sights include a dial for adjusting the brightness of the LED. In low-light settings, you may need to increase the brightness for a clear view.
The lens size and quality also impact performance. Lenses with a wide field of view may help with tracking. A quality lens should also offer a crisp image in most lighting conditions. With some of the cheaper red dot sights, the image gets a little blurry when increasing the LED brightness.
Red and Green Dots
Many reflex sights use red dots while a few come with green dots. You can even find options that allow you to switch between red and green.
Typically, green dots are brighter and easier to see in low light settings, which also allows you to use lower brightness settings and conserve battery power. However, most red dot sights come with a red dot but if you use the optic in varying light conditions when you might consider getting a model that has both red and green dot options.
You’ll typically get red dots and reflex sights that either come with a Weaver-style or Picatinny mount. Many red dot sights and mounts are designed to be used in a co-witnessing setup with iron sights.
Does it Make Sense to Get a Magnifier?
Red dots are designed for increased accuracy and target acquisition within the 100-yard range. A magnifier would not make sense in most situations, especially when using a shotgun.
One of the advantages of the red dot sight (RDS) and reflex sight is the ability to lock in on your target without having to close an eye and look through a scope. The position of the red dot in the reticle lines up your shot accurately without the need to zoom in with a scope. You can look through the glass with both eyes open while remaining aware of your surroundings.
True 1x Sight
Most reflex sights offer true 1x sight. The sight technically provides slight magnification but this is not enough for most people to detect. It places the target and the reticle on the same plane.
With true 1x sights, users can look through and past the reticle with uninterrupted vision. When you magnify the image, your field of view becomes limited and you may need to close one eye to line up the shot.
Most uses for a reflex sight count on the fast speed to acquire a target that you get without the magnification. That’s what made red dot sights and reflex sights so popular for tactical and self-defense uses.
1x Rifle Scopes – Not True 1x
You can find scopes that offer 1-4x or 1-6x magnification. However, the lowest magnification setting is not true 1x. In most cases, manufacturers round off the numbers. The 1x on a 1-4x scope is more likely to offer 1.2x to 1.4x magnification.
While a 1-4x or 1-6x scope may come close to the performance of a red dot sight, the difference is still noticeable. However, choosing a scope with 1-4x or 1-6x magnification may be useful in specific settings, such as targeting at over 100 yards.
When you start to extend the distance that you are shooting, magnification is handy. Keep in mind that shotguns do not offer that much range.
A 12-gauge slug can reach beyond 100 yards but most shotgunners hunt at 50 yards or less. Most tactical situations also occur at relatively close ranges, eliminating the need for magnification of the red dot or reflex sight.
What Are the Best Shotgun Red Dot Sights?
Compare the following products to find the best red dot and reflex sights for shotguns based on your needs and the features discussed above.
The HOLOSUN HS403C red dot sight comes equipped with several convenient features including two power systems and a wide range of brightness settings.
Features and Performance
Red dot sights are battery-powered optics, requiring power for the LED light that generates the red dot. With the HOLOSUN HS403C, you can switch between battery power and solar power to help conserve battery life.
The typical red dot sight or reflex sight offers 3000 to 5000 hours before you need to replace the batteries. With solar power as the primary power source, the HOLOSUN sight offers 50,000 hours of operation.
The red dot is size is 2 MOA, which is common for modern red dots. It is housed in a high-strength aluminum case with a matte black finish. The waterproof housing is durable and lightweight, weighing just 4.2 ounces. It also holds zero after firing thousands of rounds.
The brightness settings include 10 daytime settings and two night-vision settings. In low light with the brightest settings, you may notice that the image gets a little blurry near the edges of the reticle.
- Solar power to help conserve battery life
- Fully waterproof case
- Durable, lightweight construction
- Slight blur when using brightest settings
Aimpoint Micro T-2 2 MOA Red Dot Sight
The Aimpoint Micro T-2 is a 2 MOA red dot sight with 12 brightness settings and extended battery life. It is a high-end RDS for those who want the best performance.
Features and Performance
The Aimpoint Micro T-2 sight has many standard features including the traditional tube design and parallax-free optics. The front and rear of the sight include flip-up lens covers. The high-quality construction and enhanced visibility help it stand out.
This expensive red dot/reflex sight features a 2 MOA dot. It remains clear at any brightness setting, thanks to the advanced objective lens system. You get better light transmission, which results in superior clarity and focus.
You also get windage and elevation turrets, which are not always included on red dot sights. You can adjust the position of the dot within the reticle based on the conditions.
