There's no doubt about it, the shooting world is dominated by the electronic reflex sight. The ability to have a glowing red dot on just about any gun has changed the way people shop for firearms and the way many people learn to shoot.
The military use of the reflex sight has revolutionized the taste of the civilian market. It's been many years, and for the first time, we now have many options when it comes to affordable quality reflex optics that you can trust in the field, or on your nightstand.
Companies like Vortex, Sig Sauer, and many others have begun to integrate low-cost, high-performance red dot sights into their catalogs. Now that we've had several years to put these sights through the wringer and figure out if they work or not, we can definitively say these are some of the best low-cost high-value Reflex sights on the market.
Best Reflex Sight for the Money - Comparison Table
Reflex vs. Iron: A Comparison
Iron sights came before reflex sights did, so one can expect the latter to be an improved version of the former. The most significant difference between them is in their operation.
An iron sight is a basic type of rifle scope that requires the shooter to align the sight axis with the target while one eye is closed. Most experienced shooters have mastered this skill, but not everyone can perfect such technique. With the introduction of reflex sights, learning this skill will no longer be necessary.
A reflex sight takes away the need to worry about eye relief and having to make a precise shot with only one eye focused on the target. This optic allows the shooter to aim with both eyes open without aligning anything. Thus, resulting in faster target acquisition and better accuracy. Moreover, some models of this type of gun sight come in various brightness settings that may include a night vision option.
Benefits of a Reflex Sight
Reflex sights, also called red dot sights, are types of electronic firearm sight that project a red laser onto a coated lens to give you the sight picture of a glowing red dot. This does many things for the shooter. The most important of which is simplifying the aiming process, so that you can shoot at targets on the move and in low-light much easier.
Because you only have to focus on one red glowing dot and not think about trying to align a front sight and a rear sight with the target, it is much easier to shoot at stationary and moving targets. This compounds with the fact that because you don't have to worry about shooting using sites that you have to line up, it is much easier for you to shoot under stress while hunting, competing, or defending yourself.
Another huge benefit that doesn't get talked about as much is the fact that red dot sights are by far the best site to use in low-light and no light situations. The simple fact is you will always be able to see the Red Dot. No matter if it is light where you are but completely dark where the target is, or completely dark where the target is, and you are in the dark. Many of the situations where iron sights, even night sights comma struggle with the red dot excels at.
Everyone who shoots, new shooters especially, can shoot better with a red dot than they can with iron sights. There's no excuse for you to be using only iron sights on a rifle for serious use with the amount of low-cost and extremely high-quality sights that are on the market.
Amidst all these benefits, bear in mind that one can only maximize the good things that these optics can provide if the user knows exactly which type or model suits his or her needs and preferences. Considering the overwhelming competition in the market, here are our top 5 picks of the best reflex sight for the money to get you started.
Our Pick for Top 5 Best Reflex Sight for the Money
The Micro H-1 has been a popular choice since its introduction back in 2007. Over a decade later, this 3-ounce red dot sight it is still a go-to for many looking for a lightweight product that fits in their pocket.
Like most red dot sights, the Aimpoint Micro is also 100 percent waterproof. It features a weaver-style base to easily attach to any mount with a rail or parallax-free setup. There are also 12 settings specifically designed within the light to handle daylight or low-light situations. However, its quality diminishes in harsh weathers, especially in extreme cold.
Included inside the sight is a tiny CR2032 lithium-ion battery. The Aimpoint Micro contains ACET-technology which allows over 50,000 hours of operation on a single battery. Fifty-thousand hours is nearly five years’ worth of battery power! Plus, CR2032 batteries are fairly common in most retail stores (located around watch batteries).
The adjustment knobs for precision is located top of this sight as well as along the side. When it comes to recoil, the Aimpoint is known to stand up to the abuse of even the harshest gun without losing it accuracy.
