9 Best Red Dot Sights for AR 15 – Which One Should You Get?

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What is the point of using any rifle if you are going to miss your target? If you are going to own and use an AR-15, then it only stands to reason that you will want it to be deadly accurate. You can accomplish the level of accuracy you desire from your AR-15 by using the best one you can find.

Which one should you get?

When it comes to rapid and accurate target acquisition with the most reliable performance, it is hard to beat the Vortex Optics Sparc 2 (Check Price on Amazon.com). This is a lightweight unit for your AR15 because it does not have the addition of heavy duty magnification. Before you protest, magnification is and never was the point behind red dot anyway.

In brief, what this Vortex Optics unit does provide is optimal eye relief, durability which is backed by a solid warranty, easy MOA adjustment and top notch parallax elimination and adjustment. In addition to its functionality, this is also a top consideration because it can be mounted at a varying range of heights without having to acquire additional equipment.

With the added versatility to be easily interchangeable with other weapons, the benefits of this unit continue to add up.

There are other poducts, which are value priced, available and are worthy of your consideration. We’ll take a look at the 9 best sights for an AR-15 in a moment, but let’s explore how to choose the best one before we do.


How to Choose The Pefect One for Your AR-15

To begin with, these models are not designed for firing at long range targets beyond 100 yards. The colored LED “dot,” typically red, is focused on the target. Non-magnifying, reflective lenses within the sight reflect the dot to your eye so that you can adjust the aim of your weapon and line up the dot on your intended target with the crosshairs.

The Parallax Problem

A problem often associated with reflex sights occurs when the location of the dot changes position on the target whenever it is viewed from a different angle. This is known as the parallax problem and plays hell with accuracy. To alleviate this issue and provide a greater degree of accuracy from the sight, additional lenses and adjustments are added to the best models.

Because accuracy is the ultimate goal of using it in the first place, you can hardly discount the value of parallax adjustment features when you are looking for the best one for your AR-15.

Type Variations

Selecting the best variation for your AR-15 is somewhat subjective, though there are some advantages and disadvantages of each to be considered. Here are those basic variations:

• Tube vs. Open. This variation adds to or reduces bulkiness depending upon the type used, but some users also point to tubes as worsening parallax problems. On the other side of the coin, open sights allow for a wider field of view (FOV) for quicker target acquisition in a fluid CQB situation.

• Dot Size. The size needs to be large enough to pick up, but not so large that it obscures the target. Dot size is measured in minutes of angle (MOA). The necessary range of MOA is between 1 and 4, there is really no point in anything above that range.

• Dot Pattern. Basically, do you prefer to center the dot inside crosshairs or inside of a circle?

• Dot Color. Red is the most common color and is best for all-around conditions, but blue and green are also available and are more effective under bright lighting conditions.

These variations in design features tend to add a level of subjectivity to selecting the best model, but their pros and cons are certainly something to keep in mind when selecting the best one for your specific needs.

Batteries and Battery Life

Though this is a pretty simple feature, it is useless without it, so batteries and battery life can have an effect on your choice of the best model. Obviously, longer battery life and battery dependability should be taken into consideration.


Red Dot Scopes vs. Red Dot Sights

As we mentioned before, red dot models were designed for short range targets of approximately 100 yards. These models are accurate up to 300 yards, but some users choose to add magnification to their sighting for ranges beyond 100 yards. Magnification is where red dot scopes come in.

The magnification option of a scope does add some range options that you would not have with red dot, but they do add more weight and bulk to the unit. The tube effect also enters into consideration with a red dot scope and along with it issues with parallax, which are not as much of an issue with red dot sights.

