Best Pistol Red Dot Reflex Sights 2019: The Best Red Dot For Your Handgun

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Modern optics are becoming more and more advanced every year, and there’s no better example of this than the pistol red dot reflex sight craze.

A few years ago, putting a red dot on a handgun was a kind of weird, unorthodox idea that most people would have laughed at. Now, we have optics-ready handguns like the Glock MOS line that can have a red dot mounted as easily as you would mount one on your AR-15 with a picatinny rail.

Today, these micro reflex sights are just as rugged and dependable as your iron sights and offer a noticeable decrease in target acquisition times, which means faster, more accurate shooting, especially if your eyesight isn’t quite what it used to be.

Yes, they use batteries and batteries fail, but in most cases, these batteries will last thousands of hours and if you’re maintaining your weapon properly, you should never have to worry about the battery dying when you need it. Some even have solar-powered backups, and almost all can be mounted to co-witness with suppressor-height sights.

If you’re looking for a mini red dot for your very own, there are a few choices that have risen to the top of the heap over the years. These are the pistol red dot sights that I either have or would, trust my life to.

Top Picks


1. Burris Fastfire III

Product

Burris 300234 Fastfire III with Picatinny Mount 3 MOA Sight...

Top Overall Pick

  • PINPOINT ACCURACY - The FastFire III puts an unmistakable red dot...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT OPTICS - With lightweight construction and durable...
  • VERSATILITY DEFINED - Rely on the automatic brightness sensor to...
  • RED DOT SIGHT - Choose a 3 MOA dot, popular on rifles or with...
  • MUST-HAVE COMPETITION GEAR - The FastFire III will work with...
  • 3 MOA Dot Reticle

Our rating

Details

  • PINPOINT ACCURACY - The FastFire III puts an unmistakable red dot...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT OPTICS - With lightweight construction and durable...
  • VERSATILITY DEFINED - Rely on the automatic brightness sensor to...
  • RED DOT SIGHT - Choose a 3 MOA dot, popular on rifles or with...
  • MUST-HAVE COMPETITION GEAR - The FastFire III will work with...
  • 3 MOA Dot Reticle

Burris has made a name for themselves in the past few years with several budget-minded but still incredibly competent optics. Arguably their most successful has been the Burris Fastfire series, and the Fastfire III in particular.

To my knowledge, Burris was the first manufacturer to release a micro red dot that was really affordable for the average shooter, and once they established a reputation for reliability, several other manufacturers were forced to either drop prices or bring out more budget-friendly optics so they could remain competitive.

Despite that, it’s still one of the cheapest pistol red dots on this list.

The Fastfire III is a very rugged little optic (Lord knows I’ve beat the hell out of mine enough to say that) and if you’re looking for something that you can easily swap from a pistol to a shotgun or rifle and back again, this is a solid choice.

You have the option of a 3 MOA dot that’s good for precision shooting, either with a pistol, a rifle or shotgun slugs, or an 8 MOA dot that’s a great size for combat/defensive shooting or faster-paced competition like 3 Gun where the focus is more about getting hits on paper rather than drilling five shots into the same hole.

Either way, you can also get the optic with or without a picatinny mount so you can mount it easily to most rails, and it works just fine as say, an AR optic.

Finally, it has a very smart 8-hour automatic shut-off and motion activation to make sure you don’t leave it on when you aren’t using it and kill the battery. With this feature, the battery can last up to five years, but I’d recommend swapping it once a year.

2. Vortex Venom

Product

Vortex Optics Venom Red Dot Sight - 3 MOA Dot with Vortex...

Top Pick

  • The Venom Red Dot Sight-3 MOA promotes rapid target acquisition...
  • High quality, fully multi-coated lens offers a clean, wide field...
  • The Venom also has an auto-brightness mode that uses an ambient...
  • 1 MOA wind age and elevation adjustments are super sleek and make...
  • Venom Red Dot will fit well on your rifle or shotgun giving you...

Our rating

Details

  • The Venom Red Dot Sight-3 MOA promotes rapid target acquisition...
  • High quality, fully multi-coated lens offers a clean, wide field...
  • The Venom also has an auto-brightness mode that uses an ambient...
  • 1 MOA wind age and elevation adjustments are super sleek and make...
  • Venom Red Dot will fit well on your rifle or shotgun giving you...

