If you are clueless about what on Earth is an RDS (red dot sight), or in what manner it is different from other kinds of sights, then you have come to the right place. For the uninitiated; any illuminated, non-magnified sight that is attachable to a handgun, a rifle, or a shotgun can be technically called an RDS. An injection laser diode (ILD) or a light emitting diode (LED) creates the red dot or the reticle, which is then projected or reflected into the FOV (field of view). You are required to aim this red dot directly in your LOS (line of sight). It acts as an aiming mechanism to align the firearm with the targets for taking the perfect shot.
- 1 Benefits of A Red Dot Sight
- 2 8 Best Red Dot Sights 2018 – Reviews and Guide
- 2.1 1. Vortex Optics Sparc 2 Red Dot MOA (SPC-402) Scope
- 2.2 Pros
- 2.3 Cons
- 2.4 2. EOTech Transverse Red Dot Sight
- 2.5 Pros
- 2.6 Cons
- 2.7 3. Burris 300234 Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount 3 MOA Sight
- 2.8 Pros
- 2.9 Cons
- 2.10 4. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
- 2.11 Pros
- 2.12 Cons
- 2.13 5. DD DAGGER DEFENSE Dagger Defense DDHB Red Dot Reflex sight
- 2.14 Pros
- 2.15 Cons
- 2.16 6. Primary Arms 2 MOA Advanced Micro Red Dot (MD-ADS) Riflescope
- 2.17 Pros
- 2.18 Cons
- 2.19 7. FieldSport Micro Red Dot Sight
- 2.20 Pros
- 2.21 Cons
- 2.22 8. Sightmark SM26008 Ultra Shot Plus Red Dot Sights
- 2.23 Pros
- 2.24 Cons
- 3 Features to Consider When Choosing A Red Dot Sight
- 4 Most Important Tips for Buying A Best Red Dot Sight
- 5 How to Zero A Red Dot Sight
- 6 Final Verdict
Benefits of A Red Dot Sight
Faster targeting capabilities: Once you have acquired a target, it is pretty easy to expeditiously center the reticle on your target and pull the trigger. As the shooter is not required to position the sights and carefully aim, this kind of sight offers a reasonably greater rate of accuracy when you are aiming at a moving prey.
Wider field of view: The reticle has a greater FOV when compared to a vast majority of the typical tube style sights available in the market. Having a bigger FOV allows you to take a shot from a larger distance. However, do remember to stay reasonably close to the target, as the sight you are seeing is still not enlarged or magnified.
Unrestricted eye relief: The distance between your eyes and the sight does matter for most sights. However, a red sight makes things easy for the shooter and provides immense relief for your precious eyes. As the reticle takes away a significant part of the constraint placed upon anybody who aims with another kind of sight, this nifty little feature allows you to acquire the target quickly.
Works in low light conditions: An RDS is designed to function in darkness also. The crosshairs produced by most other sights are not visible when it gets dark, but the reticle can even be clearly seen in the most dimmed or dark environments.
8 Best Red Dot Sights 2018 – Reviews and Guide
It is crafted from aircraft grade aluminum, offers great durability, and perfectly suitable for rough situations like grime and shock. The Sparc II provides a magnification capability of up to 1x. While that may very well sound to be pretty insignificant, you must remember that most of the red dot sights are on offer right now, do not even offer this function. The magnification may not be adequate for some, but in most cases, it does suffice, especially when armed with the twin-setting MOA dot sight.
This RDS is very user-friendly and switching between the two MOA presets does not take more than rotating a dial. Additionally; as much as ninety different MOA settings are provided too, including necessary adjustments for a typical sunny day as well as low-light conditions, allowing you to tweak and play with the numerous controls of Sparc II as per your specific requirements and with great comfort.
It is one such multi-height, versatile mount that is capable of delivering impressive results for various situations and can be attached with several types of firearms.