The issue comes down to usage. If you are going to be shooting long range with your AR-15, then it is probably better to opt for a scope without reflex sighting, because even the best models still won’t compete with a true scope when it comes to long range accuracy. If you are going to stick with shorter ranges, then limited magnification might be okay, but realize the potential issues it adds to your setup.


top 9 red dot sights for ar-15


Rank Product Review Score
1
Dagger Defense DDHB
9.9 Buy on Amazon
2
Aimpoint Pro Patrol
9.8 Buy on Amazon
3
Burris 300234
9.7 Buy on Amazon
4
UTG 4.2"
9.5 Buy on Amazon
5
Sightmark Ultra
9.3 Buy on Amazon
6
Aimpoint M4S
8.9 Buy on Amazon
7
Vortex Strikefire
8.6 Buy on Amazon
8
Eotech XPS3-0
8.4 Buy on Amazon
9
Vortex Sparc 2
8.3 Buy on Amazon

Reviews on The TOp Picks ON THE MARKET


DAGGER DEFENSE DDHB 

DDHB

This DDHB Red Dot Reflex by Dagger Defense has four position reticles and both red and green dot options. It uses up most of its less bulky and sleek design to provide a larger lens. It is designed and priced for everyday, common use and shorter range targets.

Those who use this model are impressed with its easy MOA adjustments and the fact that it maintains its accuracy after those adjustments are made. Another item of praise was its reticle variations and color options which provided for different usages situations. Let’s face it, this is a value priced unit that will do just fine for target practice, messing around and getting to know the weapon, but it really won’t perform at the level you need it to in CQB situations.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: n/aAperture: 33mm (1.29 in)
• Length: 82mm (3.19 in)
• Weight: 291g (10.18 oz)
• FOV: 15.8m @ 100m (52 ft @ 100 yd)
• Eye Relief: n/a
• Rail: Picatinn

pros

  • Decent FOV
  • Reticle adjustments
  • Good for common use
  • Value priced

cons

  • It is really limited to common use target practice and not for serious, professional use.
  • Watch out for potential parallax issues.

AIMPOINT PRO PATROL 

PRO Patrol

Designed by former law enforcement professionals, the Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic is made for professional law enforcement and CQB situations. It is designed to be heavy and durable and is even waterproof to up to 150 feet depth. It has anti-reflection lens attachment available and has a flat black finish which discourages reflection as well. The LED dot on this unit stays on all of the time and has a 3 year battery life. It can be used with all generations of night vision goggles.

There is no doubt that this is a pro setup just as it was designed to be. Users like the easy adjustments, durability and the always on LED dot, which saves you the critical time of turning the unit on in a critical situation. A couple of drawbacks that users consider is its price and its bulkiness. It is the heaviest of all of all of the units reviewed.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 2
• Aperture: 26mm (1.01 in)
• Length: 115mm (4.49 in)
• Weight: 330g (11.5 oz)
• FOV: n/a
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: QRP2 rail grabber

pros

  • Always on LED
  • Durable, non-reflective design
  • Quick mounting options
  • Waterproofing might be handy in some situations

cons

  • With such a small aperture, you wonder about FOV.
  • Its weight
  • It’s a little pricey

Burris 300234 Fastfire III

Burris Fastfire III

The high quality, lightweight design of the Burris Fastfire III has to get your attention if you don’t want to add a lot of bulk to your weapon. It has tool-less adjustments build into the unit and has easy battery access for changing out batteries whenever the low battery indicator shows that it is time. The power button on this unit has 3 different brightness settings for adaptation to light situations.

Those who know this product well are impressed with its light weight, less bulky design and its versatility to be used with their other weapons, including side arms. The easy, tool-less adjustment makes it easier to adjust in the field, if necessary. Recoil durability is also named as a feature of this model which is encouraging. It is moderately priced to boot.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 3
• Aperture: 21mm (.819 in)
• Length: 48mm (1.9 in)
• Weight: 42g (1.5 oz)
• FOV: n/a
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: Picatinny adaptable

pros

  • Tool-less adjustment
  • Adaptability to various weapons
  • Lightweight and small profile design
  • Durability
  • Moderate price

cons

  • That small aperture might not provide ideal FOV on an AR-15.
  • Though it works on an AR-15, it is really designed for a side arm.

UTG 4.2″ ITA RED/GREEN 

UTG 4.2

Great field of view and unlimited eye relief are the leading features presented with the UTG 4.2” ITA Red/Green CQB. Another impressive feature is its high-tech, emerald-coated, no-reflection design. Brightness level adjustments, a choice of red or green dot, and instant lock targeting also grab your attention. The quick, tactical mount on its quick detach mounting deck not only fits all picatinny mounts, but is adaptable to other mounting designs as well, making this a versatile unit for other firearms.