This red dot sight is designed for use in a variety of situations. It includes waterproof and shockproof construction. It can survive submersion up to 25 meters. The compact sight weighs just three ounces and offers over 50,000 hours of continuous use.
- Extended battery life
- Waterproof up to 25 meters
- Great visibility in low light
- One of the more expensive options
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is a small, lightweight red dot sight and one of the most affordable options. It is out of the best red dot sights available the one that probably is the most commonly used one.
Features and Performance
The Bushnell TRS-25 red dot is a top recommendation for anyone with a limited budget. It provides a low-cost way to test the features of a red dot sight before upgrading to a higher-end option.
The Bushnell TRS-25 shotgun red dot sight includes waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof construction. It is a surprisingly durable budget sight and mounts easily on most shotguns.
This is a low-rise mount, which is commonly used for rifles and faster target acquisition when using a magnified scope. For a red dot sight on a shotgun, this may be a little inconvenient.
The Bushnell TRS-25 red dot is a 1x25mm sight. The 25mm objective lens size limits your field of view slightly compared to some of the more expensive choices. You can mount it pretty much anywhere on your shotgun as it features unlimited eye relief.
The positive features include battery conservation and lens covers. The TRS-25 is designed to automatically power down when you add the lens caps, helping to extend battery life.
- Automatic shutdown to conserve batteries
- Affordable price compared to other options
- Ability to be mounted easily on most types of shotguns
- The field of view is a little small.
- The low-rise position is inconvenient.
Sig Sauer Romeo 5
The SIG Sauer Romeo 5 is another affordable RDS with multiple brightness settings and automatic shut off. It also features Picatinny mounting to fit a wide range of shotguns.
Features and Performance
The Sig Sauer Romeo 5 includes the standard red dot sight design with a tube-shaped body made from aluminum. It is also fog-proof and waterproof up to one meter. This means that it can withstand light rain or getting dropped in a puddle but should not be submerged.
The reticle includes a 2 MOA red dot with 10 illumination settings. You can switch between eight daylight settings and two night-vision settings.
When the shotgun red dot detects motion, it automatically powers up. It then powers down after a few minutes of inactivity, saving battery life. Thanks to this feature, the SIG Sauer Romeo 5 offers up to 40,000 hours of continuous operation.
The sight is durable, bright, and adjustable. The only drawback is the clarity of the lens. When using the brighter light setting during the daytime, you may notice blurry edges.
- 40,000 hours of continuous use
- Motion-activated red dot
- Lightweight, compact design
- May blur when using brighter settings
Interested in the Romeo5? Click here to read our in-depth evaluation of the Sig Sauer Romeo5 RDS!
Leupold DeltaPoint Pro
Most marksmen are familiar with Leupold scopes. The company also makes high-quality red dot sights including the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro. It comes with an auto-brightness sensor and motion sensor technology.
Features and Performance
The auto-brightness sensor on this red dot scope helps eliminate the need to adjust the brightness setting. It automatically adjusts the intensity of the LED light based on the lighting conditions. You also have the option to adjust it manually.
The motion sensor technology is a unique feature found in the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro. If it detects movement, the shotgun red dot automatically turns on and reflects the bright 2.5 MOA dot. It also automatically shuts off after five minutes of inactivity.
The shotgun red dot sight body is made with 100% waterproof construction and a matte black finish. The durable design also takes up less space on top of your shotgun and offers a wide field of view.
The only noticeable drawback is the button that is used to manually adjust the brightness. With one button, you need to cycle through the settings instead of increasing or decreasing the brightness.
The quality of the optical elements and the sturdiness of the sight makes this one of the best reflex sights for shotguns.
- Motion sensor technology
- Auto-brightness sensor
- Clear optics with a crisp dot
- Single-button for brightness settings
- Relatively high price
Sightmark Ultra Shot Reflex Sight
The Sightmark Ultra Shot Reflex Sight has a distinct design with a square HUD (heads-up display) and multiple reticle patterns. The unique design provides a wider field of view and unlimited eye relief without taking up too much space.
Features and Performance
The Ultra Shot Reflex sight is a mid-range option with a rugged aluminum body and a protective exterior shield. It is made to withstand heavy recoil, making it suitable for most shotguns.
To help keep the windage and elevation adjustments zeroed in after recoil, this reflex sight uses an internal adjustment locking system. This system eliminates the need for locking screws.