- The Sparc II RDS (SPC-402) MOA, black, AR-15 (ArmaLite rifle) high-mount scope offers a magnification capability of x1
- Twenty-two millimeters of eye relief
- MOA adjustments are damn easy, and one MOA rotation translates to one physical rotation of the device
- Adjustment for parallax error, ninety MOA settings
- Durability is backed by manufacturer’s warranty of authenticity
- The sight cannot work with night vision
- The coating does increase the intensity of its illumination albeit at the cost of reducing the brightness level
- The performance of this scope in low lights is not of an acceptable standard
This RDS comes with a unique reticle that may not be uncommon, but how does it function is what sets it apart. This red sight offers two dots that can work with both supersonic and subsonic loads of a Three-Hundred Blackout (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) SAAMI rifle. The holdovers for the top circle are fifty and hundred yards for subsonic and supersonic ammunition respectively and are one-hundred and fifty and three-hundred yards for the bottom dot respectively when these two criteria for munitions remain unchanged. You can swap the rounds without any issues.
It is a perfect candidate for a Three-Hundred Black assault rifle, or even a single shot or bolt rifle provided the barrel is at least sixteen inches long, where the holdovers will sit. The optic bears the signature design and style of Eotech and offers incredible versatility without costing a fortune.
- Very consistent and accurate maintains zero well
- Fits ARs pretty much naturally
- Very aesthetic in its design and appearance
- Offers you that impeccable Eotech durability
(Note: The clarity of the illuminated reticle is considerably improved when armed with the magnification accessory sold separately.)
(Without the external magnifier)
- The placement of the buttons is not user-friendly, and the controls are not readily accessible
- The illuminated reticle produces a blurry distortion, much like a halo, and irrespective of whatever brightness you decide to set it to.
(Note: Almost all the drawbacks happen to disappear when the G33 Magnifier is paired with the said scope.)
When you prefer durability to long periods of operation, you can consider this model, which is fabricated from the highest grade materials for crafting an RDS that is sure to last a lifetime. The factory-fitted lithium-ion power cell provides an impressive number of hours of usage before running out of juice.
Its three MOA reticle is immensely versatile and perfectly compatible with a wide array of firearms. This RDS can be attached to revolvers, handguns, hunting rifles, and shotguns as well. Burris painstakingly designed this red sight for accelerated target acquisitions also, along with versatility, and you can fire many rounds without the worry whether or not its accuracy has been reduced.
Capable of performing well both in broad daylight and inadequate lighting, this red dot sight provides you with the option to fine-tune the brightness manually, or with the help of a fully automatic mode. For shooters who are keen to position their sights at different elevations, the Fastfire III is capable of adjusting to various heights without the need of any accessory.
- It is compatible with nearly all the hand-pieces including hunting rifles, handguns, and shotguns
- The eye balance is perfect sans any signs of dominance, and the sight neatly aligns with your target
- You can easily remove the mounts
- The recoil tolerance of the sight is pretty impressive and to put things into perspective; it can happily bear the recoil of a four hundred and sixty XVR (Xtreme Velocity revolver) pistol, or that of a semi-automatic forty-five hundredths
- You can tweak its elevation without the help of any tools, and can also either the auto-presets or manually play with the brightness levels
- Both the buttons for power and brightness adjustment are relatively small, which makes them somewhat challenging to use, and your aiming accuracy is likely to be compromised to some extent
If affordability is the first and foremost deciding factor for you when shopping for an RDS, then you might think of taking a look at the TRS-25 manufactured by Bushnell. It may be moderately priced, but it does offer everything you ever require for your assault rifle AR-15. This Trophy Red Sight 25 can steadily maintain its zero location, even with greater recoil velocity and challenging rapid fire situations. This affordable model is also equipped with a three MOA dot sight and easy target acquisition capability.
Though it does not provide any fancy functions or many of the bells and whistles offered by the most expensive top-tier models, it does not necessarily mean that it will not live up to your expectations and be grossly inaccurate. The housing is entirely water-resistant and shockproof, offering a crystal clear clarity through its sharp amber lens irrespective of the situation and the surroundings. A number of brightness-presets for provided by the manufacturer makes it suitable for a broad and diverse gamut of lighting situations.
