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Red Dot Magnifier Buying Guide – What you need to know!

Red dots are more commonly used than ever before. Yet, one of the problems for using a red dot sight for hunting is that they do not come with magnification.

Buyer's Guide to finding a red dot magnifier that fits your needs for shooting and hunting

Shooting distances that exceed anything called close-range get hard to tackle with a simple red dot sight. Therefore, adding a red dot magnifier to your setup can make a huge difference.

With a 3x or even a 5x magnifier you can easily make shots that are in typical ranges for hunting.

Why Use a Red Dot Magnifier?

Before we delve deep into the best red dot magnifiers on the market today, it’s essential to learn a little about them to choose the right one.

What are the advantages of using a magnifier for your red or green dot sight? What features should you look for? What should you consider when researching and picking one out? How do you use them? 

We’ll answer all of these questions in order, starting with the benefits of using a red dot magnifier in the field or at the range.

Find the best scopes and red dot sights for the AR-15!

Finding a magnifier that fits your needs for your red dot

Versatility – Flip to side when not needed

Vortex VMX-3T on a flip mount

The ability to switch back and forth between magnification and non-magnification is ideal for dynamic tactical shooting situations in which targets must be engaged at constantly evolving distances

Operators can use red dot magnifiers to perform recon and mid- or long-range shots. Magnifiers with a slide or flip mount also allow shooters to move the magnifier out of the way for close-range targets.

Red dots work well in dark environments but mostly at close ranges. It’s important to be able to flip the magnifier to the side in such instances.

Vortex Optics VMX-3T 3X Red Dot Sight Magnifier
Vortex Optics VMX-3T 3X Red Dot Sight Magnifier

Extended Range for Longer Distances

Red dots have large reticles and zero magnification, which means they’re best used in close quarters for targets no further than 100 yards. The good news is red dot magnifiers provide from 3x-5x zoom to extend your shooting range significantly.

With a red dot magnifier, you’ll be able to achieve accurate, on-target rounds at much further distances. 3x magnification often makes 300-yard shots easily achievable.

Recon Ready

Even if you’re not aiming at targets hundreds of yards away, a red dot magnifier can be an excellent reconnaissance tool. The best red dot magnifiers can flip back and forth with a flip to side mount to provide a quick and easy way to enhance your vision downrange.

Can the Sig Romeo 5 be easily combined with a magnifier?

Red Dot Magnifier Closeup - Pick from trusted units like the Vortex VMX-3T magnifier or the EOTech G33

How to Choose a Red Dot Magnifier

Like everything else, not all red dot magnifiers are the same. Some cost a small fortune and feature superior magnification and lens quality, while others cost next to nothing and will leave you nothing but frustrated. 

Understand the features

The key to finding a great magnifier is understanding the features and characteristics that will result in great shooting experience.

Buyer’s Considerations

Some of these features and attributes include:

  1. Magnification
  2. Type of Mount
  3. Eye Relief
  4. Weight
  5. Durability

We’ll have a closer look at these topics in the buying guide below. Our goal is to give you some guidance to find the best magnifier for your sight.

EOTECH G33 Magnifier
EOTECH G33 Magnifier

Red Dot Magnifier Buying Guide

Let’s dive right into the considerations you need to be aware of when you’re picking a magnifier for your red dot sight for your AR-15 for example. Check out the Buyer’s Guide below and you should be equipped to find the perfect match for your red dot!

Magnifying Module

Most quality red dot magnifiers have a 3X zoom, allowing you to eye up targets over 300 yards away. However, there are also plenty of great options with 4X or 5X zoom for even greater distances and accuracy.

You won’t find magnification optics that offer variable magnification. You find them with fixed 3x or higher. That means that you do lose the flexibility that you have with traditional optics with variable magnification.

Most of today’s high-quality magnifiers for red dot sights that you can easily get will be a 3x magnifier. You’ll find many brands that provide such high-quality optics from manufacturers like Vortex, Primary Arms, EOTech, Sig Sauer, and others.

Check out the comparison of the Sig Sauer Romeo3 vs Romeo1!