If Burris has built a reputation for affordable quality optics, Vortex is the industry standard that affordable and quality are measured by in the optics world. Their rifle scopes are some of the best around, and continually rank high in pro shooting circles like PRS and run competitively against optics that cost two to three times as much.

Knowing this, you can imagine my excitement when they released a sub-$200 micro red dot. I’ve run Vortex optics on my PRS gun, my hunting rifles, and two of my AR’s for a few years now and I was all kinds of excited when I found out I could add a micro red dot to my collection of Vortex stuff.

Pistol Firing Red Dot

And now it lives on my carry gun. Well, one of them anyway.

You have the option of a 3 MOA or 6 MOA dot, both of which come housed in super low-profile housings that really work well with pistols. If you have a milled slide or an optics-ready gun like the GLOCK MOS pistols, this is without question one of the lowest-profile pistol red dots you can get, making it ideal for concealed carry.

Like the Burris, it is waterproof (just don’t go diving with it) and has an auto-brightness mode that will help save on battery life. It’s also top-loading so you can change batteries without ruining your zero.

I’ve put this thing on semi-auto 12 gauge shotguns and a 10mm Glock and it’s never once lost zero or had any sort of problems. It’s my go-to angled optic for 3 Gun shooting, and it’s been beaten up in that role, as well as occasionally used as a shooting brace, and it’s still going strong.

Like anything else from Vortex, you get their amazing lifetime warranty so what have you really got to lose?

3. Trijicon RMR

Product

Trijicon RM07-C-700679 RMR Type 2 Adjustable LED Sight, 6.5...

Top Pick

  • 6.5 MOA ADJUSTABLE LED RMR: Features an automatic brightness mode...
  • DEPENDABLE ELECTRONIC DESIGN: Ruggedized Battery contacts and...
  • UNIQUE PATENTED HOUSING SHAPE: Military-grade aluminum alloy...
  • BATTERY CONSERVATION MODE: Automatically adjusts aiming dot to...
  • BUTTON LOCKOUT: Sets RMR into automatic mode to prevent...
  • Night Reticle Color: Red

Our rating

Details

  • 6.5 MOA ADJUSTABLE LED RMR: Features an automatic brightness mode...
  • DEPENDABLE ELECTRONIC DESIGN: Ruggedized Battery contacts and...
  • UNIQUE PATENTED HOUSING SHAPE: Military-grade aluminum alloy...
  • BATTERY CONSERVATION MODE: Automatically adjusts aiming dot to...
  • BUTTON LOCKOUT: Sets RMR into automatic mode to prevent...
  • Night Reticle Color: Red

The RMR is the original micro red dot, at least as far as popularity and availability, and since its release, Trijicon have iterated and tweaked the design until it has become arguably the best red dot around.

Subjectively, the RMR has the clearest glass of any pistol red dot on this list, and its rugged enough to just about be used as a hammer (almost). Trijicon knows optics inside and out, and its actually the coating on the outside of the lenses on this red dot that make this such a good pick.

The dot is as crisp and clear as you could want, making it ideal if you’re going to be doing any precision target shooting. There’s no fuzz around the edges or weird visual artifacts. It’s almost annoyingly easy to hit torso sized targets at unreasonable distances with this thing.

Last time I got to play with one, I shot a full mag at a steel IDPA silhouette on a stand 150 yards away. I hit 15 out of 17 of those shots. With iron sights, I hit 6 of 17 and was pretty thrilled that I did that well if I’m being honest.

That’s a fun party trick of course and not really a representation of practical performance, but it does a good job of illustrating the clarity and ease-of-use you get with the glass in this optic.

Finally, since the RMR has been out for so long, everybody and their brother makes a mount for the thing. If you can get a factory-milled slide for an optic, I bet almost anything its an RMR cut if nothing else. This is by far the most popular of the micro red dots.

Why doesn’t everybody use them?

Well, it’s also one of the most expensive, with some models coming in north of $600. That said, you get what you pay for and if you’re looking for something that is absolutely not going to let you down when you need it, this is the one to go with.

4. Leupold Deltapoint Pro

Product

Leupold DeltaPoint Pro Reflex Sight

Top Overall Pick

  • Leopold Model #119688: Delta Point Pro with 2. 5 MOA Dot reticle...
  • Battery Saving Motion Sensor Technology - Automatically...
  • Diamond Coat Aspheric Lens increases the usable field of view by...
  • Tool-less top loading battery access and true 1 MOA click...
  • Rugged 100% waterproof construction makes it equally at home in...
  • Accepts optional backup rear iron sight. Sold separately.

