Compared to iron sights, red dots provide good target acquisition and a better shooting experience. That’s something we can attest to. However, most quality red dots are pretty expensive and way beyond most of our budgets. With new technology, several manufacturers have finally found a way to provide the best budget red dot sights. Here’s our list.
OUR #1 RATED
HOLOSUN HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight
OUR #2 RATED
Vortex Optics Crossfire Red Dot Sight Gen II
OUR #3 RATED
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
Table of Contents
- 1 Top 10 Affordable Red Dot Sights
- 1.1 1. HOLOSUN HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight
- 1.2 2. Vortex Optics Crossfire Red Dot Sight Gen II
- 1.3 3. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
- 1.4 4. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sights
- 1.5 5. BSA RD30 30mm Red Dot
- 1.6 6. Holosun HS510C
- 1.7 7. AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight
- 1.8 8. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight
- 1.9 9. Bushnell Optics
- 1.10 10. Tacticon Armament Predator V1 Red Dot Sight
- 2 How It Works
- 3 Benefits of Red Dot Sights
- 4 Types of Red Dot Sights
- 5 Is It Okay To Buy Cheap Ones?
- 6 Buying Guide
- 7 FAQs
- 8 And Our #1 Best Cheap Red Dot Sight is...
Top 10 Affordable Red Dot Sights
1. HOLOSUN HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight
The HOLOSUN HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight is one of the best budget red dot sights that features two power systems: solar and battery pack. This sight is primarily solar-powered, auto-adjusting its brightness level depending on available light. On the other hand, you can switch it to CR2032 battery power with 50,000 hours of battery life.
This sight comprises military-grade optics, a high-quality clear lens with a crisp dot, and 12 brightness settings that include ten daytime and two night vision settings. It also features 2 MOA dot sizes, and two included mounts. This sight is IP67 waterproof rated, has high-strength aluminum, Micro Arc Oxidation (MAO) finish, and protected by a lifetime warranty.
2. Vortex Optics Crossfire Red Dot Sight Gen II
The Vortex Optics Crossfire Red Dot Sight Gen II is an affordable red dot that features a simple aim without the frills. It also features 2 MOA dot sizes that are quick to acquire in close-quarters, promoting pin-point accuracy at extended range.
It also includes a skeletonized lower 1/3 co-witness mount providing a rock-solid and extremely lightweight platform. It has 11 brightness settings allowing shooters to change the dot intensity to the situation at hand.
Furthermore, this sight has an increased light transmission with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces. Like the Vortex Viper PST Gen 2, it is made of highly-durable hard-coat anodization providing a low-glare matte surface and a camouflage position. Its O-ring seal prevents dust, moisture, and debris from penetrating.
3. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
The Sig Sauer Romeo5 is another affordable red dot sight that features 2 MOA Dot with ten illumination settings for visibility in all light conditions. It also features Motion Activated Illumination that powers up after sensing motion and powers down when it doesn’t.
This sight has up to more than 40,000 hours of battery life. It also has an integrated M1913 Picatinny Rail interface that provides industry-standard mounting options for various applications. It has a low mount riser and a co-witness 1.41in riser mount. It is fog proof and has IPX-7 rated with a water immersion up to 1 meter.
Romeo 5 optic also features an ultra-wide, highly-efficient, anti-reflection Spectracoated lens that reduces surface reflections to extremely low levels across the entire visible spectrum, providing superior light transmission. It also provides an electro-Optics industrial design, deflection armor trapezoidal surfacing that breaks up its shape and visibility along with pistol slide serrations and grip checkering.
4. Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sights
The Vortex Venom Red Dot Sight is an affordable red dot with 3 MOA dot sizes that provide rapid target locking and a precise point of aim. It has an aluminum housing for better durability and high-quality and fully multi-coated lenses for a wider FOV.