- Very lightweight
- Massive battery life
- easy to find replacement battery
- Does not lose its battery after heavy recoils
- Not as reliable in extreme cold
#2 - Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight: Best Reflex Sight for Shotgun
This little sight has become a staple in recent years. Drawing from Bushnell’s experience in making very usable riflescopes and sights for cheap, this is a 3 MOA red dot sight that has been adopted as a cult favorite for hunters, especially shotgun hunters, who want the simplicity and ease of use that comes with a red dot sight.
The Bushnell T-25 has all the features you get from a traditional and high-end red dot sight. An integrated base, a low-profile body, parallax-free and 24/7 capable red dot that is just great for shooting awkward situations and shooting at moving targets. Sounds like a hunter’s best friend!
One of the conditions for this sight’s use is you, baby it a bit. Recoil won’t hurt this sight, but don’t expect it to take the same level of abuse that the high level of abuse that the military grade models will.
The other downside is the odd coin cell battery that this sight runs on. Make sure you order some because you will have trouble sourcing them on your next hunt when your current battery dies.
- Comes in camouflage
- Right level or ruggedness and price for hunting
- Odd battery
- Windage and elevation adjustment knob is easy to bump and misalign
#3 - Sig Sauer Romeo5 Compact 2 Moa Red Dot Sight:
Best Micro Red Dot Reflex Sight
Sig has been the go-to for some of the world’s finest pistols for generations. Now they’ve come out with a lineup of rifle scopes and red dot sights for their newest generation of rifles and pistols. They bring the same level of quality and durability as the old designs, but they are a quantum leap forward in design and features, while completely disrupting the pricing norms that we’re used to from the optics industry.
At its core, all this sight seems to be a is an extremely high value micro red dot. Well, there’s a feature that is new to the market and being pioneered by Sig Sauer. This new feature is called MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination).
In a nutshell, when you move the rifle, the scope turns on. When you set it down, and it stays still, the red dot instantly switches on. So, if you leave the optic leaned up in the corner, and you hear a bump in the night, and shoulder the gun, by the time you get a cheek weld the dot is on, and you’re ready to shoot.
That alone is reason enough to buy this sight, but the fact it’s exceptionally high quality and is around 1/5th the cost of similar units from older companies. The unit ships with a spacer for full co-witness with an Ar-15 offset. This is now the best micro red dot sight on the market.
- Extremely innovative
- High value
- Odd sized battery
- Hard brightness switch
Best Budget Reflex Sight
This optic has been a favorite of shooters who could bear themselves to spend $1k on a scope. Vortex is an awesome company. They’re innovative, value-driven and make dozens of products that should be at the top of anyone’s list who has a limited budget.
This red dot has one of the best track records of the budget models. It inherits all of Vortex’s warranties, quality, and design but is still a unique and excellent red dot for serious use on hunting, competition, or home defense gun.
Simply put, this is THE low budget red dot sight you can depend on. The large housing is excellent for quick shooting and enjoys the flexibility the large objective bell has. The biggest asset of this sight is the wide objective bell and superior optical quality. You can see the entire target clearly and pick off small targets with ease when you look through this sight.
The cantilever mounts available for this reflex sight is excellent, and they make for a well-rounded package that you can depend on. If you need a good quality reflex sight with a well-regarded track record, this is an excellent option. No matter who you’ll talk to the only complaint you’ll hear is “well it’s not an Aimpoint…” but isn’t that the point?
- Takes a common battery
- Larger housing than others
- Large red dot is bad for long distance
#5 - Vortex Optics Sparc AR Red Dot: Best Pistol Reflex Sight
This is Vortex’s take on the no-frill, mini red dot sights that have become popular in recent years. This is an excellent option for people who are making a pistol, an ultralight rifle build, or want the lightest and most compact red dot possible.
The best thing about this scope is you get the performance and peace of mind that you get with an Aimpoint micro but for far, far less cost. The dot is a standard 2 moa, red dot, and the XXXX housing is an aluminum frame with a silky rubberized exterior.
The included riser acts as a mount that can slap down to any Picatinny rail or flat top receiver. The scope also comes with a scope cover that protects the objective glass from getting damaged and with the mount makes this reflex sight an even better deal.
