If you want faster target acquisition, more effective low light shooting, and more accurate shots at distance, you need a red dot sight for your pistol. As reflex sights have grown in popularity, manufacturers have embraced the concept and flooded the market with tons of options for modern shooters. With so many options, you would think finding the best pistol red dot optic would be a piece of cake.
The profusion of options is good news for shooters looking to top their CCW, home defense or duty pistol with a quality reflex sight. However, separating the wheat from the chaff can seem nearly impossible. The big question is: Which optics are worth the money?
We’re here to help you understand what makes red dots stand out from the crowd and show you what we think are the best models on the market.
If you don't have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated pistol red dot sights:
Table of Contents
- What is a Red Dot Sight?
- Why Use a Red Dot Sight?
- Best Pistol Red Dot Sight on the Market Review
- Final Thoughts
What is a Red Dot Sight?
A red dot sight is a type of reflex sight that uses a Light Emitting Diode (LED) to project a dot towards a specially coated lens. The lens bounces a reflection of the dot back to the shooter’s eye. The shooter uses the illuminated red dot to aim at a downrange target.
Why Use a Red Dot Sight?
Fast target acquisition is the main benefit of red dot optics. Red dot sights dominate speed-based shooting competition circles for this very reason. They are fast and easy to use, which also makes them well-suited for other uses, including hunting, tactical applications, and personal defense.
How do red dots speed up target acquisition? I’m glad you asked.
When using fixed sights, the shooter must incorporate objects at three different distances into the sight picture - the rear sight, the front sight post, and the target. It is impossible for the human eye to focus on three different objects at three different distances. Thus, the shooter is left to focus on the front sight while aligning it inside a blurry rear notch, and line both up with a fuzzy target located somewhere downrange.
The red dot optic makes the whole process easier, especially for inexperienced shooters. Instead of focusing on the sights, a red dot allows the shooter to focus on the target and places the glowing red dot over the target before pulling the trigger.
In addition to fast target acquisition, there are plenty of other reasons to use a red dot optic. Here are some of the most compelling.
Best Pistol Red Dot Sight on the Market Review
1 Burris FastFire III
The Burris FastFire III is one of the most popular red dot optics on the market. The FastFire series has been around for what seems like forever. This is just the third and most recent incarnation.
This sight is lightweight, compact, and comes with a lifetime warranty. You can choose between a 3 MOA dot (well suited for long range shooting) or an 8 MOA dot (perfect for fast acquisition and short range shooting). The FastFire III features a durable, shockproof design capable of withstanding years of brutal recoil.
For suitable use in every lighting condition, this high-quality red dot also has three different brightness settings. You will have to cycle through every setting with one button, which can be problematic when you’re in a hurry. However, we still think this is one of the best red dot options, especially for competition shooters.
2 Holosun Paralow HS503G
The Holosun Paralow has plenty to offer pistol shooters in general. However, this one is hands down the best red dot sight for astigmatism. Astigmatism affects nearly one in three Americans. The condition can be particularly tough for shooters, because it makes red dot sights appear blurry or distorted. However, shooters with astigmatism report almost no distortion whatsoever with the Holosun Paralow.
This pseudo-holographic red dot sight has a surprisingly crisp, clear reticle. You can easily switch between a dot only, a ring only, or a dot/ring combination to find what best suits your individual shooting needs.
One of the best-selling points for the Holosun Paralow is its incredible battery life. With approximately 50,000 hours of life, you could accidentally leave the sight powered on for six whole years. In fact, you may NEVER need to change the batteries on this high-quality optic.
For some who are looking for the best rated holographic sights, read this article.
3 TruGlo TRU-TEC Micro
TruGlo has been making quality optics for almost a quarter of a century, and they do a fine job. This micro red dot features a multi-coated objective lens, push-button brightness controls with 10 different settings, and an idle auto-off system to save battery life.
Compact and lightweight, the TRU-TEC Micro weighs just over one ounce. It’s made from CNC-machined aircraft-grade aluminum, so it’s also surprisingly rugged. This high quality red dot is also O-ring sealed, making it waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof.
The TRU-TEC’s 3-MOA dot is a serious multi-purpose size, making this optic incredibly versatile. And with a price tag under $150, this surprisingly affordable red dot offers plenty of value for the money.
4 Trijicon RMR Type 2
Trijicon is well-known for supplying optics to the US military. They have a great reputation for quality and performance, and the RMR Type II is a professional-quality reflex sight that totally lives up to the Trijicon name.
If you’re in the market for a rock-solid, shock-resistant red dot to mount on your heavy-hitting hunting pistol, you should definitely give this one a look. Tested to withstand serious recoil forces, this red dot works well with large caliber pistols. The forged aluminum housing is designed to distribute shock away from the lens However, it adds only minimal weight (only 1.2 ounces), so it won’t unbalance your handgun.
It’s also guaranteed waterproof to 66 feet, so you don’t have to worry about its performance in wet, rainy weather.