Furthermore, its power and dot intensity controls that provide ten brightness and night vision levels are conveniently located on the left side of the sight for easier access. You may also check out our review of the Vortex Rangefinder here.
The Venom sight also features an auto-brightness mode that uses an ambient light sensor to control its dot intensity depending on the shooter’s preferences. This sight is also parallax-free and fits well on rifles and shotguns. Lastly, it has 1 MOA windage and elevation adjustments and a top-load system that makes changing its CR1632 battery easy because it doesn’t require the optic’s unmounting.
5. BSA RD30 30mm Red Dot
The BSA RD30 30mm Red Dot is also an affordable sight that provides BSA Multi-Purpose sighting systems, which are lightweight and ideal for close quarter and medium-range shooting. This sight is also suitable for small calibers for plinking and home defense yet durable enough for larger calibers best for hunters and law enforcement departments.
It also offers a 5/8 – 3/8 adjustable mounting system perfect for rifles, pistols, shotguns, bows, and crossbows. To correct its eye relief distance, you can move the sight back and forth until the desired outcome is achieved. In case the optic appears to have a halo or it’s out of focus, reduce its brightness setting until it is clear and sharp.
6. Holosun HS510C
The Holosun HS510C is the best red dot sight that provides multiple reticles and a streamlined housing design with an open frame for a minimized vision obstruction. Advanced Super Solar Technology powers this optic with one CR2032 battery back-up that can last up to 5 years, even when having advanced LED technology.
It is also equipped with a protective titanium alloy hood and is waterproof down to 1m. The Holosun HS510C is also parallax-free and durable enough to withstand even the harshest condition.
7. AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight
The AT3 Tactical RD-50 Micro Reflex Red Dot Sight is a reflex red dot sight that features 2 MOA dot that is accurate and allows both-eyes-open shooting. It is also parallax-free and has 11 red dot brightness settings that provide optimal visibility in any light conditions. Its amber lens is multi-coated and scratch-resistant, providing enhanced image clarity.
It is also fully waterproof, has rubber gaskets on its turrets, and has a battery cover. This sight features a nitrogen-filled 6061 T6 aluminum body that is fog-proof and moisture-proof. It also has a matte black anodized finish resisting scratches and shockproof circuitry resisting damage from rough handling.
8. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight is a small but compact red dot sight that features a 3 MOA Dot reticle with 11 brightness settings. It also mounts easily on most standard Picatinny rail systems and is compatible with shotguns, pistols, rifles, and muzzleloaders.
The TRS-25 Red Dot Sight is also O-ring sealed, so it stays dry inside even when immersed in water. It is also shockproof and built to withstand unpreceded bumps, drops, bangs, or any beating. Aside from being shockproof resistant, this sight is also nitrogen-purged for proof, ensuring that its interior optical surfaces won’t fog due to rapid temperature change or humidity.
9. Bushnell Optics
The Bushnell Optics is an affordable 3 MOA red dot sight engineered with Amber-Bright optics to distinguish between a brown tree and a brown critter quickly. It also features multi-coated optics ideal for low-light conditions. It is also 100% waterproof, fog-proof, shockproof, and housed in dry-nitrogen-filled housing.
This sight can be easily used with both eyes open because it has unlimited eye relief, providing faster target acquisition. Since this sight features a parallax-free design, there is no need for centering because it follows the movement of the user’s eye while remaining fixed on the target.
This micro red dot is also compatible with most weapons because it mounts on any Weaver-style or Picatinny rail. It also features 3 MOA HiRise Red Dot Riflescope and 11 brightness settings providing optimum illumination in any light condition. It also includes an integral mount and protective lens cover.
10. Tacticon Armament Predator V1 Red Dot Sight
The Tacticon Armament Predator V1 Red Dot Sight is an affordable red dot sight that is a combat veteran-owned company. It features fast target locking using its parallax free design. It also holds zero even after thousands of shots and is easy to use and sight in.