- Comes with an affordable price tag
- The reticle is clear at the relevant settings
- Razor-thin accuracy
- Nice optics
- Recoil handling is pretty good
- Zeroes (and also holds) very well
- Ambient lighting conditions tend to restrict the brightness levels of the dot
- The intensity of the dot happens to suffer at higher settings, becoming fuzzy and distorted all the way up
5. DD DAGGER DEFENSE Dagger Defense DDHB Red Dot Reflex sight
This reflex red dot sight is carved out from aircraft grade aluminum, which is remarkably small enough to accommodate other accessories that you may require to mount on your typical Picatinny rail.
You can change its reticle, and select from four configurations, ranging from a crosshair to a simple dot. The so-called red dot can either come with green or red illumination, reasonably bright enough for a user to view it during the day as well as night time, and may be relatively easy to remain visible in sunny conditions.
As it is water resistant, you are free to use the RDS in foggy or rainy conditions. However, this particular red sight is not waterproof, and you should refrain from submerging the device under water.
- This RDS is nearly zeroed before shipping, and as most customer testimonials suggest that the sight happens to be merely a few inches away from the mark of zero at hundred yards after mounting it, zeroing it will not really be much of an issue
- They have a great after-sales service to resolve the problems that might occur during its lifetime
- Though it is not very difficult to spot the sight in broad light, it could have been made brighter for facilitating target acquisition
In the arena of red sights, two distinct quality grades are essentially available for purchase. The first one is ten to thirty-dollar airsoft grade dots that tend to rattle themselves to many pieces most of the time, as soon as your first few magazines are exhausted, and might prove to be lucky enough to hold zero. The latter category is comprised of authentic high-grade combat-capable three-hundred dollar (or even more) red dots that hold together until post-apocalypse, and are also likely to be provided with matching battery life. However, there exists a surprising void between these two extremities. Primary Arms arrived at the scene some years ago, and they are already taking the world of red dot sights by storm. Their ever increasing market outreach indicates that they have quickly risen to fame when it comes to mid-range red sights, which hold together on assault and Avtomat Kalashnikova rifles with filing for bankruptcy.
The sight is cozily nested inside a somewhat minimalistic one-inch tube made from anodized aluminum, with adjustments nicely placed at its top and side, as well as a nifty brightness-controlling knob positioned just beneath the controls for wind adjustments. The three MOA dot is configured with eleven types of presets to increase or decrease the brightness, and the higher levels are visible enough to be spotted on a particularly sunny day. The battery is claimed to complete ten-thousand hours of operation before it dies down. Click adjustments are half-a-MOA and are pretty solid and distinct. The front lens sports a slightly blue hue that might appear to be distracting for some users. While never featured among the most durable red dots, it does offer a nice amount of durability, which is backed by prompt and fast after-sales service.
- Caps are tightly secured and can remain properly closed whenever they need to be
- The lens is clear irrespective of tinting
- Lens tinting does a great job in eliminating direct light
- Factory-fitted battery offers as much as fifty thousand hours of life
- Wide gamut (a dozen, two for night vision) of settings to adjust the brightness
- Provides 1x magnification
- Holds zero well and good
- The quick-release screw for the mount is sort of a nightmare when operated, and the quality of the supplied wrench does not live up to your expectations
- Some amount of blurring can appear, through which the reticle assumes an unusually bigger appearance, nearly identical to what seems like four MOA
This small RDS happens to be one of the most inexpensive models ever made available on the market, which utilizes a four MOA red dot for offering a faster and notably more precise acquisition of targets in comparison with any of the widely available stock iron sights.
The emitter of this red sight is designed to be placed like when it is nine o’ clock, and it does not interfere with the lower third co-witness, which is just the case for quite a few other sights that engage a five o’ clock emitter.
This red dot sight does not offer perfect accuracy when the device is shipped from the factory, and it does need some efforts for zeroing. However, the moment you zeroed the device, you will be much surprised to discover that this small RDS provides as much precision as other models do albeit at the cost of ten times of its price.
The reticle is fitted with eleven different settings to play with the brightness levels, and you are not going to be presented with any difficulty to select one that perfectly suits your requirements. When the highest preset is chosen, it makes the reticle to be clearly visible in broad daylight, when the sun is brightly shining in the sky.