It’s not going to win any beauty contest, it’s not the absolute best mini-red dot or reflex sight out there, but it will undoubtedly perform well, exceptionally well considering the low price. The durability of Vortex products is legendary, and while you can’t expect it to take the same level of abuse as an Aimpoint, Vortex is sure to help you out with one of the best warranties on the market.
- Ready to mount
- Suitable with any Picatinny rail or flat top receiver
- Heavier and bulkier than its competition
- How to Choose the Best Reflex Sight?
How to Choose the Best Reflex Sight?
- Optical Quality - Many of the cheaper red dot sights on the market have a low optical quality that can lead you to some problems in the field. Especially in low-light conditions poor optical quality on the Coatings that reflect the red dot back to your eye can lead to strain or optical distortions that make it extremely hard to shoot quickly or accurately.
None of the models listed above are known to have any problems but beware that some of the cheaper optics on the market will suffer problems with quality and distortion of the sight picture when you shoot.
- Variation - Reflex optics come in different variations. Although the five models in this review are all red dot types, you will most likely come across other variations when shopping for a reflector sight. A good example would be a holographic sight. These two scopes differ mostly in their reticle, field of view, and magnification.
A holo sight features a 68 MOA ring with a 1 MOA dot while a typical red dot optic usually features a 2 to 4 MOA dot. The rectangular display of holo sights provides a better field of view compared to the rounded windows of red dot scopes which can potentially create blind spots and constricted vision.
The magnification of holo sights is unique in a way that its 1 MOA dot maintains its size even when the target is enlarged, providing the shooter more precision even for long-range shooting.
Whatever optic variation you choose, both can be a great rifle scope. It’s just a matter of personal preference.
- Mounting Options - Some sites on the market only offer mounting options from their specific manufacturer this can lead to problems if you plan on mounting the Red Dot or reflex sight onto a firearm that needs a specific mounting height or proprietary base. Look out for low quality imported objects with few mounting options otherwise you may end up having to jerry-rig a mount and having it break on you at the worst possible moment much less ruining your warranty in the process.
- Ruggedness - No one says that the low-cost red dot sights on the market or as rugged as an AimPoint or EOTech sight. The thing to keep in mind is that these sites are robust enough for just about anything you are likely to do with your firearm. Short of jumping out of a plane there's not a whole lot of tasks you couldn't do with one of these sites that you could do with one of the military grade options.
- Batteries - Make sure that if your sight uses an uncommon battery size or type, you plan ahead and order plenty, so you don't end up with a dead red dot. Before you go hunting or head out to the range, always check the red dot to see if it’s on.
Many shops are beginning to carry the uncommon battery sizes, and more and more sights are beginning to use standard batteries but the large coin cell batteries sometimes used in reflex and red dot sights are not common to big box or grocery stores.
While you’re figuring out your the type of batteries that your sight uses, pay attention to its battery life as well. While not everyone would need a ridiculously long battery life like that of the Aimpoint M4 2 MOA ACET CompM4 Sight, it would still prove its worth when you’re out hunting for hours with no spare batteries around.
- Warranty - Make sure you get a good warranty with your site. If something does happen, you'll want to know that the company that made your sight will stand behind their work. The Americans Firearms industry is world renowned for taking care of their customers and a company not honoring a lifetime or guaranteed warranty is almost unheard of. After all, if a company is not willing to guarantee the quality of their product why would you buy from them?
Final Review on the Best Reflex Sight for The Money
Never been a better time to buy a red dot sight. There are more options than ever before. There are options for every application you can think of from hunting to target shooting to self-defense and it every budget ranging from less than $100 all the way up to $1000.
No matter what with the companies putting out good quality sites with excellent warranties and features you can expect every sight to get better and better as the competition gets fiercer for who makes the best low-cost reflex sight.
If you've ever wanted a red dot or reflex sight but couldn't justify the cost, look seriously at one of the five options listed here and don't look back. You will enjoy shooting more see your group shrink and have more confidence with your firearm once you add in the Best Red Dot Sight for the Money for your set up.
Just remember the site doesn't shoot for you, and you have to get out to the range or on the field and get some experience under your belt and have fun using your new reflex sight.