Our rating

Details

  • Leopold Model #119688: Delta Point Pro with 2. 5 MOA Dot reticle...
  • Battery Saving Motion Sensor Technology - Automatically...
  • Diamond Coat Aspheric Lens increases the usable field of view by...
  • Tool-less top loading battery access and true 1 MOA click...
  • Rugged 100% waterproof construction makes it equally at home in...
  • Accepts optional backup rear iron sight. Sold separately.

Leupold has been a big name in the optics world for a long time, and as you would expect they brought those decades of experience fully to bare when it came time to release a micro red dot.

The Deltapoint Pro is another rugged and dependable optic I would happily stake my life on. I got to use one on a buddy’s competition GLOCK that he uses for USPSA Carry Optics competition, and I actually found it easier to use than the RMR. Picking up the dot when shooting fast strings or shooting off a draw was faster, at least for me.

Will it be the same for you? Maybe.

I think a big part of the increased speed is the larger window on the Deltapoint Pro. The larger field of view really makes a difference when you’re trying to shoot quickly as it leaves more of your target area visible and allows for more space around the dot itself to see.

This does make it less ideal for concealed carry, but for a duty optic or competition optic, the increased speed is more than worth the trade-off. Any kind of open carry is going to render the extra size a moot point.

Like other optics on this list, the Pro has an automatic-off feature that turns the battery off after five minutes of inactivity but wakes the dot up whenever it detects movement. This makes it great for defensive use, particularly for something like home defense where the gun is likely to sit in a drawer or quick-access safe for a long period of time.

It also has a top-loading battery tray which means no removing and re-zeroing whenever that battery eventually does die, but you should be able to get more than a year out of a quality CR2032 battery.

Hard to beat that, if I’m honest.

Finally, a couple of things I like about this optic, in particular, are the locking adjustment and the iron sight mount on the back of the optic.

The locking adjustment means that you don’t have to worry about losing your zero settings ever, which is great. Pick your ammo, get zeroed, and you should be good as long as you don’t take the optic off or change ammo.

The iron sight mount means you can run iron sights that will co-witness with the dot. This gives you the best of both worlds, the speed of the red dot and the “we don’t need no batteries” reliability of iron sights.

While you can mount backup sights with a lot of other red dots, this is one of a few that will work even if you use a mounting plate that takes up the rear dovetail of the pistol slide.

The only thing I didn’t particularly love about it was the adjustment method, which consists of a single button. This means you have to cycle through every brightness setting to find the one you want. That’s only really a problem when turning the dot on and off though.


Choosing a Red Dot For Your Pistol

If you’re on the fence about putting a red dot on your pistol, there are a few things to keep in mind.

One, it’s going to add some weight and bulk to your pistol, but several of the newer dots and the older RMR are all small enough that you should be able to carry it concealed without any issues. They aren’t typically noticeably wider than the slide they’re mounted on so all you have to worry about is the extra height being added up top, which isn’t too much of a concern.

Two, these optics are as rugged and dependable as you could ask for, and the RMR and the Deltapoint are both in use with NATO forces as we speak. These are optics designed to go to war, they’ll certainly stand up to being part of your carry gun.

Finally, don’t let fear of dead batteries hold you back! With proper care and maintenance, the batteries in these optics will last thousands of hours, and all you have to do is unscrew a door and pop in a new one every so often. And don’t worry, a quick inspection will easily show you when the battery is getting low.

Now, if you’ve already decided you’re going with a red dot for your pistol, you have one more decision to make… which one are you going to get?

If you’re looking for a relatively cheap dot to try out for recreational or competition shooting, I recommend the Vortex Venom. Its got a great warranty, clear glass, and won’t break the bank so you aren’t out a whole lot if you decide you don’t like it.

If you want the absolutely most rugged dot around, I think the Trijicon RMR wins out. I haven’t seen a definitive test between it and the Deltapoint Pro as far as sheer reliability goes, but I’d lay my money down on the side of the RMR. Its adjustment method is better than the Deltapoint Pro as well, and its overall more suited to carrying on a handgun.

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

By

Matthew Collins is an active contributor here at GunBacker. He’s enjoys both competitive shooting and gunsmithing. When you don’t see him at the range, you can catch him on Instagram and other gun related websites.

This product was presentation was made with AAWP plugin.

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