There are certainly many appealing characteristics of one-inch tube scopes, but their price tags can usually turn buyers away pretty quickly. A more affordable option is to look into red dot sights, but those can also get a little expensive too. Low-cost sights, surprisingly, have a bit of a following in the market. How do you know which ones are worth your pocket change and which are truly “budget”? We’ve put together a review of the best budget red dot sights on the market, and we’ll let you know which was our favorite at the end.
A good, inexpensive red dot sight will have a few important features to it: a lot of eye relief, a light weight with sturdy mounting capabilities, and a crystal clear view (what good is an optic without a clean picture?). The point is to have an optic that allows for quick and fast shooting, but some hunting can be involved as well. We made sure all these features, and then some, were included in the selections we made. Hey, we aren’t all made of money!
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Materials – This tactical red dot sight from Pinty is only about three inches long, but it is compatible with any traditional Picatinny or Weaver rail. The user can choose between a red or green dot for various lighting situations, and each dot color has five levels of brightness to toggle between. This is a 5 MOA dot reticle. The 22mm objective lens is housed in a metal constructed, and it has been sealed to be resistant to shock, water, and dirt. Of course, the windage and elevation levels are adjustable. The is a 1X fixed magnification optic, offering unlimited eye relief on your weapon.
Performance – Pinty offers a variety of optics that are really cheap and affordable. Don’t let the word “budget” scare you away – Pinty has its own following of fans that appreciate the simple features and low cost. This is the only option within this review, by the way, that does not feature an amber coated lens. It’s also the only option that lets you choose between a red or green dot, so it balances itself out on the daylight and low light issue. However, lacking the amber lens means it is better suited for indoor ranges as opposed to hunting grounds. It’s not entirely useless outside, but the red dot specifically is better for using in low light.
What we say – The Pinty Tactical Dot Sight is one of the best budget red dot sights because it is the cheapest option within this review and is seriously one of the cheapest optics you will find online at all. The entire Pinty line is worth looking into.
- Cheapest option
- Red and green dots
- Ten brightness levels
- Better for range use than hunting
Materials – This red dot scope from BSA is very versatile, and it can be attached to any standard Picatinny rail on your shotgun, rifle, pistol, or even crossbow. The 30mm objective lens is sealed and coated to withstand recoil, water, fog, and dirt. Windage and elevation are adjustable, as well as the brightness level. Simple rotate between brightness levels until your 5 MOA red dot reticle comes into focus. This option is about five inches in length, but it can be adjusted to your preferred eye relief on your rail. BSA Optics offers a one year limited warranty with their red dot scope.
Performance – If you want a budget red dot sight, but you don’t want a teeny, tiny, micro optics on your rifle, then this is the sight for you. BSA Optic’s sight is the largest of the bunch within this review, and it weighs over half a pound. The sturdy weight can be more ideal for many gunowners out there, and it will be more reliable to withstand damage along the way. This option also has the largest objective lens, for those who want to get the best field of view while hunting or at the range. At the same time, the heavier weight is a little outside-the-box from most low cost red dot sights, so that may also be the sight’s greatest downfall. We personally like the adjustment knobs at the top of this optic, so your hands aren’t bumping into your other attached accessories while you focus.
What we say – This budget red dot sight is the best choice for those who require a heavier weight and want a large field of view. This is a great option for both hunting and some tactical purposes.
- Large objective lens
- Easy function adjustment knobs
- One year warranty
- Almost one pound in weight
Materials – Bushnell offers a 1x red dot sight that can be purchased in an all black housing or a camouflage housing. They fit on standard Picatinny rails, offering an unlimited amount of eye relief. Most unique to Bushnell’s optic is the Amber-Bright high contrast lens coating, allowing the 3 MOA red dot reticle to be visible in various types of lighting. The lens has been sealed to protect the optic from water, fog, and recoil shock. The 25mm objective lens provides and unlimited field of view with a click value of half an inch at one hundred yards. Weighing less than four ounces, your red dot optic is ready to assist on any rifle.
Performance – For starters, Bushnell is a much more recognizable name in the optics market, so many may be intrigued to throw down the money on their red dot sight. Not that there’s a lot of money to throw down – this option is still very cheap! Most features on this option are pretty standard: the amber coated lens, and adjustment ability, and the 25 mm objective lens are all solid. Their special internal angled lens offers a great light transmission for a clear picture. What many may not like is the slightly inhibited view from the adhesive used inside the housing. Bushnell makes sure to point that out, but the thousands of customer reviews online tells us this really isn’t anything to worry about.
What we say – The red dot sight from Bushnell is the best choice for anyone who trusts the brand and wants the best viewing ability for hunting.
- Very lightweight
- Reliable brand name
- Tilted front lens
- Small adhesive dot inhibits view
Materials – The red dot sight from AT3 Tactical is available to purchase in three heights: low profile for standard Picatinny rail installation; medium profile for use with original iron sights; and hi profile with a one inch riser. The housing for this optic is anodized with a matte black finish, and the internal components have been sealed for shock proof, water proof, and frog proof functionality. The 2 MOA red dot reticle offers eleven brightness settings. The amber lens is scratch resistant and incredibly clear when in the proper lighting. Included with this budget red dot sight is a CR2032 Lithium battery, which provides up to 50,000 hours of use.
Performance – Certainly, the most liked feature of the AT3 Tactical Red Dot Sight is the selection of mounting profiles to choose from. The light weight of the construction and the durable housing make this optic efficient enough to sit high on your rail, allowing you to use the iron sights on your rifle. Obviously, it is just as good in a low profile position as well. This choice is also one of the most well protected against shock, water, and fog, and though all of the options have been sealed against these elements. The only thing that is a little weird about this optic is that the adjustment knobs and other features are unnecessarily large for the frame. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it does make the overall construction a little clunky.
What we say – The AT3 Tactical Red Dot Sight is the best choice for anyone who needs to use their original sights or does not already own a medium-high profile mount for their optic. The combo makes a great deal for the money.
- Available in three profiles
- Eleven brightness settings
- Anodized housing
- Bulky adjustment knobs
Our Favorite Budget Red Dot Sight
Our favorite budget red dot sight was the Bushnell Trophy TRS-25. If we didn’t convince you that this is a good choice, the few thousand positive reviews online should! This is one of the best red dot sights for hunting in particular, thanks to the tilted amber lens and the optional camouflage finish. The 25mm objective lens is the perfect size for a small optic, and Bushnell offers one of the lightest and compact models available on the market. The unique design of the internal components makes this one of the best choices for rifle owners, and it should save you on some battery life too. Bushnell’s patented amber lens coating offers a truly crystal clear picture that will make it easy for your to acquire your target. On top of it all, it’s highly affordable. This red dot sight may be cheap, but you’ll fool everyone into thinking you’ve spent a few hundred dollars!