The vast majority of casual firearm users might not ever consider using any anything other than the traditional iron sights on their shotguns. I mean, most people don’t think of shotguns as firearms that are meant to be aimed and are more of a point in the general vicinity and pull the trigger type weapon. The reality is, shotgun red dot sights can be extremely advantageous to shotgunners in certain shooting applications.
Whether you are using a shotgun in a tactical situation or even certain types of hunting scenarios such as turkey or using slugs to hunt deer, a reflex sight or red dot sight can really make a difference.
In this article, we are going to point out at what aspects make the best red dot as well as reflex sights for shotguns. We will then take a look at our four picks of the best red dot sights for shotguns that outperform all the other options on the market.
We hope that by the end of this article, you will have a better idea and appreciation for shotgun optics and how they can be used to your advantage in both tactical and hunting situations.
Shotgun Optics Buyers Guide
- Durability: When you are planning on utilizing a reflex sight for shotguns or a red dot shotgun sight, chances are the application you have for your firearm requires pretty heavy loads that produce a good deal of recoil.
A lot of these sights use electronics, and it is important that your sight is built to absorb this recoil without losing function or knocking off your zero setting, especially when using slugs or a choke producing a tight pattern. If you’re shooting loads with a wide spread pattern, holding zero is not much of an issue. All of the sights on our list are built to withstand punishing recoil load after load.
- Lenses: One of the main purposes of these sights is not just to provide more accuracy but also to provide the ability to have a more clear picture in low light settings. You want lenses that have been treated to allow maximum light transmission and also be able to resist scratching and abrasion.
- True 1X: For just about all shotgun purposes you are not taking shots at anything over 100 yards. If you are and are successful, please let us know what you are using. These sights are designed to give you more precise aiming and ability to shoot in various light conditions more accurately.
They are also designed to allow you to shoot while keeping both eyes open, which is a common component of a true 1X sight. While not as important for hunting scenarios, this is a must for shotgun sights used on tactical rifles.
- Red dot: Whether you are using a true red dot, reflex, or holographic sight it is important that the reticle is clear and crisp throughout the range of brightness settings. Having a blurry reticle detracts from the intended benefits of these shotgun sights. On top of this, you should be aware of the range of brightness settings that are available. Being able to fine tune the brightness settings quickly in the field can be very beneficial. You should also be aware of the battery life on these scopes and keep a rough estimate on how much life you have used. The best sights are going to have a battery life that lasts hundreds of hours, but it is also up to you to manage as well. Some scopes will have automatic shutdowns or other technology to help conserve battery life and can end up saving you quite a bit of money in the long run.
The 5 Best Shotgun Red Dot Sights
It’s easy to lose track with the countless of different options and products you can find online or in your local store. Manufacturer’s descriptions always sound promising and apparently every one of them offers the best sight on the market. To make your final decision easier we point out 5 great options down below and let you know what we like about them.
This red dot sight by Bushnell is available in matte black or Realtree APG camo finish. For turkey or deer hunters, the camo finish might appeal to you. The red dot on this scope is 3MOA in size and can be easily adjusted by a dial for 11 brightness settings. For each setting, the red dot remains relatively crisp, although at the highest settings, you might get some blurring.
This shotgun red dot sight is light and compact but is rugged enough that your settings will not be knocked off by the high recoil of a 12 gauge or when just hauling your shotgun around in the field.
This scope features excellent lenses which are amber coated and help the images contrast and keep from blurring together in low light settings when in the woods. The battery life of this scope could be better but will last for hundreds of hours when utilized correctly.
It is a true 1X power setting, and you can easily look through the scope while keeping an eye on the surrounding field. Even when lining up a shot, the field of view for this scope is great, and you get a wide shot of the field surrounding the target.
This scope mounts to any Weaver style railing and will sit low to the rail, so if you want to be able to utilize your iron sights as well, you are going to need to look at risers. It features unlimited eye relief, so you are not restricted to where you mount it along the shotgun’s railing.
We also featured it in our Best Red Dot Sight article.
