If you own an AR-15, you know the importance of a good sight. Red dot sights can help you get on target quickly without breaking the bank. It can simplify the whole shooting process with your AR-15. In this article, we’ll discuss the 4 best AR-15 red dot sights.
After approximately 100 hours of research. Plus, with some hands-on testing of dozens of AR-15 red dot sights, I have come up with a shortlist of the four sights under $450. If this is your first time buying red dot sights for your AR-15, then this article can help you out.
Here’s a brief look at the top four AR-15 red dot sights under $450:
|Trijicon MRO 2.0 MOA Adjustable Red Dot Scope|| ||$400 Shop NowClick to read my review|
Best Budget Pick
|GGD Trijicon ACOG 1x32 Red Dot Sight|| ||$69 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Sig Sauer Romeo 5|| ||$129 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Bushnell Trophy TRS-25|| ||$99 Shop NowClick to read my review|
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
Red Dot Sights: What They Do
Red dot sights got their name for their traditional red reticle. They are made to be precise, effective, and simple at various ranges, from close to moderate. As time passed, these optics now come with green reticles. Despite this, they remain known as red dot sights.
Red dot sights don’t use magnification. In other words, they are only designed for engagements involving man-sized targets at around 300 yards maximum. Any more than this, and you need scopes that provide magnification.
As you might already know, red dot sights are popular accessories for AR-15s. This optic adds depth to a regular rifle and simplifies the aiming and shooting process. Overall, it makes the experience smoother in addition to helping you make accurate shots.
Red Dot Sights: Why Should You Get One
Red dot sights were considered to be a big step forward when it comes to tactical shooting. In addition, red dot sights can help you get to your target as quickly and precisely as possible. Such characteristics make them way more superior compared to iron sights.
Moreover, red dot sights are much simpler compared to iron sights. To compare, the latter requires you to align the front sight to the rear one and then aim the front sight on the target, which can take a lot of time for some people. On the other hand, you just need to put the target on the dot and pull the trigger using a red dot sight. You’ll appreciate this if you are into rapid shooting.
Speaking of rapid shooting, you’ll find red dot sights highly reliable. They help you track moving targets easily and can even aid you during your transition between several different targets. As a result, you can precisely place shots during combat situations.
Lastly, red dot sights can help you in low-light environments. Unlike black iron sights, a glowing dot can be easier to see in this kind of environment. Furthermore, there are even red dot sights that are compatible with night-vision add-ons. This type can increase your low-light performance even more.
Red Dot Sights: Choosing the Best for You
There are so many red dot sights on the market, so it can be confusing to pick the right one for your needs. Additionally, there are many options for nearly any budget in the market nowadays. You can use red dot sights for close and moderate ranges. Also, there are several different factors to consider when on the market for one. Below are some of these factors:
Red Dot Body Size
Red dot sights come in varying body sizes. There is currently no “standard” measurement in the market. The market categorizes the red dots in three categories: miniature, compact, and full size.
- Miniature red dots are compatible with smaller guns like pistols. In addition, miniature red dots are ultra-lightweight and optimal for close-quarters usage.
- Compact red dots range between 20mm to 25mm. These light and small optics can provide a great red dot sight experience for anyone. Additionally, they offer a good compromise between size and power. Compact red dots are among the easiest to use in many ranges. The only concern with these dots is the small battery problems that they can have.
- Full-sized red dots have a size of 26mm or larger. Manufacturers designed these optics for longer use as they have full-sized batteries. When it comes to compatibility with accessories and mounts, these red dot sights are quite up there. However, since they are larger, they are also heavier than the other sizes.
The size of the reticle that comes with the red dot sights also matters. If the reticle is smaller, it can be easier to place your shots at longer ranges. In addition, one can measure reticle size in minutes of angle (MOA). So, 1-MOA at 100 yards equals 1.047 inches. Then, we round this off to 1 inch for simplicity’s sake. In short, a red dot sight that is measured as 1-MOA covers 1 inch at 100 yards. Red dot sights come in 1-MOA to 9-MOA.
You can see the target more easily if your reticle size is smaller. For bigger dots, it’s harder to see your targets at longer ranges. However, you’ll be faster when it comes to finding and getting on target. Overall, it depends on your preference and how you plan on using your red dot sight with your rifle.
Reticle Design and Color
This also comes down to preference. While red dot sights usually come with red dot reticles, other options are now available, as sights with green dots are available. Moreover, some people find it easier to see green dots, so this is a great option for them. It is also worth noting that green light uses less battery power compared to the other options.
This is one of the most important considerations when it comes to picking the best optics for your needs. Additionally, cheaper options usually use lower-quality materials in their construction. In turn, this affects the product’s durability. When picking a budget option, always do some research first on the brand’s quality.
When it comes to battery life, there are some considerations to keep in mind. One consideration is how you plan on using your optic. You need an optic with longer battery life if you plan on using it frequently.
4 Best AR-15 Red Dot Sights
Now that we’ve discussed the different considerations when picking AR-15 red dot sights, let’s get into your options. Here is a table comparing the different sights that we discuss further below. This should give you a better idea about these options and if they’re worth considering.
Although a newcomer in the red dot sight market, the Trijicon MRO is getting a lot of attention from both enthusiasts and those new to AR-15s. It is noticeably smaller than other optics, but it also offers a larger field of view. The MRO is perfect for duty use as well as home defense, hunting, and competition.
The Trijicon MRO might be slightly pricier of those sights found on the list of budget-friendly optics. However, if you are looking for the best value for your money, you should look no further. Trijicon is well-known for its bombproof optics. And if you’re still wondering, the optic itself can take a lot of abuse. The MRO can withstand drop testing, hot and cold cycling, and even various gun loads.