Though this unit is value priced, it really can’t be considered a knock-off because it maintains many of the design features and specs of higher end reflex sights. Without all the costly bells and whistles, this unit performs well and has good durability. It isn’t too bulky and has pretty good FOV for a tube type.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 4
• Aperture: 32.5mm (1.27 in)
• Length: 108mm (4.2 in)
• Weight: 201g (7.1 oz.)
• FOV: 30.5m @ 100m (100 ft @ 100 yards)
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: Picatinny adaptable

pros

  • Non-reflective design
  • Very good FOV and unlimited eye relief
  • Tactical mounting adaptability
  • Variable brightness adjustment
  • Value priced

cons

  • Parallax might be suspect on this model.
  • Does not have the range of higher end reflex sights.

SIGHTMARK ULTRA SHOT 

Sightmark Ultra Shot

The Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro is a reflex model designed for night vision usage. It features a double-pane lens meant to eliminate parallax and allows you to adjust the reticles with four different settings from 3 MOA to 5 MOA dots in order to optimize accuracy under varying situations. This unit includes a quick detach mounting system that is adapted to a Weaver mounting setup and can easily be used on various firearms in your arsenal.

This unit seems to hold its sighting accuracy from one variation to the other. The night vision adaptability which allows for co-witnessed sighting is certainly one of its greatest selling points. It is not a high end unit, so it is moderately priced. It has a high FOV, which is essential with an open sight model. One of the drawbacks to note is that its accuracy fades when switching between the various reticle settings.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 3 to 5
• Aperture: 33mm (1.28 in)
• Length: 82mm (3.2 in)
• Weight: 252g (8.9 oz)
• FOV: 35m @ 100m (110 ft @ 100 yd)
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: quick detach Weaver

pros

  • Very good FOV
  • Night vision setup
  • Double lens design
  • Moderately priced

cons

  • A little heavy.
  • Variable reticle accuracy is questionable.

AIMPOINT M4S 2 MINUTE 

Aimpoint M4

The Aimpoint M4 Comp series is the latest version of the U.S. Army’s close-combat optic, which has been used since 1995. Improvements to the Comp M4 were redesignated with the “S” and include improvements like getting 8 years of use out of a single AA battery, 7 night vision settings and 9 daylight settings and keyed mounting to absorb recoil. These models are extremely rugged and hold up under the most demanding conditions, including being waterproof to 150 feet of depth.

It is hard to argue with the fact that this is the chosen model of the U.S. Army. It certainly measures up to what one would need in a demanding combat situation and is reliable to boot. Its mounting seems to be a major selling point as are the wide variety of settings for both daylight and night vision applications. There are really two drawbacks discussed concerning this model: its tube design and the fact that you would have to have the U.S. Army’s budget in order to afford it.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 2
• Aperture: 26mm (1.01 in)
• Length: 120mm (4.68 in)
• Weight: 376g (13.16 oz)
• FOV: n/a
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: QRP2 mount

pros

  • Rugged in the most extreme conditions
  • 80,000 hours of battery life
  • 7 night vision and 9 daylight settings
  • Waterproof to 150 feet

cons

  • The price on this thing is an indicator that they really don’t need or want to sell it to private customers.
  • You have to question FOV with tube design units.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKEFIRE 

Optics StrikeFire

The cantilever mounting design and durability of the Vortex Optics StrikeFire II have considerable appeal. This unit allows you to choose a red or green sight dot, allows for ten different levels of brightness, and has anti-reflective coatings on its surfaces. The StrikeFire is waterproof, fogproof and shockproof. The cantilever design enhances rapid target acquisition because of its non-critical eye relief. It has a 12 hour auto shutdown feature on the LED in order to extend battery life.