- Great VFM (value for money) in spite of being one of the most inexpensive red dot sights presently on offer
- The low selling price does not come at the cost of its durability, and it can be put to use for an extended period
- If you are desirous of using this sight for co-witnessing the iron sights you have, a raiser is required, which can be purchased separately
This red sight is designed with the objective to offer unmatched versatility, and to put things into perspective; you can happily mount it on rifles, handguns, and shotguns without any fuss at all. The factory-fitted battery lasts up to ten-thousand hours before running out of fuel, and the device is supplied with an automatic shut-off feature which gets activated after sixty minutes of continuous operation to extend the life of the power cell.
The reticle of this sight comes in either red or green illumination. You can easily control the device with the help of a pair of soft tactile buttons neatly placed on its left side. When you press the power button for the very first time, the RDS will be activated to provide illumination to the reticle, and when you press it once more, the light will alter between red and green. To turn the sight off, you need to depress the power button for three seconds. The other button provided is for changing the brightness levels.
This particular sight does not require a mounting block to co-witness the regular iron sights, the ones you typically see on assault rifles. The rotary dial is placed at six o’ clock and allows you to select from four reticle configurations.
- This sight comes with a long-life battery, and the built-in automatic shut-off function prevents it from draining unnecessarily
- Once you have zeroed it, you are in a position to put hundreds of rounds with the sight sans the need to re-zero
- The instruction manual is ambiguous, and mistakenly states that CR2 batteries are required for operating the sight when the appropriate type is CR123A
Features to Consider When Choosing A Red Dot Sight
1. Housing Configuration
Red sights sport either open or tube styles. The latter is closely identical to a traditional type of sight in its appearance. This kind of housing provides you with the freedom to use protective covers and various filters to the lens. It eventually allows you to view the red dot with greater ease in bright sunlight.
As it is pretty evident from their names, the design and configuration of open sights are different from the classic ones. They consist of the bare essentials only, one objective window for seeing through, and an illumination source. Since this type of housing does not provide enough room for flare, you cannot use filters here for enhancing the view.
2. Type of Projection
Red sights feature both reflex and holographic sights. In case of the latter, the onboard electronic circuitry projects a beam of light generated by a laser diode onto the look-through window for producing a red, holographic dot to aid you when aiming at an animal. The system is meticulously designed to illuminate the sight from the front side of the lens.
Reflex sight projections happen to be much more standard in the red sights used for recreation. Here the light emitting diode positioned right behind the lens takes the responsibility to illuminate, and all the light emitted is reflected into your LOS by the device.
3. LED Reflex Versus Laser Scope
- We suggest scopes for longer ranges; anything beyond three hundred yards over the reflexes for improved accuracy, uncompromised magnification, and target acquisition reasons
- Reflexes are more preferred to quickly acquire the target in close quarters, anything less than a hundred yards, and they are best suited for self-defense where every micro-second counts
- Another terrific feature about reflexes is they can be used with both of your eyes wide open. It is an added advantage in a typical defensive situation, where both the target and you are not stationary
4. ACOG Sights
The third type of sights, somewhat less common, the other two mentioned above is known as advanced combat optical gun (ACOG) sight. They are handy when you need to reach out the target and touch it. One nice thing about such sights is that ACOGs offer magnification capabilities allowing the shooters to hit their targets from great distances, and making them an ideal candidate for hunting. You should understand that these devices are not suitable for short distances, and a standard scope is more preferred in such situations.
5. Reticle Style
The reticle is technically the red dot used to align the gun with your target. All reticles are purposefully configured to be illuminated for making it a tad easy for you to shoot in jet black darkness or low light conditions. However, they are not needed to be red in appearance, neither required to resemble the form of a simple dot. As the patterns and color of reticles vary, you should always try to shop for one that permits you to shoot with the greatest comfort.
Styles range from a crosshair to a single dot, or bullseye patterns in green or red. A good reticle offers the option to engage numerous patterns and tune to your desired color, and its size can also be changed most of the time. Do not get carried away with fancy styles, as it is vital for you to naturally align the eye to the reticle’s center to quickly find a target.