This sight uses red or green dot adjustable brightness allowing for five different brightness levels with red-green dot selections. This rifle scope was also engineered to co-witness perfectly with traditional sights. It also provides a lifetime warranty and one lithium-ion battery, and one extra battery.
How It Works
The best budget red dot sights project laser onto a piece of tinted glass. This red does sight uses a spherical mirror with a special coating that only reflects the red light emitted from the LED of its axis focus. This prevents other light from disrupting your reticle, allowing shooters to see their reticle and see through their optics.
When looking through a red dot sight, shooters actually see the reflection of red light. The size of a red dot is measured in Minute of Angle. It is controlled by an aperture hole in front of the LED. Bigger dots are easier and quicker to see. On the other hand, smaller dot sizes are ideal for shooting at moderate distances. The dot covers less of the target, making seeing and hitting your target significantly easier for longer range shootings.
Benefits of Red Dot Sights
Unlimited eye relief
One of the best benefits of having red dot sights is its unlimited eye relief. In comparison to other traditional sights, unmagnified red dot sights feature unlimited eye relief, so there’s no set of minimum or maximum distance that a shooter needs to mount them from their eye.
Since eye relief is the distance your eyeball has to be to the scope to obtain a maximum field of view, you need to avoid the eye being too close to the scope when you pull the trigger. Else, the recoil your weapon makes will pop you in the head and cause you an accident.
Another benefit of having a red dot sight is its parallax-free design. The best red dots are essentially parallax free, so even when you move your head around, the red dot moves with you without affecting the point of impact.
This is beneficial because even when you made an unnecessary movement, you’re still pointed at the same target, making it easier and quicker for you to lock in your target and get a better shot. Compared to magnified optics and traditional sights, the best red dots also put you on target faster.
Keeps both eyes open
One of the best benefits that red dots give shooters is keeping both eyes open while shooting. Unlike traditional sights, the best red dots get a nearly unlimited field of view while still superimposing the dot on the shooter’s targets.
Another benefit of shooting with both eyes open is that it dramatically increases repeatability. Animals move fast, so shooters must also move fast.
Therefore, it allows shooters to move on to the next target quickly without disorienting themselves from making rapid switches between one eye being open.
Another benefit of having red dots is its ability to co-witness. You can adjust its height to be aligned to your traditional sights to line up your shot. Your iron sight serves as a back-up sight in case your red dot scope goes down.
There are two styles available: the absolute and lower 1/3 co-witness. In absolute co-witness, the dot is precisely placed on your iron sight, while the lower 1/3 gives more room for the dot.
Types of Red Dot Sights
Full tube red dot sights are longer, tubular, have a bigger window to look through, and feature a shape reminiscent of riflescopes. They are also mounted using the same mounts as riflescopes with either 30-millimeter or 34-millimeter rings.
Furthermore, they also feature mounting with only one ring existing, having only a small space that tends to be used for tactical purposes only. They usually have a Cantilever mount for AR platforms, which may sometimes require special mounting solutions.
Small-tube red dot sights are little devices often called micro red dot scopes after the famous Aimpoint Micro series. When compared to full-tube red dot optics, small-tube red dot optics are more lightweight and less expensive.
The reflex sight is the most common type of red dot sight. They operate using a series of mirrors where the dot or reticle is projected forward onto a lens. The lens is then reflected by a mirror, making the dot more visible. Reflex sights come in two distinct flavors: small exposed reflex sight and magnified tubed reflex sight.
Is It Okay To Buy Cheap Ones?
Based on research, we think that it isn’t okay to buy cheap red dots because, most often, they lack essential features. Cheap optics also have a wide minute of angle, its reticles aren’t crisp, and they have unusually bright or dim dots that are hard to focus on.
Sometimes, cheap optics even create their glare and reflections and are very difficult to get zeroed in. And most importantly, they don’t have a long battery life because they lack a high-end battery power source.