This is a preference model, which is really designed for those with a preference for a cantilever mounting. Depending on experience, users may or may not think this mounting is ideal, though it holds both advantages and disadvantages related to rapid target acquisition. Durability is one of the key selling features of this unit, as is its moderate price range.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 4
• Aperture: 30mm (1.17 in)
• Length: 142 mm (5.6 in)
• Weight: 204g (7.2 oz)
• FOV: n/a
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: Lower 1/3 Co-Witness Cantilever Mount

pros

  • Rapid target acquisition.
  • Decent weight
  • Highly durable
  • 12 hour shutdown feature
  • Moderately priced

cons

  • The cantilever mount makes its value a preference rather than an asset for most users.
  • There are some challenges with the mount if you’re not an expert with this type.

EOTECH XPS3-0 HOLOGRAPHIC 

Optics StrikeFire

The cantilever mounting design and durability of the Vortex Optics StrikeFire II have considerable appeal. This unit allows you to choose a red or green sight dot, allows for ten different levels of brightness, and has anti-reflective coatings on its surfaces. The StrikeFire is waterproof, fogproof and shockproof. The cantilever design enhances rapid target acquisition because of its non-critical eye relief. It has a 12 hour auto shutdown feature on the LED in order to extend battery life.

This is a preference model, which is really designed for those with a preference for a cantilever mounting. Depending on experience, users may or may not think this mounting is ideal, though it holds both advantages and disadvantages related to rapid target acquisition. Durability is one of the key selling features of this unit, as is its moderate price range.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 4
• Aperture: 30mm (1.17 in)
• Length: 142 mm (5.6 in)
• Weight: 204g (7.2 oz)
• FOV: n/a
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: Lower 1/3 Co-Witness Cantilever Mount

pros

  • Rapid target acquisition.
  • Decent weight
  • Highly durable
  • 12 hour shutdown feature
  • Moderately priced

cons

  • The cantilever mount makes its value a preference rather than an asset for most users.
  • There are some challenges with the mount if you’re not an expert with this type.

VORTEX OPTICS SPARC 2 

Vortex Optics Sparc II

Speed Point Aiming for Rapid Combat is what gives the Vortex Optics SPARC II its name. Compared to its high end cousins, it is ultra lightweight and ultra compact. This unit has rear-facing digital controls for powering on and adjusting for brightness, which includes ten different intensity levels. The unit is machined from a single piece of aircraft grade aluminum and is shockproof, fogproof and waterproof.

Its versatility in mounting is an attractive feature to most users, as is its 12 hour shutdown which helps to extend battery life, though battery life is still something of a challenge (imagine if it didn’t have that feature). Its compact design and light weight are major selling features. Users are impressed with the brightness adjustments, the elimination of parallax and the durability of the optics. The moderate range price and the fact that Vortex backs up their quality with an amazing warranty are what tip the scales for this unit.

Specs:

• Dot MOA: 1
• Aperture: 22mm (.85 in)
• Length: 79mm (3.1 in)
• Weight: 167g (5.9 oz)
• FOV: n/a
• Eye Relief: unlimited
• Rail: Weaver or Picatinny

pros

  • Rapid target acquisition
  • Shockproof, fogproof, waterproof
  • Mounting versatility
  • No parallax
  • Moderate price
  • Awesome warranty

cons

  • Battery life leaves something to be desired.
  • You don’t have the FOV you get with open sight models.

THE WINNER IS...

Vortex Optics Sparc II

When it comes to rapid and accurate target acquisition with the most reliable performance, it is hard to beat the Vortex Optics Sparc II. This ultra compact and ultra lightweight unit works very well with an AR-15 because it keeps it light and maneuverable.

With unlimited eye relief, durability which is backed by a solid warranty, easy MOA adjustment and top notch parallax elimination, it is hard to argue that this is an inferior product to other military grade units. In addition to its functionality, this is also a top consideration because it can be mounted at a varying range of heights without having to acquire additional mounting equipment. With the added versatility to be easily interchangeable with other weapons, the benefits of this unit continue to add up.

Both accuracy and durability come into play when you look for a reflex sight for your AR-15. No one can argue that the higher end models are strong enough in both of these attributes. What choosing the right red dot sight for your weapon boils down to are preferences, what you’re used to using, how often you’re going to use your weapon, what you are going to use it for and ultimately whether you can justify its price in your budget.