6. Battery Life
The longevity of the power source of any RDS is of extreme significance when shopping for a new one. A sight that gives less battery backup increases the odds of the light running out of juice when you need it most. Without the presence of the reticle, your accuracy can be reduced, and targeting turns out to be a much more complex affair, if not more complicated than deciding what to gift your wife on this anniversary!
7. Ability to Magnify
Though most of the reflex sights do not offer the option for magnification, you can always pair the timed reflex sights with readily available purpose-built magnifiers for increasing its effective range. However, these optical systems generally become heavier in comparison with rifle scopes with the addition of such magnifiers.
8. Durability and Protection
The best laser scopes available in the market ensure 100% fog-proof and water-resistance with sophisticated shock absorbing mechanism in place. You should always select an RDS that is going to live up to your expectations.
9. Mounting Options
Also; you should make a point to test the structural integrity of your mount, and if required, you can always purchase the supportive base separately from the laser scope it meant to be holding.
10. Adjustments for Wind and Elevation
A large number of the red sights can be adjusted for wind and the elevation with clicks at one-fourth to half MOA or any other decrements and increments that you deem to be optimal. You can purchase models that come with both decrement and increment features and allow you to select from a range of presets.
11. Parallax Error
Typically iron sights come with a front and a rear sight that help the shooter for taking a straight shot, while an RDS is not privileged to have such facilities. If you look down the RDS on your target and shift your head to your left or right, without moving the firearm, then you are going to hit the wrong target due to the parallax error.
However, if you are armed with proper techniques, you are indeed in a position to eliminate this kind of errors. You need to make sure that the RDS you are buying is capable of handling parallax errors, which is found to be standard for more expensive type high-end models.
Most Important Tips for Buying A Best Red Dot Sight
1. Higher Sticker Price Does Not Always Translate to Better Quality
Spending a fortune on a particular model does not necessarily guarantee you that the quality of that model in question is superior to the inexpensive ones. Stay away from sugary advertisements that lure you to purchase expensive sights. They may miss the most crucial features, such as the one that permits your eyes for focusing at a much faster rate, or the liberty to alter the color and/or shape of the reticle. Fifty bucks tend to be the breakpoint for some veterans, and you can pick up a decent RDS under hundred US dollars for sure.
2. Compatibility with Gun
All sights are equal, but some sights are more equal than others! Jokes apart, not all the sights can be mounted to every gun ever made. The sights are intentionally designed to fit with specific types of arms, and they obediently attach to such proprietary styles only. Make sure your selected sight, the one you wish to buy, is suitable with the weapon you own already or are planning to buy.
3. Comfortable Weight and Size
The weight of your RDS adds up to your gun’s overall weight. Make sure to buy a sight of an appropriate size, something that is relevant for your gun as well as the place where that accessory is supposed to be stored. Visit your favorite shop and attach the sight you have zeroed in on with a gun that you are going to use frequently or you already are, and examine that the firearm can still be carried and handled effectively and that its rate of accuracy for aiming is not compromised in the process.
4. Mounting the Sight
It is extremely vital for you to mount the RDS to your gun properly. If your sight is found to be slightly off, then the entire aim is going to be off too. Do not do it hastily when you are mounting and adjusting your red dot sight to check whether or not the system is appropriately aligned and straight. A precision mount helps to nail your target every time and for sure.
How to Zero A Red Dot Sight
If you are keen to shop for the very best red dot sight, then the AR-15 might be the right choice for you. They are gradually emerging as an excellent benchmark against which the other red sights are measured as most of them are found to be optimized for AR-15s.
If money is not really that of a concern, then you may like to go with EOTech. For those with a shoe-string budget could possibly consider the Dagger Defense or the FieldSport. Bushnell might also be a safe bet worth pondering upon and does not burn a deep hole in your pockets. Backed by an original warranty from the manufacturer, Burris can too prove to be a nice alternative. Also, when it comes to maximum street retail price, Primary Arms and Sightmark are positioned in the middle.