5 Leupold DeltaPoint Pro
Leupold is definitely a hotshot in the optics industry. Well-known for their high-end scopes and binoculars, Leupold delivers the same level of quality and performance in their DeltaPoint Pro red dot optic.
True to the company’s glass quality, the DeltaPoint Pro features a special DiamondCoat Aspheric Lens which increases FOV by up to 56 percent while providing a scratch-resistant, crystal clear image.
This lightweight optic has a rugged, waterproof construction that makes it just as relevant for hunting or tactical shooting as it is for home defense. We are pretty excited about the battery-saving motion sensor technology that automatically deactivates illumination after a period of inactivity. It also reacts instantly to power on when movement is detected, so you’ll never have to worry about fumbling to switch on your optic in a fast-paced, reactive shooting situation.
6 Vortex Optics Venom
The Vortex Venom red dot definitely isn't the cheapest optic on our list. However, when you consider the features, reliability, and performance, we’re pretty convinced this model offers the best value for the money.
The Venom has high-quality, fully multi-coated lenses that provide a wide, clear FOV. You can select from 10 different brightness levels or use the convenient auto-brightness setting. Auto-brightness mode uses a sensor that responds to the ambient light level and automatically adjusts the dot intensity for you.
Like all Vortex Optics, the Venom is built to last. It is O-ring sealed to keep moisture, dust, and debris out, providing reliable performance in nearly any shooting environment. It also has a tough aluminum housing that is lightweight but surprisingly durable.
The Venom comes with a Picatinny mount that works best on railed pistols, although it also works well with the Glock Modular Optic System.
7 Holosun HS507C
The HS507C is another top contender from Holosun. It is CNC machined with a 7075 aluminum housing and has an IPX8 waterproof rating, so this sight is more than capable of handling whatever rough use you can dish out. It’s also night vision compatible and has an industry standard footprint, so it's compatible with a wide range of handguns.
The HS507C is semi-solar powered to extend your battery life up to 11 years! It has a great sight picture, wide field of view, and a unique reticle that features a 2 MOA dot and a 65 MOA circle. Great for fast target acquisition as well as pinpoint distance shooting, this reticle is something you’d expect to see on an expensive holo sight. You can even switch the reticle setting to choose from dot only, ring only, or a dot/ring combo to meet your specific shooting needs.
8 DOCTER Sight II Plus IPSC
If you’re looking for a red dot sight for competition shooting, look no further than the DOCTER Sight II Plus IPSC. ALthough similar to the regular SIGHT II Plus, this one is made specifically for sport shooting. It even has IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) stamped across the top of the optic.
The Sight II Plus IPSC is built to handle tough recoil, so it works well with everything from a small .22 pistol to much larger, stronger caliber handguns.
This optic features a 7 MOA dot, which is large enough for easy target acquisition at short range pistol distances. The illumination of the red dot’s intensity is automatically adjusted to optimize brightness in any light condition. We also love that the Sight II Plus IPSC red dot offers a minor 1.07x magnification. This makes it super easy to use with both eyes open without hindering your situational awareness.
9 C-MORE Systems STS2
This is a fantastic all-purpose reflex sight that is lightweight and easy to use. It uses a 3 MOA or 6 MOA red dot reticle that you can manually adjust according to ambient light conditions. You can choose from 10 different brightness settings for optimal visibility no matter your shooting condition.
With excellent scratch-resistant glass, the STS2 has a parallax free design that allows you to get on target fast. You don’t even have to center the dot in the lens to make accurate shots. Simply line the dot with your target and pull the trigger.
Although you’ll need to purchase the C-More Mounting Kit separately, this compact red dot optic works well with a wide variety of handguns. Durable and rugged, the STS2 features an aircraft-grade aluminum body.
10 Aimpoint Acro P-1
The Aimpoint Acro P-1 is a compact, fully enclosed red dot designed to take up minimal space on your pistol. The housing seals all the electronic components safely inside the body, protecting them from rain, mud, sand, and snow. The unit is even safely submersible to 82 feet.
Built for rough conditions, the Acro P-1 red dot is proven to endure extreme shock, vibration, rough impact, and extreme temperatures without skipping a beat.
When it comes to ease of use, it's hard for the competition to keep pace with this model. The Acro P-1 has a 3.5 MOA red dot for rapid target acquisition, and it is operationally parallax free. Surfaces are anti-reflective and the glass is fully multi-coated and scratch resistant.
Red dots make it easier and faster to line up sights with your target. As a result, a red dot can really improve your pistol shooting accuracy. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to practice. Red dots aren’t a magic wand you can wave to instantly be a better shooter. No matter which red dot you choose, be sure to spend some time at the range getting familiar with your new sight and practicing your shooting fundamentals
Although the red dots on our list run the gamut in terms of price range, they are all quality options. There should be something here to fit into every budget. Each of the best pistol red dot sights on our list offer reliable sighting solutions for your handgun, no matter what form of shooting you prefer.