- Light and compact
- Very rugged
- Clear amber coated optics
- Easy to install
- Red dot becomes blurry at high illumination settings
- Matte black featuring a 3 MOA Dot reticle with 11 brightness settings; Mounts easily on most picatinny rails and is compatible with pistols, shotguns, rifles and muzzleloaders
- Waterproof construction: O ring sealed optics stay dry inside, even when totally immersed in water. Parallax - 50
- Shockproof construction: Built to withstand bumps, bangs, drops and the rough and tumble environment of the field
This scope features a large 5MOA reticle that makes target acquisition extremely quick and is perfect for tactical shotguns. The field of view of this scope is very generous, and you will be able to keep an eye on the terrain surrounding your target either through the scope or with your nonscope eye.
The reticle can be switched between red or green color settings and the brightness can be adjusted to five different levels.
The lens coating and anti-reflective materials within the scope reduces potential glare and allows maximum light transmission, so use in low light settings is possible.
This scope is extremely shockproof and has no problem handling thousands of heavy 12 gauge loads. While it will maintain its zero through just about any situation it can be a pain to get it to zero.
If you’re looking for one of the best red dots for shotguns, specifically tactical than this scope has most of the performance qualities that you will look for, while keeping the price to a very reasonable range.
- Very shock resistant
- Fast target acquisition
- Holds zero well
- Very affordable
- Hard to zero
- 5 MOA reticle designed for quick acquisition, dual-color reticle illumination (red and green)
- Shock resistant to 1000-Gram, waterproof, fog-proof, unlimited eye relief, wide field of view
- Adjustable rheostat for brightness control, multi-coated lenses
The SIG Sauer Romeo 5, and the Romeo series of red dot sights in general, provide you with some of the best value for any red dot sight on the market today. That’s because these sights are very inexpensive in comparison to other competing sights, and yet are highly durable, very bright, adjustable, and provide you with excellent value for the money.
This is a 2 MOA Red Dot. It’s designed to fit to any Picatinny rail system, and is very robustly built. It has a waterproof rating of IPX-7, which is higher than many competitors.
That all being said, this red dot is actually not built by SIG Sauer, but is built by Holosun (SIG Sauer contracts Holosun to build the sight for them).
One of the most notable aspects and feature about the SIG Sauer Romeo 5 is the fact that it comes with Motion Activated Illumination. So long as the sight is turned on, it will turn off on its own after a long period of stillness. However, when it senses motion (such as when you pick up the rifle with the sight attached), it will automatically reactivate.
This feature is very beneficial because it means you don’t have to worry about turning the sight on and off. Just keep the sight on, and the red dot sill shut off after a period of inactivity in order to conserve the battery life (which can last for more than 40,000 hours) for as long as possible.
Take note that the motion activated illumination system will not work when the sight is turned off, so you need to make sure that it’s always turned on for it do so.
This sight also ships with a Co-Witness Riser Mount, to help clear plenty of space so you can still view your open sights or flip up sights through the scope. In other words, you can keep the red dot turned off and still line up the rear sight of your rifle with the front sight through the sight picture.
If you are in need of a high quality, bright, adjustable, and durable red dot for your semi-automatic rifle, but without spending a fortune as you would with an EOTech, then the SIG Sauer Romeo 5 is one of the best options on the market today.
- Multiple Brightness Settings
- Fairly Priced
- Comes With Motion Activated Illumination (activates when it senses motion)
- 40,000 Hour Continuous Battery Life
- Designed To Attach To Picatinny Rails
- Very Compact and Lightweight
- Very Durable Construction
- Ships With Co-Witness Riser Mount
- Only 1x Magnification
- 2 MOA Red-Dot provides 10 illumination settings (8 daylight plus 2 NV) for visibility in all light conditions
- MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination) powers up when it senses motion and powers down when it does not. Provides for optimum operational safety and enhanced 40,000+ hour battery life
- Integrated M1913 Picatinny interface provides industry-standard mounting options for a wide range of applications
If you want a shotgun reflex sight, this sight goes above and beyond your expectations. Regarding shotgun optics, this scope covers all aspects one would need while in the field from tactical to hunting scenarios.
The reticle on this holographic, yes holographic we are talking about EOTech here, features a 65MOA ring with a 1MOA red dot that can put you on a target quickly. Further adding to the quick target acquisition is the large aperture window that gives a wide field of view.
The reticle is illuminated and can be adjusted to 20 different brightness settings with a crisp reticle throughout the range.
In terms of durability, you are not going to have an issue with this sight being banged up or knocked off zero with the quality aluminum housing. It is also highly waterproof and can even be submerged up to 10′ and still be able to perform properly.
This scope is also extremely easy to install and can fit directly on any Picattiny and Weaver style rails.
We really like the windage and elevation adjustments that can be made if you know you are going to be taking shots at increased distances and they are both clearly labeled. While you have to have a coin or other tool to make the adjustments, they hold very well. This scope holds its zero as well as any other scope on our list and will not be knocked off during normal use of the scope/firearm.
The battery life on this shotgun optics is extremely long, and it features an auto- reticle shutdown that helps to conserve battery life.
In terms of holographic sights, this particular model is slightly heavier and longer in overall length. If used on its own this is not an issue, but if you are looking to mount a magnifier or other accessories, you might find space limited.
- Excellent reticle illumination
- Extremely rugged and weather resistant
- Fast target acquisition
- Holds zero
- Takes up a lot of rail space
- EOTECH 512.A65 - Holographic Sight in Black with 68 MOA ring & 1 MOA dot reticle
- Mount - Compatible with both 1" Weaver and MIL-STD 1913 Rails
- Adjustable Brightness - The 512 has 20 brightness settings for use in any lighting scenario
For shotgun red dot sights, the Aimpoint Micro T-2 is top of the line. While higher on the price range, you are never going to need another red dot sight for your shotgun. Period.
The lenses on this scope are not matched expect for scopes on the highest end of the price range. You will get incredible light transmission and will find the image in the scope to be bright and clear in any lighting situation.
This shotgun red dot sight is built to perform in any situation and you don’t have to worry about this scope holding up to bumps, scrapes, or recoil that a working shotgun and optics go through with its aluminum construction and hard anodized finish. While it is durable, it is also very compact and light coming in at only 3.7oz, near weightless.
The reticle is illuminated and can be switched between 8 different brightness settings. Each setting maintains the crisp, 2MOA red dot. It is also compatible with a range of nightvision equipment making it an excellent choice for tactical use.
This is a true 1X scope that will allow both eyes open shooting characteristics. Even when focused solely through the scope, you will benefit from a wide field of view.
On top of this, it is extremely fog and waterproof. This scope can be submerged in water up to 80’ and come out performing as well as it did out of the box.
Battery life on this scope is incredible, and you will not need to worry about changing the batteries until hundreds of hours of use.
This is an overall simple but efficient red dot sight that you absolutely cannot go wrong with. It is both easy to use and easy to mount. Once mounted and zeroed in, you will not have to think twice about it holding to that zero.
- Light and compact
- Incredible optics and reticle
- Very durable
- Shock, water, and fogproof
- Great battery life
- Easy to mount and use
- It costs some money
- Advanced objective lens system for better light transmission and unmatched optical clarity
- 2 MOA dot with 4 Night vision compatible settings and 8 Daylight brightness settings
- Standard Mount for Picatinny and Weaver Mount Included
So, we now come to the point where we must choose our pick for the best shotgun red dot sight. While all of these sights are great options, we give the edge for the best red dot sight for shotguns to the Aimpoint Micro T-2 Sight. Whether you are using it for tactical or hunting purposes, the T-2 provides all the necessary aspects of a superior red dot shotgun sight.
The durability paired with its lightness is second to none regarding shotgun red dot sights. When you complement this characteristic with its incredible lenses and ability to shoot with both eyes open it gets even harder to beat. Top all this off with an excellent range of brightness settings that all maintain a clear and crisp reticle, and it becomes easy to see how this sight can be labeled the best red dot for shotguns.
So, whatever application you have in in mind for your tactical or hunting shotgun, we hope that this article has shown the benefits of shotgun red dot sights and shotgun reflex sights.
While they are not perfect for all hunting applications, they can be the missing link to more successful turkey and deer hunts, and regarding tactical scenarios, it’s almost a crime not have one of these sights mounted to your 12 gauge.
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