There are a lot of red dots in the world right now and many of them are pretty awesome, but some are really bad. We’ve shot them all and narrowed it down to these few as our top recommendations as the best budget red dot sights!
- Bushnell TRS-26: Small, cheap, and really built to take a beating. I’ve dropped it on rocks and it still holds up.
- Bushnell Trophy TRS-25: The slightly cheaper older brother to the TRS-26, the TRS-25 is a little smaller and a little less feature rich but comes in at about $50 less.
- Sig Sauer Romeo-MSR: Basically, a even more budget frendly version of Sig’s Romeo 5. For the price and quality, this is awesome.
- AT3 Tactical RD050: With 11 brightness settings, 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.
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|Bushnell Trophy TRS-25||25mm||$80|
|Sig Sauer Romeo-MSR||20mm||$110|
|AT3 Tactical RD050||21mm||$85|
Best Budget Red Dot Sights
An unsung hero of the red dot world the TRS-26 is a huge improvement over the older TRS-25 design of Bushnell’s.
Not to say that the TRS-25 is bad, in fact, I recommend it in this list even, but the TRS-26 is definitely an improvement. Not only is the window larger but the construction is better in every way.
The mount is super solid and easy to install, the dot is very bright, and the battery runs for an impressive 50,000 hours.
What really blew me away about the TRS-26 is when I tested it for raw durability. Not only have I put it through a LOT of carbine training but I’ve even dropped it directly on the ground from chest high. I don’t mean just dropped the optic either, oh no. My TRS-26 was mounted on my KS-47 when I dropped it.
Most budget red dots die right there, but the TRS-26 keeps on kicking with zero problems.
$150ish might be the high-side of “budget” but I think it’s worth it.
- 26mm lens
- Super durable
- Ultra bright even in the harsh desert sun
- A little expensive for “budget”
The OG from Bushnell, the TRS-25 is still the only sub-$100 red dot that I would put on any firearm that I might need to bet my life on in a home defense situation.
For about $80 the TRS-25 is great. While 1mm smaller window than the TRS-26, a battery that only runs for 5,000 hours, and a notable drop in durability, this still checks all the boxes that you really need in a red dot.
It works, the brightness is bright with 11 options, 5,000-hour battery is good enough, and you can trust this to last a long time through recoil and use.
I wouldn’t want to drop my TRS-25 on its head like I did the TRS-26, but I feel safe knowing that when I need it, it will be there for me.
In this day and age 5,000 hours of battery is pretty low, literally 1/10th what you normally expect, but it is what it is. This is an older design and built to be as budget-friendly as possible.
If you need cheap, this is the one I would pick.
- Good durability
- Reliable design
- Smaller window and less battery life than the TRS-26
For a long, long time Sig Sauer’s Romeo 5 was the top-recommended red dot for new shooters basically ever made, but then Sig came out with the MSR and I gotta say — I like the MSR a little better for the price.
Don’t get me wrong, the Romeo 5 is a great optic, but I don’t think it’s $80 better than the MSR.
The Sig Sauer Romeo-MSR gives you 20,000-hour battery life, IPX7 waterproof rating, easy to mount, well made, easy to adjust optic for about $100.
As far as a middle-ground between features, durability, and price goes — the MSR is a huge value deal and something I just love to use.
It even comes with see-through protective caps that go over the lens. Shooting with them down is a little narrow feeling, but entirely doable.
The MSR is also available in a green dot and I love me some green dots.
- Protective lens covers
- Easy to adjust brightness
- Long battery life
- IPX7 Waterproof rated
- No Shake Awake
Another simple and easy-to-use red dot, the RD-50 is the second cheapest option you should even consider for a home defense weapon.
Personally, I would use this as a range optic and not much else.
The AT3 has a better battery life than the TRS-25, 50,000-hours, and in many ways is very similar to the TRS-25 with its style, adjustment knob, and window size.
Really, shooting them side-by-side it’s hard to tell much difference.
While the AT3 has a lot more battery, I’ve seen them break unexpectedly even during normal use. Some are good, some aren’t, but that is just what you get when you pack features into something that costs this little.
For a range gun that you don’t want to change batteries on or just want to get some easy training in with, the AT3 is a great option because it’s cheap and just does what needs doing.
But if you’re going to bet your life on it, take the TRS-25 and change your batteries more often. Or spend a little more and get the Romeo-MSR.
- Available in three profiles
- Eleven brightness settings
- Anodized housing
- Bulky adjustment knobs
Our Favorite Budget Red Dot Sight
I love both, but the larger window wins for me. I haven’t gotten an MSR in green yet though and I really want one, I’m a big fan of green dots and I think a green dot MSR might win me over.
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