The Trijicon MRO comes in a compact frame with a circular optic. In addition, it comes with a 25mm objective lens and a 2-MOA reticle size. The MOR is also a good fit for the AR-15. Moreover, the optic itself comes with different varieties of mounts that are compatible with different levels of cowitnesses specifically for assault rifle heights.
This optic features 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum, making it strong and highly dependable. Its glass is also multicoated and clear. Additionally, it is 2.6 inches long and weighs 4.1 ounces.
For features, it comes with eight different brightness settings: five daylight settings, one ultrabright setting, and two night-vision settings. You can submerge in up to 100 feet of water, and it can still work smoothly. Lastly, it has an extremely long battery life of five years!
Overall, the Trijicon deserved its spot as one of the best budget AR-15 red dot sights because of its brilliant features and affordable price.
- Comes with a five-year battery life
- Has a clear and crisp red dot
- Excellent compatibility, easy to cowitness with
- Has a slight blue color around its edges
GGD Trijicon ACOG 1×32 Red Dot Sight
This Trijicon ACOG scope comes at a competitive price and covers all bases well. It is solidly built and rugged, offers a clear picture and a strong illuminated reticle for fast target acquisition.
Starting with the lens – the 32mm objective lens features optical coating for high contrast visual ability as well as excellent light transmission and quality sighting. The contrast is extremely important in low-light environments where colors and outlines begin to blend.
The reticle is illuminated and you can cycle through red or green and select five different brightness levels. It’s clear and crisp.
It has an integrated mount that will fit any weaver-style 20mm railings. The base has a durable and secure locking system that keeps the scope zeroed and on target throughout use.
The scope housing is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. All three are characteristics needed in a workhorse ACOG scope.
The scope is 5.9” inches in overall length and has a weight of just over 15 ounces, which makes it a little on the heavy end but nothing that will throw the balance off your rifle.
The field of view is rated at 44 feet to 100 yards. This is a fantastic FOV for a scope designed for fast target acquisition.
- Excellent brightness adjustment settings
- Integrated rail mounting base
- Excellent lens
- Affordable price
- A little on the heavier side
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
Sig Sauer Romeo 5
The SIG Sauer line of optics has been receiving quite a bit of praise in the optics market in only a short period. If you are looking for solid options for less than $200, look at the Romeo5 and Romeo5XDR. The standard Romeo5 is the more affordable option.
The Romeo5 has a 2-MOA reticle size. In addition, it has a 20mm objective lens, powered by a battery that can last up to 40,000 hours. That’s way more than most other options on the market!
This optic also comes with 10 brightness settings. Two of these settings are compatible with night vision. This makes it very flexible when it comes to usage. It can also become very bright, ideal for sunny days.
The SIG MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination) technology can provide you with an instant optic without you leaving it powered up. How this works is that the optic turns itself on when it senses any motion. Then, if it remains motionless, it turns itself off automatically. In addition to its relatively long battery life, you can expect this optic to last you for a long time.
Other features of the Romeo5 include an integrated M1913 Picatinny interface. This accessory rail provides industry-standard mounting options. Additionally, the optic is also IPX-7 rated, so it can be completely waterproof for up to 1 meter. Furthermore, it comes with an M1913 Picatinny low mount riser and a cowitness 1.41-inch riser mount.
- Extremely long battery life of up to 40,000 hours
- MOTAC is highly practical
- A clear optic that can provide an excellent sight picture
- Romeo5XDR model only slightly more expensive but has more additional features
Bushnell Trophy TRS-25
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is proof that not all cheap red dot sights are low-end options. This optic, while having a price tag of less than $100, is worth owning. Its manufacturer, Bushnell, is famous for producing low-price yet high-quality optics. In addition, Bushnell specifically designed this red dot optic for shotgun and rifle usage.
The optic itself is resistant to shocks, so it can surely take a lot of abuse before it shows signs of wear. Moreover, the optic is also water-resistant. It has a sealed and nitrogen-purged O-ring that comes with it. Its quality materials make it capable of maintaining its clarity and reliability ― even under prolonged use.
The Red Dot comes in a 3-MOA reticle size. For most people, this is a sweet feature. A 3 MOA reticle size can help them see that target easily while still having a big enough reticle that can help them sight quickly.
Another feature is its 11 different settings for brightness. More settings are also a big deal for many rifle owners as most prefer an optic that they can use in multiple environments. Additionally, this optic weighs only 3.7 ounces. Being lightweight is also a great selling point for those who don’t want to carry around heavy accessories for their rifles when they travel. Storing these optics is also easy as they are only 2.4 inches long. Perhaps the only downside is that they often need risers to cowitness.
Overall, with the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25’s outstanding features, I can say that this is indeed an excellent red dot sight for your buck.
- Affordable yet high quality
- Comes with 11 illumination brightness settings
- 100% resistant to water, fog, and shock
- Needs risers to cowitness
There are several different considerations to keep in mind when picking the best red dot sight for your AR-15. Since the main consideration that we are focusing on is budget, you may want to opt for the cheapest optic on this list, which would be the GGD Trijicon ACOG 1×32 Red Dot Sight. However, you should not discount the features that the pricier ones on the list offer.
While it is true that the GGD Trijicon ACOG is the best choice for most people, especially the ones that are starting out, the other options can also provide great value for your money. But if you have a couple of bucks to spare the Trijicon MRO 2.0 is our favourite pick. Hopefully, the information in this article was able to help you find the best budget AR-15 red dot sights for you. Good luck and stay safe!
If you are looking to read more about AR-15 sights, check out these articles: