The best pistol red dot sights are designed to completely transform a basic handgun into an impressively accurate weapon. These sights are designed to increase shooting performance by improving shot accuracy and speeding up the target acquisition times. These devices will highlight your target, which will make it much easier for you to hit your target.
But if you’re new to shooting or you’ve never used a sight on a pistol before, then you may not know how to choose the right model or even how to tell if a sight will be compatible with your pistol. That’s where I come in. I’ve made it my mission to test out several of the top models, narrowing it down to six must-have sights that will totally change how you shoot for the better.
I’ve also put together an extensive buyer’s guide that will dig deep to explain how these devices work, how they can help with shot accuracy, and what makes using one a total gamechanger.
Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes the leading six sights currently on the market, their best features, and how each model rated.
Pistol Red Dot Sight Comparison Chart
|Product||MOAs||Rail Type||Brightness Settings||Rating|
Micro Red Dot Sight
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|AT3 Tactical ARO|
Micro Red Dot Sight
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Red Dot Sight
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Red Dot Sight
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|Holosun Red Dot|
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|IRON JIA'S Compact Red|
Dot Laser for Pistols
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TRUGLO TRU-TEC Micro Red Dot Sight
This model comes with a 23-millimeter by 17-millimeter multicoated objective lens. It also features a total of ten digital push-button brightness controls and is made out of aircraft-grade aluminum that’s been CNC machined. The sight itself is described as ultra-lightweight and durable. It’s also fog-resistant, shock-resistant, and water-resistant thanks to the sealed O-ring design. It’s compatible with pistols equipped with a picatinny rail and comes with a built-in bolt and common lug pattern for easy installation.
- Ten brightness settings
- Elevation and locking windage adjustments
- Sealed O-ring design
- Can be difficult to adjust
This model is compatible with optic-ready pistols and comes with an ABS hard-shell cover that’s designed to protect the sight when it’s not in use. The lightweight design makes for an easier learning curve when you’re training with your new sight. Additionally, the ten brightness settings also make this model more user-friendly, allowing you to easily and clearly see the dot in a variety of light conditions.
AT3 Tactical ARO Micro Red Dot Sight
This model is very accurate and features 3 MOAs. The multicoated lens provides a clear view of your target and includes tactile click adjustments for easier sighting. This model is compatible with pistols, shotguns, and rifles. It also features a top-loading battery for easier battery swaps. This device is waterproof and comes with a lifetime warranty. The components are shockproof and allow the sight to always maintain zero. The anodized finish is scratch resistant and durable. This lightweight scope weighs in at just 1.8 ounces and features an extra-large field of view for faster target acquisition.
- Six brightness settings
- Lifetime warranty
- Scratch-resistant finish
- Difficult insulation
This model features six brightness settings, a lightweight design, and comes with a lens that’s fog-resistant, water-resistant, and shock absorbent. The rugged design will also help this model to survive in the event you accidentally drop it during use. This sight is covered by a lifetime warranty and comes with all the features you need for fast and simple sighting.
Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5 Red Dot Sight
This model features 2 MOAs and includes ten brightness settings for improved visibility in a variety of light conditions. The integrated picatinny interface will provide standard mounting options and is compatible with most types of pistols. The lens is waterproof with an IPX-7 rating and can be submerged up to one meter. The lens is also fog-proof, so you won’t have to worry about decreased visibility in humid conditions. The sight’s unlimited eye relief design will allow the user to acquire the perfect aiming point and target, regardless of the user’s position when using the sight.
- Long battery life
- Fog-proof lens
- Ten brightness settings
- 2 MOA rating
This model is highly adjustable, so you can increase or decrease the brightness based on light conditions. The motion activated illumination will power up the sight once it senses motion, then power down once it doesn’t. the waterproof, fog-proof design will come in handy if you’re using this model in the backcountry for hunting purposes. A great buy for both hunting and competitive shooting, this is one durable scope that’s designed to handle plenty of wear and tear.
Feyachi RDS-22 Micro Red Dot Sight
This highly accurate model promotes rapid target engagement and is perfect for close range shots. The 2 MOAs allow for shot accuracy, while the fully multicoated lens will increase light transmission, even in low light conditions. You’ll also have a choice of eleven brightness settings that will provide optimal visibility in a variety of settings. The body of the sight is very durable and made out of shockproof aluminum, offering ultimate durability. The lens is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, which will prevent moisture from entering.
- O-ring sealed
- Eleven brightness settings
- Multicoated lens
- Not recommended for long-distance shooting
This model is very beginner-friendly, easy to install, versatile and compatible with a wide range of guns. Its durable body is made out of anodized aluminum, which means it can easily handle a fall without damage. This model is perfect for general and close-range shooting and can help to promote faster shots and improved accuracy.
Holosun HS507C V2 Red Dot Pistol Optic
The newest model in Holosum’s lineup comes loaded with all the right features and offers the type of versatility that most gun enthusiasts are looking for. This model comes equipped with an impressive twelve brightness settings, in addition to dim settings that are compatible with night-vision devices. The sight also features unlimited eye relief, so this model is a great choice for anyone who wears glasses. The shake awake feature will shut down the sight’s LED when the sight doesn’t detect any motion. Users will have total control over when this feature kicks on. The longer battery life comes in at fifty thousand hours, which is also pretty impressive. The solar flare safe automatic brightness adjustment will allow the sight to automatically dim to match light conditions, making this model very beginner friendly.
- Twelve brightness settings
- Shake awake technology
- Long battery life
- Dim settings
- Unlimited eye relief
- Elevation adjustment can stick at times
This model is packed with some great features and is a steal for the price. The beginner friendly design will definitely make it easier for new users to learn how to quickly and accurately fire with the help of a sight, while the durable design will give users peace of mind knowing the sight is built to last and able to handle an accidental fall.
Ade RD3-009-MOS Red Dot Reflex Sight
If you’re looking for a model that’s more basic, one that’s easy to use and adjust and perfect for a home defense weapon then this latest model by Ade is a great choice and one that’s also priced affordably.
This model is compatible with both rifles and pistols. It’s also compatible with both picatinny and weaver rails. The durable aluminum housing makes it able to handle a fall without damage, yet the sight itself is very lightweight. This is a very basic model, one that doesn’t come with any flashy features or brightness settings, although it is equipped with windage and elevation adjustment settings. The low 0.5 MOA rating makes it a poor choice for long distance shots, but the sight will work fine for close range shooting.
- Compatible with picatinny and weaver rails
- Made out of aluminum
- Difficult installation
- No brightness settings
- Not recommended for long-distance shooting
Compact, lightweight, and offering a solid performance that makes this model a great choice for close range shots, this model is perfect for beginners in need of a sight for home defense, but I would not recommend this model for long-distance shooting. Since the setup is so simple and there are not many features to adjust, this model is a good choice for the beginner in search of a sight that’s simple to use and one that’s reliable.
Pistol Red Dot Sight Buyer’s Guide
Modern models of red dot sights are compact and designed to fit in a regular holster. They’re also light enough to not interfere with a gun’s balance. And while these devices are all designed to accomplish the same thing, each model can deliver a different type of performance. The features these models can offer will have an impact on your shooting experience and accuracy, so before you run out and purchase the first model you find, take a look at this buyer’s guide to learn more about the important features to look for and how you can find the perfect model, one that can take your shooting to a whole new level.
Now, before diving into what features are available, let’s take a look at some of the benefits they have to offer.
Benefits of Pistol Red Dot Sights
- Obviously, one of the biggest benefits that come with using this type of sight is training with them. You’ll need to use a different method and there will definitely be a learning curve to prevent your natural tendency to look for the dot. But in reality, the more you search for the dot, the harder it’ll be to find. For most people, what works best is simply looking for the front sight as normal. When you do that, the dot will be right there in front of you, ready to go.
- When it comes to competitive shooting, these sights will give you an edge, allowing for improved accuracy and faster shooting.
- While competitive shooters will definitely notice the benefit of using one of these sights right away, what about when it comes to home defense? Using one definitely offers some potential advantages. First off, the dot supports the brain’s natural tendency to focus on threats. Instead of tearing away the shooter’s natural focus on the target to focus on an iron sight, the dot will appear on the target itself, so you’ll end up watching the target wear the dot.
- Another big advantage of using one of these sights comes in low or dark light conditions. The dots will glow whether they’re used in the day or at night, allowing you to clearly see the dot regardless of ambient light conditions. Of course, you’ll still need to verify what you’re shooting at, but that’s where your flashlight will come in, in the event that there’s not enough light to allow you to identify your target clearly.
Now that you know some of the benefits that come with using one of these sights, let’s begin by going over the must-have features and what you need to look for, in order to find a model that’s compatible with your firearm and a sight that will meet your shooting needs.
Other Important Features
There are manty features that you’ll want to check out, so you know that you’ll end up with a model that will work for your shooting needs whether you need a sight for shooting competitions or home defense, your skill level, and your budget.
When you’re shopping for a sight, the first thing you need to check out is whether or not a particular model will be compatible with your pistol. It must be small enough to fit your gun’s rail. Additionally, it should also be small enough that it will allow you to place your gun in your shoulder holster and not interfere with your ability to secure it. While the size of the sight may seem pretty small, the lenses are big enough to provide you with a clear view of your target.
Always look for a model that’s very light. Full-sized pistols may be big enough to support a heavier sight, but choosing a lightweight model comes with many more benefits. If you end up using a heavy sight, the extra weight can have a negative impact on the balance of your gun. This means, instead of improving your shot accuracy, you’ll find that your accuracy decreases once you mount a heavy sight on your weapon. However, it can improve once you become accustomed to the extra weight.
These sights are sturdy enough to handle the recoil of your firearm, but they may not be durable enough to handle frequent drops. Look for a model that comes equipped with a rugged case that can withstand a fall.
These sights are battery powered. Look for a model that comes equipped with features that can help to prolong the battery’s lifespan.
A model with an automatic dimming feature will turn the brightness down when it detects that the ambient life is more powerful than the sight’s brightness. While it may not seem like a big deal to have this feature, it can go a long way towards prolonging battery life.
This feature will automatically change the sight’s brightness based on ambient light. If the light sensor detects a lower light level it turns the brightness down, increasing it when the ambient light is bright. This results in making the reticle crisp and clear at all times. However, it can also help with increasing the battery’s lifespan.
This feature works to automatically switch off the sight after a certain period of time, helping to prolong the battery life. However, this feature can be very frustrating should it kick in when you’re trying to acquire your target.
Where the battery is placed on the sight can also have an impact on the model you end up taking home. If you buy a model that comes with a top access hatch for the battery, then you’ll be able to change out the battery without having to remove the sight. This can be a big plus since your sight will remain zeroed in once the battery has been changed. However, a sight that comes with a battery hatch located on the bottom of the sight will require you to take the sight off in order to swap batteries. This means you’ll need to refocuse your shot once the sight is replaced.
While these sights are often referred to as red dot sights, some are actually green. While most people believe that choosing between a red or green sight is a matter of personal preference, this is debatable. The eye is more sensitive to the color green than it is to red. Because of this, some people claim they are able to spot a green dot much faster than a red dot. Yet, since there are plenty of things around us that are green, such as bushes, trees, and grass, a red dot will stick out much better.
The right reticle brightness will make the red light more visible and vibrant. There are a couple of ways you can adjust the brightness. The first is using the automatic brightness feature, or you can make manual brightness adjustments. Most models will come with reticles that need to be adjusted manually. While this may seem like a drawback initially, you should know that most pros prefer to adjust their sights manually. A good model will come equipped with five adjustment options. A model with manual adjustment settings will allow you to choose the perfect setting based on personal preference, so you’ll basically have more control over the sight’s performance.
Some models will come with night vision or extreme brightness modes, both of which can be very helpful. Night vision modes allows users to use the sight accurately in no-light or low-light conditions. This can be a huge help if you plan to mount the sight to a home defense weapon. The extreme brightness mode is a great feature to have, especially in tactical situations. Using this mode will eliminate the chances of using the sight in bright conditions without seeing the reticle. While this isn’t common, it can happen. These sights come with an open display, which makes them vulnerable to glare from sunlight. When the sun is directly over you it can be difficult to spot the reticle. With the extreme brightness feature, the sight’s brightness is maximized, making the reticle crisp and clear, even in powerful ambient light conditions.
You’ll also need to consider the size of the reticle. This should be done based on how you plan to use your gun. The red dots are measured in MOA or minutes of angle.
Very small dots are measured in one-to-two minutes of angle. Dots of this size will allow you to shoot more accurately over a longer distance. While many shooters will use this type of dot for rifles, there’s some models that will also work for handguns. The biggest advantage to using dots of this size is that they help you make more accurate long-distance shots. The drawback is that it’ll be difficult to spot the dot quickly. This can be an issue when you’re in bright lighting conditions since the dot can be tricky to spot regardless of how small or large it is.
Medium-sized dots will measure in at 2 to 3.5 MOAs. This size offers the best of both worlds. These dots are very easy to spot in a variety of shooting conditions and its accuracy allows you to make excellent medium range shots. A skilled shooter will be able to use a model with a dot this size to make accurate long-distance shots, however, the shot will be harder to make and will require more skill. Dots of this size are good for fast target acquisitions.
Large dots come in at 3.5 MOAs and were developed with one purpose in mind. These dots are designed to improve the target acquisition process for shots at close range. When you point your gun at a target that’s up close, the dot lines up instantly with your target, which will make it incredibly easy to take an accurate shot. However, because of how large the dots are, it will take up most of the space on the display. This means it can be difficult to make medium-range shots accurately since the dot will cover up most of the target. Making accurate long-distance shots will be almost impossible. However, using a dot of this size on a home defense weapon will always give you the advantage and will allow you to easily acquire your target with impressive accuracy.
Should I Invest in a Red Dot Sight?