Mount Type – Flip and Slide Mounts

As mentioned, one of the significant advantages of using a magnifier is having the versatility to switch back and forth between the magnifier and regular red dot at a moment’s notice. However, this can only be done with the right type of mount.

Switching from mid- or long-range shooting to close-quarter shooting requires the installation of a slide or flip mount. Both of these mount types allow you to quickly move the magnifier in place when you need magnification or out of the way when you don’t.

Red Dot Magnifier Flip-Mount

Comparing the Vortex Sparc AR and the Sig Romeo5!

Eye Relief

Having an eye relief that is too short will create eye strain and issues when aiming at targets. A red dot magnifier may have outstanding optics and build quality, but if it has too short of eye relief, you’ll only end up frustrated and struggling.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s usually best to opt for a red dot magnifier with the longest possible eye relief. This will help with keeping the setup of your red dot sight and magnifier at a comfortable distance. Long eye relief for the magnifier can also make it easier when switching between 1x and magnification as you’ll have some distance between your eye and the optic.

Short eye relief will also put you in danger of scope bite. If the eye relief is too short and the recoil is strong then you might end up with the magnifier hitting your eye or eye socket. Neither of which is desirable or will feel comfortable.

Weight a Magnifier Adds

A red dot magnifier can add a little heft to your gun. This is something you will get used to and notice less and less over time.

However, a lightweight magnifier will help lessen the load and allow you to maneuver your rifle better.

Just make sure not to sacrifice build quality for weight as lightweight often translates to lower quality and a lack of durability.


Best Red Dot Magnifiers

Tactical weapons are often exposed to harsh weather and less than ideal shooting conditions. A red dot magnifier must be built to hold up in these conditions.

A durable, well-built magnifier will not only save you hundreds of dollars in replacements over time and help you shoot the very best at the range or in the field. 

Things to Look for in a Red Dot Magnifier

In addition to magnification, mount type, eye relief, weight, and durability, there are some other things to consider and look for when shopping for a red dot magnifier, such as:

UTG 3X Magnifier with Flip-to-side QD Mount
UTG 3X Magnifier with Flip-to-side QD Mount

Lens Quality of a Red Dot Magnifier

A red dot magnifier can check all of the boxes above, but none of that matters if its lens quality is subpar. It’s important to find a magnifier with little to no parallax and a focused yet full field of view to scan pinpoint targets downrange.

Tube and Lens Diameter

The objective tube and lens diameter are crucial in the performance of a red dot magnifier. A wider diameter will provide you with a broader field of view and allow you to see more of your target area.

Conversely, a smaller diameter will give you a narrower target window and allow you to increase your accuracy downrange.

Elevation and Windage Adjustments

Elevation and windage can play a huge role in the accuracy of your long-distance shots. The right red dot magnifier should have separate elevation and windage adjustments that allow you to calibrate your shots in minutes of angle, or MOA.

Turret adjustments are a critical component of red dot magnifiers and rifle scopes as they allow shooters to zero their optics for accurate aiming and shots. Elevation turret adjustments will enable you to move the magnifier or scope up and down in the field for long-range shots.

Windage turret adjustments, on the other hand, allow you to adjust it left and right to account for wind direction.

Is a red dot on top of a scope better than a red dot with a magnifier?

Red Dot Magnifier

Would you need a magnifier for your red dot on your shotgun?

What’s Next?

The above guide provided you with the information you need to find the best magnifying module for your reflex sight. Take all these into consideration when you’re out to purchase and you’ll find what you need!

Check out our post of the best red dot magnifiers to find the top choice for your shooting needs!

HOLOSUN HM3X Flip to Side 3x Red Dot Magnifier
HOLOSUN HM3X Flip to Side 3x Red Dot Magnifier

Final Thoughts

If you’re using a red dot sight for anything else than close-quarter tactical scenarios then a magnifier will do wonders for you. The biggest missing piece with these kinds of sights is that there’s no magnification and these devices eradicate that downside.

There are many red dot magnifiers on the market. Most are coming with a 3x magnification which is the most useful compromise for most shooters and hunters. If you want to save some money then have a look at a red dot magnifier combo where the manufacturer offers both the sight and magnifier as a combo pack which saves you a few bucks.

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Tom Devine