Unbeknownst to many, red dots are more advanced than iron sights. They have features that only advanced technology offers. So, we suggest that you buy red dots that have the most advanced technology so you can get the most out of your hard-earned money.
Also, it is best to consider the features the red dot offers. These features have the best offer depending on your motive for buying a red dot optic. Are you going to use it for plinking, for tactical reasons, or military use?
We also suggest that you buy a red dot with unlimited eye relief, especially if you wear eyeglasses. It is a significant factor that needs to be considered. It serves to protect your eyes from the harsh recoil that your weapon may give when used during a shot. A generous eye relief also allows you to acquire your target faster.
The lens of a red dot is equally essential. A high-end lens would give better image quality. Top-tier lenses also feature an anti-reflective coating that protects your eyes against reflection and glare.
Remember, having a clear and crisp sight picture also means that your shots become more accurate. And having more accurate shots will also save you lots of money because you will save more for your ammunition cost.
Astigmatism is a common and generally treatable imperfection in your eye’s curvature that causes blurred distance and near vision. Astigmatism occurs when either the front surface of your eye (cornea) or the lens has mismatched curves inside your eye. 
If you have astigmatism or any other eye conditions, it is also best to consider the effects of the shooting range’s red dots’. Some sights are hard to manage when used by people who wear glasses, so be careful. Also, your glasses may affect the image quality your red dot projects. Some images may appear larger or smaller, depending on your eyeglasses’ grade and quality.
While it’s true that red dots aren’t made to be compatible with all guns, it is still imperative to find a red dot that can be mounted to most of the guns that you usually use. We suggest finding a red dot with a standard rail mount system to be mounted to Weaver or Picatinny rails.
There are also red dots that include their own mounting systems, and we think this is a huge advantage. However, please be reminded that before purchasing your sight, you must always check its compatibility with the weapons or guns that you will mount it to because it would be a waste to buy a red dot that wouldn’t even fit on your rifles or guns.
Either solar panels or battery packs power technologically advanced red dots. They operate based on their power, so you need to be wary of choosing your sight. Consider its life span. Nobody wants to go into the shooting range and stop in the middle of nowhere because their red dots failed to operate because of lack of battery.
It is also best to consider the availability and commonality of the batteries used in these red dots. Are these batteries locally available? Or do you need to order these batteries online? It would also be a huge plus to own a solar-powered red dot and offers back-up battery trays/options.
Size & Weight
You also need to consider the size and weight of your red dot. These devices are added tools for your rifles, so getting a heavy sight will make your rifles or guns even heavier than they originally are.
Red dots come in various sizes. They are categorized as miniature, compact, and full-sized. If you want to go for the smallest sight possible, go for the mini-red dots. They are small enough to go on a pistol or ultra-small guns and handguns.
You may also opt to get compact red dots, which are typically light and small but offer a true red dot optics experience. They have an objective lens between 20 and 25mm. And if you want a red dot that goes with a wider variety of mounts and accessories, go for the full-sized optic. Its objective lens is typically 26mm and above and is designed for duty use and so it has more extended battery life.
Generally speaking, unlike lasers, red dots are made without magnification or optical distortion. Red dots project a red dot onto a target, allowing only the shooter to see the target’s red dot.
However, red dots are compatible with magnifiers that typically run between three to six power, allowing shooters to see further with more accuracy than a standard red dot optic.
These magnifiers also make red dots be used at extended ranges with ease. So, we suggest that you buy red dots that can utilize a magnifier.
The reticle dot sizes of red dots also vary in size. The dot size determines the effective range a red dot best sights in. A 1 MOA dot size covers one inch of the target at 100 yards. Typically, red dot reticles range from 1 MOA up to 9 MOA.
If you want to shoot at longer ranges, use a red dot with a smaller reticle dot size because it makes your shot more precise at longer ranges. A bigger dot size makes it harder to see targets at longer ranges. However, it is easier to find and acquire targets.