It is also equipped with a motion sensor to automatically turn the dot and crosshair on or off. When using the optic, you can switch between four different reticles. These options include a 65 MOA circle dot crosshair and a 60 MOA circle with a 5 MOA sub-tension or 2 MOA central dot.
This is one of the few options with its own sunscreen. The design includes a retractable sunshade that helps reduce glare and reflections.
- Reasonably priced
- Multiple reticles
- Integrated sunshade
- Weighs 14 ounces, making it one of the heaviest options
Vortex Optics Venom 3 MOA Red Dot
The Vortex Optics Venom RDS is a unique option with an interesting design. It features branding on the sides and front of the sight with bright white decals.
Features and Performance
Vortex makes quality riflescopes. With this RDS, the company created a solid mid-range product with a wide field of view and a compact body.
This RDS is designed for faster target acquisition at medium range. It includes 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustments with dials on the top and side of the body. Unfortunately, you may need to readjust after heavy recoil.
The left side of the sight has buttons for increasing or decreasing the brightness. Choose between 10 brightness settings or allow the sight to select the right brightness. It includes a sensor to control the intensity of the dot based on ambient lighting conditions.
The fully multi-coated lens is clear and sharp, even with brighter settings. The 3 MOA red dot is crisp in most environments.
The body is designed to attach to any Picatinny rail. Thanks to the compact design, it does not take up a lot of space.
- Wide field of view
- Auto brightness sensor
- Affordable price
- May not hold zero after heavy recoil
Burris Fastfire III Sight
The Burris Fastfire III Sight is lightweight, versatile, and affordable, making it one of the best red dot and reflex sights for shotguns.
Features and Performance
The compact body has a HUD and battery compartment, taking up limited space on the rail of the shotgun. The body is made from metal for increased durability and features a waterproof design. It is light enough that it does not impact balance or handling.
The wide HUD provides a great FOV for faster target acquisition. The red dot is crisp and clear in most lighting conditions.
The standard option comes with a 3 MOA red dot. This is the standard size commonly used on rifles and shotguns. If you prefer a larger dot for close-range accuracy, Burris also sells a version of the Fastfire III with an 8 MOA dot.
If you need to adjust the brightness, you have two options. It includes automatic and manual brightness settings.
The windage and elevation adjustments are on the top and side of the sight. The settings should remain zeroed even after heavy recoil.
- Clear, crisp lens and sharp dot
- Automatic and manual brightness
- Tool-less windage and elevation adjustments
- May not hold up to rugged use
EOTech 512 Holographic Weapons Sight
The EOTech 512 is a holographic RDS with adjustable brightness for use in any lighting conditions.
Features and Performance
The EOTech 512 holographic sight has a powerful laser to project the dot onto a holographic lens . The red dot on this holographic sight remains easy to see during the day or at night. It also comes with 20 brightness settings, offering more control over the illumination compared to most options. – Should you get a holo sight or a RDS for your AR-15?
The compact, rugged design of this holographic sight works on Weaver-style and MIL-STD 1913 rails. The body is also water-resistant up to 10 feet.
The elongated design of the body is used to hold a larger battery. Instead of small cell batteries, the EOTech 512 holographic sight is powered with two AA batteries. It provides at least 2000 hours of continuous operation before you need to replace the batteries.
The holographic sight features a 68 MOA ring with a small 1 MOA dot. The smaller dot remains visible due to the powerful lighting system inside this optic. – Have a look at our EOTech EXPS2 HWS review!
The elevation and windage adjustments rely on an internal adjustment system. You need a coin to adjust the screws but this keeps the settings zeroed in after recoil.
- Ability to stay zeroed in
- Bright, clear reticle
- 20 brightness settings
- Takes up more rail space due to battery compartment
Interested to learn more about EOTech alternatives that are more affordable? Check out our evaluation of the best EOTech clones here!
Conclusion – Best Red Dot Sight for Shotguns
The best reflex sight and red dot scope for a shotgun covers a wide range of applications.
If you want the ability to use different reticles for different situations, try the Sightmark Ultra Shot Reflex Sight. It allows you to switch between multiple reticles as needed.
If you want the top-of-the-line model, consider mounting the Aimpoint Micro T-2 on your shotgun. It features a 2 MOA red dot and extended battery life. The Leupold DeltaPoint Pro is also a high-end red dot scope worth considering, thanks to its crisp 2.5 MOA dot and automatic shut-off.
For those with a limited budget, the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 stands out as a top recommendation when it comes to finding the best red dot sight. It is affordable and mounts easily.
Before choosing a red dot scope, review all the options and select the red dot sight that best matches your specific needs.