These sights first appeared in the 1970s in shooting competitions. The advantage they gave the shooters was so impressive, that seeing an open class pistol without a sight soon became rare. The early models allowed for better speed, greater accuracy, and faster acquisition. However, earlier models were also very large and needed to be replaced often.
Increased Accuracy and Speed
Back then, there were few shooters who didn’t recognize the type of performance boost that was possible with this type of sight. However, their size and bulk and how fragile they were prevented them from being used on home defense weapons.
But these days, many of the leading manufacturers have produced lightweight models that offer better battery life and improved durability compared to the models created decades ago.
Most pistol slides are often equipped with small dot sights by way of machined recesses into the slide itself or through direct mounting. Models with an external bridge mount are another option for some guns, but their bulk and weight is a drawback for most users.
Since their rise in popularity, many manufacturers have installed optics directly mounted onto slides.
Pistols with this type of optics attachment will offer improved accuracy and speed, just like what you’d get with an optic mounted on rifles. Their sights allow for improved awareness of targets and view, especially when it comes to distant targets. A shooter with older or bad eyes will have a much easier time taking a shot when these optics are used.
However, for some there will be some drawbacks associated with installing one of these sights. As an example, the machining that’s required to mount one of these sights will typically cost several hundreds of dollars. This often includes cutting and refinishing dovetails and buying suppressor height sights.
The other big drawback to using one of these sights is that you’ll have to devote plenty of time training with one. These systems aren’t exactly plug and play. You can’t expect to be a perfect shot right off the bat. Instead, you’ll need to become accustomed to the added weight, not to mention learning how to aim with one. Bottom line, it’s going to take time and patience to reap the benefits that come with shooting with a sight.
How to Install a Pistol Red Dot Sight
Most models are very simple to install. If you’ve had experience installing sights in the past, then you should be able to install one of these models within a few minutes. If you don’t have any past experience, then it may seem a little tricky, so make sure you closely follow the included instructions.
A handgun comes with a weaver or picatinny rail, so it’s important that the sight you choose be compatible with the rail type. If the sight you purchase ends up not being compatible with the gun’s rail, then you can use a mounting plate in order to install it.
To do, you’ll turn the mounting plate on its side to loosen the clamp nut, then place the mount on the rail at the desired slot. Be sure that the clamping edges align and then tighten up the nut.
The next step is tightening the mounting plate to the sight. This is done by using a couple of small screws, however, there are some models that can slide right in.
A sight usually comes with elevation and windage screws. The elevation screw is typically placed on top of the sight, with the windage screw located on the righthand side.
The process of zeroing in the sight will usually take much longer than installing it. If you want to zero a sight, you must be patient. Begin by adjusting the elevation and windage screws with the help of a small screwdriver. On each of these measurements there is a scale that’s equivalent to one MOA.
In most cases, if the sight is compatible with your pistol, the installation process should be relatively simple. If you’re having trouble installing your sight and it’s compatible with your handgun, contact the manufacturer for troubleshooting advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Distance Should I Zero My Red Dot?
Most pros will recommend fifty yards. For a rear sight with fixed elevation, fifty yards is the best distance to set the zero. Usually, you’ll have back up iron sights in addition to the red dot and these can also be easy to zero at fifty.
Why are Red Dots so Expensive?
A god quality model should be dust and water-resistant and will not fog up in cold weather or changes in temperature. All of these factors will increase the price, but they will also have a positive impact on quality and accuracy.
How Accurate are Red Dots?
Most models will allow you to adjust the brightness level. On average the three to five MOA models are considered the most accurate when it comes to shooting situations such as home defense in tight spaces up to medium range target shooting or hunting. Choosing the right size of reticle will hinder or help your accuracy.
What is the Best MOA for Red Dot?
Most pros can agree that six MOA is the best. For fast-moving and close targets where the shooter may only have a split second to take a shot, the six MOA dot will be the best choice. The dot is bright, big, and easy to find, which will encourage faster, more accurate shots every time.
Are Red Dots Worth it?
Definitely. To determine whether or not these sights are worth it, all you have to do is watch some competitive shooting and notice that most shooters are using red dot sights and doing so because they can take faster shots with them.
The best pistol red dot sights are available in different price ranges. However, despite their price differences, I’ve provided models that are able to effectively increase your shooting accuracy and highlight your targets. These sights are very easy to use and once you point your firearm toward a target, the sight will show you exactly where you’ll be shooting, which will make hitting your target faster and easier. Due to their quality, these top six products are perfect for people who are looking for reliable sights for home defense weapons.
I hope this guide has also helped you learn everything you need to know about these sights, their benefits, and how choosing the right model can instantly improve shooting accuracy, regardless of lighting conditions and the target.