You also need to consider the quality of the materials used in the red dot sight you plan to buy. Consider its ability to be shockproof, waterproof, nitrogen purged, and ability to be submerged. Look for a sight that can withstand harsh recoil and accidental falls. A red dot housed in aircraft-grade aluminum alloys is an excellent option. However, stronger optics may also mean it would cost higher.
Also, consider the budget you are willing to spend for your red dot sight. Choosing a red dot with advanced features may cost more, but it will make your money more worth it. Since most of the red dots listed above are all budget-friendly, choosing any of these sights will be an excellent choice.
It is also best to consider the extra features of the red dots. These extra features may become an edge that you can use during your hunting sprees. Consider the different brightness settings your red dot sight has to ensure adequate eye relief and comfort while using the sight.
It is also best to consider how it would perform during the night. Having a sight that is night vision compatible is a great advantage. Some products also offer motion sensors, auto-shutoff capabilities, and many more.
Most sights are mounted on standard mounting rails like Picatinny and Weaver rail. Having your red dot sight be able to mount on these standard mounts is already an excellent advantage. However, the best red dot sights have their mounting systems.
Therefore, they are more compatible with most guns and rifles than other traditional sights. So we think it is best to find a versatile red dot that is compatible with most mounting rails.
Depending on the brand, red dot sights differ in their warranty offers. Some companies offer three to ten years of warranty while others offer a lifetime warranty. Many companies made sure that their sights are well-made and have high-quality materials. However, consumers need to be protected from unpreceded circumstances that may involve natural defects for their products. Having a lifetime warranty is excellent, but a transferable lifetime warranty is still the best option.
To answer which of the red dot or green dot sight is better, you need first to ascertain your personal preferences. Both dots offer almost the same exact quality. However, the shooter must choose which is more convenient for him. Although red dots are more popular and deemed to be more accurate, green dot sights also benefit from seeing far away targets with excellent accuracy.
Yes, red sights are accurate because they improve a shooter’s accuracy, especially when used with a Short-ranged weapon. They even help shooters with the night vision, too. Generally speaking, a red dot sight’s effective range is about 100 yards, but this range may change depending on the size of the red dot used, the sight’s brand, and the target’s size.
Yes, you can see a red dot sight at night because they also have night vision capabilities. However, the clarity of the sight would also depend on the quality of the sight used. You can use the best red dot sight in the dawn or dusk-like condition by lowering its brightness intensity setting.
Red dots are good for placing the target and their reticle on nearly the same optical plane to allow a single point of focus. These fast-acquisition and easy-to-use sights are ideal for hunting, plinking, home defense, and even in speed shooting sports like International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), which allow the shooters to keep their attention on the field of view in front of them.
The distance that you should zero the best red dot sight is 50 yards. However, some shooters may zero at a distance they plan to shoot the most, or even within a 100-yard outdoor range.
And Our #1 Best Cheap Red Dot Sight is...
Based on research, the best cheap red dot optic is the HOLOSUN HS403C Solar Power Micro Red Dot Sight because it features two power systems that are very beneficial in extending its battery life. Although this red dot is primarily solar-powered, it has a back-up battery option that could extend its 50,000 hours battery life. It also features an auto-adjustment for its brightness level depending on its surroundings available light.
Furthermore, this red dot sight is also made of military-grade optics, has a high-quality clear lens with a crisp red dot, and 12 brightness settings that are easy to adjust. It also features 2 MOA dot sizes, and two included mounts that make it very versatile. This red dot can be mounted with different rifles, shotguns, pistols, and other weapons. It is also IP67 waterproof rated and is housed in high-strength aluminum.
Our #1 Recommendation
- What’s The Best Scope for .450 Bushmaster? Top Picks Reviewed - February 17, 2021
- What’s the Best Rifle Scope for 6.5 Creedmoor? Buying Guide Included - February 17, 2021
- Vortex Ranger 1800 Laser Rangefinder Review – Top Features Revealed - February 17, 2021